Thinking about my photography practice

For the past few months, my photography has felt to me like it’s been changing, and not in a good way.  I get my rolls of film back, and there are very few that jump out at me as ones I love, and that’s frustrating.  There are some different reasons behind that, and I’m not sure they’re all bad, but they’re interesting to me.

One of the things I realised recently is I’m not experimenting as much as I have in the past.   “Experimenting” is maybe the wrong word – maybe it’s that I’m not taking as many abstracts, or just shooting for fun.  One of the reasons for that is I’m definitely feeling the pinch, financially, with camera film and processing so expensive, so I’m putting pressure on myself to make every shot count.  I could use digital, but I can’t have fun with it in the same way I can with film:  on one hand, it’s too clean, the images are too crisp and perfect; on the other, I get caught up in looking at the photos as they happen, whereas I can use film to get into a kind of meditative place, where I’m looking, and shooting, and not thinking about how they’ll turn out.  I know, technically I could not look at my digital photos until I get home, but that’s really hard for me to do, because I know I CAN see them.  I could try to work on that.

But the other thing I’ve been thinking about is how my practice has been changing.

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Avon Stories podcast #20: The Avon Canoe Pilot project

Back in 2007, Bristol-based artists Kayle Brandon and Heath Bunting were making really interesting work together, including exploring the cities in different ways.  One of these was the Avon Canoe Pilot project, which had many strands: sport, trying to get a Blue Flag for the Harbour, dredging rubbish, clearing a jetty, swimming… all of which sound wholesome, but were done in incredibly subversive ways.

I read about this project on their joint website, and I was fascinated.  It made me wonder why I never see people on the Avon, only vehicles; to question my own relationships with the water; and it inspired me to start to push my own boundaries of how I relate to the water.  I was really happy they agreed to come on the podcast and talk more about why they were doing, how and why.

To find more about the various projects we discussed and more work relating to the water, follow the links:

There are lots more projects that Heath and Kayle worked on as the DUO Collective, on their website.

There’s more information about Kayle, including a list of works, bio and CV here.

Heath’s information is here, and you can also check out his wikipedia page and the Tate page about his A Terrorist – a status project and Tate video interview about that, and his BorderXing project.

All images are from the Avon Canoe Pilot Project booklet, and are used with kind permission of Kayle Brandon and Heath Bunting.

Snow day Avon

Because we’re on the water, and in the south, it doesn’t often snow in Bristol, and if it does, it rarely sticks, so the huge “Beast from the East” snowmaggedon was a huge deal here, that I’m sure people in Scotland and the Frozen North are rolling their eyes at.   But not having to get anywhere, with a warm house and a stocked pantry, it was a ton of fun, just for a weekend.

On Friday Vik and I walked along the Avon and up to Stokeleigh Camp, the Iron Age fort in Leigh Woods, and back.  While the parks and slopes were full of children sledging, once we got to the Avon footpath, it was really empty, with much less traffic on the Portway than usual. All the interesting layers pulled into focus, outlined by snow, from the terraces of Hotwells, to the striations of the Gorge.

Up in the woods it was pretty magical, with everything so quiet we could hear the falling snow hit the evergreen and remaining dead autumn leaves.  We walked around the Fort walls and talked about what it might have been like to live there, as the wind blew swirls of snowflakes off the drifts on top of the earthworks.  As we walked home, a skier passing us on the Nightingale Valley path, the tracks we and others had made were already covered in snow, and it felt like we were the first people to walk on the path, and on the silt banks.  It was a gorgeous day.

Photos are in the album – mouse over/click the first image to get the slideshow, or go straight to flickr.

Striations

Walking the River Trym, February 2018

My friend Tracy Homer puts up with a lot, walking with me, from clambering through ditches and up slopes, to battling knee-high brambles, walking after dark and in torrential rain, and more.  It’s a good thing she likes me, but I don’t want to push my luck, so on Wednesday’s walk with her, we walked a gentle route with no possibility of getting into scrapes – an urban nature exploration, following the River Trym from Southmead, where it first appears in Bristol, to Sea Mills, where it joins the River Avon.

The map of the walk is here:

And the photo album is here (mouse over or click on the first image and it should take you to the slideshow, or click through to flickr)

Looking back to the start of the River Trym, in Southmead

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Portishead railway and the footpath to Clevedon

I try not to repeat walks too frequently, but I really loved exploring the disused railway line in Portishead, and it’s ideally a winter walk, as it would be tons harder when covered in undergrowth, and with the plans to reopen the line, I wanted to do it again, while I still can.  So Vik and I went back last Saturday to see the line, and then walk down the footpath along the Bristol Channel to Clevedon.

The map of our walk is here:

and I have an album of photos on flickr, and below.  If you mouse over or click on the first image, it should bring up a slideshow, or use this link.

Portishead lighthouse

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A February walk: “The source of the Malago”, Stanton Drew and Maes Knoll

I’ve been walking a lot, recently, making the most of some free time, and trying to get outdoors as much as possible.  last week, my good friend Tracy Homer and I had a long day out in the hills south of Bristol, starting off looking for the source of Pigeonhouse Stream (aka the source of the Malago, but more on that later) and then getting deep into the history of the area, walking through the hills to the megalithic stone circles at Stanton Drew, and back up to Bristol via Maes Knoll, the Iron Age hill fort on the edge of the city.

Photos from the walk are here – I managed to break two cameras, with my Canon 550D just stopping working, and stupidly dropping my Olympus XA2 35mm, so they end up being just from my mobile, and my friend Cee‘s Olympus OM10….  If you mouse over or click the first photo, you should bring up the slideshow – otherwise the flickr album is here.

The source of Pigeonhouse Stream

Here’s the map of our walk:

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