Level 2 Landscape Learning Log

ReShooting the Sculpture Park

Last time I went to the sculpture park I got very wrapped up in the sculptures and spent a lot of time photographing them in a way that showcased sculptures and not the park. This time I wanted to concentrate on the park rather than individual sculptures. I loaded up my camera bag and took my wide-angle lens as well as my wide through mid lens, and my plan was not to tip the camera into portrait and to take much wider shots.

As has been documented, I hired a mobility scooter for the trip and took my gear into the park. The whole shoot was rather eventful, the park is not at all wheelchair friendly and the scooter got bogged down in the mud several times, I spent almost as much time fending off the mud and digging myself out of a wheel spinning hole as shooting images.

I only had a tiny part of the park that I could shoot with the scooter so the whole event was limited, they state on their website that it is not a wheelchair friendly place.

The second part of this was that I went on Christmas Eve, see my earlier rant on the weather, time pressure dictated the date of the visit as I had to shoot all of A5 and complete this A3 reshoot so my hands were tied, this meant that I was in the park with only two other groups of people after all who goes to a sculpture park in the middle of nowhere on Christmas Eve with a two-hour weather window? Have you noticed how bad the accuracy of the weather apps on your phone are, well on this day it was accurate to the minute I got back to the car and loaded the scooter just at the time the app said it would rain and as I reversed out of the car park it hammered down.

The point of that last part was that I could not shoot images with lots of people making the space a place, I did get a couple with people in but it remains to see if they make the edit or not.

Farnham Sculpture park is a part of the wooded area with a couple of lakes that have been turned into a gallery for sculptors and like all art galleries, people come to visit to enjoy the art, the primary purpose of the place is to sell sculptures and they have a significant international reputation with sculptures coming in from all over the world and being sold on to all corners of the globe. The dragon in the outset above was made in the Philipines and sold in Singapore. I believe that this location more than qualifies as a space that has been transformed into a place and since I have now visited several times, I feel a familiarity with the layout and location that make it much more of a place.

A5 Shooting Complete

Initial Editing

After what seems like a long time the weather gave me the window I was looking for to shoot the images for A5 finally. I made a long list of places and divided the work up into three trips.

My first trip took me to Aldershot Fleet and Farnborough where I mostly handheld the camera, which got a little shaky as the sun went down, the weather held up, and I got most of the locations done.

The next several days the weather turned bad again and I was not happy with all of the images in the can so far so when the weather broke again I jumped in the truck and headed to Basingstoke where there is a gold mine of fast-food restaurants.

I had planned for that to be the end of shooting but circumstance gave me another day shooting and a new honey pot of locations. I went t Woking to pick up the mobility Scooter so that I can reshoot A3 and in the process realised that the sculpture park was not open so a quick replan sent me to Reading for the third A5 shoot and left me planning the sculpture park for the next day.

I managed to get an excellent series of locations in Reading and came home with more images than I need for A5 giving me the luxury of a severe edit and the ability to discard any that don’t quite work.

I have completed the first edit and have a set of twelve prefered images, three reserves and eight spares not to mention a load that did not make the grade.

I am wondering if I should colour grade them all so that they all fit more neatly.


Bad Weather Limits Shooting for A5

I am starting to tear my hair out as the weather is really atrocious. It is raining every day the only window this week is on the day of my daughter’s masters graduation so that won’t work. I have wanted to take images at night or in the early hours to lose the people and get the effects of the lights but this is proving to be impossible to execute.

I am off out now in a small weather window to get some more shots, but this is really pushing against the deadline.

Assignment A6 – Transitions Complete

Flower Arrangers Garden

Garden Studio

Assignment 6 was about transitions in the landscape and what better than a transition both to the landscape of my garden and one that is a huge change to the landscape of my life. Transitions explores the stages of the build of my new studio from Flower Arrangers Garden to Garden Studio.

A4 Initial Sumbission

My A4 Critical Review essay is done finally it took a lot of blood sweat and tears but its now sent in for a tutor review. Finding a topic for an essay on Landscape Practice is a hard thing to do, I must admit to struggling to get to find a topic and to having some trepidation over the prospect of writing the first formal essay for this degree. The execution was more pleasurable than expected, and I found it easier than I imagined. Once I had the topic I found it quite easy to find the research and to write the essay. After several false starts I finaly found a topic for my essay

Spaces and Places

Image result for farnham sculpture park

I have been thinking about spaces and places, having been very busy with my new business my degree work has been a little slow this last couple of months. However, I have come to an idea of what spaces to places means: In my head when a space that has not had any meaning in the past is suddenly taken over for a particular use it becomes a place. So, for example, there was a small patch of land near me that had been a car park for the old REME then they had the driver test centre there in portable buildings it sat empty for a long while then they suddenly built a series of houses there, and it was transformed from a space to a place. The are many places that have this characteristic, parks and recreation areas come to mind. Thinking about the work on memory in this section, I think a space often becomes a place when you have an association with it. I think about the old lane down the side of my house when I was a child there was a point where my Dad helped my friends, and I build a tree house, and that space became a place in my mind for the rest of my life.

Exercise 3.5 had me researching the local area, and I came across the sculpture park in Farnham on several occasions, so I am thinking of using this for assignment 3


Brooke Shaden – Promoting Passion

On Saturday 18th May, I went to London to attend a seminar hosted by Brooke Shaden, who readers of my degree will know is one of my all-time favourite photographers/artists.

The day started early, and we were all greeted into the auditorium one by one by Brooke, who hugged all the 120 guests individually. This was the start of a great day that took us through the concept of being passionate about our work and pushing through to create art even when motivation is low.

Brooke Shaden has a relentless and unstoppable work ethic she has created hundreds of pieces over the last decade every one I find appealing and inspirational though Brooke herself is more critical of some of her work.

The day opened with us all getting paint on our hands and putting them on a huge bit of cloth she spread across the stage.

There was a lot of time spent doing what Brooke called exercises, which got us to lose our inhibitions and feel easy interacting with a room full of 120 people. Brooke was very free with her inner self and even shared details on how she makes her money and what worked and what did not. It was a very revealing day and left me feeling motivated to create and get on with the artistic side of my photography.

The day ended in a photoshoot where Brooke had hired a set of models, and we spent time shooting them in all sorts of places around the auditorium including at a large grand piano. Lots of fun was extracted, and I have a few hundred shots yet to play with.

I enjoyed the whole day and loved the experience of meeting such a giving artist who put her heart and soul into inspiring us. The day ended as we all single filed out and received another hug and a selfie with Brooke. Best study day ever!

My New Studio

As some people know there has been a lot of things happening in my life over the last three years, from a period of unemployment to the Death of my Mum and the start of a new business. Part of this last thing has been the construction of a new studio for my photography, both for the business and for my practice. I am glad to say the Studiois now complete and up and running

Assignment 2

Assignment 2 is now up for initial assessment all be it late due to the web site virus etc but its up and ready for marking, I an off to send it to Russell for his assesment.

You can see it here

Ghosts in the System


Last July a virus hit this site and decimated everything, I went back to the last good restore without the virus and lost all the work I had done on Assignment 2, I have been devastated and completely unmotivated to move forward and fix things, However, today I have figuratively smacked myself in the face and kickstarted the process of recovery. I am now recreating the work I did and moving forward at speed.

Exploring the subject from the office

I have just read an article in the mail online (don’t groan) about Artist Benjamin Grant, who is creating some stunning works of art using google satellite view. This rang a bell as the exercises in part 2 made us look at the idea of appropriation and this seems to fit right in with that the article is here Mail Online: Artist captures series of hypnotic images from across the globe

These images seem somewhat reminiscent of the work I did for Assignment 1 however when I started to look at the idea myself I found that lots of things were possible like the almost impossible shot of St Pauls which would take a lot of paperwork and permissions to achieve with a drone:

From a practical point of view, the weather has been so hot for the last week or so making going outside genuinely dangerous, I did a shoot for a book the other day and was quite ill from the heat for about two days. This has prompted me to hide away a bit in my office, which has really stopped me going out to investigate the old railway line for assignment 2. It struck me that using google maps / google earth I could scout out the locations for each shoot on this project, the result was eye-opening:

A view of Ash Green Halt from the bridge, The station is now a house as seen here from the front:

Using the google maps satellite view it is possible to see the marks on the landscape that still exist this shot shows the whole line from Ashgreen Junction to Farnham Junction with Ash Green Halt and Tongham Halt all marked as red spots:

From here I was able to do two things:

  1. Explore places I can get to by road to take pictures and;
  2. Zoom in to street view where available to see what is there

Here are the results of that exercise Drovers Way looking from the bridge down at the old railway which is now a footpath.

A view from the bridge at pound lane looking down the Ash Wanborough line at the spot where Ash Green Junction used to join to the Guildford line.

The start of the footpath leading to the old railway in spoil lane just before the old station at Tongham Halt

The location of the humpback bridge at Tongham halt which was removed when the station was redeveloped, this is what it used to look like:

The ground has been taken down to the level of the track and the humpback bridge removed there are now houses in place of the old Tongham halt station:

View from what was the north side of the track:

And from the south side of the track. The only problem with google maps / google earth is the street view is limited to streets that Google was able to drive down and capture so its not possible to go onto some of the more rural parts of the track, it is, however, possible to use the google map 3D view to get a form of aerial shot of the area.

This shows the path of the old railway and the black box roughly shows where the Tongham Halt station was situated, it is remarkable that even where the railway has been eradicated by development from above the path it took is still evident as marks on the landscape.

This is the shot you can’t really take it’s the point where the railway was removed to allow the A331 to pass through, the old track went diagonally across the new road, and of course, you can’t stop the car get out and take pictures now. Google maps have the edge here.

This shot shows the track of the railway from the old Tongham Halt station to the A331, it is still possible to make out the passage of the line, interestingly boundaries of fields don’t change much over time and the only real change to boundaries is the scar that is the A331.

This is the end of the branch line as it joins the mainline to Farnham station at Farnam Junction which is no longer there:

Moving back from Farnham Junction towards Tongham there is a patch of the line that sits in an island formed by the New A31 and the off-ramp to Runfold, it is still possible to see traces of the line though it is becoming overgrown and less recognisable:

Google street view allows me to get onto the slip road but does not really allow us to look down into the old cut, there are places to leave a car up here so a conventional camera may get a better view. I looked at this from the A31 on street view and there are now high trees making it impossible to see the cutting so on foot is likely to be the way to see this.

What is the point of all this?

This is a good question why did I do this research from my office desk, the answer is really positive, I have identified a series of places I can go and take some pictures of this journey from Ash Green Junction to Farnham Junction, I know there are some places I physically can’t get to, like the site of Farnham Junction as its on private land and there are no access roads. It has allowed me to verify the validity of this response to the assignment all while saving petrol and stopping me from going out in the sun and getting more ill. I think this exercise has been a result, I will go ahead in the next couple of weeks with a shooting plan to see if the images I can take meet the bill at which point I will evaluate the need to extend the journey along the Watercress line.

Exploring the Mid Hants Railway

Click on Map to enlarge.

Above is a section of the 2018OS map showing the current route of the Mid Hants Railway also known as the Watercress Line from Alesford to Alton. The Mid Hants Railway started life in October 1865 as the Alton, Alresford & Winchester Railway and was intended to fill the gap between Alton and the main route from London to Southampton 2½ miles north of Winchester. It was some 17 miles long through an agricultural area with only Alresford as a town of any size on the route.

The line initially survived the Beeching cuts but was eventually closed in February of 1973. Unlike the Tongham – Ashgreen line the Watercress Line was saved by a volunteer staff and opened as a heritage railway.

There is a stark difference between the two sections of line which at one time were connected via Farnham and Bentley. The Tongham – Ash Green line has been dismanteled and in parts completely built over in other parts the line is now a foot path used by dog walkers an the like, in contrast the Mid Hants Railway is alive and like a time capsule that takes us back to the days of steam.

The following are a set of enlarged sections of the above OS map showing in more detail the route of the Watercress Line:

Arlesford to Ropley

Ropley to Medstead & Four Marks

Medstead & Four Marks to Alton in two sections

The Beeching Report

In 1963, Beeching produced a report entitled ‘The Reshaping of British Railways’. The report identified profitable and unprofitable services and revealed great unevenness in the use and profitability of railways. It recommended the widespread closure of uneconomic routes


Local history

I have been researching the history of the local branch lines and the effect of the Beeching cuts. I had already identified that the branch line from Ash Junction to Farnham Junction,  was closed following the Beeching report. This branch line encompassed two stations, Ash Green Halt and Tongham Halt.

Ash Green Halt

Tongham Halt

Looking at the old OS maps I had assumed that the North Hants railway known as the Watercress line was also closed as a result of Beeching, but according to their history page, it actually survived the cuts and was closed ten years later by British Rail. The contrast between the two lines is stark, the Tongham – Ash Green line was stripped and in some parts removed completely. The Watercress Line has been preserved and turned into something of a theme park.

From the point of view of this assignment of a journey I need to decide if I want to use one or both of the two lines, the Watercress line would allow a peek into the past as the infrastructure looks as it did in the past where the Tongham line provides the opportunity to explore the marks we leave on the landscape. There is also a chance to explore the contrast between the two and our obsession with turning the past into a weekend visit or theme park.




OS Map Archives Part 2

I have been doing some further research on the old OS maps and found that you could get copies of the original maps I have assembled a set of maps from the archive that cover the area I am looking at which I may get printed as part of the final submission, having been on the bookmaking class with the TV group and done some work on bookmaking I am thinking of making the final submission into a handmade book and putting the maps either in the book or as pull outs at the end.

The maps I have sourced are as follows:

  • Hampshire and Isle of Wight XXI_14 (Aldershot Ash and Normandy Farnham)
  • Sheet 285 – Aldershot (Outline) 1896
  • Surrey XXII 16 (Ash and Normandy Seale)
  • Surrey XXX_2 (Farnham)
  • Surrey XXX_3 (Aldershot Farnham Seale)


Hampshire and Isle of Wight XXI_14 (Aldershot Ash and Normandy Farnham)
Sheet 285 – Aldershot (Outline) 1896
Surrey XXII 16 (Ash and Normandy Seale)
Surrey XXX_2 (Farnham)
Surrey XXX_3 (Aldershot Farnham Seale)

OS Map Archives

In my quest for information on the Tongham branch line I discovered this website: https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/side-by-side/#zoom=15&lat=51.2392&lon=-0.7175&layers=168&right=BingHyb  This resource is invaluable in locating the original parts of the line that have now been demolished, it allows you to point at a location on one map and see a crosshair on the other, it is also possible to swap maps for different issues of OS map. In the screen grab above I have the OS 25inch, 1892 – 1914 Map selected on the left and the current Bing satellite map on the right.

An initial glance is showing that Tongham Station has been redeveloped:

And that there may still be traces of the Ash Green station, it looks from the new map as if the old station building is still there the track is still there though I know the rails have been removed and the bridge is still intact:

Oh, Dr Beeching what have you done?

“There used to be a lot of trains and now there are nearly none”, I have actually had lots of hairbrained ideas for this assignment that I will probably not even try to put down on paper. My current Idea is to look at the old Tongham branch line that was closed in the Beeching reform. I have a lot of memories of part of it, which has now been removed by the construction of the A331. When I was a boy between 12 and 15 I used to go shooting with my Dad on a bit of land that was owned by a local farmer, Dad had permission to shoot on the farm to help keep the pidgeons etc off the crops. Along one edge was a bank which I learned was part of an old railway line removed in the Beeching cuts.

Today the stations are now gone but sections of the railway still exist, there are some lovely bridges and repurposed buildings along the way. I am considering using old OS Maps and documenting the traces that still exist of the old railway. The following is a segment of the 2018OS map I have highlighted the route of the old Tongham branch line in yellow.

Hunting for inspiration

Struggling to find inspiration for Assignment 2, The Aldershot murders is a bust as I can’t get access to the information in time. I looked at the idea of following the path that the Bluestones at Stonehenge took, but it’s not really working for me. One of my biggest issues is the lack of funds at the moment stopping me from driving all over the place. There were three Ideas around stone henge one was the path of the bluestones as mentioned as the quarry is quite close. The second was the path of the other stones but that is a huge journey from Wales. The last was the funerary procession to the henge.

To be honest these ideas revolve around theories that no one knows the answer too. Oddly if the idea does not fire me up I find I don’t want to work with it. I feel that the path to a voice of my own lies on a path of doing things that inspire me, which sort of stands to reason.

I have abandoned the idea of Stonehenge now but that leaves me with no idea for a project now.

Photographers Block

I find myself in one of those horrible places where I can’t visualise my next assignment, I can’t remember being quite so adrift and devoid of ideas that I find stimulating. In my current financial situation there is not much room for travelling about for the assignment and so I am stuck with what I can get to locally. I wanted to do something that was not just “my trip from A to B” which seems rather plain and obvious, I was looking at the idea of my journey  from a boy to manhood based on the places I have worked, many of which no longer exist, but even this is not lighting the pilot light. I have looked hard for any books on Aldershot that take us on a journey I could recreate but that has so far drawn a blank. I would love to have done a Jack the Ripper style tour based on all the murders over the years in the area but the definitive book is not released until November by Keith Bean.

I really need to find a way to jump-start the creative juices as I am having a flat moment right now. One day I will be able to just rush off and do my own thing can’t wait for level 3 and my body of work.

Exercise 2.5 Text in art Complete

Text is something that comes up in almost every module it seems to be something of an obsession with the course writers. I was fortunate enough to see the work of Michael David Murphy called “Unphotographable” at Brighton in 2012, my first visit to the Biennial. I remember being really taken by this work as it created the image in my mind rather than with my retina, which enabled me to create my own fantastic version of the story. As an avid reader of fantasy fiction since I was around 12 years old, I am really familiar with the joy of creating the image in your mind as you read and how this is often ruined when they make a film about your favourite book.

In this exercise I was tasked with taking a trip and writing notes, I took a walk along the Blackwater Valley Route and found it stirred lots of memories and some strong emotions, particularly at what has happened to the landscape since I was a boy.

You can read the notes I made in the exercise write up here:  Exercise 2.5 Text in art

Exercise 2.3 Typologies complete

A thought provokingexercise is now complete. I have always enjoyed the concept of typology but looking at it from the pespective of the landscape has given me a new insight into my own odd photographic predjudice and got me re evaluating my likes and dislikes.

The exercise is here: Exercise 2.3 Typologies

Exercise 2.2 Complete

I finally completed exercise 2.1 I took the images last week but it took a while to source a copy of Two-lane blacktop my chosen road movie to watch. I have now finished writing it up and the exercise can be found here: Exercise 2.2: A Road

The Landscape Photography Workshop

​by: Mark Bauer & Ross Hoddinnott

I bought this as a pair with the previous book by the same authors, this is a beginners book, it even tells you which camera to use, it is remarkably similar to the book by David Taylor covering mostly the same ground. I am sure that a true beginner would appreciate this book if they did not already own a camera and were thinking it would be nice to go out and shoot the countryside for me this was a waste of time.


BOOK: The Art Of Landscape Photography

by: Mark Bauer & Ross Hoddinnott

The art of Landscape Photography is another of those books that are aimed at beginners. It is a very technical manual aimed at making artistic landscape pictures. It concentrates on techniques it is more specific to Landscape than David Taylor’s book but is still aimed at those who are starting out in Landscape photography.

The book concentrates more on composition and subject placement than the basics and wastes no time helping you to pick the right camera, which was a bonus.

All in all, I would recommend this book to someone starting out in Landscape but not rate it for this level of study.


Exercise 2.1 Complete

I finally finished the first exercise in part 2, I have to confess it took me longer than I would have liked firstly due to technical difficulties running out of toner in the laserjet so I could not read the paper properly then I had to read the article several times before it really sunk in what it was saying.

Once I sat dowanand really applied myself to the source material the meaning gave itself up to me and I was able to do the task set, which was to select two images not mentioned in the text and evaluate them with reference to the points made by Snyder in the text.

In the end it came down to the two types of Landscape Photography Snyder describes as Invitational and contra-invitational, and relates to the purpose and intention of the image, in the Invitational images created by Watkins the images are pleasing freandly and inviting and make you want to visit, where the images by O’Sullivan are hostile and surreal and are far less inviting, the former driven by a business need to encourage development of the land and the latter by a more scientific need to document the landscape.

You can read the full exercise here: Exercise 2.1 Territorial Photography

Study Visit – Book Making

Today the TV group held a bookmaking workshop led by the OCA Tutor Polly Harvey. It was a really fun day of bookmaking where we were taught to create 4 book styles, a simple folded board book, a sewn single signature book, a Japanese binding book and a french pleat book.

It was a very informative day which left us taking home 4 finished projects, I tried to take a few images with my phone but it was such a busy workshop I soon fell behind here are a couple of the early ones and some of the finished projects once I got home:


Beauty and the Sublime Rework

Having had my tutor feedback and the report I was keen to wrap up Assignment one while I was still resonating with it, and before moving on to the next part. Russell said I should not redo the work but experiment and stretch it further, I have commented elsewhere how I liked this approach and how it made me feel like I was pushing myself and developing my practice rather than redoing something I got wrong, this was a much more healthy and developmental approach for me.

The area we agreed I would explore was making a set of Diptychs again but this time exploring pairing the birdseye views and cropping and rotating and flipping to make the image work in context. I went with a square format for the crops and tried to match each one so that they resonate with each other compositionally. I initially put them on a border because I misheard Russell thinking he said the ones I did before were good (I did not like them) however, this was not the case so the final images have plain white borders. I also could not make the fourth set work together and although I love the images alone in the initial set they did not work as a Diptych, so I found two new images from the Sewerage plant visit and used them imitating a domino effect, and am much happier with the final result.

Tutor Review

In a really quick turn around Russell booked a Hangout with me this evening and we spent a couple of hours discussing my work the degree and photography, it was a really helpful session and you can see the full feedback in the assignment section.

There were some opertunities to extend the work which for the first time in my degree felt like a discussion on pushing the work to further heights rather than, “I don’t like that do it differently”, this felt much more educational and far more of a development of my practice than before, if I analyse it being told your work is wonderful leave it just as it as you have it, is nice but does not stretch you as an artist or photographer, also being told “I really don’t think that is any good do something else” tends to dampen the enthusiasm, I felt Russell hit this balance right on the fulcrum, he made me feel that he liked what I had done and that it was well developed, we discussed the project and he told me that he really liked the work I had done playing with Diptychs and that he felt I could push this further in an experimental way of moving the assignment beyond its current resting place.

I loved this discourse and the fact I am not fighting degree deadlines any moreand so I can take the time to push my work further. I will be experimenting with the ideas that came out of the session and looking at the Diptychs again.

To clarify what may read as an odd comment from the tutor report, Russell commented that I needed to look at colour balance in two of the images and mentioned “we discussed what caused this which is quite peculiar”.

The cause is indeed quite peculiar and is unique to the current revision of DJI go and the Phantom 4 Pro, when you take an image with the camera gimble pointing directly down there is a bug that throws out the colour balance making everything have a orang/brown colour tint. The cure is to clear the video cache and reboot the drone and controller, none of which makes much sense when compared to a conventional camera but is “a thing” with the complex interplay between hardware and software in a sophisticated drone like a Phanto 4 Pro.

I await a software patch that will cure this, but in the mean time I have a workaround for the problem, it was fairly simple to correct the slight blue tint I had added correcting the images and this was the corrected result:

BOOK: Landscpe Photography – The Essential Beginners Guide

by: David Taylor

There are so many books like this one, and it is a real beginners guide, It could almost be a beginners guide to any form of photography, spending a long time telling you how to pick your camera and equipment then teaching you how to use it. It is similar in many ways the Beginners DSLR course I was teaching in Eton, it covers everything from exposure to white balance to composition rules, and while this is tinted with landscape theory, it is just as valid for any other type of photography.

This is not really a book for a level 2 student on a degree course as this theory is the stuff that you are expected to bring with you at the start of Level 1, it is, however, a good and well-written book for a beginner which is probably given away by the title.


A1 Hand In Complete

I finally finished the first leg of A1 Beauty and the Sublime, I have handed it in metaphorically, i.e. I sent Russell an email to notify him it was ready for a Tutor assessment, and I am looking forward to seeing what he thinks of it. I am also looking forward to my first of the new video conference feedback sessions which I am told are very productive indeed. I am partly expecting that Russell will want me to trim back from 12 to 9 images, we shall see, I found it hard to do that as I am too invested in them. I have already exiled one of my favourite images because It was too similar to others that worked better. I may be wrong we shall see I should not try to second guess Russell.  I am much more willing and open to change on this assignment as I would like it to be a learning exercise that sets me up for the rest of the module.

A1 Beauty and the Sublime Complete

After several hours more of editing, the triming rejecting and in some cases re-establishment of images I have finaly arrived at a set of images that I am happy to submit to Russell for his tutor assessment. I have already pre warned him its coming and now I have all the images and am tidying up the entries on the blog site I will email him early next week to submit the work for scrutiny. I am quite prepared for rework based on his ideas and comments as so far Russell has only given me very sage advice.

The work can be found in detail here: A1 Beauty and the Sublime

The initial submission looks like this:

Editing my A1 Submission

Today I took the last images for A1, having been really cheeky on Tuesday and walked into the site office of the local sewage works to ask if I could photograph it with a drone, I was really surprised how kind the site manager was, he told me that I could come back on Sunday morning and they would leave the front gate open so I could take my images when they had no contractors on site. I arrived promptly at 9 am as arranged to find the gates open and the car park empty. I set up my drone and took some wonderful images of the plant.

As it was Sunday I also managed to capture the trains parked in the Farnham siding from a deserted carpark in a nearby industrial estate.

After looking through the images I had a further 3 images to add to my first edit, which took me to 15 candidates, I did not really want to use more than 12 and had a hard time rejecting images that I had become far too attached to. I have been really attached to the first image I took above my house as it was the one that made me discover the vertigo effect, but sadly there were stronger candidates and I was rather overflowing with housing estate images.

I started being quite tough and ended up with 10 images, which is not a very aesthetically pleasing number in a WordPress gallery, so I tried to reject another which proved impossible as I would be rejecting images I really liked, my only solution was to bring it back to 12 which was not difficult. I am on the upper limit for the submission but am happy that it will stand up to a tutor assessment, no doubt he will prick my conscience and the final submission will change again.


I should put a lid on the Diptych work too, I did a lot of tests only a few made it to the blog, but no matter how I manipulated the work it did not resonate at all with me. I really feel that this work needs to be focused on my interpretation of the sublime and explore the relationship between that uneasy feeling we get particularly with vertigo and the pain/pleasure boundary that is alluded to by Burke. The addition of the beautiful images did not enhance or underline this for me in many ways it distracted from the work I am trying to do. Also in many cases, the more conventional aerial view simply was not beautiful, which would have limited the work I could include. In fact, many of the images I consider to me most powerful did not really have a beautiful counterpart of angle, and many of the beautiful images looked rubbish from above, the churches were the most remarkable of these.

I have therefore decided to limit myself to “birdseye views” in order to try to demonstrate the sublime in my landscape images.

A1 – What did not make the cut

I thought it would be useful and more complete to show the body of work that led up to my A1 submission. I went through a lot of work before centring on my ideas and this is just a sample of the things I tried that did not make it into the first edit you can click on an image to see a larger version and view the whole set in a navigation window:

Further Exploration of Diptychs

Further to an email exchange with Russell where I proposed using diptychs he suggested experimenting with my images to see if they work, he also wondered if 50/50 diptychs would be effective.

I have been playing today with these ideas with mixed results:

I am not sure how I feel about them yet, some images work while others don’t and it feels like it may be difficult to make a consistent set for the assignment, I do like the last one but its more a curiosity than a serious balance of the beauty and the sublime. In many ways its more like a set from a Stephen Strange movie but I will continue to contemplate and experiment, I have one more shoot lined up where I have permission to film an industrial site which is exciting.

BOOK: Masters of Drone Photography

Edited by Fergus Kennedy (Author, Editor), foreword by Tristan Gooley (Author), Foreword by Tristan Gooley (Editor)

Masters of Drone Photography is another beautiful book showcasing the work of experienced drone photographers. It includes work from sixteen drone photographers, including Fergus Kennedy, each photographer has been chosen because they epitomise a specific style of drone photography :

  • JP and Mike Andrews – Masters of Abstract
  • Francesco Cattuto – Master of Mood
  • Amos Chapple – Master of Light
  • Tugo Cheng – Master of Rhythm
  • Jerome Courtial – Master of Landscape
  • Stacy Garlington – Master of Oceans
  • Tobias Hägg – Master of Colour
  • David Hopley – Master of Composition
  • Karim Iliya – Master of Travel
  • Fergus Kennedy – Master of Panorama
  • Petra Leary – Master of Geometry
  • Andy Leclerc – Master of Low Light
  • Florian Ledoux – Master of the Arctic
  • Bachir Moukarzel – Master of Architecture
  • Kara Murphy – Master of Coasts
  • Sean Satalteri – Master of Motion

Each section begins with a piece on each photographer showcases the work that they are supposed to be masters in with each image is a title with a short explanation of the image and the inspiration/journey undertaken to capture it. In each chapter is a short question and answer section attempting to delve a bit deeper into each pilot.

All in all, I really like this book there is some stunning imagery in it and it is all arranged around the different styles or ‘Masterys’. It is a charming book to dip in and out of and allows you to explore a particular genre of drone photography at a time.


A Revisit to the Castle

I have been up to Farnham park several times to fly the Phantom, it is nice because there is space and its just outside the controlled airspace for Odiham and Farnborough airports, the park is a council-owned park and has no restrictions on flying drones so it makes a good Takeoff and Landing site.

Last time I went there I took some images of the Castle, which are quite beautiful, I did this before I discovered the “Birdseye View so this morning I got there really early before any people were on the scene and made a very short flight to capture the following Image:


Peter Adams-Shawn

There is so much to examine and look at today since the wall of things Russell gave me to look into, its somewhat mind expanding the latest discovery was lost on me last night on the small screen of my phone I did not see what was happening at all, today I looked up the word pareidolia, which I have to confess I had not come across before, I have seen the concept but not seen the word if that makes sense. The Oxford English Dictionary defines it thus: The perception of apparently significant patterns or recognizable images, especially faces, in random or accidental arrangements of shapes and lines.”

Peter Adams-Shawn takes images that find pareidolia mostly in wave patterns taken from his drone, what is also interesting is he mostly uses the bird’s eye view I have been experimenting with. I cant post his images here as I don’t have his permission but I am sure he would be delighted for me to provide a link for you to look for yourself First his Instagram:


Then an example:

I find myself really drawn to these images, partly because they are made with a drone and that is something I am really enthused about at the moment, but also because he has been experimenting with a “Birdseye” view in many of his images, which is the view I have found to most invoke the feeling of the sublime, I find it noteworthy that images like the one above do take my breath away and in that it is both beautiful and a bit sublime however it is not really the feeling of virtigothat comes from these images, which leads me to speculate that there are a number of factors that can trigger the sublime in these images.

More on diptychs

I am unsure how well the first Diptych worked as it makes the sublime image quite small and I wonder if they work better bigger to this end here is a second attempt at a diptych where the images are mounted over and under rather than side by side.

Thinking diptychs

I have been talking to my tutor Russell, and he introduced me to Joseph Ford, whose work includes some interesting Diptychs combining drone photography with more conventional photography like this:


This has me thinking about the work I am doing on beauty and the sublime, I mentioned a few posts back that there seemed to be a shift from the beauty to the sublime when the camera was shifted down rather than looking across the landscape, I am now musing over the idea of creating Diptychs for each image demonstrating this, the rub is that not all the sites I have photographed produce a particularly beautiful image when taken more conventionally.I am planning to take a road trip today to revisit some of the sites and determine if they are just not beautiful or if I missed the best composition. In the meantime I have created this Diptych to test the idea:

Reflections on progress

In the last week either I have been too busy to get out with the drone or the weather has been bad, I really need to synchronise my diary with the weather, I am also suffering from a lack of the funds necessary to fuel up the truck and drive to more interesting places.

Last weeks work proved that some of the most mundane places can produce startling images, I want to get up to about 12 images that work for the assignment after editing out the ones that don’t earn their place in the lineup.

I thought I should try to sum up what I have learned and how that is driving the methodology behind the work.

Firstly I am working on producing images that reflect a definition I have formed on the sublime, this is derived from the various quotes I noted on the 17th of September that suggest the sublime comes from a place between pleasure and pain further I found the quote from Morley about Burke:

“Burke pinpointed a key aspect of the sublime as being the heightened and perversely exalted feeling we often get from being threatened by something beyond our control or understanding.”

I had the idea that this type of sublime was a bit like the feeling of vertigo you get when looking at something from a high vantage point, which led to the idea of using a drone. I also discovered that using a drone was not in itself the solution but that the vantage I take with the drone is critical to successfully achieving my aims. This last point is obvious as its the same with a land-based camera, a flash new camera will not ensure a pass at level 2 it will always be what you do with it. I was reviewing all of the images taken so far and wanted to share one I had discounted because I prefer another composition but this image almost makes me seasick as it has a greater feeling of being tumbled over and falling:

This image almost feels like it is upside down and I have fallen off my feet, I prefer the other for its composition but I do find this interesting for the effect it seems to have on my middle ear.

Hopefully, the weather will clear up and I will be able to go out and make more images in the meantime I continue to read and research.

Book: Drone Photography & Video Masterclass

by: Furgus Kennedy

This is a good book for the rank beginner, and it reminds me of all the books on 35mm photography I was bought when I was around 14 years old, they explained what an SLR was what a flash was etc., this is very similar in terms of drones it spends a lot of time explaining what a drone is and the types of drone and the law around flying them, which, incidentally, is about to change drastically so the information in this book will be out of date.

There is some information on taking still and video images with a drone but it is all very basic, as a skilled pilot and a holder of a PFCO I found little in writing to inspire me, I did however, enjoy some of his images as he is quite obviously a good drone photographer and the supporting imagery was fun to look at.

Looking for the Sublime with a Phantom

After the mixed success of yesterday I went out again today, in my mind I had an idea that had evolved from the warehouse yesterday that the drone could make an interesting image in a place that was really mundane to the land-based photographer, so my first port of call was the car park of the local industrial estate, being Sunday no one was around.

The first image really did not work as there was not enough going on in the image:

However, I tried to shoot the lake and found it was too big to shoot from 400 feet but there was an area at the edge of the lake that appeared quite busy this was the result:

I really like this image and feel it is doing exactly what I was looking for, before leaving home I also took this from the back garden:

I really like this one and am starting to feel like I am getting somewhere with these images as I can see more of them together.

I had two more locations in my mind to try and the next really blew me away, this was taken from the car park next to the Buddist temple in Aldershot and shows the BT exchange building:

My last site was a bit of a mixed bag I thought the cemetery in Aldershot might make an interesting subject, however, I don’t think it really worked at 400 feet. When I was descending I noticed that at about 200 feet the image was working better:

At 400 Feet:

At 200 feet approximately

I think that if either of these make it to the final cut it will probably be the lower of the two, there is a definite correlation between the angle of view to achieve the vertigo effect and the composition/ busyness of the image that creates the sublime effect.

Looking for the Sublime with a Phantom

I have been out today with my phantom looking for images for the assignment trying to develop the idea of images taken from directly above. My parameters were to take the drone to its maximum allowed height of 400 feet AGL (Above Ground Level) and point the camera directly downwards.

My First image was taken at the church in Seal as I wanted to see if a really lovely church like that would look good from above in a way the one in Hartley Wintney did not.

This was the result:

At this point, I am not sure about this image I included an image of the church from its traditional aspect for comparison I do get vertigo from this image but I am not sure if I like the image for itself in the same way as I do the house picture or the Wellington Statue. I do like the way you can see the human marks on the landscape however that is a different project.

I took two other images from the 400-foot aspect today:

The first was of a factory in the field where I crashed the original drone, in fact, the tree is the last one on the right at the top. This was taken at 400 feet I like the busy nature of the warehouse and the feeling it gives me of vertigo I feel like this one is a success.

I also took one directly above the Blackwater Vally Path where it crosses the River Blackwater and the result was somewhat mixed for me:


BOOK: Dronescapes

The New Aerial Photography from Dronestagram

Dronescapes is a huge hardback book filled to the brim with inspirational drone photography from the website dronestagram.

Dronestagram is a website launched in 2013 as a platform for people to share drone photography, its originator Eric Dupin, founded it because he felt there was a lack of places to share drone photography.

The book is a marvellous set of stunning images taken all over the world by some of the most innovative drone photographers. This book covers cities and the wild and looks at the world from just about every aspect from the picturesque to the sublime.

I find myself highly inspired by the work in this book but do wonder how fit you have to be to visit some of the places photographed. I guess its horses for courses and some of us can take awesome images sitting on a stool next to the car while others treck of into the wild there is a place for every type of image and this book showcased that well.

All in all this book is recommended for anyone interested in drone photography, it won’t tell you which drone to buy, how to use it or how to take photos and videos with a drone but it may just inspire you to get out and take your own amazing drone photos.

Exploring the Angle of the sublime

Its been a while since my last post mostly because I have had some rather extreme family issues to deal with that I won’t go into here.

Having been stewing over the discovery that an image taken directly from above may give the feeling of vertigo and be more reflective of the Idea of the sublime I wanted to test this theory and remembered taking an image at the Wellington statue from above, which we can contrast with the more traditional one from the last post I have put them together here to demonstrate the theory:

As you can see the image taken from directly above again makes you feel like you are falling into the image unlike the more traditional one. The question then is does this always work?

I went to an old church in Hartley Wintney to find out:

I feet that it does but in this case the image does not have the same impact for me it no longer conveys the beautiful building and could be a cross-shaped shed, the sense of its age is lost.


BOOK: Beauty In Photography by Robert Adams

Essay five Making Art New

Beauty in photography is a book of short essays by photographer and author Robert Adams, written as claimed in the inside cover by the quiet voice of a working photographer, artist and craftsman who has long thought about his endeavour.

Essay five “Making Art New” I found this to be the most difficult essay to digest it opens with the idea that we are all obsessed with the question “what’s new?” He spends a lot of effort explaining that art is not ever new that the subjects are all old and have been done many times what he asserts is that though the subject is old in great art it’s the example that is new and fresh. Like the remaking of an old story with a new plot that illustrates the same message, we can determine a new freshness by the new example it gives.

He quotes painter Mark Tobey observing that “No young artist can grow unless he emulates someone bigger than himself” making the point that if we stop at emulation we stop growing as an artist and that great artists are the ones who extend what they have emulated in their own work. He is disturbed by the obsession photographers have with revisiting old technology relying on the value of making contemporary work by doing the antique thing once more and whilst it can be charming it often ends up being a sad footnote to history.

He claims that the artist must take on influences but know how to dominate them and make work in the belief that he sees something that others do not.

Adams also believes that art loses its freshness over time and even the best work of artists like Matisse lose some of its power over time. He asserts, however, that photography is new, not because its a new technology or that the technology is always evolving but because photography is forced to do what art used to do and discover meaning from life. “Photography can always be new because the surface of life keeps changing,”

He asserts that some of the areas of life that could make photography fresh are ignored because of a lack of will to photograph it, he askes why are there so few images of normal family life or of working in industry or the experience of being a student. I wonder if this is still true, in the 21st centurary, everything seems to be photographed, the advent of the phone camera, the selfie and things like Instagram facebook etc have probably changed that landscape forever.

I enjoyed the quote he gives from A. Hyatt Mayor who wrote: “The really original artist does not try to find a substitute for boy meets girl, but creates the illusion that no boy ever met a girl before”. Adams asserts that “Photography is by nature on intimate terms with old familiar subject matter; all that remains now is for us to create new illusions in the service of truth”

BOOK: Beauty In Photography by Robert Adams

Essay four Photographing Evil

Beauty in photography is a book of short essays by photographer and author Robert Adams, written as claimed in the inside cover by the quiet voice of a working photographer, artist and craftsman who has long thought about his endeavour.

Essay four “Photographing Evil” reflects on Adams angst at failing to demonstrate evil in his photography, he opens the essay by describing the uneasy feeling he had about taking images of mines that were beautiful and did not convey the evil that they inflict on the world he talks of the wrongness of “the carcinogenic residues that were being dumped into streams and air” and of “the broken social patterns that mines bought to nearby towns” He ended up feeling somehow inadequate for the task of creating images that reflected these thuings. he was, however, heartened by the fact that many more worthy photographers seemed to have fallen short of this too, often seeming not to notice what was happening around them in the world.

He also notes that when you look at individual works such as Paul Strands “Woman, Patzcuaro” he realises that it was not a failure at all. He claims that “Photographers have been held to a different set of responsibilities than have painters and sculptors” and comes back to that premise that “Photographers want to and can give us the objective truth”, I am not sure this is a universal truth, I think its possible but not always the goal. He cites the criticism given to Bruce Davidson for carefully posing the subjects when in East 100th Street.

He then goes on to pose a rather wild question: “are the greatest paintings and sculptures generally speaking those that deal with evil” then immediately says that he thinks not! I tend to agree I don’t think the idea would have crossed my mind as it seems to me to be only one point of view, I can think of a lot of great art that has nothing to do with evil, but as an undergraduate, I guess I don’t have an opinion yet.

This essay continues to discuss the motivation for photographic art with some suggestion that it is all about some sort of social consciousness mixed with a duty to reveal evil wherever we find it. I have struggled with this since starting the degree in 2012, my first experiences on study trips etc seemd to suggest that to be a photographer on note you had to be an angry marksist or at least really angry about something, over the years I have seen lots of this and I felt it was what drove some photographers but I also feel “ANGRY” (just kidding) at being put in a box like this where my work will be less effective or relevant if I dont take on these traits, personally my own moral fibre is drawn more to releif and charity and to kindness and these are the things that stir me more than evil. all in all a very thought-provoking essay.

Adams final point on the matter is “When we are young, we want art that is filled with bitter facts, because we believe that evil can be overcome if we face it; when we grow older and begin to doubt this optimistic belief, we want art that does not simply reinforce the pain of our disillusionment.”



BOOK: Beauty In Photography by Robert Adams

Essay three Civilizing Criticism

Beauty in photography is a book of short essays by photographer and author Robert Adams, written as claimed in the inside cover by the quiet voice of a working photographer, artist and craftsman who has long thought about his endeavour.

Essay three “Civilizing Criticism” deals with the practice of criticism and looks at the negative and positive aspects of the practice, Adams starts by highlighting the fervour that practitioners of the impressionist movement went through at the hands of its critics, he states that “the only thing to be learned from the critics was how to suffer the sting of their attacks and carry on just the same” He comentson the state of newspaper critics and how reviews of photographic shows seem to be written with “a bitter need for vengance”  though he admits he knownot for what crime.

Adams speculates that the problems lie with the overwhelming number of photographers that exist today and that he could earn a living teaching photography but not earn a living using the skills he was teaching which he remarks is something of an irony. He speculates that the overwhelming body of negative criticism is in part due to the young age of many of the critics and the fact that “they have not yet often enough made fools of themselves to be cautious or suffered enough to be charitable”  He also aknowlagest hat “it is harder in photography than in painting to establish a recognizable style”  and that this leads to “desperate efforts to establish a style at any cost and in turn o the creation of technically accomplished but otherwise empty pictures that anger those who must write about them” He does reflect that reasons for bad behaviour do not, however, excuse it.”

He reflects on the Sculptor DaviddSmiths journal comment, “Does the onlooker realize the amount of affection which goes into a work of art – the intense affection and total conviction?” “This effort requires considerable risk and sacrifice, and is open to the question whether some critics understand this when they attack.”

Adams speculates that the real purpose of a critic should be to nourish successful art, he reminds us that the worst kind of critique is no critique at all and that there are some bases of criticism that should be completely abandoned the first of which is sincerity, he speculates that it is impossible to judge whether an artist is sincere or not and that it is, in fact, one of the worst elements to judge a photograph on as some of the most sincere artists have been the worst.

The next improper standard of criticism is biography, it has been suggested that we must understand the complete background and political landscape of a photographers background in order to judge their work. Adams claims that the only thing by which a photographer can be judged are his pictures and in fact, if his pictures cannot be understood without knowing details of the artist’s private life then that in itself is a reason for faulting them. “Major art, by definition can stand independent of its maker.”

In conclusion Adams quotes Matisse “A painter has no real enemy but his own bad paintings” he says that “A good picture powerfully vindicates itself in time; it is far stronger than a mistaken critic” his final statement sums up the essay ” In the highest sense, surely a photography critic’s most important job is to help photographers of promise defeat their only real enemies, their own bad pictures”

BOOK: Beauty In Photography by Robert Adams

Essay two Beauty in Photography

Beauty in photography is a book of short essays by photographer and author Robert Adams, written as claimed in the inside cover by the quiet voice of a working photographer, artist and craftsman who has long thought about his endeavour.

This is about the second Essay “Beauty in Photography” In his second essay Adams starts by setting up the idea that thinking distracts us from art.Many writers and painters have demonstrated that thinking long about what art is or ought to be, ruins the power to write or paint”  he sights examples of Tolstoy denouncing his own novels of Shakespeare plays and of Coleridge becoming so abstracted he could no longer write. He also points out the dichotomy that we have to risk thinking for our work to have any shape.

All of this leads to Adams admitting that he has come to the conclusion that he has to use the word beauty to describe the thing that drives him to pick up his camera. “I have since learned, however, that the word beauty is in practice unavoidable.” He further explains that “its very centrality accounts, in fact for my decision to photograph” he continues “there appeared a quality – Beauty seemed the only appropriate word for it.”

he continues by defining beauty as the Beauty of Form he also claims it useful for photographers as implies light. He speculates on how art reveals beauty or form and states “Art simplifies. it is never exactly equal to life. In the visual arts, this careful sorting out in favour of order is called composition” 

The essay continues on to look at how photography as an art relies on the photographer seeing the world in front of him, and that no amount of cleaver equipment can replace this need for the photographer’s eye, which is I suppose a universal truth. He quotes Edward Weston as claimed in one of his daybooks that he started to photograph as a result of his “Amazement at the subject matter”, and as he says he doubts that any great photographer starts taking pictures because of amazement over a camera.

Next, he asks “if we assume the goal of art is beauty” how do we measure that it has been achieved, how do we judge it. What follows is a justification that for art to be beautiful it must be unique (I am not sure about this) and that it must help us to see the beauty in things we did not perceive beauty i.e. to rediscover beauty. he disdains the idea of uncountable camera club members looking for the tripod holes made in Yosemite Park by Ansel Adams so that they can recreate his work.

He notes that beauty can be found in the most unlikely places, who would have thought that bell peppers could be so different citing the work of Weston, who he seems to greatly admire. He also believes that luck plays a big part in capturing good photographic art, Citing that if one stood at a certain old church just as the sun was rising on a particular night that we could have taken a similar picture to Adams, this for me somewhat argues against his prior point remembering that Adams kept revisiting a site to find that perfect moon or bit of light and he had the foresight to know that there was a great image there, this seems to me to be very different from stumbling on a beautiful landscape just as the sun is perfect and snapping a picture. One requires luck the other requires planning and the photographer’s eye to know that one day the light will be perfect.

Adams goes on to claim that great photographic art should look like it was done effortlessly, whilst I think this is true often the truth is far from simple, a fact that Adams goes on to conclude, he calls it the photographers deception, and remarks that “only pictures that look as if they had been easily made can convincingly suggest that beauty is commonplace”

Adams, moves on to look at the photographs that have become memorable in photography’s history and asks “are all important pictures beautiful?” he cites the Robert Capa image of the fatally wounded Spanish loyalist, he claims it is a vivid synopsis of violent death but says it is not beautiful in the way he is describing he speculates that it needs a lesser adjective to describe it, and concludes that significant photographs are not necessarily beautiful. He does concede that composition is one way that a photographer can show beauty through form.

Further, he makes an important point that ” beauty is not solely a matter of related shapes. Beauty is, at least in part always tied to subject matter.”

I find the last statement to resonate with the work I have been doing on A1 that there is more to a sublime image that just the angle of the camera and that in some cases images did not work because from the angle I was shooting them there was simply a lack of beauty, even when looking for the sublime.

One point that he makes jarred as it was something I have been looking into and that was the quote “On some occasions, however, Beauty whether in nature or mirrored in art, can itself be painful. I have walked in the mountains on clear winter afternoons when the landscape I discovered in the camera’s finder was, in its spectacular independence of us frightening.” Has Adams discovered the Sublime? he does not mention it but it sounds very similar to the comments by Burke. This is significant and is what I intend to examine with assignment 1.

Adams concludes that if photography can reveal the truth to us not only as truth but beauty then we do not need to attempt to explain our affection for it further.

Using the Phantom for A1

Since my last post and my Flight test I have been trying to get out with the Phantom to capture some images, I have still been plagued with the weather but I did get a few images, which have rather challenged my ideas.

At first, I thought I just needed to find some interesting places to take traditional landscape images and shoot them with the phantom. I thought this would demonstrate that feeling of vertigo I was looking for. I somewhat naively thought that just because they were taken from a high vantage point they would take the breath away, This proved not to be the case. If anything it made the beautiful images look more beautiful and more traditional in terms of landscapes. Here are some examples:

As can be seen they are quite lovely images, however, I don’t think they show the sublime at all, most of them are images that have not been seen before because without a drone the camera cannot get into that position. These images are unique and different but not at all sublime as described previously.

I did, however, take one image during this period that made me stop and think:

This was one of the first images taken with the first drone, I think on the first flight, it was taken from about a 100feet or so with the camera pointing directly down, and it made me feel odd, I felt that little bit of vertigo I have been discussing, I wondered if the secret was the angle of the camera as this makes the viewer feel like they are above the image falling in rather than standing on a high platform looking out like all the others.

This image has an interesting quality there are lots of things going on. There is a kind of beauty that is sharpened by the feeling of fear or unease that draws us into the picture.

PFCO Flight Test Passed

After some really bad weather and a fair amount of snow my flight test was finally booked for 19th January and I had to drive all the way to Newcastle to take it.

The test went well and I passed thanks to the wonderful Tom, my instructor and examiner, who made the whole process a lot of fun.

The test was based on a simulated commision to locate and survey a field where the customer required an aerial photograph of some cones, the test was marked on the quality of the planning and risk assessment and the ability to complete some controlled manoeuvres and to take an image of the said cones.

It all went well though it was rather surprising how small the cones looked on the display when taking the image:

As you can see the snow was still melting and the cones looked very small, but the image was a test of a concept and it helped me pass my flight test,

All that is required now is some good weather and some inspiration to take this project forward

The Perils of The Weather

Since the new Phantom has been with me the weather has been awful, there has been no chance to get out and practice and no opertunity to take any images, we have had rain, snow and high winds all of which are a massive problem for flying, my Operations manual has been passed fit and my flight test has been called off twice for weather.

Exercise 1.9: Visual research and analysis – social contrasts

Exercise 1.9 is now complete and the full write up can be found here Exercise 1.9

This exercise was a test of our ability to research and find images relating to a topic, in this case, different social perspectives, I found one item that pushes the boundaries of what was asked, as it called for images and I found a video, the video was not strictly landscape but it did describe a social landscape and we are always being told to think outside the box and stretch our minds to new possibilities.

For the images containing two perspectives I was really taken by the two images that looked like aerial imagery which fits in with the work I am doing on the assignment, Luiz Arthur Leitão Vieira is a Brazilian photographer I cannot find any reference in English to how they were taken but the images are a great representation of the use of the elevated perspective.


BOOK: Beauty In Photography by Robert Adams

Essay one Truth and Landscape

Beauty in photography is a book of short essays by photographer and author Robert Adams, written as claimed in the inside cover by the quiet voice of a working photographer, artist and craftsman who has long thought about his endeavour.

In the first essay “Truth and Landscape” Adams comes to grips with the fact that people who once went out into the landscape and proudly had their picture taken are doing this less and less, he thinks that we are turned away by the way the human being is spoiling the landscape

Admittedly scenic grandeur is today sometimes painful”, “an overlook from which one could see ducks and wild swans and miles of gleaming bay – were scattered with hundreds of empty liquor bottles”  (Adams 13)

Adams speculates that the places we visit are no longer true to the image we have of them that the reality is somehow marred by the way we have damaged the countryside, he asks “Is it possible for art to be more than lies” (Adams 14)

He speculates that landscape art provides a way of enjoying places we do not know while it insulates us from the realities of human detritus, He says “Although we are not as naive as we once were about the accuracy of the pictures, we continue to value them initially as reminders of what is out there” (Adams 14) He also points out that “if landscape were only reportage, however, it would amount to an ingredient for science which it is not“.

Adams continues to point out that “something in the picture tells us as much about who is behind the camera as about what is in front of it” (Adams 15) he speculates that “the photographers individual framework of  recollections and meditations about the way he perceived that place or places” affects the resulting image and that “making photographs has to be a personal matter; when it is not, the results are not persuasive“.

My take away from this essay was that for an image to enguage with the viewer and to make them want to look at it there has to be some of the photographers personality and style in it, dare I say their voice, this plays well alongside the writings of Roland Barthes, which were much debated in the previous module IAP, I would go further in speculating that the image not only needs to have something of the photographer in it but it needs to play to the punctum of the viewer, which we know we cannot plan for.


Adams, Robert. Beauty In Photography. 2nd ed. New York, NY: Aperture, 2009. Print.

Redwing Returns

The bad news is that the Phantom was not viable for repair the cost would have been higher than the cost of replacement, I have therefore procured a new Phantom which arrived today, so I am now able to start working on the assignment again.

Here is a little video taken with the new drone on a test flight at Puttenham Common.

Karim Iliya Drone Photography

Having looked at Karim’s work I am somewhat stunned at the bravery he has as a pilot and a drone photographer.

His images and videos are stunning you can see them here https://karimphotography.com/drone/ What really impresses me is the sheer boldness of the piloting, having destroyed almost £2K of drone in a mere puddle to watch Karim fly a £7K drone into the face of a wave to catch a surfer makes my heart skip, some of the shots of mountains have me wondering where he was standing to get such a shot. In the wilds of Hawaii I do not know what the drone laws are if indeed there are any, but here in the UK, I am restricted by lots of rules and regulations that make it hard to even get the drone in the air.

I have to confess the crash has left me a little cautious although I have proper drone insurance now and a DJI care pack that would prevent me loosing so much in a future event, I am still having to work these issues out and exercise my brave muscle. I am therefore an admirer of work such as this which seems to have been shot with either a great deal of care or a complete disregard for the drone. This may, of course, be true as I saw an interview with one of the more flamboyant drone photographers in the USA where he was explaining that when the stakes were high and the pay was right it was perfectly ok to sacrifice the drone to get that special shot. I suppose this is true in the movie world where they spend millions on filming, killing a drone to get a special shot is just part of the expense.

I was studying the windsurfing videos made by Karim and wondering how he prevented all that spray going in the downward-facing vents on the drone, which hates moisture, and I speculate that with an Inspire drone its is possible to use a longer lens that would enable him to get higher and further back while maintaining the illusion of being really close, this would make the shot look a lot more daring than it first appears to be. We are also given no frame of reference as to how far from shore he is during these shots which also adds to the tension.

All in all, I really enjoy Karim’s work and find it inspiring to get out and make work that inspires others

Drone Photography

In a recent email from my tutor while discussing the idea of using a drone to take images for my assignment Russel recommended two drone photographers/filmmakers, Karim Ilia and Gab Scanu.

The URL for Karim is: https://karimphotography.com/drone/ 

he one for Gab is password protected but I did find his work on Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/gabscanu/?hl=en Some of which includes aerial photography.

I find the work to be quite stunning, at first I thought well its all right for people who can afford to travel to exotic places and get these images, however, it also occurs to me that where I live might be exotic to someone from elsewhere in the world, we do tend to think that to get exciting images we have to travel, which is the Douglas Adams Paradox about bypasses:

“Bypasses are devices that allow some people to dash from point A to point B very fast while other people dash from point B to point A very fast. People living at point C, being a point directly in between, are often given to wonder what’s so great about point A that so many people from point B are so keen to get there, and what’s so great about point B that so many people from point A are so keen to get there. They often wish that people would just once and for all work out where the hell they wanted to be.”

– Douglas Adams – the Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy

Why did I write that? well, it occurs to me that as photographers we always want to travel to exotic places and take exotic things! Whilst there is not really anything wrong with that it makes me think about the people that live in these “exotic places” who probably think Aldershot is exotic, and whilst that makes me smile as living here I see nothing exotic about it, I suppose its no different to me travelling to some small town in Germany or France and finding it different photographically worthy etc. while the locals wonder why I am obsessed with photographing their “mundane town”.

Coming back to the drone photographers recommended by Russell one cannot deny they have found some stunning places to use their drones and I admit some envy at their opportunities to do that, one of the better sides of photography is the ability it has to let me experience the full wonder of an African watering hole or some other remote and wonderful place without leaving my seat and risking the upset stomach.

These images and films are awe-inspiring and make me want to produce images from my frame of existence that has a similar effect on people who live elsewhere in the world.

Exercise 1.8: Zone System In Practice

I have completed exercise1.8 on the Zone system the full write up and notes can be found here:  Exercise 1.8: Zone System In Practice

Here are the results:

PFCO Training

A quick update on the state of the Phantom and my PFCO training.

Fist the drone is still away and everything is dragging out it seems like an awful lot of the circuits are fried and the cost is starting to look close to the cost of replacing the whole thing, a word of warning I did not realise when it set the phantom up that you cannot buy DJI care if you have had the drone active for more than 48 hours, I screwed up as I had fully intended to get that cover and instead of a small fee for a replacement it looks like a full new drone as the cost of a new body is really close to the cost of the whole thing.

Second bit of news is more positive, I passed my PFCO ground school with flying colours (pun intended) so I am now clued up on the rules for flying drones commercially and have completed the first step to gaining a Permission to fly Commercial Operations, just an operations manual to write and a flight test to take. oh and a drone to replace. I used the chaps above Heliguy who are a very professional and well-organised group and ran a brilliant course. I highly recommend them.

Tragedy Strikes

Went out on Saturday to practice with the phantom, did a nice long flight took some video while I was flying, practised the test manoeuvres for the PFCO and at the end thought I would try this in sport mode as I may have to in the test, (first mistake) the test wants you to fly in ATTI mode, not sport. now in sports mode the phantom flys faster but does not use obstacle avoidance.

What I neglected to account for is that when velocity exceeds thrust the drone continues in the direction it is travelling until thrust overcomes velocity (Second Mistake) this practically means when you zoom across the field at full chat and slam the thing into reverse it takes a while to slow down and stop)

I watched in horror as the phantom barely clipped twig which promptly grabbed the drone into the tree where it fell like a stone, I thought this would be fine until I realised it was stuck in a fenced-off culvert submerged in water, which they do not like.

I struggled to get to the drone and mostly failed my daughter even tried to wade up the stream but was beaten back by the brambles, The drone was suddenly recovered when spiderman turned up lept over the fence and grabbed the drone for me, no idea who he was just that he was a very fit soldier, to be fair Claire was almost through the brambles by this point.

In the cold light of day and after some time in a hot dry room I realise that the phantom is badly damaged the battery is ruined and the drone itself will not come on so I am sending it to a drone repair specialist to see if I can get it mended, this is looking expensive.

A new toy with exciting possibilities

My newest toy has opened up a world of possibility for Landscape photography I have lots of ideas about using the drone to create images for my assignments. I flew it for the first time today and took some pictures, none are really any use for the assignment but they did start me thinking about how I could incorporate a different style of camera into my work.

For now here are a couple of my initial images nothing special except they are the first ones take with the Phantom:



Exercise 1.6: Staring into the contemporary abyss

The exercise ins now complete and can be viewed here: Exercise 1.6: The contemporary abyss

I was surprisingly motivated by the Tate Article written by Simon Morley, as it discussed the elements of the sublime that resonate with what I have been thinking, my previous post giving me a book mark to the quote from Burke sums up a lot of the energy I am currently feeling about the sublime.

This article has given me a lot to think about around the sublime and the link to threat or danger and pain in something that can also be beautiful because of this link. More pondering is required by me.

Staring into the contemporary abyss

I just started looking at the text for exercise 1.6 Staring into the contemporary abyss, and had to note a quote that adds to my thinking on the sublime:

In the early eighteenth century Joseph Addison described the notion of the sublime as something that ‘fills the mind with an agreeable kind of horror’. It was an idea feverishly explored by artists such as Turner, John Martin and Caspar David Friedrich, and further taken up by the American abstract painters Rothko and Barnett Newman.

Staring into the contemporary abyss
The contemporary sublime
Simon Morley
1 September 2010
Tate Etc. issue 20: Autumn 2010


I will be commenting further as part of exercise 1.6 but I wanted to keep this quote safe for reference as it is very relevant to the musings I had earlier this week.

Looking at the Sublime

Looking forward to the assignment I recognise that in order to develop an Idea I will need to understand the meanings behind Beauty and the Sublime. I am fairly confident that I understand the meaning of beauty (at least my interpretation of it) so I will return to that later.

I have some preconceived notions about the word sublime, though I note from a quick google search that it has many interpretations as Jane Kemp told me, therefore I think I need to pick a notion that fits with the assignment.

On the university of Idaho I found this definition:

“The passion caused by the great and sublime in nature . . . is Astonishment; and astonishment is that state of the soul, in which all its motions are suspended, with some degree of horror. In this case the mind is so entirely filled with its object, that it cannot entertain any other.” [Edmund Burke, On the Sublime , 1756 ed. J. T. Bolton. 58]


A second quote from the same site states:

Sublime experiences, whether in nature or in art, inspire awe and reverence, and an emotional understanding that transcends rational thought and words or language.

And finally at the end:

Post Hippie Sublime
Post-Romantics, by the way, may seek the sublime in urban or social settings, often including ones that, as Edmund Burke first proposed 250 years ago, are violent.  Standing in downtown Manhattan and looking up, or atop the Twin Towers and looking down, or standing in front of a wall of speakers blasting Green Day (sellouts!) or DragonForce (a band which, by the way, sucks!) and slam dancing, or overdosing on caffeine and driving alone through the LA freeways at 2 a.m. at 95 mph…all these are attempts to capture that moment when the outside experience and your imagination overwhelm you and you feel connected to the larger experience of existence.  It’s no coincidence, then, that the leader of Sublime died of a heroin overdose.

The consumer-market driven Romantic sublime lives on in “extreme sports” like rock climbing, mountain biking and downhill skiing, not to mention sky diving and bungee jumping, alligator wrestling, random dumb-ass shit usually accompanied by the words “Hey y’all, watch this!  Oh sheeeeeeeit….” and ending in medical evacuation.

An article on the Artifice: https://the-artifice.com/the-sublimes-effects-in-gothic-fiction/ has a definition of the sublime in gothic fiction:

What separates experiencing the sublime from experiencing beauty is the disruption of harmony. As stated above, it shows elements of Romantic reactions to human experience while utilizing fear as well. According to Edmund Burke, the imagination experiences both thrill and fear through what is “dark, uncertain, and confused.” In setting the sublime apart from beauty, the sublime creates more than a positive, appreciative response to an aesthetic, such as a beautiful painting or sunlit meadow. The sublime stems from potent awe and terror that stresses someone’s limits, surpassing all other responses and overloading the recipient in both their revulsion and fascination.

I found the next passage particularly interesting:

In regards to the Romantic view of the environment, the sublime can occur when natural grandeur overwhelms an individual to the point of causing fright or a feeling of helpless insignificance.

And Finally from The Artifice:

Overall, approaching the sublime occurs when a sight or experience is “awesome” or ” awful” in the old meaning of both words: characterized by or inspiring awe, and awe is an emotion containing fear, wonder, and reverence. The sublime questions the stark dichotomy between pleasure and pain because a fear-invoking scene can also cause wonder, an odd sort of delight. In a contemporary sense, it could be viewed as watching a train wreck: horrifying, but captivating to the viewer.

When I analyse these comments they all point me toward one thing the balance between pleasure and pain, as noted above the human reaction to disaster is to become a voyeur something you see on a motorway when both lanes become congested after an accident as everyone turns into rubber necked voyeurs and make the situation worse.

This idea of an edginess to the sublime something that makes you take a sharp intake of breath, it reminds me of the feeling of vertigo you get when looking through the glass portion of the floor in the Eiffel Tower, or peering over a sheer drop either on a cliff top or at the top of a tall building.

I can remember being totally overwhelmed by this experience when I was an apprentice and the guy who serviced all of the cranes and hoists took me up in a lift to service a hoist. I was almost paralisedby the vertigo of looking down from the small platform, the image to the left shows a similar piece of equipment, the one we had back in the 1980s was old even then and rather than the nice sturdy scissor lift it was a single hydraulic ram that swayed and wobbled as you moved making the experience a hundred times worse.

This feeling of fear or vertigo is similar to the feelings described in the discussion on the sublime above, I can think of two events in my life that cross into the realm of art where this reaction was extracted from the audience by the artist, both are moments in cinema where the director has played the audience so well that the desired reaction is guaranteed.

The first was as a young man I took my Dad to see Jaws 2, this is a film riddled with this kind of suspense and everyone expects the shark to jump out all the way through the movie, one of the most clever moments is when Cheif Martin Brody is investigating the shaw line and sees something in the water, there is a very tense moment as he wades out to see what it is, the whole cinema is waiting for the inevitable shark attack when with a suddend build of sound a dead eaten body is thrown at him by a large wave. The reaction was for the entire cinema to jump out of their skins, a brilliant and unexpected twist.

The second of these is a moment in Jurasic Park where the children are hidden in the ceiling of the building and the Raptors are prowling underneath, we are momentarily led to believe that they have left when they suddenly leap up through the hole in the ceiling, I watched this several times in the cinema and each time everyone in the cinema pulled their legs up from the ground.

Clearly filmmakers have sound effects music and dialogue to increase the tension and suspense of the moment, however, it struck me that if it were possible to crerate an image that instilled a bit of fear into the viewer while being facinating and drawing them in it may go some way to describing the sublime in an image. More pondering to do on the subject as I know what I would like to do but not how to achieve it yet.

TV Group Tutor day

Today was the September meeting of the TV Group, founded back in 2012 so that we could get access to some tutoring, still going strong this was one of our biggest meetings. Our resident Tutor Jane Taylor was with us giving good solid and constructive feedback. Almost everyone had something to share and we went around the room looking at the work and ideas everyone had to share.

I always feel very inspired by the crazy ideas the people in this group have that produce such interesting work, everything from polaroid to Nazi Germany was discussed in this session and some very powerful work was shared.

I pitched my ideas for Assignment 6 based on the work of Emily Allchurch and the idea was received with interest, Jane said she thought the idea had an interesting slant to it and encouraged me to pursue it further. I also spoke about the sublime and Assignment 1, Jane’s advice was not to get too hung up on the sublime as it has many meanings.

I have not yet finished the exercises in part one so I will not fix my ideas about assignment one yet until I have soaked up the learning that is to be had from part one.

It was a really good day and was nice to see everyone here, we also discussed the Body of work Project the group is taking on so that we can mount an exhibition of our work in February 2019 at the Lightbox in Woking. This is all very exciting and I think everyone is really getting excited about making the work for the exhibition. within the next few weeks, it looks like we will have the contract in place with the gallery at which point the whole thing will take on a far more realistic perspective.

Preparing for Assignment 6 Exercise 1.5

Emily Allchurch from her website: http://www.emilyallchurch.com/

The inspiration came from Russell my tutor who introduced me to the work of Emily Allchurch, who has captivated my imagination, in her work she recreates old oil paintings using composite photography to produce her expression of the original work in photography.

I am currently researching the possibility of using similar techniques to reflect the transition required by Assignment 6.

Read more about it here: Exercise 1.5

Exercise 1.4 Complete

Is it Art?

I read the Masius De Zayas essay, at first I thought he was trying to shoot down the idea of photography being art, but on re-reading I perceive that he was trying to place paintings in a box and propose that photography had somehow gone beyond what conventional art was capable of. His language and rhetoric are very old fashioned and reminiscent of a colonial Britain divided by Class, However, his ideas about photography having two aspects: The documentary show it as it is the style of facts and the Photo art style of imagined and staged photography. This seemed to me to resonate with the idea of photo fact and photo fiction I discovered during my DPP studies.

Read more here: Exercise 1.4 


Exercise 1.3 Complete

Exercise 1.3 is now complete, lots of old masters studied and the similarities compared. This was an interesting exercise in looking at what conventions are observed by Landscape painters, I also went further and looked at the norms that have been carried over into Landscape photography and found that the Landscape photographer of the year has been running long enough now to start to draw conclusions about the attitudes photographers have towards the genera of Landscape

Read more about the Exercise here: Exercise 1.3

A new learning log

I found an A4 Moleskine hardback notebook that I had bought when I started TAOP and not used. It seems perfect for my new Landscape learning log / Sketchbook. Since I had become accustomed to clipping and sticking things in my log in IAP this seemed a perfect solution to my needs. I like to jot down thoughts and needs in a book and this will help to drive this blog as I proceed.

Exercise 1.2

Spent a fair amount of effort getting my kindle working and setting up Caliber so that I could access the PDF articles we are being asked to read. I found that because they are mostly rendered images they did not convert properly, and were hard to read on my kindle forcing me to scroll around the page. I used Adobe Acrobat DC to convert them to text, this left me with some raw text files that had nasty page throws so I edited them into a readable block of text. The result was a converted MOBI file that worked on my Kindle, I found these much easier to read as they worked using the single page throw buttons. There was something about the editing process that seemed to soak the contents into my mind so that when I finally read it through on the kindle it made a lot more sense.

I found from my first read-through I was left wondering what I had read, but reading the converted more of the meaning behind the text came out, having digested the words, I then took a printout of the text and went through highlighting key passages and concepts, which left me with everything I needed to complete the exercise.


First Exercise done

The first spadeful of earth has been overturned and I have completed the first exercise, this involved getting my sketch pencils out and doing some drawing:

The exercise can be found here: Exercise 1.1


Start of the Landscape module

Having met the August Deadline for my IAP module I have now signed up for the Landscape module as my first HE5 Module. I have had a conversation with my Tutor Russell Squires and find myself ready to go. I am spending some time setting up this blog after a conversation on the Collage Forum about what the assessors really want from a blog. So this time I have made more separation between the modules and will run a conversational blog on the main page with links to exercises and assignments on the right hand side of the page