alan frost photography

in monochrome with occasional colour lapses

Posts tagged ‘Churches Project’

Photographic projects – and how I have come to appreciate their importance

In recent weeks I have been considering how and why my photography has developed over the past couple of years. In doing so I have come to appreciate the importance of projects. In this post I will write about a few examples and illustrate how they have impacted on my photography and how they might help you in the future.

The age old expression that ‘every picture tells a story’ may still hold true, but with millions of photos being uploaded to the web on a daily basis, via Instagram, Flicker, Facebook, Twitter (I could go on) ….. the world is now saturated with images. Whilst I still enjoy making and sharing ‘single’ shots’, my own feeling is that there is much greater value in a body of work which includes some form of narrative; hopefully a story contained within a set of images which makes viewing the work more meaningful and dare I say it, more pleasurable for the viewer. A story behind the image is far more difficult to achieve from just a single back lit picture viewed on a screen in the space of a few milliseconds, whereas a printed body of work is likely to hold the attention of the viewer for a longer period of time. These bodies of work may take the form of a panel, a photographer’s portfolio, part of an exhibition or published in a book.

New Art of The South Downs

Yours truly at the recent ‘New Art of The South Downs’ Exhibition

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A favourite image and a favourite camera – is that possible?

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I was asked recently if I had a favourite image which I had made? In all honesty I don’t think I do, although there are a number which I could name in a top ten. I do though remember reading that someone else when asked the same question replied – ‘The next one I am going to take.’ I rather like this response as it suggests a desire to constantly improve, believing that your next photograph will be better than the last and all those in your back catalogue. It also infers that the last image taken must be a favourite for at least it’s tangible and not a figment of the imagination – or is it? I’ll come back to this question later, as it’s relevant to the photograph in this post.

As far as a ‘favourite camera’ is concerned, well that’s easy for me to answer. It’s my Leica M Monochrom which I have been using for the last couple of years. It’s built like a tank, feels so good in the hand and the simplicity of its controls put me in complete control. It doesn’t have a multitude of programmable buttons, nor pages and pages of menus, which only serve to confuse, and nor does it come with a manual which might take the best part of a week to read, let alone understand. More importantly though the Monochrom together with the exceptional Leica lenses produces the images I am seeking to achieve with post processing and careful printing. The next incarnation of the Leica M Rangefinder must be just round the corner but I think its unlikely I will want to upgrade. The Monochrom has many idiosyncrasies, but I love it and the cost of upgrading is quite likely to be prohibitive anyway.

Given my feelings towards the Leica Monochrom, I am not that interested in the latest camera technology although to digress for a moment I was intrigued to learn about a new camera being developed by a company called Light. The camera is called the L16 and has the appearance of a large mobile phone, but instead of one lens and sensor there are 16. On pressing the shutter the camera software combines all the exposures from each of the sensors to produce one image. According to their website this can be up to 52 megapixels in size, with low noise and covering a focal range equivalent of 28mm to 150mm. The depth of field and other adjustments can be manipulated in post processing. Is this the future of camera technology, I don’t know, but nothing stays the same, so it will be interesting to see what happens when it actually hits the streets.

Back to the question I posed at the end of the first paragraph and indeed to the photograph in this post. It was taken a few days ago at St Botolph’s Church in Hardham, West Sussex. I had visited the church previously and noticed how the light was falling on the altar. I had taken some shots that day, only to find that my composition was not quite right, nor had I used the correct exposure settings. There were too many blown highlights. I decided to return, knowing in my mind the image I wanted to make. I knew which lens would give me the composition I wanted (28mm) and the likely exposure settings required to produce a malleable and workable file for post processing. I knew the time of day when the light would be in the right position, so I arrived at the church in plenty of time to get ready. The sun wasn’t as bright as it had been a day or two earlier but this proved to be a good thing. As it turned out I only had a couple of minutes to take the shot before the sun moved round and no longer illuminated the scene as I wanted it.

A favourite image or not, I like this photograph, as it will always remind me that it can be worth revisiting a location to take a particular shot that you have already pictured in your own mind.

Here are two more entries about St Botolph’s Church at Hardham.

Churches Project no.4 – St Botolph’s, Hardham, West Sussex

Thwarted by the flower arrangers at Hardham Church

 

 

Churches Project no 18 – St Botolphs, Botolphs, West Sussex

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A gate and pathway lead up to St Botolph’s Church

 

The Church of St Botolph’s stands in a small hamlet to the south of Steyning, in West Sussex. It lies close to the River Adur and is virtually on the South Downs Way, so many walkers stop to take a rest and enjoy the peace and solitude of this ancient building. It’s a lovely setting with just a few houses for company, although 700 years ago it was at the heart of a bustling port and crossing place of the river. At one time it was known as St. Peter de Vetrie Ponte (St Peter of the Old Bridge). The church has its origins in Saxon times and is believed to date from 950. Large parts of the original church can still be seen today including the tall chancel arch and the south wall of the nave. This is another church maintained and cared for by The Churches Conservation Trust, so whilst still consecrated is rarely used for worship.

 

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A simple cross in a window in the Saxon south wall of the nave.

 

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Organ stops

 

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A large Crucifix hangs on the chancel arch which dates back to Saxon times.

 

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Looking up at Christ with the ancient Saxon wall as a backdrop.

 

A note for regular readers – I am very aware that I have not posted an entry relating to my ‘Churches Project’ for at least a couple of months. That doesn’t mean I have lost my enthusiasm; to the contrary, my desire to visit and photograph these historical and remote places of worship is just as great as it has ever been. Time though is limited and the summer months are not necessarily the best time of year to take exterior photographs, as the lighting can be very harsh. I am sure the autumn and winter will rectify the situation and normal service will soon be resumed!

As always do click on any of the images to view a larger version which will open in a new window.

 

 

 

 

 

Attending an Advisory Day with The Royal Photographic Society

 

Ever since I gained a Licentiateship (LRPS) with The Royal Photographic Society back in 2012 I have had the desire to work towards the next distinction; an Associateship. For the past year or so I have been putting together a panel of prints which I hope might achieve the required standard. My proposed panel includes the above image.

As part of this process The RPS strongly advise attending an Advisory Day, where your panel of 15 images together with a Statement of Intent can be presented to Panel Members of The RPS. They give advice on whether or not your work is ready for submission or if more work is required. If the latter, they will give an indication in their opinion as to what needs to be addressed. This can vary from major changes or just a few minor tweaks.

On Sunday I attended an Advisory Day at the headquarters of The RPS in the lovely city of Bath and presented my panel, with I have to say, a certain amount of trepidation. There are a number of other photographers in the same room and the RPS panel members can quite rightly be constructively critical of a person’s work; after all that’s the very reason for attending. Nobody likes criticism in front of others but there is little point going for an Assessment only to fail by some margin, and many do apparently.

My panel is based around my ‘Churches Project’ and was entered in the Conceptual and Contemporary Category. I am pleased to say that it was well received and considered to be a strong panel worthy of submission, subject to changing three out of the fifteen photographs. It was considered these three were slightly weaker images when compared to the others and I agreed. One picture was changed at the Advisory Day from a selection of other prints I had taken with me, so that just leaves me with the task of sourcing two other prints, which hopefully shouldn’t be too difficult. I believe the Statement of Intent, the technical quality, printing and presentation are likely to meet the required standard but you can never be sure. I have to say I was very relieved and pleased with the feedback.

I have already booked a place for my Assessment in April next year, so I have a little while to wait to find out whether or not my panel will qualify me for an Associateship. There can be no guarantees but my fingers are crossed and I will of course report on the outcome in roughly six months time.

In the meantime here is a quote taken from the RPS website regarding the standard required for an Associateship –

“ARPS (Associateship) – images of exceptional standard and a written Statement of Intent (what you hoped to achieve). This is a significant step up from the LRPS.  At this stage creative ability and personal style (what makes your work unique to you), along with complete control of the technical aspects of photography must be evident.  It is at this level that you can first choose to submit your work to a particular specialist category.”

You can see a Gallery of my LRPS Panel by clicking here.

 

Churches Project no.17 – St Peter’s, Hascombe, Surrey

 

Regular readers of my blog will know that the vast majority of my work is in monochrome and this particularly applies to my Churches Project. Today though I have to make an exception, so I am including a set of colour images as well as their monochrome twins. The church featured is St Peter’s, Hascombe in Surrey. The exterior is in the style of a 13th Century church and was constructed of bar gate stone in the mid 19th Century to replace a derelict church.

 

 

In complete contrast to the relatively plain exterior, the interior of the church is a very rich blend of gilding and painting, particularly on the roof, the screen and the reredos- it is quite extraordinary and not what you might expect to find in a church in a small village in Surrey. Whilst I can appreciate the beauty, for me it is far too ornate…….I personally much prefer a simpler or can I say quieter environment. Nevertheless it has to be admired and appreciated for the skill, the craftsmanship and the time it must have taken to create.

 

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And now for a matching set of monochrome images –

 

 

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

 

 

Do click on any of the images to view a larger version which will open in a new window.