Gommes Forge Reccy

This morning I visited Gommes Forge, about 2 miles outside of Princes Risborough. This was not a full shoot as production only happens Monday to Friday but an intro and reccy of the location. Met by Jed who with his dad Heorge were cutting fire wood in the rain I was quickly shown round the main areas of the Smithy. The family have always been blacksmiths, and can trace their ownership back to the mid nineteenth century. Now most of their work is wrought iron gates, fireside tools and aluminium castings of signs.  


The Workshop covers a good size space with an outside area our back where the casting is performed, the metal heated to 1000 degrees. However due to machinery and projects the space is limited even with a 50mm. The large workshop reduced in size in the viewfinder to that claustrophobic workshop of the silversmith last year. I will be visiting again and will be shooting with a wider lens, - 35mm or a 28 if I can get it. 


interior of Gonmes Forge

Presentation of BHP

I have started printing an A4 portfolio for the British Heritage Project - darkroom prints where possible. This is separate to that of my main portfolio and will hold perhaps 5 images from each series. This potentially will be the presentation of what I hand in for the final project of the MA.  However today whilst teaching about photography books and their styles to my students I came across Blurb now offering magazine options, affordable, quick production times, user friendly. One of the commercial productions I have considered for the project would be a series of books in a box set, why not as a series of zines? Each issue is another chapter of the BHP, in a uniform format of presentation tying together the different filmstock and formats. 

There is other topics that have come up that link to the BHP and I have access, these will be shot but are something slightly removed eg. Bell ringers. This is relevant to BHP but closer to what was recorded by Homer Sykes or Benjamin Stone, these could come together in a zine, special to the topics that differ, or perhaps the follow up to the BHP. 

The format for the BHP zinebook that comes to mind is:

  • cover
  • inside cover image
  • BHP main synopsis
  • Chapter Synopsis
  • photographs and captions
  • link to the video element including QR code
  • introduce the following issue

I will experiment with layouts and do a test print.  

Musical Workings

Today has been spent working on musical gatherings for British Heritage Project films.  Together with Simon we have recorded 'The Farrier's Song' to support The Competition Farrier and was collected by Cecil Sharp, and then to soundtrack the brewer a song we found today again collected by Sharp: Joan's Ale Was New collected in 1904.  with both of these I need to record some parts myself, the farrier I need to rerecord the mandolin parts, and for Joan's Ale some harmonica (C Harp).

Approaching deadline

The production of Stereoviews is well underway. My digital submission is a catalogue of the series, but I will also be doing a physical submission due to the need to view the work with a stereoscope. This is a boxed set housed in a LSC Owl Nest. Each view is stamped on versa and signed using a pen made from a part of a narrowboat on the lathe of a pen maker on a narrowboat.  

Caption, stamp and signature on the back of card #1

Caption, stamp and signature on the back of card #1

LSC box, view and stereoscope

LSC box, view and stereoscope

For collaboration I feel I have lost my direction slightly, I know what I am doing but feel out of sync with it, and not sure why. My intention is to submit: 

2- the competition farrier (film)

4- the brewer (film) 

5- the stonemason (film) 

of these films only the stonemason is complete, the other 2 need the music to be complete. 6- The Apiarist the music is complete however editing has not been started and this will be a year long project and not complete until August 2018. 


I am am looking forward to the next semester where I can focus fully in the direction of BHP again, I have enjoyed the Stereoviews and they are something I will continue to use, however I do not see another full project in this approach for quite some time.  

RETHINK: Progress made, Traveling one day on Carla, and a week long shoot on 'Mad as a Hatter'

I made contact made with Baz via facebook, who invited me to join him traveling from Lock 88 (Uxbridge, Swan and Bottle Pub) up to Batchworth, Rickmansworth.  the film is now back from Peak Imagaing and looking good, I will start to scan tonight - should be another 5 or so finals here at least. 

This last week was spent living aboard a rental and traveling from Gayton to Braunston and back. This involved (each way) 13 locks and a tunnel.  Along the way we had some engine problems in the form of a net wrapped around the prop, the local Waterways Chaplin helped to clear, he alsoa greed to stand for a portrait with his wife (also a waterways chaplin) and dog.  Intervior views inluding the galley, sitting area of Carla, the kitchen stove of our hire boat: Mad as a Hatter.  Portraits of the Waterways Chaplains, other boaters and boat based craftsmen, the wildlife along the canal, other boats, inside locks and tunnels, boats being refilled at a marina, refilling the drinking water.  5 Rolls from this last week currently on their way to the pro-lab, 1 more still in the camera. 

There are some views I still want to get:

  • coalboat deliving hard fuels
  • the worn grooves in the metal plates protecting bridges (these are caused by the tow ropes between horse and barge before the boats went steam.

Now upo to 44 finals not including anything fgrom Carla and Mad as a Hatter, with these I should be now close to the final set of 59.

Printing is successful with the first 27 printed and now heat press mounted and ready to be cut.  The second batch is now half ready.

The Apiarist

Last Saturday I started a (hopefully) year long chapter of the British Heritage Project. "The Apiarist's Year".  Perhaps technically the most difficult project I have shot; certainly since the pigeon race liberation anyway. 

Difficulties came from a number of practical challenges:

  • Camera - whatever I used would need to be able to be composed and focused  through the veil, potentially away from the eye, and after contacting a DocPhoter in Alabama who is also a beekeeper the thickness and lack of dexterity in your hands due to the thick gloves warn also became apparent. I'll go through the considerations one by one. 
  1. Mamiya RZ67: waist level finder and big focus screen would give the best control of composition whilst using the veil. The large controls possibly usable with the gloves, however needing to reload every 10 frames would not be a good practical option here. 
  2. Olympus Pen FT: small and compact, and fiddly small shutter speed control would be difficult with the gloves, however not needing to reload until 76+ frames would make good practical sense. The viewfinder is small and dark though. 
  3. Nikon F100/F80: the setup used for the silversmith, and brewer. 36 frames to a roll - not as good here as the Olympus but far better than the Mamiya, Aperture Priority and AF would be useful due to the gloves. 

The Nikon ended up being the choice. 

  • Animal endagerment: something I was not expecting to happen was how the bees gathered on the camera itself, the gloves remove a lot of sensory feeling in the fingers, and when I glanced down at the camera to check shutter speed only to find 10-20 bees crawling over the body housing I missed some photographs potentially all due to the rush of squashing a bee on the shutter release by accident. 
  • H&S: I've never been stung before and don't know if I'm allergic (a bee did manage to get inside the hood with me) 

Each hive is home to between 50-55 thousand honey bees, the training apiary where we were houses 17 hives - that's a lot of bees! The sound was incredible and I hope is prominent on the video recording. I shot a single roll of film in the F100 needing to rely heavily on Aperture Priority and AF, however looking at the results due to not being able to support the camera fully against my face there is some camera shake in places, next time open the aperture up, faster time. 

The project will continue with the filling shooting script:

  • one camera one roll of colour neg, 200iso (Kodak Gold200)
  • one shoot per month
  • not all eye level
  • watch shutter speed (aperture no smaller than f5.6 on a sunny day)
  • be more varied
  • have a goal/topic for each shoot as a focus. 
  • more still lifes



Collaboration: FInally Underway, update of Rethink

I've spoken this morning to a folk musician I know in Newcastle regarding BHP, when we discussed it a few weeks ago he was interested in being involved in the project, this morning I sent him lyrcs and sheet music to a folk song collected in 1906 by Cecil Sharp down in Somerset entitled The Stone Cutter's Boy.  He aims to have a recording done and sent back to me sometime in the coming week! He is also going to leave room for me to add some mandolin on top, and I am very much looking frward to seeing what he comes up with.  The music is to go alongside #5 of BHP: The Stonemason who I photographed a couple of weeks ago in Gloustershiure close to the Welsh boarder.  Cathrine was a real find as she explained herself it is very unusual to find female stonemasons but they are slowly coming more common.

The shoot went well with alot packed into a couple of hours: Leica with 50mm, Bessa with a 35mm and 3 rolls of Sunny 16 film.  I have not started editing the video yet due to finishing a commission first. 

Other musical input coming in from: Vaughan Bloomfield, a fiddle player I have worked with for a few years now, he will be playing The Farrier's Song, collected in 1890 to accompany BHP#2, and I have suggested to the band both Vaughan and I are in to do an arrangement of a drinking song that is also in the archives of the EFDSS housed at Cecil Sharp House to accompany BHP#4 The Brewer.

I will be taking a tune to do myself as well, perhaps for the silversmith...

Rethink: Successful stereoviews of fishing on the grand union - just need to scan, and in a couple of weeks there is a marathon being run along the canal path, I have contacted CRT about documenting it.  I have also contacted some boat owners I know about letting me join them for a few locks one weekend.

Collaboration Frustrations

I have collaborated on projects before successfully, but now when I need it to it is not coming to pass, yet again brick walls are hit with the poets becoming silent.  This has caused me to have yet another rethink to both the collaboration assignment, and the rethink.

The stereoscopic plan for collaboration is now my Rethink, a good strong fit due to its new technical nature and how thinking about composition needs to be vastly different, so this opens Collaboration up to new possibilities as we go into the new term and ever closer to the deadlines.

Each element of The British Heritage Project is partnered with a short film, the soundtrack I plan to be traditional folk song.  These songs I am finding and drawing from The Full English archive, a free to use public archive of the vast collection of folk songs collected through the end of the 19th century and start of the twentieth by Val Williams, Cecil Sharp among others.  I originally planned to record these myself, but I am now trying to contact various folk musicians (both friends or friends of friends and pros) to record some of these songs.  I still want to be on them as being central in the production of all three mediums of the project is of importance to me.  So far we have:

  1. The Dry Stone Wallers: The Walls of Cambria (1829)
  2. The Competition Farrier: The Farrier's Song (1890)
  3. The Silversmith: Gold or Silver (Street Cry) (c1890)
  4. The Brewer: Glorious Beer (Year Unknown)
  5. The Stone Mason: The Stone Cutter's Boy (1906)

The following topics are lined up for the coming year

  1. The Bee Keeping Year: The Bee (c1890) / The Fly and the Bumblebee (1922)
  2. Willow Weaving: Down by the Salley Gardens (Year Unknown)

There are several musicians interested so this has possibilities. 

I'm still here just been busy!

Knew it had been a while since I had posted, but not this long! Busy term at work, students graduating, end of year show, internal politics, college merging with nearest rival, it goes on and on. In regards to my MA this term has been a challenge, the rest of the year I have been able to attend 50% of sessions timetabled, this term due to shifts to allow for input from other tutors I have been able to attend nothing at all! iOS has been a killer, I have been looking forward to being able to have input from some of these guys in particular but not been able to.  

When I explained this to them via email they have been great, particularly Lewis and Paul. Lewis gave up time to do a 1:1 to allow me to get started on the projects and this week I hope to get to at least one other session amongst some of my students resorting exams and BTEC SRFs due. To consolidate the last few months:

  1. Collaboration: initial plan isn't feasible, Brian May has been very supportive but no room for collaboration here and I can't get to the original images or get permission from the LSC to work with them- though he has offered to give me a tour of the location for the williams work.   new plan is to collab with a poet friend (Meg) in regards to canal network and present based on williams in a pastiche. 
  2. Rethink: continuation of BHP but experiment with process in regards to more static crafts, 35mm isn't working for these, maybe slowing my process to match is what's needed. The farrier had a frenzy to it: 35mm worked, the silversmith I tried the same but moments of frenzy matched with stillness, the results were not as strong - 120 would of been better. And the yarn spinning? 35mm was a failure here, but maybe. 5X4 is the right solution. In need to do a test shoot to be sure. 

This has been a strange term, lots of nothingness due to work and family

commitments. But my reading has commenced again, and planning continues. This summer and into the new term the current briefs will take shape I am sure. 

The collab with German students came to an unfortunate end, she stopped posting half way through and it ended up being a solo. The final stage I truest looked forward to but it never came to pass. A true pity 


I am thinking for the Rethink unit...STEREOSCOPIC PHOTOGRAPHY.  i have colected on and off for a number of years and have recently via Brian May discovered the work of 19th C. photographer: TR Williams.  Not only do we share initials, we also share the same birthday, a further connection that pushes me to follow his work closer for this unit. 

having bought a stereoscopic camera - an 1950s WRAY Stereo Graphic, I have started to practice with this new way of working.

Wray Stereo Graphic

Wray Stereo Graphic

"In the Larder" by T.R. Williams's "First Series" c.1854. Albumen Stereoview

"In the Larder" by T.R. Williams's "First Series" c.1854. Albumen Stereoview

What is a Stereoview?

Stereoscopic Photography is not new.  Examples of the practice date back to the start of the commercial photography with portraits and landscapes from around the world being sold in Europe as early as the mid 1840s. 

It works due to "binocular vision" what each eye sees separately is combined by the brain into a singular image with depth perception. A "Stereoscopic Camera" features two lenses spaced approximately the distance between the human eyes apart, and produces two separate photographs at the same moment in time.  Printed and presented side-by-side, and viewed in a "Stereo Viewer" a Three Dimensional image is created. 

This is a practice that gained great popularity during the Industrial Revolution with Stereo-Views created to show the world, famous people, family and friends, comical scenes, fashion of the era, and risque scenes and sold for small cost on a large scale.  There are also examples of its possible inclusion into eye tests.  Going out of fashion near the end of the nineteenth century with the invent of cinema, it has come and gone ever since being used both in still and the moving image, until most recently the rise of 3D Cinema.

The Creation of Stereo-Views

In the creation of the stereo-views fi have realised that the rules of composition i usually follow must be rethought, until now photography has been a Two Dimensional genre for me, and what works for 2D composition does not necessarily work in Three Dimensions, looking great flat but boring and lifeless 3D.


TRW: The Project

TR Williams produced a study in the village of his marriage of the traditional village of the day, before the grips of the industrial revolution took hold.  I have decided to do the same, focusing on the town of my own marriage and looking at the original list of 59 images and captions by Williams, applying them to 2017 Aylesbury.  Some will have stayed the same, some will be reinterprteted in a very new way, and some may not exist in any form.  for those I will present blank frames if needed, the abscence of their existance.  He also produced studies of still lifes, portraiture and pictorial landscapes, and was heavily influenced by the Dutch Masters. Due to this I plan to also follow my own influences in the fine art world and draw refrence as often as I can to artists such as Edward Hopper, LS Lowry, Norman Cornish, and Matisse. 

Test photographs shot on AGFA APX400

Test photographs shot on AGFA APX400

The BHP #3: Silversmith

Just back from an initial shoot with a local artisan silversmith. A wealth of information who creates beautiful work often combining silver and other materials such as glass or wood. Today whilst giving me a tour of his studio and his chicken, James Dougall worked on a copper practice piece for a pair of candlesticks.


He often works on copper to start with due to coat of material and to minimise wasted silver or gold. There appears to be lots of similarities to both other crafts I have documented already, as well other crafts such as ceramics and printmaking. 


I shot three rolls of colour today, working at 400iso..  50mm on Nikon and 35 on the Voigtlander rangefinder. I feel a good start to the project but I will need to revisit in the coming weeks perhaps to photograph progression of candlesticks

James' Chicken

James' Chicken

Technical review

I've been considering my technical approach recently, for years I have been primarily a medium format photographer, the Mamiya RZ67 being my camera of choice on location for almost every project I have done in the last 10 years.  But now, with the direction of the BHP I look at the practicalities of using a high quality medium format camera for fast shooting reportage. The quality is beyond stunning, it truly is, but the biggest issue is the need to reload every 10 frames, add to this the extensive bulk and weight and it is feeling less inspiring to use for this work. 

Instead I feel that for now at least all of the BHP will be shot 35mm, both #1 and #2 are shot 35mm, a mix of Nikon SLR and Voigtlander Bessa Rangefinder. Thisi think will be my main practice.

Gene was not worried about equipment, recorded on whatever medium came to hand,  mixing 6x7 with 6x9, 6x4.5 35mm and 35mm half frame. A camera is a camera. I can't do this as it feels wrong tl

mix formats through a project but like Gene I see the freedom of 35mm and his much loved half frame cameras like I haven't before. For now Nikon, Voigtlander and the Olympus Pen FT SLR and Pen EE compact are going To be my tools of choice. 

35mm camera collection (inc Nikon D300s and D610 in bottom left) 

35mm camera collection (inc Nikon D300s and D610 in bottom left) 

Person at Work, shoot 3

This morning I finished the person at work assignment, again focusing on traditional hand crafts, a Sadler. Today she was focusing on some hand stitching of leather for a bridle, using tools that once belonged to the royal sadle maker. To start with I wasn't sure what I was going to get, I have not grown up in an environment where the use of horses is everyday, I know many who own or ride horses but that knowledge is not instinctive to me. The workshop is a good size, similar in size to the forge of the farriers that I photographed a couple of weeks ago. It houses two work benches equipped with selections of threads, knives, braddles, hammers and a pot of die sitting on top of the small stove.  

We talk through the process explaining the use of the tools and the fact that they are no longer made (Dixons Tools going out of business as the leading producer) while BBC One plays in the background; Saturday Morning Kitchen. Perhaps the most unusual tool in use is a type of wooden vice called a 'Clam', shaped like a giant pair of tweezers where one end sits on the floor between the feet, the other holds the leather tight allowing both hands free to hand stitch the leather into a loop around the buckle. This I would imagine would be how handmade belts are stitched too.

I will be returning at some point in the future, her brother has a pottery workshop next door, his work is stunning and is more than happy to be a part of the BHP  

Back with the Loom

Another busy week, the moving house is inally over, just unpacking to do, film from the farrier all scanned ready for next weeks group tutorial and contact sheets done in the darkroom too. 

Farrier contact sheets

Farrier contact sheets

Today (after giving back the keys to the old flat) I returned to Freya Jones, today was much more successful where I shot 2 and a half rolls of Fomapan 400 in the Voigtlander as well as a couple of shots on the digital.  It's an interesting challenge, the shift from the intensity of a farrier's forge, to the spinning wheel such as today. One is the process of intensity and speed, the other is a much more sedate slow craft where spinning enough yarn for a jumper would at best take about 2 days.  

I do however like the links between all sections of the BHP so far, the dry stone walls repaired are on the canal network used for the textile mills in the north, these canals used to see boats pulled by horses that need to be shod, transporting the materials needed at the spinning wheels and looms at the textile mills in Rochdale and Todmorden. 

Tomorrow I drive northwards to document an Alpaca farmer. I will still take film, but I feel this one at least for now will be shot digitally. 

Person at Work, Shoot two

After the success of Saturday (Just finished scanning in the 5 rolls of film) on Sunday saw me following a recommendation to a local weaver who has just set up her own business of demonstrating, teaching, as well as sales of looms and her own hand died yarns.  Freya Jones when I spoke to her about the project was more than happy to get involved and very excited bout the concept of BHP, this however had a negative effect as she was very keen to show and explain the entire history of weaving making it very difficult to get the photographs I hope for, there are some I think on a film yet to be processed but for now this was not the success I had hoped for.  My plan is for a second visit where now that she has explained everything will hopefully allow me to be the observer I intend.

She also passed on some other unusual artisan crafts and those who practice them in the local area, giving me more scope to work with.  I have some others to chase up that should be good examples for the coming week, or so I hope.

A good creative day: Person at Work, shoot one.

The forge was hot, the banter amusing to the crude, yet always the focus was on the work.  


My approach ws to shoot film, it was advised against at briefing but I needed this to be a success and something that could be used for the BHP. Fuji Neopan 400CN (C41) was my film stock, loaded into the Nikon F80 with a 35mm F2, and a Voigtlander Bessa R with a 50mm F2. The goal was to shoot mainly with the Nikon till it rewinds, shoot the bessa and go back to the Nikon with fresh film.

Today's setup

Today's setup

Today was a good day. After the late night drive back from Brighton (that last half mile was hard!) it was an early start to be at the Farriers.  This was a stroke of luck, when I phoned round farriers in the week, my second call was to James, instead of going on call with him, I was invited to his forge on the farm where 4 farriers from around the country (Bristol, Forest of Dean, Yorkshire and local)  were meeting to practice for a farrier competition at the end of the month.  Working in pairs they would have hour and a half to shoe half a horse and make a shoe to represent an example given, before passing over to the other half of the team to do the same. The modern farrier works often with pre made shoes, and adapt them to fit on site using a small kiln in the van and a grinding wheel, but not here, for this competition is is the true tradition, taking cast iron rods and turning them into shoes to fit (in this case) a Masters horse for the hunt.  

This of course didn't work, as soon as I started shooting, perhaps helped by the intense heat of the furnace, the batteries in the Bessa promptly died meaning I had to use educated guesses, ocationally double checking against the Nikon for exposure.



I was expecting to stay late at work this coming week to process but I couldn't wait, especially with some of the compositions of the shoeing of the horse, and my hope of a shot where sparks of iron come towards the camera. Instead I risked the high street lab, snappy snaps, process only, one hour is £3.99 per roll, results seem ok but some will need a rewash and looks like the bleach is mixed too strong in the machine.  I will start scanning tomorrow, after hopefully shoot number two for this assignment.

The forge

The forge

'Covered and Exposed' Exhibition Launch

Long evening, long drive. Just got home from the opening of the exhibition in Brighton as part of this years fringe. Got word of some other subjects for the BHP including pyrography that sound interesting as subjects so will add these to the list. 

The highlight was a visit from another member of the MA group; Del who came to meet me.  

The Sentrymen hanging as part of Covered and Exposed, Brighton Photo Fringe 2016

The Sentrymen hanging as part of Covered and Exposed, Brighton Photo Fringe 2016

Tomorrow an early start to go to catch the morning light for a shoot for the person at work shoot