Calvary

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I recently re-watched Calvary; released in 2014 it was written and directed by John Michael McDonagh.

I enjoy the composition of a lot of the shots throughout the film. It features many extreme long shots with a tiny human in the frame. The opening credits show the crashing waves from above. A surfer is paddling through the frame dwarfed by the giant power of the sea. It is very beautiful and reminds me of shots in Hero, the style of which is thought to be linked with the Toaist philosophy. The belief in the human world and natural world being one and humans should stay as part of nature.

Calvary is thought to be the location Jesus was crucified. It is also said to mean an experience of great suffering. Although the subject matter is bleak the film is beautiful and witty.

 

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Scully

Scully, Sean, b.1945; Red Light

An exhibition of Sean Scully’s work is on at Laing Gallery until 28th May.

I was unaware he studied Fine Art at Newcastle University. The work is so clean and bold. The two by the door were my particular favourites. Instilling a peculiar magic eye feeling after a long stare.

Developing

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Sheep at Sycamore Gap, December 2017.

After ASDA closed their Photo Lab last summer I have been searching for somewhere to develop my film. As a result there was a back log. The film spanned spring, summer, winter and the early days of a new spring. It was a wonderful feeling opening up the envelope and seeing the last year in tactile glory. A really satisfying feeling that can’t be replicated. Although I almost entirely destroyed a roll with light this is one of my favourite photos. The blue is as piercingly cold as it was on the day.

Loveless

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I would recommend watching Loveless. A film that has been recently released here, written and directed by Andrey Zvyagintsev.

Showing the relationship of a couple in a strange limbo, not yet divorced and tied together by their son and the social stigma of separation. Neither are likeable, in fact I haven’t seen a film in so long where I have thoroughly despised both leads. Their son goes missing after hearing a particularly brutal argument. It keeps you engaged with the pure desperate hope their son will be found or actually that he won’t. Realising that maybe his life is better without them.

The cinematography is captivating. My favourite scene features the father and the lead of the search party, Ivan. They feel like they should be the same thing, the search party lead is so driven and focused on looking for the boy it highlights the resigned, blank nature of the father. They are searching a high-rise block of flats, going floor to floor with a torch. This is shot from a neighbouring building across the gap. Snow is swirling down and the torch is the only source of light. A beautifully composed shot that only highlights the hopelessness of the father.

It is rare to watch something where you hate nearly all of the characters but are so engaged you can’t look away. It is bleak, infuriating and cold but I can’t recommend it enough.

Telfer

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Terry & Gina in ‘The Buccaneer’

It was refreshing to hear from a photographer who believes in-camera shooting is the priority.

Visiting Alex Telfer’s studio was rather surreal. Inside the converted church there was  a quiet that cannot be replicated outside a building not made for that purpose. With vast rooms and high ceilings, he has built himself a perfect place to work and play.

Creativity is at the root of his approach. It was nice not to be bogged down in technical jargon and meet someone who could articulate his feelings about an image.

Alex has a large, varied collection of work. He presented a slideshow of 70+ frames, a mixture of personal and commercial. He talked of the circumstance; how he got the job, the conversations he had on set and any difficulties faced on a shoot. That was another element that stood out, his ability to talk. Not in a condescending or monotonous way, he was able to communicate clearly and engaged the room. It is easy to see how he could be welcomed into the folds of wary communities as shown in the image above. “Terry and Gina in The Buccaneer” is from a personal project called “The Travellers” documenting the life of Travelling folk who attend The Appleby Horse Fair. The project was subsequently commissioned and published by The Sunday Times Magazine.

It was surprising and enjoyable seeing such a body of work presented by someone who enjoys the process.

Film Fetishist

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A great film is playing daily at the Tyneside Cinema until 25th February.

Mirer is filmed entirely on 16mm, it shows with great cinematic expression the Arriflex 416 Plus.

A film by Gethin Wyn Jones, Northumbria University Graduate Artist in Residence . It is something really beautiful.

Visit

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The space inside your mouth is entirely yours, except when it’s mine – Susie Green, 2017

I went to see Interior Report, a collection of work by Susie Green at Workplace Gallery in Gateshead. It is running until 24th February and worth a look. Beautiful vivid colours with a large, acrylic on tissue paper piece dominating the room.

Shell Out

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This image was published in December 2010 for Vogue UK. The photographer was Tim Gutt. This is one image in a collection of twelve depicting all of the zodiac signs. The sets for this series designed by Shona Heath, it was styled by Kate Phelan.

What most attracted me to this shoot was the surrealist, dreamlike nature. The sheer size of the conch shell dwarfs the model making her look like a borrower.

Shot in a studio, it is dramatically lit from above causing a large dark shadow cast by the shell. Her legs are also lit to highlight the bikini bottoms this piece is advertising. This is a very hard light, the shadow cast onto the shell is sharp and dense. I don’t believe there would be a lot of post production on this image besides the grading. Although this is not an area I am well versed in so could be completely wrong.

Mike Chat

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Something was clear early on, Mike Baister loves what he does and he also loves to chat. Listening to his career journey, it was interesting to hear he started his formal photography education at Newcastle College. He recalls his fellow students as being cagey and private with their ideas, a stark contrast to Sunderland University where he completed his studies in the Fine Art department. They shouted their thoughts from the roof. This, he says, is part of the secret. If you give away all of your ideas, you have to think of something else. Something better.

Communication, versatility and patience are the three main qualities it appears you must possess in order to do well in the business of commercial photography. He regaled us with stories of numerous jobs. He also reminds the class to always shoot for themselves. Once you have the shot you have been paid for, see how much more you can get for yourself. You might as well whilst all the equipment is unpacked and the scene is set up.

Something I found interesting about the talk was the method in which he communicates with potential clients online. Sending out a photo of the month, almost like a calling card. Reminding people he is there without overloading them. An opportunity to show both his creativity and humour.

 

Medical

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I am currently researching the history of medical photography. It is not an area I am familiar with so it is proving to be quite fascinating. The above series of images were taken by Albert Londe (1858 – 1917). Known for his work as a medical researcher and chronophotographer, Londe developed his own twelve lens camera to capture movement. The above image is said to be an attack of hysteria.