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Dismaland

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This is something I’ve been meaning to Blog about for a while now, not sure why I’m doing it now, but well, why not? I say a while, since September would be the more accurate way of putting it, because that’s when I went  to Banksy’s Dismaland, in Weston-super-Mare. It took me and my friend just over an hour to drive there and after queuing for a few hours, in the wind and sometimes rain coming in off the sea, we finally made it to the bit where you pay and duly paid the £3 entry fee.

The beach at Weston-super-Mare and the sea aquarium
As we walked from the bit where you paid for Dismaland and to the actual entrance of the former Tropicana site, I got stopped for a bag search, which is what we’ve come to expect in recent years wherever you go. As well as the things you’d normally expect them to be looking for, they were also looking for pens and anything you might be able to use to deface the art works with. They were also interested in the size of the lens on my camera. The lens I had on was my 28 – 300mm zoom lens, which is a chunky bit of kit. The security person conducting the search (I say search, he never once touched my possessions as I was willingly showing him the contents of my bag) looked at it and said something along the lines of, ‘Hmmm, I think that might be too big. They don’t like it if you’ve got too big a lens.’

I was a little taken aback as I had checked the website before going to make sure I would be allowed to take my camera, and I didn’t see any mention about restrictions. I looked at the man in question in a slightly puzzled way and he sort of shrugged his shoulders. ‘I don’t really know about these things, but they might ask you to leave.’ I wasn’t going to argue with him, as he was just doing his job (and he was also a lot bigger than me). ‘I’ve got a smaller lens, will that be OK?’ I asked, more concerned about avoiding having to traipse back to my car if I couldn’t take it in, than I was with not being able to take my camera in with me. ‘They’ll probably be OK with that,’ He said. So I changed my lens outside, in the wind blowing off the sand (mud) of the beach – with a few spots of rain thrown in for good measure – before carrying on into Dismaland.

a CCTV Camera on the ceiling
I spent some time thinking through the reasoning behind me having to change my lens, and to an extent I can understand it; they don’t want people taking photos of artwork and making prints to sell, meaning the artists miss out on income. But my ability to do that, should I have wanted to do that, would not have been hampered by putting on the different lens. Also, most camera phones are capable of producing images of high enough quality to reproduce prints theses days, so the whole thing seemed very odd. I guess they couldn’t stop people using their phones, people suffer some kind of anxiety attack if they have have their phones off for five minutes these days.

an old horn shaped speaker for a public address system
I went there as both a person interested in the art work and as a photographer. As a member of the public who likes art, I took photos of the artwork on display. These images I won’t be sharing, other than with close friends and family, as they act as a record of things I have seen; most people taking photos do so for the memories.

the reflections of people in a large puddle
As a photographer (artist) I took photos of what I observed in that particular environment, at that moment in time. You may well be asking yourself what the difference is. Taking photos of other people’s artwork isn’t artistic. Other people’s artwork can constitute a part of your photograph, but only if you’re adding a different context to it or making it a small part of something much larger. Here is a selection of photos from that day spent in Dismaland.

rope through a hole on a wooden post with two holes above that looks like a shocked face

a woman's legs in blue jeans wearing shiny Dr. Martin boots

an old vetilation system

an I am an imbecile balloon stuck on the inside of a corrugated roof

Season of Sickness

In my last Blog I mentioned that I had been ill (just man flu, nothing to worry about). It started over Christmas and hung around for longer than I would have liked, so it was with me into the new year. It didn’t make for the best Christmas, but as I was surrounded by my family, and it was a holiday, it didn’t matter so much. But when I was ill after Christmas and into the current year, it became an issue because it had an affect on my work. It’s more difficult to work when you’re ill, just the physical effort if nothing more. It affects concentration and how long you can keep working before you need to take a break. It can stop you sleeping too, which just exacerbates the problems. This is a problem for the self-employed person. The question is, how to deal with it? Do you (A) just keep working through it? Or (B) do you stop and give yourself time to recover?

Let us have a look at (A).The problem with just keeping on going is that it is likely to last longer, meaning you’ll need to spend more money on whatever remedies you’ve decided (or been prescribed) to keep you going and ultimately get over it. Illness also has a tendency to make you a bit grumpy and generally not so great to be around (I’m talking about other people here, of course, because I’m always a delight to be around…). The other main problem is that it can affect the quality of your work output. This is a bigger problem with any kind of artistic work, where you rely on your judgement and artist instinct (artistic eye, ear, touch, nose, left kneecap -whatever is might be) than it might be in a field of work where something is either right or wrong and such things can be checked.

And so to (B). The main problem with stopping is, if you’re not working, you’re not earning. The other thing you lose is time. You get behind and have to catch up and there’s no one else to help you out, either by taking up the slack while you’re in your sickbed, or to help you get caught up again once you’ve recovered. You can also lose out on new work coming in, which again adds up to lost income.

So what approach have I been using? Well, a little bit from column A and a little bit from column B, due in part to the boredom induced by inactivity, and the sudden on-set of relapses when I pushed myself too hard too soon. ‘And did that work?’ I hear you ask, (I really did, I have amazing hearing, I could hear you saying it even though you said it in your head). Well, as it’s just come back again, it’s fair to say it’s not been a total triumph, but I’m hoping it’ll be gone tomorrow. In the meantime, while I recover, here are some photo’s I took over Christmas from the three times I managed to leave the house.

A tree silhouetted on the skyline

a brown chicken walking towards the camera

ventilation outlets on a moss covered roof of a farm out building

a brown bull with a ring through it's nose staring at the camera

a tree stump in the foreground with Beeston Castle in the background

the ruined walls of Beeston castle under sunset skies

bridge over to the gatehouse of Beeston Castle

The Year That Will Be 2016

Nearly two weeks into 2016? Where did that time go? Well, I’ve spent some of it doing my Tax return, because that’s such a fun thing to do. I’ve also done a shoot with a band for their upcoming album, which was a lot of fun, if a little chilly at times, (but more on that shoot at a later time). I’ve also been unwell, but don’t worry it was only man flu.

So what am I going to be up to for the rest of 2016? I have know idea, so if you have any suggestions, please let me know!

I’m kidding, I always know what I’m doing… Seriously though, this is what’s on the cards (pun intended) for this year; I will be looking at extending my range of greetings cards, and I will be making it easier for you lovely people to buy my work in it’s various printed forms. I’ve been having discussions with bands and artists about promo shoots and live shoots (admittedly some of these have been whilst drinking, but then my photography is cider fuelled). I’m hoping to be able to spend more time on developing personal projects this year, now that I’ve got a better handle on on the business side of things. I’ll still be getting out into the countryside photographing wildlife and landscapes, which is something I enjoy more and more each time I do it.
A common buzzard in flight over trees
I also have plans for an overhaul of my website to make it a little more streamlined and to show off my work better. I will carry on updating my social media pages, my Facebook page is here
and/or if you’re on twitter go here 

I will continue to take photos at local gigs, because that’s what I love to do; getting up close and personal at the front with both the performers and the crowd.
A harmonica player at a jam at the tree horseshoes in Bradford On Avon
As always, if there is anyone out there how would like to work with me or if you would like to buy any prints please let me know.

Oh, and on a non-photography note (pun intended), I have picked up my drumsticks a few times already this year and fully intend to keep this up, so if anyone is looking for a drummer, just let me know.

The year that was 2015

It doesn’t seem like five minutes ago I was publishing my first blog of 2015, time flies when you’re having fun. It also seems to moves a lot quicker the older you get, and seems to disappear completely when there’s so much you need and want to do.

2015 was a year of change for me, in a personal sense more than anything else. It’s been a year of friends, both old and new. A year of setbacks and picking myself up again, a year of finding my way along the path I am on, and trying to figure out what path that is and in which vague direction it might be heading in. A year of trying to balance the commercial and the artistic, as well as the working and the playing. A year of broken computers, cameras and lenses.
I’ve made progress in the business side of things, in my understanding of such things as well as the actual hard currency stuff. I’ve had a lot of fun photographing some awesome bands and artists at some wonderful venues during some amazing gigs. I’ve hiked up hills, through woods and along canals, photographing landscapes and wildlife along the way.

I was going to tell you about my plans for 2016, but I’ll save that for another blog, instead I’ll just share with a few favourite images I took this year, some you might have seen before, some you certainly won’t have. Happy New Year to you all, and I’ll see you in 2016.

Scout Killers, The Nest, Bath, 2015

Scout Killers, The Nest, Bath

StOp, sToP!, Charlie's, Westbury, Wiltshire, 2015

Stop Stop!, Charlie’s, Westbury
The Kelpies horse sculptures, Falkirk, Scotland
The Kelpies, Falkirk, Scotland
A sparrowhawk pinning down a starling
Sparrowhawk pinning down a starling, Scotland

The Bohemian Embassy, Pig and Fiddle, Bath, 2015

The Bohemian Embassy, Pig and Fiddle, Bath, 2015

Crows roosting in a tree, Avebury, Wiltshire

birds in flight at dusk
Birds in flight, Westbury, Wiltshire
looking up at trees at Stourhead
Trees at Stourhead, Wiltshire
two birds of prey fighting in flight
Birds of prey, Wiltshire
Looking up at pine trees in Queen Elizabeth Forest, Scotland
Pine trees, Queen Elizabeth Forest Park, Scotland
A red squirrel on its hind legs
Red squirrel, Scotland

Lessons Learned the hard way

I’ve learnt a lot of things since I started doing this. I’ve learnt about birds, and cats and building websites and marketing and exhibitions and so much more. And I learnt how deep the deep end is. I knew the water I was jumping into wasn’t shallow when I started this, but I didn’t know how deep it was. I couldn’t see the bottom, and there was no depth gauge to help me out. All lessons learned the hard way. But I’ve learnt by doing, and now I’ve inadvertently managed to learn by not doing. The annoying thing about it was it was something I knew I should have been doing and doing more regularly than I had been.
broken computer parts
My computer died. I was working on some photos, then went to have dinner. When I came back from dinner, everything was frozen and unresponsive. The only way I could turn it off was by removing mains power, and then it would not come back to life. There was a blue light, which is how you know it’s on, and there was the noise of the fans spinning, but there was nothing else. My first response was rude words strung together in new and exciting ways. My second reaction was ‘when did I last back up…?’ If you have to ask yourself that question then your last backup was too long ago.

I know you have to back up regularly, everyone knows it, but knowing something and doing it are two different things. Complacency can set in, you get busy, you’re distracted by other things.
broken computer parts
To start with I feared the worse; that I’d lost everything. After some diagnostic work by myself, aided by internet research, and some friends who know much more about computers,  it seemed likely that the problem was a dead motherboard rather than an issue with the hard drives with everything stored on them. So there was a good chance that I wouldn’t have lost everything, but it was still a possibility.

In the intervening time between my computer’s death and its subsequent rebirth, (which was brought about by http://www.simplyitonline.com/ for which I am very grateful) there was a horrible feeling at the pit of my stomach that I might have lost a lot of photos, it was made larger by the fact that it was my own silly fault, that I could have prevented it being such a problem. But I have learnt from this, I’ve added it to the other knowledge I’ve acquired by doing things. Other lessons learned the hard way. I’ll leave this blog there I think, because I have to go as I haven’t backed up for 10 minutes …

But just before I go, if you think this was a bit of a boring blog, here’s a photo to prove I’m still a fun guy (fungi)…a parasol mushroom