Waiting to be found

I am trying to be less calculating and rational about taking photos. There is a sense in which it is important to be found by an image rather than to search for it. It was something Simon Armitage said about writing poetry – about not thinking too much but allowing the words to find you. Bishop Nick Baines of Leeds said something recently about discovering that we (all of us) have already been found by God. This inspired me in so many ways.

So here I am wondering what else is going to find me., words, images, ideas. There is something wonderful about not being so intent on searching but being still and listening, watching, waiting. The less we struggle to find something the more likely it is that we will be found by it. This seems to me to be an important element of creativity.

14585109686_08dbe7b2c1_zThis photo and the idea behind it found me. What struck me most was the way the gate post seemed isolated in the field. This field is near Swinsty reservoir.

In some of the reservoirs around here there are abandoned buildings beneath the waters which occasionally reappear when the water levels fall. This gatepost is in a field, a reservoir of grass and wild flowers, but it evokes the feeling of an abandoned place which is slowly, but not quite, being submerged by nature.


Close to home

Today, amongst other things, I had a conversation with a charity which has been producing some very professional video to promote its cause. These videos are produced centrally as generic promotions – by their head office somewhere.   This made me think that organisations that keep a tight reign on their corporate message, produce media centrally and filter messages through communications departments can sometimes be a real handicap to effective connection.  

In many cases people want to connect with people who share their particular circumstances and share their view of the world – and that can be very localised. They want to know that the person with whom they are connecting shares their experience and is walking side by side with them.  Centralising communication and taking it further away from the local context can lead to a feeling of disconnectedness.  For this reason I have been thinking a about how we can make local voices heard and reduce the tendency for filtering out those people who are close to where the need is – the people we really should be listening to.  

This picture is from an early walk in Middleton Woods today. The Bluebells are starting to come out and the young leaves are breaking out. This is a great time of year. 


Golden Hour

I have an App on my phone which alerts me to the golden hour. The golden hour is that period that starts just before sunset when the light becomes particularly delicious. This hour is prime time for walking the dog down by the river. This is the old bridge in Ilkley.


Let’s Talk – the vital exchange of ideas stimulated by real life stories

The act of talking is very powerful, but let’s make a distinction between talking together and commenting.  The world is full of commentators, but much better than commenting is the vital exchange of ideas stimulated by real life stories.  

This week I will be spending some time in Skipton as part of a Yorkshire Housing project called Let’s Talk.  The idea is that the residents of the estate can be encouraged to talk about the place they live.  What’s good about it, what could be improved and, importantly, stories about positive action.

The best kinds of conversation are often between people who would never normally choose to talk with each other – people who’s experience and outlook are quite different.  In the last couple of years I have been involved in projects to get conversations going.  “Can We Talk About This?  was a conversation with teenage boys about sexual exploitation in Sheffield – a subject we rarely acknowledge let alone discuss.  In Leeds we filmed a series of “conversation dinners”  with a large housing association.

Here in the Skipton project we are generating conversations though combination of filmed interviews and associated events where where the films are shown and discussed.  We’re also organising a photo walk, talk and eat event.   A range of people from the community will be walking along set routes and encouraged to take photos and talk together.

If you are in the Skipton area, particularly The Greatwood Estate please spread the word and maybe download the poster.  May see you there on the 20th.


Change the way we see

I’m often encouraged to believe that how we see things can be a matter of choice.  Someone said, if there’s something you can’t change you can always change the way you see it.  If I am feeling depressed and negative about the world there may be good reason for that, but there is always a choice in the way we look at each situation.

This photograph is of a common tree. There’s nothing unusual about the tree and if fact it’s the kind of tree you can see everywhere.  But this tree is seen through a filter, a lens, from a particular angle. The exposure and contrast is chosen and the colours rendered in a particular way.   So is it the tree we are seeing but the effect?  Does the treatment mask the object?  I like to think that the choice of treatment helps us to see something we may otherwise have taken for granted. The treatment helps draw attention to the wonderful nature of this structure with its flowing form and delicacy.



Hawk Overhead: Seeing the Wood for the Trees

If you only ever see the world from head height looking forward you’re bound not to get the full picture.

The surprising thing about this picture is that I wasn’t really looking at what was there, I was simply trying to emulate something I’d seen someone else do.  Really looking and seeing what’s there is one of life’s great challenges.  Often you need photographers, filmmakers, artists to show us what’s in front of our noses;  sharpening our perception to the extraordinary things we’re inclined to miss.

Walking in Middleton Woods I took one of those ‘looking up’ picture of the trees.  Deborah had taken rather a good one and not to be outdone I thought I’d better try.  The thing I didn’t spot until I saw it on the computer screen was the interesting piece of wildlife overhead. 


Rocky Valley

Very nice day today supposedly working in the morning and making the most of the good weather in the afternoon.  I love living in Ilkley and just being able to pop up onto the moor and then return home via a tea shop.   This is a good photo spot from which I took this snap.  I think I’ll return with a tripod and do the job properly – get the sky a little less blown out.