Journal Places

Bradgate Park, Leicestershire

Last weekend, my good friend Janet and I got up nice and early (5am to be precise) and drove up to Bradgate Park which is near Rothley in Leicestershire.  We arrived just before 7am and despite the fact that we couldn’t park in the car park as it was still locked up, we both knew that setting our alarms early had been the right decision.

There was hardly anyone around at that time, save for the dedicated early morning runners and the occasional cyclist, plus the obligatory photographer complete with 400mm lens and tripod under his arm.  What made the journey and the bleary eyes worth while though was our first glimpse of the early morning mist that was hovering gently over the landscape.

View of the ruined house from the river
Old John, Bradgate Park, Leicestershire

We had gone in the hope of photographing the deer in a natural looking environment.  Sure enough, Janet spotted a herd of fallow deer over to our right almost as soon as we entered the park.  Further down the path she spotted a pair of red deer up on the side of the valley to our left, and then we saw another herd, this time grazing directly in front of the ruined house directly ahead of us (This is my header picture above).

We spent a most enjoyable 2 to 3 hours in the park photographing the deer and then walked up to the top of the hill to photograph the folly.  Then, around 10am, the mist quickly disappeared and as the park began to fill with families and footballs and dogs and sticks, we made our way back to the car, content that we had seen the best of the day.

Rocky Outcrop, Bradgate Park, Leicestershire

It wasn’t time to go home though.  A small diversion to the cafe at Rothley Station on the Great Central Railway for an all day breakfast was just the ticket, and suitable reward for getting up so early on a bank holiday morning.  We plan to go back to Bradgate Park later in the year, probably in the Autumn, and you can bet we will be setting our alarms for 5am once again.



A terrible thing happened…

New Year’s Day 2011.  A terrible thing happened to me that day – something that I am still struggling to come to terms with almost 5 months later.  I turned 50.  Not the end of the world, you might think.  Maybe not for some people, but it felt very much like it for me, and it still does.

So what’s the problem?  Why does 50 feel so very very bad when 49 was kind of ok?

I think there are several things going on here but a big part of it for me is the inevitable looking back over the last 10 years.  Whatever happened to those years?  What did I do?  What did I achieve?  If I am honest, I have feelings of regret over projects that never got started, ideas that never saw the light of day, and dreams that remain unfulfilled.  On a very personal level, the death of my wife Teresa to cancer in the Autumn of 2000 was another 10 year anniversary that just happened to take place only a few months before my 50th birthday.  If ever I need a reminder of how fragile life can be, I need look no further.

So what can I do now to make myself feel better?

Well, I had a cathartic experience (not in the medical sense I hasten to add) at the Focus on Imaging (Photography) Exhibition in March 2011.  I made a point of being present at the Royal Photographic Society’s stand when Wimbledon accredited photographer Duncan Grove FRPS gave a presentation all about his transformation from a camera club photographer (like myself) into an accomplished semi professional photographer, who not only has his place in the Centre Court, but also regularly writes for photographic magazines.

His presentation was a revelation for me.  Why? For the simple reason that he clearly and concisely took his audience through each and every step as he explained how he had taken his dream and turned it into a highly successful reality.  Not only that, the software he uses to manage his workflow, and update his website turned out to be exactly the same software (Adobe Lightroom) that I have already been using myself for several years.

The result of all this?  Well, there’s this blog for a start.  Somewhere to note down my thoughts and track my progress as I travel on my photographic journey of discovery.

Then there’s my Flickr Site, (updated for 2023), the showcase for my own photography.

Now all that remains is for me to furnish my site with images of a similar quality.  That is the big challenge…


Exhibitions Journal

A visit to the Usher Gallery in Lincoln

I was fortunate over the Easter weekend to visit the Usher Gallery in Lincoln.  The guest exhibition was called Food Chain and featured the work of documentary photographers Nick May and Ben Holland. The images and accompanying video footage portray the working lives of workers, many of them migrants, in the food production and packaging industries in the south of Lincolnshire.

I got a strong sense of the terrific work ethic of all the workers portrayed, especially from the descriptive notices accompanying each image, and the video footage.

What I got from the photos was a strong sense of the humanity and dignity of the workers, young and old, and their determination to do their utmost to support themselves and their families.

The role of the gangmasters, and that of the big supermarkets was also portrayed very clearly, a real eye-opener.  I found the exhibition both disturbing and uplifting at the same, uplifting because of the human spirit that shines clearly through the portraits of the workers despite the long hours, poor conditions and low pay they endure.

The exhibition runs until 30th May 2011

Click here for further information


My Photographic Journey

Welcome to the very first post of my blog.

I have titled it “My Photographic Journey” because I am planning to embark on a photographic journey of discovery which will (hopefully) improve my appreciation of photography in general and photographic art in particular.  At this stage, I’m not 100% clear on where the journey is going to take me (which is good), or what I ultimately aim to have achieved by the end of it.  What I do know is that I am looking forward to learning all about the great photographers of the past and present, and I am looking forward to challenging my preconceived ideas about contemporary art and the slightly mysterious (to me) world of fine art photography.  I am also hoping that a better appreciation of the art of photography will allow me to be more critical and objective about my own work, a process that will hopefully enable me to take my photography to a higher level.