When a little means a lot in a photograph

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Today I’d like to share the photograph I took early on a sunny April morning of St Andrew’s Church in Clevedon.

This beautiful Romanesque church is a popular subject for local photographers, nestled as it is between Church Hill and Wains Hill, with the Bristol channel and the headlands of the North Somerset coast as a backdrop. I’ve taken many other photos of the church myself in the past, but this one struck me as being very satisfying.

I can’t really take much credit for being in the right place at the right time on a beautiful spring morning, but I am very happy with the natural light that you find in the Golden Hour photographers always talk about. I especially like the way the early morning light catches the single cross against the dark background, and I think this makes all the difference to the effectiveness of the photograph.

A further admission I need to make is that I didn’t notice the cross when I took the photograph, as I was more concerned with getting the right balance in the composition between the wall in the foreground and the sea and sky behind. So a second lesson to those starting in photography is to look at all your shots carefully when you are back home and editing. Sometimes you have created a better photograph than you realise!

The original photograph is available in my RedBubble shop in many formats. Please take a look!

New Zealand Mud – it has attitude!

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Travel broadens the mind they say. It also amazes and educates…

Disagree if you will, but I think that for those of us born in geologically stable places, rather than being properly terrifying or exciting, the idea of events such as earth-quakes and volcanoes is mostly simply unimaginable. We see film or read about natural events like these and although we are captivated we can’t really imagine what it is like to be in the presence of such power. So a trip to New Zealand is illuminating.

Around Rotarua there are geothermal wonders aplenty: sulphorus pools, clouds of steam, geysers and bubbling hot mud pools. You are left with no doubt that the Earth’s crust is thin right there, and you are protected from all that heat and energy by just a few metres of rock.

The mud pools are great to watch too, although there always seems to be something extraordinary happening out of the corner of your eye – just where you weren’t looking. I focused on one circle of activity and took a stream of photos with a fast shutter speed. Most just look like muddy ripples, but I came up lucky with the one I’ve included up above. By no means technically perfect, but it captures the moment.

(The photo is available to buy in a range of formats through my RedBubble shop)

 

Bristol Old Vic and the Grinning Man

1-img_0389-001It’s shameful really, isn’t it? I’ve lived in Clevedon for over four years and I have only just had my first visit to the Bristol Old Vic… well it won’t be the last!

If you live in or near Bristol, I am sure you are very well aware of the beautiful theatre in King Street – close to Harbourside and many wonderful pubs and restaurants. As you can see from the ticket pack above, the theatre is celebrating 250 years this year, and you get a real sense of that history in the street outside and also inside the venue. It’s a gorgeous traditional space, managing to be  intimate and impressive at the same time. The backstage bar area is large, comfortable and modern. Staff members are friendly and the atmosphere is welcoming and relaxed. Work is underway on improvements to the front of house, but this doesn’t in any way diminish from the pleasure of a visit.

I booked online for the evening performance of The Grinning Man this week and I must say that the booking process was really efficient and a pleasure to use. I chose tickets closer to the top end of the scale than the bottom, to be on the safe side on our first go, but I think next time I’d be more than happy with cheaper options.

The play itself is well worth seeing. It’s a macabre musical, based on the Victor Hugo book L’Homme Qui Rit  – The Laughing Man. Victor Hugo, of course, wrote Les Miserables, and this is from the same stable. So the story has treachery, cruelty and love, brought to the audience through a wonderful production incorporating puppetry, excellent acting, music and singing. The audience loved it and there was a standing ovation and much applause at the end. I’m not going to tell you more however much you ask! I’m sure you’ll easily find detailed reviews online and elsewhere, but I think knowing too much about plots in advance can spoil surprises, so that’s all you are getting from me. If you can get to Bristol before the end of the run on November 13 2016, do so! If the production moves to other theatres near you I hope you manage to see it at a future date!

I’ll leave you with that thought as I’m heading to the website right now to sign up as a Friend of the Bristol Old Vic

 

Why I’m taking so many photos THIS colour

1-_mg_0226-002Here’s a typical example of my recent photographic output. Monochromes, subdued colours…

Why am I drawn to colours and subjects like this? Maybe it’s because of where I live – on the coast near Bristol, where the water is the muddy water of the Bristol Channel. The water is usually brown because of all the silt it contains and hardly ever blue – only if you catch the perfect angle of the sun and the reflection of the sky. And then it is not the blue of the ocean, but a silvery, metallic blue. There are some sand banks in the channel, but the coast is lined with mud flats. It’s often cloudy so skies are quite often grey.

Does that sound depressing? Well I don’t mean it to because the very nature of the colours makes you aware of the variety of subtle shades within the blanket terms “grey”, “brown” or even – dare I say it? – “beige”. The more you look the more you see shades of pink, green, blue and lavender, to name a few.

The colour palette is even more varied when the sunset is spectacular.

The training of your eye doesn’t stop at noticing colour. There is the not insignificant matter of texture too. The mud flats are lined with meandering water channels, gulleys and creases, that bring to mind the image of the skin under a blue whale’s throat. Even a rolling grey sky above a silver grey sea has textures to delight the eye and the soul.

Throw in some man-made features for a little extra variety and there is always something to tempt the photographer.

There is interest and beauty everywhere – you just have to look.

[Many of my photographs are available to buy from my RedBubble online shop. Here’s a link to the latest Lines and leaves ]

Masks: art work and inspirations

So, a while ago I was indulging my artistic streak and I created a series of naïve pieces that I really like. In fact the more I look at them, the more I like them!

I was inspired by a number of things – the traditional reversible designs on playing cards (Jack, Queen and King designs), the masks you see in many different cultures world wide, and legends such as the ancient Green Man. Quite a lot of art starts with playing with ideas, so the idea dawned and I doodled, thought and tried out different ways to get what I wanted. After some work developing a style that worked, I completed several takes on the theme, pictured above.

I like them all! If you do too, you can buy the images in several formats on RedBubble and Zippi.

You can also buy some of the originals – on A4 perforated paper, just as they came out of my art book – in my auction on eBay. Here’s where you’ll find the Blue and Blue Masks. As with eBay, the starting prices are crazily low, so there’s a good chance to snap up a bargain and get your Christmas shopping off to a unique start!

#shamlessselfpromotion!

 

 

High tides and roe deer

When you live near the sea and there is a high tide, it’s only natural to head to the coast and take a look. Where we live in Clevedon we are less than five minutes stroll from the sea-front, and although (or should that be ‘because’?) the coast is the Bristol Channel rather than the open ocean it feels very special.

1-img_0306There are so many strong currents in the channel that when you add a stiff breeze and the bouncing of waves off the sea-wall and rocks, you get very intricate movement. Waves travel from different directions to crash into each other, creating ridges, depressions and foams that are overall are quite mesmerising. I know the water is always brown, because of the amount of silt it contains, but I think this adds a textural quality to the water.

The sky was beautiful too: but then it usually is here!

1-img_0304This photo show just how high the water was, and the pier almost looks as though it is floating. This would have been a good time to get into the porthole room underneath the pier, but sadly we were out and about before opening time.

Walking home past Clevedon Hall, something in the trees caught my eye.

1-img_0327-001It’s not the best photo, but who would expect such a view of a roe deer near a busy road at 8:45 am. I snapped fast! Maybe I could have taken my time, as he watched me all the way down the road without moving from the spot.

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When you like nature, photography and writing, days like to day are gifts!

Have you heard of Zippi?

Have I mentioned that I paint? And draw? Take photos?

Lots of us do, and lots of us like buying unique and unusal art and things for our homes. Since I started producing my own art I have become much more tuned into the quality of work out there and I love looking at new sites and seeing what other artists are producing.

For a long time I’ve been selling on RedBubble and I’ve used the company as a way to get my art photographs and paintings produced into high quality formats and products. However, you need to try different outlets in this modern world, so I have just registered with Zippi, a Hampshire based firm, and I am really interested to see how things work out with them.

What I like about Zippi is:

  • It’s a UK based firm, so people getting goods shipped from within the UK should get speedy delivery.
  • They only allow artists to have up to 25 items in their store, and they delete the items that don’t get enough views. This will be useful information for me: although I paint mostly for my own pleasure, I do like to sell things too, and on RedBubble it’s harder to get a sense of what people like. Seeing my less popular work being deleted from Zippi will be a hard but helpful lesson!
  • The range of products they have. There is some overlap between products in RedBubble and in Zippi, but in general RedBubble do more art for wall hangings – framed and canvas pictures – Zippi have a different range of home goods, including placemats, coasters,and mouse mats.
  • RedBubble accept art and photographs: Zippi don’t accept photographs. This will help me sort my work so it’s easier to tell people about what I have available.

So, as I write my first images have been accepted onto the website. Just go to http://www.zippi.co.uk/portfolio/maggiecranford and you’ll see my portfolio. Click on the designs you like to see the products.

I’ll be interested to hear what you think!