Tag Archives: quarried

Getting the best from your pixels

When I started using a digital camera it was obvious that however many pixels you have, and however much you spend on super lenses, good results are not guaranteed. Having lots of pixels does not automatically mean better pics, there is still some photographic technique involved.

I work on long term project which usually result from having something to say. In terms of project planning I work backwards from having an idea of how I want to prints to look and where they will be shown. For the Quarried project I decided I wanted large prints mounted without glass so that there was as little as possible between the audience and the print. That eventually turned out to be matt colour prints mounted on Diabond.

Knowing what I wanted narrowed down the decision required to achieve the end result. Basically I could use 5×4 colour negative film or a high end digital system. Using 5×4 would have given the resolution but would have resulted in a different project.  I opted for a Nikon D800 which, at 36MP was the highest resolution DLSR at the time.

Learning to use the new camera took a while but it soon became obvious that it needed to be on a good tripod with the camera in mirror-up mode and triggered by a remote shutter release. The reason for that is that the mirror cause vibrations in the camera which can significantly degrade the image quality especially when using longer lenses. 5514_a4

This image was taken across a valley approximately 500m from the camera. It works well at A0 (1200mm x 800mm.)

Having taken care of the photographic technique the next stage was printing test images. I did this by using 4, A2 prints fixed together with masking tape. Other issues were now obvious. If I edited the image on my home computer I had to change colour balance, brightness, contrast and saturation on the PC connected to the printer. My PC monitor was not calibrated. This is absolutely crucial if you want to send image files to commercial printers. But it seemed like a lot of additional expense until one of the tutors on the MA course asked how much I had spent on the lens and how much I had spent on my monitor. The ratio was 20:1. She then asked what I expected from a cheap monitor. She was absolutely right – thank you Karen.

The choice of monitor was relatively easy – EIZO the industry standard. I got the cheapest model but even that is amazing. I check the calibration every 1-2 weeks and it does not move much at all. I can now edit my files and use them on other printers without any problems. Recently I prepared a file for printing on fabric, it was 1350mm x 2000mm. I was told to use 8 bit, RGB1998 and it worked perfectly. (It is a type of printer used in fashion and textiles to print directly onto rolls of fabric.)

And of course the usual disclaimer – these are my opinions based on my own experiences. I am not being paid to endorse products.


Four prints shortlisted RPS Internationl Print Exhibition #159

A few weeks back I entered 4 prints from the Quarried exhibition in the Royal Photographic Society International Print Exhibition #159 and forgot all about it. Today I heard that all 4 have been shortlisted. Now they have to be printed and sent down to Bath for the final selection.

All prints will be at the Great Dome Art Fair


“Quarried” prints of Derbyshire limestone quarries and works

Over the last 3 years I have been photographing the limestone quarries and works in Derbsyhire. Much of this is within a few miles of my house centred around the town of Buxton.

I started the project as a reaction to contemporary landscape photography which is usually about perfect images of pristine natural land devoid of human activity. There is often denial of the effects of human habitation and how it has shaped the countryside.

Living in what is reputed to be the second most visited national park in the world there are obvious conflicts between industry and ‘the view’. That creates problems between what people expect to see when they visit the countryside and what is actually before their eyes especially as national parks are promoted as the epitome of the perfect landscape.

It is a strange irony that quarrying in the Peak District is inevitable as the rock that formed the hills is used to build the infrastructure of modern life. For every new house, road, railway or shopping centre there is a corresponding hole in the ground.

By producing large colour photographs I want to engage the audience and suggest links between the source of raw materials used in the construction industry and the landscape that provides them. Quarries can have their own stark beauty, they are part of an inhabited, working landscape.

Buxton Museum and Art gallery are exhibiting the photographs from 6 February to 12 April 2016. There will be a programme to support the exhibition including talks and other public engagement events. I want to show the exhibition at other places around the region and am currently exploring suitable venues. A book of the project is also planned.

I have just launched a Kickstarter project to raise funds for the final stage of the project – the exhibition. Please help if you can there are some good rewards.