I can’t quite put my finger on the attraction of Polaroid borders but I love them with a passion. I suppose they are a reminder that the image really is an instantaneous snapshot of a fleeting moment and all the more valuable for this temporariness. Most of the great Polaroid photographs I have seen are in fact portraits: the perfect marriage of medium and message.
Before launching into some pinhole work on a very precious box of Polaroid type 55, I thought I should test a couple of sheets which expired in 2002. To its credit it seems to have lost no film speed and still displays that wonderful tonality. The scan here is a rather poor rendition of a stunningly beautiful print on Ilford Multigrade Fibre-based paper. Only recently I felt the digital prints were surpassing the quality I could expect from silver prints but this gorgeous contact print has made me reconsider. In all I got so carried away with my test I exposed 6 sheets, of which 4 are keepers. The remaining 14 sheets are either for pinhole or maybe some more portraits on the old Speed Graphic.
Dartmoor is an honest landscape washed by the Atlantic weather. Being there makes one feel whole and infused with the same basic honest joy of living embodied in the granite, peat, heather, gorse and clouds which are constant companions of the walker across its surface. In honour of this honesty, it strikes me that my images should also have something of this straightforwardness and I have decided to show them complete and uncropped.
Grey Wethers stone circle on the slopes of Sittaford Tor.
Back in July I spent four solitary days roaming the wet expanses of northern Dartmoor. As I had to carry everything necessary for survival in a potentially inhospitable climate I opted to reduce camera equipment to a Populist, a Gorillapod and a few rolls of 35mm film, total weight just a few ounces.
I am still working my way through the processing and editing of the five rolls I exposed and have been holding back the finishing touches as I really want the collection to stand as a unified whole, both in terms of its subject matter and its presentation. The four days were spent in an ecstasy of isolation and a joyous unity with the land, the sky, the rivers and the wind. My intention is to portray and explain visually some of this visceral attachment to life and environment which I rediscovered during this time.
The first image I am happy to show is the remains of a sheep, wind-blown grasses and a murky sky.
Contrasting with the dark, calm, smooth greyness of the interior, the world outside the long barrow, on this warm and windy day, was glowing with colour and light.
Zone plate images of the interior of this 4500 year-old burial chamber in Wiltshire. Having played around with a zone plate body cap on my digital camera I am starting to fall in love with colour once more. I tried these photographs in monochrome and felt that a substantial dimension was missing without the subtle colouration.
To keep hold of one’s sanity it is sometimes necessary to commune with the primeval; making contact with a dark, slimy tench is one way of escaping from the smoothness of 21st century living. Power, mystery, dignity, beauty; I sat in awe one evening admiring these qualities in the green flanks of the fish while we spent a few moments in each others’ company. As I slipped her back into the warm lake, I wondered which of us had been most out-of-water.