Tag Archives: England

Mark’s photos for the exhibition in Canterbury Cathedral

Here is another contribution to the upcoming exhibition in Canterbury Cathedral of photos taken during a photography workshop this July.

Mark introduces himself on his Website:

 I am severely sight impaired and over the years I have found it difficult to continue with some of my hobbies due to my vision. Photography is the one thing I have been able to keep up thanks to digital and Blind Veterans. I tend to photograph sports and people and I really enjoy studio work.

You can book Mark for shoots in his studio or at your home. He also does model shoots and weddings. He is also available for talks on photography from a blind person’s perspective.

Door in the Light:

Door in the Light.

It just seemed that there was something special about the door as if it was in a spot light with a green edge.

Quire High Alter Canterbury Cathedral:

 Quire High Alter Canterbury Cathedral:

For this image I wanted to get near perfect exposure through out the image so I chose High Dynamic Range to show this and the splendour of the colours between gold, red and stone.

Vicar In shadow:

Vicar In shadow:

I wanted to show the repeating arches with the light and the window at the far end with a touch of blue, the vicar just adds the human element to the image which I like.

Mirror View:

 Mirror View:

I was looking for a different way to show the cathedral archives with people going about their business when I saw the mirror, I decided to black out the edges as this made the eye go straight to the story being told in the mirror.

Reflections:

 Reflections:

For this image that I took on an IPad and used photo booth to get the effect it’s not about the person in the image but reflections within the glasses of what’s going on all around.

Fan Vaulting Canterbury Cathedral

Fan Vaulting Canterbury Cathedral

I was just trying to show the pure majesty of the ceiling with its patterns, colours and carvings it just seem to be so symmetrical and bold but yet so under stating of its quality.

View with in a View:

View with in a View:

Another image taken it on an Ipad we had to take portraits of one another but I wanted to be different so I decided I would go for a portrait within an Ipad and include the subject and the photographer.

The Markers:

 the markers

This just seemed so simple 3 markers in a row in the sea and when I saw the fishing tackle on the post it just seemed to make sense to me all in a line.

Floating Balls:

Floating Balls:

I wanted to try and show what I saw at the time in amongst the litter and foam there were five balls in a line waiting for their turn to go up the ladder.

Writing on the Wall

Writing on the Wall

On a visit to the Turner gallery Margate looking for patterns to photograph I thought letters and words make a pattern of there own so I chose these two words but I didn’t want a pure sharp image so it made the mind think a bit.

Lines on The Glass:

Lines on The Glass:

Just like drawing the lines in the sand only on a window I tried to show that looking through the dirty window all that was seen was lines lines at right angles to the others.

Curves in Silhouette:

Curves in Silhouette:

Quite simple I tried to show the curves against the straight lines of the window frame all in silhouette.

Images By Mark Pile of MIP Photography, www.mip-photography.co.uk

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Keith Harness`photos for the exhibition in Canterbury Cathedral

Here is the third part of our series of contributions to the photography exhibition in Canterbury Cathedral.

Keith is a professional visually impaired photographer living in Germany. He is a member of and volunteers for Blind Veterans UK. Check out his website for more info about Keith and his work.

Canterbury Cathedral Archives

Canterbury Cathedral archives (black and white): In the image I was looking to show some of the many features found above eye level in the archives from a different angle to those I had already shown whilst including other features such as the paintings found high up on the archives walls.

6741- 2

Using the furniture within the archives to help balance the image I was trying not only to add a sense of balance I was looking to add a number of different textures to the image by including both wood, brick and glass, whilst at the same time giving the viewer a view of this area of the room.

archives 3

Within this image I captured just a section of the large archives room, however through the use of the fisheye lens I was not only able to portray the room; with this method I was able to add to sense of space to the image.

archieve ceiling

By choosing a completely different angle of view I was looking to show the ceiling within the archives to its full extent, bringing into the images some of the ceilings many features which otherwise mostly go unnoticed.

ceiling of the cathedral

ceiling of the cathedral 2

Within these two images I was looking to use the patterns found on the cathedrals ceiling to enhance the images showing their reoccurring patterns along the ceiling. I have used black and white to show this as I feel that it shows the patterns in more detail.

Ceiling Cathedral 3 6794- 2

After entering into the expensive space found within the cathedral I started by taking in may of the different features both below and above eye level and quickly decided that the features found above eye level should be the focus of my image set, showing not only the unique features found within the ceiling but also the varying patterns that would add depth to these images.

cathedral fish eye perspective

Looking at the interior of the cathedral from a different perspective, I decided to use a fish eye lens this time not just to portray the height of the cathedrals interior, but to also show it’s width, again making full advantage of the cathedrals many features to add depth to the image.

altar in red

Within this image I looked to add a creative touch to those images within this set showing the interior of the cathedral using colour to draw the viewer directly to the alter

candle holders in the Cathedral

Within this image I was looking not only to focus on one of the many features found along the sides of the cathedral (glass vases candle holders) but at the same time show a sense of space by including the view looking through the cathedral.

arched doorways

Black and white image looking through a series of arched doorways. Within this image I was looking to bring a sense of depth to the image using the arches to draw the viewer into the image. As with many of my images I preferred the black and white of this image showing not only the different textures but also the different stone types within the image.

wooden doorframe

This black and white image showing a single wooden doorway I feel shows in detail the different textures and the way in which they have aged. I was looking to achieve a very simplistic image with the focus on the wooden door.

stairs through window

Within this image I was looking to create a frame within the frame. I chose to use the stairway as my main focus point; the viewer is drawn through the doorway to the staircase beyond.

staircase cathedral

This image shows a staircase as it winds away from the corridor below. Within the images I was looking to show the different lines found within the staircase and felt that the image in black and white help to emphasize these more

glas front art Gallery Margate

Looking up the side of the turner gallery in Margate not only provided me with a different view of the building I was able to use the surface to my advantage as it offered great reflections of the few clouds found in the sky.

Margate gallery windows

Using the building and the roofline to my advantage I was able to show within this image a different more contemporary pattern using the different shades found within this black and white image.

Margate gallery steps

Using the corner of a set of steps I was able to show a different pattern to that found when showing the complete scene, again using the different grey tones to my advantage

patterns in unknown building

Whilst looking for patterns on Margate’s sea front I noticed this building across the road showing a number of patterns, along with different tones and textures, which can be more clearly seen when the image is viewed in black and white

DSC_6902

Looking at the sense from a different perspective. As opposed to capturing the image from a more normal perspective I decided to use the features around me. In this case I used the long grid over a drain to form a line to a single person at the far end helping to draw the viewers eye directly to this person.

Out side with an IPad!

After posting my own photos for the exhibition, here are the photos Will Phillips selected. We´ve also published an Interview with Will recently.

2 people looking at an IPad

This photograph was taken during initial training with the IPad. Two members of the group are shown, both looking at their IPads. I had to wait whilst the person on the left entered the frame then took the photograph.

02 IMG_0546_edited-1

Canterbury Cathedral: A section of roofing laid up against a wall with the cathedral behind. I took a close up of the roofing with the cathedral in the background and the shadow against the wall.

stone masons workshop 1

Stone masons workshop showing a close up of four measuring tools. I have bled the image off to the left to give the picture a sense of tension.

Stone masons workshop 2

Stone masons workshop showing tools and metal pattern. I thought the tools stood out well against the white painted wall.

Staind glass workshop 1

Stained glass workshop. I thought I would turn the IPad to give a more dynamic aspect to the tools on the table. The photograph also shows in the background one of the staff working on a section of stained glass.

Stain glass workshop 2

Stained glass workshop. This image shows the edges of some of the shelved stained glass. The image is dynamic as the glass is angled and continues below the edge of the image. Hopefully it is also ‘sharp’ in both senses of the word.

Archive

Canterbury Cathedral Archive. A box of ‘acid free’ weights, beads and cotton wrapping material used in the display and storage of archival material. I took this image as the mixture of shapes and textures looked interesting.

Black prince

Black Prince monument in Canterbury Cathedral. I slid the IPad through the bars and used my other hand to take the shot. So now a ‘no bars’ image of the Black Prince.

King Henry IV

Monument to King Henry IV and Queen Joan, Canterbury Cathedral. I slid the IPad through the bars and used my other hand to take the shot. I would not have been able to achieve this image with a conventional camera.

Fish

The Goods Shed, Canterbury. Fish laid out on ice. I took a close up of the heads of the fish. Photographing the fish with the IPad gave some local girls something to laugh at.

cutlery

The Goods Shed, Canterbury. A swirl of cutlery giving a pleasing sense of movement. I hovered the IPad over the cutlery and hoped for the best.

Cake 1

The Goods Shed, Canterbury. A study with cakes, and why not. The building was full of very interesting consumables and I thought it was my duty to give it as much coverage as possible.

Plates

The Goods Shed, Canterbury. Arial view of some stacked plates in a basket. I took this from the upper café level in the Shed. I think the image works well.

Quiches

The Goods Shed, Canterbury. Study of some what I think may be quiches. These were taken through a glass display counter. Photoshop has removed any adverse distortions caused by the glass.

Cake 2

The Goods Shed, Canterbury. Cakes on a plate, what the cakes are I shall never know. A mystery in time and space. The brown of the cakes stands out against the white of the plate and the wooden surface it stands on.

Chair

Turner Gallery, Margate. This image was taken in one of the upper spaces. I placed the IPad upright lower edge on the floor. Thus giving an ankle eyes view of the chairs and window. The floor contracts with the matt white walls blue window frames with the light passing through the window onto the back wall.

chairs 2

Turner Gallery, Margate. This image was taken in one of the upper spaces. I placed the IPad upright lower edge on ventilation heating vents. The lines of the ventilation ducts and window increase the effect of the perspective.

posters

Turner Gallery, Margate, upper floor shop. Box of rolled posters. The rolled posters create a pleasing pattern and sense of movement.

Green pencils

Turner Gallery, Margate, upper floor shop. I like the way the green pencils swirl together giving a sense of movement and perspective.

 yellow pencils

Turner Gallery, Margate, upper floor shop. I like the way the yellow pencils swirl together giving a sense of movement and perspective.

water colours

Turner Gallery, Margate, upper floor shop. Image of four sections of watercolour circular boxes. I took a section of each circle and have tried to get the shape created by the intersection of the boxes in the right place, I hope.

ramp 1

Turner Gallery, Margate, showing external access ramp. I like the way the light and shadow diagonal divides the image into two. The image is very strong and I think works well.

ramp 2

Turner Gallery, Margate, showing external access ramp. I placed the IPad Mini up against the ramp wall to make sure my image was square. I pivoted the IPad Mini against the wall to gain different aspects of the ramp and gallery.

ramp 3

Turner Gallery, Margate, showing external access ramp. I placed the IPad on the hand rail of the ramp. The shadow forms a pleasing triangle and adds to the sense of perspective. The shadow of the handrail bars also adds to the effect.

All photos and captions by Will Phillips

Will Phillips: “I want to be known as a worthy photographer and not a person with a disability who happens to take photographs.”

Pigeon flying from a pigeon hole.

“Wings of Victory” by Will Phillips: Photo of a pigeon flying from the porthole of HMS Victory at Portsmouth Dockyard. Taken with a Canon Digital SLR in sepia.

I met Will Phillips at the photography workshop in Canterbury and when he sent me an email with some pictures he took of me, I asked him if he’d like to give an interview about his experiences as a visually impaired photographer. So, here’s the interview:

How much and what do you actually see?

My right eye retina detached in 2011. So the vision in this eye is distorted. My left eye’s vision does not allow me to pick out detail and has another of floaters. Both eyes are very sensitive to light so a bright day makes it very difficult to see much because of glare. On the reading chart I can make nothing out in my right eye and only the top letter with the left eye.

Did you take pictures before you became visually impaired? And how has your visual impairment changed the way you take and look at pictures?

My eyesight has also been bad from birth but has continued to get worse and I am getting older. My father was a professional photographer so I have been brought up with cameras. I studied photography as my secondary subject with Product Design at Portsmouth Art College. Eventually I got a job as a Collections Officer with the local Museums Service. I eventually became responsible for the historic Camera Collection which I built up over a number of years. I then did a lot of studio photography. This was mostly photographing museum objects.

As my eyes have got worse I did find that the type of photography I liked to do which was abstract was becoming impossible. I was retracted to taking general views of scenes. It is only since I have been mixing with other VIP* photographers that I have found I can again take abstract photographs as well as other types of images. I do not like studio photography, I like taking photographs of ‘the moment’, getting ‘out there’ and photographing something great.

Do you think visually impaired photographers approach photography differently than sighted photographers?

Yes but every VIPs eyesight is different. So I cannot remark on how other photographers approach their work. It is a case of making adjustments to the equipment you use and choosing subjects that you feel happy taking.

How do you choose what you want to photograph? And what subjects do you prefer?

I enjoy taking abstract images, see an object, objects or a view usually close up to isolate shape and sometimes colour to achieve an interesting image.I find you do have to study the subject more intently to find what you are looking for. Also changing the aspect, moving around a scene or object changes your view and you see something to photograph you did not expect. Also luck is a factor in taking interesting images. Being in the right place at the right time to take the perfect image.

What camera types have you used already and what are their advantages and disadvantages for visually impaired photographers in your opinion?

I have used 35mm film SLRs (Single Lens Reflex cameras) and compact cameras. My father used Leica’s. He used for his work a Leica 1 and two Leica IIs. These cameras dating from the 1920s and 30s. I used these cameras when I was younger and my eyesight was up to using the small viewfinders.

My first camera I think was a Kodak using 127 roll film. My first SLR was a Zenit EM. It was nicknamed the ‘Tank’ because it was so heavy. At Art College I moved onto the Pentax MX the smallest manual 35mm available in the early 1980s. All my friends had MXs or ME Supers**. These cameras had viewfinders which made these really easy to use.

I purchased my first digital camera in about 2002. A Kyocera Finecam S3. It is a credit card sized camera with a very small LCD screen but it has a viewfinder. So I could use it for everyday photography. After that I purchased a Kodak EasyShare ‘bridge’. This had a viewfinder and a large LCD screen also a very long zoom lens. I took this to Australia and New Zealand in 2005 and came back with 2,500 photographs. I then used Panasonic TZ2 then a TZ8 compact travel cameras. I had to fit each camera with a fold down shade so I could see the rear screen.

What is your favourite camera, and why?

Difficult question, since I have joined with a group of VIP photographers via Blind Veterans UK and found I could still take interesting photographs I have gone a bit ‘mad’ purchasing different cameras. The camera I bought to replace the Kodak was a Panasonic TZ2 travel compact. I then later bought a TZ8. Then I left it a few years and now have a TZ60 with a 30x optical zoom. Which has a great advantage over the earlier models now having a viewfinder. I always have this camera in my ruck sack.

How do you select the best pictures for exhibitions for example? Do you ask sighted people for their opinion?

I select the images via my computer. Yes usually only my sister and brother in law.

Do you have a special system to sort your pictures in order to find them again, e.g. renaming them?

Only Windows Photo Gallery, then I work on the images with Photoshop Elements.

Do you want people to know that you are visually impaired when they look at your pictures or do you prefer not to tell them?

It depends who I am dealing with. Usually no as I want the image to be judged not me.

What reactions do you usually get when you tell people you’re a visually impaired photographer?

Surprise

Do you think the work of visually impaired photographers is measured with different standards than that of sighted photographers? For example some people might be afraid to criticise your work or they say something like: “It’s good for someone who has limited sight.”

By what I have heard yes. I have had no personal experience of this issue. I think some sighted photographers can get upset if their work seems lacking against a VIP photographer.

Do you know of resources for visually impaired photographers, e.g. websites, workshops and virtual and real life groups and communities?

Look at this website, www.accessphotography.org. It is set up for photographers who have a disability.

Can you give some tips to people, who want to take up photography but don’t know where and how to start?

Get some advice on equipment. If possible make adjustments to the equipment to make it more accessible. Try and get some help from a competent sighted photographer who could accompany you on your first forays into the unknown.

What are your plans for the future?

To continue taking photographs as long as it is possible with my eyesight. Also to have my photographs see by the public. I want to be known as a worthy photographer and not a person with a disability who happens to take photographs.

*VIP = Visually impaired

** Are Pentax 35 mm SLRs from the early 1980s. The MX was a manual camera. The ME Super was a manual and automatic camera.

Tina’s photos for the exhibition in Canterbury Cathedral

All participants were asked to select 20 pictures we took during the photography workshop in Canterbury this July to be exhibited at Canterbury Cathedral. Personally, I found the selection process rather difficult and I had to go back to the pictures several times before making up my mind. I tried to choose photos that are not only nice to look at, but also have a story to tell. I hope the captions make some of them appear in a new light. I wrote about each individual day of the workshop in previous posts.

Day 1:

Moon over Canterbury

Moon over Canterbury

During the workshop we stayed in Turing College at the University of Kent. This picture was taken from the window of our room shortly after a rather crazy journey from Berlin to Canterbury. After 32°C, a bomb alarm at the airport and losing my ticket in the London underground, this peaceful scene was a pleasant change. I like the way the window pane breaks the moonlight.

Collage: Pieces of Me

 Pieces of Me

On the first day of the workshop we were asked to take selfies. I usually make fun of people who post hundreds of selfies. So I wanted to do something different: A selfie where the viewer sees parts of me very close up and has to reconstruct the whole person in his or her imagination. However, in the end “blank spaces” remain, because knowing what I look like doesn’t mean knowing me as a person.

I took the individual pictures with an IPad connected to a projector. Thus, I could see what was on the screen projected much larger on the wall. It was a strange sensation to take the pictures and an even stranger feeling to submit them to an exhibition where they will be printed in large format. But I think we shouldn’t be ashamed of our bodies. Nobody’s skin or teeth are perfect and they don’t have to be.

A Seagull

A Sea Gull

This big seagull walked up and down the main street, hoping somebody would drop crumbs. Originally, I saw it merely as a blurry white point moving along the sidewalk. It was only later when I saw it’s black and grey parts, the yellow beak and the eye. I like zooming in on objects, because I can see them more detailed in the pictures. Photographs enable me to have a closer look at my environment, because I can look at them on a big screen as long as I like and zoom in and out. After it realized, that we wouldn’t feed it, the gull flew away.

Day 2:

A Sheep Preparing for the Beach

Sheep preparing for the beach

When I walk around, I focus on finding my way and not bumping into people, thus I often fail to see nice and interesting things I would have liked to look at if I knew they were there. On the way to Christ Church University this statue of a sheep was pointed out to me. It’s pretty realistic, even the texture of the wool was carved into the stone. We added my straw hat and sunglasses. I hope the artist doesn’t mind us having a bit of fun with his creation. After all, art is also what the observer makes of it. The hand of the “creator” is still visible.

Collage; Construction Work on Canterbury Cathedral

 Collage: construction work

Our task for the second day of the workshop was to create a narrative of Canterbury Cathedral. With my simple collages I want to show, that a cathedral is not only a house of god full of prayer and history, but also a work in progress. While it is a tourist attraction and a place of warship for many people, for others it is also a place of work. People filled and will always fill the impressive stone building with life. The ancient stone and artwork has to be preserved and renovated constantly. The modern scaffolding contrasts with the old walls. We were allowed to have a look behind the scenes at the stonemasonry where we saw carvings and busts in different production stages, as well as tools and the workmen taking a break: reading newspapers, drinking coffee and – to judge by the table occasionally playing cards.

Collage: Stain Glass Windows of Canterbury Cathedral

Collage: stain glass windows.

I simply couldn’t decide which picture to take, so I tried to make a collage. I don’t know much about photo editing programmes and I just put all the pictures on top of another one as background, but it shows different parts of the Stain glass windows from various angles. The upper picture in the middle shows a lady reframing a window and the one next to it shows what the glass looks like when it’s laid out on a table with no light shining through. It looks quite different and I realized that the windows have to be preserved just the same as paintings on canvas.

Lighting a Candle in Canterbury Cathedral

07 Lighting a Candle in Canterbury Cathedral

I’m not religious, but for some reason I like lighting candles in churches of all dominations. I don’t know if they really bring luck to me and the people I love, but it’s worth trying anyhow. And although it isn’t much, the donated money helps to maintain the beautiful buildings. When I looked at it later, it took me a while to figure out what this picture was. I think the light and shadow contrast makes it interesting. Would you have guessed what it is?

A Pillar in Canterbury Cathedral

Pillar in the Cathedral

I often take pictures of things I can touch, because when I look at them, I remember what the object felt like. Sometimes I also record sounds to go with images. The combination of touch, sound and vision creates more complex sensory impressions. Standing right in front of it, the pillar looked gigantic. It is made of smooth and cool stone. In school I learned how to distinguish the different pillar types by their ornamentation, but I forgot all about it. Still, it is impressive to think of craftsmen with rather primitive tools shaping this massive stone, holding an even more gigantic roof for centuries.

Canterbury Cathedral Library

09 Canterbury Cathedral Library 

Because I can’t read print books without magnification, I mainly read EBooks or listen to audio books. However, walking through a room filled to the top with book shelves, wondering about all the knowledge they contain is impressive. I enjoyed touching the rows of books, looking at the colours and taking one out to browse through it and to smell the paper. I couldn’t read the gilded lettering at the time.

Stem of a Tree in the Grounds of Canterbury Cathedral

10 Stemm of a Tree in the Grounds of Canterbury Cathedral

This is the bark of a massive old tree growing in the gardens of the Cathedral. We were told that some collector planted several of these trees in Canterbury; I forgot who and when. We found a second one in the park near the Railway station. It would have been fun to try, if all the participants of the workshop would have been able to encircle the stem. There were little green shoots growing out of the rough bark, thus the tree was young and old at the same time.

Meeting in a Nutshell

12 Meeting in a Nutshell 

We shared a boat with S. and her 2 lovely grandchildren, because there had to be at least two adults in a boat. She had promised them the trip and we didn’t mind sharing at all. We had a nice chat and watching the kid’s fascination with the water was fun. I took some pictures and sent them to S. I’m not too happy with them, because in this one only part of the little boy is visible. A rectangular frame isn’t enough to capture moments like this. I should have held the phone in a vertical position or made a panorama, but now it’s too late. However, the photo embodies a nice memory and who knows maybe we’ll meet again some day.

13 The River Stour

13 The River Stour 

Maybe because of the unusual heat this summer, there are too many water weeds and other plants in the river, making it look very green and endangering the fish population. However, in this picture the water looks clean and very blue. It reflects the plants almost like a mirror.

Balancing a Boat

14 Balancing a Boat

This is one of the boats. I love water and want to swim and go on boat trips wherever I can. While taking the picture I saw only the long yellow shape of the boat and multicoloured spots in it. Looking at the picture I saw the people more distinctly and the man who steered the boat waving at us. He must have an enormous balance, standing free on the boat, steering it, waving at us and looking relaxed at the same time. I’d definitely recommend going on this trip. One sees ducks and birds, maybe even a fish and can take a break from the busy city.

Day 3:

Potted Palm Tree with Flowers at Margate Beach

15 Potted Palm Tree with Flowers

These palms can be found all the way along the promenade of Margate Beach. They lent a southern atmosphere to the place.

Crowded Margate Beach

16 Crowded Margate Beach

Initially, I took this picture to show my friends at home how crowded the beach was. It reminded me of Spanish beaches, only the rows of deck chairs were missing. Looking at it through the camera of my phone, I saw only sea and sand covered with dark and moving spots. On my computer screen at home I can distinguish men, women and children in the foreground and what they are wearing. I even see umbrellas and a ball. Thus photography can be a vision aid to me.

Welcome to Margate, Finest Sand in England

17 Welcome to Margate, Finest Sand in England

My mum and I collect sand from beaches all over the world. People started bringing us sand from their holidays; others think it’s crazy. It’s one of the cheapest hobbies I can think of and some of the sands have different shades or textures. We put them in little glass chars with labels on them. In Margate, I collected sand in a container previously containing olives. Maybe the sand smells of garlic now. I’ve never seen a sign praising sand before and it was hilarious that I almost couldn’t see the sand under all the sun bathers.

Beach Huts in Whitstable

18 Beach Huts in Whitstable

On the last day of the workshop we were asked to look for regular patterns and shadows that objects make. It was only later when I came across those huts. They all look the same, standing there in regular rows with a car parked in front of each. I suppose that’s some kind of pattern.

Silver Sea

19 Silver Sea

After five absolutely hot days our last day in Canterbury was mixed. In my opinion this is a nice landscape picture, all in silver grey light and shades with the straight line of the horizon looking close and far away at the same time.

Photographers in a Net

20 Photographers in a Net

This is the last picture I took and my personal favourite. Initially, I only wanted to take a photo of the patterns in which the fishing nets lay on the ground. The shadows were there by chance at first. It is a picture with two layers, showing the intended motive and the photographers at the same time. Many of my pictures are teamwork, because sighted people sometimes help me to position the camera.

About the Photographer:

Tina Paulick (23) is legally blind, but has some remaining sight. She is German and studies in Galway, Ireland. Tina is the main editor of our English blog.

Photography workshop in Canterbury, England: Day 3 and 4

On the third day of the workshop we took the train to Margate, a seaside resort near Canterbury. Before our train left. we had some time to visit a nice food market where we bought olives and different cheeses for our lunch.

We booked a nice air conditioned room with a terrace in the Turner Contemporary Gallery. Our task for this day was to find natural patterns made by light and shade or objects placed in symmetric arrangements by chance. As it is mostly the case with photos like that, I couldn’t come up with an original idea. Of course I took pictures of the banisters, the ugly concrete building with offices or flats towering over the beach and of the little lifeboat floating on the water behind it, but this was so obvious a choice, that I didn’t consider it creative enough.

concrete building over Margate beach.

It was only on our last evening when we took the bus to Whitstable, that I came across two motives with more or less natural patterns.

The first photo shows a row of almost identical green beach huts with a car parked in front of each and the second one depicts fishing nets in a coil on the ground with the shadows of me and a friend taking pictures of them. Both motives are manmade patterns, but they were not arranged for an artistic purpose which in a way makes them natural.

18 Beach Huts in Whitstable

20 Photographers in a Net

The Turner Contemporary is a nice modern building. The main exhibition on display was “Provincial Punk” by Grayson Perry. It is still there until September. We weren’t allowed to take pictures of the exhibition, presumably because the artist wanted to sell postcards with his works instead. That’s a real punk attitude! I didn’t mind that much. While everyone was looking at the works on display, I turned my back to them and took pictures out the window. There wasn’t much to see, except for a few cars and people going by. I suppose that’s punk too: turning your back on what everyone else came to see.

But I don’t want to be too cynical. I’m sure the artist has his reason for not allowing visitors to take photographs. Maybe the constant clicking of cameras would distract people from focusing on the work. At one of our last workshops in Berlin we talked about people going to art exhibitions or museums, taking photos of everything on display instead of taking there time to really look at it. Back at home nobody ever looks at all these pictures, but the people can tell themselves and others they missed nothing and got great value for their entrance fee. Everything is stored on a hard drive.

This behaviour sounds a bit ridiculous, but it’s a natural human reaction. There is always too much to see and read, too many impressions to take in. Our concentration span simply isn’t long enough to take in all the information. Thus, we automatically select consciously or randomly what we really take notice of. It is the same with photographs or even texts: something about them has to capture our attention; make them stand out from the flood of pictures and words pouring over us day in day out. Otherwise we see them without really noticing them.

But back to Margate: To be honest, I’m not really into abstract art. It often puzzles and confuses me and I feel rather silly when I can’t relate to something about which everyone else is raving. Sometimes I think the more people praise something the less they understand it. They want to disguise what they think is their “ignorance”. “What does the artist want to say?” is the wrong question. It is rather: “What do I personally see in it?”

I liked some of Perry’s tapestries and ceramic pots. They are skilfully made and reminded me of ancient Roman and Greek art, only that the motives were modern. A lady interpreted a vase for us, relating individual motives to the artist’s life and his views on the world. I wondered, if Perry himself would agree with this interpretation, but it was interesting. And I wouldn’t have seen all the intricate details, if they hadn’t been pointed out to me.

Before returning to Canterbury, we walked over the crowded beach promenade and went for a quick swim.

On the last day we showed each other some of our photos. I definitely enjoyed the workshop and I’d love to come again next year.

Finally, I recommend a visit to the Canterbury Tales Museum: http://canterburytales.org.uk/. The Canterbury tales is a collection of stories written by Geoffrey Chaucer at the end of the 14th century. As part of a storytelling contest about twenty pilgrims tell a tale. They are all on a pilgrimage to the famous shrine of St. Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathedral. The original text is in middle English and difficult to read. The museum presents five of the stories with the help of two actors, an audio guide in six languages and puppets dressed in medieval clothes. Blind visitors can do the tour a second time to touch the mannequins, animals and furniture.

The last post about the workshop will be about the pictures I selected for the upcoming exhibition in Canterbury Cathedral.

Photography workshop in Canterbury, England: Day 2 Canterbury Cathedral

Our task for the second day of the workshop was to create a photo narrative of the famous Canterbury Cathedral. It was founded in 597 by St. Augustine who was sent to England by the pope to spread Christianity. Due to a fire the church had to be completely rebuilt in the 1070s. Following the murder of Archbishop Thomas Becket in 1170, the Cathedral became one of the main pilgrimage sights in Europe and had to be extended. Becket was killed by a group of knights of King Henry II, who in a rage allegedly exclaimed: “”Who will rid me of this turbulent priest?”. In the end Henry took public penance and Becket was proclaimed martyr and canonized.

Today, the Cathedral is still the seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury, head of the Church of England and symbolic leader of the worldwide Anglican community. It is one of Canterbury’s world heritage sights and the main visitor attraction of the city.

At first we had a look at the outside. The walls are decorated with carvings, statues, towers and spires. Unfortunately, the noon sun was too bright and most of the pictures I took with the IPad aren’t great. As Nadine says in one of her posts, the best time for taking pictures is in the morning or in the evening before dawn.

I liked the gardens with their mixture of decorative and useful plants. There were beautiful yellow roses as well as different kinds of herbs.

 Stem of a large tree.

This is a picture of a massive old tree growing in the gardens of the Cathedral. We were told that some collector planted several of these trees in Canterbury; I forgot who and when. We found a second one in the park near the Railway station. It would have been fun to try, if all the participants of the workshop would have been able to encircle the stem. There were little green shoots growing out of the rough bark, thus the tree was young and old at the same time.

Behind the scenes

We got a special tour of the stonemasonry and the workshop where the stain glass windows are restored. Because there are so many processes going on at the same time, I decided to show this simultaneity in collages. I haven’t tried this before and all I did was placing all the pictures on top of another bigger picture as background to cover the remaining white spots. I used Picasa. The programme offers a variety of photo editing options, but I don’t know how accessible it is for completely blind users.

With my simple collages I want to show, that a cathedral is not only a house of god, full of prayer and history, but also a work in progress. While it is a tourist attraction and a place of warship for many people, for others it is also a place of work. People filled and will always fill the impressive stone building with life.

Collage: construction work

The first collage depicts the stonemasons, their tools and their work. The ancient stone and artwork has to be preserved and renovated constantly. On the outside the modern scaffolding contrasts with the old walls and carvings from past centuries. Usually, visitors don’t get to see that much of the work in progress or the people who do it. We saw carvings and busts in different production stages, as well as tools and the workmen taking a break: reading newspapers, drinking coffee and – to judge by the table in the bottom picture to the right –  occasionally playing cards.

Collage: stain glass windows.

The second collage was inspired by the stain glass workshop. It shows different parts of the windows from various angles and perspectives. The upper picture in the middle shows a lady reframing a window and the one next to it shows what the glass looks like when it’s laid out on a table with no light shining through. It looks quite different and I realized that the windows have to be preserved just the same as paintings on canvas.

book shelves in the library.

Next we visited the library, where the surviving records of Canterbury Cathedral and city are stored. Because I can’t read print books without magnification, I mainly read EBooks or listen to audio books. However, walking through a room filled to the top with book shelves, wondering about all the knowledge they contain is impressive. I enjoyed touching the rows of books, looking at the colours and taking one out to browse through it and to smell the paper.

The most impressive part of the Cathedral of course is the insight. With its three stories it appeared to me to be bigger than I imagined it to be from the outside. After seeing the stonemasonry I was even more impressed how already centuries ago men were able to create such a high and complex building without all the technology available today.

We stayed on to listen to a quire performance. The acoustics are fantastic.

I don’t think there were as many young boys in the performance we listened too and of course a YouTube video is nothing compared to a live performance, but at least this video was taken at a concert in the Cathedral and gives a basic impression of what it sounded like.

In the next post, we’ll visit the seaside.

Tina

More posts about the workshop:

Introduction

Day 1

Photography workshop in Canterbury, England: Day 1

Tina and an older woman looking at an IPad.
by Will Phillips

Our group met in the library of the central campus of Christ Church University,  not to be confused with the University of Kent. Canterbury is a real university town and in summer tourists replace the students.

The atmosphere of the whole workshop was informal and very friendly. As a beginner I didn’t feel intimidated or embarrassed to ask questions and the more professional photographers shared their experiences with us. See my first post about the workshop for some of the participant’s websites.

IPads

Everyone who wanted got an IPad and we got a short introduction on the inbuilt camera and photos apps and how to use the IPad with Voice Over. Since I own an IPhone I found the tablet easy to use, but I think someone who isn’t familiar with IOS devices and technology in general might have needed a bit more time. On the other hand they are very user friendly and the ideal device for photography beginners. (See this previous post about smartphone photography.)

I enjoyed looking at the taken pictures on the bigger screen of the IPad. The quality of the display was much better than that of my PC monitor at home. On the other hand it was a bit cumbersome to carry around and I was afraid I would drop it. I think my IPhone 6 Plus is a good compromise. All the same IPads are definitely nice toys.

The History of Photography

After the lunch break Simon Hayhoe, the main organizer, gave a talk on the history of photography. I won’t attempt to repeat everything. His main point was that photography as we know it today wasn’t suddenly invented, it developed over time with different camera types. Here are some of the facts I found especially interesting:

The Chinese made the first pinhole cameras (or camera obscura) 2.500 years ago. Painters like Michelangelo still used them as drawing tools in the 16th century. They reflected their subject onto a surface and retraced it from there. In the 18th and 19th century cameras became more sophisticated thanks to scientific discoveries in chemistry, enabling photographers to take longer lasting pictures and eventually to produce negatives. The word photography – photo Greek for Light and graph for Greek drawing – is used since 1839. With the introduction of the first commercial cameras in the 19th century, studio photography became affordable to almost everyone. While previously only rich people could pay a painter to draw their family pictures, ordinary people too now had their pictures taken. Nevertheless, these pictures of people in their Sunday finery sitting or standing in neat rows were still rare enough to be treasured and to be passed on to the next generation.

Around 1900 the first role film was invented. Most of us still remember the last film roles with 36 pictures all of which had to be developed. My mum used to put them into photo albums with handwritten captions underneath them. Nowadays we take hundreds and hundreds of pictures without even thinking about it. Photo shop programmes offer a much wider range of opportunities to create photo albums, collages and slide shows. I definitely don’t want to go back, but I think it is important to remember from time to time that there is a history behind photography and cameras.

Selfies:

Our first task was to take pictures of each other, trying to convey a part of the model’s personality, which was a bit difficult for me because I met everyone for the first time that day. I attempted to make people look natural and not as if they were posing for the camera. Thus, I made them talk about something, hoping they would relax, but I found it hard to keep up a conversation while looking at the person through an IPad. That’s a skill one has to practice.

Someone taking a picture of Tina. She is framed by the IPad.
by Mark Pile

Finally, we looked at inspiring photos other blind photographers made and Simon encouraged us to take selfies. Although, I don’t like selfies particularly, it was fun to apply special effect filters to my face, until I was unrecognizable; in fact it is even hard to discover the outlines of a face in some of the pictures. I felt like a child in a mirror cabinet.

While taking selfies, I found another great advantage of the IPad for me: I can see my face in the front camera even when I hold it at an arms length away from me, whereas when using devices with smaller displays I often don’t get my whole face.

We attached my IPad to a projector, so that I could see what was in front of the camera projected on the wall. It was a strange sensation to see my face that close up in the middle of the room for everyone to see, but fascinating all the same. I tried to take pselfies from unusual perspectives. For this one I held the IPad behind me to take a picture of my profile.

Tina in profile

A bit of sightseeing

After our first day’s work, we strolled out into the sunny afternoon to explore the city. Unfortunately, by the time we finished in the afternoons most sights and museums were about to close. We managed to visit St. Augustin’s Abbey, or the ruins that are left of it. It offers an audio guide, telling visitors about the various buildings and the history of the Abbey in general. The original Abbey was founded shortly after AD 597 by St. Augustine to mark the reintroduction of Christianity in South England.

Ruins of St Augustine's Abbey

There’ll be more about Canterbury’s ancient buildings in the next post about our day at the famous Canterbury Cathedral.

Tina

Group picture of some of the participants

Photography workshop in Canterbury, England: Part 1

I came across this workshop on the art beyond sight mailing list run by the NFB (National Federation for the Blind of America) and  rather spontaneously decided to attend it.

The Equality, Social Justice and Inclusion Theme Group, Faculty of Education, Canterbury Christ Church University conducted this inclusive photography workshop for blind, visually impaired and sighted photographers. It took place this July for the first time, but the organizers hope to be able to offer it every year from now on, turning it into an international event.

The program was developed in conjunction with Dr Noemi Pena Sanchez, from Valladolid University in Spain, who has expertise in the development of photography courses and workshops for people of all levels of sight and experience. Unfortunately, she was unable to attend the workshop herself in the end.

Among other fields, the main organizer Dr. Simon Hayhoe conducts research about the connection between arts and blindness, as well as arts and disabilities in general.

The course was designed for photographers with all levels of skill and experience. The university provided IPads, but participants could also bring their own cameras and smartphones. The main objective was to teach participants camera work and skills through a series of directed photography tasks. Additionally, it provided a great opportunity to meet other photographers and to look at each others work.

Most participants came from Britain and are members of Blind Veterans UK. They are amazing photographers and artists. It is definitely worthwhile to check out their websites.

Mark Pile: http://mip-photography.co.uk/

Keith Harness: http://www.keithharness-photography.co.uk/

Wemdy Daws, Artist: http://www.wendydaws.co.uk

ECO: On blindness, technology and the arts:http://www.blindnessandarts.com/

Please let me know, if I forgot someone’s website. Of course the pictures of the participants who don’t have a website are great too.

I’ll talk about each day of the workshop in a separate post.

Happy photographing!

Tina