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Passing Spotted Lake on the way to Osoyoos, I had heard it was unusual; a mineral rich alkali lake and a sacred First Nation site. Waters that been used for healing. On the first pass through, the sun had already gone down, the light was unkind – offering only a little definition, the lake also had one viewpoint from the highway, which was a shame, I didn’t feel it was appropriate to enter the site, beyond the gate, seeing as it was sacred.

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Visiting a couple of days later everything had transformed, it was obvious the spots on the lake were mineral rich and ‘lakes within the lake’, if you see what I mean. The low sun picked everything up, and it was worth capturing, even with the lens flare as it appears above. After a dry summer most of the water in the lake had evaporated leaving the moon like surface you see here. In addition the gate was open, I could see figures on the lake setting something (that looked) scientific up. Although this didn’t grant me access, it did offer a sense of scale, looking at the figures on the lake I realised it was actually huge.

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Around Hafnarfjordur – Iceland

I booked a trip to Canada – where I am writing from now. Looking for the most reasonable air-fare, the runaway winner was Icelandair, who run seasonal flights ending in October, If theres a transfer in Rejkyavik they offer a free stopover of up to seven nights. I have a good friend who sadly is about to return to Australia – but wanted to see as much of Europe as she could, so – and off I went with companion in tow.

 

 

Reykjavik, from Hallgrimskirkja
Reykjavik, from Hallgrimskirkja

I didn’t really book enough time (2 days) to go and see a lot and we spent a lot of time in Reykjavik before driving out to the area southwest of the country around Hafnarfjordur.

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I’m drawn to this kind of place, I enjoy the bleakness, (for proof see my last post on Dungeness), it also has a rich otherworldly or alien quality and feels rich and mysterious.

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It brightened up a little on the second day, this is what it feels like almost everywhere in the area.
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The wet landscape can provided rich colours and a lot of atmosphere

We were heading towards the famous Blue Lagoon, for a late afternoon dip in the thermal waters and the weather was miserable. I posted on Facebook that it made the west coast of Ireland look like Barbados, I was only half joking. The afternoon before the Blue Lagoon consisted of parking, going for a long walk, getting soaked in seconds, returning to the car and hiding in a cave.

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Hiding from the weather in a cave.

The Blue Lagoon is amazing, I didn’t take a camera or even a phone, I had made that time to hang out and relax, there’s something about taking photos that can get in the way of experince sometimes. Ironically it was the only time  the sun came out that day (briefly), when we were in the water and it didn’t matter.

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On the coast, near the town of Grindvik

Having said all this, i think i need to be clear, I loved every minute of it. I have eight hours on my way back – If i can wriggle out of the airport I’ll go back and find something else to shoot.

Dungeness

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I took a photo excursion with colleague and friend Eleonora down to Dungeness. It’s a beautiful place on the Kent Coast, but beautiful in a very eerie way. It feels very elemental – still, until we approached the sea, which growled below us on a steep shelf from the shingle beach.

The Nuclear power station at Dungeness
The Nuclear power station at Dungeness

It’s famous for a few things; there are two lighthouses, Dungeness crab, the artist/film maker Derek Jarman Lived there, there’s a huge nuclear power station right on the beach, it has a couple of abandoned villages, acoustic mirrors and is home to a range of species that don’t exist anywhere else in the UK.

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Years ago I went there after breaking up with someone I had been with for a long time. It was an emotional time, and the environment was somehow apt to my situation. It felt really unreal. So, understandably, I was both curious and, to be honest, a little apprehensive of how It would feel to revisit. I can tell you it still feels really unreal as a place. Like it’s at the edge of the world, and it’s full of ghosts – it’s good to face your ghosts.

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Welsh odyssey

Even though I haven’t been posting here enough lately it doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy or thinking about photography. Despite realising that Graphics is my career (and incidentally, being happy about that, my MA I has opened a new reasoning for project work which has further revealed and refreshed design work) I have made headway – especially with music – which you may have seen – and will see more of shortly.

A lot’s been going on, take a recent trip to Wales over the bank holiday. It’s funny how things work out – two photographers with a history of street/event work and portraiture trying landscape photography out. We were in new territory and one which meant I could dust off my old 17-40L lens – which is incredible, and hasn’t been used with any conviction since 2011.

We stayed in Dolgellau, southern Snowdonia, and drove around over the weekend. Despite seeing facebook posts of friends in the Snowdon area being rained upon with biblical vigour we enjoyed sunshine throughout. The Welsh countryside IS beautiful – more spectacular than I expected. We are inexperienced at this type of photography – I would claim just two good shots. I find photography like fishing. Sometimes it opens up to you offering a huge catch and sometimes you get stuck with an old boot.

The shot below was the one. The One. Best of the trip. Pleased to share it with you all.

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Tales of two cities

A few weeks ago, on the way to work, I was admiring the change in seasons in London. Passing over the Thames on my commute I was struck by the mist that covers London on some mornings at this time of year, before the sun rises high enough to burn it away. I spent a few mornings getting up extra early with camera to catch the scene as I suspect it will only be here for a few weeks before the seasons shifts again.

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Mist over the Thames – October Morning

Todays post finds me back in Vancouver – another holiday there, I can’t quite seem to get enough. I took some photos of the state capital of British Columbia, a city called Victoria. Its on Vancouver Island and so like Thames has a relationship with the water, but the hitory is shorter and so the coastline is wilder,. I’m always thinking of the scale of North America about the scale of North America – I wanted to compare it to a photograph I took of the Thames in London.

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Victoria, Vancouver Island – the coast on Dallas Road

I’m sorry its been a while – What with work and spending a lot of time refreshing my graphics and photography website, I have to keep on top of my portfolio, even though that often seems to be a job in itself. Anyway, website: I’m pleased to say is now up. I’t only its second draft so I will be polish, polish, polishing it. Have a look:
http://www.kevinricks.com

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One year blogging / in Montana

GLACIER, mt

I’m here visiting my mum, who lives in Canada, so I don’t get to see her often. After coming so far I figured I should see more of this part of the world. So we drove to Montana. Now this was my idea and I’m glad i’m here, but coming the UK its hard to realise distance – or what a two day drive is!

North America offers a sense of scale combined with natural beauty I haven’t experienced elsewhere. This is a shot taken outside Glacier National Park, (we passed skeletons of trees ravaged by a fire from a huge wildfire in 2003 on the way in). I took a long time composing this, and nature did a lot of the work. But its hard to represent the sense of scale. For example, the trees over the lake are at least 35 feet high.

We are mostly made aware of such places when they are plagued by natural disasters; such as the Colorado wildfires (inc. Rocky Mountain National Park) or storms in Oklahoma and now the Mid Atlantic Coast, these are often measured in tragic human cost – lives, lost or changed forever. Glacier had it’s own wildfires in 2003, as the national parks website explains it was “one of the hottest recorded years in Glacier National Park’s history? That year, approximately 144,000 acres burned from multiple wildfires.”

The webpage goes on:

“Fire is a major ingredient in the ecology of the Northern Rockies just like the snow, the wind, the rain, and other natural forces. Wildland fire is an essential component of this ecosystem and native plants and animals are well adapted to it.”

I have mixed feeling about this – it does seem that the cost to people is very high, but the news reduces the importance of this in the sensational and generic way it reports statistics for this type of event. Also, while I agree that these fires are a natural force and part of the ecosystem in forested national parks, I think they’re understating the impact of this event.

Shortly before taking this picture I locked the keys in the trunk of a car (this is going somewhere). We were in the middle of nowhere, and almost instantly a lady (thanks Josie) stopped for us and drove us to town, made sure we had a locksmith – who showed up within 5 minutes, drove us to the car and unlocked it within 10 minutes; charging us only $35. I couldn’t get over the friendliness and the way people wanted to help.

They both mentioned the fire, while the locksmith, John, drove us back to our car a coyote crossed the road ahead of us. I was amazed and asked about the wildlife, he said most of it has gone and hasn’t come back since the fire. When he said that I felt I had caught a glimpse of how the the fire affects the local people and the environment.

Here’s a picture around the corner from the image abovet, where some of the fire had occurred, bear in mind this happened 10 years ago:

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***

Since writing this we passed a monument in Idaho. It was erected to mark the “Big Blow Up” of 1910, where 3,000,000 acres of forest burned in a forest fire that raged across Idaho, Washington and Montana. The smoke was said to have darkened skies as far away as London.

***

Its officially a year since I started my blog
(although i didn’t startin earnest until last September),
and I wanted to thank the 3244 visitors from a huge range of countries
who’ve viewed my 60 posts.

The Neptune

Exhibition Review: Landmark: the Fields of Photography

Review

Somerset House

14 March – 28 April 2013
Daily 10.00-18.00 (Last admission 17.30)

East Wing Galleries, East Wing. Terrace Rooms & Courtyard Rooms, South Wing
Free admission

Until recently I associated Somerset House with winter Ice Skating. That’s probably unfair, but also true. The WPO exhibition last year changed my opinion, and since then the excellent Henri Cartier-Bresson – A question of colour has made me think of Somerset House as one of Londons premier venues for photography based exhibitions.

William Ewing, who curated Henri Cartier-Bresson – A question of colour, has also organised and compiled this current show Landmark: the Fields of Photography. I’ve stuffed this review full of links to the work in the exhibition, do check them out.

Landscape is obviously a huge subject, the exhibition is divided by loose definition into sub themes; Sublime, Pastoral, Witness, Landmark, Scar, Datum, Delusion, Control, Hallucination and Reverie.  

The way Ewing has divided the images into subsections is very successful. It could easily be argued that the subheadings aren’t strict, (does the satellite image in ‘Sublime’ really belong in ‘Datum’?), but this argument is for pedants.  Field of photography pulls a sense of order form a collection of images which could easily have seemed disperate or fragmented otherwise. It gently expands the viewers expectations of landscape. Just as importantly it informs its audience, putting them in touch with a broad spectrum of motivations photographers have for taking a picture.

I was immediately struck by the enormous ice cliffs shown on opposite walls  in the ‘Sublime’ section shot by Olaf Otto Becker, the huge fibrous prints bookend this section, which also contains well thought out interpretations of lanscape; the ‘Sunburned’  series for example, where Chris McCaw tracks the sun accross sky in different parts of the world, which witnesses solar activity in an unusual yet accurate way.

I’m sure everyone will have their favourites, but I happen to believe ‘Scar’ is a one that many will be impressed with. The Burtynsky image shown on the poster is taken from this section which show scars as evidence of mans interference with landscape. The poster image and may others describe a polluted earth and devastated landscape – In addition to Burtynsky see Daniel Beltra / Rainforest Amazon which I find oddly reminiscent of some WWI paintings. The scar section also has softer descriptions of how we relate to lansdscape and how we can be vulnerable to it; Michael Lights bizarre image of a golf course in Nevada and housing precariously positioned on the ledge of a cliff, which leaves us feeling a little uneasy.

Less traditionally Ewing has also included images collected as data in the ‘Datum’ section. I’m not sure how some of them were gathered, satellite perhaps? It seems that one, XYZ Volume Yosemite – D Holdswerth, is closer to data gathered to describe a landscape – removing us from the more comfortable traditions of photography altogether and, as his website states, ‘appropriating technology that provides a stark new picture of the changing planet…’ Something in the sterile digital recording lends itself to portraying landscapes in this uncanny way.

Simon Roberts images are also impressive, these are shown in the ‘Pastoral’ section. As well as a collection of images from his book We English, the image (shown below) of the equestrian event at the Olympic Games Greenwich is beautifully executed. London almost looks like a model village, an ideal version of itself.

There’s far too much to examine here, I have only covered a few of the rooms. I would urge anyone with an interest in landscape imagery, or just beautifully executed photographs to visit. You wont regret it. Not like I regret accidentally publishing my posts, instead of ‘saving a draft’, before they’re finished and then frantically trying to get them finished before I look like an illiterate half-wit. Sorry if you read the rough version from late on Wednesday, it’s much better now.

Simon Roberts – from his XXX Olympiad Series. Please excuse the text!

The week Sunlight reappeared in Britain, its so beautiful at this time of year. But don’t worry, its gone again. I swear if the weather continues to be so grey for 28 days each month by summer we Brits will all have skin the colour of porridge.

London / Thameside / London Bridge

2S4B0428I love shooting under this bridge at dawn / dusk, the light is great.

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Patches of light near an office building

 

Hyde Park - Autumn 2012

I was looking for this selection for ages, and then it turns up on a memory card I had ignored since getting some very large/fast ones. I take a lot of shots with a panorama or letterbox crop in mind, especially when I see things like this. Its like a shadowpuppet play.


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When you live in London if you’re on the horizon level there is no horizon. You can see one when you’re on a hill – perhaps – but it’s hard to be on the line of horizon. Visiting friends in Kent we walked to Faversham from Whitstable along the coast. The sense of openness is the opposite of London, I’d imagine readers who live on plains might not find this so exciting, but for me there’s a purity and sense of space that appeals to my sensibilities. (I confess to getting a little worse for wear and running along a vast tide-out shore-line the night before elated to have so much space with no one around me – I may also have been shouting “Whooo-hooo”).

So I took an opportunity to challenge a ‘regular’ portrait – just a little, knowing these guys well their size has reduced them to elements I can recognise. Funny how people who have personality character can be represented even when they are very, very small – like this*. It is very them, both in terms of their appearance and their change of environment from London to the coast, which they love, is shown in its vastness behind them.

*Okay, I may have cheated with the car – but you catch my drift.

****** OKAY, OKAY, i’ll put the cat back on…. ******

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Christmas gifts

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Charlie and Jag

The combination of my perpetual singleness, my mum living in Canada and my Dad discovering the retreat (this will be his fourth this year, and there’s more to come) Christmas was always going to be tricky. I’m very lucky that I have some good friends who have offered me sanctuary – and not just because they feel awkward about me being alone over a family holiday, but because they want to spend time with me. Three people offered me a place over the season, including my stepmum Janet – even though she’s not married to my Dad anymore. I am blessed, and while I appreciate some people have a more stable family base, a lot of people have less of one too. I give thanks to my friends.

Charlie, who I spent Christmas with near Bognor Regis, is someone I have known for a very long time. We worked together in 1995, hung out for a while while doing a truly awful job, It’s funny how these jobs often help bind people together. We sold jewellery on train stations in  London. We had fun. She moved to the south coast and I took up her room in her London flat for a while, with her cat Jag who is pictured above. He used to walk up my legs and back while I slept. I was also dating one of her friends, which went very wrong – We lost touch, for ten years, TEN!! How stupid is that?! Luckily enough I bumped into her again a couple of years ago, and she has a forgiving disposition I give thanks for that. BIG thanks.

So for what is essentially my Christmas post I would like to give a shout out to my friends and let them know how valuable they are – In particular: Charlie Morgan, Chris Lambeth and Grant Burnside, Dan Phillips and family, and Cosmo Valseca.

Bognor Pier
The Bognor Regis Pier

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