Eastern Europe in Black and White

Following on from my Easter Europe in Colour series, here is a selection of images, from my photography collection of 14 years, from Germany, Lithuania, Romania and Czechia (Czech Republic).

Rethinking, Re-imagining, Regrouping.

After visiting The Body Observed exhibition at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts,  last week i was inspired to look at some of my photograph collections from the last 14 years and think again about how some of them fit together to create their own mini-collections. Through my love of anything Eastern European, i decided to look at my collection of images from Germany, Lithuania, Czech Republic and Romania. When seeing all those images together, there was an overwhelming sense of colour, which i wasn’t expecting. I don’t know about you, but there is a stereotype of dull and dreary which creeps into mind when thinking about these places, even though i have visited and know otherwise. So here is my collection of “Colours from Eastern Europe”.

St. Andrew’s Assylum

During my visit to Norfolk, back in May, I visited St. Andrew’s Asylum which has now been partly demolished but the main annex has been left pretty much in tact and is open access to the public. Unfortunately there were PCSO’s keeping an eye on what I was doing so couldn’t go inside. An incredible place with an incredible history, but is there beauty in the bleak? See what you think; here are some examples of the shots I took.

Studio day – test shots/editing

I have been to, what was, a local coking plant (that used to make coke, not the drink , the fuel) currently under decommission to test out some photography and editing techniques . I am including the before and after shots so you can see what difference the post production has made.

The image has been squared up, the contrast in the sky brought out and a sepia tone added to it.

These images were taken on a long exposure using an ND8 filter. This has captured movement in the foreground. I have heavily increased the contrast in this image as well as increased the clarity of the image by sharpening it.

I had to separate the sky in this shot and work with the two halves independently. The sun was in the wrong place and if i were doing this shot again, I would make sure the sun was in a different spot. I gave the image a bit of a sepia edge to it again as well as making the blacks, very black, especially on the brickwork to make it look grimy.

I left a feint hint of colour in this image and again I split the sky and foreground. The sky has had a huge hit of contrast to bring define the clouds as they were quite washed out in the original.; i had tried to heighten the contrast with a polarising filter. I am in two minds about whether this one works at all but there is something intriguing me about it.

With this shot i intensified the clarity of the image to bring out the stones and path in the foreground, increased the contrast and then took out some of the highlights so the focus leans toward the darker areas of the shot. The image was taken from low to the ground; It makes the tower loom from the top of the hillside.

Abandoned Places

I saw this link come up on Facebook the other day with some cool photos of abandoned places around the world.  This is what I was getting at in my last post about the ‘beauty in the bleak’. There is something that feels permanent and everlasting about these places but actually they are being ever so gradually reclaimed by the earth. This links back to work I was doing about 10 years ago when I documented  a giant sugar cube being reclaimed by insects, the elements, the earth.



He got me thinking…

I have admired the work of George Shaw ever since I saw his nomination at the Turner Prize in 2011. His work immediately sprang to mind when thinking about what I would like to produce from this body of work.

George Shaw - The Fall - 1999
Taken from: http://www.scenesfromthepassion.co.uk/styled/index.html

Bernadette McNulty from the Telegraph talks about how he captures “An unloved and unpainted corner of Britain.” I am drawn in by this and this takes me back to the origins of my work with my short videos based on the humour of different tourist destinations.  At the time, I read a book called ‘Dark Tourism’ by the comedian, Dom Joly. In the book he visits places like Iran to go Skiing as well as Chernobyl to see the reactor and the abandoned town of Pripyat that’s close by. I am not wanting to go to the extreme of these kinds of locations but it has set me thinking about some of the ‘bleak’ destinations that Britain has to offer.

Spurn Point – The Humber Estuary

The landscape here was alien, it contained bits washed up from the sea, bits of boat, wires, rubbish and unexplained pipeline that seemed endless.

A snowy and icy Yorkshire Sculpture Park

To the scene at the top of Mount Teide in Tenerife; a volcanic island and baron landscape.

So, a theme is starting to develop, a theme that is very much based around the beauty of unusual landscapes; the beauty and the bleak. Much as George Shaw does in his paintings, there is a skill to capturing that beauty


Bleak Photography

Here are a selection of photographs from my personal archive that I am using as an inspiration and starting point of my thinking. Following on from my previous work, I am interested in aspects of ‘dark tourism’ and the bleak is something that I have photographed subconsciously for a while.

Bleak – Dictionary defintions

The word ‘bleak’ has many different meanings and my first response was to look at some definitions of the word. Here are a couple of examples that i liked and that I am also quite interested in through my photography:

Definition 1:
(of an area of land) lacking vegetation and exposed to the elements.
“a bleak and barren moor”
Definition 2:
(of a building or room) charmless and inhospitable; dreary.
“he looked round the bleak little room in despair”
Definition 3:
(of the weather) cold and miserable.
“a bleak midwinter’s day”