A few weeks ago I grabbed handfuls of saffron from very wet grass, took them home to dry, but ended with sogginess and to the compost they went. A lucky accident, the saffron dyed the papers they were draining on and after drying, they turned out to be great background papers for the herb photos.
A bowl of beetroot was another opportunity to try some home dying and the pink turned out pretty and will be used for another photo project soon.
I love the idea of dying and tinting papers with natural plant extracts and when space allows, I hope to get heavier papers to carry more dye and maybe throw in some marbling too – oil on water.
I have been asked to contribute to a couple of blogs writing about cheese. The challenge here is to show the cheese, not as an ingredient. If it was the latter I would have scope to get a little more artistic, more plates, knives, ingredients, fabrics. But these I think I want simpler. Maybe just a cheese with a slice removed, or a slight turn of angle to showcase the rind. Therefore it’s about light and a simple background, maybe a linen, a scrubbed wood board, cheese wax paper, or a paper of my own.
This cheese shot of a Petite Basque was set on a natural waxy cooking paper that had been cooked in the oven for about half an hour with a little oil, whilst baking a cake at the same time. Sometime multi-tasking can work!
The dyed papers can be put through a photo programme and used for texture too. I love floral photography and this might just work – fine art photography in other words – overlaying the textures or colours. A lot to explore.
I am still finding my photographic feet and working out what I enjoy but what also will I hope lead to some income. Maybe the current project of photographing the local farm animals will lead to images for books, or the tree project will end up being suitable for a book similar to the one I saw recently by three French photographers. A beautiful book I couldn’t afford, full of large format prints and wonderful accompanying hand-drawn sketches. It was snapped up in the shop after just a couple of days and the book-shop in my local town has many such landscape and wildlife books – so there is a market.
Last week I starting teaching a French teenager English -at first a terrifying thought – a 14 year old rally biking teenager- but actually it was fun and I was a lot friendlier than his terrifying teacher who did nothing apparently but shout a lot! And luck would have it, his farm had a pig. So pig was photographed and now the French think I am very odd. I mean, who photographs pigs that are going to be eaten at Christmas. Well I do and I am hoping that once my portfolio is complete, the locals might just see them differently.
My neighbour is about to get a book of his farm. He seems quite excited. A whole career in beef farming and no record at all visually. That seems a shame. He works very hard and the cows are well looked after. He often rides around the fields on his father’s old tractor – very sentimental to him and in summer he trained his nephew- hands on farming, hay making and harvesting. I also captured bulls and cows that are no longer here – bad feet meant a short life and a bull who just wasn’t cutting the mustard with the girls was now a financial liberty. I felt obliged to take their final portraits – to capture the personality. Cows have characters. We all shed a tear the day the bull went. So I know the book will have some emotional impact too.
Well from papers to personalities – that’s what photography can involve. It’s how I now develop my ideas that matters and that’s my challenge for next year. I will share the journey.