Tuesday, September 29, 2015


"I had the notion of what I called a democratic way of looking around, that nothing was more or less important."
William Eggleston

Nothing differs from yesterday. Be it another day makes little difference. The same sunrise, the same sky, the same air, the same thoughts. Maybe one more piece of knowledge collected incidentally and stored for later. Tomorrow, maybe. Tomorrow will be different. Tomorrow will always be different.

Meanwhile, I stay with the moment, each one filled with small pieces of yesterday and debris  of today. Dust from the fires, washing from the clothesline, sand from the beach, photographs.

When I look back at yesterday there are few landmarks. Ordinary things that caught my eye. The camera is always within reach. Photographing at arms length to the world, shielding myself from contact or absorbing me into the moment. An observer and participant at the same time.

On reflection, everything seems important. The photograph does that. It isolates not just the moment but the thing, the place, the action, the event, the geography, the thought.

A lifetime of shifting sands, moved by the winds from the east and south; constant reminders that there is somewhere else. The flora and fauna struggles wilfully. The struggle is essential. Without the struggle, all things remain the same. Change requires something to fight against, move with or wait for, Preparedness in the light of the events of yesterday.

The paint peels, the wood decays, the flower wilts, a war rages elsewhere, a lamb is born in a bleak paddock and another dies at the hands of a butcher, a rocket lands on a comet and a child takes its first steps.

How can I have the camera ready for all this? How can I be ready? Why is it essential that we record all this? Does the photograph remind us of what we must be prepared for?

Or is it just that we like to see how the moment, thing, place looks on a photograph?

"Cogito ergo sum (I think therefore I am)"
René Descartes

Ideo ego COMMEDITOR eam (this is why I photograph it)

Today is another day. The camera is at arms length. All things are as important or less than only by our own relevance. The photograph will equalise all differences.Today I put my mind not to understanding but doing.

"Whether a photo or music or anything else I might do -  it's ultimately all an abstraction of my peculiar experience".

William Eggleston.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

LEARNING TO SEE - again. Part 3

Self portraits have been around for a while. The first photographers were not backward in coming foreword with their own images, permanently and indelibly etched in the new technology.

This was and is nothing new. Artists have been doing it for hundreds of years. Rembrandt certainly did his fair share, having painted over 60 individual portraits of his face.

The significance of a self portrait for the artist and the viewer is unique. As does a moving picture, the sequence shows growth in two ways: that of the artist as a person, a form, an ageing human, and  of the skills he possesses.

Self-portrait 2012

Today we see the proliferation of the Selfie, an Australian term used to describe the quick snap taken mostly by smart phones or point and press cameras, of the camera holder and quickly sent to their friends and relatives for a quick 'like'.

Mother and daughter selfie 2014

Selfies are distinct from portraits in many ways. They have two main purposes: to indicate the status  and  the location of the photographer.
Status seems paramount in the new world. Status can be stated in many forms. What we wear, who we are with, where we are located, how good we look, how foolishly we are behaving, how deviant we wish to be, how game we are all fall into the possibilities of displaying ourselves in an appropriate or inappropriate way to the world.

Nevertheless, Selfies are as important as the new language or the new style. They separate us from the last fad-ridden generation who's bad taste is now replaced with equally or even superlative bad taste. No generation has been without their wantonness to display themselves is a way that distinguishes them from the rest.

The idea of the Selfie may perish in the same manner as the Mullet, paisley and wings on cars but the self- portrait will continue to be used by the photographer for their own reasons.

Heather and friends. Whenever!

Finding a suitable subject for practice can be difficult at the spur of the moment. Not so if you are willing to step in front of the lights and allow the lens to swallow your pride.

Self-portrait 2010

Filling a gap and providing a human element might rely on a passer by. Timing and cooperation are not always that forthcoming. Placing oneself into the scene gives familiarity and personality to the domesticity of the image.

Self-portrait 2013

Capturing a shadow or a reflection is often ignored or avoided by the person with the camera, yet the presence of the form can remind the photographer that they re just as important a part of the real world as any other bystander. They are also vulnerable and open to the marauding lens.

Self-portrait 2015

Photographers have explored the concept of self-portrait as a means of expression. Such photographs are conceptual and often powerful statement on how the photographer sees himself as a part of the whole or independent from the rest.

Self-portrait 2015

Few photographers succeed in completing the philosophical analysis of what they do. The self-portrait can play an important part in developing skills, monitoring growth and reflecting on why it is they do what they do.

We can only propose what a photographer sees when they view themselves in such a way.

LEARNING TO SEE - again. Part 2

Dave 2014

Its not at all surprising that the first flush of photographs were mostly portraits. There is an immense curiosity with the face of other humans. Recognition and familiarity is an important aspect of our willingness to look at other peoples' faces, especially in portraiture. It also seems a suitable way of describing someone, remembering someone or simply showing others what our ancestors looked like.

The portrait certainly has been romanticized, no less in photography. The search for inner meaning has been the focus of many a photographer and critic.

"Sensitive people faced with the prospect of a camera portrait put on a face they think is the one they would like to show to the world... Every so often what lies behind the facade is rare and more wonderful than the subject knows or dares to believe".
Irving Penn

If we remember that our perceptions of people are established through many sources, the portrait is merely an addition to that perception, even if we don't know the person. Our existing knowledge of age, gender, nationality, grooming, fashion, facial expressions and even the way we comb our hair or brush our teeth are reflected in the image as a mirror would.

In addition, as the subject of the photograph, we are somewhat aware of how we might appear to the photographer and the viewer of the photograph.

"Many photographers feel their client is the subject. My client is a woman in Kansas who reads Vogue. I'm trying to intrigue, stimulate, feed her. My responsibility is to the reader. The severe portrait that is not the greatest joy in the world to the subject may be enormously interesting to the reader."

Ken 2010

Many of us will find the honesty of a portrait distasteful, even abhorrent. Others will seek it out and display their finery at every opportunity. At the end of the day, none of this matters to the photographer or viewer, for they will formulate their won opinions and come to their own conclusions as to the nature of the subject.

As an actor might react to a camera under the direction of a script, we can learn to appreciate the value of the portrait in presenting the image we wish to share. The photographer can assist with this if they understand the basics of psychology and vanity. 

"I sometimes find the surface interesting. To say that the mark of a good portrait is whether you get them or get the soul - I don't think this is possible all of the time."

Ultimately, the portrait enables us to know something of the person photographed, even if its merely the form the person represents. But the interaction of the photographer, the photographed and the viewer can only add to this. The portrait is no mystery. There is nothing mysterious about our fascination with other people. In understanding others we hope to gain insight into ourselves.

I'm inclined to thing it's the other way around.

The accordion player  2012

Graham 2013

LEARNING TO SEE - again. Part 1

"The term “Photography” is now so well known, that an explanation of it is
perhaps superfluous; yet, as some persons may still be unacquainted with
the art, even by name, its discovery being still of very recent date, a
few words may be looked for of general explanation."

H. Fox Talbot (1844)

The ability to record a permanent image is almost 200 years old. It seems strangely humbling to know that I have been taking photographs for more than a quarter of its existence and more than 90% of my own life.

Whether it is a mechanical, chemical or digital process, be it art or advertising, or whatever we perceive its purpose is not in dispute. We have learnt to grow with it and embrace it into our lives in one way or another.

"That such imperfections will occur in
a first essay, must indeed be expected.  At present the Art can hardly be
said to have advanced beyond its infancy—at any rate, it is yet in a very
early stage—and its practice is often impeded by doubts and difficulties,
which, with increasing knowledge, will diminish and disappear. "  H.F.T (1844)

Those at the beginning certainly were in awe of the new recordings. The detail provided was achievable by even the least skilled. One need no longer be proficient at drawing. One simply needed to point the camera in the direction of the subject, be still for a moment, and great clarity was theirs to take away and display. How it must have pleased them, excited them, fascinated them, even bewildered them. They did not need to know the science or understand the mechanics or even the aesthetics. The beauty lie in the capacity to do something they could not otherwise do.

Today, we continue to take photographs of objects with that in mind: we can do something that, without the camera, we could not otherwise do. For most of us, it is the detail and richness of the subject and the moment we wish to encompass, record and share, that is paramount in our consciousness.

But photography has developed in many ways over the centuries. Its technical aspects have surpassed the expectations of the early photographers. We have moved from chemical recording and fixing to digital processing. The camera has such high levels of technology, most need no understanding of the processes that the earlier photographers might have used. The convenience and affordability places a camera in the hands of most. The numbers of photographs taken exceeds the imagination of even those who were born into it. The proliferation of photographs has saturated our daily lives. Their influence on our thinking is profound.

Photography is now an integral part of our communication. Photographs accompany, reinforce, explain and even replace the spoken word. They enable us to express ourselves better, differently and abstractly. It is an art form as much as an artisans tool and a witness to who we are and what we do as humans.

But does any of this matter to  any of us? We continue to take pictures. We continue to point and press. A few seek deeper meaning to it all. For the majority we are happy enough to rely on the camera to record what we see so we can reflect and share with others.

I am learning to see once again. I am learning to see the beauty that lies before me and then see how it looks as a photograph.

I do not claim to have perfected an art but to have commenced one, the limits of which it is not possible at present exactly to ascertain. " H.F.T. (1844)

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

New Horizons 7


The new horizon has geometry, precision, and a place for water to be collected and channeled, just as the old horizons did. With that comes the sound of rain on metal, best heard from beneath. The horizon provides shelter from the midday sun. No longer do we need to be near the horizons of the past. The New Horizon is as close as the next house, designed to accommodate the perfect view for the neighborhood.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

New horizon 6

The new horizon will offer places for children to play and grow. They will have the experiences never offered to their ancestors. Their expectations will be our expectations. Their education will be our responsibility. Their culture will be the product of all that has been done before them. They will reap the benefits. They will want for nothing, share a sense of responsibility to their fellow being and maintain respect for those who provided the new horizons in which they can come and go as they please. The new horizon will be within their reach. They will be on the other side of the fence and the grass will be greener.

Ne horizon 5

The new horizons offer luxury and diversity, space to cultivate a culture or crop, room to move, feel freedom, protect us from marauding hordes and whispering lips. No longer will we need to succumb to the rigors of a frontier filled with perils, predators and persecutors. Life is safe under the new horizon. Life is good under the new horizon. We promise you that and more.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

New horizons 4

"Walk the path less trod" she heard. There is no sign of footsteps here. Many have passed but no mark left to know how many or who. I must now choose differently, with more purpose, with intent. No longer can I wonder freely through the wooded forest and feel new earth beneath my feet. There are no leaves to cover my steps, nor broken branches to lend the way. My life is clearly marked. Nothing is left to chance. My way is the way of others.
Read the new signs of the new horizons and move on.

New horizons 3

The slaughter houses are clearing their stock. The carcasses mount in filthy piles in the streets. The scavengers pick at the bones of those that went to their hell behind the walls. A ray of sunlight gives little hope to those who are next or those that pass without notice. A rat rattles a can and a dove contrasts above. In between there is the new horizon, now scarred from the detritus it creates. The smell of new mown hay is replaced with stinging ammonia from a discard of the society that was to be created and failed.
Where to next? Another alley and another dawn in the new horizon.

New horizons 2

The fences are down and the boundaries are established. The pastures are bare and the cattle wander aimlessly in search of fodder. The farmer reaps his crop and milks his sacred cows with a gentle stroke and a smile. We take willingly from the allotments, then move through the barriers to our designated domains. Unlike Larsen's cows, there is no eye contact within the bovine herd. Listless and hungry, they will circle for hours until there is little light to see them home. Tomorrow it is repeated once more for most; never again for the weak and the destitute. Old stock is weeded out and fresh meat for the market is prepared.
We are not the predators; we are the prey.

New Horizons

Gone are the landscapes of the old. A new beauty is with us. It offers new horizons with greener grass beyond. Neat. orderly, precise, accessible, attainable. We can still see the sky and still reach for it. Now we can feel the fabric of the cliffs, we can understand what holds it together. God is no longer necessary. We fit with as hand to glove, walking beside it knowing that tomorrow more will be revealed. The erosion of the shoreline is limited to rust and grime. This is our new farmland, our new pasture, our new home. 
Wonder at its magnificence. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Girl in Blue

Girl in Blue where have you been?
I'm going, that's what on
I'm off to dance upon the stage
Feel free to come along

The trouble is I'm running late
My knickers are all tangled
My dress is dragging on the ground
And my hair is such a mangle

Fear not young lady I'm agast
At the beauty I behold
Can I walk along with you
If I might seem so bold.

Yeah, whatever, Seems like a thing
Just get a move on, will ya?
I haven't time for drivel
And don't get too familiar


Shop shop shop shop sit shop shop.
Shop shop shop sit shop.
Rest rest rest shop shop shop shop
Shop shop until you drop.

Bad taste

Just now I'm doing nothing
While I dance upon the hill
And the shadows of the past 
Are never standing still
I can wait for moments silence
Which comes among the blast
Of the thunder of my thoughts
That drift among the past
Where was I when the hail fell
What train of actions then
When I alone could tell
What the endless pain would bend
That I will live this moment over
And the torment will inflame
The scars that mark the cover
And only I can blame
Myself, the thoughts alone
Are tattooed to my brain
To be seen as autochrome
For as long as I remain
Awake or sleep it matters not
For nothing is a myth
In which no memory is forgot
If nothing, this it it.
Restless, relentless, haunting ghosts
That interrupt the peace
And I am the singular host
Of nothing's angry feast.


M is for mother and mud and more (of)
And marvel and moo (cow) and milk
If its upside down its for wiggle and want
Its nothing if it just has a tilt.

Living in a dungeon

Its crystal clear to me
That living in a hole
Needs stairs to let you out for lunch
And stairs to bring you home.

New Land.

Land ho! The sailor yelled, Land ho!
Stay with the wind. The rocks below.
The harbour's clear and still. Our souls have tired
The sun has set the place on fire.

There is a place to anchor. Just beyond.
Hold steady as she goes. Lower the sails.
Take to the oars good men. Be strong.
No death by drowning we desire.

No Distant Shores

How dangerous it is to venture out to sea
When the fog is all around us and is thick as soup of pea
Sea monsters lurk in every void and splash upon the waves
Its flesh and blood they want and human flesh they crave

But fear not I have my trusty sword and all the fight that's nigh
I've sailed my ship upon the sea and flown the flag held high
When such a beast attacks and tears this sturdy ship to shreds
I'll wake up form my nightmare in my snugly bed.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Being there

Watching the budding photographers find their way through the viewfinder is a pleasurable experience. I know they are looking for colour and spectacle. They can find it without the camera, but the camera can guide them. At least it gets them out there. I watch with interest at their reactions. It becomes all too much for them. They are failing.
"Put your camera down and just look." I call. They do. Its as though they might have missed it.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015


We do complain a lot, us humans.

Things are never quite as we would like them. Someone else is always at it; interfering, stuffing it up, going the wrong way, not listening: being human, really.
But we know what to do, don't we? We know how to run the country, solve the economic crisis, stop the wars, deal with the criminal element, the wife bash
ers, the child molesters, the cane toads. Why didn't they ask me? I'd have told them. What would a politician know about running the country? What would a judge know about justice? What would the council know about dogs shitting on my lawn? Don't get me started.
And while you're there, let me tell you what they are doing in schools lately. Nothing. The kids can't even read. They send them home with homework I can't even do! Then there's the roads. Have you seen the state of them! What about the price of, well, everything. A bloke can't afford a smoke and a beer anymore. 
Back when I was a kid you could eat for a week on a days wages. Have you seen the price of tomatoes? Don't think about flying anywhere. 
Yeah. Things are tough. I've got a good mind to move. Or write a letter to the paper. Something. Something needs to be done!
We better get back to work before someone complains.


Friday, January 30, 2015

Looking down

I'm not sure if the average bloke is too focused on what he leaves behind. He knows the tide will cover over his footprints within the hour and eventually his path through the quagmire of life will be forgotten. Sure, people might remember where he came from and some significant events along the way, but for the most part, each footstep is filled with silt and awaits the next generation to make their temporary mark.
The old man is, at this stage, focused on the next step. One at a time he nervously puts one foot in front of the other, tests the ground cautiously, supports himself with his cane and advances another metre or so. He's not in a rush any more. There is no point to that. The faster he gets there the sooner comes the end. At some point he stops. Where does he look? He looks down at his feet. For him, the most important part of the journey now is, as it surely always should have been, where he stands now. The past has gone and the future doesn't exist. He can feel the soft sand between his toes and the water on his feet. He doesn't need to know about what happened or what will happen.
Its why old blokes look down.

Thursday, January 29, 2015


Christine pointed out to me that it's not so much what follows for us but what we leave behind for others to cherish that counts in death. All of us will come to an end, be it brief or long lasting. What we leave behind isn't so much material. Its a conversation between friends, a tear from a loved one, a laugh from a friend, a question from a child.
"Where has great grand dad gone?"
"He's dead".
"I keep hearing him"
"We all do. It's our memories of him".
"Will he go away?"
"I'm afraid not. His memories are part of all of us now"
"Which part?"
"The smelly bits"
"He did smell funny, didn't he?"
"He smells worse now".

Sunday, January 25, 2015

A final hurrah.

If anything, a cremation should be proof enough that there isn't anything after life. Like a cigarette isn't a cigarette after someone has smoked it, there is no evidence of humanity after the coals have cooled and the smoke has dissipated other than the coughing and wheezing as a result of the onlookers breathing in the fumes.
"Well, he's gone"I hear someone call.
"Up in smoke" another onlooker adds, causing a slight snigger to shimmer across the noisy crowd.
"Lunch is ready"someone yells. Only I can see the humor in that. I'm tempted to laugh out loud but I'm just a tourist and not invited to lunch. My offerings will be prepared by the chef down the road. Chicken I hope.
It's rather refreshing to see such joy in death, such completeness and finality. No-one starts again nor does any of us take over where another left off. If we want to celebrate anything, it's the simple refreshing act of living and dying. 
Who's next?

Are you sure?

How sure can you be ..... of anything, really? A lack of confidence is seen as a sign of character weakness. Yet we shake the dice and pla...