Portsmouth: Exhibition and more time to enjoy the D300

[image title=”Waiting for a ferry” size=”medium” id=”1991″ align=”center” ]
We have just returned from spending a fantastic few hours in Portsmouth. We attended an exhibition, I took some shots with the D300 (see above click on thumbnails to view slide show), we did a little shopping and even looked for somewhere to eat. Our attempts to find somewhere to eat were a distinct failure as everyone else had the same idea and were all taking a mid afternoon lunch.

The exhibition is currently taking place at Portsmouth Cathedral showing a series of photographs by students of the University of Portsmouth who are currently studying for their BA Hons. Level 2 degree in photography. The exhibition is entitled – “Everything, Always” and to start off I am going to cheat by copying the press release introductory text straight into this post:

“Every second of every day we are constantly looking at the spaces and places that surround us. In this exhibition our world is examined in detail: an asylum shares a room with a park bench, rust and snow stand together with an empty bed. Taken from the work of over 40 artists,the show is as diverse in style as it is in content. From the obscure to the grand, the vista to the cranny, this is an extraordinary photographic testament to the fact that , no matter what we fix our attention on, we are all forever looking at everything, always.”

More information – http://www.visitportsmouth.co.uk/site/whats-on/university-of-portsmouth-photographic-exhibition-p366911

This is a very interesting statement, one I wholly believe in and one I personally abide to, almost in a religious fashion. It is something we all do without realisation and some of us like to record what we see in the form of photographic imagery. Photography as an art is immensely diverse and very much depends on the “eye” of the artist who captures such images. I am one of those people and no doubt many of you reading this blog share that same passion to capture the world around them be it for fun or professional gain. It is also (can be) a highly subjective art form depending on one’s level of experience in the world of photography. This in itself can be an educational experience as identifying other people’s mistakes can lead you to realise your own or to learn how to become a better critic of other photographic works by your contemporaries. I learnt this through www.nfolio.net my photography critique site and worth checking out in itself. A group of people can learn so much through what other people see, think, create and capture. In turn all becoming finer photographers in their own right.

What if you feel that you are not a photographer? We are all “photographers” when it boils down to it, after all we are born with most incredible twin lens system ever created, our own eyes. The distinction between amateurs and professionals can often be extremely distinct and this isn’t necessarily down to owning the best equipment, the finest film, the highest number of megapixels or a truckload of lenses. It is in understanding the fundamentals of light, composition, identifying the decisive moment that unfolds before our eyes that really matter. The impressionists such as Monet, Cezanne et al, laid down the foundations for these rules through paint and canvas for us to enjoy many centuries later. The early pioneers of photography simply adopted these rules and they had very little technical control whatsoever over the results of their endeavours which in many ways was not a bad thing, as it allowed them to concentrate on the elements of their craft that truly mattered.

Modern cameras are remarkable things, they are a great deal smaller than anything that the likes of Fox Talbot would have used in the 1800’s and they can fit in your pocket. It is feasible now to carry a small DSLR, a small compact (fits in a pocket) or a camera phone with you at all times. You can really capture life around you on a real-time basis. Fox would have eaten his socks had he seen what is possible nowadays, the fact you can instantly see what you have captured, download to a computer and see published globally only seconds later on your website or on it’s way via FTP to your press agency for publication in the morning papers! We can all have a go at being Henri Cartier-Bresson – Does this make us all photographers though? Well maybe, maybe not, you decide and feel free to debate it with me!! I like a good debate and there is no better place than this blog…

The photographs on display today were very much of the photojournalistic flavour and by their very nature were mostly raw, some even a little rough around the edges. Which is by no means a damning criticism but a complement. Photography (especially photojournalism) should not always be beautiful, perfectly timed, planned for days in advance. More often than not the best images come about from simply being there and witnessing the moment, whatever it was. Photojournalism should be powerful in it’s delivery of the message it intends to convey, the message must hit home, it should provoke an emotional reaction from the viewer.

Many images convey a story and if the viewer understands and empathises with the sentiments portrayed, then those images are pure gold.

Did I spot any pure gold today? Silver? Fools gold?

As I stated earlier, photography is (not always mind you) an art and is inherently subjective. I approached most of the images with an open mind and I have to say quite a lot of them didn’t really evoke much of a reaction from me, however there were a few gems present. A broad range of genres were represented and the categories were arranged in a logical fashion around the Cathedral walls. We started with the portrait shots which were fairly good but none outstanding with only one exception which was called “Claustrophobia” – Black and white, depicting a girl seemingly trapped, floating in space (or water) behind a pane of broken glass, her long long hair floating upwards above her head. This image fascinated me, I was intrigued as to how it had been made, the fear was indeed conveyed and the atmosphere was edgy, disturbing even. It was clever, very clever indeed. There were some great abstracts, a really good black and white travel image of a little boy in a foreign land and even, a shot of pub toilet! I loved the shot taken inside an old derelict asylum of a light switch and a flaky wall.

We enjoyed it and if you live in the area it’s worth a look, we would also like to say thank you for the food and glasses of wine.

We had a look around the cathedral afterwards and many of the images at the top of this article were taken there and as you can no doubt guess we then took a stroll over to Gunwharf Quays and I gave the D300 another good spin. It will get another one tomorrow as we visit a wedding venue to plan for a wedding we are covering a week today.

“Everything, always” runs from 17/01/2009 till 29/01/2009 at Portsmouth Cathedral, which is in the old part of the city. Easily accesible by road and rail links.


I didn’t say much about my own photographs, so I shall pick out individual shots for the week ahead and write a little bit about them for you!

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