Into the Dream Forest at #NAF18

Forests are hard to photograph. They’ve got all the light and shade, shapes and textures you could want – but trying to get that in a picture and capture the feel of a forest is another story. On Christmas Day last year I took a very wet and slippery walk to Hogsback’s Big Tree. On the way down I paused and took a misty shot looking back up the pathway. That’s the picture which led to this set of six images that will be in my #NAF18 exhibition ‘Metamorphosis’. They’re the Dream Forest series. I realised that if I used a Fine Art Filter in post processing then I could give the misty wetness a dreamlike, evanescent quality.

The picture I’d set out for was of an individual tree – The Big Tree. It towers high over your head and it has got a massive girth. These three wide angle lens pictures of individual Hogsback trees are taken from ground level and that gives them a different quality and scale to the Dream Forest pictures.

All of these pictures, and more, will be in sale at the Johan Carinus Art Centre, Grahamstown throughout the National Arts Festival from June 28 to July 8.

The Big Picture: Unwrapped for #NAF18

Today’s the big day – it’s when I get my large prints back from the framers. I’ve worked on them for a long time but only seen them on the computer screen – and they can be big: 90 cms x 90 cms. I get a glimpse when I carefully unroll them as they come back from the printers.  But I am scared of creasing or marking the surface so once I have checked each print they all get rolled back up again and taken to be mounted and framed.

#NAF18, Metamorphosis, Johan Carinus Art Centre, Grahamstown

The Big Picture: Delivery for #NAF18

Getting them into the house once they’re framed can be fraught with dangers too. The dogs have to be shut away as each piece is carefully navigated up all of the steps from the bottom carport and then round the stoep and finally into my studio. Finding room to unwrap them is like moving tetris pieces as I have over 50 pieces ready for #NAF18. And Kayleigh the cat would just love to sneak in and hide amongst all of the wrappings!

I’ll really enjoy having them around me in the studio for the next three weeks. Then this whole process gets repeated to get everything out of the house and off to my exhibition ‘Metamorphosis’ which is at the Johan Carinus Art Centre for the duration of #NAF18 from June 28th to July 8th.

 

Revealing the Sugarbirds at #NAF18

Opening up a roll of prints takes me straight back to childhood.  It’s the anticipation, the long wait since you finished the post production and uploaded the images to your printer in Port Elizabeth or Cape Town. Then you get the email, they’re done, and you have to wait for the courier to deliver.  24 hour delivery they say but if you are living in Grahamstown that can take anything up to five days.  Then, of course, they might deliver to a neighbour over the road (because you were out) and never bother telling you!

The Sugarbird images are black and white with the birds floating like oriental brushstrokes on a very pale background. I’d selected the Hahnemühle German Etching paper because I wanted a rich texture and as soon as I saw the images catching the late afternoon sunlight I was delighted with the result.

I’ve four Sugarbirds images in Metamorphosis – they’ll be on show thoughout the National Arts Festival (June 28 – 8 July) at the Johan Carinus Arts Centre.

The Sugarbirds Composite

The N2 by Night – Festinos’ delight?

The N2’s not an easy road and I don’t think many festinos’ would think it’s a delight: but most people will come to #NAF18 along it. Whether from Port Elizabeth or King William’s Town it snakes its way across a whole sequence of deep valleys. I just love the names of the rivers. On the PE side you leave Grahamstown through Howieson’s Poort and must cross the Berg, Palmiet, Assegai, Kariega and Bushman’s before the long dry stretch to the Sunday’s River at Colchester.

N2, Grahamstown, Howieson's Poort, #NAF18

N2 by Night: Howieson’s Poort

To the East of Grahamstown it’s across the Belmont Valley you go and over the Kowie River before the long climb up to Governor’s Kop. You’ve still got the Great Fish and Keisakamma to cross before you reach the Buffalo River bridge entering King William’s Town.

The N2 at Night makes a good photo essay. From the radio masts on the western end of Mountain Drive you can catch the car headlights coming up Howieson’s Poort. At the toposcope you can look down over the N2 bypass to the town’s lights. Below you is the Port Alfred road and the N2 weaving across the Belmont Valley and up through the cuttings beyond.

The Howieson’s Poort picture is one of this year’s Grahamstown series that I’m showing in Metamorphosis, June 28 – 8 July, at the Johan Carinus Art Centre during #NAF18.

 

 

 

Starting off with a flash and a bang – 55 days to go to #NAF18

This month certainly started with a bang – we had a spectacular storm last night that’s given me another picture for #NAF18.

Grahamstown, Lightning, #NAF18, Metamorphosis, Night Photography

Autumn Storm over Grahamstown

I shall add it to the three night pictures in the Grahamstown Series I’ve already printed for Metamorphosis. You get such cool colours and effects in night photographs whether it’s a moon rise, car headlights or lightning. But they’re quite tricky to take. Then there’s problem of just how to print them. This time I’ve selected something a little different – Ilford Metallic Gloss.

The prints have a slight metallic sheen with rich contrasts and plenty of detail.  They’ll be on sale at the exhibition and also through my online portal later this month.

The Face of the Exhibition

You must find a dramatic image to publicise your exhibition – that’s what the #NAF18 organisers tell you. This year it was easy because Meagen gave me a photo shoot and we got some really striking images. For the photo shoot I made a set of motifs from tree ferns, branches and lightning that I projected on to her. Meagen struck some amazing poses for me: strong, beautiful and challenging all at once.

Metamorphosis #NAF18 Johan Carinus Art Centre Grahamstown

Meagen Photo Shoot for Metamorphosis

I re-inserted these new images back into the originals I’d worked from. There’s two pictures from the shoot at #NAF18. They’re called The High Priestess and Justice.  Somehow they fitted into the themes of the two Tarot cards.  The High Priestess gazes out from deep within your subconscious, rooted in the natural world.  Justice looks at the past and the present and her many faces reflect all of your past decisions. They’re  new additions to the Symmetry series I showed at last years Arts Festival.

I was extremely fortunate to have a second photo shoot – this time with Natalie who featured in last year’s exhibition – but that must wait for a another post.