Monday, 19 January 2015

What personality are you?

The Enneagram supposedly gives a scientific analyst of your personality. I did the free sampler test and it tells me I'm a Type 7 personality. Click here for my results. Its description is pretty accurate, but then again, you can find things to agree with anything when its generalised enough. Look at horoscope definitions of personality, most people can identify with what they say. You can take the full test which takes much longer and is far more accurate apparently but I'm not sure I'm that interested. Click HERE if you want to have a go at the quick sampler test!

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Morgan Cars

Morgan Cars from Peter Davidson on Vimeo.

In the summer, Morgan Cars kindly allowed me access to their factory in order to photograph the working environment of this unique establishment. Using traditional practises, some unchanged for a hundred years, they still produce exquisite and mostly hand-made machines. I'm particularly interested in showing how the workers interact within such an environment and hopefully contrast that with a modern twenty-first century factory like McLaren. Just need to get McLaren to return my calls...

Monday, 5 January 2015

That Friday Feeling

That Friday Feeling

I'm lying on my back, trousers around my ankles inside a hulking and grey machine that is humming menacingly to itself, seemingly impatient to get on with things, self-important in its personal bland and grey room. But no muzac and I thank God for small mercies. A technician bustles around hooking up my cannula to the automatic intravenous pump, asks me if everything is alright then disappears into a shielded room behind me. I can't see anyone beyond the silvered two way mirror that forms half the wall.

I'm alone, poised at the mouth of the beast, about to be devoured. An internal warmth begins to flood my body, moving up along my arm to my head and down my neck as the iodine begins to flow through my veins. I wonder if this is something like the last feeling that condemned men feel as they're pumped with poison. Then the machine begins to drag me into its heart and a mechanical voice demands that I 'BREATHE IN and HOLD'.

I do exactly as I'm told.

A few minutes earlier I'd felt embarrassed at jumping the small cue of people sitting in the CAT Scan reception. I'd arrived ten minutes earlier expecting to be seen anytime in the next several hours, such is the over-worked nature of the British National Health Service. The two receptionists at the desk initially exchanged confused glances when they couldn't find my appointment, leading me to expect a bureaucratic cock-up.

'Ah, oh, I see, you've been called in this morning haven't you? That's why you're not on my list, take a seat please and fill in this form,' one of the girls said, a little too brightly for comfort.

I dutifully sat and filled in the consent form, handed it back and reached for a magazine to pass the coming hours. But I had only reached the opening page before my name was called by what appeared to be an impossibly young man in a crisp white technicians uniform.

'Hello, my name's George,' the seemingly barely post-pubescent boy says, before confirming my identity.

I follow the kid to a side room where I'm asked to sit as he prepared to insert a cannula into my arm. Now, my veins aren't the easiest to find, and this fresh-faced youngster didn't look as if he could drive a car, and he was preparing to skewer me.

'How old are you?'

'Nineteen,' he says brightly.

I start talking to him to avoid thinking about what he's about to do. I hate needles. But I'm relieved to discover he's genuinely interested in radiotherapy and a career in medicine. I tell him that, though many probably don't say it to his face, what he is doing is appreciated and makes a real difference to peoples lives and is work to be proud of.

'Oh, yeah, some people do say so, and that's really nice to hear but a lot don't. I even got punched in the privates last week by a patient. He was a bit loopy mind. Right, this might sting.'

It did, but manfully I didn't flinch.

'Ah, I'm not sure I'm actually in the vein. Let me pump some saline in to check'.

My wrist above the cannula instantly ballooned.
'Ah, obviously not. Let me try higher up your arm. A little scratch... yes, there we are. You ok?'

'Yup, fine, no problem,' I said heroically.

But I really hate being stuck with needles and must have looked slightly green. With one arm now doing an impression of Popeye, I was led to a seat to wait an audience with the Great Machine.


I do as I'm told and the machine spits me out.

'All done.' a returning Tech says appearing at my shoulder. He's another young man a little older and slightly less enthusiastic than young George. He unplugs me, helps me up and I get dressed. I avoid the sudden urge to moon and wave at the unseen techs behind the two-way glass wall.

Then I'm outside the room of the Great Machine and directly behind my back the unseen technicians are examining the three-dimensional computer display of my innards. Whatever the machine has told them, they now know and I don't. And won't until Tuesday. I walk out, say goodbye in passing to George who already has the next victim in his hands and on his way to feed the machine. This particular Friday feeling is unlike any other I've experienced.

Friday, 19 December 2014

The Gift

Tom stared at the words on the card. 'Be careful what you wish for...' it said, followed by a text number. He turned the card over. Blank. 
Tom scratched his head and tried to think of any friends who might be playing a joke on him. Then he realized he had no friends. Enemies then? He had more than a few of those. That thought made him step slightly away from the strange box at his feet. Then he peered suspiciously each way down the street of his shabby suburban home on the outskirts of Chicago. There was no one around, just rows of similarly shabby homes that stretched away into the distance on either side of him. All were festooned with Christmas lights and decorations. Idiots, Tom thought.
He kicked the box tentatively and ducked back in case it exploded. But it didn't, it just skittered away and lay there invitingly. Not very heavy then, Tom thought. He picked it up and was surprised by it's lightness. He shook it a little but nothing rattled. He placed the box  back on the ground and looked again at the card then stuffed it inside a pocket. Nobody gives me presents, he thought. This is some sort of gag I'm not falling for. Bloody Christmas. He wished it and the season and all the stupid festivities were over and done with. He noticed the box shudder slightly. The wind must be picking up, Tom thought and took it inside. 
He placed the box in the middle of his room and sat down to consider this strange box. It looked weird and out of place, the bright ribbons and garish wrapping incongruous in his bare undecorated house. Tom didn't like it. All brash and colourful; not his taste at all. 
He fished out the card from his pocket and stabbed the text number into his phone. A message immediately appeared:
'Congratulations! You have received a gift brought to you by Old Nick, we are sure you will find it the perfect antidote to the horrible commercial overindulgence that is Christmas! No charge! Free your soul! If you like your gift, just text back YES or NO!' 
Tom scratched his head again but he decided he liked the 'no charge bit' very much. Putting the phone down he torn open the gift. A plain cardboard box stared back at him. Pulling the flaps aside he looked inside. Nothing. Empty. No wonder it was light. So this IS a joke! What mean-spirited bastard had decided to do this to him? He kicked the empty box into a corner and switched the TV on.
Strange, there was no colour. He banged the set on the side. Still it remained in black and white. He watched the commercials desultory, bracing himself for the constant Christmas Carols and all the rest. But there was nothing of the sort. Only adverts for haemorrhoid creams, constipation pills and extortionate money loans. Tom brightened noticeably and glanced at the empty box. Then he walked outside. There was not a sign of Christmas to be seen. Not a house was decorated. Tom closed his gaping mouth and walked back inside, sat down, and stared at the box. Then stared at the dull black and white TV and thought about the drab houses.
Tom picked up the phone and smiled as he started texting his reply.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Photography is not art...

The oxygen that we breath for life is also the very thing that eventually kills us.  A bit like this debate...

There are two PoV's arguments in this Guardian article. The headline one is a vitriolic and insanely anti-photography diatribe remarkable for its luddite excesses preaching basically only to the zealots and foolish. I can only hope the undecided and more sane-thinking people take the time to read the counter-point given by Sean O'Hagan. This whole thing is basically a non-argument. There is no real debate here as Jonathan Jones has no firm ground for his ridiculous and general extrapolations on photographic 'art' based as it is on a single image.

Visual Art for me is the ability to convey thought, imagination and emotion. The resulting response will inevitably depend on the state of consciousness of the viewer concerned and their ability to understand and appreciate what they are viewing through the natural filters of their prejudices. (of which we all suffer knowingly or not)

My own view is that photography is fundamentally a craft through which a rare few individuals successfully overcome its inherent mechanical limitations (and also the prejudices of  viewers) to create images of communicative and emotional value, entirely worthy of the term 'art'. Just like any other visual media in fact.

Friday, 12 December 2014

Wildlife Pictures

I'd forgotten that a few months ago I'd sent in a couple of shots to the Daily Mail's Wildlife competition. This week I received an email from their commissioning editor to let me know one of the shots has been chosen to be displayed at The Strand Gallery in London until this Sunday. Although it wasn't one of the winners, it however was displayed in their on-line gallery, so not a bad result really. This is the screen shot from their on-line gallery.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Big in Japan

My son-in-law's brother has just signed a contract with Sony music and has placed one of his songs with one of the biggest bands in Japan, cool! He has the pop star looks already and the talent to be big everywhere! Good luck David Johnston! This is his track by the group Arashi.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Sebastiao Salgado

One of my all-time favourite photographers has a film out about his work. On general retease but unlikely to be seen here. I guess I'll have to wait for the DVD ...

Friday, 28 November 2014

Half Moon Run

Terrific video, even better song and wonderful album. Yeah, I bought it...

Focus Stacking

This is my first and so far only attempt at focus stacking. It's a bit fiddly but easy to do. The strip on the left is the four original shots combined into the one image above. If you open the strip image you should be able to see the four original (unadjusted) shots and their different focus points moving back to front. I really should have used six shots as there is still a region of soft focus in the centre of the apple if you look closely. 

I downloaded THIS software from Helicon Focus which is free for 30 days. Very simple to use and brilliant.

Camera D90, Lens 105mm Micro-Nikkor (a 30+ year old manual focus lens, cheap on ebay) Tripod, f16, 1 second exposure.

Lighting?  Window on a cloudy day.

Friday, 21 November 2014


My eldest this week was having a great time being filmed for the BBC dancing with Ola and Steve for this Saturday's Strictly Come Dancing on the BBC. She has a life, I have a garden. And I can tell you having a garden is very underrated in comparison. Especially (I imagine) when the alternative is dancing with the lovely Ola. Sweeping up bloody leaves is an odorous, tedious, repetitive, miserable, soul destroying task. Oh for an apartment in the city and dancing cheek to cheek.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Art Photography

Photo critique of pictures is tough thing to do.

And it's even tougher receiving crits that are tough to hear. When in college back before PC sensibilities was adopted, I along with my peers, suffered some really harsh crits on our work. I remember often leaving the group crit sessions where everyone was torn to pieces feeling shattered. But at the same time I was also invigorated and refreshed and even more determined to show the bastards something that would knock their eyes out. (one of the unstated aims of crit was exactly this response)

Then, when faint praise was indeed eventually wrenched from their clenched and bitter teeth, the sense of achievement was empowering. The whole experience made you tougher on understanding the failings of your own work and abilities and forced you to think harder about what you would settle for.

On the other hand, some were also disillusioned into giving up trying. I never understood this defeatism. You either want to do it passionately, or you don't. And that goes for passion of opinion for  what works or doesn't work.

This old fashioned rip-it-apart crit of a persons photographic ability isn't fashionable any more. Nurture and encouragement is the thing now. Maybe rightly so. But the softly softly, caring and understanding approach also leads to sterility and lack of passion. The everyone's opinion is valid theory. (Not true)

Fundamentally, if you, or the person viewing/criting doesn't get worked up, why bother? With limp, detached don't-frighten-the-horses crit appraisal the creative fire runs the risk of dying to an ember when it should instead be stoked into a glorious flare of incandecant energy.

Bruce Gilden is a street photographer whose style and photography I don't much like. But I admire his down-to-earth approach and his say-it-as-he-see's-it, opinions. Here he is giving forth on some art photography. There is an annoying 20 seconds advertisement before either of the two vids play and some of the sound is dodgy).