First post in a while

So, after a really hot summer I’ve been busy travelling for the last couple of months, so nothing exciting has happened photographically. I did go to an arts residency in a small Rodopi village, but I ended up making a sculpture rather than shoot pictures, I needed a bit of change I guess. Lots of new ideas for work are buzzing around in my head, so hopefully I’ll have some fresh pictures to show soon.

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W Challenge

Recently Warehouse Express had a contest for pictures containing any representation of the letter W. Sometimes, when I’m in the right mood and not busy with something else, I find this type of tasks fun. This contest came in such a period, so I took a couple of hours to fool around with some lenses and flashlights. Starting off with the fact that the shop deals with photographic equipment, and presuming that they want the pictures to use them in marketing their brand, I decided to incorporate the equipment in the images. Not very innovative, I know, but from experience I’ve found that very conceptual, abstract pictures are not that well received in such contests. So, enough blurb, there they are:

For the first one I decided to include my MPP, which perhaps served me quite badly, as more and more people fail to recognise it as a camera these days. The W halo was acheived by cutting a W mask out of black cardboard, taping it on the ground glass, and illuminating it with a flashlight.

The second picture is pretty self-explanatory, I cut a W mask into some black cardboard, stacked it with a white sheet of paper and used a small flashlight to illuminate it.

These didn’t win any prizes, but were good practice, I hadn’t shot anything similar recently. As an added bonus, W is just an inverted M, so I can easily use them for logos for Metodiev something, sometime..maybe.

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Random image: Pinhole still life

A little pinhole experiment shot while I was making my Shape and Colour series

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Subframe drama

Because of the large room that I was allocated for the exhibition and the relatively small number of images that I decided to show, my biggest images ended up being about 40 x 32 inches, which is the largest I have exhibited so far. The prints were mounted on 5mm foamed PVC backing, which is quite rigid, but due to the large size I was afraid they would bend or bow when hung. Faced with this problem, and with my rather limited budget, I had to find a cheap and effective solution to support the prints and provide a means to hand them. Those of you who know me are aware, that I sometimes tend to do things the hard way (you know what I’m talking about, Steve), and this was no exception.

I decided to construct wooden subframes, which to glue to the back of the prints. This was only really needed for the largest size prints, but because the frames provided specific spacing from the walls, I had to put them on all prints (yes, yes, I know I could have done it easier, but it just would’t be right!). So, before I left for Sofia, I bought some wooden profiles, cut them to size and pre-drilled them to allow for the hanging system. This took a good couple of hours, and was done just before midnight, prior to a train ride at 5:30 AM, and perhaps it’s the reason I eventually (just) missed the train and had to take a bus. The package with the wooden pieces raised a few eyebrows at the station, I think it’s because it looked a bit like rifle wrapped in plastic bags, good thing it’s Bulgaria, and people don’t pay that much attention to things like that.

I arrived in Sofia, and went on to pick up the finished images from the printers, and to start attaching the subframes. This precisely was the part that kinda messed up my plans. As the PVC is quite smooth and non-porous, I had to find a suitable glue that would hold the frames securely in place. Thankfully, I have a bit of woodworking and furniture building experience, and decided to use my favourite type of glue, polychloroprene glue.

It’s the type that you spread, you press the two surfaces together, then you take them apart and wait 10 minutes before attaching them permanently. Once it grips (it could take up to 48 hours for it to reach full strength), it holds extremely well on almost any surface, but the whole process is very time consuming. Another side effect of using the glue is that it has a very strong odour, and I think it’s the kind that junkies buy to use in recreational manner, so after a couple of hours working with it one feels a bit light-headed.

A couple of more things that attributed to the lengthening of this work were the measuring for the positioning of the frames, and the roughing up of the PVC surface to ensure a good grip of the glue. Because of the wooden pieces being slightly different thicknesses from each other, I couldn’t assemble them together and glue them to the print at once, but had to attach them piece by piece.

The other time consuming step was the scoring of the PVC surface. I first tried using sandpaper, but found that it produced a lot of unwanted dust, and did not have a very good effect. I finally settled on scratching the surface with a scalpel, a method that proved to be quite effective but lengthy.

Once the frames were glued, the only thing left for me to do was to thread the string through the pre-drilled holes, to provide a means for hanging and levelling the work. This was made trickier by the fact that I drilled rather small holes, so I had to use a needle, which helpfully got stuck halfway through the wood on a few occasions.

Anyway, once all this was done, I had a secure system to hang the images, and the only way they would bow or bend would be if they are thrown into a volcano. If you’ve read through all this, and are faced with a similar situation, I guess you are now motivated to find a simpler method. Failing to do so, you are free to do it my way, but beware, it’s rather lengthy.

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Photoacademica 2012 Award

While preparing for the Sofia exhibition I entered a competition called Photoacademica 2012, designed to be an overview of Bulgarian photography for the previous year.

A few weeks after, having forgot about all this, I got a message that I had won a Bronze medal in the Artistic category with the above image. It was then included in an exhibition, and I was awarded an actual medal, a first for me.

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Exhibition opening

The opening of the exhibition was great, a lot of friends came down, and also a lot of new people, which was awesome.

Rosen Kolarov, a photography tutor teaching at two of the local universities was kind enough to speak on the opening. Here are some pictures:

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The exhibition is on!

The exhibition is now a fact, and will be until the 15th when I will be taking it down. Opening night was a success, lots of people came down and overall the response to the exhibition was very positive. Also, I got a fair bit of publicity out of it, including a radio interview, which is always good. I will be posting pictures of the show construction, the opening as well as the exhibition itself once I get back home, so watch this space!

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Upcoming Exhibition in Sofia, BG


Breaking news! I’ve got an upcoming solo show in Sofia, as part of Month of Photography. This will be my first individual exhibition, and I am going to show “Lest we forget” in an extended setting.

It will be it the Gulliver Hall at the Red House – Centre for Culture and Debate. Address is 15, Lyuben Karavelov St. Sofia 1142, Bulgaria.

At the moment the private view is scheduled for 7:00 PM on the 4th June 2012, watch this space for any changes.

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At work…

Doing a couple of new series at the moment, not much to post here yet. Some weird geometry going on in the snap below, not sure why but I think it’s the curvature of the road, the resulting neg was just fine.

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(Old) Beginning of a (new) still life series

Here’s an image from a series of still life images I’ve been contemplating for quite a while now. The project is quite personal to me, related to childhood and memories. Watch this space for more images as the project progresses..

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