Colourful Mysteries of the Mind

The mind moves in mysterious ways, not least when it comes to colour and tone.

As a photographer and printmaker, I’m always mindful of the environment in which I assess  imagery to ensure I’m making correct judgements.

If you haven’t considered how radically different colours can look when placed in different scenarios, it maybe worth you delving a little deeper into this interesting journey…

One of my favourite sites on the subject is Purves Lab — take a look at the see for yourself section and prepare to be amazed at the twists and turns of human colour perception!

Standard Colour Test from Purves Lab

The two circles appear to be different colours — are they really…?

My Own Perfect Landscape

I’ve been looking forward to writing about Cambois (pronounced Kammus) for a long time now — in particular, introducing you to the photograph featured in this post.

A small Northumbrian coastal village born from the mining industry in 1862, Cambois is a wild, bizarre location.

Like many before me, I initially journeyed there to see the wind turbines mounted on the breakwater, as well as those planted out to sea.

The turbines were impressive enough and made lovely photographs but you’ve seen one turbine and you’ve seen them all, right?

On turning round to drive back home, I was overwhelmed by the scene that unravelled before me as I saw the same location but, this time, from the other direction.

Cambois, Northumberland, UK, Photography by Jack Lowe

Cambois (pronounced ‘Kammus’)

Stepping out from the car, my memory tells me that I was rubbing my eyes in disbelief but, in all honesty, that probably didn’t happen.

The scene looked splendid but wasn’t quite right for the kind of photograph I would like to make.  Some secret sauce was required.

The necessary approach was obvious to me, a neat tip to all landscape photographers that has made the difference to so many of my landscapes…

What is that secret sauce?  A step-ladder!

In this instance, those extra few feet gave me the elevation required to distinguish the elements of this landscape that, as a fan of infrastructure, holds everything for me — community, industry, power, road, rail, sea and air.

So many fundamental facets of modern living all featuring in one photograph, my own perfect landscape.

An Historical Document

To me, this photograph now has an added dimension, as the scene cannot be captured in the same way again.

A few years ago, on a frosty December morning, I drove back to the area to witness and photograph the demolition of Blyth Power Station’s four famous chimneys.

It was a moving, spectacular event and one that made my photograph of Cambois a particularly special and unique record of the area; a true moment in time.

Demolition of Blyth Power Station, Northumberland, UK, Photography by Jack Lowe

The demolition of Blyth Power Station’s chimneys, the backdrop to my photograph.

The Print

Shot on 5×4 negative film, I still enjoy poring over the details of Cambois

High Resolution File Detail of Cambois, Photography by Jack Lowe

A hole in a roof with Blyth Power Station looming in the background…

High Resolution File Detail of Cambois, Photography by Jack Lowe

The tracks wind their way to the aluminium smelter further along the coast…

High Resolution File Detail of Cambois, Photography by Jack Lowe

To the left, a lone figure stands in the distance on the jetty (a detail I only noticed after scanning the film)…

High Resolution File Detail of Cambois, Photography by Jack Lowe

The heavy plates bolting the tracks to their respective sleepers…

Printed signed, numbered and embossed by me, this release measures 12×8″ on 20×16″ paper.

Visit my Northumberland Print Collection to buy this print directly from this site (despite appearances, a PayPal account is not required to complete transactions).

Recently remastered for availability on this site, I was delighted that print No.1 sold within moments.

Signed and numbered print of Cambois, Photography by Jack Lowe

Signed, numbered and embossed print of Cambois by Jack Lowe

A Final Aside…

Paul Kenny spotted this postcard of the Cambois miners’ banner for me, which I now often show beside my print as a nod to the heritage of this small mining community…

Framed Postcard of Cambois and Bates Miners' Banner

The Magic of Pinhole Photography

Yesterday, on a rainy afternoon, I finally got together with some of the children at my younger son’s school to make pinhole photographs.

Pinhole photography must be just about the simplest way to make a photograph — all that’s required is a light-tight box with a pinhole through one of the sides and, of course, some photographic paper or film inside to record the image.

It’s amazing how tricky it can be to describe analogue methods from a bygone era to the youth of the modern whizz-bang digital age.

The best way of course is just to get on and do it.  To see the children wowed by the process once the first image magically appeared in the developing tray was so satisfying.

Learning about Pinhole Photography

It’s no mean feat to ask children to stand still for two whole minutes!

In discussion with the children, I asked them what they considered to be great inventions of our time.

The first answers came flying in — the iPhone, the iPod, the Xbox…

OK, but let’s think about the wheel, the bicycle, the internal combustion engine, the aeroplane, the motor car, domestic power, the internet…

All these things seem so normal and unsurprising to us now that most just slip under the conscious radar.

I encouraged the children to rewind the clock, to the 10th Century as it transpires, to people noticing images projected through cracks in baskets or the dappled light of trees.

At the time, this must surely have been an incredible realisation.  Move forward to the 1800s and just as incredible would be the notion that an image could then be captured and fixed forever onto a piece of paper or film!

The pennies started dropping around the room, especially on seeing that first print appear under the safelight of the darkroom we cobbled together in a cleaning cupboard.

Learning about Pinhole Photography

Three minute silhouettes…

The Solar Eclipse of 1999

As I was scanning these prints, it reminded me of a pinhole photograph I made of the 1999 solar eclipse.

Two memories stick in my mind from that day…

The first was the sudden cooling of the air as the sun slipped behind the moon.

The second memory is much more striking — seeing the bitten shape of the eclipsed sun projected onto a brick wall through the leaves of nearby trees.

The gaps in the leaves had acted as pinholes too and I was immediately transported to understanding how incredible it must have been, all those hundreds of years ago, to realise this phenomenon of physics and the natural world.

1999 solar eclipse over buildings in London captured with a pinhole camera

My pinhole photograph of the 1999 solar eclipse

Photographic Tweets

Bardsey Island Signed Print Jack LoweThere’s no denying that I’ve loved creating this site over the summer and, as a result, seeing the renewed enthusiasm for my work gain rapid momentum.

I’m over-the-moon that Julian Calverley was the first to purchase a print (No.1 of Bardsey Island) — a compliment of the highest order!

If you aren’t already familiar with Julian’s photography, it really is worth spending a few moments on his newly updated site and you’ll soon see what I mean…

 

The Only Way to Play Guitar

A little weekend inspiration for you…

This fine clip, sure to warm the heart, came into my life through James Danziger’s blog:

Cornerstones 1996~2004

Finn, Photography by Jack Lowe

‘Finn’ by Jack Lowe, available in the Cornerstone Collection

As my about me page describes, I’ve been re-embracing my own photography recently (the whole raison d’être for this site, of course) and it’s amazing to see what can happen when one makes certain mental shifts.

Indeed, print No.1 of Bardsey Island sold within an hour of being released!

No sooner had I collated this Behance Project, which I entitled Cornerstones, then enquiries gently came my way asking about the availability of those images too.

So, I thought you might like to know that I’ve now created the Cornerstone Collection, right here on these pages.

It is comprised of photographs made between 1996 and 2004, all of which have been pivotal to me in some way during what I consider to be the first chapter of my photographic career.

If you are already familiar with my work, you’ll find some old favourites nestling in there…

Tree Space 4, Photography by Jack Lowe

‘Tree Space 4’ by Jack Lowe, available in the Cornerstone Collection

A Pilgrimage to Bardsey Island

The Llŷn Peninsula sits on the very north western corner of Wales.

We (like many others) have always referred to it as the pig’s ear — think of Wales as the head of a pig in profile and the Llŷn Peninsula looks like the ear flopping over its brow…

Being one of the extremities of the UK mainland, the Llŷn certainly has a whiff of the outcrop about it — a stronghold of the Welsh language, it can appear rather mysterious to the outsider.

Let’s say that the music certainly stops when a man and his wife clearly not from these parts walk into a local bar!

A Utopian Presence…

So, if the Llŷn Peninsula has a whiff of the outcrop about it, then how could I possibly put Bardsey Island into words?

Bardsey Island, Lleyn Peninsula, Wales

Lying the best part of two miles off the tip of the peninsula, Bardsey sits on the horizon, tempting onlookers with its Utopian presence.

The shape of it alone seems so perfect — I’ve sat for hours on the craggy peninsula, marvelling and daydreaming at such a beautifully simple and seemingly tranquil piece of land.

Steeped in history — with evidence of human activity dating back some 3000 years — 20,000 Celtic Saints are said to be buried on the island, stemming from a time when three pilgrimages to Bardsey were declared the equivalent of one to Rome.

It is my great pleasure to announce the release of an Archival Pigment Print of the above image — my first offering, available to buy exclusively on these pages.

Bardsey Island Signed Print Jack Lowe

The Archival Pigment Print of Bardsey Island, signed numbered and embossed…

Shot on 5×4 film back in 2002, the quality and detail within this photograph is extraordinary.

The prints are made using the very finest methods available, notably my favourite combination of HP Vivera Pigment ink and Hahnemühle Photo Rag 308gsm (you can read more on the Print Process page using the menus above).

Bardsey Island Signed Print Jack Lowe

Each print is titled, numbered and signed by me on the reverse in pencil…

Bardsey Island Signed Print Jack Lowe

…and carries my embossed mark in the bottom right hand corner.

If you would like one of these very special prints, you should find everything you need to know here.

If there’s anything else you would like to know, please feel free to contact me and I will be more than happy to help.

My First Pilgrimage to Bardsey Island…

Into the Mystic, Condé Nast Traveller Magazine, May 2003I was first introduced to this part of the world back in 2002 when Condé Nast sent me on a mission to photograph the area.

The article was published in May of the following year and it was, without question, my favourite week of commissioned photography.

Condé Nast put us (me and my assistant) up in the gorgeous Georgian restaurant with rooms, Plas Bodegroes (pronounced Plass Bod Egg Royce).

I fell in love with the place, now an all-time favourite short break for my wife and I — a rare treat every few years or so…!

My Second…

To offer you a glimpse of what it’s like to set foot on Bardsey Island, I’ve put together a collection of photographs on Behance from my second pilgrimage — this time a short break with my wife.

Jack Lowe on Bardsey Island, Lleyn Peninsula, Wales

A (rare) photograph of me during my second ‘pilgrimage’ to Bardsey…

Those blues are rich, aren’t they?

Well, I kid you not, this was one of the most spectacular days we have ever experienced — with such searing sunshine and deep, deep blues we could have been anywhere in the world.

I read somewhere that with so much sea and so little land, the light appears to dance here. That sums it up pretty neatly!

So, I’ve now made two pilgrimages to Bardsey Island — I can’t wait for my third, my equivalent of one to Rome (but I’d surely like to go there too)…

Useful Publications

The flora and fauna is stunning on Bardsey Island — we saw rare Alpine Choughs, a nesting pair of Peregrine Falcons circling around the cliffs below us and a Manx Shearwater (deceased).

At macro level, the range of lichens, plants and insects is extraordinary.  Remember the Collin’s Gem series of books? Well, they’re still going strong and we always have them to hand.

And with such Celtish history on the island, a pilgrimage to other sites might well be in order!

Ordnance Survey Maps of the Llŷn Peninsula

The OS Landranger map of this area is always easy to remember — it’s sheet No.123!

From the beautiful Explorer range of OS maps, sheet No. 253 covers the western end of the peninsula…

Book a Day Trip!

Why not pay a visit yourself?  You’ll find all the information you need to know here.