Chapter Two: New Beginnings

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that this video clip had a new relevance for me.

I’ve been asking myself some pretty straight questions recently. As a result, my eyes and mind have been opened up to a photographic sub-culture that I always knew existed but only ever dreamed about — until now…

On Thursday, this culminated in making my first ever glass Wet Plate.

And here it is:

Paul Cordes, Alastair Cook, Jonathan Keys by Jack Lowe

From left to right, 5 minutes in the life of Paul Cordes, Alastair Cook, Jonathan Keys

It’s a portrait of the team who rallied round to share their wisdom with me — new folks in my life to whom I’m extremely appreciative.

You’ll see the plate’s a bit of a mess due to my novice-like pouring technique but it still has a certain something, don’t you think?

Paul Cordes, Alastair Cook, Jonathan Keys by Jack Lowe

Detail from my first Wet Plate (Alastair Cook)

Paul Cordes, Alastair Cook, Jonathan Keys by Jack Lowe

Edge detail from my first Wet Plate — this one’s for Paul Kenny!

Actually, I’m in there too. During the five minute exposure (it was pretty dark), I strolled slowly in front of the lens to make sure I wasn’t left out.

The plate also now features in Bastards’ First Plate Gallery at Collodion Bastards (Wet Plate Work of Questionable Parentage).

My sincere thanks to Alastair Cook, Jonathan Keys and Paul Cordes for their help, great company and for rounding off the year perfectly.

Afterwards, we decamped for cake and coffee at Heaton Perk to take away the taste of collodion in the back of our throats.

Bliss.

With best wishes to everyone for 2014, when there’ll be more to report on these new beginnings…

Kielder’s Golden Darkness

More money may have been spent in one year bailing out the banks than has ever been spent on scientific research (yes, in all fields, ever), but there’s one shimmering product of that research nestled in deepest Northumberland, chest deservedly puffed with pride…

As I cranked up the radio over breakfast yesterday, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing — some really good news.

I joined just in time to hear that Northumberland National Park had finally been awarded Dark Sky Status by the International Dark-Sky Association. In fact, the highest possible accolade — Gold Tier Dark Sky status.

Why is this particularly great news? Because a key Northumberland National Park attraction, positioned very close to the English/Scottish border, is Kielder Observatory.

Coincidentally, right on the night of their big announcement, I’d booked to attend another of the observatory’s legendary Jupiter Nights — my third visit in the last year or so.

Jupiter and Four Moons, Kielder Observatory, Northumberland National Park

Jupiter and four of its moons, captured by ITE — iPhone To Eyepiece 😉

My companion for the journey, visiting from Korea, had never seen a true night sky. 

Due to the terrible air pollution in her home near Seoul, the most she had ever seen was one or two stars attempting to break through the smog.

So, with such a great facility nearby, how could I not suggest the journey to Kielder to experience the night sky at its finest?

A Patchy Start…

On arrival, conditions were mixed and, at one point, heavy cloud completely obscured the sky.

Through one of the powerful telescopes, we’d managed an early glimpse of Jupiter along with its moons but it would be great to enjoy more.

Thankfully, the biting cold wind parted the clouds, unveiling the night sky — complete with a faint Milky Way and shooting stars to boot.

As the perfect half moon set in the west, the sky became darker and darker, the stars stronger and stronger — a near perfect night to observe the heavens and remind ourselves that we’re a ball of rock tumbling around in organised chaos. A gift.

The Moon, Kielder Observatory, Northumberland National Park

The Moon from Kielder Observatory, again captured by ITE…

A Breath of Fresh Air…

The award of Gold Tier Dark Sky Status is huge for the North East.

Northumberland National Park is one of only a handful of Dark Skies across the globe. Moreover, it’s the darkest sky in Europe and the third biggest Dark Sky in the world.

Gary Fildes can now press on confidently with his ambitious plans, which include a state-of-the-art planetarium (for those nights when the cloud-cover lingers) and the installation of a one-metre aperture telescope.

Not only that, 1500 square kilometres of Northumbrian countryside will now be protected from the vagaries of increased light pollution — any planning applications will absolutely have to take into account the area’s newly-awarded status.

All-in-all, a breath of fresh air to see less being recognised as so much more

PRINTS AVAILABLE!

I’ve made Kielder Moon into a beautiful, affordable 6×6 inch print on 10×8 inch paper — you can find it on this dedicated page.

Crombie’s Last Stand

I didn’t know Keith Crombie.  I’d been to his famous Jazz Café once, a long time go.

If nothing else, I gleaned this much about him — everyone seemed to have an opinion about Keith and he certainly seemed to have an opinion about everyone.

Keith Crombie's Jazz Café, Newcastle upon Tyne, on the morning of his funeral

The closed doors of Keith Crombie’s Jazz Café in Pink Lane, Newcastle upon Tyne, on the morning of his funeral…

Over the last year or so, I’ve been keeping tabs on a beautiful documentary my ol’ pal Duncan Davis has been been making about Keith (you might remember Duncan from this post).

Duncan had an acute awareness that making this film should be a priority, not least because Keith was knocking on in years.  Then, on 29th December 2012, Keith passed away at the age of 74.

News soon started to filter through that there was to be a horse-drawn funeral procession through the city.

There seemed to be a gentle buzz of excitement.  Everybody seemed to know about it (apart from the police, it would seem).

A fitting farewell seemed imminent for Keith, to stop Newcastle in its tracks as he slowly passed through with a jazz band and dedicated crowd following behind…

Photographed from the top of Earl Grey's Monument, Newcastle upon Tyne, Keith Crombie's funeral procession passes through the city centre.

As seen from the top of Grey’s Monument on a snowy day, the horse-drawn coffin, jazz band and crowd makes its way along Grainger Street…

A fitting end for Duncan’s documentary too and I was flattered that he asked me to help film the last sequences of Crombie’s life.

While Duncan worked in and around the crowds, the perfect perching place for me this morning was surely atop the 130ft Grey’s Monument, smack bang in the city centre.

So, with the necessary permissions gained, I was allowed to climb the 162 spiral steps to capture a unique perspective on the procession.

Photographed from the top of Earl Grey's Monument, the snow descends on Newcastle after Keith Crombie's funeral procession.

The procession is over and the snow descends on Newcastle…

The views were extraordinary, of course, and the weather was icy.  The memories of seeing Keith’s horse-drawn coffin pass slowly through town to the tune of the accompanying jazz band, along with hundreds of folk, will stay with me for a long time.

I can’t wait to see the final film, which is being cut by Duncan as I write — I hope to be able to share it with you here some day soon…

— More Views from Grey’s Monument

North view towards St. James' Park from Grey's Monument, Newcastle upon Tyne, by Jack Lowe

North view towards St. James’ Park from Grey’s Monument

South East view towards BALTIC and the Millennium Bridge from Grey's Monument, Newcastle upon Tyne, by Jack Lowe

South East view towards BALTIC and the Millennium Bridge from Grey’s Monument

South West View from Grey's Monument, Newcastle upon Tyne, by Jack Lowe

South West View from Grey’s Monument

Spillers’ Downfall: New Prints

It’s been a busy first week of 2013 in the studio, not least putting a lot of love and attention into the release of my new Spillers’ Downfall Print Collection.

Today, now satisfied with the eight specially selected prints, I have enjoyed signing and embossing the first set.

Spillers' Downfall, The Demolition of Spillers Mill, Newcastle upon Tyne by Jack Lowe

Embossing and signing the Spillers’ Downfall Collectors’ Portfolio (No.1-4)…

I have taken a slightly different tack with these images, making them smaller than the prints in my other Collections.

The Spillers’ Downfall prints aren’t numbered but they are made, signed and embossed by me.

You will see by clicking here that the prints are available individually or in sets of four — taking the form of my Collectors’ Portfolios.

— The 9th Print

To mark the launch of this Collection, there is in fact a ninth print!

This can be found in the new Collectors’ Edition of Spillers’ Downfall.

Spillers' Downfall, The Demolition of Spillers Mill, Newcastle upon Tyne by Jack Lowe

‘The Crow & The Kestrel’ signed and embossed for the Collectors’ Edition of Spillers’ Downfall…

I hope you enjoy these new additions to my work.  Please feel free to leave comments or contact me to share your thoughts…

…have a great weekend!

Spillers’ Downfall for iPad

My new book, Spillers’ Downfall, is now available in iBooks for iPad format (of course, it looks great on the iPod Touch and iPhone too).

It’s a beautifully elegant visual experience, especially when viewed on Apple’s new Retina displays, including the new iPad Mini.

People are already giving me glowing feedback — the images are “like jewels” I’m told!

Click here (or on any of the images below) to download your copy for just £3.99…

Spillers' Downfall: The Demolition of Spillers Mill by Jack Lowe (eBook Version)

Spillers' Downfall: The Demolition of Spillers Mill by Jack Lowe (eBook Version) Spillers' Downfall: The Demolition of Spillers Mill by Jack Lowe (eBook Version)Spillers' Downfall: The Demolition of Spillers Mill by Jack Lowe (eBook Version)

The Printed Hardback

Of course, there’s the beautiful printed hardback version too!

Until 13th December you can receive a full £7 discount from the list price by using the offer code SAVE7 at checkout.

Click here to order your copy but please do so by 12th December to guarantee delivery by Christmas…

Spillers' Downfall: The Demolition of Spillers Mill by Jack Lowe (Printed Hardback Version)

Spillers' Downfall: The Demolition of Spillers Mill by Jack Lowe (Printed Hardback Version)