The Draw of the Sea

There’s something about the sea, isn’t there? Something stirring and primordial; to gaze out to the distant horizon is so many things to so many people.

Solace, hope, comfort, adventure and inspiration all spring to mind.

How many times have you driven along a coastline and seen people of all ages taking a stroll or simply sitting on a bench, looking so relaxed in a trance-like state as they stare wistfully towards the horizon?

How many times have you done just that yourself?

Tynemouth 1, Photography by Jack Lowe

Tynemouth No.1

The draw of the sea is strong within my soul. At the moment, it’s not fully nurtured. I miss being among the waves and long to return to my love of sea kayaking some time soon.

Way back when, my father enjoyed a spell in the Merchant Navy and was also a deep sea diver in the North Sea.

Indeed, we spent the first few years of my life living on a beautiful old boat, so I’m sure these are just some of the clues that point to why I love the watery stuff so much.

A while back, I was invited to make a photograph on the theme of emotion for an NSPCC charity auction being held at the The Old Truman Brewery in London.

My choice of subject? To return to my birth town, Aberdeen, and photograph the sea…

Aberdeen, Photography by Jack Lowe

Aberdeen

— My First Photo Book

On seeing his beautiful show at The Zelda Cheatle Gallery, the first photo book I ever bought was The Shipping Forecast by Mark Power.

The cover image still holds the same attraction to me now as it did then…

On the institution of the BBC’s Shipping Forecast, David Chandler writes in the foreword:

“The forecast stirs our residual contact with the sublime, our fading sense of epic scenarios, places where great, life-threatening forces are continually unleashed and where nature’s vengeful power always hovers over the horizon.”

Stirring words that certainly tap into my psyche, capturing the essence of what I still love about Power’s body of work.

— The Sea Collection

Sunrise at Llanbedrog, Lleyn Peninsula, Wales, Photography by Jack Lowe

Llanbedrog Sunrise

The Cobb, Photography by Jack Lowe

The Cobb

As you might imagine, I’ve made many nautical photographs over the years.

You can browse and purchase my Archival Pigment Prints of the sea by clicking here.

Each print is made, signed and embossed by me, shipped to your door to provide a new window through which to wistfully gaze…

Digital Archival Pigment Print of Llanbedrog on the Lleyn Peninsula by Jack Lowe

‘Llanbedrog Sunrise’ from The Sea Collection

— Further Inspiration

Here’s a short film that I’ve always loved, Dark Side of the Lens, and one I’m sure you’ll enjoy too:

“Subtle glimpses of magic others might pass by…something worth remembering with a photograph or a scar.” — Dark Side of the Lens

 

— The RNLI, Saving Lives at Sea

A final word…

You might well have guessed by now that my favourite charity is the RNLI.

As an island nation, the dedicated volunteers around our coastline are vital to ensuring the safety of those at sea for whatever reason.

I’ve been a fan of them since I was a boy. I loved this clip they posted of the Plymouth Lifeboat heading out on a shout in a Storm Force 10 gale at the back end of last year.

Hold tight…!

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

Apple Meets Analogue

Yesterday, I drove the sixty miles or so north to meet up with my friend and client, Paul Kenny — he needed a hand (moving from the dark side) to install his first Apple computer.

Living in the wilds of Northumberland, Paul’s worked for many years as a photographer, now comfortably bridging his analogue craft with that of the modern digital era.

We often while away a pleasant few hours together here and there — this post is simply a collection of photographs of scenes I’ve observed at Paul’s home.

I hope you enjoy them…

Paul Kenny's Studio

Paul with some work in progress…

Paul Kenny's Noticeboard

Studio notices and a pair of vintage Volvo hubcaps…

Printmakers' Letterpress Tray at Paul Kenny's Home

Printers’ letterpress tray with knickknacks…

Paul Kenny's scanner

Lift the hood on Paul Kenny’s scanner and you’re sure to find interesting things…

Paul Kenny's Studio

Discarded hand-made negatives and a Heineken barrel…

The Cheviot Hills

On the way to lunch — the Cheviot Hills, a pylon and a tree…

Paul Kenny's new iMac

Apple meets Analogue…

Paul Kenny's Studio

Now comfortably installed…

Moss the Lurcher

Moss

Cloudscape between Lowick and Fenwick, Northumberland

On my way home — a cloudscape between Lowick and Fenwick, Northumberland

Paul will need no introduction to regular visitors of Jack Lowe Studio.

If you’d like to learn more about his incredible cameraless photography, do pay a visit where you’ll find material aplenty.