Bannow & Rathangan Agricultural Show, Ireland, 2010.
Prints available on request.
I’m almost finished editing the ghost estate (temp title) series. The wall in my study is covered with 6×4 black and white prints of abandoned buildings, decaying buildings, and scarred landscapes. I have edited the photos down to around 25 images, and am now agonising over the sequencing.
As an antidote to all this black and white grimness, I dusted off the old Hasselblad, loaded it up with Kodak Portra 400NC (RIP), and ventured into the great outdoors. These photos are like a breath of fresh air.
I am being reasonably conservative with my shooting – finances are tight – and if I were shooting digital I would probably shoot off at least a hundred frames per location. As it is I’m going through on average a roll (36 exposures) per location, depending on interesting features, lighting, time constraints, etc.
So far I have shot around ten rolls of film for the Ghost Estate photo project; thats around 360 photos. If I get three or four good shots per roll I’m reasonably happy.
That seems like a pretty low success rate, and maybe it is, perhaps I should be aiming higher. The problem with film is that each frame is a risk. Sometimes what you thought would be a great photo (at time of shooting) turns out to be mediocre. And sometimes you take a chance and hope for the best, and you might get lucky. What you see in front of you is not always what the camera sees.
Taking a good photo is relatively easy – with practice. Taking consistently good photos that reflect your true intentions is a totally different ball game. You win some, you lose some.
One, possibly two of the photos below might make the final edit.
Here are a few shots from a recent photo-shoot on a ghost estate in the South East of Ireland. Last week in Athlone, a toddler drowned in a small pool of water on an estate similar to this one. My heart goes out to the grieving family.
Access to sites like this is generally easy, and as you can see in the first photo, some kids have turned the abandoned building supplies into a temporary playground. I have years of experience on building sites, but I was still treading very carefully to avoid getting a rusty nail in my foot.
I have paired these two images together as there are some visual similarities, despite the difference in scale of the subjects. This is where sequencing of images plays a key role in the presentation of a series of photos.
I don’t know if either of these images will make it into the final edit, but its always good to plan ahead as the deadline approaches.
I set out with the aim of photographing the landscape, but also to photograph – if possible – something just beneath the surface.
Raymond Moore put it rather eloquently: “the no-man’s land between the real and the fantasy”
Sometimes I don’t have anything to say about photos and photography. I just wonder about all of the photos out there and what people do with them. The photo below, for example, has been sitting somewhere in my hard-drive for the past two years. I was always aware that it was there but just didn’t know what to do with it. I still don’t know. Maybe over time, it will become part of a bigger collection of my photos from Finland, or a totally different project. It can take on meaning by becoming an integral part of something bigger. But for now, I’ll just show it to you as a single image, and leave it open to interpretation.