Races run, shadows and fireworks

Dead bird leg with ring

Late and decapitated plus flesh-less racing pigeon

I’m slowly recovering from a marathon session with two fellow group photographers conducted yesterday in blazing sun and stiff breezes.

One week short of an anniversary, we ascended the rooftop of University of Suffolk’s James Hehir building to make a record of the events of the day and also to mark the passage of time and space associated with Ipswich Waterfront developments.

At one point yesterday morning I thought we might have been scuppered through a breakdown in lines of communication but that hiccup got resolved and soon we were hauling our precious gear up the north face of the building using ropes as we have done before. Once at base camp, we realised as ever with a shutter of photographers that the light was not how we wanted it and the wind, where was that on the forecast?

We were not in too much of a hurry to get going as waiting for the light gives plenty of time to see things. We happened upon a feathered carcass that had rings on both legs but no head and no meat left on the breast bones. A racing pigeon whose game was up so to speak but it travelled a considerable distance back and forth on the roof during the day as winds gusted to near on 25 knots.

Twilight last year was the kindest hour having had dullish weather all day. Here we were in 27 degrees and WSW winds of 17-25 knots and less activity around the dock on account of it not being a Maritime Festival – they are now to be held every other year. Twilight we hoped and yearned for but not a cloud in the sky.

That said, there were other things to make images from.Chairs and shadows

Shadows became friendly things to capture from on high as we waited for twilight and fireworks.

Sunset was 20:34 and pyros set for 21:00 – far too early but they got delayed for 15 minutes then someone lit the blue touch paper – still too light in my opinion but hey ho – mustn’t grumble.

Red fireworks

Red fireworks and smoke


The other intrepid photographers were Peter Ellis and Kevin Marrable. Look out for their posts.

In the meantime, check out my site for galleries of associated images.




Reworking old work

The weather has been against me of late with all the best large format weather being sacrificed to painting our refurbished sash windows. That was a job I was not expecting to have to do this autumn but it is just as well that I got on as we have nothing but rain since.

I have been re-working some images as a result of new scans and here is one from Melton – it is in the Edgelands exhibition but I believe this is a far better image having re-scanned and re-processed it.


British Sugar at Sproughton never made it onto the wall but it was in my book.


One of my Docklands images has also had a makeover. I’m not sure I have this one right at present.


Revisiting work and re-working it after having published it is an interesting experience. I suppose it is not unlike my ethic of re-visiting locations time and time again to make the work in the first place, When will it end?

Does Black and White introduce a degree of abstraction?

Original post November 2, 2014 By: Tom Owens

Debates abound over the use of black & white over colour photography. For me, I shoot both and when I am out shooting medium and large format I have the luxury of being able to drop on a different film magazine or use a different double dark slide that I have packed ready for the shoot, or indeed shoot on Fuji Instant using the adapter on both formats.

This scene was shot for my Edgelands project. A Toyo 45C monorail view camera was used and apart from the metering and thus the change of exposure, no other adjustments were made. There is of course a time difference on more than one plain as the colour image was made on Portra 160 and the B&W on HP5+.

Which of these two do you prefer? My exercise at the time was academic. The entire series is produced in colour but several of the B&W images made do convey a totally different look and feel


Dust removal post scan and curves, sharpening  etc have been applied. I do not normally add or remove data other than artefacts introduced during the many processes the processing goes through. Life is too short.

One result of this shoot at Freston was contracting ringworm from a burdock spur that lodged in my sock. It took some 5 months to heal.  One of the risks of planting tripods in undergrowth. The camera was approximately 8 feet off the ground for this shoot.

Here are a few more to consider.

Comments from original blog

Avril R Harris · December 4, 2014 Reply

Ilford Street works well in colour, probably better than in the b/w but it could be better seen as a print. I prefer the previous image in b/w it has more grit (sorry for the pun). I am prejudiced as I only work in black and white, using colour for holiday snaps.
I don’t really need to know about the equipment used nor the tweaking in the computer, I wouldn’t give details of how I print in the darkroom, the finished image is the test but I understand that a lot of you are really keen on the technical details.
The images I have seen so far I find really interesting, I think it is going to be a great project.

Tom Owens · December 4, 2014 Reply

Thanks Avril. This is an unashamed plug but as you work is mainly B&W please take a look at http://tomowens.openpoint.co.uk/galleries/arts-practice/land-and-seascapes/liverpool-echo/ . I have copies of images made by someone who lived in the area I photographed taken some 6 months after mine. They are in colour but lack the gravitas of mine in my opinion. I’m not sure I could make this series today as it was very much of its time. The kids in the picture give that away.
I post some technical information because I use a hybrid method of using analogue and digital processes to get to my outcomes. By using the internet to share we have to do some transformation but that is an end game. The Liverpool Echo series is all wrapped up ready to travel but takes up a huge amount of space as does my Edgelands project.
Ilford Street was shot this year on my return to the ‘triangle’ to try and reshoot from similar viewpoints – impossible. Pound a roll by the way. Ilford Street is not part of the ‘Docks’ project, just an exposure of other work I’m into.
I cannot make my mind up on the sugar beet image Both appeal to me in equal measure and represent much about our local rural economy.

Bob Farrer · December 4, 2014 Reply

B&W is abstract I think. I am not sure how useful it is to compare single images in this way, apart from its fun!
I prefer the colour images, although I can remember Newspapers when they were just B&W and grew up with many family snaps in B&W. I guess as a rule, I prefer colour. The colour of the bricks are more interesting than the tones of grey and the field shot does not have enough tonal contrast (on my screen at any rate) or texture to give the impact I want from B&W

For some types of image B&W is great. For me B&W comes with historical baggage which I feel I need to deal with if used in a modern project. (I never have, could never justify doing so) I like the idea of mixing film, digital, B&W, colour and other mediums such as sound, moving image, text and maybe screens and prints. In my experience people with a Fine Art background rather than a pure photographic one are likely to be more successful working in a multi-disciplinary way. Certainly don’t think I could pull that off, but I have seen some examples that have worked, although the only person that springs to mind is the late Tim Hetherington.