An inner silence: The portraits of Henri Cartier-Bresson

Some of the books from a dyslexic photographer’s bookshelf. Actually, all these books are mine, and all are well read. [sb009864]

Now, I’ll admit to a little bias here. Henri Cartier-Bresson remains an inspiration to me. He and many of his contemporaries like Lee Miller, Robert Doisneau, Bill Brandt and Eve Arnold combined great technique, visual awareness and a deep sense of our shared humanity. And they allowed the stories they told to speak.

Notwithstanding my personal bias, this is a sumptuous colection of portraits; the first to be drawn entirely from the Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson. The ferocious aquiline face of Samuel Beckett glaring off leftward challenging you, open the book, see what he cares.

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To a possible reader…

Lone tree on a lake district fell skyline, monochrome

Beneath a building summer storm a lone tree; high on a lake district fellside.

A note to a possible reader. On prose, specifically mine, often the purple variety. 

I make no apology, for none is needed. I love words. I cherish them. I love their variety. I love that old words are refound and ofttimes repurposed, that new words are founded. I cherish the practical magics words create. 

Once I found passage through the wrecking reef shoals of ADHD and dyslexia, the wondrous richness of words became my refuge. When kept away from moorflank or riverbank, whether by school or by overbearing mother, I took sanctuary in books, into a wordworld of the imagination. The library, with the aid of an understanding father and a librarian who turned a knowing eye, and with that eye an occasional suggestion, that library became my portal; Narnia’s wardrobe in Portland stone and oak and brass and compassion. 

And so I grew up in company with, amongst others; Durrell, first Gerry later Larry; with Rebufatt and Whymper; Eyre and the Brontes; Pope and Dryden and Montaigne. Modern times they’re joined, again amongst others, by Macfarlane, Shepherd, Baker, Deakin, Calvino, Pratchett and Gaiman. 

Now, I do consider plain language has it’s value, in court reports, medical records, instruction books and suchlike. 

However, when recalling worlds to mind, or growing worlds in the mind of another. No, not here. When writing the experience of long fell day’s, for the flickering silvered nacre braids of a dipper bobbed stream: then the wondrous richness of words is where I play. 

There you are dear reader, if you like occasionally florid nature and mountain writing, for to my mind the two are inseparable…

Welcome. 

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Judgement Day or, why I said this film wins or, why did I say I’d judge this comp?

My friends at Accelerate running shop Have been running a video competition as part of their Shake Up. I was rather pleased, and a little unnerved, to be asked to judge the entries.

Here’s the winning entry, from Sheffield based artists Callum and Mikk Murray.

I’ll openly declare here, I know and like Mikk. This film won because of the three entries we received, I feel it best fills the competition brief. The film tells a coherent story, a story about what a part of our running world feels like.

They’ve shown the varied running environment we enjoy, the film tells a story, and it features the shop itself. For those who don’t know the area, Mikk starts off running high on the moors at Burbage North Bridge. This is, remarkably, still in Sheffield and the valley is maintained as one of the city’s parks. The film created journey, from those wild and windy moors through our still thriving industrial city. Callum and Mikk’s film, through this journey, showcases the superb variety of trail running we have in our home city, from fell through country to urban. And it finishes at the shop, where the usual greeting is being passed; a mug of your favourite drink.

The soundtrack, Flow, from Oren Dji fits well without being obtrusive. There’s enough volume to hear it clearly, the mood of the song fits well with the quiet nature of the film. A personal note here, there’s more to (adventure) film soundtracking than rad thumpin, bangin rock, rap and house choons. Be genuinely radical, experiment, explore the worlds of sound out there.

In short, I like the film. It’s one I’d be happy to have made.

Callum and Mikk win a Suunto watch. Well done chaps.
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Escape: an urban runner’s daydream

Escape. A new short running film.

For most of us northern Europeans the city is our natural environment. But, being runners, we can daydream over a morning espresso, maybe a piece of lemon cake too. This is one such daydream.

Despite our deserved reputation for heavy industry the city is woven through with, hemmed around with, ribbons of woodland and river and field. You can run from the horrors of Meadowhall shopping centre almost into the city centre along tree lined canal or river barely touching tarmac, although the remains of that heavy industry surround you most of the way.

To be fair, many cities have such hidden areas, get your shoes on and go explore your local patches. Enjoy your own escape

 

 

 

 

Part of my Running Shorts series. The film was shot in and around my home city of Sheffield; the outdoor city. It’s shot on an iPhone6, sometimes with Olloclip lenses, edited in iMovie. The main soundtrack is Country Boy, composed by Ben Tissot, bensound.com

Running Shorts; a film intro clip

I’m a big fan of Salomon Running’s films, made by The African Attachment. The gorgeous, impressionistic “The Forest” is really what nudged me into finally trying to make small films myself. Being professionals, they have a common introduction sequence. So I decided it might be an idea if I did that too.

Off to Ecclesall Woods I went, iPhone in bag and shot a few clips. This one I’m happy with. Simple, a long trail off into white for later editing in and a slightly silly soundtrack. I was, I freely admit very lucky with the light, a glorious English spring day fresh minted after a night of rain.

One other thing. The intro also has a pun, feeble even by my standards. As I grew up on BBC Radio4 and it’s ilk I not actually going to apologise for that.

Be well all,

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Getting out the door: A morning run

 

A short film made after I’d been woken by my neighbourhood version of the dawn chorus. The local blackbirds and sparrows started up around 0500, some three hours before my alarm was due to wake me.

I yielded to the inevitable, got out of bed, found my running kit, drank coffee, ate cake and went out for a run in the half light. I also picked up my iPhone and did a little filming.

It was a really rather lovely run, a peaceful morning, surrounded by a birch woodland emerging into spring and filled with the sound of birdsong. And this magical place of twisting paths, of squirrels and foxes and birds and bats and the occasional badger is just one minute’s run from my suburban housing estate back door, in the middle of what was the South Yorkshire coalfield, a mucky place of pits, glassworks and shunting yards when I was a boy.

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Winter bicycle, waiting in the shadows. Sheffield.

A cycle wheel casts a shadow into deeper shadows outside Sheffield railway station. Monochrome image.

On a late autumn night a bicycle, chained to a lamp post, casts it’s own shadows into the deeper shadows cast by Sheffield railway station. [sb030173]

Sheffield, my home city, a hilly place(like Rome, seven of them, allegedly) a city surprisingly full of bicycles. In winter, as the nights have drawn in they dodge and weave amongst cars and buses and pedestrians alike. Or, like this they wait, casting shadow amongst the shadow, carefully tethered until their riders return.