Home of the Brave

An Exhibition of American Landscapes, presented at Gallery 1885, London, February 25 – March 18 2017

Some years I was walking north of Half Moon Bay in California when I noticed a make-do shack, the place was ramshackled but proudly displaying the stars and stripes of America.   Travelling across the United States the flag flies proudly in many places and the National Anthem evokes the home of the brave.

America is a nation of immigrants who have sought a better life either from persecution or poverty in a far off land. The better life they have sought has always been challenged not least by the landscape as they made their way from Ellis Island to California. From the Lewis and Clark expeditions to the wagon trains later in the nineteenth century through to the highway construction of the 1960s; Americans travelers have had to conquer multiple terrains, adapt to ever changing weather conditions and endure hardship to find a place they can call home. Little wonder they fly the flag with pride.

Over the past ten years I have marvelled at the spectacular landscapes of America from Arcadia to Zion, from Anchorage to the Zephyr Hills of Florida and Antelope Canyon to Zabriskie Point.  Travelling throughout the country experiencing baking heat and searing cold, dank fog and torrential rain all of which instilled in me undying respect for the earlier settlers.

This exhibition is my attempt to document the beauty of the American landscape.


City Walk – Embankment to St.Pauls

We met on the south side of Embankment Station before proceeding across the footbridge over the Thames and walking along the South Bank. Upon reaching the Millennium Bridge we crossed towards St. Pauls Cathedral.

A vote was taken when the rain increased and we headed to The Pavilion End in Watling Street, EC2.

55 Broadway, St James, London, SW1

55 Broadway is a Grade I listed listed building overlooking St. James’s Park in London. It was designed by Charles Holden and built between 1927 and 1929; in 1931 the building earned him the RIBA London Architecture Medal.  It is the home of London Transport and may be visited through the Hidden London website.  More about this building can be found HERE.

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The Camera Club – City Walk May 2016

Walk 2 – Tuesday 3 May 2016 – Liverpool Street to London Bridge

We met at Liverpool Street and made our way through to St Botolph’s without Bishopsgate, before making our way through to St Mary Axe where we viewed Norman Foster’s Gherkin, The Aviva Building now known as St Helen’s Tower, The Richard Roger’s designed Leadenhall Building and The Lloyds Building.

Proceeding through the decorative victorian Leadenhall Market we made our way down to London Bridge before finishing with a drink at the Barrowboy & Banker.

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The Camera Club – City Walk April 2016

The first walk was on Thursday 7 April 2016 from the Monument to The Tower of London.

We met at Monument Station, Fish Street Hill exit at 6.15PM and proceeded down to upper Thames Street and into St Mary Hill.  I am unsure if it was my inept direction and poor map but half the group twice missed the turn for St Dunstans in the East although I like to think they were engrossed in photographic chatter which I will take as a success.  We all managed to find a few good shots before the City of London park keeper turfed us all out.

We carefully crossed Lower Thames Street into Water Lane and down to Tower Pier before returning to the Tower of London concourse for a few final shots.  As the rain came we retired for refreshment at The Hung, Drawn and Quartered public house.

Future walks are planned for the following dates:-

Tuesday 3 May 2016

Thursday 26 May 2016

Thursday 7 July 2016

Thursday 11 August 2016

Thursday 1 September 2016

Thursday 6 October 2016

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In the Footsteps of Ansel Adams

I have for some time wanted to visit Yosemite National Park in California and it was exciting to plan our trip for the first week in November. I had been aware of Ansel Adam’s work but it was the exhibition at the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich in 2013 titled Photography from the Mountains to the Sea that encouraged me to explore more of his work and fuelled my motivation to visit Yosemite.

Upon arriving in San Francisco we found footsteps of Ansel Adams sooner than we expected at the Westin St. Francis where in 1939 Adams was commissioned to photograph the hotel following refurbishment of the, “stunning art deco interior of the new Patent Leather Bar designed by master Moderne architect Timothy Pflueger”.

The following shots are photographs of the Ansel Adams photographs that hang in the lobby of the Westin St Francis.

We arrived in Yosemite on the first Saturday in November with temperatures in the region of 28C and the Sunday, when we toured the Yosemite Valley, the weather was just as beautiful. But as so often happens in America temperatures can plummet over night. I was up for sunrise on the Monday but it was a non event since the hotel grounds, like the rest of the valley floor, was a concoction of low cloud, mist and rain the temperature down at 12C in the valley and cold enough for snow on the higher ranges. The snow had arrived two weeks earlier than usual and what we quickly discovered was that once the road over the mountains closes it does not reopen again until springtime. Not only did we miss driving to Glacier Point we also missed the views from Tuolumme meadows and our planned trip to Mammoth Lakes and the ghost town of Bodie.

Descendents of Ansel Adams keep his “brand” alive through the gallery in Yosemite village by buying and selling original photographs, producing hand made gelatin silver photographs and creating high quality digital replicas.


A biography of Ansel Adams by William Turnage is available online.


I attended the half-day course, In the Footsteps of Ansel Adams. Our photographer for the session was Christine Loberg who proved to be a fine guide and tutor. She was a big Ansel fan and knew his career in great depth. Although I used a digital camera the other guy under Christine’s tutelage, Ken, was shooting in film and she modified her instruction to suit both of us. I paid more attention to the comments she made to Ken as it reminded me of when I shot on my Pentax K1000 at low ISO or it might have been ASA back then. Shooting at ISO 100 and using a tripod slowed me down, which is always a good thing when photographing landscapes.

In the past few years I may have read too much on the Internet about using aperture exposure, scene metering and shooting to the right. It was refreshing to go back to manual, spot metering and aiming for a balanced histogram and taking more care not to go too far to the right thus burning out the images. Again, slowing things down rather than shooting from the hip.

The aim of the afternoon was to take shots at a couple of classic Yosemite locations with instruction on how to achieve high contrast images typical of Ansel Adams photography. This meant we searched for a range of tones rather than glorious and vibrant colours and this was ideal with the changeable weather. As many of the images were “big” landscapes small apertures, F22 or F16 were used for greater depth of field. I had to cast aside my worries about diffraction and staying close to the lens sweet spot and seeing the resultant images I will worry less in the future.

The Yosemite images were selected from Lightroom 4.4 and exported to DxO Optics Pro 10. They can be organised in DxO and I may move to this in the near future. DxO are the company that test and rates lenses and sensors and uses this information to optimize images. I like the way it handles detail and sharpness but left to its own devices it can render a very neutral contrast. They have an add-in called Viewpoint that straightens the converging lines of buildings and bulbous effects of wide-angle lenses and this is worthwhile when photographing buildings.


Our trip ended in Los Angeles and had we paid more attention to “What’s On” magazine we would have discovered there was an exhibition of Ansel Adams wartime photographs on at The Skirball Cultural Centre on Highway 405. If you happen to be in the Los Angeles area it runs until February 21 2016. However, there are only twenty five images and they can be viewed online.


Having missed Mammoth Lakes and Bodie Ghost Town on this trip we intend to return and hope to see more of Yosemite in the future.


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