The Rock Houses by the common.

I have always loved these two houses by the common. Of themselves, they are are attractive, nineteenth century buildings, but it is their location that makes them so fabulous. They look over the town in what could be a position of some power if it were not for the fact that they each have a huge rock almost growing out of them.

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As ever on this blog, if you click on any of the images, they will open up larger.

I don’t know if they were built like this in order to make some kind of Victorian statement of the triumph of civilisation over chaos, but more than a hundred years after this intention, they have something of the Sci Fi disaster movie about them. Before the inevitable destruction of an important city like New York, the power of the impending catastrophe is demonstrated by stray bits of space debris landing on Tunbridge Wells, narrowly missing these cozy dwellings.

Looking at the pictures I have taken over the years of these houses, I have always ended up trying to bring out some of the alien that I see in them. My cover picture for this blog uses infrared colour with some surreal colour shifts to do so:_SAM0299

At other times, I have tried to create the same surreal look with infrared black and white:P1010009

Or again in infrared colour:

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And finally most recently, I have found myself framing them from behind trees to create a lurking voyeuristic feel:

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Of course, looking at many of these now, what I don’t see much of is the rocks themselves, so as with much of the town, I will need to go back to this location again and again.

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My two struggles!

Apologies for the self-dramatising title, but this is my first ever blog post. I’m a hobbyist photographer living in Tunbridge Wells and for the ten years that I’ve been taking pictures, I have struggled with two things:

The first is my colour-blindness- for those who are interested in technicalities, I have protanopia which is a form of red green colourblindness. It means that I struggle most amusingly with clothing choices, but from the point of view of photography, I effectively have no idea whether the colours I use in my pictures are correct or not.

The picture below gives you a sense of what I see- this is a set of some of my pictures which I have converted using an online tool into colour blind versions. (By the way, you can click on any of the pictures on this page to get a larger version.) On the left we have my version, on the right what you see.

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I genuinely have no idea which is which.

As a photographer, this is clearly frustrating, but it has forced me over the years to take a number of different approaches- one is to go for extremes of colour like this colour infrared shot:

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More frequently it pushes me towards exploring the world in black and white:

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My friend Miles, kindly described my colour blindness as a gift when it comes to photography. I don’t know if I’d go that far- it makes me sound like Rainman, but I know what he means.

My second test is more something that most photographers face- making something of the familiar. Almost all of the pictures that I am most proud of are taken when I travel. I love arriving in a new location and rushing out capturing thousands of images before I move on. This one, for example was taken a couple of months ago in Bali:

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I am proud of pictures like that, but the photographic comedown is considerable. I know the area I live in, the Kent/Sussex borders in Tunbridge Wells is genuinely beautiful, but I often feel I know it too well to do it justice.

So this blog is intended to stir me into action. I have recently been taking my camera with me everywhere and most importantly returning to some favourite locations again and again. I will post some black and whites here and the occasional wrongheaded colour shot. I have no idea how often I’ll post and certainly imagine many of the posts will be more like galleries than full textual dissertations, but it should keep me motivated to take lots of shots.

Meanwhile if you are interested in seeing what I am competing with- my shots from around the world, you can look here:

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