on landscape The online magazine for landscape photographers

Doug Chinnery’s 2013

Review of 2013

Doug Chinnery

I am an artist working with images full of colour and movement in an attempt to express what I see around me. Inspired by artists, in particular the impressionists and abstract impressionists as well as Chris Friel and Valda Bailey, I work in abstraction trying to capture mood and emotion. I live in obscurity with my wife, Beth, and my buddy, Eddie.


We asked a number of our contributors to answer a few questions on their past year and what 2014 holds.

1) What have you been doing photographically in 2013, anything new & different or exciting trips that got the juices flowing ?

2013 started with lots of plans and aspirations but, as many know, while leading a tour up in Glencoe, I slipped crossing a river and badly broke my ankle and and my leg in four places. This led to almost four months without being able to walk and had quite an impact, both at the time and on the rest of the year.

One of the things about being a self employed full time photographer is that when an injury like that hits there is little or no support from the state to help you through (apart from the excellent medical care, of course). So this accident proved to be the ultimate test of whether I could continue with my passion as my business. I decided while lying in the hospital bed in Fort William that we (Liz, my wife, who is a partner in the business and I) would survive it and that I would still 'go to work' every day, even though I couldn't walk.

I set about writing more, I ran online photoshop, Lightroom and critique sessions from my computer with photographers all over the World. I had customers coming to the house for Photoshop and Lightroom training. I did whatever I could to help us financially. I had to cancel a lot of workshops but was very grateful to the many customers who were willing to postpone for me, it helped us a great deal. Even so, by the time I could walk again (early May, the accident happened in late January) we were in desperate need of work and so after a brief trip to Tuscany in the camper van to help me get walking again, I had to go straight into running workshops despite medical advice. I just couldn't afford to 'take things gradually' as my surgeon was recommending!

I had to fill my diary with as much work as possible to help us recover, but it was satisfying that we have survived. The sacrifice was personal time to make images though and this took its toll. By the end of 2012, I must admit to being 'burnt out'. I had spent all my time teaching and had virtually no work of my own made. It had been too hectic so we have made some changes in our planning for the year ahead.

It wasn't all bad. I love teaching and so time spent helping others was great and so many clients were very supportive and kind. I was also privileged to go and co-lead a tour to northern Norway with Antony Spencer which was amazing. To see such a wonderful landscape and be paid to go. It's the thing so many of us dream of. Our personal trip to Tuscany and Provence was wonderful too, just Liz, Stan (our dog) and me. I was still learning to walk again, but the locations were sumptuous.

There were some standout days with the camera too. In fact, the day I broke my leg, was one of those wonderful, rare days when the light and conditions on Rannoch Moor yielded a mass of images I was really pleased with. I also had a memorable day with John Birch (who, coincidentally was the hero who drove me home from Fort William all the way to the hospital in Worksop with just one 15 minute break. I was heavily drugged in the back of his Landrover with my leg broken - they couldn't do the operation in Fort William so they had to load me up with pain killers and send me home, either that or I would have to be ambulanced to Inverness. I will always be grateful to John for getting me home), he took me out again with my broken leg. I laid on the back seat of his Landrover and he drove me around Derbyshire in the blizzards with me shooting from the car window, another amazing day of image making.

2) What have you been shooting with most in 2013 ?

I decided to buy a Fuji X-Pro 1 system this year as a lightweight travel camera for trips involving flights, street photography and so on. I have to say, the handling and performance of the camera and the Fuji lenses has blown me away. I have loved using the system so much I have hardly used my Canon since buying it and because of the size, I am carrying it with me everywhere and thus making a lot more images. What I haven’t had nearly enough time to shoot with this year has been my old Hassleblad film camera and my pinhole camera. I have to put that right in 2015.

3) What is your favourite image from 2013 and what is the background to it ?

My favourite image of the year was, funnily enough, really easy to choose. I made it last winter in the snow, before I broke my leg, up in the Yorkshire Dales. It was an image that only revealed itself as I looked through the viewfinder.

Yorkshire Dales snowy field with wall, gate and sheep.

Yorkshire Dales snowy field with wall, gate and sheep.

I was using my ancient Hassleblad 500C and had just made an image of a copse of trees and then was panning the tripod head around the field with my eye to the viewfinder and the image popped out to me. I would never have seen it had I been just looking at the field. I like the minimalism of the composition, a vast open space of white snow with just the thread of a dry stone wall across the top of the frame, broken by a five bar gate. But the finishing touch for me, something I didn't see until I scanned the negative back at home was that, watching me through the gate was a lone sheep, huddled in the snow. I think, for me, this will be one of those life-long favourite images.

4) What does 2014 hold? New books? projects? trips ? or even new gear…?

2014 definitely means a shift in emphasis for me. Teaching dominated my schedule too much in 2013 so I need more time for personal projects. I will still have a full schedule of location workshops, both my own and those I am privileged to run for Light and Land as well as the ones I run in my own studio teaching Photoshop, Lightroom, Silver EfEx Pro & the Nik suite and so on. I have some collaborative workshops I am running this year too. I am honoured to be running a couple of workshops with master photographer and artist, Paul Kenny and also a new creative workshop with great talent Valda Bailey. I would love to 'do' a book, but feel I still have to build a body of work, one of the reasons I need more time to make my own images. I have several small projects I am working on and all need time to bring to some sort of completion. Liz, Stan and I are planning a trip to explore the coast of France, which I am looking forward to immensely and for Light and Land I will be leading tours to Paris (with David Clapp), Budapest, Puglia, The Peaks (with David Clapp) as well as others. As for new gear, I don't have much I am looking for, to be honest. I would like the newly announced 56mm f1.2 lens for my Fuji and a wide prime for it too. If they announce an X-Pro 2 I could see myself being sucked in to upgrading like a lemming. But to be honest I am perfectly content with my wooden pinhole camera and old Hasselblad too.

5) Portfolio of 6 personal images from 2013

6) What are your predictions for the industry (either technical or general)

I am not good at predictions although I do think we will continue to see more photographers, especially the young and the older leaving the bulk and weight of the DSLR systems in favour of the mirror-less systems such as the Fuji X. They are making increasing sense for many in their quality and compactness. I have more and more customers saying how they are finding it more of a chore to climb hills and cliffs with bags laden with DSLR systems. Cameras like the X-Pro 1 provide amazing quality in a lighter and smaller package and they are a joy to use.

I also think more photographers will come to accept the Adobe Cloud based way of leasing software, especially with the current low price point. I think in just s couple of years leasing software of all types will be more the norm rather than the exception and whether we like it or not, the major manufacturers will force us down that route.

In a creative sense, I also detect that more photographers are tiring of making identikit images of honeypot locations. There seems a greater interest in experimentation with alternate techniques, with working on personal projects (often close to home in anonymous locations) and in producing more personal work. I rejoice to see this and feel sure many more will feel themselves wanting to develop themselves in one or more of these ways.

I am also delighted to see the apparent growth in interest in collecting photography books. Portfolio and project books by photographers. I think it is good to invest in the work of and support other photographers and there is great benefit in owning and studying their work. Not to copy it, but to be moved and inspired by it. I hope this trend continues and the emergence over the last year of Triplekite Publishing, for example is a great move forward for our area of passion. I think the way many photographers seem to embrace social networking, especially Twitter, has helped in this. the community that has built up on Twitter has become a great resource of knowledge and friendship amongst photographers and I think this is a great thing which is helping us all develop. I am sure 2014 will see this continue to grow.

7) What are your personal ambitions or goals for 2014

To try and not break anything this year.

To complete at least one of my current photographic projects

To spend more time making personal images

To try and get more photographers to consider a lack of sharpness as a creative option :)

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