Inside this issue
In a Different Light
More than one thought, idea or experience
Peter Gordon is a photographer, an artist, a workshop leader and an organiser within the photography community. He has won several awards for his work, including Irish Professional Photographer of the Year twice, as well as European Professional Photographer of the Year in 2013. Peter is director of ExploreLight photography and the IrishLight Festival, creating an exciting range of photo tours across Europe from Norway to Montenegro, unique educational and participatory projects, as well as a range of fine art exhibitions.
There’s something distinctly eerie about being up in the mountains all alone in the middle of the night. The flashlight catches the wee beady eyes of the natives (mostly deer and sheep), and you need to remind yourself that those illuminated eyes mean you no harm. They’re probably wondering what the hell this madman is doing wandering around the Wicklow mountains in the dead of night with a tonne of cameras, tripods, video lights and lighting stands. I have to let the silence take over, turn on the lights and start making pictures. Let the light in, get the camera rolling, and the calm always follows.
For the past 10 years, I have been making intermittent trips into Glendalough, Co Wicklow, at night time. Glendalough is so familiar to me. My first-ever photographic project, Wild Garden, heavily featured the park, and it's somewhere I’ve run countless workshops. Reinventing the familiar is what motivated me to explore this series of images, reconnection and introspection, thus, Glendalough seemed like the perfect backdrop to take on this challenge. To push the limits of my own comfort, the limits of lighting, and the limits of what I had previously explored. The outcome is a collection of 12 images and a time-lapse piece featuring the amazing sounds of Moderat.
I have a splilt personality photographically. One is very giving, he looks after others, puts their needs first, gives them all his energy, and shares all his creativity with them so they can make better pictures. That’s the workshop leader. The person that brings people all over the world to take pictures in the most beautiful places imaginable. I’m very grateful this is what I do. I love it.
Then there’s the other guy. The guy that just wants to make pictures solo. The photographer that takes pictures only of things that inspire him. He photographs what feels meaningful personally. He strives to be in tune with his instinct, works on his own timetable, and pursues what he wants single-mindedly. Photography is not a team game, it’s a personal journey.
At some point in my career, the giving person took over my photography, and my work felt a little lost on a personal level. I wanted to feel inspired by what I was doing, but I found sharing my craft with others made me feel formulaic about my personal work. I had lost sight of the second guy and was taking most of my pictures for other people.
Something changed, however, when I saw a picture by Marcel Van Oosten around 2013. He had used an unnatural light source in the mist in one of his Namibia images. It made me think about how we perceive the landscape. We associate nature with a specific set of visual parameters. The light is generated by the sun or the moon. But nature to me was always more than parameters. It's a feeling, and the homogenisation of the visual presentation that I was experiencing in workshops was affecting how I felt about the landscape. I wanted to break that cycle and make sure that the guy that strove for personal inspiration stayed in the fray. I wanted to work ‘In a Different Light’.
For most folk, the notion of being all alone in the mountains at night isn’t that appealing. I took some kind souls to help me carry the gear and also to allay the nervous energy of being out there all alone during the earlier part of this process. Over time, however, I realised that I had to be alone. The walks became more laboured, carrying the gear and the slight edge of being there alone more intense. More importantly, however, I was able to find peace and concentration to create.
Whenever I visited Glendalough, I always made sure to have Moderat blaring out at full kilter on the drive down. The soundtrack and Moderat’s unique sound really inspired the visual. Eventually, I came to love being there alone. It's genuinely inspiring to be surrounded by nature and not another human in sight. The process of making the pictures was labour-intensive. I used two cameras and one video light. To begin, I would always set up a wide-angle shot of the scene I was looking at and set that camera off to record a timelapse. I was interested to see how the atmosphere was affected in the wider angle shot as I repositioned the light to shoot tighter scenes with the second camera. The movement of the light was a way to make the imagery more dynamic and more out worldly while creating movement within the time-lapse piece to reflect the soundtrack. It allowed me to shape the landscape in ways I couldn’t possibly achieve in the daytime with natural lighting. The landscape became a space that didn’t have so many parameters.
I was creating my own light, but the weather still played a big role. I wanted calm, mist, and also clear skies. Typically a shoot would involve me keeping an eye on the possible conditions before deciding to go. I would often arrive in the middle of the night and photograph all the way to dawn. Activity in the park and on the roads would just be kicking into gear when I was on my way home. There’s something satisfying knowing you are off to bed when everyone else is getting ready for work. The lights from the shoot would reverberate in my brain as I dropped off.
Since I started shooting ‘In Different Light’, I have completed two separate personal projects.
The project and exhibition are called 'In a Different Light': www.petergordonphotography.com
Venue: The MART Gallery, 190a Rathmines Rd Lower, Rathmines, Dublin 6,
Opening Hours for the Exhibition
- May 17th – 27th
- Opening May 17th – 6 – 9pm
- Open 12 – 6pm
- Sunday 12 – 4pm
- Closed Monday 22nd