Water, colour & ice

After downing my quill and ink for a little too long, I thought I’d share a taste of what I’ve been up to recently. Despite what must be some of the wettest few weeks in the record books, there have been moments of respite and some beautiful scenes to explore.

There is no doubt that autumn in the UK is a fine thing to behold, I certainly get a few tingles of excitement as the leaves begin to reveal their palette of stunning seasonal colour. And colour has been in no short supply this year, with much of the foliage withstanding torrential downpours remarkably well. This coupling of excess water and arboreal splendour has enticed me to seek out where the two would marry well together. I have been out after heavy rains before, but never have I seen such a jaw-dropping volume of water cascading through the likes of e.g. Padley Gorge. The reservoirs have been on pretty good form too!

As well as keeping your gear dry with the likes of umbrellas and waterproof camera covers etc, another invaluable piece of kit at this time of year is the polarising filter. I’m very well aware that I have banged on about these before, but they really can transform a scene by reducing surface reflections and allowing the camera to record beautifully rich colours in any vegetation. They also have an interesting effect on water and, as you’ll see below, on ice! A great idea for your Christmas list (the filter, not the ice!).


Mist and fog are definitely worth looking out for on local forecasts – they make for fine companions at this and any other time of year for that matter…

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Somewhat of an unplanned grabshot. Driving through Peaks for a commission, I spotted this scene unfolding on the far banks of Ladybower Reservoir. Diving into the nearest lay-by, I opted for a telephoto lens to isolate this subtle array of texture and colour, all partly enshrouded in gentle mists.
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An autumnal archway by Porterbrook in Sheffield. Heavy surrounding fog giving a wonderfully soft glow at the end of the pathway.
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Exceptionally dense fog allow these two trees to form a rather haunting archway over this single track road in the Mayfield Valley, Sheffield.

And then for the aforementioned water…

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A loss of balance would have been rather interesting here! Perched on the edge of the torrent, a 2 second exposure allows the water to speed past, pulling you through the frame. Burbage Brook looking rather fuller than usual, surrounded by the autumnal delights of Padley Gorge!
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Usually the site of rather more gentle falls, the waters covered all but the most prominent rocks. Again, Padley Gorge in fine form.
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Could resist this one, I find it very hard to walk past lines and curves with out reaching for the camera! On what is usually a footpath, heavy leaf-fall has been cut into by excess water, creating a gorgeous s-curve.
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And now onto one of the plugholes at the bottom end of Ladybower Reservoir. All three of the Upper Derwent Valley’s reservoirs were brimming and huge volumes of water were falling precipitously down these delights of engineering. A mesmerising scene and despite being safely stood behind a hefty wall, you couldn’t help but feel yourself being pulled in! This version captured with a relatively fast shutter of 1/6 sec. To compare, the shot below had a shutter speed of 2.5 seconds, which has smoothed the water somewhat. Preference is down to taste on this one… thoughts welcome in the comments…

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Autumnal ice – as with a forecast of mist or fog, any suspicion of an early frost usually has me reaching for the car keys whilst the rest of the household are still safely wrapped in their duvets. The effect it has on the landscape can come in many guises, from a gentle white blanket across the scene to heavily frosted individual rocks and trees. Don’t forget to keep an look out for frozen puddles, though, as a combination of water and air beneath the surface ice can create some intriguing patterns and shapes…

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With a promise of a sub-zero start to the day, I was a little disappointed with the lack of any frost coating the rocks and boulders atop Stanage Edge, but then I noticed the puddles! With some incredible shapes and patterns on display, I opted for this one as it seemed to work well with Over Owler Tor and Millstone Edge in the distance. This image was taken with the benefit of a polarising filter, the one below is without – see the dramatic difference in the portrayal of the ice. Again, one for individual tastes, but I’m more taken with the top image!

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And lastly, a couple of urban moments. I love the balance of shooting classic and urban landscapes. Both have there own challenges, but both can be equally rewarding…

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Furnival Square at night, Sheffield.
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Oughtibridge weir, Sheffield.

Thank you, as always, for taking the time to read this far.

All the landscape images here are available as prints, if they haven’t made it to my website yet just drop me a line and I will happily discuss your requirements.

Until next time (which hopefully won’t be quite so long)….

www.grahamdunn.co.uk

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Open Studio event – an invitation

Open Up Sheffield 2019

11am – 5pm  on

Sat 4th, Mon 6th, Sat 11th & Sun 12th May

at 4 Stumperlowe Hall Road, S10 3QR

Dawn skies over Higger Tor & Carl Wark - Peak District

 

This year I am, once again, delighted to be taking part in Open Up Sheffield, a wonderful open studio event that showcases the wealth and diversity of artistic talent to be found across the region. This year has an amazing number of great artists joining in, so it will be well worth making time to do some exploring.

Please pop in to say hello and see my new pieces and collections – I will have a lot of new work on display, with a variety of landscape and cityscape scenes from the Peak District, North Norfolk, Cornwall, London, Sheffield and beyond.

Click here for more information and directions.

If you can’t make it, I am always open by appointment, so please get in touch to arrange a more convenient time to visit.

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Thank you, as always, for taking the time to read this far. Lastly, if you think you know of someone who might be interested this open studio event, please feel free to pass on these details – thank you!

www.grahamdunn.co.uk

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An autumnal outing

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After a rather delightful and unexpectedly long and warm summer, we have now progressed into what is probably my favourite season. Along with many others, photographers included I’m sure, autumn fills me with a sense of quiet excitement. Early frosts, mist-filled valleys, (more manageable sunrise starts!) and that array of jaw-dropping colour will whet the appetite of even the most battle weary landscape photographer. I know I’ve felt more inspired to head for the hills (with a camera) than I have for a while.

Planning forms a large part of my photography. Researching possible locations on Ordnance Survey maps along with using apps such as The Photographer’s Ephemeris, allow plans to be made down to the infinitesimal detail. Place alongside that a keen interest in local weather forecasts and you are half-way to getting yourself in the right place at the right time for a memorable outing and possibly a handful of shots to be proud of. But, when you start to throw in some mist or a more hefty temperature inversion into the mix, then things can become a lot more unpredictable. They are some of my favoured features, but knowing where to head for early in the morning can prove a little tricky. Too much mist or too deep an inversion and your planned viewpoint can reveal little more than the well-named ‘pea soup’. Too little and you may find yourself having to dash down lower into the valley to make the most of the conditions before they disappear!

Whenever conditions, or indeed the forecast, look favourable for that trace of morning mist, I have learnt to start out slightly earlier and drive to a vantage-point from which I can assess how much there is and where the optimal locations will be for that particular morning. It is by no means guaranteed to put me in the right spot every time, but I have definitely noticed a reduction in the numbers of outings where I frantically drive around the Peak District chasing an ever elusive patch of mist, but never quite even get out of the car let alone take my camera from its bag!

This last week provided me with a couple of such occasions, one of which I will share a flavour of below. Some mist/fog was forecast in the Hope Valley and after a quick scan from the aforementioned vantage-point, I made the decision to drive along the Hope Valley itself towards Castleton. The idea being to catch the mist and possibly the first light of day from amongst the early autumnal trees, and if that failed to move on the base of Mam Tor and look back down the valley at the backlit mist.

En route, through the valley a scene was evolving that caught my eye. And having learnt not to walk or drive past a scene with potential in the hope that something better lay further ahead, I made myself pull over and investigate.

The images below represent a 30 minute period from before sun-up to the first moments the sunlight hit the scene. I don’t often stay in one position, often preferring to continually scout around for other compositions, but for some reason I felt I needed to on this particular morning. Watching the continuous change in light and mist levels subtly affect the view before me was mesmerising. The difference in mood, colour and ultimate feel of the resulting images is subtle in some ways but quite pronounced in others.

Below are four images taken over that period. I’m being brave, as they are not the bold, contrasty, saturated images that would grab more immediate attention on social media platforms, so please do allow a moment to view each of them (don’t worry, this still won’t take long as research apparently shows that we only hold our gaze on online images for a split second at a time).

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Pre-sunrise and with only a faint glow of light coming in from the left, we are just given simple outlines of the three main elements – a barn and two trees. The tones and colours are soft and very little clue is given as to what lies beyond.
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With the sun starting to rise, a touch more colour is brought to the scene. The mist has lifted a little too, allowing a hint of what lies behind the main three foreground objects.
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Just watching the scene unfold was fascinating with ever changing light levels and mist intensity/density (not quite sure how to define the quality of mist – thoughts on a postcard please!). Firing off numerous frames in an attempt to capture the subtleties as they passed by, I inadvertently caught a flock of birds mid-flight as they passed through the centre of the frame. The 1/25s shutter speed allowed their wings to trace out some beautiful shapes and curves.
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And lastly, as the sun finally reached a position where it started to directly light the scene we have yet another variant. Warmer tones are brought to the foreground and three subjects whilst the mist is still thick enough to obscure the district hills.

I possibly favour the third image down with the birds, but know that others will be drawn to the alternatives for a number of reasons. It would be fascinating to know your thoughts and preferences…


Lastly, I leave you with an image from earlier in the week, where the Harvest Moon came out to play (the nearest full moon to the Autumnal Equinox). The moon set over the Hope Valley whilst the sun rose behind me, giving it a wonderfully warm colouration. And to top it off, the valley was filled with a glorious inversion.

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A setting Harvest Moon over a mist-filled Hope Valley. Peak District.

 


Thank you, as always, for taking the time to read this far.

All the landscape images here are available as prints, if they haven’t made it to my website yet just drop me a line and I will happily discuss your requirements.

Until next time (which hopefully won’t be quite so long)….

www.grahamdunn.co.uk

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Open Studio event – lots of new work on display!

Firstly, a big thank you to all who have recently signed up, or re-signed up, to my newsletter. Secondly, my apologies for a lack of updates on my part! Hopefully, this will remedy that somewhat…


Open Up Sheffield 2018

11am – 5pm  on  5th, 7th, 12th & 13th May

at 4 Stumperlowe Hall Road, S10 3QR

Dusk hues over Cape Cornwall - Cornwall

Once again, I am delighted to be taking part in Open Up Sheffield , a wonderful open studio event that showcases the wealth and diversity of artistic talent to be found across the region. This year has a record number of artists, so it will be well worth exploring.

Please pop in to say hello and see my new pieces and collections – I will have a lot of new work on display, with a variety of landscape and cityscape scenes from the Peak District, North Norfolk, Cornwall, London, Sheffield and beyond.

Click here for more information and directions.

If you can’t make it, I am always open by appointment, so please get in touch to arrange a more convenient time to visit.

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Thank you, as always, for taking the time to read this far.

www.grahamdunn.co.uk

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Go local – it may be just what you need

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After a not inconsiderable time since my last post I have been in somewhat of a dilemma as to what to include in this post, a dilemma that has not helped my procrastinatory antics!

Creativity is not, I am finding, something that is always available on tap. It would seem that a multitude of happenings or situations can come between a creative and their ability to access the particular areas of their brain necessary to allow any creativity to flow. A mouthful, sorry, and too many uses of the word creative, but we will all find ourselves, from time to time, in a situation where the pictures or words just aren’t coming easily. It can be easy to lose heart and take a dip in confidence or self esteem, but it is so helpful and reassuring to know that most artists/photographers of any note will all admit to times of creative hardship. Persistence would appear to be the key. Not giving up and making the most of opportunities as they arise, no matter how small or fleeting, is so crucial in lifting one out from a creative rut or void even. Whilst there feels such pressure to explore and photograph the ends of the Earth in all its glory, and I feel that pressure keenly at times, it is so helpful to realise that what is on, or in near vicinity of, your doorstep is acceptable photographic fodder.

Having listened to a handful of inspirational photographers speaking and having read some insightful articles, I have felt quite a burden lifted and almost feel I have been given permission to reexplore that which near to me. A ridiculous self-imposed pressure to only photograph new and distant landscapes has been exposed as simply that – ridiculous! Your home turf, be it your garden, your local park or your neighbouring landscape, is one that you will know best and perhaps have the most passion for. You will be on hand to react to the finest and briefest of conditions. That intimate knowledge of the terrain and the ability to react to unusual or special conditions will surely bring about images with greater depth and meaning, hopefully having a deeper impact on those viewing the end product. And if you have felt creatively stranded, it is this depth and meaning and impact that will hopefully begin to lift you out of the rut and back onto your photographic journey.

Based where I am, south-west Sheffield, there is an abundance on my doorstep – both in the form of urban and classic landscapes – and I have resolved to explore and re-explore these riches with fresh eyes. Some such locations are undoubtedly popular and well (overly) photographed, which has deterred me somewhat in the past from revisiting them, but striving to capture that something that is a little different from the ordinary can prove to be a very rewarding challenge. Familiar scenes in an unfamiliar way – something I often harp on about during camera club talks or workshops – note to self, must practice what I preach!


The following three images were all captured within a ten minute radius (by car) from home…

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A short wander from the front door, albeit wrapped up to the eyeballs and with an Op Tech Rainsleeve protecting the camera, this scene was captured during intense snow fall from a few weeks ago. An example of grabbing the moment and reacting to the conditions.
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Upper Burbage looking towards to Higger Tor and Carl Wark, Peak District
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A cautious drive through dense fog led me to the outer edges of Lady Canning’s Plantation, where I was presented with this atmospheric scene. Conditions not conducive for shooting big landscapes, but ideal for more intimate scenes such as this – the fog allowing that all important separation between the layers of trees.

Evening wanders through Sheffield have reaped their rewards too, as I continue to build on my urban collection – a project that I am thoroughly enjoying and one that will be unveiled in the not too distant future (hopefully!)…

The No. 51, Sheffield City Centre
The no. 51
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Urban waves

The printer (alluded to in previous posts) has been at work too…

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‘Stanage spindrift’. Another local scene in glorious and short-lived conditions. Rather satisfyingly ordered and printed within 24hrs of being posted on Facebook – thank you Wendy!
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In addition to my own work, it has been my pleasure to print work by Si Homfray for his new project Peak District Design. Lovely products – do check them out.

And finally, a quick tip. This will be well known to photographic folk, but.. timers aren’t just for selfies! There are many to ways to try and ensure sharp images, one of which being the avoidance of camera movement whilst depressing the shutter. Even with the sturdiest of tripods a clumsy poke at the shutter button can blur a shot. All of this can be avoided with the use of a camera’s self timer function – if you have the choice I would recommend 2 seconds over 10! By the time the shot is taken, any externally induced movement will have settled down enabling pin sharp results. The difference can be quite striking, as you can see…

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A long night-exposure and a very blurred one at that! My camera was tripod mounted and steady but the simple act of depressing the shutter created enough movement to ruin the shot – cue me kicking myself and promptly activating the 2 second timer.
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And the end result, a marked improvement – though possibly not to those proponents of intentional camera movement techniques!

Thank you, as always, for taking the time to read this far.

All the landscape images here are available as prints, if they haven’t made it to my website yet just drop me a line and I will happily discuss your requirements.

Until next month….

www.grahamdunn.co.uk

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Weather to photograph or not?

Well, summer and its variable weather is most definitely upon us. Glorious, almost tropical, days are interspersed with equally tropical downpours. On bright, clear blue sky days, I am often asked whether I have been out photographing – the presumption being that what most perceive as a glorious day will translate into inspiring photographic conditions. Not the case for most of us landscapers! We dream of changeable weather and the light and cloud formations it brings with it. ‘Bad’ conditions often lead us to reach for our bag and tripod and chase the tail-end of dramatic rain clouds and the often outstanding light that accompanies them. One of the hardest things to stomach, and I’ve heard a number of other photographers mention the same, are the times when you are confined to quarters and have to watch such conditions drift past the window. Whilst this has certainly occurred over the past few weeks, I have also had the pleasure of being out in the elements armed with my trusty camera and accompanying gear.

Here’s an example of what I’ve been up to since my last post….


Once again, I had the pleasure of visiting the stunning Cornish archipelago that is the Isles of Scilly….

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Wild agapanthus, Tesco, Isles Of Scilly. It is a mind-blowingly beautiful landscape, with these stunning flowers bursting out of sand dunes and overlooking the aqua seas.
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White sands, Tesco, Isles of Scilly. You learn not to mind heavy rain so much when rewarded with skies such as these! A patient waiting game for the storm to pass and for sunlight to hit the beach.
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Lone boat amongst islands and islets, Isles of Scilly. More ‘bad’ weather, this time perhaps bringing with it a sense of mystery and adventure. A telephoto zoom lens was used to isolate this composition from the wider scene.
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Wonderfully muted colours looking east from Tesco, Isles of Scilly. A Lee-Big-Stopper-induced-long-exposure was used to soften textures in the sea and sky.
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Travel camera kit in action for the previous shot. The Canon M6 and Lee Filters Seven5 system working their magic!
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Spot the difference! Just to show you some of the cutting edge, no-expense-spared kit I carry with me to allow me to continue working during unexpected downpours!

The built environment has also had its share of my time as I continue my urban landscape project…

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I’m forming quite a fascination with rooftops and big roomy skies. A facet of my urban collection that I am particularly enjoying working on – more to follow soon I hope…

School Photography Day

It was pleasure to take Birkdale School’s Prep 4 year group for a photographic day in the Peak District. Their impressively creative efforts made for a fine display in the school reception area (as seen running of my printer). The whole process finished off with my taking over of an end of term assembly and awarding the high commended and winning images.

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Lastly, a shot from a commissioned photoshoot for The DL Company – do check them out, it’s always a pleasure to photograph their fine handiwork (though this was a ‘before’ shoot so you will be better checking out their website for examples of what they can do!)

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Nine frames were blended and merged to create this final image.

Thank you, as always, for taking the time to read this far.

All the landscape images here are available as prints, if they haven’t made it to my website yet just drop me a line and I will happily discuss your requirements.

Until next month….

www.grahamdunn.co.uk

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Light relief!

Whilst I type, the internet is awash with political sound bites and very definite opinions, no surprise with the election looming ever closer. There does, however, seem to be an increasing trend, in social media circles anyway, to strongly vocalise personal views whilst becoming rather aggressive should anyone dare to question them. With this in mind, I hope to provide some light pictorial relief amidst the clamour of election week.


Firstly, a huge thank you to all who popped by during last month’s Open up Sheffield event. Great to meet and chat to so many of you who have a similar love of the outdoors and/or photography in general…

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Open Studio in action! My home gallery is always open by appointment, so please do give me a buzz if you want to pop in to browse or discuss any picture or workshop needs…

It has been a interesting month, made all the more so with a fascinating commission to shoot a state-of-the-art racehorse training facility west of London. It was a long day with changeable weather and sizeable checklist of ‘must get’ shots, but challenges often bring with them great rewards and it felt a huge privilege to see such fantastic specimens close-up, let alone the stunning facilities.

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Splendid creatures amidst equally splendid surroundings! Following a drab and rainy morning, the sun finally came out to play and lit the horses and landscape whilst dark brooding clouds lingered in the distance.
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I rather fell in love with this particular horse, whose dappled white coat glowed beautifully in the sunlight. I photographed from a number of different angles but opted for this shot from a selection of many as I loved the shape, lines and lone eye peering off to the right side of the frame.

There hasn’t been a lot of time for personal work, but one outing proved fruitful. On a particularly blowy day I headed for the Peak District’s Upper Derwent Valley reservoirs armed with my Lee Big Stopper (10-stop neutral density filter or a very dark piece of glass for my non-photographic followers!). You can see some of the results below, all of which had exposure times between 75-80 seconds…

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Howden Reservoir dam tower – Peak District
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Backlit trees and grasses caught my eye here, along with the curving s-shaped lines of this inlet to Howden Reservoir – Peak District. The long exposure in this shot served to reduce the water’s surface to a smooth glow, further emphasising the shape of the grassy bank.

Lastly, I am excited to again be photographing urban landscapes and have plans to regularly add to my collection over the coming months. Here’s an image of ‘The Diamond’ – one of The University of Sheffield’s latest eye-catching creations. I was pacing back and forth trying to find the optimal composition when the evening sun just caught the top edge of the building and I knew I had what I was looking for!

Sheffield Diamonds
Sheffield Diamonds

Thank you, as always, for taking the time to read this far.

All the landscape images here are available as prints, if they haven’t made it to my website yet just drop me a line and I will happily discuss your requirements.

Until next month….

www.grahamdunn.co.uk

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Open Up Sheffield 2017

11am – 5pm

29th & 30th April and 1st, 6th & 7th May 2017

Once again I am taking part in Open Up Sheffield – a wonderful open studio event that showcases the diversity of artistic talent to be found across the region. My studio will be adorned with a variety of landscape scenes from the Peak District, North Norfolk, Cornwall and beyond. Please do pop in and say hello, I will be more than happy to discuss all things photographic!.

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Prints (aluminium, acrylic, framed & mounted), coffee table books, greetings cards and gift vouchers will all be available to purchase or order.

For more information please follow the link below:

http://openupsheffield.co.uk/open-up-artists-2017/graham-dunn/

It would be great to see you, please do visit in if you can. Alternatively, contact me to make an appointment at a more suitable time for you.


www.grahamdunn.co.uk

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A new adventure – the world of printing!

Stretching one’s boundaries and taking on new challenges is an exciting, if at times daunting, way forward. Having pondered over the idea for quite some time, I have taken a thorough plunge into the deep end of the world of printing by purchasing myself a large format printer. As I discovered, they don’t come in small packages and require the help of friendly neighbours to manoeuvre into position (thank you Ups!).

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One rather cumbersome printer with stand, somewhat overwhelmingly blocking a doorway!

A quick bit of assembling/setting up later, with the invaluable help of Vince from Fotospeed, and I was up and running and producing my first set of test prints…

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Here’s the printer in action. To see images being produced when you are in full control of the process is incredibly rewarding and, I fear, highly addictive.

Whilst my head is in a spin half the time, as I get to grips with the ins and outs of this delicate process, I am thoroughly enjoying the challenge and my journey along yet another learning curve. I will be working hard to produce a significant amount of new work for Open Up Sheffield, which I am taking part in at the end of the month – more about that soon.


Since my last newsletter, I have been fortunate enough to visit the French Alps, an ever inspiring place. The light can be incredible, especially at the extremes of the day, with some wonderful soft colours on display. Below are three images captured with a telephoto lens to pick out specific areas of the mountain ranges that, at the time, were draped in some rather splendid light…

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In other news, the past few weeks have been filled with numerous photographic society talks, commissioned shoots and teaching workshops, which I carry out on a 1-2-1 or small group basis in the Peak District. It was also exciting to find my Early Purple Orchid image (featured in my last blog post) adorn the cover of Derbyshire Life magazine – always a pleasant surprise!

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Gav and Steve working hard to optimise their compositions of Bolehill Quarry’s millstones.
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Graham capturing a suitably moody shot of one of the ruined buildings at Magpie Mine.

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Finally, I leave you with a warming touch of spring, captured whilst photographing the delightful gardens of Darley House

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Thank you, as always, for taking the time to read this far.

All the landscape images here are available as prints, if they haven’t made it to my website yet just drop me a line and I will happily discuss your requirements.

Until next month….

www.grahamdunn.co.uk

Landscapesportraitsinteriorscommissionsprintsbookscardstuitionworkshopstalkslectures