We first worked together in October 2010, which I wrote about at the time.
Since then, Julian and I have made many more prints together as his success in the world of edition printing gathers momentum.
Working with Julian is a real opportunity for us both to revel in the current capabilities of digital photographic practice. You may remember that he works with one of the finest cameras around, made by Alpa of Switzerland, which he currently uses in conjunction with the very latest in single capture technology — the Phase One IQ180.
This is an 80 megapixel digital back, which produces a 16bit single capture of around 450MB — when making many of the large prints for Julian, I often have to reduce the files produced from this camera!
Julian’s background is described at Edition Prints:
“Julian Calverley has been creating imagery in one form or another since he was old enough to hold a paint brush.
“Born in Hertfordshire in 1964, he very quickly demonstrated a love and natural talent for drawing and painting, in particular watercolour landscape work.
“After a brief and uninspiring spell at art college, Julian realised it was the mix of photography and traditional darkroom skills that would allow him to express himself most effectively.
“The next few years saw experience gained with various studios and in 1988, at 24 years old, Julian set up his first studio and darkroom.
“He now divides his time between personal and assigned work, his attentions mainly focussed on capturing landscapes in their various atmospheric conditions.”
I really enjoy how the exemplary workflow from start to finish sings through the final prints. As written on the Edition Prints Process page:
“The finished pieces command a theatrical air; so wonderfully crafted, as if each facet to the image has been summoned into place at the click of a finger.”
Wayne Ford has also written a wonderful blog post on Julian’s work entitled, The Theatrical Sonnets of the British Landscape Photographer Julian Calverley.
If you haven’t seen Wayne’s blog yet, do pay it a visit — he has nurtured it into the ultimate photography archive.
I don’t often get to see the prints I make in their final destination, so I can’t wait to make the journey south next week to Baldock and see the framed pieces on the wall.
The show runs from 20th April to 3rd May, full details are listed here.
If I was to finally witness this natural phenomenon, now would be the time to jump in the car and make the sixty five mile journey north on the A1.
It would have been all too easy to settle in for the night on a Sunday evening but I was soon experiencing an intense urge to make the trip.
Aware that digital cameras can pick up early signs of the Aurora much more easily than the human eye, I quickly nipped to the top of the house to photograph the Northern sky.
The giveaway green haze hovering above the Newcastle horizon convinced me that it was time to go and meet Reed on the Holy Island causeway:
I grabbed a friend who I knew would also cherish the experience, though neither of us could ever have been prepared for the scene that greeted us.
Nearing the turn-off for Holy Island, the sky had become alive with huge columns of light, folding and weaving like waves of fabric.
Words can barely describe the emotion that overcame me — it was all I could do to keep the car on the road with such a spectacle taking place in the cold air above us.
Vast slabs of vertical green light gave the Northumberland night sky an epic cathedral-like appearance and all for a fleeting fifteen minutes or so…
As we arrived on the dark causeway, I must confess to feeling a little jittery.
The light show was beginning to fade already but it still looked sensational as it receded. I managed to capture these images while the performance played out:
In all honesty, the intensity of green captured by my camera surprised me. However, it seemed to match up with the photographs of others.
When watching this beautiful show, I didn’t see green, I saw a bluey-silvery-grey. I thought that reciprocity failure might have come into play, so I tried some very short exposures.
Yes, the images were very under-exposed but the green colour still prevailed. Even the ‘quick and dirty’ capture made at ISO 3200 (the image at the top of this post) immediately showed the Aurora-green piercing through the urban haze.
It seems that more intense displays further north, in and around locations such as Tromsø, literally drench the surroundings in a glorious green light.
Thankfully, at times, we were able to see the green for ourselves during pinpricks of higher intensity.
Indeed, as we were arriving, I’ve already mentioned the great slabs of green light standing tall like huge, futuristic, architectural pillars in the sky.
So, this sparked a further spine-tingling question in my mind: When the intensity levels of the Aurora are reduced further South, why is that we observe a bluey-silvery-grey colour, yet we point a digital camera at the Aurora and the intense green prevails?
Is the camera able to render information that we cannot perceive at these lower intensities? I’m sure there will be answers to this but I simply enjoyed pondering them while standing in that icy cold theatre.
I expect Professor Brian Cox would know the answer. If you know, feel free to enlighten us by leaving a comment in the box at the end of this post!
And let’s not forget the beautiful sky to the South, so dense that Orion (often obvious at this time of year) is almost lost among its neighbours:
Some say that viewing the Aurora Borealis is life-changing.
Would I agree? Yes, without a doubt.
I haven’t been able to shake the experiences of last night from my mind, not that I’ve wanted to.
Furthermore, it’s taken me most of the day in grabbed moments here and there to attempt to put those experiences into words.
I’m still not sure that I’ve succeeded.
As I put my boys to bed this evening, I peered North from the window once more. Nothing.
The Aurora Borealis was gone for the moment but I shall never look at the sky in the same way again, day or night.
Keen followers of this blog and my Twitter feed will know that I am very keen on the video clip below, the Aurora Borealis and Australis as seen from the International Space Station.
It seems appropriate to sign off from this post by leaving you with this beautiful footage…