Mar 192012

It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to my 100th blog post.  Two years ago, almost to the day, this blog was conceived and I hope you continue to enjoy my missives.

How fitting that this post should coincide with the completion of my largest ever project — a large print edition for the London 2012 Olympics.

Way back in December 2010, I introduced you to Rachael Clewlow’s infographics but at the time we were not in a position to divulge their true purpose and context.

As a brief reminder, I scanned two of Rachael’s acrylic artworks and reproduced them at actual size.

A year later, I was given the go ahead to make a total of 730 prints to grace the walls of the Hilton London Wembley hotel, forming part of the Olympic Village.

The trusty combination of my HP Designjet Z3200’s and Hahnemühle Photo Rag 308 won through yet again…

Rachael Clewlow's edition prints at Jack Lowe Studio for the Hilton Hotel and London 2012 Olympics

A small fraction of the 730 prints made in total...

Most days, for five minutes or so during the late afternoon, I stand at my studio window — coffee in hand — watching the sun descend over the city.

On one of those occasions, I pondered how far the framed prints might stretch end-to-end.

Of course, with the power of Google Earth at our fingertips these days, it didn’t take long to come up with the answer:

End-to-end, the framed Olympics prints would stretch from Jack Lowe Studio to just beyond the Millennium Bridge

End-to-end, the framed prints would stretch from my studio window to just beyond the Millennium Bridge.

What’s more, following a fortuitous meeting with one of the top brass at the newly conceived Sky Tyne and Wear, it also didn’t take long for the media to come knocking…

Sky Tyne and Wear journalist, Neal Walker, visits Jack Lowe Studio to document printing for the Hilton Hotel and London 2012 Olympics

Sky pay a visit to document proceedings...

To complete my very own Olympic event, my machines would be in action for ten hours every working day for over six weeks.

Of course, once the pieces were printed, there was still work to be done.  Each print had to be trimmed to an exact size and, between me and my Rotatrim, the 4500 cuts were executed perfectly.

Wary of all the hard work that could soon be undone, I also had a custom hod constructed.  Designed to carry around one hundred prints at a time, this simple vehicle certainly earned its keep when it came to safely carrying completed work to the framer, Bruce Reid, downstairs at Unit 19.

The custom-built print hod at Jack Lowe Studio for the Hilton Hotel and London 2012 Olympics

My custom-built hod, which could carry around 100 prints for transportation to the framer...

Rachael Clewlow's edition prints at Jack Lowe Studio for the Hilton Hotel and London 2012 Olympics

I interleaved every ten prints for ease of counting...

Every now and then, Rachael would pop in to sign the latest batch of prints.

It would take her several hours to complete each session but, with the aid of multiple cups of tea, she soon got used to writing her name hundreds of times…

Rachael Clewlow signs her edition prints for the Hilton Hotel and London 2012 Olympics

Rachael Clewlow during one of the mammoth signing sessions...

These prints have now left my studio and I have to say that, even though 2012 remains steadfastly relentless, there’s a part of me that misses Rachael’s work passing through my printers.

I was often asked by passers-through whether or not I tired of seeing the prints.  “Not at all!” was my consistent answer — I feel sincerely honoured to have played a small part in the London 2012 Olympics and all in the comfort of my home-from-home in Newcastle upon Tyne.

I would like to extend my deepest thanks to the artist, Rachael Clewlow, and her gallerist, Andrea Harari, for their help and enthusiasm and for bringing the London 2012 Olympics to Jack Lowe Studio.

Rachael’s exhibition, The Process, is showing at Jaggedart in London’s Devonshire Street from 19th April to 12th May.

Rachael Clewlow's edition prints in situ at Hilton London Wembley for the London 2012 Olympics

The finished pieces hung in situ at Hilton London Wembley

24 inch rolls of Hahnemühle Photo Rag 308gsm stacked at Jack Lowe Studio

Just some of the paper stacked in the studio awaiting its turn...


Jan 302012

Whenever I hear Chris Burden’s name, my ears prick up.

He’s an artist who, to my mind at least, never fails to be interesting through his engaging ideas and fresh angles on life.

Nearly seven years ago, Locus+ asked me to make high resolution scans of two sketches made by Chris, detailing their thoughts and intentions for the fantastic collaboration, Ghost Ship.

If you have a moment, it’s well worth taking a look at this project. As Locus+ describe:

“Commissioned to coincide with the Tall Ships Race, 2005, Ghost Ship involved the construction and development of a crewless, self-navigating sailing boat, which undertook its maiden voyage between Fair Isle, Scotland and Newcastle upon Tyne. Audiences were able to track the boat’s progress via a live, daily updated website.”

With the kind permission of Locus+, I’ve unearthed the sketches from my hard drives for you to see here:

Chris Burden, Ghost Ship 2005

© Locus+ and Chris Burden 2005

Chris Burden, Ghost Ship 2005

© Locus+ and Chris Burden 2005

So, back to Metropolis II

On hearing of Burden’s latest piece, I was once again all ears and for good reason. Currently installed at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, his sculpture ticks so many boxes for me on so many levels!

As the Huffington Post write:

“It’s a classic piece of German expressionist cinema reimagined as a complex piece of installation art — or the best ski-electrics set ever, depending on your perspective.

“Artist Chris Burden has built a model city based on Fritz Lang’s classic 1927 film Metropolis that features over 1000 toys cars soaring through its metallic skyscrapers at speeds of up to 230mph. Rarely has a moody dystopia and a critique of capitalism been such fun.”

Here is the piece for your delectation, all captured beautifully via the medium of the moving image…

Jan 232012

Last night, I received a phone call from my Aurora-chasing friend, Reed Ingram Weir.

Apparently, the facts and figures were all pointing to a stellar show by The Northern Lights.

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:

aurora borealis, northern lights, newcastle upon tyne, north east england

No apologies for the coarse quality of this hurried photograph, it was the moment I knew I had to drive North!

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:

aurora borealis, northern lights, northumberland, holy island, north east england

Gentle scenes from the Holy Island causeway as we arrived...

aurora borealis, northern lights, northumberland, holy island, north east england

Vertical shafts of light began to appear once more...

aurora borealis, northern lights, northumberland, holy island, north east england

...and the sky appeared to fold and crease like fabric above the glow of Berwick upon Tweed.

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 so, the curtain gradually fell on the performance. The graceful, pulsing light faded away yet still lingered, maintaining a hold on us and making it very difficult to set off home.

aurora borealis, northern lights, northumberland, holy island, north east england

The performance draws to a close with one last needle of brilliant light.

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:

night sky, stars, orion, northumberland, holy island, north east england

Looking South, the stunning Northumberland night sky with Orion standing tall in the centre of the image.

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…

Earth | Time Lapse View from Space, Fly Over | NASA, ISS from Michael König on Vimeo.

Nov 252011

As is my way, I tend to keep notes to some degree on just about everything I do.  An aide-mémoire perhaps or sometimes through sheer necessity.  On other occasions, simply out of interest.

Falling into the latter category, I am happy to tell you that I met Julian Germain on 17th December 2004, nearly seven years ago.

Julian was just preparing for the launch of the first edition of his book “For Every Minute You Are Angry You Lose Sixty Seconds of Happiness”—a portrait of an elderly gentleman, Charles Snelling—and the launch of his accompanying show at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Arts.

Julian Germain, For Every Minute You Are Angry You Lose Sixty Seconds of Happiness

Published by steidlMACK, this first edition has long sold out and copies now sell online for hundreds of pounds.

That’s not just a throw away statement, by the way.  I’ve just typed “Julian Germain” into eBay and there are several results. One of them is for this very book: “Buy it Now for $700” reads the caption…

Julian Germain, For Every Minute You Are Angry You Lose Sixty Seconds of Happiness

Charlie in his Robin Reliant

Our first meeting in 2004 was ‘after the event’ on the post-production side, so it was a great honour to work with Julian on the second edition of this beautiful publication.

I reworked old files and made some new scans too, providing fresh CMYK files and proofs in readiness for printing the second edition.

Julian Germain, For Every Minute You Are Angry You Lose Sixty Seconds of Happiness

The book, now published by MACK, was launched at this year’s Paris Photo Fair. Sales were handled via the Steidl stand and I’m very pleased to report that it was their second bestseller at the fair.

“Second best? What was first?”, I hear you ask. William Eggleston’s “Chromes”, comes the reply!

You can buy the second edition of “For Every Minute…” directly through MACK for £30.

My suggestion? Grab it while you can…

Julian Germain, For Every Minute You Are Angry You Lose Sixty Seconds of Happiness

Sep 282011

My intended opening gambit on how “Autumn has arrived” seems tenuous to say the least now!

In using my Autumnal title, I had intended to then link neatly with the beautiful Platinum/Palladium leaf print we have made for Paul Kenny.

At the start of what would appear to be a wonderful Indian Summer, Autumn suddenly seems a long way away.  So, perhaps a different tack is required…

On 9th July 2010, I posted the news that HP had launched their Large Format Photo Negative Application.

Little did I realise the impact this would have on my working life.

A little later, around about this time last year, Richard Freestone and I embarked on what has become a phenomenal journey of research and intrigue; a journey attempting to successfully marry the old and new technologies of Alternative Printing processes with Digital Negatives.

Print Detail from 'Ga-ana Theatre' by Andrew Shaylor, Platinum Palladium Print from HP Digital Negative

Print Detail | 'Ga-ana Theatre' by Andrew Shaylor | Platinum/Palladium Print from HP Digital Negative

Although not a new concept by any means, we have approached this in a very specific and new way with the help of our friends at Hewlett Packard.

Our thanks to Angel Albarran who designed The HP Large Format Photo Negative Application and helped us extensively throughout the process.

In conjunction with 139 Printroom, we are now able to make Platinum/Palladium prints from your digital files.  This is a truly exciting addition to Jack Lowe Studio and one that could open up a whole window of opportunity in your approach to photography.

You may have already noticed the new Platinum/Palladium tab towards the top of this page and it is here that you will find more information…

Andrew Shaylor's Ga-ana Theatre, Platinum Palladium Print from HP Digital Negative

'Ga-ana Theatre' by Andrew Shaylor | Platinum/Palladium Print from HP Digital Negative

My eyes have been opened to a new world of possibilities.  I have gently been sifting through my own photographs and having them reworked as Platinum/Palladium prints.

Here’s an example from 1999—originally shot on 10×8 Polaroid, now scanned and made into a Digital Negative from which the print was made:

Chris by Jack Lowe, Platinum Palladium Print from HP Digital Negative

'Chris' by Jack Lowe | Platinum/Palladium Print from HP Digital Negative

And the beautiful leaf print for Paul Kenny I mentioned?

Entitled OS 206, Paul explains the image for us:

“At the time I was obsessed with seeing leaves as maps or aerial photographs; landscape maps of the imagination.

“The OS series starts with sheet 1 at Lands End and finishes with sheet 205 at the Shetland Isles…I made my imaginary sheet 206.”

Scanned from a 6×6 negative, here is OS 206 for your viewing pleasure:

OS 206 by Paul Kenny, Platinum Palladium Print from HP Digital Negative

'OS 206' by Paul Kenny | Platinum/Palladium Print from HP Digital Negative




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