About Me

My photo
Photographer based in South Wales, UK. Working mainly on a single beach - Poppit Sands.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Are days off work a good thing?

We are completely snowed in here in Wales. The darkroom is very cold and my office heating is on the blink, so I am taking a few days off.

And there is the problem - switching off the creative thoughts that mill around in the head all day is a tricky thing - especially if you get a sudden idea that just has to be worked on - a thought that itches at you  - an itch that you just can't reach until you have been out with the camera. I usually find days off more stressful than work days - and usually when I get back to the studio I am so bogged down with admin work that I have to put those ideas to one side - making matters even worse.

So I am having a few days off - but I now have a laptop near me at all times - and a small digital camera - so if I get an idea I can sit down in the living room in front of the fire and work as the kids play with their presents.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Friday, 3 December 2010

'You Can't See Me'

A new series of photographs based around the photographer's (my) desire to be unseen or alone when shooting in public places.

The full collection and statement is on my website http://www.mgjackson.co.uk/

Friday, 26 November 2010

Then and Now

I sometimes find it interesting to look at my work taken 4 years ago and put it next to the work that I am producing now. I can remember what my passions were then, how they helped me take the photographs, and how they help me now. The first thing that I notice is that the underlying passion is the same. That part doesn't seem to change. What strikes me is how different the work is - and it happened without me even realising it. The style just morphed bit by bit. There wasn't a giant leap from one type of photo to another - it was an accumulation of hundreds of tweaks and thoughts and wild ideas. And so long as the passion was still there and the photos gave me that buzz then I went with it.

One way that helps me understand what is happening is to realise that my work 4 years ago was fresh with influence from many other photographers - all tugging and pulling me in different directions - creating a nice, but common style that didn't require too much searching as it had all been done before. I imagine that at this point I was standing at the mouth of a metaphoric cave - the light from other photographers showing me the way. But then to tenderly step into the cave - with your own dim light showing you the way and not knowing what is ahead - with no other point of reference - the fading light of the outside behind you. The deeper you go the less light you get from outside - and the more you rely on your own light to choose what to do.

Maybe it is a bit odd to think this way but it helps me explain the differences between these two images -

                                                                          Mwnt,  2007

                                                                  Cwmpengraig, 2010

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Three sessions at Poppit

Some great weather and tides at Poppit for the last three days - and a couple more to come. Some writing done for Photography Monthly and back in the darkroom for a session of experimentation.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Sharp or not?

I find it amazing how distracting sharpness can be sometimes - and how wonderful and exciting it can be at other times. I can't really explain what type of short requires it - because as soon as I make up some kind of rule about it I see a wonderful photo that breaks that rule. So once again I come to the conclusion that it is best to ignore all rules and trust in gut feeling and luck. I think that there is something other than the obvious that makes a photograph 'special'. And I think it is a waste of time trying to discover that thing and bottle it up to use whenever you need it. It cannot be called upon - it just seems to happen.

Anyway, this shot has something about it - but if you listed its features - such as wonky, out of focus, blurred etc etc then it would be a disaster. Something holds it together (just). Maybe that is what I like about it - it is on the edge of being a real mess - but something is stopping it. Could it be the invisible 'something' that the photographer brings to it?

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

A step towards something new

I find the whole process of discovery and moving forward with photography a slow but steady one. The important thing for me is to not stop for too long and to always trust in the gut feeling - no matter how unusual the results are.

If it gives me that tingle then I will explore it with everything that I have. Sometimes it leads to dead ends and wasted days/months - but if you filter out the nearly-made-it shots you can mould together a series that is original and solid.

Sunshine Tree

Friday, 5 November 2010

More darkroom time.

I have been locked away now for quite a while running tests and trying to get prints that I am happy with. The whole process is exciting and yet frustrating. I find that I work best when I make my own mistakes and never give in. It will be a late night tonight.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Panoramic tests

I have been taking a short break from the darkroom while I wait for new chemicals and paper to arrive. After a long period working on Ades' Angels in the studio I am now ready to get out there again and try out the new ideas that have been forming.

As usual the results are not exactly as expected and need work - but the important thing is that they create a spark that excites me and makes me happy to invest time exploring them further.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

More Darkroom Time

The darkroom has still taken over - all other work is on stop at the moment. Before it was just a matter of choosing 'print' - now I can bend and twist my work further - and the results are so much more rewarding than just letting the Mac do it for me. It is so exciting - as if a door has opened. I love locking myself up all day under a red light and experimenting and learning.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Darkroom work

Everything else is on hold as I work on my latest series of shots. I spend most of my time trying to resolve problems and issues with chemicals and procedures - it is both exciting and demanding. I work in the studio while listening to the stream outside, with the red safety light on and images appearing in front of me like magic in the developer fluid. It is amazing.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Focus and feeling

Somehow, after 3 years of pin sharp focusing at Poppit Sands, I am finding that my ideas are shifting towards the slighty out of focus. Actually, when I am shooting at Poppit nearly everything is a tiny bit out of focus on purpose as the sands just reflect light and you get a million tiny specks. When I started walking the streets of Cardiff everything was way out of focus and blurred - once again on purpose. So you could say that I hardly ever actually shoot much that is in focus. Strange really.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

More studio work

I find that I am being drawn further and further into studio shooting. The work seems to be running along side my new darkroom experiments - as if they were made for each other. Admin work is being pushed to the side as I shoot models during the day and shoot Poppit in the evening. The two subjects are feeding off each other as they overlap in my thoughts.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Studio work

Studio work is such an unusual concept for me - being able to control things such as lighting and posture of the model. However I find that the same basic truths apply to working this way as with working at Poppit. I still think of the sands at Poppit as a kind of model in a way - and this has allowed me to transfer most of my way of thinking into the studio.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Latest Poppit Work

The ups and downs of new work

There always seem to be days when nothing works - and yet you come back to the work later and it all happens within minutes. I find that the massive highs of creating new work is matched with the miserable depths of repetition and re-working.

But they must both be there - for some reason I always have my highest creative highs after a long batch of admin work or marketing. For some reason the low and boring points are essential - I have no idea why. I often hear of photographers or artists who are upbeat and on the go all the time.

How they do it I have no idea - because without those lows I think my perspective and judgement on my own work would be thrown sideways. I know that when things are not going easily I am very critical of my own work - and therefore edit it down to only the best I can do - and that is essential.

And realising this makes those admin duties a bit more bearable, as they seem to have more than one obvious purpose.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

New Poppit Work

Three good evenings at Poppit gives me one keeper.

Friday, 3 September 2010

Astronomy Tower, Swansea

I very rarely include two of the same subject in any series of work - but this Astronomy Tower in Swansea really has me in its grip. There is something about it that is so unusual and special. Maybe it is the light - or the fact that it is on the sea shore - or maybe it is the curves and the whole feeling of the place. I was thinking about this - trying to figure out why this building excited me so much and I suddenly realised that it resembles a rocket launch pad (to me anyway). My Poppit Sands work was very strongly influenced by my childhood excitement of space and the Apollo missions - maybe the Astronomy Tower is another link into that same part of my childhood without me realising it.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

New work from Swansea

After researching Swansea for a while I have finally photographed there. I knew which structures I wanted to shoot and luckily the weather was good.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Cardiff Work

More work done in Cardiff. I can't quite put my finger on why I like small intimate photos with little or no detail. They certainly need to be viewed from a distance.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

IPA 2010

Earlier this year I changed my photographic direction 180 degrees - going from medium format/tripod/landscape to hand held/from the hip and digital. A complete change - and after 3 years on Poppit Sands I needed that change. This new direction was refreshing and exciting - and more importantly it was a way of really testing myself. Now, 8 months later that digital work has been published and has also earned a honourable mention at the IPA. I couldn't be more pleased.
Now I am back at Poppit again - refreshed and excited again about good old film and tripods - but the digital work will also keep on growing and moving forward towards something new.

Friday, 20 August 2010

Latest from Poppit

From three evenings shooting I got one keeper - and maybe 2 others that may make it.

Thursday, 19 August 2010


After 3 days on Poppit I am finding that the old 35mm really can do its own thing - when given a chance - producing shots that I wouldn't have tried with the Hasselblad and tripod.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Book Update

I am currently working on a new book showing my more abstract work - and I am honoured to be having the introduction written by Tony Sweet - Tony's site

Also - I have updated the Poppit book - see the preview below.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Back on the streets

In between low tides at Poppit I find a complete change is helpful and refreshing - so I get a small digital camera and walk through towns shooting from the hip - with no definite project or result in my minds eye - just taking shots of everything and enjoying the freedom that digital gives. The hit rate is very small but there is also the wonderful 'chance' factor that is so treasured.

Monday, 9 August 2010

Getting the juices going....

If I ever want to 'top up' on excitement about photography and how amazing it really is I just visit these sites -




A Joy Goldkind video on Bromoil prints -

Friday, 6 August 2010

Test with different formats

I find that I am constantly trying new ideas out - which can be a problem as focusing on one idea and seeing it through becomes very difficult.

However, I find there is a natural filtering system at work - and only the ideas that really are worthwhile seem to effect how I shoot. I am in two minds about different formats as it changes a very basic and solid aspect of what I do. We'll see.

Poppit Sands using digital rather than film.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Hard to work prints

Some Poppit prints just don't want to come quietly and they need a lot of work to get them to sing. 

This one took quite a while -

Thursday, 29 July 2010

New Poppit Work

More new work from Poppit. I have always wanted these prints to be BIG - (see photo below) but when the new darkroom equipment arrives I am going to do some tests with smaller intimate prints. I think when I shoot at Poppit I always have large images in my minds eye. If I start thinking small it will be interesting to see how things change.

Large Poppit print

Latest Poppit work - to be test printed smaller

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Two formats - same subject

I often take my old Canon FX 35mm camera with me as well as the Hasselblad when I go to Poppit. I took these two shots of the same subject in two formats - 35mm and 120 - to see how they differ.

Hasselblad 500cm

Canon FX 35mm

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

New ideas

While I wait for the new darkroom equipment to arrive I have been meddling with the combination of medium format and digital. I suppose the perfect blend of these two formats would be to have the wonderfully rich quality of film - along with its imperfections and unexpected results - combined with digital convenience and ability to let you experiment as much as you like with little or no extra cost.

I suppose my aim would be to capture the personality of film on digital - so with this in mind I have been experimenting with some 'freelensing' whilst shooting digital through the viewfinder of the Hasselblad. The results were surprisingly like film.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

New Poppit Work

After quite a break I am now ready to get back to work at Poppit. I intend to start printing them as Argyrotypes - quite a few tests needed before I am completely decided.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

More ideas

I am finding that negatives (both from my medium format camera and printed enlarged negatives) offer an area that I have not touched onto yet and could be interesting. More tests are needed.

I am also starting to experiment with Argyrotypes. The exhibition at Pendre is getting closer so I am starting to run some argyrotype tests - hopefully I'll be able to include some of them in the show.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Darkroom setup

I have been working in the darkroom for a while now - after using an inkjet printer the darkroom is a magical place. I am hooked by the possibilities that it offers - and the freedom.

Monday, 12 July 2010


Just had a telephone interview with 'Photography Monthly' magazine about a feature on Poppit Sands. I'll hopefully be going out to the beach again soon for some new work.

Friday, 9 July 2010

New work

The weather was not as expected on my latest trip - resulting in only a few hits. Interestingly, the subjects that I had intended to shoot just didn't come alive for me - but this amazing tree did. Once again - luck rears its head.

This was what I was initially looking for - and finally got it - 

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Art At Rhos-y-gilwen

Another excellent display of artists work at Rhos-y-gilwen over the weekend - the biggest in West Wales. I managed to help out on one of the setting up days which was an experience - making 8 foot high lettering out of empty plastic milk cartons.

I saw some interesting work on show - all of which seems to go into the big melting pot and come out as a form of inspiration for me. I'll be starting a new project this week - I can't wait.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

More testing

I am trying out a few more ideas at the moment - seeing how much I can get out of one tiny subject. In my mind this shot looks like a Japanese emperor - but that could be just me.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Shoes on sticks

This image was taken from the hip while I was on my way to the top floor of a car park to get shots of spires in Cardiff. Nice of someone to do all that photoshop work for me. So, does this class as an 'edited' photo?

Friday, 25 June 2010

Cardiff Centre

Some more new work coming from recent trips. I sometimes find it unusual that each series that I do has a different 'look' - rather than a single look. I think that this is because I imagine what I want and develop my technique and equipment to 'bend' a bit. Maybe I am adjusting things to suit the subject. Certainly the 'Structures' photos wouldn't be the same in the style of Poppit Sands.

Maybe in the future these ideas will all blend into a single sight for me - that would be so much easier.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Turning towards blur once again

After a number of months pushing in a certain direction I find it refreshing and exciting to get back to some techniques that were developed over last winter. I am getting more and more interested in the 'restriction' of information within a photograph - and how photographs that do restrict can hold a more powerful emotional response.
To test this I printed the below photos out as 9 inches square and also 16 inches square - framed them and then hung them next to a large super sharp 40" x 40" Poppit shot.

Interestingly the smallest photo held its own easily against the 40" shot.
Man and Woman - Carmarthen - Jan 2010

Family, Cardigan, Jan 2010

Zebra Crossing, Carmarthen, Jan 2010

Monday, 21 June 2010

Trying some new ideas

I have been testing some techniques and ideas that were gained when I was working on my 'Windows into Winter' series of photos. I woke up at about 3 am this morning with a clear idea what I wanted to do - and had to write it all down before it got lost in the fog of sleep. It didn't make much sense when I read it this morning - but I have managed to understand the general idea and am going to give it a try.

Also, Shots magazine published a photo from the 'Singular Structures' series in this Summers issue. To get some work other than Poppit published has pleased me a lot.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Exciting developments ahead

I have been working on some new colour images over the past 6 months and will soon be ready to get them out there.

This is a big departure from my B&W work that has been so important to me over the last 6 years - but I feel that it is a step towards something new for me - and the excitement of something new is a big factor towards keeping things fresh.

I have also rethought the projects that I am working on. 'Two Capitals' has been changed to 'Singular Structures' after suggestions and new ways of looking at the work. I have also added an 'archive' gallery to show my earlier work and older projects.

Friday, 11 June 2010

Which one to choose?

I have long been a big fan of Andrew Wyeth and Tom Thomson - and their images popped into my head when I saw this shot infront of me. Something about the tree half out of shot that makes it interesting and painterly. That will be the limit of my analysis.

So, the question is which shot to keep?

I have been asked a number of times about techniques and blur - there is no real magic to it - and it is not done in Photoshop.