Friday, 27 February 2009

The Cash

When I posted this ages ago, I ended with this tale:
One of the coolest things was that the day we arrived in Eritrea was the day they introduced their own national currency - the Nakfa, named after a town that was the stronghold in the border wars. They'd been using the Ethiopian money up to then. So I have a mint collection of first edition Eritrean notes - probably worth a huge 20cents, but I don't care, cos you don't have any Eritrean anything. Of course, when we crossed into Ethiopia they refused to change our Eritrean money as they had no idea what it was.
Having just done a bunch of scanning, I had a bunch of captioning/keywording to do. Sometimes it's surprising what you find in Lonely Planet Africa when you're trying to clarify some poor notetaking.

Some mint Nakfa.

There were some mint Birr in there too, cos Ethiopia felt they had to redesign their currency too, so as to limit confusion or something.

I'm sure it'll be worth something. One day.

Sunday, 22 February 2009

The Statistics

As many of you know, I am somewhat particular about recording the films I've shot, and have even been known to record details of every image I've made.

Over the past few weeks, since learning how Lightroom actually works, I've been busy scanning negs. I now have scanned my entire OE.

And cos I know you all want to know, I took 3662 photos over the period 25 November 1996 to 8 August 1999 (from memory). Here they are, unedited and in a completely random order.

Now of course, this number doesn't include those grossly underexposed experiments which didn't work out, nor the shots I took on other people's cameras, nor the film I had stolen - F114, 22 December - 24 December 1998, Sevilla, EspaƱa (it was actually two films, but one was entirely exposed, the other had only had about 4 shots taken on it, and it was stolen along with the camera to which it was attached - that idea of attaching a film canister to your strap for easy film changing is a great idea ... until some prick steals your camera just after you've changed rolls). And it does, naturally, include those (very few) times when someone else managed to get hold of my camera and take photos.

It also includes a couple of rolls shot in NZ in 1998 when I was visiting. Within a month of my leaving this place, my brother decided to announce his engagement, meaning I had to come back. Didn't they realise I was running away!! Anyway, I came back via Europe and Africa so it wasn't all bad.

Here's how it breaks down.
1996 - Hong Kong to Scotland - 145 photos
1997 - Scotland to Malawi - 1053 photos
1998 - Malawi to Portugal - 1636 photos
1999 - Portugal to USA - 889 photos

And ... there's an approximate 60/40 split landscape/portrait layout.

Exciting huh?!

And for something a little different. Some people should keep up with the times. See this, which I blogged a full seven weeks before these art aficionados. I am so obviously ahead of the pack.

At least I was that week.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

The Bluest

It was a small opening on Saturday. But I made a sale.

At least somebody bought one of my works and I had no part in the transaction whatsoever.

I had a thought a wee while ago, that (for me) group shows are analogous to soundtrack albums. I'm happy to be included and show work, as it's an outlet for work which probably won't make a full album (solo show), but it's not necessarily an indication of where I'm at or what I'm working on.

Blue is a case in point, though slightly different. My work is a discreet series, small in scale and number - any bigger would be too much. The works really grew on me once they were framed. So I'm hoping for more sales so I can afford to make my own set.

I know many of you won't get there, even though you really should but you're slackers so you won't, so here's a link to my pieces.

Titles (continuing a theme):
Look for the good in others and they’ll see the good in you
The continual theory of disappointment
The strange and conflicting emotions of separation and betrayal

And for Jodi cos I know after all our discussions she'd want to know what my frames looked like (not that this crop is a terribly good representation).

It's an interesting show, certainly one of the best group shows I've been in. From such a simple basis - "the show is called Blue" - a huge variety of works have arisen, and maybe because of the blue basis, it holds together surprisingly well.

Most works have blue elements, mine went for the blue tones in both colour and mood, for a multi-layered reading. Looking at the works I've produced in the past year there is a definite gothic undertone, something I was wanting for one piece, but it seems to have continued. Cool.

But the best work in the show is this one - And Noah sent a dove. It's awesome. In this writer's opinion it may well be the best individual piece that photographer has made. I want a copy. Okay David?!

Monday, 16 February 2009

The Story

I wrote this for the MCH intranet staff newsletter thing, but yous guys can read it too. I'm kind like that.

My (Sub-Antarctic) Island Holiday

While other people headed for warm beaches up north or on tropical islands for their summer holiday, I spent the Christmas/New Year period distracted by planning and shopping for my own upcoming journey.

As a small number of dedicated people do each year, I headed to New Zealand’s Sub-Antarctic Islands for summer – well a part of it anyway. Every year a select few folk willingly spend their summer in isolated huts on isolated islands hundreds of miles south of the mainland undertaking various research projects – some ongoing, some short-term. I had been asked by the Royal Society of New Zealand to join a trip visiting a number of sites on various islands and give them a nice library of images which, in some way, communicated science.

My Navy recruitment shot - call me, let's negotiate.

Operation Endurance was a joint Navy and DoC effort, the objectives of which were to deliver a number of large items to various DoC sites. This required the use of a helicopter and a ship big enough to carry all the supplies – mainly 30 tonne of boardwalk. The frigate Te Kaha was enlisted, along with a couple of air force helicopter pilots, and a couple of army personnel to supervise the transportation. Also on the trip were numerous DoC staff, mainly from the Southland Conservancy (who oversee the islands), media representatives (Tv1, RNZ, ODT, RSNZ i.e. me), Maritime New Zealand staff, and winners of an RSNZ schools science DVD competition.

There was a list of prioritised intentions, and a rough schedule drawn up. Naturally, as is the way of things, plans changed. Due to leave Bluff on Sunday, we didn’t depart until Monday morning, meaning our first night on board was tied up at Bluff wharf. Due to head first to Snares Islands, a little south of Stewart Island, instead we headed for Campbell Island (well south of Stewart Island), meaning our first full day on board was on the high seas soon out of sight of any land, with very little to do to fill in the time.

My bed for a week - not as claustrophobic as you might think.

This being the Navy, we arrived at Campbell Island at dawn as planned and cruised into Perseverance Harbour. Priority #1 was to deliver boardwalk to Col Lyell. Brief familiarisation helicopter flights for civilians (i.e. myself and a few others) were arranged. My first time in a helo (naval term) for years, and first time I’d photographed from one. It was awesome; fantastic landscape, nesting albatross look like sheep from the air. In the afternoon we got to walk the existing boardwalk, get up close and personal with Southern Royal Albatross, and generally stand in awe of this beautifully desolate location. To have a nesting albatross suddenly appear from behind a hunk of tussock isn’t something you experience every day. The size of the birds is truly astounding. The surprise I experienced exclaimed itself as a popular four letter word. But the only one who heard was the albatross who triggered it. It was an all too brief, stunning time, and I once again felt in my element, in the natural habitat of the Andy Palmer. On the way back to the wharf, I had the first of many standoffs with charging sealion – stand staunch and hope your heart keeps beating.

Early morning off Campbell Island.

The next day we had a march across the island and back. It was on this day that we were truly made aware of Navy tactics. We were given seven hours to do a six hour walk. Little consideration was given to those who may have wanted to experience the place, let alone those of us there to photograph/film the experience. Strict military precision, military timing, meant we got to sit on the wharf for close to an hour afterwards waiting for the RHIB to transfer us to the frigate. With the weather closing in as the day wore on, exhaustion and bitter cold did not make for a great time. Still the walk itself was great – more plants, more animals, more outstandingly strong winds – even if it did leave us hungry for more. We left six DoC crew behind to spend the next 3 weeks installing the boardwalk and doing other bits and pieces if time allowed – what a great job.

The Campbell Island March.

Overnight we left Perseverance Harbour for the open waters and the Auckland Islands. We also hit the much anticipated big seas. As with many things, there is a scale for ocean waves – 0-9 with 0 being dead calm and 9 being hurricane (from memory). We hit a 7 and much of the boat, civilians and crew, spent the night throwing up – myself included, though not too badly by comparison. A bit of a sleep in, and some raisin bread (and calmer seas) proved to be all I needed to perk up again.

We spent the day off the coast of the islands as the harbours were deemed unsuitable for entry. It was frustrating to say the least. Next day we moved closer to Port Ross, so some deliveries could be made to Enderby Island, then we headed south to Carnley Harbour where we were finally allowed off the frigate again. A couple of us headed to Adams Island, the largest of New Zealand’s few remaining pristine islands, to hang out with a couple from DoC Nelson who have spent their summer holidays down here for 8 of the last 10 years, helping on various research projects. Dedicated to the cause! But, once you set foot on the island, it’s perfectly understandable why people would be happy to volunteer for a month down there. Just gorgeous. They have a fairly new hut, and their own little bay which has a couple of pairs of beautiful, rare Auckland Island teal – so cute. Lots of albatross a short walk uphill, and the friendliest bellbirds I’ve ever met.

Later that day, on Auckland Island proper, a series of events led to me becoming somewhat isolated from the rest of my party. This didn’t go down to well with the “risk averse” Navy. The fact that I was well prepared for such an event, and was ‘rescued’ soon after my absence was noticed, meant I didn’t think it was much of an issue. I didn’t have the courage to tell the Navy that I had stood in full view of the crew on the bridge, and a passing RHIB, waving my fluoro vest for a couple of minutes all to no avail.

Overnight out of Carnley to the safety of open water then in to Port Ross the next morning. Prepared to go ashore around 8am, for some reason the Navy dictated we weren’t allowed ashore until 1pm. So a frustrating morning was spent on board twiddling thumbs, itching feet. All the afternoon did was reinforce why we had wanted a whole day on Enderby. Referred to by some as the Club Med of the Sub-Antarctic’s, it’s a small, low, flat island with a remarkable diversity of flora and birdlife. We did an 11.64km walk (DoC were doing GPS things) over about 4 hours. Sealions, yellow eyed penguins, megaherbs, rata forest, banded dotterel, Auckland Island shag, Campbell Island pippet, and a few rare birds I didn’t glimpse. It’s a wonderful island. Being the sad photographer I am, I was so excited about the boardwalk, I nearly didn’t do the coastal walk. What a truly foolish decision that would have been.

The ultra exciting boardwalk.

That night we were out of there, heading for Snares Islands, arriving around 8am the next day. Arriving, as in coming within sight of them. We were hoping to get some DoC crew off to inspect some of the huts there, but the weather was against us, and it was deemed too dangerous to launch the RHIB, so we were out of there with a couple of days to fill before we were due at Port Chalmers. So as I write this we are heading up the east coast of the South Island planning a visit to Akaroa tomorrow, then Port Chalmers on Tuesday. 60 hours at sea on a ship not really made for 30 odd civilians with nothing better to do than sit around – a cruise liner this is not.

Coming into Akaroa.

I had a lot of trepidation about coming down here. Partly because of the need to satisfy a client other than myself. Partly because of the poor weather I’d been led we could expect. Partly because so much was out of my control. The bad weather barely showed itself. There is a lingering frustration from not having been able to spend the time on land I would have liked thanks to the Navy’s overprotective anxiety. Having spent an all too brief time on these islands, maybe a total of 20 hours over 6 days, I am now formulating plans for how to get down here again, for longer. Much longer.

Post script: I’ve now been back home for a day. Settling back into city life is all too easy, the experience already a seemingly distant memory overtaken by the mundanities of washing, grocery shopping, etc. Thank god I’ve got 3300 odd photos to remind me. The funnest experience about disembarking, aside from cruising into Port Chalmers on Te Kaha, was going to the Rita Angus show at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery. It was a different hang than at Te Papa so well worth the visit as new works made themselves known to me. But the best part was standing reading the text or looking at a work and my world was swaying gently in a mildly inebriated kind of way. Having attained my sealegs, I was clearly in lack of landlegs. Sadly that too didn’t take very long to wear off.

A roughly edited selection of my shots can be seen here –

Special Blog Post script:
Having been back for a couple of weeks now, various thoughts have arisen. Going through my shots, I'm actually happier with more of them than I thought at the time. But I'm not entirely convinced that many of the digital shots are Andy Palmer shots. Maybe it's the format, maybe it was the lack of real shooting time. I also feel that my overall experience of the place was tempered by the fact that I was there to take photos, yet wasn't given the time I would have liked in order to do that. So rather than just hanging out and experiencing the islands I was always thinking about photography, what I could shoot, where I should be heading, looking out for new, exciting things. It meant I never really soaked up the atmosphere, never really breathed the islands, and for that I'm a little sad. Next time I guess.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

The Love

Will you be my valentine?


Okay so it's allenby love.

But some of us will take it where we find it.

And Allenby's as good a place as any.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

The Blue

Suitably refreshed and pleased to be underway in 2009 Thermostat Gallery will begin the year with...

A photography group exhibition based on the colour blue

Artists include
Leigh Mitchell Anyon, Christian Hogue, Mandy Algie, Andy Palmer, David Boyce, J.K. Russ, Rachael Rakena, Lauren McIntyre, David Lupton, Andrea Gardner, Janet Bayly

Opening on Saturday 14 February, 5.30 - 7pm

Exhibition runs until 5 March 2009

I'll most probably be there on Saturday. You can too if you like.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

The Awkward

Here's an awkward looking self-portrait - me on Campbell Island with Peter Moore, albatross expert, wandering away in the background.


Cos I've done this!!

Go on have a look. It's okay.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

The Arrived

Woo hoo. Well here we are in this mean old town.

I can recommend New Zealand’s Sub-Antarctic Islands as a nice place to visit. They have cool birds, nice seas, beautiful sunrises, rugged outdoors types, and fun photographers.

See .....

That’s a southern royal albatross (or maybe a northern one, I’m not sure the difference except that the southern ones come from the south) somewhere south of Stewart Island.

Mmmmmmmm, Campbell Island at dawn.

Mmmmmmmm, Perseverance Harbour, Campbell Island some time after dawn.

Ooohhhh that’s definitely a southern royal albatross on Campbell Island.

A rugged outdoors type on Campbell Island, west coast. (My god, he’s smiling!! Was he having a good time or something?!)

Wow, and a sunrise east of Auckland Islands framed by HMNZS Te Kaha. With shots like that I could almost be a landscape photographer.

And a rugged outdoors type sitting in JRs on HMNZS Te Kaha pretending to be intently doing digital stuff in Lightroom when in fact he was playing FreeCell.

That’s me on the right and Stephen Jaquiery, Illustrations Editor ODT, roommate, general good guy and pisstaker on the left sitting on Enderby Island waiting for our damn taxi home. (Photo courtesy Sarah Cowhey, NHNZ.)

I'm already planning my next visit. Roll on Masters project, the thesis of which will be along the lines of 'how can I get to New Zealand’s Sub-Antarctic Islands for an extended period at someone else's expense?'