Late Summer


The Trespasser : Late Summer, Ben Dolman 2014 [Test Shot]


The MA I have been studying in Photography over the past two years is now completed, hand in of my course work was last week for assessment and marking, the results will be released sometime in October - job done. There is now a feeling of a great weight lifted off my shoulders, a weight of expectation that was not generated from the actual course of study whose aspirations and demands I deemed to low but from myself, a weight generated from the high ambition and rigour I created to test myself to the limit, the aim was to go for broke or nothing at all but never mediocrity. There is a joke in education about MA courses especially in the arts that it is virtually impossible to fail, given this you have to set your own levels and in my view they should be extremely high and demanding, if a course asks for 5 hours of study for a module you do 50 hours, if a tutor asks for one picture you do 30 pictures and choose only the best. Studying at master's level there should be no compromise as unlike undergraduate study which can be misperceived as just a rite of passage for the middle class a masters should be seen as an exacting academic vocation and professional undertaking, there is no freshers nonsense here just singular or should I say bloody minded determination to learn, make and understand.


People have asked me what the MA course of study offered, for me it was simple - time. Time to focus on one thing over a period of a couple of years and the thing in my case is photography that I started before the MA as a hobby and it might have stayed a hobby if it were not for the MA. I have a full time job and there is little spare time to learn a new vocation like photography professionally and the MA gave me time with the help of my employer Loughborough University to put in the hours required to master the discipline. The 10,000 hours theory to learn and master something new might be debatable in the terms of a genuine genius but I am no genius so I do subscribe to the notion that putting in the time be it 10,000 or 20,000 hours to learn and toll at a new form of creativity is advantageous thing to undertake. I am close to my nominal 10,000 hours, I would say about 80% there and I shall try to cover the remaining 20% in the next year.

In a later post I shall show the work I submitted for assessment as at the moment it is being held at Nottingham Trent University for the external assessor and I will pass on technical tips I have picked up over the past two year as I processed and developed the film, scanned and edited the pictures, printed off the images to be framed or made into books.

After a couple of days off after handing in my work for assessment I am back to work with my photography but in a more playful and leisurely manner than before whilst studying but still focussed. I have been in my studio building and adapting a new 8x10 large format camera which is a development on my initial prototype I built last summer for the second part of the MA. The new camera is lighter and more compact to allow me to travel greater distance on foot, I have also made the camera more robust so it can be used in challenging conditions in winter and finally fingers crossed it is fully light tight, I will do a post on the new camera later in the year when I have done some field tests.

In the past week I decided to return where I did my Trespasser series on the River Trent near Thrumpton to see what the landscape looked like in late summer. I generally care little for photographing the landscape in summer preferring winter but late summer can yield some interesting imagery. There is something I find beautiful about late summer, the moment before landscape goes into a deep sleep, it is a moment of tiredness and exhaustion after a long and dry summer were the lushness of land has become withered. On my visit the vegetation was parched and lacking in vibrance, the river flow low, the river banks were exposed, the grass was just a stubble chewed incessantly by herbivores, the landscape was at a tipping point which will only last for a brief moment and then all the leaves will fall leaving the landscape stripped bare until next spring. 

I have posted some test shots I did this week below next to photographs I did last winter of the same subjects, it is quite interesting comparing them seeing the passage of time juxtaposed.


The Trespasser : Late Summer and Winter, Ben Dolman 2014 [Digital Test Shot & 8x10 B+W Negative]



The Trespasser : Late Summer and Winter, Ben Dolman 2014 [Digital Test Shot & 8x10 B+W Negative]




The Trespasser : Late Summer and Winter, Ben Dolman 2014 [Digital Test Shot & 8x10 B+W Negative]


The test shots are digital but I am also using 8x10 colour and black & film negative film capturing this brief moment, I have been struggling as it has been quite breezy which is not a problem in winter but summer the foliage can look like mush as I am shooting with a small aperture to gain a large depth of field in the photographs. It will take 3 to 4 trips over the next week to hopefully find the right conditions to make the photographs and then the moment will have passed.


The Trespasser : Late Summer, Ben Dolman 2014 [Test Shot]



The Trespasser : Late Summer, Ben Dolman 2014 [Test Shot]