Mud, Nuclear Power & The Mud Horse Fishermen

As I have mentioned in a previous post I’m currently working on producing new life images of people & animals within the landscape.

Part of this has evolved into a small project shooting “Life In A Somerset Landscape” where I show people and animals at well known Somerset locations.
While researching new people to shoot I caught an old TV clip of one of the last Mud Horse Fisherman who live close to Hinkley Point B Nuclear power station nr Bidgwater Somerset.
20 years earlier I had photographed one of the last few fishermen for a magazine and so was not sure if any where still actually still fishing in the area.
After a bit of research with good old Google I managed to find a telephone number for Brendan & Adrian Sellick who are father & son and the last two people still Mud Horse fishing a stones throw from Hinkley Point B Nuclear Power Station.

So what is Mud Horse Fishing?
Having lived close to the coast most my life (mostly on the Bristol Channel) I know how dangerous this stretch of coast can be.
Firstly it has the second fastest fall and rise of tide in the world plus and more appropriate here the mud banks can be like quicksand.
The fishermen place their nets 2 miles out over the treacherous mud banks of the Bristol Channel. They use a wooden sledge known as a Mud Horse to help them not only carry back their catch but more importantly aid them to glide over the thick treacherous mud and not sink into it.
Following my telephone call I arranged to meet Adrian Brendan Sellick and photograph them with the Mud Horse at the beach.
My vision for the image was not one shot in bright clear sunlight which is what the shoot day presented me with.For me this is the kind of uncertantity that makes location shooting so interesting and certainly keeps you on your toes.
Another surprise on the day was I did not expect to go onto the mud banks to shoot but stay on the shore.
Adrian explained that the Mud Horse is stored about 1 mile out onto the mud banks of the channel weighted down by rocks as is to cumbersome to drag out.

We jumped into his 4×4 and started to drive cautiously over the mud which I have to admit was rather unnerving after the scores of cars I’ve seen submerged on this coastline by tourists driving on the beaches and ignoring the warnings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Luckily I always carry a pair of wellies in the boot of my car so was pretty well prepared for the mud that I had to wade through in certain areas.

 

I had as I always do planned to use my tripod but it quickly became obvious that I would have to go out my comfort zone and hand hold the camera.
Adrian directed me to where was safe to walk and pointed out the areas that would have me knee deep plus in mud which was a worry with £6,500 worth of camera around my neck !
I directed Adrian where I wanted him and set about shooting with quite briskly with a healthy burst of fill in flash to reduce the harsh contrast from the crystal clear sunlit sky.
It was a very enjoyable shoot even though it took me out my comfort zone a little (which is not a bad thing) and made me adapt my plans slightly.

 

 

I retired with Adrian back to his rustic fish shop where I finished by shooting some headshots of him and his charismatic father Brendan.

 

 

This shoot summed up to me how much I love the excitement & unpredictable nature of location shooting.Combing this with meeting interesting,charming people doing jobs that sadly may not continue in years to come also gives me satisfaction of knowing that once again my camera has enabled me to explore places & people otherwise I may never had chance to.


The final image shown here combines several images of Adrian,The Bristol Channel and the Hinkley Point B Power Station.

 


Ryan

As I mentioned in my last post about shooting new images of people in the landscape here is an image I shot a couple of weeks ago and finished retouching this week.
The image here shows Ryan White who’s a talented young cyclist and member of Somerset based  “1St Chard Wheelers” cycling club.
Ryan has gained much success in his chosen sport including coming 4th in the National under 12’s Road Race Championships and is currently 3rd in the national rankings which is very impressive seeing he’s only 13 !
In terms of the photography as always I wanted to show my subject within the landscape rather than shooting just a formal portrait.The background plate is of St Michaels Mount in Cornwall which I captured on a beautiful spring dawn several years ago.
The shoot was completed in around 30 minutes which I captured images of not only Ryan but his cycling partner dad David too.
Retouching the image was also pretty swift & straight forward taking me about 6 hrs to complete to the the high standards I require.

Ryan


The Unamed Life Image

A new year brings a time to look at your work/life and where you want to be heading.However It was in fact last June while while in Turkey that I decided it was time to start shooting more people/life images.

I’d found myself shooting very little life based images over the last couple of years and capturing the landscape alone was no logger challenging me enough and I was getting creatively a little stale.I also needed to produce a new book (Portfolio) for the coming year so new work was needed.


I started my Professional career shooting lifestyle images of models for Clarks Shoes so shooting people whether models,celebrities or cornish fishermen (that’s another blog post !) have always featured in my body of work somewhere and something I enjoyed and felt very comfortable doing.

So last week I started to make calls to various people in the South West from semi pro cyclists to fossil hunters and introducing myself and my work and simply asking if I may photograph them.So far he response has been very good and images from my recently completed shoots will be posted here shortly.

 

In the meantime here is an image that I have just completed to add to my personal project “Life In A Somerset Landscape” The project features animals in well known Somerset Landscapes and has challenged me both as photographer and retoucher with this particular image taking approx 4 days to complete in post production alone.

 


The Fox was photographed at Secret World Wildlife Rescue near where I grew up in West Huntspill Somerset. The lovely people at Secret World where very helpful and kindly allowed me to get up close and personal with their rescued foxes and I got some great images despite falling up to my knee in a hole full of ditch water !

For the techies the layered photoshop image was a bit of a monster at well over 1 Gb in size and consisted of 30 layers which is not uncommon for some of my images.

The location in the image is Burrow Mump located on the Somerset Levels and the image is as yet unnamed so if you can think of a great title I’d love you to post your idea in the comments below.

 


Ice Fog

This location is a mere 10 min walk from the centre of my village where I live but it’s also one of my most memorable shoots.
The location RAF Merryfield which is an old airfield used by the Royal Airforce and United States Army Airforce during WW2 and now used to train helicopter pilots.
The reason this shoot was so memorable was the weather and light that evening where simply stunning and probably the best I have ever experienced in my 23 + years of shooting.
We where in the middle of a week of very heavy snow and ice and as the sun set in the clear crisp sky I watched as a very eerie bank of icy cold fog slowly rolled across the airfield towards me.I found myself transfixed on this amazing sight as it was illuminated backlit by the wonderful colours in the afterglow of the sunset. I continued shooting until the light was completely gone knowing full well it might be a long time before I experience such a stunning display again.

 


Moonlit Paddle Under Golden Cap

I live fairly close to the coast and often visit with the family to allow the kids to run off some steam especially in winter.
With a rare quiet and dry Saturday we decided to head for Lyme Regis for a couple of hours to get rid of the lethargic Christmas feeling.
I took my camera to take some snaps of the kids not planning on anything too serious but the light changed as dusk approached and I could not help looking at the scenes from the beach with my Photographers hat on despite having no tripod or other gadgets that I might normally call upon.
For this image the sun was setting behind me and the moon in front which is often the time I day I love to shoot “The Edge Of Darkness” as I like to call it.
I happily kept shooting and enjoying the light  in between playing football and supplying my son with some remarkable crosses (yeah still got it !).
The icing on the cake was when I spotted this kayak approaching and the image came together with a little post of course 🙂

 

 


Balearic Dusk

Not many pictures I capture escape through my workflow without entering Photoshop for some (quite often extensive) post production work.I have always manipulated my work even before Digital Imaging became available I would spend a week at a time in the darkroom manipulating cibachrome prints.
Having said all that I never retouch an image for the sake of it but I do see it as a natural extension to my photographic vision same as was years ago in the darkroom.
The image shown here is one (of several) I captured from a recent trip to Menorca Spain which had very little retouching applied to it.
On this particular image all that was required was to adjust tone and a few tricks to bring out some of the wonderful but hidden colours that where evident in the rocks.


Prepared For The Battle

As I have mentioned before on this blog Im passionate about football (see my Passion & Desire Post) and although I still occasionally play a little (or try) most my fix now comes from watching my 8 yr old son or my local team Yeovil Town play.
My son trains once a week at the Yeovil Town Community Trust Development Centre and I occasionally help out by providing photography to aid promotion of the great work that the trust does in the community.
Last week I spent a day at the club prior to the teams local derby with Exeter City F.C to document the trusts Match Day Experience.
Most my work is normally slow paced and highly planned which was the opposite of this day’s work but none the less enjoyable as it combined my two passions of photography and football.
The match ended as a 2-2 draw with a good crowd providing a great atmosphere.

Prepared For Battle, Yeovil Home Town Changing Room

No 2 Ayling