Astrid McGechan picks her Shed favourites.

I love being part of the Shed Gallery community! It’s great to see so many talented creatives. And every time I look at other artist’s work, I find something that inspires me.

Spring Rain by Jenifer Bunnett

Spring Rain by Jenifer Bunnett

I love Jenifer Bunnett’s close-up shots. ‘Spring Rain’ is such a beautiful capture of the lavender in the rain – I can literally feel the dampness and smell the lavender scent! It takes a great eye to capture such seemingly small scenes that many people would not notice.

Fistral 2 by Rachael Talibart

Fistral 2 by Rachael Talibart

Rachael Talibart manages to capture the seaside in all its facets so beautifully. I love the simplicity of Fistral 2, a photograph I could easily have on my wall and look at again and again. It is full of movement and drama and the fact it only features so few elements somehow underpins the power of nature for me.

Barn and Barley by Kris Dutson

Barn and Barley by Kris Dutson

Kris Dutson’s Barn and Barley image is stunning. I love the simple composition and also the combination of the warm colour of the barley with the stormy sky. Pure drama. It conveys the feeling of standing in the middle of this field to me.

ZEPHYR, Croatia by Asmita Kapadia

ZEPHYR, Croatia by Asmita Kapadia

Asmita’s landscapes are very atmospheric. I feel drawn to very simple compositions, just featuring one or two elements, like in the Zephyr photograph. I love the pastel colours and the movement, which makes this image one I can well imagine on my wall. I would never tire of looking at it.

Astrid McGechan, Shed Artist of the Week on her Photography.

Having settled in Surrey with my family in 2004, we started exploring the countryside, both in Surrey and further afield.

I now greatly enjoy country-walking and climbing hills and mountains. Those early walks fuelled my desire to preserve what I saw and felt, and making photographs of the land around me gave me great pleasure. By now, making photographs is a way of balancing life for me, it counteracts the hectic and stressful working week and has a very calming effect.

Light and Shadow by Astrid McGechan

Light and Shadow by Astrid McGechan

One of the most memorable moments for me was photographing the Northern Lights in Norway. I was with a group of photographers; it was freezing cold and obviously dark as it was almost midnight in late November 2012. When we started seeing the colours moving in the sky, we were all struck by the beauty of this natural phenomenon. Initially we were all silent, just taking it all in and in the end there were shouts of joy and excitement as nature’s display reached a climax. I’d love to go back and experience it again. It was awesome. I am not sure I managed to capture the whole beauty of it in my photographs, but I love them dearly as they bring back beautiful memories.

Aurora Borealis #5 by Astrid McGechan

Aurora Borealis #5 by Astrid McGechan

I love the work of many photographers and it is difficult to pick one as a favourite. I really like the work of many of my fellow contributors at the ‘Landscapes by Women’ group, such as Beata Moore, Vanda Ralevska and Sue Bishop. I often find images that explore smaller details in our surroundings more interesting than the grand landscapes, perhaps because they are more difficult to see and many of us would simply walk past them. I admire Charlie Waite’s work – his images often appear simple in composition but perhaps that is what makes them so appealing, and the story they tell is easy to grasp and enjoy.

St Michael's Mount by Astrid McGechan

St Michael's Mount by Astrid McGechan

I often think I’d like to use one of the small compact system cameras that have become so popular in recent years. But despite the advantage of less weight and bulk, I haven’t been happy with the one I used for a while, my work didn’t seem to benefit. I love my Canon 5D MkII, it does all I want and need. Using it on a tripod slows me down, and that is necessary for me to be able to immerse myself in the world around me and make photographs that give me pleasure. The only thing I’d like to be invented is a tripod as light as the one I have but with a bit more height. Tripods are either too small, if they are light enough, or too heavy, if they have a good height.

The way I feel about my own work changes all the time. Often, I come back to older work and either discover exciting images that I have overlooked initially, or I dismiss work I found pleasing earlier on. Perceptions change all the time, we develop, and this influences how I view my own work. I am currently exhibiting at the Riverhouse Barn in Walton-on-Thames, which is my third large solo exhibition. When people say that a particular image reminds them of something, or they feel calmer and happier, having looked at my photographs, then I think I have succeeded in sharing with them what I felt at the time of making a photograph. Once, a lady looked around for a long time and then said that she was currently going through some difficult times with her family and that looking at my work made her feel much better. There is no greater pleasure for me than being able to reach people with my work.

I have just published a photographic book about my local borough, the Borough of Elmbridge in Surrey. Having determined the area I wanted to explore, I was not at all sure I would be able to find one hundred photographs I needed for this book, but having spent almost two years crawling into every corner of the borough I discovered places I never knew existed in this urban environment. This project inspired me in a way I will try to remember for the future. We can find beauty to photograph in every corner of the land, it is not necessary to travel to far-flung corners of the world, sometimes it is found right on our doorstep.

Between A Rock and A Hard Place by Astrid McGechan

Between A Rock and A Hard Place by Astrid McGechan

I am most creative when I manage to remove myself from the everyday pressures of life. I find it difficult to see and feel and make photographs on the way to work or similar journeys. I make my best work when I am away from all that, which doesn’t mean going long distances, just having time and space to explore.

Many people have attempted to define what the important elements are in a good photograph, but I think this is futile. I may make an image without depth, or lead-in lines, perhaps intentionally blurred, without any of the commonly accepted “ingredients” of a good photograph, maybe just exploring a colour, or movement. But if it speaks to a viewer and moves them, then it is a successful photo. The criteria change depending on each person’s perspective.

How to pick a favourite photograph? This seems impossible. There are some for every mood. But if I had to choose one for my lounge, it would perhaps be Charlie Waite’s image of hay bales and corresponding clouds, taken somewhere near Stonehenge.

Hay Bales by Charlie Waite

Hay Bales by Charlie Waite

It is such a simple scene but moves me deeply. Mother Nature seemed to comply and send along some clouds to perfectly mirror the shapes of the hay bales. I could look at this image every day and never tire of it.

An ideal creative day for me must start with the great effort to drag myself out of bed for the sunrise and the return from that shoot to a steaming pot of coffee and breakfast! When exploring a location, it often takes me a while to get a feel for it, but once settled and tuned into the place, I could spend hours without noticing how time flies by. I also love having a companion on such outings, another photographer. Bouncing ideas and feelings off one another often adds a different angle to my perspective.

Upcoming exhibition dates and venues featuring Stephen Banks.

What a year it has been, and it’s not even December yet!
Thank you to The Shed, who have chose me as Artist of the Week again last week. Working with them this year has been a lot of fun, especially during the Muse summer show in Lyme Regis. Not sure if Ben or Chelsea found it quite as much fun, with all the busy preparations they had to do beforehand! But I think we can all agree it was a great success, and I certainly look forward to future exhibitions with them.
Milky Way Above Portland Bill by Stephen Banks

Milky Way Above Portland Bill by Stephen Banks

Following on from Muse, I have a couple of exhibitions of my own coming up. The first is at the Cowshed, in Highland’s End Holiday Park, Eype, where there will be Christmas greeting cards, my ‘Dorset’s Dark Skies’ 2015 Calendar and, of course, The Shed prints available to purchase, for that extra special festive gift. That runs until 15th December, including Sunday (23rd November) for Eype Makers’ Market.
Illuminated Knowlton Church by Stephen Banks

Illuminated Knowlton Church by Stephen Banks

In the new year, I have a whole month occupying the walls of The Exchange’s cafe in Sturminster. It’s a substantial space, so be sure to pop in during February. The exhibition runs from 1 – 28 February.
Archway to Heaven by Stephen Banks

Archway to Heaven by Stephen Banks

I will be entering the Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition in 2015, after they put the deadline back in 2014 to April. The vast majority of my astrophotography is taken during the height of summer, when the Milky Way is at its most visible. As I’d already entered my best images from Summer 2013 into the 2013 competition, I didn’t have any images in time for April 2014. So, fingers crossed for further success this coming year. Let’s hope I can once again put Dorset on the stargazers’ map!
Milky Way above West Bay by Stephen Banks

Milky Way above West Bay by Stephen Banks

Thank you to everyone reading who has purchased a print from The Shed; my images and everybody else’s. I’ve been chatting to Ben and Chelsea and they’ve got some interesting things planned for the future. Watch this space!

Anna Duckett on her favourites from her fellow Shed creatives.

The lovely thing about this site is the opportunity to browse through all the other work.  I can spend hour after hour happily looking through and seeing all the different creative methods used.
King penguin close up, Falkland Islands by Philippa Gedge

King penguin close up, Falkland Islands by Philippa Gedge

King penguin close up, Falkland Islands by Philippa Gedge – A beautiful image, the soft colours and abstract shapes makes this a lovely take on the king penguin. I am always drawn to simple composition like this, with space around the area of interest.
Borrowed Light by Rachael Talibart

Borrowed Light by Rachael Talibart

Borrowed Light by Rachael Talibart - I am often jealous of gorgeous landscapes like this.  I struggle with landscapes, close ups and details are more my thing yet I just love landscape photography, especially this one with the muted tones, grey skys and brown hue in the water. The texture in the rock makes the image pop and it is lovely to see a dull day used to full advantage, proving that a good image can be found no matter what the weather.
Ajar by Tony Antoniou

Ajar by Tony Antoniou

Ajar by Tony Antoniou – How beautiful is this picture! It’s an image you can stare at and get lost in.  The contrast in the dark and light areas (always a big fav for me) are wonderful and really draw your eye into the picture.  It is such a story telling piece and leaves your imagination free to wonder.
Mooo by Kris Dutson

Mooo by Kris Dutson

Mooo by Kris Dutson – Cows can often have funny facial expressions and this picture captures that beautifully. A lovely black and white image with great contrast where the grain really adds to the textures.  It is the textures that drew me to this image, the way Kris has brought out all the details in the grass and the fur of the coats really grabs your attention.  The addition of the dark and moody sky really adds impact and atmosphere.
Untitled by Andrew Bannister

Untitled by Andrew Bannister

Untitled by Andrew Bannister - Beautiful sunset tones of a seascape.  There are the rocks and mist at the bottom of the image that draw your eye up towards the warm colours and the lovely silhouette shapes of the boats.  The highlight over the water gives the image a dream like quality and it is a really relaxing piece to look at.

Artist of the Week, Anne Duckett.

What first drew you to photography?
I took an interest in photography from an early age. My dad was into photography and would often be buying new cameras and I was lucky to get his old ones. I was very excited when I had my first manual SLR camera when I was about 10 years old, it was an old Vivitar and the film had a tendency to come off the spools and I would spend many an hour in the darkness of the cupboard under the stairs trying to fix it without loosing images I had already taken. I also had an old light meter which I loved using and thus the obsession was born.  I still own both the camera and the light meter.
Beyond by Anna Duckett

Beyond by Anna Duckett

 

What is your favourite photographic memory, and why?

My favourite memory is photographing the British Airways Recovery Kit. I had never done a photo shoot of this size before. I had two 747′s and a team of men with fork lifts to move all of the pieces into place. The guys were brilliant and it didn’t matter how many times or slight adjustments I wanted they would happily move things. While I was doing the shoot I had to stop for a few minutes and take it all in as I knew not many people got to see this equipment let alone photograph it and how often does anyone have two British Airways 747′s at their disposal. Some of the images can be seen on the BA MRO website.
Simple by Anna Duckett

Simple by Anna Duckett

 

Who is your favourite photographer, and why?

I don’t have a favourite photographer, but there are some key ones I admire. Joe Cornish is one, I adore his landscapes and his use of colour and perspective. Another one is Terry O’Neill, I get drawn into his portraits as they have so much of the sitters character. My favourite picture of his is Dean Martin in Las Vegas, I love the reflection and the lighting.

What would be your ideal camera, and where would you take it?

Not so much my ideal camera but something I would live to do one day is photograph a Wedding with my iPhone and the hipstamatic app. I am addicted to this app and for me it is the best thing to come out of cameras on phones. It takes me back to the old film days where you have the excitement of waiting for the picture to develop.
Budding dream by Anna Duckett

Budding dream by Anna Duckett

 

Tell us what you enjoy most about your own work, and what has inspired you recently.

I love experimenting with colour in my work and looking for different angles. Autumn always inspires me because of the colours and textures that are around. Also I gave birth to my little girl 6 months ago and she inspires me a lot, she has become my little muse.

Do you have bursts of creativity – and when/where are you most creative?

I do have bursts of creativity and its great to ride the wave. I am most creative when I get bored, I start looking a things differently and experimenting.

What are the most important elements of a successful photo?

Lighting and composition, these make or break a photo.
 

Tell us about your favourite photograph, either your own or someone else’s, and please send us a copy/link from their website if you have can!

My favourite picture… at least one of them is Footprints by Robert Friel

Footprintz by Robert Friel

Footprintz by Robert Friel

 It is such a simple photo but conveys so much personality and emotion, it is such a moment in time photo.
How do you spend a creative day?
My creative days are spent experimenting, mostly looking around at things and very often getting myself into interesting positions.