Chris Sutcliff

Artist Man I am


6th Jan 2021

Pendle in the snow

I am not an early riser, in point of fact, given the opportunity I would probably not be a riser full stop. Alas, though, our pastimes get the better of us and force us from our womblike beds out into the bright, deadly world to produce work. Sometimes even art.

The day was bitterly cold and the first flushes of light were mixing with the inky sky to herald in the morning. Snow had kissed the high ground, so I had abandoned my original plan of a drive to Pendle Hill on the assumption that the roads would be impassable, clogged arteries, certain death. I headed to the opposite end of our mill town valley to Hurstwood; a spot that I had yielded some success from just a week prior. Maybe today was the day. Maybe the frostbite on my face and the shuddering of my shoulders was sacrificial offering enough to the mysterious forces that lord over such concerns. It wasn’t though.

The sky turned a vivid pink too soon, and it was immediately clear that at the height of the sunrise show I would be considerably far away from the stadium. From my miserable outfield vantage point I could see that the sky above Pendle Hill, so many miles and one poor decision hence, was enjoying the sort of lightshow that all photographers dream of, and I yelled curse words into the wind so that it heard the wailings of my Judas’d heart.

I arrived at my chosen site and stared in dull frustration at the total non-event that was my subject. I really shouldn’t be allowed to make decisions, but I made another one anyway and headed straight back down the hill to the car.

It may have been too late, I may have missed the carnival in the clouds, but I drove straight back to Pendle Hill along annoyingly clear roads to the site I was originally supposed to be at and got the God damned shot. It may not have been the award winning capture I had dreamed of, but for an early start I had at the very least put the day out of its misery. I will not be waking up early again.

by Chris
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26th Nov 2017

The Lake District

The Lakes is my favourite spot in England, it’s outstanding beauty perfectly balanced with the amount of pubs it throws at you. I quickly realised that I could take a million photos of majestic mountains and waterside pontoons and bore everyone to death, so here are just a couple of the good ones that don’t repeat a theme. I still don’t have good editing software. You’ll just have to imagine they are better.

This was on the veranda of our hotel. I pulled the axe and the log out into frame and far enough away from the wood pile to get the background to blur, then laid down prostrate on the floor to take the shot. A Scottish guy and his dog came through the door at the wrong moment, it looked like I was trying not to fall off the planet. He asked me what kind of photography this was, and I did not really have an answer for him, so I just said my legs were tired. A day later we got drunk with him and his wife, because people are ace and so is Gin.

This is a really popular spot a short walk from Keswick lakeshore theatre. It is so popular that there was a long procession of people and dogs lining up to get here, so we had to wait and wait for everyone to get the fuck out of the way for the 1/250th of a second needed to take this shot and make it look peaceful and secluded. It was not peaceful and secluded.

There are more waterfalls in the Lakes than you have had hot dinners, this one is just outside of Ambleside town centre. There had been several attempts at getting long exposure shots to work all weekend, this one was by far the most successful. We stayed here too long and annoyed people. Photographers are awful scum.

All these shots represent attempts to improve composition or get more interesting technical results. I feel like I’m getting a better idea at what will or won’t be too terrible, and making better decisions at how to capture them. Onwards and sideways, you know how it goes.

by Chris
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14th Nov 2017

Camera Practice 5 – Portrait

Amy agreed to be my model without knowing that I had never directed a model before. It turns out that is quite a difficult skill to just wing on the day, so I didn’t know where she should look or how she should look or how long anything was going to take. She stared into the sun too long because of a certain shot I wanted to get and was reduced to tears. She might not be my model again.

I think this will be my last camera practice post. I’m sort of getting the hang of it all now, and not just because I figured out how to make backgrounds go blurry. My current issue is editing. Apple recently did an iOS update that made photos take up less space on your phone, unfortunately this also meant that they did not format properly on my site. As I can no longer upload photos here from my phone, I cannot use Apple’s pretty good editing software to get the images looking good, nor can they be sent here from my Instagram account. It’s a bit of a pain in the arse. As an interim remedy, I am uploading the pics from my laptop, but it is not an amazing piece of kit and the editing software in the photo folder is basic, to say the least. I have a friend who believes he can get me a decent package that has been ‘borrowed’ from the internet, so it should be all good again soon.

With that in mind, my next photo uploads to this site should be honest to goodness attempts at actual photos that actually look good, otherwise you’re doomed to endless posts of me pratting about making rookie mistakes that both offend and embarrass all my readers. If you’re even still here.

by Chris
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14th Nov 2017

Camera Practice 4 – Holiday Snaps

Don’t you just hate it when people show you their holiday photos? What a grotesque, obnoxious and self aggrandising display, a total lack of respect for anyone else’s time and energy. We don’t give a shit about YOUR holiday, that’s why YOU went on it and we fucking didn’t. Anyway, here are mine.

At the end of each day, just as the sun starts to set and the rough seas of the afternoon are calming in readiness for the evening, the women of the village come to the sea to fish for octopus. They use hand lines that they throw out into the bay and then reel straight back in, over and over again, pacing up and down the seafront to cover the greatest allowable area. I followed this lady to the point of looking weird and creepy, taking shot after shot while I adjusted the shutter speed like the hapless novice I am. Eventually I got this image of her silhouetted against the sunset in mid-cast and was super impressed with myself. I ran over and showed her immediately, she seemed utterly perplexed that this was a thing worth getting excited about, which I suppose would happen if you did it every day. I then ran up to her friend and asked if I could take a picture of her too. She gave me a look that suggested I should just piss off instead. Not everyone likes a giddy hippy camera twat getting all up in their face. No sir, they don’t.

by Chris
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28th Sep 2017

Camera Practice 3 – Derelicts.

Burnley has been undergoing a fairly rigorous regeneration period of late, owing to many things but most notably the success of the football club and the opening of a rail link to Manchester, making it a proper satellite town that people can finally find on a map, or at least want to. Where there used to be derelict properties like this on almost every street, now they are being repurposed and recycled as flats, coffee bars and trendy offices for start up businesses. Whilst I obviously welcome this new lease of life, I’ve always had a fondness for buildings in this state; broken, empty and etched with the ravages of time and neglect. They are much more interesting, characterful and real than whatever they ultimately get turned into. I will miss them when they are all gone.

It is still exciting taking pictures of them though. It’s amazing how shifty and threatening people seem to be when you’re in a run down part of town with a camera. Especially when that town is Burnley. The facades have all been polished, sure, but in the cracks and the shadows the residents remain unchanged. I’ve learned to take pictures quite quickly, and then bugger off.

by Chris
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24th Sep 2017

Camera practice 2 – Barriers.

There is a security fence around my block of flats, more specifically it encircles some waste ground opposite my flat where another building was going to be until their money ran out. There is nothing there but scrubland, and traces of concrete foundations and waste water pipes. I couldn’t tell you what the razor wire is protecting, or whom it is protecting against. I don’t know if the additional security deters thieves from accessing my estate, or if it makes us look more attractive to them.

Whatever it is for, it is secure.

The Leeds to Liverpool canal also wraps around half my estate, snaking south out of the town and then heading west towards Blackburn, which always makes me feel sorry for it. It is very much like a moat. My second line of defence. Another barrier. The photo is the reflection of the motorway overpass on the canal surface. I nearly fell in whilst taking it.

Keep smiling.

by Chris
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18th Sep 2017

Camera Practice 1

My first decent practice attempts with my new camera, starring some people I don’t know in a pub, my mates beard, and a road I like to stand in the middle of so that cars don’t have to try too hard to hit me.

They were shot from the hip, and are part of my continued efforts to not rely on the auto settings of the camera, I’m trying to do it all properly like. I did take some colour shots, but they looked like they could have been done with any old camera, so black and white is my preference by a country mile. And speaking of country miles, I didn’t really get anything interesting from the landscape shots, so it would seem I also prefer people and interiors. By which I mean the pub. I prefer the pub.

Uploaded straight from my iPhone as a jpeg, because I don’t have photoshop. So the quality will just have to be whatever.


by Chris
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