Discussing a Fay Godwin photograph

Discussion in 'Discussing a ****** Photograph' started by Bill Mitchell, Oct 27, 2006.

  1. Bill Mitchell

    Bill Mitchell Member

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    This thread has been dead for a while now, and since it's for my education and I don't know anything about her work, I'll even let YOU pick the image you discuss. Thanks.
     
  2. Gay Larson

    Gay Larson Member

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  3. catem

    catem Member

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    There are so many I like. This is a very well known one, and justifiably.
    http://www.djclark.com/godwin/landmarks/im06/index.html

    What I like most about her landscapes is the way she captures the 'spirit' of the land, and the sense of it's ancient history. I like her other documentary and portrait work too - simple and effective. Lots of work available on the website.
    Cate
     
  4. Jim Chinn

    Jim Chinn Member

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    I first became aware of her work after seeing a portfolio presented in Lenswork a couple of years ago. I then found her book, The Edge of the Land at a used bookstore and became a fan.

    http://www.djclark.com/godwin/landmarks/im05/index.html

    She had a great interest in showing the interface between man and nature, especially the encroachment of developers on rural lands. In that regard a protion of her later work is similar to Robert Adams. The difference between the two is Adams hits you over the head with mans impact on nature, where as Godwin emphasizes the beauty that will soon be gone, only showing a hint of what is to come.
     
  5. Bill Mitchell

    Bill Mitchell Member

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    Interesting way to put it, Jim.
     
  6. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Jim & Cate have shown some insite into Fay's work.

    Like many British landscape photographers influences are drawn from photographers like Caponigro, Minor White, John Blake more etc. Many influential photographers began gaving workshops at the Photographers Place, run by Paul Hill in Derbyshire.

    Fay Godwin attended one such workshop herself retrning later to run workshops there (and elsewhere) herself.

    Somewhere around 1990 I had the privelige to attend one of her workshops, and spent 5 days and she was a fascinating person

    Ian
     
  7. Tony Egan

    Tony Egan Subscriber

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    I've seen a two exhibitions of original prints and this is one that really grabbed me in the flesh so to speak. Doesn't look like much on the monitor bu the print jumped off the wall. The long line of sheep all staring intently at the camera was both humourous and captivating.
    http://www.djclark.com/godwin/gal1.htm

    Half your luck Ian!
     
  8. Bill Mitchell

    Bill Mitchell Member

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    Ian, would you care to comment on her working habits? The formats in these pictures vary from 2:3 to square, so I presume that she used 35mm and Rollei or Hassel. Did she work from a tripod or always hand-held? Did she do her own printing, or have assistants or professional printers? Etc? Thanks.
     
  9. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    On the basis of 5 days' acquaintance with FG, as I recall she used 35 mm at first, progressing to 6x6, mainly Hasselblad I think. She used ISO 400 film to avoid the need for a tripod, even so, being extremely slight in build, she suffered considerable physical wear and tear from hiking with cameras. At the time I met her (1995), she was printing herself, obviously extra-large exhibition prints would have been entrusted to a lab, as far as I know she did not employ a regular assistant.

    As others have remarked, FG's outstanding quality was the way she seemed to be in tune with the British landscape. Her work did not appear to have made her rich, at the drop of a hat she would recite a catalog of woes describing how her work had been mishandled by various galleries and agents. I was surprised and gently tried to suggest she should find a better agent who could maximise the income from her considerable archive (which she did in at least one memorable instance, when file shots of sheep were used in an ad campaign by the Wool Marketing Board, if memory serves me correctly).

    By 1998 her knees would no longer allow her to undertake lengthy walks, she turned to abstract color work, eventually published in "Glassworks and Secret Lives" - she was not able to get a publishing deal on this, had to self-publish and mail out every copy herself!
     
  10. SeamusARyan

    SeamusARyan Member

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    Bill, I too was fortunate enough to spend a week with Fay at a workshop at Duckspool, whatever became of those by the way anyone, as far as I can recall she pretty much used whatever got the job done.

    Her latter colour work of closeups of vegetation were hand held 35mm, I'm pretty sure.

    For many years Peter Cattrell was her B&W printer. He is a landscape photographer here in the UK, he is a contemporary of Micheal Kenna's, he teaches at the LCP among other gigs and has done a lot of work on the first world war battle fields particularly in france.

    Mind you if you got off on the wrong foot with her you could be in for a rocky workshop as one guy found out, but that's a nother story

    her work is fab, both B&W and Colour

    enjoy

    Seamus
    www.seamusryan.com
     
  11. catem

    catem Member

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    I learnt Fine Printing from Peter when he was teaching at St Martins' - sadly those courses don't seem to be offered any more. Yes, he was Fay Godwin's printer for eight years, I believe.... I believe she did a lot of her own printing, but he did her exhibition prints, some if not all. By the time I knew him he had given up, which was in late nineties.

    Cate
     
  12. Bill Mitchell

    Bill Mitchell Member

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    If I was to buy a single volume of her work (sign unseen), should it be "landscapes?" (This is still available new in hardback from Amazon, USA.)
     
  13. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Good questions Bill.

    I can't remember the exact camera she used now, but it was certainly medium format. I think it was a Bronica, but definately not a Hasselblad or Rollei. As she composed in camera any 2:3 format images would have been shot on a 6x9.

    She certainly paid lip service to the zone system and used a tripod, she would also have used the mirror lock on the camera. As her health became frail, she had a heart problem she began shooting hand hled 35mm colour work.

    A couple of years before I first met Fay Godwin I went on a workshop with Peter Cattrel, a Scottish photographer and at the time he was printing for her. I think he printed all the images in her book "Land". Peter was an extremely good printer.

    It's probably fair to say that her ealy landscape prints were printed quite harshly, and there was a sudden point where her images and prints became far more tonal and fluid. This is probably after she attended a workshop herself, at paul Hill's "Photographers Place".

    This change can be seen in images featureded in an early issue of 10x8 magazine, which were reprinted later for Land. I remember her saying one of her early well known images was particularly difficult to print.

    Hope that helps. 3 or 4 years ago I nearly choose to write a dissertation on Fay Godwin while on an MA course, but decided on John Davies instead :smile:

    Ian

     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 31, 2006
  14. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    An interesting side question! In my view, a classic case of someone beating his own business to death with a shovel!
     
  15. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Peter moved on in his own practice, away from analog and into digital, which is his own choice. I guess we have to respect that.

    Ian

     
  16. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    There are those who are of the opinion that customer satisfaction levels (leading to repeat business and word-of-mouth recomendations) were way below the mark needed for the long-term viability of his business!
     
  17. Alex Hawley

    Alex Hawley Member

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    I did not know of Fay Godwin before this thread. From the work I've seen through the links provided, its most pleasant. Bill, thanks for bringing her to attention.
     
  18. catem

    catem Member

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    Just to clarify re. Duckspool, for those who may read this and confuse it, those comments are not related to Peter Cattrell but another 'Peter'.
    Cate
     
  19. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Thanks Cate.

    I went on a Peter Goldfield workshop at Duckspooll not long after Peter founded the centre and Peter Cattrell was assisting with the workshop, (they both taught at St Martins at the time).

    At the end of an interesting 4 or 5 days Peter Cattrell said "I'm sorry I think you didn't get much out of this workshop" I already had 20+ years professional experience at the time. But I surprised him by saying that actually I had probably come away with far more knowledge than anyone else that long weekend.

    I told Peter (Cattrell) why: It had clarified my approach to my personal work, his own fine art printing sessions had broadened my horizons, and most importantly it had begun to help me critique my own work.

    Subsequently I went on to do 2 more workshops at Duckspool, with Paul Hill and then John Blakemore. Both were excellent. But essentially just confirmed that I'd already embarked in the right direction.

    In making comparisons Paul Hill's Photographers Place had such a good name internationally that he was able to actually choose (from those that applied) who went on his workshops, you had to submit work first, and the workshops were over subscribed and sold out very early.

    It's quite a while since I went to Duckspool, so I can't really comment on its later workshops. However I went on 3 and a couple of friends 2 each and we all came home thoroughy satisfied.

    Ian

     
  20. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Alex

    You should look for a book she published with the poet Ted Hughes "Remains of Elmet" it was republished not long before Fay's death. Also "Land" which I think went out of print. Her early landscape work was by far her strongest.

    Ian

     
  21. Andrew Moxom

    Andrew Moxom Member

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    I am new to this forum but also attended one of Fay's Duckspool workshops back in 1992. Equipment Fay used was a Minolta CLE (Leica lenses) for her 35mm work. Medium format was a Hasselblad with 80mm or 50mm lenses. 6 x 9 format was a Linhoff Baby Technika.

    Her technique for film exposure, and development was really very basic. Expose for shadows and develop for the highlights. Fay used a Pentax digital spotmeter and used a very basic zone analysis. Her favorite film and dev combination used most often was Agfa APX100 developed in Tetenal Ultrafin at 1:30 dilution with agitation every 30 seconds. All Agfa film got a pre-soak and that pre-soak solution was poured into a container that had the correct volume of developer concentrate to bring the soup up to correct overall volume for her tank. Temp was rechecked, and the mixed soup was returned into the dev tank. The tank was constantly agititated for the first minute, then a couple of inversions every 30 seconds. 12 mins total. The resulting negs were wonderfully detailed, and very printable.

    This combination was all I used afterwards as it was so repeatable, and worked more consistently than I was able to produce with other film and dev combinations I had tried.

    Other film used was TriX (not sure on the dev used) Printing was usually done on Agfa Record Rapid graded paper with a DeVere 504 bench top enlarger, and a Cold Cathode head. She also experimented with Ilford Multigrade in some instances. At Duckspool, we learnt about how she used paper pre-flashing techniques to bring down overall contrast. This class was a great inspiration to me and something I will remember. Not sure if Peter Goldfield is still holding classes anymore. He has sold all of his darkroom equipment and gone 100% digital.