Geoff Franklin

Posts tagged “Tunbridge Wells



As promised the second in the series of three. The third is now finished and called serpent – sneak preview bottom right. Inspired by reading Shakespeare in Rome with all its magnificent architecture and sculpture. Again multiple layer masks were created and overlaid and blended. The original size is 16×16 inch.

©Geoff Franklin 2015




Tree Roots Harrison Rocks, Groombridge nr Tunbridge Wells

Tree Roots Harrison Rocks, Groombridge nr Tunbridge Wells

I was looking at a book of photographs by Edward Steichen (1879 – 1973) admiring the work of this master and remembered an evening I had many years ago as a student. Professor Margaret Harker, my photo history tutor and former President of The Royal Photographic Society invited a few of us students to the RPS to look at its print collection.

Prof Harker was in her last years of teaching, but had incredible energy especially when it came to photographic history. So here we were on a damp Central London evening at RPS premises in Mayfair. It had the air of a Gentlemens Club, lots of dark wood and a hushed silence, it was like walking on hallowed ground.  It was one of those events that leaves a lasting memory.

I recall sitting at an old polished dark oak table with fellow photography student Yves Huneault and Professor Harker placing on the table original prints by Steiglitz, Steichen, Fenton, Julia Margaret Cameron absolutely beautiful photographs, original prints made by the photographers themselves. The prof also showed us some immaculate copies of Camera Work magazine. The magazine founded by Alfred Steiglitz was first published in 1903 and featured Steiglitz, Steichen, Clarence White, Coburn, Strand to name a few. The reproduction was of the highest quality photograveurs.

Her enthusiasm for the subject was truly infectious, and, perhaps a combination of the most amazing prints I had ever seen, the location and the Prof I was hooked on these old photographs and a period from when photography was breaking free of the shackles of the science institutions and looking towards fine art.

It was one of those occasions that one looks back on, that I am truly indebted to her generosity in making these wonderful works available to us young students.

Throughout the years I have experimented with various historic processes, making emulsions from raw chemicals following the original formulas. Gum bichromates were a favourite and I produced many over one long hot summer.

So here I am today sitting in my virtual darkroom of a mac and photoshop thinking lets make an image that captures the atmosphere of one of those old photographs.  Last Sunday I had been to Harrison Rocks in Groombridge, just south of Tunbridge Wells. Different rocks to my last post (Eridge Rocks) but still Tunbridge Wells.

New York has it Skyscrapers, Venice its canals, Tunbridge Wells has its rocks. And brilliant sandstone rocks they are.

I had been walking with my daughters, shooting some interesting landscapes when they hijacked my camera and off they went to do their own thing. I was sitting by these roots of a tree that was somehow growing out of the rocks thinking this would be an interesting shot. When my girls returned with the camera they had much to my consternation filled the memory card up. So there is me with this dilemma, a shot I wanted to make or delete an image. I had a quick look at what they had shot and it looked really interesting so I deleted one of my earlier landscapes. I hardly ever delete an image, I keep all my out-takes, even when I was shooting film, I have filing cabinets full of film. One day I will get around to looking at it all! So I deleted just one image and shot the roots.

One of the beauties of digital photography it gives you an amazing tonal range far greater than film and even more than that with processes over 100 years old. So to emulate the prints from that period I converted the digital colour image to black and white using the channel mixer, compressed the tonal range by about 40%and took out areas of highlights and boosted the shadows. This was all done in photoshop using a mixture of layers and channels. I finally dropped in a layer tone and a frame. I will make a print of this and probably use an art rag for the paper.


©Geoff Franklin Jan 2012