Artist’s Open House Exhibition 2021

Artist's Open House Exhibition

Artist’s Open House Exhibition 2021

 

Colleen will be showing her work at ʻIlana Richardson and Guestsʼ which is venue 8 on the West Hove Trail.

66 Langdale Gardens, Hove, BN3 4HH
Tel: 01273 726 464
email art@ilana-richardson.com

Link to house: https://aoh.org.uk/house/summer2021/ilana-richardson-guests-6/

Open 29, 30, 31 May & 5, 6, 12, 13, 19, 20 June – 11am to 5pm

Free Parking

Colleen Slater Photography
Ilana Richardson Paintings and prints
Shirley Trevena Painting, prints and books
Nick Orsborn Cicada jewellery
Terry Guile Jewellery
Shefton Kaplan Domestic pottery

West Hove Arts Trail

Marvellous Muck Diving

What is muck diving?

Diving in muck? Well yes but no, not exactly. The term “muck” diving actually takes its name from the sediment that lies on the bottom of many dive sites. 

The term was first used back in the 1980’s after a group of divers, so the story goes, jumped off a boat into a shallow inlet area that hadn’t been dived before. By chance, in the less than ideal environment of silty, murky water, they discovered an exciting world of bizarre and fascinating creatures. 

muck diving

Horned Cowfish.

Horned Cowfish

Horned Cowfish.

Muck diving describes sites that are not attractive to the eye, have minimal coral cover and are made up of sand, rubble and coral patches. The truest muck sites also tend to be those which feature a lot of rotting tree trunks and other vegetation as well as man made rubbish, much of which has been adapted by the creatures into shelters. In these less than ideal conditions there exist some of the world’s most extraordinary, incredible creatures many of which are unknown to science.

muck diving

A Coconut octopus at home in an old tin can.

muck diving

This octopus has found a bottle to hang out in.

muck diving

A Paddle-flap Rhinoperus.

Countries such as Indonesia and Papua New Guinea are particularly good for muck diving. Why should this be so and why is this unlikely environment home to such creatures? The black sand of volcanic lava and ash found here is a mineral-rich source of reef regeneration. It also provides extreme and testing conditions that force animals to adapt or die, hence the proliferation of unusual and endemic creatures.

muck diving

Me photographing the Frogfish shown below.

 Muck diving means getting down low, scouring the floor, your nose inches from the sea-bed but trying not to land on it. In such circumstances visibility, or lack of it, becomes almost irrelevant. 

In this photo, I’m taking shots of two different Hairy Frogfish though perhaps you’re finding it difficult to spot them. The shot below is the one I was taking. The frogfish in front is a pinkish colour and the black one is behind it.

muck diving

Hairy Frogfish.

muck diving

Another Hairy Frogfish

Muck diving is not the same as macro diving. There is a degree of crossover but it is just one of a number of macro dive environments. Frogfish, octopus and seahorses are regularly spotted at good macro sites but in dark, silty conditions you are more likely to see snake eels, Pegasus sea moths, stargazers and flamboyant cuttlefish. 

muck diving

Flambouyant Cuttlefish

The first muck dive I ever did was in a remote part of The Philippines at Sogod Bay, Southern Leyte. The dive site, maximum depth eight metres, was beneath the concrete pier in the small town of Padre Burgos. It was a night dive, which is a surreal experience in itself but the weather conditions made it even more so.

Suddenly, people arrived as if from nowhere in the back of open trucks in full dive kit. Soon, the pier of this quiet little town was swarming with groups of divers. It was raining hard and the water was choppy. In the darkness it seemed counter-intuitive to be getting into the water but once below the surface, I was enthralled. There was a lot of dirt, a lot of litter and a lot of life!

muck diving

This stonefish astonished me by moving across the sea bed looking like an old leather boot until I got up close to it. I’m not used to seeing them move at all!

muck diving

Anemone Decorator crab.

Decorator crabs are fascinating and quite comical creatures that use all sorts of weird and wonderful disguises. Some wear ‘hats’ of jellyfish or sponges, others like this one, bedeck themselves with  anemones.

muck diving

A tiny Decorator crab covered in anemones.

muck diving

Keel Tail Mantis shrimp emerging from a burrow.

Muck diving is exciting and compulsive. Searching for some of the planet’s most bizarre and fascinating creatures, my sense of wonder growing with each amazing new discovery, I’m spurred on to dive over and over again to find more.

Underwater photography is a crazy passion.

Underwater photography. For some, it’s cheese rolling, bungee jumping or lawnmower racing. I get my kicks going beneath the waves to take photos and it’s possibly the craziest thing I’ve ever done…especially at night, which is surreal – and even more exciting.

Underwater photography

Me – Somewhere in the waters of the Surin Islands, Thailand.

Cameras and other electronics don’t like water so this activity is not just personally hazardous. You’re putting expensive electronic equipment in a box then subjecting it to extreme pressure in the ocean. If it goes well, it doesn’t leak, get steamed up, attacked (yes), lost or undergo some other misadventure – you’ve got away with it. Afterwards, it needs all the loving care of a newborn; every last trace of corrosive saltwater and grains of sand must be removed. All parts need drying, batteries recharging , greasing of all O-rings and putting somewhere safe while you go and check the rest of your dive equipment.

underwater photography

Magnificent Anemone – This looked grey until lit by a strobe.

I took these shots with a compact Canon S120 in an Ikelite housing with one Inon strobe. I have a so-called macro lens which in effect is just a screw-on close-up filter. The quality is quite poor so I often remove it underwater. I have nowhere near the choice of controls when using this equipment but make the best of it. The prescription dive mask I use doesn’t have the clarity of my usual specs and I can’t fine tune the focus so the results are hit and miss. 

On my last trip, it took two weeks before I could get the camera to work at all under pressure. It was fine on the surface but not a depth. I won’t go into details but I went through a process of eliminating every possibility until I found an almost invisible 1mm grub screw needed tightening.

underwater photography

Green Turtle, Gili Isles, Indonesia.

The rules for producing interesting, successful images are the same whether above or below the water surface – locate a good subject, take care that the background doesn’t detract from but enhances the subject, use great lighting, compose the scene well etc. etc. 

Finding an interesting subject is probably one of the easier things to accomplish underwater… Everything else is harder!

underwater photography

A Shoal of Unicorn fish.

Diving is a potentially dangerous activity so it’s important to dive within strict safety parameters. This is not just for self-preservation but also that of your dive buddy and others in your dive group who, by the way, won’t wait for you. Going deeper than you’re equipped and trained for, losing your buddy, running out of air and damaging coral or wildlife are no no’s. It’s more likely for any of these things to happen when you’re focused on your subject and oblivious to your surroundings or dive computer.

Peacock Mantis shrimp with eggs. – This voracious predator can smash your housing with one strike. It has a “punch” of over 50 miles per hour (80 km/h) which is the fastest recorded punch of any living animal. The acceleration is similar to that in a .22 calibre handgun and can slice human fingers to the bone.

 

Underwater photography

Well Camouflaged Scorpionfish

Add to that the fact that you’re in a moving body of water, trying to stay completely still is nearly impossible. You could lie on the sand to stabilise yourself but watch out for hidden dangers just beneath the surface such as stingrays, stonefish and other potentially lethal creatures that won’t take kindly to being landing on. Well-camouflaged predators like this scorpionfish are easy to overlook and coral, for all its fragile beauty, cuts like a razor. 

underwater photography

Feather stars on plates of foliate Turbinaria mesenterina coral.

Underwater photography

Anemone

For all the difficulties, it’s exciting and seriously addictive. Only five percent of the oceans have been explored. Being in an alien world, seeing the most extraordinary things that I can’t believe are real, never knowing what I’ll find next, spur me on to find more. There are plenty of things that haven’t been identified yet. Perhaps the main reason for this is that the plant or creature has to be photographed on two different occasions and not have been identified previously. This is difficult to achieve but worldwide, 15-20,000 new species a year do get named and added.

Underwater photography

Giant frogfish inside a sponge.

underwater photography

Anemone fish with corals and sponges.

It can also be breathtakingly beautiful beneath the waves. Drifting at neutral buoyancy through stunning scenery in a state of relaxed calm is a wonderful, joyous experience. It can feel like flying. As a child growing up in the sixties with the moon shot program, I wanted to be an astronaut – lots of children did. This comes closest to the feeling of being in outer space, I think.

 

underwater photography

Radiant sea urchin.

Sea of Concrete – Brighton Marina.

Concrete forms the bare bones of the marina…you can see it everywhere. From the huge banks that form the walls towering over the roads coming down from the coast road, to the car parks, massive outer breakwaters and other buildings. A sea of concrete.

The development of Brighton Marina began in 1971 and has been going on since I came to live in Brighton in 1978. Initially, I lived in Kemptown where I was very aware of the construction taking place beneath the cliffs at Black Rock. Ever since construction finished in 1979, the development has carried on piecemeal.

sea of concrete

 

sea of concrete

 

When starting out on a new project, I try to remove from my mind any pre-conceived ideas I may have about the place. I take time to walk around with expectation and an open mind, soaking up a sense of the environment I’m in. My senses are on high-alert. I’m looking at things intensely…it can be exhausting after a time. I may visit a few times before I take many photos – not until I make a connection with something, until something stirs me emotionally and seems to be significant. 

 

sea of concrete

 

 

sea of concrete

 

Walking around Brighton marina, I became attracted to the concrete surfaces and moved in on them, getting closer and closer.

The drab, grey monolithic slabs of concrete receded and morphed into otherworldy landscapes full of textures, colours, rhythms and subtleties – here and there the suggestion of a figure, of some being, a mythic creature. On this voyage of discovery, through this sea of concrete, I found echoes of the work of painters such as Turner, Rothko, Motherwell and Miro.

 

sea of concrete

 

sea of concrete

 

sea of concrete

 

sea of concrete

Hidden In Plain Sight – A Seafront Shelter Window

bus shelter window

A Seafront shelter window.

Perhaps the way I take photos on the street has something to do with a reluctance to engage with people directly. I usually prefer to observe unseen, taking shots through misty, dirty windows. Or perhaps going unnoticed enables me to concentrate undisturbed, losing my sense of anything around me apart from the subject in front of my camera…on a path to producing something that’s meaningful to me. I’m detached…from almost anything going on around me but totally engaged with whatever I’m seeing in front of my camera.

The seafront shelters along the south east coast of England are a subject that I return to frequently.

bus shelter window

 

bus shelter window

 

bus shelter window

The marks made on the glass surface of the shelter windows add a layer of meaning while forming a barrier between myself and the people in the scene beyond. The graffiti, dirt, dried up drips of various liquids, residue of sticky tape and so on, allude to the presence of others at some time in the past and the people beyond the glass become unwitting players in a visual game where past and present meet and where the viewer flips between the marks and textures close up and the vague shapes of figures beyond. Interpretation of the images is left to the viewer’s imagination. 

bus shelter window

 

bus shelter window

 

bus shelter window

 

bus shelter window

 

bus shelter window

 

bus shelter window

There’s a connection between my close up macro photos of insects etc. and these shots of people going about their everyday lives, albeit obliquely. I’m fascinated and amazed by the ordinary things all around me. Immersing myself in the process of producing an image is a spiritual activity that fulfils a need in me to create. My aim primarily is to make something that pleases me though I’m delighted if others enjoy them too.

Here are links to more of my urban surface images http://www.colleenslaterphotography.co.uk/urban-surfaces-i/and http://www.colleenslaterphotography.co.uk/between-the-piers-macro-project-7-july-2015/

Macro Photography, Iowa

macro photography Iowa

2 Spiney Green shield bugs

Macro photography Iowa.

Although Iowa, like everywhere else, has suffered from a depletion of wildlife species due to habitat loss and pesticides, there is still a lot to see. My brother lives just outside the small town of Fairfield which is surrounded by farming country…mainly corn and soybeans. His house is in an area of undisturbed prairie with a small lake and a pond so is particularly species rich. I was there this August and felt inspired to take macro shots of insects after a break of three years.

I had been expecting to spend some time in Chicago so when deciding which gear to take, I chose a range of lenses for my Canon 5D Mark IV that included a 16-35mm and 24-105mm for architecture/landscape, a fast 50mm for low light and my default 100mm macro. I also took my 580ex flash and a lightweight travel tripod. Unfortunately, I didn’t take my macro twin-flash and white light diffusing umbrella – pretty well essential for outdoor macro photography.

macro photography Iowa

Crab spider

Undeterred, I immersed myself in the meadows and tried to make the best of it. An additional problem was the prevalence of a particularly nasty creature, the chigger, which causes very painful bites which take longer to heal than those of mosquitoes. They either make contact when you brush past them in the grass or land on you from trees above. The temperature was in the 30’s but I had to keep myself covered up and avoided venturing into the long grass…where most of my subjects are to be found!

macro photography Iowa

As I had no diffuser material, I tried to only take shots when the sky was bright but overcast or else, I waited for the sun to go behind a cloud. Once, In desperation, I took my white top off and used that – there was no one around! However, I couldn’t make up for the lack of a flash and had to use high ISO settings resulting in lower quality images. It was harder to get detail in the shadows and achieve the punch you can get with a burst of fill-flash and I couldn’t freeze movement by using flash as the only light source.  

macro photography Iowa

Differential grasshopper

Even with all the difficulties, I had the most amazing time, lost in the natural world where I could distract myself from the appalling news of the Amazon rainforest burning. I became thoroughly absorbed in the view through my lens, fascinated by surprising, unexpected things happening on a miniature scale in front of me.

macro photography Iowa

Differential grasshopper

macro photography Iowa

Exhibition of Photography & Painting

Control Tower Gallery

Come and see my photography exhibition at the Control Tower Gallery, 29 Liberty Square, Kings Hill ME19 4AU. Let me know if you would like to attend the private view.

Open 9-5 Monday to Friday until 18 September. Featuring @colleen.slater @janelcampling @cathyreadart @diccondadey @kate_scott_paintings @stella.tripp #madeleineHarrington

 

 

 

 

Camouflage in the Ocean – Ambush Predators

The Ambush Predators

Frogfish

ambush predators

Painted frogfish – Antennarius pictus, Padre Burgos, The Philippines

This Painted Frogfish has attached itself to the reef and is very hard to see. Frogfish disguise themselves with an array of spots, warts, stripes and other skin anomalies that allow them to impersonate surrounding rocks or plants. Try finding the eye! They keep very still waiting for prey which it attracts with a thin translucent lure. The spots on this one make it look rather like a sponge with holes over its surface and the black colouration indicates it may be a juvenile. It will eventually grow up to 21cm.

Lizardfish

ambush predators

Variegated Lizardfish, Synodus variegatus, Synodontidae- Sogod Bay, Paloan Island, The Philippines

ambush predator

ambush predator

Missile-shaped Lizardfish are voracious predators with razor-sharp interlocking teeth with which to grasp prey. Their pattern and colouration, which they can change to match their surroundings, make them almost invisible. They are lie-in-wait predators, found on the seafloor or on rocks in relatively shallow water. Remaining absolutely still, with pectoral fins splayed out to the side and head tilted upwards, they scan the water. From this position they spot unwary prey and launch lightning fast strikes. They are common but so well disguised, they often go unnoticed.

Scorpionfish

ambush predator

Scorpionfish – Scorpaenidae – Sogod Bay, Paloan Island, The Philippines

ambush predators

Devil Scorpionfish

ambush predator

The Scorpionfish family is a large one with hundreds of species found over a wide area but mainly found in the Indo-Pacific. It includes some of the most venomous fish in the world. They are bottom-dwelling carnivorous ambush predators, inhabiting reef slopes from 1 to 35 metres and feeding on small fish and crustaceans. Like Frogfish, they are perfectly camouflaged and stay motionless, waiting until prey comes within striking distance.  The strike is faster than the human eye can see. Their venom, which is in the mucus that coats their sharp dorsal spines, is only used defensively.

It can reach a maximum length of 36 cm (14 in), live from 5 to 10 years and can vary considerably in colour. Adults are bearded with a number of tassels below the jaw.

Their near perfect camouflage and the venomous spines make them a hazard for snorkellers and divers in shallow water. 

Crocodilefish

ambush predator

Crocodile Flathead, Cymbacephalus beauforti Scorpaenidae

This is a very odd fish that gets it name from its crocodile like appearance though it only grows to about 50cm (20”) in length. It is a member of the Scorpaenidae order which makes it a close relative to the other ambush predators, the Stonefish and Scorpionfish. Crocodilefish are green or grey in colour with blotches that help them look nearly invisible on the ocean floor. These strange creatures are often found on the muddy bottom in the Western Pacific in places like Indonesia, the Philippines and around the Great Barrier Reef. 

Stargazer

ambush predator

Stargazer – Uranoscopidae – Padre Burgos, The Philippines

Stargazers are a family, of perciform fish that have eyes on top of their heads (hence the name). The family includes about 51 species found worldwide in shallow and deep saltwaters. They can make their eyes protrude to give a wider field of vision and their large, upward-facing mouth is fringed to keep sand out. They usually bury themselves in sand, leaping upwards with lightening speed to grasp prey in its large mouth, swallowing them whole. Stargazers are venomous; they have two large venomous spines situated behind their opercules and above their pectoral fins. Lengths range from 18 up to 90 cm, for the Giant Stargazer,  Kathetostoma giganteum.

Accidentally treading on any venomous fish will cause a very painful injury. Treat wounds immediately by washing with cold salt water then soaking in hot water for 30 to 90 minutes. The water should be as hot as can be tolerated to break down the venom. After those steps, visit the doctor for some anti-venom.

Artist’s Open House Exhibition 2019

underwater flower photo

 

Artist’s Open House Exhibition 2019

Colleen will be showing her work at ʻIlana Richardson and Guestsʼ which is venue 4 on the West Hove Trail.

66 Langdale Gardens, Hove, BN3 4HH
Tel: 01273 726 464
email art@ilana-richardson.com

Link to house: https://aoh.org.uk/house/may2019/ilana-richardson-guests-4/

Open every Saturday and Sunday in May from 11 am – 5 pm

Colleen Slater Photography

Ilana Richardson Paintings and prints Photography
Joanna Osborne Ceramic dogs
Annette Street Silver jewellery
Nick Orsborn Cicada jewellery
Orna Scheerson-Pascal Cushions
Shefton Kaplan Domestic pottery

West Hove Art Trail

Tides Exhibition – Preview

Saturday 6 October from 4pm to 6pm on the beach – all welcome.

As part of the Brighton Photo Fringe held during the Photo Biennial, my work will be shown in the Tides group exhibition ‘Port Life.’ As previously, it will be taking place on Brighton Beach itself, opposite the Brighton Centre and close to the British Airways i360.  The postcode nearest to the beach location is BN1 2GR. The exhibition runs from Saturday 29 September for the whole month.

In 2016, we showed images made in the area of Brighton between the piers. For our latest project, the seven of us turned our attention to the coastal strip from ‘Millionaires Row’ along to the Shoreham harbour wall.

SEA OF DREAMS #4

SEA OF DREAMS #4

Prints are available to purchase on request :

www.colleenslaterphotography.co.uk
email: info@colleenslaterphotography.co.uk

Brighton Photo Fringe