Sunday 24 March 2024

Southampton Squared

King Edward VI School

I'm working on a book (yes, another one) that will pull together some of the better photographs I have made here in Southampton. I'm hoping it will also serve as an attractive – nay, compelling! – portfolio / exhibition proposal, as I am feeling the need to show some work locally, something I haven't done for a very long time. Actually, TBH I'd be glad to get work on a wall anywhere at the moment: it's been a long time since I showed more than a print or two anywhere. As I always say, I'm so glad I didn't try to make a living like this, and would strongly advise anyone not hell-bent on living the hand-to-mouth bohemian lifestyle against it: get a proper job, dreamer. Or marry someone who does have a proper job, and treasures your head-in-the-clouds take on life...

In the spirit of "show, don't tell", here are a few of them (there will be about eighty in the finished book). To impose a certain uniformity I decided early on to crop everything square. It's also an opportunity to tighten all the compositions by a couple of notches, which never does any harm, in my view.

City Cruise Terminal

Crosshouse Road

Calshot Beach

Ocean Dock

Western Docks from Shirley

Mountbatten Retail Park

Abandoned sofa on Burgess Road

Holyrood Church ruins

Electricity sub-station, city centre

We will shortly be heading off for our traditional Easter break in mid-Wales, so posts here will be paused for a week or so. Here's something, though, that any fellow walkers in possession of an iPhone may find of interest. Someone mentioned the other day that the "Health" app pre-installed as standard on iPhones (it's the white one with a little red heart on it) works as a pedometer if you carry it with you (well, obviously... It's not magic). But, here's the thing: it has quietly been monitoring and quantifying your footsteps ever since you bought the phone... No, really, it's true!

You may find this an alarming intrusion into your privacy, but I was fascinated, not least because I had no real idea of how far I would have to walk to manage the infamous "10,000 steps", or how many steps I was racking up on average on a routine basis. By taking a slightly roundabout "scenic route" from home to the University Post Office and back on Friday – about 4.5 miles – I did just over 10K steps according to the app, which, when I compare the phone's figure with a rule-of-thumb metric based on my height (about 2,300 steps per mile), seems pretty consistent and is therefore probably reliable, even if only in a "close enough for jazz" kind of way. It will be interesting, I think, to see how some very 3-D Welsh hill-walks will compare, step-wise, with the 2-D distances measured on the map.


Kent Wiley said...

Nice set, Mike. I see you’ve got couch abandonment issues too. I thought it was only our local rednecks who did that. I may even have already started a series of photos of said couches.

Mike C. said...

Thanks, Kent.

As our European neighbours would probably tell you, Britain is the equivalent of that house with the overgrown front garden containing an old fridge, a sofa, and a rusting car up on bricks, and is the ultimate source of redneckery. Your guys have just improved on the original idea... ;)


Huw said...

Mike, it’s interesting that you’ve taken the decision to crop everything square. I have a rough rule that I either shoot in 3:2 (on the ‘big’ camera) or 1:1 (on the iPhone) and rarely mix the two, and even more rarely crop from the original format. Did you discard some photos because they weren’t suitable for square? (I have terrible (foolish) indecision about which lens to take - zoom or prime - which of course no-one knows about or cares, so am interested in such things).

Have a good break.


Mike C. said...


I used to crop square a lot more, probably as a legacy of the days when a Mamiya C330 was my "main" camera. After I'd learned to process and print film myself in the 1980s I did go through a phase of thinking cropping was in some way dishonest, but quickly realised how silly that was. I like getting a second crack at getting it right!

I don't really know why, but I just felt like doing it for this project, which pulls together decades of digital photos in various formats. But, yes, that did require discarding some absolute bangers because the crop ruined the composition (not least those that had already been cropped into a wide, narrow faux-panoramic format...). In the unlikely event I do get a show somewhere, I'll quietly reintroduce some of those in their original shape, as well as some of the "squared" shots, but for the book I like the uniformity of presentation.


Huw said...

Yes, whenever I’ve put together Blurb books I’ve always struggled with portrait v. Iandscape v. square, knowing that consistency is probably aesthetically ‘best’ but never having the rigour to go there.


Stephen said...

Good pics Mike, and I commend your decision to crop them to a square aspect ratio (My personal favourite).

Enjoy your break.