Hello. I’m David Baker, 50, and I live in Southampton, Hampshire. I’ve worked for a government agency for the past 30 years latterly in a legal/policy environment and I view my photography as an effective antidote to my office life.
At 15 I wanted to be an architect. My dad had introduced me to an architect client and despite the then (1978) 33% unemployment in the industry, I was keen on pursuing architecture as a career. Despite good grades, events didn’t entirely pan out as planned, and after dithering about a course at Salisbury Art College and flirting with a technical drawing apprenticeship, I joined the civil service. It’s fair to say that there’s been little creativity work-wise since. I’ve always had a great love of art (especially sculpture) so I guess the creative ‘urge’ has always been there albeit mostly dormant.
I’m now at the stage in my life where I’m able to consider reducing my office hours to provide more time resource towards photographic projects.
Introduction to photography
I started using a small compact digital camera in about 2003/04 documenting visits to stone circles, dolmens and standing stones. It’s rather fantastic to make a connection between us and those that constructed these artefacts. A friend subsequently talked about his new digital SLR and suggested that I also buy one. This occurred at the same time when it was confirmed that I had no musical ability whatsoever. A friend in Cornwall is a marvellous guitar player and after a visit, I thought I’d be Paul Weller within a month or two. Sadly not. So, in January 2005, trying to engage a creative aspect of myself, I also bought a digital SLR.
From a technical aspect, almost immediately I wondered what I had let myself in for. I started reading magazines, books (fortunately Southampton has an excellent library) and looking at other images in various exhibitions and photoblogs. In the spring of 2005, I started posting images on a web forum and as a consequence I started a photoblog in late 2005: milouvision.com
Why photography? It was accessible and there was an immense amount of support and inspiration from the photoblog community.
My photographic passions are sand, sea, stone and the forest. Just after I started using a SLR, I saw a photograph of a Hampshire beach at sunset and the sea looked fantastic drawn over the shingle beach. The wave trails looked ethereal and a week or so later I attempted the same and that was that, I was caught and I’ve been a seascaper ever since. It’s a fair comment that the majority of my work is a variation on this theme and hopefully will continue to be so.
However, during the past year my efforts have concentrated on the New Forest in particular a project now called Ridge Trees. In essence this is governed by two ‘triangles’ – one relates to three geographical points of the Forest, and all images have been made within this boundary, and the second is really concerned with light and time with the three points being dawn (or on the cusp thereof), mist and late autumn/winter. The Forest is an extremely popular place for visitors throughout the year and especially so during daylight hours. I really want to show how the Forest looks within the artistic parameters that have been chosen, and hopefully provide motivation for other photographers to engage with the Forest in their own personal way.
Typical photographic day
Assuming that it’s part of the Ridge Trees project, the day will start the evening beforehand by checking the forecasts. If mist is anticipated, then generally I will be in the Forest and on location 30 minutes before the forecasted sunrise due mainly to the twilight gathering for about 20 minutes before actual daybreak. The length of time taking images will then be entirely dependent on the mist, and the cusp of dawn parameter of the project can be ‘stretched’ if the light is especially appealing.
After the Forest shots I might travel a few miles further to the coast especially so if mist or fog is prevalent. The actual shooting time can be comparatively short. There are often abortive shoots where mist has been chased in the Forest but either without success or the resultant images have not worked within the project’s frame. Even if that occurs, some quiet contemplative time would have passed in the Forest or at the shore, and that is always time well spent.
This is really from a landscape perspective. Getting to know ‘your’ part of the landscape is invaluable in terms of assessing and recording the changeable nature of light, the tides (if coastal) and the way the land evolves and changes. See it in the wonderful dawn light – it’s worth the sometimes exceptionally early start. Other than that, chase ‘bad’ weather so that you can shoot in the changeover from ‘bad’ to ‘good’. As an example, I followed a rain storm from Southampton to my local patch of coast at Milford on Sea. The rain had cleared the air of dust so I shot in good light with all the drama ahead sweeping across the Solent providing rain clouds lit from underneath by a setting sun.
The principal source of my photographic income is derived from the supply of images for the book cover market via the photographic agencies Trevillion and Trigger Image. It’s often a challenge to pre-visualise such images, and usually those that are suitable are, in essence, by-products of photographic projects. However it is to this aspect that I would like to devote more time.