A4 development notes

This post will be updated as I work through A4. It is based on exercise 4.3 for which I photographed a red telephone box in Calne.

I used an OS map to identify phone boxes and then did daylight recces to check that the box was still there and the light working. Actual shots were fitted in with normal commitments where possible or otherwise I would just pop out at night with my tripod and remote release. I kept notes as I went and uploaded photographs to lightroom as I went.

Here’s a cut and paste from my box log on Evernote.

15/2 Bigbury bay, overgrown. mobile & camera
17/2 Calne precinct, double boxes, one unlit, mobile & camera. Panned shot. There is another box just off the main road, on the right, by the pub.
17/2 Facebook post
18/2 Avebury Trusloe, at the end of a drive, phone, lit
18/2 Avebury – by the Henge Shop, phone, lit, machine behind
18/2 Rushall (parking at village hall), information booth, not checked
18/2 – garage at the roundabout on the way to Pewsey, not checked Turning off the side road.
18/2 – on right as you go into Pewsey, information booth, lit, no obstructions.
18/2 -note from Holly – Wroughton, opposite pub, phone box also food bank
18/2 Lacock – past post office – phone booth but out of order, broken receiver. Ironic given conservation status of village.
19/2 Layby on the road from Chippenham near the garage, just before the turning to Bowood/Rowde Lit vandalised but well located.
21/2 Marlborough bottom end of High Street, different light but good condition and not too obstructed. By PO has no light. On A4 has no light. Photos taken of High St one.
22/2 journey to Corsham and back. One just past the Harp & Moon pub, in a layby. One in a layby near Corsham? One at the end of a garden near Corsham Court. There might be more in Corsham itself, check on Tuesday evening.
23/2 Bath (daytime recce). Most boxes are replicas with no phone and no light. No point in photographing them for this set.
23/2 One by Coconut restaurant not lit. One by the caravan turning/pub well lit and good location
24/2 Chippenham station, well lit, good location, see separate note with image
28/2 Photographed the Corsham phone box near Corsham Court. Others had failed lights. Good shots of top panels and trippy motion.
1/3 Photographed the Bishop Cannings box. It’s pending removal. Pouring rain, full darkness needed hi-vis in dark layby. Unsuccessful photo showing rain, but insect shot was good.
2/3 there is a national telehone kiosk collection at Bromsgrove. Need to email and ask for light details.
3/3  White Hart Calne – good. smeared glass reflected light better. Reshoot moss and Follow On Call button?
6/3 Bowood layby – images not good, road too busy, layby too busy, box overgrown, couldn’t open the box door.
6/3 One by the caravan/pub turning – got there to shoot but realised there was no phone in there even though the light was working (it’s normally the other way round…)
11/3 – conversation with Andrew Hurley of the National Telephone Kiosk Collection about phone lighting. urls are http://www.avoncroft.org.uk/


Options are to take straight shots of box in landscape, to consider the differing uses of phoneboxes eg phone, tourist information, defibrillator, mini library (appealing but a bit Sunday supplement) or to abstract/macro slightly and concentrate on the light and the box itself. This latter is the one appeals, but I will take landscape type shots as well.

Need to get all the shots before the clocks change. Need to get lots of shots (see A3 feedback), need to remember hi-vis and sturdy shoes for layby shots.

Start looking at research. There was less research for this one, compared to what I’ve done for earlier assignments. Most people know what a phone box is, especially those who grew up with them. Also, the Nick Turpin work on night buses gave me a very clear idea on what feel I wanted the final images to have, and I honestly didn’t feel as if I needed much else, or if adding more research would improve the final work.

I decided to concentrate on functional red boxes that contained both a working phone and a working light. I photographed details, not landscapes. I wanted to emphasise the light, the red. It became apparent that there’s an ecosystem supported by many boxes – insects, snails, mosses, weeds, brambles, strange green things growing through the paint on the inside of the ceiling. One evening shoot was a complete write-off – the first, beautifully lit box had no phone inside and therefore didn’t meet my criteria, and the second, in a layby/bus-stop on a busy road was over-lit from the traffic. The door had jammed shut and the photos just didn’t work.

About 3/4 of the way through photographing boxes I put a draft set of images up on both my blog and the OCA critique board. I took the comments on board, reshot some images, and decided in some cases to keep the original or at least not change it much. I removed one image that a tutor said reminded him of amateur work. After reviewing my newer work I returned to contact sheets of early shoots and found some images that I thought would work better. Reshooting is actually quite hard – there are different kinds of dark, and the red paint can turn orange or purple at the wrong time. Plus it never seemed to be raining when I needed it too. I’m trying to resist the temptation to over-do this work, it is so delicate and fragile and the set is easily unbalanced with too heavy a touch.

George Tice – link provided on OCA board – mono image of an isolated illuminated box in New Jersey. So beautiful but hard to reproduce here – so much clutter and street lighting around boxes. Layby box could work but would have to be late as the road is so busy there.

I emailed the Avoncroft museum who house the National Telephone Kiosk Collection and asked if they could put me in touch with anyone who could answer some questions on the lighting in boxes. They were very helpful and put me in touch with Andrew Hurley of the Collection who was kind enough to answer my questions over the phone. I was keen to get a bit of background information about the light and the boxes.

My selection process is still something I need to work on. I tend to work in lightroom, flagging the images I want to consider, then using a combination of star ratings and tags to narrow the selection down.




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