Karl Mackie Photography | Journal

Karl Mackie is a surfer, photographer, craftsman & owner of Mackie Studio, the creative branding agency based on the coast of Cornwall UK.

Posts in Cornwall
Abandonment
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Introduction

During 2015 I bought a bundle of out of date 35mm film from 'that online auction website' there is nothing unusual about this, I regularly search said website looking for dated gems. On this occasion, included as part of the bundle were three rolls of Ilford FP4, dated 1979!

The oldest film I had shot up until that point was from 1986 and most of those frames never saw the light of day. Although this film was older, I wasn’t put off and decided to shoot with fingers crossed. I put the film away in a drawer and waited for a project to present itself.

Fast forward to 2018 and I found my project!

I live in a surf town, there's a mixture of poverty and wealth, development and abandonment like many coastal towns all around the world. My journey from my home to my studio took me 45 minutes on foot and I had walked this route every day for the past year. Walking is great for noticing things and that's exactly what happened, I decided to use the Ilford film to document the abandonment of buildings in my town.

This month is March 2019 marking the 40 year anniversary of this film.

 
Image: Bert Ramsey
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What to expect from my photography workshops?
Image: Bert Ramsey

Image: Bert Ramsey

 

Introduction

For those who don’t know me, my background is in design and photography. I have worked with many brands from all around the world and local to me, here in Cornwall. I do this with the same strong beliefs I have always had; that a visual story, told through well executed photography is essential for any brand or individuals success.

With this in mind I began running photography workshops back in early 2018.

Photography workshops carry a wide range of uses for all abilities of photographer, my workshops lend support to beginners, amateurs and pro photographers. You can book individual one to one workshops, completely down to you and what you wish to learn, I have one and two day workshops where we photograph landscapes from rivers to waterfalls and surfing to sand dunes. You can also pick your medium with the chance to take a workshop exclusively on film, SLR or mobile.

 
 

What happens after I book?

If you are booking a one to one workshop, please email me at info@karlmackie.com beforehand where we can discuss what kind of guidance you would like and how you see the day ahead that works best for you. Once we are both happy, you’ll make the online booking and I’ll set up a private WhatsApp group for us to discuss further.

All other multi persons workshops are sent an invite to a private Facebook group where we can discuss further the day(s) of the workshop.

I’ll be in constant touch leading up to the workshop, advising on equipment, accommodation, clothing, weather etc to ensure the worksop runs smoothly.

In the case of extreme weather conditions that stops us from shooting I will offer to reschedule the workshop. If thats not possible, I’ll offer a full refund.

 
 

What happens during a workshop?

We meet at the chosen location where we can all park our cars (cost of parking is covered in the workshop cost) I always like to meet early so to allow us enough time to grab a coffee and get to know each other before heading out to shoot.

I’ll show you how I would shoot a particular location, going through lens choice, aperture, shutter speed and focus among many other things, then its down to you. I work best when I am able to feedback to everyone individually although I am at hand to answer anything you wish to know and I encourage you to ask me as much as possible!

I’ll keep an eye on the time and the schedule and make sure I transfer us all to each location at the right times so to maximise the best light for that location during the day.

Additionally I can recommend the best stops for refreshments.

 
Image: Bert Ramsey

Image: Bert Ramsey

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What happens after a workshop?

I would hate for you to go away without finding something out you desperately wanted to know, so please keep in touch and email me that question. Additionally everyone will have a write up of the days workshop emailed to them and a chance to feedback to me via a short questionnaire.

Thank you.

 
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Airstream Dreams
Airstream Caravan Photoshoot in Cornwall | With Ilford FP4 | Karl Mackie Photography
 

Introduction

Packing my bag the night before, I grabbed my goto gear for the shoot, the SLR, Primes, a Zoom, Tripod, Chargers etc...and my film camera with a roll of out of date Ilford FP4.
The following day I was due on set, shooting stills for a Carlsberg UK series of short films, no reason to bring a film camera but mine is always with me, no matter what.

The morning of the day I arrived I met John, a writer, a poet and a man of many talents, particularly telling stories of days gone by. He told me he had a vintage AirStream Caravan, it was on site and would I like to shoot it!

“Yes!” I said without hesitation.

On inspection, the AirStream was untouched from its original state, with the now classic driver's cab featuring a cassette player, huge seats and windows, in the back, double beds, showers, sinks and cookers. The outside was in mint condition, with the retro logo and colours intact.

All I had was 1 roll of Ilford FP4, pushed 2 stops on, being shot through a Minolta SR-7. For a breakaway hour, John told stories over liquid refreshments and I got to work shooting him in his environment, not super confident if this film was even going to develop let alone make it on here.

 
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Airstream Caravan Photoshoot in Cornwall | With Ilford FP4 | Karl Mackie Photography
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Solo camping in Cornwall
Solo Camping in Cornwall | With Heimplanet | Karl Mackie Photography
 

Introduction

Solo camping is a unique and enjoyable experience and there are many reasons people camp alone! In my case, I wanted to get away for a short while and explore an area of Cornwall I had identified as a perfect location for my upcoming photo workshops.

I live in Newquay, a town on the north coast of Cornwall, in southwest England where we are surrounded by the Atlantic ocean which pumps surf to the surrounding beaches! (if we are lucky). We are also part of the South West Coastal Path; 630 miles of national trails, making it the longest trail in the UK. If you find yourself at any beach, take a left or a right and you won't be far from the path that opens up a whole new experience.

I have run this trail many times, only touching on a small part of it, but covering 20 miles of trail for a run showed me this is something really special. It was while training for a trail marathon this year that I began to develop ideas for the workshops, the trail is a natural location to hone your craft and create the stories that an audience would love to read.

Once the seed had been set I made plans to head out on a solo camping trip, to walk, think and plan the exact route we would take.

 
Solo Camping in Cornwall | With Heimplanet | Sea breaking against the rocks | Karl Mackie Photography
 

Preparing for Camping

As this was to be a super short trip I wanted to pack as minimal as I possibly could, the emphasis was on a solo camping/photo trip, tent & gear were my starting points.

My tent is the superb Heimplanet ‘Cave’ which I have had for 5 years and absolutely could not be without, once you own an inflatable tent it's very hard to imagine going back to conventional poles. With the tent occupying the bottom of my backpack, next up was gear!

I didn’t want to be carrying too much for this trip, but I still wanted to be able to get the shots I hoped to capture. I opted to pack my film camera and one DSLR with the small and budget Canon EF 50mm 1.8 lens (I could of packed a wide lens but when I am pushed for weight reducing I’ll shoot a 50mm and batch merge my shots in post-production) x1 ND filter and x1 Polarising filter, tripod and intervalometer. Following this was my summer sleeping bag, roll mat (premium comfort), waterproofs, water bottle, snacks, toothbrush, torch, board shorts, bodysurfing handplane and my MacBook Pro Laptop.

 
Solo Camping in Cornwall | With Heimplanet | Karl Mackie Photography
 

Setting off!

The route I took was simple. From leaving my house its a short 10-minute walk to the Beach and from there I picked up the coastal path and headed right, in the direction of Watergate Bay, Mawgan Porth, Bedruthan Steps etc…travelling light in T-Shirts and shorts with a freshly shorn head, headphones on, my camera in hand.

The sun was out and it was warm, the UK was on the back of superb summer and I was feeling pumped! First stop for me was Watergate Bay, I have a little spot off the trail that I like to shoot the surf from. For the 2nd time this year my film camera shutter jammed and from past experiences and with this particular camera I knew I wasn't shooting 35mm on this trip.

I carried on my way, everything was cool until about a mile in and the sea mist descended. This was not a huge surprise, we get this in Cornwall, one minute its super sunny, next the beaches are red flagged and it's a whiteout with zero visibility.

Some of my favourite work has been shot with the challenge of sea mist and I was already thinking this could be really cool, particularly challenging if you are on my workshops, so on I went!

 
Solo Camping in Cornwall | With Heimplanet | Karl Mackie Photography
Solo Camping in Cornwall | With Heimplanet | Karl Mackie Photography
 

PUTTING MYSELF IN THE PICTURE

I’m not a selfie person, and much prefer being behind my camera than in front of it, but i decided on this trip that I would buck that trend and document the camp - in front of the camera. Adding a person to a landscape image shows scale and I love bringing a human element to my work, as this was a recce for my workshop and I am of course Solo Camping, it had to be me!. This was a lot of fun and turned the trip on its head in terms of photography with plenty of humorous moments, albeit solo, running back and forth to get into a position to nail the compositions.

 
Solo Camping in Cornwall | With Heimplanet | Karl Mackie Photography
Solo Camping in Cornwall | With Heimplanet | Karl Mackie Photography
 

Finding THAT ideal spot

There’s this little spot halfway between Porth beach and Bedruthan Steps that I run through, a gaping valley that runs down to a little bridge which leads to the ocean, that was my planned overnight stop.

By the time I arrived the mist was so thick that the ocean was barely visible and cloud coverage was zero. I quite like this in images, you get this haunting stillness from your shots. I had already envisaged the composition by the time I reached the top of the hill that led down to the valley.

 
Solo Camping in Cornwall | With Heimplanet | Karl Mackie Photography
 

setting up camp and photo gear

Reaching the valley and finding no one around, I was quietly relieved, I had wanted to camp in this spot for a long time, but there was every chance someone else may have had the same idea - they hadn’t and within 10 mins my tent was inflated and I had set up camp. Though I couldn’t actually see the ocean, I set up my tent so I was looking out towards it, I was hoping the mist would clear - it didn’t.

After a pre-prepared dinner of brown rice, sweetcorn and vegetables I began to explore and study the area in finer detail, usually, I am flying through this valley on my runs without stopping so to find an array of different spots within this spot was just what I had hoped for.

I shot for around 3/4 hours that night, both behind and in front of the camera, documenting a solo camping trip! It was that simple! The mist was perfect and I wouldn’t have wanted it any different. My tent, as well as being convenient and brilliant also happens to look killer in images and leads a lot of my imagery here.

The next day was unbelievably still misty! So I edited the images I had shot there and then in my tent before deflating, re-packing and heading home (As I mentioned this really was a short & sweet camping trip)

 
Solo Camping in Cornwall | With Heimplanet | Karl Mackie Photography
Solo Camping in Cornwall | With Heimplanet | Karl Mackie Photography
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Solo Camping in Cornwall | With Heimplanet | Karl Mackie Photography
 

CONCLUSION

For a 2 day trip I still packed way too much, my sleeping back was too thick, my matt too clunky and I wished I had brought an inflatable pillow. If push came to shove the smaller Heimplanet tent would have saved a little more space and In addition, 2015 MacBook Pro’s are far too heavy for minimal travel, no matter how near or far!

But! It was a short and sweet solo camping trip which for what its purpose was for, worked really well with the kit I had taken.

A big positive was this particular location I have chosen for the photo workshop is perfect for us all to get out on the trail and learn/teach techniques and compositions in an environment that is brimming with opportunities every step of the way - mist or no mist!

Details of my Upcoming Photo Workshops in Cornwall 2019 will be out there shortly via my newsletters and Instagram - see you there!