Jem Raid
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A collection of thoughts not in any particular order.

Video art

After a few years of making digital art montages I began to think that there was lot more to it than the final single image. I found some code that could be used to merge two images so that I could have a before and an after. That satisfied me for awhile but even so I thought something was missing.

At the time I'd got Windows Movie Maker 6 (still available for Win10 Google will find it) it's the best of the free programs. I was able to make continual merges using it and found it very good indeed.

I wanted to do other things like have layers which WMM6 couldn't do and looked around for another program. I found Cyberlink Power Director 14 after trying lots of 30 day trials. Even the most inexpensive version has all the tools to make all sorts of effects using layers and masks. Anything I can think of that I want to do can be done in it, it's a bit like Photoshop in that respect.

I did wonder if using still images to make a video was actually a video. I was fortunate to have my first screening at a Gallery in Sheffield, the local university across the road has a film and television course. I was able to ask the students who came across to look at my video if indeed they thought my work was a video and got a unanymous yes.

To say I was pleased about that is putting it mildly, I'd suddenly become a video artist and mightily glad to be so.

Photo images

Using software I am able to create images that I would never have been able to when I used film and a darkroom to print them. I can look at a subject and think what I can make of it, the out of camera file is just the start of my processes. Being able to do it this way gives me the opportunity to make images from the most mundane subjects.

I enjoy posing for the figurative ones I feel a 'oneness' and a touch by something infinite as I do. The history of the area I live in is plainly visible from Roman mines to three hundred million year old fossils. These thoughts influence me to make the very best of my images and poses.

Figure in the landscape

We are so attuned to searching for faces/figures that it makes it very difficult to create a 'figure in the landscape' image, where the figure becomes part of the picture and not just its subject. Is it possible, I’m so close to these images that I am unable to give a definitive answer.

The male figure

I do get 'stick' for posing as I do from males who think that only "worthless women" should pose whilst they as 'superior males' should be directing the shots from behind the camera and then I get the ageist thing for being old and wearing a skimpy costume, 'you should not be disporting yourself in this shocking manner at your age' The comments are compilations and reductions of what I have had directed at me over the past six years as I taught myself how to make montages.

To put myself in some sort of context I've posed for self images since I had enough money to buy my first camera and darkroom stuff. I've been married for forty six years and my wife is my severest critic, she always says let me look now (at my latest image) and make up my mind about it tomorrow.

Montage

In 1998 I came across the Digital Montage Art of Catherine McIntyre made in Photoshop. I was utterly and completely bowled over by the beauty, harmony, colour and sheer audacity of her images.

I got in touch with her later that year and she helped me with some very basic ideas of how to cut out images using Ps. She said then that the techniques are best learned by finding them for yourself. 13 years later in 2011 I got so angry with myself and my failure to create anything I decided that I must push everything else to one side and concentrate on montage.

Catherine is quite right with some knowledge of the very basics it is possible to make a start. I knew that I'd 'arrived' one day about 2 years later when she said this in a message, "It's great you're reaching into yourself for something far more expressive and exciting (than straight photography) And what a brilliant thing it is, an artistic development - it's the best thing one can possibly do with one's time, imho! Enjoy!" I treasure these words.

In general

At last I've reached the stage in life when I don't care what other people think of my images, I do what pleases me at a particular time, I change my mind, I think of new ways to express my thoughts and images and just go ahead and do it, with the greatest pleasure. If someone likes my stuff I'm pleased and thank them, if they don't and say so well that's fine I don't bother now to offer a rebuttal just explain that they should go their own way too.

Most importantly for me I am one of those fortunate enough to have found what I want to do photographically; it fills my mind like nothing else ever has. I love posing for the figurative bits, I love the countryside that surrounds us here, I like the towns not far away, the scrap yards are wonderful places to find images and I love making montages, above all I like to create images that I think are beautiful.

I work on each image separately and what I do varies according to how I felt at the time I took the photo and how I felt when I posed for the figurative one and how I felt the images should be combined. I make them for myself they are my personal take on whatever I point my camera at. I am a chancer rather than a photographer what the camera sees is not what I saw but is only someway towards it. That's why I like to take full control over the process from inception to presentation.

Grumble

I heartily detest the word 'workflow' intimating that the same technique can be applied to many images on a 'production line basis'. I work on each one of my images as though it is unique gem and demands special treatment. I can spend a whole day on one image and not get it 'right'. I have to leave it with the thought that there is something good there I just haven't found the right way into it yet.

And what a glorious moment it is to finally see the image emerge just how I wanted it to be. It's one of the joys in my life.