Rock Chapel, Blackwood. A converted church that is now a private residence as well as a B&B, the husband and wife team who own it are big supporters of the Wales International Documentary Festival. The chapel was my base of operations, and the graveyard outside provided much photographic inspiration over the two days of the festival.
As the chapel itself has been renovated and repurposed, so too has the cemetery outside. I’d make a joke about the neighbors being quiet, but actually they weren’t, especially at feeding time in the morning. I never knew sheep could be so excited over breakfast, but what they lack in facial expressions they make up for in the height that they can jump. I thought for sure I had more pictures with the sheep in the graveyard, so maybe they’re there and I’m not looking hard enough…maybe they’re lying in wait, ready to pounce…
I never would have considered traveling to Wales for a film festival if not for some generous offers of funding when I had just learned that Overwhelming Majority had been accepted. Unfortunately that funding fell through and I cancelled my plans, then decided very last minute that the opportunity to go was too good to pass up, even if it meant paying out of pocket for my plane flight. It was a gigantic leap of faith my part and I am currently accepting donations to recoup this expense, as well as help me get to festivals further on down the road.
Though only at the festival in Blackwood for two days, I was able to get to know some cool filmmakers from Britain, Scandinavia, and Belgium, as well as see some interesting documentary films. Probably the best part of the festival though, was being able to share my experiences with the interns, mostly film and journalism students from Cardiff University. They were all cool people and I found that I fit in pretty well there. I hope I’ll be able to get back to the UK before too long.
I brought the Canon 7 and the Olympus Trip 35, loaded with some classic black & white and slide films, shooting 4 rolls total. There is much more to be posted from my first overseas trip.
It seems that each festival I go to is a better experience than the last, but I don’t know that Durango can be topped. They treated the filmmakers so nicely there, and it being 6 hours away from me, I decided to stay for the entire thing, which was definitely worth it. I stayed in the General Palmer Hotel (living in Colorado Springs for so long, I could stay nowhere else) which looked largely untouched by time. There were lots of activities I to do around town (like a trip on the Durango-Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad), plus a special filmmakers only-lounge in the basement of the local Irish pub…assuming you didn’t watch films, and I did try to catch as many programs as I could. The best part though, was that the entire festival took place in the space of two blocks in downtown Durango, making everything nice and easy to get to. I forged some great relationships with people and will definitely be going back in the future.
Well actually, my brother was the train buff when we were growing up, but my fascination with old technology has worked its way to these wonderful contraptions. Especially steam locomotives: properly maintained, they can work for centuries and besides that they look wonderful. Engine 169 from the Denver & Rio Grande railroad is a good candidate for restoration, and had been saved and preserved in Alamosa, CO.
William Jackson Palmer was born and raised a Quaker in Pennsylvania, went into the railroad business, but felt so strongly about the cause of Abolition that he joined the Union Army during the Civil War, and suffered consequences of that from his family and church. He served with distinction, rose to the rank of General, and was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor by President Lincoln himself. After the war, he went back into railroads, came out West, and founded his own railroad running North-South. The D&RG intersected most other railroads there at the time, and connected many mining towns along the Front Range that had sprung up supplying miners going into the Rockies looking for gold. General Palmer founded the town of Colorado Springs and lived there the rest of his life. I was happy to see a Springs connection in Alamosa when I went there for the Southern Colorado Film Festival.
There was a railroad that I considered riding after the festival, but ended up not having time for unfortunately. I did go into their yard and take a few pics of some of their engines and cars; some are in better condition than others. What I didn’t see and wish I had was a mid-century diesel engine, though there were later electric engines, though perhaps they were in a different spot. Alamosa seems to be a repository of old train cars and I hope these will end up being preserved as well.
One of the requirements for the Advanced Photography class was to enter our work in an exhibition. I was so busy that I didn’t even want to think about this for the longest time, and ultimately decided to enter a single picture in the semi-annual Photographers’ Forum Magazine photo contest (you’ve seen it already). Not only did I not have to worry about editing the massive body of work I’d been assembling, but the PF Magazine entry cost me a whole $5 and I was done with that requirement.
Of course now that I’m not nearly as stressed out I feel a bit more like submitting to exhibitions, and this has been an encouraging reminder for me. I’m happy to say it’s one of the 13% that go on to the next round and will be judged by a group of college-level photography instructors.