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Round window, Bath, UK. [Alamy image ref. ANBG4Y]

Many years when I was shooting film I started assembling, or collecting, groups of similar themed subjects such as doors, numbers, stripes, weather vanes, post boxes, funny car number plates, stripes, letters, chimneys, seats… and windows.

Oddly, in my window collection, I probably had only this single round example from a few hundred square and rectangular shapes. Perhaps they are uncommon to rare because they are difficult to open… normal hinged or sash openings being impossible to incorporate in round designs, although both vertical and horizontal pivots are. However, it’s worth noting from the Ounodesign blog… “Round windows are a striking, dynamic design feature and they’re underused, which is odd because they are not impossible to build. Even when they are slightly more expensive than regular windows, they give a lot of design value compared to what you spend. Is it thanks to the stigma that is still attached, annoyingly, to 60s and 70s decor that we don’t see them much? They really need to make a comeback.” And I agree!

Although this round window appears to plug a square hole, it was probably an original design feature in the old brickwork, and is a very attractive detail because the depth of the recess appears to be less than half a brick in depth, so no header or lintel is needed to support the wall above. I passed this particular window many times when visiting the City of Bath, in the West Country, and on this particular day it really stood out because of the acute side-lighting and resulting shadow which enhanced the actual depth of the recess.

Licensed Royalty Free by Alamy for a 1434 x 935 pixels sized image for unlimited and unrestricted use and for a fee of around £150 under my “UK Scenes” pseudonym, which includes around 500 selected subjects I shot prior to 2001 on film in the United Kingdom.

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Old corn mower, Wiltshire, UK. [Alamy image ref. AMM00P]

When I lived for a decade at the foot of the northern escarpment of Wiltshire’s desolate Salisbury Plain, there was not a week when I didn’t venture out across the minor roads crossing that expanse of mixed farmland and Army firing ranges.

There were large areas of a geological ground type known as “Greensand” in the locality which created specific problems for farmers. The green color of greensand is due to variable amounts of the mineral glauconite, an iron potassium silicate with very low weathering resistance; as a result, greensand tends to be weak and friable. It is a common ingredient as a source of potassium in organic gardening and farming fertilizers. The greensand found at the foot of Salisbury Plain is also very soft… which means that although farmers have a rich source of soil for their crops, it is difficult to harvest them because of the weight of modern harvesting machinery. As a result there were many small farms from the area roughly from West Lavington (just south of Devizes) through to, and beyond, Pewsey and Hungerford where it was quite normal to see traditional corn stooks in the fields at harvest time. Local farmers used traditional lightweight machinery to cut, bind and dry their crops for later threshing, rather than trying to drive a modern combine-harvester on the land at the risk of one sinking to it’s axles in the earth.

This image was licensed for three years for a half-page reproduction in an English “crafts” book with a 25,000 print-run under my “Farming Today” pseudonym.

Mending broken saucer. [Alamy image ref. B64P1C]

Back in the early ‘80s two major publishing houses were launching “part-works” as if there was no tomorrow. Marshall-Cavendish and Eaglemoss had the market – as well as eye-level shelves at most corner-shop-cum-newsagents – covered if not cornered with an array of eye-catching titles from “Great Writers” to “Photo” and “Fix-It” to “Camera Wise” as well as several others usually running concurrently. Some of the more obscure ideas and titles didn’t survive more than a dozen or so issues, whilst others lasted the punishing weekly schedule of 104 issues over two years. Even those that failed were researched carefully and thought to be viable… but the buying public were and are fickle, and all it may take is for a new TV blockbuster or computer game to arrive and habits can and do change like the wind.

I got involved with four of these regular partworks so found myself lucky in providing images regularly for three of them (a fourth was quietly retired after a couple of months) for between 52 and 104 weeks in the case of the a D-I-Y and two photography titles… nice work when you can get it! One advantage I had was that I was usually renovating houses from moving around a couple of times, as well as being passionately involved in photography as a sole means of earning a living… so I had a valid opportunity to do certain renovation jobs ahead of schedule if they were on a “wants list” as well as having a large portfolio of personal photo material from which to search for the many different general themes and specific subjects asked for from week to week. The handful of selected photographers given “the wants list” for supplying images were usually briefed on subject requirements a month in advance of each issue closing for press so that further opportunities could be explored if suitable stock shots were not particularly suitable.

However, the above illustration was originally shot for the “Fix-it” partwork and (I can’t remember exactly from my 1986 memory bank) was probably for a section on “gluing things” which would have included the specific use of the 2-part Araldite for repairing broken pottery and china. Not having anything to offer from stock, I chose a nice saucer from a collection my then girlfriend (now wife) owned – a traditional English “Masons” pattern – and hit it against the table top in order to have something attractive broken as a suitable subject for repairing! I positioned my camera to include my hands and some of the table-top surround to make the image look lifelike rather than a studio-type shot against a white background, and took a series of photos using the camera’s self-times. After a few minutes… job done!

Apart from the original commission, the scanned transparency was licensed by Alamy under my “Ed Buziak” pseudo (which I use for a few subjects which don’t easily fit into other much more specific pseudos) to a publisher in Brazil for a retail book with a small 5,000 print-run as a 1/8th-page on a 5-year licence.

Workman spraying beams. [Alamy image ref. B7FW5Y]

Under the pseudonym “Fabricate”, one of several I categorize my various Alamy stock subjects under, I have a growing number of building construction work images on sale. Obviously, to show progress in various stages of construction one has to be on hand or fairly near to a location to show present in any meaningful coverage when a building project may span six months to five years or more.

That, however, has proven to be the least of my problems in this category which, I increasingly suspect, is supplied free by PR agencies and the contractors themselves – especially when working on a large scale project. My main problem has been to capture activity on sites where those engaged in work or inspection have been wearing any of the recognized safety equipment such as helmets, reflective jackets or overalls, protective footwear, goggles or other eye protection, ear defender, respiratory equipment or masks for protection against breathing-in dust, sprays or fumes.

Added to that basic personal list – which most people should usually be wearing at least one item of – there is the on-site protection including ladders, hoists and lifts, handrails and edge barriers, safety nets and protective covering against falling debris!

Even on single single house building projects some of the above should always be worn and used as fixtures. But I suspect that to be true only in inner-city projects where inspection visits are more common, unannounced or lax through repeated casualness.

As a result, I have curtailed my normal “on-spec” coverage of building work and tend to seek out sites where full adherence to the safety rules and regulations are being complied with. Why? Because I find (although I have no sales proof) that trade magazines and journals only use images which have the correct procedures being seen to be employed. After all, there must be inspectors who check on these things and seek out contractors flaunting safety regulations. To borrow an analogy from the aircraft industry… “If you think the price of servicing is expensive… to should see the cost of an accident!”

Whenever I had had the opportunity, whilst renovating houses in years gone by, I frequently set-up a few posed shots of simple “D-I-Y” tasks which could be found on the regular “wants-lists” – from part-work publishers such as Marshall-Cavendish and Eaglemoss Publications – sent out on a monthly basis when they had major 104-part series under way.

The example above (a self-portrait) was one of many taken whilst restoring a Devizes house once occupied by General Wolfe… and from which numerous images were used for single reproductions as well as a 9-page feature in the specialist “Traditional Homes” magazine.

After several uses over the past 25 years, the original 35mm transparency was not in the best condition, but careful scanning using a Nikon 5000 CoolScan I brought out enough faithful detail and color to be acceptable by Alamy where it has more recently sold as 1/4 page size image on secondary page of USA-based website for 1-month under my “Fabricate” pseudonym.

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