AVIAGRAFIK: What is it all about?


This blog is the new collective home for my creative design & publishing activities. It is based on a lifelong interest in aviation and brings together a fragmented collection of social media posts and web based media archives into one-stop shop of really useful information, hobby activity and occasional wry humour posts.

What it isn't

If you came here looking for sage advice on threading fabric seatbelts onto impossibly small etched buckles or how to replicate the 'flatter than flat' matt black used on RAF night fighters for all of about three weeks in 1941, then you're probably going to be a tad disappointed.

Fess up time: I have to admit to being one of these model makers who are forever on the cusp of that elusive immaculate build. You know the sort, some of em get tantalisingly close to actually being very good but then end up with a fingerprint on the canopy, and then some of em are shockers from the moment the bag is opened and need buried in the back yard.

So I'm no modelling guru and probably like you, will gaze in awe and not a little jealously at the work of those who seem to find this hobby effortless. If you are looking for build inspiration, have a look at Spencer Pollard’s Kit Box blog on WordPress for modelling related wonderful-ness and sickening skill levels. John Bius’ blog is another great place to find tips and tricks too, along with the stop-motion work of Tom Grigat which has created a new dimension to our hobby, but of course you probably already know about these good people. . .

What's it all about?

So that’s the shameless fawning done with, now let's get down to business. You’ve maybe found my blog because it’s Sunday evening somewhere, you’re slightly the worse for a glass or three of Pinot, or are indeed bored and just accidentally mis-typed viagra into Google. . . it happens (allegedly).

On the other hand, if you are serious about taking consistently decent images of your models but are at your wits end with so so photographs then this is the place for you.

Maybe you have been lulled by those whispering experten on social media into thinking that getting into some serious personal debt and buying that cool black DSLR camera (the one with as many obscure function buttons as it has megapixels) will automatically elevate your photography to a new plane of consciousness. But unfortunately, those professional studio shots you see online and in the magazines are making you feel less than adequate and it’s all beginning to look a little dodgy for the fragile relationship between your models and your less than flattering yet reassuringly expensive lens.

"Ooh err Mavis, I've come over all unneccesary"

Fear not, make a pot of lady grey, step away from the pre-owned pro-camera category on evil-buy, put your feet up with a hob-nob and let’s give this another shot.

The blog is part of an effort to get back in touch with model making and the hobby I left behind in 2004. Reasons for leaving way back when are manifold, but include an epiphany about the creation of scale replicas of killing machines, along with career change, post graduate studies and ropey health issues. I was also getting increasingly detached from a hobby which was becoming increasingly elitist in its pursuit of the hyper-real.

Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t come over all ‘born again’ and decry the inhumanity of what was at times, an unhealthy obsession with certain types of flying machines (for example: night fighters. What could be more underhand than sneaking up on a tin full of blokes and blowing them out of the sky in the dark from below? But then what nefarious deeds were the said blokes up to? No good I’ll wager. . .)

In the intervening years, I changed career paths twice, saved up enough cornflakes box lids to obtain a Masters degree in Contemporary Fine Art (my arts practice website) and moved permanently to New Zealand (it was either that or join the Foreign legion, and they don’t have steak and cheese pies or Whittaker's chocolate in the Legion).

So why return to a hobby and an interest I’d all but given up on? Well for one it's part of the obsessive/compulsive thing, plus the people who share the interest are (mostly) 'good sorts'.

I can also look to my Grandfather who reputedly took me to see Donald Campbell and Bluebird do trial runs on Lake Coniston when I was a baby. I remember this only from related tales, so it’s an appropriated or borrowed memory, but do remember my grandfather's ironmongers shop and that he supplied parrafin fuels (do you remember Esso Blue?) to rural communities around the county, so maybe he did have a connection with that famous blue boat and Mr. Woppit?

Tom was an engine fitter during the war years and worked on Lancasters until he was seconded to Shorts to work on Sunderland flying boats at the shadow factory on Lake Windermere. So there you have it, thanks to the war films of Ealing as seen through the lens of Anderson, Cavalcanti and Balcon, Richard Todd and a cast of monochromatic stern jawed, stiff upper lipped thousands made damn sure aeroplanes are in my blood.

“Ooh look, its got words and pictures”

As part of the reconnection process, I’ve been designing and producing a totally new publication which will hopefully give something back to the hobby which has been a part of my life in varying degrees of interaction since 1974.

In fact the model making reflects a similar connection with photography which started as a hobby around the same time (although that became a full-time career at one point). The book has changed, been redesigned and refocused to emerge as a complete manual for photographing model aircraft. It is designed to offer a one stop, start to finish tutorial in photography for model makers of all abilities.

But why?

Surely there are a myriad of photography 'how-to's' to make yet another book more or less obsolete? Well quite possibly, and it is argued (usually unsuccessfully by those who loudly profess that they 'know their stuff') that photography is the same regardless of the subject matter, and is really quite easy if you know what you're doing.

Wrong answer - yes its relatively easy if we set "rad shutters to auto" and rely on the pre-programmed machine to think for us, but from a series of professional roles and my own arts photography practice, I can say with some degree of certainty that our miniature world needs a distinctly different approach. This is my shot at providing a solution.

This blog will include excerpts from the book which is in the final stages of design and proofing, along with snippets of model making trials and tribulations.

So read on and get struck in!

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