This month we interview a photographer from the UK. They have just returned from a tour in the USA, released a new book and now we have the pleasure of interviewing him as October’s Guest of the Month. Let’s see what’s next for Daniel Barter also known as Subversive…..
1. Can you tell us a little about yourself.
Hi my name is Daniel and I am 28 year old photographer from London. Two of my greatest passions in life are photography and exploration. The images I capture represent not only moments of this passion but also a philosophy by which I live my life. I strive to chronicle the spectrum of human experience through the unique eye of a camera lens. Specifically, I endeavour to reveal the nature of society through the artifices they build, the relics they leave behind, and the small stories contained within.
2. Which came first for you exploring or photography?
That is a hard one. I suppose it depends on whether we considered young adventures to be urban exploration…
My interest in abandonments started at a young age. When I was 5 my junior school had a derelict aeroplane in an adjoining field. Two of my friends and I climbed over the 10 foot green wire mesh fence and entered the plane. The combination of leather and shiny metal switches was a formative experience for me. If I close my eyes I can almost still smell it.
It was not until my degree in restoration, that I started to explore in a fashion, that could be considered Urban Exploration. My course seemed to just spill over into exploring the urban environment and photography – I have not looked back from either since.
3. What’s in your kit bag when you go exploring? What three things are essential for you (not including your camera) and if money was no option, what kit would you buy?
Canon 5D mark ii
Canon 17-40mm L
canon 85mm 1.8
Sigma 50mm 1.4
The three essential things in my barring my camera, would have to be toilet paper, respirator and water.
If money was no object I would possess a Nikon D800, a Canon 6D and either the Leica M9-P or Pentax 645D. The Nikon for low light handling and the cropping opportunities. The Canon because it is light weight and versatile. The Leica for street shooting or the Pentax 645D for landscape – I love square format.
4. Choose one of your favourite images, and take us through your inspiration and workflow.
The Enchanted Loom
This image was part experiment part concept from the get go. I had been playing around with various self portraits for a few months by this point and had slowly been testing out different props and Photoshop techniques.
My inclusion of mist in my images is often a marmite point with most viewers but when the opportunity arouse to take Happyshopper around some local derps, I thought it would be a fine time for me to substitute smoke brushes with the real thing.
This image is comprised of three brackets, textures, curves, gradient maps and a fair bit of cloning. The thing that really made the image, was the smoke grenade that Happy was using whilst we were shooting. The fast flowing smoke combined with a slow shutter speed gives an ethereal effect that I adore.
5. Why does urban exploration appeal to you?
Urban explorers often, without even knowing it, continue to search for a feeling, an experience outside everyday boundaries and norms.
The transgressive nature of urban exploration places us in an optimal position to gain experiences that are, not only thought provoking but emotionally moving.
The opportunity to search for something authentic or to discover authenticity is why I do this. The need to remove myself from the daily routine of my life, turn off the television and computer, leave the consumerism of modernity behind, go out and explore, search, jump, climb, crawl, run, ponder, reflect, and transgress.
6. What’s your most memorable explore and why?
My most memorable explore would have to be the first time I visited IM Power plant. From the sleeping in a garage on site and being woken up by security, to the awe inspiring scale and form of the place. It has etched its self in my memory and I hold a special place in my blackened industrial heart for it.
7. How would your urbex friends describe you?
Maybe the best way to answer this… is to actually ask a friend……
So James (Happyshopper) how would you describe Daniel, in four words?
If I was being nice I’d say “persistent, whimsical, sociable, awesome”, if I wasn’t I’d go with “gurning monkeyman infiltrates hilariously”.
8. So we hear you like barbed wire?
It’s my magnetic personality, it loves me.
9. How was your trip to the USA?
Our USA trip was successful. It was challenging and tough at times but we got to see a lot of stellar locations. There will be more to come from that trip…
10. You have a book out, can you tell us about it?
The book is called Chernobyl’s Atomic Legacy and is available now on Amazon. It is a collection of 8 photographers images of the exclusion zone. It depicts Chernobyl and Pripyat 25 years after the disaster.
Pripyat as many of you know was home to a population of 49,000 and today it stands abandoned, overgrown by vegetation, subjected to looting and vandalism, as a monument to the lives lost and the memories of those evacuated. The book is a photographic testimony to the desolation left behind by the nuclear catastrophe.
11. What are your UE plans for 2013?
I plan on touring much of Europe and doing a major project on either Japan or Russia.
12. Who would you like to see as the next guest of the month?
Two extremely talented photographers spring to mind: Photoportee or Happyshopper/James Charlick
13. Talk Urbex forum member image for critique.
Firstly the composition is sound, the leading lines are okay, not sure if the subject is strong enough but that is a matter for the photographer. As for the processing, when I have blown highlights I either take more exposures, so as to have the whole scene or I make more of a feature of the blow-outs. Perhaps brushing them though with curves or painting over them. This combined with a subtle yellow or peach in a split tone grading works well. I think overall the image would benefit from a slightly more subtle HDR process to remove some of the detail that is not needed, for example the black areas in the ceiling. I would be tempted to play with curves for a while to see if something a little more dramatic could be achieved and then grade the image to provide a more varied colour palette.
Thank you Daniel for your answers, a great read I’m sure you’ll all agree. If you want to keep up to date with Daniel’s work please go check out his Website and you can also take a look at his Flickr Photostream.
If you want to check out Daniel’s book ‘Chernobyl’s Atomic Legacy’ click here.