Calista is a rising young star – a great songwriter and performer who recently gigged with my wife in London. She came over to the house for a practice run-through and we did a quick shoot. No lights, just the good old UK weather. It still amazes me how many different looks you can get out of a bit of daylight and a willing model.
I found when living in London that I spent so much time indoors and in studio environments, that I relied almost entirely on studio lighting. I’ve been living out in the sticks for the last two years, and I haven’t plugged my lights in yet.
Young love, sigh…
I’ve just realised that of course I can’t really have been off the grid if I had my iPhone with me, forgive the oxymoron. We had no power all of yesterday so I took the dog for a walk along the coast. Just wish I’d had my real camera with me at the time, but quite pleased with this iPhone snap nevertheless.
There were only two things that could go wrong. A, the mist would come in and block out the stars, and B, my phone (ioshutter control) could pack up. Annoyingly both A and B happened, though once it had misted over the fact that my phone died was by the by. Still, I shall try again, and again, and again. If anyone has any cool tips, please let me know.
It may be a little owl, but it still seemed determined to weird me out.
Up close and personal with a Ferruginous Hawk. Beautiful bird.
Ok it’s not photography, but Harry felt he wanted to add a little music to the blog…
Another portrait of my mate Vincent looking broody and menacing. The 80mm 1.2 really is a superb portrait lens.
I spent several hours last night sitting on the hill above the house with my camera pointed at the heavens hoping to catch some of the Perseids meteor shower. I saw quite a few shooting stars, but mostly of course not where my camera was pointing, with the exception of this solitary meteor, quite pretty nevertheless. It seems star photography is a niche I have yet to conquer…
Very remiss of me, no posts for ages, that’s the summer for you! Spent last weekend in deepest Cornwall at a circus camp (my wife and kids leaping about not me, though I did attempt the high wire). This guy had a fabulous look, curly tash and all, but it was the view from the back with his lobe stretching ear-rings that really caught my eye.
Spent the day shooting stills on the set of Instruments of Darkness, which was a chapter for the film Enemy of Man directed by Vincent Regan. This one is of Jason Flemyng letting rip in a fight sequence, all swords, clashing armour and fire, very dramatic. I also got some nice shots of Charles Dance and Rupert Grint (in the People section). Good day, nice people and rather fun.
Spent the day shooting the London Philharmonic Orchestra while they rehearsed for a concert. Rather dark in the hall so I had to push up to 1000 ISO, but pretty pleased with the results. This is a double bassist resting between performances.
Of course I was really after a nice cloudy and windy day to make the exposure much longer, in order to get a creamy sea and some scudding cloud. But it was nice to be out in the sunshine, albeit darn chilly.
A breathless dawn yesterday on the reservoir near Yeovil. I was actually hunting for an aesthetic jetty or a decent tree, but all I could find was this spray of twigs, which I simply flipped 90 degrees clockwise.
Well it just goes to show that long exposures aren’t interesting in themselves. This was taken after dark, and I was rather hoping that a long exposure at night might make it interesting. It palpably didn’t. There were a couple of other photographers shooting there too, I hope they came up with something better than this!
“No it’s not just a fish” is what I said to my wife when she couldn’t understand why this was one of my favourite shots from our Sri Lanka trip. I like the hand, the texture of the fish, the drop of blood coming from it’s mouth, the feeling that the fish is being held up with pride, the tones, all of it. If she’d let me I’d hang a print of it on our wall. Maybe it’s just me.
Not that special but quite cute. Boy you have to move fast though because these guys do not hang around for their close up.
Is it just me, or do these two tuna on the dockside in Sri Lanka look like their having a bit of chat, and one of them is rightfully worried.
My wife should take the credit for this as she spotted it first. This guy was hunkered down between the carriages on the train to Columbo (Sri Lanka). Pig of a shot to get as the train was lurching around like a drunk on a cross channel ferry, the passage down to the guy was continually blocked by people, and it was darn dark. Ended up at 1600 ISO, 2.8, and am surprised it’s not blurred at 250th – lucky I guess.
Had a great shoot with the lovely Alison Limerick. Couldn’t get a studio in time so we shot it in my dining room with just one brolly (no room for more lights!) and a reflector. Used a spot as a key light with enough fill to add a touch of blur to the dress. The top shot was just the spot bounced off the reflector and shot at 1.2 to give a very shallow dop and exaggerate the mood.
Saw this little beastie lurking in the very dark rainforest. Fortunately it was lying very still, allowing for a 2 second exposure, which was just as well as otherwise my depth of field would have been bugger all.
Stars over Dorset on saturday. A beautifully clear night. I’d have loved to have made the exposure longer, but the stars were moving so fast (though I suppose they always do) that any longer than 10 seconds and I was getting trails. Looking forward to the next clear night to improve on it.
With a 70kmh wind and a chill factor of -2 I have to say the conditions were not ideal, but then if it hadn’t been for the wind I don’t suppose he’d have had such a well performing mane.
Just spent a few days in the Carmargue with Ocean Capture on a horse shoot. Excellent tour. This was our one glimmer of sunshine out of very grey few days, but skies remained dramatic and a sub-zero Mistral kept us on our toes. The Carmargue horses really are a breed apart, they have such a fabulous temperament and despite their size, are tough as old boots.
Not many creatures can sulk gracefully, or even serenely come to that, but this swan seems to have managed it.
Climbed the hill behind the house the other morning to be rewarded with a classic October morning mist over the valley. Worth the hike.
October is spider time. The fields around the farm are threaded with countless webs, and I caught this little monster whilst out walking the dog one morning. Very glad I’m not a fly.
My eldest does his Billy Elliot impersonation, though the chances of my ending up in the stalls of Sadlers Wells beaming with pride are slim I think.
Battersea Power Station a little steam-punked, shot from the ferry into town. God how I’d love to go in there to shoot. I could spend a whole day shooting the cranes on their own.
Five pics rather hastily stitched together of my kids playing on the WOMAD sign. I shot it on the iPhone first, but it wasn’t up to job what with the high tonal range caused by sun through the foliage, so I had to re-shoot it the following morning on a grown up camera. Fortunately my kids enjoyed playing on the letters more than listening to music (and for my sins so did I).
Within in minutes of joyfully unwrapping my new Canon 85mm 1.2 lens I snapped this portrait of my dog Harry and fell utterly in love. With the lens not the dog. It’s the sharpest and most beautiful portrait lens I’ve even owned, I’d even go so far as to say it’s better than the old Nikon 180mm 2.8, though I probably shouldn’t draw comparisons. I still haven’t quite got my head round its occasional odd behaviour with whites on contra-jour shots, but it’s a cracker nevertheless.
I foolishly sold my Canon 100mm macro, so I was quite pleased to catch this on the iPhone, the stamen looks like a light bulb element I think, and the level of detail from a camera phone is astonishing.
The first, and as it happened last, Point-to-point of the summer that never came. When the conditions are absolutely right the iPhone 4S camera is really quite good. The snaps it takes don’t bear too close an inspection of course, but I was impressed that this panning shot came out sharp and in focus, actually amazed rather impressed. I shoved it through Snapspeed (a natty little App now also available as a desktop App btw) to punch up the shot a bit, but it was a cold windy day with wonderfully clear air, so most of the work was done for me. No my horse didn’t come in.
On my way into London for an early meeting I caught these guys drifting on the Wandel. Parts of London can be pretty after all. Though I may have gone a little nuts with the tilt-shift.
I shot this (along with many others in the blog) on my iPhone on the ferry in to London. Tilt shift focus is rather a cliché but I do love it nevertheless. There’s something about these little boats all lined up neatly for weekend’s pottering on a very unfriendly river that makes me think of Dunkirk, absurd I know.
Shadow Commuter. A study in the explicit nothingness of the 9-5, the sheer upside-down-ness of our world, the emptiness of the rat race, the epitome of a void life laid out on the flagstones of existence, guided only by the streetlamp of despair, that is just a shadow, lightless, substance-less, futile. It must be fun being an art student and making all that sort of crap up. Quite like the snap nevertheless.
Final day of the hunting season (not sure what they hunt now) and thought this horse’s head looked rather noble.
Oh no, pets and children, but I couldn’t resist this. The combination of my youngest looking like he was hibernating and Harry’s (the dog obviously) somewhat plaintive expression was not to missed. iPhone 4S and the Snapspeed tilt shift filter with a bit of inevitable vignetting.
Prayer or sleep? I suspect the latter, or perhaps a little bit of both, living in a box can’t be a whole heap of fun. I like its peacefulness, even if it is rather depressing.
This is another instance when the peculiarities of the iPhone camera just seem to make a picture work. It was a very quick snap from the Hungerford bridge one morning, and the river, sky and buildings all just came together to give London a rather painted and heroic feel.
I caught this rather cliché’d shot in Battersea Park early one autumn morning. I only include it as I entered it into an online iPhone photo competition which to my eternal surprise I won. Got a rather excellent sound bar out of it. I hardly ever enter competitions as having entered so many fruitlessly in the early years I rather gave up. My pictures are just not competition winners.
Before I stupidly sold my Canon 100mm 2.8 I caught this little bugger lurking in the garden. Even at F18 the back legs are going out of focus which surprised me, but I’m not wildly technical when it comes to optics.
I was standing knee deep in the sea waiting for something to happen when the light behind the clouds and around this island went all arty on me. Easy shot, but I think it would have been improved if I’d gone a little wider.
More people should make cow shadows, it could become a whole new art form.
It’s a lousy nature shot taken on a snappy, but I love the ‘piss off and leave us alone’ expression on the male. And they’re probably toads not frogs, I’m no nature expert.
Yes I wish I’d had my 100mm macro, but nevertheless fairly pleased that such a beast of lens managed to get capture this beastie. He looks so armour plated it’s ridiculous.
I only include this because I was quite impressed by the macro on this snappy. It managed fairly well considering it was a bit breezy and the bee was dashing about like a demented, well a demented bee I guess.
Steampunk retro American memorabilia, or something. This beaten up old truck was lying by the side of a back-country road in Utah. The truck wasn’t very photogenic, but I loved the textures and shapes of the grill and bonnet (or hood if you’re American).
It was delightful that my eldest had such a great time in India, but carrying him around while I was shooting was slightly hazardous for both of us. I’d forget he was there and nearly pranged him on doorways several times, and in his turn he’d wait until I was taking shot before kicking me firmly in the arse. We all had fun though.
It would be nice if they were hugging, but actually it’s two males mock fighting, hope I haven’t ruined the anthropomorphic delight.
My eldest son on his way into the world.
Yes we’ll I’m sure I’ll get flack for putting up a rainbow picture, all very am-dram, but sorry, I just like it. It’s simple, clean and I find it both refreshing relaxing. The horizon’s just so flat – obviously seeing as it’s the sea and all, so there you, a cliche rainbow with an unsurprisingly flat horizon. I may just have wasted a minute or two of your time here.
Pissing with rain was ‘situation normal’ for the majority of this trip, and boy was it hooning it down when I shot this. I rather like the loneliness of the boat. I still can’t figure out why they didn’t tie it right up to the jetty though. It’s a 5 second exposure, I should probably have gone for longer but I was already at f22 and I wan’t going back to camp for my ND, because I’m a lazy bastard.
It’s just a being there shot, but I like the symmetry and converging lines. I remember getting a very stiff neck as I had to wait for ages for the lifts to be exactly where I wanted them.
I could hear him long before I could see him, but patience prevailed and eventually he popped his head up. Not art, but quite fun, and I simply adore runner ducks.
My wife, though not at the time, climbing a dune at dawn in Namibia for a library shot. Never sold a single copy, but I love it, all the more for it’s commercial failure probably.
Quite probably the best name for a pass in the world. Should we trust metadata? I have no recollection of owning a Nikon D100 at all.
You’ve got to love Africa, this is just a snap of a split rock, nothing wildly special, but it just sums up Africa for me. Hot, dry, red, stunning, powerful, rich and yet terribly poor, full of contradiction and riven with divide. Perhaps that’s a bit pretentious, actually it’s definitely pretentious, but too bad, it’s what Africa is to me, so there you go.
A few hours out of Windhoek in Namibia lies Okonjima, a bush camp dedicated to rescuing big cats. Sadly leopards and cheetahs get caught in traps from time to time by local farmers. If there are cubs involved, they are brought here, as they have no hope of surviving on their own in the wild, with no-one to teach them how to hunt for food. Here they are helped to learn how to hunt and fend for themselves, and when ready, are re-introduced to the wild.
You can quite see why they own the collective ‘Pride’. He couldn’t look more noble if he tried.
Ui my Burmese with rather too much post work on her I fear.
I was on assignment on the East African Odyssey expedition. The army was taking eight homeless inner city kids on 500 mile, 40 day trek across Northern Kenya. It was an epic trip, gruelling, fascinating, challenging, and probably the most rewarding job I’ve ever done. The evening before we left our base camp 100 miles from the nearest town, a local Samburu tribe appeared in all their splendour to give us a traditional farewell dance. There are more shots of the dancing in the Travel section, I love this one particularly as it sums up for me their natural elegance and stillness.
I guess nowadays this would be a pretty simple shot to take what with sound triggers, photoshop and the fact that digital is basically free. But I shot this on film using just my eye, a film dev tray, a turkey baster and a cable release, so it was a right pain, and there were a lot of misses before I hit the jackpot.
I was on assignment in the short grass plains of the Serengeti in Tanzania, rather a dream job to be honest. It’s hardly a great lion portrait, but I liked the fact that he seems to getting a thorough blow dry.
I’ve no idea why I felt blue was the way to go, but I’ve got a large print of this in the kitchen and it looks marvellous. I just hung the strawberry over my light box, which is why the stalk is so badly lit. I think it was probably my first bit of photoshopping back in the days of Photoshop 2.
High up in the mountains of Pakistan in the North West Frontier Province is a small valley that is, in essence, an island in an Islam sea. The Kalash are polytheists, or pagans to put it bluntly. Worshiping nature, they lead a relatively simple life, but have anything but simple customs (eloping, or ‘ghona dastur’ is considered by them as one of their greatest). I was here working with a writer on an article for the Sunday Time Magazine, my only regret was that we only able to stay with them for a couple of days. I found their openness and hospitality a refreshing change from the somewhat more restrictive and oppressive atmosphere elsewhere in the province.
Merigram is a tiny little village perched high up the mountains Hindu Kush. I was on assignment taking photos of the highest polo match in the world. We had been driving for hours through a harsh and vertiginous landscape, standing in the back of a bucking jeep, caked in dust, surrounded by barren shale slopes, when we turned a corner and came across what felt like a lost and hidden paradise. Nestled in a small valley amongst the imposing scree mountainsides was an oasis of cool and calm. A small clear and ice-cold stream meandered through a glade of mulberry trees, below which sat a group of smiling children gathering fruit. We cannot have been a pleasant sight, tall, filthy, probably smelly and decidedly foreign, but we were nevertheless welcomed with open arms. The people of Merigram gave us shelter for the night and cooked up a tremendous feast of the freshest and best food I had anywhere in the North West Frontier Province. It was a truly magical place.
Spotted this whilst up a big hill when on assignment somewhere in the depths of Northern Kenya, Matthews Range I think (it was a while ago). It’s not a very good photo, but I’m loving the rock.
I was shooting a story about riding across the Namib Dessert in Namibia (obviously) for one of the sunday magazines, I forget which, and shot this one night. We were camped out in the middle of nowhere, and I just opened the shutter after dark, played a torch over the tree for a while, and closed it off before dawn about eight hours later. More luck than judgement really.
Back in ’94 the Mekong Delta in Vietnam was a haven away from travellers. I saw only one other westerner in the time I was there. The vast sprawling network of rivers and tributaries spreads like a web across the land, and many was the time I had to balance my motorbike precariously in the middle of small rowing boat to cross yet another part of this mighty river. On this occasion I’d managed to dump the bike and just go out on the delta with this charming and singing ferry-woman.
This was my first proper assignment. I was covering an expedition with the Guardian newspaper climbing Mount Elbrus in southern Russia. We set off before sunrise and I caught this one of the expedition leader as the sun came up (you have to get a heroic one of the boss as soon as possible I think). It was super-clear, cold and exhaustingly high. The hardest part of this job was that I had to make my own trail away from the climbers so I could shoot them, which meant climbing through the snow without an already tramped down path to follow, knackering.
I was passing through Moscow having taken the Trans-Manchurian Express out of Bejing. It was before the fall of the Berlin Wall and Moscow was just as I had imagined it would be, vast, grey and monolithic. Devoid of any colour, advertising or joy it captivated me. This is not a great shot, but is a record that life was truly hard, shops were scarce, shelves were bare, and people really did queue for cabbages.
I went out on a great dolphin trip in the Bay of Islands, it was a perfect morning (earlier the sea had been oil flat) and near the end of the morning this bottle-nose obediently leapt out at us dead centre frame. More luck than judgement.