Globe thistle

Globe thistle bw

Do flowers work in black and white? Probably not most of the time but in this case I think it does. The colour version is pretty much all one colour anyhow – green – and the monochrome helps add texture to the globe thistle, for that is what it is, apparently (although I stand to be corrected). I can’t work out whether this is in flower or pre/post flower but I think this is before the thistle has flowered, which is even more reason to go black and white. This is a last minute replacement for the picture that I was going to blog but which I am told is ‘too nice to waste on the blog’, which means my better half wants it on her wall. I may well post that particular picture a bit later… but I am considering entering it in a competition and rules mean I can’t post it just yet. I’m such a tease; however, in the meantime I don’t think this is a lesser image. Yet again it highlights the advantages of the 50mm prime lens – every photographer should have one, especially given the cheap price (approx £80) when compared to other lenses. Ultra fast and great depth of field

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yellow flower

I promised flower pictures this week and here is the first. Not taken in my friend’s garden but in my own. I have no idea what it is but I am sure that someone will tell me – I’d ask the gardener in the family but she is out gallivanting. Here I was trying to focus on the small buds of pollen (?) on the ends of the stamens using the 50mm lens and the extension ring, which is why the flower itself is blurred in the background. Not sure if it works but I like it; could maybe benefit from being cropped but at least here you can tell its a flower…

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Perfect day


It’s been one of those great weekends. Good company, good food, food wine. Lots of families enjoying themselves together and most importantly very relaxing. Spent most of Saturday at a good friend’s garden party/BBQ; she always maintains that it’s always sunny on her birthday and the law holds true for another year. My friends garden is her project and hobby, much like photography is for me, so there may well a few flower pictures this week for which I make no apologies – at least you will be getting something new.

Highlight of the day though was the flashmob. Word went out the day before that guests were to learn the dance moves to accompany a Lady GaGa song and surprise the birthday girl en masse. Needless to say it was the youth that led the way and I managed to get out of it by offering to film it.

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Going to a Go-Go


What is a Go-Go? Well here are two of them. The latest craze to sweep through my children’s school, hot on the heels of Silly Bandz, Doctor Who Monster Invasion Cards, Match Atax, etc. Of course Go-Gos have been de rigeur before and faded from memory; but now there are furry Go-Gos (do you see what they did there) and the craze has started again. I think they must be Japanese (like Pokemon, another craze that baffles adults and obsesses children) and allegedly you can play a game with them although I have never seen my two actually do this. It seems to me that what they are actually for is to clutter up every work surface and provide moment’s of exquisite pain for adults, especially when trod on in the middle of the night. Not as painful as standing on a three-pin plug or a Lego brick but certainly up there. What was wrong with Panini sticker albums? Kids of today, etc, etc

Photography wise, another example of the wonderful bokeh produced by the 50mm prime lens, here attached to the macro ring to get very close up. They look sweet don’t they? Don’t be taken in.

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New Brighton

New Brighton

It’s Friday night but I’m going to let this one speak for itself anyway as I think it’s one of my better efforts. I know I’ve posted some of pictures from New Brighton before, including a colour photo taken around the same time as this one, but I think this is the best of the lot and its taken me a long time to get round to processing it. When you take 100s of photographs and a lot of them look the same its easy to get lulled into looking at the thumbnail image rather than opening the image and looking properly. I thought this picture was a bit blurred but it’s actually the spray from the breaking wave. Gives it a sense of immediacy at least. Already my 3rd most popular photo on Society6.

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Dark side of the room


No pretences about art today but at least its a new photograph. In fact it’s so new that I took it about 2 minutes ago in my hall at home. Photography is all about light and here we have the full spectrum. Very occasionally, when the sun is shining and the curtains are open, the light floods our front room in a certain, it hits the glass crystals of the chandelier (not a real one you understand – its from British Home Stores), splits and shines through onto the inside of the front door. It happens very rarely and usually lasts for a minute or so and so tonight I thought I’d take a picture of it. The kids get very excited about having a bit of rainbow in the house. A short lesser blog post but i wasn’t going to let that pun get away from me…

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I don’t take many pictures of people and those that I have taken have been wedding photographs or performers at Glastonbury. I am yet to get into street photography, primarily because I find it difficult, not to mention rude. I know that if a stranger took a photo of me in the I’d want to know who they were and why they were taking it. Another thing I don’t understand about street photography is that it is drummed into you in books and magazines that when taking pictures of people you need to get permission or a release form or both, certainly if you intend to publish your image. Yet street photography is currently very in. But do street photographers seek permission for the candid intimate shots they capture? If not, what makes street photography different to portrait photography when it comes to permission etc.?

So, here is a rare picture from me of people. And since it is from a public performance then I think I am OK to use it. It’s from the mystery play of The Creation that was part of the recent Chester festival. The production featured children from local schools of all ages and the dancers here were from the Hammond School, which is Chester’s principal school for ballet, dance and the arts. I actually really like dancing in terms of going to a party, getting drunk and po-going to indie records but I have a very mixed response to dance as an art form. My wife loves the ballet whereas it leaves me cold – I am more of a words and pictures and music kind of person. Yet there I was in a tent in Glastonbury watching experimental Russian dance theatre, which I thoroughly enjoyed, even though it scared me to death.

I can however appreciate the talent, the athleticism and the beauty of dance in short bursts. The dancers in this photograph were portraying Adam and Eve in the mystery play and even a curmudgeonly old bit like me had to admit that the dancing on show from these two performers was superb.

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Harbour wall


I have just been trawling through old posts (pardon the pun) as I was sure that I had blogged this image before but it seems not.  It was taken on the harbour wall in Craster, Northumberland, which is one of my favourite places in the world. I like the texture of it, especially the ropes in the foreground. Craster is famous for its smoked kippers but these are lobster pots. Bit of a celebration tonight as I have finished the wedding photographs and its taken less than two weeks – all thanks to a lot of help with my processing and my guest blogees. Much appreciated. I now need to get back to taking some new pictures for myself, i.e. for pleasure. I am starting to get a feel for what sells in my Society6 studio [free worldwide shipping until Sunday folks] and what doesn’t and my strategy is now to plan my photographs more rigorously and maybe even come up with a long-term project or signature. We’ll see how it goes. It will be good to get back to taking pictures for myself. It’s far less stressful.

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Wedding nerves

Dean and Alex (105 of 459)

It looks like I am nearing the end of the wedding photographs. That is I have culled and chopped and tweaked and agonised and then repeated the same actions all over again. I know that I am supplying too many but I think its up to the bride and groom to pick the ones that they discard. I am terrified that they won’t like them. Don’t get me wrong, some I am really pleased with – including this one, which I think manages to convey the nerves of the wait before leaving for the ceremony more than a picture of a face could. I won’t be blogging any of the other wedding photographs as it would not be fair but I felt that this one was suitably vague to give you a hint of what I have been up to whilst all the guest blogging was going on. I will let you know what feedback I get (if any). The nerves apply as much to me as they do the bride in the picture.

All told I am looking at about 450 colour images and I have converted about 300 of these to black and white. I have no idea if this is typical, but as I say I am certain this is probably too many. My wife has told me that I should brutally cull them down to no more than 100 and she is probably right but when you have been tasked to capture a whole day, from wedding make-up to the speeches I feel that my cautious strategy is better. In other words, its the old adage that if you throw enough mud at a wall some of it will stick. Fingers crossed for a positive reaction!

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The Crash of the Elysium


Just back from Media City in Salford where the children have been to see a Doctor Who-themed show by critically acclaimed  theatre company Punchdrunk. It’s part of the Manchester International Festival, which seems to get bigger and better each year. Punchdrunk usually do theatre for adults and specialise in productions where the audience are walked through a scenario and take part in the action as it enfolds. The Crash of the Elysium is their first production for children – no adults allowed; the kids (aged 9-14) go off on their own to fight an alien menace. It was all very immersive stuff, starting off with a boring, stuffy exhibition about an old ship before all hell breaks lose, soldiers arrive and the children are whisked away to help The Doctor defeat the enemy and  retrieve the Tardis. Apparently, there were so many complaints from disgruntled adults that they have now put on some evening adult shows…

And the verdict? The best thing ever. And very very scary. The enemy revealed is one of the most frightening foes created for the show since it returned (Don’t blink) and the children were totally immersed in the excitement of it all. A letter from the Doctor at the end just sealed it. I took this photo with my phone before we went in (no cameras allowed).

As we waited for the adventure to end and the children to be returned we were able to read some of the feedback forms and it slowly dawned on me how much this old show, that I loved as a child, is still touching the lives of so many children now. Some of the feedback was so lovely – for many of the children The Doctor is real – with lots begging for a ride in the Tardis and many proclaiming that it was the best thing that had ever happened to them in their lives. Ever. Not bad for a show that is nearly 50 years old. And yes I did want to be in there with them.

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