Tuesday, 29 March 2011

We Are Moving!!!

Just to let you know that the blog is moving to a new Word Press based blog on my new website

After a few years of meaning to get round to doing a website for myself, I have at last managed to get my head round some word press and the new site is now live and working.

The training courses and photography tuition really have become very busy so they needed a web place of there own. As well as course information the new web site will have many more images many more articles and a lot more reviews. It will also be much easier for you to post comments and ask questions.

Please come along a join me... feel free to ask questions and if I can help I will. Hope to see and hear from you all over at the new site in the near future.

Thanks for you past and continued support.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Perch Rock Lighthouse

Perch Rock New Brighton
Perch Rock Lighthouse New Brighton Merseyside

Perch Rock New Brighton
Perch Rock Lighthouse New Brighton Merseyside

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Pictures From Paris

Montmartre Paris

Following on from my last post about my interest in Lo Tec images and photography using very simple pinhole cameras and the amazing Holga camera from the 1970s, here are my latest images from a recent trip to Paris.

Most of these images were taken in and around the Montmartre area of the city. For me one of the main aims of this trip was to capture images very different from the normal stock or tourist picture. So I avoided the photography hotspots and ventured a little more off the tourist trail.

I am planning a further trip to Paris very soon to document the old cemeteries which are simply amazing places crammed with the most amazing detail. These places are becoming a bit of an obsession for me at the moment and have developed an interest in wanting to explore the older cemeteries in the UK. These are proving to be just as interesting from a photography perspective and are producing some images I am really enjoying.

Montmartre Paris

Montmartre Paris

Montmartre Paris

Montmartre Paris

Montmartre Paris

Montmartre Paris

Montmartre Paris

Montmartre Paris

Montmartre Paris

Montmartre Paris

Montmartre Paris

Montmartre Paris

Montmartre Paris

Montmartre Paris

Montmartre Paris

Montmartre Paris

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Pinhole and Film

Car Pinhole

A friend just told me on twitter that its my age, it could possibly be. But I must admit to a love of images taken on film. Be it the old grainy Tri-x or the Kodak colour I grew up with I have never lost the enjoyment of seeing and holding a "real" photograph.

Pin Hole Boat

Hera are a few of my latest images taken on projects were pinhole cameras and cheap plastic lenses are the key ingredient. Its great to get away from the how many pixel and JPG v Raw debate once in a while and concentrate on the image.

Formby Point Pinhole

Pin Hole Boat 2

I am finding the art market is very keen on this type of image and for me its great to be able to go out with a cheap film camera or a pinhole converted lens cap once in a while and just look for images, without the massive photo pack, tripods and hi Res camera backs.

Lock Pinhole

My latest projects are using more and more film in various ways and I seem to be spending a lot of time on eBay looking for suitable cheap cameras. In fact I have just purchased a 1970s Olympus Trip (it cost less than a decent haircut) and I am looking at the possibility of building a view camera to use as my main pinhole film camera.

Liver Building Pinhole 2

Liver Building Pinhole 2

Its great to work on new and interesting projects and find new ways to capture images. There is a great article in this months Advanced Photographer Magazine about this very subject. Its a great read with some fantastic images. If you get chance grab a copy.

Monday, 14 March 2011

A Busy Week Of Commercial Jobs

The past week has been really busy with not only training courses but also commercial and Architectural commissions.

Tailors Chalk

It has been an interesting week and just to show how diverse a week as a commercial photographer can be in the space of two days I went from photographing macro shots for a new company web site and promotional press releases one day, to my more normal architectural work the following day using high resolution Nikon bodies and specialist Tilt and shift lenses, to record images of new construction work in Piccadilly Manchester.

Manchester Piccadilly

My daily working Life is very diverse at the moment with a very mixed bag of commercial and architectural work. The vast range of work is making for really interesting days. Some more amazing and interesting images coming up in the next few weeks.

Another Place

Another Place

Late last week I spent the afternoon on Crosby Beach in Merseyside with the aim of photographing the Famous "Another Place" by artist Antony Gormley. It was one of those days in landscape photography when the light conditions I had hoped and planed for just didn't arrive.

The wind was blowing at a brisk pace and the light was not playing ball, so never wanting to leave a location without at least some images, I took a long and muddy walk down the beach. Here are a couple of images from the afternoon.

Despite going with the aim of photographing the statues I found myself drawn more to the old structures on the beach which just seemed to be more interesting in the conditions on the day.

The fist image below, was another long exposure image taken with the Lee Filters "Big Stopper" which is a 10stop ND filter, Which reduces light intensity hitting the sensor by a factor of 10stops. This gives the ability to record movement in the image over long exposure times.

Crosby Beach Merseyside

Crosby Beach Merseyside

On this image, not only did the filter enable me to capture some movement in the cloud it also helped remove the passing dog walkers and fishermen who passed through the frame during exposure. The walking passers by simply were moving to quickly to record in the final image. The final image was a much shorter exposure, here I wanted to capture the ferry in the distance on its way into Liverpool.

This B&W image was made using the fantastic new Nic Software Silver Effects Pro. This new software is a simple to use Photoshop or Lightroom Plug in and has very quickly become part of my digital workflow.

Formby Point & Southport Pier

On another landscape trip this time a one 2 one landscape course with a new training client who had requested some photography tuition on his home patch. My client Tim, wanted to look at long exposure photography and also dusk and sunset images which had been causing him some problems in the past.

Lone Tree Formby Point

Once again the light and weather conditions were not playing ball and in many ways were not ideal for long exposure images early in the day. It was in fact a fantastic sunny and warm spring day with hardly a cloud in the sky.

We did manage some longish exposures using a full set of Lee ND filters and an fantastic little iPhone app which calculated our exposures for the 16stops of ND filters we used in a blink of an eye.So despite the lack of cloud or indeed wind we recorded the movement of the costal grasses to add more depth and interest to our images.

After a coffee break and some time to look at equipment and the best way to carry the tools of our trade, we made our way to Southport were the clear skies promised an interesting dusk shot of the fantastic pier.

Southport Pier at Dusk

Now with some new found skills with ND Grad filters and some refined exposure skills Tim was poised ready to capture the best of the dusk and sunset lighting.

Southport Pier at Dusk

All in all a really enjoyable day which produced some pleasing images for both Tim and myself. Its always interesting to look into the history of the subjects we photograph and I was amazed to find that Southport's stunning pier was only saved from demolition by a single vote when the Sefton Council wanted to pull it down....Simply beyond belief!!

Southport Pier at Dusk

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Urban Landscape Salford Manchester

Here are a few personal images I managed to squeeze in whilst working on an architectural assignment in Salford, Manchester yesterday.

Imperial War Museum North

The first image shows the amazing architecture of the Imperial War Museum (North). This superb building was designed by the architect Daniel Libeskind and opened its doors to the public in July 2002. This image was captured with a long exposure using a Lee 10 Stop ND Filter.

The building was constructed on the banks of the Manchester Ship Canal at Salford, an area which was heavily bombed during the second world war due to its importance in the construction of engines for the British heavy bombers and the Spitfire fighter aircraft.

Libeskind envisaged a 'constellation composed of three interlocking shards' with each shard being a remnant of an imagined globe shattered by conflict. These shards in turn represented air, earth and water, and each formed a functionally distinct part of the museum. The 55m high air shard, provides the museum's entranceway and a viewing balcony. The second image again shows the main Air Shard, which forms the entrance to the museum.

Imperial War Museum North

My other images show the scene at the new Media City which will become home to the BBC. The 200 acre site is being developed as a joint venture between The Central Salford Urban Regeneration Company, Peel Holdings and Salford City Council.

Media City Manchester Pano

Media City Manchester

Media City Salford Manchester

The area around Media City looks amazing at dusk as the evening light blends and balances with the artificial lights of the development. Hope you enjoy the images.

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Runcorn Bridge

I managed to get out this week do a set of pictures I have had in mind now for some time. I needed to add some images of Runcorn or Silver Jubilee Bridge to our stock collection and wanted to try to capture the massive flock of Starling which come to roost on the bridge in the evening at this time of year. Great chance to do some combined urban landscape and some wildlife images in one go.

Firstly I wanted to do some long exposure images using the Lee 10 Stop ND filter. This is a tool which is very much in fashion at the moment and so long exposure images are in demand with the photographic press. Despite a very clear sky I did manage to get a few images I am pleased with.


The long exposure in this case about 20 seconds produces a lovely velvet like texture to moving water and cloud. I would have liked more cloud to add to the atmosphere but I will try and get back on a more suitable day.

My second objective for the day was to capture a dusk image of the bridge with plenty of colour in the sky, and this second image was pretty much what I had in mind.

Runcorn Bridge

The third and possibly most important objective for me a a keen birdwatcher was to try and capture the Starling roost or "Murmation" to give it its correct name. This in my opinion is one of the greatest wildlife spectacles you can witness. It really is amazing to watch the Murmation develop from a few single birds to a massive swarm of tens of thousands of birds all performing the most fantastic aerobatics as the settle upon their roost for the night.

The Starlings are practicing pure survival as they congregate in massive numbers to evade potential predators and share warmth for the cold winter nights.

Not easy images to capture but well worth the effort. The combination of very low light and amazingly fast moving birds present a tricky subject but if you do get the chance to visit a location were the Starlings are roosting it really is a sight not to be missed.

Here are a couple of images which show my interpretation of the spectacle. The first is a shot in which I tried to capture the speed and movement of the birds as they started to gather. The second Black and White image is the shot I wanted to capture for myself.

_SPA3942_020 copy

I had the idea of showing the stunning natural shape of the Starling Flock against the fantastic man made structure of the bridge. This image I saw in Black and White.


I was pleased with the results from the day, and in particular I love the way the shape of the flock reflects the curve of the bridge in the final image.

Whilst capturing these images I also let the Nikon D3s run shooting video which looks superb. I will post the finished video file when I finish editing the footage.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Yorkshire Dales & Beyond

Yorkshire Moors

Just wanted to post a picture which I finished yesterday. Took the image late last year in the Yorkshire Dales.

I love the dramatic, moody lighting which for me captures the feeling of this bleak landscape in just the way I intended

I seem to have developed a theme of including birds in many of my B&W landscapes and my personal love of B&W landscapes seems to be growing ever stronger. Recent trips to the Cumbria side of Morecambe Bay have produced some really interesting images. All being well I should be getting round to post production on these in the next week or so.

As a strong contrast we have had some really nice sales from a series if images taken in Paris, way back in 2005. Here is one of my personal favourites from that particular set.


In contrast to the first image here for me the subject is the colour and texture of the wall and I just love the colour and tones in the wooden door. This has been a popular image for some time but has seen a big increase in print sales over the past month or so.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Nikon Capture NX2


Lightroom has been my Raw convertor of choice since it was first released and I have found on the whole to be happy with its workflow. However there has always been a part of me that just didn't really like the way it dealt with files and more importantly the way it dealt with Nikon raw files.

So I set myself a target of finding a new and better raw convertor, or should I say better for me. I downloaded trial versions of most of the top raw software packages including Aperture, Capture One and many more.

Well I am please to say that after much testing and changes to my entire workflow process I have made the move over to Nikon Capture NX.

It should have really come as no great surprise that Nikon software deals with Nikon files the best. I can say from my testing Capture NX brings things out of the Nikon files I had not even seen when using lightroom and some of the other software packages.

I am sure Lightroom will be a big part of my life for a long time to come, and if I was a Canon user then lightroom would still be my convertor of choice. Most of my training clients seem to shoot with Canon cameras so there will be a big need to keep my Lightroom skills up to speed.

I have gone back and re worked a few images and will possible look at doing more reworks over the coming weeks and months.

As part of the workflow review we have also made a few changes to our computer equipment and software packages.

My main image editing computer is now a 27" iMac Quad Core with 8GB of RAM. Our very old and long serving Mac Book Pro has been replaced with a superb new 15" i7 4GB new version.

In terms of software As mentioned Nikon Capture Nx2 is the main Raw convertor now supported by a new version of Photoshop CS5 which is proving to be a very worthy upgrade from my old CS3

The learning curve with the new software has been very easy to be honest, but a lot of time has been spent looking at better ways of backing up data and archiving our ever growing stock catalogue of images. The bank of 1TB hard drives is now six deep.

I will let you know how the new equipment and software performs in the long term, but for now its back to more post production.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Playing with Tilt and Shift Lenses

Winters Dawn

One of my favourite and most used lenses is the Nikkor 24mm F3.5 TSE. Whilst designed to enable perspective correction it also make a fantastic creative tool for some interesting photographic effects. These PC or Perspective Control lenses give a range of movements along the lines of those possible with many large format view cameras. This makes them invaluable for architectural and landscape photography

Over the past few months I have been using the lens to create some of my most popular art images. Here are a couple of examples of the things I have been doing with this amazing lens.

The technique is simple but it takes some practice to get the movement correct and in most cases a ND filter is required to get exposure times long enough to enable accurate and controlled movement. The choice of subject is also very important. Strong verticals play a big part in the success of these images.

In simple terms the lens axis is moved in a vertical or horizontal plane during the exposure.

Woodland Impression

Another really interesting effect which can be created using a tilt and shift lens is the impression of a miniature scene. The resulting image looks as if of a model. These images always remind me of my days helping my Dad build his model railway.

T&S Lens Tests

T&S Lens Tests

Not a lens I intend to purchase but very possibly a lens I will hire for shoots were its unique capabilities will enable image otherwise not possible.

T&S Lens Tests

In near future I hope to add the Nikkor 45mm F2.8 TSe lens to my camera bag. This lens will also give me a suitable focal length lens to apply the tilt shift facility to portrait images as well as landscapes. The portrait possibilities of the 45mm lens are really interesting me at the moment.

The next few images will give you some idea of the range of movements possible with these amazing lenses.

Whilst a dedicated user of the Nikon system one lens in the Canon range is of particular interest to me, and that is the 17mm TSe. I am at present looking at the possibility of using a canon/Nikon adapter which will give me access to the amazing creative and commercial possibilities of the fantastic lens.

Initial findings point to the Canon lens mount being much bigger than the Nikon mount so this may not be a possibility. There is however always the possibility of using a hire Canon body. It would hurt but in the interest of Art anything is possible.