Carrying out a recce for a new photographic workshop in Brittany, France. ...more
A couple of short videos showning the shooting conditions endured during Antigua Classic week ...more
Climbing Coire Lagan in the Cuillin Hills, Isle of Skye ...more
A dawn photo location shoot meant getting up at 4:30am - and the clocks had just gone forward - but it was worth it ...more
Three short video clips of a difficult 'flat' hike around the remote Loch Coruisk on the Isle of Skye including a photography tip #ItsAllAboutTheLight ...more
A few video clips of this magnificent view point on the Isle of Skye ...more
Checking out the route on the Isle of Skye ...more
Work in progress - Sorry ...more
A series of short podcasts taken by Julia (so not at all professional) to give a flavour of the conditions for photography on the Isle of Skye ...more
My Photography Year – Part One ...more
Nikon D2xs Pro Body
. Nikon 12-24 F4
Wide angle DX lens. Boxed with instructions. £400
Hasselblad 500c complete
Nikon 50mm F1.8
Nikon 24mm F2.8 ...more
I'm pleased to announce a new workshop in 2013 based at the George Hotel Yarmouth ...more
Soon in their 7th year, Phototrek photography workshops for beginners and improvers continue to grow ...more
Trying to be different to add impact to my images. This time, in the Rockies, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada ...more
Flying home on the plane I remembered a few points about my sail on the classic yacht not mentioned in my previous Blogs. ...more
.. a continuation of my previous blog ...more
A photographic trip aboard the classic yacht, Moonbeam IV - awesome ...more
Mutterings from this last week- New cameras at Photokina; A new lens; jobs for free; Hasselblad for sale? ...more
As an accredited photographer for the London 2012 Paralympics games my week was spent at Weymouth and Portland covering the sailing. ...more
Editing and backup ...more
July on the water! ...more
Rock and Roll - It's what we do.... ...more
The 'World Famous' David Noton and I teamed up to compare the Canon 5D Mk111 and the Nikon D800E recently. He also got me to write an article about my sailing photography. ...more
My house is rocking at the moment, from spending too long on the water covering the magnicent Pendennis Cup in Falmouth and this week, the Panerai British Classic Regatta in the Solent. ...more
What it's like to photograph and general photography advice on yacht photography ...more
Making something fit the brief ...more
A selection of useful tips to aid your photography as tweeted on Twitter ...more
I should be in the Dolomites now, instead I am sat in my office with rain lashing down onto the windows. ...more
An unscientific but practical test of the Nikon D800E dynamic range ...more
So what are the images like from the Nikon D800E? ...more
If the size of the D800E is important to you, read this little missive ...more
A review of my first practical shoot on location in the New Forest with the Nikon D800E ...more
Having just bought the camera, this is the first part of my inital thoughts and practical experiences with the camera ...more
I've just taken delivery of Nikon D800E which I will be testing soon. ...more
Julia's lying down on the chalky soil - I'm thinking how to add impact.. ...more
Female domination! ...more
A long drive from Mull, straight into a printing session. ...more
Mull is the wettest of the western Isles ...more
Three workshops, four seasons, one day ...more
Wearing only a T shirt... ...more
Elgol - remote? No way. ...more
Changeable Scottish weather - good for photographer's? ...more
Monday morning blues with jet lag
It is back to the office on Monday after an excellent 2000 mile road trip in America. Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon and a fleeting recce of Zion National Park were fabulous and a bag full of memory cards await processing together with a couple of rolls of Velvia as well. (My back up camera was in for repair at Nikon.) Sway will never be the same again. We are already planning our next trip back to North America but for now it' is the office - bugger.
Altitude, the working day and focus before megapixels in the USA National Parks in winter ...more
The Isle of Purbeck last week, London Docklands this and Cornwall Coast next week, each a different photography challenge. ...more
Front page of Travel section ...more
An all too brief experience on a 65 ft yacht in a good wind. ...more
Three Bluebell workshops now completed in ideal weather. They're out too, but don't ask me where. Who knows what would happen! www.IanBadley.com
Another full PhotoTrek in the New Forest near Burley yesterday. Good weather, good guests and good fun! I've got workshops and Phototreks at Mottisfont Abbey, Dorset and Keyhaven this week oh, and I'm now in shorts!
Just returned from a few weeks shoot in Scotland. No TV, no internet, plenty of snow though and loads of pixels to process. Stopped off in the Lake District on the way back. Location hunting over Brown Hills 500mtrs above Ullswater, trudging through snow up to my knees - was even higher on Julia! Where there wasn't snow, there was snow melt so it was very damp. Our usual trek up Catbells was fun as always though. Images will be out soon. Why not send me an email to keep up to date by registering for my Newsletter?
Keep practicing - I am
Update on Jersey
It hasn’t rained! The adverts are true! Jersey does get sun! Last weekend, (March 2010), I visited Jersey tutoring some of its residents, plus some from Guernsey. This took the form of Two to One’s; a workshop for novices on one day and a further more advanced workshop on another. Previous workshops that I have run on the island have been drenched in precipitation and indeed, the drive to the first meeting point with spots of rain necessitating the windscreen wipers, didn’t bode well. Thankfully, this was the end not the beginning of a squally weather front, leaving good tutoring weather for the remainder of my time.
Back from Alpujarras - busy processing
I'm having a busy, but successful week processing after returning from Andalucia wher I'm 'white villaged' out. It amazes me how the Spanish can afford to build all these superb roads with so little traffic on them. I thought they were hard up.....
I've had to resend out my latest Newsletter as some of it was missing when originally sent. If you haven't received your 'FULL VERSION' please email me and let me know.
Have a happy Christmas. I've just written a few suggestions on the 'something for the weekend' page if you're interested.
In true December style, an End of Year Review would not be out of order I feel - more... ...more
Frosty and Misty in the New Forest
A good frosty dawn in the New Forest yesterday. I was there and had a guest 'Join Me'. Icy ponds, frost covered heather and grasses with the slightest touch of mist into the mix as well. There will no doubt be other misty and frosty opportunities to 'Join Me' during the rest of this winter. Have a look at the Photographic Workshops page for further information.
Lulworth and Durdle Door
Well, we managed to pick the best of the weekend I think. Only the briefest of precipitation touched us. Watching the workshop guests dodge the waves at Durdle Door to get 'the shot' provided more light relief to an enjoyable day.
Busy week - Exbury Gardens, Mottisfont Abbey and two New Forest Photography Workshops
Last weekend saw two, full photo workshops at Exbury Gardens - plenty of colour and water for reflections. Most of the guests were using digital cameras for their photography as seems to be the norm nowadays, but there was also a film user as well - quite refreshing. Friday and Saturday saw two further workshops, this time centred on the beautiful autumn colours in the New Forest. The pre dawn starts were a shock to some, but we had a good time and good photography. Sunday I was back at Mottisfont Abbey for the prize giving of the photographic competition held there, supported by Lowepro. Tomorrow, Tuesday, I am off to another National Trust property, The Vyne, near Basingstoke for a PhotoTrek so that should be fun. On Saturday it's Dorset with a group for a workshop around Lulworth and Durdle Door which I am looking forward to immensely.
Cape Breton, Canada
Just arrived back from the Cape Breton National Park in Nova Scotia, Canada. Emails have been cleared (almost), body time clock getting slowly back in sync, Newsletter sent out, sold Julia to USA again, back to normal with two full workshops at Exbury Gardens this weekend - 30 guests over two sessions - there are two of us teaching though.
Arriving back to a claustrophobic UK from the wilds of Canada was a shock. I am getting drawn to the places with space and no traffic that's for sure. In Nova Scotia we had whole lakes to ourselves - and the chipmunks - whole mountain streams to ourselves - and the coyote - whole rocky coves to ourselves - and the sea eagles - I want to be back there - now!
A BIG month
It’s been a BIG month. The Torridon mountains on the west coast of Scotland with no neighbours, black nights, boggy moors, stunning skies, buckets of rain and that oh so beautiful mist nestling between the Islands of Rona and Raasay and the Cuillin Hills of Skye beyond. That was mid September and followed the week before last with the equally big landscapes of Buttermere, Crummock Water, Newlands Valley, Honister Pass and Loweswater. In each of these areas, with their rapidly changing weather systems a valuable lesson is worth recounting. Don’t give up. If I, or in the case of the Lake District, we, had taken the soft option, then the shafts of light creating the drama on the mountains would have been missed.
Waiting in the car to set off before dawn, rivers of water were running down the road from Honister. Black leaden skies provided no ambient light whatsoever. The previous evening, the guy who worked at the Met Office, promised us clear skies and wispy mist. How wrong was he! It has to be stated that he said this after he joined us in a large Coal Ila malt however. This was our last morning before driving back from the Lake District, so there was nothing to lose. Within minutes the pelting rain had stopped. As we drove down the 1 in 4 hill from Honister, the twisting pass road glistened like a river of mercury. Arriving at Buttermere, the waters were still and reflected glory presented itself before Fleetwith Pike shone briefly with gold. Mercury and gold – I should be an alchemist! Any way, the point made I hope, in rapidly changing conditions bad light becomes good very quickly. On a previous morning, my car was thick with ice. As we drove passed Crummock Water, clear of mist, we saw what looked like a sunken cloud nestling between the valley and our predestined location of Loweswater. Walking across the flood plain towards the lake we wondered whether the thick mist would lift to our benefit? It took some time, an hour and a half to be precise, but then a combination of crystal clear blue sky above pink fluffy clouds with that layer of mist reminiscent of the Excalibur moment, lying seductively above the silky smooth water. A scene of ethereal beauty described by my ‘Join Me’ photographer as ‘probably his best landscape ever’. Don’t give up but stick with your plan, It may just work.
Now on Twitter
Just signed up to Twitter if that is easier for people to be updated?
The all Day
Day three of workshops. This time with a new crew and geared towards beginners and improvers, this PhotoTrek at a new venue for these events, incorporates an area we use often, Keyhaven, together with the new Hurst Spit, its castle and lighthouse.
Meeting at the beach at Hurst, welcoming both new and frequent guests returning , this tuition day follows a fairly standard format obviously adjusted as we go along according to the experience levels of those attending.
The day is ideal for this type of tuition, bright enough to produce the colours so yearned for. Looking out to sea, there are plenty of yachts and powered craft in the bay which must all pass through the straits at Hurst to enter the Solent - ideal camera fodder. Composition is key for the days learning, mixed in with technical photography fundamentals covered commensurate with experience. To get to Hurst, we board the local ferry for a leisurely ride out through the still waters. As we approach the landing stage, the dominant white lighthouse makes its presence felt. This is used in exercises to get the photographers thinking outside the box and explore their compositional brain to help to produce impact within their images - ‘less is more’ - is normally the case and they concur. As the yachts pass by, the occasional jet ski provides some panning exercises before lunch, sat in the shade of the castle where discussion moves to such topics as histograms, the benefits of raw and white balance.
The return journey to Keyhaven on the ferry provides an ideal trip at this time in proceedings, before more exercises on composition at this idyllic fishing port on the Solent. Getting the compositional mix of the ubiquitous ladders and the essence of the village itself always tests guests but I am always enamoured by the way the photographers tackle the task.
The walk back to Hurst beach produces a scene out of the Famous Five, as a sailing dinghy gently winds its merry way through the shallows and reed beds close to the footpath. This summer time image finishes of the day of tuition for the guests and for me, a chance to refresh my throat from three days of talking. Now, a glass of Rioja or two should do the trick I think - and it does.
Often writers start with something like, “As dawn broke…”, but with dawn shoots we’re up and out well before dawn, night time really, usually without the knowledge of what the dawn will bring. As I drive across the forest at this time of day - or night - I always look to the east to try and pre-empt the sky at dawn. Clouds are good, providing the sun can break through. However the ambient light from Southampton and Fawley can mask the reality. Their warm glow falsifying the situation. Arriving at our meet point north of Burley, the sky looks okay. Cloudy, but not a blanket. Over coffee, we chat about the changing light. How the indigo blue of night, that inkiness even some car manufacturers try and copy, but none can truly replicate, very gradually at first, changes into daylight. This ‘change‘, is something dawn virgins sometimes have trouble dealing with. Almost imperceptibly, one moment it is night and the next it s day. To my mind, it seems to take place over about 8 minutes starting around 25 minutes or so before sunrise. Knowing how to operate your camera, where the buttons are, which one does what, is crucial at this time. I’ve seen many a photographer struggle on dawn shoots trying to find ‘mirror lock up’ for example. I recommend practising in a darkened room with the lights out!
Coming up to sunrise, most people concentrate on the rising sun itself, but looking through 90 degrees often brings about the pinkies into the frame. Pinkies are of course the technical term for clouds catching the pre dawn light and glowing pink as the waves of light diffuse through the atmosphere onto their surface. All this is conveyed to the guests as they fire their shutters at the sky if front of them. Its direction changing the landscape, or more precisely, the way we see the landscape, as shadows are formed in the cross light creating texture and form, where before there was flat definition. Once the sun is up, its golden rays breaking through the clouds to spotlight the remaining bell heather on the ridge, and the wispy grasses nearby as shots are composed looking down onto the moor. This is short lived however as another shower approaches. Time for breakfast.
Bolderwood beacons after the eggs and bacon and compositional exercise come into play. The shower has passed and light returns. I like to give a set of compositional aims to be included in a series of shots and let the guests work out how to achieve them. Discussing the resultant problems encountered and how they have been overcome is a great learning tool for all. Also, as the shots we take are how we see things, there are no right or wrong photographs, just differing perspectives on the view. Totally subjective.
These exercises culminated on this occasion with one final shot to be taken. Just one final composition. One final squeeze of the shutter release. One final exposure. Just one attempt at getting the ‘perfect’ composition but seeing it first of all, seeing the final image before exposing, that was the test. They worked hard as even after twenty minutes or so from starting the exercise, no sensors had been exposed. Twenty five minutes passed by and my anticipation was rising. I could see where they were, quite diverse aspects by all, but all with a common goal. Finally they one by one came over and, as they were all digitally embraced, showed me the fruits of their labours. The point of it all? To see the finished image before you’ve taken it, rather than taking hundreds and hoping there is one in there somewhere. Also, as concentration comes into play, often missed details, like branches coming into frame unintentionally get dialled out at the viewfinder stage. Without being patronising, well, in fact it doesn’t matter what I think, the photographers all felt that these shots taken were far better as a result of taking the time to think about the composition. Job done.
The debrief of the two days essentially concentrated on two main subjects, how we started the day before with composition and light and ended today with composition and light. Understanding and striving to master these greatly improves our photography. I’m still practicing - are you? ...more
Late, early, all day – The Late…
Whenever I have a job to do which starts in the afternoon, you still end up cramming a day’s office work into the morning. Last Friday was no different. The usual emails commenced the day, followed by processing, writing disks and sending them off to the libraries. A grabbed sandwich then prep for the Photographic Workshop, starting at 1pm just up the road at Wilverley, not forgetting Julia’s flapjack.
Today was the first day of the two day New Forest Workshop, based around the glorious heather. The skies were moving quickly creating dark cumulous nimbus which boded well for photography – moody skies interspersed with warm shafts of light. Yes we may get a tad damp, but as some people including me say, there’s no such thing as bad weather, just poor clothing!
We started off on the moor close by, warming up cameras and getting full into composition, becoming really selective about what to put into the frame and what to leave out. A session on depth of field and hyperfocal distance got everyone’s brain working as the rolling clouds cast alternating shadow and light onto the ling and bell heather around us. I just love the way that a patch of heather can be brought to the next level by the addition of a few shoots and leaves of fern turning yellow with the sunlight as it drapes across the fronds. A magnificent approaching cloud dispersed its contents and its size suggested a natural break for tea in Brockenhurst. As usual the discussion during the refreshment moved towards equipment on which I usually try to give an objective viewpoint. With so many cameras and lenses on the market, all capable of producing a decent image, the choice is down to many different criteria. Those who have attended a workshop will know what I use, Canon, Lowepro, Lee and Giottos, but it is not use me suggesting everyone goes out and buys a Canon 1DS MK 111, if they have a bag full of medium format lenses. It all depends on the individual situation, not least financially. Hence, I try to point out that the cameras are tools with which to do the job and you have to decide which the right tool is for you.
After tea, one of the group needed – yes that’s what he said – to return home with some pony pixels, so a hunting we did go. That’s not too much trouble in the Forest, and as luck, sorry, design would have it, as we approached along the path, a few obliging ponies, side lit with warm light, ambled through the heather grazing as they did so. Even my constant talking with various suggestions of composition, aperture, speed etc did not put them off their stride. A few of my set challenges followed, designed to make the guests think about the differing compositional opportunities available. There is often a difference of opinion here but that’s what makes it fun. There is no right or wrong photograph, just a change in subjectivity. I always give mine!
Sunset waits for no man or woman, ( it must be brave!), so our final location of the day beaconed. To the pond. The cloud system was still rolling through, just as planned. This created an exciting sky which was augmented by the setting sunlight and the reflective nature of the water. The ever present compositional alternatives were worked through before a final coffee and flapjack for the road. My large glass of Rioja awaited me before I had to victual for the morning dawn shoot.
You can view images from the day and read the guests comments here: Guest Comments and Images
What have pork pies and the David Noton Roadshow got in common?
David and Wendy Noton, (note there is no 'r' in his surname, like there is no 'r' in my surname - a per hate of us both), came over yesterday so that he and I could dot i's and cross t's for the two workshops we are running at the beginning of September. Over a pint and pork pie at the Royal Oak at Fritham, (the girls only had halfs and salad of course), we were nattering as one does and realised that I'd forgotten to mention that not only is David quite a good photographer, but has a unique style of patter, painting you a vivid picture of whatever topic he is talking about. He tells it as it is, as those who have read his many columns will no doubt know and he certainly doesn't sit on the fence. As well as the workshops I run with him, he also has a bigger stage to perform on now, the Chasing the Light Road Show. As David says, "Every picture tells a story and behind every story there is a picture." Bristol is the next venue on 9th September a few days after our workshops. If you want to see and hear what makes him and his photographs tick, click on the link below for more information. It'll be good!
"Chasing the Light Road Show"
A day at Cowes Week
Yesterday, I spent the day at Cowes for the annual Cowes Week spectacle of yacht racing. I go across every year as I love the action that takes place so close to the shore. This year didn't disappoint and I was joined by a number of photographers guests who chose to spend the day with me. The hour long ferry ride down Southampton water, which gave us the opportunity to photograph the boats as we approached Cowes. On arrival, we walked through the town, which as usual was quiet at this time in the morning, seemingly recovering from the exuberances of the night before. We pitched ourselves close to the starting guns synonymous with Cowes Week and then watched the frenetic race starts of the various classes of yacht. A brief respite for lunch, then along to Egypt point to shoot the antics of the seriously mad Extreme 40 catamarans sailing most of the time on just one hull, yards from the shoreline. One of those who came along with me shot over 400 frames! He's got some processing to do that's for sure. Health Warning: Joining me for a day at Cowes Week can seriously make you excited!
Fresh fish anyone?
The fish market on the quayside of the Vieux Port of Marseilles, the home of bouillabaisse, that heady fish stew renowned from this large southern France city, has to be included in any images from this evocative place. Having been up since before dawn, ( see previous article), storm clouds having passed to leave azur skies now. Driving down the relatively empty boulevards to the port was a pleasure at this time of day. No jams, no pedestrians to speak of and easy parking. Armed with a wide angle lens on one body and a standard lens on another, we made our way to the gathered fishermen, their wives, girlfiends, lovers, sons and boats on the quay. I have been to many fish markets, the Boquera on the Ramblas in Barcelona probably being my favourite, but this was very different. Large rectangular tray like tables holding around 100mm of regularly replenished sea water from the harbour, holding fish, many still alive and splashing away merrily. Umbrellas above the tables keeping the harsh sun off. Boxes of fish being offloaded from the boats ; transactions taking place; all good stuff for keeping my wits about me. The harsh difference between the shade and light at markets is always a problem. Sometimes I use fill in flash, but to be honest, I don’t always like the results - too artificial, so generally I will use a polariser and exposure compensation together with composition to dial out the worst effects. Getting in close with the wide angle, having asked the stall holder first, was a bit of a mistake. The still writhing fish sent a cascade of sea water over me, camera and lens. A wipe down and cautious approach ensued moving quickly getting three or four frames off , some wide open at F2.8 to diffuse the background, some at F8 which still held the speed necessary. A hard faced, woman, presumable a fisherman’s wife, moved the fish on her table around, saving them from the debilitating effects of the sun. Shouting her wares to all that would listen. I questioned her in my perfect French (LOL), whether the fish were the rascas? Famous for its eponymous bend on the race track at Monarco and many would say, the key ingredient in the aforementioned bouillabaisse. She confirmed this to be so and I asked her if I could photograph her. She transformed instantly from a hard, seen all there is to see, working woman, used to heavy lifting and early mornings with arms laced with silvery fish scales and clothes splattered with salt water and commensurably stained, into a smiling faced salt of the earth woman, who would give you the best fish supper ever, for whom butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth. She had done this before that’s for sure, so I capitalised on the opportunity. As is often the case with these types of shots, you don’t want to make a meal of it and hold up the workers from earning their living. So I fire off some frames, check the histogram and move on thanking her. Close by a pair of fisherman, their skin roasted to a leathery tan, stand together scaling fish. Further along, another wants me to take his picture as he skins a large sole ready for the waiting customer. He is unceremoniously splashed by his catch as I try to photograph him with the fishing boats behind. Silvery dorade; mottled rascas; patterned mackerel the size of cricket bats; tuna, shark, red mullet all abound here. Switching lenses according to the shots required, changing composition and exposure for the conditions ensure an action packed hour. Time for a coffee watching as the tourists start to arrive to witness the scene. A good mornings work and it’s back to the tent before 11:00am some 8 hours since waking up and still the rest of the day to go. I feel some rose with lunch and a siesta coming on.
Hot and Bothered in Marseilles
Nine hundred miles drive from home and Julia and I are camped on a hillside with glimpses of the Baie de la Moutte in the Mediterranean through the pines. Yesterday morning we drove over the Route de Cretes west of la Ciotat identifying some photographic possibilities, noting two early morning locations, before heading into Marseilles for lunch. I knew where I wanted to go, in Marseilles, but often the practical reality of locations in theory is wildly different from the actual reality. Marseilles is the bustling city you imagine. We found some real pithy areas in our exploration that’s for sure. My planned shoot was centred on evening shots of the Vieux Port, backed by the majestic Notre Dame de la Garde, positioned at the highest point of the city. What is it they say about mad dogs and Englishmen? With temperatures in the mid 30’s, it was a hot and bothered recce. We considered moving out of the city for a few hours, but instead, Julia decided to give the car parking attendant some fun, inadvertently I might add, to see how many times at different locations they would ask her if she needed help with the ticket machines - don’t ask! Sipping Pastis, people watching passed the time instead. Later, we grab a steak frites waiting for the light to change to the warm hues before the twilight. Many a time I have left Julia sat at a restaurant by herself while I go shooting when the service is slow. She is used to it now so no paddies. But this evening is not one of those occasions. On the quayside the buildings on the east side slowly turn warm and the shooting starts. The ND de la Garde is not lit yet. Market stalls on the quay selling fragrant soap, olive oil, jewellery and plants vie for space amongst the throngs of people milling around. A group of church evangelists from Germany gather a large crowd as they sing and play guitars for the on lookers. The light is coming, or to be truthful, going. I’m in position with my Giottos tripod legs balancing precariously centimetres from the waters edge. Local fishermen with rod and line sit beside me on this balmy evening. The ‘Garde lights up and my phone rings. It’s my daughter, Anna ringing with her daily update of emails and letters etc from the ‘Office‘. Luckily I am already setup, focused with mirror lock-up and remote release attached. Dictating letters whilst firing shots, compensating for exposure and adjusting orientation for the different images required as the light constantly changes, was something I hadn’t planned for. A call back was necessary. At times like this, I need to make sure that it hasn’t been a WOTAM, (waste of time and money, sometimes there is an added letter!). I check carefully the critical points of the magnified image. No it’s is not a true display of accuracy, but I am used to how it should look. One composition looks ropey. Is it my tired eyes or is it woolly? I can’t take chances so I re-shoot. That’s better. It’s getting dark now. Too dark to shoot night scenes, so I pack up, collect Julia sitting ever patiently guarding my Lowepro on the quay close by and we make our way back for more fun with the car park attendant. One of the jobs done.
Leaving the car park, the mother of all traffic jams. A crossroads leading onto the Vieux Port. All four roads jammed. Traffic lights stuck on red. A VW polo trying to turn the wrong way down the road. Horns blaring. Still 33 degrees and 10:30pm. Comical in its absurdity. Did we laugh - you’ve got to really. After midnight back at the tent, the red wine went down a treat.
Lightning and Thunder
Lightning and thunder
Lightning and thunder woke me before the alarm, set for 4:00am, had its chance of doing so. Were we still going to head off? I looked out of the tent. It was still dark of course and very dark where the rains were, some miles off. The pre dawn glow showed a clear sky with stars visible in places, so we were off. As Julia and I drove towards the Route de Crete above la Ciotat, the sky deluged. Thankfully there was little other traffic around. Passing through the streets at this time in the morning the smell of the Boulanger wafted into the car providing us with the stark reminder that we had not had breakfast. Leaving La Ciotat we climbed the road to the Semaphore, located high on the cliff with some 300metres shear drop over the cliff to the sea below. Looking east the mountains had a ribbon of fiery sky above them, bordered with thick black clouds. The lights and glow from the port led the view around the bay to the mountains rising up beyond. The warm glow of the ‘fire’ hinting at its presence in the sea below. With the Giottos taking the camera; my own frame protecting the gear from the wind; an umbrella keeping the squally rain from the lens - set at 200mm I fired off a couple of frames checking the histogram. In this low light I didn’t need to use a grad but I was concerned that the tonal difference between the orange band and the dark sky would be an issue. It wasn’t, but I set about recording a good range of tones on the histogram. The changing weather system kept me on my toes. A few frames were lost due to a few droplets of rain hitting the lens, despite my constant checking and cleaning. Just par for the course I guess. Looking west, the sky was clearing. There were still a few minutes before sunrise but I was unsure how long the sun would take to clear the mountains. The azimuth as it is known, can alter the sunrise from its horizon clearing time and angle by as much as an hour in some places. I knew the shot I wanted and the main reason I had come to this point. I wanted the first golden glows to touch the pine and brush of the cliff tops and, looking down towards the numerous fingers of calanques jutting out into the med, their limestone rock also sporting the golden hour glow, before the composition tailed off with the few islands lying slightly off shore. As the sun peeped over the mountains, there was still heavy cloud and only a few shafts of light made their way to where I was. Occasionally, the vegetation would light up as intended, but the cliffs remained shrouded in heavy rain. Corresponding glimmers of hope showed the cliffs lit golden by the breaking dawn light. Alas never the twain shall meet. The dark clouds made way to a milky sky too flat for the shots I wanted. The moments had passed. A quick review and chimping, (the ooh, ooh, ooh, aghh aghh aghh sound when you make when you review the shots taken), showed that there was usable material and it was worth getting up for. Now, at close to 08:00am, Julia and I are headed off to the Vieux Port at Marseilles for the daily fish market.
County Press - Ferry delayed - rant!
Can you believe it. I booked online some time ago for an 08:15 ferry to the Isle of Wight, giving me plenty of time to reach the County Press shop in Newport by 10:00 where I was going to be signing my Portrait of the isle of Wight book. I checked in at 07:35 just as a ferry was leaving, collected my ticket, showing the sailing time of 08:15. I sat outside looking out to sea but there was no ferry arriving. At 08:10, I asked at the desk to be told that the 08:15 had been cancelled some time before , oh, and it was on the web! I informed them that if it was on the web then they could have emailed me so that I could have made alternative arrangements and by the way, why was my ticket printed with the 08:15 sailing and why wasn't I told of the cancellation when I checked in!!! ARGHH!!
Suffice to say that I arrived late for the book signing. My apologies to those it affected and a big thank yiou to the County Press staff who were understanding and looked after me well when I finally did arrive.
Picnic in the sun
A last minute email saw me out and about yesterday shooting a local landscape including a picnic oblique al fresco scenario or hinting at it. The early morning weather was good but I soon had a white out sky, not much good as the prefix to the brief was 'a blue sky' shot. So I came back and processed what I had and emailed them off before going out in the evening light to shoot some more, this time with blue sky and white fluffies in a warm evening light. They have gone off as well now. It's a good job I went when I did as there ghas been no chance of a replication since then sky wise.
Keyhaven, Jersey, New Forest, Mudeford, New Forest....
I'm back in the office today catching up following a busy week. Last Thursday saw a beautiful evening an Keyhaven running a PhotoTrek for novices then the following morning I was on the Island of Jersey, bathed in brilliant sunshine, conducting a 2:1 tuition session. The next two days saw me running a workshop for beginners and improvers, again on the island followed by another 2:1 on the Monday. Last Thursday we were at Mudeford for a Phototrek - our first at this location - which worked out well so we will be returning there in the near future. On Friday I was in the forest honing skills with a solicitor on a 1:1 training session followed by another 1:1 with a head teacher yesterday. Tomorrow it's Mottisfont Abbey for a Phototrek featuring the Roses and Thursday is a PhotoTrek at Rhinefield. So today I'm sorting out emails and new events for later on this year and next. It's all go - I love it! If you want to be kept informed of what's going on and new workshops, the do send me a quick email from the contact page.
I've just been going over the final details for the PhotoTrek at Mudeford Harbour next week, (Thursday evening). It's absolutely gorgeous there. Lobster pots, fishing cottages, beach boats water - brilliant. This will be the first workshop for beginners and improvers that has been run here, so I'm looking forward to it.
My first book, 'Portrait of the Isle of Wight' was published last week by Halsgrove Publications. It is a picture book including record shots of the Island as opposed to a photography book per se, showing an essay if images taken over the past few years. Yesterday I was at Waterstones in Newport (IoW) signing the book and I would like to thank all those of you who came along, had a chat and purchased the book - it was good to meet you all. Click here for more information ...more
We arrive in Annecy late afternoon. The sun is shining as we stroll around the lake getting our bearings. The forecast still looks naff and the wind is getting up, but we make the most of now. Later, we are sat at a street cafe in the old town, with its tall buildings and cobbled streets, eating tarteuflette, when the rain starts. People scurry around looking for cover. Some have umbrellas, most don't. I have the Canon with me but no tripod. Leaving Julia to fend for herself, (not an unusual occurrence), I find myself a drain pipe. I know that I'll end up ditching most if not all of the images, but you've got to try haven't you. I wedge the Canon against the down pipe, myself against the wall, and eye up the composition. The rain has driven some of the people into drier habitats. There is a bored waitress standing outside an empty cafe texting. A couple walk past me into the frame on the glisteneing wet cobbles. Here goes. Holding my breath I very slowly squeeze the shutter, letting the camera determine when to expose. I hear the shutter release but I keep my finger where it is to minimise movement. The curtain closes and I review the image. Too difficult to see in these conditions but I'll keep it for now. Further attempts are made here and a littel further down the street where a group of lads are sat outside under an umbrella drinking before calling it a day. I love a challenge and this has been one. Click on the title to see my attempt.
Italian Riviera - Cinque Terre
Decision made. We are heading up to Annecy and take a rain check there, but on the way we are going to stop off on the Italian Riviera to see what that's about. We won't be able to stop and get a real feel, but it should allow us the opportunity to see whether it's worth coming back to. The area is notoriously busy, not one of my favourite adjectives in this sense, but also notoriously pretty. Our drive down to the fishing port of Levanto, technically not one of the Cinque Terre villages, proves both notorieties correct. Colourful pink and yellow houses tightly packed on the steep mountainside running down to the Mediterranean sea. Better than this in my view however, are the tiny villages further inland - definitely worth a revisit. Tomorrow Annecy.
Tuscany - Day 7
The dust rises on the track as they drive off into the distance. The workshop has ended and the guests make their way home. I’m knackered! It was a great weekend from my point of view and no doubt the questionnaires will tell the whole story. To wind down, Julia and I walk across the rolling hills that we have been photographing covered in swirling mist on the previous dawns, into Pienza. Sat dinking grapefruit soda’s in the shade of the square, we debrief in preparation for next year, when no doubt, we’ll be back again. A few tweaks here and there but ostensibly the same format which so far appears to have worked a treat. Tomorrow we are off. We were going up to the Dolomites, but the following week’s weather looks awful, so we have a change of plan. We don’t know where we are going….yet!
Tuscany - Day 6
The last early start for the group and the first one where we are going for a short drive instead of the usual walking. It’s only five minutes away to shoot over the valley as the dawn breaks, including the infamous Belvedere. (Well it’s here so you’ve got to really!) It’s still dark as we walk through the wild flowers and poppies heavy with dew, soaking the trousers. Just me and the crew up here as the light mist swirls below us, encircling the hillock based Belvedere. Further into the valley the mist is thicker and as the sun comes up, stakes of golden light illuminate the hill crests in a scene reminiscent of many a previous Tuscan image, you know, the ones you’d always want to take. As we leave, more pairs of photographers arrive. That’s always a good feeling. We’ve been up, got the best locations, shot the best scenes in the best light as they arrive to take second pickings. A short drive onto ’our track’ again, but this time nearer Pienza. The sunlight takes longer to reach here, so again we are in prime position for this composition. Here the mist is thicker and the trees more prevalent as the sun shafts delve through them burning off the dew. Later its Montefollonico and Rocca d’Orcia with Vitaleta thrown in for good measure. I hope they enjoy.
Tuscany - Day 5
Today’s mist is different to yesterday. Less dense generally, but as is usual in this area, there are a few places which are cooler and thick mist is lying there. As the sky is clear, I advise the workshop guests that the light will become strong much quicker than yesterday and shielding the front of the lens from the sun light to reduce flare will be a must. Part of the workshop includes location finding. This doesn’t mean driving miles as we have got what we need right on the doorstep so to speak. But the difference a 50 or so metres makes, can turn a good shot into a great shot compositionally. We are spoilt here, as there are opportunities which ever way we look. The skill comes in identifying them, composing them and then exposing for them correctly. Today’s first lessons begin!
After breakfast, it’s a processing tutorial and a chance to review the images taken to date, followed by a short trip to the hilltop village of San Quirico, where we also take lunch in a cool courtyard before a siesta. The late afternoon is spent in the historic town of Montepulciano before moving out into the countryside to put into practice some more composition experiences as we shoot the town, its towers and the San Biagio church in the golden hour to round off the day.
Tuscany - Day 4
Standing at the end of the cypress lined driveway to Il Rigo at 05:10 it is dark, with that indigo hue synonymous with this time of day - or is it night? The workshop guests crubch along the gravel at our meeting point after a full dinner the previous night. There are some bleary eyes around and a look of wonder on some faces. Over to the east we can just make out the hilltop town of Pienza, with a lightening sky behind. Climbing over the nearby rise looking into the valley of Orcia, we can make out the mist lying low. There are ribbons of cloud in the sky providing us with many shades of blue in this pre dawn The rapid change between night and day takes place and as the sun creeps over Pienza, more mist is raised from the hollows below us. Shutters are released, histograms are checked and images recorded. A good mornings start. After beakfast it's off to the flower market in Pienza before lunch, a siesta and finishing off with evening shoots of trees, vines and patterns in the hills north of San Quirico. A long day.
Tuscany Day 3
The guests arrive today. Just time to check out the final locations and make sure nothing has changed from last year. Location finding is always interesting. Sometimes you come across something having studied the map beforehand, to find a gem of a view. Other times what looks to be good proves disappointing. Today, having revisited one shoot location, Julia and I re check the map and notice the possibility of a different view from the same subject. It means a few miles in detour, but nothing is too much trouble to get the best view. Down tracks, over railway lines, climbing hills and what do we find? You've guessed it, a naff scene. Never mind, some you win and some you lose. However, unless you try, you don't succeed. Going the extra mile does pay dividends in the long run
Tuscany - Day Two PM
Tuscany - Day Two PM
Having spent the day researching locations, dotting I’s and crossing t’s, marking maps and checking sun rise and set positions, the evening foray is a walk to Vitaleta, on the hills near Pienza. The sun is still warm and its heat through the day has raised some fair weather clouds moving across the sky. Vitaleta, an abandoned church, is on the list of shoot locations for the guests arriving for the workshop tomorrow and is curtained by a number of cypress trees. Owing to its location, it can be shot dawn and dusk at this time of year, as it is very photogenic from either end. However, fatigue is setting in and I’m making silly mistakes. Checking around the edge of the frame as usual for ‘annoying intrusions’ is no problem, all is clear. The focus point is okay also as is the depth of field. Then, after a series of images I note that the ISO is set from a previous shot at 800! Luckily there is still enough warm light to take the shots again back on ISO 100, but it’s annoying non the less. And then, I fall in a ditch! No bones broken but time to call it a day.
Tuscany - Day 2
Tuscany - Day Two
The 05:30 twitter of the birds raises me from my slumber. A peep out of my window towards Belvedere shows another morning of thick mist although at the moment, it is very ‘blue’. Colour temperature and thermal temperature a chilly as I step outside onto the dew laden grass and walk down the track. As the sun rises and night turns to day, it is a different mist from yesterday. Much thicker, but much lower, with the tops of bushes being lit by the yellow first rays. With the sun on my left, I climb a small hill and set up looking towards Monte Amiata, the high mountain of the area still with a smattering of snow near the summit, rising in the distance. This cross light shows the textures in the rolling hills, ubiquitous in this sprawling valley, also creating a fabulous recession again. As with all shots, the composition is key. My first set up doesn’t work exactly so a few feet to th e left is needed to dial out the problem bush. Zoom lenses are all well and good, but they don’t alter your perspective in themselves, just the angle of view, and it’s amazing what a few extra feet can do! Just this small move has brought into play a much better composition, making it a much cleaner image with less clutter to confuse the viewer. After checking that the cross light isn’t hitting the front element of the lens, which can cause flair and reduce contrast, I move the mirror and fire the shutter exposing the millions of pixels we all pay such good money for. Job done.
The trip to Tuscany
The trip to Tuscany
First stop, Burgundy, second stop, Piemonte, finally Tuscany, just east of Montepulciano. It sounds like a wine tour, but is in fact a 1200 mile drive in preparation for my Tuscany workshop which starts this weekend. Staying at an Agritourismo, in the Valle d’Orcia, we’ve not far to go for the dawn shoots planned. Indeed, this morning at 05:15, within just 200 metres of my bed, I started shooting. Mist covered the valley and through the next few hours, it swirled, rose, twisted and finally burnt off, providing a cornucopia of photographic opportunities. Forgetting the view on the back of the camera and exposing for the histogram, I can be sure of capturing the low contrast scenes in front of me. Later, when processing, I can recreate the view - mist laden valleys; rolling hills; Tuscan sun steadily rising; Podere with cypress trees popping through the recession of valleys; all good stuff. Using standard and medium telephoto lenses mainly and playing with the aperture to suit, stopping down to smaller apertures only when deep depth of field demands, I have bagged some good shots I feel. Later Julia and I will check out some of the other locations planned, to make sure they’re still feasible and not surrounded by cranes or whatever, before exploring a little more of this wonderful area.
Yesterday was spent at Canon UK headquarters at Woodhatch being 'Canonised'. What did this mean? A day spent surrounded by a multiplication of Canon hardware to play with, from the 1000 to 1DS Mk111 and everything in between, trying to learn the differences which will help me on workshops and Barry and me on PhotoTreks. As well as cameras, we also had lenses to play with: kit lenses; L series; DO; tilt and shift; what a selection. It wasn't just playing, some valuable tips were passed on which can also be passed on to guets on workshops now. I'm off to Exbury this afternoon, doing a route check for tomorrow's PhotoTrek there.
Preparations for September
David Noton and his lovely wife Wendy came to stay yesterday. We spent a few hours out and about in the New Forest preparing for the two workshops that we are running here later in the year. Locations for the dawn shoots were visited and assessed together with a number of other areas to be covered. You see, it's not just an arrive and 'We'll work it out on the day', they are all planned to try and make sure that guests have a good time and gain from the experience. We have a lot planned!
To the Lakes
I'm off to the Lake District for a few days shooting and recce. For those too nervous to venture come on a workshop, there are always PhotoTreks going on. These are designed for novices, although that does not seem to quell more intermediate photographers from coming along to hone their skills! I run these events with the jovial Barry and have added a lot more dates in the past few days. They are also run at National Trust houses and the stunning Exbury Gardens famous for its azalias and autumn colour. Follow the link from the Workshop pages.
Away at the moment
I'm currently in northern Spain having been shhoting in the beautiful Picos de Europa and the Valle D'Ordesa in the Pyrennees. As we speak, I have just arrived in Bilbao before travelling back to Blighty. Anna has been holding the fort in the office and I know that a number of workshops and PhotoTreks are now full or filling up. I will update the website with the current position as soon as possible on my return. Please do email me if you wish to enquire about a workshop as I will then be able to get back to you directly.
Couscous and tajine
A strange heading I know, but there is only so much one can take. We arrived back in the early hours of this morning from Morocco, Marrakech in fact. It was my first time there, the trip prompted by a suggestion for me to run a workshop there. Well I'm well and truly souk'd out. We got lost so many times in those dark fascinating places which were in complete contrast to the vast wilderness at 2000mtrs in the Atlas mountains. There the tiny Berber houses, collect into a Moroccan version of 'Village Perche' , incongruous with satellite dishes. Shooting either side of sunset, high above the Jeema el Fna, watching and smelling the plumes of charcoal smoke wafting above the stalls was a sight and experience to remember. Transfering that sensual experience into pixels was my task. Watch this space to see if I've achieved it. The pixels have been downloaded, all 28gb of them, the editing begins! It's good to be back.
Reader Workshop Article uploaded
The link to the PDF files of the reader Workshop article in Digital Photographer magazine is now available. Read it from the News Section
Our first PhotoTrek of the year took place last Sunday. The Guest comments and images from those guests should be available soon on the PhotoNewForest website.
Customer Feedback from the January workshops and One to Ones held
I've just uploaded the feedback from my post event questionnaires received together with some of the images that they took on the workshops. Have a look on the Customer Feedback
I've just managed to upload the link to PDF files of the Stock Photography article in Digital Photographer magazine. Read it from the News Section
I'm also preparing for the Portland Workshop which starts bright and early tomorrow morning.
Isle of Wight put to bed
The Isle of Wight project has finally been put to bed, packaged and sent off which is a relief. I can now get back on to processing the backlog of other images. Today is the deadline for my hold on the Tuscany Workshop accommodation for which there are two places left, so if you are interested then please let me know asap. I spoke to David Noton yesterday who is currently languishing in the hills of a rainy season soaked Bali. He was saying that usually there is good light but currently it was poor so he was twiddling his thumbs a bit - shame. The responses I have received from the Jersey workshop last weekend have been good so far. Once all the replies have come back, I will see if another can be put together for June. I've got another One to One workshop on Monday so I am looking at the weather anxiously. Anyway, if you gate the cahnce to shoot snow, then don't forget to over expose slightly to avoid a grey snow scene. If you don't know what I'm talking about, then come on a workshop and find out.
On the 'red eye'.
Having spent the last four days on dawn to dusk workshops on the island of Jersey and now waiting for my flight home having risen at 04.30, I'm knackered! Ethereal water, coastal scenes, rock formations, night photography - they've all been covered and indeed later judged at the Jersey Photographic Club last evening. We had interesting skies, sun rises, sunsets and a touch of rain, but I think everyone enjoyed themselves? I certainly did. The post event questionnaires will tell the truth I guess?
Thank you to all who attended.
Portland Workshop Full
I spent yesterday over on the Isle of Wight again plugging holes in my portfolio of images. It ended up being good light wise which together with the strong winds made for some really exciting seas. I am planning a full day workshop over there soon. If this is of interest then please email me and I will add you to the mailing list. Oh, by the way, the Portland Photographic Workshop on February 9th is now full. This event will be repeated so again, let me know if this is of interest to you.
Newsletter sent out
My latest Newsletter has been emailed out and already it is out of date! The October 31st 'Autumn Colours' workshop is now full already. As such, I have added a new date being the previous day, Friday 30th October 09. Details are on the Photographic Workshop
page. If you would like me to keep you updated of my photographic activities by Newsletter, then please email me from the home page
Digital Photographer Workshop article out now
A few of you are aware that a couple of months ago I ran a 'one to one' workshop for Dave Johnson. He won the day with me as a prize offered by Digital Photographer magazine. They have written an article of the day, complete with some of Dave's comments and images. Also included are some of the tips that Dave found most useful and will carry forward to further his photography. The magazine with the article, (issue 78), is out now and makes an excellent read with lots of other interesting articles and advise including one about stock photography, which I have also contributed to.
Enjoy the read.
Holidays are over
Well that's all over for another year then. I hope you all had a good time and I wish you a very happy New Year. For me it's back to processing the Isle of Wight images. (Read the previous blog).
I have a deadline to meet and it's looming fast. So for the past few days I've been busy processing Isle of Wight images. I still have lots more to do, but at least I am breaking the back of the task. A few of them have just been uploaded onto the 'Latest Work' gallery. I would appreciate your comments, as I have to make my selection for submission soon.
Have a good New Year.
Only a few left
Despite being this close to Christmas, I am still receiving bookings for next years workshops. The Workshop with David Noton on Saturday 5th September has only a couple of spaces left with a few more available for the Sunday; there is only one space left for Portland in February and I've also taken bookings for New Forest autumn next year! Now, I must send off the confirmations. Don't get too stressed, Christmas is a time to enjoy!
Hamble at dawn
Following a late call yesterday afternoon, I went to Hamble this morning before dawn. Luckily there were a few wispy clouds around to break up the otherwise clear sky and a few million pixels were exposed before the light became too harsh.
I've spent all morning so far dealing with voucher requests and workshop reservations for 2009! I know that my Photographic Workshops are limited in numbers, but a few of them only have one space left, which I'm really pleased about. I suppose I should have anticipated that vouchers would be popular in the run up to Christmas but it isn't getting my processing done! I have a publisher deadline advancing rapidly and to be honest, I'm can see the purchase of some midnight oil approaching! I'm still getting annoying texts from that Noton guy, telling me how wonderful it is in South Africa. Still, he and Wendy return to realisation at the end of the week. At least we're acclimatised already!
Workshop dates added
I've just added some new workshop dates for 2009. This isn't a full definitive list as I'm still awaiting some details to be finalised. Have a look on the Photographic Workshop page for further details via the home page
London Camera Exchange this Saturday (29th November)
There is an in-store Canon event being held at London Camera Exchange in Southampton (Civic Centre branch), this Saturday from 0900 until 1730. I will be attending from noon along with colleague Barry who will be there from 9am, so why not pop in for a chat and also have a look at the new Canon cameras?
Newsletter out soon
My next newsletter is due out very soon. If you would like to receive it, then email me from the home page
There will also be some new workshop dates added soon, but I'll keep you informed.
Highcliffe Castle Exhibition
Well here goes. Today I've just finished taking a load of prints, framed and unframed to Highcliffe Castle in Dorset. I am exhibiting there until 23rd December 08 in the Anti Library, so why not take a look if you're in the area? You can of course also buy any prints direct from this website if you wish. Why not browse through the galleries from the home page