12 December 2013

Always be prepared

This week I wanted to test out a shiny new lens so I decided to take a bimble around the New Forest for a couple of hours one sunny afternoon.

After spending half an hour watching one of the best sunsets I've seen in a long time, it was getting rather cold, so I packed up and started to drive home.  Or at least that's what I thought.

I'd just driven over the Beaulieu Road Station bridge, and was greeted with a low fog / mist on the landscape.  It was hugging the ground, perhaps no more than a metre in "height", but in the fading light (it was nearly dark now) it made for the most amazing scene.

Although I wasn't expecting to need a tripod, I always keep my spare stupidly heavy Manfrotto steel tripod in the van for just such occasions.  A torch however was sadly lacking, so it was a case of stumbling and tripping my way through the undergrowth.

My point is, wait, what was my point?  Oh yes.  You never know when you're going to find the "perfect" light / location, so always be prepared to capture it.

All photos taken with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 with the 12-40mm f2.8 lens. 

Oh, the bright white light in the sky on the final photo is apparently Jupiter.  At least that's what I was told!

26 November 2013

Shooting deer in the New Forest

"Hunter" Melissa Bachman made the headlines recently with a photo of her posing over a lion she'd just "hunted" and killed in South Africa.  I found this photo so disturbing that I posted it on Facebook / Twitter.

Apparently she makes a living out of hunting magnificent wild animals for fun. 


For fun?


Now before anyone calls me a hypocrite because I eat meat and use leather products...  For me there is a huge different between hunting for fun and hunting for survival (ie food).

I struggle with my words at times, partly why I used the tagline "I talk in pictures, not in words" and others will be able to make the "against hunting for fun" argument much better than I ever could.

What this blog post is about is how Melissa has inspired me to go out and shoot more wild animals myself.  I'd argue that shooting with a camera is just as much of a thrill than killing a defenceless animal with a powerful rifle.  It's probably also more of a challenge to get that perfect image.

Melissa, not that you'll ever read this, but how about you pick up a camera and shoot with that instead.  The beauty is the animals you shoot will still be alive for others to photograph the following day.

I had a spare couple of hours one sunny winters afternoon, so I went to the Bolderwood Deer Sanctuary in the New Forest.  The last time I visited there wasn't a deer to be seen, but this time there were lots basking in the late afternoon sunshine.

These are a few of my favourite photos from my visit to Bolderwood.  Feel free to leave comments below...

(I love how the final picture shows just how well the deer merge into their surroundings).

11 November 2013

It's impossible to please everyone all of the time?

This graphic popped up on my Facebook stream last night.   I've recreated it to tone down the language, but I'm sure you can figure it out for yourselves.

It reminded me of a little incident that occurred at the end of one of my New Forest Photo Experience Days the other week.

One of my clients who'd just spent the last 5 hours with me, waved as I was driving out of the hotel car park.  She wanted to talk, so I stopped and wound down the window.  She wanted to tell me how much she didn't enjoy the day with me.  Just to make this clear she'd said nothing to hint at her unhappiness during the previous 5 hours, although I did hear her mutter a few comments that gave me the impression that everyone might not be okay.   Being part of a group of I think 13 people that day, there wasn't the opportunity to ask her individually about this.

I had some feedback left for me on the Groupon website from people who attended that day...

  • "Lovely day out. I learnt a lot and would definitely recommend to others who want to know how to use their cameras to the best effect."
  • "TERRIBLE A disgrace that groupon take on such a bore uninteresting dull man !!!! I want to take this further because I feel he has stolen my money because he did not deliver what he preached !!!!!! My friend was so upset by his attitude I was embarrassed because it was a birthday present to her !!!"
  • "Fantastic course with excellent tuition."
  • "It seems as if this man is only doing these courses for extra money. If you do not have a digital SLR camera, you do not have a real camara, and he tells you so. He is almost waiting for somebody on the course to run it for him. At lunch he will not talk if you ask him any qestions, he is more intrested in his ipad. I can not recommend this course with him."
Again these were all from people who attended the very same day.

Constructive feedback (even when negative) I can deal with, but just how seriously should I take comments that are overly personal and so poorly written?

It really is impossible to please everyone all of the time.


It’s a well known fact that my words often get me into trouble.   My review of a previous fitness event was perhaps a bit too honest.  Although I stand by my words, it lost me a fair bit of business.  I wrote the review at the time in the hope that the organisers would listen and improve things at future events.  

So...   The first ever WBFF event in the UK.   Was it the best UK fitness show I’ve ever seen.   Bloody hell yes!  Was there room to improve?   For sure!

I’ve met Paul Dillett (the top man and founder of WBFF) a few times now, having been at a couple of the WBFF events in Canada, including the big Toronto World Championships some years ago.  Paul dropped my name when he was introducing the show on stage on Saturday evening at The O2, I said to him way back then that he should bring the show over here.  Fast forward a few years and here it was, in one of the best venues in London...

It’s showtime!

I should point out, that while I very much want to be a part of WBFF going forward in the UK, I am not a part of their organisation, and neither was I paid to be there.

Two hundred and fifty competitors, with entry closed some 10 weeks prior to the event.  I think that says all you need to know about the popularity of WBFF.

With registration and the athletes meeting taking place the day before the event, it really did feel like I was at one of the North American events.  The hotel, the Marriott at Canary Wharf was excellent, but sadly too expensive for me at over £200 a night.

I knew the stage and the lighting was going to be superb, and I wasn’t disappointed.  I still see so many photos from so called top UK bodybuilding and fitness events that use roller banners on stage...  Have a bit of respect for the athletes who work so hard to get there and give them a good looking stage to perform on!

The music, although excellent (kudos to the DJ!) was too loud for me and I need to thank the friendly security guard for finding me a pair of ear plugs.  Note to self, WBFF shows are louder than an Indian wedding disco...  bring ear plugs!

I had backstage access, and I could see how well James was managing the athletes there.  Given the numbers of competitors they had to deal with, the whole backstage team should get a special mention for producing such a slick show!  Nathan, the compere for the evening was most excellent.

The quality of the competitors was out of this world.  I called one of the winners, Abigail Edwards, who I first worked with 7-8 years ago.  It was her first show, and she won.  Excellent!

It really was a hell of a show though!   

Two WBFF UK shows in 2014, one in June and a pro / invitational show in November.  I very much hope to be a part of both of them.  Thank you to Paul, Allison and Shaun for bringing WBFF to the UK!  Looking forward to seeing you again in 2014.

PS.  Official event photos are coming from Toby.  I'm just posting a small selection of my favourites here. 

23 October 2013

Peter Gabriel at The O2

So (pun intended), I get to see Peter Gabriel again in London.  I worked out that the two nights at The O2 were the 13th and 14th time I've seen him.   From Los Angeles to Budapest, he never fails to put on a great show.  However, it's not just about the music, it's about meeting up with old friends and hopefully making some new ones.

On the second night at The O2 I found myself on the floor about 20 rows back from the stage.  They seem to be much more relaxed on allowing digital cameras these days, and I was able to get my Olympus OM-D E-M1 complete with a 75mm (150mm equivalent) in.  Not nearly a long enough lens, but it was all I had, so I had to make do.

These are my favourites.

07 October 2013

RIP Phil Oldham

This is a little tribute page to Phil Oldham of Falconhigh that I've put together. 

Please leave your comments below.

I'm not the best with words, but ...   I met Phil just 4 times, so I didn't know him all that well.  What I can say is that he was a man passionate about his falcons.  He looked after my Photo Experience Day groups and me really well each time we visited.

RIP Phil. 

28 August 2013

A Grand Day Out in Bristol

Since I first heard about the 80 Gromits taking over the streets of Bristol I've wanted to get myself out there to photograph them.  Finally, with less than 2 weeks before they vanish I found myself on a train heading to Bristol.

The train was late, but the sun was shining.

My target was for 40 Gromits.  By lunch I'd done 26, and my feet were killing me.  I'd done most of the Gromits in the southern bit of the city, around the water. 

A burger, a cup of tea, and an hour long sit down and I was ready to go again.

At lunch I made the decision to "get" the Gromits in the Queen's Road area.   If I'd have known it was at the top of a bloody great hill I may have decided differently.

Six more Gromits and some very hurty feet later and I "only" had the 13 in the Shopping Quarter to go.  I admit I did collapse in a bit of a sweaty heap half way down the Christmas Steps, and again in a comfy sofa at the Bristol Marriott.

Sadly idiots walk among us and two of the Gromits had been vandalised and had been taken away for repair.

Some 6 hours after arriving I found myself back at Bristol Temple Meads station and rewarded myself with an ice cream.

Despite my feet, I'd had a brilliant day out.  It was the first time I've walked around Bristol in about 20 years, and it has to be said that it's quite a cool city.  Lots to see, dozens of funky cafes.  I liked it.

According to my pedometer I'd walked just over 25,000 steps, or around 12 miles.  I'm fitter than I though.

Criticisms, only two small ones spring to mind.  The map was a bit vague in places, making some of the Gromits rather tricky to find.  Also there should have been Gromit Maps available at the train station.  It was more by luck, and asking a fellow Gromit hunter where she got hers from that I was able to find myself a map.

Overall though, a GRAND DAY OUT!