8 AUGUST 2019 - An interesting moral/social debate cropped-up a day or two ago when I was doing my periodic check to see who had taken-up my work. For those of you who aren't aware, I display a lot of my work on Unsplash......an image sharing site. The work goes there on the clear understanding that it is copyright free. If I share a photo of a wind turbine, a website dealing with conservation issues might use it to illustrate an article on renewable energy sources. If they are 'nice' they give you a photo byline credit for it. If you see one of my images and think it would make nice pc wallpaper, you can download the image and use it. All free of charge. What set me thinking though was a guy who had downloaded my BMW photo and was selling copies of it on the Displate website. How sad is that? Yes, what he is doing is legal. However how low have you stooped to take someone else's photo and make a print of it as if it was your own. Get out there with your camera mate and actually create something yourself, instead of sitting on your fat backside borrowing the work of others.
22 JULY 2019 - Things are still quiet in the aftermath of Mam's death. I have picked up my creative writing again and that is occupying most of my time at the moment. The long-awaited annual event that is PRIDE came as a huge disappointment......well, not the event, which was a great success as usual. But the weather. Torrential thundery showers and a leaden sky did not make for good PRIDE shots. I reluctantly stayed at home this year. It took me back to 'the early years' when I spent 3 or 4 years trying to get to PRIDE but poor weather stopped play. We then had three great years in a row. And repeat! Fingers crossed for next year, and I will get out with my cameras soon.
28 MAY 2019 - Obviously a quiet time, photographically speaking, as Mam finally passed away after almost 2 months of decline. I need to pick-up both my writing and photography again after the hiatus. One new photo in Wildlife & Nature is my sole output for the time being but I hope to be firing on all cylinders again before too long. Thanks for your patience.
14 MARCH 2019 - A difficult time for me personally as Mam is in the last few days of her life following a few weeks of illness. Needless to say photography and the site haven't been my main focus (no pun intended!). Mam has always been one of my biggest fans and has even featured alongside model Mel Robson on the London bus shoot. She'll be a huge miss, especially seeing as she was often the driver behind my travel photography - getting to live her life vicariously through my images as she wasn't a great traveller. I'll update again once things are back to normal. On a happier note, she would be delighted to learn that I have received over 150,000 individual views in the last year.
28 JANUARY 2019 - And a happy belated 2019 to you all! Slow on the new photography front as I have been working hard on finishing my 5th novel. However, behind the scenes, I continue to enjoy commercial uptake of my images with several new customers in the last fortnight. I'm really pleased to see the increasing popularity of my work. Hopefully I can get out and about during February, once the latest book is put to bed.
19 DECEMBER 2018 - A quiet year photographically speaking and one of the main culprits is Gran Turismo Sport......which I guess involves quasi-photography so it's not too much of a cop-out. I also found - to my surprise - that I was in the top 5,000 achieving players out of a total player population of 7.5 million worldwide and beat the FIA champion by half a minute on a 19 minute race! In the background I continue to enjoy success with commercial take-up of my images, so that's good. It therefore only remains for me to thank all the viewers of my site this year and wish you all a very merry Xmas.
9 NOVEMBER 2018 - My most popular (commercially) photo of my BMW 435i has just passed the 25,000 download mark (plus nearly 2.5m views!). I've seen it advertising everything from car sales, to how to look after your car, lock replacement, wealth and feel good factors. Take time out to have a look at it if you haven't done so already.
3 OCTOBER 2018 - It's taken 10 months........giving credence to rumours that huge corporations like Sony are about as agile as turning supertankers.......but No.1-Noah has finally used my bike image for his official Facetime for 30 video - yay!
30th SEPTEMBER 2018 - The impact of the internet on photo views has never been so pronounced. I host photos on Unsplash and the viewing figures never cease to amaze me. I've only been on there for about a year and have a much smaller sub-set of images on there than I do on this website. But, despite that, I've gained 8 million views in about a year. More than 41,000 people have actually taken the trouble to download some of those images to their devices. I have one image on Google maps.......an interior shot of a small family hotel at Grasmere.......I just got a mail to say it has received 3000 views. My viewing figures on here keep rising too - I used to think it was great when I got 10,000 monthly hits on images but, often, these days that number climbs towards and even beyond 20,000. Astonishing take-up for a 'nobody' amateur photographer with very little or no publicity-making machinery.
24th AUGUST 2018 - The Pride and Baltic galleries are being collapsed now as they have been up for some time. Some of the best shots will find their way into the relevant permanent galleries. Photographically it has been quite quiet, just a quick trip to Croft Circuit to take some of Helen in a Porsche Cayman, as I have been writing a lot recently so everything else has got pushed back.
24th JULY 2018 - Well, the photos from this year's Pride march have been up less than a day and have already attracted more than 20,000 clicks on the individual images - a new record for this site. These pictures have become the annual highlight of the site and it's not difficult to see why - colour and characters!
10th JULY 2018 - We have returned unscathed from our Baltic Odyssey, despite near hurricane force sea conditions, and, in honour of this, I have a new 'Baltic Cruise' gallery for your viewing pleasure - yeah I know, it's just holiday snaps' but it sounds better if I say it like that! An incredible voyage which saw us visit Gothenburg, Tallinn, St Petersburg, Helsinki, Riga, Rostock, Copenhagen and Oslo (and North Shields!) on board the good ship Marella Discovery. The hectic schedule and various local factors didn't lend themselves to 'considered' shots but I can now literally walk and take pics at the same time and have developed a cloning technique for removing stray heads from the frame in cases of desperation when all conventional photographic techniques failed. Fingers crossed for 10 days time for North East Pride (yes it's that time again!) in the hope that the long unbroken spell of hot weather breaks before or after the event to avoid the biblical floods which have so often spoiled the march in the past. If all goes well you will be hearing from me again before the end of the month with what always prove to be the most popular images of the year.
31st MAY 2018 - Unfortunately Leah couldn't make it across this weekend......she has a very busy filming schedule these days. However I have made StylistsLife website with one of my old pics of Steph Birkett and I am less than 4 weeks away from my Baltic trip so that should be worth waiting for! Settling down to listen to the IOM TT Races over the next week - stay safe guys.
16th APRIL 2018 - I'm still (sorta) a bit embarrassed that my creative efforts have been steered (!) towards GT Sport images. They now threaten to outnumber even my models gallery but, thankfully, things are slowing down as, at the 150 mark, I have exhausted most of the good options. The better news is that I am expecting to shoot (fourth time!) with the ever-beautiful Leah Baskaran at the end of next month - details of that shoot to follow as Leah and I work through pre-shoot details. Staying on real photos, my NY Subway image remains popular commercially and a NY-based psychotherapist has just chosen this for her website......hmm, travelling on the NY Subway obviously isn't as relaxing as I thought!
21st MARCH 2018 - Happy equinox and happy 16 year engagement anniversary to Helen - seems like yesterday we were using a public call box (remember them!) in historic Ironbridge to share the news with my parents! Weather (I refuse to join the throng of togs at the beach getting themselves and their equipment sand-blasted and covered in salty spray!) and other commitments have made it a quiet time for (real) photography but my new 'winter buddies' - the photo features in Gran Turismo Sport - just keep on giving/delighting/substituting for the real thing. At the time of writing,my collection that started with a dozen images has grown to almost 70 and shows no sign of slowing, although I will exhaust a lot of the possibilities before too long I suspect. If you haven't visited the gallery yet I urge you to do so. Commercial uptake has been slow over the last few weeks but I have had the privilege of my glitter face image being listed amongst the 100 best photos on Unsplash - quite a feat given the millions which are on there.
12th FEBRUARY 2018 - I just wanted to take the opportunity of the arrival of my new Sony Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* 24-70mm F2.8 ZA SSM II to comment on the wonderful/crazy world we live in these days. I’ll leave comments on the lens itself until I have had a good opportunity to try it out. But, for anyone who has been following my mournful tales of the declining Sony ‘A’ mount, they will know I have been trying to secure a clean s/h example of the MkII 24-70 for some time. I found it difficult to justify paying new/full price as an amateur (rrp of the lens is £2300!). I’ve always had the excellent alternative option of a grey import from DigitalRev in Hong Kong. They have had the lens on the books very static for a good while at £1500…….still too much, unless it got to the desperation stake stage! But then they dropped it to £1400 and, partly driven by the price cut and part by a growing realisation there are unlikely to be many s/h MkII’s out there at a sensible price, I took the plunge.
Anyway the point of my story is that I ordered the lens after close of business on Thursday evening, so DigitalRev wouldn’t have picked the order up until Friday. They had it courier collected and to the airport for the evening flight out. I tracked the flights via Dubai and Cologne on one of UPS’ Boeing 767 aircraft (they operate a ‘bus service’ route from HK to DXB to CGN and then on to Philadelphia). The European connecting flight arrived late Sunday into Castle Donnington then on the lorry and up to Gateshead for local delivery Monday morning.
Leaving aside the likes of Amazon with their 7 days a week courier service, this therefore means I got something delivered from Hong Kong as fast as I would have with a ‘next working day despatch’ service in the UK, assuming I didn’t spring for Saturday delivery! Had it been DPD at this end and not UPS I could have even known the delivery driver’s name and how many stops and minutes he was away from me once the van left the depot. Tracking is now an amazing feature enabled by the internet and sad people like me and Missus J love it! Helen often muses that she would love her Dad (who died in 1988) to see the technological wonders we now have ‘personal communication devices’ with us wherever we are, internet shopping (ironic seeing as he had started work on developing a home shopping delivery service shortly prior to his death!) and mourns the fact they didn’t have the internet to aid communication home whilst she lived in America from ‘83-’88, spending half her wages on long distance phone calls. How times change and I discussed this again with my Mother – rapidly approaching 90yo – as I showed her how the parcel had travelled around the world. Mam has had an unprecedented life history/span/experience, going from horses and carts and slates and chalk, to space travel and computers at your fingertips everywhere.
One final thing.......I was delighted to see that my picture taken from the observation deck at the 'Top of the Rock' in New York exceeded 1 million views in just 8 weeks since I lodged it on Unsplash. Although, unlike, for example, the pic of the NY subway or the Jaguar bonnet mascot it hasn't been picked-up commercially, it is obviously a firm favourite with social viewers - always nice to see that your images are appreciated.
9th FEBRUARY 2018 - Well it didn't take long did it! A sudden and significant price drop on the DigitalRev website saw me reaching for my long suffering credit card once again to get my long awaited 24-70. Eagerly watching my inbox for the next few days as I wait for tracking info to appear - I hate this in between period! Meanwhile I was cheered to learn that RTL - the French TV station - have picked-up my very popular NY subway image for an article they published about safety for women on public transport. Plus about another 4 or 5 'lesser publications have used my glitter face pic from PRIDE last year, my BMW 435 image as an example of how to take a good car photo, more selections of the subway pic etc. I'm rapidly becoming an underground success lol
25th JANUARY 2018 - Had a couple of heavy days on the site with over 90,000 individual magnified image views - a record when the site didn't have a big launch like we see with PRIDE or following a big holiday or a model shoot! UPDATE - over 140,000 views this month making it my most successful month ever and more akin to viewing figures for one year. As usual, the models and fashion images lead the way but there is a healthy interest in the new Gran Turismo gallery with it falling into second place this month, despite only being around for 3 of the 4 weeks.
13th JANUARY 2018 - Really pleased to see that the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (their equivalent of our BBC) picked-up my image of the NY subway for an article about the Australian Government's tender for regional rail......if a bit surprised that they couldn't find an image of an Australian train instead! Co.Design also used it in the correct context though for an article on the redesign of the subway map. On a lighter note I am also 'the face of Unicorn Sparkles'......a website dedicated to sparkly facial make-up.
7th JANUARY 2018 - As promised I have introduced a new gallery, starting off with a dozen images. Forgive me for being a bit nerdy but these images 'excite' me. The reason for this is - if you read through my diary entries - you will see there is always an undertone of "if the weather was better, if the location wasn't pulled down, if only I had a Ferrari instead of a Ford!" The fantastic new 'scapes' feature in the popular Playstation game 'Gran Turismo Sport' gives users the opportunity to select from a few hundred 'gorgeous locations' around the world. These are the sort of locations that, usually, an amateur tog like me just can't get access to. Similarly I don't have access to a Ferrari, or Lamborghini or McLaren. Although there are, of course, many limits to the stock photos you are able to play with you still get 5000% more exotic locations/models than the real world would ever provide. I can then use my photographic skills - learned shooting real cars - to bring composition/colour/context etc (again within the limits of the program) to the stock images and, hopefully, produce a real eye-grabbing final result. I will be adding to these as my collection of cars grows.......in true gaming style I have had to put in a lot of hours to get a few cars to play with! In the meantime I hope you find this new addition to the site as enjoyable as I do.
1st JANUARY 2018 - Well a happy new year to one and all. This year has been a successful one for me with images being requested and/or published by a number of prestigious magazines and agencies, including Forbes Magazine, Anomaly and Sony Records. A big boost for me as I am often dismissive of my work. A new Playstation.......toys for retired boys.......was a surprise xmas present from Mrs J so I am mostly playing Gran Turismo Sport in all its graphic beauty. The software allows the production of images using cars and locations from around the world so don't be surprised if you see a new gallery for output from this once I get some decent cars to photograph! One final delight for this new year's message and that is to feat your eyes on this wonderful collection of photographs from the unspoilt wilds of Mongolia.
19 DECEMBER 2017 - .........and the success continues! Sony (Columbia and Epic Records) have just asked for my image of the bike (currently my feature image for the Men & Motors gallery) at Olivers Mount to be used as a 'cover' for No.1-Noah who is an R&B/Soul musician making a name for himself (read the article) after getting 2m+ streams in the first month of his first, self-published, release. Clearly impressed by the interest shown, Sony have snapped him up and wanted to use my image as part of the artwork for his 'Facetime for 30' single. This is where I join the 'vinyl is best' moaners and say that it's just electronic so it's not going to be on a physical cover but will be a thumbnail type image on i-tunes, spotify, pandora etc.
8 DECEMBER 2017 - On a bit of a roll at the minute. I was approached by the Director of Creative Services at Anomaly (AdAge's top advertising agency of 2017) to ask for one of my images - the very popular one of the mountain valley I took in Alaska which has already received over 100,000 views on Unsplash - to use in a campaign. Not sure if the image size will be ok for them, as it was shot 7 years ago on my old 12MP Alpha 700, but good to be approached anyway and I wait with baited breath!
6 DECEMBER 2017 - Sorry for updating twice in two days but was absolutely delighted to learn that my Jaguar bonnet mascot image had been chosen by none other than Forbes Magazine to appear in one of their articles........sorry Horse & Hound, you have been ousted as my best publication achievement! It was also picked up for a separate article on High Net-Worth Individuals by the Japanese magazine - Newsphere!
5 DECEMBER 2017 - A mixed month. I have largely been chickening-out of the ice-cold northerly winds that have been sweeping the region for a few weeks. There was a reason though - I've been writing my first ever 'novel' - this was great fun and very enlightening. I even managed to get it on my Kindle! The Sunderland Glass Centre pop-up gallery proved very popular.......I'm running that for a few more days before collapsing it, so hurry along! Meanwhile caught this gem if you're after something unforgettable for your loved ones at xmas. I dream of a time when the emperor's new clothes brigade will finally realise what a load of pretentious tossers they are and slither off to somewhere from which they can't release any of their dross on the normal public.
14 NOVEMBER 2017 - Had an unexpected 'trip out with the missus' today and did what I have been trying to do since it opened (in 1998!!!) and made a trip to the National Glass Centre at Sunderland. Well worth the wait. The weather wasn't terribly kind to us in terms of available light but, ramping the settings up on the A99Mkii helped me cope. Would visit again, on a sunny day to try and coax a bit more out of the visit. Anyway I have a made a temporary 'pop-up' gallery and hopefully you will enjoy the shots of the centre, the exhibits, the glassblowing demo and the area on the riverside outside the centre..........
5 NOVEMBER 2017 - Paid my first visit back to the Newcastle Black Gate and Keep since the project finished......didn't take my camera (as I have hundreds of photos from my work with the project team already) but - I think people see 'photographer' in my aura or something - got asked to do portraits of a couple (using a phone cam.....yeuch lol) and a single girl who was obviously 'keen' as she had an A6000 with Zeiss 16-70 combo - wasn't too bad to use. Good to be back on the roof of the keep even though there was a biting NW wind making the 5 deg C seem more like freezing!
22 OCTOBER 2017 - It's well seen that I have time on my hands lol I have added geographic data locations to my travel and landscapes gallery photos.......you can view the (in some cases 'rough') location either by;
1) clicking on the 'i' information icon (bottom right) when you have fully opened an individual photo; or
2) you can go down to the map located below the photos, at the very bottom of the gallery to see the spread across the world and zoom-in to the region you are interested in - as you zoom further the 'clumps' expand and open up to show more detail - you can also click clumps to split the individual photos out more quickly.
I must apologise in advance for any taken in remote locations whilst 'on the road' (or even at sea!) - these will often be approximations rather than millimetre-perfect tags. Hope you enjoy anyway and this helps you gain some geographical context to the photos on display.
20 OCTOBER 2017 - Well! The ongoing saga of the future of the Sony 'A' mount continues today with a Sony interview stating "Sony promises to never stop the production of A-mount lenses. At the moment they think the current A-mount line up is well suited for photographers. While Sony’s E-mount lens line up need to be extended" In a perverse way - because, clearly, it means they're not actually developing the 'A' mount at all - it's a comfort as 'promises to never stop' is a lot more firm than the 'Sony will continue to support' promises we have been getting for the last few years. I appreciate the transparency at least! Still doesn't explain why newly introduced Pro Support centres are only handling 'E' mount mind you but hey, whoever said it wasn't an uncertain world we live in lol
6 OCTOBER 2017 - Bloomin' Lake District weather! A paltry (or should that be poultry?!) four new images - one each in Travel and Men & Motors, and two in wildlife........same problem as our June visit - horrendously flat light. However I did have a good opportunity to try the new 70-200 out in sub-optimal conditions mostly around where we were staying and it acquitted itself well.
26 SEPTEMBER 2017 - You'll be sick of the updates coming thick and fast......hope I am not turning into a blogger (!). I just wanted to draw your attention to a lovely photography website; Prophotos - a Russian site - and Google translation seems to handle the Russian to English very well with a lovely little Dickensian flavour, which I found enchanting. It also has a proportionately high number of Sony reviews and professional photographer features using the gear. Love some of the concluding words in the A99ii review............"The general tone of our review turned out to be very positive: the reason for this - very pleasant sensations from working with the camera. Sony Alpha 99 II really turned out very successful. Sony Alpha 99 II is not only a very powerful tool, but also an unusual and interesting camera. It can be safely called a professional device..........Sony Alpha 99 II (ILCA-99M2) is both a professional instrument and a dream camera that will allow the photographer to fully realize his potential in any direction of photography. I got great pleasure from working with this tool. I wish you, dear readers, to experience it in your work!" Couldn't agree more lol
23 SEPTEMBER 2017 - Oh god it's gorgeous!!!!
22 SEPTEMBER 2017 - I am nearing the end of the programme which aims to complete my 'stable' of good quality glass over the next year or so, I mentioned this as recently as my post of 18th August......but nothing stands still for long in this world. As keen photographers will know, the two 'backbones' of a kit bag are the 24-70 and 70-200 f2.8 lenses. I have been using reasonably priced equivalents of the top flight glass for a few years now.......the Tamron 28-75 f2.8 and my old Sigma 70-200 f2.8. The Sigma is my most used lens and is a true workhorse. Although it is a good lens it was secondhand when I bought it 11 years ago and has a very poor close focus capability. Now that Sony prevent non-manufacturer glass from accessing all the hot autofocus features of their new cameras it places pressure on you to upgrade sooner rather than later. However, when you're on a slightly restricted budget you can't easily time manage secondhand purchases in the way you would new, so 'sooner rather than later' became sooner and Christmas came 3 months early this year. Another big *gulp* purchase - the most I have ever spent on a lens - the MKII version of the venerable 70-200G is joining my kit bag. Don't worry I only paid half of the unbelievable/scandalous/highway robbery price Sony quote (£3,129!!!!) Looking forward to giving this its first outing at Hawkshead at the beginning of next month (I'm going to say in advance - weather permitting - as the backlash from the two CAT5 hurricanes that hit the Caribbean last week are supposedly heading our way!). The 24-70 will hopefully join it when a decent priced/condition sample becomes available.
18 SEPTEMBER 2017 - A busy and varied Sunday morning/early afternoon shoot yesterday saw me shuttling between three very different locations; an old favourite - The Sage at Gateshead; a small business park 5 miles down the road from me; and (tiniest venue award!) our garage at home. This was my second shoot with my new 'best modeling pal' Geraldine. The aim was to enhance the commercial potential of her portfolio - hopefully I managed this for her. There are a couple of new shots in the model gallery and three in the commercial gallery for your viewing pleasure.
3 SEPTEMBER 2017 - I have to say the latest additions to my kitbags - the 2 Godox TT685S flashguns, with a X1T-S wireless transmitter - have really impressed. More thought appears to have gone into them than into a lot of the more expensive units......for starters you can fit them into their protective case without the sensitive hotshoe contacts being partially exposed, plus you can fit the flash stand/foot into the case 'along with' so it doesn't get separated. The auto zoom setting to 14mm - when the diffuser is pulled out - is another 'clever' feature and I really enjoy having a much less disturbed workflow when I need to make small adjustments to output levels or the like; courtesy of the XIT-S. Two very high powered, fully featured guns with loads of accessories (incl 2 mini softboxes) and the transmitter for about half the price of a single Sony flashgun and nice build quality too plus fast recycling and a subtle audio confirmation of charging - what's not to like!
18 AUGUST 2017 - Mixed news this week with (another!) <24 hours to go cancellation by a model - very annoying - and the need to re-arrange my second shoot with Geraldine due to a natural disaster (well it is for me!) - fallen trees rendering my 'woodland catwalk' useless as a location now........a great loss. Also on the model front had a very pleasant evening, chatting with Emma Ross (a model I knew from her work alongside my 'old friend' Leah Baskaran on the Fibre Co knitwear catalogue shoot recently completed in the Lake District). Grappling with the vagaries/long-term future of the Sony 'A' mount and how this impacts on my strategic plan to replace my 70-200 and 28-75 lenses, decided to defer for a while but reinforced my filter holding in the meantime with 3 of the latest Hoya 'Fusion' antistatic UV and Cir-Pl filters. I have collapsed the PRIDE '17 gallery now so 'highlights only' in the people gallery.
2 AUGUST 2017 - As a break from having to look at just my photography (!) I am popping this link onto my pages to showcase the work of a wonderful local photographer/photoshop artist, Adam, whose work I have been following for over a year now. If anyone wants to know why I rate my home city so highly they need look no further than this latest collection......there are other similar works on the rest of 'Lang shot's' pages too if you like these ones (and for southerners, Lang shot is local dialect for long shot!).
26 JULY 2017 - Yes, PRIDE '17 was another colossal success with around 10,000 individual image views for the gallery in the first 24 hours......that seems to be the benchmark audience......the popularity of the PRIDE photos are put into context when you consider that 10,000 views is the sort of traffic my site experiences in a standard month - the stats graphs certainly rocket skywards during those peak visit events. Have just arranged another trip to the Lakes, at the beginning of October, this time staying at Hawkshead - somewhere I have only ever visited briefly 3 or 4 times - so it will be nice to be a resident there and to use it as a base to explore the likes of Coniston which is another area of the Lakes I am less than familiar with. Meanwhile, plans are progressing for another shoot with Geraldine Mulholland although we have had to scrap one cracking idea due to 'dress limitations'. Keep watching!
24 JULY 2017 - Last year was my first at Newcastle PRIDE. This year I was back as an official photographer at the request of the event chairman. Unlike last year when we had glorious sunshine, the 10th birthday didn't go off quite as well this year. Ah well, fortunately PRIDE is such a wonderful colourful event you can still get some reasonable shots in the gloom (!) although obviously it is more of struggle to keep things sharp in a fast moving environment. As usual I am putting a whole raft of images on a bespoke gallery to start with and, after the peak viewing period is over, I will collapse the gallery and incorporate some of the best shots into generic galleries. I know tens of thousands of views were carried out last year and, due to increased publicity, I'm expecting more this year. I hope everyone enjoys them.
20 JULY 2017 - It's been a long time since I added to the models gallery and it isn't for want of trying - flaky models do your head in.....the latest great excuse is she 'forgot' she was moving house - so I did what I often do in times of stress and turned to an '>over 21' lady (a type of model you can almost always rely on!). What a find (!) - Geraldine is from way down at the other end of the region - actually just into Yorkshire - but she was kind enough to travel up to work with me. Four new images in the gallery for your delight! We worked so well together we are already making fiendish plans for a shoot that could blow your socks off - watch this space! The other news item occupying my thoughts is Newcastle PRIDE at the weekend. Forecast is NOT GOOD and I will be gutted if rain stops play so all I can do is prepare and hope. If the shoot goes off I'm hoping it will be as successful as last year's - if it is you will be in for a treat.
18 JUNE 2017 - Well baby's first steps were faltering.......the good thing is that his legs were sturdy and capable it was the environment that didn't help him - the light in the Lakes was as 'flat as a fart' (pardon French!) and, if it wasn't for the new Father getting to grips with his parenting skills, baby would have stayed in his cot. Two token pics from the outing - one in wildlife and one in travel and apologies that it wasn't more!
Birth announcement (5 JUNE 2017) - to Father, Grahame, at 13:56, baby Alpha, weight 1lb 14oz!
4 JUNE 2017 - Today sees the launch of a new permanent gallery - celebrating my hometown. All photos are taken within a radius of 1km of the town centre and hopefully will show what a diverse and surprisingly photogenic location Blyth can be. At the moment the images are simply duplicates of ones elsewhere on the site but I will be adding new ones as I go along and some may be so Blyth specific I want to make them bespoke for the new gallery.
Just for interest, for anyone from outside the north east, Blyth is about 13 miles north east of Newcastle upon Tyne at the south eastern corner of Northumberland. It is a market town and port with a rich history. Commercially it was probably at its height in the late 18th, throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries when it was the principal port for export of coal from the incredibly rich Northumberland coalfields and can probably share the famous 'coals to Newcastle' saying with the Tyne when looking at shipped volumes. Obviously the coal mining industry declined some years back and our surveyor advised us that there had been no underground workings under our house since 1964 - the whole of the north east is like a holy cheese, one of these days it will all collapse!! Today Blyth is growing at a fairly rapid rate with large numbers of new houses being built in the early 21st century and now has a population of c.38,000. The town has also replaced traditional heavy industry with emerging technologies and is the national centre for renewable (mostly wind-powered) energy research with a good chunk of the eastern town centre given over to NAREC's 'Catapult' complex.
3 JUNE 2017 - Helen and I had our first experience of 'serious' night sky watching yesterday, christening our new spotting scope with a quick trial on the drive at home - who needs to go to Kielder! Great experience with a lovely two thirds full moon showing the craters off beautifully and then the highlight - seeing Jupiter and three of its moons (Ganymede, Callisto and Io). If clear again tonight will try getting a moon shot with the camera attached.
1 JUNE 2017 - A little sooner than expected - due to worries about Brexit and a possible Tory win/increase in VAT and because of a £665 reduction on list price buying through Digital Rev - the successor to my A900 has been ordered and should arrive on 5th June in readiness for my retirement and 55th birthday. The Sony Alpha A99 MkII is a great new camera.......possibly the pick of the pro-spec DSLR's out there at the moment and I am looking forward to trying it out in anger when we go to the Lakes in a couple of weeks time. My gear page has been updated accordingly!
20 MAY 2017 - Well I got the cameras out for the first time in months today! Our local beach holds a WWII re-enactment type event most years with 40's style (mostly military) displays but Helen's friend Kell Smurthwaite did a couple of great sets as a big band/Vera Lynn style singer - I really loved her act/voice. It wasn't ideal for photos but one made it into the music and theatre gallery and I got some to send to Kell by way of a thank you for the great performance. I also got word about my pension this morning, so the uncertainty is all done now and it's full steam ahead - just two 4 day weeks to complete now before I give up, after nearly 37 years as one of Her Majesty's Civil Servants - a very rich and varied career including some notable firsts/bests/benchmarks such as; introducing the first automated billing system for self employed National Insurance; the first automated debt management system and operation for self employed NI; setting-up most of the Inland Revenue's contact centres including project managing the flagship 255 seater Manchester HQ; and the highlight of my career - being one of two strand managers who introduced the organisation to run and enforce the National Minimum Wage, which has to be one of the Govt's most successful social policy initiatives of all time - an incredible and never before tried x-Govt initiative which we delivered from scratch - all the way from policy, through recruitment, to go-live in just 7 months.
5 MAY 2017 - Impending retirement looming large in my sights - 4 weeks to go. Starting the mental visualisation process which precedes a shoot(s)......now if I can just take my time and not rush when I get the camera in my hands!!!
29 APRIL 2017 - Had a very welcome chat with my 'old time photography buddy' Derek Henderson the other day - covered a lot of ground in 10 minutes but ended up on the subject of 'back button focus' I've been looking at that 'new technique' for months now - trying gamely to decide how/what/why/when and thinking I was going senile because I just didn't get it. Turns out it's not just me and both Derek and I have been using a much simpler process for the last 40 or more years.......senility mind crisis averted, "it's good to talk"!
2 APRIL 2017 - I've been approached by one of the Trustees of North East Homeless with a view to undertaking a publicity project for them spotlighting the plight of homeless people in Newcastle. Really looking forward to that and seeing what can be done to help this vulnerable group of society. More details as the project unfolds.
13 MARCH 2017 - Pssst! "want $110,000 for taking some mediocre snaps?" I must have missed the invitation from those nice people at Hasselblad but, clearly, Rineke Dijkstra didn't and hoovered-up said enormous cash prize for turning out a lacklustre panel of amateur snapshots of people in unimaginative poses in dismal surroundings. I guess I should have known what to expect when the accompanying quote was trotted out in fluent 'bollock-ese': "‘At a moment when the portrait image dissipates itself in an economy of narcissism and fractal celebrity, Rineke Dijkstra reminds us of the photographic portrait’s public potential,’ said Duncan Forbes, Chair of the Jury." whatever the heck that means! Makes you fume when you see the stunning works carefully crafted by enormously skilled photographers both pro and amateur that can be produced these days and they are 'beaten' by this pile of cr*p.......just proves what I have said for years - that 'arty' people are a bunch of tossers who really would say they admired the emperor's new clothes! The people who pay large sums of money for it deserve everything they get for pandering to these shysters and trying to pretend they are somehow superior to people who prefer skill and beauty.
25 FEBRUARY 2017 - You can find just about anything on You Tube these days! I was browsing and came across this 'view into the past' of my mainstay cameras from 1980 through to 2002 - the groundbreaking Canon A1. I strongly urge anyone aged under 30 to have a laugh, I mean look, at this You Tube video to see how it used to be done.
30 JANUARY 2017 - A review of 2016 shows a relatively quiet year, due to us having no major holidays (kitchen more than swallowed the budget!). However there have been a few photo highlights - namely my first ever visit to PRIDE, which probably got more image views than any other single shoot ever. Also a lot of car related stuff towards the back end of the year with the arrival of the new 435i, Mike's RS and a trip to Croft for a date with the Aston N430. The only holiday of the year saw a welcome return to the Lake District after a shamefully long period without visiting - looking to rectify that over the next year or so, particularly as my early retirement papers have now been accepted by HR - from Summer 2017. I expect to do a LOT more photography work, perhaps even doing the odd return to fashion shoots!
21st DECEMBER 2016 - Almost happy xmas! Was good to see that Leah got chosen as the face of BUPA healthcare and Nuffield gyms on the back of the images I took for her on our fitness shoot back in September - another underground success story for me ;-)
4th DECEMBER 2016 - Turned a wasted Sunday morning into a learning opportunity and so am quite proud of myself! As anyone who has looked on my links page will tell you, I have had a photographer - Joel Grimes - on there for some years now. I love the power and beauty of his work. He was doing a lecture at my 'favourite' camera shop - the B&H Superstore on 9th Ave in New York - about his use of a single light generally and cross lighting in particular. Not only was it wonderful to watch his gorgeous images but it provided me with a rare thing - causing me to learn a 'trick' in Photoshop that doesn't involve complex jiggery pokery - always an essential in my book! Made me itch to get back in the studio and also to experience (as that is the only word for it) B&H again......it's been 3.5 years since I was in NY and another visit is long overdue, once (hopefully) the £>$ exchange rate improves again. Joel passed on so many techniques that can be used to add impact to photos, I love his 'non-technical' approach. Have a look at his website and keep your jaw away from hard objects below!
26th NOVEMBER 2016 - As promised, some images added today to a new gallery which I initially thought would be temporary but, on consideration, may turn into a 'work in progress' and I'll add to it as we go along. Anyway, whatever happens, the gallery goes by the name of 'M' (!) A challenging start to shooting during winter with wet, salt and cold and horribly low, harsh winter sunlight. Thanks to David and his team at DDB Detailing for car prep and to Russell, Matthew and Dan at Bespoke Motor Works for supplying the car.
20th NOVEMBER 2016 - A bit of tidying-up on the site - the bespoke Pride and Lakes galleries have been collapsed now after very successful runs and images have been absorbed into the People or Travel & Landscapes galleries. Hoping to do (weather permitting) a shoot with a lovely Estoril blue BMW435i M Sport shortly.
23rd OCTOBER 2016 - A disappointing (photographically speaking) holiday in the Lake District - didn't get the bumper bundle of competition winners that I had hoped for before going due to a combination of old age/lack of fitness and weather that only enhanced the photos when I wasn't in a position to do anything about it (usually driving or stuffing my face!). Anyway, for a short period only, the Lakes 2016 Gallery is up for your 'delight' - I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed the holiday (generally speaking). Even brought back a great quote from the washroom wall in what is now one of my favourite eateries - The Filling Station in Keswick - from Hunter S. Thompson “Faster, Faster, until the thrill of speed overcomes the fear of death.”
25th SEPTEMBER 2016 - A most unusual event! Two photos with me in them! I've added three photos to my Men and Motors gallery, just a couple of weeks after the popular Focus RS shots. Yesterday I was down at Croft Racing Circuit driving the Aston Martin Vantage limited edition N430 (N for Nurburgring and 430 for 430bhp). As is usually the case I had my personal car photographer Rachel with me and she snapped a couple of smashing pics (considering the subject matter!) of me - one in and one out of the Aston. There's also one from me there too of a rather tasty Lamborghini taken in the pit lane garages before it got wheeled out.
22nd SEPTEMBER 2016 - After a long wait, Xmas 2017 sorted for me! The new flagship Sony DSLT.
11th SEPTEMBER 2016 - Shame to miss the Great North Run this year as it was lovely weather again but I had that long awaited opportunity to shoot with Mike and his brother Chris, oh and the RS came too! A few early shots are now in my men and motors gallery for those of you who run on 98 Octane or above ;-)
12th AUGUST 2016 - The next project is in the planning stage.........shoot provisionally set for the middle of next month. A rare treat for any of you petrolheads out there and a commission to photograph the (only?) Focus RS in the Newcastle area at the present time - a lot of orders are backed-up until 2017 but my friend Mike Howes-Roberts is one of the lucky owners of a magnetic grey RS with some tasty options fitted and we are trying to fit in amongst Great North Run and other diary commitments to make this happen asap......watch this space.
20th JULY 2016 - Couldn't believe the response to my PRIDE pics......almost 10,000 individual photo views in the first day alone! Invited to be official photographer next year and included as named official tog this year - chuffed!
17th JULY 2016 - Ask my friend Allan Armour how long I have been trying to get to the Newcastle Pride event and his eyes will roll and he will start gibbering about 'Jonah' and 'jinx' and monsoons of biblical proportion. The truth is it's been about 8 years and every year it's been truly awful grey and or rainy weather - not ideal for an event that is all about rainbow colours! Two years ago it was glorious sunshine.......and I had to go to a wedding on that day! So, hungover from a rare night's partying the night before, I was finally 'delighted' to make the trip down into town to finally shoot 'some of Allan's people'
Was it worth the wait - you betcha! I think if I had gone a few years back I would have been disappointed with the turnout.......no longer. Newcastle Pride is, at last, an event that is large (73,000 attendance), loud and spectacular. It might still have a way to go to match London and other carnivals around the world but it was a fab experience for me, even though the hangover only allowed me to cover the march and not the sideshows, bands and frolics on the town moor afterwards.......don't worry there's always next year if the weather holds!
Great organisation, nice to meet old friends and I could (really) 'feel the love' at the event - came away buzzing........and no Allan it wasn't my 'plug' (!)
11th JUNE 2016 - Sad news marred the final day of the IOM TT for me this year when I learned about the death of local motorcycling 'celebrity' Ian Bell, who was the name and driving force behind the wonderful Yamaha 'solus' dealership tucked away in the most unlikely location in Bedlington Station, just up the road from me. Despite the location, Ian had an outlet that shamed the 'big boys' up at Westgate Hill and he had a devoted following from bikers who valued his friendliness, honesty and race-bred professional credentials. Ian was unusual in so much as he was a successful racer on both solo and (latterly) sidecar machines and brought that inherent skills mix to his dealership. His outfits were immaculately turned-out and were singled-out for praise by the commentary teams at the TT such was their distinctive appearance. I will take with me my memory of Ian, standing smiling behind the counter in his showroom, when I visited last - just a couple of weeks before he set off to the Island for the final time. A great loss to the local biking scene.
23rd MAY 2016 - Great quote from Spanish surrealist artist Joan Miro which is something we should all be aspiring to......getting to that second state of affairs: "You can look at a picture for a week and never think of it again. You can also look at a picture for a second and think of it all your life"
24th APRIL - Well, it has taken a month to assemble the motley collection of what we in Britain call 'Tradesmen' and a good while to clear up after them so I could start taking photos of the finished kitchen! I'm not sure how many of you have ever tried to take shots like this - interior photography is a real specialism in just the same was as model photography, landscape or sports - and, let me tell you, coping with all those polished surfaces, dodgy unavoidable backgrounds and massive contrasts in light and dark, would try the patience of a saint and I don't pretend I am in any way saintly or even competent at this sort of work. However, although they aren't works of photographic art, hopefully I have managed to get at least a couple of images which honestly and accurately reflect the finished project that has taken over the last 7 months of our lives. Must try and get on with some projects now and get some fun out of the camera again.
26th MARCH - Happy Easter to all. Still no 'full' kitchen shots I'm afraid......fitters diaries! However a couple of short news flashes. Firstly I am considering setting up a studio mentoring session with my protege Rachel at Mayfield Studios in Newcastle shortly - that should be good if all comes to fruition. Also I was checking Tyne Tees Model's website as I do occasionally and found they have no less than six of my images from the fitness shoot with Leah in her portfolio.......bit of a boost - at least I must be doing something right!
28th FEBRUARY 2016 - There's a new pop-up gallery with emerging images of the kitchen as it takes shape.........no complete scenes yet as we have no flooring (!) but will keep adding as things progress. Nightmare project with highly polished appliances and black cosmic granite to contend with - it's really taxing my photographic skills and showing why I am not a commercial/product photographer - I can't do it! Never mind I hope it proves interesting.
23rd JANUARY 2016 - A belated happy new year from me! Nothing too artistic I'm afraid and you won't see finished results for a month or so but the work to renovate our kitchen starts next week, so I will be recording progress photographically - as I did with the bathroom project a couple of years back - will keep me busy in between wondering where to get food with a kitchen out of commission for three weeks! I hope to get a couple of 'commercial worthy' images once everything is done that I can share with you and the great teams (Anthony, Phil and Stu from Snugfit; Justin, Lesley and Mark from PWS and Nick and Kevin from KJB Flooring) we have been working with over the last few months to get the project off the ground. Oh, and idiots such as; this just defy belief!
24th DECEMBER 2015 - A very merry xmas to all my visitors and friends. Although this year hasn't exactly been chock-full of new images the site has still enjoyed over 150,000 views, so popularity remains high. Not sure when new images will be up as the new kitchen is starting in a few weeks time but I hope to have something later in the year. Kind regards.
14th NOVEMBER 2015 - Was supposed to be photographing some decorative objects for my ex-wife and a friend today but man flu has stopped play, so just a few words seeing as I am 'as weak as a kitten'. Saw what must be one of the world's biggest cameras at PWS in Newton Aycliffe yesterday.......they use it to photograph slabs of granite/marble/etc which will become kitchen worktops - fascinating. I also revisited 1x.com - a positively stunning photographic website that I haven't been on for quite some time.......still the same a perverse mix of inspiration and desperation (I'll never take photos as good as that syndrome) but well worth a look for anyone who likes a 'nice photo'!
19th OCTOBER 2015 - Was delighted to see an image by Rachel feature on the ITV weather slot this evening. A "beautiful image" (as the presenter remarked) of red autumn leaves with a spider's cobweb.......basking in reflected glory as she keeps insisting I have taught her all she knows and I need to share the credit for it lol On a serious note I adore mentoring and would encourage anyone with half a talent to give it a go sometime.
13th SEPTEMBER 2015 - Time has moved fast and my time in the gym is over - the pop-up gallery has made way for one celebrating the Great North Run event. Not so much a serious effort for me - more a reconnaissance run for next time as, despite competing in it myself and having hosted friends for runs for many years, I have never got round to photographing it. So, armed with cameras, I made a recce trip this morning, didn't find things at all as I had imagined them, but gathered loads of vital information for a proper attempt 'next year' A shame as the weather was lovely - you watch next year will be pouring down! So, nothing startling in terms of images but a few snaps to entertain you, including a couple of Mo Farah which will no doubt excite some of you.
6th SEPTEMBER 2015 - Yes you read it correctly......I went to the gym on Friday and was lifting weights (well have you ever tried lifting my camera bag with 5 lenses, 3 flashes and two big dslr bodies, plus tripods, reflectors and associated paraphernalia!). As those who know me will have guessed, I'm not going to be donning the spandex anytime soon......pause for collective sigh of relief.......but I was honestly at the gym.
The occasion was my first shoot with Leah Baskaran for - can you believe it - 6 years (god I feel o-l-d!). Leah has been globetrotting for a while (including 15 months in NZ - still not really speaking to her about that!) and is just returning to her model job. She needed a very specifically targeted portfolio re-vamp for the fitness work that she is going to be doing plus some fashion catalogue essentials, so we had a 'split shoot' with spandex followed by Barbour. Quite intense as we had to fit into just 2 hours and we covered a lot of ground. Thankfully I had Rachel along to assist.
Although I was totally out of my depth with talk of abs and pecs, Leah knows Gavin from Operation Fitness at Blaydon and he was invaluable in acting as shoot director (so Leah and I got the images which showed her newly honed figure off to best advantage), model (and made a very good job of it I must say!), plus his more accustomed role (as personal trainer). Thanks to Gavin for allowing us to use the gym for the 2 hours without customers, it was much appreciated.
With this being my first ever fitness lifestyle shoot and working in such poor lighting conditions to a very tight timetable I was left 'wanting to do it all again but properly this time' but quite satisfied at overcoming technical challenges. The end results aren't too disappointing and it was lovely to see Leah again.......I have pencilled her into my diary for September 2021 - just in case! A selection of my favourite Images are in a temporary 'pop-up gallery' - I hope you enjoy seeing them.
16th AUGUST 2015 - My photographic protégé Rachel turns 30 today and has received a lovely little Nikon D5500.......looking forward to seeing the results from it. Have been researching flashgun options for her and learning a lot about the Chinese in the process! Looking forward to a long overdue shoot with Leah Baskaran after a gap of 6 years. Leah has returned to modelling after a bout of serious round-the-world travel (including NZ at about the same time as Helen and me) and she is looking to update her portfolio, starting with a gym-based fitness lifestyle session planned for around the end of this month - should be good and a challenge for me. Leah is currently half way through a gruelling one month fitness regime, in order to attain peak fitness for the shoot - and so she can carry my gear ;-)
1st JUNE 2015 - You know when your wife pops to the shops and "something just jumped into my basket" the something usually being this 'darling little dress' or handbag that costs more than a weekend break, well I am sometimes guilty of this too - yes I know, hard to believe me being such a paragon of economy and financial self-restraint........and after what I said just a few days ago on this very blog about the dubious future of the Alpha 'A' mount! (although, to be fair, it is the most tits-up-proof option your could possibly buy for Alpha). Non-photographers don't read on as I am going to go all 'gear porn' now. The 'Sony Carl Zeiss 135mm F1.8 ZA Sonnar T*' lens (that is only available for the Sony Alpha mount - suck on that Canikon fanboyz) has, since its introduction in 2006, been one of the world's greatest lenses for portraiture, fashion, 'near macro' etc. It has super creamy bokeh, is the fastest 135 lens in the world, Rolls Royce build quality. And, as such, if I was a Catholic, I would be confessing to the priest, or whatever convenient justification they use for bad behaviour, about coveting my neighbours ass (is that the right expression (!) Yes I am talking serious lens lust here - not something I am usually terribly guilty of. This lens scores an average of 4.99 (out of 5) for sharpness from 110 reviewers and even gets 4.5 stars on the notoriously hard marking Photozone.de lens reviewing website for god's sake - a real 'diamond cutter' as our American friends might say lol. In my defence I did wait for a 'very reasonably' priced used example to come along and it was one of those - my birthday is in a few days time, I have been having a tough time recently, if you hesitate it will be gone - moments! Helen bless her cotton socks forced me to do it and actually pressed the buy button for me, so that doesn't count does it ;-) So, hoping for a first outing at the end of the month on my 'woodland catwalk' when hopefully I get a couple of weeks off for good behaviour and a temporary break from house clearing and selling!
29th MAY 2015 - After what must be one of the most successful displays for any of my temporary galleries, the Impressions of Bruges gallery has been taken down and the best shots absorbed into Travel and Landscapes. Two of my colleagues have been inspired to visit Bruges by the photos so that sounds like a tick in the box for me.......just hope they aren't disappointed when they get there!! Again very little photographic activity due to clearing Mam's house and prepping it for sale and mood worsened somewhat by rumblings that Sony really are in danger of forgetting the A mount Alpha cameras in favour of the new E mount compact mount - something I have suspected for ages. Oh well, I would have liked one decent standard lens and a new FF body before they packed in but we shall see. Will content myself until holographic Nikons appear in 2035 lol
26th APRIL 2015 - Well, what a fantastic week Helen and I spent in Bruges. Weather was lovely with bright contrasty lighting almost all the time - gave the dynamic range of the sensor a bit of a workout! Gave me a bit of a workout too with these (almost literally) being the first photos I had taken with my brand new A77Mkii - a very different breed of camera to what I am used to......where's the mirror gone then! I was chilling too much to get into any serious photographic action but hopefully I got something that visitors to my site will enjoy. Thanks go to Lynn at Huis Konig for looking after us so well and I will pop a link to her website on my links page, which means it joins some pretty exalted company in the world of travel. As usual the bespoke gallery will remain up for about a month before being dismantled and the better shots distributed into the respective regular galleries..........UPDATE - Stunning response with over 2,000 views in the few hours after the gallery went up - must be thanks to Helen's post on Facebook lol
4th APRIL 2015 - Happy Easter to all. Still not getting any camera action due to work to clear Mam's house but looking forward eagerly to the end of the month when it is off to Bruges for the maiden voyage of the A77MkII.......fingers crossed for some decent weather.
14th MARCH 2015 - Had a long overdue get together with young Rachel this morning to help steer her through the (ever more) confusing minefield of choosing a camera system as she nears her 30th birthday. Think we managed to arrive at a good benchmark requirement which she can adapt/build on and still keeping spend 'realistic'. Was interesting to perform a 'like-for-like' comparison to see what the Nikon-based outfit I originally planned for 2005 would cost now - about £3100 instead of £2500 back then - not as much of an increase as I had imagined.
27th FEBRUARY 2015 - Got a nice surprise this afternoon when I found that my panorama taken from the top of the Newcastle Castle Keep had been chosen by the Old Newcastle Project as the main image for their new website in the run-up to the grand opening. It made quite an impressive opening impression even though I do say so myself. The panorama was shot in September 2012 and stitched from 9 separate images taken on my A900 with 28-75 lens, set unusually wide for panorama work, at 28mm so it was quite a feat to keep distortion to a minimum. Pleased to see another string to my 'published work' bow to sit alongside the historical record work I did for the project that will probably only be seen by archivists and historians.
17th FEBRUARY 2015 - Getting increasingly frustrated with Sony and their obsession with their compact system camera range at the expense of their DSLR's which have seen virtually no development for years. Decided to update my travel kit (based on both the Sony situation and my findings in NZ - travel photography is travel photography and not to be confused with serious assignments) so at least I have the option for movies, and shooting through an adjustable screen for low level work, plus better poor light performance and a serious hike in shooting speed from 5fps to 12fps (should I ever need it!). So the A700 makes way for the Alpha 77 MkII and the 18-250 for a 16-300 - a bit more reach at both ends and a bit of weather sealing thrown in. Hinge on screen hurting my nose so need to rejig my stance!! As this also necessitated a switch to SD cards instead of CF I was musing over the fact that I got a 32GB 1000x 150MB/s card for £20......the card I bought for my first dslr was 1GB, about 4x and £100......so about 32x250x5 (=8000) times better vfm now - gotta chuckle!
9th JANUARY 2015 - Happy new year to all. Been very quiet on the photography front recently I'm afraid......combination of poor weather, lack of inspiration/opportunity and we have had Mam in hospital for a couple of months with a progression of her Parkinson's Disease to Parkinson's Dementia. Be a little while before we get sorted but, don't worry, I still haven't lost my love for image making and hopefully it won't be too long before I have some new stuff for you. In the meantime views are still consistently high so see what all the fuss is about and enjoy the current galleries. Take care.
17th NOVEMBER 2014 - Well......Big G has 'gone viral'........don't worry, no need to get vaccinated! I was lucky enough to have one of my old 1985 (film days) shots of TT racing legend 'Yer Maun' Joey Dunlop accepted by the official Joey Dunlop Facebook site. Since yesterday it has received almost 1000 'likes' and has been extensively shared by the page's membership. Simply as a tribute to Joey and a nod to my biking youth I have placed 3 images on my Men and Motors gallery taken in 1984 and 1985 from my first 2 trips to the Isle of Man TT Races. A bit less polished than the modern stuff (and the one of Roger Marshall pulling a wheelie out of the pits on his factory Honda was originally a colour transparency so it's a contrasty b+w 'slide copy') but good honest shots. These 3 were amongst my first wall hangers when I took up photography again in earnest in 2005 and have been on my study wall since then......possibly soon to be 'modernised' with a cracking print I have 'just bought with my Xmas money' by talented artist Billy David of Michael Dunlop making history, smashing the production lap record at 131+mph and giving BMW their first solo TT win for 75 years.
18th OCTOBER 2014 - Yesterday I got an excited e-mail from my photographic protégé Rachel to let me know that she had been placed in the 12 finalists of a photographic competition of a national magazine. The theme was 'Summer' and Rachel's shot of a poppy with nicely blurred background and - the killer 'extra' element - a bee hovering just above the flower was, in my opinion, one of the two best shots in the group. Good result Rachel, well done.
20th SEPTEMBER 2014 - Was down in London for a few days recently but ended up being a very lightweight affair photography-wise.......had only taken the RX100 but the weather was very overcast most of the time and the light was as flat as a pancake. So only one pic had enough oomph to make it to the travel gallery - it's a bright one though so pop your sunglasses on!
16th AUGUST 2014 - Was due to take to the skies today for the first time at the controls of a Piper Tomahawk light aircraft but weather conditions were a bit marginal so deferred for the time being. Never mind, had a run on the CBF1000 before the abortive run to Carlisle airport and that was nice, if a bit short, but relived old days flashing past Tranwell at just under the ton....is it me or is that road surface worse than it used to be! Spent an enjoyable couple of hours on the pc this afternoon getting a bit of inspiration for both bike and car photo sessions I am planning. Couldn't help but bring a really nice Isle of Man overview video to your attention that I spotted - if you have never watched footage of the world famous TT races watch this!
27th JULY 2014 - Things have been quite quiet recently for me (photographically speaking) but lots of activity to keep me from mischief. Anyway, had a quick trip out to the end of Newcastle Airport runway yesterday afternoon to try and capture some of the aircraft bound for Sunderland International Airshow. Wind was from the wrong direction which meant I was unable to get planes coming in to land and the sun (27 deg C.......in Newcastle!) had me hiding under a leafy tree, so that provided challenges for airborne shooting too! Managed to snatch a couple of Red Arrows shots as they took off in formations of three. I have added these to the Men & Motors gallery, not because they are good shots, but because what Men & Motors gallery is complete without our beloved Arrows!
11th MAY 2014 - Rachel persuaded me to accompany her to the Fast Lane car show at Tynedale RFC in Corbridge today. Wasn't expecting much and the light was mostly very flat but managed to squeeze a couple of half decent shots out of the visit - see the Men & Motors gallery for the two images - One of a Jag XK150 and the other an Aston Martin Vantage (yummy!).
21st APRIL 2014 - After a very successful run I have collapsed the bespoke New Zealand gallery. Highlights from the trip are available now in the relevant general galleries.
11th APRIL 2014 - Some news and a hopefully enjoyable tuition weekend. One of my photos of Mike Hall (Classic Clapton/After Midnight) has been published (with a by-line) in an article about tribute bands, in the wake of their rise in popularity driven by events such as Fake Festivals. It appears in Living North magazine which - I was surprised to learn - has got even bigger, classier and glossier than last time I read it - up to 488 pages now - a real lifestyle heavyweight full of country estates and Maserati dealerships! The magazine also has an interview with Kate Sussams about the opening of the Black Gate - that I provided archival photographic support for. Then Sunday sees me off to Olivers Mount for the first time in 3.5 years, showing Rachel round for the first time and passing on hints and tips for her first stab at motorsport photography. I'm leaving my kit at home though in order to concentrate on the racing for a change and to assist Rachel as much as possible - I think she will need it with a bridge camera - those guys move f-a-s-t! Looking forward to a star-studded field with such notables as Guy Martin, William Dunlop and Ryan Farquhar confirmed as attending.
5th APRIL 2014 - Obviously there has been a lot of interest in my NZ holiday gallery and the 'unveiling day' saw more than 3200 individual images being opened for closer scrutiny - that's a lot of clicking! There are still a lot of people I know from work etc who weren't aware that I am a photographer and who looked at my site for the first time on the back of knowing about my holiday. It made me chuckle that roughly half to two thirds of the comments I received attributed the good photos to me "having a good camera" Now I suppose it all depends on which school of thought you subscribe to......most professionals say that it's the person behind the camera who makes the shot and, to an extent, that's true. However what made me chuckle specifically were two points - 1) the commenters didn't realise they were actually 'insulting' me by playing down my part in the process and 2) surely in this day and age with cheap compact cameras that can turn in astonishingly good results, everyone has access to a 'good camera' and therefore maybe that proves, if my images are so much better than most people's holiday snaps as implied, it MUST be down to the photographer (or the commenters are still using Box Brownies!). You could have fun debating the part played by equipment versus human elements all day - it is a fascinating debate (and my view falls somewhere in the middle) - and one that will be argued over for many years to come, at least until we get the commercial appearance of these cameras that automatically take photographs. Tomorrow's World here we come! Summed-up beautifully by photographer Sam Haskins who was attending a party for wealthy socialites in New York, on arrival the host said to him "I love your pictures; you must have a good camera" he said nothing but, after the dinner, said to the host "that was a wonderful dinner; you must have a terrific stove"
18th MARCH 2014 - Well the tour of North Island New Zealand was lovely - not that you would expect anything else from such a stunning country. I alluded just before Xmas that I was struggling with the choice of using my traditional tried and tested travel combo or the 'full kit' and I went with the full kit - A900, 12-24, 28-75 and 70-200 - but was far from convinced that it was the right choice. Clearly being short on focal length at 200mm max, having 7kg of gear to lug about continually and often having to swap lenses was tiresome. The plus side is of course better image quality (not that you can tell on the web of course!) and the benefit of having the option to work with limited depth of field that full frame brings. Jury still out but leaning towards A700 and 18-250 an awful lot! Clearly the A900 was only a realistic option with us having the car so it may be that it isn't a decision I have to make often in the future and I may be working with new kit before our next trip anyway.....if Sony pull their fingers out. Our tour lasted from 16th Feb to 15th Mar and took in (non-stopover) travel on Emirates via Dubai and Melbourne then Auckland, Whangamata, Tauranga, Gisborne, Napier, Wellington, Taupo, Paihia and back to Auckland (I drove over 4,000km in 20 days, courtesy of a 3.6 litre Holden Commodore SV6) and we did just 200 actual air miles short of going once round the world. Unusually for me the 'flow' of the photographs mimics the chronology of the journey so you can follow the virtual road trip with us in effect.
Highlights of the trip were visiting Hobbiton (yes really!), sailing onboard a 85' gaff-rigged schooner, staying at Knapdale Eco Lodge with Kay and Kees and meeting our friends Aman and Alok in their new home in Auckland (just in time before they return to the Punjab for a year) who are loving North Shore life after relocating following the loss of their lovely restaurant during the devastating Christchurch earthquake. Had some cracking food again and, not surprisingly, most of it was Asian or Asian fusion and this has inspired me to cook more in that style. Oh and I just need a direct supply line to Kees for his superb venison and a Countdown supermarket in Blyth so I can source incredible NZ aromatic wines at knock-down prices!
Thanks to Helen for putting up with me for 4 weeks solid. I hope you enjoy the photographs in their new bespoke gallery - at the end of this first day there have already been 1,660 views of individual photos plus general browsing so they are proving popular already. They should remain up for the usual month or so before getting slimmed down and absorbed into the standard galleries.
23rd JANUARY 2014 - Congratulations to Eric Murphy of Banana Studios for getting two of his images commended in the 2013 Professional Photographer of the Year worldwide completion. Eric took places in both the Location Flash and In the Studio categories including one of my all time favourite images of his 'Rugby' - a truly stunning image of the highest technical quality. Have a look at this for a cracking 130 'page turner' of all the finalists.
13th JANUARY 2014 - Happy New Year! Saturday saw my first trip out with Rachel and her new Canon. It was a fairly short session due to a bitingly cold wind that got up about an hour into the trip. We just stayed local so nothing was spoiling and we had the benefit of being able to drop in at the local fish and chip shop to ease away any last remnants of cold! True to form Rachel took almost 200 photos, and I took 14 lol. We both got one or two keepers and I will work out how best to display output from our sessions as we proceed, so watch out for those images later in the year.
16th DECEMBER 2013 - Just before things get too hectic for Xmas I just wanted to take a few minutes out to wish everyone who visits my site the very merriest of holiday's. Looking forward to the new year I am hoping to get out and about with my mentoring hat on with young Rachel as she is getting a Canon SX50HS from Santa (no I didn't spoil the surprise lol). Hopefully those jaunts will prove profitable for my portfolio too. A little further down the line the big event for me next year is of course another New Zealand trip - the north island only this time - so stay tuned towards the end of March for that.......I'm travelling with some of my 'serious' kit for the first time ever and leaving the 700/18-250 behind *fingers crossed*
19th NOVEMBER 2013 - A couple of new photos in the models gallery today from my shoot with Leeds-based model Antonia Pudney. Adapted from the original concept of a Russian winter styled-shoot I like these two images. Thanks to Antonia for excellent comms, prep and turning up at 8:30 on a Sunday morning when it was not far above freezing. Also to Rachel who was my assistant and made my job a LOT easier when juggling lighting rigs.
12th OCTOBER 2013 - Only one addition to mention and that is one from a quite large series I completed for a plumbing firm who had been doing work on a complete ground-up renovation of two bathrooms - a family room and an en-suite. You will find my favourite shot in the commercial gallery. Bathroom design for this en-suite wetroom was by me and the resultant shot was taken a few days after the 3 week plumbing project completed to allow time for the installation of a new blind to 'finish things off nicely'.
20th SEPTEMBER 2013 - I did a 'soft launch' for the site but, despite this, visitor averages are up already. In addition, over the last year, hits on individual images have risen from 100+ per day to about 400 on a typical day now. A growing number of return visitors has obviously helped the medium term position and the new indexing has shown better navigation to the most popular images over the last 10 days.
10th SEPTEMBER 2013 - A brand new site! I hope you like the new modern look. I am still tinkering with the design so you may have to wait a short while for old favourites like the gear page to come back, but I hope you like what you are seeing so far.