Saturday, 1 September 2012

Life is what happens when you're trying to blog.

I haven't posted for a little bit because life is what happens when you're trying to blog. It's been busy but that is not all, there has been other 'stuff' too.

I've also been rethinking my whole strategy and approach to my photography. I want to to take photos of things I love taking photos of and so I am working on ways to do more of that. And redesigning my web site and looking at new products and packages. Lots of behind the scenes stuff.

I will try and post more later and thanks for the messages from my followers. I missed you too and hope to visit your blogs soon! I'll leave you with a recent photo of a lemur telling me exactly how he felt about having his photo taken. Everyone's a critic, right?

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Meet Louis. Louis is a Cocker Spaniel with a gorgeous black coat, long black ears, dark eyes and a black nose too! He has paws the size of a bear and has a very vocal greeting accompanied by a madly wagging tail.

A completely black dog can be a challenge to photograph as it is important that the features are visible and don't get lost. It might seem a little counter intuitive then to photograph him on a black leather sofa with the light mostly behind him! However, the back light gave a gorgeous 'halo' effect which separated him from the back ground and as it was at a side angle to him it also picked out the fabulous curly fur on his ear and provided a catch light in his eye too. A little tweaking in PS5 allowed me to slightly exaggerate the highlights to pick out more detail and to add a little dodge and burning to the ear to give it more texture. I'm very happy with the result as was Louis' owner.

Sunday, 22 April 2012


Meet Dizzy. Diz is an albino Leopard Gecko who seemed to enjoy posing for her portrait. I am happy to do portrait session of any pets, not just the conventional cute and fluffie's (though I love taking their photos). Leopard geckos are very docile and Diz is hand tame so taking her photograph was a breeze. The colours you see in the photo are true as albino Leopard geckos are yellow and pink. I think she is an extremely pretty little lady, with just a little bit of the Queen Victoria attitude about her as you can see from the way she is looking at the camera as if to say 'I am not amused'.

This photo was awarded Bronze last year in an International photo competition run by The Societies, a body of professional photographers that I am a member of. I was pretty pleased with that.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Dark and Light

Did I ever mention how much I like chocolate? Well, let's just say it's quite a bit as long as it's the good stuff. I like both light and dark chocolate as I think both types have their own unique taste, both are delicious in their own way. That's pretty much how I feel about these photographs I recently took in the Forest of Dean. There was a part of the woods I visited that were light and airy, and then there was another part that was dark, deep and secretive.

I tried to capture both of these feelings in the photographs, the open airy and bright fresh feel as well as the dark and mysterious. So, which do you prefer? (Chocolate and the photographs!).

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Sun Burst

I took advantage of the recent sunny weather to indulge in some photography just for the sake of it. I headed over to the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire as I heard that the bluebells were coming out early this year. Alas the pretty flowers had not yet bloomed but while I was there I was very much taken by the sun streaming through the trees. So I turned my camera into the sun and started shooting.

Sun Burst - You really have to click on this to see it in all it's glory.

Regular readers of this blog will know that I love to turn the camera into the sun and let it flare in the lens. I wanted to capture the dreamy, other-world feel of the woods that day, as if something from a fairy tale might be among the trees. Doing this helped capture the feel I was after. I like the effect of the golden glow and rainbow refraction of the light from the many layers in the camera lens. When the sun streams through something like branches it is also possible to get a great star-burst effect from the sun light. When I took this particular photo I knew I had captured a goodie. I have already had one enquiry for a print for a wall picture and so I am thinking of also adding this to my forthcoming fine art collection. I hope you like it too.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Purple Door

When I am taking a photograph I am always on the look out for interesting shapes and lines and of course, colour and tone. This purple door was screaming to be used as a photographic backdrop and the light in the small courtyard was perfect with a large building opposite the door cutting out the glaring top light of the sun. I really like how the red of the bricks and dog fur compliment each other and then the purple door acts as a darker contrast and frames the dog well. I've had some great feedback about this photo on Facebook too which is great, besides who can resist such a sweet face as Henry's?

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Mist again.

I always have a camera of some sort on me. As a photographer I never switch off and I never know when I will see a great picture that I want to capture. So, when I took my dog for a walk this last weekend I took my Fujifilm X10 with me. It's lighter and more portable than my Canon 5D and lenses and so I often grab it when I go out.

The beach was thick with mist rolling in from the sea in a different sort of lazy wave. Though there seemed to be quite a few people around from the number of cars in the car park, the beach seemed empty as you could not see far into the distance. Every now and again some people and their dog would emerge from the mist like ghostly figures and disappear again as they passed by.  The mist did not deter my little retriever from his favourite game of fetch and I couldn't help but capture a few shots of him running around in the mist, an indistinct little shadow enjoying himself.

I'm very pleased with this particular photograph and gave it a vintage feel to exaggerate the mistiness. I'm currently working on a fine art collection and I am thinking of adding this one to it. What do you think?

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Cover art

So, why, you might ask, am I featuring a sci fi book cover on my blog? The answer (of course) is that I took the photographs that were the basis for the cover artwork for this series of books called 'Black Legion' by Michael G. Thomas. The photos also formed the basis for the art work on his previous 'Star Crusades' novels and I was also commissioned to take portraits of the author himself, which are used on promotional material and on his Amazon author page.

Michael is an established best selling sci fi author and his latest series transports the ancient tale of Xenophon and the Ten Thousand Mercenaries into the distant future. You can view his bio and other books *here* and his blog is called star-crusader (click on the name for a link).

The photo session itself was fun and frenetic. It is not often you get the opportunity to take photos of models with weaponry! I have posted two of the original photos, before they were turned into artwork. It is nice to see my work on the front of some books!

Saturday, 18 February 2012


I recently had the pleasure of photographing Alfie, or Alfred the Great as his owner proudly called him. Alfie is a tri-colour border collie and being an older chap is not as bouncy as he once was but still enjoys a good game of fetching the ball (which turned out to be a handy prop of getting and keeping his attention too!).

Alfie's owner, adores their faithful dog and commissioned me to take some photographs for a large framed wall picture. We had great fun among the trees taking photos and Alfie was the perfect gent, sitting nicely when asked and putting up with the camera with good humour as he knew there would be a game with his ball as a treat, so he had a fun time too.  Such a handsome fellow deserves to have their portrait taken don't you think?

I am always happy when I am approached to do pet portraits as they are such an important part of many people's families and I enjoy working with the animals and meeting the owners,. Invariably they have some lovely stories about their pets and seeing the bond and trust between owner and pet always puts a smile on my face. I left with an especially large grin after working with Alfie and Wendy.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

The Professional Touch

There is no doubt about it; weddings cost a lot and can be hard work and not just for bride and groom. There are a lot of  people involved in making the Big Day perfect: caterers, florists, hair and make-up artists, dress-makers and tailors, entertainers and of course, your friendly professional photographer.

I am always dismayed when I am told by a bride, that a friend with a 'good' camera will be taking the photos. I always ask if they would entrust their hair to a friend with a great pair of scissors? As with many professions, the camera is just a tool and you are paying for their experience and expertise. The friend with a camera is invariably unlikely to have this and in the case of weddings, shooting one is not the same as being a guest.

A professional photographer does not just take fabulous photos, so why should you pay what may seem a lot of money at first glance?
  • They are trained professionals. many photographers have undertaken training and will continue to update their skills regularly.
  • They are experienced and will know the best spots to take photos, they will know how to get great shots when the weather does that very British rain act, they know what to capture and will anticipate the key moments at a wedding so that the bride and groom can treasure them forever.
  • They will have pro kit, including a range of lenses which is far more important for fantastic shots than the camera itself. They will also know which lens to use for best effect.
  • They know how to use light to make you look fabulous. This includes using natural light and flash (which they will know how to use properly).
  • They will know how to handle people and will make the shots quick and fun - no standing around for ages while someone sorts themselves out.
  • As they are not a guest they will be focusing on you and getting those important shots rather than mingling and drinking. 
  • They will meet with you beforehand more than once, to ensure they know what you want and which shots matter to you. You are also likely to get an engagement shoot as part of the price. 
  • They will have access to professional photo printing (not high street photo printers), and be able to provide other professional products like great albums and photo books, canvas wall pictures and framed prints.
  • Your album or photo book will be professionally designed so it will look as fabulous as you did on the day. The photos are often the only lasting reminder of the special day. A pro photographer will capture all the details you carefully spent time choosing, will capture how fabulous you looked and will show you and the venue at it's best.
  • Last but not least, weddings are hard work and a photographer is likely to be there the whole day (or until the first dance). Many photographers go the extra mile and end up being invaluable when a crisis occurs. For example, one of my brides was pregnant and broke the fastening on her dress. Luckily I was prepared and had safety pins to hand! I have also calmed down anxious mothers, helped brides get dressed and fed one that was feeling faint from hunger as I always carry breakfast bars in my bag in case I don't get anything to eat!

 With the average wedding cost being £10,000 - £15,000 (less for smaller ones), why risk your future memories on an amateur (no matter how good their camera is!). The same rules apply to portraits and other occasions too. All my brides tell me that the day goes by in a blur so don't risk your future memories, but hire a great wedding photographer who knows how important your photos will be to you and has the skills and experience to make you looks as fabulous as you deserve to be in them, for years to come. Of course, the reasons outlined above apply just as well to any important occasion or capturing special moments like a stage in a child's life, or even family and pet portraits too. The professional touch can make all the difference.

    Wednesday, 1 February 2012

    Life's a Beach

    This photo was taken on a recent visit to a nearby sandy beach which is popular with dog walkers. Henry, my puppy (featured in an earlier post) loves, loves, LOVES going there and running along the wet sand - even on a cold winter's day. It was the first place he was allowed to run 'off lead' and he loves sniffing at the seaweed washed up on the tide.

    The beach was cold and on this day and there was a freezing wind coming in off the sea, so fellow dog walkers were wrapped up warm. Even so, the wind blew straight through to the bones. I took a few photographs until my fingers became numb. I loved this one of man and dog enjoying some quality time together. I used my favourite technique of shooting into the sun to capture some lens flare and throw the subjects into slight silhouette with just a tad of detail.

    Sunday, 15 January 2012


     Meet Sam. Sammy is a Ragdoll cat and brother to Max who was featured in an earlier post. Where Max is totally laid back Sam is more highly strung. He knows what he wants and is not afraid to badger me for it. He is also not backward about letting me know if I have upset him in someway. Saying all that he is an absolutely adorable little fellow who answers me and comes when he is called, meets me at the door when I come home and enthusiastically gives me 'high fives', 'low fives' and 'ten' for treats.

    His fur is as soft as it looks and his eyes, like his brothers, are like deep blue pools of water. He loves being groomed and will often honour me with mutual grooming (like having my hand gently stroked with damp, warm sandpaper). He loves toys with feathers and having rolled up sweet papers thrown for him to play with, where they quickly get batted under the sofa.

    I love photographing animals and so it is natural that I would capture some fabulous photos of my own pets too. I must admit, that I am always pleased to be commissioned for pet portraits as I love meeting other people's pets and swapping stories.

    Friday, 6 January 2012


    When I was first given a camera as a kid of about 11 or 12 years old, I was told not to take photos into the sun. Now I do it often and I must admit, digital photography helps you do this successfully as you can check the exposure and results immediately. Taking photos into the sun is useful for portraits as your subject is not squinting because the sun is their eyes (it's behind them!) and it can also give a great halo effect from back lighting them. Sometimes though, I just like to use the flare effect from the sun on the camera lens as part of the photograph. The rainbow effect can really add to an otherwise ordinary scene.

    During the last snow I set off with my camera to capture some snowy scenes. I was walking through a wooded area and turned to see this scene (click on it to see it larger):

    I was struck by the effect of the sun shining through the snowy branches and before I knew what I was doing I had raised my camera to my eye and was taking the photo. No filters were used and the star shaped flare of the sun is exactly as I saw it on the day. It has become one of my favourite captures. 

    Monday, 2 January 2012

    Let it Snow...

    I love the snow. It makes everything so beautiful and brings with it a peaceful hush, except for the crunching of your feet as you walk. It is therefore a great disappointment to me, that thus far it has been an elusive commodity in these parts of the UK. There was not a White Christmas here but actually rather a grey and damp one, which also made it tricky to get out and about with my camera in tow. The cold I can cope with (even when my fingers get so cold I can't feel them anymore as they did when I took these photos of snowy scenes), but my camera and I detest the wet.

    These photos were taken in December 2010, in Tintern, South Wales. I got there early before the snow on the branches and twigs could thaw and it looked like a winter wonderland. I was a very happy bunny, especially as there was a cosy hostelry nearby where I got a hot drink and sat near a real fire to thaw my fingers! I am still hoping for snow this winter but in the meantime I hope you had a wonderful Christmas / Holidays and wish you all  the very best for the New Year.