Tuesday, 23 May 2017

'Good light'?

If you read enough photography magazines or watch enough photography YouTube videos on landscape photography you'll inevitably hear you should shoot in the hour after dawn and the hour before sunset. Some go further and dismiss shooting landscapes at any other time of day. Remember when you were told there are 'rules' in photography that you're supposed to follow and then someone tells you, 'actually, it's fine to break the rules', same applies to this idea about only shooting landscapes in the first and last hour of the daylight. If the sky is clear, sure, the first and last hour of direct sunlight will be the softest and warmest and we generally find that to be flattering and spiritually warming but what if you ignore the beautiful landscape spread out before you because it's two hours before sunset only for cloud to build on the western horizon and that beautiful warm light is gone before that precious one hour window you've been told is the only worthwhile time to shoot? Don't be bound by rules! Use your imagination. Engage your creativity. You can plan all you like to get to a location with all the kit you'd ever need only for the weather or life to scupper your plans. Roll with the punches and make the best of the situation. Is it disappointing to not be shooting what you had planned? Hell yeah, but it'd be more disappointing to not get anything because you threw all the kit back on the car and left when the plans got ripped up. Evolution shows us the success of a species is dependant on adaptation and we want that same success for our photography.

I left home with a largely blue sky, an hour later it looked like this (see above). We all know where this was going. Two hours later it was as expected (see below).
Virtually featureless pale grey/white sky. Was it still good for my architectural abstracts? Sure, it wasn't ideal, and certainly, little to no point in including much, if any, sky in the images, but that leaves the immense range of textures and patterns to be captured, some of which maybe be better in soft light than more contrasty direct lighting.When it started raining, I continued to shoot, though the rain on the lens did make for some otherwise unnecessary retouching work. Eventually though, I sought shelter inside and continued to shoot abstracts and textures.

The patina of the above panels might not have recorded so cleanly in bright conditions with reflections muddying the look of the surface.

The retouched images will be added to the Limited Edition gallery over the next few weeks as they're retouched, the texture shots will either be made available on the Open Edition gallery or as a texture pack download.
Rounded off the day with some creative inspiration taking in both the Tate Modern extension and the FIXPhoto Exhibition at the OXO Tower Bargehouse and even spoke briefly to it's curator, Laura Noble. A productive day, despite the highly changeable weather.
Check out the facebook page, show it some love and share the hell out of it please ;) : https://www.facebook.com/NickCroninArtist/ and the gallery page on my site: http://folio-21.com/artGallery.html

Thursday, 23 March 2017


Just because we can, should we?
The answer is, as ever, not clear cut and definitive, it's art, it's subjective, it's up to you where you draw the line.
We live in an increasingly enhanced world whether that's virtual reality overlaid into real life through a headset or on a phone screen or silicone implants for all manner of body sculpting, so why should an image of an architectural subject not be subject to the same?
 That answer is at least a little more straightforward. If the image is essentially shot to document the building's existence it should be a fairly straight shot, maybe adjusting for perspective distortion, with the usual tweaks to contrast and colour as necessary but if the purpose is as art, the world is your oyster. Inject the scene with whatever you like, stimulate discussion about the subject, your choice of colour, overlay images/textures and a thousand and one other options. Do not let the subject constrain your imagination. Will everyone love your image on Instagram? WHO FREAKIN CARES???? The answer is no, of course not. Dare to stand by your creative decisions because YOU liked them. If the image you create only brings you joy, it was worth it, but in all likelihood someone else will too, so that's a bonus.
You've hopefully looked over my galleries by now and seen my love of pattern and texture and, for the most part, those images are cleaned up and tweaks made to colour and contrast but in amongst the Abstracts I'll be adding this:
Yeah it's a wall, don't know it's essentially a deep profile clay tile or actually a brick but the dappled oblique light on it was great and injecting the vibrant colour makes for a strong splash of colour in a modern home. See how the dappled light has effectively broken up the pattern of the tiles? Well I like it! For the more conservative among you, I've also worked up a black and white version that wallows in the shadows.
As I've told you before, explore your options, I've also created an enhanced version of straight image that shows the blue in the dappled leaf shadows in contrast to the warmth of the direct illumination.
With that, I wish you all a safe week with Spring finally here and the new F1 season upon us. Check out my galleries if you've not done so, both Limited Edition, for those investment pieces, and Open Edition for those beautiful decorative images (which make much better gifts than yet another Easter egg).   ;)

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Patience, persistence and planning.

Yup, boring as it may seem. Those are three key attributes for success. For architectural photography it helps to know the time of day and light quality you want for the shot you've planned and that's a combination of creative vision and either a recon or hitting the maps to find the time of day for the light you're after. Despite that, you're constantly at the mercy of the weather and the regularly 'partially cloudy' or 'mostly cloudy' weather forecast doesn't entirely rule in or out a beautiful photo opportunity so it pays to be flexible. Be prepared to scrub the shoot at the last minute or grab your kit and go, likewise, when you're on the ground, be prepared to stay there for a good while. Don't just sit there, explore the locale but be prepared to get back to your target quickly, the clouds could part for 60 seconds to give you that shot then it's gone for the rest of the day. If you happen to live somewhere with a more stable weather pattern you might not have that grief but equally you might not get the opportunity to shoot in weather conditions that could give a sense of 2-3 seasons in one day.
  Also on the patience point, we all know that there are definitely areas you should be careful about hauling out your expensive camera kit but don't be too quick to write anywhere off. On a recent trip over to West Croydon, yes, Croydon!, I got some images of a new striking building. Lot's of colour and geometry, pity about the couple of ropes still hanging from the very top all the way down to the ground whilst the finishing touches are being made.

See! Not sure if the red panels are supposed to look like flames licking up the building facade as some sort of a nod to the fires set during the riots some years ago. Not something I'd expect to be immortalised in the building design for sure, but what a beautiful addition to Croydon's frequently grey skyline.
The building sector is in a near constant state of flux so keep an eye out for new buildings going up but also old buildings coming down, providing new, cleaner aspects on other buildings.
Think you've exhausted all the opportunities in your local area, (really?) then find a bus route that takes you off to unfamiliar ground, start researching the area with Google and take the time to get over the there for a recce. Scoping the area doesn't require the best weather but take a camera, just in case, it'll allow you to document likely subjects even if the light's poor, better still if you can geotag your images. On the off-chance any camera manufacturers read this, it's time any camera costing over £500 had GPS built-in, not 'available with an optional (over-priced) accessory'.
On the subject of weather, we've had a few delightfully Spring-like days but it's still February and a storm is imminent so be prepared, dramatic weather can be very picturesque even without a beautiful building in shot. Proof of which was a top 12% (?) place for my image of a heavy fog in an open woodland on microstock site Twenty20: www.twenty20.com/challenges/backgrounds
Until next time folks, don't get blown away by Storm Doris (proof the public should not be naming storms or anything else) and get out there shooting. Better weather means less excuses to not get regular exercise and pictures.

Monday, 23 January 2017

Meanwhile, back in London.

Americans, for all the anti-British rhetoric about 'colonial times', largely view Britain and, particularly, London, as cool? For a country of largely temperate climate, this past week has not been just cool but freakin ass freezin cold. Off I headed, walking almost immediately past a bus stop with a woman and her 2 sub 5 yr. olds all brandishing placards. Curious start to the day (didn't realise that was the universe giving me a 'heads up' at this point). Not content with walking around London's streets funnelling the icy breeze, off I went to 'Little Venice'. Where the wind was stronger, whipping across the open stretches of water. Despite wearing 5 layers, the contortions of this photographer in search of the 'perfect composition' apparently made it easy for the wind to search out bare skin. Suffice to say, I need to find clothing longer in the body because I will not become a fair weather or indoor photographer. NOT HAPPENING!
On the plus side, the research I'd done to select this location proved accurate and the briefest of recces following the SWPP convention around the corner the previous week had confirmed it as a likely subject. The glorious blue sky and sunshine beckoned and the architecture, although somewhat polluted by the human factor, looked majestic.
 Many of my architectural images are graphic and I love them in black and white, but in such weather conditions I was out for colour impact at every turn. London did not let me down. Not for subjects anyway, more on that later.
SEE, graphic. Colour pop. As usual this is just a crop from the finished image which will soon appear on the limited edition gallery on my website. If you've not had a look yet, please get on over there, drop a like, share etc, you know the routine.
 As I've said before, don't be limited by your research, walk that extra few metres/half mile, or whatever if you sense there might be something worthy of a closer look. I did just that on this visit and it allowed me to get a slim side view of a building with a significant percentage of the light coming from below (a large clear area of train tracks). Nearly four hours later, as a result of stopping frequently to take pictures I wasn't getting the warming benefit of walking so I was cold, realll coldddd, but that nagging little voice had ensured I'd explored the target buildings and a few others for interesting compositions whilst I was there and not just thrown in the towel or headed for a coffee shop. So that was enough, the sun was already low, took a few more images of the targeted subjects as I left Little Venice now the light had swung round and repacked the backpack for the walk over to Regent Street. Edgeware Road was at a near standstill and beyond. The annoying drone of the police helicopter and occasional woman with a placard suggested there was a demo somewhere near but arriving at the bus stop I was greeted by the familiar long queue of people awaiting a bus, this after having walked past complete gridlock at Marble Arch and Oxford Street lead me to the conclusion it was time to walk, at least in the direction of home in case the buses were getting turned early to avoid the demo route. Half an hour later I'd walked through the demo twice, not seen any sign of my bus running in either direction but I had reached the river again, by a crazy route, and took advantage of the opportunity to get a picture of The London Eye for stock before continuing my walk towards Waterloo, the most obvious point at which to turn buses around. Typically for my bus excursions of late I once again had a bus pass me as I walked between stops and yet again I was forced to run for it with all the camera gear on my back. Finally I was able to sit down and have some of the coffee I'd been carrying around with me all day. Definitely could feel the affect of not having eaten for the past 6 hrs but satisfied with the images and keen to get to work on the retouching, the nagging question remained, 'How do I get the art images out there?', in front of art people, marketed, dare I say it, SOLD! Well I'm still working on that one, but they're on my website, some are on SaatchiArt website and very soon my Patreon will go live and I'll reveal on there and here my plans, both short and long term. until then here are another couple of images from the day.
Remember, go check the gallery.

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Reality can be a B!tch

   For someone outside of this industry it looks like all you do is take pretty pictures all day, either in pretty locations or of pretty models, and for some, that maybe true, but for the majority, IT DARN WELL ISN'T!  You'll never know how much self-restraint I just showed there given my current blood-boiling level of frustration caused by Google. Anyway, back to my point, some days it's all about the excitement of shooting, maybe meeting someone or going somewhere filled with potential, but as a jobbing photographic artist sometimes 'the real world' forces you to bath in the pool of mundanity, do 'work' that isn't even slightly inspiring just to get the bills paid. This is the reality of a jobbing photographer, the dream goes on hold, the creativity gets tucked up in bed and you wrestle to keep your sh!t together to get through the job in hand. And so it has been, yes I've kept my head above water, just, but at what cost?
   Setting aside my current, magnificently anti-social mood; retouching, it's not for everybody.
There are people for whom retouching is hours of delicately caressing an image, refining it to exquisite beauty or precision, and others that regard 2 minutes of post-production picking through a variety of filters as 'retouching'. I fall into the former camp but just occasionally, part of me, a small part (don't go there, this is not a Carry On Film) would like to be happy with just tapping a few buttons, maybe move a slider or two. What's driven me to this lazy ass conclusion? Taking images recently of a building behind London's City Hall, nice strong perspective lines AND countless 1000s of marks on the windows, which for an entirely glazed building is a lot, no, seriously, A LOT, of retouching to clean up. Hours of clean up. And if you retouch 3 images of this building, do you know what that is? It's a 'truck' load of retouching (or something that sounds like that). In slight mitigation at least one of the images will be available as a full colour limited edition print very soon with a second probably as a black and white but that doesn't diminish the brain-dulling tedium of digitally cleaning windows. Yes, I'm sure your heart bleeds for me, I can hear you from here. Here's a 'before and after' illustration of the hell that is digital window cleaning. The Limited Editions will be on my website here , shortly, http://folio-21.com/artGallery-LTD.html

On a far brighter note, I made a new acquisition, delivered at lightning speed, a new mini tripod, though it actually open out to about 5ft it reduces down to 12" and I can set the camera upside down to shoot just above ground level, slung below the tripod legs. It's a Weifeng WF-861 imported from China, sold on eBay from a seller in Leicester, seems well made and it's sufficiently small and light it will be travelling with me in the near future. Would have been nice to get the bike in time for the Christmas shutdown so I could get out and about whilst the rest of you are stuffing your faces with mince pies, turkey and a liberal quantity of alcohol.
  Research continues on finding new buildings to shoot, if you come across a beautiful structure, in London or surrounding areas, by all means drop me an email through my site, folio-21.com

Until next time, I wish you much more time experiencing and shooting than slavishly retouching. And yes, that is the closest you'll get to Christmas spirit from me.

Monday, 5 December 2016

December in the City.

Seizing the opportunity of a beautiful blue sky Winter's day off I went, back up to the Thames and City of London. Six miles of walking and running for a bus with my camera kit on my back, I returned with over 20Gb of new images, some 'nice' illustrative stock agency images and the far more creatively stimulating architectural abstract images.
  I'd been planning my return to the city since the productive trip shooting the Lloyd's Building. Images I wanted to reshoot with the blue sky or ideas born of the first shoot were on my 'to do' list. Such are the delights of reliance on public transport on a Sunday a took the first bus that would get me vaguely near where I wanted to be, and I mean vaguely, instead of the intended London Bridge I was at Waterloo Bridge racing to get to a specific building near London Bridge and down on the foreshore of the river at low tide. Somewhat annoyingly I couldn't get access to the foreshore anywhere near where I wanted to be and the tide was turning so that shot remains a work in progress. Also on the planned shoot list was to capture Tower Bridge whilst it's closed for resurfacing and repairs, this too did not go according to plan. It's been closed for months, the disruption to traffic has been extensive but diggers and fencing still obscure the roadway so one of the primary shots I wanted to get was not possible, instead I settled for 'touristy' stock images. The sunlight was bathing the East side of the bridge so I walked along the riverside path far enough to the East for a decent image before making my way slowly back to the West, this time stopping to take the pictures of numerous building and locations I either knew I wanted to shoot or had noticed earlier. No matter how much time you spend planning, formulating a shoot list, remember this, KEEP YOUR FREAKIN EYES OPEN!!!! You never know where the next photo op will come from.
 My website Folio-21.com 
The walk alongside the river took me past the City Hall building, not, in my opinion a pretty building, technically it may have broken new ground, but not beautiful, nevertheless I took a number of images, some for stock, others exploring the abstract lines. I was pleasantly surprised to find a small seating amphitheatre in front of the building, although entirely in shadow, I explored the line of the terracing and small splashes of reflected sunlight. Pausing briefly to change lens to capture some urban landscapes of the city to the North of the river I continued my progress back West and crossed London Bridge to get more of the planned shots in the City of London.

   Another, if slightly obvious tip, dress in layers and make at least the top two zipped layers so you can vary the degree of ventilation of body heat based on your effort and the weather conditions. The wind blowing up the expanse of the river was biting but little better in places even in the city where the streets can funnel the wind with remarkable efficiency and that cold can drain both your spirit and your camera's batteries.
 My website Folio-21.com my website Folio-21.com

   Having shot my intended targets and a few more besides and taken in a few shots of the Monument to the Fire of London for stock I proceeded back across the river and heading West, next stop Tate Modern. Parts of the river outside City Hall had been lined with log cabins selling regional produce, sweets, food and drinks but the front of the Tate had been completely taken over by log cabins for a Bavarian style Christmas Fayre, which aside from a longing look at a sweet stall, went largely without interest for me. By now it was about 3.30pm and I'd not stopped for food or drink, despite having packed a Thermos so energy levels were falling but eventually I found access to the Tate Modern Extension and set about climbing the flights of stairs to the tenth floor viewing balcony because that's what us fitness inclined types do, or is it because the lifts, though numerous are surprisingly small. Had my legs been capable of independent thought they'd have probably negotiated a week of holiday around the eighth floor if I wanted to continue the ascent. Before you think that's poor, at this point I'd walk over ten miles this weekend so the quads were feeling it. More design surprises on the tenth floor, enormous amount of heat being blown into the space despite the doors seemingly, locked in the open position (phenomenal waste of heat) and the width of the balcony around the entire extension was evidently inadequate, even without allowing for wheelchair access.
My website FOLIO-21.COM
The view, as expected had it's highlights, principally St.Paul's Cathedral, by this time bath in increasingly warm light as the sun descended. Casual circuit of the balcony looking for other images arriving back at the view of St.Paul's for some golden light. At this point I was going to call it a day but I sat down, finally had a little of my coffee, some peanuts and took the time to enjoy some of the art and design of the building. As I said before, keep your eyes open for those photo ops. And on the subject of keeping eyes open, as I descended the narrow stairs several people are walking up the stairs looking backwards! or staring down at their freakin phones! oblivious to everyone else. What is that all about??? Morons! Did your mother tell you to look where the freak you're going??? Rant over. For now.  Anywayy, yet more hassle and inconvenience with London buses followed before a spirited run between stops eventually got me on a bus home. On reflection the day's trip would not necessarily have been as fruitful had I been on bike as I may well have missed some of the buildings I noticed at the much slower pace of walking but the trips at either end of the day by bus would have been quicker by bike if you include walking and waiting time, so I think it's time I got back on a bike but maybe try to be less focused on speed so I can still discover many of the photo ops that present as a walker. If you're on a bike, remember traffic signals apply to you too, stay off the pavements and think safety, you're unlikely to add too many lights and reflectors to your ride and person when it get's dark at 4pm.

In other news, the first Limited Editions will become available this week!!! There's still time to order for Christmas delivery in the UK and further abroad with the relevant courier option. Check the website gallery for the release and my facebook and twitter for news. The dedicated twitter account for the artwork will be up this week for the launch of the Limited Editions.

Thursday, 24 November 2016


See what I did there in the title? The smooshing together of photography and art? That's where I love to be. It's my paradise. Creative freedom. Nourishment for my soul.

You'll hear many a 'serious' photographer tell you 'it's about getting everything right in the camera as you press the shutter release', and that's fine, back in the days of film shooting it was pretty close to an absolute necessity but most of us shoot digital now so wake up and smell the creative freedom, and occasional morning coffee. I'm sure that photographer gets a sense of achievement from getting everything right 'in camera' but that doesn't concern me when you consider all of the creative possibilities of digital post-processing work. I take a picture, a lot of pictures, no seriously, LOTS, some may seem to be identical, others only slightly different angles or exposures. Later that day or week I get the images on to the computer, maybe do some clean up (depending on the subject) but then it's all about creating art. Is it something I could have achieved 'in camera' maybe, but mostly, NO? There are very few hard and fast rules when creating art. Experiment, see where it takes you. It's the mental freedom equivalent of a bird soaring on thermals or the kids throwing themselves around in the ball pit.

So that's me, creating for the exhilaration it brings to my soul but it's always nice to know that the art you've worked to create can evoke similarly powerful emotions in others.

I'll be posting some BTS images shot whilst out and about shooting and maybe some insights into the post-processing. You'll get to meet some of the team I put together on model shoots too.

The actual finished images trickle on to my website Folio-21.com The galleries are here: http://folio-21.com/artGallery.html. There's an open gallery if you'd just like a nice print to go on the wall and if you're a collector the limited edition gallery is the place to be.

If you're an agent or gallery owner, my email is always open, contact information is on my website.

Some 'en route' shots from a  recent trip into the City of London, the juxtaposition of old London with new:

 Links out to my gallery page.

 Links out to my gallery page.
 Links out to my gallery page.