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,

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,

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 
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 my website

   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.