Category Archives: photography

Photograph of Cranes – Construction Site Kings Cross

It feels like London has been one big construction site for years now a day doesn’t seem to go by without a road being dug up or a building being torn down. The pace of things seems to have picked up to almost fever pitch. With the Olympics just round the corner and I often wonder just how it’s all going to get done in time. Kings Cross is one of the hot spots for construction it seems though of all the other places I think it is seeing some progress at least. Inch by inch the scaffolding creeps its way across the station and surrounding buildings, revealing shiny new glass and steel structures (the architectural flavor of the decade). I often find myself being drawn to the sight of the huge cranes that seem to float above the city. I am often at dusk or dawn captivated by their calm heights as they bask in the sunlight and the open air. Commodities we are a bit short of down on the ground amongst the buildings and the rubble.

Advertisements

Ariel Photography – A photograph of London from a plane

Coming back to London from a trip away I happened to notice that it was one of the few times I could actually see the city and not just a bank of clouds. I began to trace the trip home from the airport. I could see the road I was going to drive home on and then I started looking out at all the buildings I recognized in London like the Gherkin, Center-point, St Pauls Cathedral. Having my camera to hand I decided to take a few photographs before I had to put it away and managed to track most of my journey home from central London out to Heathrow. I wasn’t expecting that much from them but when I did finally get back and had a look at what I had captured I was very pleasantly surprised to see I had captured some interesting cityscapes. You never know what you are going to end up with in your digital camera.


USA Trip – Roller-coaster at Dusk

This photograph I took on another trip out to the West Coast of America. I didn’t actually ride this roller-coaster and I am not sure why that was. I am not normally one to pass up a cheap thrill ride in an amusement park. Instead I opted for taking this rather amusing picture of it in the dusk light before we headed home the Hotdog on a Stick sign still tickles me when I see it.


Seafood at Borough Market

 

I have a deep and meaningful relationship with food. Food and I have been entangled with each other ever since I could stick my hand into a bowl and mush it into my face ( and usually down my shirt and into my ears too). It’s a relationship which has been passed down from parent to child in my family for generations. So when we get together we will often choose a part of town (in this case London) that is famous for great food (in this case Borough Market). So my dad being very much a seafood lover could not resist buying some seafood from this lovely fishmongers, it was very very tasty and well worth the effort of negotiating the crowds. When I am not wandering around with family members or friends eating our way through London I am often found taking photographs of food. I don’t think it’s something I’m ever going to get bored of.

 


There’s a wolf on the beach

I took a trip down to Big Sur, I was working for a large IT vendor at the time whose offices were near San Francisco. Myself and a couple of other engineers (that’s what they called us though I have never studied engineering just so you know) decided to take our rental car and drive it down the coast to Big Sur. We’d all heard about the place so we though hey why not go see it. The drive was amazing such a beautiful coast line and I’d love to do it again. We did end up going a bit further on to a small but well-known town whose name escapes me now (answers on a postcard or in a comment if you want to guess) and we hung out there for a couple of hours. The sand was blindingly white and the sea amazingly blue. I noticed this guy turn up on the beach with what I first thought was two dogs, one of the dogs seemed to attract a lot of attention from other people. No one seemed to worried but I did over hear someone comment that it was not a dog but a wolf. Curious I hovered around, too shy to actually talk to the guy, I did manage to catch this shot of the wolf taking a nap in the shade. It is one of my favorite images.


Spain

I took this on my trip out Spain with some friends. It was a great trip and I do hope to return to Spain another friend and I have been talking about doing the walk across Spain together. I love to walk a country, there is something deeply connecting about exploring a country step by step at your own pace. It is humbling to have a true sense of the size of a place which I think is hard to do in a car or on a train. There is also a great sense of achievement to walk for a whole day and to see just how far one step at a time can take you.


By the water

I find something deeply soothing and powerful about just sitting and watching the water. Maybe it’s because I where I grew up I spent a great deal of my childhood either in a pool or on a beach or by a river. My mum used to jokingly refer to us as water babies. We would as children play games where we pretended we were dolphins trying to launch ourselves out of the water and arc through the air then dive back in again. I don’t think we ever quite managed to emulate them to be honest. I learnt a great deal about myself and life through my interactions with water. I learnt how to relax my body so I could float on its surface. I learnt that to get where you want to go and not be exhausted by your efforts you work with it because it does what it does. Water is a teacher of great wisdom.


Waiting

These two old fellas wait patiently while their master pops in and outs of shops, they watch him dashing back and forth with some amusement I imagine. He seems to be in such a rush and not really appearing to get very far, I hope he remembers the dog food.


London Photo -Trackside

I continue to find myself fascinated by the workmen on the rail tracks. Is it their High Viz uniform I wonder? More likely for me it is that they are one of unnoticed millions who go about their daily jobs keeping the cogs of infrastructure moving. They are one of many professions that day after day make sure that the stuff we just expect to be there, like electricity, running water and trains just keeps being there.


London Photo – The tower in the sky

Here’s a fun one the Shard to be found in London Bridge. I love taking pictures of this building it is such an imposing structure which I am sure is what they were going for. This was one of the few times I have managed to get a shot of this building where it’s tip is not in the clouds so I was very happy to catch it. I slapped a filter on it I think it was earlybird and got this effect. It kind of reminds me of one of the orc towers in Mordor, I like it.


London Photos – Blackheath Station

I am really pleased with this shot the dirty brick wall the lady walking past in a blur and the sharp sign.

I am really enjoying playing with Instagram, I have only just really started to use it and it has really been a revelation for me. I have for the last few years been not really been working with my phone  camera at all. Then I discovered Instagram and a whole new world has opened up for me. It is fantastic and I have really reconnected with my love of just taking pictures for fun and play. Now I just need a phone with a better battery life!


NFT Busker

The NFT is one of my favorite places to hang out in the evening, there is always something going on. I was at the LLGFF hanging out in the downstairs bar. I had just been in to see a fantastic work in progress documentary on Alice Walker called Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth it is a deeply inspiring and heart warming film and I do hope that the will get the support it needs to get into mainstream distribution. You can find out more about the film here if you get a chance to see it I hope you do.

Anyway towards the end of the film the fire alarm when off and we all ended up out on the walk, the busker was out playing his saxophone and a couple of people took up as an impromptu audience, once again I’m glad I had a camera on my phone!


Lewisham Station

Another train station shot taken from a different train this time. I love to travel I really enjoy the journey from one place to another and all the moments in between. I get to catch bits of other people’s journeys and lives. It was a bit of a gloomy day this journey and I was drawn to take this shot the grey of the sky with the camera and the station sign. I find it thrilling to take photographs of the cameras that watch us in our day-to-day meanderings. In a way it feels quite connecting to photograph them almost like I’m saying hello to them.


Stratford Station

Image

I’ve been to Stratford Station a number of times now. I find it has a certain prison camp sort of feel to it I feel the urge to shoot it almost every time I pass through on the train. I would love to spend more time with my camera there but on the few occasions I have been in there with my Cannon I have been told by the guards that I am not allowed to take photos on the station platform. So while on the train (not on the platform) I could not help but get my phone out and take a shot through the window.


Delicious Dim Sum

Delicious Dim Sum for a joint birthday in China Town.

Dim Sum for my family is the equivalent of a Sunday pub lunch. We would all get dressed in our best and head out to Dad’s favorite China Town Restaurant. We would order enough dishes to full the table and eat till we burst. All my life Dim Sum has always been the way to celebrate special occasions.


Taking your photographs

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I have been putting off this post for the last few days, my mind full of things I need to do, I kept telling myself I just didn’t have anything to say. Then wandering through the shopping center buying ingredients for pizza I looked up and around at all the people in this place and thought about each and every one of them having their own perspective on the same scene I am looking at right now.

That brought me back to thinking about photography, I meet people fairly often who ask me how to take a better photograph. People who have been practising and teaching themselves to take photographs but for one reason or another feel unsatisfied with the results. So I thought maybe it would be useful to talk here about what photography means to me and how I approach it, talking about it also for me is of great benefit because I get to touch base with my purpose for doing it and remember what it does for me.

So where to start with photography?

There are lots of articles out there about the rules of photography and so I’m not really going to talk about the specifics here, but it is important to have some idea of the basics and here is why I think why.

In order to craft your image and continue to get results and improve, you need a framework of some form.

In the beginning you need that framework or structure to help you to train your eyes, mind and sense of aesthetics to focus on what you are seeing in front of you, right in the moment. In the day-to-day our eyes are capturing many images all at once and our brain takes all those bits of visual information and creates a composite for us to interact and relate to, at least this is the way I understand it. Part of being able to frame and compose an image is to recognize individual pieces of that larger composite and capture them with a camera.

To learn to really look at the whole scene and deconstruct it enough to find for yourself an image you want to capture. Then along with that what are you trying to communicate, what is its context in the larger frame and the story it is telling? Experimenting with these and other principles is how to grow and where the fun is.  How to avoid camera shake without a tripod with poor light or use it to your advantage to communicate something about your subject, experimenting with different styles of photography what you enjoy shooting, what you don’t. How to see the lines in the image you are capturing or using focus to draw the eye in, these techniques all have some basic rules that help you to learn how to use them and give you  general idea of what works so that you can train and develop your eye.

When I come across a technique I am interested in I will usually start with reading up on and looking at as many examples as I can (before I get too excited and have to go photograph something) Then with the knowledge I have as a guide and point of reference I can start to learn and then play with the technique. You have to play to really get what happens when you take a picture, when you take a picture with framing, composition or aperture in mind your directly interacting with your subject to create something you want to communicate.

Pay attention to the light.

I think of photography as more than just taking a camera pointing it and pushing the button. When I was first starting out I heard the term ‘painting with light’ used to describe the art of photography and it always stuck with me. It is very much about being aware of how the light is in the place you are photographing. In some places (a studio for example) you will have a very direct and fine control over the properties of the light around you, but there are many other times where you will have no control at all. This doesn’t mean you can’t take a good photo, you may have to tweak it in post production to get exactly what you want but if you are paying attention to the quality of light around you, you can get some really stunning shots.

Light isn’t just for making things brighter, it has temperature and texture. Light can be soft or harsh it can make your images cold or warm and you can work with that too. Some tones you will be by instinct more comfortable with, while others will make an image unsettling, experiment with it. Take a series of photographs with the same subject at different angles, zoom in and out,  notice how the light in relation to you and your subject changes the tone of the image. Take photographs at different times of day and see how the quality of the light changes and how it affects what you’re photographing.

Value your perspective.

As I mentioned before I think that part of the art pf photography is being able to find the images in that sea of visual information coming at you, that have some kind of power or resonance for you and capturing it. Sometimes you will have just a few moments to catch it before it disappears forever or you may have days or even weeks to try time and time again to get that composition right. What is most important for this image to be what you want it to be is your vision. It can sometimes be intimidating and disheartening to look out and around at the thousands of images being produced of stunning quality. If you live in a dirty part of town and don’t have much by way of mountains or sunny beaches you may wonder if anyone will pay attention to your photographs. Well they might not it’s true, but that is not a good reason to stop taking photographs.

This is the second but by no means lesser part of what I believe about photography, it’s a real privilege to have the chance to capture moments in time, never to be repeated again. To be able to create something out of that single unique moment that speaks to people in some way, is an amazing thing to be able to do. Part of creating that, is you and how you see the world, how you unpick all that visual information and create a single image, to communicate to other people with. Learn techniques by studying other people’s images that work but don’t aspire to be like anyone but yourself.

It’s what you see and how you frame it that makes it special, this may sound a bit fluffy but I have from experience found that when I have got into that trap of trying to create photographs like other photographers to be more marketable or to get more attention, I don’t. It’s not because they are bad images but, they don’t inspire me or others looking at them. It’s when I trust my vision and what I have to see in each moment and that it’s worth sharing, that is when something special happens.


Old year passes

Well here I am again, standing at the end of one year, peering into the birth of a new one ahead and wondering what is in store for me. This year has been a roller coaster of a journey, I’ve chosen the uncertainty of  freelancing and doing what I am passionate about over the stability of a well paying regular job that I had no interest in, but I could pay my bills and not worry about money. It’s not as easy a choice as you’d think. It’s not easy because I was brought up to believe, like many people, that having a job and paying the bills is what makes us a valuable member of society and anything other than that is not acceptable. So to walk away from that apparent certainty and into the world of not knowing where your next customer is coming from, having to justify how much I charge and having to chase people to pay me on time over and over has been really stressful.

I’ve learned a lot though. I’ve learned to appreciate the support that other people give me and I’ve learned to recognize that I have something valuable to contribute and that even though people may not take me up on what is on offer that does not mean that what I am doing is not the right thing to do. It has been a journey this year, it has taught me about integrity about what it is to be true to myself and what I believe in. I’ve been challenged and had to get creative about what I want to do and how I go about doing it. Everyday I ask myself , is this really the right thing, should I be doing this at all or should I go back to what I am ‘supposed’ to be doing? So here is what I’ve come up with and maybe putting it down for you to read will be helpful too, at least I hope it is.

If you believe in something more than this world, that we all have some sort of spiritual something within us call it a soul if you like. Then part of what we are here in this life for is to explore and develop that part of us in a physical world context, then how do we do that? Can I develop myself by watching reality TV or allowing myself to be distracted by things that take me away from being alive and in the moment. Do I avoid the things that make me feel uncomfortable and only pursue that which makes me feel good or do I allow myself to be with it all? I want to be with every moment of my life as fully as I can be, it doesn’t mean I don’t switch off or shut down I’m human, not perfect after all, but I can take a moment each time I notice I am not in the now and ask myself is that why I am here?

If you believe there is nothing but this life, that we are just biological machines that will be nothing after our clock has stopped ticking. Then would it not logically be a better use of our limited time to explore the world, it’s wonders and ourselves as fully as we can. Each moment is unrepeatable and every moment passed is one closer to our end, do I really want to spend this finite time resenting and belittling other people. Could I not be using each moment to see what it’s like to be who I really am in the world and what I can do. We seem to spend so much time avoiding our lives, avoiding other people or pretending to have a connection or purpose with something when we just think that is what is expected of us. How much of life do we give away to the perceived expectation of others at the expense of our true expression or purpose because we don’t want to disappoint or be seen as foolish or soft or silly or uncool.

My year ahead is filled with uncertainty and  I have no idea what will happen, I’m ok with that. I’m willing to put myself out in the world and every time I notice my defenses coming up to keep me from being seen by other people as stupid or uncool I’ll be willing to remember that the most courageous and powerful thing I can do is be who I really am even in the face of expectation. I am not ashamed of wanting more for myself and the world than money and stuff. I am willing to believe that we can do better, reach higher and make choices that not only benefit us but those around us and those who come after us. I’m willing to start today.


Christmas Spirit

I like many people I think spend a lot of time putting things off for another day. This year I had put off getting in touch with many of the people I love because I have been ‘too busy’ trying to get my new working for myself status off the ground. Today being Christmas I decided to give them all a call and wish them a festive holiday day with their families and friends. As I phoned round each person and left messages on their voicemail thinking they are probably enjoying the delights of an over indulgent Christmas dinner I began to think to myself about my own family who live far away.

I haven’t spent a Christmas with my own family for a good few years now and this year I missed them more than usual. It got me thinking about the run up to Christmas all the frenzied buying and worrying about the new year. News stories covered in gloom and cynical witticisms, it didn’t really leave me or many of us I suppose with much time to really think about what it is we are supposed to be celebrating. Bombarded by panicking shopkeepers who need the biggest shop of the year to stay afloat and employers who want to get as much done as possible before all the work stops for christmas where is the time to breathe and reflect on what we have to be grateful for. In amongst all the rushing around trying to find just the right brand of toy or game for the kids where do we have the chance to just take in the moments that we have with our families these ever fleeting moments. Time, the ting we seem to have less and less of not just in our lives but also in our daily routines.

More and more we are expected to commit more to our jobs our studies, our online interactions. It is easy to forget that the real moments of significance, the truly powerful moments in our lives are the ones where we engage with each other in person. It takes courage and strength of character to drop our bullshit and be honest real human beings with each other, to stand up and say this is me warts and all and I’m ok to be here with you just as you are. So my Christmas wish for you is that today you can forget about the perfect Christmas and just be here today in that house, room, flat with the people you have chosen to be with. Let them make you laugh, let them drive you crazy, let them piss you off and still be there and love them anyway cause you’ll never get to do this Christmas again.


Remembrance

Today, I took a trip back in time with myself to when I first started taking photographs. I have been asking myself a lot about what photography is and means to me. I have been looking out at the enormous wealth of talent out there on the internet and wondering if I have a place there. If I could or even should put my work up here too and more and more I am getting back in touch with the things that first started me on the road to wanting taking pictures to be part of what I do in life.

I took a walk out this morning to a graveyard and walked around remembering myself at 15 when I first got hold of a 35mm camera. I don’t know why I chose that setting to begin with, maybe because it was quiet and people would not get in the way of my lens. I started thinking back to being a younger child and going out to the graveyard with my grandmother for All Souls, every year we would bundle up in the car and tend the graves of our families, bring them fresh flowers, tidy up and maybe leave a bit of something they liked to drink. As a child it marked for me these places as somewhere special to reach out and connect with those we love and who had loved us, not so much as scary gruesome places for a good horror scene.

So as I walked around I began to look again at what was really here in this place, I started to notice the words. Places that had been tended and others not. The stillness, the quiet and sadness.


Social Media

I have over the last few months been exploring the different types of tools and Social Media toys out there designed for getting yourself out there into the world and being seen. What has struck me is just how amazing it is to be able to sign up and plug into a world of different people and cultures. Sharing similar interests and generously interacting with each other. It’s all very captivating and exciting.

I can post up my work and show anyone who cares to follow or watch me what I am up to. I can tell people what I am thinking, I can even show people where I am. I can selectively share with different groups. It’s all very engaging and I more often than once found myself spending a whole day glued to the screen following and exploring other people’s work and meanderings. It’s fun and there is always something new and exciting to see or explore but what I realize more and more is I just don’t have enough time for it all. What I am missing out on now is time for me, for how I see the world and my work. I find more and more I am looking at other people’s work and questioning whether or not my work is up to scratch and whether or not what I am trying to refine in the way I capture my work is valid. This kind of comparative behaviour is a real creativity killer. I have come across it before and as a younger person so I am familiar this destructive behaviour and I am to make that shift that enables me to look at what I can learn from what I see rather than compare myself to it. So where do you find a balance with all this stuff?

I can completely see that there is great value in the tools that give me the ability to reach out to people I have not had the chance to reach out to before and make a connection with them. But there is very little point in reaching out if I then have nothing to say, or I have not taken the time to focus on my work. What I am getting more and more from exploring the social media landscape is that most importantly although I am dazzled by the sheer wealth of incredible talent out there I am looking to connect with people and to connect with others as a person. I want to share not just the work I do but the parts of me and my history that got to where I am and maybe in some way to help others looking for the same thing to keep reaching for what they are going for.


%d bloggers like this: