This past week I visited Paris, a city that I have been to many times but never before with a camera. But while Paris is immensely beautiful, it is also the 3rd most visited city in the world (according to Forbes, interestingly beaten by London and Bangkok) and the most famous icon of Paris, the Eiffel Tower is possibly the world's most photographed landmark. It's unrealistic therefore that in two days anyone can really do anything that original and with the weather also bad at times, the focus was as much on having a nice time as coming back with a bunch of Cartier-Bresson beating pictures. Sometimes then, you have to embrace the cliche.
Photography is not permitted inside St Paul's Cathedral but this week they threw open their doors to photographers as part of a fund raising event. Not only did they allow photographers access to the entire ground floor and crypt (over 300 of them in fact), they even allowed the use of tripods! The only negative of course was that almost all wide shots taken featuring the floor of the cathedral feature dozens of photographers with tripods, but oh well; mostly therefore I decided to tilt the camera up to 'lose' my fellow enthusiasts from the scene. No real commentary is needed on this shoot so below are simply a bunch of pictures from the two hours I enjoyed inside the cathedral.
I love the city of Oxford and have been wanting to do a night shoot there for some time. That however means staying over and I've just not so far found the time to do so. Last week however I did and I was delighted with the results. Night photography is a curious discipline and not for everyone. You have to be happy to stand around in the cold for quite a few hours and run exposure times of 2 minutes so that while the camera is on the tripod doing its thing, you're just standing there shuffling your feet. However, in a world where differentiated photography is rare, the results of a good night time shoot can really set you apart. Here's a few thoughts about night time work.
Regular readers of the blog will know that during the summer months, I spend many a weekend at the racetrack, but with motor racing currently enjoying a winter break, what to do? Since I get twitchy if I don't have a camera in my hand, recently, I've been heading to Regent's Park on a Saturday to watch and photograph the rugby that is played there every weekend and which brings a whole new photographic challenge. Since I strongly believe that all learning is good learning, I've greatly enjoyed the experience. It also allows you to play with gear that a walk around town wouldn't, and here I discuss using a 500mm lens to capture the action.
New Year's Eve in London was crazy, sirens everywhere, pubs and clubs with queues around the block, and tickets needed to watch the fireworks from the Embankment. Not that that was ever going to happen for me, since to get a prime location you need to be there about 5 hours in advance: I simply could never face it and setting up a tripod for a camera is impossible and probably not allowed on safety grounds. Is there another location therefore where you can watch the main event fireworks without the craziness? The answer, sort of, is yes, and that location is Primrose Hill, north London.
It seems like ages since I've been to the race track, but with things a little less busy this week, I was back at Brands Hatch last weekend for some motorcycle action. I have to admit I am really a car man but it as fun and I also really enjoyed the sidecar races which must be one of the craziest forms of motorsport ever. And given that bikes are smaller than cars, I wanted as much reach as possible so the Sigma 500mm lens had a day out also which I haven't really used for motor racing this year so I thought it would be a good test for it.
September is award season for restaurants which in turn threw up some nice surprises for me this week. Having previously spent more time in restaurants than behind the camera, I have a fair back catalogue of restaurant pics, albeit, all done when I was eating there rather than commissioned to take pictures. It means ambient light only but for the most part, I came away with a decent enough collection. And with some of the restaurants I captured featuring highly this year in the awards, there was some interest from the media in using my pictures: a good week then.
Smithers, release the hounds. I know you shouldn't laugh at your own jokes but oh well. This week was very busy and what I was going to write on will have to wait for anther time because today, I was hunting with the hounds, the wolf pack that is the press photographer corp. Now, I only do the news stuff as a sideline, a hobby if you will, but as an alternative to my usual sedentary travel photography and to mix my metaphors, it's a shark pool. And since celebrities are to them what red meat is to sharks or hounds, the appearance of Vivienne Westwod, Peter Gabriel and Emma Thompson at London's climate change march was a feeding frenzy. Of course, I vigorously threw myself into the middle of it all.
This week took me to the south coast including Portland Bill, famous for Portland Stone and a lighthouse. Since I have a certain fascination with lighthouses, there is after all a beautiful romance to them, and I do love night time photography also, capturing the Lighthouse in its working glory was a must. Below is the result.
Two of the most romantic and photogenic forms of travel must surely hark back to a different age, being steam trains and sail boats. I don't think I've ever seen a steam train at full speed billowing smoke and I don't think I've ever seen a tall ship with full sails gracing the oceans. When I heard then that there was to be a tall ships festival right on my doorstep, ie, 50 tall ships sailing up the River Thames, I knew I simply had to make the most of it. Overall, I'm pretty happy with the result, but while conditions could have been a lot worse, they could also have been a lot better. Outdoor photography in the UK is always going to be a lottery.
This blog is a mix of many things, with articles on the technical side of photography, equipment reviews as well as simply presenting pictures which are favourites of mine.