XXL Books “The Monster Photo Directory”

I suppose it does not matter what you do if you are self employed for a living we all get approached to advertise in something or other.
If you are a commercial Photographer it seems to be calls or emails about placing adverts on photographic web portals or in some promotional book that is being distributed to every creative and his dog.
Don’t get me wrong I’ve done my fair share of promoting in a few of these publications over the years and some are well respected and are actually used by the Designers and Ad Agency creatives who receive them.
I’m pretty picky about where I spend my advertising budget and generally stick to direct marketing these days and give little time to looking at paid space in books. However a few weeks ago I received a call from a very nice Dutch fellow called Eric Kievit who chatted to me about a monster sized 50x70cm photography book his company XXL Books produced.
I have several Dutch friends whom I have met while visiting Turkey where we have a holiday home and so  had an enjoyable chat about many things Dutch including Football and how some of my favorite photographers all seem to be either Dutch or German.
Despite my doubts over advertising in this impressive sounding publication this year Eric kindly said he’d send me a copy (all 10kg of it !) in the post of their Dutch Photography edition so that I could experience & enjoy the stunning photography.
True to his word the book turned up a few days ago and it really is an impressive publication not only in size and weight but also in the quality of the reproductions.
I look forward to seeing the U.K version and maybe submitting my own work at some point in the future.

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Completing The Book

Today after  6 months hard work I finally completed and assembled my new Book (or Portfolio if you prefer).
I say completed but your book never is completed as most photographers like myself are always creating new work and over time your style does shift somewhat too.
The work consists of Life,location & Automotive which should be no surprise as that is what I specialise in.
The last few years have been mostly spent shooting Automotive and Landscape images so last May while away in Turkey I decided I wanted to shoot more People/Life images.

So after many months shooting,editing,printing,re editing and re printing the Book is finally finished today…well for now at least !

Here are a few snaps of the Book being assembled today.

The Glicee prints needed scoring so they will turn in the Book and holes need punching so that they will slip into the brass retaining posts.

The final result looks fantastic and much better than having plastic sleeves although you have to watch creatives with grubby fingers !

 

 


South Drain

This is a location I have photographed many times over the years South Drain Nr Burtle on the Somerset Levels.
The view up the river is halted by the iconic Glastonbury Tor (too small to view in this image) rising above the Somerset Levels.On this occasion I was simply enjoying a weekly drive across the levels with my dear old mum.I often take her here as it’s not only a favorite spot for her too but a great place to show my youngest daughter the many Swans and Dragonfly’s that occupy that stretch of river.
On this occasion I saw something I’ve never seen before and that was The National Rivers Authority (or someone) cutting the reeds on the riverbank.I’m not sure what this machine was but it seemed to be collecting any cuttings that where floating on the water.It was very graceful and had Tank like tracks which meant it simply drove up the side of the riverbank when it had finished.
Here is an image from my trusty iPhone to record the scene.

 


“Preparation” for successful Landscape Photography

I don’t normally post any kind of tutorials here they are normally posted on my Digital Photography site but I’ve been asked a couple of times how I approach some of my location/landscape shoots so thought Id add a short post here.
Photographing  serious images of landscapes is not always the easiest of subjects to capture unless you do a little bit of pre planning.
That’s not to say I don’t sometimes just stumble across a well lit scene or just head out and explore an area without any planning because sometimes I do.However most of what I shoot is often planned and I have done some scouting before shooting.
Weather can be unpredictable especially in the U.K where it changes very quickly and of course we can’t be prepared for that !

Planning can be key especially if you have a specific location and lighting in mind.
I’ll often research the area via good old Google and Google Earth to get ideas of the locations terrain and possible shooting angles.
I’ll also phone local tourist offices who can often be invaluable in recommending good vantage points or even specific times of the year they believe are best to visit although they are rarely photographers themselves and their idea for a chocolate box image/vantage point will rarely be yours !

Looking at books or local postcards can also help show the more popular spots and this can be a good starting point BUT I’ll always search out a new angle where I can and try to make the image my own.
If you are out scouting locations consider using a compass or better still a smartphone app like Focalware.
I use Focalware on my iPhone and it tells you the sun/moon angle during various times of the year which can be extremely handy especially in hilly areas where parts of your scene could fall into shade.
Another way to find out what time the sun rises and sets is a site like Time & Date and of course check the weather forecast while you are online too !
Even after viewing forecasts the weather can be unpredictable so be prepared to have to wait around for the light so perhaps pack a good book or a laptop to entertain yourself maybe use the time and logon to partycasino.com you might even get lucky and win enough for that new carbon fibre manfrotto you are saving for ! A flask and a snack are other items I never leave home without especially when I’m out shooting at dawn.

Stay close to your chosen viewpoint and be prepared (especially if the wind is up and clouds are moving quickly) to grab the unexpected change in the light.
Early morning and dusk can also mean unexpected wildlife too so again be prepared for a few grab shots.
Landscape photography is not the hardest subject technically to capture but sometimes does take a bit of planning to get the best images that the location has to offer.
Be patient and be willing to cut your losses and return another time (if that’s possible) if the light or weather is too poor for the image you want.


Yeovil Town Community Sports Trust Posters

I’ve mentioned before on the blog or twitter or somewhere that as well as Photography being my life long passion so has Football.
These days I don’t play but I’m still involved in the game probably more than ever. As well as being personal chauffeur,boot cleaner and general skivvy to my 9yr old son who attends Yeovil Towns Community Sport Trust Development Centre I also help out the Trust by shooting images for their promotional needs.
As well as providing children with superb football coaching the charity runs many other programmes to help youngsters within the local community.
To promote the trust’s great work I was asked to help them create some eye catching images and an appropriate headline for several posters they where planning on producing.
After several  fairly short discussions we finally came up with the headline “Grass Grows On Our Pitch Children In Our Trust” and sourced several brilliant children from within the development centres to model for the shoot.
I was given fairly free reign to shoot any ideas I had for the images and opted for a rare (for me) studio shoot.
I often find from experience that sometimes the simpler the idea the better and this was definitely the case here and we managed to complete the shoot within half an hour and got some lovely images thanks to some great banter from the boys ! who where all brothers.
A big thanks also goes to Flow Design for their graphic design work which really helped complete and make the whole job a big success.

 


Gill’s Allotment

I was asked a few weeks ago if I could produce & present a training video on shooting Environmental Portraiture for Envato Tuts Plus Network in Australia.
Over the last few years I have produced many training videos for Envato’s PhotoTuts’s premium content so this was not a particularly unusual request to receive.
For this shoot I decided to photograph Gill who I’ve captured before and is not only a great character to shoot but also happens to be my father in law !
The location is Gill’s allotment located in the beautiful South Somerset landscape and was perfect to demonstrate photographing people in their personal spaces.

 


Banking Above The Crops, P51D Mustang

Hot off the screen today is this image that I started and competed retouching this afternoon (gotta be a record ! )
The plane was captured a couple of years ago during a shoot at the Airbus family air day display and is an historic WW2 P51D Mustang called Ferocious Frankie.
I had two ideas for the final image the first was to have the plane flying above the ocean and cliffs or the English countryside.After seeing several fields in my village bearing some rather lovely golden coloured crops I decided to go with the countryside idea.
From here my idea grew another step further and I decided to have someone in the image working the land and my son was suitably bribed for the job ! The shot was completed very quickly as it started to spit with rain and was very simply lit with just a little fill in flash to aid the slightly flat ambient lighting.


Bums Or Ballet ! . . Waiting To Dance

Like most parents having young children means a fair amount of time is spent transporting them to various places for one event or another.For my son it’s Football training or matches and for my two girls it’s currently Ballet.
Also like most parents I take a lot of photographs & video of them BUT rarely nevermore than quick snaps and mostly with my iPhone.
It’s not that I don’t want to take images that are more than quick snaps but more the fact that they usually kill any moment I’m not quick enough to capture by doing something like the image posted below !

No Respect !

However I’m a very determined chap (you need to be to pursue a career in photography !) especially when the scene/moment is looking too promising to give up on like the one below.
The image is of my two daughters at Ballet waiting patiently (that’s a new one!) in line for their turn to dance.
The image is probably not an award winner but that is not an issue, for me as a parent it captures a beautiful quiet moment (as is my photographic style ) in my daughters lives where they are not aware of me or the camera.
At the end of the day when we are old and grey (don’t say it !) what will be of more worth a personal image like the one below or all the wonderful commercial images we shoot to earn our living ?