Praising the Original

I’m waiting on a couple of photo shoots to be released and in the meantime find myself toying with various effects in Lightroom/photoshop.

It’s never been easier to see at a touch of a button the immediate effect of putting on a vignette, bringing out shadows or increasing contrast. I may be wrong but I do find that I dance across the buttons choosing the f sharp of Lightroom or the c flat of photoshop but end up sticking with the original version as shot. To me that is success. What do you think ?

First off here is the original ( ef-s18-55mm f/3.5-5.6ISII) shot at 49mm, f5.6 iso1600 ! 1/60 sec

Do you think anything is added as a result of changing the effects..

Classic black and white beloved of film makers.. Or..

This is the cinematic effect.. I always check how it would look but very rarely do I actually use it. I’m happy if the original stands the test, after all the challenge is to get the shot right first time..



It’s been a while since I wrote anything and yet so much has been happening. Fringe festivals:-

trips to Bonn and


But to top it all off, I have won Clapham studios Portrait competition for my off-camera flash study of Sharon Lawrence, actress 

I am delighted of course, and I’m now considering how best to use my prize, 8 hours free studio time.  I like the idea of attempting to get a magazine involved and a camera supplier to lend me some fancy new lens to review ..wishful thinking perhaps, but keep reading you never know you could be involved ..

Vanity Fair?

It’s been a very rewarding week for my photography, not in the financial sense although that may come later, but I’ve had a lot of positive reaction to my images from the latest film shoot.

In addition, in an attempt to build impetus on a Facebook page I manage, I have been promoting my own and others work, with the result that my social media friends are getting very familiar with my images and I supect are starting to think I’m a little vain!

When the producer of the film your working on chooses your work and creates such a wonderful poster image from them, it’s hard for it not to go to your head.

On Sunday we were at the BFI for a screening of Up&Up Productions “Chance” starring our good friend Clifford Hume.

Did I mention leading photojournalism agency VIIPhoto are looking for new members ? I think I’ll apply….

Rock Genius

The joy of killing time in London before going to an event, besides finding a bar that is, is being able to pop into somewhere like the Natural History Museum. You know, the sort of place that we might have been lucky to be taken to on a school trip , but found utterly boring compared to the adolescent excitement of being both out of school and away from parents.

Avoiding the crowds taking selfies with a replica dinosaur  we wandered into the Mineral collection room.

There we were, stepped back in time to see the Museum as it was in 1881 with its original oak cabinets faithfully retaining Alfred Waterhouse’s original architectural vision. Here lay vast arrays of every type of rock and mineral.  Yes there are enormous emeralds and glittering gold, but most of all there were low cabinets of what appeared to me to be rocks and more rocks.   Not a place for art here!  No diamond encrusted Damien Hirst or Tracey Emin bed .. This is geology 🙂  Doubt we will be here long! Cracking building though !

Oh hang on … What’s this amongst the giants of rock ? 

The legend that is Mr John Berger. His is the only book of art criticsm I’ve ever read and understood 🙂 So much so, that after being recommended it back in the early 1980’s, I always quote John whenever I’m trying to impress in an art gallery!  Well, there are “Ways of Seeing, Ways of Seeing my friend”.

An inspiration on International Women’s Day

Master Photographer Eve Arnold OBE Hon. FRPS.  As is my way, I was rummaging through the library shelves for my next read, when I stumbled upon Eve’s classic 2002 Film Journal. The journal presents a collection of her most iconic images of Hollywood stars spanning 50 years from Joan Crawford and Marilyn Monroe to Isabella Rossellini and Anjelica Huston.

From the early fifties, Eve was a full-time member of Magnum Photos. This meant invites from such high liners as Life Magazine to do picture stories of the stars which involved spending sometimes weeks shadowing the ageing or the no longer glamourous.

It’s compelling reading.  In my small way, I recognise the situational problems she needed to deal with.  Trying to avoid taking a shot when the camera is rolling, not getting in the line of sight of actors or the anxious review of work to see if the shot worked.

Most of all though, what I get from this book is her sense of integrity. She gave Joan Crawford original negatives of shots that would not have flattered her when she could have sold them for a packet. They were brilliant photos but she knew it was more beneficial to give Joan full editorial control without her knowledge , rather than take advantage. It’s an inspirational  model for me. I’ve carried the book with me all week, it’s my new bible.

It’s motivated  me to re:approach producers. This is sooo the style of photography I want to pursue.  To be immersed in the film, the production and photo the stars honestly.

I’m delighted to say that  Enrico Tessarin Producer of The Habit of Beauty , directed by Mirko Pincelli has invited me to join his crew on the 16th.  How cool is that !


Alcatraz Yarn

Had a break from the blog recently, as I was on a family trip to San Francisco.  I was surprised to find the weather glorious for February in a city renowned for its cool Summers and rolling fog.  Clearly a trip to Alcatraz Island was on the must-do list!

Alcatraz Island
Alcatraz Island

You buy a ticket for the boat over to the Island including an Audio tour and your allowed to freely take photographs.  Famous for unlikely heroes such as Al Capone and The Birdman (apparently not liked by anyone, guards or inmates) it wasn’t too busy and  I could happily stick my lens through the bars and snap away.

The cells are only 9ft by 5ft wide and although it was hard to imagine the place occupied by menacing folk, I could well imagine the prospect of years confined up in a darkend cell, with the thought of the city of San Francisco so close and unobtainable, that some prisoners would take the opportunity to take up a hobby such as painting.

One such prisoner was George Heck, you can see his cell below in which they now exhibit copies of his work.

George Heck Cell
George Heck Cell

George was banged up in Alcatraz for kidnapping, from March 1944 until 1952 and remarkably he was allowed to exhibit his work in San Francisco whilst still an inmate in 1949. Four of his works were in fact sold.

I imagine one attraction for Heck was to add colour to his cold, metallic surroundings and to get down on paper his hopes and dreams of what lay so agonising near across the bay in San Fran.

These days San Francisco is obviously a place teeming with colour and culture including all the arts and we weren’t disappointed  when we headed through Golden Gate Park for our evening at the California Academy of Science. Heading past the De Young Fine Arts museum, and its distinctly cold tower, this splash of colour caught my eye.

Streetcolour - Bike Rack
Streetcolour – Bike Rack

Its clearly a bike rack, but look, it’s not photobombing the exhibition of the late Keith Haring.  (Keith of “Crack is Wack” and colloborator of Grace Jones, Andy Warhol and William S. Burroughs, was a young graffitti influenced New York artist, who died tragically young in 1990 at aged only 31. )

It’s actually known as Yarnbombing!  The street art of decorating objects with knitted yarns in bright colours. It has been Yarnbombed by De YOUNG’S recent artist in residence, the street artist “Streetcolour”

I’d like to think there was another inmate at Alcatraz who like Heck wanted to add colour to his existence there, but took up knitting and yarnbombed his cell instead !   I’ll let you know if I discover them 🙂

Sunday DIY

Paint Brushes
Paint Brushes

Ah Sunday, often in the past spent redecorating, adding value to the homestead.  I’m quite happy painting.  Adding colour to a wall, covering the space with a clean new colour.  Nothing particularly tricky, just keep brushing on the paint and taking care near the edges. Radio on, maybe a live footy game , Kasabian’s new album, sadly no longer interested in Top 40 show.  These brushes shall now forever remain unused in the garage, they have done their work, they are retired.

The form of painting below however, interests me immensely! Look at the size of it! It’s almost industrial in size. In fact, I took this sneaky pic at the Royal Opera House ‘s Production Park site at Purfleet in Essex today. It was taken on my iPhone through the glass window. It’s actually scenery for an upcoming Brecht / Weills production. Set designs by Es Devlin. It really is too cool.

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Now I would be quite happy helping to paint scenery, like we used to in the old days at Petersfield Youth Drama group. We would paint the grey panels for the backdrops and were proud ! Granted I wouldn’t suggest I could attempt to paint this production piece but I would definitely like to photograph the people who do and hear their stories!

The production park at Purfleet houses the UK’s first ever National Skills Academy for technical and stage crafts for the performing arts and is home to the Royal Opera House’s costume store and workshop with it’s outlandish outfit and wigs. Previously, the production workshops were based in Stratford, London  but were forced to relocate due to the need for space for the 2012 Olympics. This is exactly the subject area that I am interested in. Performers, artistes, carpenters, engineers, all the people whose skills go in to making the performances the highlight of our year or even lives. To capture them in their glory and their despair.

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