Friday, 30 December 2016

Looking back 2016




I wrote a post a little time ago, reviewing my year. This one is about choosing my favourite pictures.

I might have posted these pictures before. Hope you like seeing them again.

Cheryl was great to work with. I hadn't been to the studio before. It had two areas, the main one has a background frame. I just used the white roll.






The second area, was the bar. It was the one I booked the studio for. They don't normally use this for a shoot. But I think they should. 

Really like these black and white pictures. Cheryl suggested a more dramatic set. I think we nailed it.





A great natural smile.

Again with Marilyn, the studio area was a nice place to start. And much warmer than the bar area.





But I liked what we did in the bar.




My first shoot with Coco. I had said the theme was urban, she knew a location with some graffiti. Hopefully not too clich├ęd.




Working with Tropical Rose again was great. She had just decorated her spare room. I wanted a nice soft white set.




First time working with Gabrielle. A bit punky, but soft was the theme.




This was the first time I had worked with Cheryl. She had travelled a long way. And I had only been to Hever Castle once.
But it worked out great. Cheryl was just so relaxed, easy to work with and knew the type of shots I wanted. There are so many from the day I liked. It was very difficult to edit the numbers down.






Coco again, this time a July beach shoot. It was cold and very windy. Not what I had expected. But Coco coped really well. I have some pictures I really like, and a bit more experience dealing with the unpredictable English weather.

Coco keeping warm on a cold July day.



Coco ignoring the cold, and looking good

I was asked by Xandria to help her produce some new pictures for her portfolio. Really pleased to be asked and able to help.




The last shoot of the year. With Stephanie at a farm house. I had time before Stephanie arrived to walk around. I placed some of my lights in a barn. The other areas I wanted to use had adequate natural light. I wanted the barn to look naturally lit. So some test shots were needed, again before Stephanie arrived to make sure I was ready to go.






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Monday, 26 December 2016

Pushing yourself

The top of White Lane. You can see the edge of the hill. It's the last part that's the steepest.

Today is boxing day.
We at NVL like to try for a Boxing Day ride. The weather was on our side. It must have rained overnight, but this morning was warm. It was really good to be on the bikes. Matt's new bike is still too clean for a mountain bike. Today wasn't going to see it get dirty. One day though.

We meet as usual at the green. But where to go? We decided on Tatsfield again. The alternative was Westerham. A longer ride, but nowhere dry to sit. I think it was Matt who suggested White Lane, to add a bit more to the challenge. He wanted to test how much better his new (too clean), mountain bike would fare ascending a very steep hill.  It's well known in the area, and hosts an annual sprint race. We weren't going to win any race this morning though. But it was a personal challenge. I don't often really push myself. Either because of lack of opportunity, or I just feel too tired to be bothered. I'm disappointed that I don't challenge myself more often. I have completed a few cycling journeys, with some big distances. A mixture of physical and mental strength was needed. The sense of achievement at their completion means I forget the physical pain, and look forward to the next time. 

I hope I am better at dealing life's trials because of these efforts. I know I can focus on the task in hand, and complete what might as first have seemed impossible.

I don't do new years resolutions, but maybe this could be one. My photography is very important to me. Can I push myself to new levels; new achievements?

Tomorrow we plan to complete the same route. Good times.

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Sunday, 18 December 2016

Motivation II


After turning back early yesterday I was determined to go further. It wasn't as foggy so I avoided the cyclepath. Hoping that meant no punctures. 
I had an idea a sunrise through the fog would make for some good pictures, with a couple of locations in mind. Pilgrims Way gave me the one in this post. Chevening Church would have been great with the sun streaming through the fog. But total cloud cover meant the sunrise past me by without making an impact. I look at the pictures now I'm home. They just don't grab me. But I'm happy with the one I have.

This is the best advert for keeping motivated. 


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Saturday, 17 December 2016

Motivation



I cycle nearly every weekend. During the summer it's easy to motivate myself to get out on my bike. Cycling with my fellow NVL member, Matt helps. If I decide I just can't be bothered to go out. What do I say to Matt? I know it's the same for Matt. Even bad weather rarely stops us. But what if Matt isn't around? This weekend he is down in the New Forest. The weather, as you can see in the picture, wasn't inviting. Damp, chilly and very foggy. Should I just have stayed in bed?

No. I got out. The sun hadn't risen as I left the house. Compared to some recent mornings, it wasn't too cold. Unfortunately the fog got thicker the further I cycled. As I left the street lights behind I had to make a decision. Turn around and go home, continue on the road or use the cycle path.

I didn't want to turn around but the road from here is a 60 limit. Too dangerous to cycle on in these conditions. But the cycle path is typical of many. Very poorly surfaced. Covered in mud and leaves. With slippery tree roots pushing through it. Pretty dangerous. And then there is the very real possibility of punctures. Alongside the path is a hedge of thorns. Not too long ago it was pruned. Leaving behind small branches covered in big thorns. I did well, covering around 3 miles before getting that deflated feeling as air escaped from my rear tyre. It didn't take too long to locate and remove the thorn. And then replace the inner tube. But my motivation for a long ride had gone. I had intended to cover 30 to 40 miles. Now I am home I wish I had pushed on. But to be honest, I know it would have just been a case of saying I had done it. No real satisfaction or enjoyment. Had Matt been there we would have continued. There is still tomorrow to look forward to though.

I do get a sense of achievement from completing a task that I may not have had much motivation for. The cycling is a good reminder to myself that I am stronger than I sometimes feel. And that, I think, is another reason I do it. My photography also benefits. I know I can push myself, learn and improve.

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Thursday, 1 December 2016

Years review

Matt and myself, reading my books. During a break on a ride.

Now that we are in to December I have started to think about the past year, and my photography.

I have continued to develop and focus on the type of photography I like to do. People photography is still at the top of my list.

But I have also come to appreciate the photography produced whilst cycling. I think this has seen the biggest improvement. I don't want to produce a snap of the event, just to record a place I cycled through or to. I want to have an image that stands on it's own. Without having the cycling as a reason for it to exist.

I had a picture printed on canvas a while back. It really stands out and looks good on the wall. So I started looking at the cycling pictures with a view to printing them in the same way. My last blog post talks about the books I printed from the pictures.

They need to be bold images, and the orientation has to be right for where I will hang them. One portrait, the other landscape. Selecting forty pictures for the books was hard enough, now I have to bring that number down to just two.

My portrait photography has continued to improve. But not as fast as I had hoped. The professional critique a couple of months ago showed me that what had really improved was my ability to connect with the subject. Put them and myself at ease. What hadn't improved as much as I had hoped was the end result. I see now that I had found a comfortable approach that meant the pictures were consistent, but not different enough from a year ago. I should have spent the year experimenting. With light and composition. I should have looked at each picture and said to myself. How could I have made it better? How could I have made it stand out? Instead of safe lighting, could it have been more dramatic? I have found myself using the same one or two lenses. I have others, why hadn't I used them? I could have been testing my control of depth of field, perspective etc. Damn it.


I'll start the new year with more questions for myself. I have a family portrait session taking shape for January. Seven people and a dog. I have some ideas, I don't want to produce a series of white background, high key pictures. I'll need to discuss what the client wants. But I think between us we can achieve a set that wont look the same as they will have seen from their friends studio shoots. I know it's putting more pressure on me. But I really want all my pictures in 2017 to have that something extra, to look better than I would have produced this year. I don't want anyone, including myself, to say they're just okay. 

Some of the contenders for possible canvas printing








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Saturday, 26 November 2016

Vanity publishing


I really like to see my pictures printed, the bigger the better. But are there other ways to display them?

I wanted to look at some of the alternatives. This got me thinking about books. I hoped it would be a good way to bring a selection of my pictures together in one place. I could show them to people just by handing over the book.

There had to be theme, a story. What better than a decade of cycling photography.

Ten years ago I started cycling again after a break that started when I got my first motorbike. No pictures exist from back then. I've made up for it, this time around. 

It took some time to go through them all. Almost every ride results in a picture or two and I cycle most weekends. The shortlist can be seen here. Then I chose the forty that I liked the most. I decided to make two books. The first one contained some specific journeys. London to Paris, the South Downs Way and trips to Brighton. A with a selection of mostly bike shots. The second book contained more people. I wanted to show the people who have kept me cycling.

I don't expect to sell any books. It's just for me. An indulgence.

I might produce more books. I have so many pictures that aren't viewed very often, even by me.

To see a preview my books and purchase them. Click here.

I'm thinking Family and Beauty Portraits. Why not add your address to my mailing list. You'll be informed about future posts. Follow me on twitter. 

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