Saturday, 21 April 2018

Cycling in the sunshine

cycling sunshine field
Sun, blue sky and a good mood


Great news; Matt's back.

We met as usual at the green, and what a morning. The sun was beaming from a clear blue sky, it was warm as well. A leisurely ride the the bus stop followed. We cycle all year round and it's always a mood improver, but feeling the warm sun really can't be beaten. It's been a very long week at work, so I needed to de-stress. Today was just what I needed.

A weird coincidence meant Matt and I both choose today to wear a statement t-shirt. Mine resulted in an ironic picture. What do you think? And Matt's is, I think, a reaction to management speak; very funny.  

In my head in am mountain biking
 Always thinking about cycling



cycling i bring nothing to the table

  
So Matt, what are you contributing?



















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Sunday, 15 April 2018

Looks like spring is finally here for good

spring cycle photography


Two weekends in a row it hasn't been cold, rain wasn't threatened, and I took on White Lane Hill. All is right with the world. Except it's not, Matt has been under the weather so I was on my own. I got out on the road bike, as discussed before it is faster but not as comfortable. And the higher gearing makes the steeper hills a real challenge.

But back to cycling alone; I like it, sometimes. But I miss the chance for a chat and a laugh so wouldn't want to do it often. A shared experience means it can be reminisced about. They are what friendships are made of.

When I first started cycling as an adult about eleven years ago, maybe a lot longer. I wouldn't have kept at it if it wasn't for Matt. There just wouldn't have been the motivation.

And because of that;

I have cycled to Paris and completed the South Downs Way.

I have raised a lot of money for the therapy centre my wife goes to.

I have got a lot fitter.

I can cope with stress better, most of the time.

I have completed two RideLondon 100 mile rides.

Learnt that I am capable of more than I thought.

But most of all I look forward to having a laugh, a chat and a cup of tea where ever we end up.

If you don't cycle, get some friends together and get out there. Apart from the occasional soaking, there isn't a downside.


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Thursday, 12 April 2018

Nikon D810, part one.

I don't really do gear reviews. I just write about what I have been doing in regards to my photography and cycling. But I have been approached to do a couple of weddings this year. My Nikon D700 is still considered a worthy and useful camera. It is certainly brilliant for what I do. But it would be good to have two bodies. For a back up and to allow me to use two lenses without having to swap them over. My first use of the D700 was the studio shoot with Anna at the beginning of the year. I saw a definite change to the pictures. It is hard to put my finger on what exactly is better. But I am glad upgraded.

But it is a 2008 camera and technology has moved on. The D810 was released in 2014. I know there is now the D850. but this is way out of my reach, the D810 will start to reduce in price second hand. The truth is I don't upgrade without a lot of thought. I broke my D70 so I replaced it with the D90. When the D700 came within reach I knew it was time to go full frame. The next step will be because I need the extras a newer camera can provide.

The big increase in resolution isn't really a consideration for me, it's the quiet shutter and better low light focusing that interests me. Less of a distraction during a wedding ceremony and more accurate focusing at the reception in the evening.

I am intrigued to see what the lack of low pass filter will produce. Will it be the step up in sharpness I am hoping for?

The reviews say to get the best from the camera you should use the best lenses. Mine are getting on a bit, but were considered pro or semi pro quality in their day. And I have used them a lot on the D700 so will aid my comparison.

I decided to hire a D810 for the end of the month, I have two shoots organised. The first with Janayah and then with Rosie.

It will be a good opportunity to familiarise myself with the camera before the pressure of shooting a wedding. I'll be stressed enough without worrying about how to use the camera.

I'll write blogs for them, with my impressions and thoughts. I know you will have already seen many reviews about the D810. But I think it will allow me to gather my thoughts, and prepare for the weddings.


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Sunday, 8 April 2018

Location shoot April 2018 update

beauty portrait spring


The shoot could not have gone better. All week the weather report had said it would rain. Even the morning of the shoot I was thinking it might have to be postponed. I'm really glad it wasn't.

The diffused light was brilliant, it meant the light was soft and flattering. The grounds of Rosie’s house suited the theme well.

beauty portrait spring



beauty portrait spring

 sun swing

And then the sun came out and created a beautiful backlight/hair light, causing Rosie's hair to really shine.

 sun swing

black and white sun swing

Then when we changed location and Rosie into a white outfit, we needed the soft light again. We weren't disappointed.
white dress red brick

white dress red brick

Moving away from the house gave a nice contrast between the red brick and white outfit.

white dress red brick

There are so many more pictures I could have used in this blog, really spoilt for choice.


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Saturday, 7 April 2018

on the road bike for the first time in a while

It's the first time I have ridden my road bike this year, I'm not sure when the last time was. But now I remember why it's rare to be out on it. It's uncomfortable. Either the roads are getting worse or I'm getting old. I have even considered a new bike with carbon forks; it would lighter, I was more interested in the bump adsorption. But it was just too much money considering I wouldn't ride it much. Everyone I know has mountain bikes. And mountain bikes are much nicer to ride; soft squashy tyres and suspension.

Daffodils, cycling, spring at last
Daffodils, cycling, spring at last

Hopefully the daffodils are a sign that the bad weather during March is finally behind us.

I have posted many times about motor vehicles and their inconsiderate driving.
But cyclists have their faults too. A red light is not a give way sign if you are using pedal power.



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Friday, 6 April 2018

Location shoot April 2018

Only one more day until the second location photoshoot of the year. I have a theme of boho, chilled summer in mind for the clothing. Rosie, I know will be perfect, she has similar pictures on her portfolio. And has the right look.

Little did I know how unsettled and unpredictable the weather would be when I arranged it. But the location has indoor options. So fingers crossed.

I'll blog about the shoot, so remember to come back next week.

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Tuesday, 3 April 2018

A poor March

April Deli Di Luca Westerham
Deli Di Luca Westerham
This year started well for cycling. More rides than in previous years for January and February. And then March arrived. Snow, rain and cold are the three words that characterised the last month. This weekend gave the opportunity to catch up a bit. On Friday we rode to Westerham and had food in a new cafe. The Tudor tea rooms was closed, so we went to the Deli Di Luca for tea and almond croissants.

I hadn’t planned to cycle on Saturday, but my plans changed and I could have. But I was tired and lacked enthusiasm. I really wish I had now though. We were out Sunday, to the bus stop. And then Monday, was a total washout. Four more days until the next chance for some cycling.

And then when the weekend does arrive, what will the weather be like? I’ll just have to keep my fingers crossed.

More pass too close incidents happened this weekend. They occur on most rides now. Fridays ride had a few. Most of the time the vehicle at least slows down a bit. Which isn't ideal, but better than when they pass at full speed. Whyteleafe Hill is the the main location for the idiots. The next most likely place is the Limpsfield Rd on the way to Botley. I don’t know what to do. I always report them but nothing seems to happen. I use to get an occasional call from the police, but I have heard nothing from them for a couple of months. Maybe my name is now on an ignore list.

Here is the latest. Apologies for the language, I didn’t realise the microphone was that good on the GoPro. Or that I was so loud.



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Saturday, 24 March 2018

Motorbike shoot

eddy harley davidson adjustment fix
Eddy focused on attention to detail
A while back I replied to a Facebook casting for photographers. Eddy was developing his motorcycle customisation business: Eddy Motorcycle Consultants. His plan was regular meet ups with owners being introduced to photographers. For me it didn't seem like Eddy was after free photography, but had a genuine desire to provide a bigger service to his clients. He wanted to add extras. To put owners in touch with service providers like me. They would rightly be proud of their bikes, and want to have prints on the wall or images for social media etc.

The meet isn't until May, but Eddy suggested I visit the workshop before then. He had some bikes in he was working on. I would be able to show what I could do; start to build a working relationship. And he would have some pictures to use and give to the owners.

When the bikes are finished.

The owner's could commissions me for further pictures and I start to establish my business.

And Eddy adds some extra value to his business for his clients.

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I'm back and looking through my work.

The theme of the main bike being worked on was skulls.

harley davidson skull airbox

harley davidson skull handlebars

Some interesting artwork



You needed to get up close to see the details.



Another bike in for an extensive refurb. In forty years it had only done four thousand miles. It looked original down to the wiring.




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Saturday, 17 March 2018

Photography walk


snow woods walk


I have never been a member of a photography club or society. But now that has changed. I'm a member of the Caterham Photographic Society. It all started with a Facebook post to a local resident's group. Some pictures were posted from a run. A chat started; not about running, but photography and the lack of a local group. It sounded like it might be a relaxed, social focused group. I'm more interested in photography, with less focus on the camera and equipment.

The speed with which it all happened from a mention of taking a camera on a run to a Facebook group, and then to the first meeting is all credit to Karen. Nearly twenty members in almost no time.

The plan was a walk to include some local fields and woods. Then end at a pub for a pint and a chat, definitely my kind of group.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Well I'm back and although the weather tried it's best I think the first meeting went well. I'm more of a portrait photographer but I like what I have taken. More practise needed though. It was also good to talk about photography and get some exercise. It wasn't just about f-stops and shutter speeds, instead it was more about gaining confidence and exploring different genres. Exactly what I wanted from membership of the group. We also had a chance to get to know each other. So it's a social group as well. I think the group will be one that encourages its members.

Can't wait to see what Barbara and Karen have taken.


snow bike


snow path woods pine
snow path woods

snow path woodssnow path field

snow landscape trees

 As you can see I couldn't resist taking some portraits.

people snow walk

people snow walk


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Sunday, 4 March 2018

After the thaw

cycling snow winter
Still some snow about. We decided this was too slippery a hill, and turned around.

It's been a bad week for weather. Each day colder than the last. More disruption each day as the snow increased it's grip.

Friday afternoon the snow came down heavily and settled, quickly making the roads much more difficult to use. By home time it was beyond a lot of people's ability, or competence. I choose a hill that most had not used. Gentle driving got me home without too much drama. Watching the news and following my local Facebook feed, others had not been so lucky. Taking hours to travel some very short distances.

I had a dentist appointment on Saturday, but I doubt I would have gone out on the bike if I hadn't. I was still too slippery.

Sunday looked like it might be the same, but it wasn't. It was warmer, and most of the snow had gone. The picture above shows it hadn't all gone. We didn't like the look of the hill, so we turned and went a long way round.

cycling snow winter
Drifts at the side of the road.
The final route meant more time on the main road. So more idiots driving without using their brain.


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Friday, 23 February 2018

Pirelli calendar

I recently watched some "making of" Pirelli calendar videos.

It takes a big team and a lot of planning and equipment, considering it was only one sitter at a time.

The chosen photographer seems to have the most input into the style.

The first year I watched was 2016, with Annie Leibovitz. I have written about celebrity photographers before. And for me, Annie falls into this category. She seems as famous as her subjects.

The idea for the project was a good one, but to me the results weren't. There didn't seem to be much interaction or connection between photographer and subject. Not my style. They were just as I had expected from a celebrity photographer. Black and white; most of the subjects were facing straight on to the camera, with dead expressions and lifeless eyes. One exception was Serena Williams, she was topless with her back to the camera. It still didn't engage me. One picture I liked was of Mellody Hobson. Unfortunately even this one, like the rest, was weirdly cropped and a little bland. I don't think any of them really made me think successful, confident women. Maybe I'm not the target demographic.

In 2017 the photographer was Peter Lindbergh. What a contrast. Peter talked much more to the sitters and engaged with them. It seemed more relaxed, but no less professional. The pictures were similar, but more interesting. There was life to them, they were more dynamic.

The experience appeared friendlier. I felt the picture were more about the women.

As I said in my previous celebrity photographers post, "for me it's about a connection to the subject"

Am I wrong?

Sometimes it seems having the right photographer involved is as, or is more important than the picture.

This art isn’t for me, I don’t get it.

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Monday, 19 February 2018

Pass too close

Perhaps the most disappointing near miss. A fellow cyclist.
Perhaps the most disappointing near miss. A fellow cyclist.

I’m not normally a militant person, but the last few months have changed that.

Whilst cycling I have noticed an increasing issue with motor vehicles leaving me little room as they pass me. It should be at least a meter, but is often much less. I’ll even get overtaken when there is on coming traffic. So it’s my safety and that of the other drivers at risk.   I use to just shout and gesture, but I don’t think it’s very effective. I now record my rides. And then report the offenders to the police. In Surrey this can be done online. At first I used stills, but it seams video is the only way to get the police to act.  This weekend was my first foray into motion pictures.

What was most disappointing about the first one was that there was a bike on the roof rack. A fellow cyclist driving with such little regard for my safety and well-being.

Friends say that they wouldn’t go out cycling because it’s too dangerous. But if they did it would only be on the pavement. I have said in the past that as long as stay aware of your surroundings it’s fine.

But it’s not. All cyclists should record their rides, and report bad drivers. It might not be a top priority for the police, but if enough people report it. Something might be done. I’m going to contact my MP and local councillor. I have seen operations in other areas where plain clothes police cycle along problem roads to catch bad drivers. This needs to come to Surrey and Kent.

Now I know people are angered by cyclists. Jumping red lights, riding on pavements, etc. Cyclists have to take responsibility for their actions and safety. And definitely not break the law.

Another example of poor driving was how cars drove in the fog this morning, it was pretty thick in places. Most cars didn’t have their headlights on.

People are getting more selfish, less considerate and it has to be said; more stupid.

More pass too close, they just don't care.

More pass too close, they just don't care.
More pass too close, they just don't care.


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Saturday, 3 February 2018

three nil to me

cycle grey morning
A grey overcast cycle
I'll start by saying I don't make new year's resolutions. I have this year planned to cycle more, whatever the weather. It has been normal in the past to abort if it's raining as Matt and I leave our respective houses. This can mean many non cycling days, especially at this time of year. I wanted to make a change and today was the first real challenge to my plan. It was drizzling a little as I walked down to the garage. Even when the rain became heavier, beating loudly on the corrugated roof, I hadn't seen Matt's text, so I pushed the bike out of the door, the rain had stopped. A win for me then.

Five minutes later the rain was back, but I carried on. Another win for me as it didn't last long enough to contemplate turning back.

A few minutes from our meeting point I noticed a few texts, and a call from Matt. I was half way up a hill so I didn't stop. When I arrived at the green I could give my phone the attention needed.

Matt had aborted, eventually. He hadn't wanted to, but the rain was much heavier over his way. The first text was to say it was raining, but he was on his way. The voicemail and final text was the dreaded abort.

It wasn't raining where I was, and I was already out, so I carried on. Maybe for no other reason than to get a picture for the blog. I got lucky with the ride,

I'm home and warm now, and by my reckoning it's three nil to me.

Let's hope tomorrow the weather doesn't improve it's score.

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Saturday, 27 January 2018

In the studio again

studio model photography dance
My favourite picture, simple elegance.

It’s been a while, nearly seven months in fact, since I worked with a professional model in a studio. I  have completed a number of very successful shoots with Janayah. Looking back as I did last month. I can see we have gotten better with each one. And I am looking forward to the next one in February. An evening shoot along the Thames.

This shoot was to enable me to experiment with lighting. The studio had a number of sets, and four lights. Each with numerous modifiers. So plenty to play with.

It was also an opportunity to work with Anna. Something I had wanted to do for a while.

But first we had to wait for the studio to warm up. Why do some studios not invest in good heating? One small fan heater was never going to do it. So for the whole shoot the heater followed Anna around. And I kept the cups of tea coming.

We kept moving from set to set, with me changing the lighting regularly. Big soft boxes, strip boxes, a beauty dish and reflectors. Using two, three or all four lights.

studio model photography seated

studio model photography seated boots

studio model photographystudio model photography



After about three hours I ran out of ideas. That’s when Anna came to the rescue. She said a lot of her shoots included dance.

studio model photography dancestudio model photography dance

























So a new challenge for me, capturing dance movement. Anna suggested lighting, and I continued to experiment.

studio model photography dancestudio model photography dance


I really like the results of the whole shoot. It was a difficult task to reduce the number of shots to process down to a reasonable number. There were so many good ones. It's a sign of a successful session when I have so many to choose from.

Here are two more, cause I just can't help myself.

studio model photography smilestudio model photography seated boots



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