Sunday, 23 March 2014


Last week a client asked me to do some product shots that he needed in a hurry for a promotional campaign. He has ten pairs of sunglasses to photograph with the country flags on the lenses for each land competing in the forthcoming football world cup. Time was of the essence so I decided to shoot them in my front room.

 The products

Another friend recently asked for advice on using a Somikon "Studio Box"  which she'd recently purchased so I used the sunglasses as a test so that I could show here the results that can be obtained from this piece of equipment.

I set up the studio box on a table in my sitting room and placed the glasses on the bottom. Using my Canon 5d MKII with a 50mm lens and my Benbo tripod.

To prevent my constantly bending over to look through the viewfinder, I attached my camera to my Samsung Galaxy tablet using the free DSLRdashboard software which is available from the Google Play store. This software shows me the captured image and I can zoom in and out to check focus etc. The software also has the option to save the images onto the device itself or just on the memory card.

I started at nine o'clock and with the help of the software and a big display, I was able to move various reflectors and light blockers around until I had an image that the client wanted.

 1st set-up. Too many reflections

The set-up I ended up using.

Another piece of equipment that I put to use were my Phottix Odin wireless flash triggers. These are quite simply fantastic flash triggering devices. As they are wireless, they can fre the flash around corners and out of line of sight. With more than 2500 exposures i have not had one single misfire. You can also control the individual flash compensation by thirds of a stop. 

Glamour photographer also uses these triggers and have uploaded an interesting video about them. 

With the help of all these time saving devices I was able to get a good setup which I mailed to the client. He gave me the OK and I then photographed the next nine pairs.

After converting the CR2 RAW files into high resolution JPG's, I uploaded them to a website where I can apply clipping to make the background pure white.

Total time for the job was four and a half hours.

Here's one of the finished images.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Photography tutorials, classes and walks

The interest in photography classes has been great. Lots of folks it seems now have great quality cameras but are dissatisfied with the results they are getting.


I've now given two portrait classes and a three part series on beginners photography. There has been good feedback for the course members as well who liked my laid back approach to teaching (i.e less on the theory and more showing and explaining).

 I mixed classroom basic theory with practical "in the field" shooting.


On the last day, we spent two hours out and about before coming back to the classroom and discussing the results

There will hopefully be more classes, walks and groups in the near future but if you would like to learn more about a specific area of photography then please don't hesitate to contact me.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, 20 January 2014

Photographer and now educator!

Sorry if the title sounds a bit pretentious but this last weekend, I gave my first ever portrait photography workshop entirely in German!

I stressed a little about it in the week before because I wasn't sure if my standard of German was good enough. I explained to the participants that German wasn't my mother tongue (as if they didn't already know within fifteen seconds of my starting), and that if they had any difficulties understanding me, then they should simply ask.

There were four pupils which for me was ideal because that meant that I could take a more personalised approach.

We started with a brief introduction of ourselves and I told them a little about me and my experience as a photographer.

There were four areas that we covered. These were:
  • Equipment
  • Camera settings. Optical and technical considerations.
  • Posing
  • Software, black and white, lighting, image analysis, and developing a style.
 Away from the purely photographic accessories that I bring to a portrait shoot, I told them that one piece of equipment that is always near to hand is a simple stool or step to stand on and give myself some height when my subject is a little (or a lot) taller than me.

 add height . . .

We spent some of the afternoon putting the theory into practice in one of the fitness rooms in the learning centre. this was ideal as it was bright and airy, had mirrors and more importantly stands for when the ladies came to photograph the gentlemen!

Here are some snaps from the day.

All in all I think that we all learnt something but above all, we had fun whilst doing so.

Thanks for reading.



Thursday, 19 December 2013


Passes. they get you into exclusive places and help you get unique images right? Maybe.

I was recently going through some of my old notes and photos from early on in my career and I came across notes that I had made regarding my day to day activities.

Working for one local county paper at the time it is now amazing to me to see how many jobs I would have to cover in a day.

 Two pages from 1991

Obviously for these jobs it was just a case of locating the place on an A -Z map, driving there, finding parking, locating the subject and photographing them then going on to the next job. As you can see from the entries there was sometimes very little time between each job. It meant I had to have a preconceived idea of the picture I wanted and not repeating it for every job of that day / week.

 Most of these jobs were standard local newspaper fare. Charity stuff, wedding anniversaries, "local boy does good" and cheque presentations (a.k.a.grip 'n grin), normally with a ridiculously oversized cheque.

The other jobs however, the "important" jobs where there would be national interest meant that a Pass was needed.

My first experience with press passes came in 1985 when the first Live Aid concert was staged in Hyde Park. A friend of mine had a photography pass and he let me see it. It was roughly the same dimensions as a standard 6" x 4" (10 x 15 cm) paper print which gave me an idea . . .
I photographed the pass with my T90 which was holding my 50mm lens to which I attached a couple of canon close up filters. I made sure that the pass completely filled my field of view and took a shot. This I processed in a one hour mini-lab, laminated it and hey presto, I had a counterfeit press pass for live Aid!

Other occasions however, required a bit more legitimacy. It used to be (back when I was an active press photographer in London) that if you were photographing government or royalty you would need a rota pass. This was issued by the C.O.I ( Chamber of Information ) and normally on a first come, first served basis.

One pass was given each to a monochrome and colour photographer with others going to TV and foreign press members. There would be separate passes for the entrance, the interior and the exit.. All these passes were issued with the proviso that all images were made available to any media organisation that required them for a period of up to two years.

The passes varied from the elaborately printed to the craftshop specials and there never seemd to be any logic behind it. For instance, when I photographed ex Russian president Gorbachev's visit to the UK back in 1989, I had to be vetted by Scotland Yard, have a specially printed press card and three other passes. The closest I got to him was 50 yards (45 meters) away.

Passes for the Gorbachev visit.
Whereas a couple of months later I took this picture of the Queen with a pass that looked like it had been made by a six year old!
 HM The Queen and the pass I needed to get close.

With the right organisation behind you and a proven track record as a photographer, you will be able to get a pass and get (sometimes) access to the famous people. Although having said that, my best picture of Gorbachev came when I was out with my camera and saw him doing an impromptu walkabout.

Some passes were actually quite ridiculous. I was covering the Tall Ships race back in 1993 in Newcastle and was duly given an all "areas pass" which  was required to have visible at all times. This pass was HUGE! This is a picture of it lying next to my mobile phone. 

Like wearing a sandwich board!

Here are some of the other passes from my collection.

 Various royal passes

 Various installation passes.

I was prompted to write this article after going to photograph a bank in Basel which was still under construction. I arrived at the reception, explained myself to the two security guards, filled out some forms and was solemnly handed this pass!

Thanks for reading.