And Shoot...

Welcome to my blog; my take on all things photography, travel, wildlife and a few other things too.

Hope you enjoy it.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Shooting Blind

In March I had the pleasure of shooting a wedding at Matfen Hall in Northumberland.
It was a beautiful venue; lots of stunning architectural details to capture.

Even the room in which the evening reception took place was in a quaint little cavern underneath, which I assume was originally an underground cellar. There was exposed brickwork, pillars and beams and certainly different to most reception rooms.

However, for all it's quirkiness, this also presented me with one major drawback; the level of darkness.

As a professional photographer, dealing with low lighting is nothing new. However, I can't ever remember having to shoot quite such difficult circumstances; in particular 'focussing'.

State of the art digital SLR cameras are designed to be able to handle well in low light. Take a photo of the moon at night - no problem. Even a poorly lit church can be captured and transformed into a bright and striking image, with a few tweaks of your camera's settings. But when you are trying to focus on a groom in a black suit, moving at speed around a dancefloor against a blackground, even they will struggle. Not even my camera's auto-focus assist light could save me.

The pressure was on; the first dance had already begun and so it was time to improvise. Switching to manual focus, I took several test shots at various focal lenths and distances from the bride and groom. Reviewing them on my LCD display and then moving closer or further away,  accordingly, I managed to narrow down the optimum distance for a sharp enough focus. Then I had simply had to maintain this distance from the happy couple (and latterly the other guests) as they moved around the dance floor in their own little worlds, oblivious to my difficulties.

And that of course is the job of the wedding photographer; to find a solution for each and every key moment, without troubling those at the centre of them. This wasn't the first (and certainly won't be the last) time I have found myself in a tricky situation - but hopefully I pulled it off. Check out the photo below and see if you agree.


Monday, 10 February 2014

Bricks and Martyrs

It has taken so long to build these walls. 

Walls that are built upon foundations a hundred million dead bodies deep. Each new brick carefully laid to rest like a lost loved one; fortified by unshakeable faith and cemented together with the mortar of martyrs.

And walls like these cannot be pulled down overnight.

You cannot hope to simply knock them down by attacking them. They are too big and steadfast they will remain impassive. Nor can you kill their constructors. They are too numerous and those you fail to kill will redouble their efforts with renewed vigour to maintain them, strengthened by the souls of the murdered.

No, they will only begin to collapse when the faith of each individual mason has been eroded away from within. When they themselves choose to renounce the wall support, remove their own bricks and toss them disdainfully into skips of scepticism.

And it will take a long time, as with all great walls, for enough bricks to be removed, before we all finally crumble into atheism.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

The Great British Weather

As a photographer who loves to work outdoors, I feel privileged to live and work in the UK for one reason above all other; the weather!

It is a decidedly British thing to moan about the weather and especially our lack of sunshine but I think we have got it lucky. Sure it would be nice to have a slightly longer and more intense summer but for me, this is a small price to pay if it means we get to keep our four distinct seasons.

Personally, I feel the length and variation of the seasons in the UK are perfect. Just as I start to yearn for something different at the end of each 3 month period, a new season ‘springs’ into effect, bringing its own unique beauty and change. If I lived in a part of the world with only a wet and a dry season (or worse still, the same climate all year around) I really would feel I was missing out.

There are countless challenges and experiments to have fun with when taking photographs in the changing climate of our country and I have to say I find it difficult to choose a favourite. The dawn chorus of spring, summer nights, autumn twilight or winter mornings; each create their own inimitable feeling and mood and I love taking photographs in each. 

Rain, wind, snow, frost, mist or fog can all be more exciting than the sun, all of them bringing their distinctive colours and conditions to your photography – not to mention the different flora and fauna on offer in each part of the year.

So next time you find yourself moaning about the weather – get out there and embrace it instead – and you might find yourself surprised at how much you enjoy it.