iphone 5×5 : folkestone

[vimeo 107237680 w=500&h=280]


I happened to be in Folkestone recently, not on my own, sort of house hunting with my lovely wife. As usual I was distracted by other things and when I saw the old railway line going down to the docks I thought that I would go and have a look at the old station.  House hunting on hold I took out my phone and made this little 5x 5 second movie postcard from Folkestone. Currently the station is a venue for some art installations which are part of the Folkestone Triennial.

The old station at Folkestone docks, now disused, was once the stopping off point for travellers from the UK taking the ferry to France. I remember using it myself, in the days when you could get straight off the train and on to the ferry, before good old Eurotunnel.

Still house hunting – that makes two years now – maybe we’ll find something in another two.

Shot with an iphone 4s, edited in Premier Pro and graded with Speedgrade.

Rainy night Moonwalk

Designer bras on display at the Walk The Walk event
Designer bras on display at the Walk The Walk event


Clapham Common, London, on a very windy and rainy evening in May. It was the night of the Moonwalk. The event organised by Walk The Walk, a charity dedicated to raising money for breast cancer causes.

I had heard about the Moonwalk but this was my first time working at the event –  I was there to photograph the celebrities for Walk The Walk. Great guest tent – tent’s the wrong word – more of a marquee/orangery, styled with trees adorned with fairy lights.

Anyway the event is all about bras – and showing off your decorated bra on the walk, and not just for women as men are encouraged to don a bra and join in the walk too. Mannequins wearing bras decorated by designers and celebrities including Aliza Reger and Charlie Dimmock were on display in the guest tent.

So my evening was spent shooting the celebrities and their bras, including Walk The Walk ambassador, Harriet Thorpe. A very upbeat event – also a  friendly bunch of press photographers to work alongside.

Midnight and the walkers were on their way. I drove  my assistant for the night, Lauren, back to Clapham Common tube station – yep, the tube to Elephant and Castle much quicker than car even at that time of night. I sat in the queue of traffic on Clapham High Street and thought about the walkers. A cold night, still a little rain, and I guess unlike the marathon – no streets lined with cheering crowds to help them on their way. That takes some commitment!

For more information about Walk The Walk go to   http://www.walkthewalk.org

Abbey Road revisited

Tourists on the Abbey Road pedestrian crossing.

It’s been a long time since I have been to Abbey Road, work doesn’t seem to take me to that part of town these days and the last time I worked at the studios was sometime in the early 90’s. My first job there was in 1979 and I worked there quite a few times in the 80’s.

So there I was last week walking up towards the Abbey Road Studios to photograph a party and I saw these photographers taking pics of the tourists on the crossing. My first thoughts were – good little business idea ( I guess they were selling the photos) but surely dangerous! Then I thought, no, it’s actually far less dangerous than having lots of tourists jumping in  front of the traffic with their own cameras. At least these guys understand the traffic and which direction it’s coming from and in the short time I was there they only went out in the road when it was safe. Can’t imagine what it must be like in the summer – manic! This was 4pm on a grey, cold and rainy January day and there was a small queue forming! So I didn’t interrupt them and went on my way to the party, looking forward to working in Studio 1 and Studio 2 again.

London Bridge : winter sunrise

This is a time lapse test which was shot in late November. Photographed  using a Canon 5D mk2 and testing the Magic Lantern firmware.

The shoot  started at 5.30am and lasted just over 3 hrs. The morning was pretty cold at first so I was grateful for the warmth of the rising Sun towards the end.

While I worked on the images this week it reminded me that although we are at the start of winter, spring isn’t too far away.

Docks & Desktops

‘From Docks to Desktops’ The London Bubble production at The Biscuit Factory

Last night I photographed the London Bubble’s show From Docks to Desktops, an intergenerational show with a cast of 30, aged 12-80 plus.

The show was at The Biscuit Factory, Bermondsey. The old Peak Freans factory, an appropriate location as the show was about the changing face of the docklands and the old industries that used to exist in the area around the biscuit factory. It was about those who lived the area and based on interviews with people who worked in the docks and factories.

Plus, hand made beforehand in a room next to the performance space, free custard cream biscuits after the show!

The London Bubble Theatre is at  – http://www.londonbubble.org.uk/

‘wear it pink’ a record 201 MPs support campaign

pinkLast month I was again at Portcullis House for the Breast Cancer Campaign to photograph MPs dressing up in pink to promote wear it pink day. A fundraising day for breast cancer, wear it pink  is Friday the 25th October.

A hectic day at times, but the Breast Cancer Campaign team helped  select the pink outfits  then guided the MPs in my direction so that I could photograph them in their pink gear. A total of 201 MPs were photographed that day, which beat the previous record by a long way. So look out in your local press in the next week or two to see if your MP was one of those supporting the charity, and see just how much pink they wear!

The wear it pink website is at  http://www.wearitpink.org

Canon 17mm TSE at Danson House

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Recently I was asked to do some photography at Danson House. The photography was for a new brochure showing the wedding set ups at both Danson House and Hall Place, both located in the London Borough of Bexley. I took along a Canon 17mm TSE together with  a little rig I sometimes use to get very wide shots.

The photograph above is of The Salon, an octagonal shaped room in the house. The image is composed of three separate images which are then just layered together, it’s not stitching as there’s no special software involved.

This is a very tight space. I was literally standing against a wall ( not leaning on it! ) in between a very expensive chair and a probably more expensive cabinet. The tripod legs about a centimetre away from each!

Over the years I have used various cameras to get super wide shots, the Hasselblad SWC of course and 75mm lenses on 5×4 cameras. The digital full frame camera and shift lenses  have in recent years made it possible to achieve the same kind of wide angle photographs that I was used to gettting on film.

The main issue is to keep the lens in exactly the same spot (relative to the scene) for all three images, this is done by effectively moving the camera around behind the lens. There are various rigs available to do this, but they can be quite expensive, so a couple of years ago I looked around for an economical alternative. I already had the Manfrotto umbrella attachment for a light stand and an old Metz 45 flash bracket so I just needed something to slide this around. I found the Manfrotto 454 micro positioning plate which was just what I was looking for. Cost  for the Manfrotto 454 is around £75. I put these together so that I could mount the camera in a vertical position and then slide the whole thing very precisely sideways. It takes some time to ensure that everything is vertical – a bit fiddly but effective.

The rig with Canon 5D3 and 17mm TSE
The rig with Canon 5D3 and 17mm TSE

The shooting method is as follows;

1/ Set the lens so that it shifts from side to side across the vertical plane, then centre the shift.

2/ Set the Manfrotto slider to a given point which works for you, I usually start with the marker at 20 or 30 on the scale. Ensuring that the camera is positioned so that it is directly above the tripod head.

3/ Take the first shot ( centre image)

4/ Move the slider 10 mm to the left (markings are 1mm) then move the lens shift to the right 10mm. Take second shot.

5/ From this move move the Manfrotto slider back to the centre point and then another 10mm to the right, move the lens shift so that it now goes beyond the centre position and 10mm to the left.

6/ This now means that I have three images each with a slightly different view but with the lens in pretty much exactly the same place in relation to the scene.

All that needs doing now is to align each of the images in Photoshop using layers. It’s feasible to do this in just two shots but I like to use the eraser tool to blur the joins of each image and having three shots gives me more room to play with on some shots. Also it’s safer to do three if you want to push the lens shift to 12mm, although I find it easier and quicker just to go for the 10mm markers most of the time.

Picture 13

The images usually line up exactly if I take time to make sure everything is straight and vertical, so layering them together is simple. The image on the left is slightly off in this shot. I have guessed roughly 10 pixels, but it’s only on the vertical axis and the side to side matches perfectly. I must have nudged the camera slightly on that one, or more likely I forgot to lock the Manfrotto plate on that exposure and this made a slight difference in how the camera was positioned.

You can see from the centre image on the Photoshop screen grab that you end up with a much wider image than just doing the one shot. The shot a the top of the page is cropped square which I think works well, very similar to how it might look on a SWC – possibly even wider. The full uncropped shot is below and works out at almost exactly a 5×4 ratio  with a size of 113.5Mb.

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‘ Good weather for walkers’ – Naz

Nazaneen Ghaffar gets ready for the walk

Where did the Sun go last Saturday morning?

It was the day of the Parkinson’s UK ‘Walk in Greenwich Park’ and I was on my way to photograph the event. The air was a little chilly and the sky grey as I walked into the park, but after the recent hot weather I appreciated the change. Maybe I would check the forecast with the Sky weather presenter Nazaneen Ghaffar who was going to start off the walk.

I tried to keep up with the walkers as I photographed them and not lose them as I dodged around the route. Surprisingly difficult to find them sometimes  – despite their bright cyan T shirts. It was good to see the park back to normal after being used as an Olympic venue last year.

The clouds stayed for most of the walk; so it was cool, perfect for the walkers, also for me – nice flat light so I didn’t have to fight the harsh light of a clear blue sky.

So what was Naz’s view on the weather at the start of the day? ‘Good weather for walkers’ was the verdict but warming up later. Spot on – must take more notice of Sky weather forecasts in future!

Now, back to the heatwave?

To find out more information about Parkinson’s go to Parkinson’s UK.

The 80’s, Talk Talk, Wimbledon ?

Talk Talk, the New Forest , UK, 1983.

Recently I was photographing an 80’s themed event for a corporate client. The weather, unusually, remained acceptably warm so the event was held on the office rooftop overlooking London. After a while I started to take notice of the background music, and thought to myself:  photographed that band, and that one, and them, seen them, met him, etc.

A couple of days later I thought that maybe I should do the occasional retrospective in my blog. So here it is, 30 years ago this week I drove through Wimbledon in the early morning, passing the fans on their way to watch the tennis. I was on my way to shoot the band Talk Talk, one of the iconic bands of the eighties. I met them at their manager’s house and then we drove down to somewhere in the New Forest for the photos. One of the photographs from this shoot  was used last year in the unofficial biography ‘The Spirit of Talk Talk’.

Driving there and back through the Wimbledon tennis traffic has forever linked that shoot with  Wimbledon fortnight for me.