September

September is probably one of my favourite months especially with a camera in my hand.rnAfter the long days and often harsh light that summer (sometimes) gives us together with a blanket of green September comes along and brings back a little colour contrast to the landscape with better lower angled light.rnThe other reason I love September is the fields full Maize which for some reason I just have to capture every year.

Bluegrass Inspired Banjo Shoot

Inspiration to create images comes in many forms at least for me. While retouching some work the other week I decided to randomly listen to something completely different from my normal playlists on Spotify and put on some Bluegrass music. One track, in particular, hit a chord (pardon the pun) which as you may expect from the Bluegrass genre contained the Banjo.

 

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Boris Takes Tea At The Yard

We had an unexpected visitor to our studio base at The Monks Yard today and I was asked if I could grab some promotion images.
Mayor of London Boris Johnson popped into the Yard for afternoon tea (but no cake ! ) and gave a quick speech.
He’s not the first former politician or celebrity to pop in and I’m sure not the last.

 

 

The 1943 Harley & D-Day Despatch Rider

Inspired by some very old musty prints and tales from my Mum and Dad about living and working through WW2 I set out to shoot some images that represented that era.
Through some research I managed to find a guy called Manny who had collection of WW2 memorbillia (and that’s a huge understatement !) who was also located not far from me.
I also thought Manny would be a great addition to my Life In A Somerset Landscape Project so I gave him a call.

As expected Manny was very passionate about the era and travelled to many of the re-enactments both here and abroad during the summer months.
During our telephone chat he mentioned the authentic 750cc 1943 Harley Davidson he had and a U.S infantryman’s uniform as worn in the D-Day invasion.

At that point the image came together at least in my head
We decided that we create a story where a U.S Army Despatch Rider from headquarters company is delivering messages to and from various units.
The setting would be a forest in northern France and so my next job was to find the location and arrange the logistics of getting Manny and his bike there.

A week later the pre production was finalised and the shoot day arranged.
Manny was a dream to work with bringing authentic maps,rifles,etc giving us plenty of options for many variations I may want to try.

As my work is about quiet moments I worked around the narrative of the rider taking a rest from riding on his dangerous assignment.

A Place To Remember

This week I met up with some of my family to scatter my mothers ashes and visit a place both she and I visited almost weekly to watch the wildlife and loved to spend a little time together.

The location on the Somerset Levels sits in view of the iconic Glastonbury Tor and the River called South Drain (yeah not the most romantic name !) flows across the moors helping to ease excess water during winter months.

I’ve photographed here many times over the last 25 years and to me it is iconic Somerset combining the Glastonbury Tor,river,moor and it’s wonderful wildlife.

It’s now not only a place to photograph but also a place to go to remember happy times with my Mum.

 

Glastonbury-tor-and-south-drain-river-somerset

20 Plus Years Previously, Note Lack Of Withy Trees On Right Bank Next To Gate Compared To Image Above

 

Image Retouching The Fine Details, Surveying The Moor

Photo Retouching The Fine Details, Surveying The Moor

I was asked recently to help out a neighbour with some images for a new business venture she was setting up.
The main image needed to be a portrait of her with her dog Barney and I had the perfect location in mind that I had found only a week previously.
As with most shoots containing more than one person composition is key especially here where we have a person and a smallish animal that need equal attention in the frame. To do this I used a very large fallen tree that provided a great prop and worked perfectly for the main image required but also provided another unplanned opportunity when Barney decided to climb onto the very top of the trunk.


I very quickly spotted the potential of the scene unfolding and fired off half a dozen frames before he climbed down and the moment was gone.
I knew right there before previewing any images that I had a strong image that could be developed further in post.
I can’t explain what it is that that makes a potential image appear in front of me (when many people do not see it ) except to say it’s an unconscious thing perhaps developed (pardon the pun) over the 26 + years of looking through a camera.
The final photo retouching composite required a lot of retouching to remove the harness that Barney was wearing and to retain all the very fine details I’m obsessed with keeping and seamlessly blending with the background.
Retaining fine details like these takes a lot of work but knowing the image will stand up to the closest of scrutiny is important.

Post-production-after-barney-dog

Next, I decided to scan through my archives to find the perfect background to compliment the image.
The image I decided to use is one of Exmoor that I had shot a couple of years ago but had never used and provided a perfect fit for the mood I wanted to create. The final image titled “Surveying The Moor” together with a close up of Barney is shown below.

Dog On Tree Stump Overlooking Exmoor Somerset

 

Lifestyle-portrait-barney-the-dog

Mind Games With Jet The Raven

A few weeks ago I did a couple of posts about photographing the devastating floods from Burrow Mump in Burrowbridge and some capturing beautiful old trees in Dorset.
Both these where shot for a new image I had wanted to create as part of my personal project “Life In A Somerset Landscape” and to represent the severe floods that had hit Somerset this year.
The only element that I had left to find was a Raven or something from that family of birds which I had always wanted to photograph.
I had nearly exhausted all my options for sourcing one locally and not one to compromise easily I decided to place a post of Facebook to see if anyone knew of one..even a stuffed one was becoming an option ! To my surprise one of my oldest friends replied within minutes saying his tattoo artist called Brendan had a tame Rook and I should call him.
After a couple of days I rang Brendan who indeed had Jet a fairly young and fairly tame Raven I could happily pop along to photograph.
Despite photographing several animals for this project already I’m by far a wildlife photographer and knew nothing about Ravens apart than they where a bigger version of a crow !
Brendan explained how incredibly intelligent these birds where (more than dogs) and although my concern about having my eyes pecked out was very unlikely due to their friendly nature I would definitely find Jet to be very inquisitive.
I turned up with a car full of gear (you never know what you will need on location) but I soon realised the avery was too small for any kit apart from hand holding the camera and a speed light for some fill in flash.
The other things that quickly came to my attention was how big and hyperactive Jet was ! This was going to be a tough shoot but that was to become an understatement!
You remember how I said how intelligent these birds where ? well it seems they also like to play games with tubby photographers trying to photograph them.
Each time I raised my camera to my eye he would fly, I could watch him all I wanted in fact he would do this little display to impress me (or take the piss as I saw it) but as soon as I raised the camera past my chin off he’d go off again…the little bastard was playing with me and winning!
Anyway not to be outdone I decided I would just have to set the camera up the best I could and shoot blind holding the camera at chest level.
I could have possible set the camera up and shot via a radio trigger but the concern was Jet would fly onto the tripod and knock the whole lot to the floor and I did not fancy explaining that to the insurance company less than a week after a £700 repair for it rolling down a hill!
With 140 frames shot I managed to capture enough usable frames to choose from which had correct perspective and interesting angle.

The image is titled “A Perch Above The Flood”

 

Dry Path To Muchelney

You can’t live in the UK without having heard about the village of Muchelney in South Somerset which has recently become an island after the severe floods.
I live a few miles from the village and have managed until today to resist all temptations to venture out onto the Somerset Levels with my camera.
The two problems for me are firstly that the Somerset Levels are where I learnt my craft and they even after all these years are still one of my favorite places to go and shoot.
Secondly although I’m certainly no adrenalin junkie or risk taker I’m fascinated by extreme weather much to my wife’s disapproval and this means I can’t resist getting safely close as possible to explore & capture what I find.

The floods had receded just enough that some roads are now passable so today with stormy skies still overhead I ventured to a couple of places I thought might be safe and give me some great views.
This image titled “Dry Path To Muchelney” shows the severely flooded River Isle on the right and flooded fields to the left with a elevated path bank heading towards Muchelny.
The gentleman I met walking with his dog said how in 40 years he had never seen flooding this extreme in the area.His dog seemed less bothered by he water and more interested in the wildlife as there where lots of mice and other animals on the bank seeking safety from the waters.
The rains came in again giving some wonderful skies and I decided to shoot one more image before heading home.
As I mounted a gate to reach the flood line in a field I somehow lost my footing and ended up head first with my camera luckily on top of me !
It must have looked hilarious but must admit as I sit here writing this I’m pretty bruised and not getting any sympathy from the wife !
I hope for those hit hard by the floods in Muchelney and surrounding area that the water recedes soon so that the clean up can get started.