Picture Retouching A Digital Chainsaw
How picture retouching enabled an uncluttered view.
I remember first being at this location photographing this tree high above Lyndos town in around 2004 when I was still capturing the world on film.
13 years later I found myself once again in the same spot admiring the same tree and the amazing views that this ancient citadel offered of the stunning coast below.
I couldn’t resist capturing the scene again but I soon remembered as I composed the image through the viewfinder the same problem I had experienced all those years ago it was very cluttered.
To capture the tree and wonderful view meant a messy composition consisting of branches from adjacent trees and there was no other angle or option despite my efforts.
I decided to capture the scene and reconfigure a few elements later in post-production to get the image I had visualised.
The picture retouching work was pretty straight forward consisting mainly of removing the obtrusive branches and replacing the sky which was the only element not from the original scene but captured a mile or so away on another day.
Another Time-Lapse video from my project Somerset Uncovered.
I had been wanting to test out a new bit of equipment on location to aid my shooting Time-Lapse videos and the perfect opportunity arrived this week.
With a beautiful evening forecast that looked like delivering a stunning sunset this would be perfect test conditions.
My son was playing a Cricket match at the village cricket club which is situated in beautiful surroundings.
I wanted to capture the setting sun and the match within my composition so I arrived and located the perfect spot.
Not really being a follower of Cricket and the rules I asked how long was left and told the home team were now starting to bat so could be a while..perfect !
I had only shot for about 10 minutes when suddenly everyone shook hands and disappeared. Apparently they won the game with just a few runs so nobody else was required to bat so they all buggered off home!.
Not too worry I decided to keep shooting as my hunch at a fantastic sunset still looked promising so I stayed another 50 minutes and was glad I did as the sky was incredible.
A Dog With A Bone. Scooters, Greek Myths And A Career As A Commercial Photographer
The second thing that people often ask after I tell them I’m a commercial photographer is “how did you get into that”
I must admit to often asking the same of others I meet as either I’m just nosey or intrigued about the work paths people follow in life.
I always tell my children although all are quite young still (I was a late starter) you are a long time working so find something you love and make a career in that.
One of the beautiful things about photography is that there are no set ways into it. You can go and get a degree, attend part-time evening classes, assist or simply teach yourself.
Not being the academic type I chose the self-taught route with a short stint as a rather poor assistant.
Ultimately it is the work you produce rather than how you got here that counts at the end of the day.
My journey was rather as my mum would say arse backwards!
My father had an interest in photography and this is definitely where my interest initially came from at around 14 years of age.
This did not last for long and for whatever reason I sold my camera and moved onto other interests or 5-minute fads as my mum would call them (she had a phrase for many things in life and most not printable!).
As a teenager, my interests turned to riding Vespa and Lambretta scooters to rallies and events across the UK with my friends.
This was the 80’s and by August of 1984 at the age of 16, I decided I wanted to build a custom show scooter.
Another passion I had inherited from my dad was the love of Greece with its rich history and of course mythology.
This was to be the theme for my scooter build and decided to travel around the archaeological sites of Greece for a week for further inspiration.
This trip turned out to be the catalyst for my lifelong love of photography.
I borrowed my dad’s very impressive camera kit consisting of Canon A1 and several lenses including a monster of a 200mm zoom.
Looking back I think I probably enjoyed the attention I received from having such an impressive looking camera around my neck.
In 1985 the scooter was completed titled “Chariot Of The Gods” and it won several awards at many of the shows I attended.
It was around this time a national magazine was launched called Scootering which I approached and started to freelance for.
I couldn’t believe it I was actually getting paid albeit very little to shoot the people, scooters, and places in the scooter scene which at the time was my life ..I was hooked and decided this was the career I wanted.
I needed to learn faster so I consumed as much knowledge about commercial photography & printing as I could and enrolled in a home study course with the New York Institute Of Photography to learn the fundamentals.
This also allowed me to study while still working in the family Carpet & Furniture business.
Most of my knowledge was then gained by large amounts of shooting and note-taking, so basically much trial and error.
Approaching the late 80’s an opportunity to start my own business came along with the government’s Enterprise Allowance Scheme together with the Princes Youth Business Trust.
This gave me a grant for equipment plus a loan of £1000.00 to kick start my career as a commercial photographer.
In January 1990 my business called Apollo Photographics was launched.
Looking back now I don’t know how the hell I thought I was ready to enter business especially as my photography was still very raw to put it kindly but as Nike say “Just Do It” and indeed I did.
Business, however, did roll in from small local businesses, local papers, and tourist boards.
Circa 1991 with no apparent fear I booked an appointment to show my work to Somerset-based Clarks Shoes and incredibly came away with the biggest shoot to date which gave me my first real big break into work as an advertising photographer.
The job went well and I apparently became the flavour of the month and more work followed from Clarks for the following 12-18 months and I thought I had made it ….but I was very wrong!.
A career as a commercial photographer can be a cruel bitch and you can never sit back and relax for any length of time especially in the digital age where everything changes so quickly. The country went into a recession and work did go very quiet. It was around this time that another client who probably recognised I needed a photographic reality check got me a day assisting a friend of their’s who was a well-established commercial advertising photographer based in Bristol called Colin Peacock.
That client was right Colin’s studios and his work was an incredible wake-up call for me and I quickly realised how little I still really knew.
I was lucky with my timing in that Colin was in need of a second assistant so I ended up putting my business on hold and staying with him for around 9 months.
We worked on many large-scale shoots for well-known clients. The most memorable being a day at St James Palace in London shooting a royal portrait of Princess Alexandra.
Eventually, however, I got itchy feet and despite knowing I still had much to learn I left Colin to continue on my own.
I know he rated my chances of making a living in photography at exactly 0 and at that point looking back, I would have to agree with him.
However, quoting my mum once again she would say “You’re like a dog with a bone once you get a bee in your bonnet” meaning I’m quite a tenacious bugger if I get an idea in my head and for me not being a Photographer never entered my head for a second.
So as you can see my path was indeed slightly arsed backwards but passion, hard work, eagerness to keep learning and a refusal to give up is what has guided me this far and still does. Yes it can be hard and yes I’ve had doubts probably at least once a month but pack up and do something else ?… Nah I’m like a dog with a bone.
This is the first image completed from a recent trip to Rhodes.
The location for this image was the medieval castle courtyard of the Palace Of The Grand Masters in Rhodes old town.
The models however were captured a little closer to home and composited into the scene taking great care to seamlessly blend all the necessary elements together.
It’s been a very busy year so far which is my main excuse for not updating the blog in several months.
One of the reasons is I’ve recently taken on a new client who are currently keeping me extremely busy.
Part of the work this client needed required me to do aerial stills and motion work via a quad copter (Drone).
This in turn required a hectic 3 day training course for certification to fly commercially, which I’m pleased to say I passed.
Learning yet another skillset to stay current seems to be a regular thing these days and something that certainly keeps life interesting !
Ive done several aerial shoots so far and getting more creative and daring (within the civil aviation authority rules) with each flight.
A personal shoot Ive been planning since getting the aircraft is the one shown here.
This spot is special place to me as it’s somewhere I used to visit almost weekly with my mother in her later years.
It’s also a place i’ve photographed many times over the last 30 plus years.
The spot is situated on the Somerset Levels and you might just make out Glastonbury Tor on the horizon.
What I never done is shot the area from the elevated perspective and positions that the drone offers.
With good weather forecast with a fair chance of some low hanging moorland mist I set the alarm for a 4am start.
Drone work needs a fair amount of pre planning for safety reasons before getting on location and a fair few more checklist to tick off on the day too.
I did two flights that morning capturing some stills but mostly motion footage which Ive edited into a short video shown here.
As a personal piece of work I think this is a brief but fitting video shot from an appropriate vantage point to remember my loving mum.
Travel Photography Portfolio
A couple of weeks ago I took a family holiday to Florida to do the whole Disney Parks with the kids and the chance for Dad to see Kennedy Space Centre.
As with all trips the cameras have to come along to add to my travel photography portfolio although these days I’ve calmed down a little.
There was a time I’d be up at the crack of dawn nearly every day visiting areas of interest looking for the ultimate location and light.
These days I tend to plan things a little more and if I come home with one great image I’m happy.
Work has been good this year and I have been investing in some new equipment that I’ve wanted and in some cases needed to replace.
One item I wanted for this trip was a high-quality point and shoot and I purchased a 20 megapixel Sony camera.
The idea behind this was I could fit this in my pocket and in my toolbox whilst travelling on my scooter (see my last post) and if I spotted something for my compositing archive the camera was of high enough quality to capture what I needed compared to the limitations of my iPhone.
The camera has been a fantastic investment, not quite as easy to focus as my Canon workhorse but very usable, In fact, my Canon gear never saw daylight during the whole trip in the states.
I also shot a lot more images and had a lot more fun without the very very heavy Canon dragging around my neck in the 99 Degree heat.
The Sony won’t obviously replace Canon as my professional camera kit but it has certainly been liberating and fun to use and the quality simply superb.
Here are a few images captured at the Kennedy Space Centre during the visit.
It’s been a busy 5 – 6 weeks putting the final touches to a worldwide campaign for one of my London based clients.Now I have some spare time to work on ideas for some personal projects. Sometimes, however, we all can get stuck in a creative rut and I’ve learned over the years you can’t force things you have to just gently roll with it and kick start creative juices.