Sunday, 30 January 2011

What happens when two heavy horses 'Harvest' a Mamiya RZ67 kit with a 1930's bailng machine

Last Weeks narrow escape with an iPad was very widely read

So I thought I would tell a tale of epic disaster in which it was very lucky no one died, or indeed injured

It is a true story too

Many, many years ago I was assigned by a leading British Magazine to photograph heavy horses (BIG working horses which work on the land used for ploughing etc) which were working on a farm, somewhere in England.

It was in the days of film, and I was shooting on Mamiya RZ67 ProII.

A lovely big mother of a camera which for all of its size and weight limitations was a peach to use.

I had a good selection of lenses for it too, including the wonderful 140mm F4.5 macro lens which was a honey.

So I met the farmer and he walked me down a narrow farm track, where a party of school children were ambling, to introduce me to the HUGE and very beautiful heavy horses and the machinery they would be pulling, a bailing machine from the turn of the century in beautiful condition.

Having worked where the best vantage point would be I bought the car up with the equipment

The scene looked a little like this.

I started to shoot some pics in the middle of the field, I realised I had left a lens hood in the car.

I walked back to the car which was about 100 yards away, and retrieved the lens hood, I closed the door and turned around in time to see the horses bolt at top speed across the field toward the gate.

What caused this I truthfully have no idea

The faster they ran the more racket the bailing machine made and the more alarmed the horse came, and the faster they ran.

They ran straight over the Camera bag with a complete Mamiya RZ ProII outfit inside and it was gone.

Yes, gone, flattened by hooves and then harvested up by the machine which was now not only just ejecting hay but spewing out mashed camera gear.

In quite small pieces.

I forgot this in a second when I realised that the horse/haymaker combo was not going to make it through the gate way at that angle.

The horses made it but the bailer didn't.

It was ripped from the horses and was smashed to pieces.

Thankfully the children were no longer in the lane, so they avoided the running horses.

The horses ran back to their stable and were uninjured.

What lessons to draw from this?

Other than to have very good insurance, I'm not really sure.

But it was a shocker.

Monday, 10 January 2011

How long does a 16Gb iPad stay on the roof of a Mercedes E class when driven on a motorway?

This is a cautionary tale

Many of us have all been in that busy parent situation with armfuls of stuff dashing in and out of the house while strapping our kids in the car

'Daddy can we take the ipad for the journey?'

Happy to oblige as ever as it equates to a quiet rapid journey

I could not open the door to the car and I was juggling a ton of stuff in my arms , so with the ipad on the top of the heap I committed the biggest no-no ever

I put the ipad on the roof of the car

'I will remember it' I thought

Except I didn't

Previously I have left a thermos flask on the roof of a car which made a whole 200 yards before reaching terminal velocity and exploding into a many, many small pieces.

So I left my village and joined the M25 at Junction 20, which currently has a 50mph limit on.

Then I took a very sharp turn up the slip road onto the M1

When it joins the M1 the 50 limit is lifted so foot down to the 70mph limit

Amongst the thousand things in my swiss cheese brain at the moment I wondered where the ipad was

 I heard a dull 'flap...flap' coming from the roof of the car

I had my answer

It was on the roof and had been there for nearly 5 miles

Luckily I was right at junction 8 of the M1 so I decelerated without braking taking the exit

Would it even still be there when I stopped

I had after all travelled for half a mile in the dark so I had no idea if it would be there when I stopped.

It was.

Jammed between the roof bars of my car, teetering on the edge.

Rather like this...

I don't know what lesson to take from this other than don't put a ipad on the roof of a car, or anything for that matter.

Lady luck was smiling

Does anyone else have any tales of stuff left on the roof?

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Making your 'Boring' corporate head shot work for you

We have all been there

Some relatively staid corporate portrait we have been commissioned to shoot

It can be quite a challenge, there is always the danger of it turning into yet another man in a grey suit in an office shot, which can be.....very dull and boring

Believe me I have been there and got the t shirt on this one on many occasions, who hasn't?

So the night before the shoot do a quick web search on the person you are shooting so you have at least some knowledge not only of their job, and their business, but also who they are and what makes them tick.

This for me is invaluable, as it gives you that vital advantage of playing for time and persuading them to spend a few more moments with you to get a shot which makes them look better and gives you a cool pic which better represents your talents to help ensure you get the gig again.

After all, if the CEO of Acme paper gets a pleasant photographer knocking on the door of his or her office, and that photographer knows a little more about them, takes an interest in their company and their achievements I would contend that photographer would get the next gig over the mouse of a photographer who conforms to the stereotype the CEO has in his or her head.

So hearts and minds it is my friends, it makes the job a lot more fun and makes a ton of business sense

Ok, we now know a little more about our subject, but what is his or her office like?

A quick web search can reveal photographic location opportunities within their office and importantly reveal the high or more often than not lamentable photographs the company currently uses, yes yet another opportunity to up sell your services, you make sure you pop some of your better interior shots on your iphone, ipad or whatever.

You may not get the chance to show your stuff off but if you do you are prepared.

Ok, you have been diligent and checked the CEO out on the web and discovered that the Head office is 5 feet square and a mess.

Now what?

Google street view to the rescue

What did I do before this came along? It has saved me a time or two

Here is a 'scouted'  and commented Google streetview

Is this rocket science? Absolutely not, but it means I have 'done' the shoot the night before and it makes a cool location an easier sell to my sitter and drag them out of their dull office, should the need arise

We have so many excellent tool at out disposal and yet we, myself included, often don't make the most of them

It is a tough photographic market out there, and it is about survival for the fittest photographer who makes the most of any edge he or she can to gain that valuable advantage

Just think, I have been talking about doing a shoot and have not mentioned gear once

The gear is all so often the easy bit these days.

All the fancy gear is just a tool, the brain is where a shoot really happens

Blimey, you can tell what mood I'm in today!