Friday 29 July 2011

A birthday Indulgence - F1 to BSkyB.

I nearly always stick to photography in my blog but please allow me this indulgence, it is my birthday after all.

As some fans may have gathered I like Formula One, its excess cannot be justified but I like it

In fact I have followed it for much of my adult life.

Here is a pic I shot of the late great Ayrton Senna at a Silverstone test session way back in the day when he drove for McLaren Honda.

So my birthday did not start so well when I saw that coverage of F1 was going to be shared with BSkyB.

As BSkyB says in its current ad campaign 'Believe in better'



There is some good coverage on BSkyB, the digital satellite format does allow for great detailed coverage.

But the art of BSkyB is to charge us the population of the UK for broadcasts which we have previously received for 'free' or at least included in the very reasonable BBC licence fee anyhow.

Do I blame BskyB for getting the deal with F1?

I don't actually.

Yes, we the fans will indeed lose out, if we do want to see every race in the season, as the BBC will show half of the races.

But if I want to see the other half, yes folks I have to sign up to BskyB.

Which I will not do.

Now this is very interesting because most of my diehard F1 friends do not have BSkyB and have no intention of getting it either.

Bernie Ecclestone has always stated his objection to 'Pay for view' F1, but somehow he has had a change of heart or wallet....

Mercedes, Renault and all of the 200 mph sponsorship billboards, will I believe, be seen by far less people.

Cricket has been demoted to a niche sport since it is pay to view, once again short term gain to the long term detriment of the sport.

Is this what the sponsors want? a ring fenced sport which will be seen by fewer viewers, not more?

Less reach for all of the advertising budget.

Sponsors could be harder to find and down it all goes.

'Believe in better' by all means but you are going to have to pay for something which was formally 'free'

Or perhaps lose interest in and not bother to watch it anymore?

* Those of you whom have stuck with my blog thus far, I have a little tease for you. Sometimes I post a lot , sometimes not very much, but about once a week. I'm embarking on the single biggest photography/film project of my career and over the next 3 month I will be sharing with you the highs and lows of what I sincerely believe will be the pinnacle of my working life so far. Sit back and enjoy the ride.

Wednesday 27 July 2011

I've seen that somewhere before....

My head is so full of stuff its about to pop!

But I did a double take when I saw the 1 year countdown to the London 2012 Olympics.

Synchronised swimmers made a '1' in front of the great and the good.

A bit like the '1' I did for Phase One in Denmark........

Here is a behind the scenes video of my shoot for Phase One, crewing the '1' was a lot of fun, though 10 meters does seem a long way up on a diving board (what a lightweight I am...)

I prefer mine as it is more defined.....but I'm biased

Sunday 24 July 2011

PODAS Fashion and Portraiture Workshop, Weston Park

There are workshops and there are Workshops.

Phase One with their PODAS (Phase One Digital Artist Series) really have taken them to a whole new level and to the four corners of the planet.

They go something like this, take a small group of enthusiasts whom in all probability would bleed photography if you cut them, have the very best camera's that money can buy, and throw in instructors who want to share their considerable knowledge in the very best surroundings.

Against this background I was very flattered and more than a little thrilled to be invited by Phase One to co lead the PODAS fashion and portraiture workshop at Weston Park, with super talented and renowned shooter Natalie Dybisz (aka Miss Anelia) if you have not seen her work, do check it out, it is truly unique.

What really piqued my interest though is that we are hiring the WHOLE of Weston park to ourselves.

Weston Park is very special,with more than 1000 acres and its Palladian architecture, it even hosted the G8 Summit retreat in 1998.

As Benjamin Disraeli, Prime Minister - 8th June 1878 said

"You will find Weston beautiful. I marvel whether I shall ever see the like of it again! It is a place that always pleased me."

This short film gives you a good idea of the place and its rich heritage

We wanted to give this a twist, so instead of the usual 'model shoot' theme, we have decided to give it a period costume theme very much in keeping with Weston Park.

We will have a sack load of Phase One DF camera systems fitted out with the excellent IQ160 60 Megapixel backs, along with the best of the Profoto range, so we can use the super high speed sync.

We should also have one of the amazing Achromatic+ backs which I have been using to shoot people, perhaps not quite what the designers had in mind but the results are stunning. It will be a great oppourtunity to shoot with this most exotic back.

Here is a sample of just what it is capable of, check out the eyes......

It is described on the PODAS page as 'intense' and it certainly will be, as while we are not planning, shooting, or post processing our work, we will be living and breathing photography every moment, sharing knowledge and ideas.

The workshop will be limited to no more than 16 delegates, who will be split into two groups - this really is all about the quality and an experience which will be with every delegate long after they have left.

You can find out all about the workshop in full here.

Friday 22 July 2011

London Street Photography Festival 2011

This is a pet favourite subject of mine.

Being harassed by security guards and Police while attempting to legitimately take photos in a public place

And I'm sure like many of you, like me and the subjects of this project, have ended up on the wrong side of officialdom and worse still the law for doing nothing worse than taking pictures.

This 16min long video (it sounds long but it is well worth sticking with) IS provocative in places but it illustrates the problem very well.

I was pleasantly surprised to see how well the 'Boys in Blue' came out of all this.

Hats of to the photographers who made this, taking time, trouble and energy to make it happen.

Have a great weekend.

Tuesday 19 July 2011

The Apprentice - What every photographer can all learn from it.

This blog is primarily aimed at UK followers, as if you can't view it you won't really know what I'm talking about.

I have to admit I'm a sucker for well shot and excellently produced series 'The Apprentice' and Wednesday nights will not be the same again for a while.

Were the contestants the cream of British business acumen?


But show had some valuable lessons which we all can apply, and I'm not talking about the mesmeric ariel shots either.

In the last three episodes it dawned on me that Tom was the only person who would win.


Alan, now Lord Sugar made his money producing Amstrad (Alan Martin Sugar Trading) computers making satellite receivers for a man whom if you turn your television on today at 2pm BST you will see answering questions for a parliamentary committee.

So a man who made his money making things.

Lets have a quick look at what the finalists had to offer.

Susan. Boundless enthusiasm with bags of get up and go but firmly rooted in selling cosmetics. Amstrad cosmetics? mmmmmmm

Jim. Front up salesman 'par excellance'. I would be nervous being anywhere near this man as I'm sure he would sell me something even if i did not need it.

Helen. Strong performer throughout the series, but when it came to it she did not have an idea based heavily in the service which other companies are not doing already.

Tom. Call him what ever you like Lovely guy, nerd, geek, who was often steamrollered by pushy team mates, who came up with a business plan in the final which was flawed and of little interest to Lord Sugar.

And he won

Easily I would say too.


Because he is an inventor and an innovator who can and will turn stuff out that Lord Sugar will make a packet from.

He has something that Lord Sugar WANTS.

So to those of you have stuck with me this far, what does this have to do with photographer kind?

Don't bother getting in touch with clients whom you have no synergy with.

Reminds me of when I went into a prospective client around 10 years ago for lifestyle work with a portfolio of Guinness World Record holders and wondered why they showed me the door in pretty short order.


To get your hit rate up with prospective clients ask your self this question?

Who out there will want what I have to offer?

Who out there WANTS what you have to offer?

Target these clients and watch your client list grow...

Monday 4 July 2011

(Small) Bumps in the Road With the Canon XF305

So some months into ownership of my  Canon XF305 I have to say I'm rather enjoying the experience.

It is a lot take in and one does have to think differently.

Yes, the depth of field due to the small chip does not give me the shallow depth of field I would ideally like but as I have said before I use it in conjunction with the Canon 5dMKII, here is a sample of it in action.

And of course the Bui Brothers excellent 'Zebra' BTS shoot

Here is Alex Ray from the Flash centre on Steadicam with the XF305 

It does make you wonder, if Canon can achieve such lovely results from such a small sensor what could they achieve with a full form chip?

I can't see Canon letting Sony have it all their own way with the F3 forever surely it is only a matter of time before they release something very similar?

But I did have quite a nasty moment with my XF305 the other day.

I was in the middle of shooting a new comercial on a very bright and sunny day and left the camera on tripod with the EVF toward the sun.

It was not for very long either.

But the consequences were breath taking.

When I next put my eye to the camera 

Where before there was a lovely clear view, now there was a horrible white 'splodge' right in the middle.

The sun had burned a hole in the middle of the electronic view finder.

A heart stopping moment, particularly as we were mid shoot.

Initially I thought the 3 CCD chip had been wrecked, but when I checked the LCD on the side of the camera I saw it was ok and I could carry on with the shoot.

I resigned myself to hefty repair bill, as there is a note in the instruction manual, until mentioned it to a contact at Canon who told me that mine was not the first to be affected and that they would repair it on a goodwill basis.

It is only fair to say that this affects all makes of camera, not just Canon's, which have an EVF so beware.
In adition to this there would be a 'fix' 

It came in the shape of a branded eyepiece cap, which I have secured with this piece of string until I find a more elegant solution. 

They put this warning sticker on too

So apart from an excursion to the polite and efficient Canon service centre at Elstree, what else to report on the XF305?

Well, there are a couple of other pitfalls which have caught me out.

Firstly that diffraction kicks in at F9.5. 

Small apertures and small chips are not the best of friends and it means that resolution drops off dramatically, so you need to use the built in ND filters to keep it in its sweet spot. 

In a high pressure situation I had my DSLR head on and even though I was aware of it, I overlooked it, thankfully I noticed in time........

Upon further investigation though I found it was possible in the 'Other functions'  to select 'Iris Limit' which means you can make sure you don't get caught out.

Once again it is common knowledge and there IS a warning in the manual, albeit a bit vague.

And the other little niggle?


If you are shooting into the light on a small(ish) aperture with the super sharp 'L' series lens on a wide zoom setting, it does show ANY dust which is on the front element

And Brothers and Sisters there is no clone tool to get you off the hook.

Wide angle, small aperture and small sensors sometimes give you more than a depth of field than you bargained for.

So its out with chamois leather it is between shots.

All in all I'm very happy with the camera and would heartily recommend it, as it does pack a big bang for the buck.