About Me

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SURREY, United Kingdom
Amateur and still learning!

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Sounds From The Park

For those of you that know Speakers' Corner and those that have heard of it, there is now an archive created of its history, activity, speakers, listeners, hecklers, visitors and tourists.

This is held at the Bishopsgate Institute in London.

I spent a super afternoon at the final celebration of the completion of the project yesterday. It was as though the Corner had been transposed into the hall where it was held, with many familiar faces of speakers and hecklers present, several of whom gave presentations of their take and involvement in the Corner and some talking of the great orators and characters of the past.

The Corner is a well known and integral part of the London scene and is unique throughout the world in that it allows free speech, is not organised in any way in that anyone can turn up on a Sunday, with no prior booking, no prior permission or reporting to anyone, and hold forth on any subject.

It must have the PC brigade gnashing their teeth with frustration!

The project has a web site

http://on-the-record.org.uk/tag/sounds-from-the-park/ if you are so inclined to have a look.

Next time you are in town on a Sunday have a look, join in speak or just heckle(if you dare)!

Monday, 16 September 2013

Quantity vs Quality (again)

Reading Eileen Rafferty's latest post on her blog, Photosynthesis, see link at the bottom of the page, has prompted me to mount one of my favourite hobby horses and gallop headlong into the battle with mediocrity and lack of understanding amongst the hoards of digital exponents that have discovered they can snap away and fill card after card with images of anything that takes their eye.
I share Eileen's consternation at the amount of images that are posted by photographers either to Flickr or the Internet as a whole. Are there that many images that are worthy of all but the briefest of glances by those that enjoy looking at pictures?
How often do you read posts on forums that say, "I've been out today and managed to take 400+ pictures, all I've got to do now is upload them". Amazing!
Flickr also reveals to some extent the trouble taken by photographers to make sure their images are properly presented for viewing, in as much it shows the time taken between the pressing of the shutter and the posting of the image. How many do you see where the information reveals within the information panel "Photo taken today". That says to me that the minimal amount of time has been taken to look at the image and perhaps make some necessary improvements to enhance it. It's almost akin to the old days where the finished image was that supplied by Boots when you took the film in for processing and the pictures you got back were the ones you showed to everyone.
The editor of the B+W magazine, Elizabeth Roberts, gave a talk to our club last week on how the magazine works and gave some illuminating advice .

Apart from the usual marketing blurb such as circulation, readership and world wide coverage, a brief history of the publication and a list of contributors and interviews with photographers of note, as one would expect, we were treated to some inside information and tips on how a photographic magazine selects and edits readers' images submitted for publication.

Because most submissions are now made on disc, with prints taking less and less percentage of the total, she says it's not unusual for some 25+ images to be sent for consideration. It's here that most submissions fail. She says whilst there maybe two or three images of quality in amongst the 25+ it somewhat reflects on the photographer's ability to edit his/her work. Even notes saying that the person is not too sure about a number of images within the submission are included tends to emphasise the point she was making.

You may not agree with what she says, as one person in the audience remarked, but as she pointed out a small editorial team cannot spend their time editing the submissions of all that they receive each month, that's the job of the person submitting the images.

Moral of the story, learn to edit your work and if you submit images for possible inclusion in any magazine, publication or exhibition, make sure they constitute only those that you deem the best, not overwhelm the selector with your possibles. It's a good idea to stick to a theme not a mixture of genres.

It's the submissions that comprise 4-6 images that get noticed.

I would suggest that even if you do not intend submitting your work anywhere that same discipline should be applied when posting anywhere.


Sunday, 21 July 2013

Are You Being Watched!

Having friends and relatives around for a few drinks and nibbles meant getting extra seating out of the garage. This comprised a variety of chairs collected over the years stashed away and brought out exactly for the purpose. Amongst the seats are three canvas 'directors chairs'.
The following morning sitting on the patio taking a snack and fully recovered from the previous evening's shenanigans I had a feeling of being watched, not that I'm prone to paranoia, but you never quite know in these days of CC TV and neighbourhood watch!
Out of the corner of my eye I caught sight of three pairs of eyes watching my every move. They turned out to be the three director type chairs stacked side by side waiting to be restored to the back of the garage ready for the next time we have an overflow of guests.
I felt there was a picture there so got out the camera and spent the next 10 or 15 minutes rolling around on the floor trying to get the angle right, eventually settling for two or three shots that seemed to fit the bill.
The colour versions didn't quite hit the spot so a bit of tweaking in B+W, with some toning, gave a better result. Now this may not please the photographic purist but I learned two things from the excercise,
1. Pictures are all around you if you look hard enough and
2. Photography can be fun.

Preferred B+W

So keep your eyes peeled and have fun!

Wednesday, 12 June 2013


I like to have a go at most things, especially if I’ve seen something that has fascinated me and makes me wonder how it is achieved and what level of expertise is required to achieve it.
A few weeks ago we had a talk at our camera club, The Richmond & Twickenham Photographic Society, given by Rikki O’Neill.
The talk was entitled ‘Through the Eyes of an Artist’ and comprised images that had been digitally composed from several other photographic and scanned images and radically altered to present a wholly different type of picture from any of the component parts.
Rikki is a book illustrator as well as a photographer and his artistic creativity shone through in all his images
His explanations of how each image was formed, from what individual pictures and how each element was manipulated to arrive at his finished pre-envisaged image was very enlightening.
Of course it will be argued in some, if not many quarters, that this isn’t photography, but merely a craft that uses photography as a means to an end. I do not necessarily subscribe to that view, since I have always held that if you arrive at an image that pleases you, it doesn’t matter how you got there.
You can read on many forums that real photography is done ‘in camera’ and any other manipulation that follows, or is deemed necessary, reflects negatively on the skill of the photographer who took it. Sometimes it is stated that Photoshop or other forms of post production programmes are just crutches for the inadequacy of the person who pressed the button.
Rikki O’Neill faces this view by the title of his talk.
See his work on http://www.rikoart.com/
Go to the drop down menu Photoart to see what I mean.
That brings me round to my feeble efforts to employ my photoshop skills to produce some form of surrealistic images. I always thought that I could see light at the end of the tunnel where photoshop was concerned, I now realise that Mr O’Neill has taught me that I’ve yet to find the tunnel!
Angels Graveyard
Halloween #1

Halloween #2

The Semi-Detached Boot

Angels Dead Ahead

Monday, 1 April 2013


I suppose it’s the same as saying good, better, best or the reverse alternative bad, worse, worst. It all depends where you start from. Pretty, Beautiful, Sublime at least allows you to not be too harsh with your opinion of a picture, it’s purely a question of semantics.
PRETTY allows you to damn the image with faint praise. Whilst you’re not saying you consider it awful or terrible, you are implying it really has nothing to commend it apart from a picture postcard or chocolate box image, and it does nothing to evoke any feeling within you. Now, if that is what the author has in mind to portray you’ve pleased him/her immediately without you betraying your true feelings. It’s difficult to categorise what pictures fall into this category but they usually comprise travel/holiday images, record pictures and family and pet shots.
BEAUTIFUL can mean that the image has caught your eye and makes you want to look closer to see what there is within it that makes you so interested. The tones the different composition, the photographer’s management of the subject, the viewpoint and the overall way the photograph is presented. It is a picture that has impact and is quite memorable.
SUBLIME means all that is included in beautiful to such an extent that you have an overwhelming feeling that you wish you had taken it yourself!

Saturday, 2 March 2013


I've just spent an intriguing couple of hours. Enthralled, deeply moved, mystified, horrified and shocked looking at the film "McCullin" just released on DVD and Bluray.
Whilst the photography is stunning and familiar to most, the film is not solely for photographers. The reminiscences of Don McCullin raises the spectre of man's inhumanity to man and the cheapness of life where and when conflict arises.
He may have had the theatres of war in The Lebanon, Cambodia, Vietnam, Cyprus, Northern Ireland, The Congo and Biafra to cover, but even now in Syria, Afghanistan, Libya evil and brutality is still perpetuated and allows an insight as to what is occurring in those regions today.
"McCullin" is a photographic odyssey and a lesson in terror and inhumanity and, although somewhat trite to say, required viewing for all those that wield power, either democratically or otherwise, and try to impose their will on others by force and are not cognisant of the consequences.
As an ardent admirer of his work, the DVD now sits along his books in my collection and adds a whole new dimension to my appreciation of the man.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013


Yesterday I was given a salutary lesson in understanding what I perceive as one of the fundamentals of photography. Don’t just see what you are photographing, feel what you are photographing.
As someone who has spent many hours at Speakers’ Corner documenting those that speak and those that listen, I was invited to attend a meeting at the Bishopsgate Institute in London.
The Institute has received a lottery grant to archive and log as many speakers as possible from as early as possible. What their names were and what did they choose to talk about; and of course any photographs of these speakers were an integral part of this process.
Attending the meeting were several Speakers’ Corner specialists, not speakers themselves but people who had attended the corner for many a long year, and two social history graduates that had researched the history of the corner over several years.
One chap bought along his grandfather’s diaries which logged his participation at the corner from the 1920’s up to 1981. He was accompanied on his podium over the years by members of parliament and on two separate occasions the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of the Catholic Church in England. This was all confirmed by the social historians, with names and dates. Something that all agreed would never happen today. With today’s politicians only ever addressing tame audiences that were ‘chosen’ for the purpose.
The Speakers Corner Specialists were a fount of information about speakers from the early fifties onwards. There were a few pictures from that time and they immediately agreed on identification and the subjects spoken about. Those who had made their name from just the ‘heckling’ viewpoint were also spotted quickly and their favourite mode of heckling was demonstrated quite vocally.
For me however the highlight of the meeting came from three speakers who still attend on a regular basis, two from the early sixties, and they speak on political and current affairs, not the religious mainstream that dominates today’s proceedings at the Corner. They were immensely proud of their skills in public oration, they ensured they knew their subjects thoroughly and had practised the art of handling hecklers and all were in awe of perhaps the greatest orator of all, Lord Donald Soper.
What has this to do with a Photoblog?
I’ve always enjoyed my days at the Corner and it has been the source of many a picture that has given me pleasure and satisfaction. It is in fact a social/candid/documentary photographer’s dream come true. I don’t get there as often as I used to but having spent some time with these enthusiastic and dedicated people, I will not regard it as just a place for photography but part of England’s heritage.    

Friday, 12 October 2012

Tate Britain #3

I knew once I had visited Tate Britain for the first time in August of last year that I would return, not necessarily on a regular basis, but when an opportunity presented itself amongst all the other activities that seem to prevent a foray out with the camera, and there seems to have been plenty of those this year.
These days I only seem to get out with the intention of taking pictures on average once a month. Getting the garden ready for the Winter, shopping with my wife, looking after the grand kids whilst their parents swan off on holiday, not that they need ‘looking after’, more feeding on a regular basis and then taking their dogs out for a daily constitutional seems to take priority over taking photographs.
 Anyway this is just a preamble to one of those increasingly rare days out.
 The shortlist for the 2012 Turner Prize was announced recently and the exhibits would be at the Tate during October. Since one of the hopeful winners included an element of photography I decided that a visit to view the shortlist was necessary. Not that I’m a fan of Turner Prize type exhibits, in fact I’m usually puzzled, angered and bewildered by them in equal measure, so I thought seeing them in the flesh, as it were, might enlighten me and improve my visual literacy.
 So off to the Tate for my third visit on Tuesday last.. On arriving it seems that the building is undergoing a revamp and a reconstruction of sorts, so it was somewhat a voyage of discovery finding where everything was. I finally found the gallery where the Turner finalists were displayed, only to discover that an £11 entrance fee was demanded. I decided my visual illiteracy would have to go on hold, for two reasons. One, the price of entry and two, that I would be even more puzzled, angered and bewildered and have paid £11 to be so!
So I spent a wonderful couple of hours taking a “Walk through the 20th Century”.
This comprises a wonderful display of paintings, sculptures and installations by renowned British artists, throughout the last century.
When I visit a gallery, I’m always fascinated by the other visitors viewing the exhibits, and although it’s ‘old hat’ to take pictures of such scenes I can’t resist doing so. I try to place such figures in a position where they become part of the gallery, rather than intruders into it. Whether it works or not is down to the viewers of my snaps!
Tate #1

Tate #2

Tate #3

Tate #4

Saturday, 1 September 2012

The Fisheye Fetish Continues!

I don't think I'm alone in this, but I find that when I get something new and experiment with it, I tend to use it all the time, excluding all else that's in my bag. I think it's because as you get more and more familiar with the possibilities that the equipment offers the more you explore, in your head, what and how you can push further and do something that you've never been able to do before.

Consequently the few times that I've been out recently all I've used is my fisheye attachment, so much so that I'm becoming worried that it's a phase that will take a long time to pass. I don't claim to have taken anything new and revolutionary with it, but it gives me a whole new view of the world that generates a bit of a buzz when I look through the viewfinder.

I will add at this point that I've upgraded my trusty NEX-3 to an NEX-7, the latter having a the dual facility of an EVF as well as the display on the back screen. Using the viewfinder makes me feel more like a photographer than a snapper when holding the camera at arm's length to compose a picture, however, the articulated screen is still handy for those low/high angle shots that at my age are becoming physically impossible to achieve. The surreptitious lap shots are still available as well!

The pictures below are results of two or three expeditions of late using my fisheye attachment and which I'm afraid will be added to ad nauseam until I can shake off this dreaded wide view affliction!









Monday, 16 July 2012

Fun With a Fisheye

Like all photographers when they first start up I was inveigled into buying all manner of gizmo's and gadgets to enhance my photographic skills (so it said in the adverts!).

Somewhere in the loft there is a bag full of strange filters that allowed starbursts, multiple images, a kaleidoscope effect, ones with an outer ring of frosted glass with varying dimensions of a clear hole in the centre to give a softness to portraits. There's a right angle viewfinder to obviate the need to kneel down when taking a low angle shot, something I never used, since then I was quite supple and lithe and kneeling and bending was no problem, today it would have been a boon for my creaky knees and back!

In all my years dabbling in photography the one thing I've never possessed is a Fisheye lens. But now I have one! It's not a true stand-alone fisheye but an attachment for a 16mm. pancake lens for my NEX. It makes the lens a wide angle of about 12mm and allows the fisheye effect that such a stand-alone lens would give. Usually glass on glass deteriorates image quality but there is no noticeable "fall off" that I can see. 

I've been playing with it during the past three weeks that I've had it and found it more than just a bit of fun. Like all lenses it has applications that suit it and the subject being photographed. How that translates into an image is purely subjective and I'm sure there will be many 'purists' that will claim the distortions that it gives are not to be regarded as in any way to be tolerated. Some camera club judges will turn a shade of puce when confronted with an image taken with the lens, the more astute and learned will perhaps understand what has been attempted.

In this picture I've used the distortion to its utmost to make a graphic pattern picture of some seating in a grandstand.

A wide angle view of deck chairs on a beach.

Two Dorset landscapes, emphasising the clouds.

Fun with a Phone Box.

So far I've only just scratched the surface and like all photographers I will enjoy seeing and learning how to extend my scope. This is a lens that won't be a five minute wonder and end up gathering dust in my bag!

One thing I have already learned, its not much use for portraits, but there again, the title says it all!