Sunday, 31 May 2009

New not forget suncream!

Today was spent with the lovely Lauren and her sister Sarah. Sarah is 7 months pregnant so I was extremely cautious about where we were, what we were doing etc.Some days the course can be exhausting enough, there is something about being out in the wilds all day that really takes it out of you. Most days I am office bound and it is a pleasure to 'get out there' with the camera but I was concerned for Sarah from lunch time onwards.
Lauren managed to capture one of the Downs most elusive and shy butterflies that sometimes stop on the buttercups for anano second. Full frame, crystal pin point clear. Simply amazing, a fantastic shot.
It was around 26 degrees celcius and,once off the Downs, the heat really built on the seafront so we didn't get nearly as far as we woud normally, not that this was a problem. Both Sarah and Laura seemed to take away not only some great images but a newfound confidence in using the cameras settings. I cannot express in words sometimes how trick it is to convey, teaching is a skill I am still honing! Lauren and Sarah both took to it though like ducks to water and I am confident that with time and dedication, both will develop real skills in their photography and become very proficient and adept in producing the images seen in the minds eye. It was a pleasure to spend the day with both; charming, intelligent, and above all a keen eagerness to learn.
By the end of the day I really felt for Sarah, it was a tall order to ask of her this late in her pregnancy to come out on the course, and I was really impressed with her determination.I have suggested that later in the year both Sarah and Lauren come and join me again for an afternoon on the seafront so that we can complete what we would ordinarily;it really was not only the hottest day of the year so far but far too tall an order to expect Sarah to wak all the way to the west Pier wreckage from the King Alfred area!
Tonight as usual after delivering a course I am exhausted and having eaten have barely left the sofa since 5pm this evening! Factor in the sunburn and dehydration and it is safe to say I will be keeping out of the sun tomorrow. This is the first time I have run courses back to back, one day after another, and it is both mentally and physically demanding in a way I hadn't expected. Positively challenging. Sarah also asked if there was a follow on course and I conceded that I need to give some thought to this area as I think there is scope for perhaps producing a follow up course for those that want it; I imagine some that attend the course would find it very useful to come back and cover new questions and challenges; my initial thoughts are a follow up day or two each year for all that have attended a course, perhaps a half day classroom session with a return to the 'field' as it were in the afternoons. I need to get some feedback from people on this to see if it is viable, and I need to face down worries I would have myself about tackling questions in the Digital field that I am still learning about myself; that's not just a confidence matter I need to address, it is fundamental to what I am doing. I am a photographer however, and I know my photography regardless of the digital revolution, the actual implementation of producing a high quality photograph is my domain.
Part of me needs to acept that some students will have a greater digital knowledge than I do; having developed my own skills in the non-digital era, and being more open to the digital revolution now than I have ever been, the fundamental elements of photography remain the same. I still talk about allowing enough light through the cameras setting, using apertures and shutter speed settings to allow light onto the FILM. There is of course nothing wrong with that; the fundamentals have not changed. And the fact a higher F stop equates to a smaller aperture does not sit naturally the the brains wires remains a challenge after all these years. It is really difficult to convey to students; some just get it and others like me find it confusing. I guess some simply have brains wired to comprehend the conundrum and others like me will struggle, it is one of photography's many quirks. Master it though, and there is a dramatic improvement in the images taken. Stepping up anddown the f stops used to be simple; you would just turn the ring on the lens to the desireed f stop f-11 down to f-8 although you are actually stepping up the scale, opening the aperture wider and allowing more light into the desired image by using a smaller number on the f-scale. These days it seems the cameras are so technical that to make the most perfunctory change in camera function, especially when the camera itself is one I am not familiar with, there is almost a need to reach for the cameras manual. I wonder if manufacturers such as Nikon and Canon realise that a simple base function in photography has become unnecessarily complicated.
A camera body can only hold so many function buttons and faced with such n array of mind boggling functions when only the simplest of changes in f-stops is required, is an irony most certainly not lost on me! The digital revolution, as it likes to term itself, still has a very long way to go before it can deliver simple, high calibre functionality in good build quality using a reliable camera body for the function it is designed for. Going backwards, as far as I understand, it is not a revolution. Not to put too thick a crust on this revolution argument, there is significant risk to manufacturers that the advantages in digital, and there are clearly very significant advantages in being able to see an image moments after you have clikced the shutter release, are being overwhelmed with the lack of simple functionality that is actually required. I cannot help feeling that manufacturers are losing sight of what is actually required for the sake of chasing a market expectation for all dancing and singing cameras. It doesn't sit comfortably with manufacturers, but the fact remains what is important is th person behind the camera, not the camera itself. So long as a camera functions and has a reasonable lens quality, whizz bang features and digital science are largely redundant, so try not to be seduced by the sexiest advertising and marketing ever. It is not easy, but you the student, your imagination, your choice to convey and express your vision in photography does not need a whiz bang camera. Without you the camera is useless. We are at risk of venturing into tail wagging dog territory, partly because manufacturrs have convinced Joe public that all that is required to be the next big thing in photography is one of their latest cameras. It isn't true,dont believe the hype.The person behind the camera and the thought processes, imagination, means to express and creative ability cannot be manufactured.
The kind of advertsing and marketing I do recommend you be seduced by is the sun cream industry. I always advise students to charge batteries and pack a pac-a-mac in case of inclement weather either on the south Downs or the sussex seafront; today I wish I had taken some suncream.
Yours, burning into the night!

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Surf's UP!

What a day. What a superbly singularly fantastic day today was.

I ran one of our one day Landscape Photography courses up on the Downs today with two brothers, andI have to say it was oneof the more succesful days. Not that others are not, just some will stand out in the memory for longer. They were both a pleasure to work with and the confidence levels just rose all day until by the end of the day I couldn't believe just how far they had come, not just in termsof confidence but in terms of the quality of photography being produced.To say a very high standard had been reached would not be putting too fine a point on it.
We ended on the beach as usual, taking in the beach huts in all their glorious multi colours, and rusty padlock and hinge details, really working hard on macro detail, as well as the Peace Statue on Brighton seafront and various buildings, such as the lovely old sea front Embassy Court; built in the style of a tall Ocean liner, it was recently refurbished by Joseph Conrad in a slightly dulling off white. Pitched against the glorious pristine blue sky both are absolute stunners....
Talking of stunners, we were very fortunate to join the BrightonGroup Shoot at the West Pier on the seafront. BGS, as it is known, is an annual, sometimes twice annual, group event where photographers andmodels get together to help each other enhance each others portfolios. It is a superb opportunity for all to jump into this kind of work; you can keep it simply head and shoulders as I tend to or go down the bikini route as others do which I am never quite comfortable with; not just on moral or PC basis, and no offence intended to the models, I just find it all a little too naff and clich├ęd from a photography point of view. I worked with several very beautiful women ( and no I am not Swiss Tony!) and the skin tones and bright lively eyes should be enough for any photographer really.
What amazed me though, with the two customers with me today, was that after a simple introductory shoot with a lovely woman called April both grew in real confidence and just jumped in. I was really pleasantly suprised, one brother zonedin on a particular model that caught his eye ( deep red hair, pale skin and a chinese umbrella on her shoulder), persuaded her to shoot with him and both brtohers took to it like ducks to water. And the images were absolutely amazing, when I receive a couple of copies I will post them up so you can see what I mean.
Both reported they had had an awful day and wanted their money back! :-)

So, all in all,the course and day were a great success. I am suffering for burning a little though, not badly fortunately. By 5pm the light was just perfect. So come and join us, courses are very reasonably priced and offer a very rare opportunity to not only spend a day out with your camera but with the support of a professional able to guide you through the camera's settings, elements of composure, using light, focussing in on detail using macro, depths of field etc etc,and courses are always pitched to your ability so be put off byany jargon; I promise itis a jargon free day! These two Alpha Essex lads were pouring over bluebelles, butter cups and grass heads up on the Downs at mid-day today, and thoroughly enjoying themselves. One even said onshowing me his flower photos ' but dont tell my dad.' Hahaha. It is a genuine joy to watch peoples confidence and artistic expression come to the fore with such great results.
This evening, Mrs Blog and daughter Blog (son Blog is on a sleepover) are watching Briatains GotTalent (give me strength.........) so I am retiringto the garden with a large glass of iced ginger beer and and fine Rioja to stare skywards and watch the swallows dance in the sky, high, high above. These are the days that we live for!
See the details for our one day photography courses in Brighton, Sussex here Click on Courses in the main menu for a taster of the perfect day out.

Monday, 25 May 2009

Some images from Saturday.

A few images from the weekend photography course around Brighton and the south Downs.

Sunny days, photography tuition and avoiding sunburn!

Saturday I ran another of our photography courses on the south Downs and on Brighotn seafront. I had advised students, as I do on the day or days before, to remember to charge camera batteries, bring a spare if possible, and to pack a pac-a-mac type outer wear in case of inclement weather. The south Downs Way can be wild at times. I should, of course, have reminded myself and students to bring sun cream at this time of year. Ouch! As ever, I never feel myself burning up until late in the day, and too late to do much about it, I really must get into the habit of applying sun protection before going out. The sun is extremely powerful at this time of year, particularly in unsheltered areas like the south downs and Brighton seafront.

After starting at Ditchling Beacon we movedon to Devils Dyke. Both points provide very dramatic scenery and endless possibilities with the camera. I never tire of these places. Lunch was at the pub at Devils' Dyke, and whilst adequate, thisis such a splendid natural place that the food served really ought to be, and could quite easily be, substantially better than what is on offer. Lunch was ultimately dissapointing, I am thinking there are better places to eat in town; it's not cheap either, just consistently poor and I work too hard for my money to spend it on 'not very good.' One day someone with the means will take this place by the horns and do a roaring trade based on good quality. It was also disapointing to see the National Trust introducing Car Park charging when it has been free for as long back as I can remember. Ok, it's only two pounds, but this is one of the last places that could be enjoyed for free, and in a recession as serious as this one, the NT could not have chosen a worse time to introduce charging.

The course was a great success, thoroughly enjoyed, good company, intelligent questions and real ability as well. It is a pleasure to see others getting as much out of photography as possible, and enjoying getting to grips with camera settings, exposures, composure etc etc. I'd run these courses 6 days a week if I could. Ah well, we cant have everything in life, and I have another course running next weekend, with more vouchers sold this week in the run up to Father's Day, and a number of new wedding photographers in Australia joining us as well. And the sun has been shining too!

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Perfect weather in Brighton, Sussex. More photography courses coming.

Last night I sat in the garden as the light faded to blackness and watched about a dozen swallows darting around above the house and it got me thinking, if, as the saying goes, 'one swallow does not a summer make,' how many swallows qualifies summers arrival? I'm sure I saw a bat darting around too in the bay tree beyond ourboundary as the light dimmed, it was too big and fast to be an insect, and could only be seen in peripheral vision against lighter elements in the sky. Sussex at this time of year is just wonderful.
The swallows have just followed hotly on the back of the stunning bluebells that have been in absolute abundance this year, and today is warm with blue skies, some cloud, but the very best light available currently. By midday the light wil be too harsh for the best of photography, returning to a less harsh light around 4pm and then giving over to the wonderful long shadows of summer evenings before the light fades again. The prospect of summer laying itself out ahead is a good one,let's all hope the English weather does not let us down...

Lots of people are booking up on the photography courses again, I think the good weather encourages people. See more here:

January and February are not terribly inspiring photographically, despite the snow. Few people want to spend all day out in challenging weather conditions. Last weeks photography course here in Brighton andup on the south Downs was a great success, both gentleman were already quite accomplished which is always potentially challenging, but I was delighted with the way both responded to encouragement and it felt almost like letting two dogs, metaphorically speaking, off the leash on the beach; they were gone in a moment enjoying what they were here to do, testing angles, bracketing, composing, just thoroughly enjoying there cameras with some new found knowledge and ideas about being creative with the camera. When people leave at the end of the day, with confidence high, and a good collection of new images for themselves, I can relax knowing that my job is done, as was the case on that day. I have at least two more dates in May for courses, and a little bit of a backlog from Christmas vouchers that have had to be postponed due to poor weather; not much point in photographing fog clouded or rain drenched landscapes and seascapes. Looking ahead, I should be clear by June and am taking photography course bookings for the rest of the summer and autumn. The success and popularity of the courses, I believe, is in part, that it is not easy to simply carve out a day with the camera, most people are too busy to dedicate to a term at night school, and there really is no substitute for being out in the landscape learning photography, particularly, Brighton's wonderful seascapes, beach huts, Victorian frontage, architecture and street furniture.

Apparently there is a remake of Graeme Greenes Brighton Rock happening, the classic with Richard Attenborough as 'Pinkie', set in the 1940's. Greene wrote the original screen play. The remake is set in the 1960's of the times Mods and Rockers would visit Brighton, amongst other seaside towns on bank holidays, for a good old fashioned punch up! Filming is expected to begin in September with two up-and-coming stars, Sam Riley and Carey Mulligan, taking the lead roles of Pinkie Brown, the thug who was originally played by Lord Attenborough, and Rose, the waitress he married to prevent her telling the police he was involved in a murder. Riley played a blinder, I thought, in his portrayal of Joy Divisions Ian Curtis, although the film for me was as much a success due to the incredible mono-tones in Anton Corbins first movie. So I have reasonable hopes for the remake; recent remakes to my mind have failed to equal or better the originals; The Italian Job being a prime example. Some things are not meant to be surpassed, now there's a thought in our banks gone bust capitalist mayhem of a society! Who would have thought that we might just simply enjoy what we've got rather than a constant, break neck speed chase and nose bleedingly charmless pursuit of ever greater wealth. I hope the remake does not turn into a gore fest on violence, part of the success of the original was the censorship back then, making the unseen and implied violence more intimidating than anything that could be graphically put to film.

Last week, I had a new Australian wedding photographer sign up to the destination wedding photographers service, and another from central Europe, so whilst I'm tired of hearing about green shoots of recovery, May has seen both people and businesses buying with more confidence again. So we have a new page on the website dedicated to Australian based wedding photographers and Australian Destination wedding photographers. However, as the saying goes ' a single swallow does not a summer make!'

Friday, 15 May 2009

Bluebell day photography tours.

Next week only, we are running Bluebell photography day tours. The Sussex bluebells are in absolutel abundance this year offering great photo oppotunities so come andjoin us. 10% off for bookings of four or more. Book online here

Come and develop your photography skills in fantastic settings for a day, in superb locstions around Sussex and Brighton.

We are also currently seeking Wedding Photographers in Australia, Melbourne, Sydney, Perth and Brisbane, as well as New York, Alabama, Florida, Miami, California, Mexico and Hawaii to come and join us at

Monday, 4 May 2009

Brighton Festival

Has started with a splash as always. This week has been taken up with a series of private viewings of various artists work and various related photography jobs. I had the pleasure of working with the lovely Kathy Laird on friday evening producing shots of her amazing garden pottery, see more here at
I am running a couple of landscape photography courses on the south Downs and Brighton seafront this week, as the weather improves so interest in the courses rises. If you are visiting the Festival why not extend your visit by a day and come and join us on a 1 day photography course in Sussex,more details here

The other main event of this week has been that Samo Rovan, a renowned photographer based in Slovenia has joined us at Samo has won this years prestigiuos Journalistic Photography award from the WPJA which is incredibly competitive and of an absurdly demanding standard. Only 5% of applicants are ever accepted let alone win anything so we are delighted that Samo has joined us. See more of Samo Rovans work here Welcome Samo, I hope we have a positive working relationship and success in the months ahead. We are also delighted to welcome Ilene Perlman, a wedding photographer from the US. Based out of Boston, Ilene is a highly accomplished travel photographer and produces stunning yet sensitive images of her subjects around the globe. Ilene is very well placed to serve the Destination Wedding Photography industry with such extensive travel experience and Ilenes photography speaks for itself. It is very beautiful, see more here in Brighton, Sussex continues to grow also, with a diverse range of commercial work and the occassional wedding. A close and positive working relationship is being developed with elwood wines here in Brighton, covering wine tastings and Dinners. The wines, as you would expect, are fantastic, and very well priced. After an elwood wines photography jobI had the pleasure of visitng Concorde2 and meeting friends, where Hugh Cornwall of The Stranglers was playing live. Cornwall was not keen on the idea of photographs, which ws fair enough, and having enjoyed some fantastic live songs such as Always the sun and No more heroes, I headed for home to rest my tired bones, with those wonderful songs swimming in my head and fine wines in my nose. It's a very good life some days!