Travails with my camera


Human rights, human wrongs

Fantastic exhibition at The Photographers’ Gallery in London.  This show is a selection if press images looking at the equal rights movement and the end of colonialism.

Some images are shocking, but all are stunningly taken.


Riverside Studios Photography Documentary Night

Last night I got the chance to see two fantastic photography documentaries at the Riverside Studios cinema in Hammersmith.

The Mexican Suitcase

For years the International Centre of Photography knew that a box of negatives had escaped from the Spanish Civil War. The box contained the negatives of legendary photojournalists Robert Capa, David “Chim” Seymour and Gerda Taro.

This film investigates the story of the losing Republican soldiers, their escape from Franco and their move to Mexico.

Some stunning B&W Phootjournalism is on display.

Finding Vivian Maier

This is a film about a young man who bought a box of 150,000 negatives. The images turn out to be amongst the best American street photography ever seen.

Maier, a dark, highly introverted character took some fantastic photos, including the first Selfies – taken with a Rolleiflex

Well worth seeing out.

Cornel Lucas at the National Theatre

Just returned from a fantastic exhibition at the National Theatre foyer.  A free exhibition of Cornel Lucas’ favourite pieces.

Not many will have heard of him, but many (most?) will have seen his work.  He had a few photographic jobs during his lifetime:

  1. With the RAF during the war researching innovative techniques to undertake aerial photographs,
  2. As a fashion photographer for the Littlewood’s Mail Order Catalogue, and
  3. As a portrait photographer.

Indeed, he is the only stills photographer to ever be given a BAFTA for services to the UK Film Industry.  His shots are quite well known, even if no-one could say who took them.  I couldn’t choose 2 favourites, so here’s three.  (Look at the shadows on the face creating a 3D effect to see how much effort he’s put into the image).

Joan Collins, 1952 (C) Cornel Lucas

Joan Collins, 1952 (C) Cornel Lucas

David Niven, 1955 (C) Cornel Lucas

David Niven, 1955 (C) Cornel Lucas

Marlene Dietrich, 1948 (C) Cornel Lucas

Marlene Dietrich, 1948 (C) Cornel Lucas

Adventure Travel Show

Last weekend I went to the Adventure Travel Show at Kensington Olympia.  Despite some teething troubles (who has a show on the 3rd floor of a building with no stair access?) I managed to get in.  The show was small – much smaller that Destinations or the TNT Show – but the vendors were quality.

Wandering around I spent nearly 30 mins talking to a guy from Botswana about camping safaris, some crazy guys who were going to sail across the Pacific and chatting to some conservationists about their work in the Scinde province.  I also bumped into Austin Vince of the Adventure Travel Film Festival (An email to him is on my  to do list for this weekend).


Like every engineer, I love a good gadget – and I ended up parting with £20 for a WaterToGo bottle – a combination water bottle and purification filter.  It doesn’t need chlorine tablets, but it can be used with them.  Filters just about any fresh water source into safe, drinkable water.

Trailblazer Books

I met Chris Scott at the Adventure Travel Film Festival last year.  These publishers do some great books, 2 that caught my eye are:

Available online here.

Globetrotters Club

I’m always looking for interesting things to do in London.  At the show I bumped into the Globetrotters Club.

The aim behind Globetrotters is to provide a way for like minded people to meet or communicate to exchange ideas, information and experiences.  They have some fantastic talks coming up and some fantastic discounts available.

On The Go

So then I bumped into the On The Go Tours stand.  I’ve been to Russia, Turkey and Egypt with them and love their tours, budget but good value and employing local tour guides and family companies.  And there, on their stand was what I’d just been chatting about at a price I could afford – 12 days on safari for the sum total of £280 plus national park entry fees.


So, I booked!

  • Victoria Falls
  • Chobe National Park
  • Okovango Delta
  • Maun
  • Palapye
  • Blydepoort
  • Kruger National Park
  • Johannesburg

I’ve signed up for a few optional extras – A boat trip on the Chobe river, canoeing down the Okovango Delta and hiring a Land rover to explore the Kruger National Park.

So I’ll need

And I’ll need to get these out of the wardrobe (seriously guys – these £40 Meindl British Army Desert Boots are the most comfortable boot I’ve ever owned – better than even Berghaus)

It is a camping safari – but that sounds so much better than the lodge ones.  I can’t wait to get under canvas again – it’s been too long for someone who had over 450 nights under canvas by the time he left the Scout Association.  ROLL ON NOVEMBER.

Raindance – The Patrol

The first feature film about the 4th Anglo-Afghan war.  I thought this would be my film of the year.  Beautifully shot in the high Sahara of Morocco.   Brilliantly acted with some outstanding performances from a young British cast.  The portrayal of a Taliban ambush and the soldiers heroic defence was brilliant.  It really caught the terror and emotions they felt.

Technically good, shot well, lit well.  Loved the creative use of depth of field and chiaroscuro to really highlight the characters.

But, what was that ending? The story was brilliant and then the ending ruined it.  Tommy Atkins is many things but the cowardice portrayed was unforgiveable.   A full patrol in mutiny? A story ruined.

Raindance – Love, Honour, Obey


So, earlier this year, in an attempt to learn a bit more about low budget, non-live video production I took up a Raindance Saturday Film School offer from Groupon. It was great. The owner was a revelation and he told us a story of a film he was going to make.

He’d received a script from a Raindance member who was a bit reclusive.  He loved the script so gave it to a director he knew, Ate de Jong.  They funded the movie via Indiegogo, found some actors, borrowed a location and filmed it.

I’ve since taken their technical certificate which was great – even if it did lead to an argument about the validity of part of the UK DPP spec (the bit I helped write).

So tonight the Raindance Raw Talent movie premiered at the Festival in Leicester Square.  It’s a dark, psychological thriller set in suburbia.  It’s written well, acted superbly and directed well.  It keeps you guessing as to the psychological state of the main characters. As with all good low-budget movies, it was written with a small cast in only one location. The budget was obviously used on good acting (and a visit to a sex shop for a nurses costume).

Technically, it looked like it was shot on an Alexa, C300 or similar.  I only had 2 slight complaints – the slow mo was shot at 24 fps and frame doubled. This caused judder and jarred. Needs motion compensated frame insertion or to be shot off speed. One scene, rather than shooting under lights and dropping the levels in post, it’s shot in a dark room. The result is noise. (I will admit that I’m probably the only punter in he cinema to notice the heightened noise floor).

Well worth a watch but be warned, it covers some challenging topics.

Raindance Film Festival

It’s almost time for the annual Raindance Film Festival in London – a showcase for independent cinema. Really looking forward to this years festival as I have a movie that I’m a financier of in the festival (Raindance Raw Talent’s Love:Honour:Obey cost me £5). I don’t think I’ll be able to make it to many movies and I can’t afford a festival pass. I am going to definitely book for 2 and will try and see more.

So I’ve had a look through the catalogue and think the following look quite interesting:

Disclaimer: I hold a Raindance technical certificate in film making and am hoping to take their documentary course.

Sony World Photo Awards Exhibition

Just spent the afternoon at the Sony World Photo Awards Exhibition at Somerset House. Some stunning photos in loads of different styles.

Some that I really liked:

Daniel Duart’s Cities from a Taxi Cab series:
(c) Daniel Duart

Fabio Bucciarelli’s images from Syria:
(c) Fabio Bucciarelli

Daesung Lee’s images of eroding islands in the Bay of Bengal:
(c) Daesung Lee

Nenad Seljic’ portraits of the Matterhorn:
(c) Nenad Seljic

Elmar Ekhmatov’s Indian festivals:
(c) Elmar Ekhmatov

Nicola Genchi’s wrestlers:
(c) Nicola Genchi


GIMP Magazine issue 3

Gimp Magazine

Focus on Imaging

Had an interesting day out at Focus on Imaging yesterday.

There were some interesting people there, plus lots of strange characters wearing cameras in holsters and swearing a lot when they smacked an expensive lens into ribs, pillars etc.

They were exhibiting some fantastic swarming tendencies around the stands with models. Worst I saw, however, was some guy with two 5DIIs dressed in combats, being very snobby to some teenage girls who’d bought a Zenit E and 10 rolls of film for £20.

There was an awful lot of up selling and poor information around video:

  • Telling a guy he wanted the more expensive camera rather than the cheaper as it had pro outputs. From what he said, I doubt the genlock BNC would get much use.
  • Trying to sell an £850 SSD recorder to a grandfather/grandson team because the DSLR footage used an audio codec not supported by his TV. A simple fix with free software like handbrake.
  • Insisting ProRes is raw and that 4:2:2 was a bit rate.

Didn’t really see any really disruptive products. Android apps seem to be big, as does tilt shift and fisheye lenses. Truematte is making its way onto consumer products and LEDs are getting better.

Items I found Interesting:

  • JVC Camera JVC GC-PX100 – a sub $1000 camera capable of taking 1080p with framerates from 1-600. Fully WiFi controllable.
  • Rotolight Interview Kit LED based interview lamps, with a range of filters for various colour tepmeratures and effects.
  • Pinhole kit Ilford pinhole kit. There’s a newer one coming out – but it’ll still be £80
  • Shoulder Rig A nice, relatively inexpensive, shoulder rig, focus pull and matte box for a dslr.