Travails with my camera

Ideas for shoots

Taser Photography (Possibly NSFW)

Some stunning reaction shots here, beautifully lit in a studio. Wonder how he talked people into it.


Northumberland Day Out

I’ve been looking for photography ideas recently, and Northumberland features in a lot of travel photography books.  I grew up in Northumberland, I’ve been to just about every location they list, with parents, the Scouts or friends.  I know quite a lot of it really well.  It’s an overlooked jewel in the UK’s crown.  I’ve also looked at various travel photography courses – people are paying £800+ for a long weekend in Northumberland.

So, this got me thinking, what can I do in one day?  I’m not expecting perfect, but am hoping that I can get some decent images.

My idea so far:

Dunstanburgh Castle


Harthope Burn


Steel Rigg

Yowayowa Camera Woman

Found a great blog via DigitalRev TV, Yowayowa Camera Girl.  This Japanese lady specialises in levitation photography.


I really like them, they’re fun, they’re incredibly well executed (These are not photoshopped) and they’re something I’d love to try in the future.  To find out how to do it yourself, over to Kai at DRTV:


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.

Getting Ready for Lightpainting

I’ve been building some nice kit to do some light painting in February with my photography club.  The equipment is all bought from eBay and requires only a slight modification to be used in lightpainting.  The Twitter link above shows some examples of lightpainting.

Colour Painting Torch

The easiest to make.  You will need:

  1. CREE Torch – a low power, high brightness LED torch – cost about £5 with batteries.
  2. Elastic Band
  3. Coloured celophane (Quality Street wrappers)

Use the elastic band to cover the torch with celophane.  “Paint” buildings, models, etc.

Light Orbs

The light orbs that you see in lightpainting photos are made using battery powered fairy lights.  You will need:

  • Battery operated fairy lights (£2 from Ebay)
  • Electricians tape
  • 2 small lengths of choc block (or soldering iron or tape – any method that can electrically join two wires)
  • 4 foot of 2 core cable (bell wire, speaker wire, mains flex …)

Bunch all the LEDs together and tape them together.  Cut the wire between the LED bunch and the battery and extend using the 2 core cable.  Beware that LEDs are polarised – you need to connect + to + and – to -.  If it isn’t working try swapping the connection around.

Light Bar

The long streaks of light are created using a light bar.  For this, a strip of RGB LEDs is needed.

You’ll need:

  1. A kit containing an RGB LED strip and Controller – you do not need a power supply (about £8)
  2. Electricians tape
  3. A garden cane
  4. A 9v battery clip

Connect the 9v battery clip to the short power flylead that came in the kit (red to red and black to black).  Connect the flylead to the controller and the controller to the LED strip.  Connect a 9v battery.  You should now be able to control colour using the remote control.

Stick the LED strip and the control box to the garden cane and you have a light bar.

Timelapse Howto

First off you need an intervalometer (if your camera doesn’t have one built in) and a tripod.

The intervalometer instructs your camera to take a photo every x seconds. For a 10 second clip, you need 250 images – so if you take a shot every 10 secs you’ll need about 42 mins of shots.

I set the camera to Medium JPEG as this creates 3088×2056 images. This allows you to crop to create a 2880×1620 images which are easily scaled to 1920×1080.

The images need to have exactly the same settings for each image or a significant flicker will occur. So the ISO, shutter speed and aperture need to be fixed at manual. Also, a DSLR when autofocussing will open the aperture, focus and close it again – so manual focus is needed. When framing, remember you’ll lose about 5% of the image on each edge.

Once you have the images, check for camera-shake. Use the FFmpeg deshake filter to fix it.

ffmpeg -r 25 -pattern_type glob -i '*.JPG' -vf deshake=-1:-1:-1:-1:48:48:0:4:64:0,crop=2880:1620:100:100,scale=1920:1080 -vcodec libx264 -b 10M -bt 100k -pix_fmt yuv420p -r 25 -an -f mov

This creates a Youtube ready video file. Watch at at least the 720p setting.

LRPS Advisory Day

First the good news, the panel absolutely loved my low key portrait of a female boxer. This was the level that all the images had to meet.

I think that I could do a similar high key image of a fencer against a white background. With practice I think I could get a very nice image to contrast the low key image.

They also liked my image of a yacht in the Round the Island Race, however, they want to see the sky fixed before seeing it in a panel. The blown out sections need to be removed.

They really didn’t like either of the following, annoyingly both my favourite shots.

Both are apparently too picture postcard.

I think I’ll change the NHM black and white to the following.

Stunning Image

Through my journey to Ypres, I’ll be doing a lot of preparation work before boarding the Eurostar. Whilst looking for contemporary images I came across a stunning colourisation by Doug Banks of the Colourise History website (

It is a recolourised image from the Imperial War Museum collection. The caption reads: “A Sergeant of the Lancashire Fusiliers in a flooded dugout opposite Messines near Ploegsteert Wood. January 1917”.

I would love to know how to even start doing something like this recolouring of black and white images in GIMP. The results are stunning, I’m assuming that the monochrome image forms a luminance signal and chrominance details are added on top.

Does colour make photography more real and an interesting snow technique.

Does colour make photography more life-like?  22 Words investigates.

Read the whole blog at:













Fantastic blog post from Alexey Kljatov from Moscow about a rig that he’s built for photographing snow flakes.  It’s based on a reversed Zenit lens (other cheap Soviet lenses are available) and a glass plate.  The snow sits on the backlit glass and the lens rig is placed over the top.  The colour is added later to the almost monochromatic image.  Unfortunately, I don’t have room to store a snowflake photography kit on the off chance that it snows