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Monday, 17 December 2012

Back against the wall

Friend of mine is writing a book. I've turned out a couple of my own - nothing very impressive, just a couple of picture books - but I know what's it like. It's always a stressful process, what with deadlines looming and work avoidance tactics kicking in to try and distract away from the reality of actually having to produce the thing - just before Christmas too!

Monday, 26 November 2012

London calling....

It's not every day that I get into "town", as they say but you know, every now and again it's good to get a dose of city lights, just to get a different perspective on life. I found myself in London for a couple of days earlier this month, visiting art and photography galleries; a work related visit, I might add.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

It never rains....

I've been waiting to post something on this shoot for a couple of months (never scoop your own client!). Now that the weather's crapped out it seems like a good time...

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Industrial action

As an outdoor photographer I have some skills that allow me to work in adventure sports and outdoor activities with a degree of comfort. One of the skillsets that I worked to aquire is my "Working at height, rigging and rescue' ticket. The experience enables me to undertake work on industrial sites which is a very different theatre of operation to the crag, believe me!

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Accidental heroes

This weeks' post has a serious tone because it deals with a climbling accident - with all the "what if's," "could have's" and "should have's" that are an inevitable consequence of such a thing.
But I'm not dwelling on those. Instead, my thoughts are about the humanity, compassion, shared responsibility and comradeship shown between climbers (and other outdoor users) when the shit hits the fan.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Tough at the TOB

The Tour of Britain came through my local town of Kendal, up here on the edge of the Lake District, just a few weeks ago. I knew it was coming of course. Cycling has been "flavour of the month" in the wake of the Olympics.
I don't get much opportunity to shoot road racing, which is a pity because I love watching it on telly. Shooting it live is challenging and quite a buzz. These guys don't hang about and you have to be right on your game to catch the moments and create something worthwhile.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Light the bike

In this months post I'm going to look at a shot I created as part of a workshop day on mountain bike photography.
What I tried to do here was build a lighting set-up that would be easy to re-create in any forest/woodland situation.
By testing out a basic set-up and taking note of the settings I hoped to give my students a reasonable starting point to work with.
Ok, so let's deconstruct it.

Monday, 30 July 2012

A new hang out

Note to self; Don't start this post with the word "So"...

You won't believe this but the climber in this photo, hanging from from the roof by ice axes is called Paddy Cave! Honestly.

Anyway, Paddy was  telling me about this whole new thing in climbing -  "sport mixed" or "dry tooling". The idea came about as a progression from climbing hard mixed winter routes which rely on climbing sections of steep rock between bands of ice - using the ice tools - and climbers training off-season for winter routes on artificial climbing walls with ice tools. Supposing you used disused quarries instead of climbing walls, and manufactured some really hard routes by drilling or chipping some axe placements, bolting the wall for the placement of protection ( what climbers call running belays or just "runners") and seeing just how extreme you can get with dry tooling? Et Voila! This is the result.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Making light work of night rides

So, here's a second installment on shooting LED torches at night with some live action - in this case mountain biking. These photos were created to illustrate the power and useability of the clients new outdoor LED lighting products so we wanted to produce some photos that showed them in realistic, real-life situations, that would be eye-catching and have some impact.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Run for yer life!

So, here we have a tricky shoot that tested everyone's resolve, patience and problem solving ability almost to the limit.
My client asked for an image that would showcase the amazing beam penetration power and brightness of their new high-tech LED headtorch design. The image would need to relate to the outdoor trail running market and would be used for brochures, web-site, point-of-sale and an exhibition stand at shows. And it had to be shot by the end of June to go to press. When we had our initial conversation in May that looked like an easy deadline. But that didn't account for the inevitable production, supply and delivery problems that prototypes always seem to attract. So my protype sample didn't land 'till mid June, just in time for the British monsoon that we like to call summer these days - gulp!

Monday, 16 July 2012

Sunset boulevard

On a Thursday evening, in early July (last week as I'm writing this) I found myself driving home towards my small, stone built Victorian cottage, in a small village on the eastern edge of the English Lake District. I was looking forward to getting home to my family after a long and tiring day shooting headshots within the starkly functional confines of a pharmaceutical drugs production facility for an internationally-known conglomerate...I'm padding this out for effect.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Studio on the mountain

Well, it's been a while since I added a new RLA post but I've been a bit busy this month - honest! Some pretty unusual and interesting assignments have kept me out on location and I will reveal all in the near future. Meanwhile, let's start with this one, from early in May.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Talking Walling

Eric Shorrocks is 83. He's not as quick on his feet as he used to be and he had to give up doing what he's locally known for just a few years earlier through illness. But Eric is recognized as a local hero in these parts, with over 30 years as a volunteer National Trust dry stone waller. Indeed, he took me to this particular wall on Arnside Knott, just around the corner from his home at Arnside, overlooking Morecambe Bay, because he and his team had built it many years before and to prove it he pointed out a small, carved stone embedded in the base of the wall with a set of initials engraved on its' limestone surface - ES - now green and mossy with age.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Spring Sail Now On! Part 2

We left our TGO mag two day photo-shoot on the knife-edged arete of Striding Edge, (part 1) trying to avoid causing a major incident to our fellow scramblers, tripping over my light stand or impaling themselves on my 'brolly.

The weather gods had been caught napping so we enjoyed an unseasonably warm and sunny day for March but obviously we would not get lucky twice. Day two turned out grey and of course windless, since we would be sailing.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Spring Sail Now On! Part 1.

Sailing is one of my interests. So is walking. I like mountains and I like water. That's why I live in the Lake District. I grew up next to the sea and one of my earliest memories is riding out a storm in my father's home-built dinghy at age 5 or so.

Friday, 20 April 2012

It's that Rohantime of year!

Todays Blog entry choice was simple - those nice folks over at the Rohan shop in Ambleside called me up and asked for an interview; Yeah, yeah, happens to me all the time (not)! 
Thanks Paul (Russell), it was nice of you to think of me.

I've been interviewed for outdoor and photo mags before but sometimes the things that I have said have been mangled out of recognition lost in translation so it was good to see my comments published word-for-word because I believe in the points I made, which I will repeat here. To read the full interview (and view my photos too of course) go to

Thursday, 19 April 2012

What's in the bag?

Everyone want’s to know about gear. It’s human nature. We all pretend we’re not really interested and we all say things like “camera’s don’t take photos, photographers do” but really we all want a peek into our fellow photographers kit bag, just to see if they got a secret weapon. Well, OK, let’s take a look at what I use…

Friday, 6 April 2012

A clean slate

This weeks RLA isn't really an assignment as such, it relates to one of my photography workshops that I run on an "ad hoc" basis here in the Lake District. But it gives me a chance to write about the process that I go through when trying to teach newbies about the complex and many-layered subject of photography.

I have a method that I've developed over the years that I've been teaching, both on location workshops and through my work as the visiting lecturer in photography at Kendal College. It breaks down the basic principles into bite-sized chunks. On the one side you have the problem of operating the camera controls, easy enough once you understand what apertures, shutters speeds and the rest actually do. And on the other side you have the creative principles and vision needed to create great photographs. And that's the bit I'm going to talk about here.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

It's all Tan Hill from here

The Tan Hill Inn is the highest pub in the land at 1500ft and has a certain reputation for eccentricity. Well, when you're that far off the beaten track I guess anything goes! Anyway, the Tan Hill was my rendezvous spot for a recent assignment with TGO magazine for a winter walking feature - which is on the shelves now (March 2012). Weather-wise things were looking up. Early morning sun, reasonable forecast, good snow cover on the tops, it was all good.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Trail mix

Nova Events is Brendan Foster's event management company that organises the Great North Run, the World's biggest half marathon, and the Great North Swim. Now they've taken on the Karrimor Great Trail Challenge. Will this morph into the World's biggest something too? No idea, but I'm happy to say they asked me to shoot some trail running photos around the course for the pre-event PR and the website.

Take cover!

In my last post I made the point that photographers have to be ready to make the most of whatever opportunities present themselves and this cover shot is a case in point. It's the current TGO front cover for March 2012 edition and was shot in December, just days before Christmas. I awoke to a bright, shiny sun filtering through my bedroom skylight which was covered in fluffy white stuff; Snow, and plenty of it. This was not a day for hanging around in the office but I had to do the school run first! On the way back I rang round to see who was at home and willing to come out for a couple of hours to play - but got no answers. It seemed everyone was already out, or working, or away, or asleep??!! I left some messages and resigned myself to getting out anyway and maybe trying a few time-release self portraits or something.

Running commentary

I've been shooting running events for some time now for both event organisors and for event-photography providers but I've also found a handy market for nice, creative stock images in the running mags. They often use single shots as "inspiration" for great running locations or scene-setters for seasonal features. Luckily I have contacts - so I manage to line up keen athletes who are up for a bit of fun, some nice pics for their blog and the chance to appear in the magazines. Looks good down at the running club!


First go at lightpainting with LED torches

I'd read about lightpainting, seen some great examples and thought about using the technique somehow, but it was only recently when I acquired some great LED's that I got stuck in. After studying Dave Black's excellent and 'illuminating" tutorials on light-painting at his "Workshop at the Ranch" series

The long walk home

It seems like just yesterday we had full snow cover and great ice here in the Lakes but how quickly it disappears. A couple of days of warm southerlies and it's back to wet and windy, grey and drab and not a white patch to be seen on the hill. Which means that when conditions are here you got to get out there and shoot, right now.

Ice, ice, maybe?

Well, this was going to be interesting. My plan involved bribing a top ice climber to go out on a freezing, dark night to solo some steep ice, half way up a mountain so I could experiment with the concept of "lightpainting" a crag on the half-chance that it might produce an interesting shot.

Photographers don't get sick!

It's early December 2011 when I get a phone call from TGO magazine to see if I'm free on Friday. It's Wednesday now so it's short notice but yes I'm free and of course I'd love to help, I'm freelance after all and freelance's never turn work away! Actually I'm feeling under the weather (man flu?) but I'm sure I'll be fine. It seems that TGO's roving reporters/editors are on a mission to walk from pub to pub in the Lakes (nice work if you can get it) and we need some photos for the feature.