A Mixed Bunch

17th April 2015
Its a long time since the last blog and about time I made an effort. Usually I like to have a theme - no matter how tenuous, but it looks like this one is going to be a series of unconsidered jottings with the hope that something coherent develops.

So, examples from the life and times of a freelance snapper it is……….

A lot of my time, as you know dear regular reader, is spent doing sport - almost exclusively football at this time of year. For those of you who think this is a dream job - just consider the pleasures of sitting on a camping stool, unmoving, for several hours in sub-zero temperatures………with added rain, and recently sleet. You're probably at the wrong end and a defender has just blocked you from a simple goal………and he's cele'd on the wrong side. You've lost all contact with your fingers and toes and your back is now giving you real agonies. Just as something happens which warrants sending away, it starts to rain so you are having to work in 3 programs transmit and protect your trusty Mac from the, now, torrential downpour. Still fancy it?…………….

Where I'm sent for football is completely random - it can be anything from Premiership to Non-League (I'll only do that for my beloved, but consistently useless, Torquay United). This past month I've been mainly doing games from the lower leagues……… I quite enjoy these as you can build up a relationship with the teams and some players. You can even tell players to run towards you when they score…………… but the buggers never do, its like herding cats!

Here's a random selection from some random games……. in random order.

Currently my favourite Belgian - especially when he does this in front of you.

….and again. A hat trick is always newsworthy

Random action shot from a recent Derby County game. Just to prove its not all goals and cele's

Latest Derby goalscoring loanee hero No1

Latest Derby goalscoring loanee hero No2

This is less of an action shot as support for an insurance claim! Moments after this snap was snapped, the horribly screwed shot by the Yeovil forward smacked into my MacBook despite my desperate lunge to partially save it. I write this, dear reader, on a screen that is decidedly fractured.

In between the football (that's Soccer to the myriad of Statesiders who read this), there is Rugby Union, where the main snapper-danger is getting a pint spilled over you. A few shots from the ever-improving Exeter Chiefs - this time at Welford Road against The Tigers.

Thomas Waldrom being hauled down

Julian Salvi just checking how well attached Jack Nowell's head is. No harm done...

New England star Jack Nowell. Particularly like the Chiefs branded gum shield - never let a marketing opportunity pass……..

Snapping people now takes a fair bit of time - and I like to do plenty of this during the Winter before full days of cricket kicks in. A couple of years back I rarely pointed my camera at humans - now, happily, its taking over.

A lot of 'people' shoots should be classed as 'product'. So you might look at an image and think, 'why is the lighting like that'? The reason is, to highlight the needs of the client, i.e. clearly showing the hair for advertising, likewise with make up, millinary or frocks (as I believe they are referred to). Images can be anything from close up (body part) to full length and against various backgrounds. A shoot like this is like mini-project management - the day has to go smoothly with a constant flow of ready models, hopefully in a logical order that doesn't mean constant major lighting changes between every shot. Tweaking yes, major physical effort, no…. And then there is the coffee, lots of it, constantly……

Luckily I now regularly work with an excellent group - we're a well oiled machine……
Links at bottom...

A recent shoot covered all these bases - here's a selection for your perusal, with explanations…..

1920's flapper look. Nice clean shot. Concentrating on highlighting the hair. And before you ask - no, it's not real fur. This is me, you know!!!

Same period - but against white and designed to show the make up to best effect

The same but different…..

Helen does do smiley, but this set has more effect with a superior, arrogant look. Nice city light type background

More of the same, but my favourite image in terms of portraiture & lighting

Back to colour but more standard lighting to show off the hair. I will put my hand up to probable over use of the cigarette holder prop?

Hurtling through the next decade: trying my hand at Hollywood glamour lighting.

Pleased to say that there is negligeable Photoshop'ing here. I mean its obviously converted to monochrome, but the lighting gives the desired effect…….probably

Moving onto the 60's. A couple of examples of a 'beehive' with suitable room for text and advertising

One colour and one monochrome - but you probably spotted that?

Then there are the more people, people shoots - I'm getting a fair portfolio and number of boudoir clients recently…..

Its a long time since I have done any wildlife snapping, but I managed a couple of days recently surrounding a geographically inconvenient football fixture between Carlisle & Exeter - told you I was living the dream!

Alan McFadyan has managed to put a hide in a position where a Sparrowhawk feeds, and has managed to attract it in fairly regularly over the past couple of years. I think this is the only such spot in the country. I've had one go a few years ago and failed miserably - there's no guarantee - it is a wild bird….

However, after a mere 6 hour chilly wait he decided to oblige. I know these aren't unique images, and I could be accused of image procurement, but I still find it enjoyable with the 'will he, won't he' nervousness, and if he does, will you get anything. Here are a couple of snaps, not necessarily financially rewarding, but personal satisfaction was gained.

He makes short work of his dinner. Speed rather than table manners being to the fore. This dangly bit of giblet was discarded - maybe out of haste, after all we all remember the attractiveness of school-dinner-liver, but equally likely by accident...

I would like to think he is mantling his prey, but the high wind probably meant this was a balancing action?

A 1.4 converter added to give a closer portrait, to show off those yellow eyes

During the lengthy wait for Mr Sparrowhawk, GS Woodpeckers provide a distraction. Again I look at this and think: nice muted background/colours/double page spread/plenty of room for text etc etc

Next day was set aside for Kingfishers, who again duly obliged. I was hoping to get some diving images, but the weather could not give the light demanded. I'm very picky about too high an ISO. I reckon if I'd been, even a day, later there would have been been a lot more pairing up action, but the 2 birds still provided a huge amount of entertainment.

Despite the lack of action, this is my fave image from the day. Full frame, lovely background and an intense, minnow-scaring, stare

The female took a number of dives before she perfected the technique, and then promptly came up with two from one dive. In case this has impressed you, she then dropped one and spend five minutes vainly trying to beat the other unfortunate to death against a piece of very soft moss. She then got bored and swallowed it wriggling…..

Portrait of a successful dive

This means 'bugger off' in Kingfisher

Nice over the shoulder profile - showing off the iridescent blue that often flashes past

There are hundreds of shots from the day - these are just samples from the first edit. Some others may reappear in a blog in about a years' time.


And finally: Belgian Lambic beer can be an acquired taste - so if you start now you'll acquire it sooner….. won't you?