Archive for September, 2015

My third year now to watch and cover the British Historic Racing Series along with the VMCC Ltd. This all started in 2012 as part of a Uni project showing motion within motorsport. We see all too often the stock image taken in excess of 1/500th of a second which simply makes bikes and cars, on a track, stationary. It was my intention to push the boundaries and see just how slow you could take a shutter speed and still have a usable image. I managed down to 1/80th with some serious panning practice following the bikes as they shot past my position. Many images were simply unusable yet I left with a modest yet usable few hundred images.

The following year, 2013, I simply returned for the fun of it. The whole weekend simple reminded me of my youth, up to my elbows in grease followed by the smell of a 2 stroke engine whirring away as I proudly rode about. The whole meeting is extremely relaxed and friendly. There’s non of the ignorance or shoving found at major motorsport events, the riders are all accessible too and many will happily chat about their race machinery. Having collected another nice set of images and indeed taken specifically requested images for a couple of racers I decided to return this year.

This year was rather strange. As I set up on my usual corner a couple of riders nodded to me as they rode past in free practice. I’m then visited by riders asking for my website name and when will my images be up and ready for sale. Everyone is like, hey good to see you again and glad your back. The glad to see me reference is clearly directed at my quality images opposed to the official photographers somewhat mediocre stuff. You see him pottering about all day, trying to look important, yet not taking many images. A ‘Pro’ who was there covering for certain magazines stopped for a chat when he saw me and was extremely pleasant and complimentary about my imagery quality and consistency. Sadly he had a slight reach advantage over me with his 1DX and 400mm f/2.8 thus giving him far more flexibility around the circuit for imagery and his access all areas also gave hime some exclusive positioning for the mountain section. Sadly this area is double fenced from the spectator side and negates the ultimate airborne image over the brow of the hill. Oh well something to potentially go for in the future.

I decided to make the galleries live after the website requests and have so far had several hits along with a few sales from what is essentially the hobby side of my work. This is now something that in 2016 I will be attending more, amateur/club racing, on any weekend I have off. Going by the diary so far this won’t be too many but I know the ones I do attend will be fun.

Regarding my excellent consistency and quality mentioned by the fellow Pro here is a screen shot of the gallery. Literally 1400 images on the same bend, over 2 days, involving every competitor at least twice with some several times. The processing is no hassle with actions set up to bulk process once I’ve corrected lens distortion and tweaked the odd setting. Some don’t make the grade as I still enjoy getting creative with shutter speeds and whilst these may look ‘arty’ they would be unlikely to sell.

BHR VMCC Gallery Image

I really do love this genre of photography and yet it all seems so hard to break into. I have applied to several festivals for a pass only to be asked which publication(s) I am working for and yet publications don’t even reply to offers of shooting for them.

I was amazed at one festival that I did cover, for a digital radio broadcaster, that another alleged “Pro” photographer alongside myself had a crib sheet offering optimal exposure settings for him to follow. This had been issued by the publication he was shooting for allegedly enabling him to capture quality images. As expected he struggled, spending most of the day staring at his LCD panel trying to work things out whilst I happily clicked away. I, all too often, read about so called “Pro’s” who are simply lowly paid enthusiasts being used to capture imagery on the cheap which frustrates me when I know I, and others, are capable of providing better quality imagery than some publications currently use.

There are of course the ‘popular’ music photographers who do indeed capture some quality imagery. What saddens me is after they have their passes issued the remaining photography slots appear to end up with glorified amateurs who look almost overwhelmed by the task of capturing the artists in full flow.

I will be trying again to grab myself a pass for any of the big festivals next year and have been given a unique angle from an well known musician/producer so I shall see how that fairs.

Here’s one of my own favourite festival images, which has been used by a publication, and not only because you can actually see me in the reflection. Just sums the atmosphere and scale of things nicely for me.

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A weekend in Cardiff

Posted: September 15, 2015 in Uncategorized

Last weekend saw our continued involvement with the UK National Trampoline League which is certainly growing in popularity. This was qualifier 3 for the year and had attracted a whopping 850 competitors entries. Considering the first two had 300-350 competitors each you can see how it’s growing. With 4 beds running simultaneously and that volume of competitors I knew that covering the 2 days of competition myself would be nigh on impossible to suicidal on my health front. I have covered several events with 300-400 competitors and it’s bloody hard non stop work so our contingency plan was put into place.

We have now agreed terms for the whole 2016 season qualifiers and finals so this contingency plan simply had to work. Without a second shooter on that gantry, with the rate of the events growth, I would be seriously struggling to give justice to the series via the limited imagery of a single shooter. Also twin shooters at regional events gives us better coverage options if required.

The contingency plan was my son Joshua who had so far been Photoshop and processing guru at the desk (see earlier posts). He had shadowed me on several bookings and I had prepared for this occasion by having him hone his photographic skills at training sessions kindly opened up to us by local clubs so we were confident, even if he was a little nervous.

The purchase of a second Canon 70-200 f2.8 and several more 16gb CF cards was the final part to the jigsaw for him. Some training on Photoshop for my wife and we were ready to go.

The whole weekend was simply manic and almost uncontrolled chaos for us personally. On the Saturday we were still selling images 2 hours after the event had finished. Other than the queue we had the hall had been emptied and just the night security remained. They were brilliant though and escorted each and every customer out of the now secured arena.

We finally sat down to eat at 2145hrs, at the pub next to our hotel, and were sound asleep by 2245hrs thoroughly exhausted. The Sunday was a bit quieter on the shutter count but non the less exciting on the competition and business fronts.

Our total image count for the weekend just exceeded 9600 which is the largest single event we have covered to date. It took 2 of us 4 days to process the galleries for the 2 days. The largest gallery was Saturday with some 6525 images in total and Sundays with just over 3000 images. The figure for Sat’s gallery is just under “Home” and above the Facebook notice.

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For anyone wanting to know the set up of these events here is a view from the upper balcony of the arena. You can clearly see the 4 panels (2 beds per panel), where the competitors are huddled and back to the spectators. I took this image during the first panels warm up shortly after the hall opened.

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Finally an image of my lad with his new toy locked to the front of his gripped 5Diii. His hit rate was awesome with only 7 out of focus images in over 4000 taken. He’d studied the routines, as advised, and captured and excellent body of work which has been commented upon by several customers. Incidentally we destroyed a double set of fully charged LP-E6 batteries each, as expected, on Saturday. Recharged we managed Sunday on single twin sets each owing to the reduced competitors and shorter competition day.

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So with 8 weeks until the finals in London we have a few weddings, a couple of regional gymnastics events and the first of a few awards evenings leading up to Xmas.

I promise to keep this updated ………….. honestly I do 🙂

Some things can really bring things and life into perspective and cancer is certainly one of those things.

I have had an irritable freckle/lump for the last year or so and earlier this year it began spot bleeding. I attempted to have it seen at some specific clinics, being run by a doctors in Beverley, yet sadly they were either fully booked or I was unable to attend because of work or unbelievably, on one occasion, getting the word day …… Doh !!

Two weeks before we went on Holiday I decided to ask my Doc’s for an appointment, expecting the usual several week wait etc for non important issues. To my surprise I was given an appointment for the Wednesday where the doctor took one look and instantly referred me to hospital. That referral came through a few days later and was for the Thursday before we went on Holiday. At the appointment the consultant decided he wanted to remove the mole that same day as he did’t like it whatsoever. Explaining I was on holiday from the weekend he agreed to delay the operation until my return. Upon my return the letter was awaiting with appointment for the following day which was a good job I wasn’t busy.

An alleged 20 minute operation took 1hr 45min and a great deal of digging about. What I simply saw as a funny looking mole was indeed a brute of a growth under the skin which was not too nice at all.

I had opted for a local anaesthetic, even though the operation was on my temple and allegedly painful, as being a nosey bugger wanted to hear what was being said through the operation. My time spent in the NHS gave me the insight that 99% of surgeons can’t keep their moths shut on the good or bad outcome of an operation to their team and I wanted to know the truth and not some flanneled corporate bullshit leaving me in the dark whilst the lump was tested.

Whilst big, nasty looking & a brute to get out the surgeon made the comment that he was 100% sure he had it all out and that he was 75% sure it was non cancerous. Whilst that 75% isn’t an overly fabulous percentage, 99% being better, I left the operating room feeling farmer confident than when I had entered.

The wound was so deep that I had internal stitching along with the 12 external sutures on the outside. That gave me a wonderful dull headache for a week which paracetamol helped with but didn’t cure. Nothing stronger was used as we worked the full weekend only days after the op.

10 days later, the stitches were out and I was left with a scabby wound. Just awaiting histology results now to either crack open the champagne or evaluate life going forward. It’s times like this though when the level of love I have for my wife and family comes into clear focus. I know that without them I would be a shell and, whilst I’m not afraid of dying, I would hate for them to be left without me at such young ages. My wife is my rock and best friend whom I love dearly as I do both my children. We are a very independent family, unreliable on others, self sufficient and a great bunch of human beings. I do tell them I love them yet right now, as I type, I could drive to Leeds (my wife’s at a meeting) just for a hug because this limbo for results is shit and that hug makes things better and reminds me of why life is good for me. My kids are totally unaware of the situation and I wish it to remain that way unless something negative becomes apparent. Thankfully being close, as we are, my lad will still hug me even though he’s 17 and my daughter enjoys a cuddle whilst watching Tv in an evening.

I took this following image as I walked out of the hospital. My head was stinging like a bugger, my left eye wouldn’t focus, my face felt like there was a balloon inserted & all I wanted to do was vomit. Thankfully I wasn’t sick and after waiting for my lift, sat on a nice bench in the sun, I felt much better with the fresh air. It was also strange just how happy I felt, once settled, that this potentially life changing blob had been removed.

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Holidays

Posted: September 15, 2015 in Uncategorized

Yes we gave ourselves a nice 2 week break this year to escape all things ‘everyday’.

Having a new business on the up this was something we had to book and then stick to in keeping the 2 weeks free from bookings. Even up to the week before I had been contacted regarding a late booking, for a wedding in York. Quite unbelievably the young lady who called me was somewhat upset that I was away on holiday in what she referred to as the peak wedding season. I was slightly inclined to reinforce the saying ‘you get what you pay for’ as the cheap friend of a friend, booked photographer, had amazingly double booked her and only realised 2 weeks before. Quite interestingly my recommendation came from a parent within the gymnastics circuit I cover.

The holiday was a total success on the refreshment front and also my wife taking her time to make a decision on her future. Offered a role within the UK’s biggest supermarket chain she is moving in less than 7 weeks now. She needed a fresh challenge  so I hope this delivers all that was promised within the headhunted information etc.

Many images taken whilst we were out there in Majorca yet I’ll post this one taken on the plane flying home.

The sun setting on not only another day but and excellent 2 weeks away and of course that lovely endless view.

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Oops

Posted: September 15, 2015 in Uncategorized

Owing to a number of reasons I’ve not been updating this again so I apologise for those who find my life and business somewhat interesting.

I’ll pop the posts on separately as then it’ll all make more sense.