Event Photography Awards 2019
I got some great news, I have been shortlisted (twice !) for the Event Photographer Of The Year Awards. Two of my images in the Cultural section were chosen and I am so pleased they are both images taken locally in Stoke On Trent.

If you have a spare moment then all the photographs are eligible for a peoples choice award, so head over to the shortlist page, find the two images below and click like, I would be very grateful for any votes and help in sharing the information.

Photography Calendar 2019
My photography Calendar for 2019 is on sale

Get your copy in my online shop

Featuring photographs from the last 12 months, printed on UK A3 sized pages.

Olympus Cameras
This year (2018) I have had the good fortune to be able to use Olympus cameras in all sorts of ways and attend some great free! events.

The first event was the Olympus lighting workshop in London at the Park Cameras store. The second was the almost legendary Giffords Circus workshop which was in the grounds of Blenheim palace, if you ever see this advertised put your name down immediately ! Both of those events are covered in much more detail in articles previously published on this site.

While attending these events I got to learn about a special service that Olympus UK run that allows people to take a camera and different lenses for a test drive for a few weeks in the comfort of their own home.

I asked to take part in this scheme and a few months later managed to arrange some time to take delivery of an OMD EM-1 Mark II, and several lenses, including a F1.2 25mm, F1.2 45mm, F4 12-100mm, F4 300mm

If you know the Olympus lineup you might think that there is a bit of a gap in that lineup, the Mzuiko 12-40 f2.8 is the usual general purpose lens, but as I already have am EM5 MKII with that lens it is compatible with both cameras so I could just use my existing lens.

I am no camera reviewer and I am not going to try and become one overnight, but my initial thoughts on the camera are that is a well rounded and balanced piece of equipment that I would be more than happy to own and use on a daily basis. The menu system is easy to use once you learn the basics, and there are a lot of configuration options to suit the style of most users.

Where the Olympus system really does shine though is with the lenses, the ones I was using were some of the best, sharpest, and most versitile lenses I have ever known. The other thing that needs saying is that because of the Micro Four Thirds system the cameras use the lenses are riddiculously light and compact compared to their full frame counterparts. It actually makes travelling with the camera a lot easier if space and weight are a factor. Earlier this year I took my EM-5 on a trip to Poland where I had barely enough luggage space for a couple of changes of clothes, so travelling light was the only option and I was delighted with the resulting images.

The 300mm prime lens, which is around a 600mm full frame equivalent focal length, was so easy to cary and use, I even found the perfect event to use it at, a local arts festival performance where the performers were dancing in the air attached to wires dangling from a large crane. Yes it sounds mad but it was an excellent and well attended event. Lots of pictures from that using the EM-1, the 300mm lens and the 12-40 for a wider angle can be found here along with many other images from that camera.

The next thing I have to sing the praises of, is the in body image stabilisation, simply wonderful, uncomplicated to use and adds several extra stops of use to my usually shaky hands. I was taking images with the 300mm lens at shutter speeds far slower than I could have without the image stabiliser and they were pin sharp.

Now for the inevitable part of any camera write up, I have to talk about the ISO performance. Happily I can say that if you expose your images correctly and don't have to do much post work to raise shadows etc then high ISO shouldn't be much of a problem. The downside is that this is a Micro Four Thirds system and there is no getting away from the fact that it is a small sensor, compared to a 35mm full frame equivalent, which means to get the right exposure the ISO quite often has to be higher. The higher ISO noise is not too distracting or ugly, it is just there if you pixel peep. At the time of the loan my main camera was a Canon 80D and I much prefer the noise from the Olympus to that of the Canon.

After singing the cameras praises you might think I rushed out and bought one immediately, and if money was not an issue I probably would have already bought an EM-1 to compliment my EM-5. However in my case I do a lot of indoor event and concert work, so my decision was ultimately to not go with Olympus for that work, but to go Full Frame. It was actually a difficult decision as there are features on the Olympus that I won't get elsewhere and the image stabiliser on its own was almost the biggest sell for me.

I am very grateful to Olympus for the loan, and the events and workshops they arrange throughout the year, I might even see you on one of those soon as they are always a lot of fun and very informative.

Link to a large selection of images on my Flickr Site If you see any you like why not let me know on Twitter or Instagram

Fully Charged Show Live

The second part of my photography weekend after the Circus trip was to be an event photographer for the Fully Charged Show Live event at Silverstone.

If you don't already know about Fully charged Show, it is a YouTube channel started and hosted by the actor Robert Llewellyn (pictured with co-host Jonny Smith). It is all about renewable energy with a focus on electric cars and related technologies. Since the YouTube channel was doing so well the team behind it all decided to try and organise an alternative motor show, that alternative being an all electric and renewable energy show.

Since I have been watching the show from a very early stage and have been enjoying all the free content put up there I sent a speculative email to the organisers to volunteer my photography services for the day. As you can probably guess from all the photographs I got a positive response and managed to arrange it so I could travel from the Oxfordshire Circus workshop to Silverstone.

I spent the day wandering the floor of the show, inside and out and taking pictures of the panels.

It was actually quite hard to see all of the panels as they proved very popular, there were two panel areas, one with the panel and one with a video screen showing the main stage and both areas were packed out most of the time with people also standing and watching from the sides.

If anyone is familiar with the pioneers of the electric car world and the charging infrastructure being developed independently around the country, they were all present at the show and many many more people who are making names for themselves in the brave new post fossil fuel age.

The organisers have said that the show will return next year bigger and better, and even if I am not asked back to do any photography I would go to the show anyway just to see all the exciting new developments in this area. Who knows I might even be taking my own electric car next time.

Olympus Circus Workshop
Following on from the Lighting workshop in London a few weeks ago I also applied for a place on the @OlympusUK (twitter) Circus workshop.

This time I got a place almost straight away and actually coincided with the most photography filled long weekend I have ever experienced !

The workshop took place in an actual circus, Giffords Circus to be exact, a small independent and seasonal circus, running from May to September each year.

If that wasn't glamourous enough a location, the circus tent was pitched at the magnificent Blenheim Palace which is quite an impressive location, see the photograph below that I took after the workshop.

The day was split into four sections, for the first three we were split into three groups and had a small amount of time in three different scenarios. One of which was a pizza throwing demonstration as you can see in this photograph. Lots of fun watching the pizza and lots of flour throwing for action shots.

The second was in the café tent with lots of small objects and food to try out our macro and general photography skills. There was so much to see in the tent it was hard to know what to concentrate on first.

The third section was a portrait session run by Gavin Hoey where we had a very brief few seconds each to photography Tweedy the clown.

That didn't stop us all trying to take pictures of Tweedy when it wasn't our official turn and I got a couple of excellent pictures without using the "proper" lighting setup.

Finally we all gathered back in the tent where a small selection of circus performers came out and gave us a mini show. The great thing was that as it was not a public performance we could get up and move around to try and get some great shots as they performed.

I think I got some excellent images on the day, no doubt a lot of that is down to the Olympus OMD EM1 MKII that I borrowed during for the workshop and the excellent selection of lenses we had to try.

I wish I could have stayed for the full circus performance that evening but as you will see with my next post here I had another engagement. Big thanks to Olympus and Giffords circus for an excellent afternoon of advice, performance and photography.

I have uploaded an album of images from the day to my Flickr site if you want to see them all

As I mentioned above after we finished I went down to the lake in front of Blenheim and took a stitched panorama shot of the scene as it was so beautiful.

Heroes and Villains Fan Fest London
Two of my favourite things are comic book, tv, film conventions and photography. Luckily a few weeks ago I got to do both at the same time !

I saw a request on twitter from @heroesfanfest asking for volunteers for general event photography for the weekend of the convention. I applied and to my delight I was accepted.

So I turned up early on the Saturday at Olympia and was quickly shown around given a pass and told to do my thing.

So I spent two days wandering around Olympia taking pictures of everything any anything. There was a lot to see and lots of people who were in costume were happy to pose for me.

A large part of my time at the event was spent in the panel room, taking pictures of the very varied talks and interviews taking place there, they were all a lot of fun and interesting to listen to.

The two images below are first from the Riverdale panel, and second one of the highlights of the weekend, the Torchwood panel with all the original cast reunited.

I haven't yet been given permission to publish all of the images from the weekend, but if / when I do get permission I will post the links here and on social media.

Park Cameras Olympus Lighting Workshop
Responding to a tweet from @OlympusUK led me to apply for a free lighting workshop at the Park Cameras central London store.

Initially I didn't hear anything, but then a few days before the event I got an email to say that someone else couldn't go so I had been given their place. I quickly booked on a train and planned my trip to London.

It turned out to be such a beautiful sunny day it was almost a shame to spend it in the basement of the Park store, but it was definitely worth missing out on a few hours of daylight.

The event was run by Olympus, and Olympus ambassador Gavin Hoey (pictured above)

Gavin talked us through the basic principles of studio lighting and how to se them up. At each example we got to try it for ourselves with cameras loaned by Olympus, I was using the OMD EM1 Mark 2 which is really well suited to portrait photography.

As you can see we had a model for the shoot, her name is Meg Biffin and was a great model for the many scenarios Gavin set up and the many people taking pictures in short bursts.

I think this is probably my favourite, looks complex to achieve, but really was quite simple in the end using Gavins experience and knowledge.

There are quite a few pictures from the day on my Flickr site

In the album I have also included a few from the day in London taken with my own Olympus EM5 MarkII as you can see it was a cloudless sky with lots to see and do.

The picture below was taken a few minutes before the workshop just down the street from the Park Cameras store.

Staffordshire Day Road Trip

After hearing about Staffordshire day in 2017, I decided that this year I would like to do something interesting to document my day. This idea germinated into a small project to take a Road Trip around the county taking pictures at the four furthest points of the County.

After consulting maps and traffic information planning my route with a few places in between. I also decided that I had to try and capture the sunrise on the day and if possible the sunset, although the weather was not promising for the evening according to all the forecasts.

Getting up very early, about 4:30am, the sky was clear and all was looking good, however as I travelled to the North of the county through Leek the fog descended. This is usually an interesting event for a photographer, but I was worried there wouldn't be any sort of recognisable picture visible. In the end by the time I had walked up the path to the Northern most point I was above the fog ! It was a beautiful morning up there and I managed to get several shots from that place of the fog, Moon and Sun.

Travelling back towards the next compass point which would be West, I stopped off in Leek to take a few pictures in the early morning sun. Then travelling on towards Stoke, I was driving past the high level view of Rudyard Lake which was beautiful. I also decided to call in to Mow Cop castle which by the time I arrived had just opened the car park and the sun was gleaming beautifully off the top of the walls. Then, at Stoke I called in to Gallery 116 at the Spode museum to pick up some pictures of mine that had been exhibited in their recent open photography exhibition. It was also a good opportunity to find a Cafe in the town and have some Oatcakes for breakfast.

Continuing on to the West I stopped off at Silverdale country park to take a very wide panorama shot of Stoke-on Trent and Newcastle. The next stop was unplanned, but the village pond in Madely looked beautiful so I stayed there for a few moments. Finally I got to Market Drayton and parked next to the canal near where the Westerly point is. Next to my parking spot there was a Swan nesting in a hedge next to someone's house, it completely ignored me as I took a couple of pictures, it's mate was nearby on the canal patrolling up and down. A short walk along the canal later I was at the West of the county. It is a fairly unremarkable and unmarked place on the Canal and the only way to know which was the exact spot was to consult the Ordnance Survey mapping app on my mobile phone.

After taking a few more pictures around Market Drayton, which were not in Staffordshire please don't write in :-), I headed off to the next point which would be East. This meant doubling back a little to almost where I started near Stafford, that was always going to happen at some point so it might as well be now. It gave a good opportunity to take a few pictures around the town, mostly in Victoria park where people were bowling and all looked very peaceful. Moving on I decided to go via Shugborough and take a picture of the house and the famous Essex bridge. After this there would be a couple of quick pictures on the way to the next point at Admaston reservoir and of some sheep in the fields.

Arriving in Burton Upon Trent I found what should have been the nearest point I could park at and proceeded on foot to the East. It turned out I walked about a mile further than I needed to, but it was such a beautiful day it didn't seem to matter at all. The Eastern point is literally in the middle of nowhere, it is the middle of the river at the end of a footpath through a few fields. For the picture taken at this point a long exposure technique was used, to smooth out the water and make the clouds more interesting as in the time it had taken to walk to this point the weather had started to turn breezy and slightly overcast.

Three down and one to go I walked back to the car and then started off towards the South. The first stop on the way was Lichfield as I knew I had to get an image of the Cathedral on Stowe Pool. Then, after a small pause for some food, the next destination was Tamworth, the town was quite full of rush hour traffic by this time and it was quite tricky to get somewhere interesting to stop. Finally I decided it was time to go straight to the Southern most point however, given the shape of Staffordshire, that was trickier than it sounds as the South end of the County is further South than the centre of Birmingham. An accident on the motorways also didn't help as this was causing quite a few problems on the roads.

After a much slower than expected journey I arrived near where I wanted to be and walked the fairly short distance to the right point. The Southern point in Staffordshire is actually a fairly unremarkable corner of a footpath in a lovely small wooded area. I took a few images of the right spot and then some more around the area. I mentioned before that I wanted to finish the day by taking a sunset picture, but unfortunately by this point the sky was completely covered and apart from a very brief gap in the cloud as I got back to the car, that was it for the sun and it even started to rain as I journeyed home.

The whole day was a lot of fun, and well worth the time it took to plan and travel around the beautiful County of Staffordshire, touching the edges of Derbyshire, Shropshire and Worcestershire as well. I am really happy with the four pictures (at the top of this article) from the North, West, East and South and I hope you enjoy them too, but also hope you decide to do your own road trip one day as all of the places I visited are definitely worth seeing.

Three Counties Open Photography Exhibition
I got some good news at the weekend, three of my photographs were accepted into the 3 Counties Open Photography Exhibition this year.

The exhibition will take place from the 17th of March 2018 to 16th of April at the One One Six gallery located on the Spode Museum factory site in Stoke On Trent.

These are my image on display in the exhibition (middle three)

2018 Calendar
It's that time of year again, this is the second photographic calendar of mine that has been available for sale.

Featuring 13 images (including the front cover) of mine taken in the last 12 months, and yes it was hard to choose just 12 to include ! A preview of the months is below.

The calendar is available now in my online shop and the price includes free delivery.

This Is Britain
"This is Britain was as simple as it was ambitious: to capture the essence of a day-in-the-life of the people and communities that make up our nation. The faces and places, moments and rituals, at work and at play – as shot by thousands of everyday people going about their daily lives over a long weekend in October"

That was the pitch I heard 2 days before the deadline i.e. the Friday before the last day on Sunday ! The idea was to create a crowd sourced book to be sold in aid of Children in Need

As we usually go out with a walking group on the Sunday I decided to ask the people on the walk if they would mind me taking a picture to submit. A few weeks later I got an email to say, to my great surprise and delight, that my image had been selected for the book

The book was available for sale on Children In Need night (17th November) and as you can see below the book arrived very quickly.

Love the quality of the book and there are some great pictures in there that describe a weekend in the life of Britain.

You can purchase a copy of the book at the project website - www.thisisbritain.me

Weather Watcher
In case you didn't know I have been posting pictures on the BBC Weather Watchers site for almost a year now.

The Weather Watchers is just a simple site for anyone to submit pictures of the weather where they are. There is no specific requirement other than the picture must show the weather !

Each day a small selection of the submitted images is chosen as an "Editors Pick" and can be used as to illustrate the day's weather on the BBC weather broadcasts or via their social media channels.

I have had several of my pictures chosen as picks and quite a few have appeared on the Midlands Today weather broadcast.

Recently I was contacted by the Weather Watchers team and asked a few questions about my experience with the website and my thoughts on the weather. This resulted in a small profile of me being created on the site which you can see here.

Damon & The Chicken
Imagine my surprise as I scrolled through my Instagram timeline when I see a picture of Damon Lindelof wearing one of my t-shirt designs !

It is my Tony The Chicken design I created for The Leftovers a few months back. I got a notification that someone had bought one a couple of days ago, I had no idea it was Mr Lindelof himself that had ordered it !

Twin Peaks - Shovel Yourself Out
After watching the utter mind blowing madness that is Twin Peaks The Return, I thought I would make an attempt at a design based on the new elements to the TP story.

If you are watching the new series you will recognise Dr Amp and his broadcasts about freedom and shovelling yourself out of the shit with one of his golden shovels.

Photographs For Sale
I have mention before the website ClickaSnap which uses a micro stock photography model so I get a tiny payment every time someone views an image.

The website also allows me to sell photographs as either instant digital downloads or physical prints, printed by clickasnap and sent out to anyone who would like them.

Use this link http://z70.uk/z70clicksale to view an album of all the images for sale on the site. Just click the one you are interested in and you see any purchase options below the photograph.

The photograph you can see at the top is of a Red Fox taken in June and is one of the latest ones on sale. I had gone out with a small group of people to photograph Badgers, unfortunately the Badgers were being shy and didn't appear.

Another photograph taken recently is below, hopefully it is obvious that it is of London. Fiona and I went on a short getaway to see a concert and visit our capital city. There are over 200 photographs of our trip on Flickr, including city views, Robbie Williams, Sunset Pictures,and Dragon Boats ! There was so much to see and do, and after a fairly disappointing weather day this magnificent sky presented itself with moments to spare before sunset.

Twin Peaks - Silver Mustang
Are you watching the new Twin Peaks series ? I am and although it is early on there is a lot of very good weirdness going on.

I wont spoil where this comes from but in the first few episodes we see the Silver Mustang Casino and it plays host to an important event.

If you have seen the scenes set there you will know what this means. I also recreated the original version of the logo as closely as I could, although I haven't quite identified the correct fonts yet.

Doctor Who Nowhere Else To Go
Watching the 10th series of the New Doctor Who era, the third episode "Smile" was a really great story with lots of interesting elements.

One of which was the colonists patch / logo. I decided I wanted to create my own version of it and this is the result.

In the end I added it to a small poster design using part of a quote from the episode and because the name of the mission is Nowhere backwards.

After I created it I found the original patch designer on Twitter @Mr_clark and I think I made quite a good copy.

The Leftovers
If you haven't watched The Leftovers do yourself a favour and start watching immediately. The series has just finished its final season and was one of the TV highlights of the last three years.

These are three designs inspired by the final season, and if you want to know more about them you will need to watch it !

Bonus points if you spot the LOST reference I sneaked in there.

Rouge One
The previous web site article about "Strange Rhapsody" reminded me that I hadn't posted about the t-shirt design you can see in one of the pictures.

When the trailers from the most recent Red Dwarf series were being shown I saw one very brief shot of Red Dwarf moving across a triple sun arrangement.

I knew that I wanted to recreate that scene and I had had the idea of using the words "Rouge One" and a Star Wars type of title ever since the film title Rogue One was announced. So it was a natural fit to combine the two.

I have put this up onto Redbubble if you want one, although there is a minor modification, I simplified it to a Red Dwarf story rather than using the series number.

Strange Rhapsody
You know those moments when you have a completely odd idea on the spur of the moment, and events fall into place so it can happen, well this is one of those times.

I went to the Stoke-Con-Trent scifi / comic convention last weekend, I knew there were a few people I wanted to say hello to including the team from Strangeness In Space

If you don't already know Strangeness In Space is a free SciFi Comedy audio series written by and staring "Trev and Simon" from UK Saturday Morning TV. It also stars Sophie Aldred from Doctor Who, and a whole host of supporting characters from the world of TV and film.

I knew there would be at least four people at the convention, Trev, Simon, Sophie and Clare Eden who is the producer as well as performing many other roles for the series. This is where the odd idea comes in, I thought why not recreate the classic Queen photograph featured on the Queen II album and Bohemian Rhapsody single. It isn't a massive leap, knowing that I am a big Queen fan, but I thought it would be interesting to know if I could achieve it.

After saying hello and re-introducing myself I asked the question and to my delight they agreed to try. It didn't take long to find a quiet spot and organise the picture to be taken.

I then decided that, as the convention is fairly local to home, it would be a great idea to go and process the picture, mainly some small background adjustments, and print a copy to present to the team.

I did just this and about an hour later went back with the picture you can see above. To my delight the Strangeness team were very pleased with the result and decided there and then that the picture could be used to raise some funds for the final part of crowd funding that is currently in progress. By the way I'm the odd looking 5th person at the back in this picture.

What they are doing is raffling off the A3 sized print signed by all four people in the picture. The question is what are you waiting for, go enter the draw it doesn't cost much and will help fund a great audio series - strangenessinspace.com

Living The Staffordshire Life
The very lovely people at Staffordshire Life magazine have published a small article in the April issue about my Jessops and Olympus "WINter" competition win.

To celebrate the occasion and to test out the new equipment I purchased at the recent UK Photo Show I took a selfie !

Ok, not the sort with a mobile phone at arms length, but a studio portrait style picture using remote triggers for flash guns and the shutter.

Apart from the quality of the model in the picture, and how grumpy he looks, I'm quite pleased with the result and look forward to taking some more portrait pictures soon.

If you want to read the article then you can purchase the magazine, or you can click the image to the right to look at a jpg version of the article.

On a related note this winning picture and a few selected others are now available to purchase through the ClickASnap website if you do order any of them please let me know what the experience was like.

Infiltrator Droid
Anyone who is a fan of Star Wars Rebels will recognise this logo, it is the one C1-1OP - Chopper has on it's alternative droid dome when spying on the empire.

This is just my simple version of it, created after watching a recent season 3 episode.

I've also just heard that Rebels will be getting a season 4, which is excellent news and will hopefully tie in even more than it already has to Rogue One and Episode Four.

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