Friday, 31 August 2018

Completed task list

harvey's beer wild hop blonde cycling bricklayers arms chipstead

It's not often I get to cycle during the week. Today I cycled to a pub I have been to a few times. Both on my own and with friends. It's also the destination known as the lake. Chipstead and back is around 30 miles so it's a good distance if I have some spare time, but not enough to get to Brighton and back.

I had the week off and thought about cycling every day, but bad weather at the start of the week and a lengthening task list meant it was not to be. This morning I completed the last item on the list and was free for the afternoon. As always when I'm on my own there was a moment where I could easily have stayed in the house, and as is also always the case, I was glad that I didn't.

The early morning rides mean the Bricklayers Arms at Chipstead is closed. Today I left the house at around 11 o'clock and arrived just before the lunchtime rush started. I got a seat outside and ordered a pint of Harveys Wild Hop blonde beer, not too heavy but very tasty. And a burger. It was a little pricier than I expected but worth it. So much so that I didn't stop to take a picture. I gave them a great Trip Advisor review after my last visit, and the quality was just as good this time.

harvey's beer wild hop blonde cycling bricklayers arms chipstead empty plate glass


Then on the way back the constant reminder that this glorious summer was coming to an end. Cloudy sky and bales of hay in the fields.

field harvested bales of hay

As if this wasn't bad enough, work on Monday.

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Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Lookbook shoot

model headshot orange top


It's been a while since Janayah and I had a photoshoot, not far off a year in fact. She emailed me about producing a modeling lookbook. The shoots always go well and produce better and better pictures so I said yes straight away.

It was planned a while ago while the weather was incredible, as the day drew closer though it became more unpredictable. As it turned out it was overcast without too strong a breeze; perfect. We meet late in the afternoon and the south bank of the Thames was very busy so we moved north, which was a good decision. The streets were nearly empty and we found two locations that worked well with the Janayahs' outfits. We quickly dropped into the easy rhythm that characterise our shoots, and make them so productive.

There was also no jobsworth quoting non-existent rules to stop us, unlike Saturday at the hill garden pergola on Hampstead Heath. Actually people were very helpful, the Pret a Manger near our first stop and Cafe Rouge near the second allowed Janayah to get changed in their facilities.

I used two lenses, a 35-70mm F2.8; a zoom and a 85mm F1.8; a prime. When I have the room the 85 is the one I prefer. It's not just the shallower depth of field, but the colour, sharpness and tone of the pictures it delivers, they are all more pleasing. I can make changes during processing, but the shots from the 35-70mm are still missing the polish of the 85mm. It's a good lens, until I compare it to the prime. I have a 50mm F1.8, I will maybe just use the two prime lenses for the next shoot.

The pink tracksuit were taken with the zoom lens, the orange top with the prime lens.

pink tracksuit sitting

pink tracksuit sitting


pink tracksuit standing

model full length orange top

model three quarter orange top

model three quarter orange top

model headshot orange top




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Monday, 27 August 2018

Wandering

horse magpie field


Cycling this morning and saw these two friends having a chat over breakfast. Much like Matt and I most weekends. But unfortunately not today. I was in the garage when I had a text about a change of plans. This always prompts an internal discussion, return to the house or go for a ride.

I decided to go out, but where to? Westerham had been our planned destination, but it just seemed too far now. I cycled aimlessly for a while; deciding at each junction, left or right? And found myself in Westerham. The tea room was closed, there were other places open. But I didn't fancy sitting alone in what you might call a formal breakfast establishment. I choose a bench and ate both lots of cereal bars. Then headed home.

field harvest wheat

When I had left the house the sky was dull and grey, and there was a chill in the air. Now as I retraced
my route the sun was out and there were patches of blue sky, but the view through gaps in the hedgerows confirmed summer is over. I don't think it will be too bad for a while yet, but I'll be digging out the extra layers that haven't been needed for six months. At least we have the cottage as a winter stop.

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Sunday, 26 August 2018

No photos at the weekend.



Today was a first for me. I got told I couldn't take photos, and had to leave a location. I did check the website beforehand, it said commercial photography needed a permit, this is a hobby so no problem. But oh no, the jobsworth (JW) had to throw his weight around.

I arrived and took pictures of the location, JW didn't like that. He told me I couldn't take photo commercially, I said it's only a hobby. Not convinced he loitered close by. I'm not sure what his problem was, maybe a "big pro like" camera meant I could only be a pro photographer. When Sam arrived JW's spider sense went into overdrive. He marched over and told us we needed a permit. And that would only give us a weekday pass, no photography was allowed at the weekend. Again I said it was just a hobby and there wasn't a commercial angle. He then said if you post on Facebook etc that was marketing and wasn't allowed. I had to laugh, I had seen plenty of pictures of this place on social media. It seemed to me the location would be benefiting from any marketing.

It was a weird situation, a tourist location that you can't photograph and certainly can't post on social media.

We left and started shooting just outside the walled off area.

suite leaning against a wall
shirt and trousers leaning against a wall black and white
shirt and trousers sun glasses black and white

shirt and trousers sun glasses black and white



 We chanced it for one sneaky shot with me on the other side of the fence and Sam inside.

shirt and trousers black and white
shirt and trousers


Caught by JW, he then compared us to children. So it wasn't all bad.

Which one do you think looks better, the black and white or colour version?



























Then one as we left the park.

shirt and trousers seated on a bench

I haven't photographed many men so it was a change to have to think about different angles and poses. Especially when JW had made a great location off limits.

But even with the change I liked what we achieved, and I had another photography experience.

What a tourist would have thought had they tried taking some pictures and been marched off, JW even threatened to call the police. I'm sure they have more important things to do.

At the end of the day no-one died, the structure didn't collapse or suffer any damage and I got some good photographs and a story to tell.

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Saturday, 18 August 2018

Stephen and John's wedding

My first wedding photography post was shortly after the big day.

I have now delivered the pictures and the initial feedback is good. What a relief.

I really wanted to deliver the best pictures I could, so I kept checking back on the ones I had completed. Did I miss a bit of tidying up, is the exposure consistent across the set? Depending on the available light, I switched from using fill in flash to just natural light and then to pictures predominately lit by flash for the reception in the marquee. I also kept an eye on white balance, John's suit especially needed to look the same colour all the way through the day. Stephen's white suit was a challenge. In direct sunlight or if the flash was too strong it was over exposed while the rest of the shot was perfectly lit. I focused on his suit and made small adjustments to the rest of the image.

The next phase is the creation of the wedding album. I'll catchup with Stephen and John when they return from their holiday.

Here are a few of my favourites.

wedding arriving


wedding The happy couple signing the register
The happy couple signing the register
wedding leaving licence in hand
Licence in hand

wedding back at the house garden seat

wedding the rings

wedding the reception

I thought the themed colour bringing the whole day together was a great idea.

wedding group shot
A big group shot.

I had to shoot from an upstairs window for the group shot. The garden was a brilliant venue for the reception, it allowed me to get everyone in.

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A cottage in the woods



I know it's not exactly a cottage, but it is the best structure we have found bar a cafe or pub. Last weekend we discovered a track and vowed to return.

Matt at the start of the track
Initially we were disappointed, the path circled a pheasant pen. It was narrow, very uneven and had nettles on one side and an electrified fence on the other. We did a full loop without realising, then altered our route along some wider pebble paths. Eventually we came across the building above. I'm guessing it's used by pheasant shooters, it will be a regular destination for us now.

The talk touched on politics, but we avoid prolonged chats on this topic. Much better to have a laugh and plan our return to this place. This would be great in the snow. Not so far from the road to be unreachable, but far enough that we would be the only travellers.

Matt always writes more than me on his blog, I can never remember much. I'll concentrate on the photography, Matt the writing.

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Sunday, 12 August 2018

Exploration

Yesterday we cycled to the Tatsfield church yard, a staple location for us. I was running late so again the longer ride to the lakes was out.

It's a good place to stop for tea and cereal bars. Not much evidence of the recent rain, just a little wet grass.

The weather was great, a gentle breeze and the right amount of sun. Previous weekends the temperature would have been starting to rise by the time we headed home. Making for a sweaty return journey.












Today we decided to visit a place not often cycled to. I nearly regretted it though. The off-road path was steep down hill and uneven. It was very narrow, and bordered by stinging nettles. Not a problem for Matt, he was wearing long trousers. Me, not so much; I was wearing shorts. We talked about how disappointed we were that the path wasn't cleared. It is amazing how much we take for granted. A rarely used path in the middle of nowhere, and we were complaining it hadn't been tidied up.

exploration cycling stile

The path leads to a stile, no fence, just a stile at the edge of the field. Doesn't make sense to have one there. But it does provide a seat.

We had planned to continue along the path but it was completely impassable. So we cycled around the field along a track. A short distance and we were on a footpath, we only had a vague idea where we were. Relying on our inbuilt sense of direction we eventually came across the Limpsfield road, turned right and headed to the green. Next weekend we'll be back, starting from this point, and exploring some of the other paths we passed.

exploration cycling sign
Us at a signpost. Which way?

cycling sognpost

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Saturday, 11 August 2018

From a hobby to a profession

On the 21st July I shot my first full wedding, click here to see the post. It's taken me until this weekend to process the pictures.

If you read my post you'll know a bit about it. The day was very hot and more intense than I expected. I wanted to test myself and set a target for the resultant collection.

Now it's done I am pleased with the set. I hope the couple and their guests are too.

It gave me a lot to think about the direction my photography should go. I'll hold off on weddings for now, let this one sink in. It's not that I didn't like doing it, I did. I need to think how doing more will affect my passion for photography. It's one thing to have a hobby that you can take or leave as you feel, another to have clients expecting you to deliver. My main job is tech support so I know about delivering on promises and targets. It's what I like about it.

For a short time I helped a friend at track-day event photography. But I did it when I had time, or fancied it. There were a couple of events where I was the only photographer. A bit more pressure because if I didn't get it right Jenny would lose out financially.

I think I have a good idea what it could be like as a full-time photography, maybe I also need to decide what sector it should be in.

A short post then as I plan my next photography steps.

Watch this space.


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Sunday, 5 August 2018

When will it end?

summer cycling field view


The summer this year has been incredible, I know I have said it before. But every weekend I can't believe how good the cycling has been. It's been months since the weather has caused an abort. The torrential rain last Sunday just wasn't worth braving. But the feeling of disappointment is a reminder of what it's normally like. And of what is to come.

But let's not think about the end of summer while it's so good.

When Matt and I met yesterday we had previously decided on a long ride to the lakes, but time constraints meant a slightly shorter ride to have tea with Winston Churchill.

On the way we were passed by loads of road bike riders. One guy slowed for a chat. He was wearing an Oxted CC jersey so I asked if he knew Pat. Pat was the person who had given me two energy gels that helped me get to the end of the recent Caterham to Canterbury ride. He said it sounded like the kind of thing Pat would do; just goes to show it's a small world.

summer cycling winston churchill westerham

When we arrived at Westerham Green a cyclist asked if we knew the area. She wanted to know if there was a bike shop; her chain had snapped. We pointed across the green to the Cyclery. She said it didn't look open, we informed her it was likely open, we had consumed tea and cake there in the past. With that she pushed her bike towards shop and we sat down to start our tea and cereal bars. She walked passed us a short time later, sans bike, on her way to Costa. Maybe the Cyclery cafe wasn't open.

It made us think about what she would have done if there was no local workshop. We know how far the closest station is, Oxted, it's a twenty to thirty minute walk. It's a trek we undertaken in the past. In the early days of our cycling we didn't carry tools, not even a puncture repair kit. Incredible I know; more than once we walked to Oxted and caught the train, or even walked all the way home. Eventually we started carrying a repair kit and spare tubes. What would have we done with a broken chain? How many tools and spares should we carry?


I am now back from today's ride. I don't know what to say, it was sunny with a cooling breeze. I can't think how it could have been better. We decided to follow a narrow track, a bit of exploration. 

The track opened on to a field, we cycled to the middle and stopped for tea and cereal bars. 

stop for tea in a field

This has to be the best location for a great view.

cycling field summer great view

At the other side of the field was a path through woods that lead back to the road.


cycling through woods


Fingers crossed we get more weekends like this.


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