Half Photographer, Half Cyclist, Half Marathon
22nd March 2018 - 0 comments
Well it wasn't me running a half marathon, despite being very fit I can't even run for the bus. But I can cycle. Cycling is not only a passion and my favourite way to keep my body and mind healthy it's also a good mode of transport which came in very useful today. In an earlier post I mentioned how friend and neighbour Kim Scott has set herself the challenge of running a half marathon every week for 52 weeks to raise money for local charity Jessica's Sarcoma Awareness.
I've felt inspired by Kim's mission and have wanted to get some photo's to help build some further support. A relatively free day today and a new camera I wanted to familiarise myself with gave me that opportunity. I wasn't able to join Kim for the full run but did manage to meet up with her in Holywell Village

From there it was a case of jumping on the bike and getting ahead to capture some images at key points as she made her way tough Seaton Delaval and East Cramlington

Not only is a bike easy to park up (you can just prop it up against a fence or wall) it also came in handy as Kim entered Cramlington via the towns network of traffic free routes.

Unfortunately a puncture prevented me from following Kim for the last few miles but I did get one last shot on Crow Hall Lane before reaching for the tyre levers and spare inner tube

For anyone who would like to donate to Kims fundraising efforts please follow this link
Megan's Studio Shoot
10th March 2018 - 0 comments
Most of the studio style photography I get up to is for dance schools and involves me setting up my backdrop and lighting in a dance studio or community centre. The work is enjoyable and fun but with so many dancers to photograph I rarely have the opportunity to get as creative as I'd like. At times it can be like a production line with one dancer after another and when I do get a break between sets I find I need that time to refresh myself before anything else. It's still enjoyable work though.
I was contacted in January by the parent of one of those many dancers, Megan, who is starting to get into modelling and needed some great images for her portfolio. Happy to oblige but knowing my own skills would be limited by my usual set up my first priority was to find a studio I could hire and happily came across Loud and Flashy Studio in Ashington.
With the studio space booked I met with Megan and her mam, Emma, on a cold February afternoon before heading into the warm studio. Megan may be new to modelling but she brought with her some changes of costume and plenty of enthusiasm. We started the shoot on a plain white backdrop with high key lighting which allowed us time to get comfortable working together.

As the shoot progressed Megan went for a change of costume and I used the time to change backdrop and lighting, going for a lower key black backdrop at first. With more great shots in the can I switched to an urban look by using gels to allow the studio lights to cast different colours onto a corrugated steel backdrop

As megan began to feel more relaxed we took a little time out for some hair styling, continued with the urban look for a while then returned to high key setting

By the end of the shoot we had a great selection of images from which Megan has now chosen her favourites.
Whilst I like to keep the pace going I'll always allow models time to relax and look their best.
Of course you don't need to be an aspiring model to look great in front of the camera and the lighting I used in this shoot can be used for any portrait session. With a little imagination there are so many possibilities.
Dancers on a mission for Mel
15th December 2016 - 0 comments
On Saturday 10th December I had the pleasure of capturing a few images of students from the Michaela Percival School of Dance performing in Cramlington Manor Walks Shopping Centre. Choreogrpahed by teacher Corina Callan, the flash mob performace was staged to raise awareness for Mels Mission To Live. Mel suffers from a severe form of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, (EDS)‌, which causes all her joints to dislocate - especially those of her spine and neck, this has become severely life threatening for Mel. She now needs to raise £150K to fund life saving surgery. For more information and to make a donation please follow the link below

Dare2Dance - opening soon
28th June 2015 - 0 comments

We've done the costume shoot, we've done the dress rehearsals and yesterday we enjoyed two fantastic dance shows at Whitley bay Playhouse.
Some beautiful images have been produced from all three weekends which all come out of the camera looking pretty good but most still need a little polish and style.
I'm now at the final stage of selecting the best images from the two shows and backstage candid shots.
You know when a new shop is about to open or an existing one is having a refit, or just a restock, the windows are often blanked out so you can't see inside but you know someone is in there working their socks of getting ready to open up.
Well, right now that's me and I'm now choosing the best stock to put on the shelves.
29th June 2014 - 1 comment

It's been a while since I blogged anything on here, largely as it's been a while since I've had much to blog about or the time to do so. (I don't think I actually have the time now either but hey ho)
Photography for me is strictly part time and fits around my work in cycle training and promotion, sometimes I even manage to marry those two passions. When it comes to photography though my favourite work always comes from photographing performance artists, regardless of their particular discipline, age or level of professionalism.
Over the last few weeks I've had that very pleasure working with Cramlington based Michaela Percival School of Dance as they prepare for and perform in their latest stage show.
MPSoD may seem, at the outset, to be the typical dance school catering for children from an early age right up to the point where they may move on in life or consider dancing not to be as important as it may have been during childhood. What makes the school so special though are the people: the teachers, students, parents and helpers. In fact some of the teaching staff started out as young students and, as they've grown, have created demand for a variety of dance styles from the traditional ballet, tap and ballroom to disco, contemporary, street dance and more.
Once again they've proved how great they are by planning, choreographing and staging a fantastic show. I've been a part of that from the studio costume shoot back in May where we produced some images for the programme, through the dress rehearsals where I have my best opportunity to capture stage action to the final weekend where I top up those stage shots and add some backstage candids. During this weekend I've witnessed the excitement, anticipation and emotion. I've seen dancers running off stage for a frantic costume change, helpers running around like lunatics getting the dancers to and from their dressing rooms, helping with costume and makeup and during all this I've ran around myself capturing the action. I even found myself shooting right into the after show party, amazed that some of the dancers still had stacks of energy.
My work isn't finished though as I have images in the thousands to cut down, process and edit ready for sale. It also seems the shooting isn't finished either as difficulties in costume supply meant that not all group shots were completed. I've also had requests to try and capture particular parts of the performance but, not always able to get the angle I needed during the shows, not al those requests have been catered for.
For now back to the editing and I hope to have the first images on this site within the next week as order envelopes are distributed during the final classes of the summer term.
One Last Shoot. Maybe
28th June 2012 - 0 comments
That was some serious storm this evening but from the news reports and YouTube uploads it looks like Cramlington escaped the worst. As I drove towards the Village community centre to drop off some order forms I couldn't believe the colour of the sky as the approaching storm clouds had a distinct green hue, I thought I was driving into the set of a sci-fi movie. It was obvious a thunderstorm was approaching bringing with it the heaviest downpours we're ever likely to see. But despite the adverse weather I managed to pilot the good ship Merriva down to Mayfields to re-shoot the Put a Spell on you costumes as we'd had a backdrop malfunction on the original shoot. I also needed to shoot the Moves Like Jagger costumes as they hadn't arrived for the original session. So that's the shooting done for this job. Perhaps. One other task left is to select some of the background footage and add a new gallery, that task will be handled over the next day or two. Tomorrow I must change hats and head to Pegswood to deliver some Bikeability training and as I have a policy of travelling by cycle for that work I certainly hope we've had our share of rain for now.
Creating something a little different
27th June 2012 - 0 comments
One of the benefit's of photographing a dance event is that I can enjoy watching a wide variety of dance styles, especially when shooting an event such as Just Dance. The other pleasure is in watching dancers of varying ages and levels of skill taking to the stage and enjoying their art. For some of the younger dancers appearing in a real theatre is quite a big deal whilst the older performers, despite being more used to performing to an audience, still mark these shows a milestone in their lives.
Once the show is over and I complete my task of editing the images ready for print sales one would think my task would be as good as done leaving me to move on to the next job. But photography is my passion as much as dance is to those on stage and I'm always looking at ways of coming up with something a little different, building on my existing work and experimenting to see what happens. One of the ballet pieces, Palladio, was not only a joy to watch but has provided some quite distinctive images due to the deep red stage lighting. How could I use one of these images though to create an entirely new work?
Selecting an image I used my main processing software, Adobe Lightroom, to covert to B&W, adjusting exposure, tone and contrast. From there it was into Photoshop where I applied a textured layer then a vignette to the edges. The result is a B&W image with a slightly vintage look and feel.

Below is the image in three stages from original colour to first B&W and finally the finished art.

Just Dance : Update 26/6/12
26th June 2012 - 2 comments
Well the mammoth task of sorting and uploading the photo''s is complete. In all there are over 1200 images in 35 galleries from four days of photographing. The studio group and individual session was easy enough as the images produced by myself and my associate were taken under controlled conditions so required minimal editing and processing. Dress rehearsals were the next task in hand with the challenge of shooting in low light, often inconsistent but with the freedom to move around the stage. My biggest challenge was shooting live over three performances. It was my choice entirely to work this way and is a challenge I thoroughly enjoy but I was aware how eager people were to see the results and as the order envelopes are going out over this week I really was working to a very tight deadline. Would I be willing to subject myself to this again? you bet I would, not only has it given me the opportunity to capture the excitement of the live action on stage but also to capture a few shots of the dancers backstage and to document this wonderful event.

Update on Just Dance images
25th June 2012 - 0 comments
Just to let everyone know that I''m working hard to get the best images from the weekend processed and uploaded to the web pages. I''ve estimated that I took around 1500 - 2000 shots. I''ve just finished processing Saturdays images (I was up at 4am on Sunday working on those) and the first edit from Sunday have just been uploaded to my computer. Next stage is to make adjustments to colour balance, contrast and sharpness, from there I collate images into folders for each dance so I can compare images from four sessions, select the best and upload. Not all of the images will make it to the finish line and it''s the sorting out that takes the time. Love photographing, enjoy processing but hate having to make choices.

10:25 pm on Monday - all images are now processed and sorted and the final uploads have started but I'm done for today. I will be continuing to upload first thing tomorrow and that final part of the task shouldn't take too long.

Anticipation as performers from Ballet Memories and Stomp wait in the wings for their call to stage
Just Dance, a quick update from the show weekend.
23rd June 2012 - 1 comment
Well it's almost 11 pm on a Saturday evening and I'm sitting at the PC, glass of single malt on the desk and enough images to sink a battleship. Certainly more images than I'm going to use so I'm getting stuck into the task of making a temporary backup then the first cull where the obvious below par images go the journey. From there I download the rest but even they need to be run through quality control. The best will end up on the dedicated web pages alongside the studio images and those taken during dress rehearsal. Passwords for the pages, along with order envelopes, will be distributed through classes over the next week and all images should hopefully be uploaded over the next few days. That is all except the studio images for the Put a Spell On You costumes which need to be re-shot this Thursday.
It's been an absolutely superb day today with a really great atmosphere backstage this evening. There's been a great sense of energy with many of the older dancers appearing in quite a few pieces. let's not forget though how young some of the dancers are and how daunting it must be for them going on stage but what an achievement too. My own daughter was just three when she first started ballet and tap lessons and not much older when she got her first chance to go on stage. She's still dancing and has really enjoyed performing in "Memories" and "Put a spell On You". I know many dancers and their families will be eager to see the images, not long now though so I'll just leave you with the last image I took during the matinee with everyone on stage.

Let The Show Begin : Working with Michaela Percival School Of Dance
20th May 2012 - 0 comments
Michaela Percival has been running a successful dance school in the Cramlington Area for a number of years catering for all ages. Not only do her students learn various styles of dance and work towards nationally recognised grades but the entire school stages a dance show every few years. Leading up to the show images are required for promotion literature and programmes. My part of that task began yesterday with all the students donning their costumes and posing for myself and my associate Tom in a studio we'd set up in a local community centre.
With several hundred shots in the bag I now have the task of sorting and editing but I'm not finished there. Using my stage photography skills I will be shooting during the dress rehearsal to provide an alternative set which will capture the essence of a live show. From those two shoots a selection of images will be compiled and prints made available to the students and their families as a memento of this fantastic event.
So now for me it's on with the task of editing the first batch, in the meantime the students continue to practice for two days of hard work and superb entertainment.
Onwards Into A New Year
09th January 2012 - 0 comments

The post festive lull, when things go very quiet and I can afford myself a little time to think and plan ahead for the future. This time of year also gives me a little more time to shoot simply for my own pleasure and to do a bit more of those other things I enjoy, finding more time to spend with my family or just to get out on one of my bikes and get some fresh air and exercise.
Shooting purely for the pleasure of it has already figured in my activites so far this year with a visit to one of my favourite stretches of the Northumberland coast at Dunstanburgh Castle. That visit not only produced some rewarding images as the rising sun bathed the sky with glorious warm colours but it gave me a little time to think how I can expand the services I offer as a photographer.

Whilst wedding and portrait commissions remain the core of my professional activities with the more creative performing arts work as my niche I aim to draw further on my extensive experience with the camera. Before I turned freelance I was, for many years, a keen hobbyist with a particular interest in landscape images. Also being a parent has meant that my photographic skills have provided some great images of my two children growing up and having fun in the great outdoors, even something as simple as pond dipping at the local woods can provide timeless images to cherish forever. There is an art however to capturing such images and adding a little extra sparkle and it's something which can be done with almost any camera, one just needs to know the techniques and to dare to take control of the settings, moving away from the auto settings which merely try to capture an average image. It's with this in mind that I hope to offer tutorials ranging from basic camera handling through to taking control of manual settings to the finer points of composition and landscape technique.
Whilst you may need a few pieces of specialist equipment to capture images like these.....

It takes nothing more than an understanding of how a camera records the light to produce something like this......

And for an alternative family shot with a little added sparkle it takes nothing more than use of manual control and knowing where to point the camera

And for those who'd rather let the photographer take the effort the above landscape images are available as prints and canvases in a range of sizes, simply contact me for details.
Yesterdays wedding.........
02nd October 2011 - 0 comments
.......was, as always, a pleasure. I was at Longhirst Hall near Morpeth, first time for me at that lovely venue, to capture the ceremony Denise and Keith shared with their family and close friends. For the photographer the ceremony is certainly the most demanding and intense part of any wedding commission but it's not the start, I'd already visited Longhirst to familiarise myself with the venue and gather a few ideas. It's certainly not the end either, I embarked on the next part of the task at 05:30 this morning as I downloaded my images onto the computer to begin the task of editing. They're now imported to Lightroom 3 for the bulk of the processing work as I check and adjust colour balance and exposure, applying a few subtle effects as I go. Most of my images are exported straight to a dedicated folder as finished JPEG's, a few will have a little extra retouching. Then the final selection is uploaded to a client page, password protected, so the Bride and Groom can view before sharing with family and friends as they wish. My next task is designing the album which is only ordered after the couple have approved my design and suggested any changes they may like.
When all that is done I select a few images, blog the wedding in more detail and add my favourites to my portfolio. In the meantime here's something taken during the quieter moments before the ceremony begins.

Hats On For Hilary
23rd September 2011 - 0 comments
Setting up a small business is no easy task, especially in the current economic climate and often one finds oneself seeking some form of help. There are many organisations out there offering funded assistance or special deals for the start up but there are times when good old enterprising means calling in help from friends and family. One recent example was when I spotted a call for help from an old school friend. Hilary is in the process of setting up a small business making winter hats to order and was looking for volunteers to pose for images for her new website. I had the feeling the photography would have been a DIY job so I decided to offer my services. That's what friends are for.

So we set a day when we're both free, gather a small army of volunteers, and arrange to meet in Ridley Park at Blyth. Part of the fun of shooting outdoors is not knowing what the weather may be like and having to cope with the light we're given on the day. I was hoping for reasonable conditions, not too bright and preferably autumnal looking. What we had was rain followed by completely clear skies and overly bright sunshine. Taking shelter from the trees and a handful of umbrellas I set up a single flashgun in a softbox, adding an orange gel to warm the light whilst a cooler white balance compensated for this leaving natural skin tones against a cooler looking background. Then the fun began as hats in many sizes and styles were handed out to our enthusiastic models who were also supplied in many sizes and styles from the young and cute to the young at heart.

We varied locations throughout the park with everyone pitching in ideas and after about an hour and a half a few of us relocated to the beach in search of yet more location ideas. The afternoon seemed to fly by but we achieved quite a lot, not to mention the fun everyone seemed to have.

For more info on the hats please visit Hilary's website
Just a quick update
28th August 2011 - 0 comments
I never see much point in shouting out about the ordinary jobs I get and the jobs which are worth shouting about don't come all that often. One of those jobs did come along though but that will be saved for it's own post when I can add some images, all I'll say is that I spent yesterday afternoon with Surface Area Dance Theatre during the rehearsals for "The Hard Sell". I always enjoy working with SADT partly because it allows me to feed off their own creativity and produce some visually stunning images.
Recent shoots have included some family portraits and a portfolio shoot with a model, images from which will also be added to the site in due course. Another recent opportunity saw me spending a couple of hours shooting some ice hockey, no big league stuff, just a local recreational team my brother-in-law plays for, but there's no shortage of action to keep me on my toes and hone my sharp shooting skills, I suppose it's a bit like an athlete training for competition.
Next on the horizon is a family fun day at West Hartford Fire Station in Cramlington. There'll be loads of activities and challenges taking place throughout the afternoon of Staurday 3rd September and I'll be wandering around with my camera taking shots of the action. Visitors will be able to purchase prints on the day with a donation from sales being split between the Princess Ellie Trust raising money for research into meningitis and the Firefighters Charity. I also have some more portfolio work to arrange but thiat depends on the availability of myself, the other participants and of course the good old British weather. having said that on my last shoot I triumphed against frequent passing spells of rain.
There's plenty of "behind the scenes" work to keep me busy with album design and client consultations which are all part of the service I offer in my wedding coverage ans I'm also continuing to take enqiries for 2012 weddings but still have plenty availability from this November onwards. I'm also planning a refresh of this site with a slight change to the layout and I'll be moving my landscape images to another site so i can concentrate on the core of my business, weddings, events and portraits.

So that's it for now, watch this space for an update on my work with surface Area Dance Theatre and a report on the Fire Station Open Day
The Wedding of Laura & Dan
15th August 2011 - 0 comments
A gorgeous June day saw me photographing the wedding of Laura & Dan at North Shields registry office. Part of my brief was to capture some images of the bridal preparation however circumstances on the day dictated otherwise and I had to contend myself with some nice shots of Laura and her dad Ian just before they set off for the ceremony.

On arriving at North Shields Registry Office I prepared myself for the imminent arrival of the wedding car then I was off up to the first floor in readiness for the start of the ceremony, capturing a few images of the pensive groom as we waited. Laura was just late enough to be fashionable and entered the room happy and smiling. The emotions kicked in and, as she took her seat, the tears started. Everyone, bride included, saw the funny side of those tears washing out her false eyelashes.

Allowing Laura time to recompose herself the registrar began the ceremony and as vows and rings were exchanged I discretely captured those important moments from my position tucked into a handy corner. Following the signing of the register I moved forward to set up some poses around the table, diligently arranging the floral display to fit in my composition.

Repositioning myself near the exit I then captured the newlyweds as they made their way out, stopping to pose for a few more shots on the imposing staircase. North Shields Registry Office has a private terrace which can be used for group photo's overlooking the river Tyne, however some damage to the gutters above meant a temporary closure. Fortunately there is a reasonably attractive paved area at the front of the building which provided enough space to capture the group photo's.

Afterwards there was a short journey down to the Fish Quay where the reception was held at Cassia Sambucca. At one time the thriving hub of the local fishing industry North Sheilds of today pales in comparison to it's heyday. There is still a reasonable trade in fresh fish but the fishing vessels are fewer than they once were, however a sailing boat moored buy the quayside provided a great backdrop for a few more formal images.

After working in the limited space to capture further shots during the reception with the all important speeches it was time for me to bid Laura & Dan a farewell, wish them a happy future together and thank them for allowing me to be part of their special day.

One City, Two Weekends, Two Dance Events, Two Historic Locations
20th July 2011 - 1 comment
Long title but it's taken me even longer to get round to blogging this. Last year saw my first foray into performing arts photography as a guest of Surface Area Dance Theatre when they performed "Saros" in the disused Pilgrim Street Fire Station. This lead to further work not only with Surface area but with some other local companies. Roughly a year after that first encounter and I find myself back working with Surface Area documenting their latest piece "Reparation". Actually this was the fourth time we'd worked together with previous pieces "Buried" and "Dust" being documented by myself.
Surface Area are noted for staging their performances in some of the unlikeliest but most striking locations and Reparation was to be no exception as it was planned to take place in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne's Norman Keep.
With just a week to go I'd been busy with a few other commissions and was looking forward to covering a gig on the Saturday evening however a last minute cancellation meant I was at a loose end. I could have taken the evening off and stayed home with a DVD but I was keyed up for a shoot. Spotting another dance event being staged as part of "The Late Shows" I took the opportunity to get down to The Stephenson Works with my camera. As I hadn't been commissioned in any way and was merely using the event as an opportunity to network and to add a bit of variety to my portfolio meant that I had the opportunity to experiment a little. The Stephenson Works was opened in 1823 by George and Robert Stephenson and was the worlds first purpose built locomotive works. The space inside is quite vast and worked well as an open informal dance space where Nicole Vivien Watson, Molly Hodgkinson, Tim Bennett and Beth Loughran could perform their partially improvised piece. Not everything worked but I was able to think about how I could improve on an idea of using long exposures to create ghosting effects.

There were of course plenty of images captured using my tried and tested techniques.

The following Friday I was back to doing what I get paid to do, provide high quality images in often challenging situations. Nicole had asked me to attend the rehearsals and preview performance for reparation which was to be performed by molly and set to live music by Mico and Dave Nuss of New York's No Neck Blues Band using such instruments as a Hurdy Gurdy and Singing Bowl. The Castle Keep was built between 1168 & 1178 and is a stunning location. The challenge for me was not only working live in such a confined space with no time for any re-takes but doing so alongside a videographer.

Fortunately I was able to capture everything I needed during rehearsals to give a real sense of the piece. especially so as the acoustics, whilst enhancing the minimalist music, meant that every single noise my camera made would be amplified, I'd already made my mind up that I wouldn't be shooting during the preview but I was able to enjoy the performance form an audience members perspective for once.

Not only was I documenting the event for Surface Area but The Wire magazine were doing a review of the performance and needed an image. This one made the national press.
The Wedding of Dee And Steve, St Nicholas Church, Cramlington 21st May 2011
18th June 2011 - 1 comment
St. Nicholas church is set within Cramlington Village which is tucked neatly between the modern shopping centre and the surrounding housing estates. With no through traffic this provides a lovely peaceful location for a wedding. I'd been booked by Dee and Steve to provide relaxed natural coverage of their ceremony followed by a reception at Northern Rugby Club in Gosforth. My day started just after 2 pm ready for the first guest to arrive followed by Steve and his best man. When the gold Rolls Royce arrived with the bridesmaids I knew I'd have a little time to capture some images of them dressed in beautiful pale blue before the car returned with Dee ready for her big day.

A wedding is a very important day in someone's life and photographic coverage needs to be unobtrusive and sympathetic to the intimacy of the ceremony. I'm pleased to say that I was noticed for being, well, hardly noticed throughout yet I managed to capture some beautiful images which portray the story of the day. Once outside it was time for me to stake my ground, gently though so as not to be too domineering, and capture some group shots.

An old London bus had been hired to take the wedding party to the reception and it was my intention to capture at least one image of the bus en-route. This I did on Fisher lane near Seaton Burn Roundabout giving me enough time to get back in my car and head the buss off before it reached it's destination.

Once at the reception I busied myself capturing the guests arriving, the bride and groom mingling and the children making the most of the open space of the rugby pitch before a few more outdoor formals are taken. Then it's on to the speeches which never fail to provide some great expressions of surprise and mild embarrassment .

I concluded my stint with the first dance to live music by provided by enduring Tyneside R&B group The Junco Partners and a great rendition of the Chuck Berry song "You Never Can Tell". With five memory cards from two camera's to edit I bid Dee and Steve a farewell and thank them for asking me to play a key part of their big day.

Dancers At The Beach
18th May 2011 - 0 comments
Shooting outdoors you're never really sure what the weather has in store and, more importantly, what the light is going to be like. You can check the forecast and get a general idea of the conditions you'll be working with but we all know how changeable the British weather is. Especially on the North east Coast.
As it turned out on one of my latest shoots the conditions could not have been much better, there was some nicely diffused sunlight, interesting clouds out to sea and, over to the west, some heavy cloud developed toward the end of the evening. That heavy cloud added drama to my final images. As I was working with four of the older students from The Michaela Percival School Of Dancing a bit of drama gave my images so much more impact than I could have achieved working in a studio.
On arrival at Blyth beach though there seemed to be quite a bit of sea spray and haze hanging around and at first I thought I would be struggling with the light. Fortunately I carry a portable lighting setup by way of three flashguns, two brollies, a softbox and wireless triggering system. As I wanted to make the most of the surroundings though I opted for a single flash inside a softbox, combined with an orange gel to warm the light. I then compensated with a cooler white balance, this keeps the skin tones realistically warm and, at the same time, intensifies the blue tomes in the sky.
The first shots we took made use of some low wooden platforms, treating them as mini stages. I benefited from some great creative input from my willing participants as they used their dancing skills to strike some great poses.

With those first shots in the bag it was then on to the concrete outfall. I'd planned the shoot to coincide with the tide being in and, with a light wind coming from the east, we were treat to some great wave action. My main aim was to capture some jump shots but we also worked out a few other ideas, some from me and some from Corina, Megan, Reid and Sophie.
A suggestion was then made to do some cartwheels on the sand but all this barefoot barmyness was leading to cold toes so we warmed up with thick socks and reviewed the work we'd done.

At this point the sun was beginning to cast it's orange glow through gaps in the heavy cloud so we headed onto the grass for some more shots before another suggestion was made to use the beach huts as a setting. We then wrapped the evening up with a final shot using that dark cloud as a backdrop to a scary pose from Reid and Megan.

I'm not sure if my four accomplices quite knew what I had in store for them, more so how much input they'd have but we all had a great time and they have some great images as a result of their hard work and tolerance to the cold North Sea.
Strange place to play the drums!
06th May 2011 - 0 comments
When my dad was a lad the North east of England was rich in coal mining activity. Those days are long gone but many legacies remain, slag heaps have been landscaped and turned into recreation areas and former waggonways have been used to create a vast network of footpaths and cycle routes. Just to the north of Newcastle is one of these old heaps, Weetslade, and a well surfaced track leads to the top. I'ts not too hard a climb on a decent bike and after enjoying the views stretching as far as the Cheviots there's an exhilarating descent back down to that network of cycle paths. I quite often use this area when I have an hour or so spare just to take the mountain bike out for a spin and blow out the cobwebs. Secretly I'd love to get on the road bike and head for those further hills to the North but never seem to have the time.
What's all this got to do with photography then?
Should I confuse you even more by bringing a drummer into the mix?
O.K then. A few weeks back I'd done some promo shots for Neal Wood, using a community centre as a makeshift studio. I did get a few good shots but struggled a bit with the lighting. With the room lights on I couldn't darken the background enough, without them I couldn't focus very well.

I was also wanting to do something a little different so we decided to scout out an outdoor location. Weetslade heap was Neal's suggestion, being local and easy to access and I was happy to go along with that though I did have a few more outlandish locations in mind but they had a few too many drawbacks.
We actually started the shoot at a slightly different location, one of the old waggonways which links to the hill heads eastward toward the coast and passes under the A189. The underpass, not surprisingly, has had a number of visits from local graffiti artists and I thought this would make an interesting backdrop. Neal did at one point proclaim that it was the weirdest place he'd ever set up a drumkit but with my SB900 in a softbox, a gold reflector next to me and my 35mm prime lens we set about capturing the first images of the evening.

With the last hour of sunlight upon us it was time to relocate to the hill and, with the help of Neal's friend, we began our ascent. With almost my full kit on my back and two heavy duty lightstands I also ended up carrying the drum stool. Now that brings us sweetly back to the cycling. Walking up thet hill was a bit of a hard slog but thankfully all that cycling keeps me pretty fit and I took things in my stride. With the sun dipping toward the horizon it was time to did a second flashgun out of the bag to throw a bit extra light onto Neal. I also switched lenses, first to my 24-70 f2.8 then to my Sigma 10-20 for some wider shots.

So, two different locations in one evening and one more happy customer. I'm now planning to do a shoot with some dancers, I wonder what kind of location I might pass next time I'm out on the bike.