Welcome to my photography blog where I will share with you my photographic efforts and some of the stories behind these photos. I am keen amateur photographer and took up the hobby in September 2011. In November 2012 I self published a charity photographic book on Amazon "Beating Bowel Cancer", which contained my photographic efforts to raise money for the charity of the same name. I enjoy the challenge of learning new techniques and photographic composition. I might not always get it right, but I have great fun trying...

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Fallen Tree

The December storms in the lead up to Christmas swept pretty much across the entire country, and even in the Thames Valley we experienced torrential rain and gales bringing down trees and causing localised flooding. This tree had come down on the A4155 right outside the entrance to my work estate between Marlow and Henley. Its quite difficult to get a sense of scale when trying to photograph this kind of scene, so I tried capturing it from more than one angle. I think in the first picture the fact that the tree is blocking half the road shows it was a pretty big one and fortunate that it hadn't hit a vehicle.

The view from across the road in the second photo tells a  slightly different story as from 20 yards or so the scene completely loses any sense of scale for me. However it does reveal a little bit about the road. This stretch of road is a notorious section where cars put their foot down and do some pretty daft overtaking. The view of the bend is going towards Marlow and cars approaching it from Henley have a long straight where they really go for it ignoring the 40 mph speed signs. From the Marlow end going in the opposite direction cars can barely wait to negotiate the bend before hitting the floor, and even whilst I was taking these photos I saw a car overtaking in a dangerous manner ignoring a complete lack of view due to the fallen tree.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Now That's a Pond!

One can only dream of owning a house with a garden big enough to accommodate such a large and stunning pond. When I lived in Buckingham a few years ago I was proud of my pond with a couple of koi in it, but it as absolutely minute compared to this one. The setting is a few miles to the north of Kirkby Lonsdale in the heart of Cumbria where mum was visiting friends a year ago. There are two views of the pond with the first photo taken looking from the back of the house out towards the hills and countryside. I was pleased with this effort as I took care in the composition, and for me it has layers from the reeds at the front, followed by the pond and trees right to the hills at the very back. The second photo was taken from the other side of the pond looking back towards the beautiful house. There is never a shortage of photo opportunities in this part of England and on this particular late autumnal day we were blessed with a lovely sunny day. And yet driving up 48 hours earlier we had to divert off the motorway due to the snow!

Sunday, 8 December 2013

The Best Seat In The House at Henley Royal Regatta

It's always a highlight of my year spending an afternoon at Henley Royal Regatta sitting in the deckchairs watching the rowing. The world gently passes by and work can be pushed aside for a few hours. It seems there is always something new and interesting to observe each year at the regatta. I took this photo back in 2012 when we were blessed with an afternoon of gorgeous sunny weather. The duck in the picture seemed very interested in the rowing as it settled itself in this prime spot close to the finish line and stayed there for ages as the rowers raced past. Not only was it an interesting subject to photograph, but I thought the river provided the perfect backdrop with the sun's sparking reflection.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

A December Sunrise

The sunrise this morning was quite simply spectacular. It is not often we are treated to such a scene, and at this time of the year the timing is perfect as when I leave my house it is pitch black, but by the time I arrive at work the sun is just rising. Usually I would take a picture with my mobile phone camera, but today I knew it was one of those occasions where the proper camera had to come out to play! There is almost no editing here, just a tweak to the contrast and a touch of sharpening. Most importantly is what you see here is what I was looking at earlier.

I don't think the two dogs were too impressed though as their usual morning stroll was interrupted on three occasions for me to get the camera out. In this 2nd photo I stopped by the finishing lake, which is just behind the units at work.The reflection on the still water was stunning...

When I got out into the back field it was the amazing sky that took over. To be honest as beautiful as the early morning scene was I could have been anywhere photographing this skyscape.

As I move forwards with this I am hoping to include many more photos I take on the day of the blog. Sometimes its refreshing just to take spontaneous photos without too much planning or thought, as in this case the composition obviously took care of itself...

Wednesday, 4 December 2013


What a difference a year makes. November 2012 saw rain, rain and more rain with a bit of snow added into the mix. As I touch a piece of wood as we enter the last couple of weeks of Autumn 2013 the mad weather of last year has not yet repeated itself. The flooding was of course pretty devastating for many communities. I live on top of a hill so I am not at risk at home. Work is a slightly different matter being so close to the river and I did find out some months later that it was only emergency pumping that stopped my business estate from flooding. The fields on the farm at work are only a couple of hundred metres from the river Thames and it was no surprise when the river broke its banks. The flood water bypassed the estate and flooded the fields next to us. This gave me the perfect opportunity to get my camera out and it was a pretty amazing scene. This single tree usually stands above rapeseed or corn plants, but it was now completely surrounded by the flood water. I played around in editing with colour filters mostly because on the day I took the photos it was pretty grey and dull and I wanted to bring some colour and vibrancy to the scene. 

The two photos below were taken from pretty much the same position, the first one just tweaked with the colour filter, and the lower picture taken in 3 parts using the panoramic setting. I love trying out different ideas on capturing the same scene.

Friday, 29 November 2013

Experimenting With Photography... Same Scene 2 Shots

The great thing about digital photography is you can afford to experiment as much as you like. This luxury as opposed to the old style traditional film processing route means the photographer can take as many shots as is required to capture a scene and in as many different ways as they like. Composition is something I have worked very hard on over the last couple of years, trying to put as much thought into my photo taking as I can. These two photos were taken at work in April on one of my daily walks with the dogs when I wanted to photograph the new born lambs. I decided to use the tree right in front of me to provide some contrast to the scene. The first photo I took with the camera focusing on the lambs thereby shifting the tree out of focus, and then I reversed the focus to have it on the tree in the second shot. I was pleased the results and it just was something good to try out seeing just how I differently could capture the same scene. I am not sure how interested the dogs were with all this as it interrupted their walk!

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Sunsets Everywhere I Go

Over the last couple of years I have become very appreciated of the sights all around me and none more so than sunsets, and the fact that it really doesn't matter where you are they can be amazing. The landscape view was taken in October on the A40 between Oxford and Witney. I was taking my mum up to see my sister and her family, and as we approached Oxford we could see this marvellous sky scape. Fortunately I had my camera in the boot of the car so we pulled over in a layby and I climbed up the bank to get the above shot. I used the panaromic setting on the camera as it was impossible to get the whole view into one shot. I was able to stitch 3 photos together in editing to get the final shot. Mum also got involved as was clambering up the bank herself to get a photo on her camera!

A month earlier I was driving back home to Reading when for miles I could see this wonderful setting sun behind the clouds. I was able to pull over on the side of the busy A4 and get my camera out. As you can see from the TV aerials the location didn't matter. In this instance I wanted to get as much of the sky into the shot as possible so took the photo in a portrait layout

Getting a shot from Eton looking towards the M4 and this stunning orange sunset was a particularly pleasing photo. In fact I was so happy with the photo that I included it in the Beating Bowel Cancer book. I love the way the busy M4 provides the perfect subtle foreground to what was a beautiful sunset. Once again it was a case of pulling over onto a grass verge on a dual carriageway and taking the shot there and then. It certainly pays off to keep a camera in whatever vehicle I am driving when possible.

The final shot was taken in the car park of the St George & Dragon pub in Wargrave as winter neared its end in March 2012. This was a very spontaneous shot as I was driving home and I knew that the view across the river looking westwards is very picturesque. In some ways the sunset was less interesting on this oaccasion due to the lack of clouds, but the reflection in the still river made for a good photo opportunity. This was the venue of my parents wedding reception some 50 years earlier!

The opportunities for sunset photography are endless and no doubt I will be adding to this collection of photographs.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Portrait of my Niece

Let's face it who does feel 100% comfortable in front of a camera? Last weekend my best buddy Ad came round and was taking portrait shots of me and I found it very different to totally relax. I think in some ways children are better are doing this than adults as although when they play up they really do so, they do seem much more able to relax when a camera is floating around. I find portrait photography quite a challenge and my preferred method is to take pictures in a natural environment rather than have the subject pose for me.

My niece Anna can be extremely mischievous when she is asked to pose for a photo. She has an ability to pull funny smiles than can only come to the surface when a camera is pointed at her. However she is also very photogenic and I love the photographic opportunities I get with her every now and then. The first photo was taken around her 6th birthday in 2012 and it was a portrait shot that she had no idea I was taking. I was able to lie on the grass in their garden quite close to her and snap away. I love the beautiful innocence, the light in her eyes and her wonderful hair.

The second photo was taken a week or so earlier at Littlewick Show near Maidenhead, which is a show that our mum has been associated with for more years than should be broadcast here. It's a lovely annual event and we always try to go there if we all can. On this particular occasion Anna's attention was diverted by ice cream, always a sure fire winner. I took a very close up shot, partly because in the photo competition at the show that year the winning portrait shot was of a similar nature so I was keen to try out that type of photography.

Finally Anna adores dogs and is desperate for a dog. Her preffered breed is pugs! She likes my two staffys Storm and Prince, but her favourite dog from that avenue is Bronson! He's a complete softy and I took this photo at a family lunch at The Cricketers at Littlewick Green on the May Day bank holiday weekend.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Companions In The Bluebells

One of my personal favourite photos I have taken in 2013 is this photo of my two ever present companions at work. On the left we have Storm who is mum, and on the right her son Prince. I am fortunate enough to work out in the countryside between Marlow and Henley so there are ample walking opportunities.

There was an element of risk attached to taking this photo as I had to trust Storm and Prince to sit and not run off! Prince especially would potentially run after anything that moves in the woods. Fortunately he was very well behaved as was Storm who normally hates having her photo taken.

The photo was taken in May with the bluebells out in full bloom and although they only last for a few weeks they are wonderful and my favorite spring flower. There was very little done in the way of editing and this for me is simply a lovely photo of family pets and I have had enlarged copies developed and now just need to find a decent frame and they will take pride of place at home.

The photo below was taken pretty much in the same place and captures more of the bluebells in the stunning location. This is a public footpath, but I think I will keep the exact location to myself! :)

The Unicyclist

Welcome to the first blog showcasing my photographic efforts, and for the first photo we go back to a cold Saturday morning in January 2013 on the promenade at Prestatyn in North Wales. Every year at this time I make a weekend pilgrimage to North Wales to see my favourite band The Alarm who I have been following now for over 30 years. This annual event known as The Gathering draws fans in from all over the globe and many make a much longer trip than my 450 mile round trip. I have going to the event for the last 12-13 years, sometimes with friends and sometimes like this year I went on my own. Going on my own lessens the potential for hangover damage and also gives me time to get out and about with my camera, but it does limit the laugh factor that you get on a weekend away with best mates.

Living in Reading I don't get too many opportunities to do seaside photography, and it wasn't exactly summertime traditional seaside weather, but as you can see I captured a very unusual scene. As soon as I saw the unicyclist I grabbed my camera surreptitiously as I wanted to capture him in action without him putting on a performance for me. I decided that the best setting on the camera was the hi speed burst setting. As he went by I already had the background so it was really a case of snapping away and seeing how good a shot I could get.

As far as the composition goes I was really happy with the photo. There is plenty going on. Aside from the unicyclist there is the lively Irish sea in the background along with the fishermen at the other end of the promenade. I think the fishermen really add to the photo as I not only wonder about the unicyclist, but also what drives men like these to spend their day fishing in Arctic like conditions.

In editing I decided to go for a predominantly black and white photo. I used selective colouring to isolate the marvellous red hat he was wearing and then really just tweaked the contrast a little. I am glad I captured this shot as in 2014 the event moves back to the more stately surroundings of Llandudno a few miles further along the coast and I doubt that I will get quite the same opportunity, but then again who knows???