A Commercial Photographer and Filmmaker's Blog.

Giving you a bit more detail about some of the things I get up to with a camera for moving and still images.

New Year, New GDPR Law - January 2018

happy new year 2018.

So here we are in 2018 and looking forward to fresh challenges as a creative and as a small business owner. There are of course the usual thoughts about how to grow my client base and making new personal work that expands my own experience and knowledge and offers me some creative satisfaction. This year though there will be a new challenge for the business; GDPR or to use its longer title General Data Protection Regulation. This is a new European law that comes into effect in May of this year.

GDPR is designed to give individuals more power and protection over their own information. This means businesses both large and small have to look afresh at how they manage personal information stored within the IT systems. These new regulations are a big step forward compared to existing data laws in terms of protecting an individualís information and how business has to accommodate that. For instance new data-specific roles may have to be created within the business which obviously has an impact on employee numbers, roles and responsibilities. Just this requirement alone is quite complicated in that the person taking on this role cannot have other responsibilities within the organisation and has to almost be independent of the businessís use of the data but is responsible for the regulation around that data.

As photographers and filmmakers we have to consider our imagery as data so we need to understand how this fits in to the new laws. This blog is not big enough to go into the details of the new laws but it is important that all business owners are aware these changes are coming and ensure theyíre compliant.

Obviously this blog post is meant as informative only. Should you need expert advice, you are advised to seek the services of a knowledgeable person.

Great Big Storage? - December 2017

book with blog on the front.

I was recently asked to find a storage solution for a network where the storage capacity was about to reach its maximum. This was down to the increased use of video files, which, as we all know can be huge. For many years the users of this network shot photography almost exclusively so managing the thousands of images was no problem at all. However the recorded videos became very popular and thereís no going back.

After investigating some storage solutions, such as adding more disk to existing servers or adding more servers, I decided that a NAS (network accessible storage) unit was the answer. The device I selected was a Buffalo which included 4x2TB hard drives, giving a total capacity of 8TB in a flat file system. Whilst that 8TB of space would have been nice, there was no redundancy capacity. This means that should a hard drive fail, all of the files are lost, regardless of which drive fails. The NAS can be configured quite extensively and one of the options offers a configuration of the drives to avoid data loss. The option I selected was the RAID5 config, where the disk management within the NAS places the data across all of the drives and should one of the four drives fail, all of the data can be recovered when the failed drive has been replaced. The penalty for this is a loss of some storage space so they ended up with a little less than 6TB of available disk space. For me the trade-off is well worth while because I know they have a robust file protection system in place.

I set this device up to use the Ethernet network connection but it also has a USB interface which should cover most peopleís connectivity requirements.

Other things I liked about the Buffalo NAS was the web-based management interface, accessed simply by entering the IP address. I also liked how the device integrated in the Windows network management and seamlessly worked with network user permissions making security settings a doddle.

As photographers and filmmakers weíre always looking at how we can store our ever-growing archives of data and this neat little NAS is a great solution for mass storage at a reasonable price. I would certainly consider one for my own storage needs.

It's that time of year again with Christmas and new year just around the corner so I'd like to wish you all the very best season's greetings and a happy and prosperous new year.

Time For Another Blog Entry Already? - November 2017

book with blog on the front.

I write something for my blog every month and yet I know from my Google Analytics that itís rarely read by anyone. So at times it does feel that Iím rather wasting my time. Iíve asked myself many times, what the hell point is there to this? Coming up with something slightly interesting on the off-chance someone actually drops by the blog page?

Actually though, despite this, I enjoy the process of writing. I suppose itís another part of being a creative, that is, making something from nothing in the hope to not only please ourselves but the people who cast their eyes over our work. I find thereís something very satisfying to putting a well-written sentences together. In my opinion of course. I really am pleasing myself here. Someone reading this might think this is drivel. As with any creative endeavour perhaps the biggest challenge is coming up with the ideas in the first place and for me, writing or creative photography can be a challenge to get the ball rolling. Funny though, once that ball has begun itís momentum, sometimes itís hard to stop and yet, other times, the ball seems to be rooted to the spot and will roll nowhere. Maybe thatís something I should write about in a future blog, creative block. Anyways, Iíve waffled on for a while here and put together something that resembles enough text to fill an entry for November.

Social Media and Me - October 2017

an image of a re-enactor in military uniform.

As a visual media creative working in a world of social media, I have the usual accounts, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. I know there are more but for me these three are more than enough. I love Twitter and get so much out of using it. I suppose because I follow just the right people who tweet things that really interest me. I also enjoy joining in on the conversations, adding some of my work and sharing tweets about general photography, filmmaking and other creative bits and bobs.

Twitter is easy to use and immediate. Mostly anyway, the Ďin case you missed ití feature is a bit hit and miss. Whilst I understand why lots of people use Facebook, I just donít get the same satisfaction out of the bits of information it feeds me compared to Twitter.

Instagram is such a different platform from the other two. It doesnít feel like a social media platform to me, it just feels like a photo and video sharing site. I enjoy seeing other peopleís work and itís always fun to find other photographers who make great work but somehow the experience of using it falls behind Twitter but actually ahead of Facebook. Iíve been on there for a while and have only gathered a small following which is fine but compared to the following of some people, who have posted very little content and yet have a huge following, I have a tiny number of followers. It does though amuse me how the follower count goes up and down in leaps and bounds. Itís a weird platform in that respect, however Iíll continue to use it because I know a lot of editors and prospective clients use it and theyíre always on the lookout for new work and fresh ideas so I want to keep it fresh and active. I just never know whoís going to come across my work. I've recently uploaded some images from a long-term personal photography project called 'Living History' which features portraits of people who attend reenactment events and dress in costumes of times gone by. Whilst my commercial work is always sports and lifestyle for brands, I like to show an alternative side to what I do to give variety.

Me on Instagram: www.instagram.com/sportsphotographeruk/

Digitising My Archive - September 2017

land yacht remote camera example.

I started my photography career shooting on film so I have quite a lot of imagery thatís very much analogue. Because these photographs arenít digital, they donít get much attention and sit in files and folders generally hidden away and doing a great job collecting dust. Recently though Iíve wanted to make more of this older work as there are some great shots amongst these pictures and itís a real shame they arenít available to me to use for social media, my website and promotional materials. To give this images a new lease of life I had to digitise them but I didnít want to spend a fortune on paid-for services or buying more gear if I could possibly avoid it. I really wanted to try and do this with my existing gear. However successfully copying a 35mm slide or negative is a waste of time without a lens that fills the frame with the image. This means really small distances between the image and the front of the lens. Luckily for me I have just the right gear to do this, extension tubes. These are really cheap accessories that I often use with my 50mm lens and these were perfect to do this kind of work. If youíre interested in learning more about how I did it, Iíve written an article for CreativesGo, link here.

Itís great fun to go back through my collection and rework these images on my computer, breathing a new creative, digital life in to the work. Finding some long forgotten work too has been very exciting. The image here of the land-yachting is one such example, taken many years ago when GoPros didnít exist and wide angles came from the lens attached to an SLR.

Day Rates and Total Costs - August 2017

book with word blog on the front.

As a commercial photographer and filmmaker I never know what type of work I will be asked to shoot next. Each job is very different with unique requirements, client needs and finished works. Because of this it makes offering a general up-front pricing system that meets every eventuality impossible. Whilst I do have a web page detailing the costs of hiring me, this only covers the time I would be shooting the work. I wanted to make this very clear to new clients to avoid any misconceptions about costs, hence I have a quite prominent statement about the extra costs right up there underneath those day rates.

I understand how clients can easily overlook the time it takes me to process the work afterwards. Because of the uniqueness of each commission, the extra time will vary accordingly. For instance I can spend a day shooting and create hundreds of images which take hours to preview, pick out the best work and then edit to bring them up to a professional publish-quality standard. I could of course shoot just a few images and this takes far less time to edit. Hopefully this nicely demonstrates how tricky it is to present a final cost before any details have been discussed.

Iím hired based on the clientís needs and how long it takes to meet those needs and ultimately thatís why my charges are based on time. I canít include the edit charges upfront because of the variety of jobs so the final cost can only be calculated after I know the exact details of the job. I hope this explains why my rates canít be totally final on the day rates page.

Being Creative With Personal Film Projects - July 2017

book with word blog on the front.

I love filmmaking. So much so that Iím always thinking about personal projects and on the lookout for interesting people who might want to make a film about what they do. Working on personal projects allows me to stretch my filmmaking skills in to new areas which ultimately means I can offer clients ever greater options for their films.

Making my own films means I can be as creative and inventive as I like with the subject, the cinematography and the edit. I have complete control and thatís very exciting. Itís satisfying to be solely responsible for the end result, knowing all of my skills made it happen and it certainly makes me rather proud when a film that started out as a personal project is recognised and awarded as was Portrait of a Craftsman.

These projects I consider part of my on-going development as a filmmaker and I hope each film I make challenges me in new ways above and beyond what Iíve made in my earlier films. I would certainly recommend this kind of personal project to anyone who looks to offer their creatives services to clients. Satisfying our own creative desires is very important and whilst I love working with clients, they always set the agenda but with my projects itís very freeing to make whatever really interests me.

Using Video Gear For Better Stills? - June 2017

Camera and lens mounted on video head with example panned image.

I love panned sports images. Seeing a sharp sportsperson set against a blurred background is an old technique but for me it still looks fantastic when done properly. It really picks out the subject in at times a surreal fashion because we never see this lack of clarity with our own eyes, only the photograph brings this new dimension.

You probably know all about the way a panned image is made, swiping the camera across the scene at the same speed as the subject and using a slow shutter speed to add that blur whilst hopefully keeping the subject sharp. One of the little secrets to a successful pan is to keep the camera level throughout the movement so the blur is flat. Moving the camera up and down during the pan makes the blur jump up and down too which kind of ruins the effect. Itís a technique that actually takes a lot of practice and even then, I donít expect a great hit rate but when it works, blimey does it work.

I had an idea in my head for a while about using a tripod with a fluid-dampened video-head as this would mean I could get flat pans that were ultra smooth. Lumping a tripod around just to shoot a panned still was not going to be something I would want to do on the off-chance I could try this out so the idea has been on the back-burner for some time. Until last weekend that is, when I was filming and photographing the first day of the World Superbikes event at Donington Park. I was using the tripod for the filming and was also in an ideal place to shoot those pans. Motorsport was made for panning, bikes and cars move around the circuit in the same direction so are ideal to track. I was using a 300mm lens with a 1.4 convertor and under normal conditions, panning this size of lens is even trickier than normal but when mounted on the fluid head, wow was it good. The dampened left-to-right action was perfect and the results were excellent. Some were still utter rubbish but as I was using 1/40th of a second shutter speed, sometimes the subject's own movement causes unwanted blur and thereís nothing I can do about that.

To see the image of the panned bike click here.

If you want to see the mashup of film and photography from day one of the World Superbikes event, including a couple of those panned images, click here

Craftsman Wins! - April 2017

Beeston International Film Festival Three Counties Short Film Award.

If youíre a regular visitor to my blog youíll have read about the nomination of my short documentary Portrait of a Craftsman in the Three Counties category of the Beeston International Film Festival in Nottingham. Iím over-the-moon to report that the film won! The rather beautiful trophy is pictured. Iíve received some great feedback from other filmmakers who enjoyed Craftsman, including one filmmaking lecturer who is going to use it as an example of great short-form documentary story-telling. Praise indeed. Whilst the award is great, for me perhaps the biggest Ďwiní is the encouragement that my skill and vision for making a film is agreeable to people who know about filmmaking.

This demonstrates too how important personal projects are to commercial creatives. Exploring areas outside of our comfort zone is where discoveries are made and new paths taken. I for one will be making more work to explore beyond my ever-growing range of skills.

A big thank you to John Currie, the Festival Director for organising such a friendly and enjoyable event and the judges for choosing Portrait of a Craftsman as the short film Three Counties winner.

Wheelchair Basketball - March 2017

Wheelchair Basketball has fascinated me for ages, it's one of those little-known sports where most games are played with virtually no audience and yet its fast paced and full of action. I love finding these minority sports where it's possible to get really close to the action and work without restriction. Access is restricted only by the playing area and not impeding the play. Before the day started I asked a couple of the players if they'd mind helping me out with a bit of filming, where I would sit in one of the chairs and be pushed along whilst I filmed them moving down the court with the ball. This took only 5 minutes but it's added a lot to the final look of the film. That would be almost impossible to achieve at a larger event. I shot this at University of Nottingham's one-day Wheelchair Basketball Tournament at the end of February.

I really like that in this form of Basketball not only do male and female competitors play together, so do those with a disability and all at the same level. I'm no expert but there's a functional mobility scale, graded by a points system which means the abilities of each side are equalised. A totally inclusive sport for all.

If you'd like to see a bigger version, click here.

Beeston Film Festival Selection - February 2017

I had a very pleasant surprise this week when I found out my short documentary Portrait of a Craftsman has been selected to be shown at the Beeston Film Festival in Nottinghamshire and also nominated for an award. This is the first film Iíve ever submitted to a festival so Iím over the moon that itís been accepted. The film is a personal project made with the intention of exploring the genre of the mini-documentary. Iím very interested in capturing the stories of real people who do interesting things with the added challenge of putting a big story, because a personís story is never consise, in to just a few minutes.

I relish the opportunity to meet people like Robert, the craftsman featured in the film, to find out about them and what they do and to translate what I take from our meeting in to what I hope is interesting imagery and dialogue. The selection for the Beeston Film Festival is definitely a boost and Iím very keen to make more.

If you'd like to watch the film, here's a link:

New Year, New Business Drivers - January 2017

So here we are in 2017 and like most people the annual roll over to a brand new year means thoughts of good intentions, changes and finding ways to improve upon whatís gone before. For me, those good intentions usually revolve around being a small business owner and to ultimately make my business more successful. The Christmas and new year break is a good time to reflect on the past 12 months, to do a bit of analysis of whatís worked, what hasnít and examine how to improve things all round.

After all that reflection, I have decided that I need to look at expanding my customer base and expanding my filmmaking capability. Lets face it, any business owner is never satisfied with how many customers they have, no number is ever enough because without them, thereís no business. Itís a year-round challenge, finding new clients and in a marketplace where there are a lot of photographers, ensuring that my business stands out above the rest. Which leads me on to the filmmaking. Creating great video is a far greater challenge than photography where the creative is tasked with capturing a single, silent moment, the moving image requires the ability to capture a story. Not only has the story got to work, it needs great cinematography and audio too. A challenge I have embraced with both arms. I love creating films and as this is only going to become more popular amongst my clients, I will continue to expand my abililty to deliver great work.

So there are my two resolutions for 2017, to find new ways to market my business and to ensure my skills are what my clients need. Simple eh?

A Bit of Wildlife Photography - December 2016

Being a sports photographer means I have long lenses in my kit and not only are they brilliant for sports they're also brilliant for wildlife too. Have you heard of a place called Donna Nook? It's a nature reserve (and a military bombing range) on the Lincolnshire coast and during October, November and December, it's the rookery for the birth of thousands of Grey Seal pups. Whilst the reserve is perhaps 5 miles in length, there's a specific part of the beach where the Seals come up to give birth amongst the sand dunes and Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust set up a viewing area for visitors to see them. The Trust ask people to stay behind the fence and not to interact with the thousands of animals that can be quite literally an arms-length away.

I've wanted to visit for a while to see this amazing spectacle so at the start of December I visited the site, north of Mablethorpe. Such is the popularity of the Seals that there are hundreds of people making the same trip so I left early to arrive about 9:00am. Making use of the overflow car park the seals are only a short walk over the sand dunes and as you crest the dune, the sea, beach and Seals all appear, along with their meloncholic calls. I saw Cows (Mothers) feeding, Bulls (adult males) fighting and both adults and pups sleeping, of which they all do a lot.

The mothers feed their young for about three weeks, thereafter they're on their own and have to return to the sea to learn to feed themselves. The Cows then breed with the Bulls and after a short delay of about 100 days, become pregnant and return to the beach to give birth next year.

It's a fascinating site and really a long lens is not required as the Seals are so close you could use a 50mm and get great shots. I was however looking to get eye-level with the Seals so this meant catching them as they lay on the top of the dunes about 5-10 metres from the fence. In order to fill the frame nicely, the long lens, in this case a 300mm, was needed. I got some great shots of these beautiful creatures.

It's very easy to capture the character of these charming animals even with a phone, so many people though took their pictures from their own eye-level, looking down. If only they had got down a little lower and took the picture through the fence. There's so much more drama to be had by getting the camera down to the Seal's level.

Note the reserve is open all year round but during the week, or if red flags are flying, it's used as a military bombing range so access to the beach is not allowed. The reserve can still be viewed from behind the fence however. During pupping season access to the beach is also restricted at all times.

Advertising Trends - November 2016

Clients want media to promote their product, business or service and thereís no better way to do that than through visual media. Itís well known that customers respond better to visuals so itís very important to get it right for the maximum impact. Itís very easy to get it wrong because customers are becoming savvy and quickly spot a poor sales pitch when they see it. Theyíll easily see past the Facebook advertising, tweets and whatever other adverts they encounter on the plethora of social media platforms we all use now. Thatís not to say they donít work, they do, but customers expect more from their advertising.

Whatís hitting the spot now is authenticity and the Ďstoryí. Seeing real life reflected in advertising is where itís at. Imagery has changed to show not the clean-cut perfectly set lifestyles that few ever actually lived, but the real world of messy homes, spilt ingredients and realistic body shapes. The story is the latest fashion in advertising filmmaking, authentic, documentary-like tales which connect with the brand along the way. These are easier to take for many people, seeing the brand in a way they can understand and connect with, brands in real life.

A good example of this new style is Lidl's current advert for their Turkey products. (See the advert here). It shows a customer describing how she imagines the way the Turkeys are farmed, then she is shown meeting a Turkey farmer who supplies Lidl. She then tours the farm to see the birds being raised and talking to the farmer about how he allows them to freely roam the farm. It's almost like a documentary, with a real story and real people.

For photographers and filmmakers who understand these new trends, they offer their clients new ways to promote and enhance their brand. The creative has to understand the clientís own story to help them reach out to their customer base with authenticity.

Latest Sports Showreel - October 2016

Just a few years ago if a photographer wanted to show off their work they put together a printed portfolio and carried it around with them wherever they went. Then along came the web and portfolios moved online. Now many photographers, including myself are embracing video and so we have to create a showreel to present our latest work. Not only does this bring on the added dimension of the moving image, it also means we can use sound. I love putting a showreel together and syncing it with some suitable music. It makes the viewing experience a lot more interesting. It's a lot of work to get all of these elements nicely together and finding a piece of music that works with the images and footage and is not infringing on anyone's copyright is tricky. For this then I use a music program that means I can put together my own creations at just the right length with no worries about abusing another creative's work. If you're wondering who Bloke & Swagger is, that's my music-making persona..

Southwell Ploughing Match - September 2016

I love to find off-beat activities and events as there are often unusual and interesting things happening with equally interesting and unusual people doing those things. Yesterday I found an event that fitted the bill perfectly, a ploughing match. This was a local event to me, being in Nottinghamshire, with the official name being the Southwell Ploughing Match. The ploughing might have been the origins of this event but after arriving I found it was more like a county fair with all sorts of the typical agricultural events, stalls and shows that are to be found at these things. It was very popular and the ploughing, whilst well-watched, seemed almost to be a side-show. There were people ploughing with horses, both one or two and tractors coming in all sorts of shapes, sizes and ages much like the people doing the ploughing. To the layman I thin kthe idea was to see who could plough the straightest, neatest furrow within the boundaries the area of each competitor. I certainly couldn't tell the difference between any of the ploughed areas but they all looked very straight. There's a lot of skill required, especially when controlling one or two horses who are pulling a heavy plough.

What adds to the enjoyment of these things is that almost every competitor is happy to chat and there's always an interesting story to be told. One couple I encountered had just celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary and the chap doing the ploughing, on a very old tractor, was 77. Absolutely fascinating.

British Gymnastics Shoot - July 2016

This was a really interesting shoot with British Gymnastics. They were looking to create fresh imagery for a new addition to their library of gymnast photography. Specifically the purpose of this shoot was to capture the athletes who compete and also have a disability which doesn't stop them enjoying the sport. This was a great afternoon and it was a pleasure to work with so many friendly, dedicated and talented people.

The venue was technically very challenging, with a mix of tungsten and fluorescent lighting and there wasn't much of that either. This is the first time I can remember ever having to use ISO 10,000 to achieve a shutter speed of 1/320th at f2.8. For anyone who doesn't have a photography background, if you're outside on a sunny day, you can use ISO200 very easily. Safe to say, it was very dark in that gym. The image you see here of the young lady stretching before starting her session was shot at ISO 10,000. The quality of digital equipment has come on in leaps and bounds (no pun intended), so considering the lack of light, the image quality was excellent.

Most of the session was spent capturing in a reportage style, to get a natural feel to the photography. There was little set up. Whilst this is a much trickier approach, the images are 'real' with a genuine look to them. I was certainly on my toes the whole time, constantly looking out for those little moments of magic that define the brief. Great fun!

My New Youtube Channel.

Being a creator of short films, one of the obvious places to make these available on the Internet is Youtube. Itís the biggest and most popular video streaming site and yet, Iíve never really uploaded much work there, preferring instead to use Vimeo. I like Vimeo very much, itís focused on the delivery of films, not heavy on the advertising and I like the relaxed style of the web design. However as much as I like Vimeo, Youtube is incredibly popular, very well known amongst non-filmmakers and is a part of Google. This ensures thereís a connection between Googleís search results and the contents of Youtube and as a filmmaker, I have to ensure my work is given the opportunity to appear in those search results too. So this weekend I spent some time updating my Youtube channel, aligning it with my business branding, uploading new work and filling in the information about the filmmaking side of my business. Itís important to create identical branding across all of a companyís social media channels and then when drilling down in to a particular platform, ensuring the look is consistent there too. So within Youtube, each of my films has a standardised thumbnail image, using a photograph rather than a frame from the film as this gives a better quality image and also using a standard text font and presentation style. Having this consistent style wherever my company name appears gives a professional look and positive impression of my work. I will continue to keep my Vimeo channel up to date as my work has been viewed thousands of times there and the results are also useful on the search engines but Iíll also have my Youtube channel to present my work too.

The Youtube channel is here:

Sometimes You have to Say No.

As a creative, each commissioned assignment is different because each client needs something unique to them. If you like variety in your work, take up a career in the creative industries because no two days are the same!
There's a daily challenge to ensure that I deliver exactly what the client wants from their commission. when a business is looking for a photographer or filmmaker they want to work with experts in their field who can deliver the goods. A client always has a very good idea of what they want from a shoot and expect the creative to understand the brief. Most of the time creating that work is no problem however every now and again the client's requirement just isn't possible.
Having to tell a client you can't shoot certain things is one of the skills to be learnt very early on because it's vital to understand why you can't always get the shot they want. When explaining this to a client, it's important they understand so there's no confusion as to why you can't give them that shot. If the explanation is full of technical jargon not only will this sound arrogant, the client is unlikely to get why you can't do it and this is a bad state of affairs.
Only with experience can the photographer identify those little client needs that can't be delivered exactly as required. No client wants to hear that their shot won't work but by working with an experienced creative they bring skills to spot those images that can't be delivered and come up with alternatives for the client to consider instead.
Always being ready to find a plan B is critical to getting a happy client over the line and one of the cornerstones of being a successful photographer. Saying a blunt no is not going to make the customer happy, but saying no with options is more likely to keep them smiling. Even when their exact needs can't be met, coming up with solutions with creative thinking is key.

Why I Purchased a Konova Slider

I wanted a slider to add to my filmmaking equipment inventory as they bring a lot of 'dolly movement' type shots to any film production. Choosing a slider has been difficult because there are so many on the market, from cheap copies to expensive originals. I did the usual read up on reviews and liked the look of the Konova K2. However it wasn't just the positive reviews that made me buy this, it was the additional motorised controller and a pan and tilt head Konova also offer which fits this slider. So now in the future I have options to buy a motor that offers perfectly smooth slides and a head that gives extra production value with panning and tilting at the same time as the slide.
First impressions, it's a well-made slider and with a camera and head fitted, the slide is smooth. It comes with a decent carrying bag and legs for free-standing use. I'm looking forward to using it which is always a good sign for new gear.
In the image you can see the slider fitted with my Manfrotto MVH502AH video head.

Small Sided Hockey Tournament.

This was an interesting commission for England Hockey to shoot a new format for the traditional Hockey game. England Hockey have created a new,smaller pitch with smaller teams that play for just a few minutes. I was asked to shoot this opening tournament featuring some of the UK's top university teams. My brief was to capture the games, the look of the new pitch and some of the atmosphere around the tournament on the day. The image you see here was taken during the Woman's finals played at the end of the day. University of Birmingham beat Loughborough University 2-1.

Latest short film - Wildmen and Woodsmen

I wanted to test my film and sound-recording equipment in an uncontrolled environment where I had to work with the conditions I came across, no changing the light, moving unwanted objects or asking for quiet. It was all about taking things as I find them. Quite a challenge. Came across some very skilled, interesting and talented people who made for an interesting short film.

Business/Documentary Short film - Nick Chaffe - Designer/Illustrator

This was a short film I made with Nick Chaffe who is a Manchester-based designer/illustrator. Nick has some high-profile clients and this year added the Oscars to that list after he designed artwork for the 2015 ceremony. We shot the film in and around his studio, taking a day to do the filming and the interview. The editing then took a couple of days after that to complete.

Latest sports short film - University of Nottingham BUCS Men's Hockey

This was a short film I made for the University of Nottingham to shoot the Men's Firsts Hockey team as they played Loughborough in the finals of the BUCS Big Wednesday competition. It was a great evening of sport with a super-fired-up crowd from both sides and was rounded off in the best way possible as Nottingham won the match and the trophy for the first time in 50 years. The players were, to say the least, very happy!

On-bike timelapse of a ride around Rutland Water in Leicestershire

This is a 2 hour ride around the 28 mile circuit starting at the Barnsdale car park, heading in an anti-clockwise direction, taking in the Anglian Water Bird Watching Centre and Hambleton peninsula. Very sorry about the compression artifacts as you watch. The original film looks stunning. It's made up of 7484 individual images, each one enhanced for clarity, sharpness and then tone-mapped. Interestingly the .MOV version is 4gb, whilst the full .MP4 file is 346mb. Both files are 1280x720. However to gain that much smaller size there's a lot of compression hence the greatly reduced quality.

U17 International Football

This was an interesting commission for UEFA to shoot two U17 internationals in one day. The first game started at 3:00pm on a cloudy Monday afternoon. This game featured Norway v Romania and took place at Nuneaton FC in the West Midlands. Some images from that game are show here. The second game, England v Slovenia, was a 7:00PM kick-off in Chesterfield so I had to finish a little early from the Norway v Romania game and get myself up to other match in time. Fortunately there's a lot of motorway and dual-carriageway between Nuneaton and Chesterfield so a careful drive ensured I was there on time.

My Latest Sports Film: The Peaks Pilot

This is my latest short sports film documentary featuring Steve Elkins who designs, builds and flies hang gliders in the Peak District in Derbyshire. Steve owns Avian Hang Gliders and sells his gliders to a worldwide market. I wanted to make this as Steve has many great skills as a designer, engineer and pilot which appealed to me as I felt this would make an interesting short film. I worked with Steve many years ago when we shot some on-glider stills images. One of which is still in my portfolio to this day. This was a great opportunity to mix the wonderful on-glider footage with the story of Steve's design and engineering work at his very atmospheric workshop. This film will I think be a work in progress as I want to add more on-glider footage and include a couple more angles one of which I am most excited about and will make the film. Watch this in 720p HD directly on the Vimeo site. (Click on V in the bottom-right-hand-corner.)

A Cheap Timelapse Tool.

I have been shooting some timelapse footage in the Derbyshire Peak District for my latest short film. To add an extra dimension to the footage I have used a very cheap DIY hack to pan the camera across the scene whilst it records the timelapse footage. To provide the movement I have used a £7 egg-timer from Ikea. You can see it mounted on the tripod under the Gopro camera that records the timelapse. To adapt the timer, I inserted a 3/8th nut inside to screw on to the tripod and attached a gopro mount to the top of the timer. All in all about £10 spend. There's a lot of examples of how to do this on youtube. You can set a time (obviously) for how long you want the rotation to last and for my example this was set to about 14 minutes. The timelapse is 1 shot per second. Here you can see the finished timelapse clip on Vimeo

Recording Sound.

I have a little on-going personal project where I have put togther a short film about Colwick Park in Nottingham. I think it's a beautiful place so I try to capture some of that. However my recent update features not water, animal or plant but runners. My sports photographer insticts kicked in here because the Nottingham Marathon passed through the park at the end of September so I thought that would add a nice contrast to the natural feel of the rest of the film. The sound of the runners was recorded using my Rode Video Mic Pro attached to the Zoom H4N recorder. As the athletes ran past I placed the microphone at foot level to record their running steps. I think this adds a very dynamic element to the film as the sound is perfectly recorded. Here's a link to the film about Colwick Park on Vimeo

Know Your Equipment

Being a sports photographer means you spend your working day using technology. In fact you are paid by clients to do that because itís your field of expertise. You know how to use that technology to produce something they need that they cannot do themselves. If youíre thinking of becoming a photographer in whatever genre, it doesnít matter which as my point will still apply, you need to know your technology inside-out. You need to be able to turn to your equipment to change a setting without hesitation in order to achieve the shot. If you find you have to make a change, you must be able to do it without thinking. For instance, you need to reframe a scene because the model has moved. You might then want to move the focus point to allow the camera to continue to AF the subject. This action should be second-nature and completed in seconds, almost without taking your camera away from your eye. The use of any new piece of equipment should be understood well before you put it in to action. Thatís one of the many aspects of being an Ďexpertí.

On-bike timelapse of a ride in Nottingham

This was a bit of fun and a test at the same time to create a time-lapse of a ride I did from Nottingham's National Watersports Centre at Holme Pierrepont to Cranfleet Lock which is past Beeston along the River Trent. The recording was made using a GoPro camera using it's time-lapse function. It recorded a 7mb image every second. This generated literally thousands of individual images which I copied from the GoPro to my computer. After importing them in to GoPro's own 'Studio' software It allows me to create a .MOV file. This file is 2.5gb! Way too big but playing on my screen looks great as it's not subject to very much compression at all. After I've edited it and created a .mp4 file for uploading to Youtube (on this occasion) The new file is down to almost 300mb. Amazing what compression can do. Sadly though this comes at a cost. The compression introduces artifacts in to the footage and on this occasion I think spoils the final film. The problem here is that the footage is changing in almost every frame and compression relies upon most parts of each frame staying the same from one to the next. It's an interesting clip but it's not going to win many fans on the awards circuit! Watch in 720p HD.

Portrait of a Paddler

This is my latest short sports film featuring Mikey Wilson, a canoe slalom athlete based in Nottingham in the U.K. He is, at the time of writing, second in the premier division for K1M and is first reserve for the Great Britain Under 23 team. I had wanted to make this film for a while now as I have a reasl love of canoe slalom. It's such a great sport to photograph. So much action going on with the water splashing up and the drama of the paddler fighting to make it through as quickly as possible. It was a real challenge to film Mikey as he was moving at great speed but it helped to know where he was going and also I used a Zacuto Z-Finder through which to follow the action on my camera. All the normal speed action was shot at 1/125th of a second at various apertures depending upon the amount of light. Luckily on the two days we spend filming we had great light for 95% of the time. Sound was recorded using the Rode Video Mic Pro both on the camera and also with the Zoom H4N for the interview. Watch this in 720p HD directly on the Vimeo site. (Click on V in the bottom-right-hand-corner.)

Early Morning Golf Course

This short sports film featuring a little more gentle imagery an early morning Spring golf course during the quiet time before there's any play.
This was originally a test to try out some new sound equipment but the results looked very nice so I decided to share the footage. It's a nice look at Branston in East Staffordshire first thing in the morning.

British National Cyclo Cross Champs.

This short sports film features action from the British National Cyclo-cross Championships held at Moorways Centre in Derby,UK on the 11th & 12th January 2014.

NDCXL Cyclo-cross Champs.

Action from the NDCXL Cyclo-cross Midlands Championships held at Hardwick Hall in Derbyshire on the 8th December 2013.

A Walk up Ben Nevis

My account of a walk up the UK's highest peak, Ben Nevis in Scotland's Highlands. To see the article, click here.

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