The 12 disguises of Christmas

I came up with the idea of creating this fun little stop-motion selfie for the 12 days of Christmas. I used what we had gathered over the years from the Christmas box and hey ho here we go – the 12 disguises of Christmas!

See you next year!

5 things that got me gingered up this December.

Oh my word, how did we get to December so quickly! The last month has zipped by with such speed it’s difficult be believe in less than a week it will be Christmas! With a hop, skip and a jump we will be fist footing into the new year where we reset the clock and start the whole thing all over again.

Below are a few things that grabbed my attention in the last month that you might find of interest too.

Merry Christmas and see you on the other side for Brexit (ooh, now that’s going to be fun). 

No.1 // Film – They Shall not grow Old – Peter Jackson

The Imperial War Museum and the BBC wanted to use their black and white film archives of the first world war to commemorate the centenary year of the Armistice. Peter Jackson took the original black and white film footage and turned it into a stunning visceral colour documentary – They Shall not grow Old.

. You can view a couple of clips on YouTube where Peter describes how they laboriously turned the black and white footage into colour. You really have to watch it to see what a stunning job they’ve done and then watch the incredible movie afterwards.   

  

No.2 // Adobe Photoshop action

If you subscribe to Adobe Create Magazine you can get your hands on a fabulous Photoshop action which turns photographs into drawings. From Photoshop artist Nuwan Panditha (BlackNull) comes the Scribble Artist Action Set exclusively to readers of Adobe Create magazine.

The action set applies pen strokes, colours, and background textures to photographs transforming them into unique, custom drawings. 

No.3 // Photographer – Alexey Titarenko

Alexey Titarenko was born in 1962 in Leningrad (now St.Petersburg) and has been taking pictures since he was nine years old. After the collapse of the Soviet Union he produced several series of photographs about the human condition of the Russian people during this time. To illustrate links between the present and the past, he created powerful metaphors by introducing long exposure and intentional camera movement into his amazing and atmospheric street photography. His St. Petersburg body of work from the 1990s won him worldwide recognition. 

No.4 // pottery – Joe Smart & Emily Stephen

Jono Smart and Emily Stephen, are a Scottish based couple who live and work together in two studios on the top floor of a converted Victorian school in East Glasgow. Jono works as a potter and Emily as a woodturner. They open their website shop a number of times throughout the year but you better be quick as the work often sells out within just a few hours. Their work is stunning, simple, classic and elegant and if you want to buy any of their wares you better sign up to the newsletter to be one of the first to know when the next shop opens.

 

No.5 // Stationery – Present & Correct

Present & Correct has been around since 2009. As well as selling their own unique designs and stationery items, they also source and sell unique and vintage stationery items from around the globe. This is the sweat shop for stationery lovers.

5 things that got me gingered up this November.

Autumn leaves are a falling. The green leaves have relented, exhausted from this summer’s growth and have now given way to the incredible autumnal rainbow of colours. Oranges, flame reds, lime greens, ochres and every shade of brown imaginable now adorn our gutters, car roofs and pavements.

Trick or treat has knocked on October’s final door and run away. Bonfire night has whiz, banged and ooh’d and aah’d in the usual explosive manner. Finally, we commemorated 100 years since the end of WWI.   

With no more celebrations or commemorations on the near horizon, it now looks clear for full speed ahead to the rapidly approaching festive season! I’ve already had my first warm mince pie and mulled wine, my Christmas list is growing by the day and I’m not quite sure how we suddenly arrived so close to Christmas. Every year is the same, the pace seems to suddenly pick up and I never have enough time to do the things I want to. So take heed, take notice, now is the season to plan.  

This now brings me to my five things that have grabbed my attention this past month. I hope you find them as fun and as useful as I did. If you would like to leave any comments, please do at the bottom of the post.

Until the next time – Enjoy.

 

No.1 // Creative thinking – James Victore

James Victore is an artist and designer who also teaches creativity and personal growth. James recently brought out a great video on how to ‘Feck perfuction’ and improve your creative life and work. You can hear his words of wisdom over on Vimeo where he explains The Five Things You Must Know About Being In Business. Some sage words of wisdom indeed from a master. 

No.2 // Grammar – Grammarly

I heard about Grammarly a while back but for whatever reason never got around to taking it any further until recently. My grammar ain’t the best around here, however, after installing the app it now helps me make sure I produce copy in a clearer, more accurate, and error-free way – fingers crossed.  

No.3 // illustration – Russell Ayto

Russell Ayto is an award-winning children’s book illustrator and author. His books are illustrated with many fun, imaginative and fantastically drawn characters. Russell has a very distinct graphical style to his illustrations which help his books stand out on the shelves. I discovered Russell while searching for children’s picture books for my son and his particular graphical illustrative style certainly grabbed my attention. The first book I bought was Are the Dinosaurs Dead, Dad? which is still my favourite illustrated children’s picture book. It didn’t take me long to discover other books Russell had illustrated, all of which take prime real estate on our bookshelf which include; The Somethingosaur, Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs, Dustbin Dad, and Whoops!

No.4 // Photographer – Benedict Redgrove

Benedict Redgrove’s career began in graphic design and you can clearly see this influence in his work with his clean, graphic and refined stylised images. He works for major automotive, aeronautical, technology and media brands and his work is stunning. 

No.5 // Marketing – Seth Godin

Seth Godin is the best selling author (more than 18 best-selling books), entrepreneur, teacher, speaker and THE Man who thinks about the marketing of ideas. He’s brilliant at simplifying complex topics and delivers it with great ease. He conveys and explains in a non BS way his thoughts and ideas. Not much more to say about Seth except that his blog (one of the most popular in the world) and website are a goldmine of inspiration. Now, go start digging and start a ruckus as Seth would say!

The mighty Glencoe

Back in early July this year I took part in the Great Glencoe Challenge. A 26.2-mile Trekathon through some of Scotland’s most breathtaking scenery. From the north end of Glencoe to the foot of Ben Nevis.

It was a fantastic race and the weather could not have been any better (I know, I know, we’re talking about Scotland and Fort William, one of the wettest places in the UK). However, this was one of the warmest summers to bake the entire UK since 1976. Instead of the usual lush green fields and trees associated with our British summertime, the landscape was drifting to a more autumnal colour palette of browns, yellows, and ochres across the parched landscape.

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Whatever the colour palette Glencoe has to offer though it doesn’t distract from its rugged and mighty awesomeness. Although the weather on the day of the race was amazing (blue sky, sunny, light breeze and warm – 18-22 degrees) it didn’t make for taking good pictures. It was too sunny, mostly directly overhead and at the wrong angle. For most of the day the sun was casting too harsh a shadows! It wasn’t until the day after when I was heading back through Glencoe on the way home that I managed to grab the images I was after.

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There was no more sun, the temperature had dropped, rain was driving in, the breeze had picked up and there was plenty of low lying cloud. PERFECT conditions for taking atmospheric pictures of the Glen.

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I pulled over into a lay-by to take some images. It was mesmerizing just sitting in the car watching the constantly changing cloud formations roll in and out of the mountain tops. The landscape was so dramatic and the weather changing so quickly that it didn’t seem to matter where I pointed my lens to get a great shot. Mountains would appear and disappear with each rapidly approaching wave of low flying Scotch mist!

Attached are a few of my favourite images I managed to capture on that day.

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Moving still – Cinemagraph experimentation

Over the past couple of months, I’ve been really trying to create and make better Cinemagraphs, some examples of which you can view below.

The main takeaway from my experimentation are three-fold –
1. looking for opportunities 
2. planning
3. using a tripod

Looking for opportunities

I’ve been much more focused at looking for more opportunities to create video for use in Cinemagraphs. When I’m out and about – walking, driving in a car or commuting on a train, I’m looking for opportunities that might make a good image. If I don’t have a camera with me, I’ll take a mental note of the situation and location for future projects and then make a point to return to take the footage. Alternatively, I may come up with a concept or idea at home and when I’m out and about I’ll be looking at places where I could execute my idea.

Planning

Planning saves a lot of time and helps to alleviate some of the stress in capturing the footage. The more you plan the better and smoother the shoot should go! So, the things I look out for or will be thinking about before the shoot will be some of the following: best time of day to take the footage (busy or quiet), lighting (night, day or artificial) what camera to take (DSLR, GoPro or point and shoot), What’s the subject matter (people, machinery, wildlife etc), angle (above, below, sideways, wide of zoom angle).

Using a tripod

I have realised this is critical to successful shots! I have tried on numerous occasions and thought I would get away with handholding a camera. I would always be convinced I was not moving, not shaking and not breathing to avoid as little shake and movement as possible. When I got back home and downloaded the footage it was immediately apparent just how much movement there was. Unfortunately, in most circumstances the footage was no use and I couldn’t use it. So now I don’t bother to hand hold and hope for the best. I always take a tripod with me or if I’m tight on space and need something a bit smaller and lighter I’ll take my Gorilla Pod with me which has become invaluable.

I’m off on holiday in the next few weeks and looking forward to having the opportunity to capture some unique footage to allow me to create some more exciting Cinemagraphs.

I hope you like the ones below and don’t forget your tripod!

Why have one lens on your camera when you can have four!

I saw some really cool and intriguing images on the web a couple of years back and couldn’t figure out how they were created. It was kind of a retro 3D animation of a still image! After lots of digging and research on the internet I discovered that the technique involved some 1980’s analogue technology combined with some up-to-date digital PhotoShop jiggery-pokery.

I discovered that to achieve the same look I was going to have to buy a old 1980’s Nimslo 3D 35mm camera. The camera is no longer manufactured as I discovered, however there was a steady flow of secondhand Nimslo cameras coming up on eBay. It was then down to a waiting game to see when a suitable, working and in good order camera came on offer. It took a while but eventually I managed to place a successful bid and waited with anticipation for it to arrive.

It’s pretty funky looking mostly down to the fact that there are four lenses on the front of the body as apposed to the normal one as you can see in the image below. Basic and simple to use, the camera’s lenses are fixed focused, takes 35mm film and you have the option of choosing 100 ISO or 400 ISO film speeds. Although there are four lenses, the viewfinder is perfectly normal to use and compose your shot in the normal way. With the camera I also also got the Nimslo flash which really comes in handy for indoor work and helps to ad more 3D depth to the pictures.

So now I had half of the puzzle and the hardware part was taken care of, I now needed to find out how to create the funky intriguing digital aspect of the picture. More internet research and I came across a variety of sites giving various bits of information. After a bit of Sherlock Holmes and lots of piecing together I managed to figure it out!

Now it was down to putting the analogue piece together with the digital piece with lots of fun, trial and error.

My son became my muse for most of my picture taking, much to his bemusement and somewhat annoyance. I used a 35mm, 400 ISO 36 exposure film for my experiments. Once the film was used I had it developed (I didn’t need any hard copy Lenticular prints) and then the film electronically scanned onto CD. I then downloaded the files onto my computer and took the images into PhotoShop. Once in PhotoShop I separated the four images (which produce one 3D image) into four seperate layers making sure they aligned correctly. Once this was done I created a simple animated timeline of the four layers to rotate one after the other.

Hey presto alakazam, by joves I had it! This was cool, I managed to replicate the look and effect I was after. I was delighted with the outcome and excited to take and make more 3D animated still images. The camera is not for everyone or for all occasion. It’s the sort of camera best used with a bit of forward planning and knowing in advance the type of picture that will suite this specialist camera.

Right, where’s my son, I need him for a special 3D photographic project i’ll be working on, wait until I tell him – he’ll love it!

The Shortbread Shed-Nimslo 3d cameraThe Nimslo is a 35 mm film camera which captures four pictures at exactly the same time. The four lenses are slightly offset horizontally from one another which when printed, using a Lenticular printing technique produces 3D pictures. These pictures can be viewed without the need for any specialist glasses giving a 3D look to the image.
It was first introduced in the 1980’s by Nimstec in the USA and manufactured by Timex in Dundee, Scotland.
The Nimslo has four fixed focus lenses, when the shutter is pressed it takes four images from slightly different viewing angles simultaneously which is how it achieves the 3d look.

 

film strip

An example of an exposed 35mm film. This is one exposure which produces four images. Each of the images is horizontally offset by a couple of centimeters which helps give the final combined picture that funky 3D look.

 

Below are a few examples of my first attempts at taking and making 3D images using the Nimsol camera and a bit of PhotoShop comping to create the final images.

The Winner of The Columbia Threadneedle Prize 2018 is…

Ana Schmidt has been announced as the winner of the 2018 Columbia Threadneedle Prize, Europe’s leading open competition for figurative and representational art, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. 

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Lewis McNaught, Chairman of the Selection Panel and Director of Mall Galleries with Alison Jefferis, Head of Corporate Affairs, Columbia Threadneedle Investments present the winners trophy to Ana Schmidt.

I was delighted to be one of the photographers attending the Columbia Threadneedle Prize Awards Reception on Tuesday night where Ana was announced this years winner for her ‘Realist’ painting of a derelict cityscape entitled Dead End.

 

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Ana Schmidt holding the winners trophy for the 2018 Columbia Threadneedle Prize. Her winning painting Dead End is proudly displayed behind her.

I have been lucky enough to photograph the event over the years and from my point of view it was one of the best. There was a good turn out on the night and I managed to capture some of the atmosphere, the anticipation and the build up to the announcement of shortlisted finalists before the winner was announced.

 

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The above image shows just a small sample from the diverse range of art on show at the exhibition.

The exhibition is open until 17 February, admission is free and it is well worth spending some time having a look around the varied works of art on display.

 

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Some of the guest discuss some of the finer points of one of the paintings at the exhibition.

 

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One of my favourites of the show – Nowhere near Gotham (Cast marble and digital print) by Cathy Lewis.
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A couple of the incredible paintings being admired by the guests.

 

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Its a packed gallery as the guests mingle and jockey for position to view the incredible artworks on view.

An invisible man, a wicked witch, a sexy knight and plenty of booing!

That ridiculous headline above can only mean on thing! It’s the Killigrew Drama Society (KiDS) Camelot the Panto 2018!

For the second year now (read about my first panto photoshoot here), I had the delightful honour of taking the behind the scenes shots of the full dress rehearsal of Camelot the Panto.

The panto was held at the Abbey Theatre, St Albans and was the perfect venue for the show. I arrived at 17.30 to set up and get ready to take pictures of the performers getting ready and having their makeup applied. The makeup always makes for some great informal reportage images.

I had ample of time to take shots of the actors having their makeup applied and thought it might be fun to capture the moment by creating a time-lapse in the background while I continued shooting the still images.

Beware the wicked witches and the handsome knights in the dressing room!

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At the makeup station. Actors and actresses get some subtle Panto makeup applied!

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Yup, that’s yours truley capturing the action.
The time-lapse of the makeup session.

I set up my tripod where it would be out the way, but in a position where I could capture the best action. I put a Syrp Genie Mini (an easy-to-use device to create smooth panning motion time-lapses) onto the top of my tripod, then connected a ball head to that, and finally I connected my Sony RX100 IV to crown the whole lot off! Once I was happy with the position I used the Syrp app on my phone to input the details I required. I simply selected the desired time length I wanted to record, number of pictures to be taken and the angle of rotation and that is basically that. Finally all that was left to do was hit record on the app and leave alone to do it’s magic. This freed me up to work my way around the makeup artists and actors getting the candid shots I was after.

Part two of the evening was packing up all the gear and then finding a seat in the theatre, somewhere in front of the stage where I would have the best vantage spot to photograph the performers.

So that was me settled for the next couple of hours. The main problem I had was with the stage lighting! When it was on it was great, however the lighting technicians were still programming in the lighting during the rehersal which made it very tricky to try and get a correct exposure. A lot of the time I would just get my composition, figure out the exposure and then suddenly the lighting would completely drop off or come right up causing a lot of my pictures to be either completely under or over exposed. I spent much of time having to make rapid changes to ISO and aperture settings when taking pictures, well it kept me on my toes anyway!

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A variety of images taken from the theatre stalls.

 

And finally I managed to get some time to create some Cinemagraphs from some of the video I captured during the rehearsal. I use Flixel to create the animations and I hope they make you giggle as much as they did me – enjoy.

 

It was a thoroughly entertaining evening, not only to be allowed in to take the full dress rehearsal pictures but to also watch the performers go through their paces.

I’ll see you next year… Oh no you won’t… Oh yes I will!

 

Gear:

Canon 5D mkIII
Canon 5DmkIV
Sony RX100 IV

Manfrotto 055 Tripod
Manfrotto Ball Head 494RC2
Peak Design Everyday Backpack 30L
Canon 600EX-RT Speedlight

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Lens
Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM Lens

A bag full of memory cards and batteries
Syrp Genie Mini (An easy-to-use device to create smooth panning time-lapses)

Quotes that got me thinking – No.7

“Forget the usual questions about whether your photograph is good, or sharp, or well-exposed. Ask instead if it is alive. If it is true. If it is honest. Ask if it is worthy of your vision. Ask if it connects. The world has enough photographs that are perfectly sharp, perfectly exposed, perfectly boring.”

David duChemin