Heat Strokes - A Fashion Editorial for Féroce Magazine...

Heat Strokes - A Fashion Editorial

Fashion was on my mind, I had had a meeting with a prominant New York Agent and gone through my portfolio sorting the wheat from the chaff. Fresh and experienced eyes always help this process, it was a most positive and constructive experience.

Having spent the majority of this year shooting purely commercial campaigns, which has been great,  I needed a creative break and a different focus. Fortunately a fabulous stylist was back in Taiwan, Tess Chung spends her time between Taiwan and L.A. she is super busy building her clothing brand Agameartists (get over there and check out her store), so I was blessed that she had time to style a shoot for me. Good wardrobe stylists are tricky to find, and especially here in Taiwan, it is a shame as unlike some other photographers, I feel that they are an imperative asset and invaluable on set. Luck seemed to be on my side for this shoot as Jordan Mcewen a fantastic Canadian model was back on the Island. She had reached out to me and asked to shoot as soon as she had landed, I was thrilled as having worked with her before I know she is really talented. So the team was coming together, Tess got her friend and hairstylist Queena Tsai onboard, I rounded it off with make up artist Eddi Shi. I also have to say a big thank you to my two great and hard working assistants that day, Christy Lin and Edison Tang.

As Tess pulled some looks together it was over to me to head out and location scout. I had been thinking of a beach on the west coast, but after further contemplation and searching on Google Earth decided to check out a place I had shot at before. There seemed to be an area I hadn't explored that looked like it had great potential. Jumping on my scooter I headed off on the 20km ride to check it out. That is the benefit of living on a small island I guess, everything is relatively close, however the traffic is usually heavy as it is quite densly populated here so it takes a little longer than you may expect. About an hour later I rolled up and wandered down to the place I was thinking about, it was perfect for us.

I made some quick reference shots on my phone as you can see and sent them to Tess so she could get a better idea of my direction and thoughts, she really liked the location too and so we were now pretty much set. Speaking to everyone we found a day that fitted, there would be no chance of a reshoot if anything happened as Jordan was flying out the next day so all fingers were crossed for good weather, little did we realise what we would be faced with.

Since moving to Taiwan I have made photoshoots on blissfully nice days, days with rain driving sideways in off the ocean, days with mist rolling over us on a mountain side and days with a typhoon heading in and facing the winds that brings to mention just a few. This day was something else though, we have had a hot summer, many days have been mid to high 30's (96+ in fahrenheit). On our shoot day we had got ready early starting at 07:00, leaving Taipei and heading out we were on the location around 09:30 and began to lug the kit down. The temperature was already hitting 30 degrees, and there was not a scrap of breeze to cool us, it was going to be hardcore and I was already slightly concerned for the team. I had brought water for everyone, I had also brought a cooler with ice and beer so we could hit the beach after the shoot and chill together, that plan was not to come be.

The first victims were Tess's shoes, they simply melted in the hot sand and decintigrated, Eddi had stripped to his shorts and was regularly getting in the water, my reflector was deployed to bounce the sun off the kit and offer that some protection. Shoot through umbrellas were handed out for shade and used to shade my light which was baking. Anything we could do to try and keep ourselves and the kit cool was already happening by 10:30 and we were scheduled to shoot until 14:00, this was not good.

Gradually Tess started to look like she was really suffering, I have experience of heat stroke and how dangerous the heat can be so I urged her to get into the ocean and try to cool down. Christy went and got the cool box and we all took turns to place the ice bags on our necks, anything to find a bit of relief. I was ringing with sweat, I may as well have been in the ocean, worse still I was starting to shake from the heat and my head was pounding but I had no choice other than to press on.

I had brought my Mamiya RZ67ProII along with the intention of shooting some rolls of film. I shot one roll per set, so 30 shots for the first three looks, but after that I had to forget about it. I couldn't risk the team or myself by taking time to load film and shoot. I did get some lovely images with the Mamiya and there is certainly a different feel from both film and medium format.

I will for sure be bringing it out on set more regularly in future, preferably when I am not in a situation where the sweat dripping off me is obscuring the viewfinder!

Jordan was a trooper and just kept going as we were falling by the wayside. The ice bags had melted by then and been cut open to share the cool water between us. By now it was midday, the sun was relentless, beating down mercylessly. I was wearing a pair of Vans shoes and the sand was burning my feet through them, it was rediculous, I was later to find out that the temperature on that beach had been an estimated 45 degrees (113 degrees fahrenheit). Here we are battling the heat for this shoot.

Dispite everything we completed the shoot and then it was time to pack up and drag the kit back up the hill to the car. Tess's first pair of shoes had been abandoned, I had given her a pair that I had brought for the shoot but by now they had melted too. She headed off to the car ahead of us dragging her suitcase of clothes. Edison, Christy and I were left to pull the kit out, on the way up the path we found Tess, she was exhausted. I too was exhausted by the time I made it to my car, I really felt like I was about to pass out, Edison saved me though delivering a cool sports replenishment drink. He had gone to the vending machine and bought one bottle for everyone, it was a real lifesaver the hero of the day. Needless to say any plan to hit the beach was abandoned and we all headed home to recover.

So was the shoot worth it? Damn right it was, it went straight into Féroce Magazine, we produced some killer shots and as always the challenge made us push our limits and reach higher.

So I have to say an extra special thank you to all the team, Tess, Queena, Eddi, Christy and Edison. Also a special thank you to Cactus Image for producing super reliable kit that can handle these torturous conditions, it is great to be an Ambassador for such a good company who genuinly want to make the right product for working photographers such as myself (check them out for good kit that works).

And so I suppose you want to see the final results from the days shooting, well I hope you enjoy these.

There we are, a fashion shoot from start to finish pretty much. Thankfully conditions aren't always as demanding as this, but shooting on location you have to take the rough with the smooth. I am shooting two more editorials over the next two weeks so will see what is thrown at us for those, I could of course simply head in to a studio, but where is the fun in that.

I hope you enjoyed this episode, and got an insight into the work that I do, and effort that we all put into it to produce beautiful images.

If you want to book me for work get in touch so we can discuss your needs and get started making a great project together.

You can also check out my Instagram , TumblrTwitter and Linkedin. Remember to LIKE COMMENT, SHARE and FOLLOW.

Thank you and love to all.....

Refined my Website.

Refined My Website.

So I have been busy, the is great and no complaints. 12 weeks of straight work has meant that I neglected a few things along the way, one of which was my website. Now a couple of weeks ago I had a meeting with a prominent photographers agent from New York and had the opportunity to really go through and edit my site. This all came about thanks to the good people at Mastered, there are ongoing benefits to having done the course with Nick Knight and this certainly proved to be one of them.

As I said I had been working pretty much every day for weeks and was stressed out and feeling a bit burned out. My meeting was at 23:00 on skype, I was totally unprepared. Brent was a little late for the call, he is a busy guy which gave me 10 minutes to make some notes and then we were chatting. He cut straight to the chase and spoke about my style, it's darker qualities and how I should stay true to myself and my vision. We spoke about my desire to work in the wider Asian fashion market and in particularly Shanghai, for which he felt with a bit more work under my belt I would be a good fit. 

As we talked I made a comment which is becoming the mantra for my style, "There is much more life in the darkness". 

Have a look at my work, it is lit but the is a dark quality to it, I use light to create shadows just as much if not more than highlights. This is not something new, the essays I wrote at school were commented on by my tutors as having the same quality. Don't for a second think that I am a dark or sinister person, I am far from it. I just find a certain romantic nuance and mystery in the noir. 

And so I followed the instructions and set about removing the chaff from my website. Refining it's look and cleaning it up, making it more balanced and focused, and can't wait to add my latest editorial fashion story once the publication is released.

I have spent a few days beginning my journey on learning about SEO and implementing that knowledge. It is amazing what I can get done when I put my mind to it, old dogs can learn new tricks.

Acquiring new skills has been something that my latest clients have been pushing me to do. Figuring  out making short film clips, cinemagrams and 2.5 parallax images are all new skills I have learned over the past few months and am enjoying developing. Soon I hope to have better video production options and really get into making short film pieces, who knows I may even invest in a drone if the time is right for that (not to mention I just really want a drone!).

I can hardly have a photography blog without a picture in it can I, or can I? This is about my now refined website, so if you want to see pictures I suggest you visit here: http://www.duncanlongden.photography/. Of course you may well already be on the blog page of my website, in which case the links to the pages are at the top, what are you waiting for?

Let me know what you think if you have time, feedback is always appreciated.

If you want to book me for work get in touch so we can discuss your needs and get started making a great project together.

You can also check out my Instagram , TumblrTwitter and Linkedin. Remember to LIKE COMMENT, SHARE and FOLLOW.

Thank you and love to all.....

Kenting to Taitung

Kenting to Taitung.

Leaving the southern most point of Taiwan behind me there was only one way to ride, North. I was sticking to the East coast, the sky was grey as was the ocean off my right shoulder. I felt a little saddened that my journey was in it's final stages, so much had happened in the few days since leaving home to set out on the road. I was calm on the comfy seat of the big scooter, suspension adjusted to take the weight and a fairly simple ride to my next and familiar stop. Just one night in Chishang Township. 

Chishang Township is a small town just north of Taitung, it is famous for it's paddyfields and also Mr. Browns avenue. The avenue was made famous from a TV advert and then a tree got blown down in a typhoon. This caused a bit of a todo in Taiwan and soon the tree was lifted, replanted and furnished with plenty of support. It has turned the area into a bit of a tourist hot spot, some would say this has ruined the place, but I have never known it any other way. Coming from a city like London, I would not call  it busy there, I find it relaxing and tranquil.

One of the best things in Chishang is to get up early and grab some soybean milk skin for breakfast, it is really delicious and a favourite of mine when I am in this little town.

Of course before I got to the township I had to make the ride up the coast, I didn't bother to stop and make pictures as the sky was so grey. However I was sitting at a junction figuring out a way to go when a fellow scooter tour rider stopped to ask me directions. She was surprised to find out that I was a foreigner, but I had a working satnav now and so pointed her in the right direction. It's always good to meet a friendly fellow traveller on the road, nice to meet you Pappa Jane..

What a ray of sunshine on a grey road. Pressing on I made enough time to take a slightly different route up into the mountains before travelling down to the B&B. The clouds made the the light interesting, finding a good view I waited for the sun to set and light the valley below me.

On a sunny morning the paddy fields around Chishang Township can look so amazing in the early morning light.

This image was made on a previous visit and shot on my fabulous Fujifilm X-Pro2. On the actual morning I arose on my scooter tour, the clouds were low in the valley and the weather looked ominous. I had a very long ride all the way up the coast, past Hualien and on to Yilan. So this was not the greeting I wanted from the weather...

That's the tree by the way, just in case you were wondering.

It was time to go, the longest single ride of my whole trip and the penultimate leg of the journey. You can find out about that bit next time and then we are almost at the end of this story. Hopefully you have been enjoying it, sorry the posts aren't super regular I am not the greatest blogger in the world, but I do hope it has been of some interest.

Until then, check out my WebsiteInstagram , TumblrTwitter and Linkedin. Remember to LIKE COMMENT, SHARE and FOLLOW.

Feel free to get in touch, if you have any questions, bookings, assignments etcetera, I am always interested to hear from you (contact me).

Love to all...

Pt6.... South Bound to Kenting.

Pt6.... South Bound to Kenting.

It was a glorious morning, clear blue skies and already warming up as I loaded my big scooter and prepared for our ride to the southern tip of the island. As much as I love Tainan, after all the travelling and shooting I was looking forward to the even more relaxed atmosphere of Pingtung County and Kenting. 

It was decent to come across this little group of SYM Jet enthusiasts, they were hanging out in the petrol (gas) station waiting for more of their mates to join them. Speaking to them as I made some photographs of  their tricked out rides it transpired there was a big meet happening. I was tempted to hang out and go with them, as I mentioned before though we were on a schedule and this was going to be a long, and hot ride.

The first place I wanted to check on our journey this day is a very surreal location, it is known as Moon World Landscape Park. I am not sure what the geology is of this area, Gypsum maybe? Erosion has created a craggy, ridged landscape with fine sand tracks running through it, hence the moonscape comparison. Riding on this fine sand was very tricky, especially with a fully loaded bike and Mrs.L on the back. To say she wasn't fully enthusiastic on my off road adventure would be an understatement. I like to explore though, and just ride up any track to see where it leads me, that is why I believe two wheels is the best way to see Taiwan.

I really had begun to appreciate my MaxSym, it is capable of munching the miles no problem. I also like the styling and little extra details like the red trim and stitching.

Below is an view over the Moon World Landscape, it is quite a strange formation to come across and is worth a visit if you are travelling between Tainan and Kaohsiung.

Fo Guang Shan temple is another place to be sure to visit, I really like it here. It is huge, the giant Buddha overlooking the pagodas that line the central walk way to the temple. You can't really get an  idea of just how big this Buddha is unless you visit the temple for yourself. With a constant soundtrack of chanting playing out through speakers, even when there are many people here, it is a calm and serine experience to enjoy.

Tai Chi being practised in the gardens of the temple.
Riding west and back toward the ocean, we would turn left and follow the coast road all the way south to Kenting. It is an odd thing, but gradually something became more apparent, other road users driving was becoming increasingly erratic. I was just trying to stay calm as car drivers forced their way alongside pushing us to the side of the road. I was riding at the same speed as the car ahead of me, but some people were just forcing their way through on everyone in a very selfish and stupid manner. It would seem that they had reached a point where they felt close enough to their destination to drive like arseholes (excuse me). The absolute pinnacle of this was when I stopped for a red light, I had my foot down for at least 5-10 seconds when a car flew past us, swerving wildly from side to side and missing us by only a couple of feet. The driver obviously had not seen the light and thankfully avoided us, had they hit us it would have been a horrific scene for Mrs.L and I...what a total wanker!

Having survived this and been stuck among a bunch of crazy drivers for too long, I decided to just pull over and make photographs as the sun was beginning to sink a little lower toward the horizon, I needed to calm down too as I was a touch upset by the near miss.

Just as the sun finally set we arrived at our B&B, The Comic Kenting. The B&B is just outside Kenting itself, but has hotspring supplied water. It is a little sulphurous, but sitting in one of the outside baths and watching the the stars appear with a cold beer is a great way to soak away the aches of a long day in the saddle.

Rejuvenated we went to town to find something to eat. Kenting has a main strip and is a tourist town for sure. For me it can seem a little bit tacky, maybe I am just being old and boring haha, it certainly has plenty of entertainment. It also has a few good places to eat, and plenty of places to drink. 

The landscape and ocean is what I like most about Pingtung County, there are white coral sand beaches as well as rocky coves which are great to snorkel and dive, plenty to explore. Be careful if you are off the beaten track though, we saw a pretty large snake, unfortunately for the snake it hadn't made it across the road, but it did serve as a reminder.

Pre-breakfast photographs in the bag, I was happy to return to this. The owner of The Comic makes her own bread fresh everyday, along with home made jams, delicious.

While in Kenting I had been asked by SYM to pick up a new Jet S scooter and make some campaign images for them. It was fun to have a day zipping about on something so light and agile. I even got Mrs.L making photographs of me whizzing through some corners.

The beaches on the west of the island generally have calm seas and soft white sand in Pingtung, but if you pop over to the east side you can find some good surfing and great roads to ride too. As with everywhere in Taiwan, the locals are super friendly, really beautiful people. The sign obviously gives it away that we were on our way back west, on the excellent route 26.

In October there are seasonal winds that are pretty strong blowing across Pingtung, however these can produce some wonderful conditions. What a sky to see, the clouds were like cotton wool but moving so fast.

It was really lovely having Mrs.L with me for a few days and part of the tour, she had to leave though and so I took her to catch the bus. It was too funny not to tell you about it, we waited at the bus stop but the driver did not see us waving. With a nod from a local we leaped onto the scooter and chased the bus down getting him to pull over just for us, what a dude the driver was laughing as much as us. I'm not sure that would have happened in the UK.

And so I was on my own again and now on my way back north on the first section taking me home. It had started to try and rain, but fortunately held off as I now rode away from the beaches but staying close to the ocean hugging the east coast.

In just a few more days I would be back in New Taipei, prior to this I still had Taitung and Yilan to go. The road ahead was still long, I was used to the big scooter now and together we took a breath and headed out for another day in the saddle.

I hope you enjoyed this little view of a beautiful part of the world, as with everywhere in Taiwan it is varied in it's landscape, but for me has the best roads, although the mountain roads are pretty special too.

Until next time...

Until then, check out my WebsiteInstagram , TumblrTwitter and Linkedin. Remember to LIKE COMMENT and FOLLOW.

Feel free to get in touch, if you have any questions, bookings, assignments etcetera, I am always interested to hear from you (contact me).

Love to all...

Part 5.....The Lalu to Tainan

Part 5.... The Lalu to Tainan

I had had to make adjustments from the planned route due to the GPS failure, so instead of the twisting and more scenic route planned, Mrs.L and I hit the main road. In Taiwan two wheeled vehicles are not allowed on the freeway, highway, motorway, autobahn or whatever you want to call it, it ain't allowed. Smaller roads and expressways are ok with my scooter and so sticking to these options we set off. 

The sun was beating down and visibility was excellent which brightened my attitude somewhat. I was still annoyed by the treatment received from Garmin, and that having invested a non too small amount of money into a system we had to resort to using my phone.

On a brighter note, my SYM MAXsym600i was purring along the smooth, hot and sticky roads without an issue. It took a few hours but soon enough we were reaching the outskirts of Tainan. 

For me Tainan is the most interesting city in Taiwan. The old capital boasts a history richly displayed in it's architecture and culture. The atmosphere is more relaxed down here in the south, which makes navigating the traffic a little more hard on the concentration, but try to just go with the flow and you'll be ok. 

We went straight to Café IsShoni, the B&B where we would be staying in the older West Central District to drop off our stuff before going and dealing with the Garmin situation. It was cool to find this classic Vespa proudly parked outside the café, obviously a scooter friendly as well as a traveller friendly place.

I wanted to be sure to have enough time to reach the salt farm 45 minutes out of Tainan to catch the sunset. We quickly made our way over to the Garmin store, it was easy to find, having a huge Garmin sign on the shop. To say that we were a little surprised to be told that they were not a Garmin store, just and agent, even though they were listed as one, labelled as one and sold and serviced Garmin products exclusively is an understatement. I was further upset when the lady sitting behind the counter stated she was only talking to us as a favour to the person I had berated in the head office. She refused to help us, doing nothing other than confirming the unit was indeed broken. Sorry for my language but that was F'ing useless and I was appalled at the lack of customer service. I immediately got back on the phone and started to try again to explain the situation and my disgust with their attitude. It was like talking to a brick wall, again and again the same questions; "Whats the Serial number?", "Where did you buy it?", "Where are you now?". After the third or fourth time of taking the unit apart to repeat the serial number I had had enough, I was going to miss the sunset and so I just put the phone down and posted an irate tweet.

We jumped on the scooter and raced for the sun, fortunately we scraped there just in time to get a good spot to photograph this popular view. Sitting watching the sun paint the sky orange and the reflections in the mirror like salt beds calmed me down. We had a snack and relaxed until the sun had sunk below the horizon, then cruised back to Tainan.

It had been a long day, so we meandered out into the night to find something to eat and get a massage. Just wandering around in this part of Tainan brings you onto wonderful discoveries around almost every corner.

Craftsmen work outside their shops in the cooler night air during the laid back evenings.

The latest episode of your favourite soap opera can be enjoyed as you wait for a customer..

And it turns out classic Vespas are rather popular in this town.

Concentrating hard to traditionally make honeycomb sugar in miniature furnace like smelting pots.

Waking up the next morning I discovered an email reply to the tweet that I had sent, it appeared that had had some effect. Finally Garmin realised that extremely poor customer service was a mistake and in fact, good customer service was a much better way to keep client loyalty. After a phone call, in which they were not overly apologetic, but helpful enough, a solution was arranged. We were to continue using the phone to navigate to our next destination in Kenting. A temporary replacement GPS unit was to be delivered there and my broken unit collected. Once I had returned home another exchange was to take place for a permanent replacement. At last, this had taken three days, some considerable stress and disappointment, and finally resolved by contacting Gamin USA. Garmin were good to their word and all of this took place, the unit I have now is still working fine and has been all around the world with me. Getting a faulty unit in the first place was bad luck, a situation that could have been resolved easily. Poor customer service is in my opinion unacceptable, I certainly couldn't get away with that behaviour in my job, not in a million years. The Garmin saga still was not finished but I think I have ranted and bored you all enough with it so I'll end that story now and say no more about it, sorry to have gone on.

Good customer service is what I had received from SYM, I can highly recommend these guys. The MAXSYM was rocking and ridding it was making me smile. A service centre had been lined up for me in Tainan and so after breakfast off we went to get the big scooter a bit of love and attention. 30 minutes in and out, oil changed, brakes and tyre pressures checked, airfilter cleaned and all sorted with smiles all around. Now that is proper service and much more likely in Taiwan, it is such a friendly place here with the majority really willing to help you out.

If you are in Tainan there are a few must see places, the famous Confucius Temple being one of them.

There was a photo shoot going on, not too uncommon to stumble upon. If you have a camera, they will probably let you grab a couple of shots too.

Tainan is also considered a hot bed of culinary delights, so best stick to small portions and you can try many.

Old market streets offer collectables and decorative goods to browse and buy to take home.

Rest your feet from all the walking with a refreshing and fresh Almond Milk.

Tainan is pretty flat so cycling is popular.

By far the most popular form of transport, as in most places in Taiwan are scooters. Get your saddle revamped by these skilled guys. In a few hours it'll be as good as new, if not better.

Like I said life is laid back in the south.

Want to stay cool, don't worry about a wall on your living room, actually it was a theatre stage, but now the show was on TV.

Time for some steamed treats, dumplings and desserts all get steamed and are ofcourse delicious.

Fancy some Eel and noodles?

When out and about I would advise having a look down that little alley way or lane you could easily walk by, you may discover something like this beautiful little temple square.

Even more surprising was bumping into a friend from London, she was on a world wide tour but had decided to stay in Tainan for a few weeks as she liked it so much. I saw here in a little cafe, which was also a joinery workshop, how cool is this. Not only that, a French guy had been taken on as an apprentice as he also wished to stay in Tainan. The gentleman in the picture is the owner, a really welcoming and top fellow, not to mention a super talented craftsman, and his daughter snuck into frame too.

A little further along the road and here we find an electrical repair shop, fixing audio equipment, I wish I had bought some vinyl, but now I have an excuse to go back.

Tainan West Central District has the Wusheng night market, it is extremely popular, a good place to visit and yes you guessed it, grab a bite to eat. You can also shoot at things for prizes among other entertainment should you wish to indulge.

That was our time done in Tainan, the next day we were to leave for Kenting and the southern most point of the island. My journey had picked up some attention, that night we got a visit at the B&B by people following my progress on twitter, that was an amazing feeling and we have since become friends. I would recommend Café IsShoni as a place to stay. It is homely, friendly and the food is freshly prepared, a good way to start the day. The owners really made us feel welcome so thank you to them.

I hope you enjoyed this episode, I love Tainan and always recommend it as the place to go while in Taiwan. It is super easy to hop on the HSR (High Speed Rail) from Taipei and have a couple of nights exploring this fascinating and historic place.

Next time it's south to Kenting...

Until then, check out my WebsiteInstagram , TumblrTwitter and Linkedin. Remember to LIKE COMMENT and FOLLOW.

Feel free to get in touch, if you have any questions, bookings, assignments etcetera, I am always interested to hear from you (contact me).

Love to all...

Part 4: The Silks to The Lalu..

Having spent two days in Taroko, it was time to load my MaxSYM600 and get back on the road. the ride ahead was to be a long one, heading south away from Silks Place and climbing up over Hehuanshan. Hehuanshan lies on the boarder of Nantou county and Hualien, rising 3416 meters to its summit. This section of my journey consisted of over 100km of twisting, winding, climbing and falling road, it was a day for staying focused, on schedule and preferably on the tarmac.

With the sun already heating up the back of my leathers, I pulled the bungee straps tight and programmed my GPS, it was time to get rolling. 

There is a definite quandary on a road trip through somewhere so beautiful, the dilemma being the time you have, and the desire to stop and make photographs every minute. Of course I wanted to enjoy the ride as well as the view, so stopping every other kilometre to take in yet another stunning vista had to be put on the less important list. It is easy to let time slip away from you on the road, and I didn't fancy another 2 hours in the dark on a mountain side.    

The light was lovely and riding conditions were perfect, so I cracked on a little bit to make time for one or two photographs of this leg of the journey. 

Central Taiwan is very mountainous, steep sided peaks rise up blanketed in thick jungle which becomes more forest and eventually grass land the higher you climb. Some of the craggy mountain sides are scared from more recent landslides, all of which adds to the beautiful drama of this landscape.

As i made my way higher along the twisting ribbon of road, several things happened. Firstly I had to stop and put the liner in my jacket as it was getting a bit chilly, secondly the tyre pressure rose and the scooter started to handle slightly differently as a result, finally the performance dropped a little due to the thin air and altitude. Altitude sickness can occur from 2400 meters, my GPS was reading nearer 3000 meters, eventually peaking at 3362 meters. Fortunately I was feeling fine, the view and great road were keeping me more than happily occupied. I just had to try and stay on time.

Up on the highest part of the road, where the air was super fresh, and a steady cool breeze blew over the mountain, I had to stop and enjoy where I was. Pretty much all alone, on top of Taiwan and with the clearest view of the beautiful mountains. No real trees up at this height, just grass and scrub, I could have happily sat for hours.  

Sadly though time was a luxury I did not have, and so my charge down the mountain began. The MaxSYM600 is certainly comfortable, however it is not the most agile of machines, ground clearance is not exactly generous. As I peeled off corner after corner, so I peeled of scrape after scrape of centre stand, I just figured I was lightening the load. I had got so used to the noise that it had stopped worrying me too much, but the occasional slip of the rear wheel as a result of grounding out was more unnerving, especially considering the drop off the side of the road.

Having not stopped for a couple of hours, the sun was now starting to get low in the sky. Thinking that I was still making the time and that the GPS was doing it's job, I felt all was ok. Only when I rode through the same small village for the third time did I realised something was not right. Now I started to feel a rise in my stress levels, I hate to be late. Calling ahead I explained I was a bit lost, I knew I was close, I just needed to figure out the correct turning.

Riding all day long on the demanding roads had been difficult, I was mentally and physically drained. Heaving the big and fully loaded scooter around the endless switchback roads had been fun, but it had taken its toll, the last thing I needed was a problem with my navigation system. But that was exactly what was happening. Only a week after I purchased the Garmin, it was beginning to let me down. The Lalu hotel was close, but I just could not get on to the correct bit of road as the GPS sent me around in a loop. Several phone calls later and having given up with the GPS, I was riding to each junction and then checking my phone until eventually I got to the hotel, two hours later than I had aimed for, but I was there and in one piece.

I really wanted a shower after the full day of riding and the added stress of the final section, however it was back to work as soon as I arrived. There was a shot list prepared, and so I had to take a deep breath, gather my energy and get to it. On the plus side, Mrs.L had made her way to The Lalu, she was welcome company indeed.

The following day we were up before dawn and heading to a farm to see the sunrise, there is often a mist which sits low in the valley, it is known as a cloud sea. It wasn't perfect this morning, but what a way to start your day.

Getting back for breakfast, the dawn over Sun Moon lake was beautiful, so peaceful before the tourist boats start to run.

With breakfast finished I got straight to work making photographs around the hotel, not as many as Silks Place thankfully, but a good couple of hours none the less.

Premier Suite

Delicious food.

Relaxing treatments.

Traditional tea ceremony.

Beautiful architecture.

Stunning infinity pool with lake views.

Mrs. L was to join me on the next leg, riding from The Lalu to Tainan and then on to Kenting, but my GPS was now not working at all. I was very disappointed about this and so contacted Garmin. I informed them that I bought the unit a week earlier and now it was not working. Saying they were not helpful would be generous, first they said I had to take the unit back to Taipei to where I bought it, I pointed out that navigation would be a problem and that I was on a work schedule. I asked why I could not take it to the Garmin shop in Tainan and why it is not covered by the global warranty. Again they just said bring it back to Taipei, so I asked how I should navigate, "use your phone" was the reply. I had just got a brand new phone and did not want to use that, plus riding and holding the phone is not really so safe. They then suggested a map, ok but not easy to read as it is in Chinese, and then finally they suggested I stop and ask directions all the way back. Well, I can ask but at the time I would not have been able to understand the answer. Eventually they did accept that I was going to go to the Garmin shop in Tainan. It was lucky that Mrs. L was on the back of the bike to navigate or we would never have made it to Tainan, What happened when we did arrive was far from pleasing, however that is for the next episode.

I hope that you enjoyed this section of the journey, the road over Hehuanshan really is very beautiful and well worth a drive/ride should you get the chance. In the future I think I will camp at the top, spend a night beneath the stars, and wake for the sunrise. 

Next time it will be the leg from The Lalu to Tainan, Tainan and also more of the Garmin saga.

Until then, check out my WebsiteInstagram , TumblrTwitter and Linkedin. Remember to LIKE COMMENT and FOLLOW.

Feel free to get in touch, if you have any questions, bookings, assignments etcetera, I am always interested to hear from you (contact me).

Love to all...

One last thing (which is amazing), my blogs are now becoming available in Chinese and can be found here.

Multi Skilled and Multi Disciplined

Multi Skilled and Multi Disciplined

“Photographers” they just have a camera and press a button right? Well, for some people claiming to be photographers this is the case, and sure we all start somewhere. Actually being a photographer is so much more than this, in fact the camera, other than being a tool for the job is a long way from the most important part of being a photographer. Of course a camera is needed, but a photographer is so much more.

My friend and fellow photographer coined the collective noun for a group of photographers as a “whinge of photographers” haha. This is amusing, but also has a hint of truth to it, we do love to complain. Is it fair to feel a level of disgruntlement?

As a photographer I have spent many years learning my trade, building my business, investing in the tools for my job. I have served my apprenticeship assisting working long hours and for little pay. I have skills in my arsenal tha now enable me to understand lighting and create complicated images…

Midnight Manoeuvres (proof) (1 of 16).jpg

I have learned to work with my team and direct the shoot to achieve the results for my clients. It isn’t just me working to make these images, I have assistants, hair and makeup stylists, clothing stylists, and the talent to motivate and energise. While doing this, it is also my job to liaise with my client and insure we are on track. Now some people taking photographs don’t use assistants, but for me I feel to truly focus on my task at least one good assistant is essential. My assistants work closely with me so I can simply instruct them where I want the light and to what power I want each light set to. I trust them enough to then let them get on with this. Assistants should never be underrated if you are a photographer, along with simply really helping they offer a great opportunity to educate. They may just want to learn about lighting and the photography side, they may want more, but teaching helps all parties grow. I rate all of my team and have invested time in assembling and developing our working relationship.

So now we start to see that the camera is only a part of being a photographer, there is so much more knowledge and skills going into making a great image. As a professional photographer I am also running a business, so I need to understand marketing, accounting and budget. I need to handle meetings and negotiations, many times I am made to feel it necessary to justify my fees. I linked an excellent article earlier which address how fees are configured, if you didn’t see it take a look here.

The article points out that each project is different, it is difficult to quote without proper dialogue between photographer and client. I have learned that honesty and transparency is key and actually enjoy the process of working together to make a fair deal. I respect my client and my clients need, in return I ask them to respect my extensive and hard earned knowledge and ability to deliver images of the highest standard. These images will be of benefit to them and their business, helping build the brand and expand client base. Is it unfair to expect a fair fee for all the experience and skill I bring?

Having a camera means you can take a picture, but as you can see there is so much more to being a photographer, you really have to be multi skilled across the board.

Now my second subject, multi disciplined. When I say multi disciplined I am referring to genre’s of photography. There are many disciplines within photography, commercial, fashion, portraiture, travel, food, street, wedding and reportage to name just a few. Specialising is accepted, being one or another, either a street photographer or a wedding photographer etc..

But why can you not practice several of these disciplines?

I really love to shoot commercial and fashion photography….

Jet Style Ximending (1 of 1).jpg
Max SYM (Pingtung County) (1 of 1).jpg

Black Jump Suit - P.L.A.N (2)-2.jpg
Joanna (proof) (2 of 14).jpg

I enjoy making portraits…
Stephen Webster (1 of 1).jpg

I enjoy being in the studio and making still lifes..
Jawbone Big Jambox RS (2 of 2).jpg
Matisse Single Malt Whiskey (final) 72dpi.jpg

And I shoot travel photography, shooting for Nat Geo Traveller…

Dujiangyan (9).jpg

Now I wonder should I simply stop shooting all that I love to shoot and only make photographs of one subject, what do you think?

I find the skills I learn lighting one subject and the relationship with that subject can be transferred and applied across the other disciplines I practice. I say practice because that is what we do, well that is what we do if we want to continue to be open minded enough to improve. I am actually beginning to practice a new discipline, one of making film. This is a long road, but the journey has begun and I am learning how to shoot film and also the software needed to edit it, but that is another article in itself.

Will I reduce the photographic disciplines I practice, to some degree I already have. I know what I enjoy and that is the area I wish to concentrate harder on. I enjoy the creativity of shooting fashion and I enjoy the pressures of commercial photography, strange as that may seem. Pressure keeps me on my toes and in all honesty no one puts more pressure on me than myself, but I know that no matter what happens during the shoot I have the skills, flexibility and creativity to make the photographs. If it wasn’t for all the hard work and practice over the years, I would not be able to produce the images I do. Images my clients enjoy and help their businesses and brands grow. Images that make people want to visit a place or stay in a specific hotel, and images that simply make the viewer smile.

So when you book me, you are not just booking a guy with a camera, you are booking a passionate, creative and knowledgeable photographer, a photographer that will deliver and one who will give you all and more than you wanted. My fee? Like I said at the top, this all depends on the project, the budget and usage. I am happy to discuss and work with clients all the way through the process to ensure all parties are pleased with every aspect.

Thank you for taking the time to read my article, I hope you have enjoyed it. Don’t hesitate to contact me with any enquiries and check out more of my work.  

Epic Taiwan Scooter Tour Pt3...... Taroko Gorge National Park.

Epic Taiwan Scooter Tour Pt3...... Taroko Gorge National Park.

Having ridden into Taroko Gorge National Park from the north, I had headed over mountains and then steadily desended into the beautiful gorge itself. I could write about the gorge, how the river cuts its' route through marble and is a beautiful cool blue colour. I could tell you that within 60km the Central Cross Island Highway rises from sea level at the Hualien end to 3000m and then on up beyond that as it winds over Huashan. Huashan is for the next leg and blog, and all the information about the gorge you want can be found here: http://wikitravel.org/en/Taroko_Gorge.

I would like to tell you more about what was on my mind as I rode the tight and twisting road. Although it is named Central Cross Island Highway, it is narrow, very narrow in places. The road is cut into the side of the gorge, it runs through tunnels and overhangs. Rock walls rise steeply on one side, and fall equally steeply to the river on the other. If it were only two wheeled vehicles travelling this route all would be fairly easy, but you will come across all sizes of transport hustling along. So it gets busy, and with Taiwan's regular rumbles and weather, this road is classed as one of the top ten most dangerous in the world, coming in at number 7 I believe. That sounds bad doesn't it, but don't worry if you travel here, the risk is well worth it as you will see, just be aware and take it easy.

Across the road bridge and then a foot bridge from Silks Place is Hsiang-Te Temple, I would recommend making an early visit to this temple. It will be quiet then, and you can have time to contemplate. You may even come across a trope of Monkey's hanging around, watch them though, they are indeed cheeky and may take a liking to something shinny.

As I walked around in the morning sun the busy start to my journey was on my mind. I felt like I had been on the go non stop and rushed, today was going to give me a chance to slow down a bit. A chance to go from two wheels to two feet and slow down. My plan was to ride to the Hualien entrance to the park and walk the Shakadang trail.

The Trail is clearly marked and follows the river, on my visit some of the trail was impassable due to the river flooding and washing it away. This worked to my benefit though as it was easy to get to the actual river bed dip my toes, and get some special and unique shots.

I think every tourist visiting Taroko stops at The Shrine of the Eternal Spring, not so many make the journey up to the nearby Zen Buddhist Temple. It is at this Temple and across a rope bridge you can visit a shrine to all the men who died building the Central Cross Island Highway. Brave the bridge and ring the bell whilst giving a thought to those men who made it possible to enjoy this amazing place.

The gorge truly is breathtaking at times, scary at others and will always be one of my favourite places in the world, not just Taiwan. Make a visit there, spend some time walking the trails and enjoying nature. Don't go looking, go there to experience the moment, that is my best piece of advice when travelling. So often we neglect to actually be there at that moment, and that is what this day of my journey was about. It was a timely reminder to be in the moment of this experience as much as I could be, that I was doing something special and I was allowed to enjoy it as well as document it.

I had one last night at Silks Place before a long leg over Huashan where the road climbs to 3660+ meters before arriving at Sun Moon Lake and The Lalu. 

Hopefully you are enjoying this journey with me, feel free to let me know and ask questions should you wish too. So next time the ride to Sun Moon Lake.

Until then, check out my WebsiteInstagram , TumblrTwitter and Linkedin. Remember to LIKE COMMENT and FOLLOW.

Feel free to get in touch, if you have any questions, bookings, assignments etcetera, I am always interested to hear from you (contact me).

Love to all...

One last thing (which is amazing), my blogs are now becoming available in Chinese and can be found here.

Quick and Sleeklens...

Quick and Sleeklens...

Hi, this is going to be a quick rest bite from the road and a look into Sleeklens Lightroom presets bundle.

So just before Christmas I was contacted by Sleeklens and asked to have a look at their new preset bundle for Lightroom or Photoshop. Now I shoot mostly commercial work, but you will know that I also hit up a lot of street and landscape work during my travel pieces for Nat Geo Traveller. 

For my commercial work I use both Lightroom and Photoshop to produce the final images, mostly with my travel work I predominantly work with Lightroom, so I opted to test the Lightroom pack.

Honestly I am not a big fan of presets, I find that they can lead you down a generic path and make everybody's work look similar, lets face it there is nothing more important as a photographer than your individual style. Having said that I ran through the preset library and brushes to see what they had to offer for my workflow. 

As I suspected the preset library offers a selection of fairly generic looks, remember presets should only be used as a base to start from and develop further. The brush set on the other hand does offer, for me at least a more useful collection.

Overall, I would say that the Sleeklens presets for Lightroom are useful, if just for the brushes. I don't think my workflow will be revolutionised, but I expect I will employ the brushes in my processing work.

Here are two editions of the same image, one processed using Sleeklens and one with just Lightroom, you can decide. If you like the Sleeklens look, get on over to their site and order your package.

Without Sleeklens....

With Sleeklens...

Next time we will be back on my tour and exploring the beautiful Taroko Gorge, so plenty of landscapes to enjoy there.

Until then, check out my WebsiteInstagram , TumblrTwitter and Linkedin. Remember to LIKE COMMENT and FOLLOW.

Feel free to get in touch, if you have any questions, bookings, assignments etcetera, I am always interested to hear from you (contact me).

Love to all...

Epic Taiwan Scooter Tour Pt2...... Silks Place Taroko.

Epic Taiwan Scooter Tour Pt2...... Silks Place Taroko.

Having ridden all day and over some challenging roads which demanded constant and complete concentration, I was feeling tired and very much looking forward to arriving at Silks Place Taroko. Silks Place holds a special place in my heart, Mrs.L and I stayed there during my first ever visit to Taiwan. I have been fortunate enough to return a number of times since, and was looking forward to some peace, a rest from the road and a chance to contemplate the journey past, and ahead.

Riding into the gorge I had met two other Brits enjoying a motorcycle tour, no sooner had we said hello to each other than we found ourselves posing for photographs. Apparently three white guys on motorcycles are more impressive than the gorge to those in the tour buses. Personally I didn't think we were, but now regret not making a picture of the three of us. JJ and Jamie have become friends and we stay in touch through Facebook. You can't really blame me for being distracted though...

...it is rather spectacular isn't it.

Located in Tiensiang a small town in the middle of the gorge, Silks Place Taroko was once used by Chiang Kai-shek to relax and entertain, the hotel now offers a luxurious experience available for everyone. A place to pamper yourself, enjoy the tranquil atmosphere and fantastic facilities, which is what I was looking forward to when I rode my scooter from the road and up to the entrance.

The ride had been long and I wanted to get out of my leathers and shower as soon as I could. However when I arrived I was greeted and immediately went into a meeting to discuss the photographs I was to make of the hotel, it seemed the list was endless and I was to practically shoot a new brochure. Now, I am really happy shooting interiors, food and exteriors, I enjoy it very much. To do that properly takes time and a plan, I was on a travel piece and so had neither, not to mention only one speedlight. I did get to shower and change eventually but the marathon of photography began as soon as I reached my room. I always photograph my room before unpacking so it doesn't get messed up...

 Then I grabbed a welcome shower, and went to make the food shots...

Finally after 2 hours of shooting food I got to eat, but my day still had not finished. After dinner I was requested to photograph the entertainment and rooftop cinema.

Eventually at around midnight I managed to get back to my room, I set up my laptop, uploaded the shots from the day. Took a cold beer from the fridge and the delicious chocolates left by the turn down service, relaxed in the bath and soaked away the aches of the day...


The following morning I got up early to start the rest of the shots on the list, so here we go...

The roof top pool (probably my favourite pool in the world)

The roof top hot tubs...



Yoga studio..


Finally of course, the conference room..

At last I had completed the list requested from the hotel and was free to head off and explore the beautiful Taroko Gorge National Park properly. I packed my cameras and headed off for a hike.

The next part of this story will follow soon, I hope you enjoyed Silks Place, they worked me hard but I love to stay there and highly recommend it. It is a treat to swim in the spring fed pool and watch swallows stoop and drink as you do, all in the most beautiful mountain surroundings.

Until then, check out my WebsiteInstagram , TumblrTwitter and Linkedin. Remember to LIKE COMMENT and FOLLOW.

Feel free to get in touch, if you have any questions, bookings, assignments etcetera, I am always interested to hear from you (contact me).

Love to all...

One last thing (which is amazing), my blogs are now becoming available in Chinese and can be found here.

Epic Taiwan Scooter Tour Pt.1

Epic Taiwan Scooter Tour Pt.1

I have to confess and apologise as this has taken me over a year to get around to writing. The reason for this is that it has taken me this long to really absorb the wonderful journey that I went on, a journey that took me all around Taiwan. The journey was not just about riding beautiful roads on my scooter and seeing amazing things, making a photographic essay for Nat Geo Traveller or shooting a campaign for SYM. It was a journey for me too, one of discovery, discovery about myself, being alone in a foreign country, the thoughts and realisations that come to you in these moments, and most importantly learning to be in that moment. 

This is my SanYang Motor Company MaxSYM600iABS, Together we travelled 2000 miles, miles which took us along the coast, up to over 3000 meters and over all kinds of surfaces. She may not be the most svelte of machines, but she sure ticks the comfortable, sure footed and reliable boxes. There is plenty of space under the saddle for bags, but I needed to carry my camera kit too, so fitted out with a topbox I had all the space I required. Perfect for the tour.

My route would take me from home in Linkou (just south of Taipei), south down the island central and then west to the coast before travelling back north all the way up the east coast. I would make wrong turns and my satellite navigation system would break down. I set off with a planned and solid route, but as with all things in life, we have to learn to be flexible and roll with what comes our way.

This was my planned route, each coloured represented a day on the road from one destination to the next. I wasn't travelling everyday as I spent a few in some areas to explore more.

Leg one took me through Yilan County and into Taichung County where I was to stay the night near Heping District. It was a pretty straight forward run down the very winding route number 7. As usual I was late leaving and had to cover a fair section in the dark, it wasn't too warm up in the mountain and I was quite tired by the time I reached the homestay for the night.

I am sorry that there are no real photographs of this section, the sky was grey and time was against me. When I woke up the following morning, I found I was in a most beautiful place. Heping District is full of fruit farms and I had arrived in the middle of pear season. Fresh, cool and crisp pears for breakfast were very refreshing and a great way to start the day. Not to mention the amazing view.

I could have made photographs every half a mile, I was on a schedule and needed to complete the second leg of my journey into Hualien and Taroko Gorge National Park. With my scooter happily loaded and riding well I pushed on.

So Looks simple enough, along the 7 and onto the 8, the only problem was that I went the wrong direction on the 8! I don't get stressed about going the wrong way, it is all part of the adventure and I got to discover this...

The road was beautiful, and had it not been for the fact it was closed due to a landslide I would have continued along it. I suppose I got my first warning passing this, a fairly common problem, and something to be aware of when travelling in this part of the island, a landslide had wiped part of the road away. The section I passed was almost repaired, it was further along that a more serious issue was in the process of repair. Kind of explained why this section of route 8 was so free of other traffic.

Backtracking and heading in the correct direction I was soon winding my way into Taroko Gorge. My destination was Silks Place Taroko (I will write about this place in my next blog), the journey to it greets you with stunning views at every turn. The road through the Gorge is called the Central Cross Island Highway and is classed as the seventh most dangerous in the world. No you are not likely to be held up by highwaymen or blown up by mines, but you may have a rock fall on you, and one as big as a house at that. I figured it was best to keep moving and chased the rising clouds for a chance to see above them.

Back down in the gorge, the crystal blue water cascades through the rocky, boulder ridden twists and turns. It is hard to find the right place to stop and make a shot. Fortunately I was to be staying in the gorge for a couple of nights and would have a day to explore more. For now I will leave you with this shot of the Liwu River that formed the gorge to wet your appetite.

Until then, check out my WebsiteInstagram , TumblrTwitter and Linkedin. Remember to LIKE COMMENT and FOLLOW.

Feel free to get in touch, if you have any questions, bookings, assignments etcetera, I am always interested to hear from you (contact me).

Love to all...

One last thing (which is amazing), my blogs are now becoming available in Chinese and can be found here.




In the U.K. I heard it said time and time again, "you have to specialise, find your niche". Apparently you can't be a commercial photographer, travel photographer, food photographer, fashion photographer, etc etc, you can only be one kind of photographer. There is no denying that certainly in London, and I expect other major photographic hubs such as New Your and Paris this may be the case due to the concentration of photographers. While I was in London I focused on editorial portraiture and dabbled with fashion, it worked for me and my portrait game became strong as a result of the practice and focus. I did make some effort with food photography and also shooting some product, but mostly concentrated on portraiture which I enjoy a great deal anyway so it was fun.

However I do like to diversify and had varied my subjects alongside my chosen "niche". I don't accept half measures from myself, or my team, everything I shoot, I shoot to the best of my ability, no matter what it is. Pushing to see faults, learn and correct them through a range of subjects has undoubtedly enabled me to take knowledge from one discipline and apply it to another. It also keeps me interested and driven in my work, feeling fresh and sustaining my inspiration in image making.

The first time I returned to the UK after moving to Taiwan I had a meeting with Roger Tooth (head of photography at the Guardian). It was music to my ears when he said that photographers can be more versatile, it was like a green light to explore, learn and develop myself further. We, as photographers should always be reaching to be better and produce better images, if we don't do this then why continue?

I work hard to be the best I can be across all the disciplines of photography I work in. This is paying off with work coming from a multitude of sources and across a range of genres. Regular readers will know about my Nat Geo Traveller assignments which I really enjoy. Travel can encompass all areas, street work, landscapes, portraiture, fashion and food...

So I suppose what I am saying is that I think it is possible to shoot at a high level across the different disciplines of photography if you put enough effort into it. Unfortunately what I see most times is "photographers" flitting from one to the next without spending enough time on any to become proficient. I feel they are trying to look for their photographic identity by jumping on a trend. More often than not they end up copying other and better photographers work badly. There is nothing wrong in taking cues from other photographers work, at the end of the day though, as a photographer it is your voice you need to get heard, and your style you need to develop. It needs to speak through all of your work, whatever subject you are making a photograph of. Concentrating long enough and practising hard enough to become not just proficient, but able to produce good, consistent and high quality work will bring great rewards, personally and professionally. Consistently trusting in myself and my communicative ability, my style, I believe does show within all my work. This is now reflected and confirmed by the diversity of work I get to enjoy shooting.

I love image making, I am starting to expand even further and moving towards creating fashion film. I am learning new software and fresh techniques almost daily. It is a great challenge which I simply enjoy so much. There is a wonderful feeling of producing something that you can feel proud of, that your team can feel proud of and that all of you enjoyed creating. I hope that my work brings pleasure to others too, and some inspiration. 

My plan is to never stop pushing myself, to always try and stay fresh and explore the boundaries of image making. And finally to go back to the start of this blog, I have to say there is some truth saying you can only be one kind of photographer, that is the best photographer you can be. If you want to shoot multiple genres, then practice them all equally hard and with the exact same mind set. Be honest with yourself, be your biggest critic. Listen to others also, it may not be what you want to hear, but take it on board and try to be objective.

Nowadays I am shooting mainly commercial, fashion and portraiture, I think these are the areas I get most creative pleasure from working in and I definitely have the most fulfilment working with people and a team.

My travel work with Nat Geo Traveller is fun for me and I will continue to do that as and when the opportunities present themselves, I do love an adventure in a foreign land, or even around the one I live in. That reminds me that I have not yet relayed the story of my epic thirteen day scooter tour of Taiwan last year, I will write that for you in a couple of blogs time. 

Next time I will finish up on my China assignment, for now though I hope that you enjoyed this, get where I am coming from regarding reaching to produce your best work and aim to do the same yourselves, no matter what you do for a living or a hobby.

Until then, check out my WebsiteInstagram , TumblrTwitter and Linkedin. Remember to LIKE COMMENT and FOLLOW.

Feel free to get in touch, if you have any questions, bookings, assignments etcetera, I am always interested to hear from you (contact me).

Love to all...

One last thing (which is amazing), my blogs are now becoming available in Chinese and can be found here.

I like to fish....but....

I like to fish....but....

Last time I spoke with you, I was talking about the morning visit to meet Qinchenshan's Pandas. This time I am going to relay the story of the afternoon's visit to the Cerealia Caviar Sturgeon farm.

Lying among the beautiful mountains of Dujiangyan the concrete fish pens funnel through fresh and oxygen rich ice melt water, perfect conditions for the Sturgeon that lurk below. To say Sturgeon are an ancient animal could be a slight understatement. Their evolution dates back some 240 million years, all the way back to the Triassic period. Having hardly changed as found from early fossil records, they have proved to be perfectly designed to survive. Only now, thanks to humans and harvesting of Sturgeon eggs for caviar in the wild have they become endangered. Farms such as this one are countering the need to catch and harvest wild fish, producing a very high quality caviar which is distributed all around the world to grace the tables of connoisseurs of this luxury delicacy.

Personally I am not the biggest fan of caviar, it just doesn't do it for me. I don't hate it, but like my wife with scallops, I feel those who appreciate it more should enjoy it. Having said that, I was lead to believe there would be an opportunity to actually try the fish itself, and that it really is very delicious. Similar to Sharks, Sturgeon do not have bones as such, instead they are all muscle around a cartilage like frame. The skin is smooth and scale free, armoured with hard plates with sharp edges along the sides and back, this teamed with their sheer scale, growing on average to 7-12 feet in length protects them from predators. The largest Sturgeon on record was a Beluga female captured in 1827, she weighed over 1500kg and measured a whopping 24ft!

After the fun Panda morning, I was looking forward to this amazing lunch, as ever though I got a different surprise, and treat. The surprise was not just for me though, it was for my friend and guide Olaf (Guest Experience Manager at The Six Senses Resort and Spa Qingchenshan). We were not offered the Sturgeon lunch, instead we were offered a chance to get in the water with these beasts and give them a hug. Well I thought that sounded like a splendid idea, Olaf on the other hand, having watched Jaws the night before was a little less enthusiastic.

This life experience was only given to us as they were purging the tanks and refreshing the water for the fish. As you can see the water level was drained, this meant the fish were much more concentrated in the couple of feet depth that was left. This level of concentration didn't do Olaf any favours, neither did my teasing as I gladly got into the cool water on the hot and sunny day. The fish are very solid as you can imagine, I tried to gently move through the water, almost stumbling as they brushed and banged unseen against my legs.

Snow (the lovely lady in the water already) was as amused as I was with Olaf's reluctance, but eventually we got him in and his fears were all but allayed.

I have fished on an off for most of my life and am quite used to handling them. I also am a fully trained rescue diver and enjoy seeing them in their natural environment. These guys were something different though. Bumping your leg into them felt a bit like trying to push a reluctant horse, they were slow most of the time and wonderfully docile. Maybe it is because the species has been around for so many millennia they have become super chilled out. Snow showed us how to give them a hug, I kind of knew it was best to not grab them, but to be gentle, calm, slow and deliberate so the fish didn't feel threatened.

I am not sure how much experience with fish Olaf has had, but they kept slipping through his arms with a splash.

My advice in English was echoed by Snow in Chinese "handle them gently and with care, like a woman...haha."

Having seen Olaf find success, I handed my camera to our driver and went back to greet the fish properly and have a closer look at what beautiful creatures they really are.

The sunlight hitting the fish made it shine golden, you can really see the platelets along the flanks of the fish and its whiskers which help it hunt out it's food in the heavily coloured water, what a beautiful animal.

Finally it was time for all three of us to have our photo opportunity, or should I say four.

I am not sure how much the fish enjoyed that, but as you can see it was smiles all around for Snow, Olaf and I. I for one loved the chance to get in and see a Sturgeon up close an personal, what a great and graceful animal.

For me it is experiences like this that make travel so exciting, working hard has given me the privilege to shoot for Nat Geo Traveller UK, and have these experiences. Life has taught me to generally say yes when an opportunity such as this is presented. How many times in life will a person get to hug a Sturgeon after all, and share that experience with such lovely people, not to mention one from China, one from Germany and me from England. Wonderful.

I am going to continue with my China assignment, however I feel my next blog may be on a different subject, one that I have been thinking over for a couple of days now. That will wait, so for now I hope that you enjoyed the tale of this little adventure with the beasts beneath.

Don't forget to check out my WebsiteInstagram , TumblrTwitter and Linkedin. Remember to LIKE COMMENT and FOLLOW.

Feel free to get in touch if you have any questions, bookings or inquiries.

Until next time love to all....


National Geographic Traveller and the Panda Picnic....ish!

National Geographic Traveller and the Panda Picnic....ish!

Pandas, they are cute and cuddly right, well that is the image we project of them. Our lovable, playful black and white furry friends. For years we were always excited by news that males or females were being flown in to help with the attempt to rejuvenate the dwindling wild population of these humble creatures. Thanks to science, humans have now managed to work away around the frustratingly unsuccessful matchmaking and in Dujiangyan's Panda paradise there is a baby boom, well cub boom I guess. So I was very much looking forward to heading to Panda Valley for a proverbial Teddybears Picnic.

It can get pretty hot in Szechuan, and on this day it was clear blue sky's and edging past 34 degrees centigrade by 09:00. Not too much of a problem for me, but Pandas prefer it a little cooler, after all sitting around all day and eating bamboo is hard work. Almost as bothersome as donning a giant Panda suit and trapesing about on a social media exercise, which is what my friend, and guide Olaf (Guest Liason Manager at the Six Senses Resort) was having to endure.

He managed to terrorise a couple of children, entertain a few more, apologise for not being able to broadcast with the Pandas as they prefer it indoors with air con on full blast and that was my Panda adventure sadly. I got to look at them through the glass as they sat in a comfortable, temperature controlled environment eating. I found out that that is what they do pretty much, just eat and chill, not such a bad life huh. Then we were off to meet another wonder of nature, the Sturgeon.

Don't tell me that you thought I didn't get any actual Panda shots haha, of course I managed a few.

Next time I'll show you the Sturgeon farm and the fun we had there, I'll leave you with this silly picture of the Kung Fu Panda getting his butt kicked....

Don't forget to check out my WebsiteInstagram , TumblrTwitter and Linkedin. Remember to LIKE COMMENT and FOLLOW.

Feel free to get in touch, if you have a questions, bookings, assignments etc..
Love to all...

What I do on assignment for Nat Geo Traveller - Qingchenshan.

What I do on assignment for Nat Geo Traveller - Qingchenshan.

If you have been following along on my write up of my latest assignment for NGTUK, you will know that I have spent an evening in Chengdu, just hanging out, and then travelled to Dujiangyan before finally reaching The Six Senses Resort and Spa. The single ticket from Chengdu to Dujiangyan cost about 10 pence for a 45 minute trip, are you listening train services and governments, that is properly subsidised public transport. I had enjoyed my massage and facial and was now feeling refreshed and ready to continue.

Walking is best when on assignment. It is slower, allows more time to explore and really feel the location, get a handle on the atmosphere, look around, you know, be there. I was not quite prepared for the climb ahead of me though, I have lived in Asia long enough to know better. 

It isn't far to the foot of Qingchenshan from the hotel, but it is quite a trek to the top. My GPS indicated I had walked about 16km up to the top of the mountain from the resort, shuttle buses are available to the gate, but I didn't want to miss anything. Having walked all the way up, I caught the cable car back down, but was seriously feeling the fatigue later that afternoon. That is the next blog though, this one is the climb, the endless steps and the birthplace of Taoism. 

My Taiwanese family practice Taoism, it is a religion, similar to Buddhism but not quite the same, it is very popular here in Taiwan. If you want to know more I would suggest looking here: Taoism. It is an ancient philosophical, ritualistic and spiritual religion, beautiful temples are all over Taiwan, they are pretty nice to visit and very chilled to hang out in, Longshan in Taipei is my favourite in the city. On Qingchenshan there is the eldest and some of the most beautiful I have visited. Now beauty isn't always because they are colourful, beauty comes in many forms and these are beautiful because of history, and the tangible feeling you get from that, you can almost taste the history it is so thick in the air.

So I will start at the foot of the Mountain and the walk to the gate...

A beautiful sea of yellow lines the shaded pathway to the start of the climb.

There are other options of places to stay, it is pretty, but it isn't The Six Senses.

The first gateway, it's not too much further to the top from here, only another 13km!

Through this and there is a chance to see your first temple, grab a bite and then head to the ticket office.

Entrance to Jianfu Palace, notice the restaurant and shop to the left.

The ticket office is just that, not too exciting but I was amused to see the throbbingly busy and well stocked tourist information booth...

And so with ticket, map and GPS I set off...

I would not advise making a purchase before you climb the many many steps, purchase on the way back and have less far to carry it.

I figured these were to help people who had succumb to the effort of the climb. There were lots of old people, so it made sense some people may get into trouble, and need mountain rescue.

Possibly stationed along the route in case a rapid response was needed?

I was so wrong, they were just for folks who can afford to pay to be carried and feel no shame in that. Maybe I am wrong, but being carried is one thing, spending the entire time on your phone in such a beautiful place really got my goat I have to say.

The guys doing the work seemed happy enough though, they must be super fit, imagine spending every day carrying tourists up and down mountains.

An ancient bridge helps me get my bearings on my way to the five caves, and the birthplace of Taoism.

Fashion finds its way up the mountain.

As you raise along the path, you travel through many temples.

The worn steps and moss covered stone wall really demonstrate the history and age of this serene place.

Refreshing Cucumber and Watermelon are available all along the journey. Make sure you take water and advantage of these refreshments as the going is not all easy.

The path winds down into a crease in the mountain side, you might not realise, but these are the five caves, and very busy with people moving through. Mind your head!

Near the top there is an amazing temple built into the mountain, it is fully constructed of wood. there is a small eatery and this fascinating building on the left here.

The entrance to the wood fronted cave temple.

It was a hazy, muggy day and the visibility was not great sadly, I bet on a clear day the view seems endless.

I reach the Shangging Palace the highest temple on my journey before heading back down the mountain.

Prayer candles flames flicker.

A pilgrim makes his prayers.

Giant incense sticks burn and red prayer ribbons adorn the trees and bushes all around the temple gods.

That was the end of my climb, I had to get back down the mountain and quickly too. That evening I wanted to be in Dujiangyan to make a photograph of the irrigation system. Fortunately for me there is a cable car and I was soon back to street level.

As I walked back to The Six Senses, I found the locals had the right idea, stinging hammocks in the shady trees by the river and paddling in the cool mountain water, what better way to spend a hot afternoon with the family. The locals always know the best spots....

Back in my room, a quick shower and a phone call to order a taxi then I was off to Dujiangyan, that is for next time though, so as ever I hope you enjoyed this. I hope that you are enjoying all from my little story about being on assignment for NGTUK, the next instalment will be in a couple of days.

All images in this piece were shot on my Fujifilm X-Pro2, it is a great travel camera, it shoots fashion pretty well too, I need to use it for some more of that, and show you the results.

Until then, check out my WebsiteInstagram , TumblrTwitter and Linkedin. Remember to LIKE COMMENT and FOLLOW.

Feel free to get in touch, if you have a questions, bookings, assignments etc..

Love to all...

On assignment for Nat Geo Traveller - The Six Senses Resort and Spa.

The Six Senses Resort and Spa.

I finished my last blog entry with a little list of what was to come, first up was a report of the amazing Six Senses resort and Spa. 

Having been travelling for a few days, spending time filing paperwork for my visa and then walking the streets of Chengdu for five hours, I was sure looking forward to getting to the resort for a few days. Living out of a bag and bouncing from place to place was getting to me, four nights in one place was going to be bliss. Sure I was going to be busy while I was there, I am always up against it on an assignment. Only one thing was on my mind though when I arrived though, the spa.

I met the friendly and engaging Olaf (guest liaison manager), discussed the planned schedule, and then booked a massage and facial. My hips were very sore from all the walking, flying and carrying of heavy bags, Nancy in the spa really made all that drift away. The massage was perfect and my tired skin was rejuvenated from the facial. A weary traveller could not ask for more, just check out the spa location too, it is stunning....

Feeling totally refreshed, and wonderfully relaxed I settled for the evening knowing ahead of me were a few days of heavy footbassing (walking) and image hunting. Fortunately I could not have been in a much more beautiful resort to return too, here are a few shots of The Six Senses Resort and Spa, I highly recommend it, a really wonderful place, run by really wonderful staff.

Let's not forget my room, it was amazing. They are more like villas, and you can even have a private set with a courtyard if you travel with family and friends...

There are a few restaurants in the resort, lunch in the little square with high quality tea is a must..

Then choose between Chinese, Thai and Western for your evening meal, what a lovely place to eat dinner...

Finally the view, now I am a little restricted as to what I can show you here, you can see a shot I made in the NGTUK magazine which is currently featuring my work from this assignment which almost brought a tear to my eye it looked so beautiful when I witnessed it. This is what I can show you though....

If you like what you have seen, and I would recommend it as a great base to explore this part of China from, go to Six Senses Resort and Spa Qingchenshan to book a relaxing and welcoming stay.

As you know there is more to come in this series so you will see what is in the area...

Until then, check out my WebsiteInstagram , TumblrTwitter and Linkedin. Remember to LIKE COMMENT and FOLLOW.

Feel free to get in touch, if you have a questions, bookings, assignments etc..

Love to all...

On Assignment in China for Nat Geo Traveller UK.

On Assignment in China for Nat Geo Traveller UK.

 The first time I went to China was at the start of this year for a commercial shoot. It involved a lot of portraits, fifty eight or so, and some other photography, you can see the shots here: http://www.runfutang.com/. I was there with my assistant for four night only, one day in Shanghai and then a couple in Beijing. It was my first taste of China and was a bitterly cold, -14°C when we landed with a razor sharp wind. Shanghai seemed like a place I could hang out, but Beijing was grimy, dusty and gritty, by the end of the day I felt like I had been licking cement, that isn't really my ideal location. After a very busy few days we flew out of Beijing, I peered through the gloom, the Sun was low and just a faint orange glow through the haze like something from another world. I was not sad to leave Beijing, but a little sad I hadn't had more time to explore.

Obviously China is absolutely huge and has many many beautiful places, like I said, I liked Shanghai. So when National Geographic Traveller UK (NGTUK) got in touch and asked me to illustrate an article in the Szechuan province, obviously I was excited as I knew this area is very beautiful indeed. Like I said China is huge, as are many of it's provinces including Szechuan. My work and exploration was going to be focused in and around Dujiangyan, near Chengdu. 

Being British, I need a visa to travel in China, these are not cheap in Taiwan, but easy and more affordable in Hong Kong (HK). Fortunately I was already heading to HK, so just booked my trip to fit in the visa process and then fly from HK to Chengdu, one night in Chengdu, then a train ride to Dujiangyan and on to The Six Senses Qingchenshan resort and spa.

Although it isn't the beginning and I will come back to it later as it is well worth it, The Six Senses is an amazing place... 

The Six Senses Qingchenshan.

I landed in the early afternoon in Chengdu and spent an evening wandering around with my Fujifilm X-Pro2 making street photography.

Afternoon Nap.

Off to get dinner.

Finding out the future.

The hunt for knowledge.

Getting ready to set up to trade.

Fresh, hot and spicy potatoes 

Welcome to the peoples restaurant.

Street Barber

As you can see there are plenty of characters and lots going on in the evening in Chengdu. I wandered around for a while, drank a couple of beers and enjoyed the open air Karaoke in the park. Gentleman fished the fast flowing, and rather pungent river while groups of ladies did dance exercise around the park. After a long walk I was happy enough to get back to my hotel, and looking forward to getting to the mountains and my assignment to begin properly.

I have decided to make this NGTUK assignment story in instalments, they won't be spread far apart, every other day or so. Keep watching for the next one, I will cover The Six Senses Resort, Qingchenshan (birth place of Taoism), Panda Valley, The Earthquake Memorial, an ancient Qing Township, Puzhao Temple and if that isn't enough, hugging Sturgeon!

Until then, check out my WebsiteInstagram , TumblrTwitter and Linkedin. Remember to LIKE COMMENT and FOLLOW.

Feel free to get in touch, if you have a questions, bookings, assignments etc..

Love to all...

Going Back to Move Forward...

Going Back to Move Forward.

A long long time ago when dinosaurs roamed the earth....well, not quite, but we were all still shooting on film, Adobe had just given birth to Photoshop and I had no real desire to be a Photographer. That's right, no real desire to be a Photographer. I wanted to make special effects for film, as a result, I studied Film and Media, what I should have realised was Adobe had just given birth to Photoshop and this world was about to change. Anyway, to cut the story short I moved into photography, away from film and photography, and then back into photography again full time, and that brings us almost up to date.

I say almost as there has been a development. We all watch and view images on our phones, tablets and computers these days, print media, although some of it is still lovely, is mostly falling behind now. Soon I believe there will be animated paper and magazines will live again, but this time with moving images on the pages. I don't think for one second that photography has had it's day, it is evolving and continuing to grow, but I am adding film making to my skill set, something more to offer my clients, and something I have been asked for.

So a while back we made a fashion shoot I asked my then assistant if he would shoot some video, he is an award winning DP and so I figured he would be the guy. The other thing is that he is familiar with my work, I thought he would shoot close to my style. I learned two things, number one concentrate on either making a photo shoot or a video shoot. Number two, if you want a shot composed a certain way, you have to do it yourself or direct it more closely and make sure you get exactly what you are thinking. I could say a third lesson, but it is knowledge I already understand, people don't see through your eyes. This last point is why I get picked to shoot certain things and another photographer gets chosen for something else. We are unique and that is what makes a photographer worth hiring, create and develop your own style.

First of all have a look at my photographs from the days shooting...

The shoot was fun, and the results made me fairly happy. A couple of blogs back I posted a before and after, so you can see the amount of work I put in on these.

I was given the RAW rushes of the video and they had been sitting on my desktop ever since. In the meantime I have practised a bit with video editing in Photoshop, no I don't have premiere pro yet, but I am sure it will come soon enough. 

I went through the rushes, embarked on a very steep learning curve and finally produced something half passable. I know it isn't perfect and I know where I went wrong, next time I need to direct closely, if not film it myself. I have to story board it and employ the techniques I learned at college between dodging Raptors and the occasional T-Rex. I know my image making voice more now and am confident to apply this to film, with that I feel I have grown from just a Photographer and can refer to myself, should anyone ask, as "Image Maker" now.

Here it is, my first real effort at a fashion film, there will be more and they can only really get better. I hope you enjoy this, let me know either way, comments and criticism are all welcome.

Next time I am hoping the November issue of Nat Geo Traveller UK will be in the shops, inside is an eleven page article featuring my photography, and I can tell you more about my wonderful China assignment for them.

Until then, check out my WebsiteInstagram , TumblrTwitter and Linkedin. Remember to LIKE COMMENT and FOLLOW.

Feel free to get in touch, if you have a questions, bookings, assignments etc..

Love to all...

The Importance of the Third Leg.

I get asked all the time, what is the best camera? What should I buy? What lens is best for travel, fashion, portraiture etc. Most recently I was contacted by a friend in Taiwan who is about to take a trip to Tokyo, he asked me about lenses and what is the best choice as a travel lens. If I only get one len, then it will be my 24-70mm 2.8 on my Nikon, however I don’t carry my Nikon so much for travel anymore, it is simply too heavy. Now, when I am on assignment for Nat Geo Traveller, or other travel assignments my favourite choice of kit is my Fujifilm X-Pro2 with my 18-55mm f2.8-4.0. The Mirrorless option is lighter, more compact and great for, street and landscape photography alike, infact I use it for portraiture and fashion also, it is bloody brilliant. My friend asked me “should I take a flash?”, I told him not to worry about it, but do take a tripod.

Admittedly I carry a few speedlights with me on travel assignments, I only really use them when I am shooting the interiors, or food sometimes. When shooting interiors it is important to balance the ambient light with the flash. To get the lamps looking nice and the bedroom warm and welcoming you need a longer exposure and so, my camera is firmly on my tripod. I mean who can really hand hold ½ a second or longer and not have any camera shake. So those times really are the only time I will use my speedlights, but I will be using my tripod all the time as you will see.

There are many tripods available and at all sorts of prices. Most photographers will have a Manfrotto, they are pretty much the norm and are good. If you want a little more and have the money then Gitzo will float your boat, and support you equally expensive Leica. I have neither of these, this is my tripod….

Vanguard Alta Pro 283ct (1 of 7).jpg

It is a Vanguard Alta Pro 283CT and I absolutely love it. I love it so much I have two. Now why would I have two, well the answer is simple, I am not sympathetic to my kit. The first one I bought has been used to death, it’s been up mountains, in the rain, wind, snow, ice, rivers and even the ocean (multiple times). It didn’t get cleaned often if at all but it kept on going. I wasn’t to know we would be together so long, but we have been, previously I had a Manfrotto and it lasted nearly 2 years and then just went beyond repair. I never had to think about repair on my Vanguard until eventually it developed a sticky leg that became annoying to the point of getting a new tripod. Yes of course I bought the same model. Now if I want to set up in the ocean, Mr. Sticky Leg can take the hit like a total three legged trouper, while Mr Sparkly New stays smooth as silk.

So why did I choose Vanguard over Manfrotto or a Gitzo?

There are several reasons: versatility, adaptability, weight, strength, build quality and design.

Vanguard Alta Pro 283ct (6 of 7).jpg

For those that don’t know, there is the tripod (the base part with the legs) and the head (that the camera attaches to). These are sold separately on any half decent tripod, you can’t see the head in this shot, and it is not mounted in the first image. I don’t want to talk about the head too much, this article is about the tripod. What you are looking at here is a lever, well derrr obviously. OK, this lever releases, or locks a hinge which allows the center column to be set at any angle, yes any angle from vertical through 180 degrees, brilliant. Vanguard Alta Pro 283ct (2 of 7).jpg Not only that, the knob below it releases a panning swivel allowing the center column to rotate, no need to pick up and move the tripod. The legs lock at three angles, all the way up to 90 degrees, ideal for uneven ground and tight spaces. They have nice foam grips, surely the foam grips are a gimmick, why have them? Well I tell you this, even though this tripod is carbon fibre, it still gets cold in icy weather, those foam grips on each leg are a god send. Being made from carbon fibre, the Vanguard is strong, stable, but also light, another reason to buy it. And finally before we get to the final bit, I am about 181cm tall, my Vanguard Alta Pro 283CT fully extended is about the same height. Not the height to my eye but to the top of my head, add the tripod head and we are looking at well over 6ft to viewfinder.

So here is my tripod with the head on…

Vanguard Alta Pro 283ct (3 of 7).jpg              Vanguard Alta Pro 283ct (4 of 7).jpg

I use a ball head as I shoot fashion and it gives me support and freedom at the same time. Also it means less knobs to fiddle with to make adjustments, So you can see that the Vanguard Alta Pro 283CT is a tidy bit of kit, it has lots of features, more than any other tripod I know about, yes it has a hook to hang weight off and make it more stable, yes it comes with a little tool kit to make adjustments and swap heads if you need too, yes the rubber feet screw up to rvral metal points to grip mud and yes it has a spirit bubble, and yes it comes with a very smart carry bag.

Is there, more, well a little bit, here it is on a rock, by the ocean….
Vanguard Alta Pro 283ct (1 of 1).jpg

Sexy right……

Seriously though, that pan feature, now that I am getting into shooting film/video is a bonus, why? well because I can pan!

As long as I take the time to make sure the tripod base is level, I will get a level pan, if you imagine my camera mounted and the pan swivel loose, I even have a handle to turn it with, the unused end of the center column. Works a treat.

Vanguard Alta Pro 283ct (7 of 7).jpg

So now you know why I chose Vanguard, why after discovering how tough they are I got a second one. That a feature that is so simple turned out to be so excellent and makes this tripod an even more, if not the most versatile tripod on the market. I expect to get a minimum of 5 years use (like I said, I drag my tripods all over the place), but suspect 10 plus years will be nearer the mark.

You can see the full range here, and they are available globally: http://www.vanguardworld.co.uk/

Well, now you know which tripod I use, I will tell you why I said it is more important than a flash for travel work. I’m, pretty steady but I can’t hand hold for long exposures, anything longer that say 1/15th and I am going to be worried about camera shake. I like to make really long exposures too, like this..
.The Scoop (1 of 1).jpg

Believe it or not, there were hundreds of people in this space when I made the photograph. However (here comes the tip), anything that moves for more than half the exposure will disappear, or not appear however you want to look at it. So, this was a 5 minute exposure, people generally do not stand totally still for that long and so, hey presto...gone.

Another technique I like to geek out with is light painting, literally painting a subject with a torch light. This was a 15 minute exposure as I gradually built up the lighting on the car using a maglight. This kind of photography would be almost impossible without a good tripod, yes you could put the camera on a surface, but that is just not very portable is it, unless it’s a wheelie bin!
E-Type Jaguar (1 of 1).jpg

I admit it the car, other than travelling in is not a travel photograph, it’s a demonstration of why tripods are important. Cameras record light, the longer the shutter is open, the more light comes in and the brighter the image. When are you going to go around a street market in Marrakesh and use flash photography to get that realistic street scene...errrr never. Sure if you are shooting a fashion shoot in a market in Marrakesh and you want to make your model pop out, light them up. But when you are traveling, it’ll be street work, so adjust the iso to get around 1/125th at f5.6-f8 and don’t use your tripod. For the beautiful sunset and sunrise then set up your tripod and enjoy the moment as you create your image, all thanks to a longer exposure and smaller aperture….
Dawn over the Wye Valley (1 of 1).jpg

Most of all enjoy your photography, remember, it is supposed to be fun…

Next time I will talk about my new venture into a world I left to focus on photography. I have been striding headlong into the world of film making, in particularly fashion film...

Until then, check out my WebsiteInstagram , TumblrTwitter and Linkedin. Remember to LIKE COMMENT and FOLLOW.

Feel free to get in touch, if you have a questions, bookings, assignments etc..

Love to all...

What I said at the end of the last one...

What I said at the end of the last one...

Hello again, I hope you are well and all that good stuff. If you read my last blog (I hope you did, and if you didn't, well off you go, read it and we will see you back here in a minute or two, it's short don't stress.), you will be kind of up to speed with my move toward the fashion world. You'll have seen I got experimental and enjoyed myself exploring my capabilities and understanding of image making. Basically I had been having fun and pushing myself, my team and my learning curve close to the max. Then Mrs. L said something to me, and she was right (as is often the case). She said, "your work was better before you started this course.". She didn't mean technically, more aesthetically, I had veered somewhat. Although I felt my skills with lighting, my cameras, and directing my team were better, I had drifted off down some path of incoherent experimentation. In itself, this is no bad thing, but it doesn't bring the bread in, and I am a professional after all. So, yes I had grown as a photographer, but I had also been over complicating things, and loosing direction. 

Having decided I want to shoot more commercial fashion, I know I must think about the product, the fashion. Of course I will continue with my love of portraiture, I guess I like to work with and photograph people. It is also good to shoot more experimental creative work, but on my time, or when a more creative publication allows me to really go for it.

Well, make it more simple I thought...

Fe Dolly (a designer from Taipei) created some outfits and we booked a couple of models for the shoot....

Now it looks more simple, and I guess it was, but I had made an error again. My focused was too much on the location and not enough on the clothes, they are fighting each other in the shots. I had also thought it was a good idea to shoot video at the same time. I am moving toward adding video making to my arsenal, shooting and produce fashion video is a very interesting area, more on that in another blog. Overall I am happy enough with this shoot, but I do feel it could have been better, I learned a lot from it, saw that I have come along way and am more mature and aware as a fashion photographer now, a lot more mature.

We got ready for this shoot in a poorly lit place, that didn't help. Basically, Make Up Artists (MUA) need light. The closer to the light we will be shooting in, the better. An LED torch, although diffused nicely and even is not the best. My poor MUA struggled and I had a hell of a lot of work to do. Now I don't make my models thinner, but I will work on their skin and make up if I have to. So here is a after and before example, you get an idea of the work I have to put in...

As you can see quite a lot of work, and I ended up with about 12 frames of each model, it was a lot of late nights. To get to the finished image was taking 1-4 hours depending, not much fun, but lots of time to think.

My conclusion was to remember it's about the fashion, the outfits, the look, the bags, shoes, hats and accessories. Yes the location is important, of course it is, but it can't be more important than the clothes. Also I need to buy an LED light panel that is battery powered, this will help in poorly lit prep areas and also with my video making.

Time to get another shoot organised, getting a team together and keeping it simple is a plan I stuck too. Rong Chen was our wonderful model and perfect for this shoot, we titled it "White Hot on the Rocks"...

We called it "White Hot on the Rocks" (WHR), because, well it was really bloody hot, Rong is wearing white, and I think you can guess the rest. I was finally pleased with where I was heading and over the moon with the team on this one. It was simple, straight forward, Rong worked well with us (She is in Milan currently, book her and work with her if you can. I can't wait for her to be back so we can shoot again.), within a few hours we were done. I was really happy, and still am, I feel confident I know I am heading in the right direction, the direction I want to head in. Keep it simple, keep it clean, keep it about the clothes, the fashion.

That about wraps up this blog, before you go though here are a couple of extra shots from the WHR shoot, see how much fun we have....

Sadly my assistant for the day Michael Geier had buggered off to find a sunset photograph up a mountain, or he would have been in this, which is my favourite post shoot team shot ever. Wearing the glasses Hair and MUA, Anna Tian, on Fujifilm X-Pro2, Me and looking gorgeous, Model Rong.

Yep, found a river, it's hot, lets paddle..... 

Who needs to go up a mountain to get a dramatic shot, the light came to us, and we loved it, don't you. I really adore it when Taiwan gives us a view like this.

Next time I am going to address the issue of a Tripod, and some technique advice, maybe some other bits too.

Until then, check out my WebsiteInstagram , TumblrTwitter and Linkedin. Remember to LIKE COMMENT and FOLLOW.

Feel free to get in touch, if you have a questions, bookings, assignments etc..

Love to all...