Posted on March 25, 2012
It’s the first day of British summertime today, the clocks have gone an hour forward, robbing me of a precious 60 minutes of sleep and upsetting my delicate body-clock. I still don’t understand, at 42 years old, why we have to adjust the clocks back and forward every year?Anyway, it’s been summer on the Isle of Man for a few days now, which is lucky, because the passenger side window of my car has been jammed open for the past 3 days – if this had happened two weeks ago I’d have frozen to death within 5 minutes of my daily commute.
I like the winter, I don’t know why, but I can always tease a better portrait out of a person in the winter. All my favourite portraits have been taken outside, in winter, I prefer the dull, muted colours and flat light that we tend to get on the Isle of Man. I’m going to make a concerted effort to do more summer location portraits this year. I’m off to the US to shoot a project at the end of the year, so I really need to get used to using bright sunlight.
I upgraded my iPhone 3Gs to the 4Gs this week, I’m a big fan of any gadget that includes a camera, but I was never really that impressed with the 2mp effort on the 3Gs. However, the 4Gs has an 8mp camera which is a lot more usable. If you take the original through a few apps, in this case Snapseed and Tilt-Shift, you can produce perfectly acceptable results.
Posted on March 22, 2012
I get asked, at least once a week “What camera should I buy? I’ve got about a grand to spend”
Well, you could go and buy a nice Canon EOS 600D and add a perfectly usable lens, maybe you’ll have enough left over for a little bag too. In a year, one of two things will have happened – you’ll have got bored/disillusioned with digital because it doesn’t quite give you that ‘look’ you keep seeing OR you’ll have got really interested/disillusioned with digital because it doesn’t quite give you that ‘look’ you keep seeing….
Either way, you’re going to end-up wanting to shoot film. So here’s my advice – take your £1000, buy a £200 digital compact (because you still want to shoot snapshots at parties,etc). Then invest another £150 in a good, second-hand Nikon, Pentax or Olympus 35mm SLR camera and a 50mm 1.8 lens. Another £150 will purchase you a film scanner. Blow another £100 on 30 rolls of film.
A roll of film costs £4.44 at Peak Imaging for a develop only – just have a couple less drinks at the pub every week, or stop smoking.
This leaves you with £400. £400 will get you a long way on a train or a bus.
All the images in this article were taken on a £10 Nikon TW20 compact or a £79 Olymus OM1 SLR and 50mm lens. All shot on Kodak Portra or Fuji Pro 400 film and scanned on a £150 Epson v500 scanner. None of the photographs have been cropped, edited or altered in any way.
Posted on March 21, 2012
Whenever I get the urge to stop shooting film, I look at this image of my son, Ric. Digital has its place, but it’s not here, not today…
Posted on March 17, 2012
I’ve never really had the patience for filmmaking, it’s something I’ve always been interested in, I’ve dipped my toe into it over the years, but stills photography always wins my attention. I’ve constantly been unable to focus my creative interest into two things at once, I suppose it’s a good and a bad thing?
Over the past two or three weeks I’ve been a bit ‘static’ due to back problems, this has had the hidden bonus of allowing me the time to sit and play with Apple’s fantastic bit of software, Final Cut X. With the help of Youtube tutorials, Google and a bit of intuition I’ve managed to teach myself the basics of this professional video editing package in less than two days. The fundamentals of video are actually easier, for me personally, to get to grips with as there are only 3 colours, red, green and blue, to deal with, as opposed to 6 in digital stills. All the other nuts and bolts, such as contrast, saturation, hue , etc, are essentially the same.
The video below is just a short 2 minute thing that I put together using existing footage and some bits I’ve made over the last week or so. Final cut is amazingly easy to use – I edited this film together in just a couple of hours. I haven’t seen many friends over the last two weeks, but those I have seen are probably in this short…
Click on the image below for a link to ‘People 1:01′ at Vimeo.
Posted on March 14, 2012
Michael Cooke has lived, part-time, in South-west France since 2006 in a small village on the Dordogne River. Michael has muscular dystrophy, a muscle wasting condition which only gets worse, this has made the 1500 mile round-trip from the Midlands of England more and more difficult as time goes by. Add to this the increase in fuel costs and the general rise in the cost of living on the continent and you’ll understand why Michael has decided to pack and move back to England.
Posted on March 2, 2012
If I’m ever away in a far-flung corner of the World, shooting a job for National Geographic magazine, and I get kidnapped by bandits….Actually, I’m going to start this piece again, but this time with a more realistic scenario – If I’m ever away in some seedy backwater of Eastern Europe, shooting a bizarre project idea that came to me in a dream, and I get arrested and thrown in jail for starting a drunken bar fight, the first person I’m calling is Trevor Gibbs.
Trevor Gibbs - Writer, expedition leader and logistical manager. He’s led expeditions all over the world, including the Himalayas, Africa, SE Asia and Arabia. Trevor has managed community projects for NGOs and charities in Cambodia, South Africa, Nepal and India, managing teams of volunteers working with landmine victims, AIDS orphans and tsunami survivors. He’s also worked with TV and production companies in post-earthquake Haiti, East Africa, the Middle East and Nepal. I’ll list a few of the countries he’s been to, not all of them, because I don’t have a spare 4 hours to do it - China, Vietnam and Cambodia, India, Haiti and Cuba, USA and Canada, Uganda, Ethiopia, Southern Africa, Jordan, Iran, Egypt, Libya, UAE, Oman,Nepal, Australasia and the Pacific Islands…blah,blah,blah. Trevor hasn’t been into space, yet. Oh yes, I forgot, he’s also worked as a ranch hand, dive master and mural artist.
They say that if a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well. I believe that if a job’s worth doing well it’s worth getting Mr Gibbs involved. Trevor and I have been very close friends for about 10 years,in 2009/2010 we did a project together about the Solway Harvester tragedy , I did the photographs and Trevor did the words. He also organised the entire project from start to finish, I know that without him ‘Harvest’ would have remained firmly attached to the launch pad of my mind. We nearly fell-out on several occasions during the year that ‘Harvest’ was in the making, 99.9% of the friction was caused by my complete lack of organisation at the time. I’ve learned a lot since then – ALWAYS answer the phone to Trevor, whenever possible, and reply to emails IMMEDIATELY, whenever possible.
Trevor is a doer, he gets things done, he’s a sorter-outer of problems, a fixer. After, and despite, any problems that we may have encountered in the past, I’m pleased to say that Trevor is again pairing-up with me to document another project. This time next year we will have completed a photo-essay based on the South-West area of The USA(more of that in future articles…).
At the time of writing this article, Trevor is guiding actor and TV presenter Denise Van Outen, Lydia Bright(The Only Way is Essex) and a photographer from OK magazine on a cycle trek somewhere in India. I hope none of them get into a bar-brawl, but if they do, they’re in the very best hands…