Thoughts on photography and life


Street photography in Hong Kong – Chinese New Year

Street photography has never been one of my strong suits. I’ve always felt uncomfortable pointing my camera at strangers. However, if you have a compact camera, you can get away with a little bit more. The public assume you must just be a tourist, whereas someone with a DSLR is clearly either a pervert or a paparazzo!  (As I mentioned in a previous post, the people of the Far East are far more accommodating of those with cameras than we are in the West.)

Recently I bought a new compact camera (thanks in part to a mega load of Amazon vouchers from my credit card reward scheme) – the Sony RX100 Mk3. While I haven’t used it enough to write any kind of a review, I can say one thing – the articulated screen is great! You can stand there head down, like you’re looking your phone, all the while snapping passers by. It’s also brilliant for capturing low angles that would otherwise need you to lie on your belly.

Anyway, the following images are from a recent trip to Hong Kong. Most of them are from the Chinese Lunar New Year Fair in Victoria Park. Incidentally, 2015 is the year of the goat/sheep. See if you can spot any images which give this away!

Click on any of the images to enter slideshow mode.

An afternoon of golden sunshine in Rio

Barra is one of the most affluent neighbourhoods of Rio de Janeiro. It’s also quieter and safer than the trendy tourist spots such as Copacabana and Ipanema.

However this is still Rio – which means that the beach is the place to see and be seen. In the middle of a summer’s day, the heat is almost unbearable and only the super committed (or should that be committable?) sun tanners are out on the beach. Come an hour before sunset though and the sun loses its sting, instead bathing everything in warm golden light.

This is what I hope you get a sense of in these images.

Wave breaking on Barra Beach Rio de JaneiroRed sun loungers on Barra Beach Rio de JaneiroJoggers in the sunsine Barra Beach Rio de Janeiro

They MADE me shoot him!

Yokohama diners at nightClick for a larger view


An amusing side story to go with the previous post about my photowalk in Yokohama….

I was wandering around with the trusty Nikon D90 atop a tripod – stopping here and there to assess potential shots. I paused to take a couple of shots of the restaurant on the left, which as you can see was almost deserted. Anyway, the staff of the next door restaurant became convinced that I must be a travel photographer shooting for some magazine or other. They definitely wanted in on the action, and were most insistent that I showed them some photo love too. In fact they were not happy until I had made several exposures.

I was of course more than happy to oblige – in the West, people are nowhere near as keen to have their photos taken, so it was a lovely treat to have enthusiastic subjects!


Yokohama photomooch

mooch – verb (used without object) – to loiter or wander about

The City of Yokohama, Japan. A great place to hang out with a camera and watch life in progress. Despite the astonishing population density in the Greater Tokyo Metropolitan Area, the people here are friendly and welcoming.  Unlike westerners, they aren’t camera shy either and look with a benevolent eye and people who skulk around with a tripod.  I’d like to share with you a few of the images I made while there, including the Yokohama Royal Park Hotel and the Cosmo Clock 21 Ferris Wheel.

Creative use of dull days

It’s easy to look out the window on an overcast day and feel uninspired.  However if you wait for sunshine to arrive, your chances of success here in England are poor before you even start.  With this in mind I set out, determined to make the most of a dull day.  While autumn has been gathering her thoughts, summer has been busy putting on a late show.

The wonderful gardens at Anglesey Abbey provide a lovely stomping ground for anyone wishing to enjoy this.

Overcast days may lack drama and contrast, but the light is soft and even. Combined with judicious lens selection, I was sure there were interesting photos to be had.

Photographer and author, David duChemin, whose work I admire greatly, is a firm advocate of wielding the camera with vision and intent.  “What is the photographer trying to say here?” he asks. “What do you want to say?”

This is not always easy.  Wandering around snapping any old thing is a path with less resistance.  Also, if you don’t state your intention, it’s harder for others to judge your work a failure.  No matter – judge away dear viewer.  What I had in mind here, was to create a painterly look in the camera without the use of Photoshop plugins.

To create this effect, I combined the soft light from the overcast day with an 85mm lens, wide open at F1.8.  Not great for maximum detail such as you might expect in a biology textbook, but just what I was after here.

If nothing else, I hope this post inspires you to pick up your camera, get out the door and make the most of what the day has to offer.


No more watermarking for me

2012_12_27_DSC_1645Greetings reader(s) and welcome to the first post of 2014.  And as it’s a new year, I’ve decided to make a change…..

Should you watermark the images you post online?  This is a question which has been extensively debated on photography forums all over the internet.

Essentially it boils down to whether you feel the need to protect your work.  Protect it from unscrupulous rapscallions.  Rapscallions who try to pass it off as their own, or use it without giving you any credit.

The other means by which you can protect your work is to only upload low resolution versions, typically with a long edge of no more than 1024 pixels.

I’ve been through various stages of paranoia on the subject, and have used both of the methods above.

However, as of today I shall do neither.  From now on I am going to upload full resolution unwatermarked files.  Indeed I have begun replacing some of my low res files on Flickr with better ones.

What has brought about this decision?  Basically life is too short.  Too short to be worrying that some tool on the internet is going to rip you off – and too short to export multiple versions for different uses.

Firstly, for aesthetic reasons I have never used a large intrusive watermark, so it would have been a moment’s work in Photoshop to remove it.

Secondly, large images make more impact.  In the world of ultra high res screens we now inhabit, small files don’t cut it any longer.

I will still embed copyright info and contact details in the image metadata, so finding the image creator will be very easy for those who wish to know.

And for anyone who may wish to rip of MY image, in the vast sea of amazing photography that’s out there:

1. Thank you – I’m very flattered
2. What goes around comes around
3. Sleep well tonight

Now on with 2014 – January is more than half way though and you only have 341 days until Christmas!!

Justin Bieber doesn’t read this blog

It is with bewildered amazement that I have accepted a hard truth.  Justin Bieber does not read this blog.  Or if he does, he doesn’t agree with what is written here.

I recently blogged on why selfies are not a great idea if you want a flattering picture.   Today there is an article on the BBC website, which reveals Mr Bieber is financially backing a smartphone app called “Shots of Me”, designed to encourage selfies.

One will have to bear up with typical British stoicness and hope that with time, the rift between self and Justin Bieber can be healed.

Your support at this difficult time will be most appreciated.


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