Sunday, 21 November 2010

Andy Linden Mundungus Fletcher in Harry Potter

It was a great surprise and treat to see Andy Linden in the new Harry Potter film.  Alasdair came home last night raving about the film and about Andy.

We met him at the Edinburgh festival on two occasion.  In the first he tried to persuade us to visit his show which we duly did.  Andy then after the show we bumped into him in the Gilded Balloon.  He has a very memorable persona - well suited to the opening scene in HP.  He was of course a little taken aback when I whipped out my D700 and took his portrait.  How close we got is seen in this 24mm mug shot of a memorable guy.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

KOS - Life is a Mark Warner Beach

I went to Kos a Greek Island on holiday.  It was meant to be a total break and a beach and sailing holiday.  Nevertheless I decided to do a mini project on it and took my Sony D100 with me.  FOr two reasons.  Firstly I wanted to do a short documentary on what it was like to be o this type of holiday, never having been on one.  Secondly I wanted to be discrete in my photo taking.  also I have a real concern of destroying camera in a beach environment.  Sand, from my experience can be the end of a camera.  As it was the Sony did not disappoint and was as discrete as I was able to be.  I still got carried away and started running around on the beach poping in an out of boat huts and such and taking images which turned heads - what is he up to?  The "bairns" don't like it either.  So I was on my best behaviour.  It was after all a holiday!!!

I have on return generated a Blurb book.  You can see it on  called KOS 2010.  All the images were taken with a small compact camera.  Yes it is not remotely as good as the Nikon D700.  Nevertheless the best camera you have is the one you with you at the time :-)  The camera review websites are continually searching for the super compact.  The tiny camera that will replace the big camera!!!  The holly grail of cheap but not cheerful - wonderful.  Well the Sony Cybershot series has always impressed me.  They are tiny cameras.  If the light is good then they will give you a perfectly usable image which you can exhibit up to A3 in size.  For 99% of people it is what the image tells you that matters.  They are not pixel peepers and cannot tell the diference between an image from a compact and a full frame sensor.  I still cherish the images from my first cybershot which had a mere 5mp.  My current camera has 13mp.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

HOG in the Glens

I attended the annual Harley Davidson rally in Aviemore this year.  It is 2 years since I last attended the rally and it has more than doubled in size.  For my style of photography it is a wonderful opportunity to follow the bikes around the countryside and capture what is a magical sight.  The atmosphere is infectious - a group of enthusiasts out there enjoying themselves in the way that only the HOG do. It is an opportunity to witness a group of mainly well to do people trying to confront their mid life crisis.  Within that there is a hard core of bikers who live the "life".  Like Jim (not his real name ;-)  who was worried about my putting his photo on the web in case the police saw it - so I have not.  Who lives as the HOG says it to RIDE  -----VROOOOOOOOOOOM.

The images hopefully tell the story.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Edinburgh Festival - Stand Up Photographer

Alasdair and I had a great three day trip to Edinburgh.  It was my first visit to the festival in 20 years.  Kinda guilty about this as it is perhaps the finest thing we do in Scotland.  Anyhow we visited a number of stand up comedians and short plays all of which without exception were enjoyable.  The plays of great note were Ian Dury "Hit Me" and Hamlet The Musical which was magnificent.  Performed on the floor in front of us behind moving partitions and puppets and singing and rapid costume changes all in an hour.

Anyhow it was  rich ground for street photography.  It felt like people had dressed up and  made up just for the photographers, which of course was not the case.  But in the backdrop of the old city it was wonderful.  Walking about and listening to street music and witnessing drama and circus acts and all the other sites and sounds.

Summer Moves to Autumn

It has been a challenging summer.  I continue to make the most of my photographic opportunities.  Whilst trying to keep up with a rapidly expanding database of images.  What do we define as "image bloat"?  I am sure it is when you cannot keep up with your rate of acquisition.  Sounds scientific?  Sounds familiar?  It is not with good reason in my case.  It is perhaps not something I am particularly proud of, but I returned from Nepal last November with 18000 images.  Ever since then I have had an overhang of unfinished business.  Not a good place to be.  Creatively stifling I would say :-)  

Well it was time to act and I have hopefully found the solution that works for me - and potentially for others.  Hence the diatribe.  I have bought a 27" iMac.  With 8GB Ram and a 2TB HD.  I have opted to run Aperture 3.0  as my tool of productivity choice.  And so far I am both mightily relieved and very impressed by it.  Many of the reviews focus in on the software, however the uplift you get comes as much from the quality and size of the screen.  Put another way you can look at a lot of images at a decent size that allow you to select the image you are looking for.  In a big image set like Nepal 2009 I have found that I can stand back and follow the progress of my journey with greater clarity - exciting?  Astounding really to me a year after to see the breadth and scope of my trip.

So to celebrate here is an image that has emerged from the depths of my hard drive.  Also a quick :homage" to Rick who made the first ascent of the North Face (behind)

Dhaulagiri NE Face at Sunrise

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Glastonbury 40 and 2

It was our second year of father and son bonding at Glastonbury.  It was fabulous in 2009 and again in 2010.  People who imagine a mudbath or a group weirdo hug would be disappointed.  It is none of these things.  Instead it is a wonderful chilled walk through the finest in contemporary music and performing arts and more besides.  In one word it is an event.  Alasdair and I savoured the enjoyment of shooting in the dark with the D700. 

I have to say that I am still overwhelmed by the experience of seeing the Bombay Bicycle Club, The XX, Florence and her dancing machine and Muse but particularly Stevie Wonder dueting with Michael Eavis.  Almost too much to absorb and am still trying to understand my photographs.  Prince Charles was as always charming.

Alasdair spent 8 hours standing at the barrier of the John Peel tent on the Saturday  photographing and photographing and never stopping. 

Here is a first few images by way of a starter.  More and deeper later  :-)

The Glastonbury roads at night

England Hair

Spotty Tent

Glastonbury Street


Saturday, 19 June 2010

Stavanger Graffiti and the World Cup

I spent an excellent week in Stavanger.  The light was sharp and acute and it was seasonally cool.  Inside the sports bars and restaurants the World Cup was hot.

Stavanger has drawn me back very very occasionally over the years.  And hasn't changed that much.  The thing I enjoy the most is to visit the graffiti in and around the harbour,  Whether you thik that graffiti is vandalism or not it is always absorbing.  It seems to be appropriate along the harbour front and was much developed since my last visit in 2005.  The Norwegians encourage it and  obviously want to preserve it.  It has expanded and along with it thir own graffiti fest.  Some of it resembles the work of Banksy.  Whether it is his or someone else I cannot tell but the Mona Lisa was particularly interesting.  I won't reproduce it here.  Have a look if you are ever in Stavanger!!

And so to Glastonbury.  The tent is packed and my wellies are on hand.  The countdown is almost over.  I cannot wait.  If you are there then say hi.

Friday, 4 June 2010

Link to Blurb book. Chicago - Outside Its America

My book is now published on  Follow the link to see the full book contents.  Don't forget to select full screen in order to see the book at a good resolution.  I am really pleased with the quality of the book.  Blurb did a good job on the quality of the paper andprinting.  In the end the book took more time than I had planned to invest in it.  But, given that it only represents 5 days of photography in Chicago and a lack of preparation and foresight, then I am very pleased with it.

Proud to include a photo of Gail who made a lovely $5 breakfast for me and welcomed me with warmth and made it into the book!!!

Chicago - Outside Its America  

 Gail: The Lucky Diner Hillside Chicago

Monday, 10 May 2010

Chicago Through a Looking Glass Outside it's America

It was really strange arriving and leaving Chicago.  I don't think I have ever landed up somewhere where I had no plans to visit so far away from wher i had intended to be.  A completely weird experience.  And yet I felt very much at home running around the streets and photographing the architecture and the peoplescapes and the portraits.  I have been so moved by it that I have suspended everything else in my photographic world to work on a book.  It is a sort of  "Looking Glass" experience.

And I am grappling with the book.  At first it was meant to be a 5 evening effort - start to finish.  Then move on.   But it hasn't ended up as that.  I delve deeper and deeper into it.  What do I want it to show.
?  How do I want it to work?  I want to show the heart beato f the city through its buildings and its people.

 So here are some of the images from the book.  Charles White was something very special.  So comes first!!!

Charles White Chicago

Dungar Linzy  - Art Institute Chicago

Larry Williams Chicago Art Gallery

You can check out more content on my website: 

Friday, 23 April 2010

Eerie Skies

Flew back from Chicago last night.  Thank you American Airlines.  You treated me well.

As I flew up from London the skies looked eerie.  The view of the countryside lacked clairty and the vapour trails wierdly were hanging there long after the planes had disappeared.  A phenomenon I haven't seen before.

Chicago was memorable.  Perhaps 4 images that begin to show what is a very charismatic and absorbing city.  Lovely people, but not without its problems in the poorer parts of the city.

Strange to be back in America after 6 years and to see up front and close the problems that it is grappling with.  Yes the economy is picking up but unemployment and massive indebtedeness is everywhere you look.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Chicago CAM Contemporary Art Museum

I had an interesting day yesterday exploring the Museum of Contemporary Art.  It is a fine buuilding in a fine location.  The best of the museums I have visited.  It is challenging to look beyond one's prejudices.  At the entrance of the museum was a clear statement of how they see contemporary art, which I found enlightening.  In summary their view is that art no longer has schools or groups of artists.  Now you have individuals who need to reflect modern life.  And with it the influences are media and advertising and now the internet.  Interesting.

The building is spectacular.  A huge space with views out to the skyscrapers.  And the people who are walking around are the most important exhibits!!!  The photography was big and colourful but did not excite me.  The exhibit of the oil barrels with pictures of the Niger Delta was thought provoking.

Quick walk around Navy Pier and an introduction to Bubba Shrimp.  Live replay of Forest Gump and huge portions - this is America.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Holding in Chicago

My flight to Paris due to leave today has been cancelled.  I have been re-booked onto the Thursday flight. 

A daily routine of visiting Chicago landmarks has developed.  Yesterday Nicholas and I visited the Willis Tower (Sears) to see the view by day.  We toured the business district and then went over to the Field museum to see Sue.  Sue is the larget most complete T Rex found so far.  It greets you as you enter the museum and is a very impressive exhibit.  Auctioned at Sothebys for $8m it was paid for mainly from a grant from the MacDonalds (hamburger) corporation.

Ended up in the Hard Rock Cafe.

Such is life.  Today is the Museum of Contemporary Art.

Alex in waiting.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Art Institute of Chicago

I have spent an interesting couple of days in Chicago as a volcanic refugee.

The highlights were walking around Millenium Park, Michigan Avenue and visiting the Art Institute of Chicago.  The Art institute was like other ones I have visited a very striking building.  They had a not very exciting Matisse exhibition.  Likewise they had a William Eggleston retrospective which was much better.  Fabulous colour prints.  The fascinating thing was that his dye transfer prints were very impressive as prints.  As photographs I am less convinced.  Perhaps it is me but the simple approach to imaging does not leave me with a lasting impression.  What was much more interesting was the main photography exhibition which had a kalaeidoscope of past and present master works.  Great to see these.

Looks like a flight may leave tomorrow.  This would get me to Paris.

More later including photographs.


Saturday, 17 April 2010

Volcanic Geology

It was more than bizarre that I was talking with Paul Post on the veranda of his house enjoying a beautiful day in Southern Lousiana.  Watching the humming birds feed and grappling with the prospectivity of a particular basin, soon to be drilled, which has volcanics.  We were agonising about the wrong volcanics!!!!!

The AAPG convention which is now a distant memory was nothing short of fabulous.  It helps to see what other people are up to and is enourmously stimulating.  I spend too much time looking inwards.  Lets look outwards more.

I flew up to Chicago yesterday in the hope that the volcanic eruption would be short lived.  However as geologist but not a meteorolgist I am not confident.  So I am spending my time on a mini photo project here in Chicago.  I spent last night with Dr Nicolas Backert whom I met on the plane who was also at the convention.  We went downtown and visited the financial district where all of the mighty financial power as buildings is on display.  We dined in a fine Italian restaurant whose windows were without parallel looking out onto the streets of this windy city.  I adored the food and the photographic opportunity and Nicolas company.

We then ascended the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower) and enjoyed a remarkable view.  It was difficult to take it all in.  A young bride appeared and was married in the glass platform.

Here and waiting patiently.


Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Muriel's Searching For Ghosts

Went to Muriel's last night.  A venerable restaurant in the Quarter which is reputed to be haunted.  We looked hard but she did not show.  Some interesting Egyptian sarcophocus (can't spell this)  in a red room.  Was a guest of Paul Post among other esteemed organisers.  Thourougly entertaining night - thanks Paul and Gwen.

The convention was good yesterday.  With the challenges of chairing and postering behind me it was good to float from oral to poster sessions and chat with Vendors in between  Nipped out at lunch and photographed the overpasses that swing around the convention centre in a confusion of roads and concrete pilars and big bridges. 

Highlights - The paper on the prospectivity of meteor impact craters!!!  Stunning.  Meeting Ken McClay and seeing the sand box models and agreeing they are a thing of beauty!!!  Finding out about Greenland, Israel and much else besides.  Not to forget the hand held XRF tool - no longer a machine that fills a room.

The bus is here.  Next stop Geochem and fly out Friday.

From a warm and welcoming NO.  Alex


Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Back to the Convention This is America

Our Poster on right  Well done Andy!!

The sounds of U2 this is America spins in my head.  Kinda strange but a look forward to seeing them in Glastonbury.

The AAPG convention is a stunning thing for any scientist.  6000 geologists and trade shows.  8 concurrent sessions.  100s of posters.  All talking to the business of exploring and producing oil and gas.

At the invitation of the AAPG I chaired a session yesterday.  It was well attended and I met lots of people.  my friend and colleague Steve Kimbrell from Exxon came down the night before and chaired the session with me.  It was the first time that AAPG has had an Operations Geology session so there was a great sense of "moment" for all those that took part and presented papers.  The convention centre is ginormous.  Despite the number of people it does not feel crowded.

Yesterday morning I got up at sunrise ( a la Nepal)  and took the ferry across the river and photographed the city skyline.  I then took the street car up St Charles and photographed the mansions.  I visited with guitarman who gave me the low down on the shooting across the road the night before.  I had not felt very comfortable about how it looked in this part of Canal street.  And it explained all the comotion.  I had walked past 15 minutes earlier.

I then took a guided tour of the city.  To see the Katrina damage.    The city is close to being refitted and seems vibrant here in the centre.  This is not the case in the poorer part of town.  A great deal of housing has been removed and only cement plinths remain.  Strip malls have not been rejuvinated and many shells of houses remain.  The barriers and leveees and pumping stations have been replaced / repaired.  You have got to admire the American spiriti and industry.  People have worked hard to get their environment back.  But there are now fewer in the city.  320,000.

Off to the convention to relax and enjoy some good papers.


New Brad Pit Zero Energy Home

Sunday, 11 April 2010

New Orleans The Crescent City

Beautiful to be back in New Orleans.  The city looks much as it did.  However this is misleading.  Probably because the downtown has been re done whereas the bits I have yet to see have not.

The flight across the southern tip of Greenland was stunning.  See attached image.  The down through the heartland of central America and following the Missisipi south.  A great day.  I do love these great plane journeys.  And took advantage to take a great deal of images. 

I missed the first bit of the ice cap though!!  It sneaked up on me as a I read the agenda for the Convention.  My head was preoccupied with which papers were in our session and then I looked up to see this wonderful pristine glacier slip past.

Off to explore NO.


Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Return to the US

I am headed off to the US this weekend to attend the American Association of Petroleum Geologists Annual Convention in New Orleans.  Sounds like fun and I am sure it won't disappoint.  Something like 6000 delegates and 1000 paper and oral presentations.  NO will be planet sized with geologists everywhere next week.  It is 6 years since I last visited the US and 9 since I visited New Orleans.  Redolent with memories.  The last time in NO was three weeks after 9/11 and I was honoured to go to a small restaurant with the late Mike Harris.  Poignant this therefore.  He was an outstanding geologist and a a fascinating gentleman.  He knew the Bush family personally and given that it was so soon after the collapse of the twin towers it is all the more poignant that he was so supremely close with his prediction of the future.  Tragically he was to die last year in the Air France flight from Rio.

I am going to New Orleans to chair a session and present a poster.  The session is exciting because it is the first time that an Operations Geology session has taken place and it will be one of the openning sessions.  At 8am , so if you are in the neighbourhood as they say!!!!!!!!

And so to the image of the day.  Taken in 2004 in Westeheimer Houston.  On my last trip I carried my LF camera there and back and this is perhaps the most memorable image of one of the most memorable buildings.  This time I will take my D700 and go light and hopefully fast.  Check back next week and hopefully I will let you now whats cooking around Bourbon Street.



Monday, 22 February 2010

Working with the Good and the Undoubted Great

A package arrived Friday from the Kathmandu lab of Kiran Chitraker.  I am working with Kiran on developing my negatives (LF) and have asked him to do some prints.  This is all a new experience for me on many fronts.  Historically I have always developed my own negatives.  I have never had a print made for me and never in large format (LF).  Well it a great learning experience for me.  When I met Simon Roberts last May he had just completed a week working with a printer who he reckoned was the best in the country.  He was blown away by the quality of his large format prints.  It got me thinking - how good would my LF prints look if someone with talent - at the top of their game - made me some prints.  In meeting Kiran, the former Royal photographer in Nepal, and seeing his work I felt inspired to continue working with him.

So the arrival of the prints, 8 of them, from my documentary work was a great moment.  It was also a revealing moment.  Because it showed me how he saw individual images.  What he did was print lighter than I have with my inkjet prints.  His transitions are more subtle as a consequence.  An inkjet print is also a different thing.  My blacks are different, more pronounced than his. More than anything however it interesting to see the strengths, weaknesses and limitations of the Large Format camera.  To date I have mostly used the camera for landscape work in the mountains.  In Nepal I moved over into the documentary field and in a different sort of way found it more challenging.  Over the weekend I spent 2 days scanning 40 negatives.  And am still digesting what I have taken. The images paint a moody deep dynamic picture of Kathmandu.  Very dark yet because they are in black and white the feel more penetrating than my colour work.

More on this topic later but for now the image that Kiran printed best, but my scanned version.  With all the amazing detail that LF brings.  It could be a metaphor for Nepal.  An old crumbling monument with weeds growing out the cracks supporting this amazing bell.  Covered in graffiti. And a woman who held up her jacket to avoid being in the photograph.

All comments welcomed.


Sunday, 14 February 2010

Glastonbury 2009 After Dark

So what is next? I am just completing a submission to the Royal Photographic Society (RPS). It has taken two months to prepare and has been done during the heavy snow and I have been head down choosing and printing and matting 20 prints. A time consuming task. But its done and I feel good about it. I bought a Logan Framers Edge matt cutter which after some abortive attempts I can now use competently. I will write up some notes on my website to help people who may be like me and in need of some improvement in that front. As usual the right tools are expensive but lead to the right job being done. And I enjoy cutting. It's relaxing!!!

So onwards to Glastonbury 2010. I posted to my website Glastonbury Images
a selection of images taken in the evening in Glastonbury. The festival is a photographers dream with colour and people interest and wonderful music. This year I cannot wait to photograph with my D700 in the dark. In the meantime enjoy the images of 2009.


Sunday, 24 January 2010

Himalayan Glaciers

An interesting headline article in the Economist this morning. From my experience of talking with local people in the Khumbu and in the Annapurna areas it is clear they think the glaciers are retreating and retreating fast. Perhaps the most examined (bit of) glacier being the Kumbu icefall which has in living memory collapsed and retreated significantly. Nevertheless it is a complex system as the article points out and rainfall is perhaps as important as temperature in controlling the advance or contraction of Himalayan glaciers. To understand these things is challenging. Certainly we don't currently have the data to predict into the future. Enter the IPCC for whom this is a very damning inditement.

Recommended reading. Apologies for being on my environmental soap-box. I am now stood down :-)