>Finding My Way

>I’ve been doing a catwalk shoot this weekend.  Not something I’ve done much of – my work tends to be more static – and I’m able to tell a model what I want them to do, and when I want them to do it.  This was a whole new ball game.

Years ago, my path was much different than it is today – I used to work in the corporate sector, and gave it up to pursue photography – the terror of leaving a 9-5 job, for what amounted to a hope, was the most frightening thing I ever did.  I know I have some ability, but still don’t know really what I want to do with it.  I wish I could now say, I know my way, but the truth is that the achievements I want from photography are still a moving target.  I constantly question, style, and images.  I’m sure that what I shoot today, will be totally different to what I will be shooting in a years time.  Similarly, what I shoot now, is totally different from what I was doing a year ago.  What I do know is, that the only constant in this life is that things change…

I also understand, that things won’t change much, unless you get off your backside and make it happen. So if you are feeling that your photography isn’t going anywhere, then you have to make it .. the fear of failure is the greatest downfall, but what if you don’t fail, and it’s a success ? 

So – one of my new year resolutions this year was to make that change – and try some things that are different, and totally out of my comfort zone…. I hope that some results will be posted here in the coming months… in the meantime – wish me luck…..

>Freezin Flash

>It’s been a long time since I sat and just played around with flash…. so I thought I’d spend an afternoon experimenting.  This has been done with a fish tank, and two flash guns – a little post in PS (levels and curves to bring the white to white).  Something I think I might just have to return to when I get the chance.  In the meantime, it’s back to work….

>The Perfect Photograph

>I was reading today – another Blog, talking about the ‘perfect photograph’ – it set me thinking, just what is the perfect image?

I’m a member of a photo club locally, and I hear all the time about imperfect and poor images – the ones that win usually get good feedback, but what’s this ‘perfect’ image all about ?  I think that it’s what we seek as photographers – but nothing is ever good enough, and we are our own worst critics. Photography however pushes the boundaries of exploration – we search for that one image that is going to be the ultimate for us.  Will we ever find it?  I’m sure someone would say that they had – but for me it’s an ongoing search – one that I hope will take me forever to find – after all, once you’ve done it – what is there left to find?

I’m constantly inspired by the work of other photographers – I see in their work ‘perfection’, I wish I could get images like theirs.  I’ve sat and wished many times that I had been the author of some photographs I have seen, but also wonder how critical they are of their own images. Which takes me round in a nice circle to back where I started.  Maybe one day I’ll be satisfied, but not yet !

>2020 Vision

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Britain’s most ambitious conservation multimedia initiative … ever!

20 photographers  

20 assignments 

1 vision

In a nutshell, 2020 VISION is a multimedia project that communicates the link between people’s well being and the restoration of natural systems.
Putting it another way, they are the PR agents for Bogs, Bees and Barn owls!

  • 2020VISION is the most ambitious conservation visual media initiative ever staged in Britain.
  • 2020VISION is a blueprint for a wilder Britain where it’s recognised that healthy ecosystems are good for us too.
  • 2020VISION will nurture a new ethos that reconnects wild places with each other and reconnect us with wild places.

>Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

>As 2010 comes to an end – it’s good to reflect on what we have achieved in the last 12 months – we’ve met a lot of people who have been brilliant to meet, and most clients, and colleagues alike have been a  pleasure to work with.  We’ve been on photo workshops for portraiture and wildlife and enjoyed them.  We’ve learned a lot from some amazing photographers – inspiring photography by Niall Benvie, Paul Harcourt Davies, Danny Green, and Peter Cairns to name but a a few.  Whilst at Oaktree, we don’t pretend to be full time wildlife photographers, we do like to try to achieve great images when we can.  We have the utmost admiration for those who genuinely try to inspire honesty in photography.

I did manage to shoot Grouse in the rather forbidding climate that has been our Winter this year – temperatures fell to around -15 on the top of the Snake Pass in Derbyshire.  Some good images of male Grouse were achieved in what can only be described as chilly conditions.

Red Grouse in Snow

I leave you with our best wishes for 2011 – and I look forward to meeting more of you during the next year.

>Competition Wins for Oaktree

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It came as a great surprise on Tuesday for both of us here at Oaktree to be placed first in our local camera club end of year photographic competition. The photographs judged are those that are placed in the top three for the previous 4 competitions held throughout the year. The competition this year was judged by the renowned photographer, Tremaine Cornish, a judge with theLancashire and Cheshire Photographic Union.

Diane Seddon came first in the advanced section with her image of “Phil” with the judge commenting that “the image conjured up all sorts of imaginings from run away to fugitive”.  Diane also came second in the same section with an image of Elgol in Scotland during poor weather.  She is now the proud owner of a silver trophy which will be kept by her for the next 12 months.

>Theatre Photography – Robinson Crusoe

>Oaktree was proud to be able to photograph the Christmas Panto at the Regent Theatre, Stoke on Trent, earlier this month.  Starring Jonathan Wilkes, Jennifer Ellison, and Arthur Bostrom.  It was a fabulous production, technically brilliant, and a joy to photograph.  It’s not often you get to shoot a live show – it is more usually a dress rehearsal where people can be posed, and the lighting set to your liking.  This time it was a paying audience with a photo call included.  A challenge to get the lighting, but rewarding in itself.  Thanks to the cast and theatre, for allowing access.

>Sub Zero Temperatures

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As you sit snugly by the fire this winter, spare a thought for our feathered friends. Their survival skills are tested to the limit when winter tightens its grip and food becomes hard to find.

We may grumble about the temperature, but the cold is actually not a big problem for birds. They are equipped with several layers of fluffy, insulating down to trap heat, so you won’t see your local robins and blackbirds shivering!

During cold snaps, you will almost certainly notice more birds coming into your garden to seek sanctuary from the harsher environment in the countryside – particularly if you provide food on a regular basis. The variety of species may increase too and you may be lucky enough to attract unusual visitors such as blackcaps and bramblings.

Finding a regular source of high-energy food such as a garden feeding station is the equivalent of winning the lottery for wild birds and a well-stocked garden is a real lifesaver.
Birds will become dependent on the food you supply, so it is important to make sure your feeders are kept topped up to prevent them from having a wasted visit. Providing a fresh, ice-free supply of water is another cold weather essential – drinking and bathing is a vital part of the daily routine of birds.
You may well witness a flurry of bird activity first thing in the morning – as they replenish energy lost overnight – and last thing in the afternoon – to prepare for the long night ahead.

>The Grey Heron

>Setting out in very low temperatures says madness to some, and ‘photo opportunity’ to others.  Yesterday we ventured out in search of the grey heron. Though not a rare bird, it can be difficult to photograph well due to its colouring and habitat.

Success was ours however..

It is a large bird, standing 90–100 cm tall, with a 175–195 cm wingspan and a weight of 1–2 kg. Its plumage is largely grey above, and off-white below. Adults have a white head with a broad black and slender crest, while immatures have a dull grey head. It has a powerful, pinkish-yellow bill, which is brighter in breeding adults. It has a slow flight, with its long neck retracted (S-shaped). This is characteristic of herons, and distinguishes them from storks and cranes, which extend their necks. The call is a loud croaking “fraaank”.