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The last week we have had our fantastic friends Ade and Lou over to stay.

Sian and I went to school with Adrian and we were all firm friends.  Ade, now a proper writer (seriously, check out his book The Marineron Amazon…it is definitely worth a read) was responsible for my love of the theatre – writing a play at the age of 14 and asking me to direct it.  Amongst Much ado about Cutlery, a camp rendition of Dracula, an adaptation of Lord of the Rings and various other shenanigans, we had a great time together.   We then went to college and, as time seems oh so well to do, we got stuck into our own thing and drifted apart.

Until Krissy’s wedding.  We were utterly, utterly delighted to catch up with our dear friends of old, and between some speeches, some dancing and a lot of champagne, we hatched a plan for the pair to come and visit us in Barbados.  And I am so glad they did, not least for the company, and the drinking and the stories and the memories and the debates – but just because it is great to hang out and re-kindle lost friends.

…And speaking of lost friends, Ade and Lou have a camera ever-so-similar to my first.

Well, this is a photography blog after all 😉

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When I started shooting, I did what anyone does – I bought the best camera I could afford with a kit lens.  In my case, it was a Nikon D80 with an 18-135.  Ade and Lou have the more modern, albeit much smaller D3100 with an 18-55 lens, and very nice it is too.  We were all relaxing on the beach together on Friday and as the sun started setting, Ade asked if I would mind taking a few shots with his camera.  I was, of course, happy to oblige.

However.

I now shoot with an amazing full frame camera, and have at my disposal a host of wonderful lenses and accessories (you all know how much I love my flash) – so you must forgive me for being a little hesitant at the results I would be able to achieve.

In a desperate bid to prove that the photographer makes the picture, not the camera – I present this series…and, to be honest, I am pretty darned chuffed with myself…Shall we discuss?

First thought for me was, of  course, to shoot silhouette.  I hate the horrible and hard light that the little pop up flash produces, so the first thing we did was run around in the water a bit whilst I framed nicely and shot fast, to emphasise the colours of that wonderful sky.

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Following that, we sat together on the beach, and I covered that wretched, small light that sits atop the viewfinder and craned my hand around to bend and bounce the light into a softer, more flattering light…it’s no speedlight through a 32″ umbrella – but it is better than nothing.AdeLou_077

 

And as the sun set, and the light disappeared, and we played a little more, I noticed that little street lamp up on top of the pier…

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A quick shift of white balance, a little bit of posing…and I got my favourite shot of the evening.

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(Hopefully) Proof that “the camera a photographer maketh” is not true!

Thanks for a fabulous time – it was wonderful to catch up, re-acquaint, and generally remember just how awesome you are.

Oh – and great to see Ade and Lou too 😉

Thanks for reading guys – have a great week x

One of the great things about my job is that I never know who is going to walk through the door and book a shoot.  Last week I got a call from one of my team saying that (a very lovely) guest had come in to book a shoot, and that she had a huge pile of ideas and cuttings that she had as inspiration.

And when I got the big stack of papers, I could feel the grin expand from between my ears…this was going to be exceptionally good fun.

Unlike most of the families that come into the Colorbox Studio, Charlotte did not want pictures of her beautiful daughter, Sandra, with the cobalt blue Bajan sky and deep turquoise of the Atlantic behind her – far from it.  They were after a more high-fashion look, with bleached tones, soft light and lots and lots of buttery bokeh…I was more than happy to oblige.

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We started off with a few shots in the studio,  and then headed out into the grounds of The Crane.   Luckily, Sian was free to help assist with flash, and the weather played ball too.  Normally, when the clouds are overhead and the skies are a little grey, guests are, naturally disappointed.  But when that sun is out and glaring, it makes my job much, much harder.  The sun here in Barbados is incredibly strong, and it makes creating soft, flattering light very tricky.  Luckily, for all parties concerned on this shoot, the clouds were out in force.

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A little about these shots…

[Mega boring photo nerdary – please skip if this is not of interest!]

Charlotte was adamant that she wanted that creamy out of focus for these head shots…which is quite tricky out here in paradise.  Why?

Light.

In order to get that depth of field, you need to shoot at a long focal length for maximum compression (blog to come) but you also need to shoot with a wide aperture.   A wide aperture means you need to shoot with a faster shutter speed – all of this is fine if you are shooting in ambient light, but if I plonk Sandra in the Bajan sun (clouds or not) she is going to end up squinting like mad, and the contrast will be unbearably strong…so what do I do?  Control the light.  I shoot my flash through a whacking great big umbrella.  But this then throws up another problem – shooting at 2.8 in Barbados, you need a shutter of well over 500 to beat out the sun, but my flash will only sync at 250.  So the game comes about of looking for nice ambient light (like shady spots) that I can then introduce my artificial, soft flash, to bathe the beautiful Sandra in…and, sometimes, like today, it all just comes together.

 

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I can’t tell you how refreshing and exciting it was to do a shoot like this.  It is very different to the usual stuff we shoot.  For the first time ever, my job wasn’t to show idyllic Barbados – scenes to make friends and family jealous of what they missed during the holiday of a lifetime…my brief was to get a high fashion look.  And when you’re working with someone as beautiful as Sandra, that job is made so much easier.

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These two shots are, without a doubt, my favourite of the day.  The light is just perfect.  The wind was kicking up and unhelpfully turned the umbrella inside out.  I asked Sian to bounce the light off the grass a few feet in front of Sandra, and the shots we got were stunning.  I love the classic – almost 30s feel to these shots – both in lighting and in Sandra’s expression…awesome.

 

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After 45 minutes or so, we headed down to the beach to finish up – I will leave the final pictures to do the talking.

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Thanks for reading guys – more photos and adventures next week!!

 

For more info on the Colorbox Studio – please visit our Facebook Page, or head to www.colorbox.co.uk 🙂 Also, keep an eye out for Green People – they are suppliers of organic beauty and sun products…and Sandra may well be on her way to being the face for them!

Over the years, as my experience has grown and I have got better at taking pictures, the old camera bag has also umm…grown.  I am ridiculously lucky to now have in my possession (amongst several other pieces of glass) what is widely regarded as ‘The Holy Trinity’ amongst Nikon users.  In an effort not to bore you with it all, I have three lenses which focus from 14mm (very wide indeed) all the way to 200mm (very close indeed) all at a nice fast aperture of 2.8, and all crazy, crazy sharp.

So when Sian’s absolutely delightful friend and old uni room mate, Jen came to stay last week, she naturally wanted to go and see some of the sites.  I, naturally, picked up the wrong lens for the day.

This is down to sheer laziness – my lenses all weigh a ton, and the thought of carrying the 24-70 and the 70-200 was a little too much for our little excursion around the island and visit to the Barbados Wildlife Sanctuary.  I knew that I would regret leaving it behind, but hey, I left it at home and had to make do with what I had.

Our first stop, and I was already cursing under my breath.

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The 24-70 was great for this holiday snap of the lovely (smiley) Jen in front of the awesome East Coast…and indeed this close up of some washed up coral we found.

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But then this guy came running out at us, claws raised, fighting us for his territory, and I knew the lens I had decided to bring out today was a poor choice.

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This guy was ever so patient as I blundered around in front of him for ten minutes – getting as close as my focus would allow, and trying my best not to scare him off.  To his credit, he stood his ground astonishingly well, but I am a little disappointed with these shots.  I have had to crop in significantly, and they have that ‘digital’ grit to them…they are not sharp through optics, but through post processing…which isn’t my favourite! 🙁

Despite having the wrong lens and intermissions of random curse words from a particular male photographer in Barbados,  we were having an absolute blast.  We drove all the way up the rugged East Coast, heading north, and as we got higher up, we stopped off at the ever-awesome Barbados Wildlife Resort.  They have monkies and tortoises and deer and peacocks and snakes…it really is a wonderful place to visit…but again – despite all the fun we were having, I was mutttering about the glass I had decided to bring.  (Again, look for the noise in the images!)

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I think my favourite shot of the day was of these two little monkeys having a drink together – I love the tortoise on the right of the frame just chilling with them, happy to share.

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After this, we headed on up into the terraniums – they have the most enormous snake there (he must be about 30 feet long) and his skin is the most amazing colour.

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Luckily I was able to get close enough to this guy to get a decent close up shot of his skin…this is genuinely how colourful it was – no photoshoppery here!

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We soon decided that we had seen enough animals for the day, and headed West for a spot of lunch and some sea views from one of our favourite bars, the Ramshackle.  Fish and chicken was had by all – along with a few beers, and after soaking in the sun and sea, we headed further north, to our favourite visitor spot, the Animal Flower Cave.

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This was, thankfully, the right lens for a shot like this…and ultimately the day was about spending time with one of Sian’s very best friends, having some fun and seeing some sites together…so ultimately, it was this shot that was most important…and ultimately that is why (I am sure) I decided to pack my 24-70.

And in hindsite, I don’t think the pictures came out nearly as bad as I had worried 😉

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Thanks for an awesome week Jen – and a safe flight home!!!

x

Not much time to post this week I’m afraid guys, so I will just leave you with some pictures I have taken for the new resort owners here at Casuarina.  The hotel is no longer an Almond-run business, and has been taken over by an American firm called Couples.

There is a real buzz and excitement about the resort, as new faces and ideas are appearing almost daily…and I think that the new spin on the hotel (IE – couples only) will do incredibly well here in Bim, and will hopefully begin to bring more of a North American airlift.  With things as they are on the island, it is very much a feeling of the more the merrier!!

Hope you had a great weekend x

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When you live on an island like Barbados, you are absolutely spoilt for choice when it comes to idyllic beaches.  And when you live on an island like Barbados, you seldom go to them.  Or at least, we don’t.

You know when people come and visit you and they say ‘what is there to do around here?’ and you and your partner give each other a shifty look. What do you do around here?   Where you live, you seldom visit the tourist spots, and you rarely go to the local attractions: you save that for your holidays, and where you live you just…well, live.

So this morning, when I was playing a few games online with my brothers and company, Sian decided that we were to go to the beach today.  ‘But I’m writing my book’ I lied; and despite the protestation, we headed down to the South East to have a wander and a dander around Bottom Bay.

And I’m so glad that we did.

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We have been to Bottom Bay several times; we have shot a few weddings there and had a swim in that rough sea, but today, it felt a little more special.  As you may (or may not know) we have been pretty down in the dumps lately with work being so slow, and sometimes, you just need a good walk to clear the head…and a walk around Bottom Bay must be one of the best you can do.

Annoyingly, as this was a beach day, we only had our tiddly little point and shoot – hence the crap, low quality and horrible Instagram look…it really is dump when out and about – but I digress.  As we wandered around the bay, Sian spotted the amazing coral patterns in the rock.  Barbados is a unique island, in the fact that it is not volcanic, but is made up entirely of dead coral that has piled itself up and up over the millenia.  The coral leaves amazing patterns, and is very photogenic.

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After taking these, and wandering to the other side of the Bay, I had just enough battery to snap this scene, before we put the camera away and enjoyed each other’s company for the rest of the evening.

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A swim in the sea, and a few lengths of the beach is amazing at clearing your head. And although I would have loved to have stayed in and played online war games with my brothers, I am so glad Sian dragged me out…we must go to the beach more often.

Thanks for reading guys – hope you have all had a great weekend, and the week treats you well 🙂

 

 

Here’s a photo of me eyeing up some coconuts to kick start the week…we know how well I normally deal with those 😉

 

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When I was a nipper, my mum would often read me a story before bed.  Like any child – I loved story time.  I always felt sorry for mum though – she would read to us religiously, every night without fail to help to get us off to sleep.   And then, on the rare occasion dad was not working and was able to read to us, he would steal the show.  With exaggerated voices, comedy internation and the ability to turn even the most simple Thomas The Tank story into a sinister cliff hanger, Pops was, undoubtedly, the story telling king.

We all had our favorites – my little Brother had a book called JCB-3CX which was, as you may have guessed, a very limp story about a very particular yellow JCB digger that could seemingly handle any task that was thrown at it.  It was a terrible bore of a book, but Thad loved it.  And if you tried to skip a page he would become most cross and ensure you went back over the parts you had ‘accidentally’ missed.

And I loved Dr Seuss.   I especially loved it when dad read it to me (sorry mum!) Pops would bust out Green Eggs and Ham with the gusto and aplomb of a Laurence Olivier performance.  I also adored Edward Lear’s The Quangle Wangle Qui.

Another Dr Seuss book I remember was Oh the places you’ll go, which we also had (expertly) read at our wedding by my wonderful friends Georgie and Jez.  And it is oh so relevant as I sit here, 25 years later, typing on a laptop in Barbados a million miles from home.

Oh the places you’ll go…

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Last week I got a call from our friends at Blue Sky Luxury, an amazing property management company out here in Barbados.  They have recently overhauled ‘Bora Bora’ – an idyllic building split into two apartments…with an en-suite beach.  Seriously – the beach is right there.

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It is always wonderful to do something different with my camera, and although I love shooting weddings and lifestyle portraits, property shoots throw up their own challenges and enjoyment.  Like most photography disciplines, it is very hard to do it well.

The challenge you face here in Barbados is getting the room bright enough so you can see it all, but the outside dark enough that you can enjoy the blue skies and perfect sea.  Our eyes are amazing and can cope with these two contrasts – our cameras are not.  As such you need your trusty friends.  You need your flashes.  And you need a crap load of them.

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Essentially, your job is to balance the light between inside and outside, and if you get it right, you show the property in its best ermm…light. (Is that where the saying comes from?!)

I was really, really pleased with the shots; I hope it gets across just how wonderful these apartments are.  If you fancy a trip over, I’m sure Blue Sky Luxury will be able to hook you up real nice, and if the apartment here isn’t glamerous enough, there are plenty more to choose from!

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And just look at the sunset you will be treated to every day:

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Thanks for reading guys – more piccies and adventures next week!

x

Also, as a side note, I have been hammering away at my book again, Cold Cuts.  It is a gruesome crime thriller set around the canals of Britain, and I am really, really proud of it.  I am hoping to have it finished by the end of May…If any of you fancy reading the first draft as and when it is ready, please let me know – I am hoping to offer it as a free download for my wonderful blog followers if that’s something that excites you?  🙂 xxx

Something a little different for you all this week.  We have some BIRTHDAY SNAPS for you!

With all the craziness of work, an invitiation to our wonderful friend Paula’s (ahem) 50th couldn’t be missed.  It was wonderful.

Hosted at the amazing Gunhill Signal Station, Sian and I had been there during the day, but we had never seen it at night.  It is beautiful.  I mean, crazy beautiful.  Setup nearly four hundred years ago, the station had been positioned deliberately to allow the soldiers stationed there to look out over the country and see any potential invaders to the island.  It could also see the four other signal stations around the island at any given time.  This meant, that if they spotted anything untoward, they could raise a specific flag, which Gunhill would spot, and then relay the message onto the other towers. Genius.

As such, the place affords some amazing views, and at night it is even more magical.

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Normally, when I shoot an evening reception, I have scouted the location beforehand and know what to expect.  I also usually have my full kit bag, lenses, a tripod and my flash guns.  For Paula’s birthday, I just took a 50mm prime, because we wanted to enjoy ourselves and not be burdened with all the kit.

As such, the photos relied on ambient light to get us through, which, I am afraid to say, was rather lacking!  There were some fairy lights around the dance floor, so this is where I tried to take the majority of my shots.

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Now, a little bit about Paula.

She is awesome.

In charge of the social networking and promotion of our hotel, I cannot think of a more perfect job for her.  She is fun and bubbly and warm and glamorous…and like us, she has a big family, that she loves dearly.

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It’s at things like this – parties, birthdays and such, that I always miss home a tad more.  We are sociable people, and always enjoy a do with our families and friends.  But even though we miss them, it is always such a privilege to be invited to something so special, all the way out here in Barbados.

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Happy 50th 35th Paula – it was wonderful to be able to share it with you!!!

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See the pastry chefs got it wrong too 😉

 

Thanks for reading guys, and see you next week

 

 

 

Ferg

x

The last few weeks have been mental.

We have been blessed with visits from my parents, our good friends Jen and Tom, and Sian’s mum Sue over this festive period, and it has been amazing.  The bad news is that things at work are very slow right now, so we are crossing everything that it will pick up soon.

So this week, in an unusual twist of events, I am not going to share our recent shenanigans, explorations and adventures; I am going to do something far more boring…I am going to show you the lovely present Sian bought me for my birthday this year.

I am going to show you my spangly new watch…

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As well as having an encylcopaedic knowledge of pretty much every lens Nikon has ever made; I am even more boring in the fact that I like to read about watches.  I love watches.  I remember driving my parents to the brink of insanity in the lead up to my 13th birthday, flicking through the Argos Catalogue dropping very obvious, very loud hints about which watches I liked in particular – and how each different model I picked out had various benefits with regard to size, accuracy and all that nonsense.  It is actually one of the only times my dad properly lost his temper with me.  During one of my hint dropping sprees, and having pointed out at least 50 watches that would be an ideal gift, my tired and worn down father screamed, “We’ve already got you a watch -you’re getting a watch, can you please now shut up about these bloody watches?!”

It was a Timex Indiglo and I absolutely loved it.

And as I have grown up, I am afraid to say I have not grown out of the catalogue flicking.   I am sure that one day, I will own an incredibly expensive watch, but right now it is not a priority.  Sian was wonderful and bought me this Ingersoll – it is a beautiful watch, and the reason it is particularly special is down to its movement.  Unlike my other watches, this one does not run on a battery with a quartz heart; this is an automatic watch.  It is entirely mechanical.  So, as I walk around and flick my wrist, it winds itself and keeps time through a million springs and cogs and cleverness…it really is quite amazing and an art, I am happy to say, that is slowly being revived.

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I hope you all had a fabulous Christmas, and promise that I will be back on form with less boring subjects and adventures next week.

Thanks for reading guys 🙂

x

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This last week I have been sick.  Very sick.  You know when you watch those zombie movies and the whole world has died of a deadly virus?  That’s how sick I was.

Ok, maybe not that bad, but being a man I do feel that whenever I get a sniffle, the world is going to end.  And so our guests Jenny and Tom, who visited us last year, were ever so patient as I coughed and spluttered in the background, cursing the gods for their cruelty and generally feeling sorry for myself.  And Sian was kind as always, administering painkillers and offering soothing words…I truly was on death’s door.

Kind of.

During my bed rest, between writing my last will and testament and telling all those dear to me that I loved them,  I took the time to flick through some old hard drives, clean up some files, and generally do some digital housekeeping.  I then stumbled across our honeymoon photos and realised that I have not once posted about the epic adventure on this blog.  Being that I have only been out of the house for a few hours in the last week, I have obviously nothing new to share with you all, and so I am glad that my previous laziness and incompetence allows me to now share them with you today…I hope you enjoy 🙂

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First off, our honeymoon was epic.  I know that everyone says that (you should, after all) but ours was the tops.  The bees knees – the dog’s danglies. The best.

We started off for a few days in Miami, and after painting the town red (sleeping) for all of four days, we got a bus up the road to Orlando to enjoy the wonders of Universal, Busch Gardens, and all the other amazing theme parks.  It was so much fun.

And after 10 days of theme parks and crazy golf, we jumped on a train and headed up to New York to stay with one of Sian’s dearest friends, Ellie and her husband Kenn.  They live in Brooklyn and are wonderful…and so is New York.

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Barbados is awesome.  We have lovely beaches and views and warmth, but Sian and I miss the city. And I miss the cold.  When we first arrived in New York, the mid-March chill of 0 degrees was oh so welcome.  We wandered around the city, bundled up in every item of clothing we owned, our necks craned back enjoying the dizzy heights of the buildings, taking in the sights and sounds of what many regard as the greatest city in the world.

The novelty of the cold soon wore thin, but the sights didn’t.  Boy do we miss architecture.  As we explored the frozen streets, we had completely forgotten the Chatel Houses of home, the palm trees swaying in the breeze and the crystal blue water hugging the coastal road as you head north or south…here we were treated to buildings of monolithic scale; clad in glass and oozing style, we had never seen anything like it.

We loved it.

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We did all the touristy things we could in the four days we were there.  We ice skated in Central Park, we visited the Statue of Liberty, we went to the museums, and we scaled the Empire State.

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Ingeniously (by sheer luck) Sian and I planned the trip to the concrete summit to coincide with sunset.  Standing at the top of the building in minus 5  with a wind chill to boot, we were treated to one of the most wonderful – if not the coldest, sunsets we had seen for a long time.

And as the sun dipped behind the horizon, the city scape changed before our eyes.

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Sian and I came to the conclusion that city life suits us a whole lot better than island life does.  We love theatre and food and music and all that good stuff.  In Barbados, you get some of that, but New York just has it in spades.  Even as I write this, my heart has skipped a beat at the thought of us being home in London in less than 6 months…I cannot WAIT to be back in the city again, amongst the hustle and bustle, the small bars, the good beer, the sheer number of PEOPLE that you meet…

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And maybe, with all the airmiles we have clocked up over the last few years of living out here, I will treat Sianie to a reprise of the honeymoon; a wee jolly to New York, the BEST city in the world…

Thanks for reading guys, and hope you all have a great week.

 

 

Ferg

x

 

 

Firstly, a happy new year to one and all – I hope you all enjoyed ending 2012 and beginning 2013 as much as we did.  As you know, my folks were over, which was utterly amazing.  I am working on a video on that one.  But truth be told I have a horrible cold so wanted to share some pictures from a ‘save the date shoot’ I did with the wonderful Dan and Kelly a few days back.

Dan is our best friend Ally’s brother, and he proposed to the utterly beautiful Kelly shortly after they were last here in Barbados on holiday.  They very kindly did a shoot with James while he was here doing some training with my studio staff at the time.  They loved the shoot so much (and Dan saw a real opportunity) that he suggested doing another one while they were here, in exchange for being excused from some of the dance classes Kelly had lined up for them prior to the big day.

Smart man.

And so the date was set, and we headed out to a few spots.  We had a great time showing Dan and Kelly around the north of the island, and despite it being very overcast, we still got some lovely stuff.

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As you can see, the clear blue skies associated with Barbados are very much absent here.  Recently, the weather has been utterly atrocious out here on the rock, but I love the dramatic pictures the clouds paint…although I do understand it is not to everyone’s taste.

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We started off at the Animal Flower Caves, and after that headed to Heywoods beach.  This is where we used to live and was the first time Sian and I had been anywhere near the old resort for some time.  It is very sad to see all the old pools emptied out and doors boarded over, but we were here for the beach which, thankfully, was as glorious and deserted as ever.

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Being that we have been having such dump weather lately, we do normally get blessed with some interesting cloud formations and sunsets – thankfully today was no exception.

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And to finish off?  How about one of those salsa-esque dips you have got yourself excused from Dan?!

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Thanks a million guys – you were a blast, hope you like the piccies!

Fergx