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Wedding Couple

Phew!

Well, wedding season is officially over, and so now we have the awesome task of getting all our photos and and videos edited, delivered, and the website updated; there is never a dull moment here it seems!  As ever, I start this blog with a promise of much more to come, but this time I do feel this promise is a little shorter in the tooth…

Things have been moving at a fair pace with life recently, and we are gearing up for photography business to expand quite a bit over the next 12 months.  Nothing concrete yet, but we have already started to get more help with editing in the office, and if everything goes according to plan, we may well be employing our first awesome full time photographer to join the team – all very hush hush at the moment…let’s just keep our fingers crossed 😉

And so with that, I leave you with the first of many blogs to come, in the form of Shane and Romania’s glorious wedding back in June.  We shot both photo and video for Shane and Romii, and the conditions could not have been better.  A beautiful couple, fantastic weather and a location that we have never really been to before!  We are blessed with so many green areas in and around Croydon, and I cannot tell you how many times we have passed Beddington Park on the tram; it is a beautiful place, and the Grange was a wonderful venue.  Food to die for, the friendliest staff, and of course, all of Shane and Romania’s wonderfully warm and kind friends and family.

 

Hope you enjoy the video guys – lots more to come!

 

 

So, as promised, we have now officially moved back to the UK and I am frantically getting my self together as I embark on the long and exciting self employed road. I know it will be a challenge, but I cannot wait to get the ball rolling with the new business.

We got back last Thursday, and after picking up our luggage, the cat, and being bombarded at the airport by our wonderful banner-laden family we got home. And what a glorious day it was. Within a few hours I had already agreed to come along and take some pictures of my mum and dads’ concert band at a gig in Ruskin Park over the weekend, and what a day it turned out to be.

I have always maintained that a summer day in Britain is just the best. People are so relieved happy to see a bit of sunshine.  The usual ‘I’m a L0ndoner, don’t approach me or I will break your face’ look melts to a much happier, gentle and exuberant manner.  The sun comes out, and so do the smiles.  So imagine how happy I was when we arrived at Ruskin Park near Brixton, to find this, tremendous site.

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I love London.  I love the fact you can be surrounded by trees, a blue sky and sunbathing Brits, all with Westminster and the postal tower in the background…and when the sun is shining like it was last week, it just makes it all the more magical.

And then the band started playing, and I felt the grin on my face just grow even bigger.

Turns out the Norwood Wind Ensemble are pretty good. 😉

 

As readers of this blog will already know, music has always played  a big part in my life.  My parents are brass-mad, and the one distraction that old Pops has enjoyed since time immemorial is busting out his Tuba.  Or his trombone,  or euphonium, or pocket trumpet, or French horn.  (Basically if it is shiny and has valves, the old boy will give it a blow, all with the biggest smile on his face)  Mum has also accepted this brass fanatacism having chose the French horn as her weapon of choice.

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The band played a great programme, and about half way through had amassed quite a crowd.  All ages, all demographics took the time to pitch a seat and enjoy some awesome music in the awesome weather.

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It truly was a wonderful welcome home.

 

Thanks for reading guys, and great to be back! 😉

As I mentioned a few blogs back, I spent a very relaxing weekend with James over in St Lucia last week.  I had gone out to help with a few technical things, talk over a few ideas, meet with the team, and generally touch base with the St Lucia arm of Colorbox.

I am happy to say, that James is doing a great job, so once we had got all of the niggly odds and sods done we were able to go on a little adventure.

In the worst car in history.

James has a terrible little Chevrolet Vomit Buster as a hire car out there, and it is awful.  Smaller than my 70-200 lens, with less power than the focus motor, this thing is utterly, utterly dump.  To make things worse, St Lucia has those wonderful topographical beauties that we here in Barbados can only dream of….Hills.  Loads of them.  As far as the eye can see.

And the little car struggled with every one of them.  But despite the inadequate engine, leg room and complete lack of sound proofing, it really was the most beautiful drive.   We snaked our way down from Castries down to Soufriere over the course of 90 minutes, climbing hills and bombing down the other side, with views to die for and sites to behold…it was a lovely day.

I had not actually taken my camera over to St Lucia and James wanted to visit some waterfalls (you can read his excellent blog on that here) so I offered to take some shots of him and his lovely girlfriend, Michelle, with his Canon 7D.  Now, for those of you not in the know in camera world, Canon and Nikon are the two big boys in the camera market.  It’s like BMW and Mercedes; both companies are amazing but whichever one you own, (in my case Nikon) you look over at the other side and secretly covet little things they have.   Publicly, however, you make brash, sweeping statements that put the other brand down and champion your choice of camera over any one else’s.

Truth be told, both manufacturers are amazing, and at the end of the day, when you look at the pictures, you would never know what was shot on what anyway…but I digress.

James bought his 7D a year ago now, and I have always liked it.  It’s quick to focus, comfortable to hold, and the colours are exquisite.  So I really was quite excited to get to shoot with it for the day.

It was also nice, because this is my comfort zone – this is what I do.  Take a beautiful couple in love, find some nice scenery, plonk them in front of it and get some great shots.

Using the Canon, however, I quickly fell from my comfort zone.

Oh. My. God.

I’m not sure whether it was the rickety journey in the God awful Chevrolet, or the 20oz coffee I had drunk that morning, but within a few minutes of our adventure I felt my heart rate increase and I got really, really nervous.   This in itself is ridiculous –  James is one of my best mates and we were just out having fun, but I found it very hard to relax with this alien thing in my hand.  Everything is backwards.  Aperture and shutter are the wrong way round, focus and zoom are inverted – and even the exposure meter is backwards.  What the flash were they thinking?

Surely this is more than an accident?  Surely this is just the two camera giants being obtuse?  “They go left, we’ll go right.”  “They go down, we’ll go up.”  It truly was disconcerting, and I could not fathom it.  I was also amazed at how much I just ‘do’ when I’m shooting.  Fire a frame: slightly over exposed in the background, stop it down a third on the shutter.  Flash too powerful: close down aperture by a stop, slow shutter by a stop – ambient and flash now correctly balanced, get on with the shoot…but try doing that on a camera where everything is backwards, and you end up looking like my dad trying to send a text message.

It is a painful sight that I hope none of you will have to see.

And that set the tone for the day.  James and Michelle were very patient with me as I blundered around the bizarre control system, and despite my inept ability with the camera, I still got some cool shots for the two…but as the day war on, I fell more and more out of love with the Canon, and pined more and more for my beauteous Nikon.

The camera is light, and very, very comfortable…but I missed the metal ruggedness of my beastie Nikon.  It was very quick to focus and the sigma lens James has is beautifully sharp, but I missed the chunky, 100% viewfinder and focus system I understand.  I took some wonderful pictures with the Canon, but all the while I held it I just felt like I was cheating…

I did love the jog wheel on the back, and I did love that the hot shoe is a lot further away from the eye piece.  When I put my pocket wizards (radio triggers for my flash) on my Nikon, the base pokes out and stabs me in the eye.  Every time.  And for that I was truly envious…but everything else?…Sorry Jimbly, I love you buddy, but you can keep the Canon…I am sticking with the Mercedes of the camera world.

But the one thing I could not fault the Canon for:  despite it’s inept operator we still got a shot of the god awful Chevrolet that even the BBC boys at Top Gear would have been proud of…True, I had to cut 99% of the hateful thing from shot, but between Jimbly sat looking cool, the Piton mountains in the background, a big flash bouncing off bonnet and a queezy feeling photographer behind the lens, the Canon did a marvelous job of making even the Chevrolet look acceptable.

Thanks for the adventure James – it was a blast.

x

Hi guys.  As you know, things have been crazy busy this end what with coming back to the UK for a few days, filming our friends’ wedding (which was truly, truly awesome) enjoying a cheeky wee first year wedding anniversary with my beautiful wife, and generally scatting up and down the country like a couple of jack rabbits in a bid to see all the dear friends and family that we left behind here in the UK.  As I write this, we are sat on a Virgin train taking us from Euston to Carlisle to see two of my best friends Will and Eddie…no doubt a blog to come about that later.

Meanwhile, I have been very conscious of the fact that I have written nothing for over 10 days now, and have been sitting on some wonderful pictures that I would like to share with you all.  So, without further ado, I give you: An outing with the Barbados Photographic Society…

The last weekend before we left for the UK, Sian and I were ecstatic at the thought of a proper two days off.  The wedding calendar was surprisingly empty and the studio had nothing booked, so we glamorously planned to get all our laundry sorted, our stuff packed and make sure everything was in place for the guys to ensure smooth operation during our time away.

And then I turned on Facebook and it all went tits up.

I had heard of the Barbados Photographic Society in the past, and somehow I stumbled across their Facebook page on Thursday night.  I joined up with the friendly bunch that evening, and before we knew it, Sian and I were signed up for a 5 am start on Saturday morning to meet right down on the West Coast in a little alcove of the country called Conset Bay.

Idiot.

So long to a lie in; bye bye all the laundry time…but it was totally worth it.

The reason for the savage start time was not because the BPS are made up of a carnally evil people, hell bent on ripping you from your much needed slumber when you have booked a lie in, of course.  The timing was down to the wonderful soft light that a good sunrise in Barbados can produce.  I once went over to the South East coast (to The Crane beach) at four in the morning when my dear brother Ed was over.  We waited patiently for a spectacular sunrise, but were treated to a hilarious thick fog that hugged the water line and hid any magic light that may have given us a good snap.  We saw absolutely nothing.

But the BPS had clearly booked the sun for that morning.

There was a lovely pink tinge in the sky, and the boats in the bay listed peacefully as the 50 strong group marauded around the marina.  Everyone looking for lines, and compositions, and ‘that’ shot…And I found this both very funny and very odd.

I have never been on a photo walk per say, and I quickly started asking myself how I would create different images to everyone else.  The point of the walk was ultimately a social one;  it was great to meet such a lovely bunch of people, and to put faces to the names of the people who I had been semi speaking to on the Facebook page…but ultimately we were all there to take great pictures, and it was an interesting experience for me having so many people, all in one place, all trying to get the same thing.

We started out at Conset Bay,  with the wonderful and friendly Ainsley telling us about the history of the bay; the cliffs overlooking the bay are a very high and dry place, and are prone to regular fires as the dry grass is scorched by the long sun it is treated to.  It was also host to a train station that serviced the line connecting Bridgetown and The North.

We followed the old railway line to find another bay -the name of which escapes me.  We were on the cusp of morning light. and that beautiful pink was still there, but this was the last snap I got before the sun was in full force and the harsh light we are so used to in Barbados was back.

After this, we headed to what is affectionatley called ‘The Puff’, so called because of the impressive spurt of water that the waves create as they crash up through the small holes they have carved from the coral.  We were very lucky to see some fisherman down on the coast, which helped give context to the sheer size of the coral and spurting water.

I was shooting with the 70-200, which is a beast of a lens, and as such my polariser won’t fit on it.  This meant that we were getting a savage glare from the water’s surface as the now midday sun beat mercilessly down on us.  As such, I tried to make a feature of the reflection, rather than try and fight it.

As we headed back from The Puff, I was keen to find some bits and bobs to shoot in the shade, as the sun was far, far to harsh to look for any more panoramics or views.  I’m not mad on flower shots to be honest, but I found these knocking about back outside the fish market of Conset Bay, and thought they were quite fascinating being made up of seemingly hundreds of tiny little flowers:

And then I found this guy chilling out in the trees…anyone who knows me will be fully aware of my utter fear of spiders…and so I am even more proud of this shot, as I had to get quite close!

I love this guy – if you zoom in on his rump, I swear you can make out the head of and orc – it looks like he has a black studded helmet and big grin…can anyone else see it, or am I going mad on this Virgin train?!

Anyways, that’s that for now – LOADS of stuff to share with you since our time home, and can’t wait to get you all up to date, along with lots more photos 🙂

As always, thanks for reading guys, and feel free to SUBSCRIBE 🙂

Ferg xxx

As you all know, I have been away in the beautiful island of St Lucia for the last five days, and as such we haven’t been able to go on any adventures together this week.  I did take a few snaps out in SLU, which I will share with you all soon, but work has been crazy since getting back and I have not had the chance to even look at them yet…but I will. Promise.

So in the meantime, I thought I would share a couple of pictures we took on a past adventure.  A few months back, we headed up to the Gunhill Signal Station.  These were flag stations dotted around Barbados before the telephone was invented, and they represent a beautiful solution to a serious problem.  I believe there were seven on the island in total.  The idea was that if someone spotted an aggressive looking ship approaching the island, the flags would be raised, and each station would relay the message to the other, meaning that within a few moments, the entire island was aware of a possible threat.

Pretty genius stuff.

This also means, of course, that you get incredible views from the Signal Stations, and fortunately it was a truly beautiful day.

The station has, of course, undergone some serious renovation work to get it into the state that we see it today, and this is one of the things that Sian and I find increasingly frustrating in Barbados…there is very little recorded ‘history’ here.  The island that we live on has been inhabited for over 600 years and was a colony setup to produce tobacco and then sugar, but it is very, very hard to find out much about this.

The very hotel we live in used to be a sugar plantation, the only tell tale sign left for us now is the beautiful sugar mill that we now use as a wedding venue…but I cannot find any documents, articles or accounts of what the area used to be like before the Almond Beach Village.   For all of my super sleuthing, the most I have managed to gleam is that the mill was erected in 1859…which I ingeniously deduced from the plaque on the mill itself.

And I don’t understand why.  Barbados’ first income is duty.  Everything that we buy here has a ridiculous mark up, clothes have an 80% odd duty applied to them, and fresh milk costs $20 for 4 pints.  The second biggest income is in the form of tourism.  There’s a crap load of us Brits and Yanks and Canadians that visit the island, yet we have no real historical sites or monuments to visit.  There’s the odd tourist attraction – the Mount Gay Rum factory, the Banks Brewery, Harrison’s cave…but there is nowhere, to my knowledge, that celebrates or indeed denounces the very foundation of this nation, the sugar trade.

Being tourists (and massive nerds) ourselves in this alien land, we are desperate to understand the roots of the island.  Not just in its population, but how the land was carved up and cultivated; how the sugar trade worked, how the enslaved Africans fought for their independence, and how we now have – despite the barbaric past, such a close and ammicable relationship between London and Bridgetown…

But I guess that the Barbados Tourism Authority knows its audience.  And most people who visit the island just want to go to the beach.

And every time we visit a tourist attraction like the Gunhill Signal Station together, I can’t help but think there is a bit of a pink elephant in the room.

On the flip side though…never go to ANY attractions in Scotland if you’re English…you’ll only end up wanting to hang yourself with guilt…Maybe the BTA has got it right all along?…

Thanks for reading guys 🙂

Ferg x

I am sure that when Sian and I tell people that we live and work in Barbados, they think that we just chill out on crazy beaches all day.

But, unfortunately, like most people – the job gets in the way of the dream.  We work ridiculous hours.  I am currently in St Lucia meeting with our team here, organinsing new systems and structures to help the company prosper, and poor Sian and James are stuck in the lab in Barbados printing, making books, fixing albums and generally keeping the Colorbox machine running…whilst I sit in the hotel lobby punching this out.

It is 8:30pm, and I doubt they will get out until 10.  I feel guilt like you would not believe..the lab is a very lonely place when you have been there for over 12 hours, and there is nothing I can do this end to help. 🙁

And this is the problem we have with stupid ‘work’ – it gets in the way of all our fun. So it is always a pleasure when we do get the fleeting opportunity to visit the beach.  We knew that this week was coming (I miss Sian terribly when I’m away-even if only for four days, which is ridiculous but that’s the way it is) so on Sunday we made a really concerted effort to get to a beach – and what a beach it was!

I was out filming a wedding down at the Almond Beach Club a few days back, and the couple had decided to opt for some off property photography.  Bill, my senior photographer and oracle on anything Barbados, suggested a little bay up the road.  So we jumped into the car and took the couple to Gibb’s beach…it is amazing.

Needless to say, after seeing the place, I thought it would be more than appropriate to take Sian and James there – amaze them with my local knowledge and astound them with the incredible sand scape I had stumbled upon on my travels.  The charade lasted but a few moments as we drove down and James asked “So we going to that place Bil took you to the other day then?”

My plan foiled, and being exposed as the charlatan that I am, I grumbled that yes, we were going to “where Bill showed me”, and we stopped in the gas station (sorry – I have got all American having been here so long) garage, got some beers, and headed down to paradise.

And what a lovely day it was…we swam in the crystal clear water, watched the world go by…and then I went back to hide under the umbrella from the sun whilst James and Sian giggled like school girls.  It was magic.

I am trying to keep the technical stuff to a minimum on the blogs now, as I have been literally inundated with two mails saying that my technical guff is wasted on them, but I would like you all to know that all of these shots have been done through two grad filters.

A grad filter is essentially a piece of plastic that you put in front of your lens, which graduates from very dark, to completely see through – allowing you to underexpose, or “make darker” an area of your frame.  Essentially, this means that you can get a lot more detail in areas that would otherwise be blown out – or overexposed, because you are physically making them darker with the filter in front of the lens.  If you look at the umbrella shot above, for example, you will notice that there is a big white splodge between the boat and the umbrella.  My grad filter was covering the left hand of the frame. The graduation clearly stops a few centimeters before the umbrella – and that’s why there is that huge white ‘hot spot’ there.  I will do a much more technical ‘how to’ on grad filters in the future, I am sure…but for now I think that should cover it.  As always…any questions, you know where to get me 🙂

So anyway, after a time of being eaten alive by sand flies – without doubt the most evil and horrific of the Almighty’s creations, I headed back into the water with the now delirious-with-mirth-Sian and James as the sun started to set.

We decided we should head back before the sand flies came out in force – very much like the zombies in any good B-Movie, sand flies tend to come out when the sun has disappeared, and they eat your ankles, arms, face and anything else they can get their tiny jaws on very efficiently indeed.  We were in magic hour – bathed in the beautiful golden glow that only the setting sun can produce, and I got this corking portrait of Sian:

I can’t tell you how hard it was to decide between colour and black and white on this one…but eventually I decided for the BnW, beause the glow was SO golden, that it looked as if I had photo shopped it to buggery…I think it is a beautiful shot of my wife.

And as we walked away from what is renowned to be no other than Michael Flatley’s beach house (renowned in as much that Bill told me it was…and he knows everything about Barbados, so that’s enough for me) we were treated to some wonderful colours as the sun began to dip behind the horizon:

And that was that…another day at the beach; far from the stresses of the lab, the team and the bloody iMacs.  It was simply wonderful…

Thanks for reading guys

Ferg x

Yesterday, Sian, James and myself poodled on down to the Spring Garden Highway, to see the end of the procession of the legendary ‘crop over’ festival.

Crop over celebrates, as you’ve probably guessed, the final harvesting of the year’s sugar cane crop.  Traditionally it was a celebration of the end of a gruelling and long season, and has now developed into the massive festival that it is today.  We went down for the grand finale – ‘Kadooment day’ but our plans were some what dampened by the weather.

It’s hurricane season out here at the moment, and so we are periodically treated to massive down pours and electrical storms. Yesterday was no exception.

We had hoped to get down to see the end of the five mile procession, that starts at the Gymnasium and finishes down on the Spring Garden Highway, but seeing as how I am not the biggest fan of swimming, and the fact that I didn’t really want to drown the camera, we waited a few hours in the hope the rain would stop.  It certainly died down towards mid afternoon, so we resigned ourselves to getting wet and headed down.

As with all festivals, especially ones of this size, (they reckon about 20,000 people come to Barbados for Kadooment) there is money to be made.  Lots and lots of money.

So what happens is various bands are formed.  These bands offer a racy costume, and access to a number of parties before the big Kadooment procession.  On the day, you wear your costume, which can cost anything between $300 and $2000, and join your other band members on the jump.  This basically means following a truck, loaded with an awesome PA, crap load of rum and beer and dancing for 5 miles.  It’s pretty awesome.

By the time we had got there though, we feared we had missed the procession. Waiting for the rain to die down had meant we got there later than planned, and as we walked down the highway we saw a lot of ‘jumpers’ walking back to their cars, soaked through and looking, quite rightly, exhausted.

We stood around and had a few beers, and just as we turned to leave, a procession picked up, and we were thrown into the frenzy of Crop Over.

The general rule of jumping, or ‘winding’ as it’s called, is very simple.  Ladies rub their behind provocatively in the crotch of a bloke, who stands behind pounding her mercilessly.  I thought that they played dominoes aggressively, but this is a whole new level.

And that’s the national dance.

It really isn’t very pleasant – and what’s worse; there are young kids of 5 and 6 standing on the street side doing it themselves…I’m afraid to say that I  felt very British as I tried to find other, more savory things to photograph – during which time Sian got ‘wound’ herself:

The costumes were pretty awesome though, and fair play to the band members – they had been jumping since 6am that morning – were all soaked through and had danced for well over 5 miles – yet when they came back through us, the energy was simply amazing.

As you can probably tell, the light was really, really dull – we had massive storm clouds above stopping any available sunlight dead in its tracks.  This meant that there was no definition in the photos – they looked lack luster and drab…so I popped the old flash remotes on, held the flash as far away form the camera as I could (you know by now how much I hate using on camera flash) and got these bad boys:

After the frenzy of the parade, a few usable shots and couple of beers later, the heavens opened and we ran for the car – desperate to get ourselves and our kit dry.

Despite getting there late, and seeing only the very end of the festival, Sian and I have promised each other that we will jump ourselves next year…I need to start working out though – I’ll do my back in with all that thrusting in my current physical state, and judging by the amount of shoes that didn’t make it…I’m not too sure how well my flabby carcus will fare…

Back to work tomorrow – be back soon 🙂

Ferg x