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…
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.
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.
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!
And just look at the sunset you will be treated to every day:
Thanks for reading guys – more piccies and adventures next week!
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
A few weeks back, we were approached by Almond to re-shoot their brochure and web material.
Which is always very exciting.
We had some kids lined up, but budget meant that affordable models were going to be hard to find…luckily Sian and I have some very good looking friends.
Ally and Billy are our two best friends here on the island. Ally is from Manitoba in Canada, and Billy is a good old Brit from Devon. They are a wonderful couple, and I always enjoy stoking the fire over various pronunciation arguments (tomato and potato are regularly visited).
They also happen to be crazy hot, which made our job a whole lot easier
A while back, Billy introduced us to his brother Johnathan and his partner Monique. They, also, happen to be a crazy hot couple, and the day was made even easier with them there too.
In all, we had a great day. The guys were really patient, really professional, and we got some beautiful shots for the new brochure. I don’t think they realised just how hard a job modelling all day was going to be, and by lunch I could feel they were flagging. Contrary to popular belief, modelling is very hard. You are normally stood all day, grinning, scowling, laughing or jumping at a photographer’s whim. In amongst all of this, you also have to make each pose look like it is the first time you have done it and keep it natural. You can spot a stiff model from a million miles away.
I am happy to say that all four of our new models delivered these qualities in spades. They were awesome. Monique was so good, she even managed to squeeze in a cheeky nap on a lilo whilst the rest of us worked 😉
After lunch, we hid from the sun for a few shots up in one of the (beautiful) state rooms we had organised for the shoot.
And after these beauties, we headed back down for some beach fun, tennis, sailing and dinner…in all a very long day.
But oh-so-very-worth it.
You can see all of the photos on our Colorbox Facebook Page – and the rest of the shoot will be up on there soon.
All that is left to say, is another final HUGE thanks to Billy, Ally, Jonathan and Monique. You guys really were amazing. You were patient, professional and the pictures are just stunning.
Thanks again for reading guys – keep on snapping.
Have you ever had one of those weeks, where everything is going swimmingly – the emails are responded to, the team are all bumbling along, the phone is ringing an acceptable twice an hour…and then the Good Lord just takes an almighty work turd right on your face, and before you know it you feel like Arnold Shwarzenegger in End of Days. Your phone rings constantly – your wife’s phone rings itself to death, you meet client after client, take booking after booking, and before you know it your wonderfully planned and masterfully crafted week is dumped with 10 weddings in three days.
Well, if you haven’t already guessed, that’s exactly what happened to us this last week.
And I am ecstatic to say that the team, although tired, dealt with the stress exceptionally well. As always.
But we felt very bad,because, as you all know, our good friends Josh and Lydia have been out here in Barbados with us, and we were hoping to spend a bit of quality time with them. But clearly that plan was scuppered.
We got everything we possibly could done Saturday night, so that we could all enjoy Sunday together, but then the heavens opened and we were stormed in. So instead of swimming on the beaches and watching the sunset and drinking beers in the warm, we were stranded in our flooding-fast house playing computer games and cursing the deck of cards we had left back at the hotel.
By all accounts it was a lovely day 🙂
And the day was made even more lovely by the arrival of another guest in our home. We have had swarms of bees, enormous spiders, bats getting stuck in the roof and a billion millepedes, but this is the first leaf frog I think we have had to date.
I spotted him on the way to the kitchen, and without hesitation dear old Josh grabbed the flash and mounted it on a pocket wizard whilst I bayonetted my macro lens.
And he was ever so good as these two giants surrounded and strobed him like there was no tomorrow.
Because he really was tiny. In this (wonderful) portrait of Josh, you can see how small the wee guy was – he is the little green spec on the left, being bathed in the scrummy bolt-blue f20 from my SB800:
But he just sat there, happily modelling for us, and, upon agreeing we had all got the shots we were after, he wandered off up the wall to enjoy whatever it is leaf frogs do in the ceilings of homes in Barbados.
I do love having an open house.
Thanks for reading guys – more regular posts to come from now on. Promise.
As is now appearing customary, I start with an apology for the delay on things. Work is getting really exciting – loads and loads and loads of stuff on, and with the world as it is at the moment I can’t grumble for a second. There are thousands without jobs, so the fact that mine is depriving me of a privilege like ‘blogging time’ can’t be a bad thing.
So, a quick update. My cousin Den came out to visit us last week, which was awesome. We got some dives in that made me wish I could take my camera with me…but having already spent well over $3k this year on the camera, I thought an underwater housing would be the nail in the coffin with my very-understanding, but-only-human-after-all wife. We dove (dived?) the Stavronikita, or Stav to the locals, and it really was up there in my top 5 dives of all time…
Den also insisted that we go sea fishing. This is something I have always wanted to do, but we never get around to doing it. One of the best things about having motivated guests is that we actually have to wander off resort (shock horror!) every now and then to go and do touristy stuff. I will blog about the sport fishing properly soon, but in the meantime here are a few snaps of Den’s big catch. A beautiful ‘Wahoo’
By the end of the week, we were all pretty knackered. Work had been busy, and Den was keen to get as much in as possible. On the last night of his stay we were treated to a beautiful sunset and it only seemed right to have a lazy game of catch whilst we were bathed in the beautiful soft light of magic hour.
Thanks for a blast Den – I have finally caught up with my sleep now! Oh – and the pictures we took of the moon that night down at Fowl Bay…I was pretty happy with the final result – hope you like it too! 😉
Thanks for reading guys…more adventures to come 🙂
So, a few months back (all the way in February!) my awesome brother, Ed, and his wonderful fiance, Mel came to visit us as we settled down in Bimshire.
I insisted they have a quick studio shoot and walk around the gardens before they went home, and they have had to wait all this time for me to finally get round to editing them…so really sorry about that guys.
Anyway, I am sure they won’t mind me sharing my favourite shot of the day with you all – this was taken on the tried and true D80 on the kit lens, so apologies in advance for the fluffy nature and high noise…but I was extremely pleased with the REAL lens flare I got – hope you agree?!
More adverntures to come when we finally get on top of all this work, thanks for reading guys, and hope you have a great weekend
A post!! It feels like months since my last, and to be honest I have really missed not sharing with you all here on what is fast becoming my personal diary more than anything else. But I hope you have been well and will allow me a moment of egocentricity as I think that maybe…just maybe, some of you have missed me posting too?
Anyway, as I am sure you have all gathered, Sian and I had a very brief trip back to Blighty a few weeks gone, and I have finally got round to editing some of the pictures for you all to see. As you all know, we do love our jobs out here in Bim, but there is an awful lot about old Liz’s Kingdom that both Sian and I adore; and coming from the evergreen flora of the rock we now call home, we were utterly delighted to be treated to a good old autumnal country walk with one of my best friends Eddie, up in Carlisle. We took Will’s dog Lois (MASSIVE POST TO COME) as he taught kids drama at William Howard – a secondary school in Scaleby.
Truth be told, I’m afraid I didn’t really listen to where it was we were going. Will and Ed had discussed where the best place was to go for a walk, and after many hours of being shown various routes on Google Maps, I lost interest and let my best man do all the navigation. We got to – wherever it was-at about eleven thirty, and all of a sudden the hours of Google maps and concise directions seemed more than worth it. We wandered down through a valley to be met with this beautiful bridge – the water fiercely running down the fell. Lois, the awesome, decided to run through the gushing water, and we all felt our hearts leap a beat at the thought of her getting washed away (it really was fast)
But she was hardcore and just took it all in her stride. She soon got bored of the ‘random-people-who-have-put-me-in-their-car,-brought-me to-this-strange-place-and-are-now-calling-my-name-incessantly-game’ and came back to the river bank. But only when she was good and ready.
And as we climbed the steep valley on the other side, we were treated to the stunning views that only the north of England can offer, all tinged with the tell-tale signs of decay as Autumn slowly sweeps in over the next few weeks.
At this point I would like to quickly apologise – we have just bought a couple of AMAZING new lenses (EVEN BIGGER POST TO COME) but they are both massive, and as such we have no filters that will fit them at present…so all grads are done post, which I think is, upsettingly, fairly obvious.
As we got to the top of the hill, the view opened up. There were a few houses dotted around, which sparked the question why anyone would ever want to live there – slap bang in the middle of nowhere. I quite liked how this image captured that utter isolation that we were disparaging…but it must appeal to someone – because the houses are there…
We then found the obligatory ‘dead tree’, surrounded by stone walls and wheat growing wild. I actually really like this shot – a lot more than I did when I was composing it:
And by about this time we realised it was three and we had not even turned back yet! So we upped the pace and got back in time to greet Will home from his hard day’s toil, kick off our boots, and drink some posh cava…it truly was a magic few days.
Massive love to the boys for looking after us – and I very much look forward to filling you all in on all our other vacation shenanigans soon.
As always guys, thanks for reading 🙂
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 🙂
Due to various members being sick over the weekend, Sian, James and myself were roped into a last minute day’s work on Saturday. I am currently suffering from a cold, and therefore believe that the world is ending (who can blame me – I’m a man after all) and in my grumpy state I walked to the lab to fire up the Fuji and start getting on with printing.
On my way in, I couldn’t help but enjoy the beautiful blue sky that Barbados was treating us to…it was fantastic…so much so that I rang Sian and told her to leave whatever she was doing to get outside and admire the cobalt blue we were being blessed with. As I wandered down through the resort, grumpy and with my neck cocked back to admire the stratosphere, I couldn’t help but notice that our Frangipani tree on the golf course was looking a little under the weather. It normally has bright green leaves and lovely white, four petaled flowers…but in this beautiful, post hurricane system sky, it looked dowdy and almost dead.
On closer inspection, it was not actually the tree’s fault, nor the weather’s. It was being set upon by the only animal I have encountered that makes my old man look like a calorie counter. It was teaming with Frangipani Caterpillars.
Having seen the tree teaming with life, I ran to the lab and got things going, pinched the work camera (D7000 for those that care) and came to grab some snaps.
In the short time I was there, the bigger guys at the bottom of the tree quickly polished off a leaf each in the morning sun. They were very wary of me though, and whenever I got too close, they would wag their heads angrily. From what I have read, they will nip you if in a pinch, but they are completely harmless otherwise. Their bright colouring is a warning to birds and other predators that they are poisonous….this is somewhat of a ruse – they themselves have no poison or venom, but the sap of the Frangipani tree is poisonous to predators without the digestive system of the caterpillars, and so their food provides them with all the protection they need from our feathered friends here on the island.
We use the D7000 at work solely for its incredible video performance, and I am training the guys how to get the most from it…needless to say, I felt obliged to film a little of what was going on, and thought I would bring the D700 and the tripod along later on in the day for some more time-lapse action.
Needless to say, all just a bit of fun, and many apologies about the camera shake, I didn’t have time to grab the tripod and longer lenses – I was covering people calling in sick after all.
At the end of the time lapse shoot (trust me to pick the one caterpillar that couldn’t polish off an entire leaf) the sun had come around beautifully, and just hit the caterpillars with that golden light. These were taken with no flash, if you’ll believe it 😉
Overall I was pretty pleased with the shots…but I got increasingly frustrated with not being able to focus closer (Cue the wide eyed: “Baaaaa – bbbbyyyy, we need to get a Nikon 105mm macro lens”)….but that’s for another day…
And yet again, my camera has led me to learn a bit more about the wildlife of this alien island…not too sure how often the Frangipani Caterpillars will come up in the local pub quiz, but every tid-bit we gleam, every fact we learn, makes being here feel a little less alien, and a little more like home.
Thanks for reading, and keep on snapping.
So, I have looooads of piccies to share with you today, which is crazy exciting, but the first thing I need to share is the big news that my little sister (in law, technically) Caragh is out here staying with us and it is AWESOME to have her here 🙂
Already she is putting up with my terrible mood swings, the constant cursing about work, the team and all the other boring stuff everyone goes through on a daily basis with good stead and (I hope) is having a good time. Today we headed down to the beach to watch the sunset…there wasn’t much to report unfortunately due to the bad weather again, but we whipped out the umbrella and off camera flash to produce this corker:
It’s amazing; I have known Caragh for over 11 years now and it seems like only yesterday she was telling me about the Tweenies* when I had picked her up from her primary school…Now she is all set to go to Sheffield Uni (can I get a whoop whoop from all the coal mining crew?) and looking absolutely stunning as a young woman. I am also very excited to FINALLY meet her long term boyfriend Johnathan who will be joining us shortly here in Barbados, I can’t wait to meet the guy that can hold his own with Caragh…I already have the utmost of respect for him 😉
So anyway, back to piccies. These last few days I have had an epiphany…So used to the smaller sensor of my D80, I have been used to shooting at relatively slow shutter speeds, hand held. 60th/50th or around there. With a wide lens this is fine…with a 35mm on the D80’s smaller sensor you can just about get away with it, but on the FX sensor at 50mm opening the shutter for that long a time has been giving me a serious case of camera shake…I have been looking at my pictures thinking “Why so soft? This should be tack sharp” The penny dropping could be heard in Alaska….what a clown shoes. To show you what the hell I mean, I would like to share with you a few piccies of some dogs we were lucky enough to meet the other day. Sian and I headed to an amazing property called ‘Fustic House’ at the North of the island. I would love to show you some snaps, but it was a work thing and therefore I have no copyright and the project is not yet finished. When it is up online, I shall gladly point you all in the right direction.
Anyway, it is an old plantation house and absolutely incredible. I won’t try and describe it, because my lexicon can’t and won’t do it justice, just take my word for it – it’s amazing. And it is owned by a lovely family who own a plethora of dogs.
And I love dogs.
Needles to say, as soon as we had a natural break in filming, i whipped the D700 out and got these portraits…but see if you can spot where I went wrong:
In this shot, I was way, way too wide. (my aperture was too big) and you can see that the photo is not sharp because I was shooting at the fabled 60th of a second…fine when shooting 35mm – even 50mm on the dump D80, but inexcusably so on the D700 at 50mm. It’s amazing how I still fall into these bad habits of compromise – I forget how powerful the D700’s ISO is…what I should have done was ramp the ISO to say, 4000 and shot at 200th and f8 at least. To add insult to injury, I missed the focal point on the dog’s eye anyway…so a pretty dire attempt in all.
I like this one a lot more…the focus is right this time (thank God) and I have shot here at a faster shutter speed…but I am still not happy that I shot so wide – I wish that I had less depth of field and more of the dog’s droopy expression in focus…
But, never one to be deterred by utter rookiness, I looked forward to my next great pet adventure, eager to try my new theory of higher shutter speeds and narrower apertures. So when we headed down to the beach to watch the sunset (see, there was a point of me telling you that all thsoe paragraphs ago) we were met by our resident cats.
And I hate cats.
But Sian’s family have an amazing black and white cat called Lucy who has slowly won me over in the recent years that I have got to know her…she is evil and sadistic and loves the fact that I am allergic to her and falls out of trees…deep down, it pains for me to admit that she is really quite quality.
Our resident cats on the resort are not the healthiest specimens..they are usually missing chunks of fur from fights, or carrying a litter and set to burst (seriously, how often can one cat be pregnant in a year?) but they are very friendly, and the ones who came over today were surprisingly photogenic. Before the sun disappeared, I got one of this guy:
And then the sun disappeared…so Caragh got roped into holding flash for me whilst I got these three corkers:
…and to be honest, I am chuffed to bits with them. So, a lesson well learned – if you take dump photos the first time round, don’t panic, just work out where you went wrong, and have yourself another go 🙂 It’s what I do almost ever day…
Thanks for reading guys. Keep on snapping.
*The Tweenies was a terrible kids show that ran in the UK for a long time…they were dump.