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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…

Watch with refection copy

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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Last night was our friend Kate’s birthday.  She manages an uber-chic, turbo cool club here in Barbados…so Sian and I stick out like sore thumbs.  Whenever we go there, we have a fabulous time, but it is one of those places people go to party and be seen to do so, which is not really our thing.  However it was her birthday and as we don’t go that often it was all very exciting 🙂

We got a call from the lovely Rob and Penny who were organising a few cheeky pre-party-put aways, and so we headed to their beautiful new house beforehand.

Now, obviously, going to a party, we had to bring our camera.  But being that our wonderful Nikon D700 weighs approximately 950 tonnes alone, we couldn’t take the full bag with our vast array of lenses.  So I packed the normal party kit.  Our super sharp, uber wide angle 14mm-24mm, a flash gun and some cheap radio triggers.   We take the wide angle for several reasons.  First up – it looks cool.  The edges of the photos bend and distort with the barrel of the lens.  Secondly – you get a lot more things in focus (more on this later).  And thirdly, you are able to take much longer shots handheld and not get that horrid blur that every point and shoot camera in ‘night mode’ gives you.  There is a lot less camera shake at 14mm, because the lens is physically closer to the sensor. Please post a comment below if you want any more on this – but that’s it for now on camera stuff – promise!

So anyway, we headed out of the door with our patented ‘party kit’.   We got to Rob and Penny’s house and my heart leapt when we met the new members of their family.  It then quickly sank again when I remembered what kit we had with us, and all of the wonderful lenses and gels and other sexy paraphernalia we’d left safely tucked away at home.

Rob and Penny have recently had a litter of seven of these critters to mum, ‘Bo’.

And they are utterly, utterly adorable.   Being a responsible couple, they have been meticulous in finding homes for the new pups – making sure the people are right, taking them all to dog training classes, and securing each little bundle of fluff the best home possible.  But until next week they have all of them, mum and all, in their new house.

And I am going to do a proper shoot with them before they go.

But last night I had to make do with what we had.  Ideally, I would use a much longer portrait lens for these guys, but as we had the crazy-ass wide angle lens I had to just to make it work.

I love this shot – with little pooch looking out at me, nibbling on Sian’s ‘Caribbean Blue’ necklace, and Rob and Penny chuckling in the background.   But here you see one of the problems with the wide angle lens.  With a long portrait lens you get what is called ‘bokeh’.  This is the blurring effect of the background that in turn helps make your subject pop out and appear more striking.  With a wider lens you lose this effect – more of the scene remains in focus – which is why we take it out as our party lens in the first place (see first paragraph!).   In this photo you can clearly make out Rob and Penny in the background.  But if I were shooting at 200mm with a wide aperture, Rob and Penny would be turned into a beautiful swirl of buttery-bokeh, all colours and indistinguishable shapes.

So what to do with these beautiful pups? How to make them stand out against their backgrounds without that lovely portraited blur?

That’s right – you guessed it.  Flash.

Nice narrow aperture, powerful flash, 200th of a second.

Bosh

Now, these pictures aren’t perfect – the light is hard, the shadows very pronounced, and the ambient light is non existent…but I am really pleased with them none the less.  It was a down and dirty 5 minute shoot,  and I love this part of photography.  You know what you want to achieve but your kit is not ‘the right stuff’ at the time.  Despite this, with some quick thinking and light trickery I was still able to get the shots I wanted.

After the puppies, some more friends, a trip to another house and some (yummy) jelly shots, we headed out to the nightclub – which was what this blog was initially meant to be about!

It was a great night – everyone was in top form, there was a HUGE turnout and Kate seemed to be utterly happy with it all.

Hopefully you can see and agree why I think the 14-24 is the best lens for a night out like this.  When in a cramped club with little room to breathe, it captures the whole goings on.  Unlike the puppy shots, which were shot deliberately fast to kill the ambient light, these were shot at a much slower shutter speed – a 5th of a second.  This lets the sensor soak up all those lurid reds and greens and other luminescent colours the d.i.s.c.o lights throw up.  I love it.

At about 3am, the uber – cool – retro – house – funk that we had been strutting to was quickly replaced with what can only be described as “Bondage Rap”.   Clearly “Ganster Rap” is oh-so-passe nowadays…

I love hip hop, but cannot fathom why anyone wants to listen to tripe like “face down, eyes up, that’s the way we like to f” – you get the idea.  I adore my music, and like to think I am ‘down’ with the kids…but seriously, who benefits from this horrificness?   Who enjoys listening to a guy rapping (to a FAT beat, I admit) about having violent intercourse with a girl half his age ‘cos that’s how we do it in my hood’?  Does anyone even care about the lyrics of  music anymore?…I don’t know – that’s a blog for another time.  Point is, we had an awesome night, and called it quits before I stopped the music and lectured everyone on the finer points of hip hop and sent them all home with no supper.

The only thing I regret is not getting a shot of the birthday girl herself, but Priva have their own photographer (who is very good). Being in the game I know how annoying it is when someone starts getting in the way and shooting stuff you are being paid to capture.   It usually ends up being a “my camera’s bigger than yours’ scenario and no one likes it.

And that brings us up to this morning.

Bleary eyed and fuzzy headed, (becoming a bit of a theme of late since work has quietened down so much) Sian – somehow – woke up full of beans and convinced me to go to Hunter’s market.  I was promised coffee, and pastries and all manner of things, not to mention a chance to see our good friends Ally and Billy there too…but when we got there, the weather was not on our side.

I felt a bit like the girl in the song from last night:

But a hearty lunch with our friends later and a lazy Sunday has left us in great stead for the week ahead.

Hope you all have an awesome one too.

Thanks for reading guys

x