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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.

 

x

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.

x

As I mentioned a few days back, Sian and I have had a mental week.  Between welcoming guests, being attacked by bees, hounded by nesting bats, and having two team members off for a few weeks, life has been pretty hectic.

Oh – and amidst all this, we flew out to Miami for 5 days on business with our awesome boss Gary.

We were in Fort Lauderdale for a couple of days, and then we popped down to South Beach to soak up some of that awesome ‘Sobe’ atmosphere.  Sian had organised our digs in the awesome Catalina Hotel.  It is one block up from Lincoln Avenue, which is without a doubt the heart and soul of South Beach.  A million bars, and you just pick the one that looks the most comfy, sit down, order some beers, and let Miami walk past you.  And it is made up of all sorts.  If you like people watching, you have to visit South Beach.

On the first night, we wandered down the boardwalk towards the cafes and bars along the front.  Gary had planted the idea of nachos in my head, and as we wandered we were bombarded with deals and offers, happy hours and bargains…we carried on down the front until we found ‘the bar’.

Eventually impatience got the better of us, and we just started asking the waitresses attacking us with flyers “Do you have nachos?” “Yes.”  “Are you running a happy hour?” “Yes, buy one round, get the next on free”.

Perfect.

So there we sat, on the front of South Beach as the Ferraris and custom choppers drove by.  There are all sorts of people here; there are also all sorts of vehicles.

Now, this is where the story gets messy.  All the way down South Beach, we had seen these idiots with the most enormous cocktail glasses.  Seriously.  Put your hand out, spread your fingers as wide as they will go and you would still be able to put your hand in one of these glasses.  Easily.  We had quietly mocked these fools for their inability to order a correct sized drink along the South Coast…so imagine our utter dismay when our Mojitos arrived – the size of an arctic truck, and Gary’s beer arrived in the most enormous glass boot I have ever seen.

Buffoons.

I would not normally dream of posting a photo on this blog from our little Nikon point and shoot, but I feel it’s important for you to see what we were up against here…

And the Mojitos were good. I mean, really good. So after we had a good chuckle at how ridiculous we had been, getting suckered into the obvious tourist trap, we felt even more stupid when we asked the price of the behemoth drinks we had been served.

Fifty.

Five.

Dollars.

Fifty five US Dollars. EACH.  No wonder it was buy one get one round free – no one could possibly finish one of these drinks, and be capable of drinking another.  The bar was running a pretty awesome scam here.  But The Britishness in me kicked in, and I was damned if I wasn’t going to get my money’s worth.

I was in bed by 9pm.

And as I woke up again at 7am, I was amazed at just how fresh I felt.  I left Sian in bed and had a wander around this amazing city.  It was a ghost town.   Miami is, without a doubt, alive at night.  And as I wandered around the streets, baffled as to how I had avoided a hangover that I most definitely deserved, I felt like I was in some kind of post-apocalyptic film.  No one.  Anywhere.  It was really quite special.

Grabbing some breakfast for Sian, I managed to pull her from her sleep, and we wandered around the streets together; but by now, that magic loneliness had been replaced with hungover tourists looking for their coffee, skaters, joggers, muscle men, dog walkers, big groups of blonde girls shopping together, big groups of flamboyant men shopping together,  and I felt that Sian had been cheated from the site that I had enjoyed only a few hours ago.

But all the same, we had a blast.  Thanks Miami, you were very gentle with me.

Thanks for reading guys xxx

First of all, please accept my apologies for complete lack of posts in the last ten days…Sian and I have been very busy bees.  We were out in Miami last week for some meetings with suppliers and partners etc. and we have not stopped since we got back  I will do a proper post about that soon.

We flew back home on Sunday after nearly missing our flight, crashed for a few hours, and got straight back to work on Monday.   A day in the office after being away for 5 days is never fun, and it was made all the worse by the knowledge that our awesome friends Josh and Lyds were coming out to visit us.  They are now here and it is awesome.

But Monday night wasn’t.

We got back to the house at about 7pm, only to find a massive warning sign on our door. “Fergus and Sian – DO NOT ENTER – BEES SWARMING”

 

Bugger.

 

You know when you just want to go to bed, in your own bed, after staying in hotels and running around like madmen (women) for days?  So we wandered down to the apartment below to ask Anne – our landlady – what was going on.  She said she had seen a few hundred bees swarming around our front door, and they would no doubt wake up again first thing in the morning.  The bee man couldn’t come until tomorrow (of course) and that if we didn’t want to be stung to death in our slumber, we had better sort out other accommodation.

So off we popped back to the hotel, who were wonderfully accommodating and let Lyd and Josh stay with us for the night.  We returned the next evening to utter bee-carnage.  We were quite sad – Sian and I love bees, but the guy had found two nests under our house, and he needed to fumigate the place to get rid of them all.

I whipped out the macro lens and asked Josh to help me with Flash.  These pictures are a homage to our late friends of the bee kingdom.

They’re not as pretty as my usual stuff – but I felt we needed to do something productive with something so very sad 🙁

So after we swept up the death and cleared off the leaves, chased out the spiders and the millipedes and all the other wildlife that had moved into our house whilst we were away, we settled down for a quick beer.  And as we sat and supped, our peace was quickly interrupted by an eerie scratching and rustling from the roof.  A few tell tale whimpers and we concluded that we now had a bat stuck in the extraordinarily thin cavity between our ceiling and the aluminium flashing above.

It’s like bloody London Zoo here at times…

But as I write this, we are now (I hope) Bee and Bat free…and hopefully Lyd and Josh can start getting on with their holiday without Mother Nature’s annoying interruptions.  And if you’re reading, Mother Nature, take heed; we don’t want to have any more scenes like this in our lovely new home:

It’s far too depressing 😉

 

Thanks for reading guys -keep on snapping

xxx

A few months back Sian got a call from Virgin (the airline/holiday/everything else group, not immaculate concepulate of the late Jesus Christ…although that would have been cool too).

They asked Sian if the company could shoot a couple of ‘celebrities’ that were out here in Barbados here with us for some promotional stuff.  Our friends got excited.  My toes curled up.

I hate this nonsense.  I hate the very word ‘celebrity’.  It makes me think of all the god awful Hello guff that seems to plague our shelves incessently these days.  Not only has journalism suffered for it, but so too has entertainment.  Remember when we watched shows that were written and performed by skilled, talented, devoted craftsmen?…I do.  I got a Theatre Degree.  And my heart physically hurts every time another ‘I’m a Celebrity – Shit on you’ show comes out.

So, when Sian told me we were shooting Ollie, Jamie and Francis from the ‘Made in Chelsea’ TV show, I was dreading it.  I assumed to meet a bunch of jumped up, attention seeking socialites with little or nothing to say.

And boy was I wrong. Very very wrong.  Because these three lads were utterly, utterly lovely.

And I don’t mean lovely in the kind of ‘we’re working together, so let’s all get on’ kind of way,  I mean it from the very real, very rare, ‘I want to invite those guys to our house for dinner’ way.  They really were great.

The first thing Jamie said to me was ‘ we just needed a break – well, to be honest, we don’t really do anything, but we wanted to get away for a bit…I guess that sounds awful’ and I adored his honesty.

I also loved the fact that nothing was too much for the boys – jump in the sea?  Sure.  Play cricket with this guy? No worries.

And they refused to let Sian carry anything. Ever.  Which was very sweet and really very rare in people these days.  They were polite, courteous, funny, and ridiculously good looking…it made our job a breeze.

Because Sian and I live here in Barbados, and because we both despise the ‘Celebrity Big Brother – give me a final chance to be famous’ kind of shows, we had no idea what Made in Chelsea was about.  But the boys didn’t mind – in fact, I think they kind of liked the fact that they were working with apparantly the only two Brits on the island who had not recognised them.  Even while we were shooting, people were smiling, and waving and cooing and asking for autographs…but they didn’t mind, they took it in their stride, they let us do our thing, and we got some great shots.

So, if you’re reading this boys, thanks a lot, you have restored some faith in this old fart’s appreciation of the ‘celebrity’…now excuse me, I believe I have Made in Chelsea on Channel 4 On Demand…

You can see the article in the Daily Mail here: Daily Mail Article. Please note that the Copyright is FIRMLY held with Colorbox, the company I work for – and all of the shots on here link back to our Facebook page.  Please like away, and you can see the full shoot on there too 🙂

Thanks for reading guys, keep on snapping x

You may have noticed that I have been a little quiet lately.  This is mainly due to the normal reasons – work crazy, loads of shoots, team members on holiday etc.  However, this time there is a new reason/excuse for my tardiness.

An excellent reason in fact.

After nearly six years of living in ships and hotels, from the sublime to the down right ridiculous, we finally thought ‘enough is enough’, and we bit the bullet and got a small cottage way out in the sticks where no one can find us.

It is beautiful.


For the first time in six years, Sian and I have a little piece that is ours.  We don’t have to share anything, we don’t have to abide by rules imposed by the powers that be…we can just ‘live’.

I know this sounds ridiculous and I feel almost callous as I write this.  We have been so, so lucky to have the opportunities and lifestyle that we have had for so long.  We wouldn’t change a thing.  And we aren’t really – we will be staying at the hotel at least four times a week, because that is what our job demands and there is no way that we could keep things going if we were based out here.

Seriously, we’re in the sticks.

But for those long weekends, for that time when we just want to lock the door and get away from sun burnt tourists, the taxi vendors desperate for some business, and the questions and questions and questions you get every time some one hears you live here. “What, in the Hotel?…How lucky you are!”

Yes, yes, yes…

Like I say, I don’t mean to sound ungrateful – and I am not.  We have a fabulous room in our hotel, the staff look after us, and as I mentioned, our operation would not run If Sian and I were not there 24/7.

I’m just hoping it will if we’re there 24/5.

Because with a view like this to come home for, the weekend just cannot come quick enough.

Thanks for reading guys – here’s to a new, super chilled out Ferg in the future 🙂

x

Before you read any further, I have to let you know that this blog comes with disclaimer.   I cannot be held responsible for any damage, injury or harm either you or your computer may suffer from dribbling, cooing, or general hugging of the screen in front of you.

Because these pups are ridiculously cute.

Some of you may remember this post a few weeks back; we met Rob and Penny and their beautiful puppies.  But we had all the wrong kit.  A wide lens and no flash diffuser, the pictures were alright, but I organised a re-shoot with the pooches with the appropriate gear.

And I am oh-so-glad we did.

It has taken me an age to write this blog, so apologies if I am a little sketchy on the details.  Rob and Penny bought their beautiful Bichon Frise ‘Bo’ with them over from the UK when they moved here a few years back.  They had her bred, and she blessed Barbados with seven of these crazy-cute-canines.  They are gorgeous.

Sian and I popped over to Rob and Penny’s a while back to do this shoot, and since then, the pups have all moved on to their own homes.  But we got them, all together for about an hour.  It was an interesting shoot to say the least.

They say never to work with animals or children.  Now, I love working with kids.  In fact, it’s one of my favourite parts of the job.  I love it when we get a family with nippers.  I find children are a lot more natural in front of a camera, and there is nothing better than a natural shot of a child full on belly-laughing in the Bajan sun.

Puppies are, clearly, very different.  It is hard to get them where you want them to be – hard to get them to look where you want to, and try as I might, I couldn’t make them laugh.

 

But they look gorgeous all the same 🙂

 

Thanks for reading guys.  Keep on snapping.

x

One of the things that I have really, really enjoyed about starting my blog is that I now read a crap load of them myself.  The blogging community is a social one, and if you post good(ish) content regularly, you get followers and friends.

But your fandom and almost freakish stalking of a particular blogger can sometimes go unnoticed…and that’s where the ‘blomage’ comes in.

As you have probably guessed, I have rather ingeniously combined ‘blogging’ with the word ‘homage’ and, well, I’m sure you will figure the rest out.

Anyway, the first in what I hope will be quite a long series of ‘blomages’, is to the wonderfully talented Leanne Cole.  Leanne is a photographer in Australia, and she posts spectacular HDR images on an almost daily basis.  I discovered Leanne because she kindly liked my page.  I followed her ‘like’ and saw her work.

And I have been reading her blog ever since.

Now – for those of you who don’t know, HDR stands for High Dynamic Range, and there are some simply wonderful photographers out there who use it beautifully. Leanne is definitely one of them, but I must also tip my hat to the amazing Trey Ratcliff who writes the ‘stuck in customs’ blog.

Out. Standing.

There are also a billion idiots who just rape your eyes with their attempts with the technique.  Please quickly go on Google right now, click on the images and search “Bad HDR”.   It’s OK, I will wait…you really have to see what I am talking about to fully appreciate just how awesome Leanne is.

Done it yet?….

SEE WHAT I MEAN?!!  Why would anyone think that is acceptable?!

But I digress.  I love Leanne’s work, and I hope that you do to.

One of the things that I like so much about her page, is that she explains (as best she can) her process to get where she wants to, and, shock of all horrors, she shares her original images too.

This is so, so brave – and I love her for it.

In order to make an HDR photo, you must take a set of at least three photos, in exactly the same spot at varying exposures. So, at the most basic, you would take one slightly under-exposed, one bang on the money, and one that is overexposed.  You then merge these bad boys together with an appropriate program, and play with the tonal mapping.  This allows you to expose the entire scene absolutely perfectly.  You can bring out details in the shadows that would just be black in your ‘bang on the money shot’, or bring down highlights that would otherwise be completely overexposed.

Bearing this in mind, you still need to compose correctly, and you need to know what you want your photo to look like in the end…otherwise you end up with something like this.   And no one wants that.

Ever.

But by sharing the original, Leanne faces the age old ‘oh, it’s just Photoshop – you’re just pressing buttons – that’s not photography’ bullshit.  And that is really unfair.  Post processing is part of photography now.  Sorry if you don’t want to hear that, but it is.  Photoshop is as important nowadays as the lens you buy, and if you don’t use it, you’re either a liar or an idiot or both.

What Leanne does, masterfully, is draw your eye to what she wants you to see.  She blurs out areas she thinks distracts, she blends tones and adds contrast where she thinks it is needed, and I would hazard that she spends just as long (if not longer) processing the shots as she does shooting them.   Unlike Snapseed and Instagram – which have their place and I do not knock them at all – Leanne has 100% control of her images.   She decides what the software does, not a computer.  Just like black and whites, Leanne understands which scenes suit the technique best – often abandoned buildings and old industrial sites, and she works her magic.

And with that, I leave you with my first blomage – an HDR exposure from Venice.  I wanted to bring out the graffiti on the wall, screaming from behind the beautiful hand carved and ancient second hand furniture.  This image is made up of nearly thirty layers (I counted them especially) with an array of blurs, blend modes, exposures, contrast, textures and noise…I hope you like it.

And if you’re reading Leanne, I hope I understood your last 50+ posts!!!

Thanks for reading guys 🙂

I have moved

Do you hate crap HDR as much as I do?  Please feel free to post any links to corkers you find in the comments below, and I will speak to you all again at the weekend 🙂

The other day I rang my dear friend Rachel.  She is awesome and gorgeous and has a wonderful husband called Ross and they have a baby I am yet to meet and another one in the post.  They, like us, eloped from the UK for a few years over to the States, but are now firmly back in the UK, living the dream and happy.

And Rach said something that really rang true with me.  I missed it all.  She wasn’t saying it in a bad way – but I missed the whole thing – I missed them moving home, I missed their visits back, I missed their birthdays and  I missed the pregnancy…and now their first boy Niels is going to be nearly two years old when I finally meet him.

I have also missed so much of my other friend’s paths – becoming teachers, actors, writers, performers, managers, cowboys (seriously) and everything in between…and I have no idea of their journeys…And I, like them, kissed and waved them goodbye 6 years ago – on a path to become a self-proclaimed literary genius, and am set to return a fully fledged photographer…how the hell did that happen?

Well, if you would care to indulge me, I hope to share the last six years of our somewhat crazy lives in a few paragraphs.  If you have come here for a few pretty pics, please, go ahead and check them out – I am under no illusions that the autobiography of a tubby balding Englishman may be deemed as tedious to say the least.  But for those of you still with me, I thank you, and promise to keep it brief.
When I left university, a glistening eyed 22 year old whipper snapper, I had grandiose plans to become the next Anthony Nielson.  A genuine bad boy of the theatre world, I loved his writing, and I adored his approach.  He does everything.  He writes and directs, and sometimes performs, very gritty, very witty, and all round awesome plays.  This was my plan.  And by God if, by the age of 22 I wasn’t on my way.  I was crazy lucky enough to work with some wonderful people in the Scottish Theatre scene, and after assistant directing Petrol Jesus Number 5 In the time of The Messiah at the Traverse with Philip Howard – a wonderful man, and amazing in the rehearsal room – I was offered a paid assistantship with another upcoming production.

I was ecstatic.

But then we got a phone call that changed our lives.

A family crisis and we had to drop everything in Edinburgh.  I tearfully spoke with Philip, who, as Philip does so well, listened and gave advice and told me that we were doing the right thing.  We left Edinburgh within two weeks, and moved into a small house in Bexleyheath with our little nephew Ryan who was only a few months old, and Sarah, my wonderful sister in law.  I kidded myself that I would be back in Edinburgh, working with Scotland’s New Writing House again in the future, and that all would be fine in the end.  But in my heart of hearts, I knew that I would be closing the door on that particular adventure…

…And so a new adventure began.

I wrote and emailed and scribbled my new ‘masterpieces’ to whoever I could think of, whilst Sian (then my girlfriend) worked a horrible job in the city she abhorred.

All for me.

What a lucky, lucky man I have been.

Rejection after rejection after rejection; the only saving grace of this time was that, for three days a week, I got to be a full time uncle.  Sarah and Sian would leave early for work, and from Monday to Wednesday I got to look after the two month old bundle of joy that was Ryan.

It was – and still is, the best thing I have ever done.  He was awesome.  We would go to parks, and go to library readings and play on the sofa, and make tea together, and whilst he napped, I would open the stream of rejection emails and letters; some of them hard, some of them soft, but all of them as gutting and upsetting as the next.  Until one day, I got a commission, and all was well with the world again.

Ironically, the play I had been commissioned to write was to be premiered back up in Edinburgh – the very city we had left a year ago.  Sian, stoically said she would work more hours to pay for my full-time writing shenanigans, and somehow we got by and I finished my play.

Two weeks before we opened, the company that had commissioned me went bust.  I had not received a penny for the year’s worth of work I had put in, and now it looked like I would have no production, no money, and all of it had been for nothing.   Worse still, the company had invested a crap load of other theatre companies for the Edinburgh Festival, but as they had gone bust, there were no venues for them to perform.  Not only my play was in jeopardy but so were another 80 odd companies’.

Things were not good.

We went back to Edinburgh anyway, and by hook and by crook, we got our show on.  The cast were great, as were a lot of the people who had been let down by my previous employers…it was not the nicest of times, but we got through.

On the 14th August I got a call from my friend Keara.  She told me the saddest news I have ever heard.   A very good friend of ours, Evren, was murdered back in London.  We hadn’t seen dear Ev for a good few years, but he was one of the most gentle and kind human beings you would ever be lucky enough to meet.  It was unjust, unfair, and Sian and I decided enough was enough, we would have a better year next year; we would run away.

And that’s where it all began.  Fired by a want to escape – a need to find something good and happy, we left shitty, cold, unkind Blighty for a life of sun drenched dreams and frivolity.

Well kind of.  We worked on the cruise ships.

And this is where it all started for us.  I quickly forgot about my literary ‘masterpieces’ – my obsession for good reviews (Google them, I’m sure you will find quite a few unkind ones) and yearning to work stupid hours for no money,  and I fell in love with the instrument of our new profession.  I loved the cameras.  I loved learning about aperture and shutter and ISO.

True, in the beginning, I learned very little very slowly and my first few years as a ‘photographer’ yielded embarrassing results to say the least.  I was great at portraits and gangway and everything else, because my manager would set me up with the settings, and off I would go.  Getting people to smile and look happy was easy for me, and then the camera did the rest.

But left to my own devices, I sucked balls.  Big time.  So much so, that I do not want to share any of my photos from the first year we were away with you..but I would like to share this.

This was the very first time I used my camera in manual, where I am proud to say I knew what I was doing.  And I sold a crap load of them, and every time I did, I felt like I had got a 5 star review for one of my now forgotten about ‘masterpieces’.

The Great Pyramids – Egypt

And it got very addictive, very quickly.  Every port we got to, I would take my camera out, and try and find the photo that would sell…and would be better than everyone else’s.

Because that’s all photography is really, showing off.

And I do love to show off.

You will probably notice that my earlier stuff is a lot more heavily processed than the work I produce now.  That’s because in the early days I really had very little clue what the flash I was doing.  But I have always been pretty handy with a computer, and when we first joined ships, I had a pretty solid grasp of Photoshop.

The Great Mosque – Istanbul

And as the years went on, I read and read, and shot and shot and shot.

An amazing room in the Lavadia Palace – Yalta

One of the millions of gondolas in Venice

Three years on the ships and I had worked myself up to Photo Manager.  When we were offered our position in Barbados, we leaped at the chance.

Sian and I at The Cliff – Barbados

And here we are now nearly six years later, and looking at returning to the UK next year.  We have seen so much, learned so much, met some amazing people along the way, and spent a disgusting amount of money on cameras, lenses and everything else that this career demands.

And to think, if we hadn’t had that phone call all those years ago I may have been a struggling director living in soggy Scotland.

If we could do it all again?…We wouldn’t change a thing 😉

Thanks for reading guys, puppies to come next – promise!!

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.

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