Sunday, 11 March 2012

Dotty over spots

When the Jomojo threw our ”circles” yet again I was going to ”re-roll” but fate intervened. When I'd been given the topic of circles last week one of the images I'd immediately thought of was Damien Hirst’s infamous and dare say iconic spot paintings, or to be more correct, his controlled substance series. On a memorable visit to the original Saatchi gallery they had featured prominently and a spot emblazoned mini had been pride of place in the entrance (though Damien himself got into a row about it being art). We'd also discovered that when taking the water taxi to the Tate Modern whilst doing a little art gallery crawl, it had also been spotified. I was delighted to discover one of my clients had a huge original painting in their reception (Biotin-Maleimide) so I get to visit it regularly. It has always appealed to my aesthetics, despite the furore concerning whether they are art or whether they were or not actually painted by Damien’s assistants (it's safe to say the vast majority were). I think the combination of the pleasing lines, coupled with circles and the punches of colour just work. I know so many art critics cringe at this series as they bemoan the commerciality and consider it just too crowd pleasing and certainly not high-end art. I just know that I adore eating in Michelin-starred restaurants but also occasionally plump for an M&S ready meal.

So with all that said when I opened my Observer this today and realised the double page spread of the review section was this exact picture, circles won the day.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Ba-bling, ba-bling!

The Jomojo forced me to resort to 'some of my favourite things' today namely ”jewellery”. I do seem to be inordinately attracted to shiny things, possibly being part magpie, and have acquired a spectacular collection over many years plus inheriting some wonderful pieces as well. Therefore gathering the subject wasn't particularly challenging but it was, however, harder to decide which of the sparkly pieces should feature in the photograph. I wanted the picture to be fairly monochromatic so I started by selecting my smoky champagne diamond and black rhodiumed collection (all courtesy of the fabulous Sarah and all those at Bolder & Co.) Then selecting some random black or white diamond gorgeousness all accented with the Theo Fennell ruby phi symbol. Phi seemed appropriate as it represents the golden ratio or harmony, surely a lucky charm for any artist or photographer plus the rubies are a delicious pink.

It’s ended up rather as a cacophony of bling. If you look hard you'll see a ruby-eyed rabbit peering coquettishly from behind a flower ring and I have now spotted that the tiny date on my watch is incorrect, showing how much credence I normally pay to it. Well if nothing else it gave me the perfect opportunity to have a good rummage through my jewellery boxes and revisit some old friends.




Friday, 9 March 2012


Today’s Jomojo mission is ”stations”. Fortunately I generally pass through a couple of these in the course of the day but luckily I found myself at Clapham Junction, which is billed as Britain’s busiest railway station (I believe in terms of number of trains passing hither and thither rather than merely passenger numbers). It's nearly midnight so I'm a little challenged by low light and not having a tripod about my person have to avoid the long shots of the orange hi-vis jacketed engineers strolling along checking the line as they turn out as fuzzy fluorescent blobs. A more likely shots is one of the trains that come through every 13 seconds (at peak times) and I should be able to capture a speedy streak of SouthWest train-ness even without my three-legged friend.

Reflections on a relocation

The mojo motivator or as AL calls it, the Jomojo, gave me ”mirrors” today and I think I've had an idea that has been right in front of me all week. We've relocated to a new building, which is better on the inside than out. By which I mean the building is newly refurbished so it is bright, clean and decorated with inspirational messages and bursts of citrus colours but the location doesn't really cut it. On one side our neighbour is a strip, or if you prefer, table dancing club and the other a discount tile warehouse. Laden lorries trundle loudly up and down the major highway just outside and if you opt to take a shortcut from the station to avoid the traffic fumes, you walk through a estate where the residents have felt the need to put metal grills up at their windows. Yes, I feel very safe here!

Through our new windows we can see our building and a couple of iconic city skyline features (namely the Gherkin and Tower 42 (formerly the Natwest Tower)) reflected in the mirrored edifice across the busy road. This seems as good an example of mirrors I might find without resorting to using an actual mirror. I really wanted a vantage point and hankered after a brief sojourn on the roof so I could take a nice, clean shot without naughty reflective glass but was thwarted by all the doors and windows being hermetically sealed and no handy key being tucked away - and I did look. Our old building overlooked a dock full of yachts and tantalising glimpses of Tower Bridge but had temperamental air con and heating, lifts that didn't always go all the way or open when they got there, running water optional, lights that often chose not to illuminate and awful smells emanating from who knows where. Oh and occasionally rodents! Our new home however is all fresh and bright, albeit featuring a rather curious layout and lacking in a place big enough for us all to meet should the mood take us but if it was in an entirely different part of the city it wouldn't be half bad.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Dishing it

Hmmm ”dishes” today. Well there really is no other choice but to channel Donna Hay. And for those of you not so au fait with the Australian former food stylist now television cook and author she does favour a very neutral palette and does makes her food look stunning. Time to stack some white plates on casually folded white linen napkins. I found the wide shot not quite white enough as the sun through the fine porcelain added too much yellow so opted for a close up instead. I liked the concentric circles of this Gordon Ramsay Wedgewood plates which added a little texture, possibly not very Donna but hey!

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Knock, knock who's there?

Today's random theme to try and photograph is ”doors & doorknobs”. I immediately start scouting in my image memory bank for big, aged door with layers of peeling paint with a chunky cast iron door knocker, an impressive old lock which conjures up the sort of key the robin helps Mary unearth in the Secret Garden. Actually a real secret garden hidden door would be perfect...what are the chances?

Instead I go closer to home. I realise my beautiful antique crystal doorknobs get very little attention and they are rather elegant. I find their tactile coolness very pleasing. They don't turn but have a static twin attached on the other side of my front door. It also seems under the scrutiny of my camera’s macro setting, my doorknobs are a prime vehicle for fingerprints. Worth considering if I ever need to get CSI in.


Monday, 5 March 2012

Hidden talent

"Hidden” should be any easy theme today. I was immediately transported to LB’s evocative shots in Croatia peering through a rustic, large wooden gate into the secret garden beyond and another shabby paint peeled door into a dimly lit passageway. And as much as I'd like to evoke some of those iconic images in a homage to LB I cannot think where I'd begin to replicate the mysterious mood. Sadly I think my life may be devoid of secret gardens at the moment!

Whenever I had a moment during a busy day unpacking and settling into the new office I was peering under things, behind things and inside things but my inspiration lay hidden. Finally I'm waiting for the penultimate train home, it's a shade before midnight and I haven't taken my daily photo. I find a handy pillar on the platform and consider that if someone crosses behind it I can maybe grab a nice shot of them partially hidden but there's a distinct lack of someones tonight. Eventually I opt for this minimalist shot of a women, who's at least hidden from view, and adopts an intriguing stance as she waits most impatiently for the train.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

A bit of a blur!

Today my trusty randomizer threw out “bokeh” or as AoR insists - blur. I guess he's right but there's motion blur and camera shake blur but bokeh is the shallow depth of field thing that has your main feature in focus and the distracting background pleasingly fuzzy. There are several schools of thought on the pronunciation, probably because so many people saying it don't speak Japanese. ’Bouquet’ is occasionally used but I think the popular way is bo (as in boat) and ke (as in Ken).

When I first upgraded my camera from my tiny Leica C-Lux snapper this was the effect I craved in my food photographs. And when one day I branch into an interchangeable lenses system it will be so I can get myself some of those tiny numbers and big apertures. But in the interim I can still get some pleasing effects by getting very close and picking my subject carefully.

I've been on a bit if a mission dallying with daffodils recently. To me they herald spring and their sunshine yellows spread cheer. I've been struggling to find some at the right level of perkiness but this miniature one in a tiny window box caught my eye and the low light helped me with the look I was going for. Look at me defying the rule of thirds, flaunting all it stands for by having the daffodil defiantly in the centre of my square image. I blame my camera’s lovely 1:1 square format, it leads me astray!

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Circular thoughts

I'm happy with today's topic - “circles”. I've always been drawn to circular things and I have a photography trip planned today so I'm bound to stumble across some inspiring material. But St. James’ Park certainly supplied plenty of spring flowers, people photographing the flowers, squirrels, ducks and rather scary birds but a distinct lack of circular items. After our little photographic group went their separate ways at Piccadilly Circus I headed for Fortnum & Mason. I had an idea that I might find towers of round tins that would give a pleasing circle themed composition. But in retrospect, the chance if them trusting such a precarious arrangement especially with hoards of eager shoppers around seems highly improbable. I did find a two tier display of Petticoat Rails shortbread in their flat round F&M turquoise tins but the shadows cast by the containing shelves didn't work. I tried a large group of jars of honey but again was disappointed. I turned instead to enticing trays of macaroons, pyramids of dark, dusky chocolate truffles and swirly topped chocolate cup cakes. Nothing really worked, too much protective glass resulting in infuriating reflections and light flares, but it did put me in mind of some other circles - Dante’s circles of hell. If you've opted to eschew chocolate for forty days and forty nights I suspect it isn't recommended to photograph in Fortnum & Mason’s impressive deliciously aromatic confectionary department. Hmmm, change of tactics!

I love the shape of this store through the central atrium. If you're on the top floor you can look down and see the other floors and from the basement looking up you've the perfect shot of concentric circles leading up to the roof. However their current decorations of staves and musical notes doesn't photograph very well from below. It's best admired from the side or perhaps from above and spoils the perfect circles I was aiming for, so another idea canned. I had one last attempt amongst the fruit, wicker baskets of melons and pomegranates were pleasing but not quite enough however it did give me an idea on a similar theme to try later.

On returning home I retrieved my light box, I've only used it once and the lemon slices I tried were a little insipid. This time I was going for more verdant leek fine slices and hoped I could achieve a nice study of tightly packed concentric circles pleasingly illuminated from below.

For the first time I inverted my tripod centre column to ensure a nice steady hold on my camera. I been inspired watching DA shooting daffodils in the park today, being able to get his tripod so low and LB had asked if my old tripod I'd given to her could do that. I'd been reminded being shown I could remove the centre column and turn it upside down if needed when shooting bluebells in Norfolk. But today I wanted my camera to be completely upside down for the overhead shot, and was pleased my newer carbon fibre one could perform that trick also.

I was only when I finally got the shot I realised that my plan was to live by the photo mojo motivator for seven days and us just completed my eighth. Maybe I’ll try ten days!


Egg hunting turns into angry Birds!

Our little photographic group – "several photographers and a dog" - decided to do a bit of egg hunting today. These eggs have sprung up all over the place and one of the ideas is tocapture them artistically and submit your efforts. So far I’ve shot five of them and from a stunning photograph point of view they leave a lot to be desired. Generally their situation is a bit busy and the egg by itself is really just an egg. I’ve hatched (get it?) a plan to procure a chicken to perch on top of one and then I can shoot it. Now where to get a chicken…

When planning this expedition we figured the weather would be horrible as it often is whenever we get together to shoot so we’d incorporate a nice pub lunch. It is fair to say that whenever our little bunch of intrepid shooters gathers, generally the rain begins to fall. But we’ve gotten to enjoy some nice dog-friendly pubs! Today we’re taking no chances and start in the pub and after another lovely lunch we see that the sky are surprisingly blue and head forth into St.James’ Park to try out for eggs and see how much of the spring has sprung.

The crocuses are out in force as are the photographers photographing them. DA immediately takes the opportunity to capture us all on our hands and knees trying to get the perfect shot. As we cross the blu ebridge there are some feisty gulls being fed and I managed to grab a shot ofthem in full swoop – and a cheeky little slice of the London Eye for a bit of context.

It seemed wrong to not try and get the daffodils even though they were rather un-obliging when it came to raise their heads attractively, they looked a tad woebegone. LB got astunning portrait of DJ languishing amongst the daffodils, momentarily not chasing squirrels or sticking closely to LB’s heels! DA set up his tripod and got a beautiful shot. AoR captured a moody shot of us searching for the perfect daffodil and I haven’t seen OP’s pictures yet. And the rain stayed away for quite a few hours!



Friday, 2 March 2012

Kiss, kiss!

I struggled with the “lips” theme that the photo mojo motivator threw out at me today. I had lofty notions of assembling a series of self-portraits of my own lips in various expressions. The snag is that I'm not keen on having my photograph taken coupled with struggling to get the lighting right so I rapidly rejected all my attempts.

I then moved onto more abstract numerous lipstick blots on tissues, lipstick still-lives and lining extended tubes of lipsticks up like little soldiers. But then I couldn't choose between the resultant shots. I asked LB for advice and she conceded the colour was preferable in the still-life but the orderly standing to attention lipsticks were very me!


Thursday, 1 March 2012

Three come along at once

Ooh today I have “buses”, that shouldn't be too challenging. They're everywhere, well maybe not when you want one but the rest of time they seem to hunt in packs. I was thinking of the red streaky slow shutter speed buses but today is such a beautiful day it seems sacrilegious to wait for lower light. I tried inside, alongside and behind, I like this shot as I captured two other buses through the window of the third. The picture seemed a little flat so I posterized the image for a more painterly effect.

If I'm away from Lightroom I post-process my photos on my iPad with Filterstorm Pro. It means I can do my touch-ups en route back and forth from work if I can get a seat. The seat is kind of crucial as I haven't yet mastered manipulating my iPad on a crowded train, being buffeted by other passengers and their rucksacks, whilst clinging on to the handrail. Filterstorm Pro doesn't have a lot of the crazy effects you can employ but it does have this one.

None of these buses are any good for me!