Bill, the dry stone wall builder

While I was having the time of my life revelling in a world of logs, I noticed a chap just along the road rebuilding a dry stone wall. His name was Bill, and a very nice bloke he turned out to be too. He explained he was rebuilding the wall because an elderly gentleman had hit the bend in the road, late afternoon, with the sun in his eyes and neglected to turn the steering wheel accordingly. At least, that’s how the driver explained it anyway. I was surprised by how much of the wall required rebuilding, considering that he was probably traveling at no more than 5mph…

Aaaaanyway, it was interesting to see how the wall was being built, with two outer stacks of large stones and an inner filling of smaller stones to prevent them from collapsing in on themselves, I guess. I probably should have asked Bill about it but I was too engrossed in his story about the wind turbine on the next farm causing fits of manic depression in one of the local residents (I’ve no idea how that would work) and the ensuing lawsuit to have it removed.

Bill was kind enough to let me take a few photographs of him at work, so here they are.







I’ve spent quite a bit of time assisting recently and not picking up the camera for myself, so when my family and I decided to visit Shibden Park, in Halifax, at the weekend I thought it a good opportunity to take some photographs. The light was pretty flat unfortunately (the sun did peek out from behind the vast expanse of grey for about five minutes but I was in the cafe at the time, otherwise engaged trying to convince Joe, my 3 year old son, to eat more ham sandwich!) but I managed to get a couple of nice shots nonetheless.

Got a few interesting shoots coming up, one of which involves cake (Mmmm… cake…), so watch this space. Tara for now.





A city full of surprises


This week I had the privilege of assisting the supremely talented photographer Richard Moran (pictured in action above) for a couple of days, on a shoot in and around Leeds city centre. One of Richard’s objectives was to present Leeds and its inhabitants in a way that it and they had not been seen before, which is no mean feat – finding an original angle from which to photograph anything is difficult enough, but a city that’s been there for decades and has been photographed many times before… there lies a challenge!

Over the course of the two days I learned many things from Richard and, in the process, about Leeds also. Seven floors up above the new Trinity building it struck me how diverse Leeds is architecturally, highlighted by the Trinity building’s modern glass dome situated next to the grade one listed Holy Trinity Church steeple that Richard framed together to great effect to create an interesting and engaging juxtaposition. Pockets of Paris down here, Vienna down there, modern apartments to the left and 1960’s concrete hell to the right, Bridgewater Place within walking distance of famous, long standing, Leeds landmarks such as The Corn Exchange (150 years old this year), The Queens Hotel on one side and The Travelodge on the other… Endless variety not immediately apparent at ground level.

The shoot at the Northern Ballet was a window into another world. Watching the warm up and following dance class it struck me how physically demanding ballet is beneath the grace and poise with which it is performed. I swear some of those dancers have rockets beneath their feet. How else could they achieve such elevation? Much like the dancers, Richard also put his body through enormous physical exertion searching for interesting angles from which to shoot the action, at one point lying flat on one side shooting upwards from the hardwood floor of the dance studio, and he even managed to get back up unassisted too. Bravo!

Other things that I have picked up in the last few days include discovering ‘Primos’, the best gourmet hotdog restaurant in the world, finding out where The Flash Centre is, that sometimes mightily impressive things are contained within innocuous looking buildings and that, in photography, ‘traveling light’ is a relative term. Good job some of my ancestors were evolved from alpacas… probably.

If its too loud…

Despite this being not only my second post but also my second band related post on the bounce, I’m not specifically a band photographer, yet… I don’t much make a habit of going to gigs and photographing bands, mainly because I’ve played in bands myself for longer than I am prepared to admit and going to gigs for me is a bit like Delia Smith going to Mary Berry’s for afternoon tea. She’ll have a lovely time but she won’t be able to stop herself judging the consistency of the scones.

Anyways, I found myself at The Hop in Wakefield last Thursday night witnessing a thoroughly committed and impassioned performance by The Chapman Family that was just amazing (the musical equivalent of the perfect scone in fact). I’m a guitarist. I have owned a Marshall 1959 SLP 100w top and a 4×12 basket weave Marshall cab. I once played an open air festival and the front of house engineer ask me to turn it down. I know what loud is. I know how loud feels. Last Thursday night felt loud. My ears compressed and my chest cavity resonated. As awesome as it was, and it was, I couldn’t stay the course. It was just too loud for me. Therefore, regrettably, I am too old…

Just give me a minute… sniff…

Pass me a tissue please?

No, no, I’ll be alright, just a little under the weather I think…

Are there cats in here? I have a cat allergy…


Oh, ok… must be my hay fever then…

YES, in February!

Anyway… that’s better… thanks.

I digress. Before I left I managed to get a few shots that I thought worthy of posting so here they are. Hope you find something you like in them. Next time I’ll post about something none band related. Socks, or something.



On The Beach

The Grand Andy On The Beach The Grand Russ On The Beach The Grand Tom On The BeachAbout ten years ago I did some filming on the sands at Morecambe Bay for an audio/visual piece I was working on while studying for my degree. I remember at the time being massively impressed by the vast expanse of the place and remember the resulting film being, visually, very satisfying. So, when I got the opportunity to photograph ‘The Grand’, an excellent three piece rock band from Wakefield, I immediately knew where I wanted to do the shoot. The only question was, could I remember how to get to the exact location I’d been to a decade earlier?

I had an idea for a composite image comprising three separate images, each featuring all three members of the band but with a different member of the band being the focal point in each. The band member who was the main focal point of the photograph would face the camera and the other two band members would stand either side, at varying distances behind, facing out to the sides. If I’d planned it correctly, when all three images were brought together it would hopefully appear that certain members of the band on the periphery were facing themselves, which I thought might make for a more interesting and engaging image.

It proved to be a really challenging shoot, mainly because of the weather conditions, which, it being late January, were pretty awful! The gale coming in off the Irish Sea made it very hard for Russ, Tom and Andy to look anything other than absolutely frozen to bloody death when they were supposed to be going for cool and enigmatic, and it also played havoc with my tripod positioning, as did the wet sand into which it kept slowly sinking. On top of that it was beginning to rain and the tide was quickly coming in. Not being in possession of any knowledge of tidal times, I wasn’t actually prepared for the tide being in… Although waves can probably look quite pleasing otherwise, when trying to create a seamless composite image they make things slightly more difficult. Same goes for the ever darkening clouds affecting the light.

I’d envisaged spending quite a long time on this shoot, ensuring that the positioning of each band member was as consistent as it could be between each shot and that I compensated for any changes in light etc… so that the final composite would be as seamless as possible. In reality we were on the beach for as long as we could stand the adverse conditions, which was about ten minutes, tops!  Still, I think we did okay, all things considered, and managed to capture some cool looking shots that belie the conditions under which they were taken.

And did I find the exact location on Morecambe Bay? Regrettably, my inner homing pigeon let me down. The fish and chip cafe just off Blackpool’s sea front, however, did not.