Tag Archives: Photography

Birds on Sticks – the Judge’s favourite…

At the camera club we get to see a fair share of bird photographs – usually a bird perched on a stick. Easy to focus because it doesn’t move… Judges seem to love them. I don’t get it myself. This is one area of photography that flies straight over my head (ahem…)

 

But hold on! Before I get all snooty about avian snaps, maybe I should have another go myself…? So I did. And bloody hell, it’s hard. Especially if the damn blighter has taken off and started flying. Above is a Harris Hawk, and as you can see I haven’t managed to keep him very sharp in the image. A “fail” in the eyes of the judge.

The Peregrine is even harder (faster, a lot faster…), and that wall doesn’t do anything for the picture – nothing to set the bird apart from the background. Another fail…

What about some bird portraiture? A bit better this one (Lanner Falcon). Interesting face on shot, but what’s that blur in the bottom right? (It’s the handler’s shoulder…) Another fail.

Ooooh, getting better now with the owls (European and Tawny) In the eye of the Euro Owl you can even see my reflection… But hang on, this is bird on a stick territory. I’m trying to get away from that! (Self: Fail!)

Close up and semi abstract – now that’s more satisfying. And don’t those claws look sharp…

Here’s perhaps the most dramatic image. Great pose, half way between flight and stick (glove…) And the bird looks suitably Bird Of Prey-ish. Mmm, quite happy. But it’s not good enough for competition entry. I’m just going to have to leave that to the experts….

 

 


MoonWalk 2017: I wore my bra with pride…

Breast Cancer, it’s horrible, so how could I refuse to do my bit, get my moobs, along with my spare socks, stuffed into a bra , and walk a marathon overnight to raise some dosh for charity? Plus Mrs P has already done 3 (marathons that is, including a running one – she’s a toughie…). Time to man up, stick my chest out and get marching…

I’m not quite sure what black fur bras indicates about my predilections for sexy lingerie, and damned itchy it was too. How do the girls do it every day…? But here we are at the beginning, full of positive energy and slight nerves, given that I had done no training whatsoever apart from walking the dog…

15,000 women on the night (plus some men – not many, but a few plucky ones) Many, many, many bras on show and all of them decorated but functional. That’s a lady queue below – you know what for – one of the distinct advantages I had on the night being a bloke…

 

And we’re off! Decent pace and no rain. All smiles and chatter for the first few miles… (girls gossiping whilst walking, it comes naturally). Lovely support from good friends – Great to see you Sus and Jenny, “wooohoo!” (that was the tone of the evening…)!!! And we are still going strong by mile 10.

 

By mile 16 blisters are arriving, chit chat has faded, and trudge-drudgery has set in. Thank heavens for hot chocolate at Sloane Square plus a few swigs from my hip flask. The restorative powers of Brandy mixed with Grand Marnier are remarkable…

OK, I look a bit knackered at mile 25. But full of joy at mile 26! The end in sight, and an overwhelming feeling of relief… that I could get that damned itchy bra off at last!

So that was my first marathon: 8 hours of blister inducing walking, trussed up in a bra, surrounded by gaggles of women who didn’t stop chattering until the dawn chorus took over. Not bad for a Saturday night!

(I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who sponsored Mrs P and me. Your generosity helped push us over the line. If you read this and you would like to contribute – we all know someone who’s suffered from this cancer – then don’t hesitate to click on the link and do your bit. Thank you!)


The Best Martini in the World, Dukes Bar, London

Now I’m rather partial to a nice glass of wine. But Roger goes whizzbang for a Martini. So to celebrate his birthday, Mrs Roger invited us to pay our respects at the home of the Martini in London, and drink the best at Dukes Bar in St James under the tutelage of Mr Alessandro Palazzi.

It is always a delight to learn from the hands of an expert, and Alessandro is an enthusiast, a connoisseur and a virtuoso. And Dukes Bar is the quintessential place for a Martini. This is where Ian Fleming came to drink, and Bond would have come to relax. Alessandro would have been behind the bar.

His secret of course is to have the best ingredients. Only the best London dry gin, English vermouth, and lemons from the Amalfi coast. Alessandro advice: Shaken, not stirred, is of course Bond’s take on a Martini, but the classic would never be shaken – the ice would dilute the alcohol. Bond was a rebel after all…

Now Mrs P’s favourite Martini was a Strangway – elderflower infusion, so…. lady…; but I think I enjoyed the Vesper the most: 3 parts No 3 Gin – frozen, 1 part Potocki vodka – frozen (Polish vodka – Fleming based Vesper on a real Polish spy, so Polish it must be…), 1 part Lillet Blanc, 2 dashes Angostura Bitters. A heady drink for an intoxicating character. Delicious. Deadly.

And the result? Much enthusiasm from the audience, and I haven’t seen Roger wobble quite so much on leaving a bar since he was a student… Bond, of course, would have remained ice cool…

If you get the chance, go to Dukes Bar, and indulge in the heady drinks of the Cold War: https://www.dukeshotel.com/dukes-bar/

 


Red Kites in Wales

I’ve never done any real wildlife photography before. Couldn’t see much attraction in sitting in a hide for hours on end to get a fleeting glimpse of the back of some bird. And, frankly, bird on a stick photos are just so commonplace in club competitions. And yet…. I thought I should have a go. And Lord love a duck, it was the hardest shoot I’ve ever done! Shows how good the pros are…

These are from Gigrin Farm in Wales, where they feed the Red Kites at 3pm every day. A pell mell, hectic, confused, frenetic chaos of birds swooping down for gobbits of flesh. Extraordinary & amazing! Impossible to focus clearly on anything. Tracking a bird is ridiculously hard. Exposure is a nightmare as the birds dive from sky to ground. But what a spectacle!

No copying and cloning here. Just a bit of tweaking on the saturation to get the best out of the plumage on a grey grey grey day in Wales. One that will live long in the memory…

 


But which ones to choose…?

Right, I need some help. We have a club competition coming up this week. A prestigious cup, no less, is on offer. The Bedwell Trophy, for the best panel of 4 images. And my problem is which 4 to choose….

Obvs they need to be themed, and I’ve gone for “Long Exposure at More London”. But I’ve got 5 images, and I can’t make up my mind. I only can take 4. Above is ‘Shard 1’, below is ‘City Hall’, I think they top and tail quite nicely…

But then there’s ‘Skyline Shard’ which is a good scene setter:

Finally, I have two more abstract-y images. Do I go with both, or just one…? They are ‘London Office Block’ and ‘Reflection’:

So, which should I choose for my 4? Anyone care to help me out? Have a vote below for which image to leave out?

(Remember to check out more of my photos on Instagram: thomaspeck or twitter @Peckster68)


Modernist bridges in The Netherlands

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The Netherlands has got a lot of bridges, for obvious reasons… And whilst I like a quaint hump-backed stone bridge over a quiet canal in Amsterdam, I think I prefer the smack-in-your-face modernist Über-bridges dotted elsewhere around the country. Take this one by Spanish architect Calatrava. It’s a bridge that looks more like a space rocket. Aesthetics on top of functionality. Awesome!

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The Dutch have been building modernist bridges since the 50s. This is the super-sleek Zeeland Bridge spanning the Osterschelde estuary. Over 5kms long…

And here’s another Calatrava. He does like his pointy bits, doesn’t he? Makes for quite a photograph though…

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Dog walking with Rufus…

Rufus has been with us almost a year. Difficult to imagine the home without him now. He’s been the best in what has been a tough year…

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He is either a very intelligent dog, who decides to ignore the pathetic goings-on of the humans around him, or else he is very thick and simply doesn’t understand our commands. Either way, he is clearly very happy.

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Early morning walks are good – for me as well as the dog! And we’ve been treated to some superb sunrises over the past few days. Here’s my local Caspar David Friedrich tree, just next to the Lizzie Bennet lane…

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Rufus is very bound-y, just like Tigger, and chasing a ball is absolutely what Rufus does best. Or licking the dishes in the dishwasher – perhaps that is what he does best; or maybe the challenge of a big stick on an early morning walk? No…, I have it, best of all is the chance to go for a swim in water, the smellier the better.

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(I do like that tree – very CDF for sure.)

So long may our dog-master, master-dog morning walks continue. Great fun for us both, and a chance to go hunting for sticks…

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Sharp lines and chiaroscuro in London and Rotterdam!

I have been having some fun converting  pictures! With the expert help of my friend Noel (check out his website here) I’ve been experimenting with luminosity masks, superior selections, and 8 minute sky exposures. Dramatic and I love it! Here’s London, looking sharp…

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And give me a Dutch bridge and this is what I do to it:

 

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Perhaps the most photogenic city for modern architecture however is Rotterdam, see below. And it’s got a fine modern art museum. Noel tells me his wife tells him that the shopping is superlative too. Excellent. Mrs P will have something to do on our next weekend away whilst I get on with the image making!

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Slot canyons in Utah & Arizona

This is the top of a slot canyon. Doesn’t look like much. Not from the outside anyway…

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But all that changes on the inside. It’s like stepping into a different world, literally.

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Colour, form, texture, line, flow. A photographer’s paradise. Impossible not to feel awestruck.

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These are the slot canyons of Utah and Arizona; part of the photographic tour I lead to the US in October in conjunction with aspect2i.co.uk

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The beauty is all underground… I can’t wait to do it all over again in October 2017. If you fancy joining me, check out the dates and sign up!

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A beach, a dog, and a race…

Autumn is here, my favourite season! The colours are muted but saturated, the weather still not too cold. Mists and mellow fruitfulness and all that. A good time to get out with the camera. This last week the Isle of Wight has been positively glowing and I’ve been having some fun with my tripod plus tilt and shift lens…

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Dusk isn’t too late, so I can photograph The Needles and don’t miss out on dinner with the family, and dawn isn’t too early, so it’s not too hard to haul my botski out of bed and shoot the misty sunrise.
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But what about the beach, the dog and the race…? Well, when the kids were young beaches were for sandcastles and paddling, but now we have a dog a beach is of course for races! Below is Charles puffing away whilst Rufus ambles past him. Rufus wins easily. And then me! a sprightly 42, giving the hound a run for his money. (Rufus still won…)

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Ah, the inner child will out…

Dawn, dusk, beaches, racing. A cracking week on the Isle of Wight. Loved it.

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