My first wedding shoot, with Silvia and Dave.

In my last post I said that I’d never aspired to photograph weddings. People have never been my favourite photo subject, and weddings come with the inevitable pressure and responsibility of capturing images that couples will look back on for their entire lives. There’s no second chance to get it right.

I’ve known Silvia for many years and had met her fiancé Dave on a few occasions, and was delighted when they got engaged. Not long after, Silvia asked if I’d shoot their wedding. They’d seen lots of my photos before and liked my style, and really wanted a set of photos that their daughter could appreciate in years to come. It was a ‘yes’ from me, although I have to admit to wondering why I’d volunteered several times leading up to their big day.

The wedding was at the Steventon House Hotel in Oxfordshire. The three of us popped there a few weeks before for a drink, a look around, and to chat about what photos they wanted. The photographer in me came out and started to think about where the light and shade would be, where we’d do the formal photos if it rained, and creating a tick-list of their must-have photos.

Being my first wedding shoot I went well prepared with a spare camera body, all my lenses, spare batteries, and lots of kit just in case it was needed. I had no kit issues, and used just three lenses – the Sony 50 mm f/1.8, the Sony 16-35mm f/4.0, and the Sony 24-105mm f/4. I know most wedding photographers rely on a range of prime lenses, but I like zooms to ensure I can always get the image in frame. All the lenses performed well, although the 50mm is very slow to focus at times, even with the amazing Sony eye-auto-focus.

I had my Sony A7iii set up with dual memory cards, writing RAW and JPEG images simultaneously to minimise the risk of any errors. During the meal I took backups to a laptop, and the second I got home I copied all the photos to my main computer, giving me four copies of each photo. Shooting with JPEG meant I could do a couple of quick edits on the day to send to the bride and groom so they had something to share with friends who couldn’t be there.

What I hadn’t appreciated was the time it would take to process the photos. After culling I had over 550 photos to edit, which took me somewhere in the region of 40 hours to do (a little over four minutes per photo). After a few false starts I ended up using presets to do some of the processing, a trick I’ve since learned could take the processing down to under a minute per photo. So a few lessons learned if I ever shoot another wedding, but I’m very happy how the day went, and most importantly Silvia and Dave were delighted with the photos they received.

The St. Georges Day dragons of West Hagbourne

Another year, another St. Georges Day, which means another excuse for an evening walking around the lovely West Hagbourne to photograph their annual display of dragons.

This year I was joined by friends including fellow photographers and bloggers Ryan and Emma.  Walking around the village with a small army of people taking photos seemed to produce some odd looks from the locals – as if they weren’t expecting folk to actually want to see the dragons they’d put on display!

As ever there was a great range of dragons on display, from shop-bought children’s toy dragons to artistic home-created dragons and everything in between.  I recommend a walk around the village next year to see for yourself!

New Years Day at Didcot Railway Centre

New Years Day 2015 was quite dull, weather wise, but was brightened up by a visit to the Didcot Railway Centre.  Although I only live a few minutes walk from the Centre this was only my second visit.

It was lovely to walk around and see the trains on display and even ride on a couple of steam trains going up and down the track.  From a photography point of view the Centre offers rich pickings, whether outside amongst the rails and trains, or inside the buildings and sheds getting up close to the engines and carriages.

I took Olympus OMD E-M1 and shot with my Olympus 25mm f1.8 lens and the Samyang 7.5mm Fisheye.  As the weather was so dull, most of the photographs came out dull too… and so for the first time I processed the photos into black and white.  It’s great that the black and white grainy photos reflect the dirt and grime associated with the engineering of the steam age. 

Magnificent Men and Their (Tiny!) Flying Machines

Last weekend I was invited to a local model aircraft flying club.  I drove out to rural Oxfordshire, down a dirt track, past a couple of farms, and was greeted with a great variety of model aircraft and their owners.

They’d set themselves up in a field for a family day, and beyond the BBQ and bouncy castle, was some neatly cut grass which made their runway.  Some of the time was dedicated to general flying, some to competitions of flying and landing accuracy, some for none-flyers to try their hand at flying.

I took my camera along to get some photos, and due to the great weather and good light managed to get some good photos.  I’m aiming to see the aircraft flying again soon, so you may find another blog post in a few weeks!

Didcot Power Station Blow Down

In the early hours of 27th July 2014 the cooling towers of Didcot A Power Station were ‘blown down’.

The coal fired power station was built between 1965 and 1974 in Didcot, Oxfordshire.  Due to legislation around coal fired power stations, Didcot A was closed on 22 March 2013 and decommissioning began.  Although some hated the ‘blot on the landscape’ many grew to love the iconic shapes and even more used it as a homing beacon, a familiar sight that meant they were almost home.

Part of the decommissioning process was to demolish, or blow down, the cooling towers.  The site owners set this for 0300-0500 to ensure nearby railway lines and major roads weren’t put in danger.  This timing angered many locals who wanted to be part of this event, but when the time came thousands of people turned out to watch anyway.  The hashtag #DidcotDemolition become the number two Twitter trend in the UK, and the demolition made front page news.

I headed to a viewpoint to photograph the blow down with friends.  Standing in a dark field at 0300 with a hundred or more others was an odd experience, and soon came the news on the local radio that the blow down would be at around 0500.  Although this meant a lot of waiting around it meant there was some daylight when the explosives went off at 0501.

The photos below were taken with my Olympus OMD E-M1 camera.  Considering the low light conditions and misty morning conditions, they’re not too bad.  The camera was set to a special time lapse mode, where the camera took a series of photos (one a second).  These photos can be processed individually, as below, or in a time lapse movie.  

In a first for Just 10 Photos you can see time lapse movies made from photographs… the photos below are in a time lapse at:

http://youtu.be/CDaTNTNatuU (don’t forget to play the HD version!)

And another time lapse movie (made using the Time Lapse Pro app on a Samsung Galaxy Camera) which condenses two hours into a minute-and-a-half.  The movie is at:

http://youtu.be/MIRsEhZDhwg (don’t forget to play the HD version!)