Pile of stones

Mini mountain
Pile of stones on Elgol Beach, Isle of Skye
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International Orange

Golden Gate bridge tower
Golden Gate bridge tower

After much debate San Francisco’s iconic Golden Gate bridge, completed in 1937, was painted “International Orange”. This was despite the Navy’s attempts to have it painted in garish black and yellow stripes (like a bumble bee) to make it stand out in foggy conditions and the Army Air Corp’s bid for candy cane white and red stripes to make it more visible from the air.

goldengatebridge.org/research/factsGGBIntOrngColor.php

Look for the small picture in the big picture

Given the opportunity to spend some leisure time taking photos, I’m not sure many people would list their back garden as their number one destination, but I can always find something to shoot in a garden. Two weeks ago it was bees, today it was spiders and brightly coloured leaves!

As I was looking around for something emotive to shoot in Mark & Audrey’s garden in Wimbledon, I combined Halid’s words of wisdom with those of James Christie*, another pro photographer whom I met in Edinburgh, which were:

Look for the small picture in the big picture

There are photographic opportunities all around us if we look for them.

He taught us not only to look, but to see.  When walking around don’t just look ahead at where you’re going, look up, look down, look around.  Look for the small details.  Even if you walk the same route every day, keep your eyes open and you will see new things every day.

And he’s right.  Here’s the garden that I spent the best part of an hour and a half wandering around in this morning:

Mark & Audrey's urban jungle
Mark & Audrey’s urban jungle

When I took the time to stop and look closely in the garden I saw raspberries ripening, I saw sunlight shining through the leaves of an acer tree, I saw a bush budding with new growth, I saw a dog rose pointing up to the sky, I saw a lone rose that had climbed up in the middle of the acer tree, I saw the tendrils of a vine reaching out across the void, and I saw spiders – lots and lots of spiders. So much in such a small space!

IMG_4628 Spider at rest scaled
I wonder what’s on the menu today?

But the best bit was seeing a spider eating her lunch – having caught a small fly in her web, she wrapped it in silk and spun it into a ball, carried it back to the centre of the web, ate the silk off it and then proceeded to dine at her leisure.

Mmm, yummy fly
Mmm, yummy fly

Fascinating to watch, I felt quite privileged. It’s something I’m sure that goes on every day, in every back garden.  But how many people have actually seen it unfold?

So my advice to you today is: Take the time to look at what’s around you – you don’t need to go somewhere spectacular to see something spectacular.

See the rest of the photos from today’s garden shoot in the Photo Gallery here.


* James Christie: Edinburgh Walking Photography Tours

What is the one thing that makes a good photo?

As I pottered around Mark & Audrey’s garden with my camera looking for inspiration today, I remembered something that pro photographer Halid Izzet* said to Adam & I last weekend, when we visited his photo gallery for a free taster lesson. Halid asked us “What is the one thing that makes a good photo?”

While there are many elements that go into making a photo – such as aperture, shutter speed, the subject, the composition, depth of field, the mounting & framing of the picture and so on (and they are all important contributing factors) – the one thing that makes a photo ‘good’, according to Halid, “is when it prompts a feeling, a reaction, or triggers an emotion in the person looking at it.”

Emotion is key.

“It doesn’t matter what the emotion is” he said, “or whether it’s a positive one or a negative one. A good photo makes you feel something.”

So that is what I set out to search for today.


* Halid Izzet is the founder of Rhubarb & Custard, a Photography Studio & Gallery in Eton, Berkshire

Lewis Hamilton’s McLaren MP4-27

Lewis Hamilton pilots his McLaren MP4-27 at Suzuka in the 2012 Japanese Grand Prix
Lewis Hamilton pilots his McLaren MP4-27 at Suzuka in the 2012 Japanese Grand Prix

I was lucky enough to be at the Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka in 2012 and took this shot of Lewis Hamilton driving his McLaren to the grid prior to the start of the race. I’ve been a McLaren fan ever since my uncle started working for the Woking-based team when I was a kid.

Thanks to Andy Coates who helped me set the camera up to get these shots where the car is in focus and the background is blurred (it took a few attempts!). A shutter speed of 1/200th was the key. The pic is best viewed at full size 🙂