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The Hasselblad Sessions

Last Friday I received my new Hasselblad 500C/M from my good friend and film camera demigod Dan Scott. This is my first foray into medium format film and it’s all rather exciting. Definitely a step away from my usual working method. As I am in possession of a new and rather spectacular camera I figured it might be fun to do some short sharp portraits for friends and family. The thinking is thus:

- You give me 15mins of your time.
- We spend that time shooting 12 square-format (6x6) frames of your good self. It is fun.
- I will endeavour to give you some cracking images of yourself.
- You have helped me familiarise myself with my new camera and it’s particular ‘working method’.

Sound like a plan?? If you think it does, then get in touch. This Sunday (18th Dec) - between 11am and 1pm - you are most welcome to join me at chez Hart for a short photographic gallivant followed by a mince pie and a tipple. It shan’t cost you a dime, and only a little of your time. Hey that rhymes.

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If you’d like to come along, do give me a call or drop me an email and let me know your preferred time. I’m happy to carry only later if the demand is there, but I plan to be working in 15 min blocks. The first one will be 11.00-11.15 and then 11.15-11.30 etc etc. The sessions will all be shot in the studio (aka the garage) not pretty, not particularly well heated but very workable nonetheless. I considered renting my local studio, but sadly they are not open on weekends. The camera is best suited to individual portraits (particularly in the studio), but I can probably squeeze two people into the frame if needs must. I’d would however suggest individual portraits. The in-focus area with this format is quite narrow and therefore my initial experience is that it is well suited to single subject images.

Hasselblad, for those not familiar, is one of the most revered names in the camera industry. Hasselblad’s went to the moon with Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong and are also more than capable of producing out of this world images while firmly planted on terra firma. Which is good. If Leica’s are the Aston Martin’s of the camera world, Hasselblad probably represents Rolls Royce. They’re best known for their medium format SLR cameras. Medium format basically refers to a much bigger bit of film than we’re generally used to. The film cameras we all had back in the 90’s were mostly ‘35mm’. This referred to the long edge of the film, which was roughly 35mm in length. The full area of the frame was specifically 36mm by 24mm. The square images the Hasselblad takes are 56mm by 56mm - much larger. This results in a more detailed image and being square, a different compositional ethic.

I’ve only shot one test roll on the camera so far (12 frames) but here are a couple that I quite liked.

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I hope to hear from some of you in the next few days. It’d be AWESOME to have you round. You’re more than welcome to stick around till the end of the sessions if you want and we’ll have a sit-down and a chat. If you’d rather do a flyby, that’s totally fine. Drop in, have some pics, grab some christmas flavoured pastry and have a chit chat! See you Sunday.

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Gemma - Sneak Peek

Today I shot a session with Gemma over at Box Hill. Twas freezing. She was a trooper. Here’s a sneak peek of a few favourites.

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Featured on Style Your Wedding

Style Your Wedding is a newly-founded wedding blog from a lovely lady called Dina Mystris. Dina is getting married in 2012 and in getting stuck into the complexities of planning a wedding she found the possibilities, options and sheer range of suppliers both wonderful and astonishing. Thanks to the internet and awesome blogs like Rock ’n Roll Bride and OMG I’m Getting Married Dina began to find the wedding peeps that really spoke to her and the abundance of possibilities started to feel more like a playground, less like a tidal wave! This was her inspiration to start Style Your Wedding, which, she describes as “a way of sharing some of  the things I come across in my wedding journey”. Sounds like a good plan to me!

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While I am not Dina’s wedding photographer - she’s chosen a great guy called Gary Lashmar - she asked whether she could feature me on Style Your Wedding. I was happy to oblige and the feature went live the other day. It includes an interview in which I discuss how I became a photographer, my style, the highlights of my job and some words of advice to those on the hunt for their own wedding photographer. There is also a selection of shots from my wedding portfolio and a couple of non-wedding related images. If you’re interested in reading a little more about me and my photography, head on over to the article at Style Your Wedding.

Many thanks to Dina for inviting me to be featured on Style Your Wedding, it’s turning into a great blog - well worth a visit. I’d like to wish her the best for her own wedding, I look forward to seeing the pictures!

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Emma & Justin - Hampton Court House

Emma & Justin were married at Teddington Parish Church prior to their wedding reception at Hampton Court House. They’ve been one of my favourite couples this year, great fun, incredibly lovely people and both members of the warmest, most welcoming families I’ve met for a long time.

Justin is American and a Michelin-starred chef. Despite the haut-cusine, Emma has my sympathy. If organising a wedding isn’t stressful enough, an American fiancé entails the need for the mind-bogglingly complex and highly stringent “Marriage Entry Clearance” - the requirements are simply astounding. Given these dual stresses, Justin must have been terrified of the ire of his future wife when he decided to fall of his motorbike a few months prior to the wedding! All joking aside, it was great to see Justin whole and healthy come the wedding day. It must have been an extremely anxious time for all involved so well done to Justin for doing his bit and making a good recovery!

This was the second time I’d shot at Hampton Court House and it really is a wonderful venue. Let me list some of the reasons I love it so much:

- It has a huge garden that includes two amazing ‘grottos’ and more wild bunnies than Watership Down. The place is overrun (in a good way) and they’re all incredibly bold.

- The interior is superb. The main hall complete with minstrel gallery, a huge red dining room and a conservatory/orangery that is probably my favourite place to shoot dancing anywhere.

- It sits alongside Bushy Park which, as you will see, has it’s own particular benefits!

The day was a huge success and the weather kind once again. Every wedding day is different from the last and although photojournalism is my bread and butter, in the evening, I like to sneak off with bride and groom for 20 or 30 mins and shoot some portraits. I always have my own personal favourite elements from the day and photographing Emma & Justin in Bushy Park’s evening light with an honour guard of red deer made for a particular highlight!

Emma & Justin’s wonderful flowers were done by Steph Turpin of Fairy Nuff Flowers. Steph is one of my twitter amigos and, if you are social media inclined, she is well worth a follow. Her username is @fairynuffflower.

As always these are a selection of my favourites, thanks to Justin & Emma, the UK Border Agency and the red deer!


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Rob & Steph Engagement Session - Temple Island, Henley-on-Thames

I will be shooting Rob & Steph’s wedding at Clandon Park in December and last week we went out on a mild and sunny afternoon in Henley for an engagement session. I don’t shoot a lot of engagement or pre-wedding sessions, but Rob & Steph were especially keen to have one.

Henley-on-Thames is a superb location. With the river running through the town, and thanks to one of Rob & Steph’s friends, we were lucky enough to have access to a particularly exciting spot. Temple Island sits a couple of miles downstream from Henley and is so named for the charming folly to which it is home. Thanks to their connections we had the great opportunity to shoot on the island and in the temple! To top off such an entertaining shoot we travelled to and from the island in quite simply the most beautiful boat I have ever laid eyes on. “L’Amazon” is one of the Regatta boats and is used to carry the umpires during races. She is absolutely stunning!

Rob & Steph were great fun to photograph and made my job infinitely easier by being a) really good looking and b) arranging a photographer’s dream location! Thanks to them for everything and for running with my crazy ideas - I’m looking forward to their wedding immensely! Below I’ve chosen a selection of my favourites from the afternoon. I hope you enjoy them:


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Rachel & Stewart - Dulwich Picture Gallery

Shooting in unique locations is one of the highlights of my job. There are literally thousands of wedding venues about these days and, with that in mind, it’s a shame that there are so many identifit locations. That said, with a bit of hunting there are plenty of genuinely distinct, characterful venues that completely buck this trend. Rachel & Stewart were married at Dulwich Picture Gallery in London, one of the most individual and interesting locations I’ve shot this year. With Van Gogh’s famous self-portrait hanging in the ‘Masterpieces of the Month’ loan-exhibit at the far end of the gallery, and special instructions not to photograph ‘him’ the sense of history was something else. Aside from Vincent, the vast riches on the gallery walls were free reign and made for - without doubt - the most outstanding wedding breakfast setting I’ve yet to encounter.

The wedding morning was a taxi-fest of epic proportions. With Rachel in one flat, Stewart in another, parking always dubious and a hairdressers and pub to also visit prior to the commencement of ‘events formal’, I felt a bit like David Cameron on a busy day. It was actually immensely good fun and made for an interesting dynamic because I didn’t spend long in any one place.

Rachel & Stew were incredibly good fun and great to work with. A race to the cake (and then back again) ought to be compulsory at every wedding! Amongst heartfelt speeches, Stewart’s was particularly poignant and after some very powerful words and not a dry eye in the house the tears were stowed and some exceedingly funky dance moves showcased. Thanks so much for letting me shoot your wedding (and for picking such an excellent venue), it was a blast!

My thanks also to Lucy at the Picture Gallery and the Rod the custodian for being incredible warm and helpful.

As always, below are a selection of my personal favourites.


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Lucy & Kel - Stoke Charity

Lucy & Kel live in New Zealand and therefore arranging the details of their wedding photography presented it’s own unique challenges. I met Lucy only once prior to the wedding day and didn’t get an opportunity to meet Kel until the day itself! Normally I’m insistent upon both meeting Bride and Groom ahead of the wedding day and on having an initial and a pre-wedding consultation. In this instance it just wasn’t possible and without a flight to NZ (which seemed a touch excessive) it wasn’t going to happen. Nevertheless it was a great day to shoot and things ran very smoothly.

Lucy’s aunt owns a lovely house in the gorgeous village of Stoke Charity, near WInchester. The village church of St Mary & St Michael is just a stone’s throw away. A more convenient and quintessentially English setting for a wedding you’d be hard pressed to find. St Mary & St Michael is not the biggest church by any stretch of the imagination and, when packed with guests, the pews were jam-packed as were most of the aisles with additional chairs. I tend not to move a huge amount during church anyway, but I simply didn’t have the option in this case!

I photographed the day from the watching of home movies in the morning through until the close of celebrations in the evening, as the dancing wound up. After speeches, Lucy & Kel’s guests lit chinese lanterns. These are a reasonably familiar sight at weddings these days, but they also had a huge bonfire, an event that I’ve not seen at a wedding before and a great incentive to stay outdoors as the evening turned chillier! The 14yo pyromaniac in me enjoyed it immensely!

Many thanks to Lucy & Kel and all their family, friends and guests for being such fun. Now then, how about some pictures?!*

*Of late, my wedding write-ups have been getting longer and longer. I’m going to reverse that trend as I’d like the images to do most of the talking!

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Emma & Richard - Gorcott Hall, Warwickshire

Richard & Emma were married at Holy Trinity R.C. in Sutton Coldfield with their reception at Gorcott Hall, a charming (and rather hard to find) Tudor Country House. I really liked Emma and Richard, they are thoroughly kind, well-read/travelled, thoughtful people - very much my cup of tea - and being with them on their wedding day felt a lot like being with people I knew far better.

The day started at Gorcott Hall where Emma, her bridesmaids and much of the family (from both sides) were staying. Gorcott is an interesting venue. It’s a family home which once a month is vacated for the purposes of weddings. With a large kitchen and an excellent staff busily preparing breakfasts, the calibre of which cannot be truly appreciated on the nervous morning of a wedding, the sense of home away from home was disarming and delightful in equal measure. Once Emma was made up, hair-doed and into her gorgeous dress it was time for me to dash off to church. With Gorcott Hall to the south of Birmingham and the church to the North, I was somewhat concerned with the possibility of temperemental traffic causing a nuisance. Thankfully the roads played ball throughout the day.

Emma & Richard’s priest, Father Michael, wins the Tony Hart award for best character of 2011. Father Michael is of Vietnamese origin and his marriage service a sight to behold. He is a gifted public speaker and though he struggled with the pronunciation of Richard’s middle name I have rarely see a congregation so attentive and engaged. He’s also a genuinely lovely chap and it was a pleasure to photograph a wedding in his church.

Roman Catholic and Anglican Churches present uniquely different challenges. R.C. Churches tend to be larger, more recent and more structurally-open inside. Anglican Churches sometimes have more picturesque settings, but the R.C. Churches tend to be infinitely lighter and tend to allow for much better lines of sight. That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy photographing weddings in Anglican Churches because I really do, but it’s a welcome change to have access to the more sympathetic angles that are so common in R.C. buildings. On arriving at the church, my first port of call was rigging a remote camera to get an elevated angle of the aisle from a location that I wouldn’t be able to access personally (and quietly) during the service itself. I place a lot of emphasis on discretion in church - the day is about the couple and not the photographer - and so being able to move noiselessly and reducing movement to a minimum is important.

Following Church it was back to Gorcott Hall for the wedding reception. As I mentioned before, Gorcott Hall is an easy place to miss. On my first recce earlier in the year it took me two sat-nav’s, a Google Map and about 20mins to find the place. It’s elusiveness lies in the placement of it’s entrance - directly off the latter stages of a slip road onto a fast dual-carriageway. While everyone else is busy speeding up, you’re trying to swing in Gorcott. Tucked away it may be, but the time you invested in finding the place is rewarded upon arrival. It’s a gorgeous house that feels roomy and large, but not excessively so. It has grandeur and homeliness in fine balance.

Emma & Richard’s reception had some great touches. Garden games in the form of croquet, giant jenga and giant connect four, a hog roast buffet for the evening and a very distinctive band who sported a singer with a truly amazing voice. I particularly enjoyed shooting the dancing at Emma & Richard’s wedding. The arrangement of band, dancefloor and the geometry of the room seemed to work well from a photographic point of view.

Anyway, enough chat, it’s time for some pictures. As usual a selection of my favourites from the day. Emma & Richard were particularly keen on having a larger percentage of colour images than I normally deliver. I believe I achieved this in the full edit, but the selection below seems to be about half and half. This, I think, says a lot about what I am personally drawn to! Many thanks to Emma & Richard for choosing me as their wedding photographer, I hope you enjoy the selection.


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Lucy & Ollie - Mont Orgueil Castle, Jersey

You may have seen my sneak peek from a few weeks back with a couple of images from Lucy & Ollie’s Wedding in Jersey. That post promised a fuller post, and much delayed, here it is.

Mont Orgueil, or Gorey Castle as it is know to the natives is one of the most fascinating wedding venues I’ve ever shot at. Any archeology geeks may have seen it on a recent BBC TimeTeam programme that aired earlier this year. Located on Jersey’s east coast the castle looks out towards France and has what may loosely be described as a ‘commanding’ position! It’s simply a highly impressive place to stage a wedding. With Lucy working in London and Ollie based in Jersey, the preparation and planning that went into their day was considerable. Nonetheless, cometh the hour, cometh the bride and of all the weddings I have shot this year, Lucy & Ollie’s sticks in the memory.

Jersey isn’t exactly the other side of the earth, but overseas weddings always bring with them a particular logistical challenge and it was interesting to see how this played out in Jersey. I hadn’t had any opportunity to scout the area before arriving but luckily the weather was fine and the beauty of the island made for a permanently stunning backdrop. The wedding was my first visit to the Channel Islands and I was curious as to what to expect. It took all of 24hrs to fall head over heels in love with Jersey. As someone who has only fleetingly seen the draw of big city life, the relaxed vibe and beautiful scenery ticked all the right boxes for me. It helped that the sun blazed and the wedding was extremely charming, but trust me, Jersey is worth a visit.

Lucy & Ollie’s day itself couldn’t have been better. The day prior it chucked it down all day and the wind on the castle was easily gale force. Luckily come the wedding day the skies cleared and the howling wind was replaced by a warm and gentle breeze. After a quick early morning recce thanks to my ace island guide in the form of Ollie’s father I met Lucy at Ollie’s flat for her bridal preparations. Her sister’s boyfriend Ryan is a chef but he could as easily be a florist. He spent the morning preparing the bouquets as if he’d been doing it for years.

Lucy & Ollie were married in St. Martin’s Parish Church which has a lovely long aisle and an excellent choir. One particular highlight of the day was the abundance of quality motor cars. Lucy was delivered to the church in a gorgeous red Morgan before being whisked away in an equally handsome blue one. In addition the bridesmaids arrived in considerable style by way of a huge vintage Cadillac. Following the ceremony we took the scenic route to the castle with Ollie’s brother and I leading the way in the ‘camera car’. Sitting on my knees on the passenger seat of a drop-top SLK, arms wrapped wrong the headrest for frankly quite minimal safety while shooting out the rear is certainly the most adventurous wedding photography experience of the year. Before setting off I asked Ollie what the Police were like in Jersey. “Relaxed” he assured me. “If it’s a Wedding, we’ll be fine”. Luckily we didn’t encounter any officers and therefore didn’t have to test his confidence in the local establishment…

The drinks reception was held on the castle’s Grand Battery, a huge open topped area with stunning views. Frankly, the whole thing was a photographer’s playground. My only disappointment was that I only got to shoot for one day! The wedding breakfast took place lower down the castle’s main structure with a surprise fireworks display to follow and as much riotous dancing as could be possibly wedged in.

This was one of those weddings where I truly sat back and said “Wow, I love my job”. Thanks to Ollie and Lucy for letting me shoot their wedding, it was an immense privilege, they were model clients and just a joy to work with. As ever, here are some of my own, personal favourites from one of my favourite weddings this year.


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Nicola & Tom - Hook House Hotel

Nikki was a bridesmaids at one of my early weddings, back in 2009. Thankfully I must have made a good impression as I was delighted to hear from her again late last year when she got in touch to enquire about the possibility of me photographing her marriage to Tom in July.

Nicola & Tom were married in the peaceful and secluded Dogmersfield Church nr Hook in Hampshire with a reception just round the corner at Hook House Hotel. It never ceases to amaze me just how many wedding venues there are in this neck of the woods. I’m familiar with many of the local venues, but Hook House was a new one for me. It’s a real gem, a classic Georgian building with extremely well manicured gardens.

The day had a couple of unusual and notable moments. Firstly, shortly after I’d arrived at the church, as the first guests were arriving, the RAF Red Arrows could be seen flying in the distance. Hook’s not far from RAF Odiham so my guess was that they were practicing their display in the vicinity of the airfield. A short while later, just as Nikki’s Bridesmaids were arriving we were treated to unusual occurrence number two. The church is situated next to a field which surrounds the driveway of the adjacent Dower House. The field had been recently mowed and there was a fair bit of dry cut grass sitting loose. Nikki and Tom were blessed with great weather, and the combination of warm, still air combined to form a brief, but rather impressive dust devil. It was genuinely one of the weirdest sights I’ve ever seen - like something out of The Wizard of Oz. At first my eyes couldn’t comprehend what I was seeing, but with Bridesmaids arriving in the opposite direction I didn’t have long to gawp. Nonetheless, amazing!

Finally, shortly after our arrival at Hook House Hotel, as if timed to the minute, the Red Arrows flew directly over the assembled wedding party and their guests. I went to school with one of the pilots, Red 5 Flt. Lt. Zane Sennett and I can vouch for the fact that a flypast like this, when arranged, costs a pretty penny. It was a superb sight, and lent a real buzz to what was already an amazing day.

My thanks to Nicola & Tom for being such a lovely couple to work with. Nikki had expressed some concern to me prior to the day that she was quite seriously camera shy. I assured her that she wouldn’t spend the whole day feeling like she was being photographed, and I hope that shows in the images. To my eye she was a natural in front of the camera and like most Brides spent the whole day smiling broadly! As ever, here are a selection of my favourites.


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A Birthday Party

I’ve been extremely remiss in updating the blog over the last few weeks. The season has been busy and the blog has just not received the attention it deserves. I’m going to sort that out from now on with some regular posts to bring things up to date.

Many moons ago I used to work with an unsigned band called The Savage Jazz. In doing so, I made friends with a fine chap called Quin Murray. He was one of the bands’ most ardent fans and could always be relied on to show his face at gigs and inevitably seemed to bring plenty of support. Quin and I have remained in regular but infrequent touch and over the years Quin’s developed a particular interest in photography. These days he is a fine photographer in his own right. He has an immensely interesting family heritage including numerous noted ancestors such as John Murray, the famous publisher of amongst others, Byron, Darwin and Austin.

Quin contacted me earlier in the year and asked whether I could possibly come and shoot his 21st Birthday celebrations at 50 Albemarle Street, the London offices of the John Murray publishing house. I was thrilled to say yes and it proved to be an infinitely interesting event to shoot. The offices are literally dripping in history and though the rooms made for some close quarters shooting when filled with 100 odd guests, the evening was great fun. These are some of my particular favourites.

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Gabriella & Tone - A Garden Wedding

Gabriella & Tone were married a few weeks ago at Gabriella's parents stunning house nr. Henley. The wedding had the nicknames Glastonbury and Tent City due to the excellent marquee setup that had been prepared for the wedding. It was well needed too, as the weather on the day was extremely changeable! Nonetheless the wedding blessing was successfully completed before the heavens opened again and in the brief respite we were treated to some gorgeous light. Evening mood at it's best.

Gabriella has one of the most interesting faces of any bride I've ever photographed. She's beautiful and hugely expressive - a face which, alone, I could have photographed all day. Add to that two stunning bridesmaids in the form of Camilla and Nina and from a photographers point of view I was completely spoilt! Tone isn't too shabby either. He bears a striking resemblence to a famous rugby player. I spent ages trying to figure out who he remind me of, only to have this cleared up during the Best Man's speech. Clearly I wasn't the only one to spot the similarity - let me know if you can name his doppelgänger!

The ceremony was at 6 in the evening so there's quite a few shots from the gorgeous, leisurely, bridal preparations. These are a selection of my favourites, I hope you enjoy them.

















































































































































































































































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Lucy & Ollie - Jersey, A Sneak Peek

Lucy & Ollie's wedding in Jersey has been one of the highlights of my wedding calendar this year. I've been looking forward to the trip immensely. They were married this weekend just past and while I won't have the full edit ready for a little while yet, here's a quick sneak peek of a few images I liked on the first run through. I'll be posting a fuller selection in time.



















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Zoë & Ben - St James' Elstead

Zoë & Ben were married a couple of weeks ago in Elstead, Surrey. I seem to book a lot of work by recommendation these days and Zoë's bridesmaid Caroline was also the sister of, and bridesmaid for, Jenny whose wedding to James I photographed back in May.

Zoë & Ben's wedding was all about the fun. Zoë's parents have a gorgeous house in Elstead and having met Zoë & Ben there twice for our consultations I was pretty excited about the day as I saw all the preparations coming together. Zoë spent the morning at her parents house before heading off to St James' Elstead for a stylishly late arrival. We'd been worried all week about the weather but as she arrived at church looking truly stunning the clouds parted and the sun shone!

Wedding days mostly follow the same pattern but it's the small differences and details that really make each one personal and unique. From saying "I do" when you mean "I will" to a set of superb readings and a cameo of tremendous organ freestyling by the Best Man, Zoë & Ben's service flowed between the intimate, joyful and downright funny in all the right ways. I was sporting a massive grin throughout!

Following the service we headed back to the house in a convoy of cars back lead by Zoë & Ben in Ben's mum's recently refurbished, and achingly cool, open top Morris. I had a shot in mind of the Morris whizzing past me on the bridge out of Elstead. I got it, but I didn't bank on how far away the bridge was on foot. I figured it'd be quicker to walk it than load the car, drive down there, jump out and shoot the picture, so like a fool I decided to walk it. With only a couple of minutes headstart and realising it was more like a 10min walk than a 3min walk I decided it was time to break into a fast jog/run for fear of missing the shot. Clearly those days of my youth spent in the cadets saved me. Running while laden with two large cameras, lenses and a belt pack is remarkably similar to a tactical march with rifle and bergen! I apologise Elstead. The sweaty photographer of some weeks ago was I.

The run was worth it. Zoë & Ben came flying past, hooting and waving, the top down and rain nowhere to be seen!

The reception was held in a wonderfully decorated marquee at Zoë's parents. Zoë's mum Gillia did all the floristry - which looked superb - and the combined team effort that went into themeing and decorating the garden was fantastic. Zoë's dad and brother were putting the finishing touches on things when I arrived in the morning, but not a moment of panic or time pressure was evident and we arrived back to a seriously funky reception.

The evening was a complete blast. One of the best receptions I've ever shot. Amazing energy, fun, good times and love shared by all. As for the speeches, everyone killed it. In particular Best Man Dan produced a blinder with a speech so good I think he should start writing for the Queen at Christmas.

I know I've written a mini-essay here, apologies for that. It's really down to the fact that I simply loved this wedding. It's always nice to work with a couple who have a real vision for their pictures. It really helps when you know that you're on the same wavelength as your clients. Thank you to Zoë & Ben for letting me be a part of their day, for being truly welcoming and utterly game when it came to pictures. I immensely enjoyed myself and I hope you did too.

Below is an extended selection of my favourites. Enjoy!






























































































































































































































































































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Hannah & Oliver - St Matthias & Old Finsbury Town Hall

A few years ago I shot Jane & Simon's wedding. Jane went to Uni with Hannah and that's how I came to meet Hannah, by way of recommendation from Jane. I've never shot a wedding where church and home were so close together. Hannah got ready at her and Ol's flat in Stoke Newington. Their church was, quite literally less than a minute away. On foot. Awesome stuff.

St Matthias' is a lovely church to shoot in. Wide, open sight lines, plenty of light and a clergyman (Father David Lambert) who is very accommodating of photographers makes for a cushty shooting environment! The reception was at the Old Finsbury Town Hall on Rosebery Avenue. During the week, the OFTH is better known as the Urdang Academy, or simply 'The Urdang', a performing arts school. On my recce visit a few weeks prior to the wedding it was really interesting to see the academy in 'work mode'. The pupils were incredibly polite and friendly and clearly they do some stunning stuff there. As a wedding venue it's really unique. Grade II* Listed, the building is an unusual mix of architectural styles and flourishes. The brick structure is in the Free Flemish Renaissance style while in the porch and countless areas inside Art Nouveau touches abound. The Great Hall is one of the largest reception rooms I've ever shot in. When you're popping out a 300mm lens to shoot candids of the top table between courses, you know it's a big space!

Many thanks to Hannah and Oliver for being such great subjects and all of the wedding party and guests for being so welcoming. Here are a selection of my favourites from the day. For the 'togs out there, these images here were shot with a mix of 17-40L, 50 f/1.4, 35L and 135L lenses on 2x 5DII.


















































































































































































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Dan & Gemma - Hagley Hall

Dan and Gemma are old friends from Uni days. I knew Dan through my 2nd and 3rd year and only got to know Gemma briefly in the final term of our final year as 'Dan's new girlfriend'. Now, a number of years have past (too many to bear counting) and Dan's 'new girlfriend' is now his 'new wife'! In the early days of working as a wedding photojournalist many of my clients were friends and acquaintances. These days it's far less the case so it was particularly special to shoot the wedding of someone I know so well.

The day started with me covering Gemma's bridal preparations at her parent's home just down the road from the wedding venue, Hagley Hall. It was a really relaxed start to the day with loads of time to get ready, drink champagne, eat breakfast (note that the champagne came first!) and generally be in nothing even approaching a hurry. As you'll see from the images below it was a mirror-laden morning. I tend to prefer to let things follow their natural course with minimal intervention on my part and with mirrors left right and centre, many of my favourites seem to be reflection shots!

Hagley Hall is a large private house in the Palladian style and with the rather beautiful Hagley Church only a stone's throw away it's a really superb wedding venue. The state rooms are large and bright and the renovated downstairs area makes for a first class location for a proper party. The weather, though otherwise fine, was punctuated by some seriously strong winds. Despite wearing a veil, Gemma did an excellent job of controlling the situation!

Weddings can be nerve wracking times even for the most laid back of guys, but on arrival at the church I found Dan - always a man with a ready smile - on fine form. Gemma turned up in style, in her Father's Maybach. I nearly spat my breakfast when her Dad showed me round the car. I'll admit that I initially thought he was joking when he mentioned that this would be her mode of conveyance!

I've met some seriously lovely people so far this year, and at Dan & Gemma's the prize was a three-way tie between Gemma's two lovely bridesmaids Emma and Rosie and Dan's brother and best man Joe. Despite spending 3 years of Uni together I'd not met Joe prior to the wedding rehearsal. Joe should start running classes in 'Best-Manship' - he was that good. He was attentive to the needs of everyone on the day, delivered a fine speech and has the gift of being able to talk to just about anyone while putting them all that their ease in an instant. Cheers guys for being such a terrific wedding party.

I've shot wedding for people I know before, but rarely in front of so many friends that I know personally. It was an interesting proposition and one that, though by no means unpleasant, made me feel distinctly 'watched'. There's something very different about standing up in front of crowd you don't know and another where you've shared so much with so many faces. It was an intriguing experience!

Right, enough waffle from me. As ever, below are a selection of some of my favourites. Dan & Gem - thanks very much for letting me cover your day, I hope you're thrilled with the pictures!
























































































































































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Marianne & Mark - Odiham All Saints

I last shot at Odiham All Saints Church back in 2009 when I photographed the marriage of Andrew & Louise. Rev Gary Keith, the Vicar, made a real impression on me back then for being particularly welcoming and incredibly accommodating as far as photography goes. I like to be as discrete as possible in church, but it's also helpful if I can move in a quiet and relatively unrestricted manner. I don't move a lot and I don't get too close to the couple during the ceremony, but Gary's approach to photography is refreshing and I'm thankful for the trust he has placed in me on the two occasions I've photographed in his church. Cheers Gary!

Marianne and Mark were married at Odiham All Saints on 20th May. The extreme wind of recent weeks was relenting on the day and the weather played nice. Following the ceremony we headed 3 mins down the road to Marianne's Matron of Honour's stunning house. As an avid rider, Claire has lots of land and the marquee and open space was the perfect setting for a warm spring wedding. Mark and Marianne are a brilliantly energetic couple (as the evening pictures show!) and shooting their day was a huge amount of fun. I'm particularly happy with the evening portrait set we shot. We were really pushed for light and ended up shooting just after sunset. Photographers go on and on about the 'golden hour' before sunset, but shooting after sunset (the 'blue hour' as a photographer friend of mine named it) was a real revelation. The light was soft and gentle and though a challenge for my equipment I'm really happy with the results! Twilight ftw!

As usual these are a selection of my favourites, starting with the morning coverage through until the end of a truly raucous party. Fully Funktional, the band on the night, were one of the best groups I've come across in my time, friendly, talented and with bags of musicianship. I highly recommend them. Anyway, without further ado, some pictures:









































































































































































































































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James & Jenny - Loseley Park

James & Jenny are friends of Corinne & Felipe whose wedding I shot back in 2009. They are a truly lovely couple and their day was a blast to photograph. Loseley Park is one of the closest wedding venues to me, yet somehow, I've managed to miss out on shooting there until now. Shooting at Loseley is like going and doing pictures at Pinewood studios, the variety of locations is superb! The house itself is stately and ornate with a magnificent Great Hall that has a brilliantly eccentric authenticity to it. The Walled Garden is one of the best kept gardens I've ever come across, and as a wedding photographer is simply overflowing with an abundance of possibilities. Finally, the Tithe Barn is refreshing in that it doesn't look identical to every other Tithe Barn's I've shot in!

This wedding was full of great moments and extremely emotional. A real heartburster - the love between these two was totally palpable! Jenny looked stunning in an extremely elegant dress with a long sash and was attended to admirably by Bridesmaid's Caroline and Chrissie. James and his Ushers looked equally dapper in really classy morning suits. I approve lads!

Jenny's father David was a particularly excellent host on the day (I seem to be having superb luck with Bride's Father's of late!) and worked tirelessly trying to offer me drinks and excuses to avoid my duties! Despite heavy rain forecast for the following day we got really lucky and had fine weather throughout. Thank you to James and Jenny for being such a terrific couple, a pleasure to photograph and for allowing me to share in their day.

As ever, these are a selection of my favourites. For the 'togs amongst you these were shot on two 5DII's with a mix of 35L, 135L and 17-40L lenses. I also used a 50D as a remote camera.

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Danielle & Rick - A Wedding Celebration Sneak Peek!

Last year I ran a competition in which the winners would receive wedding coverage of their day, free of charge, from yours truly. Danielle & Rick were those lucky winners. Dan & Rick were married in Sri Lanka in April and unfortunately the prize didn't include overseas coverage. More's the pity for me as I didn't get to enjoy the stunning scenery and warm sunshine!

On their return Danielle & Rick planned a wedding celebration party at the Hadlow Manor Hotel near Tonbridge for everyone who couldn't make it out to Sri Lanka. I was lucky enough to shoot the party yesterday evening, and had a blast doing so. Wedding celebrations/parties are always slightly different to shoot than a standard wedding. It's hard to put my finger on exactly how they differ, but there's subtle difference beyond the obvious lack of a marriage ceremony. More laughter, less tension/anticipation and a slight change in general mood. It's interesting.

Danielle & Rick were awesome and I couldn't have been luckier, they were both lovely and their families likewise. A warmer, more welcoming set of people you'd be hard pushed to meet. The whole thing was extreme fun times! Anyway, time for some images, below you'll find a selection of some personal favourites from the evening.

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X100 - Initial RAW's

Adobe, thank god, have finally released RAW support for the X100 in Lightroom 3.4. I've been fairly busy recently, but I've managed to get stuck in to a few pictures and have a bit of a play with the X100's RAW output. Most of these shots are either very casual personal images or things I've shot while doing recces at wedding venues. I'm afraid the content isn't terribly exciting, but hopefully there's a fair bit of variety to show you what the X100 can do. These images were all shot and then edited using my usual workflow in the Lightroom, nothing is SOC but then again nothing has been pushed all that far. In other words, normal usage.

For what it's worth, my experience is that the X100 RAW's are much nicer than the JPEG output. This may simply be because I spend more time with RAW's or it may be because I haven't set the camera up to get the best out of the JPEG's, but there's no denying it, to my eye, the RAW output provides more balanced colours and a more natural, real looking image. With RAW and LR support in place, I am really enjoying this camera. More to come, but for now, take a look at these. Oh, and, for the record, the sky in the first image was pretty much like this. Post production minimal!








































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The Wedding of Michelle & David

Michelle & David were married at St. Leonard's in Chelsham last weekend. St. Leonard's is one of the prettiest churches I've ever photographed and Michelle and David were extra lucky with what turned out to be quite charming weather. The reception followed at Woldingham Golf Club, 5 minutes down the road. The day was a massive bundle of fun and positive emotion and photographing it was a blast. The below are some of my personal favourite images.

It's worth mentioning that, I've shot at a number of golf clubs in my time, and I've not always been impressed with the staff and general approach to weddings. The staff at Woldingham however were awesome. My thanks to Angie in the weeks beforehand and Jan on the day. Extremely helpful people who are a real asset to the course. Thanks guys.








































































































































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Michelle & Dave - A Sneak Peak

The wedding season is upon us and things are starting to get busy in that regard. These are a couple of sneak peaks from Michelle & Dave's wedding which took place last Saturday. A really lovely couple, I'll be posting a fuller set on the blog in the coming weeks.










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X100 - Spring Sunshine

I've been carrying the X100 nearly everywhere I go and I am beginning to build up a more balanced view of my likes and dislikes. I'm still holding out on Adobe to sort out their RAW support (soon please!) but RAW files aside I feel informed enough now to write a proper review. I'll be doing that just as soon as I've worked some RAW's through Lightroom.

These images are another disparate series taken over the last week or so. As a go-everywhere camera I'm finding that it tends to be used in short bursts and therefore I am not producing the volume of images I might do if shooting with my 5DII. This might seem obvious, but it's not something that really crossed my mind until I actually started using the camera. On the one hand it results in interesting imports - a variety of photos from a variety of locations - but on the other hand it means it's taking longer to get a feel for the nuances of the camera in terms of knowing how it's likely to respond to a variety of lighting situations.

Anyway, here's the latest series, a selection from Bournemouth, the New Forest, Virginia Water, a sunny drive towards Chichester and catching up with friends over a game of perudo.







































































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Croyde

I've been extremely slack in getting these images finished. It's always the way with personal shots! In February, Charlotte and I had a truly amazing week away in Croyde, Devon. The first week away in years. These are some of my favourite images from our time away. There are some huge panorama's I'd like to post, but they don't really work well within the framework of the blog. If you'd like to see a fuller set, including the panorama's, take a look at the complete gallery.
























































































































































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X100 - Out And About

I've had my Fuji X100 for a couple of weeks now. I'm not using it as much as I will be in the future because as of yet Lightroom doesn't support the camera's RAW output. For the time being, I've taken to shooting in JPEG, something I haven't done for a long time, so I can bung the pictures directly into Lightroom and avoid the Silkypix software.

The below are mostly a disparate selection of snapshots, images snapped on walks and so forth, but there are a few that I'm quite liking. I thought I'd share them with you.














































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Folio Albums

When I first started working as a wedding photographer, there wasn't, in all honesty, a first rate wedding album that I was really happy with. There were certainly some lovely albums, but nothing that summed up the simplicity, workmanship and material quality that I was looking for. I had this album in my head, the 'perfect' wedding album if you will. I yearned for something that was printed onto matt fine art paper, simply leather bound, to have stiff, but not overly thick pages, for it to exhibit outstanding print fidelity, across the seam printing and lay flat pages. KISS books in the US was the closest I'd come across but they weren't quite right. Plus they were based in the States.

Folio Albums launched last year and they immediately piqued my interest. Online they appeared to tick all the boxes. Folio were displaying at a tradeshow at the Windsor Racecourse so I promptly went along and had a look. It's only a short drive for me and frankly I was only going to check out the Folio's, but once I'd beelined to their stand, pored over their product and convinced myself that this was the holy grail album I had been searching for, I wandered amongst the other exhibitors. Doing so only further confirmed the calibre of the Folio Albums. There were lots of other decent manufacturers hawking lovely products, but nothing that matched the simple elegance of the Folio Albums.

The reason I love Folio is partly because I think they fit really well with the style of my work. They're albums have an understated, nothing-to-prove tone to them. It's all about the content and gimmicks simply do not feature. The quality and the single-mindedness of the product speaks for itself. I really value simplicity. Photography is often about simple composition and choosing to exclude, rather than include, elements. Folio Albums echo this principle. They've also recently started offering a linen covered mini-album (see the grey album below) which is equally superb.

Folio is run by Stewart Randall, a guy who seriously impressed me when we first met. His customer service has been truly superb and generally I have a lot of faith in everything he and his business are doing. He seems like the sort of guy who wants to do a truly quality job from start to finish. If there's a gimmick it's that that, simply, is Folio Albums 'USP'.

Anyway, enough waxing lyrical.

I recently received both a sample album and another client album. I've been meaning to shoot a selection of sample images and I've finally got round to it. These do a reasonable job of showing you the details in a Folio Album, but they don't show the paper texture, which for me is one of the highlights. You need to hold them and handle them to really appreciate it! I do offer other Album options, but Folio are my mainstay going forward. They're what I continuously recommend and what I personally think do the best job of showcasing my work. Take a look at the images below:























































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Why iStockphoto Sucks

I've never been a big fan of iStockphoto and I've often heard bad stories and been chastised by other photographers for having anything to do with them. However, over the years, I've had an account and added the odd image that I had no other use for. My thinking was that it was better to have these files out in the wild, potentially doing something rather than sitting in my archive as digital compost.

I've become increasingly frustrated with iStockphoto and today I'm giving up on them and accepting that those photographers who warned me off iStock are 100% right. In simple terms iStockphoto is an utter waste of time and effort with virtually no reward. Those facts aside, their submission process is both a total joke and completely arbitrary. Generally they're awful and I feel motivated to state it publicly.

On registering with iStockphoto you are asked to read some literature about what constitutes valid submissions. It covers everything from the technical facets of images they're looking for, the sort of pictures they need and don't need, the legal issues with submissions and a number of other areas. I read this thoroughly and passed the required test.

Given their strict submission process I decided from the get-go to only submit the best images and build a collection over time rather than hurrying the process. As a professional photographer I pore over images on a daily basis and my standards are pretty high. Despite this, iStockphoto have continuously rejected images that clearly fit well within the confines of their submission guidelines.

The straw that broke the camels back was the image below which I have had rejected at least 3 times. Each time I have fixed the issue they raised as cause for concern only for the image to be rejected again. The left hand image below is how the original shot looked. Initially I removed the obvious logo's such as the Nike Swoosh and the H4H Medallion on the sleeve. iStockphoto's initial complaint was fairly legitimate, stating that the image still include a logo on the boot and the ball. As a resubmit was allowed I did this and also removed any other relevant typography just to be on the safe side. This resulted in the image on the right hand side. They then contested that the remaining design on the ball made the ball identifiable, an issue which, at best, I was extremely skeptical of.



Then, in the last month, iStockphoto launched an editorial section which allowed for the submission of images for editorial use only. This allows for logos and faces to be present without the need for model releases or further complications. Noting this, I remembered this image and thought that it'd be both an ideal photo and the perfect testbed for the arbitrary and contradictory rules they seem to be applying with greater and greater frequency. I searched high and low for a good FAQ on the 'do's and dont's' of the editorial collection with little luck besides a short article detailing the need for "Who, What, Why, When, Where, How" info and an explicit statement that logos and recognisable faces were acceptable within the collection. Armed with the knowledge of this admittedly short document I again submitted the original image to the archive. A few weeks passed as their painfully slow review process did it's thing. I returned today to find the below:



The first issue raised regards the caption information. Having read both the caption information I submitted and the reason for rejection I am thoroughly perplexed. I can only assume that the person reviewing the submission failed to read the caption. The caption was given accurately and in full faith. It answers the questions of "Who, What, Why, When, Where, How" and does in a reasonably succinct manner.

The second point they raise I find both strange and hilarious, though if that is a requirement they wish to impose, then that's their business. They suggest that as a 'known' person his image may be protected. This is simply not the case here in the UK. The player in question is not even identifiable beyond the scope of the caption, is far from being a world famous name in his chosen sport and yet they never raised this concern when the image was submitted as part of their regular collection. Furthermore, as an editorial collection surely the useful images would be those that are of noteworthy and relevant individuals and events? Finally if it was illegal to use images of known people in this manner, every newspaper and magazine in the land would be royally screwed. All this said however, if this is a requirement they choose to impose, then strange as it seems I'd have considered it prior to submitting. Yet despite searching their site extensively prior to adding this file I didn't read anything that suggested this was a reason for rejection.

For me though, where iStockphoto's credibility falls apart entirely is on the discussion of the photographic merits of the image. Don't get me wrong, it's unlikely this shot would win any competitions and this is not meant to be an exercise in self-congratulation, but it's well made, sharp, correctly exposed and it's WB and colours are spot on. Despite this, they question the quality of the light in the image and then proceed to list a frankly ridiculous list of 'technical aspects that can all limit the usefulness of a file', none of which are even remotely applicable to the above image. Let's take them in turn:

  • Flat/Dull Colours - Quite the opposite. Colours are punchy and well saturated.
  • Direct on camera flash and/or flash fall-off (bright subject dark background) - As no flash was used, this is inapplicable.
  • Harsh lighting with blown-out highlights or distracting shadows - Shot in direct sun, but both highlight & shadow controlled.
  • Distracting lens flare - None present.
  • Incorrect WB - WB is as close to spot on as you could ask for. The shirt is the pale pink it appears to be.

From a technical standpoint then, this image is sound. Not only that, but they failed to mention any of these perceived issues during any of the previous rejections they've imposed. This is entirely indicative of the kind of arbitrary submission rules they've been applying to images.

Now, if you've got this far you may be thinking these are simply the rantings of a someone who has drunk sour milk. Yes, this is undoubtedly a rant. As to whether my argument is founded purely on being cheesed off with their failure to accept my images, I'll let you be the judge of that.

It comes down to this. iStockphoto submissions take quite a while to do. For all the images I've uploaded I've meticulously chosen, edited, captioned and keyworded. Despite this, even for files that I think are very sound, both technically and in terms of content, I have been regularly rejected with no rhyme or reason and a suitcase full of ever changing reasons. I simply do not have the time to submit images when so much of it ends up being wasted in the process. I am a professional photographer and simply can't validate investing effort (even for otherwise on-monetized images) on a stock site that has such a cavalier and pigheaded attitude. I was warned off iStockphoto by a number of friends. I hold up my hands and admit that I should have listened to their advice. From now on I will be submitting no further images to iStock and will be withdrawing my account balance forthwith. I have written this piece, largely to publicise the downright crappy approach iStockphoto takes towards its contributors. I'm not impressed and I'd give the same advice that was given to me. Steer well clear.

In related news, I have recently started contributing to Pixstel a fairly new agency that opened it's doors with a focus on Aviation and Maritime collections. Pixstel operates with a great ethos that promotes it's contributors professionalism as chief guardian of the collections quality and content. New contributors are chosen based on the strength of their work and the input of current contributors, not on the results of a 'cram and jam' online quiz. The distinction couldn't be more stark. If you're interested in my work, do take a look at my submissions over on the Pixstel website. My additions so far tend towards aviation and rugby, but Pixstel is currently working to broaden it's scope and as such are working on a number of more generalised collections. I'm hoping to add an increasingly wide variety of images in the coming months. It's a really impressive cooperative-like structure that ought to be proud of it's responsible attitude both to it's customers and it's contributors. It's certainly my photographic website find of the year.

For the time being the takeaway is this. iStockphoto sucks balls. Come check out Pixstel.

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X100 - Initial Review



I've been a Fuji X100 owner for shortly over 12 hours and to be honest, my opinion is still very much incomplete and somewhat unformed. I've been shooting sport today which doesn't really lend itself to putting the X100 through it's paces, and though I shot a few candids following the game, the team I was photographing had just suffered a semi-final cup loss so headed for the changing room almost immediately. Because of that, some of the images below are incredibly dry and unexciting. My apologies for that. I'll be shooting some more interesting subjects soon.

Before getting into the details of what I've discovered so far, a caveat. I knew going into the 'X100 Experiment' that as a very early adopter I would have to put up with a period during which Lightroom and the X100 would not want to talk to one another. What I hadn't banked on was just how spoilt I have been by Lightroom. The catchily named 'RAW FILE CONVERTER EX powered by Silkypix' - the simply appalling bundled software that is required to handle the X100's .RAF files - is not only abysmal, but to some extent stands between me and a true understanding of what the X100 can and can't do. I know how to edit a file in LR, I know how to get the best out of it. I haven't a clue in the bundled abomination mentioned above. I'm not sure anyone does. It's slow, unresponsive and Mac Paint on my Mac Plus is capable of doing more advanced work. Anyway, whinging and excuses aside, lets get on. It should be noted that the files shown were all shot in RAW (.RAF) mode, were then opened in RAW File Converter EX, given any minor adjustments that were required and then exported to 16bit TIFF and imported into Lightroom. The black and white image was created in LR from the resultant TIFF.

Ok. What's the dealio?

In the hand, the camera is a real joy. EV, aperture ring, focus ring, shutter etc, all fall neatly to hand. I'm a photographer someone ingrained in the Canon EOS system, and picking up the Fuji was an exercise not dissimilar to trying to speak a foreign language. Initially it all felt very unfamiliar and I did a lot of thinking and making noises of the sort that go 'um' and 'err'. That said, this is very much a function of my considerably familiarity with the 5DII and similar cameras. After a short amount of time spent with the X100, everything was beginning to feel much more normal and reasonably intuitive. It still feels like a first date, but that's to be expected.



Build quality seems really good and the primary controls have a great tactility to them. The camera feels pretty solid and I have real faith in the main controls (aperture ring/shutter dial/EV dial etc). The same can't be said for the secondary controls. They're not bad, but they don't inspire the same confidence as the primary controls. The menu/D-Pad controller on the back is a case in point. It's a bit plasticy and the tactile feedback is poor. Basically, you have a Menu/Ok button in the middle of the setup, then a circular directional pad around that and then a rotating control wheel a la Canon SLR's around that. To add to the complexity, surrounding all this, there is another plastic piece which holds the icons that tell the user what each directional press does. I tried pressing this a few times, but it's immovable and not a button itself. It all feels quite cluttered and I found myself mashing around a little bit with my fingers rather than pressing cleanly and accurately. The whole thing works, but it doesn't leave you smiling. A stark difference from the top plate controls which click through their increments in a manner that suggests Fuji probably hired a man named Klaus to design them.



There is a focus mode selector switch on the left hand side of the camera. This is also quite plasticy and the feedback when switching between modes isn't very definitive. That said, they all do a job and I haven't had any real problems yet.



As I've said, the camera feels pretty solid, but it doesn't have the heft I was hoping for. It doesn't feel lightweight, but it doesn't feel like a brick either. I kind of wish they'd found somewhere to put some lead in the thing to make it a little more weighty. I don't want to overemphasise this, it's not bad at all, but I was hoping for something that felt like a small ingot.

The focus ring is really great. Very nicely damped. It's electro-mechanical so you can choose your direction of focus, but it feels quite connected and extremely grounded.

As for the viewfinder, well it's both a thing of beauty and amazingly clever and such a departure from other cameras, that I'm used to, that I'm still getting my head round it. The optical viewfinder mode is very bright and presents you with all your primary shooting data. It allows you to see the frame lines and view beyond the frame. What it won't do is offer you any feedback during manual focus. This is pretty obvious, but it's worth pointing out. A well placed toggle on the front of the camera lets you change from the OVF to the EVF which by contrast appears very much like a screen. The resolution isn't bad, but you know you're looking at something 'projected' rather than something real. Here, when using MF mode, it's fairly easy to focus by eye. If you need to refine focus, a tap on the jog button on the top rear right of the camera zooms you in. I found it quite effective and intuitive.

That said, MF is slow! It's great for making fine adjustments, but changing focus from something close to something far away is a slow business and takes a lot of movement of the focus ring. Given that the ring is electro-mechanical, it'd be really nice to see a firmware update allow the user to change the speed of focus. I've not had time to pick the manual up yet, nor dig through the settings menu, so for all I know that feature might already be present.



One thing I'm not hugely taken with is the LCD screen. It's large, but I find it a bit washed out when reviewing images. This may be because I initially used it in quite bright, flat lighting, but compared to the screen on a 5DII it's simply not as good. I've just shot another image, while writing this, to review my viewpoint. Indoors, I'm quite liking the screen. Call me undecided on this point for now, time will tell.

So, what about the pictures? Well, as I said, it's hard to be truly objective at this point. I'm not going to draw any real conclusions here until I've shot some more pictures and I've bunged them through Lightroom. However, I do have some initial observations.


1/45th f/5.6 ISO 800

In strong/reasonably dramatic light the X100 shows quite a bit of potential. The picture of the fruit bowl may be dull and simple and far from a good image but it's done the job well and shows plenty of detail. This was shot at ISO 800, and from what I can make out, while the X100 isn't going to rival a full-frame SLR, the results are really really impressive in terms of high ISO. There's definitely detail lost at high ISO if you look at 100%, but viewed at normal res, the big picture is astonishing for this class of camera. The X100 destroys my 20D at ISO 3200. I know it's a similar size sensor, and a new camera vs. quite an old one, but I'm amazed nonetheless.

Colour and dynamic range in less than easy light I am currently somewhat unsure about. It's hard to tell when you're using such an atrocious piece of software to initially review files, but colours in flatter or brighter light seem to tend towards being somewhat muted and a little bit over vibrant, particularly in the blue channel. As someone who didn't really have experience shooting film prior to the digital age, I can't really comment on whether this is a Fuji look, but it's one that I want to stick into Lightroom and adjust a bit. It's by no means painful, but the results I am seeing at this stage, are ones I often want to tweak. They need a bit of a blacks punch and colour normalised a touch.


1/100th f/2.8 ISO 200

I should also note that the colour image of my Mum further down the page was shot under fairly torturous light conditions. Lots of mixed sources, including some fluorescents that are very yellowy indeed. I always struggle with the WB in my Mum's kitchen regardless of the camera, even a custom WB taken from a grey card only got me so close. I'd have gone elsewhere but it was dark and the options were limited by that stage in the day!

While shooting at the rugby today, I noticed the X100 do some faintly nasty things with highlights and highlight rolloff in the sky. The image looked a bit like a JPG that had been pushed too far in post and I have to say this is my biggest concern at this point. It may simply be an affect of a dodgy post-camera process, but it'd be reassuring to see a bright sky handled a little better. See the wider image of the team huddle further down the page for the effect I mentioned.

As for detail, there's plenty, certainly enough for what I'm looking for. Images come out of camera needing a bit of sharpening, but nothing that is unusual or out of the norm.


1/70th f/2 ISO 800

At this point, my feeling is quite mixed bag. It's got a lot to recommend it, and the design is mostly excellent. Will it take nice images? It's hard to know, but I'm hopeful that once I've learnt how to work the files, there's some real potential here. The big question surrounds colour and dynamic range. More testing is necessary in this department, at this stage it's really not fair to draw any hard conclusions - I've shot less than 50 images.

Those are my initial thoughts for the time being. I hope they were both interesting and useful, I'll be posting something more conclusive in coming weeks. I'm far more interested in real-world performance than photographs of walls, so only time will tell. As I use the X100 in the field I'm sure my opinion will crystallise. For now, I'm just glad to have the camera and to be able to tote it round easily. It's a helluva lot more convenient than a gripped 5DII and a stable of lenses.

Please feel free to ask any burning questions you may have in the comments. I will do my best to answer them if I possibly can. Please note that some of the images were shot with unusual exposure settings, simply to test ISO/shutter/aperture etc etc. Finally, I've uploaded full-res JPG's of the 9 samples shown here. If you'd like to download them, please do. They can be accessed here. They're uploading now and should all be available shortly.

Enjoy!





1/10th f/2 ISO 3200


1/320th f/2.8 ISO 800


1/600th f/2.8 ISO 800


1/60th f/2 ISO 800


1/20th f/2.0 ISO 800


1/50th f/2.0 ISO 800

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Fuji X100 Unboxing

My Fuji Finepix X100 arrived by courier this morning. Many thanks to Park Cameras for fulfilling my pre-order so quickly. I have shot a few images today and will be posting an 'initial thoughts' piece later tonight, but for now, I thought I'd post a video that I recorded this morning.


Fuji Finepix X100 from Tony Hart on Vimeo.

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Johanna

I know Johanna through the sport coverage I do for Royal Holloway University. Injury aside, she's one of the Lady Bears Basketball teams core players. She was awesome enough to model for me and was positively excited about the prospect from the moment I first asked her. Johanna's from Sweden, but like most Scandinavians she's amazingly bilingual. Guilt-inducingly so!

This series was shot at Virginia Water, one of my favourite spots for a shoot due to the variety and space it allows. Here's a few of my favourites from the session. Thanks Jo!




















































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Fuji Finepix X100

Back in September 2010 a camera was announced at Photokina that I've hankered after ever since. It's not been released yet and there's still a month or two to go until it is, but the urge to shoot with it grows pretty much every day. The camera in question is the Fuji Finepix X100. People are oohing and ahhing about the looks, and don't get me wrong, I'm one of them, but the real reason I have such high hopes for this camera and already have a real love-at-first-sight complex for it is because it fills a hole in my camera arsenal that I identified long before the X100 was even a twinkle in the engineer's eye.


As a photographer I always like to be ready, with a camera to hand. You never know when a great image will present itself and sod's law pretty much states it's bound to be when you're farthest from your camera. I've tried many times to get into a routine of never leaving the house without my Canon 5DII. For work purposes I shoot the 5DII with the battery grip attached. It's not a small camera at the best of times, and with the grip secured, it's also quite heavy. I've tried keeping the grip off the camera, but with work commitments this inevitably creates lots of assembling and dismantling and the risk of mistakenly going to a job sans grip.

Next is the issue of lens selection. I mainly shoot primes and the 35L is an outstanding walk around lens, but it's also quite big. Much bigger than my 50 f/1.4 and similar in size to the more versatile but less capable 17-40L. Even when I get the combination right and have the 35L mated to an ungripped 5DII we're looking at a fairly big, heavy and unwieldy camera. Worst of all, I always fear the possibility of damaging key components of my professional kit. I've got a full selection of backup gear, but it's always a hassle having to send the gear that earns me a living to Canon for repair, and when I want to takeoff in a hurry, the 5DII + 35L combo is not the ideal solution. Truth be told, most of the time the 5DII + 35L stays put when I'm leaving in a hurry. There's too much fiddling, too much selecting components and too much decision making. When it does come with me I end up bringing 3 lenses 'just in case". Because I can.

What I've yearned for for some years now is a smallish, lightweight camera with a great lens and a great sensor that'll produce 90% of the image quality of the 5DII, without the hassle and with immediate ready-to-go-ness. Ideally I'd like a useable focal length, and, originally I thought, an interchangeable lens. Over the years there have been a range of 'nearly there' solutions. Those cameras that mostly fit the bill but are prohibitively expensive (Leica M8 & M9), those cameras that had potential but lacked usability (Sigma DP1, DP2 etc), those cameras that didn't offer high enough IQ (Canon G10/11/12 and Ricoh GRII) and those cameras that weren't different enough from an SLR setup (Panasonic GF1 & Olympus EP1) to justify the investment.

I began to wonder if maybe I just wanted a higher end point and shoot. Eventually however, I always conceded that a P&S didn't offer the IQ that I was looking for. I can deal with a step down from the 5DII, but every point and shoot I looked at offered a drastic reduction in image quality, particularly in low light - a condition I shoot in a lot. Above and beyond that I NEED a viewfinder. I can't compose properly holding the camera at arms length and viewfinders in the land of P&S are becoming a rarer and rarer commodity.

Step forward the Fuji X100. The moment I saw this camera I was excited from an aesthetic standpoint. The more I read, the more it started to sound like this mythic camera I'd envisaged for so long. Relatively small and lightweight, big sensor, single choice of lens with a great focal length, optical viewfinder, fast optics. I'd always thought I wanted a camera with interchangeable lenses. In reality I want one good focal length. I don't want to be changing lenses the whole time, indeed I don't even want to be given the option. The option means time making decisions, the option means slowing down, the option means leaving it behind to save having to make those decisions. The X100 takes the decision making process away from me. Either I like the focal length or I lump it. Oh... and I LOVE the focal length. 35mm is God's own FL in my view. Not too narrow, not too wide - incredibly versatile.



So what else do I love about the Fuji Finepix X100? Most things actually. It's got a viewfinder! Woohoo! It's optical. Cue double joy. Most people are banging on about the X100's innovative hybrid viewfinder which pairs a true optical viewfinder with a metadata enhanced EVF you can change to at the flick of a switch. This looks very cool, but is a bonus to me. Mostly I'm just happy with an optical viewfinder; something I can look through to compose properly. On the subject of the hybrid viewfinder, it reminds me a little of the hybrid EVF I had on my first ever digital camera, a Konica Minolta Z1. You could either compose on the back of the camera, or, flip a switch and the image would be projected into an EVF that you could raise your eye too. The X100 goes a few steps beyond this, but I find the parallel nostalgic if nothing else.


The X100 is a camera thought out and designed by photographers. Aperture, shutterspeed and EC will all be controlled by wheels on the camera. No digging through menu's to access these primary functions. The camera also includes an integrated neutral density filter within the lens assembly. Too much light? Just flick the ND filter into place for a 3-stop reduction in perceived light and keep shooting wide open at f/2. Good times. This is simply a genius feature and one I've wondered about many times in the past. It's great to see the X100 implement this technology. I'm sure I'm going to make a lot of use of it. My laundry list of X100 delights also includes the short physical length of the lens, the 9 blade aperture diaphragm and of course the drop dead gorgeous looks. My one gripe so far is a focus by wire system which decouples the user from the mechanics of the focus ring. Basically, you turn the focus ring, the camera will digitise this input and then use servos to relay your turning force to the actual mechanics that focus the lens. It remains to be seen why Fuji have done this - I suspect it's to avoid having to find a way to satisfactorily dampen the focus ring without adding bulk. In practice it may work out to be a non-issue. Only time will tell and for now it's a long long way from being a deal breaker.

The X100 holds the promise of a camera that will make me take more photos. I hope it'll become my constant companion and mean that I have a quality photographic tool on me at nearly all times. Technically it's potential is enormous, but for me personally, the real excitement will be in the using. I want to shoot more and in a greater variety of situations, A 'proper' go anywhere camera capable of producing a quality image at a price that doesn't require a house remortgage. An exciting prospect!

I'm not sure there's any item I've ever wanted more than the Fuji Finepix X100, and that includes all things made by Apple. For me, that's quite an admission. I hope the shipping product lives up to expectations. If Fuji get the lens and image quality right they'll have an instant classic on their hands. Safe to say, when it's launched, I'll be the first in line.

If you're interested in reading more about the X100, take a look at Fuji's X100 site here: http://www.finepix-x100.com/en

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New Year's Promotion


Happy New Year! Welcome 2011! I hope you all had an exceptional 2010 and a really wonderful Christmas.

To usher in the New Year, I'll be running a promotion offering a 10% discount for any wedding coverage booked during January 2011. The rules are simple - if you book between January 1st and January 31st I'll offer you a 10% discount on either my Classic or Premier coverage packages. The promotion is valid for weddings on any future date as long as the booking is made during January 2011.

So, if you're on the search for a wedding photographer, please take a moment to view my portfolio and consider making an enquiry. If you're within an hour and half of Camberley, Surrey, I'm always happy to drive out to visit you. Initial consultations are always free and there's never any pressure or obligation. They tend to be a good opportunity to discuss things in greater detail, for you to view some sample albums, and to ask any outstanding questions.


The January Promotion makes my Classic Coverage £855, (a saving of £95) while the Premier Coverage is only £1080, (a saving of £120). If you'd like further information, then visit my contact page to make an enquiry. I'll be happy to reply with my PDF wedding brochure and answer any questions you may have.

All the best and have an absolutely fabulous 2011, I hope the headaches aren't too bad today!

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