Friday, 30 March 2012

A wander around Campbell Park. And pick up a wedding Job !!!

As the weather has been unseasonaly warm here in the UK , i decided to take advantage and go to Campbell Park for a couple of hours of sunshine and photography .

Campbell Park is situated just a short walk away from the Central Milton Keynes Shopping centre . It is also where the annual Firework display takes place . The display is set off from the Beacon .Which is set up on high ground , so fab for setting off huge whizz bangs :-)

There is a fantasic Cricket Pavillion , which is also home to the head office of the Milton Keynes Parks Trust    . These guys look after all the parks and green areas around MK .

While wandering around i was approached by a couple , who asked me if i would take a few portraits of them amongst the wonderful Daffodils . They were thrilled with the photos , took one of my business cards and said they would book me for their wedding next year !!! Funny how you can pick up work without even thinking about it . Just shows that you need to be nice to people and not be a grumpy old so and so :-)

As you can see , its a great place to relax and read a book . Fantastic for taking a stroll and take a look at some of the wonderful abstract art work that is there . As you can see in the photo.
So , thats it from me for now .I am off to add the wedding to my diary and plan more trips to places around the wonderful city that i live in . In the hope that more couples want photos taken , then book me to do their wedding photography :-)
View more of my images on my website

All the best for now , Mark .

Monday, 26 March 2012

A view of some of my older images .

I will start adding a few of my images from my library . I will start with a few from my many trips to The Lake District .

Anyone who has been for a visit to the Lakes will know that  there are endless places to spend a day with a camera , a flask of coffee , some cheese and onion sandwiches and a packet of Choccie Hobnobs !!

Near where i stay is a wonderful Victorian, seaside village and civil parish  .Up to the 19th centuary , the village was a port . But when the viaduct was built this caused the Estuary to silt up and this was the end of it being used as a port . The village is overlooked by the Arnside Tower , which was built around the 14th or 15th centuary .

One thing i love to capture here are the wonderful sunsets !! Which as you can see are something special !! The above image is a HDR image , which is when several shots are taken of the same scene , at different exposures , then merged together to give a high dynamic range of detail . I usually take 5 images and merge them . I use Photmatix software for doing this .

Derwent water is another place i love to visit and one of my images from the water front at Derwent was entered into the BBC Countryfile annual calender competition .And although it didn't win the competition , it was one of the 12 fianlists and was used as the February image in their 2011 calender .

The above image was the one used in the calender and they named it ' Sundown' .
As you can tell , it was a sunset image .I had been there early morning for sunrise , then returned for the end of the day . And am glad i did .

The weather in The Lakes has a mind of its own .So never take for granted what you hear on the radio or see on the tv . I have seen the weather change in a matter of minutes . As you can see in the above image .It was a really stormy day , but still worth getting out with my camera . As the light will change so quickly .You are almost guaranteed to get some stunning photographs .

I will be going through my massive library of images and adding more . It will take some time as i have over 30,000 images !!!! So i am now going for a soak in the bath .As i have overdone the work on my allotment today .And my poor old back is not too happy with me !!

So , once again , i hope you enjoyed looking at a few of my pics , and enjoyed the read .
Cheers Mark

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Arnside Cumbria Lake District .

Just a quick blog to tell you that a place close to my heart is , The Lake District in England .

This is a place that i have been very lucky to visit many times over the last 15 yrs . Due to my working hrs when i was employed , it ment that i had a week off every 7th week !!! So myself and my wife would pack the car and head for the hills . Well , i would head for the hills , but sadly not my wife as its a bit difficult trying to get to the summit of Helvellyn when you are in a wheelchair !! But , for my wife it means she can get away from home and enjoy some fresh air .
I will be going back through my photo library and uploading plenty of my images from my visits to The Lakes . I will also add some links to where my Lakes images have been published and where i was lucky to be one of the finalists in the BBC Countryfile photo competition .

Now time for that coffee . Then some SEO work on my site . Then the chicken run cleaning :-)
Thanks for popping by .Hope you enjoy my blogs and images .
Cheers Mark. 

Willen Lake and the wonders that you see while there !!

Been a while since i have been to Willen Lake . Willen Lake is in Milton Keynes , Buckinghamshire and  a wonderful place to spend a few hours . There is so much to see and do , you will never be bored . Whether you are walking the dog , taking a ride on your bike or wandering around with your camera ( as i did ) .
One of the wonders that you will come across on the side of the north lake is the Peace Pagoda !!! There are resident Monks living nearby in the Temple and the whole area has a very tranquil feel to it . Just down from the Pagoda there is a replica Stone Circle .
Follow the footpath and you will go under the road and head towards the south lake . Here you can watch all sorts of things to do with water . There are facilities to water ski . You can hire out sailing boats , take in a spot of fishing or simply relax over a coffee or a beer from the restaurant . There are many types of birds living on the lake . From Swans, Geese , Ducks .In fact , pretty much every type of water bird you would love to watch . Also , there are several bird hides , where you can sit in quite , hidden away and look through your binoculars at the wildlife around you .

Milton Keynes Parks Trust spends a lot of time and money making sure the green areas of our lovely city are always in tip top condition . You will see from the pictures i have attatched that they make sure that all the grass is kept tidy .They also plant plenty of spring bulbs . As you can see from the Daffodil photo .

Most of these attached images were taken with my Nikon D700 and my newly acquired Sigma 300 2.8 lens . I decided to go out armed with just the one camera and one lens . Although , i did swap over to my Sigma 10-20 for a couple of the Daffodil images .

I will also attach a few of Mabel from her walk yesterday . Again i went out armed with just one camera and one lens .This time it was the lighter Nikon D90 and the Sigma 10-20 . This means that some of the images have the perspective thrown out , due to the extreme wide angle of this wonderful lens .

So thats it for today . I am off for a coffee .Then do some work on my website ( ) And this afternoon , i need to clean out the Chickens !! Yes we have 5 Chooks . More about them another time .

Have a great day , Mark .

Friday, 16 March 2012

Search Engine Optimisation

Yesterday i attended a training day with Kevin Mullins , Documentary Wedding Photographer and SOE guru !!!!
I learnt a huge amount on the day and took a whole wadge of notes . Today looking back at them , i am beginning to realise that , i should have taken more notes!! . And made notes about my notes!! . As i am still as confused as i was when i first went into the classroom !!!

I understand the principles of getting my web site higher up the pages for Google searches. But putting it into practise is going to be a very long learning curve !! I have found out that my website page is a ranking of zero !!! But this is due to me not understanding how the search optimisation works . now that i have a better understanding of it , i hope that i can increase this ranking to at least a ranking of 1 in a short period of time . And looking to the near future , get it up to at least a ranking of 2 !! For those of you that know how this is achieved , you will know that this isn't the easiest thing to achieve . But i am determined to make this project work . So here goes to a few more sleepless nights and many hours on the laptop helping my business grow. :-)

I haven't any photos to add today . But i still have yet to add the dog portraits that i took last weekend . I will perhaps try and do those in the next day or so .

Thanks for popping in again . And please send me a message as to what you think about my blog page so far . As i always like feedback .So that i know if i am making you peoples lives a bit more interesting .

Thanks and have a good weekend , Mark

Monday, 12 March 2012

What a weekend !!

Well , i have just about recovered from a busy weekend photographing various things . One being a family portrait for the Smith family , from Northants . This was Mum , Dad , Max the eldest and twin girls , Millie and Ellie .
Max was keen to get in front of the camera , so was my first subject .Ellie was ....... well just Ellie lol .She loves being in front of the camera and enjoys posing !!! Millie was a tad shy to start with .Thinking she had to just sit still and look pretty . Once Millie realised she could do her cartwheels , handstands and general gymnastics , to the sound of the shutter firing and my Elinchrom lights beeping away , confirming that they has actually fired , there was no stopping her !!!

When i realised my dream about going full time as a photographer , i thought that i would purchase equipment that makes life easy . Particularly in the studio area .As this wasn't an area that i had had lots of experience in . So within my set up budget , i purchase a Lastolite Hi Lite background . These are just fantastic !!!! Perfect white backgrounds for that clean look, are soooo simple . So if you are thinking of getting one of these , just do it !!!

All of the family were fantastic . Really relaxed , lots of smiles and made my job nice and easy . So it was a case of individual shots of all the children .Then group shots of the children , plus all the family together . Mum and Dad were happy to have some nice shots of just the two of them . Well , i say they were happy ...... Dad , Dave was really suffering from a hangover !!! So it would have been rude not to have made him crawl around on the floor , getting into strange poses ;-) .

Once the family portraits were done , i had booked in the son of a good friend for some portraits . Plus, Gordon, my friend wanted some doggie portraits done of his working Springer Spaniel , Daisy .
Sadly , Gordon couldnt make it , due to a very painful foot where a nasty Bunion had come up !!!

So , with about an hour to spare . As i had another dog booked in for some portraits . I managed to get my wife to bring Mabel , our puppy Doberman, over to me for some fun portraits . I will say that at 9 months of age ,she is doing really well at the sit and wait command . Mainly due to there being dried Liver treats on hand !!   Mabel sat and posed really well . I said to my wife that i wanted some photos of me and Mabel together . The only way to do this was to put the camera in the hands of my wife . Now , this isn't the easiest thing for her as she has to use crutches when going short distances . And a wheelchair for anything other than a distance of more that about 15 feet . I will say that she managed to do a fantastic job in capturing me and Mabel rolling around on the white train of the Hi Lite box . So far as in that she got a shot of me laughing and Mabel taking advantage of my wide open mouth and shoving her long tongue in my mouth !!!
After washing my mouth out , it was time for Mabel to go home and my next pooch to arrive for her sitting .

Jackie arrived with Izzy , her rescue Lurcher . Now , if you know Lurchers , they are a sight hound . And Izzy used her sight to see that one of the side doors was open !!! We then spent the next 20 mins chasing Izzy around the carpark , trying all sorts of tricks to lure her back . In the end it was a nice piece of cheese that did the job .

Once back inside , with the side door securely bolted , we got to work trying to get Izzy to sit in front of the camera . This wasn't as easy as i thought it would be . Being a rescue dog . Izzy can be a tad nervous when in unfamiliar surroundings . So it was out with the cheese again and this got Izzy doing as we wanted :-) Sadly , only for a short time as she was still a bit on the nervous side . So we didn't want to make her feel any worse .So called it a day .

Saturday evening was spent editing all the Smith family images . And i am still to do the two dog's photos . I am due to to go and see Jackie tomorrow for her to look through the images and decide which ones she wants printed . So , this evening will be taken up with editing Izzy images .

Sunday was fairly busy .As i had volunteered to go over to Jo's Grandmothers house and cut up a load of scrap wood for her to use as kindling for her open fire . Half way through i was told to stop and get ready to go out for a Chinese Buffet , which is an all you can eat type place . I see this as a challenge , not an offer !!! Several plates of hot food and a couple of plates of sweet puddings , i was full up and ready to get back to cutting the scrap wood .

I will put some of the Doggy pictures up when I have had a chance to go through them and select the best :-) 

They say never work with Children and Animals??? Well I throughly enjoyed my day photographing them :P

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

A nice walk with Mabel and my camera .

Well after yesterdays long day at the photographic show . I decided that today would be a lazy day .
So i went for a nice long walk with Mabel . If you decide to follow my blogs , you will come to see that Mabel is a huge part of my life . Mabel is a 9 month old Black & Tan Doberman . She is totally nuts and rarely sits still !!! Both my wife and i are hoping that she will eventually calm down a bit .Just so we can have some peace and quiet !!!

Mabel and i have found a wonderful walk local to us .It's about 4 miles long and wears the two of us out !! It takes in the restored and now residential Old Wolverton Water Mill . From there we cross the river Ouse , follow a few fields and for a short while we walk along the Grand Union Canal . Then onto a derelict canal that was previously called the Buckingham Canal .

Today i took out my Nikon D700 and just one lens .My choice was my Sigma 10-20 wide angle zoom . I wasn't after any landscape images . Just some silly ones of Mabel at the 10mm end of the lens .Using this at it's widest end and shooting up as close as it will focus gives some very unusual looking images . As this throws the perspective out and makes Mabel's nose even longer than it looks in real life !!!! And believe me , she has a nose that gets into many places it shouldn't .

I am going to attempt to add some photos to this blog from todays jolly . All of them were taken without looking through the viewfinder , so just a bit of fire the shutter and hope !! I have also adjusted the images in photoshop . You will see that i have over cooked the colours to make Mabel look a bit more crazy than she really is :-)  And as a last thing .You will see that she is jumping ove a fence along the footpath in a couple of images .This she learnt to do today and i couldnt stop her jumping back and forth ......... Just because she can !!!!

First Blog Entry - this is daunting for a beginner !

Well, here we go !!  Yesterday I went to Focus on Imaging, a photography industry show at the NEC in Birmingham.  I took along my better half for a day out, and so I could load my sandwich bag and purchases on the back of her wheelchair, hence saving me having to carry them !! (you see my thinking? clever or what?).  Anyway we had a nice, if tiring, day, there were copious amounts of lenses, cameras, studio lighting, album ideas, camera bags etc, I was in my element and could easily have spent thousands of pounds on equipment !!  However being sensible I came away with half a rainforest in a carrier bag (on the back of the wheelchair) with ideas about wedding albums from some very prestigious companies from around the world.  I also came away with my one purchase, a padded camera strap which cost the grand total of, wait for it ............. £9.99 !! so along with 2 hot chocolates for my good lady and myself  I spent the staggering sum of £16.39, quite a feat when faced with many lenses I would have loved to buy. 

On a serious note I got to try out the Nikon fit, Sigma 85mm 1.4 lens which is my next purchase I am saving up for, and also got to have a play around with lots of Lowepro bags.  My current lowepro bag is groaning with the amount of equipment in it and I need a larger bag ! Any ideas on a good bag that will hold 2 DSLR's with grips and 5 lenses up to 300mm? Drop me a message.

Well my friends, for now, good bye and have a good day :)