Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Baby and Family Portraits

I had the absolute pleasure of being commisioned to take baby Alana's first ever official portrait photos.  At 9 weeks of age she proved to be the perfect model, and was very patient while myself and her parents put her into lots of weird positions to get the best shots.

For the lighting I used my Elinchrom lighting, and my Lastolite HiLite illuminated background (you have studio lights placed in it to create the perfect white background without creases and shadows). 
The only fun thing about the Hilite backgrounds are folding them away afterwards !!  Many a fun filled time has been spent perfecting the art of folding the 6ft x 7ft flexible structure away in its bag :)

Below are some of the shots I took over the hour I spent with Alana and her parents.  Some have been converted to black and white in Adobe Photoshop.

The next image was taken using natural light at the kitchen window and my Nikon 85mm portrait lens to throw the background sufficiently out of focus.  This super sharp lens is my latest purchase and I am very impressed so far with the results I am getting.

I hope you have enjoyed having a look at a different type of photography from my usual blogs. 

For further information about my work you can contact me via my website Eternity Images.

Thanks for popping by,

Kind regards Mark

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Appleby Horse Fair . A gathering of Gypsies and Travellers .

I am a frequent visitor to Cumbria and have wanted to go to this fair for a good number of year s now . I always seen to arrive in Cumbria too late or am up there the week before it is due to take place .

This last visit however was my lucky time to go up there . The Appleby fair was on during the last few days of my time away .   Anyone who has watched the Channel 4 show My big fat Gypsy Wedding will be familiar with the Fair as it has featured on the show.

For those of you who have not heard about this fair . It has been held in this lovely part of England for hundreds of years . It is an event held yearly and is attended by Romany and Irish families travelling to meet up with old friends, celebrate their music, history and folklore and conduct business - particularly buying and selling horses.  It is also visited by many visitors each year wanting to witness this unique event.

Traditionally the Gypsies and Travellers set up and stay on Fair Hill where they trade horses.  They run them on the surrounding public roads so they can display their skills to prospective buyers.  The younger members of the family wash the horses in the River Eden to get them ready to show to prospective buyers. In the evenings Fair Hill is alight with campfires. Sadly on my first visit , the river was far to high to safely take horses into the river for their wash and scrub . So it was down to the young members of the community to hang over the side of the river and collect buckets of water to shampoo the horses . They really do like to make these horses look at their best . I saw all sorts of posh shampoos and could smell Strawberry and other fruity shampoos being used .

I watched many of the horses being run along the streets and i was surprised at how fast they go along the roads , with people milling around at the same time . It really is a case of look over your shoulder , as they will not stop or even be able to stop if you step out in front of the horse . You can hear calls from the drivers of the carts that they use , shouting to mind your backs !!! But you need to watch your feet as well . As one poor soul found out when  a horse and cart went over his foot !!! ouch !!

The weather was really great for this day out . The week prior had been awful weather , rain and storms . But the sun was shining down on Appleby on this day . And as i was driving home at the end of my visit , it was apparent that it did shine just on Appleby . The surrounding area and all my journey back to Cumbria was dull and cloudy !!

While eating my lunch , i was watching a group of Gypsies doing a deal on a lovely horse . It is obviously a real tradition in the way they do these deals , as i couldn't make head nor tail of what was going on . But there was lots of hand slapping and money being passed from one man to another . I was really impressed that they have kept this tradition up for so many years .

Walking up to Fair Hill was interesting as there were some of the younger travellers in their new cars . Bentley Continental convertible and Porsche convertibles !!! I might think about doing a course on tarmac laying and block paving as it seems to pay well .

Their caravans are amazing.  All spotlessly clean and the ones with chrome parts were glistening in the sunshine .

There were fires lit nearby most of the caravans . Again this seems to be part of their tradition that they have a fire near by their homes .

I have heard from people that Travellers and Gypsies are nasty ignorant people . All i can say is that the ones i spoke to and bumped into were really polite and friendly . They seem to get a bad press . Which happens in all walks of life !!

To find out more about the Gypsy and Traveller tradition visit www.grthm.co.uk.

Here are some links you might find interesting .

 This is where the horses normally get taken to be washed , to show them off at their shiny best .
 Lovely Irish music being played . Was the first thing you heard as you came into the main street .
 Horses tethered up for prospective buyers to view .
 Fowl sticking close to mum . Was also still suckling from her as well .
 Some of the carts are really well painted . This one had gilded gold on and really stood out .
 They can get up some speed , as i said in the blog . You would not want to get hit by one at speed .
 Bringing them in to go on sale up at Fair Hill . Think these were fairly wild as they were a bit on the jumpy side !!
 After they have been shampooed , their feathers are rubbed with sawdust to make them all fluffy for the prospective buyers .
Traditional Caravans , highly painted and look so cosy . They all had little wood stoves in them and comfy looking beds . Whole families would have lived in these . I believe that some still carry on the tradition of living inside this style of Caravan .

Many thanks for popping by and hope you enjoyed the blog and photos that go with it . View more of my images on my website http://www.eternityimages.co.uk/Home.aspx

All the best , Mark .

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Some more pics of the Kestrel Chicks .

I have been back a few times now to stand and stare at these wonderful chicks . I thought that there were only 2 of them . But today i went along with a friend (Keith , Holding Moments) and we reslised that there are infact 3 chicks !!!! One is very mobile and flying around the woodland . One is a fairly mobile one , but tends not to wander to far away . The last one is still a bit fluffy and looks fat . So i have called him ,Mark !! As thats how i feel a lot of the time , fat and fluffy lol .

While we were there today the parents came back several times with food for them . The first bit of food was a huge , and i mean huge Rat !! Sadly , the chick that had this went out of our view. We were just about to go back to mine for a coffe e and a natter , when the parent came back again with a big mouse . This time , Mark the fluffy one ate it right in front of us !! But had his back to us , so we didn't get to see the real gory bits !! But could see him ripping this mouse into bite size chunks and pulling the guts out and snacking on those as well !!

We decided to hang around for another ten minutes and it was worth it , as one of the others came back and sat with fluffy fat Mark . So we were able to get some images of the two together .

Then it was time to head home for a coffee . And for Keith and his friend to be licked to death by Mabel & Maya !! Mabel and Maya needed a walk , so when Keith and his friend had gone , i headed back over to have a wee look .

As i was walking round , i bumped into a walking buddy , who has a big Boxer , who Mabel loves and Maya was yet to meet . They all had a run around and i pointed out the Ketstrels to the owner of Ralfie . I know all the dogs name where i walk , but i don't know hardly any of the owners names !! Guess that shows i like dogs more than some people lol . As we walked past the allotments one of the adult Kestrels flew out of one of the overgrown allotments with a huge rat in its tallons !!! I had wondered where they were getting them from . An this makes sense , as these damn rats are eating everything that i am  growing on my plot . So the more that get taken by the family , the better it is in my opinion !!!  On the way back round one of the parents arrived with another big rat !! This was taken by one of the stronger chicks and taken away to a high branch where they devoured it in a matter of minutes , maybe 2 minutes !!! 

As i had the dogs with me i didn't have my camera . But i did have my binoculars . Which are a pair of Leitz Trinovid 10x25 pocket binos . Thes are fabulous little bins . I was able to stand at a good distance and just watch all the goings on for a good half hr while Maya and Mabel amussed themselves in the long grass in the park .

I don't think it will be long before the stronger ones are away by themselves . But hopefully , Fluffy Fat Mark will be around for another week or so , so i can enjoy watching these wonderful birds .

Here are afew pics from today . Some are not that sharp as they were jumping around with the food . But you can see the bits n bobs of the mouse . So if you are a bit squeemish , please don't view the photos .

 The large mouse or possibly a small rat .
 Pulling its mid morning snack to pieces .

 Sadly not very sharp , but shows the rat that has been delivered .
You can see the blood on the chest feathers where it has just eaten .

Once again , thanks for looking in . Please feel free to leave a comment or two and follow my blog .
View more of my images on my website http://www.eternityimages.co.uk/Home.aspx 
Thanks , Mark.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Kestrel Chicks .

For a good few years now , there have been a pair of Kestrel's that have been nesting in a hole in a Ash Tree where i walk my dogs . I have been lucky to stand and watch the parents come back with various dead animals and disappear into the nest to feed the chicks . I could always hear and see the parents around the wooded area . And i could always hear the chicks making noise when the parents came back with food for them . But i never managed to catch a glimpse of the chicks !!

This last week i have been away in The Lake District having a week of doing very little , as the weather was cloudy and rainy most of the week . All i was able to do was take the dogs out for long wet walks . The dogs always managed to get muddy as well !!

On Saturday 9th June i decided to take a trip to Appleby Horse Fair . This is something i have wanted to do for a good number of years . But was never in the area when it was on . I was always either too early or too late !!! But this year i was there at the right time . I shall be blogging about this later next week .

Today after a good journey back from our holiday . Yes , the M6 motorway was flowing well all the way !!! And i managed to get home in just over 3.5 hrs in the old Land Rover , with the two dogs in the back . The dogs were getting a tad restless with about 40 mins to go . So i knew they would need a walk after i had finished un-packing the cars .

Quick cup of tea and a chocolate biscuit and it was then out with the dogs . I had intended to go out for at least an hour . But when i turned the corner on our walk . I noticed that the tree that the Kestrel's nest in had been damaged by the strong winds that our area had had while we were away (we were lucky that we missed this where we were staying !!) The first thing  that came to my mind was , how are the chicks ??? I knew they would be only a few weeks away from fleeing the nest . And was upset to think that their nest had been destroyed and the chicks would be dead !!! But as i got closer , i could hear the chicks making their normal noise . Only this time it was much louder than normal . I stopped and looked at the huge limb that had come off of the Ash tree . Low and behold , there were the two chicks , sitting on the limb making noise for their food . I was now worried that their parents would have abandoned them , as there nest was destroyed . i wandered away . But stayed within looking distance . And then i saw the parents come back with food , feeding their two chicks . I don't know if there were more than two before the tree was damaged . But i was overjoyed to see healthy chicks an parents still feeding them !!!!

The dogs only got around 15 minutes walk . As i headed back home to collect my camera and my favourite lens for wildlife . So armed with my Nikon D700 , Sigma 300 2.8 and Sigma 2x converter . I headed back to the chicks . I positioned myself so that i did not disturb the chicks . Only one was around . So i can assume that they do have somewhere safe to go to , out of view of any predators . I managed to fire off around 70 photos . I had to use a fast ISO on the camera , so it was set at 3200 !! Back in film days this would have made the images really grainy . But luckily , today's digital cameras are much better with fast ISO  . And the Nikon D700 is well known for showing very little noise (grain in old talk ) when you push it . I have used it at 6400 inside churches when shooting weddings and there was very little noise to worry about !!! This is why i now love using a digital SLR  :-)

I have uploaded a few photos from today . I do plan on keeping my eye on the chicks and hope to get some more photos , when the light is a tad better !!!

 Lovely too see a fluffy Kestrel Chick .

 Checking if the wings work !!

 Looking straight into camera . I warmed the colour temp up a small amount as well on this image .
Yes , the wings do work . Although this image isn't very sharp , due to low light . This is why i intend to pop back and hide away to get some more images .

Thanks for taking time to read my blog. And i hope you have enjoyed the photos .View more images on my website http://www.eternityimages.co.uk/Home.aspx

Many thanks , Mark