The Library

This is a selection of photography books that I’ve accumulated over time. I use them mostly for browsing or reference, although I have read the odd one or two cover-to-cover. I’d recommend any one of them to anyone interested in photography.


Photoshop CS6: The Missing Manual  Published by O’Reilly, The Missing Manuals series is a highly regarded collection covering a wide variety of software products (and increasingly hardware and wider technical issues and practices, offering a smarter alternative to The Dummies… Guides). This 800 page volume covers everything from The Basics to advanced photoediting and image creation for the web. It’s a great reference work that’s well laid out and simple to understand.

PhotoIdeaIndex:Things  I picked this up at a secondhand bookshop in Letchworth. It’s a collection of mostly abstract images of everyday scenes. It’s a great book for ideas and how to train the eye to see things in a different way. Each chapter covers a different theme, concept or approach to photographing objects or landscapes.

50 Photo Icons  This book takes a historical look at the background to 50 iconic images, starting with Niépce’s 1827 View From The Study Window, the earliest known surviving photograph. The weighty tome goes on to discuss a further 49 images up to the September 11th attack on The Twin Towers. This is a book about images and their context, and how they relate to the period they were taken.

The New Manual of Photography  Just one of 30 books by award-winning photographer John Hedgecoe, this book covers every aspect of photography, from the construction of digital cameras, lenses, filters, exposure, composition, lighting and retouching. It’s an excellent book for both beginners and experienced photographers.

The Trees

I’ve photographed plenty of live music over the years but only recently have I been asked to do promotional shoots for bands. Whilst I was covering last year’s Wilkestock I was asked to take some candid shots for Frankie The Gambler. Then a couple of months later I was approached by The Trees to produce a selection of shots for promotional use. The band already had a clear idea of what the wanted, having found a group of four trees in the middle of a field (there are four members of the band). Costume wasn’t an issue either as they knew exactly the look they wanted. It probably also helped that it was Autumn, a season often associated with trees!

Thankfully the weather was good for the day of the shoot – cloudy with sunny spells. I had already visited the site beforehand to get an idea of the lay of the land, the angle of the sun and most promising compositions.

I wanted to get shots of the band both close up and featuring each member against a tree (although that may have been their idea come to think of it!). Two of my favourite shots shown below illustrate both of these ideas.

I particularly like this shot of the band as it shows them all together but somehow all doing their own thing, with Sam staring off into the distance and David’s glance towards Rick. For me it has echoes of my Frankie The Gambler shot, both images showing the band as a group but also as individuals.

This shot shows each member of the band standing against one of the four trees. In reality the trees were actually much further apart when viewed from this angle so I had to move them closer together using Photoshop.

All of the finished shots feature a little cross-processing. I generally don’t touch the blue channel when adjusting the colours, concentrating on just the the red and green channels. I also tweaked the vibrance to bring out the orange leaves against the green grass.

I’m now looking forward to further commissions, maybe with more scope for art direction. If you’re interested in some promotional images why not get in touch.

Are You CRB Checked?

Clients sometimes ask if I’m CRB checked. The short answer to this question is “yes”, although CRB checks were replaced with DBS checks with the establishment of the Disclosure and Barring Service in December 2012.

However, there area few myths about these checks, most often surrounding who requires them and where they’re needed.

Firstly, you can’t apply for a check yourself. This is the duty of an employer or organisation responsible for children’s welfare. This means that individuals and self employed people cannot obtain a DBS check themselves. It has to be done by the organisation employing or contracting them,.

Secondly, a DBS check is not necessary for photographing children. It is only necessary for people who are responsible for the care of vulnerable individuals or groups. Typically this means that photographers can work with children as long as they are supervised. However, any photographer working regularly with children benefits from having been checked as this provides customers with an added level of assurance.

As a self-employed person I am not able to apply for a DBS check myself. However, an educational establishment for whom I do regular work has performed an enhanced check with the Disclosure & Barring Service, which provides me with the necessary certification.

Update: Since writing this article I’ve learned that it is possible to apply for a copy of your criminal record (called a ‘basic disclosure’). This simply shows any unspent criminal convictions, as opposed to a DBS check that would also detail spent convictions, cautions, warnings and reprimands.

Useful links:

Fume Cupboards

A couple of weeks ago I took some shots for a Hertford business that manufactures fume cupboards and associated accessories.

The brief was to photograph the units from the front and present them on a white background for use in literature and on the web. The work took place at the client’s factory.

A couple of challenges presented themselves with this assignment. Firstly, the cupboards have highly reflective surfaces; and secondly, they feature lots of horizontal and vertical lines.

The reflective surfaces are made up of white gloss paintwork and windows. The challenge is to place the lighting such that reflections and shadows are minimal. The cabinets are also lit internally so there is also an additional matter of balancing lighting temperatures and intensity.

The straight lines of the units mean that the camera has to be positioned to get the correct perspective and minimise geometric distortion. Unfortunately space was limited with one of the cupboards and therefore it was necessary to tweak the perspective in Photoshop.

The units where lit with a pair of 400W strobes and exposure was manual, using an aperture of around f5.6 to f8.

As well as correcting perspective and geometry in Photoshop, I also made the usual tweaks to the colour curves, before isolating the cupboards from the background.

If you’re a business and Hertfordshire or Essex and you need images of products like this then find out more by visiting my Product Photography page.