It’s not free (part 1)

I need someone to fix my car. A friend of mine has a spanner but I thought it would be easier if you did it. I'll tell everyone that you fixed my car and you’ll get more clients.
I just need you to install my washing machine. It’ll only take a couple of minutes so you won’t want paying, will you?
I know my house cost a lot of money. That's why I don't have much money left to paint it, so can you do it for free?
My friend had arranged give me a lift to the airport but he's ill. Could you take me instead?

Would you say this to a mechanic, plumber, decorator or taxi driver?

Assuming you wouldn’t, why do so many people say these things to photographers (and musicians, dancers, etc)?

There is not even the slightest hint at payment. If the sentence started with ‘
How much would it cost’ or ‘What would you charge me’, it would sound so much better. It’s the supposition that the work will be done free of charge that annoys. Whether an artist charges should be their decision, not yours.

To be continued Happy

The future


Just a photo of a boy with a ball in the late 1940s, however, I owe this young man an enormous debt of gratitude. He is responsible for what you see now. 65 years ago, when this photo was taken, who could have suspected where I would end up or what I would be doing.
But back to the kid in the photo. He managed to escape the steelmills of Sheffield by enlisting in the army. This took him to a small town on the English Welsh border. After being posted to the south of England, the south of Wales, and then Germany he came back to this small town, but lived across the border inside Wales. While in Germany he bought a camera a Canon FP which he later gave to me in exchange for a point and shoot. It was my first SLR, although not my first camera, and before that he had instilled an interest in photography in me. Now, with the Canon, I suddenly had a whole new world open up in front of me. And he was always on hand to guide me through this new world.
In the same way that when you learn to cycle, you don't realise that your parents are not holding onto the seat anymore because you're too busy looking where you're going, now is when I realise how important he was in sending me on my way into the world.
Thanks dad.




Like buses, nothing for ages and then three come along at once!
First, with the Plec Collective in Res Non Verba, next with El Mirall Que Ens Mira in the Department of Culture, Lleida.
Finally, with Albert Bonet, Caballer Sumalla and Ermengol in Malignum Castrum, Os de Balaguer.
Thank you to everyone who worked to make this possible.


Photos are for everyone


Late last year I did a photo shoot with a friend. It's difficult to know what to call her, I suppose the most common term would be cancer survivor, certainly not a victim of cancer. She, like many others, has fought very hard to overcome the disease and she decided to have some photos to remember what she looked like after she had finished her chemotherapy. It is easy to forget things as they slip into the past, photography helps us to remember: by freezing time, we create moments that live forever.

While I was waiting for her I started to get nervous, I had never shot anyone suffering from an illness, or at least that I was aware of. All sorts of things were going through my head: all the ‘what ifs’ of a normal shoot plus the added unknown quality of someone who has been through a lot of varying treatment and has lost her hair as a result. A bald man is not unusual, a woman without hair is. When the wig came off she seemed just as beautiful, only differently so. We chatted about what she had been through and how she was, the effect on her family, and very soon the shoot was over.

What made it special for me was that I was being allowed to show something which is normally hidden from society, and in my view I was empowering someone to feel better about the way they looked. In this society, obsessed with image, it's good to show things as they are, especially if this helps people come to terms with difficulties, whether they be mental or physical, from illness or injury.

Check out the work by
Jade Beale and David Jay, both of whom are working hard to challenge popular conception of what is attractive in this modern world.

To the memory of MHG 1939-1999


For photos - click here.
Well, I’m getting closer to having an up-and-running studio. The emergency lighting was installed on Friday and I now have the architect’s report. Now all I need is the money to pay the council for the permit.
It’s always the same. There’s money and no time, time and no money, or my usual situation: some time and some money but not enough of either to make life easier.
Still, I’m not complaining, I’m fortunate to be where I am Happy



The blog has been hibernating, but spring is here and it’s time to wake up.

Lots of things are in the pipeline.
Next week I’ll be part of the Plec Collective exhibiting in Res Non Verba, Lleida. And while we’re on the topic of exhibitions, I’ll be exhibiting in the castle of Os de Balaguer in April so I’m currently working out how to display my work.
My studio is coming along, fire safety was finished yesterday (one extinguisher and a sign!), emergency lighting will be fitted today, and the architect’s report should be ready next week.

I’ll keep you posted (I promise).

Time: lapse or waste Time: lapse or waste Time: lapse or waste

Sometimes I hate technology, or at least I don't like it very much. Anyone who knows me might find that surprising as I appear to have I love for gadgets. I love what they allow me to do - more things in less time. Usually. 

The timelapse above is a good example of my love hate relationship with technology. Without my digital camera, intervalometer and various other devices it wouldn't have been possible to take the series of photos that make up the timelapse. Without a computer and the necessary software it wouldn't have been possible to process all of those images, nearly 1000 in total. More software to assemble the photos into the piece of film that you now see. Finally, thanks to Tim Berners-Lee, somewhere to put the video so that everybody (with the necessary technology) can see it. Technology is a wonderful thing.

It's also a terrible thing. It caused me to waste a lot of time in the production of 40 seconds of video. The hours I spent standing in a field in the Pyrenees were definitely not a waste of time, although in the beginning it was a bit nippy then it got quite hot and I had to keep the camera shaded and the flies off the lens. That is the part of my job that I love (not the flies), that zen like time when there is only me, a camera and the idea in my head. Processing the photos was also very simple and straightforward (thank you
Capture One Pro), although it took my computer five hours to complete (a reduction on the 12 hours that it was threatening me with in the beginning). While it was working, I was free to do something else, or do nothing - that’s good technology.

Now all that remained was to assemble the photos into the 40 second video, this is where technology let me down, or perhaps it just worked less well than it normally does (or I expect it to). To create the previous four second timelapse I made, I used a plug-in for Aperture. So I imported all my finished photos into Aperture and then selected the plug-in to export to, and just like last time I got a timelapse, and just like last time it was four seconds long (it hasn't compressed all my photos into four seconds, it just stopped after four seconds of film). I had a quick look on the net to find out if there was a simple solution but I couldn't find one (I could have spent more time looking, or would I have wasted more time looking?).

So I decided to use iMovie. According to someone on the web it was very easy to make a timelapse from stills in iMovie - no it wasn't, not for me anyway. I tried with the new Mavericks iMovie and also with the old iMovie I had before, neither helped me reach my goal. Back onto the web, now looking at professional software for making timelapses, reading the reviews and trying not to spend too much money I found an instructional video (note to instructional video makers: please provide a written transcript because I can read much faster than you can talk then I can skip all the bits I already know) on how to use Lightroom to make a timelapse. I cleaned the cobwebs from my 2009 version of Photoshop elements and had a look at my Lightroom, of course the necessary plug-in was missing so I thought that's enough time wasted (I felt that if I looked for the plug-in, and even if I found it, I knew it wouldn't work properly if I downloaded it).
Time to find a quick and easy solution. The cheapest option was QuickTime Pro, yet more time evaporated as I had to read the instructions on how to enter the registration code (what’s wrong with opening the program and entering it in
Preferences?). I managed to get it up and running, even so, it didn't give me a functioning preview, on the preview window it did show 40 seconds so I thought that must be right. Still not finished though. According to the instructions you should choose the first photo in the folder that you want and make sure all the photos are sequential. For some reason QuickTime decided to include the four previous photos from the one I selected, which were test shots, so when I finally got my movie it jumped and flickered at the beginning. An easy solution here - delete the four files and start the process again. 

If it weren't for technology I would never have been able to make this timelapse. But the very same technology also caused me to waste a lot of my time. However, I think that lapse is more my fault than technology's (although that doesn't stop me getting upset with it when it doesn't, or can't, do what I want). If I read instructions, planned and thought a bit more, I would be more productive. Day by day, technology provides us with the power and ability to do amazing things, but we mustn't allow ourselves to be distracted by technology, it is the means not the end, we must not lose sight of what we're supposed to be doing. Technology offers myriad possibilities, but we should ask ourselves whether or not we really need that software (with its associated learning curve), or where productivity ends and timewasting begins on social media. Otherwise, our time will will become a timelapse and we will look back wondering where it all went and how it went so quickly.


Cultural magazine


It’s a bit late, but better late than never!

A new cultural magazine for Lleida covering (we hope) a niche in the market. 32 pages to be published quarterly, although we are thinking of fattening it up to 40 pages for the next edition.
We hope to show that there has always been, is and will be culture outside Barcelona, and that it’s good.

If you can’t get hold of a copy (or would like to contribute or feature), drop me a line.

Shepherd's delight

Shepherd's delight 2013-05-19 at 20-24-38

Red sky at night, shepherd’s cottage alight;
Red sky in the morning, it’s still burning.

Spike Milligan (I think)

Working hard to catch that decisive moment Happy


Red is not the only colour

Rose (6)

Flowers are a good thing, a sweet thing to give a lady. But it is always roses, always red, and always perfect hothouse blooms when they can come by them.

Patrick Rothfuss

Sometimes that which appears most beautiful, is not at all fragrant.
Close your eyes! Do not be misled by them.

Me Winking



Rose (4)

What do you see here?

A long-nosed bespectacled man with a duck on the back of his head?

Whatever it is, it would smell as good by any other name Happy


More water

Vall de Cardos 2012-08-19 at 20-44-47 - Version 2

Higher than the last water post (26/03/13).

With the state of the weather this weekend you could be forgiven for not wanting to think about water, but it’s still a problem. Not only is shortage an issue, a surfeit also causes difficulties.

Here is a idea to reduce the risk of flooding.

St George

Lleida 2012-11-27 at 15-55-57 - Version 2

After a short break (hours went missing from my days), I’m back with a little reflection on 23rd April in Catalonia.

What’s wrong with this photo?

Storm clouds

Lleida 2012-07-28 at 19-02-54 - Version 2

Storm clouds behind. Storm clouds ahead.

Gimme shelter.


Under a Blood Red Sky

Silencio 2013-03-29 at 09-13-18 - Version 2

Not really a reference the their last good record.

There’s a bit of everything here - from capillary, a nick while shaving, to spurting artery.

Maybe I should use it to illustrate the book of Revelation (there’s no moon, but you can’t have everything, can you?).

The past


One of the first photos that I ever took and still have.

It was taken at Llwyngwril, on the Welsh coast, in 1974. My dad had given me a 120 format camera, mostly plastic, which I took with me.

Some things have not changed, of the seven remaining images, five are landscapes!

Man & Nature

Silencio 2013-03-29 at 09-05-16 - Version 2

This is a common theme in my work. I like to observe how the man-made elements and the natural elements fit together. I usually show how man encroaches into nature, if possible, from a different viewpoint.

Typically, we don’t tend to notice nature when we are in a man-made environment. In contrast, when we are enjoying nature, concrete and steel intrude.

Next time you’re driving along the motorway, take a look around (while keeping an eye on the road!), nature will be there for you.

Salmon sky

Lleida 2011-12-18 at 18-28-17 - Version 2

After a cold, windy, overcast day, a little color to brighten things up.

(Taken Dec. 2011)

Full moon

Silencio 2013-03-29 at 00-30-01 - Version 2

Moon over Governador Moncada.

It’s not Bourbon Street, but it’ll do.

Talking head

Miravall 2013-04-01 at 17-11-50 - Version 2

Due to direct natural light, and a complex set of reflections from a tiled, sloping windowsill, the speaker’s shadow was projected in an unusual way. The fact that there was a mantlepiece just at the right height was a bonus.

Hidden faces

Lleida 2013-03-31 at 23-31-52 - Version 2

A fresco in Albi cathedral with hidden faces; how many can you find?

Apologies for the quality, no flash was allowed and I was traveling without a tripod.

Taken with an EOS 600.

Nest building

Lleida 2013-03-30 at 18-56-16 - Version 2

Spring is here and this stork is dedicating itself to a spot of nest building.

A crock of gold

Silencio 2013-03-29 at 08-55-52 - Version 2

If you’re looking for riches, head to Alfés, Lleida.

This photo shows rainbow coming out of the village, so according the legend, that’s where you’ll find the gold.

Bearing in mind that the photo was taken on Good Friday, there may be a more spiritual, and less material, meaning.

Family day out

Dog driver 2013-03-28 at 19-47-35 - Version 2

Always have your camera ready, which is much easier nowadays with smartphone cameras.

I came across this ‘family’ in a supermarket car-park in Montpellier. The characters of the dogs hit me immediately: the ‘macho’ driver, angry with everyone; the long-suffering passenger-wife, almost embarrassed by the fuss being made by the driver-husband; the teenager sitting in the back, ignoring what’s going on up front.

Taken with an EOS 600.

Taking a break

Lleida 2013-03-26 at 10-30-50 - Version 2

This worker nearly got squashed as she rested on my pedal. For a moment I thought she was blossom from one of the trees, but something didn’t seem right and I took a closer look.

Bees are at more risk from nenicotinoids and loss of habitat than my big feet.


Lleida 2013-03-26 at 10-46-17 - Version 2


It covers 70% of the earth’s surface.
It’s the thing we look for on other planets in the solar system.
Its solid state marks 0, and its gaseous state 100, on the Celsius scale. Its triple point is 0.01º C.
It features as an element in many ancient beliefs.
It can be destructive, or have a jewel-like quality (as in the photo).
It can blight a British barbeque, spoil Semana Santa in Seville, or wash out a wedding in Wales.

In some parts of the world, you turn on the tap and out it comes. Whereas in too many other areas people have to walk miles to get theirs, which is all too frequently polluted or carrying disease. According to, 3.4 million people die each year due to this, and a total of 783 million people, worldwide, lack access to clean drinking water.

So next time you’re near a river, lake or the sea (or getting rained on), remember how valuable water is, and when you turn on the tap - give thanks!


More Vincent

Vincent HRD Black Prince 2013-03-24 at 20-13-53 - Version 2
Another shot from the National Motorcycle Museum, Solihull.

This time it’s a Vincent Black Prince. A swan-song from the Vincent HRD company. Production began in the spring of ’55 but the company folded before Christmas that year. Basically, it’s an enclosed Black Shadow (the less sporty version of yesterday’s Black Lightning).

Vincent Owner’s Club

Taken with a 1964 Canon FP.


Vincent HRD

Vincent HRD 2013-03-24 at 18-25-33 - Version 2
A (now scanned) photo I took at the National Motorcycle Museum, Solihull, sometime in the late 80s.

A Vincent Black Lightning 1000cc V-twin.

There was a bit of ‘clean space’ behind and I made the most of it. I loved the light, but I’d forgotten my light meter! A bit of guesswork and it didn’t come out too badly.

Taken with a 1964 Canon FP.


A sundog seen from Lleida, February 2013.

If you want to know more about this phenomenon, check out this entry from the Cloud Appreciation Society.

Don’t just look behind - look all around


Looking behind you is always good advice. It’s easy to miss a great shot because you only look forwards, but how many do you miss because you didn’t look up and down. The spider’s web in the photo was nestled between the handrail, upright and glass panel of a footbridge over the river Segre.

On a cold, foggy morning, the bridge wasn’t bustling with pedestrians. Even so, nobody noticed the jewelled engineering that was hidden in full view. Perhaps it is a lot to expect ‘ordinary’ people to notice these things, no-one looked beyond the figure of the crouching photographer to see what he was photographing. However, as photographers we have to notice these small things, they are ephemeral, begging to be recorded before time erases their existence.

The next time you go out, take your time, look around.

Look all around.

Look for the moments of life.


How well ... part 1.5

Just a mini post as opposed to a full on post with a picture.

It’s related to my previous post ‘
How well do you know yourself?’. I was reminded of this when I read an article in Wired about HBO’s Witness series. In the article, Eros Hoagland relates how he took photos of young man in a car who had just been shot, while others (including police officers) stood around and did nothing to help.
As the photographer leaves the scene, he explains his actions by saying he was there only to photograph it. That is exactly right. If he had wanted to save lives, he could have become a medical, or social, worker. The photographer’s job is to record what they see, Hoagland says, “I’m there so show you what I saw, what happened to me and then you can come upon your own conclusion.” That does not mean that what appears in the image is the ‘truth’. Evidently, we all see things in our own way, this is perfectly normal and also unavoidable. However, it is vital that these images are captured as they will affect others and effect change.

Last minute addition:
this from PetaPixel
A totally different situation, but similar questions.


Wu-wei (intro)

PP Lleida 2012-11-09 at 21-20-14 - Version 2

Normally I’m busy on Friday evenings, however, earlier this week I had a cancellation so I was relatively free. Then on Thursday evening I was offered the chance to become a photojournalist for a short time.
Although humans tend to see patterns, or links, where there are none, I felt that one event was giving me the opportunity to do something completely new. I try to apply the Taoist tenet of wu-wei in my life. It is not inaction or doing nothing; it is ‘going with the flow’, listening to your life so you can follow your path more easily.
This will be explored more fully in a future post, but right now it allows me to plug my photos!



How well do you know yourself?

The following article is about the effect an unimportant event had on me.

Woman in red (3)

How well do you know yourself?

Woman in red (2)
How would you react if you saw someone in danger? Would you expect a photographer to react? There was an article in a national British newspaper earlier this year about photographers’ reactions when others are in danger. I remember thinking at the time that it must be difficult to know what you would do, or if you would be able to override your natural instincts, in those situations.

Recently, I was wandering around one of my favourite haunts when I noticed a woman in a red dress. She caught my eye because she was standing on the edge of a parapet, not behind the guard rail, a good distance above the lower wall. I thought she was probably going to jump, why else would she be there? The view is just as good from further back, there was no logical reason to be where she was, especially as the wind was getting up. So, there is someone, who you think is going to end it all, standing about a hundred and fifty meters away. What would you do? Me? I thought ‘she looks great there on the edge in that red dress’. Somewhere inside there was a voice urging me to shout or draw attention to her, but it was ignored. Maybe I wasn’t convinced of her intentions, I may have been unconsciously affected by her body language.
I was using a 50mm prime lens and at that distance there wasn’t much detail. Time to change to a 200mm zoom to get a bit closer, rather than do something useful. I couldn’t get much closer physically as I was standing on a balustrade which was not directly connected to where she was. I would have to circumnavigate the cathedral to get to her, a distance of about four hundred meters, and more importantly I would lose sight of my subject.
A few more shots with better detail, although my position wasn’t good. She wasn’t clear of the horizon so the figure didn’t stand out, and she was in the shadow of the temple whereas the background was well lit by the afternoon sun. At the same time I was thinking of the technical aspects, I was wondering about her. Who was she? What had happened to her? Was she really going to jump? In total I took eight shots and changed the lens. It had taken one minute eight seconds altogether. I put away the changed lens, zipped up my bag, looked up, and saw her boyfriend (I presume) helping her down. Both were acting perfectly normally, so I suppose she was enjoying the feeling of exhilaration, perhaps imagining she was flying above the city.

I was not the only one there that day, though nobody else seemed to be close to her (I don’t know where her companion sprang from). Had she jumped, would you blame me for taking photos instead of helping to save somebody? Could I have actually done anything? What about the others who literally do nothing when people are in danger? Don’t forget, by taking photos photographers are doing their job. They record things, later it’s the viewer who decides whether or not the result is macabre. Usually from the comfort of their home, when many photographers put themselves in danger to bring unpleasant things to the public’s attention: war, famine, drought, death.

Different people react to things in different ways, and the same individual will react to the same situation in different ways. It depends on many things: where they are, who they are with, how they feel, what they can see, etc. So, the next time you find an photographer being criticised, ask yourself if you would have helped or brought the viewfinder to your eye.

A new dawn

A New Dawn (1)

This is a thought which was recently published on Photographer’s Selection (original here), and, in general, applies to any hobby/passion.

A new dawn.

When you set the alarm it seemed like a good idea. You would get up early to catch the dawn light and subsequent sunrise. Now, in the reality of the darkness before dawn, lying in a warm bed, perhaps next to a still sleeping partner, it doesn’t make so much sense. Having young children in the house helps to tip the balance, but it’s still hard to throw back the covers and advance into a new day.

There is the key: it is a new day. It is unwritten, fresh, a new opportunity, and that’s why you should make the effort. You may well have an idea of what you want to achieve, perhaps even a plan. Plans are good, they give you focus, however, remember to be flexible in this respect. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve come back home with images I couldn’t have even imagined a few hours before. Often, I find features in an image on the screen that I hadn’t consciously seen at the time I took it, but something impelled me to frame that particular scene. Keep your eyes (and mind) open; observe and reflect; don’t forget to look around and behind you; immerse yourself in your surroundings. That’s when you will really see, and only when you see can you capture
your images, the images that reflect what is deep inside you. It’s a form of meditation which will lead you to where you need to be, although not necessarily where you think you need to be or where you want to go.

Life is a journey which each of us documents through photography. Therefore, photography should also be a journey, usually one which is intertwined with our lives. Take your photography, and your life, out into a new dawn, who knows where it will take you!


Blue Moon

blue moon
Not a real blue moon*, or the song, but something blue with the moon in a blue evening sky.

* I was always told that a blue moon was the second full moon in a calendar month. However, there is an older usage to mean the third full moon in a season with four full moons. The idiom ‘once in a blue moon’ means very rarely.

Enter the Dragon

Or is it a horse? A cloud with a mouth over the river Segre in Lleida.
If you like clouds, visit the Cloud Appreciation Society and check out their galleries.


SculptMoon 2012-05-01 at 17-09-48
It only looks that way from this angle. Just move and you’re free Happy

Getting things into perspective

Bridge new WM B sc
Look at the pictures taken by the cameras they cannot lie
The truth is in what you see - Bruce Foxton (The Jam)

The camera does not lie, it merely distorts the truth in the eye of the observer.

Try looking at things in a new way.
Don’t accept what others say.
Find out for yourself.

Foragers at dawn

A family of ‘giants’ foraging in the pre-dawn light.
The same square as ‘Mother & Child - Plaça Blas Infante, Lleida.

Mother & Child

clouds 2012-04-14 at 19-35-03
Well, use your imagination!
These are ‘statues’ in Plaça Blas Infante, Lleida. The square, designed by Mamen Domingo and Ernest Ferré, features these Torres de las Palabras (towers of (the) words) which represent the eight cities of Andalucia. They are particularly photogenic if the backdrop is moody.

Here is another ‘statue’ (with a magpie on top).

Stop! Reflect.

Lleida 2012-04-14 at 19-36-12
I’ve had a really busy weekend (no posts - but now I’m back). And, despite not stopping all weekend, I have had time to reflect.
I was helped by all the drummers who attended the Planeta Bateria weekend, especially by Isabel Romeo and her Taiko drumming.
Take five minutes out of your day to think, reflect, meditate or practice ‘mindfulness’. You may be surprised by what you see if you stop and take a look from the ‘outside’.

For Oscar

Leaf and star
We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.

Lord Darlington, Act III, Lady Windermere’s Fan.

Invisible (3)

Vilanova 2012-04-08 at 17-29-44
Not at all, but invisible to those who don’t take the time to stop and observe.
It is strange the shapes that appear on surfaces. Some see the face of Jesus on a slice of toast, or the virgin Mary on a sandwich or in a puddle. This shape is far less personalised, but very clear.
It is interesting that the “ermita de Ntra. Sra. de Montserrat” is behind the cross. Coincidence?

Can you see the light?

The Light
Obviously there is the use of light in religious metaphor, but it is also what photographers paint with. Thanks to another photographer (or at least someone with a camera), this shot has been made more interesting. If only the torch bearer to the right had positioned the torch slightly closer to his (or her) body, then the flare would not be so obvious (I nearly got away with it!).