That there London, again

I’m basically an adopted plastic cockney now.  I know all the slang including “apples and pears”, “ruby murray”, “trouble and strife” and “i’m off for an Eartha Kitt”.  So it goes without saying that London is going to feature quite a lot in the blog, but I don’t want to tire the same places out all the time unless I find new angles or new themes.

New theme #1 that I came up with for 2018 was “the rat’s eye view”.  A simple enough concept: take photos from low down as if you were a rat.  Maybe it could give a different perspective on the world from what we usually see approximately 5 to 6 feet higher up in most cases.

I’ve only just started with this so I’ve only a few snaps to share, but here they are:

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St Paul’s Cathedral at night

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Classic Red London Bus

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More London and Shard

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On Tower Bridge

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Shad Thames

Of course, spending 2 whole evenings on your knees in London without suitable payment would be ludicrous, so I did manage to take a few shots whilst stood upright.

Maybe it’s also worth pointing out that I was apparently walking through the place that’s recently been described as a “war zone” and has “no go areas”.  What a brave soul I am, or of course I could be being fucking sarcastic as neither of these things are true.  Nowhere in London is a “no-go zone”.  It is bullshitio.  The orange man and his supporters are full of shitio.

You’re more likely to have a hipster spill a mocha-choca-gluten-free-synthetic-hazelnut-fairtrade-parrot-friendly-soya-latte-espresso-combo-hybrid over you than you are to get stabbed or attacked in any way.  If you find yourself in London and being aggressively shouted at, the chances are some one is trying to sell fruit and veg to you.

Back to real life and photographs.

I took a cracking stroll from Tower Bridge all along the river to Tate Modern and then across to St Paul’s Cathedral as you have seen in the first rat eye view pics.  The lights of London really do shine brightly once the sun has gone down, and this is when I really like to have fun with the camera.  Street photography is fairly difficult during the day and an extra challenge at night, but when the neon lights are on it’s hard to resist.

First stop in Soho was the Windmill International, which used to be a theatre.  I thought it was still a theatre, but no, it’s a table dancing club.  Look closely below and you can see the bouncer on the door giving me a huge thumbs up and welcoming smile.  Aye.

 

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Windmill Soho

Just around the corner, still in Soho, was this barber shop.  It was closed, obvz, but the neon lights at the back gave a very soft glow to the grooming chairs and were begging to be photographed.  I obliged.

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Teds Grooming Soho

Mere feet away from there was this quaint record store.  I don’t know much about the place but the design and tiling on the building suggested to me it may have been something to do with the London Underground in a previous life.  It had that Underground station feel to it.

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Soho Record Store

And if you’re going to photograph a bloke outside a record store you might as well do the same outside a book store, right?  Fifty Shades and Extra Strong Pills?  Suits you, sir.

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Soho Original

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The posh bit

If you’ve enjoyed this, you can find these snaps and a few more that didn’t make it to the blog, over on Instagram @iamtheinstadan or on facebook 

Cheers for reading.

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Gogledd Cymru

Wondering what that title is about?  Phonetically, it’s “gog-lethh cum-ree”.  It’s Welsh for North Wales.

In 2017 I decided to celebrate turning 35 in style by spending a few nights in the most beautiful 17th Century Welsh cottage that you ever did plonk your eyes on.  Cross Keys is a Grade II listed building that sleeps 6 and was previously a late Georgian hostelry.  Now it’s an idyllic spot to get away from the big city lights and just chill in Welsh history.

This isn’t some subtle advertisement or sponsored post.  I was genuinely in love with the place as soon as we walked through the door.  The link is here if you fancy finding out for yourself.  http://www.carolscottagesinwales.co.uk/cross_keys.htm  Carol was a star, making sure that we had absolutely everything that we needed.  The only thing that Carol didn’t provide was our clothing and food.  We had to bring that ourselves.

Cross Keys cottage was, as you’ve already gathered in the first 2 paragraphs, a lovely base to have just south of the edge of Snowdonia National Park.  The plan of attack was to check out Bala, the local town, as well as Barmouth on the coast, Llangollen, Ruthin and to go deep in to the mountains.  Welsh weather doesn’t always allow your best laid plans to execute, but we did alright.

First up was Llyn Tegid, the local lake.  I like lakes.  Sometimes they are big, and sometimes they are small.  The very very small ones are usually called ponds or swimming pools.  Llyn Tegid is MASSIVE!

The weather forecast for morning #1 was looking average to alright, so I set the alarm early, way before the sun was ready to rise, ready for the whole house to wake up and join me at the lake with my camera.  Then I closed the front door alone, and made the 10 minute drive down to Llangower, alone.  On my own.  This either says that my friends and family hate me, or prefer the beds in the cottage to a cold morning at a lake.  Or both.

Llangower was a lovely little spot with its own mini train station right on the edge of the lake.  It also had its own jetty and this was where I got set up for some early morning long exposure work.  Unfortunately the sun wasn’t going to be making an appearance thanks to the clouds but the light actually helped me out a bit, to create this calm and tranquil image of the lake and the rolling hills in the distance.  The smoothness of the water was created by putting a 6 stop neutral density filter in front the lens and leaving the shutter open for a long time.  The filter is a bit like putting 6 pairs of dark sunglasses on your camera.  It takes a while for enough light to get through to create a decent image, and the water is passing by during that time, ending up looking like a sheet of ice.

Llyn Tegid - Bala

Llyn Tegid – Bala

After a bit of a wander and a few more shots at the lake and Llangower, I headed back up to Bala and then on to Llandderfel, where the others were still sleeping.

Llangower Railway Station

Llangower Railway Station

The next time the camera came out was when we hit the narrow, windy mountain road over to Pistyll Rhaeadr; Wales’ tallest waterfall.  When we first arrived at the cottage, Carol recommended visiting here, and it didn’t disappoint.  The initial drive over the mountains was incredible, but the final long lane up to the car park was quite a pain in August.  Worth it though:

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Pistyll Rhaeadr

From there it was on to the A494 to Barmouth for a spot of grub, some souvenirs, some time in the amusement arcades and a stroll along the very beautiful and very windy beach:

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Barmouth Beach

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Barmouth Harbour

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Barmouth Harbour

And then it was time to head home (the cottage felt like home by now) for curry.

Over the weekend we spent a nice amount of time in the towns and villages of Ruthin and Llangollen, and found 2 of the greatest shops in the whole world, in Bala – Stori and Aran Hufen.  Stori is a Welsh off license where you can buy local lagers and ciders poured from taps in to 1 litre plastic bottles to take home.  Aran Hufen creates and serves the smoothest, tastiest ice cream in the world.  If you’re in Swansea reading this, and there’s a good chance you are, please forget that Joe’s rubbish.  Verdi’s is fine, but nothing compares to Aran Hufen.

But what I really want to show you is the huge array of photographs that I took one evening as we ventured deeper in to Snowdonia National Park, along the A5 to Llyn Ogwen where we parked up and walked the Cwm Idwal route to Devil’s Kitchen.  The weather stayed dry for us on the walk, but the sun was a little shy and it was getting late in the day so I ended up with some pretty moody apertures.  The photos do the talking from this point onwards:

This wasn’t the most recent trip to North Wales for me.  The Snowdonia National Park was barely ventured in to and it looked like it needed more of an explore so I returned in November for an evening of astro photography, before catching sunrise over on Anglesey the next morning.  Those images will be saved for a future blog post so feel free to hit the follow button on here.  It should be in the bottom right hand corner of the screen.

Thanks to Sarah, Oliver, Caroline, Josh and Nanny Mumtaz for coming along for this brilliant birthday break.

Storm Brian

What a stupid name.  All storm names so far have been stupid.  If we have to go alphabetically, Storm names should be as follows:

Alphonso

Big Barry

Crusher

Dan Davidson

Elyseum

Ferrero

Gertrude

Hermes

Ignacio

Jackie

King Louis

Leona

Megatron

Ohmygod

Poseidon

Quincy

Raphael

Superman

Tarantula

Uganda’n Policeman

Victor Meldrew

Wonder Woman

Xcalibur

Yoga Extreme

Zeus

Are you actually still reading this rubbish?

Here’s some pics I took last Autumn during Storm Brian.  If you’re a child reading this, please don’t try to take similar photos as it was pretty dangerous being on the seafront and by this particular bit of harbour wall.  If you’re an adult reading this; whatever, I’m not your mother.

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Storm Brian Black and white

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Storm Brian Porthcawl

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Storm Brian Porthcawl

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Storm Brian Porthcawl

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Storm Brian Porthcawl

It’s quite rare that I get an opportunity to go back to Wales these days, but when I do I like to take advantage of the views and the good weather… or really bad weather in this case.

The advice that day really was to stay well away from the coast, and a webcam had been set up at Porthcawl lifeboat station so that we could view the storm from the safety of our own homes, but I wanted to go and see for myself.  My mate, Fil, came with me.  Stupid and reckless, maybe, but I never felt in any real danger.  For info, I can’t swim and have a fear of drowning, so would never have taken a massive risk anyway.

I think the results are decent here and really shows the power of nature, the sea, the weather, when it decides to put on a show.

My advice is stay indoors though.  My boxer shorts took a few hours to dry out after these were taken even with heated car seats.

In total contrast to this, I then headed to Cardiff 24 hours later and captured these lovely images of Bae Caerdydd, or Cardiff Bay.

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Mermaid Quay and the Pierhead Building

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Wales Millennium Centre

If you’re still here and seeing these words then leave a like or a comment below, or maybe even share on social media for me.  Follow the blog if you really want to.  There’s an option on this page somewhere.  You’ll find it.  You’re clever.

If you have Facebook, be sure to follow my page http://www.facebook.com/dandavidsonphotography and try and find me on instagram under whatever name I’ve decided to use this week.

Plenty more to come on the blog in 2018 including a recent visit to North Wales.  I think I’ve already blogged about Snowdonia last August, but I returned for a 24 hour road trip to cover astrophotography in them thar hills, and to explore the coast of Anglesey including South Stack Lighthouse and Ynys Llandwyn (there’s a chance I’ve not spelt that correctly).

Laters.

Chernobyl Diary

For many landscape photographers, whether they are in to urban exploration or not, Chernobyl is a bit of a hot spot on the list of places to go.  The image that always seems to spring to mind when you think of Chernobyl is the abandoned ferris wheel.  It’s not actually in Chernobyl though.  The ferris wheel, the dodgems, the abandoned hotel and supermarkets, the school, the swimming pool… are all actually in the neighbouring town of Pripyat, or Prypiat, depending on your persuasion.

That was the first surprise when I visited here in 2016; just how many people are still living within the exclusion zone.  Not thousands, granted, but approximately 600-700 people reside in Chernobyl, including workers at the plant (3000 people still work there and many of them commute in from Slavutych, by train).  Our tour didn’t extend out to many of the other villages but I understand that a number of people returned to their homes after the disaster, ignoring or refusing the advice given.

Another surprising, but pleasant, fact, is the way that nature and wildlife have fought back since the disaster in 1986.  At one point during the tour we were taking a walk through Pripyat and crossed a small wall in to what can only really be described as woodland.  There was an odd path running through the trees in an oval shape, and a few artefacts that didn’t quite look right, and then a grandstand appeared out of nowhere.  A seated grandstand.  We were in a sports stadium and that weird curved path was indeed the running track, or at least it used to be.  If you want to see how it used to look, search online for Avanhard Stadium.  This is how it looks now:

I mentioned the wildlife, and although my experience on the day was limited to 1 cat and a pack of wild but friendly dogs, it’s believed that there are now more mammals living in the area than before the disaster.  Scientists have spotted wild boar, deer, wolves, moose, european bison, brown bears, and lynx in the zone.  There are actually believed to be up to 400 wolves roaming the abandoned villages, all surviving by consuming highly toxic prey.  Just in case you missed that – there are 400 highly radioactive grey wolves roaming freely.  Touching their carcass would be would be toxic to humans.

Pripyat Cat

Pripyat Cat

Wild dogs

Wild dogs

So back to the tour, and it started at a checkpoint on the edge of the exclusion zone which covers just over 1000 square miles.  Passports had to be shown when entering the zone, and names checked by a very strict looking uniformed man who looked like an extra from Goldeneye.  On exit, later that day, there were buildings on the side of the road where you were screened for levels of radiation.  No one failed, thankfully.

The main road to Chernobyl is long and straight and one of those places where you feel that if you scream no one will hear you.  We made a number of stops early on, at signs, at a kindergarten, a memorial, and a diversion off the main road to Duga Radar – an old soviet over-the-horizon radar system to warn of ballistic missiles.  The size of this thing was overwhelming.  My camera couldn’t fit it all in.  Here are some pics from the early stages of the tour:

We pushed onwards to Chernobyl town, then to the nuclear power plant and on in to Pripyat:

Now, the town of Pripyat is where it all happens.  I’ll state right now that the whole thing felt a bit stage managed, and you’ll see why in the photos, especially the ones from inside the school.  You might have already thought it from the earlier pictures of the kindergarten, but this is Dark Tourism, and you gotta give the public what they want to see.  Fans of S.T.A.L.K.E.R and Call of Duty will probably recognise some of the locations here:

Stage managed?  What are your thoughts?  Let me know below:

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Television rules the nation

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Abandoned small shoe

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Doll and gas mask

Abandoned leisure centre and swimming pool.  As with some of the other stuff I’ve posted, I thoroughly recommend searching online for how it used to look.  The pool was called Azure, in Pripyat.  There’s even a video of the place on youtube:

So after taking all of these the sun quickly set and the light dropped.  The city of Pripyat plunged in to an eerie darkness and it was time to get out of there.  It was the most incredible pink and orange sunset I’ve ever seen but no photos of that unfortunately as we were already on the transport back to Kiev to get some grub and cheap local beer and rest ready for the flight home the next morning.

That about covers the day.  A huge thanks to Josh, Shane, Lee and Tony that came along with me for the day.

Dark Tourism certainly isn’t for everyone, but it was a thoroughly enjoyable day, most definitely educational, and heartbreaking.

There’s a few more pics on my instagram page, currently using the hangle @dndvdsn but by the time you read this I’ll probably have changed it again.

Don’t forget to follow on facebook if you’re still on that old place – Dan Davidson Photography in the search field will find it.  Like the page before you leave.

Til the next time…

Multistorey Moods

Hey hey and ahoy!

I feel like I start almost every blog post with “it’s been ages since my last post”, and that’s mainly because it has indeed been ages since my last post.

August was a damn good month where I got an annoying little bug inside me urging me to get out and do something cool with the camera and other people.  There have been more wanderings around the City of London as well as a trip back home to Wales and some snaps at the top of the highest peaks in the Brecon Beacons but I’m not gonna talk about that today.

A couple of weeks ago I arranged what I hoped would be an awesome edgey shoot in an urban setting.  Nothing over the top, nothing fancy, just a chance for me to get out with the camera, try out some portrait techniques, think up some ideas, get inspiration from other urban shoots that I like, and work on interaction with other people.  I honestly feel like out of all of the different aspects of photography, working with models or just asking people to pose must be my biggest weakness.  When I take photographs of people I like them to just do what they do and I’ll capture the moment.  That’s how my wedding style goes and I think it works well.  In reality, there are going to be lots of times when I need to be giving direction, so this urban shoot was going to be a step towards getting to be where I want to be.

So it’s Monday evening and I’ve arranged to catch Megan in town at the old bus station with the aim of getting about the last hour of light before looking for artificial light in the form of whatever Milton Keynes can provide for free.  I’d been watching quite a few Behind the Scenes videos of this kind of thing, from America and Australia, and really wanted to test myself.  So I did.

We started at 1830 as the sun was getting ready to dip behind the train station’s office block but actually put ourselves in the shade.  The light was still surprisingly good and as I was using a nifty fifty (50mm prime lens) with the aperture pretty wide open, I could keep the ISO on or close to 100.

We lifted off and warmed up with some nice simple shots near some railings and a mirrored part of the building.  There was also a long clean grey wall that we used for some fancy shallow focus shots with Megan a short distance away, and also for a wide flat shot to work on the rule of thirds.  The nearby fire exit was metal and surprisingly clean so we tried a few snaps around there and the best ones definitely contained attitude.

 

There’s a good amount of graffiti in just one corner of the area that we used but that area happens to be a skate park and was fairly busy that evening.  We decided to skip it and maybe come back to it later.  For now though the light was definitely dropping quickly so we’d have to find some artificial light.  The multistorey car park was the obvious first option.

We took 2 cars and looped round and up and round and up until we got to an eerily quiet level and parked up.  We needed more attitude, so the hood came up for most of our shots, I was shooting with black and white in mind so really thinking hard about the light, the shadows and leading lines.  I wasn’t carrying any fancy equipment because I don’t have any.  Gordon Ramsey only needs one pan to make his magic, right?  We just took advantage of whatever was available to us there and then.  We also kept the posing really simple because a) I’m not great at directing and thinking of poses yet, and b) I’m not great at directing and thinking of poses yet.  Most of my direction was to myself just thinking about angles that work and directions of light.  Megan did the rest.  At one point I just asked Megan to simply listen out for my click and change her pose slightly each click whether it be a hip movement or a hair flick or a hand gesture or the direction of her eyes.  The results are below!

Megan was absolutely fab to work with, very professional and easy going at the same time.  If you’re a photographer and would like to work with her, just hunt her down on instagram @meganastasiaa and I’m sure you won’t regret it.  Tell her I sent you!  Megan is new to modeling and pushing herself towards a career in fitness but you can see here she can create some fantastic looks with the right photographer.  If you’re looking for a model for your sports brand, you don’t need to look any further.

With that, if you are looking for a photographer to help capture some cool images of your brand, or maybe you just fancy a funky photoshoot for yourself or want to get started in modeling, or a family portrait with a difference, or whatever it might be, get in touch and find out what my very decent rates are.  We can chuck some ideas around.  I have a smoke grenade that I really want to use soon!

Oh and while I remember, I have a new instagram handle  @iamtheinstadan

Be sure to say hi!

PokemonGo and Geocaching

How do you get Pikachu and his mates on an already crowded bus?

POKE ‘EM ON!

That there is my full knowledge of what a Pokemon thing is.  I’ve never really watched it, never played it.  Anime and Manga looks pretty cool of course, and as a big time Daft Punk fan I know the works of Leiji Matsumoto who helped them out with the Interstella 5555 movie.  Other than that, zero interest.  That’s changed slightly this week.

A few weeks ago someone suggested that I might be interested in Geocaching.  A few of my friends will confirm, with a face that says “never again” that I like to wander until the body hurts, mostly around London streets.  At this point I’d like to apologise to Jon, Sarah, Simon, Phil and anyone else who’s had the fortune of following me from a few paces behind while I get excited about a sticker or some street art that I’ve spotted and have to speedwalk to.  I’d also like to apologise in advance to Shane and Josh who have this to come when we got to Chernobyl in October.

Back to Geocaching!  If you’ve not heard of it, it comes from Geography and Caching.  It’s an outdoorsy thing kinda like orienteering or treasure hunting, but of course it’s the 21st Century so uses GPS on mobile phones.  I downloaded the Geocaching app to my phone and was amazed how many geocaches were in the area.  Literally hundreds.  I don’t use the word literally unless I literally mean literally.  Literally hundreds.  The first night I popped out to the local lake with a smaller version of an adult, formally known as a child.  We searched high but mainly low and followed the GPS and hints available but to no avail.  The problem was, we had no idea what we were looking for.  What on earth do these things look like?  Geocaches come in a few different shapes and sizes, from tiny magnetic tabs or bolts, through to 35mm film cassettes, tupperware boxes, ration boxes, up to suitcase size!  Some are obvious, some are less so.  Thanks camouflage!

I tried again a few nights later at the Milton Keynes National Bowl.  It looked easy on the phone, but nope.  Even with 2 small versions of adults with me this time, we had no luck. As lovely as the weather is at the moment, it doesn’t help when trying to look behind bushes.  Thorns, nettles and brambles suck (not literally).

Attempt 3 was today and…. SUCCESS!  A tiny little thing near one of our offices in Kent, that I went to find on a lunch break.  It took no more than 4 minutes to find, and I had some help in a full size adult manchild this time (thanks Kam).  We unscrewed the device and completed the log with names and the date, then put it back for someone else to find; job done.

But not quite.  Kam had just that morning downloaded PokemonGo which is practically the same thing but there’s no physical treasure this time.  It’s all about wandering and looking for virtual Pokemon but using the same technology – GPS.  We didn’t have to walk far to find some Pokestops and stocked up on Pokeballs and eggs.  I think I have an egg in an incubator at the moment which would appear to only want to do anything if I walk at least 2km.  I thought this was a game for kids but no, it’s actually a secret fitness app for adults.  Clever Japanese bar stewards!

And that takes me on to another point.  It seems that people want to revert to deciding that anything they don’t understand is worth mocking and belittling.  So many grumpy people on Facebook telling others that they have better things to do than play that silly game.  Erm… you’re on Facebook telling others you have better things to do.  That equates to you having nothing better to do.  Let’s not even start on the idea of grown adults spending time watching “professional sports”, Harry Potter, or Star Wars, then knocking those who play PokemonGo.  Really what I want to say it let’s not knock it til you’ve tried it.

I read the mad stories when PokemonGo was first released in the US and it made little sense but we don’t judge a whole community on the actions of a minority now will we?  It appeared to be some weird craze that stupid people were playing in an attempt to win this year’s Darwin Awards.  But they aren’t stupid.  These are kids, teens, young adults, parents, families, elders, all getting involved in something new and revolutionary (even though Geocaching was invented in 2000) and enjoying spending time out and about with each other.  Just last Saturday I took my better half to her friend’s house 6 miles away and was amazed at the hoards of people roaming the streets and parks looking for small animated creatures.  It was fantastic to see!  Who are these people then who are making this what it is?  I’d imagine a large chunk of the gaming community are heavily involved in this.  I’m not suggesting that gamers don’t go out, but computer games are typically played indoors, right?  If PokemonGo is getting these guys and girls out for some Vitamin D, then GREAT!  I hear stories of people with depression and anxiety who are benefiting from this game and are more comfortable with the world immediately around them. There’s a real buzz about this game right now and I can genuinely see why.

After work tonight I took a stroll of roughly 2km (ssshhh) to find another Geocache but it was in a very busy path on the Kent coastline, surrounded by people who would probably be calling the police to report the weird Welsh dude rummaging around bushes, walls, benches, poles and bins looking for something.  I’ll leave that until another time.  It’s not going anywhere.

Neither is Pokemon.  Time to embrace it fully!

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Paws what you’re doing

Alright cocker (spaniel)?  This week’s post is short and sweet just like my model for the morning – Poppy.

Poppy is a very cool, very happy and content English Cocker Spaniel pooch, that belongs to my friend, Val, and I was booked in to do a portrait shoot for Poppy way back but finding time where we were both free and the weather was good proved really difficult but we finally got round to it this month.

The setting for our shoot was to be Furzton Lake early on a Sunday morning before anyone wakes up so that we had plenty of space and peace.  That didn’t happen.  The place was rammed with people running, walking their dogs, and a very large group of people playing with model boats on the water.  We still found a good spot though and the freshly shampooed Poppy got straight to work!

First of all we found some slightly long grass with wild flowers and made her run around chasing a ball which resulted in a hilarious image that you can see below and above.  There was no way I could not put that one as the headline image.  Poppy was equally happy sitting and posing as running around having fun, and we got some great close up head and shoulder shots.

Once she got bored of that stretch we moved a little further round the lake and tried some black and white images using some leading lines and I got down low to the ground to get a better angle.

The whole shoot took no more than an hour but the final images look fab, I’d say.

Who ever says never work with kids or animals really is talking out of their back bottoms.

Instagram : @dangleberrydan7

Facebook : http://www.facebook.com/dandavidsonphotography

Caldecotte Lake

Hello

As usual I have slipped with the blogging but I needed the time to get out and get more images, and now that the weather has improved massively it seems like a good time for some quality snaps.

This is meant to be the warmest May in history or something, and I do actually remember there being at least 4 more-than-tepid days in a row so that must have been Summer.

Warm weather means 2 things to me.  No, 3 things.  First of all, the barbecue comes out of hibernation and the grass gets cut.  Then of course the bike gets a wash and a liberal covering in WD-40.  Finally, but by no means least, no one looks at me when I’m walking around in shorts.  All through the Winter you’d think I had personally shat on their cats as they slept, with some of the looks I would receive wearing shorts.  I have legs.  Get over it.

Back to the point of today’s blog; Caldecotte Lake.  I hadn’t really given the place much chance as I always thought it was a big splodge of water and nothing to  do there apart from drink at the pub and get bitten by those annoying midge fly things.  I’ve already mentioned warmer weather, shorts and bikes.  If this is a surprise to you, for God’s sake, it was only the previous paragraph!  But anyway, me and SWIWWWTGFM decided to hop on our bikes one evening and pedal down to the lake.  When we got there we took the brave deicision to turn left and go round the lake instead of going right and directly in to the pub.  What a lake!  It’s a fantastic size, not too busy, very pretty from every angle, and nice and flat to get around as it was my first bit of exercise for 2016.

I didn’t take any photos on the day as we whizzed around but made a few mental notes of where to return with my camera in the future.  It turned out that the good weather didn’t go too far and returned quickly less than a week later so I took my chance and drove there an hour before sunset.  Then it was just a case of walking swiftly around the one edge so that I was doing a  lot of shooting back in to the sun.  That’s generally not a good idea but if you get it right, it is so so right.

Enjoy the shots below and as usual please feel free to find me and like the page at http://www.facebook.com/dandavidsonphotography and if you are an IGer then follow me on Instagram @dangleberrydan7

 

Hammond Chips

6 months later, I come up with Hammond Chips.  That should have been the hashtag in the first place!!!

Back in September 2015 I made the very short journey up the M1 to Newcastle Upon Tyne.  A mere 400 miles or whatever it was.  I wouldn’t do this for just anyone though; I was doing this as my friend Melissa had invited me to her wedding and asked me to be the photographer/guest for the day.  She knew that I had no experience of wedding photography (at the time of booking me) but for some bizarre reason Mel appeared to put her trust in me.

The dream was to have a Vegas wedding.  By that I mean she wanted to go Las Vegas in the USA of America, not have Johnny Vegas planning the day, although I could see how that could be fun too.  Next best thing?  BRING VEGAS TO THE TOON!  So that’s what Mel did, with a casino set up in the hotel next to my photobooth (more on that later).  The cover photo at the top here is of the groom, Jonathan, at the table hustling away with a handful of chips.  Hammond Chips.  I forgot to mention his surname is Hammond.  Now it makes sense, yeah?

The setting for the day was The Caledonian Hotel in Newcastle where Melissa and her family spent the morning getting ready in their lovely suite.  Melissa kicked out most of the party closer to midday and that was when I kick started the camera to capture the prep and some details.  When it comes to those first shots of the day, indoors, I find black and white is usually best but not always.

 

From here it was a short walk to the ceremony just down the hallway.  I could hear breaths being drawn in quickly as I opened the door and entered the room, before the guests and the groom promptly exhaled again when they realised it was just some bearded dude with a camera and not the star of the show – Melissa.  She wasn’t far behind me though!!

Melissa’s lovely bridesmaids for the day made their way in to the room along with her flower girl before Mel’s entrance.  This is always the best bit when the groom turns around and sees the love of his life dressed like a princess.

Fast forward a short time and that was it, MJ were leaving the room as a married couple!  All that was left to do was enjoy the rest of the big day once we had bagged a few of the more formal shots of the day.  We’d originally hoped to visit Jesmond Dene for some bride and groom portraits but time was against us so we made the most of the space in the hotel gardens

The day was absolutely flying by and soon enough the party were called in for dinner.  At this point the camera went away until it was time for the speeches and then later on it was party time so as ever I’m going to stop talking and leave you with more images.

Before the night was over we managed to get a few “photobooth” styles shots too.   The booth was made in the Premier Inn at about 7am on the Saturday but no one needs to know that….

Thank you immensely to Melissa and Jon who gave me the opportunity to capture their big day.  I loved every minute of it.

Oasis Park, Fuerteventura

To this day I am still not 100% sure whether I like zoos or not.  I can see the arguments on both sides, and I think I do favour zoos but only when it’s clearly beneficial, or at least on the face of it when it’s enjoyable, for the animal.  Having spent some time walking around a zoo in Spain on a previous adventure and seeing a bear doing small laps of a dusty circle, and lions and tigers sat on rocks looking like they’d rather be elsewhere, I was pretty sure that zoos were NOT a good thing.

Last year my little family took our first proper beach holiday together in Fuerteventura and we relied on trusty old Tripadvisor to let us know where we should and should not visit whilst on the Canariest of Islands.  Number 1 on the list was Oasis Park and there was plenty of advertising for it when we arrived in resort too.  It was very good value for money, or at least we were able to confirm that afterwards.  As it was on an island and not peak time (end of May) we had the best of both worlds.  The park was really quiet with just a few coachloads of tourists, but still really hot with glorious sunshine all day.  The heat wasn’t an issue though as there are a lot of places in the shade to duck in to if needed.

Before entering the main park we detoured off to one side where we experienced riding a camel up a hill which took just under an hour, and although wobbly at first it was great fun once everyone had relaxed.  The views from the top of the hill out over the ocean were incredible and on the descent we could see back inland across the other hills.

Once we’d jumped off and bought our novelty photo it was time to enter the park and see the animals.  The whole was park was very well thought out and spaced nicely so that the animals had a lot of room to roam around.  Of course it’s nicer to see them in their natural habitat but you got the impression that the people at Oasis Park really did care about their residents.

We managed to time it just right to see a fantastic Sea Lion show and I know there were other shows in the park but we were just enjoying wandering around so much.  We were even allowed to feed the elephants and gorillas with bags of fresh fruit and veg.

As ever I’m going to stop now and let the pictures do the talking.  These are only a small selection of course and I think the best way to appreciate the place is to go there if you’re ever in the area.

By the way, we didn’t see a single bloody canary the whole time we were there!