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!

Brides and Guides Pt2

Following on from Brides and guides Pt 1 here is Part 2!

A little reminder first:

In 2015 I was asked to cover a friend’s wedding which caused a little panic in my head.  The obvious thing to do was to get some practice in, but photography training courses are far from cheap and take a lot of time.  I’ve already mentioned in another blog that I don’t have that long term attention span, like most people these days.  We all want stuff quick quick quick, now now now, or yesterday would be even better.

I already had some skills from what I had taught myself along with some useful youtube tutorials and a bit of 1-2-1 tuition with Adrian Dewey the year before.  I just needed to see what I could do with some models in wedding dresses and suits in the right locations, and I most definitely would benefit from some incredibly useful direction and tips from the wedding photography pros – Kim Hawkins and Jodie Chapman.

Today’s photo blog includes a few of my favourite images from the afternoon once we’d had a decent lunch at a local pub in Buckinghamshire.  The venues this time were Bisham Abbey and All Saints Church, Bisham.

Something that really stands out was Jodie’s tip to try shooting in monochrome.  When shooting in RAW you can see everything in monochrome on the back of your camera but when processing later on in Lightroom you still have all of the file details in colour.  Genius.  I had no idea about this and would probably not know this by now either.

This is a much shorter blog post than usual where I’m letting the images do the talking, but I have to sign off by reminding/highlighting that you can see more images on my facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/dandavidsonphotography

My instagram, which you can follow for free is @dangleberrydan7

Forever Gorgeous

This is a very very delayed post but at least it’s one more being completed on my list, now about to get a big fat tick next to it.  Better late than never!

Rewinding all the way back to August 2014, I was looking to put more effort in to portrait photography using natural light and had already had a day’s tuition earlier in the year with a pro photographer and a pro model, but needed to put it in to practice properly.  My plan was to take some very simple outdoor shots using the golden glow of the setting sun.  The light during the golden hour is particularly popular with landscape photographers but I wanted to use it to full advantage for portrait work too, and really see what I could achieve by breaking the rule “DONT SHOOT IN TO THE SUN”.  Meh to that rule.  Shooting in to the evening sun can get amazing results as it backlights the model and can give a fantastic halo-y glow as long as you balance the subject with a reflector or some exposure compensation in camera.

My friend Laura was happy to help out so she came along with Hayley, who had also done a little bit of modelling before, to Wolverton Mill in Milton Keynes and we spent about 2 hours snapping away.  Most of the plan went in the bin as the sun only decided to show up as we were driving out of the place, but we still came away with some great results.  Those results will be on another blog post coming soon, where the point of the blog post will be natural light portraits.

“Huh, so what’s this blog post about then, Dan?” I hear you ask.

Well I read that folk should aim for over 500 words per blog post, and over 1000 is better so I’m gonna waffle more to keep up with the cool kids.  This is the back story building to the main event.  Get over it.  I’ll get bored soon enough, stop typing and just leave pics for you to look at but for now, there’s a few more sentences to cover.  If you’re that bored, scroll down to the pics!

This photo blog post is actually about commercial and event photography, which Laura asked me to be involved with for her new business venture which was to open in September with her bessie, Charlotte.  Charlotte is also a keen photographer and I’ve given her 2 tutorials using natural light where we focused mainly on composition but looked at creative effects in camera too. Some of the images that we created will be featuring in another blog post later this year.

I knew next to nothing about their new business venture but Forever Gorgeous Beauty Salon opened its doors to the pretty people of Wolverton and the big opening evening was a great success with loads of the girls’ family and close friends attending.  Champagne flowed, cupcakes were scoffed, balloons were dodged.

My job for the evening was to create a collection of images that the girls could use on the website, facebook, instagram and twitter to promote the salon, and also use on any promotional material and the treatment list.  Once the sun had set the visitors arrived and it was a pleasure to capture the smiles of the evening.

The images below show the salon inside and from the street (which is Stratford Road by the way) and the opening night.

If you live in the area, do be sure to give them a call and get booked in as Charlotte is a genius when it comes to hair extensions and facials.  Laura is a master at massage and nails.  They do way more than that of course, but I’m not the most clued up guy when it comes to beauty treatment.  I know what shellac is though!

Give them a follow on Facebook for news and offers  https://www.facebook.com/ForeverGorgeousBeautySalon/?fref=ts

Full website address is http://www.forevergorgeousbeauty.com

This week sees them celebrating their 18 month salon anniversary. Hurrah!

Wanderlust

Noun

A strong desire to travel.

I absolutely love this word.  It’s origins are German of course, taken from the word wandern which means “to hike”, and lust which means “desire”.  It’s not a word that I hear very often, now that I really think about it, but one that appears in written form a lot.  Instagram is probably to blame for introducing me to the word.

Back last year, my significant other half who is way way way way way too good for me, suggested that she might like to spend her 30th birthday in the French capital.  Not one for ever knowingly letting anyone down I spent the next few weeks checking out every potential flight, train, hotel, bed and breakfast, restaurant, tourist attraction, flea market and sightseeing tour that I could possibly uncover online.  The girl has taste and high standards, which must explain why she chose me out of a world population of 7 billion.  I realise that approximately half of those are men, which brings the statistic down to 1 in 3.5 billion, but those are still decent figures.  Unfortunately for me it meant that finding “the right place” was tricky, but eventually I found what looked like a beautiful apartment in Montmartre, on TripAdvisor.  The flights then just fell nicely in to place, as did absolutely everything else.  TripAdvisor also helped with finding the best restaurant to spend her birthday night.  Seb’On in Montmartre is rated 3rd best eatery in the whole of Paris and has no more than 10 tables.  We got a table and had the meal of our lives.  Outstanding!

She who is WWWWWWTGFM (see above) isn’t one for spending an hour in line staring at a painting of some woman who didn’t smile.  She’s not one for the obvious tourist trails, but definitely enjoys a good wander and that’s exactly what we did.  4 days of walking everywhere, with a little help from the Paris Metro system.  We managed to cram in all of Montmartre and Sacre Coeur, Bastille, Notre Dame, Shakespeare and Co Bookshop, the Latin Quarter, a walk along the River Seine, hot chocolate, coffee and cakes at Angelina Paris (twice), The Eiffel Tower at sunset, and much more.

If I was alone and on a photography mission I confidently predict that I’d have taken over 2000 photos in 4 days.  As it was time for romance, smiles and making happy memories, I kept that down to just a few hundred.  We needed photo memories of course.  Most of the photos below were taken with my Sony Xperia Z1 but a small number were taken with a Canon 550d – mainly the night shots.

People in the know always say that you should keep your blog following a theme.  Keep your instagram following a theme.  Do everything with a theme.  Meh.  I’ll do what I like, and what I like is variety, so enjoy the pics – many in black and white, many in colour, some in the day, some in the night, some of food, some of the streets, some with filters, some without.  Something for everyone.

You can see these and a few more on my instagram page @dangleberrydan7

 

What to blog about next, huh?

I can be pretty useless at this but it’s not my fault.

Honest.

We need more hours in a day, and I need more energy and motivation during those hours.

It’s over a year since I set up this blog and if I’m totally honest with myself it should hold a lot more weight.  There is a hard drive here with “potential” written all over it, but I don’t think I’ve unlocked that yet. My photographic experiences go back to about 2010 I guess although every few months I learn something completely new and I feel like I’m a newbie all over again.  That new challenges really do help to keep things interesting when taking photos, but maybe I should try to keep on top of it on here too.  The main question for me is always “what do i talk about next?”.   I prefer the practical side of most things and that’s no different with photography.  In the early days a lot of what I learnt was through some great books by Scott Kelby and Bryan Peterson, both of whom just know how to speak my language.  Some textbooks are just ugh.  More recently I’m finding that reading doesn’t do a lot for me so my attention moves to Youtube.  Even then, if the tutorial video is over 20 minutes long then you can forget it.  I need bitesize.  Because of my need, I just kind of assume that everyone else operates in that way, so when it comes to blogging I find that I hit a point pretty quickly (often less than 250 words) where I just stop and tell myself to shut up and post some pics.  That’s unlikely to change, so what do I blog about next?  I have so many options!

Every time I get out and photograph something new, whether that be a cityscape, a wintery scene, a wedding, a baby shoot, some street art, street photography, whatever it may be, that short term excitement makes me want to cover the internet with what I’ve done so I go out and flood Facebook, instagram, flickr, viewbug and 500px with my favourite images, as well as sending a few through to other sites where I could potentially reach a bigger audience who would like some of my work on their wall.  The blog is the last thing that I even consider.

Currently in a non existant queue, just waiting to go on here are my rambles about the Gower Peninsula, the Brecon Beacons and Waterfall Country, Newcastle and the North East, Bristol, half of a wedding portfolio builder day, an entire actual factual wedding, 4 newborn/baby shoots, London, London, London, more London, Paris, London again, and London, more about phone photography, something about instagram, something about those who influence me, other photographers that I know and admire, Kent, Europe, and this list goes on.

If anyone reading this has any ideas or requests please do feel free to comment below or maybe contact me through my facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/dandavidsonphotography

Also feel free to follow me on instagram where my handle is @dangleberrydan7

Last but not least; this is a photo blog and I’ve not posted a photo tonight so here’s a little montage of something I spotted out on my wanderings.

Up and In, in Paris and London

Does anyone get the reference in this blog title?  I hope you do.  Last year I failed at one of my New Years Resolutions to read at least 4 books in 12 months.  4 books should be easy for anyone but I didn’t manage it.  Even a week by a pool in Spain didn’t help.  I got through about half of On The Road and gave up.   I did manage to pick it up again in the Autumn by reading Who Is Tom Ditto by Danny Wallace.

In January of this year I took my lovely lady over to Paris to celebrate her 30th birthday and one place that we just HAD to visit was the Shakespeare and Co bookshop near Notre Dame.  She insisted, and I really don’t mind a good bookshop.  I decided that I’d buy myself a book and maybe get 2015’s resolution completed in 2016 instead.  So that’s what I did, and I purchased George Orwell’s Books Vs Cigarettes as well as William Shakespeare’s Macbeth.

It had completely slipped out of my mind just how much I had enjoyed Orwell’s writing style back when I was studying for my English GCSEs and reading Animal Farm.  Books Vs Cigarettes reignited my admiration so it’s only right that I have now purchased 1984 and next on the list of course is Down and Out in Paris and London.  That’s that explained.

But this is a photo blog so what on earth does this have to do with the price of film?  Paris is great for the street art scene, and so is London, so I’ve decided to put together a few of my favourite images taken of graffiti and street art in 2 of my favourite cities.

The feature photo at the top here is of a face popping through the wall and the French flag, by Gregos.  You can find him on facebook and instagram quite easily.  I don’t know all of the other artists but Banksy, Stik, Invader, Sweet Toof and so many more talented artists always pop up in the right places when I’m out and about.  Talking of instagram if you want to follow I’m under the handle of @dangleberrydan7

Most of these photos were taken with my Sony Xperia Z1 phone but a few were captured with a canon 550D.  On that note – I have the new Sony Xperia Z5 coming this week which apparently has an incredible camera.  I may mention that in future blog posts!

 

The Dungeness Monsters

Ever been to Dungeness?  It’s in Kent.  If you haven’t been and you are ever in the area, then go!  How good is it there?  The boyband A1 filmed a music video there, that’s how good it is!

The Prodigy made one there too by the way, just er FYI.

The headland and shingle beach are also home to some pretty impressive wildlife in the form of birds and over 600 plants.  I can name about 4 of them as nature isn’t really my strong point but I’m very aware that Kent is home to some fantastic wildlife photographers like Ian Hufton.

I wasn’t in the area to cover nature though.  I was there to see the boats, the fishermen, the cool houses and huts, the lighthouse, the nuclear power station and to simply be near the coast again.  I’d been meaning to visit for a while but never made the effort.  I had a lot of free time over the Christmas period so planned a day when I hoped that not many people would be out and about.  It had been so long since I had spent time working on landscapes so I was looking forward to this.

The M25 was pretty decent for a change and I was at the car park by 11am.  Plenty of time to wander around, get cold, snap what ever I see and get home again before the sun goes down!

As usual, this is meant to be a photography blog so as usual I would like the photos below to do the talking.   I’ve started off mean and moody but ended with a bit of colour.  These are just a small selection of my favourites starting with the abandoned hut next to the old railway tracks, a fisherman’s hut, the boardwalk that helps to protect the local wildlife on the shingle beach, a very cool Airstream caravan, a shy machine, Prospect Cottage, and the boat that also features at the top of this blog post.

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Abandoned

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Eerie

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Abandoned

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Airstream

Dungeness

Britain’s only desert

Prospect Cottage

Derek Jarman’s Prospect Cottage

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Boat RX435

 

Winter Wonderland

Snow.

Love it or hate it?

I discovered during the recent cold snap that opinions seem to be divided right down the middle.  Personally, I sit very comfortably in the love camp.  I do love the stuff.  I love the cold, I love Winter, but it’s not enough to convince me to watch more than 10 seconds of Frozen.

Rather unexpectedly, I woke up to a decent dusting of whiteness just last weekend and even more unexpectedly, I got out of bed.  On a Sunday.  The camera was already very well charged from a recent day trip to London (photos will come in a future blog post) so I was ready to go once I had showered and got dressed.  Ah, but snow melts quite quickly so maybe I don’t have time for that.  Other people may wake up soon and want to play in it or walk on it which would ruin my photos.  Having quickly brushed my teeth and put on more socks, I was ready to go and snap some magical winter wonderland snow scenes around this crazy little town.

First stop was to be Willen Lake, a spot visited so many times as a practice ground for me as there is a great big lake, a bit of wildlife, a fantastic Peace Pagoda and a lovely backdrop for portraits.  It’s also been a great training ground for running but that’s another story.

Tickling the South face of Willen Lake and park is Campbell Park which then links up with the town centre.  The next series of snaps are taken there after walking around the Grand Union Canal, adjacent parkland and around the Light Pyramid at the top of the little hill.

All in all I was only out for just over an hour but managed to capture some really lovely local landscapes.  Snow confuses the camera’s sensor though and when I got home to review the images they were so dark and grey!  Youtube came to my rescue, and a short tutorial from Anthony Morganti’s fantastic channel meant that I had a good idea of how to correctly process the scenes so that you see what my eyes saw on the day.

Enjoy!!!

As ever, please feel free to check out my facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/dandavidsonphotography

Instagram – @dangleberrydan7

Thanks for following

Dan