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!

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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.

IMG_7310aa

Abandoned

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Eerie

IMG_7194-2aa

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

#HappilyEverCastle

Wedding number 1 is in the bag.  Filed under “great success”.

On the 14th August I made my way to Somerset to capture the big day for Katie and Jon.  I’d already been to visit a few weeks before to check out the venues so I had a good idea of where to be, and very little hope for the sat nav.  Memory don’t fail me now.  I knew Katie from the day job and she’d seen a number of images that I’d taken back in March at a Wedding Portfolio Builder day run by The Trained Eye so put her faith in me to do the job.  No pressure.  Actually, seriously, there was no pressure.  I’ve never met such a relaxed couple!

The weather wasn’t perfect, it was wet for most of the day so we knew we were going to be limited with the type of shots that we would get and I knew that a lot of my original plans to work with natural light were possibly going to be binned, but no point crying over spilt milk – we just had to get on with it.

Venue number 1 was a lovely hotel on the outskirts of Bath.  I had about an hour there to capture the bride and her bridesmaids getting ready and to catch some of the little detail shots that came in to vision.  This is not natural territory for me – hair products, face products, hand products, there may have been elbow and knee products but I didn’t ask.  Also featuring well were champagne bottles, wine bottles, flutes and flowers.  After an hour it was time to go find some testosterone and see how the groom was getting on.

Over to the groom’s house and I was met with another picture of cool and calm.  Kiss FM was playing some garage tracks from the turn of the century (this was later picked up on by the vicar.  Well done vicar) and their son, Jacob, was tucking in to some breakfast to fuel his big day.  Today was as much about Jacob as it was Katie and Jon.  I took the opportunity to snoop around for the rings and cufflinks and any other little details, before catching some candid snaps of the groom, best man and usher getting ready.  A very special gift and note from the bride to Jon meant a lovely moment was captured and focused on again later.

The time flew by, the suits were on, and all that was left for now was to get to the church in Wellow.  I arrived with the groom and best man early, met with the vicar and had a look around the beautiful church.  I was reliably informed by a very helpful organist that the church dates back to around 1300AD.  No time to relax though!  Guests are arriving!  A few quick snaps of the empty church, before running outside to see who’s coming along the path.  The church filled up in no time and suddenly the car with the bride and her father pulled in to view.  I’m no expert on cars but this was most definitely a car.  A real car that seemed like it was born for driving beautiful people around on special days.

The rain wasn’t keen on stopping just yet but it was only a short walk to the main door of the church and there were plenty of brollies on standby.

Ceremony time – and what a beautiful service it was.

Time whizzed by once again, and suddenly 2 friends were married!  Now sharing a surname, witnessed by their closest friends and families.  Celebrations are calling, so on to Farrington Park for drinks, group shots, plenty of candid snaps, some wonderfully emotional and funny speeches that would bring a tear to a glass eye.  All that was left to do was enjoy the moments!

Wedding Dress

Wedding Dress

Mum and bride

Mum and bride

Groom and son

Groom and son

Usher

Usher

Parking duties

Parking duties

Waiting for the bride to arrive

Waiting for the bride to arrive

Beaming smile

Beaming smile

Ceremony

Ceremony

Mine

Mine

Mr and Mrs

Mr and Mrs

Rolls Royce Wedding Car

Rolls Royce Wedding Car

Champagne

Champagne

Bride and Groom

Bride and Groom

Love

Love

Fun

Fun

time to party now

time to party now

Speech!

Speech!

Group shot

Group shot

First dance

First dance

For more images go to my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/dandavidsonphotography and don’t forget to hit like.

Technical stuff (you don’t have to read this unless you’re bored)

Kit used on the day –

a Canon 550D with Canon 70-200mm f2.8 L Lens hired from lenslocker

a canon 500D with Sigma 17-70mm f2.8 lens

Canon 50mm f1.8 lens

Loads of batteries

Loads of memory cards

Hahnel tripod

No fancy flashes, lighting set up, stepladders or anything along those lines.  Just me, the cameras, and whatever else was around.

Phone Photography

Shoot me down if you like but I’m gonna say it…. I PREFER TAKING PHOTOS WITH MY PHONE!

As much as I love a big fat DSLR in my hand, and all of it’s amazing capabilities, I just love the convenience of having a small camera in my pocket at all times.  It can be whipped out at any time, and with my phone particularly ( the Sony Xperia ) it can create some amazing results!  Fair enough, it’s not going to produce a masterpiece but who wants a masterpiece when you can have fun?

I’ve always always said that it’s not about the equipment, it’s all about the user.  If you have an eye for an image and a finger capable of pressing a button then you’re going to get results.

More and more I’m finding that I’m leaving my DSLR in my bag when out and about and taking photos just for fun.  After a few years of frowning upon instagram I decided to join up recently and it’s fantastic on there!  I was expecting to see hundreds of crap photos of breakfasts, lunches and dinners with crap filters but ohhhh I was so so wrong.  There is serious talent on that site and I want a piece of that!

If you’re on instagram feel free to follow me!  User handle there is dangleberrydan7.  Instagram initially gave me dingleberrydan7 which I was happy with but upon googling the name I discovered there was already a Dan Davidson using that as his twitter handle.  There is no way I could sleep at night knowing that another Dan Davidson may one day wish to join Instagram only to find that some Welsh idiot has nicked his name… TWICE.  Oh and if you don’t know what a dangleberry is, or dingleberry for that matter, please don’t google it.

Back to the point, phones take great pics.

For those of you who use Facebook, I have created a group simply titled “Phone Photography UK”.  Go and find it and request to join.  We’d be chuffed to have you.  In the meantime, have a look at a few snaps below taken recently with my Sony Xperia, and don’t forget to find me on Facebook too – dandavidsonphotography

Herne Bay Beach Huts Collage

Herne Bay Beach Huts Collage

airbus

Air France flight at Gatwick

Stik

Stik London in Shoreditch

Llanelli

Breaks at Llanelli Beach

beach

Instagram square shot and filter used on Herne Bay Beach