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

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

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.

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

 

Brides and guides Pt 1

It’s been a while and I apologise to both of you who follow me.  My silence has been silent and I promise to make it up to you.

Right now though, I’m back and ready to rock.  It’s been a crazy few months, loads has changed, and I’ve pushed the photography in a completely different direction; this time towards weddings.  Weddings have to be the scariest, dauntiest, challengiest things to capture as a photographer and I’m diving in feet first.

This Summer I am so lucky in that I have a few special friends who have put their full faith and trust in me to deliver their big day back to them in the form of gorgeous photo memories.  I am not ashamed to say that I am bricking it, but I’ve spent a LONG time preparing and feel pretty bloody confident that I’ll get the results that everyone wants.

Prep really is key!

First step – get a camera and learn how to use it.  I kinda did this years ago so that was easy enough (just took a few years)

Step 2 – buy a wedding dress and practice with it.  Yeah… I bought a dress but it’s still in a bag.

Step 2b – attend a Wedding Portfolio Builder day with The Trained Eye, just North of London.  4 brides, 2 grooms, 3 venues, decent weather, and the rest is up to me.   That’s what this blog is about; showing you the results of the day.  First of all though we need to look at Step 3.

Step 3 – learn how to process images from Step 2b.  This took a while!!

Step 4 – plan ahead for everything that could go wrong.  Double up on cameras, lenses, cards, batteries, and anything else that could fail on the day.  Done that.  Let’s do this!

So, back in March I went along to South Bucks to spend the day with 2 great tutors in Kim Hawkins and Jodie Chapman.  Both had different styles, but very modern, very on trend, and it was all about using natural light which is what I love doing.  I hate artificial light, but maybe I don’t understand it enough just yet.  For now, I’m happy to use what nature gives me.

We started the morning with Jodie, and our lovely model Aree.  The setting was Hedsor House.  Results are below:

The Trained Eye

Aree at Hedsor House

Hedsor House

Aree

Wedding photography

Creamy tones

Next it was a break with jaffa cakes and water, then outside in to the Spring sun to work with Samantha and Kim:

Samantha

Samantha at Hedsor House gardens

Samantha 2

Samantha and grand tree

Samantha 3

Samantha at the door

This took up most of the morning and was pretty hard work.  I don’t have the most expensive, most professional camera, but it’s not all about the equipment and I think I got some great results.  The best camera and lens that anyone has, is the one in their hands.

By this point of the day I was hungry, and as I’m typing this I’m hungry.  We all went to the local pub for some much needed refuelling, and right now I’m going to head off for the same.

Keep an eye on the blog for Pt 2 which will be about the afternoon, spent with 2 couples…. well 1 real couple and 1 couple who were pretending but were very good at it 😀

Making headway in Medway

The day job took me to Kent this week, and I’ll probably be spending more time there this year.  It was my fourth visit to Kent in the last 9 months and I’m finding more and more gems to capture at the most Northern points of the county, but still need to go exploring more.  It’s still freezing cold, and the sun sets before I finish work so right now isn’t the best time to do it.  Fingers are crossed for more work there in the Summer.

Today’s blog is mainly going to focus on Chatham, the old maritime town in Medway, where I spent an hour wandering around the marina after dinner.

A quick bit of fact fun before the images!

Charles Dickens lived in Chatham.  Lee Ryan from Blue went to school there.  Chatham Historic Dockyard is a big tourist attraction in the area, and has been used as a backdrop for the filming of Call The Midwife, Les Miserables, Sherlock, Mr Selfridge and Oliver Twist.  It has THAT kind of feel when you’re there.

Since the dockyard closed in 1984 the area has been redeveloped with the inclusion of an outlet shopping centre, cinema, Dickens World and The Quays towers alongside the marina as seen below at night.

Chatham Marina

The Quays at Chatham Maritime Marina

The image above was taken from St Mary’s Island which is being used for housing and connects to mainland Chatham by the bridge below.

St Mary's Bridge at night

Bridge to St Mary’s Island Chatham

Heading back over the bridge meant I could get in the shadow (well it was night time so no real shadow) of The Quays and photograph back towards St Mary’s.  Some of the boats were lit up by a parked car’s headlight:

Chatham Marina

Boats at Chatham Maritime Marina

And a simple turn to the right, on the spot, picked up these 2 boats – Kent and Barking:

Kent

2 old boats at Chatham Marina Kent

That was quite enough for one evening, wearing fingerless gloves at freezing point.  The car was parked a few metres behind me so I went to seek some warmth.  Talking of warmth, here’s one of the images that came from my last visit to Kent, this time a sunset walk on Whitstable Beach.

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Boat at Whitstable beach

If you’ve enjoyed these images and wish to see more please feel free to find my Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/dandavidsonphotography.

Also check out my Etsy page to buy prints https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/DanDavidsonFineArt?ref=hdr_shop_menu

Baby, baby, baby ohhhhhhh

Let’s start with the shortest, least inventive sales pitch:

I PHOTOGRAPH NEWBORNS!  BOOK ME!

But seriously, do.  Kids are great to work with as they tend to not follow direction, and refuse to do whatever you want them to do, but with newborns they don’t have quite so many options.  A well fed newborn is a dream to work with as they just sleep with little or no fuss!

Towards the end of 2014 I took a few shots of baby Maliyah, a friend’s beautiful granddaughter.  I don’t have a studio as the unnatural environment, indoors, with lights and fake backgrounds doesn’t really appeal to me.  Working outdoors with urban or rural scenery and the challenges of natural light is more my bag.  For this shoot we clearly needed to use somewhere warm so made a makeshift studio at my house using various blankets, towels, natural light through the window boosted by a single softbox, and we threw in some props for good use – soft toys, fairy lights, a suitcase and a basket.

Maliyah was awake and smiling at the mysterious fuzzy shapes and sounds in the room, and waving and kicking, for the whole 2 hours that we were shooting, so I didn’t get very many of the “typical” newborn shots where you see baby curled up and sleeping.  Still got some great results, and here are a few examples.

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newborn shoot

Maliyah wrapped up