A Gherkin and A Wedding (aka A Wedding at 580 Feet Up )

One of my favourite aspects of wedding photography is the great variety of locations at which I get to shoot - every venue has its own unique charm.

Some locations though are unique because of their rarity factor and recently I was lucky enough to shoot a wedding at one of London's most exclusive venues - on top of the iconicGherkin skyscraper.  Officially known as 30 St Mary Axe, the Gherkin is one of the most famous elements of London's city skyline - and does not allow public entry.

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Here's the 40th Floor ready for the Civil Ceremony- the polished floor, huge glass panes and stunning views, along with the reflections, really make this a pleasure to photograph.

As you'd expect, the views from the 40th floor are just stunning - the Gherkin is close to many of London's most famous landmarks and buildings.  In the photo above, 122 Leadenhall Street (aka 'The Cheesegrater') towers in the background.  I love these nicknames for skyscrapers!

I was there working with the wonderful guys at Peekaboo Events and they (as always) provided high class and orginal decor for both the civil ceremony and the evening reception.

The image above shows the fabulous setting for the evening reception.

I've wanted to get up The Gherkin for as long as I've taken photography seriously so this really was an experience to remember.  A big thank you to Peekaboo Events for the opportunity to do so - pay their website a visit (I took most of the images on there) and tell them Mo sent you!

Of course, it would have been rude not to take a few shots of the stunning views while I was up there and I managed to capture this memorable view of Tower Bridge late in the evening.  I hope you like it.

Tower Bridge long exposure from The Gherkin

Tower Bridge long exposure from The Gherkin

 

Enjoy the fabulous weather and please tune in for another blog update in next week or so.

Thanks for reading, Mo

 

London Marathon 2017

Hello all, hope you're well and thanks for visiting.

I'm enjoying an extremely busy period right now, which is great and what's really stimulating is the variety of the assignments I've been shooting over the last few weeks.  These have ranged from weddings to portrait shoots to events assignments to one of the world's biggest marathons.

And that's just the last two weeks!

I'll be blogging in the next few days about a very special events assignment over Easter in a very special location (hint - atop one of London's most iconic buildings).  Today though,  I want to share some images from yesterday's London Marathon.

My assignment was to capture Orchid Cancer's runners who were raising money for the fabulous work that Orchid do infighting male cancers.  The roadside vantage point was perfect - a great view of the runners with London's City skyline in the background.

Huge congratulations to all the participants, who will have raised millions for so many wonderful causes. 

The atmosphere was fantastic, the weather was kind and we even saw a practical use for Batman's famous utility belt!

And here's my favourite image from yesterday:

I really wanted to nail a shot that did two things - frame the runners against the skyline and also capture a sense of movement for the runners.  Normally this means slow shutter speeds to get that motion blur.  But there's bright daylight so the camera wants to use a fast shutter speed.  Also, it was just not possible to shoot with a tripod.

So what did I do?  I reduced my ISO to 100, narrowed the aperture to F12 (to let less light into the camera), turned on the Vibration reduction on the lens and finally experimented with shutter speeds to get the right look.  In the end, I settled on 1/20th of a second for the shutter speed.

Hope you like all the images and please do visit Orchid's website to find out more about the amazing work they do.

And if you're a charity looking for a creative photographer, please get in touch and let's discuss how we can get the best possible images for you.

Have a good week, Mo

St Pauls and a faulty tripod....

Hi and welcome back.  I hope Spring has indeed sprung wherever you are - I'm certainly appreciating the warmer days and later nights.

A couple of weekends back, I was fortunate enough to shoot inside one of London (and Europe's) most famous and iconic buildings - St Paul's Cathedral.

St Paul's Cathedral was built by Sir Christopher Wren in the late 17th Century (in the aftermath of The Great Fire of London).  To give some idea of its sheer scale, it was the tallest building in London from 1710 to 1967.

St Paul's is (along with Parliament/Big Ben) one of the key London sites for tourists and visitors- normally however, photography of any kind is not allowed inside the cathederal. 

This image is entirely down to the splendid people at London4All (one of Instagram's best photographic groups) for somehow arranging an after-hours visit where we could shoot away to our hearts content.  To be able to do so without hundreds of people milling around made it even more special.

To call the interior stunning actually does it no justice - several of us, rather than snapping away, took a few minutes to just soak in the magnificent surroundings.  Despite this, I know there are angles and details that I missed.

Having finally got inside St Pauls, I had the unwelcome surprise of realisng that my tripod was unusable - "frustration" is a mild understatement for how I felt!  This 5 second exposure shot was only possible becuase a fellow shooter lent me his tripod (thank you Greg!).

Having fianlly got the shot I wanted (looking towards the High Altar and featuring some of the beautiful ceiling detail), I opted for a slightly subdued edit, lowering the blacks and raising the clarity.  I hope you like the final image. 

A huge thank you to London4All for organising this visit - they're a fab bunch so give them an Instagram follow: @london4all

This image is in my London gallery and available as a print.

Please feel free to get in touch and thank you for reading.

Thanks, Mo

 

 

watching you watching me. aka how I snapped the elusive leopard

Thanks for tuning in to my latest blog post.  Time for a change of pace - let's get away from people, weddings and London for a short while.

Let's instead head to the great outdoors.  More specifically to the legendary Kruger National Park in South Africa. 

Even more specifically, we're heading to a copse of trees where, resting on a branch, is this magnificent leopard.

This is easily one of my personal favourite images that I've ever taken for a variety of reasons.  Firstly - I'm by no means a wildlife photographer; my skillset, experience and equipment are geared towards other areas of photography.  Until this trip, I had little idea how involved, rewarding and difficult it is to get good wildlife images.

Another reason is the story behind the image - on a three day safari, I had seen a huge variety of wildlife including four of South Africa's Big Five animals - lions, elephants, rhinos and buffalo.  The fifth (the leopard) though, was proving elusive.  By nature, they keep themselves to themselves and are hard to track.

By the final day (and after multiple drives with the rangers) there was still no sign of a leopard and I was getting desperate to snap one.

And so, to the very last drive of the safari trip, with departure looming early the following morning.  A long, beautiful drive - walking with cheetahs, following a small pride of lions, coming across some very angry looking buffalo and watching a glorious sunset over the distant Draksenberg Mountains.  Pretty much everything in fact, except for a leopard.

The light was fading as the rangers decided to head back to the lodge when......a radio crackled into life.  Another ranger had found a leopard - we had to get there quick!  And when we did, there it was - a beautiful leopard, relaxing on a tree limb. 

We sat close to that tree for 20 minutes, as I alternated between snapping away and just drinking in the sight of this magnificent predator.

Photographically speaking, this was a hard shot to take as the light was fading fast and I didn't have a long enough zoom for ideal framing.

In the end, I used my Nikkor 85mm f1.8G, at f2.2 and ISO 1600.  In editing I cropped the image and added clarity and contrast to the leopard.

What made the shot so personally memorable was something totally out of my control - the moment when the leopard looked directly at me just as I snapped the shot.  Of the dozens of shots I took, this is the one I come back to – the leopard's direct stare into my lens was unforgettable; which is the other reason why this is such a personal image.

Since I've taken it, this has been one of my most popular images - it was featured by The Guardian website and is one of my most popular prints.  It's in my Places gallery - please contact me for print and licensing enquiries.

So that's the story of the leopard.  Next time, I'll focus on a portrait as I'll dissect another personal favourite image. 

Thanks as always for reading.

Mo

 

 

 

Into 2017

Thanks for tuning in and I hope 2017 is going well for you all.

Before I start on today's blog topic, I'd like to say a heartfelt 'thank you' to everyone for their patience, sympathies and well wishes while I was occupied with my Dad's illness and subsequent passing.

2017 is a new year, a new start and a chance for me to refocus on my photography in a major way.

I have several exciting projects in the pipeline and I'll be bringing them to you right here on my blog.

Expect to see a lot more events and people photography in the next few months, with select images appearing here on my site.  I will also be launching a new Instagram feed purely for my events, portrait and wedding work; my current IG account (@images_by_mo) will continue to feature my London and Travel images. The new feed IG feed is (@bespoke_imagesbymo).

One of the highlights of 2016 for me was linking up with the fabulous people at Peekaboo Events - specialists in events planning, decor & lighting for weddings, corporate and charity events (Peekaboo designed and delivered the gorgeous setting above for a woodland themed corporate party).

Peekaboo asked me to capture some of their breathtaking work for both weddings and corporate events and it's been a personal and creative pleasure.  As a wedding photographer I've seen a lot of event planning and decor - I can honestly say that I'm blown away by the creativity, attention to detail, originality and delivery of the Peekaboo team.

Above is a white themed wedding setting which I just couldn't wait to get snapping; moody directional lighting, lots of contrast, fab textures and exquisite details - all guaranteed to get my photographic juices flowing.

I'm looking forward to doing much more with Peekaboo over the next year and will be highlighting some of their work in my Events and Wedding sections.

So if you're planning a wedding or corporate event, please give Peekaboo Events a visit and tell them Mo sent you!

Thank you for reading and I'll be back with another blog very soon.  Teaser: It'll be about how I got this shot:

 

Have a great weekend,

Mo

 

 

 

Abseiling for a great cause

One of the very best things about being a photographer is the opportunity it gives me to work with some fantastic people and causes.

Case in point - Orchid Cancer, an amazing group of people who do so much good work and whom I'm priviliged to have worked with for a couple of years now.  I've covered all sorts of events for Orchid from Christmas drinks to fancy-dress charity runs to The London Marathon.  Always stimulating, always varied and as you'll see, often challenging.

Last week, I found myself on top of Broadgate Tower in the City of London, covering one of Orchid's more spectacular fundraising events - namely, snapping the brave souls who each abseiled down the Tower to raise money for Orchid.

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The sun was shining, the views were incredible and every single one of the 40 fundraisers achieved their aim and abseiled down the 541 feet to terra firma.

To get these shots, I was positioned alongside the abseiling platform and was actually straddling the very edge of the building, whilst tethered to ensure I didn't take any unplanned trips.  Was I nervous?  Yes, of course I was!

From a photographic perspective, it's not often you get the chance to shoot from such a vantage point.  Broadgate Tower directly faces the City of London's skyscrapers - just about every London landmark can be seen from here.

Technically, the shots were relatively straightforward - I shot in Manual Mode with a flashgun to enable me to correctly balance the backgrounds and the abseilers.

Well done Hannah and Manjeet at Orchid for yet another superb event!  For more information on the great work done by Orchid, please visit their website - maybe I'll snap you at a fundraising event sometime!

Oh and in case you're wondering, yes - I DID abseil myself!

Thanks as always for reading,

Mo

Shooting Into the Sun

Hi all, another image to focus in on today.  Before I start that, a quick one word review of my Nikon D750 now that I've been using it solidly for just over two months: "INCREDIBLE!"

Yes, my love affair with this superb camera continues - I'm finishing up my more detailed review to post here and should have that up soon.

So here's today's image for dissection, taken in the late afternoon from London's Tower Bridge, looking west directly towards the setting sun

 

 

I was actually on Tower Bridge photographing fund-raising runners for the excellent Orchid Cancer Charity (please check them out and help in anyway that you can - it's a wonderful cause). 

Once the last of the runners had passed me, it suddenly hit me just how vivid this particular sunset was.  Sunsets and sunrises always require luck - the clouds, the clarity of the atmosphere and timing can all make or break an image at these times.

One aspect of photography that comes with experience and practice is picturing the final image in your head well before you click the button.

In this instance, I wanted a dramatic setting sun, silhouetting both the London skyline and the boat as it lit up the sky and river.  The wake of the boat was also an attraction as it sailed towards the sunset.

But I was in the wrong spot to get the boat more central and directly in line with the sun - cue a quick jog along the bridge until everything lined up just as I wanted it.

Here are the settings I used (after a couple of trial shots):

Spot Metering (exposing for the sky); IS 80; Aperture: f7.1; Shutter Speed: 1/250 of a second

This is why the sun is clear, the skyline is silhouetted and why the clouds are so deep in colour. 

Whilst editing, I darkened the entire image which makes the silhouettes deeper and also allows the colours to become more saturated.  Of course, two different people will edit the same photo in two often very different ways.

I'm pretty happy with the final image and would love to hear your thoughts on it.

A big thank you to visit London who kindly retweeted this out to their followers:

As with all my London and Travel images, this is available as a print and canvass.  Please Contact me for more details.

Have a great weekend,

Mo

 

Black & White or Colour?

Hi all, I've not been able to blog for a while due to being so busy but I'm aiming hoping to be back on track now and blog much more frequently.

So here's a question that every photographer faces on a regular basis - when to use black & white for a particular image and when to go with colour?

Some background: ANY image can look superb in monochrome.  I love black & white images (and one of my wishes is to one day to shoot a white wedding purely in black & white) but equally I apppreciate that not every image works in monochrome.  For example, surely you'd want to see most sunrise/sunset images in colour so you can appreciate the vivid colours and tones?

I regularly shoot weddings of all descriptions and Asian weddings in particular are famous for being so colourful and vivid - surely there's no place for black and white?  Well, maybe there is for the occasional shot.

Here's a bridal portrait I took at a Muslim wedding knowing from the start that it would be a black and while image:

You might be wondering what I'm gaining from going monochromatic when I'm losing all the beautiful colours in her outfit?

Well, used judiciously monochrome strips away the non-essential and focusses the image on the core elements - in this case, I wanted the image to highlight her wonderful expression, herpose, the perspective and the intricate details in her outfit.

Also, the vast majority of the shots in the Wedding set were coilour so I like to use the occasional mono image to really emphasise the subject, and to provide a nice contrast to colour images.  The trick is to use mono on images that wil benefit and not to overuse it.

I don't often do this but here's the original colour shot for comparison purposes and to (hopefully) illustrate my point:

So to get the final image, I desaturated all colour, cropped and tilted the image and highlighted the bride's expression and outfit details.

It's a subjective thing of course, but I think the monchrome version is much more powerful than the colour original.

The bride agrees (thankfully!) - this image is a framed 18 inch square print in her house.  And let me tell you, nothing beats clients framing the work you've done for them.  It's a huge compliment to any photographer.

I'm available to photograph Weddings and Events - please see galleries for Weddings, Asian Weddings and Events.

Please get in touch via the Contact page.

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend, Mo

Composition, Luck and a test drive of my new camera

Most photographers probably have some favourite places where they like to try and capture a perfect shot or improve on previous attempts and Baker Street tube station in London is one of mine.

Dating to 1863, Baker Street is London's oldest Tube/Underground station and some of its platforms are just architecturally stunning - they almost seem to transport you back to the time of Sherlock Holmes, Baker Street's most famous fictional resident.

I've tried several times to get the perfectly composed shot here and it's never quite happened. And then onmy last visit, I got lucky.

The thing to bear in mind is that the image you see above is almost exactly what I had pictured in my mind's eye - a lone figure standing absolutely centrally under the middle of the three soaring arches.

The shot has to be taken from the opposite platform and while you can always get a friend to pose in the perfect spot, you can't control other passengers getting into your shot.

This time, I got lucky - this gentleman is obliviously waiting for his train.  In the exact perfect spot.  WIth no-one else around!

I snapped a few shots as quickly and carefully as possible and less than 90 seconds later, there were a few dozen people milling around the platform!

For me, this shot is all about a human presence in amongst the beautiful architecture - composing the architecture part is easy but the composition of the human element isn't - if the guy had been standing even 18 inches to either side, this would have been (at best) an interesting but unbalanced composition.  Equally, he could have been in the perfect spot and (as often happens) someone else could have come and stood a few feet away.

I'm really pleased with the end product, not least because it was part of testing of my new camera.  I'll blog at more length about the Nikon D750 soon but after owning it for three weeks, I'm hugely impressed with the D750 so far.

It's relatively small & light for such a powerful full-frame camera and most importantly for me, it's just astonishing in low-light conditions.

This image was shot with a Nikon D750 body, Nikon 50mm f1.8G lens, shutter speed 1/100 second, aperture f3.5 and at ISO 3200. 

I hope you like the image as much as I do (or even half as much, because I REALLY like it!).  If so, please check out my London and People galleries.

As always, please let know what you think.

Thanks, Mo

 

More Superheroes!!

As a follow-up to my London Super Comic Con blog, I'm over the moon that the official LSCC website now features dozens of my images from the fantastic event.  Please visit it here

A big thank you to Bryan Deemer and the organisers for featuring my work in this way and for giving me the opportunity to shoot a truly enjoyable event.  I'm really looking forward to next year already.

Here's some more images from the event but please do visit the LSCC Homepage to see a fuller selection.

Thanks, Mo

Blurry Eye - an experiment with the London Eye

Like any city, London has its fair share of iconic locations/buildings and views, all of which are photographed from every possible angle on a daily basis.

As an example of this, think of any iconic building in your nearest big city.  Now think of the different images you've seen of it.  Now challenge yourself to shoot a truly original view or interpretation of this building.

The point, you may agree, is that it's actually very hard to come up with a fresh view of a much-photographed icon

So what to do?  We can't all hire a helicopter or crash a posh apartment-with-a-view in the pursuit of a fresh take. Well, I can't anyway - good for you if you already have a helicopter or a posh apartment-with-a-view!

The underlying theme here is that I challenged myself to take a fresh perspective on the London Eye.  Along with Big Ben and Tower Bridge, the Eye is an iconic structure that has been photographed to death over the years.

Here was my solution:

There's nothing original about my viewpoint here - on any day, you'll see tourists and photogrpahers a-plenty on London's North Bank snapping this very view.

Where I tried to be different was go abstract, and present the London Eye in abstract form.

To do this, I deliberately 'de-focussed' the shot, playing around with different amounts of blur, in order to emphasise the overall form of the Eye and its surroundings in 'bokeh' form. 

Bokeh is photographer-speak for "out of focus" - it's that ethereal, delicate circular blur effect and is often present in the backgrounds of portraits.  Here, I just made the bokeh the main feature of the image.

So no, nothing is in focus - deliberately so, as I wanted to create an abstract image with colourful blur.

So that was my London Eye/Bokeh experiment.  I wouldn't do this for every view, landmark or building that I come across but I like it in this form, and hope that you do too.

Please feel free to share your thoughts.

This is available as a print, as are all my London and Places images.  Please contact me to discuss print/canvass options.

Have a great weekend and thanks for reading!

Mo

Costumes, Capes and Cowls - LSCC 2016

It's turning out to be a very busy time right now, especially these last few weeks but there's no doubt what, so far, is my most enjoyable assignment of 2016.

I was fortunate to be an official photographer at the London Super Comic Con 2016 and what a fabulous convention it turned out to be - really well organised, huge attendance and as always, the most colourful, high quality, creative costumes imaginable.

Even more than previous years, LSCC 2016 left me blown away at the sheer creativity, effort, dedication & time that goes into many of the costumes.  I'd go so far as to say that some of them were movie quality - check out the Predators, Batman/Batgirl, Iron Man & Spider-Man costumes in the gallery below.

Also present were big-name artists & writers from the comic book world, including senior Marvel Comics exec CB Cebulski (the guy with glasses in the gallery below) with whom I had a fun, informative and all-too-brief chat.  Thanks CB - you were every bit the gent.

I hope you enjoy the gallery.  If you're one of the cosplayers, please contact me and I'll happily send you a copy of your image.

Thanks, Mo

Powder & Wigs

Regular readers will know how I try and carry a DSLR whenever possible- mainly because you never know what opportunities you may stumble across.

Here's a perfect example - walking out of Piccadilly Circus underground station when a horse and carriage pulled up in front of me.  Even better, it was full of models in period costume!  

Rather than the splendid horse and carriage, the opportunity to grab an unusual portrait really appealed to me.

I was carrying my lightest combination (Nikon D7000 and Nikkon 35mm f1.8 lens) the greatest advantage of which is it's flexibility- it allows me to shoot cityscapes, architecture, street shots and as here, portraits.

This camera/lens combination really is great for natural light work and I would recommend it highly as a flexible setup.

Given the white tones of the models' outfits, I knew this could make a striking black and white image.

For more of my portrait work, please see my People gallery.  I'm available for individual, corporate and family portraits so please Contact me for more details.

Have a great weekend, Mo

 

 

 

Little Venice

One of my photographic aims in 2016 is to get off the beaten track more and explore London's many interesting and out-of-the-way areas.  It's always great to find an unexpected and gorgeous view and of course, it's always fun to explore - even in places you think you know well.

So, I started with a real hidden delight near the city centre - Little Venice.

Sandwiched between Paddington Station and Edgware Road, the canal is lined with houseboats and lovely little floating coffee shops and restaurants and I'd definitely recommend going there for a pleasant walk.

I was lucky with the weather during my brief visit and also the water was relatively calm.  More to the point, having only visited briefly once many years ago, Little Venice was even prettier than I remembered it to be.

Taking this image was more about the framing and composition.  Technically, it was relatively straightforward as it was a lovely, bright morning so there was no need for any camera trickery.

i always want a new aim for my photography and I'm really looking forward to exploring more out-of-the-way places in London, especially with Spring not far away.

Thanks for reading!

Mo

 

Bowie

Just a quick post, mainly to share this photo and to express my sadness at David Bowie's death.

I was always aware of Bowie's music, of course but it was in the sixth-form at school that I really started to explore and appreciate his albums. 

I paid a visit to the Bowie mural in Brixton, South London and even a few days after his passing, there were so many people paying their respects.  What struck me was the sheer variety of people there - punks, office workers, young and old, black and white; all going to show just what a powerful presence Bowie was, and how diverse his audience was.

As always, I had my camera and wanted a unique image. It was then that I noticed the lady wearing the highly reflective shades - and THAT was the image I wanted.  It's now in my People gallery.

And if she's reading this, a big thank you to Elena Cresto for lending me the Bowie albums all those years ago at school!  He's been one of my favourite artists to this day.

Thanks for reading, Mo 

A Room with a View

So where does one go to find the best views of London (or any other city?).

Well, often to the highest places one can get to.  Towers, bridges and hills can all offer great views and in this case, I went up to the Shangri-La hotel in London's Shard skyscraper.  It's easily the highest tower in London and the observation deck has stunning views.

The lobby of the Shangri-La is over 30 stories up in The Shard and while the best views are from the various restaurants, the hotel lobby itself offers this lovely view.

Initially I took the shot looking over St Paul's Cathedral from the window itself and then realised that it would be great to have the view framed by the lobby furniture.

I'm pretty happy with this image and hope to get back up there for sunset soon.

In the meantime, I hope you like this image - like all my London and Places images, it's available as a print.  Please get in touch via the Contact page for more details.

Thanks for reading, Mo

Tower Bridge

Firstly, Happy New Year!  I hope 2016 is good to you all.

I'm working on some very exciting projects for 2016 so please keep an eye on this Blog for my updates.

Here's an image which I've been wanting to capture for a while.  Of all of London's famous landmarks, I'd say that the most iconic for people around the world are Big Ben/Westminster Palace and this....Tower Bridge.

I'd been trying to capture this view for a while and finally made it there for a nice sunset on a clear night that allowed me get a nice capture of the City skyscrapers on the far side of the famous Bridge.

For this image, I used a 15 second exposure (which smooths out the motion of the water) and helps capture the detail both on the bridge and also on the skyline in the distance.

This has now been added to my London gallery and as with all my London and Places images, this is available as a print and canvass.  Contact Me for more details.

Thanks for reading, Mo