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

 

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

Foggy London

Sometimes the weather doesn't let you do what you really want to.  I'd found a fabulous vantage point and was aiming to get some nice shots of Westminster at sunset.  So what happens?  As soon as I get up there and set up, the fog rolls in......and what a stroke of luck that turned out to be!

I may not have got the shots I wanted but what I did get was far, far better -  the wonderful sight of dense fog engulfing one of London's great landmarks.  Thank you weather!

Sunsets happen every day, but such atmospheric conditions happen only rarely and I feel fortunate to have captured this and other striking images.  London' famous 'pea souper' fogs don't actually happen very often but it's still a famous image dating back to Victorian times.

A big thank you to Visit London for featuring this image on their Facebook page.

As with all my London and Places images, this is available as a print or canvass - please get in touch via the Contact Me page to discuss options.

Thanks for reading,

Mo

Rainbow Bridge - Instagram Featured Image

A big thank you to the 'Excellent Structures' architectural group on Instagram for selecting my Rainbow Bridge image as their featured image.  The standard of images in this group is very high so I'm especially pleased to have been selected.

The Rainbow Bridge in Beijing's gorgeous Summer Palace is a highlight of any visit to the Chinese Capital and here's the image from my Places gallery:

 

Here's the link to the Instagram page.

Like all my other Places and London images, the Rainbow Bridge is available as a print and canvass.

Thanks and have a great weekend, Mo

 

Leap - featured Image on Visit London

Here's a shot I'd been wanting take for ages but could never seem to be at the right place at the right time.

The right place is the skatepark on London's South Bank and the right time was a late summer evening when the light hits the arena and skateboarders in a very particular way.  Well. I finally got the shot that was in my mind's eye.

The key thing for me was not just to capture the leaping skateboarder, but also to get his shadow on the graffiti behind him. The technical challenge was to keep as much in focus as possible whilst also "freezing" the skateboarder in mid-air. The late evening golden light was the perfect illumination and also helps frame the skateboarder very nicely.

A big thank you to Visit London and for tweeting out this image to their followers

This is now up in my London gallery and available as a print or canvass.

Thanks for reading, Mo

 

Singapore is a Featured Shot on Instagram

I'm really pleased that one of my Singapore images was recently selected as a featured Shot of The Day by one of Instagram's biggest user groups (IGSCCITIES).  The standard of images in this group is fabulous so I'm especially grateful.

The image shows Singapore's skyline at sunset and was taken from the lovely Marina Bay during blue hour - that short period just after sunset when the sky turns wonderful shades of blue.

Here's the Instagram link - I hope you like the image too.

Remember, all my Travel & London images are available as prints and canvasses so please get in touch for more details.

Thanks, Mo