Ahoy, Savoy!

I was asked to take photographs at Roger’s 70th birthday bash a few weeks ago and how could I refuse with such a glamourous setting and glamourous guests? Absolutely smashing evening all round.

The icing on the cake* was my ex boyfriend trusting me to borrow the absolutely amazing new Pentax full frame K1 camera from him for the task. Beautiful camera.

Happy birthday, Roger! Hip hip!

 

*The icing on the cake actually said “Happy Birthday”.

The gift of Sound and Vision

On 5th February I went ice skating at Alexandra Palace with my mother, one of my brothers, and a wonderful colleague for a David Bowie soundtracked evening of skidding about and falling over, hosted by Feeling Gloomy.

I don’t know anyone who wasn’t saddened by Bowie’s passing, and what better way to blow off the cobwebs than such a ridiculous and fun tribute.

I took my Pentax K-S1 and intended to get lots of fun shots of the inevitably Bowie-emblazoned skaters, but admittedly I spent the vast majority of the time enjoying the skating. It’s over 20 years since I’ve purposefully stepped onto ice and I loved every single minute of it.

My brother looked utterly fabulous in his golden spacesuit and I at least managed to capture this for prosperity. He drew much adoring attention both on the ice and during the journey there and back. Even the lovely staff at Pizza Express didn’t seem to mind us applying our face painted lightning bolts at the dinner table beforehand.

Farewell, Starman.

 

Beyond Beyond Chocolate

There were a lot of ridiculously delicious cakes provided by Abbi’s Pantry at Beyond Chocolate‘s celebration of “no diet day”. I went along to take some photographs of the food and the round table discussions.

 

I took my back up camera for this shoot, my primary camera being out on loan. I’m more than happy with how the relatively humble Pentax KS1 handled the task. I can’t really compare it favourably to the Pentax K3 in performance overall (that thing is a dream machine!), but I can say that the final image can be a hair’s width in difference. The sensors are not significantly different, and I’m using the same lenses, so I’d say the biggest difference is to do with ease of use.

Focussing is slower and sometimes clunky with the KS1. I took most shots focussing manually. Overall it’s probably comparable, in the experience of setting up shots, to using the Pentax k-x. The k-x was my first digital camera and one I used for a good few years with fabulous results but it needed to be bullied a lot in camera and in post.

The key really is understanding and getting to know the equipment, its limitations, and its potential. In general I’d say that the potential for quality images from the KS1 is light years nearer to the K3 than the k-x and I should use it more often to know how best to release its strengths and better circumnavigate its weaknesses.

The best thing about the KS1 is how very light it is. I used my favourite lenses which all seemed to weigh more than the camera. This had a really positive impact on my experience. The slightly more cumbersome handling of settings was more than made up for by the fact that my back wasn’t aching as it would with the chunky K3. For long shoots I think it will even serve well as first choice in that regard.

Beyond Chocolate

A couple of weeks ago I took some pictures for Beyond Chocolate, a thriving online community that supports women to ditch yo-yo dieting and have a healthy relationship with food.

I was really inspired by the passion and energy that co-founder Audrey injects into her work. I spent the afternoon capturing a seemingly endless stream of fresh, healthy, indulgent food, glorious food prepared by Audrey and Abbi [of Abbi’s Pantry, who I have had the pleasure of taking photographs for before].

The best way to get mouthwatering pictures of food is to use natural light. With a big wall of glass on one side of the large kitchen, although the day was overcast, there was plenty of soft natural light to play with.

 

We’re abseiling, we’re abseiling…

A few weeks’ ago I went to collect my prize for the Avery Hill Winter Garden‘s photography competition and I was briefly interviewed by a lovely chap from SEnine magazine.

There I am on the far left.

There I am on the far left.

A week or so later I got an email from the same lovely chap suggesting I might want to get some photographs of an abseil event being hosted by Wide Horizons at Avery Hill Park this month. Incidentally, that’s the event in the article on the opposite page to my interview.

The abseil was last Saturday so I went up there as it was starting up and just as the sun was starting up too. I got some lovely shots during that morning and I think the early start must have got to me as I ended up agreeing to abseil myself. Interesting choice for 9.15am after being in photography mode for a couple of hours.

I have an extreme fear of heights at the best of times and leaning backwards off a 100ft tower isn’t something my instincts tell me to do. I did have to beg for a supervisor to come down at the same time as me. I was so grateful that he agreed and from there it was fairly easy. The staff there were all so fantastic and for something  that I would have never voluntarily been interested in, it was actually thoroughly enjoyable all round.

Taking these pictures was a very immersive experience in that the action is so immediate and emotive. I think that’s probably the main reason I said yes to abseiling myself. I already felt like I understood the experience and knew the fear was irrational. I’d observed it repeatedly. I’d also been up to the top of the tower to get pictures of the view when I’d got there so I knew how high it was. Plus, of course, everybody else was clearly so safe.

One of the main reasons I love photography is the way you can capture such a fleeting expression of emotion, or an occurrence, that otherwise isn’t held. You can freeze a moment of time in a way that can trigger a very pure form of empathy.

I went back again in the afternoon and got a few more shots. I am really pleased I returned later as there were some very impressive small children showing excellent calm and poise. I can’t say the same for myself. I learnt a new expression: “sewing machine legs”. Due to shaking so violently.

Here are just some of my personal favourites from the day. You can see the whole caboodle over on Flickr.

And now for something completely different…

I was asked by a member of The Real People to take some photographs at a gig of theirs last Friday in London. I’d never shot a gig before so it was a huge joy to find that I got a real buzz from it.

I like to force myself into trying new things and stepping out of my comfort zone when it comes to creative endeavours. You might find things in yourself and your skills that surprise you.

The gig was really high energy and I think this comes across in the photographs. I have resisted a temptation to convert all of them into black and white. I feel that all the bright lights and colours of the gig add an immediacy to the images that monochrome can sometimes displace.

I have a lot of images still to work through… but here are some of my favourites so far. I’ll be adding them to an album on flickr bit by bit as I go through them all.

 

I took along a friend of mine who loves to take photos at gigs and I got a lot of courage from seeing him unafraid to move about and get into positions for good shots. I was worried I might find it a bit of a struggle with the low light and movement involved but in reality after I’d set the ISO and lowered the exposure bias, I was away.

I decided to take two lenses with me. A 35mm and a 50mm. Both have wide apertures and I thought they would be ideal zippy little lenses for the task. At the last minute I decided I would pack my trusty 77mm as well. I just had a feeling I might want something a little longer and the lens is pretty sharp wide open. I’m so pleased I had it with me. I used it for most of my shots.