Slam dunk ! GB v Canada basketball

Wednesday evening and it was time leave the studio work behind and sharpen the reflexes for the GB v Canada basketball match at ACS Cobham. I covered the first Harlem Globetrotters UK game at Wembley in the 70’s and even the pace of Meadowlark Lemon’s antics can’t match the sheer speed of a modern game. This makes it a very difficult sport to shoot. Constant direction changes with your target frequently being blocked by other players will test even the fastest autofocus to the limit.  Over the years I’ve learnt not to run backwards and forwards (I’m getting too old for that !) but to stay on one of the freethrow lines and shoot all the action in that sector. Light was good for the 7pm start but by 8.15 I was up to ISO2000 to keep 1/200 sec at f4. The final edit of some 400 frames produced a nice set of 60 images, some of which you can see here. ..


The Spy (camera) Who Loved Me

On Saturday I spent a splendid evening in the company of fellow snapper and long-time chum Nic Kirley, who like us has recently moved to Hampshire. After dinner we were reminiscing about the old days and the sheer technical finesse of our Sinars and Hassleblads, when Nic produced his late father’s Minox spy camera. Known throughout the world as the sub-miniature camera to have, the Minox spy camera was in the hands of almost all intelligence agencies and spies during the Cold War period from the 1940’s to the 1960’s. The camera was very good at close up document photography and starred in numerous films undertaking the task of copying enemy plans, normally by the light of the equally ubiquitous anglepoise lamp! The camera was so small – and so good – for it’s day that it had restricted sales to government and military intelligence agencies in many parts of the world such as the USA.  They were also veryexpensive. Like a Rolex watch, the Minox Spy Camera was the status symbol of successful private investigators in the 1960’s and 1970’s.  Putting this marvellous piece of technology on the table alongside a mobile phone and a compact digital camera, we mused over how desirable this tiny piece of engineering would be fitted with a 10 megapixel chip – rather than the specially made 16mm film cassettes it relies on. Who knows, maybe one day someone will have the same idea and a new digital Minox will be born. I’m putting my order in now…

Footnote:  Nic’s son – stuntman Adam Kirley -currently holds the Guinness World Record for rolling a car seven times in the 2006 Bond movie “Casino Royale”

The Revenger’s Tragedy (or “shooting theatre with your eyes shut”…)

Normally when I shoot production stills there is a set plan. Research the play, attend the first read through, go to at least two rehearsals, watch the first full run through and then – finally – shoot the dress rehearsal. This means I have a good idea of what happens when and what action I should be looking for. However, once in a while the need to revert to “wing-it” mode arises. So in response to a call from director Frank Whatley on Monday, I found myself at the Rose Theatre on Tuesday to shoot the dress rehearsal of Thomas Middleton’s “The Revenger’s Tragedy”. I’d had a very quick read of an online synopsis that morning and that was it. At this point you’re like a blind man at a football match. You have to set your senses to “max”, feel for where the action is going to take place and switch everything except the cameras to “instinct” mode.

The play is visually stunning with lashings of sex and gore and is splendidly delivered by Frank’s youthful Picklock company at machine-gun pace. An hour and forty-five minutes later and with two full memory cards, I headed back to the office to start the edit of 600+ shots down to the final 180. Here are just a few tasters – I hope you enjoy them…

A Day at the Races . .

Almost a month to the day since my last ramblings. Simply and inexcusably my reason was four weeks of back to back work without a break. Commercial photography frequently paraphrases the old bus joke about “nothing for ages and then they all come along at once”. And so it was in June, shooting a whole children’s clothing catalogue, a jewellery brochure, three high school graduations, skin care products and more than a few business delegate groups. Post-production work on this swallowed up even more time, so the blogging was sidelined.

And so to the present. Last Friday had me rising implausably early to head off for the first day of the Goodwood Festival of Speed. For anyone (is there anyone ?) who doesn’t know what this is, it is a three day mechanical orgy for petrolheads of all genres. From Hot Rods to Formula 1, rally cars to bikes and back via exotic supercars and vintage classics, there is, quite literally, something for everyone.

I’d volunteered for a day’s agency stint (which basically means working for nothing and hoping you get some saleable shots !) and from the start it looked like it was going to be hard work. Press pass collection arrangements were badly planned, which meant we all had to go off site to another location to collect our tickets before heading back and joining the queues of cars waiting to get in. Reach the press pavilion at 09:15 only to be told all the bibs for the day were already allocated. Create stink along with half a dozen others. Explain it’s sod all use coming to photograph motor racing without track-side access but the press liason lady was adamant (or was that arrogant ?). Phone agency and moan then sulk off for coffee and pastries and start to develop Plan B. Decide to ignore speeding cars and concentrate on interaction between nerds and what’s on show. Plan to look for amusing and jolly “off-the-wall” stuff for the tabloid audience. Set off refreshed and determined, only to discover that the site is so huge there will be little or no chance of getting round it in a day. Fifteen minute walk to the start area and I find Jason Plato and Matt Neal in earnest discussion so crack a few frames off..

By 10:30 the temperature had hit 22 degrees and rising and it looked like the day was going to be a hot one. Two Nikon’s, assorted lenses and rucksack weigh in at over 30 kilos, so I was now looking forward to sweating off a few pounds and probably seeing my osteopath again much sooner than I’d planned. Proceed back to Goodwood House where I spot Roseanne Llloyd from the Isle of Wight playing “lift the Alfa” and while her boyfriend fiddles with his i-phone I get a couple more shots in the can before legging it back to the press centre to edit and file my first set.

Onwards to the Cartier “Style and Luxe” arena and this cute 1957 Fiat 600 Multipla Marinella “Beach Bambini” – apparently the essential Summer accessory 1955-1975 !

Next stop was the motorcycle pits, where I spot a small but excited crowd gathered around none other than the legendary Giacomo Agostini ! With no other pros in sight I dive in and get a few nice shots of him signing autographs and some nice close-ups of the great man on his own. Good news value, so a sprint back to the press pit for another upload…

A quick lunch and some more coffee and then it’s back out into the sunshine. Getting very,very crowded by now and increasingly difficult to move about quickly. Long walk to the start area for some shots of the touring cars preparing for their runs up the hill,

before heading back into the hoards of onlookers and the joyous sights that any large crowd presents !

15:00 and I’m starting to flag. Last run back to the pavilion and a final upload for the afternoon wires. Pack the laptop away and make one last foray into the pits.

Delighted to see that Malaysia obviously laughs in the face of sexism, as they have adorned their Lotus stand with some particularly attractive technicians, making the last shots of the day…