Trains, textures and talent …

Graham, Robin, Linda, Matt and the other re-enactors at Didcot really made the day come alive.

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Train spotting …

This weekend I joined a “Train to Print” workshop at Didcot Railway Centre run by Permajet Print Academy partnering with Timeline Events. Steam engines, “forties re-enactors” and rail and photo enthusiasts made for an interesting couple of days. The guys and gals who enjoy bringing us the past were mainly passionate volunteers who created an authentic experience … despite the many orange hi-vis jackets around! A working steam line can be extremely dangerous and our safety briefing was to the point yet we had a lot of freedom to roam. Even the oily workshops and cracked paint on old engines were photogenic.

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The Little Chair is back!

A quiet few weeks photography-wise has led me into the backlog of images in my Lightroom Catalog. Images I’ve either previously processed and want to change or the many neglected images I didn’t have time to deal with. There are rather a lot of those, mainly because I am very bad at editing my images. (I’m trying to improve, really!)

I revisited my Little Chair Project, developed on my Cape Town trip with Momenta Workshops and created a selection of the images in B&W. The gist of the work involved having staff and local children pose for me with a small chair … a fun concept but for me it came to embody the mission of James House. It’s a nonprofit organisation providing a variety of community services to nearby Imizamo Yutha and Hangberg where poverty and unemployment can result in the breakdown of families and problems with drink, drugs and gang violence.

I am delighted that many of the images I offered to James House appear on their website and in the 2013 annual report.

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A New Year Wedding at Coworth Park

I was privileged to photograph a beautiful wedding on 31st December 2014, a wonderful way to end the year. It was held at Coworth Park in Ascot, a stunning venue for a winter wedding. The event was small and private so I’m sharing only a few of the images of one of the happiest weddings I’ve attended. Everyone smiled all day; Julie, Andrew and their guests were delightful to work with and the weather was lovely. I was lucky enough to be at the New Year Party in the evening … still with camera in hand (of course!!) as a guest with my partner, both of us able to enjoy ourselves till well after the “bells”. I’m not a wedding blogger (as I think you can tell!) but I do enjoy sharing my images, especially when making them has been so much fun.

Andrew & Julie Donaldson Wedding, 31st Dec 2014

Andrew & Julie Donaldson Wedding, 31st Dec 2014

Andrew & Julie Donaldson Wedding, 31st Dec 2014

Andrew & Julie Donaldson Wedding, 31st Dec 2014

Andrew & Julie Donaldson Wedding, 31st Dec 2014

Andrew & Julie Donaldson Wedding, 31st Dec 2014

Andrew & Julie Donaldson Wedding, 31st Dec 2014

Andrew & Julie Donaldson Wedding, 31st Dec 2014

 

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Andrew & Julie Donaldson Wedding, 31st Dec 2014

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Umbria … a gastronomic and visual delight!

Visiting Umbria, a region that’s said to be “Tuscany’s little brother”, was a visually and gastronomically delightful experience. Fragrant truffles, delicious handmade cheeses and fabulous wines were some of the treats we enjoyed. Orvieto and Perugia were our bases and from there we travelled to hilltop villages like Terni, Todi and Gobbio, drove east to the plains of Castelluccio and enjoyed the views over lake Trasimeno._MG_7521 _MG_7524 _MG_7558 _MG_7561 _MG_7602 _MG_7624 _MG_7635 _MG_7647 _MG_7649 _MG_7670 _MG_7676 _MG_7712 _MG_7726 _MG_7744 _MG_7759 _MG_7761 _MG_7793-Edit _MG_7822 _MG_7832 _MG_7857 _MG_7906 _MG_7982 _MG_8002 _MG_8005

Hong Kong …

I was lucky to piggy-back on my partner’s work trip to Hong Kong and as he has a few days free, we explored the island, Kowloon and the New Territories. Always looking for photographic opportunities we still managed to fit in relaxing massages and some truly wonderful meals. It’s the first time I’ve really enjoyed dumplings!

My last trip to Hong Kong was over ten years ago and the construction activity that has gone on since (and still goes on) is phenomenal. Buildings just seem to pop up everywhere and in the smallest of spaces.

Our train journey to the Ng Tung Chai Waterfalls took us through small towns and villages; I had somehow been expecting vast swathes of farmland. The falls themselves were disappointing as there was little water so in one sense it was a long journey for nothing – yet no trip into the unknown is ever a waste of time. The National Park was lovely – cool and calming and I could see why so many people spend their days-off there, picnicking and relaxing with family.

It was really hot, sticky and as ever, extremely busy and vibrant. We were there just before the protests began in earnest and although a small part of me wishes I’d been there to record the crowds of protestors at such an historic time, the rest of me was glad just to have a holiday!

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Jatiluwih rice terraces

The stunning rice terraces of Bali, exemplified by those in Jatiluwih are wonderous sights. Every hue of green is visible as you look at the undulating layers of the fields. I travelled to Jatiluwih twice, once in the sunshine and the second time at dawn on an overcast day. The colour palettes were so different with the changing light. It was just before the harvest when the terraces are incredibly lush. As we travelled around Bali we came across rice harvesting in different areas and went down into the fields to watch the workers. It’s an incredibly labour intensive job and hard, physical work. We also spotted this honeymoon couple who were beautifully co-ordinated as they took self portraits throughout the terraces.Bali, May 2014

The ecologically sustainable subak system is the traditional method of farming and irrigation, deeply embedded in the Balinese culture. This co-operative water management system is presided over by priests in the water temples and emsures co-operation between villages. UNESCO has recognised the importance of this system of farming to the common heritage of humanity and subak and the rice fields have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. more information about UNESCO’s choice is here: www.whc.unesco.org

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Uluwatu Fire Dance

Uluwata Temple on the south coast of Bali hosts daily performances of the Kekac (Fire) Dance. Mainly for tourists, the dance is a story-telling performance based on traditional tales and involves melodrama, humour and fantastic costumes. The Monkey King was particularly athletic and exciting to watch as he leapt around madly. We were extremely privileged to have “back-stage” access to watch the performers preparing and resting between scenes. I had expected them to be in a room to get ready, instead they were camped out in the concrete areas underneath the stands, sitting on the ground and balancing mirrors anywhere they could. It was fascinating to have that kind of access although it did mean I missed most of the performance – including unfortunately the pyrotecnics! Shooting at extremely high ISO settings was a challenge as the images are very noisy but not using flash captures a completely different side to the night and is considerably less intrusive for the very patient performers.

Despite the performances being a daily event, the actors attacked their roles with such energy, humour and spectacle that it seemed really fresh. Next time I’m in Bali I’m planning to attend and watch the entire show.

For the complete photostory please follow this link: Kekac Dance

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Out on the fringe ….

The Brighton Photo Fringe that is!  Concurrently with the Brighton Photo Biennial (the largest photography exhibition in the UK), the Fringe runs from 4th October – 3rd November 2014. I am very excited to share the gallery with five other local photographers, Colin Miller ARPS, Audrey Marshall ARPS, Steve Boyle ARPS, Nicola Miles and Sylwia Liszak. We will be exhibiting in the brand new Artista Gallery and Studio, right in the heart of the city.

Each of us has a different style and approach but we share commitment, a personal vision and fierce independence in what we make and show. Working as a team with gallery owner Alex, we have agreed how to share the quirky exhibition space to showcase everyone’s work to its best advantage and are working on our marketing strategy together. We will be having an open Preview Evening on October 3rd, but if you can’t come then, do pop in anytime during the month for a coffee, drink or food and see “Six Photographers Under One Roof”.

I’ll bring you more news as we fine tune our plans, suffice to say it will be worth visiting!

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Charity begins at home!

Although I’ve experienced some really exciting opportunities to photograph for non-profit organisations overseas, I also help out here in the UK (which some of my friends have noted, I should do more of as charity begins at home!)  Recent work has been in support of friends who are fundraising or have charities dear to their hearts. So I’m sharing a selection from some of these events.

Climb Kili for Cornerstone involves four close friends who are bravely (madly!?) climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania for Cornerstone. It’s a charity that supports vulnerable children and adults throughout Scotland – broadening their opportunities and helping them live rewarding and meaningful lives. Fundraising for the trip has included tea parties, cocktails and gourmet dining, silent auctions, supper dances, pop-up shops and a myriad of other fun events. Ann and Antonia Chapman and Lisa and Steve Duthie have all committed to raise more than the minimum required to fund their trips and it’s hard work! Plus the training and preparation – phew, I really admire them. Helping with the fundraising is my contribution; I’m far too worried about freezing my toes off on a mountaintop to join in … but I wish them all the best of luck!

Ladies Tea Party at the Fourmile, Kingswells, Aberdeen

Ladies Tea Party at the Fourmile, Kingswells, Aberdeen

"Bag a Mountain" Supper Party at the Aberdeen Douglas (featuring the Scottish Cup!)

“Bag a Mountain” Supper Party at the Aberdeen Douglas (featuring the Scottish Cup!)

Motor Neurone Disease is a devastating diagnosis and the Motor Neurone Disease Association is the only national charity in England, Wales and Northern Ireland focused on MND care, research and campaigning. MNDA is a powerful national and local network that provides information and support alongside fighting for improved services. Volunteer Carol Reiley, working with fitness instructor Becky Stevens held an open “FitSteps” class in the Dolphin Leisure Centre in Haywards Heath to raise money for the charity. FitSteps is a dance orientated fitness class created by Ian Waite and Natalie Lowe of “Strictly Come Dancing” fame and Carol was fortunate to lure Ian to Mid-Sussex to co-lead the class. People of all shapes, sizes and ages Rumba’d, Salsa’d and generally had a marvellous time while raising money for this superb organisation.

Ian Waite and Becky Stevens lead the FitStep class.

Ian Waite and Becky Stevens lead the FitStep class.

Ian and Becky showing their slick moves!

Ian and Becky showing their slick moves!

Home-Start is a leading family support charity and Gette Cobban the Scheme Manager in Aberdeen asked if I would provide images the charity could use locally on their publicity material and to launch a new campaign. The photo session was carried out at the George Street charity shop which is so professional, well stocked and dressed that it belies the image that many people have of charity outlets. The Aberdeen branch was a finalist on the Grampian Award for Business Excellence this year and from what I saw, it is well deserved. Representatives from Aberdeen Football Club, volunteers, staff and trustees all played their part in a fun morning (as we dodged the sun and wind!)

The Home-Start shop in George Street, Aberdeen

The Home-Start shop in George Street, Aberdeen

The Home-Start shop in George Street, Aberdeen

The Home-Start shop in George Street, Aberdeen