Friday 4 November 2011

Holga Photos

We photographers spend a small fortune on the latest digital cameras to get the ultimate quality possible – yet I love a simple £10 toy camera called a Holga! It has quite a cult following. Its cheap plastic lens creates a very soft image, low in contrast and distorting the colours. Somehow this gives the images instant appeal. And it's just wonderful using film in this digital age.

This is Prague station and I love the maze of the criss-crossing rail tracks. Look closely and there is a splash of orange from a railway worker helping to draw the eye to the centre of the image.

The camera is prone to light leaks, hence the slight magenta discolouration at the edges of this shot of the Church of Our Lady Before Tyn in Prague. I love this unpredictability that can bring an extra dimension to a photo. You don’t know quite what you’ve caught until the film is developed. The treatment perfectly suits the muted colours of this scene.

Here’s another, of the Municipal House building, that I took on the same trip to Prague. Again the image is soft with muted colours and the light leaks onto the film have added some interesting border effects. I framed the shot with the curved part of a bus stop in the top corner, to give the image an additional element and mirror the building's wonderful arch. The Municipal House also has a superb art deco interior and is well worth a visit.

And another taken at Canary Wharf. The camera gives a square format on 120 roll film - I love square images, sadly something we see less and less of with digital capture.

Saturday 29 October 2011

Astronomical Clock, Prague

Remember to put your clocks back this weekend.

I'm fascinated by clocks and Prague has one of the best. The Old Town Halls Astronomical Clock isnt something to tell you the time in a hurry; its a medieval marvel to linger over. It even shows the position of the stars in the sky. The three circles on the upper dial display Old Czech Time (Italian Time), Central European Time and, should you need it, Babylonian Time. As the hour chimes, the Twelve Apostles pass by and the cockerel at the top crows and quivers its wings. Isnt it wonderful?

Friday 28 October 2011

Industrial sky at night

Industrial plants can come alive at night: the trick is to take the shot when there’s still colour in the sky before it turns inky black. This separates the subject well against the sky and creates a far more visually appealing image. I used a long exposure to record the steam as blurred streaks and I got it in time for the fading sun to add its hue, which I then enhanced in post production for added drama.

Thursday 25 August 2011


I've been experimenting with infrared techniques, something I used to do the old fashioned way when you even needed to load your camera in the dark as the film was so sensitive. Fortunately there's a digital equivalent and no obnoxious chemicals. It suits images with lots of foliage, as it lightens greens. I like including a grand old building or two as well. Here's the before and after effects.

And you get some interesting effects with skin tones too:

Blues go black too. All very surreal!

Sunday 7 August 2011


When The Bollington Brewery Co won a bronze ‘Best Bitter’ award at last week’s Great British Beer Festival, there was only one place to shoot their PR photos – at local landmark White Nancy, which features in their logo. I love distorting reality in a photograph and wanted a dramatic look with a stormy sky, despite it being a bright evening. By a mixture of deliberate under-exposure and careful use of flash I achieved the effect I was after.

All this was created in camera and some post production to the RAW file to further boost the contrast was all the computer work that was necessary.

Congratulations to Lee and Kirsten who own the brewery and the Vale Inn in Bollington where you can sample these marvellous ales. And of course to Kim, the master brewer.

Thanks too to the fell runners who helped out with carrying all the props up and down, just a bit of extra training for them.

I enjoyed the celebratory beer at the end of the shoot.

And here's me behind the scenes, it was quite a bright evening as you can see. Who says the camera never lies!

Sunday 24 July 2011


The worlds greatest bike race finished in Paris today and I reckon the cobbles of the Champs Elysées would have finished off this abandoned old boneshaker. I thoroughly enjoyed taking its picture after stumbling across it in a building due for demolition on a site I was photographing. I accentuated the size and shape of the front wheel by getting down low and close. Then I cropped the picture square to draw the eye around the image. Finally, I gave this old-fashioned bike an old-fashioned darkroom treatment.

I wonder who owned it and whether they ever dreamt of Le Tour while they were riding it.

Friday 27 May 2011

I photographed BBC broadcaster, musician and general funny man Mark Radcliffe yesterday as he gave a talk at Waterstones, Macclesfield promoting his new book 'Reelin' in the Years'.

Great bloke and humour in every sentence, was hard to stop laughing to get the shots. Must read the book.

Wednesday 25 May 2011

Manchester 10K

Well, James Russell Photography’s marketing director, the missus, Paula Radcliffe’s replacement, or whatever you want to call her, was running in her 4th ever Great Manchester Run on 15 May 2011 for Parkinson’s UK.

As ever, she had last minute nerves when she suggested we veer off to Parrswood Cineworld instead, but I drove on in and deposited her at the start line (along with 37 999,999) other runners.

As for me, I’d opted for the photographic option and was capturing the action for East Cheshire Hospice and Team Arighi.

Lindsey completed the course in 1hr 50secs – she was slightly gutted to be just over the hour, when last year was 58.07 but still a great effort - I’ve told her to try harder next year!!
She looks pretty happy here – it was near the start!

Haile Gebrselassie was slightly in front of her…

Lindsey would like to say a big thank you to all her sponsors for helping her raise over £200 for Parkinson’s UK.

The charity village was a riot of colour, massage tables, bananas, chocolate and other goodies to reward those weary bodies. Samia Smith, who plays Maria in Corrie, was one of the celebrity runners taking part and is one of the East Cheshire Hospice's patrons. It was firmly decided the ECH stand had THE best muffins courtesy of the café at Arighi Bianchi’s!

It’s certainly an amazing sight seeing the city jam-packed full of runners and particularly moving seeing so many different charities represented, all of which have a special significance for those running. I know Lindsey gets an incredible buzz from participating, almost enough to make me want to join her next year…

So if you’re tempted to get your running shoes on, entry has already opened for the BUPA Great Manchester Run 2012 – see you there…(with camera or my trainers!)

Thursday 7 April 2011

It was a good weekend in Liverpool at the Bluecoat, a great venue for the North West British Institute of Professional Photography Annual Awards. I picked up a silver for my shot of an EPOS system and a bronze for some vodka bottles in the advertising and commercial category. Also merits for press and fine art. Here are the pictures:

Sunday 20 March 2011

Road to London

Olympic tickets are now on sale: will you be applying? I recently photographed Great Britain swimmer hopeful Dan Sliwinski being presented with a car as part of a sponsorship deal. My brief was to create an eye-catching image that involved the sponsor’s logo. Appropriately for a swimmer the day was wet, so I accentuated the dark threatening sky to contrast with the white of the car.

Good luck Dan!

Tuesday 8 March 2011

Pancake Race

The annual Macclesfield Pancake was run today. Held to support the hospital MAST appeal to raise funds for new digital breast scanners. Congrats to Cheshire East Council for the win and runner up the boys from Verve Brands.

Monday 14 February 2011

Picture of the Week - A Valentine's Day Deception

I've used a touch of artifice to create this Valentine's Day picture. I placed the flowers on a highly reflective surface to give the illusion of a full symmetrical bouquet. The vibrant red works perfectly against the black background. But don't buy your beloved half a bunch!

Monday 24 January 2011

Cuba Revisited

I'd love to go back to Cuba, it's a wonderful characterful place teeming with life and old American gas guzzler cars. The next best thing was going through my photos again. I've been updating my commercial website with some personal work. Here's a selection of those which made the cut: