Sunday, 26 December 2010

Happy Christmas...

I hope you all had a great Christmas day, and there is still lots more of this wonderful holiday to come. We are only at St. Stephen's day, or Boxing Day if you are in the UK. The weather here has been bitterly cold - with snow and ice on the ground since last week. We just cannot cope here! Ireland has it even worse, I am getting reports of 8 to 10 inches of snow in Dublin, I never remember that at all when I was growing up!

Winter Wonderland

On a slightly warmer note, the Project 52 Book is now available on Blurb. I have had an advanced copy and I am pleased with it. I am in the process of getting a print of their portrait to everyone, so if you have not received yours yet, bear with me... I am blaming the snow, see above!

Click on the link to the right and it will take you to the Blurb page where the book is. Until the end of January 2011, those nice people at Blurb are giving free flat-rate shipping to orders, just enter in the following codes at the check out:

UK   £3.99     SHAREUK
US $6.99        SHARE
EU E5.99        SHAREEU
CAD $7.99     SHARECAN
AUD $9.99     SHAREAUD

You can also see a preview of the book, the first draft acually, in my portofolio here. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed taking the portraits.

Have a great holiday, enjoy the turkey, the mince pies and be careful out there - its slippy! And above all take care of those you love.

All the best,

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

52 Portraits...

Project 52 is done and dusted, all that is left to do now is give all those who took part their print as a little thank you from me. The book has been printed and I shall post about it in a few days. I set out to do this project in a year; it took a year and a half. A little longer than I had anticipated, but if a job is worth doing…


Why portraits. A lot of people ask me that. I have asked myself the same question many times in the past. I prefer portrait photography over all other forms of the art. In the end it comes down to one thing; I am fascinated by people. I want to know what makes them tick, what drives them, what motivates them. I suppose that makes me something of a voyeur. I guess all photographers are voyeurs of one sort or another. But I try to make my portraits anything but voyeuristic. I want to show people how interesting they are.

Above all I want the photo to be something more, to reveal something about my subject. And this is where it gets interesting.



In the first photo is Chris. With the addition of a slide rule, I am telling you a bit more about him. Your own world experience then fills in the blanks. Most people, of a certain age, know what a slide rule is; engineers and scientists use them. Chris is a structural engineer, while today he might use a computer, as do we all, back in the day he used a slide rule.

In the second photo, Joe, who is a building contractor and of Sicilian descent and all round great guy. But from the photo you cannot guess that. Everyone who knows Joe and sees the photo loves it and say ‘that’s Joe’. They are not just seeing the image; they are seeing beyond it and something of Joe from what his face is saying. But you have to know him to get it. As it happens this is one of my favourite shots.

The question here is audience. What is your audience? For a shot to be personal and meaningful to a family, then Joe’s shot works; for a shot to be more commercial then you have to tell more of a story. I hope that Joe and Chris’ photographs will be part of their family gallery for sometime to come.

Both approaches are valid; you take the shot to suit the market. It’s all about pleasing people. This project was primarily about pleasing myself, and that is how I tackled it. Some of the shots are more personal than others, some you will ‘get, some maybe not.

you had to be there to get this one...

The experience I have gained has been unprecedented. Apart from the obvious lessons of improving technique, there was the working under pressure; often it was half an hour in someone’s kitchen or ten minutes in work, dealing with people; not just themselves, often their family as an audience. Setting up the next shot was a good one; who was going to be next weeks model? Many a sleepless night.

Pre-visualization is also important, I did know all the people I photographed, some more than others. But I generally had an idea of how the shoot was going to pan out. I was hit by surprises on a number of occasions, thats to be expected, but it all worked out in the end. On the whole I was lucky; not one of my models were reluctant – the odd few were a bit shy, but once we got going there was no stopping them or me.



Portraits are forever, that’s why I love them. I have so many books of the great photographers and it is always a pleasure to leaf through them. I go back to them again and again. The great black and white movies of Hollywood are my favourite genre, and I hope to be doing much more in this area in the future. The atmosphere and the lighting are very evocative and the emotion is easy to see and feel. What do you think about when you see a persons face? What does it tell you? All the emotions that can be conveyed are in there. Sometimes happiness, sometimes sadness, anger, relief; the list goes on. All it takes is a moment and its captured forever! Why would any photographer want to shoot anything different?


Which brings me onto technique; the lighting had to be simple. I prefer portable speedlights, so does my wallet and my wife (more money for shoes…) I use a Nikon SB800 and a Vivitar 285, both of which I trigger remotely – there is only one shot taken with on-camera flash in the entire project – find it if you can. I used umbrellas, softboxes and gridspots to control and modify the light from the flashes along with the occasional gel filter.

My favourite setup is a crosslight shot; the umbrella close to the model and then a rim-light from a flash further away with a gridspot to control the spill of light. I know this setup works; I use it time and again.

Which brings me back to why do a project like this? I have come to the conclusion that these kinds of projects are where the creativity really lets loose; answerable to no one; only your own imagination. I have already thought of a dozen projects for next year, the only question is which one…





Once again, thank you one and all, for your patience, and kindness in allowing me to take your portraits. It has been a real pleasure. I must also thank Catherine and Cein for putting up with my incessant talk about the project, thanks guys! And there is one person that has to be thanked for help above and beyond the call of duty; Katy.


I can safely say that this project would have got nowhere without her help. Thank you Katy.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Well earned City-break...

The Bull Ring

When I was young, okay, a lot younger, my Mam and Dad used to take my brother, sisters and me to see our relations over here in the UK. We took it in turns, sometimes I was lucky, other times not. But I always remember Birmingham and the Bullring. It was a kind of mecca for shopping and what a dump it was. But not anymore. Birmingham is a city that has totally changed, and speaking with my architecture hat one, it has changed is fantastic ways. We recently had an opportunity for a few days in this city. We visited the Motor Heritage Museum, Cadbury World (an absolute must!) and did a bit of shopping, well, Mrs H did the shopping, I did the photography.


What I particularly like about Birmingham the mix of 70's and contemporary design that is fused together in the city. I could walk around it for hours, and have done on many an occassion. You can see this around every corner.

Bridge over the Canals...

It is a great place for street photography. The people are friendly and warm. I feel at home there. If you haven't visited this wonderful city, then go and do so as soon as you get the chance. 


Old and New

The double exposures are more or less straight out of the camera. I made a few tweaks in Lightroom; a touch of sharpening, slight de-saturation for an olde worlde feel and a nudge of clarity. the trick is to pre-visualize. I knew the shots I wanted to double expose before I left home.

If your camera has a double exposure feature try using it. Set it to two or more shots, if it has 'autogain' leave it at the 'on' position, this is probably the default setting anyway. All it does is divide the correct exposure for a given shot by the number of shots in the multiple exposure. In my case it was 2 shots, so the exposure for each was halved. Sounds complicated, but you can always check it out on the screen as you go and turn it off  and compare. There is also the manual option as well, where you just work out the exposure for yourself. Don't worry too much about it; just have a go.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Moo, Blurb and Etsy...

Those on-line book publishing people, Blurb hosted a series of seminars in London last Friday and I was there. They used a 'pop up' shop for the day and dressed it and populated it with their books and posters in only a day! Along with Blurb there was Moo, the company that prints those amazing Moo cards. I use their minicards for my photography work. I intend to use Blurb very soon for  my Project 52 book, but I had never heard of Etsy.

So, what did I think of the day.

Blurb first. There was literally hundreds of theie various books in all the shapes and formats available, from coffee table photo books to text boks. And everyone looked fantastic.

The seminar came in the form of a lesson in how to make a book using Blurb's 'Booksmart'  software. It could not be simpler; you download the software and the rest is reasonably intuitive. If you have ever done a powerpoint presentation, then the jump is easy.

I had a couple of questions. I am in the process of putting my first Blurb book together and I was thinking of making a small photobook as a proof; indeed, on the day,  Blurb recommended this approach. But the drawback is that if you want to make a bigger book, you then have to make the book all over again. I cannot help thinking this is a design flaw. It won't stop me using Blurb, but I would like to be able to copy accross the book, or just press a button and change the format

The second question was about colour and dark images. In a nutshell it was recommended that the images are brightened a bit because of our backlit monitors. I am going to increase the exposure in my shots by about a half to one stop. This could be trial and error, depending on what type of shot you take. They also recommended 300dpi as a minimum for photographs.

The big question; will I be using Blurb, most definitely.

Moo was next. nothing to say. If you don't already use them, then go to their website and get sorted. they have a huge array of business cards, minicards and holders; all great for any business. They also do a regular blog showcasing what people have used their moo cards for... you will be surprised.

This was a new one for me. Etsy is a craft / creative on line community for selling. I logged on when I got home on Friday night and was pleasantly surprised. There is everything on there, from apple cosies, yes, apple cosies... (I am still thinking about that one) to photographic prints to scarves to tee shirts to ceramics, mosaics, the list goes on.

I met a lot of people who have had great success selling their various item on Etsy and they only had praise for the site. So, I am going to give them a go. I am going to put together a set of my Infinite Ireland prints and put them up for sale there and see how they do.

For me the day was a great success, Blurb hosted it and took very good care of use with coffee, sandwiches and the odd beer or two in the evening.

Blurb website is here, if you are thinking of doing a photobook check out their website.

Moo are here, go nowhere else for your businesss cards.

Etsy are here, an amazing community of creative people selling their wares.

A big thank yuo to Blurb, Etsy and Moo for a very educational and enjoyable day. I shall definitely be back for more.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

just following those shoes again...

I am lucky enough to be attending a seminar run by Moo, those wonderful moo cards people, tomorrow up in London. Blurb will be there and Etsy. The topics include, marketing, photography and photobooks for a small busniness.

I am really looking forward to it, and it gives me a chance to take a day out in London! I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Something wicked...

Have you ever had that feeling that you are not alone... It always happens in the half gloom when you are about to doze off in the armchair in front of the fire; peace and quiet at the end of the day. And then you get that niggling feeling that you aren't alone, but you daren't look around because you just don't know what is there. What could be there. What might be there trying to come through...

It is that shivering sensation that runs through your whole body... you have no control over it... and all the time you are thinking... should I look around?

Don't look. But you so want to.

Somethimes you can imagine a hand reaching out to touch you. Other times it might be a gentle brush against you. But with that touch comes more shivering and more of the unknown. And now you are convinced that something is trying to get through.

Don't look.

But still you cannot look around. You want to...

And of course, you are alone. There is no one else there to hold your hand.

You can't take it anymore; you just have to look around. And immediately you wish you hadn't.

But then, you can just make out a shape; it seems to be bathed in white light, but sort of dark towards the edges. It can't be, no it isn't...

You have heard the rumours, the stories of the hauntings. they always said this house had a ghost; the Ghost of the White Witch. But you never believed it, not until now that is. They were right! There is a witch, and she is white. Cold sweat starts to form on your brow as the shape takes final and you start to pray...

The a voice booms out,

'Noel, if I have told you once, I have told you a thousand times, I am not sweeping up your biscuit crumbs anymore!'

Happy hallowe'en!

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Cathriona & Gareth

Cathriona and Gareth are a pair of wonderful newly weds! We had the great privilege of being at their wedding a few weeks ago. And what a great weekend it was; the whole family converged on an unsuspecting Hotel in the village of Ashbourne outside Dublin. It was an excellent and very special weekend.What made this extra special for Catherine and myself was that Cathriona was our Flower Girl when we got married all those years ago!
This is a photograph I took of Cathriona when she must have been about 7. She knew how to strike a pose even then! 

From one flower girl to the next... I managed to grab a shot of Cathriona and Gareth's Flower Girl...
 Cathriona's Flower Girl
I waited for as long as I could just behind the bustling crowd, but the little girl never looked around!

The First Dance
I was delighted to be able to get a shot of the Happy Couple as they took to the floor. It was a bit of a rush as I was in guest mode, not photographer mode! But I hurriedly set up a couple of wireless triggered flash guns on opposite side of Cathriona and Gareth on VAL's (voice activated lightstands - Katy and Catherine) and shot away... A bit of a tricky shot as the background was a bit cluttered and I was waiting for the right moment to shoot and ... you get the picture.
I wanted to do something a bit different for the cutting of the cake. So I tried an unusual and something of a fun shot.

Cutting The Cake
I guess it the same the world over, but if you ever find yourself at an Irish wedding you will be amazed at the amount of people taking photographs and how long the party goes on for... but that's another story altogether! I have no idea who owns these hands or this Canon camera, but it was in the right place at the right time for me. A big thanks there!

A Romantic Moment

Mr. and Mrs.
We all enjoyed ourselves immensely; but the weekend had to end. I had tried to grab the Mr and Mrs all through the weekend, finally within an hour of everyone leaving and saying their good bye's, I had my chance. Having stayed in the hotel, I had done a bit of a recce; the stairs and the balcony were the obvious choice. They may have been obvious, but that didn't bother me; I would rather get an obvious shot good, than a complicated one just okay.

I just want to say a huge congratulation to Cathriona and Gareth and a very big thank you for allowing us to be a part of it. The great thing about weekend weddings is that the party lasts all weekend. And because it does, it gets remembered differently; everyone has a different story to tell; a smile here, a laugh there, the odd tear or two. It is a wonderful thing witnessing the start of a marriage.

The photographer on the day was Jenny McCarthy, a Dublin based wedding and portrait photographer. I just had a quick chat with Jenny as she was working! She and her colleague Barbara were excellent at their job and got their shots without being intrusive. I am looking forward to seeing her shots (especially the one you took with Cathriona and myself...!). Her work can be seen here.

Now who is going to get married next...?

Monday, 4 October 2010

Once in a while...

a real bargain comes along...!
Fuji S1 Pro
(photo by Fuji)

As anyone who knows me will tell you, I buy a lot of my books, especially fiction, in charity shops; you get a good read and your helping out in a little way too.

You can imagine my surprise, when recently I saw a Fuji S1 Pro in the window of such a shop. I immediately asked how much and was told that the body was a mere £19.99 and it came with a Tamrac bag, a Sigma 28 - 105 lens, three assorted flashguns, a handy little strobist style off camera hot shoe cable thing and a 1 gb Cf card. What a bargain. The camera is in mint condition, I only hads to buy a set of batteries.

The S1 pro cam into existence in 2000 as a pro spec model offering 6 mega pixels as opposed to Nikon's D1 which was barely 3Mp at the time. It did this by using Fuji's own special sensor. Its body was plastic to touch by today's standards; it was based around the Nikon F60. It was replaced in 2001 by the S2 then the S3 and finally the S5 which is based on the D200 body, one of the camera's I use. I have briefly played with it, but will test it out and post the results here.

The moral of the story is, check out those charity shops - you never know what you are going to get!

Thursday, 30 September 2010

A Triathlete, A Wedding, 52 People and a Red Corset... the shape of things to come...

I have been quiet for a while, but I am happy to say I am back and with a full calendar and lots to post about. The summer is over and Autumn is on the way - my favourite time of the year, I hope to do a lot more shooting this Autumn.

I have always been into bikes - I use to race them with my friends when I was a teenager. I got my first road bike frame from the 1984 Irish Olympic Squad, how cool is that! When I found out that Jane and Patrick, some friends of mine were triathletes, I just had to learn more and photograph them. There will be a series of both Jane and Patrick on and off their bikes, stay tuned. A big thanks to them for being part of this exciting project. This is Jane on her beloved bike.


I was very lucky to attend the wedding of Cathriona and Gareth last weekend in Dublin. Cathriona is my wife's niece and was the flower girl at our own wedding many years ago. So this was a special weekend on many levels for us. Some great shots to share, and a big congratulations to them. They are off in St Lucia right now... enjoying their honeymoon!

Cathriona + Gareth
52 people, 52 Weeks. At last there is the finishing touches to Project 52. I shall be posting the complete series on my website over the weekend and am finalising the book layout. Exciting times.


I am never happy with just onw project to fill my time, there always has to be another project. I am still trying to work out the logistics, but its going to be a twist on a famous board game. Watch this space...

Thanks for dropping by, and don't forget to check the blog and website The Infinite Moment soon


Friday, 3 September 2010

Project 52 is complete!

Project 52 is now complete and I am into the vast amount of post processing that goes with producing a book and story of the journey! It has been great fun and very rewarding. Do check back soon when I shall post about this amazing journey.

A big thank you again to all of you whose portrait I took and to all those who helped me and without whom I could not have made it work.
Thank you.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Project 52 ... 52

The End. Finally. The project has finished and what a journey it has been. I couldn't have done it without the help of my daughter, Katy. So it was only fair that she got to take the last portrait; me.

Here is Katy's experience of the shoot...

This was the last portrait of 52 in 'project 52' and one of my first photo shoots. Taking photos with my Dad is always fun but when he isn't behind the camera he has no control on how I take the photo  IT'S GREAT! I used one flash; an SB800, fired into a reflective umbrella which I closed down to limit the spill of light.We tried using a reflector behind Dad's head but I wasn't happy with the results. We also tried putting a flash with a grid behind his head but the light was too powerful even at the lowest setting. it took a while to get the shot I wanted, but it was worth it. I had lots of fun.   

Thanks Katy, for taking a great shot, even if it is of me. And it was a different experience to be behind the camera for a change.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Flight of a lifetime!

Catena Magazine
Back in March this year a rather special event took place, The Bracknell Forest Catenaian Circle held a raffle in aid of its Presidents Charity. The tickets were £10 each and the prize was a flight in a Hawker Hunter T7A jet fighter. The lucky recipient was Gil, who passed on the ticket as a birthday present to his son, David. Here he is with ex-RAF Pilot Ian Chruchill, who piloted the plane.

David and Ian
I was lucky enough to be asked to photograph the day and to write an article for inclusion in Catena Magazine, the magazine of the Catenian Association. The full article can be read here. David's family all turned up to wish him well and share in this wonderful day; an experience of a lifetime.

The Topgun moment
Pre-flight checks.
The day was captured on video by Andy of Cam Ara
who specialise in Aviation Event Filming
Preparing to taxi.
David and Ian making a fly-by.
The event was hosted by Mr Mike Harding of Bracknell Forest Circle and Delta Jets, both of whom went out of their way to made sure the day ran flawless and was amazing for David and everyone else. A big thank you to all concerned. 
Back on solid ground...
David and his Wife, ecstatic after his flight!
Once again, a big thank you to everyone at Delta Jets, Mr. Mike Harding of Bracknell Forest Circle and Cam Ara for making the day really special for David and for the rest of us.

More information on The Catenian Association can be found on their home page, here.
Delta Jets events and services are listed here.
For Aviation Filming, Cam Ara information is available here.