Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Chiltern Building Design Awards...

The Chiltern Building Design Awards are an annual competition that seeks to promote and reward innovative and sympathetic architecture and design in The Chilterns. Designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty; it is very important that the character of the building match the charcter of their surroundings. 

This is the second year I have been commissioned to photograph buildings for Danks Badnell LLP, a firm of Chartered Architects based in Windsor. Danks Badnell have been very successful in this competition over the years; Roger Danks, Senior Partner received a commendation for a converted barn last year and Christopher Gregory, Partner was the overall winner in 2008, the year before, for an Arts and Crafts house in Penn.


Situated in Henley on Thames, the shoot happened at 9:00am one Monday morning. Time and sun was against us; but this was the only window of opportunity; it had to be then. I would have loved to have waited for the perfect sunset or misty dawn, but that was not to be. While the sun was a bit harsh, the morning was probably one of the best ones we have had this year yet! So I wasn't complaining. The subjects were a lychgate, a belvedere and a cottage. The design of these were such that you would be forgiven to think they had been there for years.Carefully selected oak timbers, meticulous detailing and attention to the locale are what makes these designs special.

There are more photos and words on Noel's website,, in the News section

More of Danks Badnell's projects can be seen here.
Roger or Christopher can be contacted here.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Ma O Shimeru... eliminate the space between... or how Photography and Karate are exactly the same.

Tim, leading kihon
On a Saturday morning I teach, along with two other instructors; Pal and Julianne, Shotokai Karate to children aged about 6 and up. Recently we had a grading and everyone was practising extremely well and I am pleased to say all did very well. Tim, a 5th dan came to the club to grade the children. He was impressed. And I wanted to say thanks to Tim for giving his time and experience to us.
Tim and Pal
When we practice karate and particularly when we practice Shotokai Karate; we are practising a traditional martial art. It is at all times real. And we strive to make it real for all who practice. Each punch is a real punch, each move a move to defend or attack. But before any of that is though, we first teach about the space and distance. 
 Thomas and Katy
Distance and movement are fundamental aspects of karate. There are three basic distances: the first; where no attack on either side is possible; simplistically because both people are too far apart. The second is when both people are at the right distance to launch an attack. And thirdly when one takes advantage of this correct distance and attacks; eliminating the space between; ma o shimeru.


This got me thinking about my photography and how I take a photograph. I think about it, I set it up and then I take it. three actions, three distances. Or, I just take it.
Reflection at Brooklands

We have all heard about the 'decisive moment' in photography. In karate it is the moment that the attack takes place; it is at that very moment that you become one with your attacker and the duel is over. You have won or you have lost, but it is over. If you delay for even the blink of an eye; it is over and you will have lost. If you delay clicking that shutter then you will have missed the photograph. This moment is fleeting and is so brief that so many will miss it. You don't think it, you feel it.
The Dance
And this is how I take my photographs; just like I practice and teach karate. First we have to learn technique. We drill for hours and hours, we read books, study manuals, go on courses and practice. We get it wrong (digital helps out here) we try again and again. The dojo, the place where we practice karate, is just like digital; there we can be figuratively killed over and over to perfect and learn without coming to real harm, (though I have picked up a few injuries along the way!) digital can show us where we are going and how better to get there.

In karate to take advantage of the 'distances' we have to gain harmony and rapport with ourselves and our opponent. In taking a photograph it is exactly the same; if you do not have an affinity with your subject then forget it, the picture will not work. Gaining this harmony and rapport will naturally eliminate the space between me and the subject; the photograph; to read the moment as one; to be a part of it but not be apart from it.

To achieve this you have to throw technique out the window. In martial arts terms the successful measure of a conflict is whether you are still alive at the end of it. The successful photographer is the one that takes the decisive photograph with whatever technique or camera is at hand, in whatever situation. It is the picture that counts; not the technique. Don't think about it; just do it.

The Shotokai College has been teaching karate for many many years under the guidance and excellent teaching of Colin Reeve, their website is here , Winkfield Shotokai Karate, led by Pal Kalsi, where I teach, is affiliated to The Shotokai College and their website is here.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Guest Blogger over at Glyn Dewis' new home...

I have just had the great honour of being the first Guest Blogger at Glyn's new blog; thats him below...
Glyn, London Walkabout December '09
Photography as a medium and an art form seems to being groups like minded people together to share a common want and need; to be creative and see something in a moment that maybe, just maybe makes the ordinary extraordinary. Glyn has been making amazing and fantastic changes to his photography over the last year or so and I am delighted to have been a very small part of that. I posted one of my favourite techniques, a party trick that every photographer knows; painting with light.
Good Luck Glyn
I had great fun with these shoes... take that any way you like... and they seem to have become a sort of signature shot now.

But the photographs aside, this is what its all about and Glyn has put his finger on the pulse; sharing as part of a community of photographers. And having fun. Glyn has opened his blog up and no doubt greater photographers will follow me.  And before anyone asks, no, that is not me wearing them... I wouldn't have been able to stand in them; run to trip the shutter and then paint the light trail... not that I tried you understand...

You can see it at do check it out...

Thanks again Glyn

Saturday, 6 March 2010 is live!!

I am very pleased to say that my new website 'The Infinite Moment', is now live! I have spent the last week getting the portfolio together, editing the photographs, writing the copy and burning the midnight oil. And I am shattered! But it was worth it.

I want to thank all those who helped make it happen and offered the encouragement that I needed to get it done; Catherine, Cein and Katy, my family and most consistent critics! Also to my good friend and photographer Glyn Dewis, who helped me no end!

Do drop in and have a look and let me know what you think!