Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Dreaming of a White Christmas

So, it’s the time of the year we all look forward to. You may protest that you loathe the last-minute dash around the shops looking for the last of your presents, hoping for a little divine inspiration - deep down, you love it!
Around Paper Mill Lock, Essex
Dog loving rolling in the snow
If, like me, you’re a big kid at heart, you’ll be checking the weather forecasts now, twitching the curtains, looking up to the heavens with fingers crossed hoping to see some snow and a White Christmas. Ok, it causes problems getting around, and yes, it’s potentially dangerous, but let’s face it, it looks beautiful - and it’s SO MUCH FUN.

Witham River Walk
I love walking out in the snow as much now as I did when I was little. It evokes brilliant childhood memories of sledding down hills, or being pulled along by my two brothers, and of course the customary snowball fights. Being the youngest I always come off worst.

Maldon Promenade Park
Of course now the camera comes out with me. I love the look and feel of the snow and it can make even the most  simple vista look awesome.

Taking images in the snow is very tricky. You’ll find they often come out dark (under exposed) and/or they’ll have a weird colour cast over them. Putting it simply, the light reflection plays havoc with the metering sensor in the camera. I have sourced out some handy tips that will help you get some amazing winter wonderland shots.

And  because its Christmas, I’ve also found some fun and interesting facts about the big day itself. These are sure to impress your friends and family as you tuck into your turkey feast or indulge in one more chocolate. See the bottom of the page for these.

Maldon Promenade Park
All that remains is to wish my clients, past, present and future, a very Merry Christmas and a fantastic New Year - and of course a massive thank you to all of you who have supported me in 2013.

Thanks for reading and I will welcome you back in 2014!

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1 Scientists calculated that Santa would have to visit 822 homes a second to deliver all the world's presents on Christmas Eve, travelling at 650 miles a second.
2 Robins on cards were a joke 150 years ago when postmen wore red tunics and were named after them.
3 Although now mostly vegetarian, in Victorian times, mince pies were made with beef and spices.
4 The tradition of putting tangerines in stockings comes from 12th-century French nuns who left socks full of fruit, nuts and tangerines at the houses of the poor.
5 Despite the tale of three wise men paying homage to baby Jesus, the Bible never gives a number. Matthew's Gospel refers to merely ‘wise men’.
6 Carols began as an old English custom called wassailing, toasting neighbours to a long life.
7 Carols weren't sung in churches until they were introduced by St Francis of Assisi in the 13th century.
8 Hanging stockings out comes from the Dutch custom of leaving shoes packed with food for St Nicholas's donkeys. He would leave small gifts in return.
9 There is no reference to angels singing anywhere in the Bible.
10 Nearly 60 million Christmas trees are grown each year in Europe.
11 The word Noel derives from the French expression "les bonnes nouvelles" or "the good news".
12 Jesus was probably born in a cave and not a wooden stable, say Biblical scholars.
13 The abbreviation Xmas isn't irreligious. The letter X is a Greek abbreviation for Christ.
14 The world's tallest Xmas tree at 221ft high was erected in a Washington shopping mall in 1950.
15 The chances of a white Christmas are just 1 in 10 for England and Wales, and 1 in 6 for Scotland and Northern Ireland.
16 Many theologians estimate that Jesus wasn't born on December 25 but sometime in September between 6BC and 30AD.
17 James Pierpont's 1857 song Jingle Bells was first called One Horse Open Sleigh and was written for Thanksgiving.
18 Before turkey, the traditional Christmas meal in England was a pig's head and mustard.
19 In 1647, after the English Civil War, Oliver Cromwell banned festivities. The law wasn't lifted until 1660.
20 In 1999, residents of the state of Maine in America built the world's biggest ever snowman. He stood at 113ft tall.
21 The Greeks celebrate Christmas on January 7, according to the old Julian calendar, while Christmas presents are opened on New Year's Day.
22 Many parts of the Christmas tree can actually be eaten, with the needles being a good source of Vitamin C.
23 The holly in a wreath symbolises Christ's crown of thorns, while the red berries are drops of his blood.
24 The first commercial Christmas cards were commissioned by civil servant Sir Henry Cole in London in 1843. Featuring a family drinking wine, one sold for £8,469 last year.
25 Hanging presents on trees may come from the Druids who believed the tree was the giver of all good things.
26 The largest Christmas cracker - 45.72m long and 3.04m in diameter - was pulled in Australia in 1991.
27 The long shopping spree before Christmas began in America when relatives of soldiers posted overseas in the Second World War were encouraged to mail gifts early.
28 Jingle Bells was the first song broadcast from space when Gemini 6 astronauts Tom Stafford and Wally Schirra sang it on December 16, 1965.
29 Astonomers believe the Star Of Bethlehem, which guided the wisemen to Jesus, may have been a comet or the planet Uranus.
30 Santa has different names around the world - Kriss Kringle in Germany, Le Befana in Italy, Pere Noel in France and Deushka Moroz (Grandfather Frost) in Russia.
31 The word Christmas comes from the Old English "Cristes maesse" meaning "Christ's Mass".
32 The bestselling Christmas single ever is Bing Crosby's White Christmas, shifting over 50million copies worldwide since 1942.
33 In Britain, the best-selling festive single is Band Aid's 1984 track, Do They Know It's Christmas?, which sold 3.5million copies. Wham! is next in the same year with Last Christmas, selling 1.4million.
34 Upside-down artificial Christmas trees are sold to allow more gifts to be piled under.
35 Since 1947 Oslo has sent a Christmas tree to London to thank us for our help in the Second World War.
36 Christmas pudding was originally a soup made with raisins and wine.
37 London sweetmaker Tom Smith created the first Christmas crackers in 1847, based on the sweet wrapper design.
38 Santa Claus comes from a Dutch folk tale based on Saint Nicholas, or Sinterklaas, who gave gifts on December 6.
39 Boxing Day gets its name from all the money collected in church alms-boxes for the poor.
39 Kissing under the mistletoe is thought to spring from Frigga, the Norse goddess of love, who was associated with the plant.
41 The Beatles hold the record for most Christmas number 1 singles, topping the charts in 1963, 65 and 67.
42 Electric tree lights were invented by Edward Johnson in the US in 1882.
43 They may date back to pagan traditions, but the earliest known reference to a Christmas tree is in a German pamphlet from 1570.
44 The highest-grossing festive movie is 2000's How The Grinch Stole Christmas, which has raked in $260m so far. 
45 There are 13 Santas in Iceland, each leaving a gift for children. They come down from the mountain one by one, starting on December 12 and have names like Spoon Licker, Door Sniffer and Meat Hook.
46 Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer was invented for a US firm's Christmas promotion in 1938.
47 Gold-wrapped chocolate coins commemorate St Nicholas who gave bags of gold coins to the poor.
48 The first Christmas celebrated in Britain is thought to have been in York in 521AD.
49 In Greece, Italy, Spain and Germany, workers get a Christmas bonus of one month's salary by law.
50 In the Czech Republic they enjoy dinners of fish soup, eggs. The number of people at the table must be even, or the one without a partner will die next year.

Credit goes to The Mirror Newspaper

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Grease Promo- Witham Promotional Photography

Danny Zuko
Last month I had the pleasure of taking promotional photographs for WOW! - an award-winning musical youth theatre group based in Witham. The brief was to take a set of photos to publicise their forthcoming production of Grease, reflecting their own version of iconic scenes from the cult 1970’s film. I absolutely love this film and have seen it countless times. I have also seen the stage version, so I had lots of ideas to run with.

The photo shoot took place at the American-style Bungalow Diner at Marks Tey and featured the T Birds along with Rizzo and Sandy - and a classic American convertible hired for the event. A 1963 Chrysler Imperial
The T Birds

On the way there it was raining so hard I was wondering how we would get the Summer Lovin’ feeling into the images on such a cold, wet October morning. Thankfully, after a coffee in the diner, and a lot of wishing and crossing of fingers, the clouds parted - and it even got a little sunny.

Danny and Sandy
We had about an hour-and-a-half shoot with the car, then we took a few shots inside the diner itself, making good use of its 50’s memorabilia – including a classic juke box.

I have to say, the guys and girls from WOW! - and their parents - were an absolute pleasure to work with. The youngsters were very professional and we had a lot of fun.

Danny and Sandy
There will be a second photo shoot in December for the other Pink Ladies and Sandy, and I am really looking forward to it. The resulting publicity photos from both shoots will be used in a promotional campaign for the show, which will include posters, press releases, websites, Facebook updates and other promotional mediums.

The WOW! Production of Grease will run from 17th – 22nd February, 2014 at Witham Town Hall. It’s going to be great, and I for one can’t wait to see their version of one of my all-time favourite films!

The T Birds, Rizzo and Sandy

Tickets for Grease will be available from the WOW! Box office on 0845 475 0420.

Thanks for reading and look out for next month’s blog…… Steve.

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Saturday, 12 October 2013

Duxford Airshow - Aviation Photography

Last month it was my first time at the annual Duxford Air Show. Arriving around 10am gave us plenty of time to have a look around the hangers and see some truly magnificent flying machines - the Vulcan Bomber, Tornado and Harrier among them.
B-17 Flying Fortress. 'Sally B'


There is also a hanger dedicated to The Battle of Britain, including an old operations room set out with the old-fashioned map and head sets.

Then it was about time for the air show. We had booked seats - at the cost of just £5 each - and I would recommend this to anyone thinking of going.

The first plane was the amazing Eurofighter Typhoon. The afterburners on this plane were absolutely deafening but, oh so good! The sound of the engines struggling to keep up with the aircraft was incredible. 

EuroFighter Typhoon
A few planes later, we were thrilled by an Extra 330 SC acrobatic aircraft. We witnessed tricks that made the heart skip a beat.

The Patrouille de France
Then it was the turn of the French. The Patrouille de France, National French acrobatic team, were guests this year.  AWESOME! The Red Arrows, finishing the show, were going to have a tough time to better these guys.

Battle of Britain Memorial Flight

Rain!!! And lots of it. So much that it temporally halted the show. But we Brits are made of strong stuff and a little drop of the wet stuff was not going to dampen our spirits! 

Out of the black stormy skies came the rumbling sound of The Battle of Britain memorial flight, closely followed by the ‘Sally B’ B17 Flying Fortress, then a display by nine Spitfires. Seeing and hearing these old warhorses, you can’t help but appreciate how lucky our generation is.

The Red Arrows
The Red Arrows closed the show. Were they going to be out done by the French? Not a bit. These guys were on top form and wowed the crowd with their precision and split second manoeuvres.  
What a day and what a show! 
The Red Arrows

The Red Arrows

The Red Arrows

The Red Arrows

Want some tips on how to get great tip of fast moving aircraft click on this link

Thanks for reading and look out for next month’s blog…… Steve.

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Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Canada - Travel Photography

We have recently returned from our holiday of a lifetime to Vancouver, Canada.
My unease about flying was helped by the smooth flight - though the jet lag took a day or so to get over.

View of Downtown Vancouver from Stanley Park
Hells Gate

After spending the first couple of days in the city we picked up the hire car on day three. Getting upgraded twice from the compact we ordered to a Buick Lacrosse left us feeling like someone was smiling down on us, and soon blew any remaining cobwebs from the jet lag.

Buntzen Lake
Then it was off to explore the surrounding area. Beautiful Lynn Canyon, stunning Hells Gate and breathtaking Buntzen Lake were among the many interesting and varied places to visit. 

The views from Grouse Mountain

My personal favourite was Grouse Mountain, a ski resort in the winter which, being 4100 ft high, makes the perfect photographer’s vantage point. As you can imagine, the views over Vancouver, the Pacific Ocean, mountains, and the forests below were awe-inspiring. It is also the home of lots of wildlife, like wolves, deer and various birds of prey. It even has two resident grizzly bears, Coola and Grinder! 
One of the resident Grizzlys

Eleven days in and we were off to Vancouver Island on the ferry, followed by a 3-hour drive through the most stunning scenery to Tofino on the west coast.

Long Beach, Tofino
WOW! A surfers’ paradise - this town just screams ‘laid back coolness’. We were booked in for a bear-watching trip the next day and that allowed us to see so much wildlife in its natural habitat, including the black bears.
Then we were back on the ferry back to the mainland for 2 more days in Vancouver. Time to spoil ourselves before the long flight home (and jet lag!).
This truly was a holiday to remember and our memories will last a lifetime.


Long Beach, Tofino

Thanks for reading and look out for next month’s blog…… Steve.

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