Bluff your way into photography


The not-so-serious guide to photography I wrote has been published over at Bluffers. Take a look.

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Specsavers photographic competition

I just got some really nice news, I won the Specsaver’s and MK News Perfect Partnerships photography competition. The prize was an indestructible Pentax WG-3  camera.

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Christopher Herwig’s Soviet Bus Stops


My friend Christopher Herwig has just launched a crowd-funding appeal for his book, Soviet Bus Stops.

Christopher covered more than 30,000 km by car, bike, bus and taxi in 13 countries discovering and documenting these unexpected treasures of modern art. From the shores of the Black Sea to the endless Kazakh steppe, the bus stops show the range of public art from the Soviet era and give a rare glimpse into the creative minds of the time.

Herwig’s series has attracted considerable media interest around the world, and now with the 12 year project complete, the full collection will be presented in Soviet Bus Stops as a deluxe, limited edition, hard cover photo book. The book represents the most comprehensive and diverse collection of Soviet bus stop design ever assembled.

To find out more, visit Christopher’s page on Kickstarter.

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Turkish Airlines Skylife Photography Contest

HababahGood news: I’ve been selected for an exhibition prize as part of the Turkish Airlines Skylife Photography Contest 2013. The contest received 4745 entries of which just under two percent were selected for the exhibition. The theme was “Bridges and People” and the competition was open to all photographers, both amateur and professional.

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Steve McCurry’s India

I’ve just received an invite to a show of Steve McCurry’s work from India in London, England. The exhibition will showcase the best of McCurry’s Indian photographs from his 35 year career as a photographer.

“I think the joy of photographing in India is that you never quite know what’s waiting for you around the next corner. There’s always the unexpected, there’s always something which could be delightful, something which could be horrifying, something which you have never seen before, something wonderful, something ancient, something profound.”

The show runs from 16 January – 9 February 2013 at Chris Beetles Fine Photographs,
3-5 Swallow Street London W1B 4DE. Image copyright Steve McCurry.

For further information visit

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Twilight London

I’ve just completed an early rough-cut of some footage I’ve shot around the Thames in London during twilight. The music is Harpsichord Suite In F Minor, HWV 433 – Courante by George Frederic Handel.

View Twilight London in high-definition on Vimeo.

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Opteka GLD-200 slider review

Some rough test shots with the Opteka GLD-slider. Shot on a Canon 5D Mark II with a Manfrotto 804RC2 head and a Manfrotto 190XPROB tripod whilst on a photo trip to Tunisia. View Opteka GLD-200 slider in high-definition on Vimeo.


I bought the Opteka GLD-200 slider to take on a short trip to Tunisia. I’d just got a Canon 5D Mark II, and was keen to try out the HD video function. I ordered the slider from Amazon UK and paid just under £100.00 for it. The GLD-200 is 60cm long and about 4cm wide. The sliding plate has a small spirit level and you can mount a camera directly to it using the supplied 1/4″ bolt or add a tripod head with the 3/8″ adaptor. It’s small enough to fit in a backpack, and light enough to carry around with you when you go out shooting (862g).


First impressions were good, I was impressed with the quality of the build and assembly was easy. In the field, the slider performed fairly well – which was as well as I expected. It’s not really designed for a heavy DSLR and tripod head like mine and does judder under a heavy load (I was using a Canon 5D Mark II, a Manfrotto 804RC2 head and a Manfrotto 190XPROB tripod). I managed to reduce this by spraying the rail with furniture polish – but you have to reapply it quite often. The slider is long enough to get good results but you need foreground objects close to the camera to get nice looking parallax. You really need two people to get any acceptable results – one to hold the tripod steady, the other to do the slide.


If you have a light camera and lens, you should be able to get some good results with the GLD-200. Otherwise, you’ll have to invest in something more heavyweight, like the products made by Glidetrack. Photographers who are travelling or have to carry their gear around all day should still consider the GLD-200 – the low weight and small size could be a real advantage.

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Recommended villa rental company in Andalucía, Spain

A quick post to recommend the excellent Rustical Travel, who organised a beautiful villa for me on a recent trip to Andalucía in Spain. The small and friendly team are fluent in English and Spanish and were very quick to respond to my calls and email. They are based in Madrid, and offer villas and cottages all over Spain.

Rustical Travel thoughtfully provided airport-to-door directions and a guide to local amenities, restaurants, walks and excursions. They were on hand throughout our trip for advice and help, though everything was so well set up that we didn’t need to contact them. Rustical Travel is a fully bonded Travel Agency with Ministry of Tourism in Spain, so your financial security is guaranteed.

If you’re interested, visit their website.

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Holi Hunters

A couple of hours south of Delhi by train lie the misty flat lands of Braj. The area isn’t marked on many maps – being more culturally than politically defined. It’s the birthplace of Lord Krishna and once a year, centre of Holi – Hinduism’s most colourful and lively festival.

Holi celebrates the beginning of spring, Krishna and the triumph of good over evil in the legend of Holika and Prahalad. The story tells how King Hiranyakashyap became invincible as a reward for his devotion to Brahma. Thinking himself all-powerful, he demanded his people worship him as a god. Everyone in the kingdom obeyed apart from his young son Prahalad, who worshiped Vishnu instead. Incensed by this, Hiranyakashyap commanded his sister, the demon Holika, to carry the infant into a fire. Holika perished but miraculously Prahalad survived, protected by chanting Vishnu’s name. On Holika Danan, the night before Holi, people light bonfires topped with effigies of Holika and Prahalad to celebrate the tale. Holi takes its name from Holika.

VrindavanThe festival is best known for the coloured powder (gulal) and water people throw at each other, a tribute to a prank played by the young Krishna. It’s one of the few times caste and wealth is forgotten. By the time everyone is covered in dye it’s impossible to tell who is rich or poor.

Nowadays, despite Holi’s religious origins, it’s mainly a time to have fun with family and friends. Families celebrate near the safety of their homes, whilst raucous groups of young men roam the streets looking for as much trouble as they can find.

I travelled to Braj with Toby Deveson at the end of a short photography trip to India. We spent the first week motorcycling in Ladakh, high beyond the Himalayas, then flew back to Delhi where we picked up a hire car and drove to Mathura, in the centre of Braj.

I’m a poor driver so Toby, who is far more skilled, agreed to take the wheel. The journey started out with a few near misses that were easy to laugh off, before descending into an endurance test as night fell. What we’d estimated to be a short journey became five, then eight hours. Huge trucks raced towards us on the wrong side of the road. Livestock and people came at us from all directions. Other cars veered across lanes with no warning – impossible to see in the heavily polluted air. It’s fair to say that we were relived to arrive at our hotel, something the manager might have sensed by my rather enthusiastic greeting. I would have hugged him but there was a desk in the way.

VrindavanMorning brought Holika Danan. While the people of Mathura built their bonfires, we set off for nearby Govardhan. The town is on the route of one of many pilgrimages in the region and the main temple was crowded with devotees – arriving, chanting and praying before continuing their journeys.

Still free of colour, we stayed in the sanctuary of the temple for a while, bracing ourselves for what we knew would follow. Almost as soon as we left, we got our first good covering in gulal. Most Indians seemed to get away with a light coating, but we were totally smothered – powder and coloured water forced into our eyes, ears, noses and mouths by joyful mobs of young men. Little concern is given to quality control or the recipient’s health. Industrial strength dyes? Perfect. Cow dung? Absolutely. Water from the gutter or filthy oil? Why not!

We escaped the crowds to clean the worst off and joke about our baptism. I was bright yellow from head to foot.

VrindavanFrom Govardhan we went to Vrindavan. We photographed the festivities in town and at the riverside, before an extraordinary few hours at Banke Bihari temple. Hundreds had squeezed inside. It was joyfully chaotic – scary, noisy and exciting. Worshippers sang and danced, whilst temple attendants drenched everyone with long metal water guns.

The coverings in colour were unremitting, and it was only when we returned to shower at the hotel that night, eyes burning and half deaf, that we realised it doesn’t wash off. Later on at dinner in the restaurant, we sat sheepishly at our table whilst passing waiters politely stifled their laughs.

The next day was Holi and we decided to stay in Mathura. We photographed for a few hours before squeezing through the crowds for the biggest event of the day – a carnival style procession from the town’s main temple its landmark – Holi Gate. Concerned, the local police tried to remove us, ‘you’ll be blinded’, but we persevered and were glad we did. Brass bands, holy men, local dignitaries and decorated floats all passed by as the colour rained down from the rooftops.

MathuraNot long after, everything went quiet. The gulal was put away and people changed into clean clothes. Crowds walked home along the railway tracks and the TV reporters got back in their vans. Boys started games of cricket and exhausted, we relaxed by the river. Holi was an incredible spectacle and a privilege to witness.

A couple of days later we flew home. Krishna smiled on us, and despite the way we looked, we got upgraded. As we prepared to take off, we amused ourselves by reclining up and down in our luxurious seats. The other travellers didn’t share the enthusiasm of their brightly coloured companions.

This article first appeared in Sidetracked, an excellent travel and adventure online magazine run by designer John Summerton. See more images from Holi Festival.

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Toby Deveson retrospective announced

My friend Toby has announced the dates for his solo exhibition at the Strand Gallery in London. It will take place 28th May–3rd June 2012, with a private view on 31st May. The Strand Gallery is part of the Proud Galleries group and along with their Chelsea and Camden branches exhibit the ‘very best in contemporary and archive photography’. The exhbition of hand printed black-and-white photography will feature landscape and documentary work from the last 22 years.

Hope to see you there!

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Holi Hunters article for Sidetracked

VrindavanMy article covering a short trip to India to photograph Holi Festival has been published by Sidetracked magazine. Sidetracked is an online journal featuring personal stories of travel, journeys and expeditions. The concept is simple: to capture the emotion and experience of adventures and expeditions throughout the world. Sidetracked is run by designer John Summerton.


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What would Steve McCurry do?

This question started out as a simple way for photographer Joe Sheffer and I to spur each other on whilst we were photographing and filming in North Africa. It works because it’s almost impossible to answer it negatively. Whatever the situation and however you are feeling, you are forced onwards and upwards.

If you are ever thinking of giving up or taking the easy option – ask yourself this question and reconsider.

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