Extending our stay we phoned the guide on our last available morning. Despite the roads being shut due to thick ice, strong coastal winds and driving snow, he foolishly said that if we could make it from our accomodation to his farm, then he'd take us to the wreck. Nothing was stopping us and despite it taking over an hour for the 6 mile journey in our Skoda 4x4 estate rental car, we made it safely and in one piece.
We paid the agreed fee (about £150 for an hours hire of a monster truck and guide) and clothed up. The outside temperature with wind chill was around -28 and no matter how many layers of Gore-Tex and fleeces we put on, you could feel it through to your bones!
Climbing into the truck, it almost felt like we were floating. Our guide, Derk, explained that the huge tyres on the truck were inflated to just 5psi, and once out on the beach we would let air out to take them down to just 3psi. The idea is that it increases the surface area, therefore spreading the weight and allowing the vehicle to 'hover' on top of the snow.
Production Base. Like it or loathe it?
After a year on the site, I put forward some very valid criticisms to Joe Mahoney, the owner of Production Base and also some constructive ideas. It's been 10 months since we spoke and despite a promised follow up, no attempt to contact me has been received. If Mr. Maloney ever finds the time or inclination then I will of course update this blog but for now, here's my experience:
I subscribed in 2007 and paid just short of £120 for a years membership. I built a portfolio being clever to include keywords and stand out for the initial impression when found. And then I waited. And waited. Until July to be precise when ITV got in touch and booked me for a single days shoot. Not bad I thought, it paid for itself but was it great? Not in my opinion.
Today is 12th March 2014. Exactly 25 years ago, Tim Berners-Lee, now rightly so 'Sir' Tim Berners-Lee created the 'mesh', or 'world wide web' as it was renamed in 1990. Where would we be without it?
So, here's my little Information Super-highway timeline and the effects it's had on my little life:
I was recently fortunate enough to be selected as part of the team to photograph a Hotel Of Ice on behalf of Ciuc Beer. I was invited to the Hotel at the top of the Făgăraş Mountains in Romania. The images created over the 4 days and 3 nights would be used to market the Hotel and the Beer.
In very harsh environments I worked with 5 other photographers, below is my portfolio from the trip (click an image and use the left and right curser keys to move through):
Last week I wanted to upgrade my stills camera / timelapse camera to Nikon's latest flagship, the D800.
It's a £2k purchase and not an impulse buy for most people.
My ethos has always been 'Support the high street'; Mary Portas claims she's doing her best but it's not high profile TV faces that's going to save the high street, it's you and me spending there.
So, I started to get quotes for the camera body I wanted. To my disappointment, Currys/PC World were cheaper than anyone else by a significant amount; yet they didn't have the expertise to support it and didn't even sell any compatible lens! So, I contacted local independant camera shops and invited them to price match. None of them would (could?) so it was with great reluctance that I ordered with Currys/PC World. I was told the camera would arrive at the store the next day by 3pm.
At 3pm I called them to confirm it had arrived and was told "I'm not sure but it should have done." That didn't instill any confidence but off I went to the local superstore. The collection counter was poorly sign-posted, and after queueing at the wrong place for 25 minutes and asking various staff where to go I was eventually pointed to the correct desk. Here I was kept waiting over 45 minutes and eventually told that the camera hadn't arrived. I pointed to a box on the shop floor with a courier label on it. It didn't even have a security tag on, anyone could has disappeared it without the store knowing. It was my 2 grand camera. After a further 45 minutes waiting (as staff didn't know how to deal with special orders) I eventually got on my way. 2 hours of my day I'll never ever get back; it should have been a 5 minute pickup.
Someone asked me recently why they nearly always notice me check in on Facebook at a foreign city before travelling onto my ultimate destination.
The answer is simple. It's more cost effective.
In 1994 the British Government introduced 'Air Passenger Duty'. At the time, it was just £5 for European flights and £10 for rest of the world. Now it's £13 - £26 for Europe and up to £184 for other destinations. It's increased way beyond inflation. The UK's Air Passenger Tax is now well known to be the highest in the world.
So, by stopping in Amsterdam for a few minutes (literally) last week on my way to Kiev, Ukraine I saved £35... next week I'm heading to Shanghai, China and by stopping in Helsinki, Finland for a few minutes. I'm saving myself a whopping £94. It all adds up. A family of 4 travelling to my villa in Florida would pay an additional £222 in taxes if they flew direct from the UK!
The airline industry has been battered and bruised in recent years and is suffering with ever-increasing fuel and insurance costs. The least the government could do is support them with a fair tax rather than an extorionate price - encourage people to fly via our airports and spend money on our little island!
We need to travel to build essential trade links, not to mention people needing holidays to keep them productive at work and the morale up. Air Passenger Duty is bad for jobs, bad for growth and bad for families. Many countries (including Holland and hence me living in Amsterdam Airport so much) have abolished it completely.
Today I fulfilled one of my life's ambitions.Entering the town of Chernobyl and Pripyat
Ever since I heard it on the news as a child on 26th April 1986 (well actually a few days later as the Soviets kept it secret for several days until the Swedish spotted the radiation increase!) I've wanted to visit this radioactive wasteland. It's officially the most contaminated place on Earth and has a whopping half life of 247,000 years... but most of the danger has been absorbed into the soil and if you're sensible, a days visit is only the equivalent radiation exposure of a long haul flight.
Although a trip into the 30Km and 10Km 'zones of alienation' is quite easy these days if you are prepared to pay the extortionate fees, it still takes 14 days of security and military paperwork. However, as always I was a little different....
Because I wanted to take quite a bit of camera kit in I had to jump through various hoops; nothing is allowed to touch the ground so I had to propose and agree to cover the feet of my tripods (with Sainbury's Mineral Water bottles!) and give assurances that my bags and extra equipment would always be in my van or on my shoulder.
Pick TV (ex Sky Three) have just started to show a re-run of Most Haunted Season 12, known to fans as 'The USA Series'.
It's nearly 4 years since I shot this series and it's brought memories flooding back to me; it was one of the most enjoyable jobs I've done. We started inMost Haunted Team at Waverly Hills, Kentucky, USA Boulder, Colarado (at the Stanley Hotel, inspiration for Stephen King's novel 'The Shining') and moved East before finishing in New York.
It was the second Most Haunted season I'd shot and the 3 1/2 weeks spent living and travelling with the rest of the crew and team for virtually 18 hours a day was an absolutely ball. Some days we stayed in hotels, some days on tour buses.
We visited some amazing locations and saw some sights that tourists would never be lucky enough to see. The highlight has to be the we day spent shooting the title sequence in a low flying helicopter over the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Buidling.
The first thing anyone asks when they know about my work with Most Haunted is the most obvious, 'Is it real?' to which I can safely reply for this series, 'There's certainly some things I can't explain'. Although I was behind the camera the things I witnessed (often off camera) leave me with no doubt that there are some things we just don't yet understand.
Well after 5 months planning and hard work, it's finally here... my new site 'Race It Home'.
It combines my love of travel and photography and is an easy way to fill your friend's fridge doors with good old fashioned physical postcards.
I originally got the idea for this website after completing a video call while on location on a sleeper train in the arse end of China. I began to wonder if the power of the internet could be used to shorten the length of a postcards journey and make sending postcards not only quicker but also more convenient for the sender and cheaper.
The idea sat on the back burner for some time. I started to plan the site and how it would work in December 2011 and coding and design started in January 2012. We finally launched it in May 2012 and already our printing station is sending hundreds of postcards a day!
Visit the site and you can trial it for free. Simply upload a photo, type a message and enter a friends address and we'll do the rest. Within 3 minutes (yes I timed it!) the postcard is printing in a UK printing station and it's popped into the UK postal system the next evening.
You can visit the site at: http://www.RaceItHome.com/
Well here it is... and not before time. It's only been 5 years in the making: my new freelance website! Thanks so much to Andrew for all his patience and coding, We started work on this last August and it should have taken a fortnight but ended up taking 8 months... He has the patience of a Saint!
This site is to promote my work as a freelance Director Of Photography. On here you can check my recent work, my background, my diary and some examples of my work.
I took the descision to add some still images to this website, I've had many Commissions for my stills work this last few years and I shoot most images either RAW or HDR which gives some amazing results. A selection is viewable on my portfolio page.
I've also been told by my internet gurus that I have to have a 'Blog'. I've no idea what people write in them and words aren't my strong point (give me numbers any day!) but I'll try my best to keep this news type feature as up to date as possible with my work, life and travels.
I've also redesigned my 'logo' which you'll start to see on my new letterheads and business cards. I hope you like it and I welcome your comments and suggestions!
What a week. All I can see is glass blocks. Lots of them.
Kitchen becomes a studio for the week.
I was recently asked if I was able to photograph glass blocks for a new website and brochure as the owner was struggling with reflections and was unable to demonstrate the textures of the glass block (on his camera phone!).
Always wanting a challenge, we setup a 'studio' in my kitchen and I began the task of lighting each and every block. Each and every block had to be tweaked as the different textures and finishes each present their own issues.
The client also wanted to demonstate 'opacity'... how much you can see through each block. After a long hard think, I had the bright idea of shooting an option of each block with a rubber duck sat behind.
It worked great and the client was over the moon... but now I'm dreaming of glass blocks!