RSS Mash

That's proper art that is...

22 Jan 2014 - 20:35 from
That's proper art that is...I am pleased to let you know that a very talented artist by the name of Nicola Bonney has used my work as her reference material.

She used my image "Sunrise Over Northay":

as the basis for her painting:

What a lovely job she has made of it too.

Why not check out Nicolas other work on her site:
as she clearly is a real talent worth watching.

Camera Club Talks 2014

4 Dec 2013 - 20:42 from
I have been signed up to do a fair few talks next year to various camera clubs in the Essex/North London area. If you are in the area, why not come along for an evening of my ramblings:
ClubTalk TitleDate
Edmonton Camera ClubLooking LocalJan 06
Harlow Photographic SocietyLondon Light/London LifeFeb 06
Colchester Camera ClubLooking LocalFeb 11
Chingford Photographic SocietyLondon Light/London LifeMar 10
Enfield Camera ClubLooking LocalJun 12
Basildon Photographic Meetup GroupLooking LocalJuly16
Hornchurch Camera ClubLondon Light/London LifeJuly 21
Loughton Camera ClubLooking LocalOct 01
Ongar Camera ClubLooking LocalOct 07
Great Notley Camera ClubLooking LocalOct 30
You can find a bit more info about the talks here.

London 2012 Gallery

8 Oct 2012 - 13:24 from
London 2012 GalleryI have just uploaded a new gallery containing my shots from the glorious summer that was London 2012.

Nasty crash in the women's mountain biking

The shots cover scenes from around London before and during the games and a few events that I managed to get tickets for:
  • Badminton
  • Mountain Biking
  • Paralympics Opening Ceremony
  • Wheelchair Rugby Final
Wheelchair Rugby

 It truly was a fantastic time to be a Londoner and every venue was sold out as the British reveled in a summer of sport.  I know in some countries The Paralympics did not receive very much coverage at all, but here they were treated with as much reverence as The Olympics with sold out crowds on every day of competition.

Paralympics Opening Ceremony
The city was decorated with flags and bunting plus pieces of public art appeared all around the city celebrating the games.

Finally I have included some shots from The Team GB victory parade where our athletes were honoured for their stunning performance.  For me, one of the joys of the entire period was seeing a young lad in a wheelchair holding up his two medals and being cheered by 100s of thousands of people,  maybe sport can change attitudes.

Victory parade

Anyway,  I hope you enjoy my London 2012 Gallery.

New Zealand Gallery finally On-line

6 Oct 2012 - 08:29 from
New Zealand Gallery finally On-lineIt has taken me nearly nine months to complete it, but I have finally got my pictures on line from my trip to New Zealand in December 2011/January 2012.

Wilson Bay

We spent a week in North Island then crossed The Cook Strait to South Island which is a landscape photographers paradise with mountains and water everywhere.

The pictures cover a variety of subjects, from people and wildlife through to cities and landscapes.

Te Aneau

You can find the gallery here. I do hope you enjoy them.

Shepherdpics gets a new look

1 Oct 2012 - 13:40 from
Shepherdpics gets a new lookThere comes a time when you seem to be sinking into a morass of things you need to do, things you promised to do, things you have to do and these seem to stop you from doing the things you want to do. These things are sent to try us but don't worry things can only get better (did you see what I did there).

I recently hit a moment like this, lots of things to do and so little time to do it. It was time to rationalise!

Less fussy home page

One of the big jobs I had hanging over me was to redesign my website. I haven't touched or updated my website for over a year as I knew the whole design needed modernising. Since I created my site things in the web world have changed dramatically.

At the time I created it I would really only have to worry that it looked OK in Internet Explorer on a desktop machine with no problems. There were a few Mac and Firefox users out there but they were easy enough to deal with. Since then the world has changed a lot: Gone are the days when you could have a fair idea what sort of platform your site was to be viewed on. Now phones, tablets, PCs, macs access the site, each with different screen sizes, browsers and javascript support.

500px style gallery page

User expectations have changed: Homepages used to act as a shop window for the site with "a little bit of everything" being the rule, now minimal designs are much more in favour. Static pages used to be Ok but now we expect all sorts of animations and rollover effects. On the development side: XHTML has pretty much died a death and HTML has risen from the grave to become new all-singing-all-dancing HTML5, the hero of flash-haters everywhere. Javascript has gone from a few lines here and there to giant libraries of code that make development cross platform fast and agile.

Magic wall style galleries
So it became clear that I needed to not only update the content of the site but the structure and design needed to be updated too. Looking at the work involved the whole thing became quite a daunting task.

First I would need to learn HTML5 & jQuery. Then I would have to look around to see what extensions I could use to make things wizzy and learn how to use them. I would then have to design the site, build it & make sure it works in loads of different browsers on lots of different devices. Finally I would have to write a Lightroom web gallery to generate the galleries.

Clean App style interface on smartphones.

Whilst none of these are particularly onerous tasks in themselves they add up to a fair bit of work and in the longer term a fair bit of stuff to maintain and keep up to date. In the end I decided that I really didn't need to invest that sort of time on updating my site. So it was time to outsource the job. I spent a while trying out various providers of photo websites (which I will detail in another post) before settling on PhotoDeck.

I am rather happy with the resulting site, but please let me know what you think of the new layout.

A Sixth of the way already

17 Jul 2012 - 21:19 from
A Sixth of the way alreadySo I'm now 2 months in to my 365 project and things are going well.  London is gearing up for The Olympics and it's associated cultural Olympiad which means that it's a very target rich environment.
Which makes up a bit (but not much) for it being the wettest summer ever.

Passing Strangers

Beacon View

Before The Funeral

Cloud over Temple Field

Greenstead Church

Pentery Church

Pidgeon and Piano

Scruffy the huffy chuffy tug boat

Dancing Shadow

The Shard

Towards Bumbles Green

One down, eleven to go

17 Jun 2012 - 19:45 from
One down, eleven to goA month ago, to celebrate my birthday and my present of a brand new Olympue Pen EP-M1 I decide to embark on a 365 project. For those who don't know, the idea is that you have to take a shot every day for an entire year. So far I have managed to find something to shoot every day, so here are the highlights from my first month at this:

British Summer Time
British Summer Time
Man on a Mission
Man on a Mission
Lambourne Church
Lambourne Church
The Tower of London Tat Tower
The Tower of London Tat Tower
Sign of the times
Sign of the times

Key Light
Key Light

Audley End
Audley End

Morris Men
Morris Men

One Poultry
One Poultry

Watching you watching me
Watching you watching me

The Gherkin
The Gherkin


Google Map Lightroom Web Gallery

17 Apr 2012 - 22:11 from
Now that Lightroom 4 is here geocoding is suddenly centre stage and images don't feel properly filed unless they have a set of co-ordinates attached to them.  Whilst LR4 offers many features that are needed to handle geocoding and maps, it is noticeable that the web module does not offer the facility to export these pictures in a map format.

As part of the redesign of my site I decide that it might be nice to create a photo gallery driven entirely from a Google map and produced from Lightroom.
For those who just want the goodies
`To install the web gallery
  1. Extract the downloaded zip file.
  2. Copy the archive contents to one of the following destinations, depending upon your system. If you have not already done so, you will must create the Web Galleries folder manually.

    Users/username/Library/Application Support/Adobe/Lightroom/Web Galleries/
    Windows XP
    C:\Documents and Settings\username\Application Data\Adobe\Lightroom\Web Galleries\
    Windows Vista/7
    C:\Users\username\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\Lightroom\Web Galleries\
    In Windows XP, the "Application Data" directory is usually hidden. The same may apply to the AppData folder in Vista.
  3. Open Adobe Lightroom and access the Web module. In the upper right, under "Engine", you should seea new gallery called Shepherdpics Map.
For those who want to know how it works

To borrow some text from Joe Colson:
This information is intended for plug-in developers and those intrepid souls who want to understand what lies beneath the surface of a Lightroom gallery engine. It isn't my intention to make this series of posts a definitive guide to Lightroom gallery engine design or anatomy. Instead, I'd recommend starting with the Lightroom SDK 2.0 Programmers Guide and Lightroom 2 SDK available from Adobe. The Adobe guide is a good starting point, but you can learn even more by dissecting an actual gallery engine, including those that are included in the SDK.

As per usual I am standing on the shoulders of giants here and in this case the whole thing is based on this article from Sitepoint and some code from Joe Colson's article on a geocoding plug-in.
The first problem to solve was how to generate an xml file of co-ordinates.  To do this I added the following code to the manifest.lrweb file.

AddGridPages {
this uses the index page markers.xml to generate the xml doc
<name><% =image.metadata.title%></name>
<thumb>content/bin/images/thumb/<%= image.exportFilename %>.jpg</thumb>
<desc><% =image.metadata.description%></desc>
<largePage>source/<%= image.exportFilename %>_large.html</largePage>
<lat><% =lat%></lat>
<lng><% =lon%></lng>
<% end %>

Which just builds up the xml file from the details of each image. The only tricky bit is converiting the coordinates to decimal degrees which is achieved by this bit of code
local gpsData = image.metadata.GPS
local lat
local lon

if gpsData ~= "" then
local iter = string.gmatch(image.metadata.GPS, "%d+")
lat = iter() + (iter() * 60 + iter()) / 3600
lon = iter() + (iter() * 60 + iter()) / 3600
if string.find(gpsData, "S") then
lat = -lat
if string.find(gpsData, "W") then
lon = -lon

Then it was just a question of modifying the javascript to pickup the values from the generate xml file. Using JQuery this is easily achieved like this:
var name = $(this).find('name').text();
var desc = $(this).find('desc').text();
var largePage = $(this).find('largePage').text();

The rest of the code is pretty standard stuff from the SDK.
I hope you found this of use and please leave a comment if you use the code anywhere, I love to know who reads this stuff

Mike Otley is photographer of the month for April

1 Apr 2012 - 11:36 from
Our photographer this month is Bracknell based Mike Otley.  Mikes real love is car photography and he produces some fantasticimages of them,  his website is worth a visit.

Porsche Cayenne Biturbo
by Mike Otley

Previous  Photographers of the Month

Think Tank Streetwalker Hard Drive Backpack

1 Mar 2012 - 18:49 from
Think Tank Streetwalker Hard Drive BackpackAt the beginning of the year I was fortunate enough to spend nearly a month in New Zealand.  It truly is a wonderful place for photography and I will at some point be posting some of the pictures on this blog.

Whilst planning the trip, it became obvious that I did not have a camera bag that would be suitable for taking as carry-on luggage.  Being a fan of Think Tank bags I took a look at their range for something suitable.  I looked at their Airport roller bags first (thanks go to Bob Johnson for letting me look through his vast Think Tank range).  Whilst the rollers were beautifully made, like everything Think Tank do, they were not really ideal as fully loaded I would easily go over my carry on weight allowance and more importantly once I was in NZ I would need a rucksack or camera bag as well for use on the actual shoots.

After much looking round the web at various reviews I decided on the Think Tank Streetwalker Hard Drive Backpack :

Photo by ThinkTank Photo
A few points attracted me to the Streetwalker Hard Drive:
  • It's from Think Tank - their products just ooze quality.
  • Carry on luggage size
  • Laptop slot - to save hassle at Airport Security.
In use it proved an excellent bag, it's clean lines meant it fit exactly under the seat in-front on Singapore Airlines.  Allowing me to access to all my kit through out the flight: for photos from the airplane windows, reading material or even the carefree 5 hours I spent keywording the 9500 images I took.  The only photographic items I put in my suitcase were my tripod and my pro-speed belt, as removing that keeps the bag nice and square for storing in airplanes, etc

Rather than lug a laptop everywhere I just used a tiny netbook, which meant the laptop slot had room for magazines and other A4 documents that I wanted to keep flat.  This slot makes the bag worth buying on it's own with dead easy access to your laptop or documents in seconds.  Security scans in airports ask for laptops to be scanned seperatly and the access in this bag made it a doddle.

Packed for travelling between hotels in New Zealand
The first aid kit came out for flying as it upsets the security guards
The gap bottom left contained the Canon G9 that took the photo.

Travelling between hotels I could fill it with all my camera and computer gear, without worrying about damaging them and being able to grab my camera easily as we reached another "WOW" bit of scenery.  The distances in NZ are really short but it took ages to get anywhere as I kept having to stop and snap the scenery.

Big clear pockets in the lid make finding things really easy.

For Morning or evening Landscape sessions I could strip out the bag and just leave in my camera, lenses and filters.  Then once the tripos straps are attached I could fix the tripod to the back of the bag and I had a great landscape photographers rucksack.  For daytime expeditions I would leave the tripod behind, bung a rain jacket in one of the empty slots and a couple of bottles of water in the expanding side pockets and it was comfortable for very long walks.

For more dynamic trips I used my pro-speed belt and the Think tank modular system to allow me to have access to lenses as quick as possible.

A fair bit of gear for one bag

 So what did I put in it:
  • Laptop Slot
    • Asus Netbook
    • Amazon Kindle
    • 2 Magazines
    • Travel Documentation
  • Main Compartment
    • Canon 5DmkII
    • Canon G9
    • Canon EF 24-105 f/4 L Lens
    • Canon EF 17-40 f/4 L Lens in Think Tank Modular Pouch
    • Canon EF 300mm f/4 L Prime Lens in Think Tank Modular Pouch
    • Canon 1.4x extender
    • LEE Filter Holder
    • 2 x LEE filter rings
    • 3 x LEE Soft Grads
    • 3 x LEE Hard Grads
    • LEE Big Stopper 
    • 8 SD Cards
    • 2 Cardreaders
    • Portable harddrive
    • 2 x Spare Batteries
    • 2 x Battery Chargers
    • 3 x Cleaning Cloths
    • 2 x Power converters
    • Netbook power supply
    • Power lead for battery chargers
    • Waterproof cover
  • Lid Pockets
    • 3 x iPhone power cables
    • Kindle power cable
    • 2 x remote releases
    • HDD Cable
    • Tripod straps
  • Front tripod Pocket
    • Trek Towel for those damp days
  • Side Pockets
    • Nothing!
I kept the side pockets clear so that I could use them for water bottles on hikes,etc.  Due to the way I constantly changed the packing of the bag to meet the changing demands of the trip I left the front outside organiser pockets empty to make it easier to change things around and so I could put my wallet and keys in there on walks.

I have been trying to think of anything I would change about this bag and I really can't.

David Langan is photographer of the month for March

1 Mar 2012 - 10:23 from
David Langan is a landscape photographer based in Aberdeen.  His images reveal his overriding passion for the pure unsullied landscape, a landscape devoid of the apparent hand of man. His website is well worth a visit.

 Highland Harmony
by David Langan

Previous  Photographers of the Month

Coltrane Koh is photographer of the month for February

1 Feb 2012 - 10:14 from
Our photographer for February is Coltrane Koh.  His website shows a versatility for a huge range of  subjects,   am sure there is something for everyone at

The Blissed Days Of Snow
by Coltrane Koh

Previous  Photographers of the Month

Lightroom Configuration Backup

11 Jan 2012 - 22:23 from
The other day I hadn't noticed that the power lead had dropped out of my laptop when the battery was already virtually empty.  It had so little power left so that instead of hibernating, it just died on me.  In the middle of a Lightroom session.

The problem came that when I restarted Lightroom was not in a happy state.  It had returned to default and had forgotten all my presets, plugins and export settings.  Luckily I could drag them back from a backup but it was a bit of a pain.  So I was interested to find this Lightroom configuration backup plug-in, which creates a zip file of all your settings and can be setup to do it automatically.

Another feature of it is the ability to zip up your catalogue backups,  which if you combined it with my tip on how to automatically delete old backups could really save some disk space.

Outdoor Photographer of the Year 2011

4 Jan 2012 - 16:36 from
Outdoor Photographer of the Year 2011Since knowing I was shortlisted in the Outdoor Photographer of the Year Competition a few people have enquired how I got on.  Well it appears that I will have to settle for shortlisting only this year.

The strange thing about the system is they tell you that "one or more" of the images you entered has been shortlisted which means that between 4 and 12 of my shots were shortlisted.  Here they are in all their glory - I'll let you decide which ones were shortlisted as your guess is as good as mine:

Category - At The Waters Edge

Isle in the Storm

Leigh Creek
Snaking Ashore

Category - British Landscapes

Curbar Gap
Start Point Light

Ashness Landing

Category - Dawn To Dusk

Gull Rock Blues
Coniston Sunset

Morning Mist

Category - On the Streets

Looking at Legs
River Pheonix

Peter Simonides is photographer of the month for January

1 Jan 2012 - 10:05 from
I have been recently really enjoying the abstract photographic work of Peter Simonides. Really unusual and interesting wor that is well worth a visit to his website.

by Peter Simonides

Previous  Photographers of the Month

Lighten the land, don't darken the sky

29 Dec 2011 - 13:02 from
Lighten the land, don't darken the skyA while back I was teaching someone how to use ND grads and I was explaining how putting the dark area of the grad over the sky has the effect of making the land lighter. They looked at me as though I had gone mad!

Eventually they began to understand that you are not really darkening the sky, you are in staid lightening the land/  The key is to think that you are using the graduated filter to reduce the exposure range into  something the camera can cope with so that you don't end up with blocked shadows or blown out highlights.

I said I would create an example for them to show the effect of using a graduated filter.  The below images show the rather subtle effect of a 0.6nd grad in use.  Moving your mouse over the below should show the effect of inserting the filter:
Mouse over to see before and after
Hopefully you can see that we have slightly darkened the top left corner of the image and brightened the right horizon area by using the graduated filter at a jaunty angle like this.
ND Grad Position
The angle of the grad filter was to match up with the way the early sunrise was lighting the land from one side. Although it is usual to use grads in a more upright position it is important to pay attention to balancing the position as well as the intensity of the light.

Here are the before and after images in case the mouse over doesn't work for you.  Try opening them in seperate tabs of your web browser & switching between them.

Before - No ND Grad
After - With ND Grad

Can I call you a cab sir ?

20 Dec 2011 - 18:00 from
Can I call you a cab sir ?The lovely people at are now using my image of Tower Bridge as the header image of their website:

The Original image of tower bridge can be found here.

Tower Bridge

Gary Horner is photographer of the month for December

1 Dec 2011 - 09:49 from
Our photographer for December is Gary Horner and his website. Gary's work overs a wide range of subjects and shows a great eye for the landscape of his native East Anglia and is well worth a visit.

  Herringfleet Mill
by Gary Horner

Previous  Photographers of the Month

Black and White Photographer of the Year 2011 Comp

27 Nov 2011 - 08:00 from
Black and White Photographer of the Year 2011 CompQuite a few people who knew that I had 3 pictures that were shortlisted for "Black and White Photographer of the Year" have asked how I got on in the competition.

Well I didn't win,  you can see the winners here.  Congratulations to Binh Trinh and the other winners.

I was pleased however to get one shot recognized in the "Shots we liked but didn't quite make it" section featured in this months magazine and was chosen to go on the welcome page of the magazine.

I'm taking that as pretty much a second place in one of the categories - which is nice. I am also really proud that the shot in question is of my beloved Smudge,  a dog with more personality than a little dog should have, who unfortunately passed away exactly a year ago.

Below are the three shots that were shortlisted:

Gormley Towers



A hard case for the LEE Big Stopper

11 Nov 2011 - 21:40 from
A hard case for the LEE Big StopperThe LEE Big Stopper is fast becoming one of the most popular filters in photography today. The ability to setup the shot with other filters then slide in the 10 stopper at the last moment makes it much easier to use than the screw in filters.

In fact the only real problem I have found with the Big Stopper is the absence of a hard case for it. The soft pouch they come in is great for stopping it getting scratched but if you are as clumsy as me they offer little protection against snapping the thing. The filter is actually as brittle as cinder toffee, so if you are not careful your 100 filter will end up looking like mine:

Luckily when I explained my predicament to the good people at LEE helped me out with a replacement filter really quick.  Fantastic customer service from LEE, I'm never buying filters from anyone else.

So - how to keep my new filter from the same fate?  It was time to investigate a hard case option.   LEE don't make a hard case and a search on the web drew a blank too.  It was time to make my own.

If you are old enough you may remember that before downloads, music used to come on a physical disc called a CD. I happen to have a fair few of these archaic things laying around the house and they are almost exactly the right size to be a Big Stopper case.

Conversion from ancient recording technology to modern filter storage is simple:

  1. Take out that old Steps CD and chuck it in the bin
  2. Pull out the bit the CD was laying in throw it away.
  3. Tape the LEE exposure table to the inside of the case so you can find it easily
  4. Cut two pieces of lens cloth to fit the inside of the case and fix them using double sided tape.
  5. Cut a thin layer of packing foam the to fit the inside of the case.
  6. Cut a filter sized hole in the foam and fix it into the the case with double sided tape
  7. And your done.

Please let me know if you decide to make a similar case & if you find a better way of doing it.

Nigel Wilkins is photographer of the month for November

1 Nov 2011 - 08:00 from
Our photographer for November is Nigel Wilkins. Nigels website has some stunning views of The English Lake District and is worth a visit.

  Striding Edge
by Nigel Wilkins

Previous  Photographers of the Month

Where are we going

22 Oct 2011 - 19:31 from
The other week I was chatting to a good friend of mine and he started ranting about the photography he sees on many of the photography websites. How many of the popular shots seem to owe little relationship to the real world and seem to suffer from cartonification.

I suggested he put his thoughts down and make a blog out of his thoughts. Below is what my friend, who wishes to remain anonymous, came up with.  I hope you enjoy reading his thoughts on the state of popular photography today.

The Basics of Photography

A few years ago I enrolled on a one year course to study photography. One of the first lessons I learnt was that 'photography' meant writing or painting with light, the ability to capture a moment in time with the prevailing light was the essence of photography. Little did I realise then what could be achieved without such illumination.

I feel a photograph should represent what the photographer saw at the time of capture, using the skills he has learnt and fashioned to manipulate the camera by adjusting exposure or shutter speed and balancing light by using filters. Gaining a fundamental knowledge of these tools of the trade, with equal importance to how light interacts with the equipment, will lead to better and more honest results. In a recent internet forum thread, about this very same subject, one photographer alluded to better photography results would be achieved with "patience, planning and understanding in the field in the right conditions" I fully endorse these comments.

I had been trawling my way through various popular photography sites recently with a fairly glum outlook to the future of my beloved hobby. It seems an image has to go through a Photoshop metamorphous before it is appreciated and applauded. One such image so infuriated me it prompted this blog.

The image in question is from a popular photographers spot, shot many times, in fact I had been there recently, what grated me was not so much the photoshop manipulation, (well actually it did) but more the comments and accolades it received.
  • "Lovely colours"
  • "wonderful colours captured"
  • " love the winter colours"
couldn't anyone see what I was seeing? The shot was straight out of a Pixar movie and nothing to do with real colours. It was a cartoon still, a make-believe impression from the time it was taken. No one mentioned manipulation, not one mention of
  • "nice Photoshop work"
  • "good use of the saturation sliders"
  • "love the cartoon effect"

It certainly wasn't in the photographers' description. It was as if the image had the emperor's new clothes on and what pains me is this seems to be becoming the norm. With more and more images sent through the Photoshop grinder coming out appearing total unreal from the original "painting with light" concept than ever before.

A photographer I have huge admiration for wrote

I want to recreate the scene that you would have witnessed with your own eyes had you been standing next to me at the moment I fired the camera's shutter.

This is a poignant statement to those in the modern era of photography that the basic concepts of photography should be learnt and not everything should be resolved after the occasion via the PC.

So, what do you think? Have we forgotten the essentials of taking pictures? Has manipulation taken over from craftsmanship or is it all part of a broad church called photography and everything is valid?

Black and White Photographer of the Year Competition 2011

8 Oct 2011 - 21:26 from
Black and White Photographer of the Year Competition 2011
I recently had 3 photos short-listed for the Black and White Photographer of the year competition 2011.  Unfortunately I didn't come anywhere in the final judging, but I am just happy enough to be short-listed.

For those that asked here are the three shots that were shortlisted.

Gormley Towers

Lunch Time


Tm Daniels is photographer of the month for October

1 Oct 2011 - 09:00 from
Our photographer for October is Norfolk based Tim Daniels. Covering a range of subjects, often in a carefully stylised way, his website is well worth a visit.

  The Underpass
by Tim Daniels

Previous  Photographers of the Month

Summer on The Southbank

4 Sep 2011 - 19:15 from
Summer on The SouthbankThis summer London's Southbank centre has held a summer festival to commemorate 60 years since The Festival of Britain.  I managed to get down there a couple of times,  the atmosphere on a hot summers day was fantastic and the picture opportunities nuerous.

Here are a few shots from the festival, I seem to be in a B&W mood at the moment.  I hope you enjoy them.

Standing in the Rain

Mine all Mine
A snack on the steps

Monsoon Season
Prisoner of Love

Run from the Rain
Life Stories