Chris Potter Photography: Blog http://chrispotterphotography.uk/blog en-us (C) Chris Potter Photography chrispotterphotography@gmail.com (Chris Potter Photography) Thu, 17 Aug 2017 15:56:00 GMT Thu, 17 Aug 2017 15:56:00 GMT http://chrispotterphotography.uk/img/s2/v4/u612145793-o776781566-50.jpg Chris Potter Photography: Blog http://chrispotterphotography.uk/blog 90 120 Kent Engagement Photography - Marita and Steve http://chrispotterphotography.uk/blog/2017/8/kent-engagement-photography---marita-and-steve Here are a few shots from the amazing Knowle Country House, with the fantastic Marita and Steve. We came to have a little look around and get a few shots before their big day later this year. I can't get over the venue, not only is it right on my doorstep (always a bonus), but with accomodation for the couple, a formal restaurant, a relaxed garden room, oak panelled bar, walled garden, summerhouse and lake, there really is everything in one place - no need to bus guests around here!

I can't wait to get Marita and Steve's wedding shots, but I know they're not keen on having their pictures taken. I advised that we get together before the wedding to get them used to having a camera focussed on them, and I hope you agree they've risen to the occasion.

Keep your eyes on the blog for their wedding at The Knowle Country House, coming soon!

If you're interested in having me shoot you for your engagement, wedding or a portrait shoot, please do Couples portrait by victorian manorThe wide shotTo get Marita and Steve comfortable, we started out with some nice wide shots. I know that I'll get some landscapes with them in at their wedding, so this has reassured them that I won't be in their face too much. Couples portrait black and whiteTightening inNot all closer shots need to be in your face. Remaining at a distance, but with a tighter lens, Marita and Steve started to relax into things. Black and white couples portrait"The arty shot"I showed Marita this to demonstrate that she wouldn't need to be holding a smile or staring down the camera all day. She titled it. Couples portrait on benchIn her hairIt was starting to get wet and windy at this point, so we retreated to the cover of the summerhouse. I love how the wind has caught Marita's hair here. Sometimes challenging conditions make for the best shots! Couple holding hands on benchThe look of loveBeing intimate in front of a relative stranger is intimidating. I wanted to show Marita and Steve that simple gestures can communicate a lot and they only had to show as much as they were comfortable with. I love the feeling communicated here through heads and hands. .

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chrispotterphotography@gmail.com (Chris Potter Photography) engagement kent photographer wedding http://chrispotterphotography.uk/blog/2017/8/kent-engagement-photography---marita-and-steve Sat, 19 Aug 2017 16:00:00 GMT
Nurstead Court Wedding Photography http://chrispotterphotography.uk/blog/2017/8/nurstead-court-wedding-photography Nurstead Court is a superb venue and it was my absolute pleasure to photograph Cassandra and Rich's Wedding there! From starting with Cassandra in the converted stable block, I knew we were in for an amazing day. Cassandra and Rich had truly personalised thier big day, from insisting they remain in Converses, through Disney themed tables, to the Imperial March as their entrance music to the Wedding Breakfast. I absolutley loved how they both transmitted thier personalities into the day, but I would expect no less form a couple with an arcade machine in their living room!

I had such a great time with Cassandra and Rich, and can't recommend Nurstead Court enough. Their drawing room with it's regency windows made photographing the ceremony a joy and we were lucky enough to be the last ceremony of the year to have the Virginia Creeper in full colour outside. After the ceremony and a hearty barbecue, there was time for a few creative portraits and then on to dance the night away.

If you're looking for a Wedding Photographer for your Nurstead Court Wedding, or any cermony in and around Kent, do get in touch.

 

Groomsmen photographyPreparedThe Groomsmen, ready for action First look between bride and groom - wedding photographyFirst LookCassandra and Danny moments before the ceremony. Wedding BouquetSomething a little differentBeautiful flowers to match the colour scheme Wedding CeremonyForever hold your peaceRich, keen to keep his critics at bay Wedding CeremonyLoveThe happy couple, perfectly lit in Nurstead Court's Drawing Room Couple posing in front of windowIn full colourWe were so lucky, this colour was lost two weeks later Bride and Groom posing by staircaseEmbraceOn of the many beautiful areas in Nurstead Court, this stairwell allowed Cassandra a Rich a quiet moment in the middle of thier day. Bride and Groom Sparkler PhotographyDazzlingCassandra and Rich share a kiss amidst a spiral of sparks

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chrispotterphotography@gmail.com (Chris Potter Photography) kent photographer wedding http://chrispotterphotography.uk/blog/2017/8/nurstead-court-wedding-photography Wed, 16 Aug 2017 16:43:08 GMT
North Kent Wedding Photography http://chrispotterphotography.uk/blog/2017/1/north-kent-wedding-photography Having lived for a number of years in Farningham, it was an absolute pleasure to be Corrine and Danny's Wedding Photographer in Eynsford and Brandshatch, North Kent. I'd met Corrine and Danny whilst shooting a previous wedding and they'd been great fun. Corrine's a fellow photographer, so I knew we'd have a great day recording their memories.

When I'd lived near, before I was a wedding photographer, I'd known of Brandshatch Place Hotel as a wedding venue and was really looking forward to taking shots there. A Georgian Manor, with rooms for guests, a spa and full facilities including space for a helicopter to land, I knew we were in for a treat! Having met Danny earlier in the day at the hotel, we continued on to the lovely Malt Shovel in Eynsford prior to the ceremony. Accompnied by the groomsmen and some of the earlier guests, Danny had the chance to unwind before heading in to the beautiful St Martin's of Tours Church in Eynsford.

This was a service with a difference! Corrine and Danny were married by Corrine's Mum, a priest in another parish, with choirs from both churches in attendance. This was easily one of the most personal and heartfelt ceremonies I've been lucky enough to be present at, with a moving sermon as well as empassioned singing. You could really feel the love in the 11th Century Norman building. After the ceremony, it was quickly outside for some photos at the ford and then back to Brandshatch place for the breakfast, drinks and dancing.

Corrine and Danny's friends and family were warm and welcoming to all and Danny's hilarious speech captured the mood perfectly. With a suprise song from Corrine, the evening entertainment kicked off with the frist dance and the disco continued into the night.

It was a privelege to be trusted capturing Corrine and Danny's wedding day, if you're interested in talking about me recording your, please contact me for a chat today!

Groom's having buttonhole adjusted.Final TouchesDanny has his buttonhole corrected before leaving for the ceremony. Groomsmen's shoesAll in a rowDanny was very proud of his and his groomsmen's shoes. Groom preparing to enter churchFree ManDanny taking in that last breath of air before walking into the Church Bridesmaid lacing up dressLacing upBridesmaids prepare whilst awaiting the Bride. Priest walking through churchyard before weddingMother of the BrideA woman of many hats, preparing to marry her daughter Married couple at wedding ceremonyMan and WifeAn ecstatic Danny and Corrine Bride and Groom PortraitPortraitsA quiet moment back at the hotel to take some couple's portraits First dance of Bride and GroomFirst DanceA beautiful end to a perfect day.

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chrispotterphotography@gmail.com (Chris Potter Photography) Kent Photographer Wedding http://chrispotterphotography.uk/blog/2017/1/north-kent-wedding-photography Sun, 08 Jan 2017 18:21:24 GMT
Engagement Photography - Caroline and John http://chrispotterphotography.uk/blog/2016/12/Engagement-Photography-Caroline-and-John It was my absolute pleasure to run an engagement session for Caroline and John back in the summer, they're a great fun couple and it was a really nice day spent in central London. I know John was quite uncomfortable in front of the camera - lots of his friends were shocked to hear he'd been on a photoshoot, but he really loosened up across the day. I've actually known John for a few years, so it was a real privelege when he asked me to shoot his wedding and engagement session. I met with both Caroline and John before the session for a quick drink in a local pub to go over exactly what they were after and my style. Luckily, they were looking for mainly documentary shots, with a few creative portraits alongside, just up my street!

Central London Engagement ShootLondon EyeCaroline and John getting used to being in front of the camera.

Engagement Shoot

I'd really recommend having an engagement portrait session before your wedding. Not only will it give you some beautiful romantic shots of yourselves, but it will help you relax in front of the camera when it comes to your wedding day itself. For Caroline, who is Canadian, these photos allowed her to share shots with friends and family back home before they all flew over for the wedding later on. The fact that these shots were in London allowed for a narrative of her emigration to follow through the photos being sent back home.

 

Engagement PhotographyClose UpIt's important to get used to having a photographer focussed just on you, it's an unusual experience for most.

 

I had a great time working with Caroline and John, and knowing how pleased they were with the shots, I've selected a few of my favourites from the day. I hope you feel they convey the relaxed and happy mood we all felt throughout the shoot, which set us up brilliantly for the wedding. If you're interested in having some portraits taken of yourselves, please do get in touch.

Embankment Engagement PhotographyFountainAn engagement shoot can be all about relaxing and being yourselves in front of the camera, you've got more time to get into this relaxed mode than on your wedding day, and it will translate across!

London Engagement PhotographySunsetI'm happy to spend all day with clients to help them get used to having their picture taken. It was a really pleasure to hang out with Caroline and John

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chrispotterphotography@gmail.com (Chris Potter Photography) Photographer Wedding engagement london http://chrispotterphotography.uk/blog/2016/12/Engagement-Photography-Caroline-and-John Mon, 12 Dec 2016 18:00:00 GMT
Old Kent Barn Wedding http://chrispotterphotography.uk/blog/2016/8/old-kent-barn-wedding Set in the Kent Countryside, this venue really does have something special about it. I had the pleasure of working to photograph Amanda and Jamie's wedding here this summer and found the day an absolute joy to shoot. As well as the couple being incredibly chilled out about their big day,the venue staff were amazingly helpful. As a dedicated wedding venue, the Old Kent Barn really outdid itself on the day. Poor weather was predicted, but Amanda and Jamie really wanted to have their ceremony outside in the pagoda if possible. The staff set up ready for weddings outside and inside in case the weather changed at the last minute, and quickly cleared the inside venue ready for the evening's party whilst we were enjoying the dleights of the outside venue. The traditional Kentish oak barns on site provided ample space for all guests and some beautiful backdrops to photographs.

If you'd like to discuss my style for your wedding, please do get in touch.

Old Kent Barn Wedding Photography Old Kent Barn Weddings Old Kent Barn Wedding Old Kent Barn Wedding Wedding Accessories Old Kent Barn Pagoda Old Kent Barn Wedding Pagoda

 

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chrispotterphotography@gmail.com (Chris Potter Photography) kent photographer wedding http://chrispotterphotography.uk/blog/2016/8/old-kent-barn-wedding Sat, 13 Aug 2016 15:00:00 GMT
Some travel photography to warm a cold December http://chrispotterphotography.uk/blog/2015/12/cambodia-photos The first things that made me buy a decent camera were a poor camera and a holiday. I had been on holiday to Scotland (which I absolutely love, someone find me a stable job in the highlands and I'd move tomorrow) and had been trying to capture the gorgeous mountains around Oban on a small point and shoot. The pictures were washed out and grey, rather than the rich purples and blues I could see through the mists around me. After a short chat with my girlfriend, we decided the remedy to this was a decent camera. Would I ever touch photoshop? Of course not, I would be a purist, like my father before me, I would capture perfect images first time in camera and the world would be a wonderful place! So started the most expensive, absorbing and rewarding hobby I could ever have.

As the days turn colder at the moment, it makes us think of warmer times and places we'd perhaps rather be. My first big holiday with my camera was a group holiday through intrepid travel to Thailand (briefly), Cambodia and Vietnam. If you're one to shy away from the group holiday, preferring to go on your own, good for you, I envy you your long holidays and free time. If however you work and have a mortgage to worry about, the level of content you can experience in a short time is second to none with Intrepid. I would highly recommend them, both in terms of coverage, and the competence of their guides. Intrepid use local guides for all their holidays, so you do feel like you're getting an authentic taste of the country you're in. There is also a massive emphasis on responsible travel, leaving no trace and respecting the cultures you're holidaying within. 


Black and white photography of Buddha, Wat Pho, ThailandThe reclining Buddha in Wat Pho, Bangkok, Thailand. I'd visited here as a teenager; I was very thankful to be back with a decent camera. Crowds were extensive, so a quick shot in the face worked well. Black and white photograph of riverboat driver, bangkok, thailandA quick riverboat trip before meeting up with the group allowed for a few quick shots and a necessary nap after having been on the go for over 40 hours.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In terms of photography, we were incredibly lucky to be guided by the charming and enthusiastic Limny, who was himself a keen photographer. This enthusiasm meant a lot of shots and angles could be guided and he was more than willing to get up with us for sunrise over Angkor Wat. It would certainly have been a different, and less photographic holiday without him. Moving around with a group can present its difficulties with photography, and I'm sure there are shots I missed, but with a sizeable group within our group having brought the cameras, there was little argument about taking too long to get a shot. I could easily have spent another couple of days wandering around the Angkor complex, which is where the lone travelling gap student has the advantage, but I had that job to get back to, so the compromise was bearable. 

Black and white photograph of statues at Angkor Thom, CambodiaOur group having a strong cadre of photographers meant people were willing to wait until we could get the shot we were after. These statues were at the entrance to Angor Thom, Cambodia.

Photograph of Carved faces in Bayon, Angkor Wat, CambodiaLimny was quickly able to show us great areas and angles to capture some desired shots we'd spoken about earlier in the day. This was from the Bayon, in the Angkor Complex, Cambodia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If I were going away again, there are potentially a couple of things I may have done differently. Firstly, if you've got mirrorless, ditch the DSLR. Shlepping around temples in 40 degree heat isn't fun with a massive camera in tow. Perhaps with a slower pace this would have been less of an issue, and I will take my set up again, but it's a worthwhile thought regardless (back to the expense of the hobby). Secondly, think about a travel lens. In my effort to save some money on kit, my 70-200 is 3rd party, rather than that lovely Canon L series I've had my eye on. Whilst this has saved some needed cash, it's definitely added on the load of what I'm lugging around (full disclosure: my amazing girlfriend took on many times the responsibility and burden of being by my side with my lens bag, to make it easier for me to crawl around and get shots, I couldn't thank her enough then or now). If I'd had the very reasonable all purpose lens, lens changes would have been unnecessary, meaning fewer shots missed, and that bag would have been very light, meaning a happier girlfriend. This is a very serious contender for next time. Thirdly, I wouldn't bother with the cumbersome travel strap. Whilst before we went, the extra security of steel cables woven into the strap was very reassuring, I can't count the amount of times I got a very stiff strap, refusing to fall naturally, jabbing me in the eye. I was fully insured and swapped cards regularly (take loads of cards, duplicate and back up if possible) so a stolen camera could have been dealt with. Further, my camera rarely left my hand; a snatch from a single shoulder (always wear across the body) would have been more likely than cutting, so I'd go for comfort here and just wear a simple strap.

It's very easy to get carried away with holiday photos, so I've just highlighted some of my absolute favourites. I hope you enjoy and are ispired to share some shots of your own!

Reflection of Angkor WatReflected Angkor Wat. In the wet season this 'lake' would be full to the sandbags. As it was in the dry season, this puddle sufficed. I was still pretty happy with the shot, I got this, then ran to the nearby water seller and downed 2 litres, it was about 40 degree C this day!

Sunrise over Angkor WatLimny's dedication allowed us to be back at 4am the next morning, in postion at the front of a crowd of campact cameras and selfie sticks to grab this shot, one of my favourite from the trip.

Sunrise over Angkor WatLimny knew all the best angles. This involved a brisk walk to another part of the complex and clambering up some walls. Jungle Temple, CambodiaIndie the Jungle Temple (aka Tomb Raider Temple) the roots looked like something from an alien planet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Panning photography of traffic in SaigonThe busy streets of Saigon allowed for much panning practice. It was after taking this shot that I noticed the legs! Metal worker in Hanoi Old QuarterExcellent street photography opportunities in the Old Quarter of Hanoi. This is the early stages of colander production!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cast fishermen in Hoi An, VietnamWe had the opportunity to try casting these nets in Hoi An. It was embarrassingly difficult, but the locals showed us how it was meant to be done.

River boat in CambodiaWe were lucky enough to visit Tonle Sap lake during the dry season, producing a very interesting take on the annual change in circumstances for an aquatic dwelling people- hence the colour of the little remaining water!

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chrispotterphotography@gmail.com (Chris Potter Photography) Angkor Wat Black and White Cambodia Intrepid Travel Travel Photography Vietnam http://chrispotterphotography.uk/blog/2015/12/cambodia-photos Sat, 12 Dec 2015 10:50:50 GMT
Taste of London through a smartphone http://chrispotterphotography.uk/blog/2015/12/taste-of-london-smartphone For any keen photographer, there is a hurdle to cross beyond what kit to buy, which skill to imrove or when best to capture a location or client. This is balancing your absolute obsession with all things camera, with your loved ones. There are loads of blogs out there on how to balance family and photography time, but there will almost certainly be a time when you're poring over settings and 'getting that shot from a different angle', leaving a loved one deserted of attention. So when my girlfriend arranged for us to attend the recent winter Taste of London I knew I probably ought to leave my camera at home. This was probably more upsetting than it should have been. I knew there would be top london chefs, such as Marcus Wareing, Sophie Michell and Tom Aikens producing amazing dishes to take shots of. I had also only just set up my twitter page and was keen to populate it with some shots from the day. But I also knew that this would be a nice day out to spend with my girlfriend, and spending all my time focussed on photography, again, wouldn't be fair.

So I hung up the DSLRs and set off to Tobacco Dock to focus on the food and drink on offer. But then it struck me, I'd spent so long worrying about which camera to take, without considering the one most of us now carry with us anywhere. Since I've owned decent cameras, I've shied away from using my smartphone for photography, but I'm well aware that an amazing collection of shots can be taken with nothing more than a smartphone. Perhaps there's some ingrained snobbery, or possibly the thought that legitimising smartphone photography puts the DSLR/hired photographer in danger somehow? Putting these dark introspections aside, I quickly started looking at taking a few snaps on the DLR to check out what the iPhone could do. They were ok, they weren't the most interesting of shots, but they were ok. I then remembered one of the useful tools of quick and easy iPhone photography - filters. When on holiday in Cambodia last year, our guide had been showing us shots he'd taken of sunrises over Angkor Wat, and they were impressive. he'd said that all of them had been taken on an iPhone. He was also a DSLR photographer, and was disappointed that none of his 'proper' shots came out as well. This of course, was because he lacked editing knowledge and equipment, whereas he was able to edit his phone shots in phone!

After playing around with the given presets on the standard Camera app, I recalled a friend mentioning enlight as a quick way of editing photos in phone. I quickly downlooaded this, and had a test edit on a couple of photos already in my camera. The fine adjustments seemed ok and I could roughly produce the look I was after, but the preset filters were actually quite good. I decided to give it a go, and took my first plunge into smartphone photography!

Black and white food photographyDuck Reuben (my girlfriend's dish of the day) shot on iPhone and edited with Enlight. I was pretty happy with the black and white presets in Enlight, and the display Club Gacon had created helped the overall composition. Food photography from tast festivalMezcal Cured Salmon (my dish of the day) shot on iPhone and edited with Enlight. I felt the iPhone didn't perform as well here, and I was less happy with the colour from Enlight.

The taste festivals are a great day out if you've not tried them before, they're a chance for top restaurants and providers to market their wares and allow for the public to quickly sample lots of different cuisines and menu items. They run twice a year in London, allowing for quite different feels - the winter one being very Christmassy. The food on sample was phenomenal, with my girlfiend's and my favourite dishes shown here, the Duck Reben from Club Gascon and the Mezcal Cured Salmon from Pont St respectively.

 

I played around with the settings I could acheive through enlight, and was happy with the black and white presets, as seens above, but less so with the colour versions, even after more detailed tweaking. I perservered and continued playing with enlight whilst we moved through a substantial quantity of free booze. We moved through many free samples, and whether it was the effect they had or not I couldn't say, but I became less pleased with the shots I was producing. (A lesson to all budding wedding photographers - stay off the booze!).

Documentary photography of Warner Edwards Gin at taste festivel.Gin flowed very freely - I would very highly recommend the Warner Edwards Rhubarb Gin. I remained sceptical of the colours coming from the iPhone and Enlight though... Blakc and white documentary photography of wine waiter at taste festivalMany free wine samples from Premier Estate. I quite liked this shot, but was less happy with this balck and white preset. I was beginning to have doubts about Enlight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I decided to shift things up somewhat. I knew that Adobe did a lightroom app which would connect with my normal workflow, but I had been resisting as I thought the quick and ready enlight would be more suited to the day. I relented and downloaded the app whilst watching the excellent Gizzi Erskine demonstrating a couple of dishes. Here the iPhone really couldn't compete with a full camera. In a large lecture, being further from the stage, with difficult lighting, the detail plummeted and the grain became overwhelming. I would love to demonstrate this, but my vanity led me to delete these immediately and stop taking photos until I could get closer to any action. I would have to revisit iPhones in a larger setting than snaps and products, but not that day. With lightroom downloaded, I had a quick re-edit of a couple of shots and felt immediately at home. I think this is the biggest take home lesson from the day - if you already use a system, and like it, keep within that system. It will make your life much easier, and you're likely to produce shots you're happier with. Clearly people agreed with me; I'd been sharing shots on twitter all day, and the most retweeted and engaged with shot was one from the end, where I had edited in lightroom.

Kentish Pip Cider at Taste festival - product photographyThe first edit in Lightroom, I was pretty happy with this, it was very dark in the catacombs, so there was always going to be some grain, but I think it pulled up well. Also, if you take nothing else from this blog post - you must try firespice ginger cider this Christmas! Bermondsey Tonic Water and Bathtub Gin at taste festival - product photographyThe presets were vey easy to apply and then adjust as always in Lightroom! The other massive find of the day was Bermondsey Tonic Water. Pretty niche at the moment, but click to see stockists.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had a great time at the Taste Festival, I've been recommending to everyone I speak to since. It was a great opportunity to sample some prestigious fare, and some really interesting products we would otherwise never had heard of. On the photography front, I'm certainly not planning on selling the DSLR, but I'm happier knowing some of what my iPhone can do without turning every day into another photoshoot, which will hopefully go down well at home. I'd seer clear of enlight if you're already invested in Lightroom for your normal workflow, but it's still certainly a step up from basic feature on the camera app. I'd love to hear from your experience if I'm missing a trick, so please do get in touch or leave a comment below.

Glengoyne whisky at taste festival - black and white photographyThe most shared shot of the day, when I was probably at my least stable. I'd personally recommend the 15yo or the Cask Strength. The 18yo was far too drinkable for its price. The cask strength is harsher, but with incredible flavour.

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chrispotterphotography@gmail.com (Chris Potter Photography) London Photography enlgith event photography food photography iPhone lightroom product photography tobacco dock http://chrispotterphotography.uk/blog/2015/12/taste-of-london-smartphone Sat, 05 Dec 2015 17:00:00 GMT
A Day At City Hall http://chrispotterphotography.uk/blog/2015/11/architecture-photography-open-house-london Black and white long exposure photography of Greenwich University Old Naval CollegeHaving spent many evenings in Greenwich, being there on a sunny day for a shot like this had been high on my 'list' for a while. If you've even dabbled into architecture photography, I'm sure you've spent many days traipsing around your nearest city, probably with a particular view or building in mind. I really need to work on just heading out and seeing what I manage to come across. When I go out with my photography buddies, I always try to polish up my street photography whilst wandering around towns and cities, but really I've almost always got a particular building in the back of my mind.

If you're anything like me, you probably run through a mental tick list of where you might like to go and photograph next. Have I got that particular bridge or museum already? Have I got it with a good reflection (puddles are your friend!)? Have I got it at night? Have a got it with a sunrise/sunset? Whilst I'm not quite this methodical, there is something of the trading card collection about the way I reflect on my photography. I'm more than happy to sit in front of the same scene trying to get a good shot for hours on end, or even return the next day and try a new angle, but if I know there's that great bridge, staircase or ruin nearby then I'm itching to try somewhere new. (Obviously new conditions means different looking photos, so definitely try again tomorrow if there's rain, or a sunrise, or better clouds (there are always better clouds another day)).

St Paul's Cathedral, long exposure traffic trail photographyBecause St Paul's on its own would never be enough.

I live near London, and like to get some shots in of some of the more iconic buildings when I can, but certainly I know my photo buddies can feel similarly jaded about returning to some of their previous haunts. So imagine my delight when one of them told me about Open House London. As a move to open up the world of architecture, Open House have been working throughout cities around the world since 1992 to allow people access to otherwise unreachable areas to appreciate and understand great examples of architecture. This aims to encourage great projects of the future, as well as preserve the treasures of the past. Open House's mantra is that architecture and the public domain should become part of our education system, so that public building and open spaces can be created for and by the people, rather than being thrust upon them.

This year, there were a number of key buildings open to the public, from construction sites for Crossrail, through the Royal College of Physicians to older buildings such as Temple Church. Rather predictably from someone who used to walk to Uni along the south bank, I chose to go to look around London City Hall, otherwise known as the Mayor's Office (or the egg, the woodlouse, the motorcycle helmet, the glass testicle (thank you Ken) or indeed the glass gonad (thank you Boris). For those who don't know, City Hall is a predominantly glass building, which architecturally presents an interesting shape in that it purports to have an energy saving shape (which is made somewhat ridiculous when you make a building out of glass). It also has two exceptional features for the budding photographer.

Tower Bridge black and white long exposure photographyLong exposure of Tower Bridge from the balcony of City Hall

The first of these is the superb balcony, which whilst nowhere near as high as the Sky Garden or the Shard, does beautifully overlook Tower Bridge. If you choose to visit City Hall during next year's Open House, I would get there early, as the queue was long, and the balcony crowded. Many a selfie stick was present, but if you were patient you could get a good position overlooking your intended target. Interestingly, very few people took tripods (I had feared a museum style argument with security, but there was none), but there was easily enough space to use a travel tripod up here. I wouldn't recommend a gorrilapod in this instance, the sheer footfall and amount of small children made handrail stability near impossible.

London cityscape and the Shard black and white long exposure photographyIt wasn't all about Tower Bridge Tower Bridge and the City of London black and white photographyBut it was largely about the bridge. Tick!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The second view familiar to anyone trawling for photos from London would involve the staircase inside City Hall. this is one continuous helical construction, allowing for sweeping views up and down, and beautiful reflections in all the surrounding glass. Many would come I'm sure just for the staircase. On the day, this was pretty hectic too, but with a bit of patience you can get some clearer moments if that's what you're after. Had I been more persistent, I would have been getting out the filters and going for some long exposures, but then I guess that's what next year's for...


Staircase Architectural Photography in City Hall, LondonView down the famous staircase, remember those leading lines! Spiral Staircase black and white architectural photography in city hall LondonThe one I came for.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spiral Staircase architectural photography in city hall, LondonThe clouds seemd to align more for this shot; patience is always key. I loved the way the reflections caught of people walking down too. Reflections - abstract split toning photographyI couldn't resist homing in on the reflections, it's always worth trying to pick up on the incidental details when looking at the bigger picture.

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chrispotterphotography@gmail.com (Chris Potter Photography) abstract architecture black and white city hall london london bridge monochrome open house staircase http://chrispotterphotography.uk/blog/2015/11/architecture-photography-open-house-london Sat, 28 Nov 2015 11:23:15 GMT
How to Photograph Wire Wool Spinning - Part two of two: On the night http://chrispotterphotography.uk/blog/2015/11/how-to-photograph-wire-wool-spinning This is the second part of my look at wire wool spinning photography. If you're not sure what you need to get in preparation of your first spin, head over to part 1 now. Otherwise, I'll assume you've already got a location in mind and got all your equipment sorted. This post focusses instead on what you could be thinking about on the night of your photography, including camera settings. Again, it is by no means exhaustive and only constitutes my experience and opinions. Please do not take any unnecessary risks, and think sensibly about your own safety.

Wire wool spinning photography at Dungeness BeachSafety first, keep face and eyes covered! 30sec f2.8 ISO100 17mm

Setting up on the night

Ok, so you've spent ages checking your equipment's in order, you've tied some string to a whisk and you've got yourself to a clean, remote area. The first thing you want to do is have a test spin. Stuff your whisk full of wire wool, cover up your spinner and with all photographic equipment at a great distance, light up and have a spin. If you've followed my advice from part 1, then you'll have a trust 9V battery, simply touch this gently to the wool and it will start to smoulder, let the flames catch, then back away whilst your spinner starts to twirl that whisk. Spinning wire wool really is that simple. As long as your spinner is covered up and you're at a safe distance, there shouldn't be anything to worry about. Start spinning slowly and build up, the burn won't last that long (depending on the size of your whisk) but you can always do a second test if needed. Keep moving away from your spinner once you've lit the wool, and tell them if they need to stop or slow down if things get too close to you. You want to build up to spinning at full pelt and see where the sparks land. You do not want to set up cameras within this area. Once you're happy that you won't melt your equipment, it's simply a case of setting up your tripod and taking some shots. I'd recommend taking some test shots of the background to ensure this is correctly exposed. Once you know where you're setting up your tripod and you're happy with your exposures, then go again with the spinning.

 

Sunset nightscape photography at Dungeness BeachTake test shots - the sky was pitch to the human eye, but a long exposure test revealed all this detail! 30sec f2.8 ISO100 17mm

Camera Settings

As mentioned in part 1, it's best if you're in manual mode. This allows you to completely control your photo, especially the extent to which you're exposing the background. I took shots mainly at 30 seconds, as it allowed for enough movement to come from the wire wool. You will need to remind your spinner to keep spinning until the shutter has closed, even if the wire wool has burnt out, as the glowing whisk will become part of the image at this stage. This does mean that you could easily go slightly shorter, perhaps trying 20 or 25 seconds, but make sure you adjust your aperture accordingly to ensure a good exposure of the background (take test shots!). I kept ISO at 100 to reduce any unwanted noise from the background, and as the burning wool could overexpose the shot otherwise. Your aperture will then determine how exposed you want the shot/background to be. I've included all settings on the spinning images in the article, so have a look through to get an idea of what I used. When you come to set up your first shot, focusing will be an issue in the dark. This is where your trusty torch comes into play. Shine your torch at something in shot, and focus on that. If you have live view on your camera, I would recommend switching to this and zooming in on the point you're focusing on. I'd also switch to manual focusing to get the best lock onto your lit up target. In the shots on this post, I shone the torch at the boat and then manually focused on the prow in zoomed live view, this allowed me to easily adjust without worrying about losing the focus after the shot. Once you've set your focus, definitely switch to manual focusing, as you won't want to refocus now until you recompose the shot. If you're lucky enough to own a camera with back-button focusing, you won't need to worry about that. Having focused well, make sure to turn off your torch or you'll end up with some of your shot horribly overexposed.

Try different things

The amount of different things you can try only depend on the amount of wire wool you brought with you (a couple of packs will almost certainly give you plenty of experimentation). Do seek out different settings in the location you've chosen. Try different camera angles. Go wide on a test shot and see how the night sky's looking on a 30 second exposure. Get your spinner to move along a proscribed path. Spin at a different angle. The possibilities are vast, if not endless, and I look forward to seeing what you can come up with!  

Wire wool spinning photography at Dungeness BeachComing in close can capture some great bounced sparks too! 30sec f6.3 ISO100 24mm Wire wool spinning photography at Dungeness BeachIf you're conifdent with the fireproof proerties of your surroundings, try bouncing off walls, or boats... 30secs f6.3 ISO100 24mm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wire wool spinning photography at Dungeness BeachExperiement, we tried this flat spin to see how far sparks would fly before going for the close up. We realised we could still get pretty close, and that the sky was losing detail at the shorter exposure. 20secs f4.0 ISO100 17mm

 

Wire wool spinning photography at Dungeness BeachRemember to tell your spinner to turn off their torch! 48secs (bulb mode) f2.8 ISO100 17mm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summary

Kit List

    Camera you can use in manual
    Tripod
    Protective Filter
    Shutter release cable
    Protective Clothing
    Warm Clothing
    Torch
    Hot drink
    Water
    Wire Wool - Superfine
    Whisk
    String
    Battery

Steps on the night

    Check area free from public and hazards
    Tie string to whisk and stuff with wire wool
    Light with battery
    Test spin to find safe distance
    Set up camera
        Manual mode approx. 20-30s exposure, ISO 100, aperture to fit background exposure
    Test shots of background
    Spin and shoot
    Adjust settings and tripod as necessary and repeat

Happy spinning, I'd love to see some shots if you manage to take any, and please do add your own hints and tips below.

 

Disclaimer: Spinning wire wool and taking photographic images of spinning wire wool are both dangerous activities and enacted at your own risk. Chris Potter Photography takes no responsibility for any injury sustained whilst following the advice of this article.

 

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chrispotterphotography@gmail.com (Chris Potter Photography) fire guide how to movement night night photography photography wire wool photography http://chrispotterphotography.uk/blog/2015/11/how-to-photograph-wire-wool-spinning Sun, 22 Nov 2015 09:57:38 GMT
How to photograph wire wool spinning - Part one of two: Preparation http://chrispotterphotography.uk/blog/2015/11/spinning-wire-wool At heart, I'm a bit of a pyromaniac. Through a misspent youth, I managed to get myself into circus skills long before I became an avid photographer. Whilst my fire spinning days are largely behind me, it seemed like a fantastic idea to get out with some wire wool and try my hand at a few shots. Judge for yourself, but I was pretty happy with what I managed. Having received a few requests from friends for tips on how to take their own, it seemed like a good idea to write a rough guide on at least how I did things. I know a lot of these have been done, but some specific tips were asked on my photos and this was more complete than repeating myself or missing things I'm aware of out. This is not exhaustive advice, nor does it constitute a safe way to spin wire wool, which is obviously done at your own risk. Please do add your own experiences in comments below, I'm sure you've thought of things I won't have done. This is the first part of a two part guide, if you've already got your equipment in order and are more interested in camera settings, head over to part 2.

Wire Wool Spinning Photography at Dungeness BeachOne of the first spins of the night. I started far and wide to assuage any fears of a melted camera.

Be prepared

Ever the scout, preparation is key to your success. There are only a few things you really need to get some great shots of wire wool, I'll try to group them together to make things as simple as possible.

  1. A great location Black and White Photography, reflection at Dungeness BeachDungeness Beach, stony and largely free of pedestrians.

          There are many things that make a great location. It could be that you want a beautiful backdrop to your spinning, it could be that you want some shelter from the elements in a hostile climate, but the absolute paramount factor in my opinion is safety. You must ensure that you are spinning somewhere that you, and anyone/thing else, will not be harmed by your spinning. Wire wool is not the same as a sparkler, you are going to be sending small pieces of molten metal flying in all directions around you. I'll discuss your safety below, but please ensure that you're spinning somewhere that's clear of people, and you won't set fire to. All my shots in this post were taken on Dungeness Beach, in Kent. This is a beach covered in large stones and wrecked boats. It's great for gloomy shots, but more importantly, it's eerily deserted and everything's damp. Please also make sure when you get to your site that you check around you for trip hazards. You will be able to see little else when spinning the wire wool, so if you move around at all, you want to be confident you want dive off a cliff or over a tree stump.

  1. Personal Equipment

          Never spin alone! Whilst there's nothing technically stopping this from working, it's just bad sense to take yourself off and try to manage a camera whilst potentially setting fire to yourself. It should start to become clear to you that my main priority is safety and comfort, I'd rather you came back with rubbish photos but intact, than you get a great shot of you setting fire to a small wood. In order to make yourself as comfortable as possible on the night (if you're trying daylight spinning, do let me see the results) you're going to want to take a few things with you. The most important of these is a torch. You're going to be adjusting camera settings, stuffing and lighting wool, as well as checking what's around you and possibly even light painting (perhaps another post). You're also going to need some light safety equipment for whoever you've got spinning the wool. Remember that wire wool fragments can burn, you want to cover your spinners face and skin as much as possible, and have them out of synthetic clothing. Heavier fabrics like denim should repel the wool easily, but don't wrap up in an 80's style shell suit and then start setting fire to things. Having been sensible and enlisted a friend, one of you will be over with the cameras while the wool's being spun, and if you're shooting anywhere like the UK, the nights will be cold, thus one of you will get pretty chilly whilst gazing at a fire encircled friend. To this end, wrap up warm (I'd recommend fingerless gloves for ease of camera operation) and if you're being incredibly sensible, a flask of your favourite hot drink wouldn't go amiss. (The hipflask should wait, you're kind of in charge of someone's safety). You may wish to take a bottle of water as well, just in case there are any small fires.

  1. Spinning Equipment

          There aren't too many things you actually need to spin wire wool. You'll need some wire wool/steel wool, at the finest grade you can get. I loved the naming of superfine, but you want ultrafine (also a great name) or grade 0000. This will tear apart easily, without cutting you to shreds (pull carefully, it's still slivers of metal) and should burn well as long as you don't pack it too hard. You'll also need a balloon whisk, this will serve as the caddy or holder for your wire wool. You are going to end up destroying this whisk (it will contain molten metal, in case you'd forgotten), so I'd pick up a cheap one from the shops, rather than raiding the kitchen. You'll also need something to attach to the whisk in order to spin it. This can be cable, a chain, or you could just use string as I do. This will need to be checked between spins, but should hold out fine. (If it does burn through, though very unlikely, at least you're in a nicely remote location - see tip 1) The final thing you'll need is something to light the wool with. You could use matches or a lighter, but the more reliable method is a 9V battery. Briefly touching both terminals to your wool should start a smoldering which will quickly catch.

  1. Photography Equipment Wire Wool Spinning Photography and Astrophotography at Dungeness BeachA long exposure can enable you to capture more of the surrounding landscape.

          This is actually a very simple section to write. You'll need a camera that you can control the shutter speed of. I assume you're using a CSC or DSLR or you probably wouldn't be trying to take these kind of shots, but you could use a phone with appropriate app if you're keen (please let me know how this goes). You're going to want a very long exposure without blowing out your image, so manual or bulb modes are ideal. You may not want an exposure over 30 seconds, so you may not need bulb mode. All the images on this post were taken in manual. You'll also need a tripod. Long exposures with crisp images are simply not possible at this kind of time scale without a tripod. That's it for the bare essentials, though I'd highly recommend some sort of protector/UV filter just in case an errant piece of wire wool hits your lens, and potentially a cable release. The cable release isn't at all necessary from a technical point of view, but is a nice luxury to save you from introducing camera shake, or constantly bending down to your camera. I'd also recommend you take at least one spare battery. Long exposures drain batteries much quicker than you might expect, and the cold can really cut down on batteries' performance. Keep the spare in a pocket to keep it warm and hopefully they should see you through.


Ok, so you've got your tripod on order, you're starting to hunt down abondoned warehouses, and you're thinking about where your closest B&Q is; when you've got your stuff together, head over to part 2 for tips on how to catch the photos on the night!

Suggested Kit List

    Camera you can use in manual
    Tripod
    Protective Filter
    Shutter release cable
    Protective Clothing
    Warm Clothing
    Torch
    Hot drink
    Water
    Wire Wool - Ultrafine/0000
    Whisk
    String
    Battery

Disclaimer: Spinning wire wool and taking photographic images of spinning wire wool are both dangerous activities and enacted at your own risk. Chris Potter Photography takes no responsibility for any injury sustained whilst following the advice of this article.

 

 

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chrispotterphotography@gmail.com (Chris Potter Photography) fire spinning guide how to instructions night photography tips wire wool http://chrispotterphotography.uk/blog/2015/11/spinning-wire-wool Mon, 16 Nov 2015 06:20:21 GMT
Remembrance Sunday http://chrispotterphotography.uk/blog/2015/11/remembrance-day Selective Colour Photography of Red Poppies at Lochnagar Crater - Battle of the SommePoppies at Lochnager Crater

It's been a while since I posted, but with today being Remembrance Sunday, I thought I'd share some shots I took earlier this year around Ypres and the Somme. I was always involved with Remembrance Parades as a child, through Scouts and Cadets; I can remember the cold mornings playing the bugle at a local village service, or on parade in the public gardens at home in Braintree as a young boy. I always felt very proud to be actively involved in the act of remembrance, though no one in my family has served since the last world war. My grandad was in the fleet air arm, but like many I'm sure, hasn't really talked to us about the war. As he gets older (he's 92 now) he has started to share more with us, such as when he served in the UK driving round collecting downed aircraft for repair. Of his time abroad, he speak little, but I know he always thinks fondly of those he served with and for.

The following shots are from a trip with a school, serving to educate students who may never have heard 'war stories' from their grandparents. As their history teacher reflected at the time, the statistics of the war mean little to us, the numbers are too much to comprehend. I was particularly impressed with this trip focusing on individuals, telling the current students stories of the boys who served, including some from their own school. It was deeply moving to stand with members of the same school and hear the school report for the boy buried in front of us. Hopefully this empathy will keep those who come to learn of the wars from repeating the mistakes of the past.

School Photograph and Gravestone of first world war soldierGrave and Photograph of Brentwood School Pupil

Black and White Photography of German war graves at Langemark CemetaryMass Graves at Langemark German Cemetary

Landscape Photography of Memorial of Brooding Soldier at Vancouver CornerThe Brooding SoldierMemorial at Vancouver Corner, the site of the first gas attack, suffered by the Canadian First Division Landscape Photography of memorial and war graves at Theipval MemorialJoint allied graves at Thiepval, the memorial to the missing. Photograph of War grave and rose at Essex Farm Dressing station and cemetaryGrave and Rose in Essex Farm dressing station, where 'In Flander Fields' was penned. Photograph of War graves and Roses at Tyne Cott Cemetary - WW1Memorial Wall at Tyne Cott Cemetary

 

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chrispotterphotography@gmail.com (Chris Potter Photography) WW1 battlefields cemetary graves poppies poppy remembrance somme war ypres http://chrispotterphotography.uk/blog/2015/11/remembrance-day Sun, 08 Nov 2015 16:57:59 GMT
GB rafting needs your help! http://chrispotterphotography.uk/blog/2015/9/gb-rafting-needs-your-help It was my absolute pleasure a couple of weeks ago to travel up to the Lee Valley White Water Centre near London to do some action sports photography for the GB R6 (six person) Whitewater Rafting Team.  Whilst I'm sure many of us have had a go in a raft, and probably some of you have even sworn about a raft bearing down on you when sitting in an eddy, it was exceptional to see a team really put the craft through its paces properly.

Sports photography of team GB men's white water kayaking team and Lee Valley White Water Center

The GB rafting teams, despite training exceptionally hard, are self funding. They already have some sponsors, but were keen to get some shots together in order to attract further publicity and funding.

The team are intending to compete in this year's World Championships in Indonesia, but need support to be able to afford this. As well as the team hopefully being able to use my shots, I have set up a gallery for anyone interested in donating to their cause. If you buy any prints from this gallery, 90% of the profits will go directly to the team. Dan has set up a gofundme page if you'd like to donate but don't want a print, anything you can give them to help would be appreciated.

Sports photography of team GB men's white water kayaking team and Lee Valley White Water Center - Action shot

Whilst at the course, we had the opportunity to photograph competitors training for the world canoe slalom championships as well, do check out the gallery.

If you're part of a sports team or are organising an event and need a photographer, please do contact me to discuss your needs.

I was fortunate enough to be joined by some excellent colleagues to aid in the photoshoot who I must thank: Tom Jeavons, Laura Caiels and Jodi Hanagan (all available at reasonable price!)

 

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chrispotterphotography@gmail.com (Chris Potter Photography) essex events funding hertfordshire kent lee valley london photography publicity rafting shoot south east sponsorship sports whitewater http://chrispotterphotography.uk/blog/2015/9/gb-rafting-needs-your-help Tue, 08 Sep 2015 14:53:06 GMT