Sunday, 28 December 2014

Website design

This year I was the official photographer for the Country d'Yv music festival held in Yvonand, Switzerland.

Various images of me at work by Ron Williams

An offshoot of that job was that the organisers asked me to also completely revamp their website. I already had enough images so it was simply a matter of creating something visually appealing and making use of audio and video as well.

The new Bluebird music band website can be found here.

I'd love your feedback. Have a great 2015 and thanks as always for visiting.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Funnies. Lost in translation (Part 3 of three)

So here we are again as promised. part three of my humourous and at times nonsensical images that (sometimes ) bring a smile.

The last two started here.

Everyday life. Out and about with a camera.

 This office wants every user to use a password
"for  security" purposes, then sticks the password 
onto the PC itself! (I've masked the password here).

A shop selling PC's in Olten has the Windows
 serial number on its display models.

A advert on the train for a spray to 
clean your sex toys. it was, however,
 the "Safe your body" clanger that irked 

Cannabis ice tea from the vending machine

Every time I think of this I think that 
it's a polite way of saying P**S OFF

 This caught my attention on the autobahn 
(nope. I wasn't driving at the time)

 Fitness club outside of the town of Aarau

This is very strange. Either they installed the 
bench facing the wrong way or the trees grew
after the bench was installed. This is near the 
hospital in Olten.

Again, thanks for taking the time to read this. Normal service (i.e. photography related articles) will begin appearing as normal, shortly.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Funnies. Lost in translation (Part 2 of three)

So here it is. Amusing (to me anyway) images that I've recorded over the years. Some were taken with a "real" camera and some with the telephone built in to my mobile phone. To read part one, please check out this link.

This selection, as promised in the last article is entitled  "Lost in translation". I call it that because when I come across these situations, I first read them as an English speaking person and then "switch"  my brain over to the language in which they are meant to be understood.

So what I'm trying to say is that readers of this article who's mother language is English will probably get more of a laugh out of this than the others. I'd love to hear your comments.

So without further ado.

 When parking near Bellinzona, you'll find it easy to remember 
the name of the car park!

It simply means "Swiss shower" but nevertheless
would raise a giggle or two if seen travelling on a 
UK motorway.

Three from the television.

Three from the supermarket

Looters? Seriously?

I'm wondering if this tea produces explosive 

 Is this tea for salty sea dogs or pirates?

This is the strangest one. Is the product 
actually free from French dressing? Is 
it something that people with an allergic 
reaction to French dressing can safely 

That's it for now. The final part of this silly little collection will appear next Monday the 13th October 2014. You have been warned! Then it's back to normal photography related posts including my views on my new Canon 100 - 400 L zoom which I'll be testing in Sardinia.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Funnies (Part 1 of three)

Wow! it's been a while since I last posted anything. This has been due to my almost constant search for work. Things seem to be improving now with freelance stuff, website building and teaching jobs and I think it's time to post something.

Back in the day when I first started my photographic life, I would be constantly on the lookout for humorous images for the likes of "Weekend Magazine" or "Titbits". these magazines paid £20 - £30 pounds per image. That doesn't happen anymore but I am still constantly on the lookout for something interesting, unusual or funny to record with whatever camera I have available.

The funnies usually fall into one of the following categories: Swiss-German use of the English language, Spelling mistakes and something that I call "Lost in translation".

I have gathered lots of these and don't want to use them all in one blog post so I will present today, the " Swiss-German use of the English language, " section.

I was inspired to do so after seeing the creeping use of English words into Swiss everyday life. Diccon Bewes mentioned this in his Swiss Watching blog here.

I have noticed that the Swiss are using more and more Anglicisms in newspapers, television programmes and amongst themselves. 

If I see something that seems out of place, then I usually snap a picture of it so here we go with my first category.

Anglo Saxon terms (swear words)

Not averse to using  so called "Anglo Saxon" language.

This is an actual micro brewery name

Posters for three musical groups.

Don't sit in the front row if you go to watch 
"Daddy and the willy Shakers!"

I'm not sure if "King Mastino" and "Call me Peter"
 are a couple of "pretending bastards" or whether 
that's the name of a third act!

This is the ideal basketball hoop for a 
deprived neighbourhood.

 For several years, no-one noticed that 
the sign said Snake instead of "snacks"

 Spunk boutique in Basel

Do you really "Backside Illumination" as a 
feature on your new camera?


I've been seing this mistake on the Tram ticket machines 
in Basel for over ten years now. 

And finally. if you need an English word that doesn't exist, make your own!

That's it for now. part two will about words and phrases that somehow get "Lost in translation" and will appear next Monday the 29th of September.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, 21 July 2014

New look website

I decided to give my website a complete makeover to concentrate on the business side of things. I've taken out all images that weren't commissioned and produced (in my opinion) a leaner, more streamlined site that (hopefully) showcases the work that I do.  

It's all been done in HTML5 format so should therefore in theory, work with all devices including Apples.

Please take a look. I'd love to hear what you think. It can be found here.

Thanks for reading

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Fotografie Unterricht 2014

Ich habe endlich alles vorbereitet für meine kommenden Fotografieklassen.

Ich werde eine Vielfalt von Themen anbieten und gebe sogar Eins-zu-Eins Unterricht für diejenigen, die keine Zeit für "normale" Klassen haben.


Alle Details auf Deutsch sind hier zu finden: 

Ich freue mich darauf, euch zu sehen.

Danke fürs Lesen

Photography classes for 2014

I've finally finished all the preparations for my upcoming photography classes. 

There will be a range of subjects to choose from and I'm even offering a one to one class for those of you who don't have the time to attend a "normal" class.

All the details can be found in English here.

I look forward to seeing you.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

On location. Olten

A quick snap taken yesterday whilst on location doing interiors at a doctor's practice in Olten. I used the EOS5D MKII with a 17 - 40 for the room photographs and my EOS 7d with a 50 mm f1.4 was used for detail pics.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Oldies and goldies

It came to my attention recently that although I have worked a long time as a photographer, I have very few of my own images hanging on my walls.

This prompted me to search through my archives and select a number of images to print at A4 size, frame and hang on the walls in my sitting room. Surprisingly I settled for landscapes. That's surprising to me because I don't really consider myself to be a landscape photographer.

Landscapes seem to be a very calming subject and I really like the look of them in their frames, which I purchased from a charity shop. I gave each image a two inch (5cm) light blue border in the frame which i think adds to the calming effect of the image

I also like a lot of shots that I took vertically so I'll be searching for a multi picture frame soon.

Here are the three images I chose. All were taken within 15 minutes of my home. There will be more later.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Tilt and shift

About a year and a half ago, I purchased a Canon TS-E 24mm f3.5 lens. A so called tilt and shift lens.

I bought it (second hand and in excellent condition) because I'd been shooting previously with a Sinar and a Rollei SL66 in the studio, which both have T&S capabilities and I wanted to be able to replicate the effect with my DSLR without resorting to computer trickery  .

  Sinar in the studio with the movements showing

Unfortunately my use of the lens was confined to testing it quickly in a car park when I met the guy who was selling it. We both lived far away from each other and agreed on a point midway where I could quickly test the lens before handing over the money.   

My method for testing a lens is this. 

  • I give the lens a visual inspection. I look for dust, dirt scratches etc on the lens. There were none.
  • Then I attached it to my camera and made a series of shots of the same subject in unchanging light using aperture priority. I shot at every aperture from f3.5 (wide open) to f22 (fully stopped down). I then scroll through the previews pictures on the screen. They should all be uniformly exposed. If one isn't then there is the chance that the aperture blades are not functioning properly. 
  • Next test is the shoot at different distances and check (with the help of the screen again) if the pics are sharp.
  • The last test is only done if the lens is an autofocus type (this particular lens is manual focus). I shoot a series of images of the seller walking towards me to try out the servo focussing. It also gives me a pic of the seller, should there be any "difficulties" later  :)
The lens passed all the tests and I gladly handed the money over. When i got home I put the lens in my equipment drawer and promised to use it on my next job . . 

Fast forward eighteen months later and I was wondering what to take pictures of on my free Sunday. I remembered the lens which was still sitting unused in my drawer. 

There's a beautiful mustard rape field about six minutes away from my house which is backed by part of the Jura mountain range. I decided to take a pic of this using the lens to get only the trees in focus.

I set the camera up on my trusty Benbo tripod and made sure that everything was level

This is NOT level

 The lens can also be rotated to use in vertical format 
 whilst still able to make use of all the movements.

After making a few test shots, I tilted the camera upwards and the lens downwards to give me the minimum amount of depth of field and I focussed using the live view mode to ensure that the trees were sharp. I ten took the picture (using self timer) at the minimum aperture.

Mustard rape. 1/3200sec @ f3.5 ISO 200
This pic is best viewed at full screen

I processed the RAW file in DPP and can honestly say that I'm pleased with the result. Unfortunately, there were no profiles for this particular lens so I used on instead for the 24mm f1.8 model.

I love playing with this particular piece of kit as it makes me stop and think about what I'm tying to achieve. Focus is manual and very precise. The live screen mode is recommended to be able to see what is happening. A good tripod is a must.

One person approached me whilst I was taking these images and informed me that the latest version of the lens is much better. I answered that just because Canon had replaced it didn't mean that it had suddenly gotten worse overnight!

There's a wonderful article by Keith Cooper over on the Northlight Images website about what exactly you can achieve with a T&S lens 

I'll be using it next month for an interior shoot that I have planned.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, 23 March 2014


Last week a client asked me to do some product shots that he needed in a hurry for a promotional campaign. He has ten pairs of sunglasses to photograph with the country flags on the lenses for each land competing in the forthcoming football world cup. Time was of the essence so I decided to shoot them in my front room.

 The products

Another friend recently asked for advice on using a Somikon "Studio Box"  which she'd recently purchased so I used the sunglasses as a test so that I could show here the results that can be obtained from this piece of equipment.

I set up the studio box on a table in my sitting room and placed the glasses on the bottom. Using my Canon 5d MKII with a 50mm lens and my Benbo tripod.

To prevent my constantly bending over to look through the viewfinder, I attached my camera to my Samsung Galaxy tablet using the free DSLRdashboard software which is available from the Google Play store. This software shows me the captured image and I can zoom in and out to check focus etc. The software also has the option to save the images onto the device itself or just on the memory card.

I started at nine o'clock and with the help of the software and a big display, I was able to move various reflectors and light blockers around until I had an image that the client wanted.

 1st set-up. Too many reflections

The set-up I ended up using.

Another piece of equipment that I put to use were my Phottix Odin wireless flash triggers. These are quite simply fantastic flash triggering devices. As they are wireless, they can fre the flash around corners and out of line of sight. With more than 2500 exposures i have not had one single misfire. You can also control the individual flash compensation by thirds of a stop. 

Glamour photographer Michael Zelbel also uses these triggers and have uploaded an interesting video about them. 

With the help of all these time saving devices I was able to get a good setup which I mailed to the client. He gave me the OK and I then photographed the next nine pairs.

After converting the CR2 RAW files into high resolution JPG's, I uploaded them to a website where I can apply clipping to make the background pure white.

Total time for the job was four and a half hours.

Here's one of the finished images.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Photography tutorials, classes and walks

The interest in photography classes has been great. Lots of folks it seems now have great quality cameras but are dissatisfied with the results they are getting.


I've now given two portrait classes and a three part series on beginners photography. There has been good feedback for the course members as well who liked my laid back approach to teaching (i.e less on the theory and more showing and explaining).

 I mixed classroom basic theory with practical "in the field" shooting.


On the last day, we spent two hours out and about before coming back to the classroom and discussing the results

There will hopefully be more classes, walks and groups in the near future but if you would like to learn more about a specific area of photography then please don't hesitate to contact me.

Thanks for reading.