Tuesday, January 28, 2014


I headed out at the weekend to do a photo shoot for the band, Brynovsky - a three-piece group producing a Reggae fusion sound.

Songwriter and producer, Tim, was after an uncomplicated shot of the three of them to use for promotional purposes, and if the weather had been OK photos would probably have been taken outside up against a plain wall.

Unfortunately it was strong winds and heavy rain all day - pretty much as it has been for most of the past 3 months - so Tim had phoned around to find an indoor space we could use.

A friend of his lives in a large house that used to be a hotel, about a mile outside the village. Left relatively untouched from its 1970s glory days is a function room decked out in a faux-Hawaiian décor with an indoor swimming pool. There was even a white baby-grand piano in one corner.

But while my mind instantly started racing with possibilities, I had to ditch them as fast as they appeared. While it was a great set, it wasn't suitable for the kind of photo wanted. Instead we had to hunt around and move stacks of chairs to find a plain white-walled corner to get the shot required.

Tim, Leroy and Idana

Despite the tropical theme of the room, it was not warm and coats stayed on the entire time. However, before we left I was determined to get some kind of pool-side shot, and fortunately the band were kind enough to indulge me.

Wish You Were Here...

At some point I hope I'll have the opportunity to really make the most of that space.

Brynovsky website: http://www.brynovsky.co.uk/
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/brynovsky

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Next year we'll do things differently

Every year we swear next year we'll do things differently.

Every year we curse ourselves for not having done things differently after all.

Every year most of January is written off because we didn't do things differently.

If we just gathered up our receipts at the end of each week and put them into a plastic bag, it would take us 2 minutes

If at the end of each month we matched the receipts to the bank statement and entered them into the spreadsheet, it would take 15 minutes.

If we dealt with it when the credit card statement came through covering the last part of the tax year, we could file our tax return in the middle of May and it would take 20 minutes.

But because we do none of these things the resultant hunting, stressing, finding, stressing, sorting, stressing, inputting, stressing, matching, stressing, tallying, stressing, double-checking, stressing, and submitting takes up way too much time and, if you hadn't guessed, it more than a little stressful.

The tax return has now been submitted.

Of course, next year we'll do things differently.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

ME, CFS, BBC Alba and Mickel Therapy

BBC Alba has just run repeats of the 2 episodes Trusadh - ME: The Toxic Tiredness - which I took part in.

The programme is about ME/CFS (Myalgic Encephalopathy/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome): the effects on people living with it, the variation in acceptance by the medical profession as to whether it exists or not, and possible causes. It also follows a couple of us as we go through a controversial treatment, Mickel Therapy.

It's 2 years since it was originally shown, meaning it's close to 2½ years since I began the therapy - which consisted mostly of 1 hour talks, via Skype, with Dr Mickel over a period of several weeks.

Although I would not say I'm 100% better, I am considerably improved on where I was before I began the Mickel Therapy.

Because we tend to normalise whatever state we're in, sometimes I forget just how bad I was. For more than 5 years, this debilitating condition ruled my every waking moment. But revisiting it by watching the programmes and then going over my old blog posts I can see just how far I've come since then.

And the biggest thing is the realisation I no longer live in fear of the soul-wrenching tiredness and the deep concern that my life was all but over and I was just treading water until I died.

For those who have an interest in the condition, the TV programme and/or my experience and understanding of Mickel Therapy, I have put together a set of links to YouTube versions of the programme and to blog posts where I go into detail about these things. And if you really want to immerse yourself in it, do read the comments of those posts too where sometimes ideas are expanded or debated by people who have other points of view.

The experience of being filmed for a TV programme
ME, me, and Gaelic TV

The Trusadh TV Programmes (largely in Gaelic with English Subtitles) via YouTube
ME: The Toxic Tiredness (Part 1)
ME: The Toxic Tiredness (Part 2)

My definition of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
What is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

What the experience of ME/CFS felt like for me
Fatigued. Chronically.
Travelling at the speed of life
Win some; lose some: you’re a lost cause

Dealing with a little bit of prejudice within the ME community
ME and CFS - is one more real than the other?

My understanding and interpretation of Mickel Therapy
Who's in Charge? (note - although this post doesn't explicitly mention MT, it is important for laying down the foundations of understanding)
What is different about Mickel Therapy? Part 1
What is different about Mickel Therapy? Part 2
What is different about Mickel Therapy? Part 3

If you have any questions, then feel free to ask.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

2013 in Photographs

It has become something of a tradition over the past few years to offer up a selection of my favourite photos over the previous 12 months (see - 2012, 2011, 2010 and 2009 for past selections).

There's quite a range, so hopefully something for everyone - although I don't expect anyone to like them all. However, I'm always interested in feedback, so if you'd care to leave a comment about which one(s) are your favourite, or any personal observations, it would be warmly appreciated.

As always, you can click on the images to see larger versions

A Drunk Man Dances With a Lamppost

I've photographed the poet, David Mark Williams, a few times, but back in January we decided to create a shot based on one of his poems, A Drunk Man Dances With a Lamppost. The image I had in my head utterly failed to take into consideration that lampposts are usually several meters high, so if I included the whole post and light, then he would appear tiny in the final image. The solution was to find an angle that showed one behind him so the viewer would then fill in the gaps. It was a cold winter night and we were glad to finally climb back in the car and whack the heating on full (more on this photo, including the poem, can be found here)


I'd seen some interesting long-exposure photos taken from a moving vehicle, so decided I'd give it a go by placing my camera on the dashboard of my car and setting the shutter speed for a 10 second exposure. I took about 40 photos on the drive home from Dumfries and they were nearly all complete crap. This one, however, kept drawing me back to it. I'm still not entirely sure what it is, but this photo really does it for me.

Winter Birches

There's an interesting technique of intentional blur that a couple of local landscape photographers use, where you deliberately jolt the camera as you click. Unlike the 10 second exposure used above, this one was done at 1/8th of a second of a patch of birch trees in the snow. It made me go "oooh..." (more from the walk I took on that day can be found here)


Out for a walk in the woods with my daughter, Meg, I suddenly asked her to stand still as I was struck by a beautiful shaft of light coming through the trees. She tossed her head slightly to clear the hair from her face and it gave me the idea to exaggerate the movement. We did it several times, but this was my favourite.

Winter Trees

I was actually trying to take some photos of some swans on the loch while it was snowing, but then noticed the way the tree shapes were highlighted by the snow on the branches. Believe it or not, this is a colour photo...


There's something about back-lighting which makes me go gooey. Out in the woods for a walk again and the light hitting the mossy twigs and branches was just magical.


At Spring Fling I had an event called "I'm Humphrey Bogart and So's My Wife", where visitors to my studio could, if they wanted, be photographed as the Hollywood legend. In the end, 127 people decided to go for it. But a couple of months earlier I needed an photo for publicity purposes, and the wonderful Alice Frances came to my aid to help me work out angles, lighting and to give me a striking image (you can find out more on how it went over Spring Fling here)

Snow Shoes

In March the snow returned. I was wandering down the street heading for the loch to see if I could find any interesting patterns when I noticed someone who didn't appear to be dressed for the weather...

Tomb Raider

Gina's husband is a Tomb Raider fan, so for his 40th birthday she wanted to present him with a series of photos of her in the role of the heroine, Lara Croft. The red glow of the flame gives the illusion of heat, but the reality was it was a cold, damp day in April and between shots a thick jacket had to be put on (more on the Tomb Raider shoot can be found here)

The Castaway

When I asked writer and musician, Alan McClure, what kind of role he would like to be photographed in, he replied "castaway". We spent a couple of hours down at Carrick beach as the sun went down, trying out different angles and light. I love the colours in this along with the sense of expanse which was helped by use of a wide angle lens (more on the shooting of Castaway can be found here)

The Undefended Hour

When we did this shot for Anne Lindsay's book, The Undefended Hour, my first reaction was delight at how well it turned out. This was then followed by a stab of fear - I was so pleased with it, but what if I'd peaked? What if I wouldn't be able to reach this standard again? It remains my favourite photo of the year (more on The Undefended Hour shoot - including a colour version - can be found here)


Blue is a singer, musician and songwriter, and is bringing out a new album in the next month or two. We'd done a few standard head shots which we were happy with so I decided to play with the wide angle lens and was really pleased with how this turned out.

The Smoker

My friend, Andy, had converted a building at the back of his garden into a photo studio. I'd been meaning to investigate for some time. He's got a wonderful array of lights and we spent the evening playing with them and taking photos of each other. I knew I wanted to try a shot with lots of shadow, but a back-light with smoke drifting through it. I made him smoke far more cigarettes than he usually would while I tried to capture this shot. I don't think his lungs will thank me, but in the end I got the image I wanted.

The Yahs

The Yahs are great fun - good driving, rock n roll and they know how to get a crowd going. The 2 photos above were taken at a gig in a tiny room in a pub. Space was so tight the audience were sometimes only inches away from the band. Despite the cramped conditions and poor light, I manged to get these atmospheric shots and experienced a considerable *smug" moment when looking at them on the computer screen the following day.

The Yahs Album Cover

As well as being damn fine musicians, The Yahs are playful and have a sense of the theatrical, which meant when we came to shoot their album cover they were the perfect models - happy to absorb themselves into the appropriate roles (more about this photo can be found here)


Wandering around a harbour at high tide, I kept seeing lines and shapes in the water, which I found particularly appealing (more from that shoot here)

Last of The Autumn Leaves

Sunlight hitting a handful of leaves, just clinging on as Autumn draws to a close - irresistible... (more from this shoot can be found here)

Wedding Dress

When a client said she had a red wedding dress that she could still fit into, and not far from the house was a gnarled old hawthorn tree with a wonderful view, all we had to do was wait for a day when the light was right (more about how this photo came about can be found here).


A wee bonus pic taken just before the New Year - another shaft of sunlight illuminating a mossy seedling.

I hope you've enjoyed my selection - please leave a comment below with any thoughts or observations, and let me know your favourite.

Wishing each and every one of you all the very best for 2014