Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Exhibition at The Whitehouse Gallery

About 18 months ago, I had the opportunity to do a series of photos with Alexandra – a retired professional ballet dancer.

At 66 years old she still had the toning and suppleness of someone decades her junior. Here was a chance to capture the beauty and elegance of the human form, which was not about youth, but maturity and experience.

Setting up a black background, I placed a single light behind and to one side of Alexandra as she glided through a series of poses and movements. As the burst of the flash was too fast for the human eye to register what was being caught, I tethered the camera to a laptop computer so I could see the results of each click.

After the session I converted the images to black and white, and darkened down the shadows until just the highlights remained, creating images where the light, line and form were all now minimised and accentuated. The lines flow, the graceful body is partially visible and the mind fills in the missing details.

I ended up with a series of amazing images that took my breath away, but I’ve never quite known what to do with them. They don’t fit into any of the usual categories for marketing and promoting my business, so they’ve pretty much just sat on my computer apart from occasionally putting one into an online photo competition.

However, recently the Galloway Photographic Collective – a group of professional photographers I belong to – were asked to put together an exhibition for The Whitehouse Gallery in Kirkcudbright.

Photography is not usually something they sell, but from Feb 4th to March 4th, they have turned over the entire ground floor to displaying images from the Collective.

We were asked to produce photos that ideally hadn’t been seen before and had more of an art feel to them.

I realised I finally had the opportunity to show off these images of Alexandra.

I have printed 5 of them up at A1 size – about 60cm x 84cm – and on block mounts. Modesty thrown out the window, I have to say they look stunning, and I’m really looking forward to seeing them all together on the walls of the gallery.

If you can make it along to Kirkcudbright this Saturday at 11am, there will be drinks and nibbles and various members of the Collective, including me, on hand to chat about our work.

It would be lovely to see you if you can.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

A Manfrotto Something...

“It’s here!”

“What is?”

“My prize!”

“What prize?”

“The one for the butler pic I put into the Photocrowd competition!”

“What is it?”

“A Manfrotto something...”

“What ‘something’? Don’t you know what you’ve won?”

“I can’t quite remember… it was a couple of months ago I entered. The box says Manfrotto on it.”

“Well what do Manfrotto make?”

“They’re mostly known for their camera tripods, but I don’t think that was the prize…”

“There’s an easy way to find out.”


“Why don’t you just open the box?”

And so it was that I discovered I’d won a pretty nifty Manfrotto RedBee-210 backpack designed specifically for travelling with your camera gear, with plenty of room for camera, lenses, batteries and even a small laptop and tablet.

Images courtesy of Amazon.co.uk

A couple of months ago, I saw a photo competition at Photocrowd.com, in association with PhotoPlus Magazine, called “Time for Tea.” I decided one of the images from the Craufurdland Castle shoot would be my best shot, and duly entered it.

Just before Christmas I was delighted to discover I’d actually won!


And the prize arrived this morning.

It’s the perfect size for cabin luggage when you’re flying, which would have ideal when I went to Morocco back in November.

However, the timing is still isn’t bad as my current camera bag is feeling its age and the stitching is coming loose on one of the shoulder straps.

Thank you Photocrowd, PhotoPlus, and Manfrotto!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

2016 in Photographs (and videos)

Since 2009, at the beginning of January I've always posted my favourite photos of the previous year. Since we're well into January now, I thought it time to do it again.

You can find previous ones here: 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009

There's a varied selection, so hopefully something for everyone. 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.


Wildlife photography is not my strong point - most of my attempted images are of the backs of the animals as they disappear into the undergrowth or are flying away. Squirrels in particular are notoriously difficult to catch in the wild, so I was delighted to capture this shot.
For more about this shot, click through to this blog post:

Roots Cahoot

It's always fun to create a shot where you don't take it all in at first glance, but need to explore the photo to build the layers of story.
For more about this shoot, click through to this blog post:

Iona Barker

Iona runs workshops on sewing, textiles and design in Glasgow, Edinbugh, Dundee and Aberdeen. She even spent some time as head of wardrobe at the Hydro Arena in Glasgow, where she worked with the likes of Beyoncé, Prince and Dolly Parton. I was asked to photograph her for Dumfries and Gallwoay Life magazine.
For more about this shoot, click through to this blog post:


Early spring, just before the leaves are thinking about coming out, I was wandering through the woods looking for shapes and lines and loved the way the sun was hitting the web from behind.

Rural Mural

So much fun doing this fashion shoot for textile artist, Morag Macpherson. A full team of models, hairdressers and makeup artist was required for it. I also had friends along to video it

For more about this shoot, click through to this blog post:

Craufurdland Castle

Simeon Rosset is a genuine freelance butler and can be hired to add class to any occasion. For this shoot we were in the library of a genuine Scottish Castle.
For more about this shoot, click through to this blog post:

Eden Festival

Without doubt, Eden is one of the best music festivals in Scotland, and one of the things that makes it a photographer's dream is at least half the people (probably more) who attend enjoy dressing up.
For more about this shoot, click through to this blog post:

Moniave Manga

Another full team shoot, with even more models and hairdressers, this time at Moniaive Comic Festival and inspired by Manga styling. Again, the video will give you a fuller sense of the experience.

For more about this shoot, click through to this blog post:

Judging the Competition

I was asked to judge a photo competition at The Stove in Dumfries. I took this shot of fellow judges, Elisabeth and Martin, enjoying the back light coming through the windows

Robyn Stapleton at Comlongon Castle

Another team shoot to get this image, involving hairdresser, makeup artist, singer/model, and an owl. Huge fun. Once again, I managed to drag a friend along to video it:

For more about this shoot, click through to this blog post:

Alex Kapranos at the Firefly Festival

Back in "Scotland's Coolest Village", Moniaive, to photograph the Firefly Festival. Alex Kapranos, who heads Franz Ferdinand, made a guest appearance on the set of The Amphetaminies.

Earth's Crust Bakery

Earth's Crust Bakery creates the most wonderful artisan bread in 500 miles or more. After their original garden-shed based business burned down, they set up in town and have grown from strength to strength. I did this shoot for them in exchange for a year's supply of bread...
For more about this shoot, click through to this blog post:

Primal Scream at Electric Fields

Another festival - this time Electric Fields, headlined by Primal Scream. Was quite pleased with this one of lead singer, Bobby Gillespie.

Meg's Hair

Regular readers of my blog just wouldn't feel any collection of my photos would be complete without at least one of my daughter, Meg.
For more about this shot, click through to this blog post:

Desert Sunrise

At the beginning of November I had an brilliant trip out to Morocco, which  included staying overnight in the desert. Watching the sunrise over the dunes was unforgettable (although I had to take photos so I wouldn't forget...)
For more about this experience, click through to this blog post:

Selfie on a Camel

After that sunrise, we rode back on camels. Very sore on the rear, but one of the most amazing experiences. Although I'm not usually a great fan of selfies, this one does put a smile on my face.

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 2017.

Sunday, January 01, 2017

The Immortal Australopithecus

I'm in the process of revamping my study/studio and sorting through piles of paper that have been sitting around for years.

At a time when so many people have been reflecting on the number of famous deaths this past year, and an ensuing sense of mortality, it was interesting to come across a short story I wrote several years ago about the notion of immortality, and whether it might not be all it's cracked up to be...

Happy New Year!


Four million years ago, the devil offered him immortality, which he gladly took.

For a hundred thousand years he ruled his tribe. For five hundred thousand more he was responsible for many great empires.

He survived ice ages, the rise and fall of the oceans, the spreading of deserts and immense floods.

Eventually none of his species survived: he outlived them all.

Then he outlived other, younger species, although their evolved abilities began to make things more difficult.

Even the Neanderthals were beyond him. Unable to understand their more complex syntax and grammar, he struggled to keep up with their conversations.

All he had to fall back on was instincts and experience, neither of which could prevent him feeling a deep loneliness.

The final insult was the development of touch-screen phones, which were never designed for thumbs as large as his...