Monday, 28 December 2015

Roger Lever - The Cruel Nature of Man

We see many wildlife films on TV these days which show animals killing other animals. We choose to watch or briefly look the other way because it looks terrible sometimes. We also watch movies showing human beings killing other human beings in the most horrific of circumstances. We read about the terrible things that man inflicts on his fellow human beings in the Middle East. And we wonder why?

In 1855 the American Indians and the American Buffalo were almost exterminated. Chief Seattle wrote something like this when the American President offered to buy their land.
"The Great Chief in Washington sends word that he wishes to buy our land. . . . But we will consider your offer, for we know if we do not . . . the white man may come with guns and take our lands. . . . How can you buy or sell the sky— the warmth of the land? The idea is strange to us. Yet we do not own the freshness of the air or the sparkle of the water. . . . Every part of this earth is sacred to my people. . . . When the buffaloes are all slaughtered, the wild horses all tamed, the secret corners of the forest heavy with the scent of many men, and the views of the ripe hills blotted by talking wires, where is the thicket? Gone. Where is the eagle? Gone."

"If all the beasts were gone, men would die from great loneliness of spirit, for whatever happens to the beast also happens to the man."

Is this what is happening to our world?

It doesn’t take much savvy to realise that we are the most cruel species on the planet yet at the same time the majority of the human population are essentially good. That’s quite an analogy.

Why am I writing about this subject on a photography blog at this time in the season of goodwill? Because I have just been reviewing the photographs I took of a dog which came in to my surgery a few years ago.
Some of you may have seen them or read about Rosie on my website.

Rosie 1 week after her near death experience.

For whatever reason (guilt usually) this little dog was stuffed into a bin liner and the end tied. Another bin liner was used on top of the first. The person/s in question then drove to Dumfries and chose to stop on the outskirts and proceeded to push the package under a bush in the middle of a traffic island. What mindset would do such a thing? A human being? Certainly not an animal. The intention to hide and kill slowly. No-one would ever find out. That then would absolve them of any wrong doing. Would it?

Rosie on top of Screel Hill about 6months after.

Rosie guarding my grandson on Mersehead Beach

Running free on a beach in Tiree

So the season of good will extends to animals as well as Man.
If you are thinking of getting a dog there are many lovely ones out there needing a loving home.

Contact Dogs Trust:
Dumfries and Galloway Canine rescue:

If you want to help protect persecuted wildlife I would suggest Big Life Foundation:

Have a Peaceful and Happy New Year

Roger Lever

Monday, 14 December 2015

Holly Burns - Road to Free Range!

Being a full time photographer requires much more than merely taking photographs. We must wear many different hats in order to become successful. It is not enough to simply rely on our technical abilities; we must become skilled at promoting ourselves too.

At City of Glasgow College, my 4th year honours class and I decided we would shoot for the stars for self promotion and aim for a spot at Free Range. Free Range is a special project in London that provides new creative graduates with the opportunity to showcase their work on an international level. It has become the number one platform for the next crop of creatives to showcase their work to both public and industry.

In order to raise the sizable amount of money in which it costs to exhibit there, firstly we decided to hold a photographic auction at Street Level Photoworks in Glasgow. We asked many photographers (including our tutors and ourselves) to donate works for auction.

We managed to come together as a group and curate this auction and raised an incredible £4000. We now look forward to arranging our exhibition at Free Range! I now know that we have a lot of work ahead of us.

Upon reflection, as a group we learned to successfully organise an event, to publicise and to put ourselves out there in order to attract buyers. We managed to successfully attract several key sponsors, including Deadly Digital, Tunnocks, Lidl and Street Level Photoworks and their imput proved invaluable.

Through my studies I have developed both my photographic skills and also essential business skills. With so much competition in the creative industry, our ability to publicise and promote ourselves is paramount and should never be considered secondary to our technical skills.

I’m really proud of our class that we managed to pull it all off and to have done it so well! I hope our combined efforts reap the benefits of self-promotion and achieve greater exposure.

Holly Burns

Monday, 7 December 2015

Unit Three Gallery, Bladnoch

Starting today, 3 members of GPC are taking part in an exhibition at the Unit Three Gallery in Bladnoch.

Unit Three is in the Bladnoch Bridge Estate, a former creamery that closed in the 1980s. It now serves as home to various creative industries - blacksmith, recording studio, 2 x record labels, book warehouse, artist studio and Dowling Stove Design. The large pillared gallery makes for one of the most intriguing spaces you will visit in the area.

Exhibiting from the Galloway Photographic Collective are Roger Lever, Kim Ayres and David Moses.

Roger is exhibiting his large 70cm square contemporary images of the Puffin and the Shag. An unusual perspective for these remarkable birds. These form part of his UP-CLOSE series of wildlife.

Kim is exhibiting work from his "Tales From The Shutter" series, where he constructs storytelling scenes - images that look like they could be film stills, movies posters or book covers.

David is exhibiting work from 2 series - 'Memory, Speak’ which is a perspective on small town life and travails in uncertain times. And also he will be showing work from ‘The Scots’ - a portrait series that invites us to look closer at the people around us.

The exhibition runs from 7th December 2015 through to the end of January 2016. The gallery is open Monday to Friday 10-4 and Saturdays by appointment.

Hope to see you there.

Monday, 30 November 2015

Kim Ayres - Album cover for Robyn Stapleton

Robyn Stapleton is an extraordinarily talented singer of traditional Scots and Irish songs.

Last year she won BBC Radio Scotland’s Young Traditional Musician of the Year and in Spring this year she released her debut album, Fickle Fortune.

I met Robyn last autumn when she took part in the photography I was doing for the Macmath project. Then earlier this year I received a phone call from her.

She had completed recording her album but didn't feel she had the right photo for the cover and wondered if I might be able to help.

Initially we talked about a narrative image, perhaps taking inspiration from one of the songs on the album - skipping barefoot through the heather had obvious appeal, but we were at the wrong time of year to make that happen.

We discussed the style of the music and the audience she was hoping to attract, which included keeping one eye on the international market (about 5 million people live in Scotland, but there are about 40 million people who live outwith Scotland who call themselves Scottish, or of Scottish descent).

Robyn has been blessed with striking Celtic looks - pale skin, blue eyes and wonderful curly red hair. In terms of branding for the music she sings, it doesn't get much better - so the more I thought about it, the more a close up headshot seemed to be the way to go. A simple, yet striking portrait.

These things are never as quick and easy as many people think they are, and the shoot took 2 or 3 hours as we played with lighting and expressions - although quite early on we realised a particular lighting style gave a painterly quality we liked. Far more time than the photo shoot was then taken in the editing afterwards as I played with subtle shifts in light, shadow and tone to enhance the effect we were after.

Robyn Stapleton by Kim Ayres

To say I was pleased with it would be an understatement - it captured everything I set out for, and then some. Fortunately Robyn was delighted with it too.

It's always a little bit odd, to see something I've created on a physical album cover, rather than in the back of the camera or on a computer screen. After it leaves my hands and is sent to the graphic designer, more adjustments are made to the image for style and practical considerations before sending it to print, so it's never identical. But I was thrilled to see it has worked out so well and had the impact we were seeking.

Fickle Fortune by Robyn Stapleton

I'm also delighted to tell you it sounds amazing too.

For more about Robyn Stapleton, here are her web and Facebook addresses:

Kim Ayres

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

David Moses - Why go on a photography workshop?

Why go on a photography workshop?

You could go alone to somewhere you think will have potential and then hope to stumble across a couple of good spots and then hopefully take some pictures that might work.

Or, you could sign up for workshop from a pro photographer who knows how to get the most out of a given situation, can guide you through the process and be on hand to offer feedback and advice as and when you need it. I know what I prefer. And the good thing is, whatever your preferred taste in photography, there is probably a workshop happening nearby that will be appropriate.

Advantages to you - the biggest advantage from attending workshops is that they give you a way to do things. For example, I don’t know much about wildlife photography. Now I could go and try to take some pictures of animals and maybe I would get lucky. More likely though I would come back with mediocre shots. What I would actually do is attend GPC member Tom Langlands workshop (here) and I would learn tried and trusted methods of getting results. Now that is a much better place to begin isn’t it?

Good photographers are always learning - just like successful people in any industry. They jump at the chance to learn new skills, methods and techniques.

If you are interested in street photography, I am running a workshop (click here for details) in January to show how I approach it, what techniques I use, what settings I start with, what I look for and how I work a scene.

I think my favourite thing about attending workshops is that I always leave filled with ideas and hungry to go out and shoot more, and that is always a good thing.

David Moses

Monday, 16 November 2015

Roger Lever - History, learning curves and working in mono

When I was a young lad in Yorkshire I purchased a Praktica Nova 1 SLR camera. Boots couldn’t give me much advice about using it as it was new on the market.

Getting a film into the camera was the first hurdle. I remember going into a pitch black room and fumbling around trying to get the d—n thing into the back of the camera. Then I discovered that I really didn’t need to do it in the dark at all. This was the beginning of a long l—o—n—g learning curve which continues to this day. Ok, now what? Point and shoot? No, there were also sorts of dials and settings even on the simplest of SLR cameras like the Praktica that needed to be set first! I worked through the brief manual that came with the camera. Then it was a case of “having a bash”

Ok, I had a bash and took the film back to Boots for developing and printing. I don’t really remember what those very first images were like but whatever they were it certainly encouraged me to carry on. All the prints I did then were were in black and white of course. To cut a long story short, I was fortunate that a friend of the family lived just down the road from our house and he was a keen amateur photographer. He developed and printed his own pictures.

I spent a lot of time in his dark room 'messing about' developing and printing films. I learned about the chemicals and the different ways of changing the final print. Eventually I created my own darkroom, developed my own films, enlarging and printed my own images. When I look back at some of those photos I produced then I am really quite pleased with what I achieved.

Colour photography quickly took over from the black and white images I was producing so it became necessary to send the film away again to be processed as it was rather more complicated to develop and print colour film in those days.

I never forget though and still admire good black and white images of landscapes and portraits. I regularly look back through my collection of books on photography just to get inspiration. I still produce many of my own black and white images although now I work in my digital darkroom which is my computer. I have a printer which I use to print many of my own images. In fact when I look at the equipment I now use it all looks pretty complicated. The cameras are like mini computers and have far more capabilities than most photographers require. You can pay a few hundred pounds for a good camera but several thousand for a Rolls Royce of a camera.

The lenses we attach to the front are similarly priced. That’s before you ever take the photo. The computer and the software again can cost thousands of pounds. So as a professional photographer these days the level of investment is pretty high. We would all love to have a Rolls Royce of a camera of course, a mere £26,000 or so just for the camera body. Then there are the lenses and on you go. The fuel consumption is pretty pricey too!!

Oh! And if you have a camera like that you need a special vehicle to drive around in! Just to look the part! Dream on.

I still have that old Praktica camera and I do believe there is a film still in it.

Roger Lever

Monday, 9 November 2015

Giles Atkinson - Surely you can just Photoshop that...

Photoshop seems to get a bad rap in the press, with models being made to look superhuman before going on the front page of glossy fashion magazines. It is however a valuable tool for photographers to master.

As a wedding photographer there are always certain group shots required and I always make sure I get a list from the bride and groom before the big day. It's important that I know exactly what shots are required and I can get them done quickly and with the minimal amount of fuss. No doubt someone will want the occasional extra shot, like 'All the Grandchildren with Granny' or 'All the Aunties' which, of course, I am always happy to oblige.

A couple of years ago now, I was contacted by the sister of a groom, a little after the wedding, she'd been a bridesmaid and had wanted a photograph with her brother. An additional photograph that had been overlooked in all the excitement.

There was a group shot of her and her brother with the other bridesmaids and she wanted to know if I could remove the other girls?

At first glance this seemed easy enough..

Masking out the groom and then cloning information from the grass, trees and low wall, it was easy enough to remove the two bridesmaids on the left. Although the trees are repeated this is something that will disappear once the image is cropped in.

The next issue was the sister's elbow which was originally hidden by the bridesmaid's flowers. So before I removed the last bridesmaid, I borrowed her elbow and re-jigged it enough that it could replace the missing part of the sister's arm.

That done, the sister is masked and then the final bridesmaid is cloned out with the trees, wall and grass from the right hand side. Finally a tight 7x5 crop removed any duplication in the picture.

The sister of the groom was delighted with the finished result.

Yes, You can Photoshop it, but it is a painstakingly long process and I would much rather get the shot in camera from the very start!

Giles Atkinson

Monday, 2 November 2015

Moments in Time - An Exhibition by Galloway Photographic Collective

Moments in Time is the brand new exhibition by Galloway Photographic Collective that opens to the public tomorrow (3 November 2015) in Shambellie House at New Abbey near Dumfries.

It is always difficult to put on an exhibition with seven different photographers who all work in different styles and genres albeit with occasional overlaps. However, photography is all about moments in time or perhaps several moments in time or even the passage of time and this exhibition is a show of precisely that.

From landscapes to wildlife, portraits to fantasy, 'Moments in Time' aims to have something for all viewers of all ages no matter what aspect of photography fires your interest or imagination.

There is also an audio visual installation by Roger Lever Photography that recreates the passage of time amongst the gannets on the Bass Rock.

Moments in Time has been several months in the planning and features work by the seven local photographers of Galloway Photographic Collective. Each of the photographers will be hosting a 'meet the photographer' session where you can pop along for an informal chat or just enjoy a coffee with the artist. The photographers and the relevant dates to meet them are:-

Tom Langlands      5 November
David Moses          7 November
Kim Ayres              8 November
Roger Lever           11 & 18 November (mornings only)
Giles Atkinson        22 November
Holly Burns            21 November
Allan Wright           (not available)

In addition to the exhibition by Galloway Photographic Collective there is also a Scottish Members' Print Exhibition  by The Royal Photographic Society.

The above exhibitions run from 3 November - 29 November 11.00 a.m. - 4.00 p.m. daily (except Mondays)

Shambellie House is a wonderful building that oozes history and charm but also needs care and attention. Bringing the building back into use and finding ways to allow it to show something of its splendour is one of the reasons that this is the venue for this exhibition.

Please pop in to see 'Moments in Time', meet like minded photographers, purchase early Christmas presents, exchange ideas or just have a pleasant trip out.

We hope to see you there.

Monday, 26 October 2015

Tom Langlands - Seeing Red

Ask anyone to conjure up an image of Scottish wildlife and the chances are that the first thing they will think of is that great monarch of the glens - the Red Deer. Undoubtedly the Red Deer has inspired poets and artists across the generations. Standing stately on heather clad hills with antlers probing through the all too familiar Scots mist it has become the embodiment of the spirit of a nation. In reality it is well established with a healthy population spread across the country. At the opposite end of the scale in terms of size is another of Scotland's great wildlife icons.  It also has the red 'Celtic' hair but its future is far less secure. I am talking of the Red Squirrel.

Red Squirrel (Scirius vulgaris)

The Red Squirrel has been part of Scotland's natural landscape, and indeed the landscape of much of Europe and Asia for centuries. Hence it is more correctly known as the Eurasian Red Squirrel or, to give it its latin title, Sciurus vulgaris. Yet in Scotland the survival of the Red Squirrel is hanging precariously in the balance and it would take very little to push it into extinction. That is not an exaggeration. It is the harsh reality of where this beautiful little creature finds itself as a consequence of man's interference in the natural world.

Red Squirrel (Scirius vulgaris)

The story goes back to the late nineteenth century when wealthy Victorian landowners could enjoy easy access to the far flung corners of the globe. It was a demonstration of wealth and status to be able to populate the gardens of large country mansions with what was perceived as exotic flora and fauna from distant lands. It is for this reason that Scotland is fighting today to control several invasive species that have adapted all too readily to their new home and have spread out of control. There are too many to name here but the list includes, Japanese Knotweed, Rhododendron and Himalayan Balsam. These species alone cost Scotland millions of pounds per annum to clean up and to deal with the environmental damage. The problem isn't restricted to plants but also encompasses a range of fish and animals that were prized for their novelty value. This included the north American Grey Squirrel. It was the importation of this little creature in the late 1800s that sadly now is ringing a very deafening death knell for its distant cousin, Scotland's native Red Squirrel.

Red Squirrel (Scirius vulgaris)
Grey Squirrels were introduced in both England and Scotland but what wasn't known at the time was that those introduced in England carried a deadly disease whilst those imported to Scotland did not seem to. This may have hindered initial thinking into what was causing the decline of Red Squirrel numbers across England. What is known is that someone suddenly wakened up to the fact that large areas of England were devoid of the once commonplace Red Squirrel. As ecologists prepared maps of those areas of the UK where Red Squirrels could still be found and where Greys were largely in control it became evident that England's green and pleasant land was dominated by Greys and there was hardly a Red to be found. Today, the Red Squirrel is virtually extinct in England save for small numbers in isolated locations in the north of the country. As the Grey Squirrel march is a northwards one and the Reds are rapidly succumbing to the alien advance, Hadrian's Wall, the Roman legacy that marks the boundary between Scotland and England has once again become a very important battle line.

Red Squirrel (Scirius vulgaris)
Squirrel pox is a particularly nasty virus that is carried by Grey Squirrels that have developed immunity to the disease and appear unaffected by it. Red Squirrels have no immunity and the effect is devastating. Once a Red Squirrel comes into contact with the virus it will develop weeping lesions and sores around the eyes, nose, mouth and genitalia. These will spread and the animal will have difficulty in seeing properly or feeding. Death is slow and painful and will take place about two weeks after initial infection. There is no cure and at present it is believed to carry a 100% death rate. Since 2005 there have been localised squirrel pox outbreaks with devastating results at several locations just inside the Scottish border. Rapid action halted these outbreaks but the fear is that other Greys may have slipped through the net. Southern Scotland is on high alert for any suspicious deaths of Red Squirrels. 

Red Squirrel (Scirius vulgaris)
Squirrel pox is certainly the principle factor in the decline of Red Squirrels but it is not the only one. Grey Squirrels are larger, live longer, eat more and are able to travel across open land more easily than Reds which generally need areas of linked woodlands in order to spread. They out-compete Reds in almost every way. Wherever Grey Squirrels appear Red Squirrels seem to disappear irrespective of disease. Squirrel pox just makes the process more unpleasant and much faster.

Scotland does have the advantage of seeing the danger looming rather than reacting once the damage has been done but it needs resources and commitment to halt the problem. Ecologists and vets are working hard to find solutions. It is by no means an easy task. At present things may be under control but it won't take much for that situation to change. It is not scare mongering to say that this icon of Scottish wildlife could disappear from the country in the course of the next couple of decades. 

Let's hope that we all keep seeing Red for a very long time!

Red Squirrel (Scirius vulgaris)

Tom Langlands

Monday, 19 October 2015

Holly Burns - Lets Talk About Criticism

Lately I’ve been getting a lot of criticism on my artworks. Now 4 years ago when I started taking photographs this criticism would have floored me, perhaps enough to make me give up photography altogether. But after being a student for a few years I have become accustomed to criticism: from tutors, classmates, members of the public and other artists. I share my work in magazines, in galleries and to online social media and as long as I’m doing these things then I’m essentially inviting people to critique my work, however painful that can be sometimes. I have realised that criticism is actually rather helpful as long as it is valid. The real trick is working out whether it is valid or not.

I hear a lot that my work is too dark in nature and I ought to create more joyous works. In essence my work makes some feel uncomfortable that I am evoking dark feelings within them. But in the same way, I receive a lot of feedback that some love how they can look at my work and see themselves in it, providing a comfort somehow.

So is the criticism valid?

Of course it is but that doesn’t mean an overhaul in your practice. It means that some like it and some don’t! For every positive review, there is a negative one too for we are all different and all have vastly different views on pretty much everything! This is why it is very important to understand what you like about your work, what you get from creating it. You cannot please everyone but you can please yourself.

You might hear the criticism and think ‘yes, this person is right’ and begin to explore ideas that you can grow from where you are and head off into a new direction. Or you might simply be happy with what you’re doing and dismiss the feedback and continue on your path because it makes you happy.

In either case the criticism received challenges your original thoughts and it reminds you to constantly evaluate what you are producing. It gives the photographer an opportunity to understand others perspective on their work and inevitably grow. It is a bonus that a lot of criticism comes for free.

So instead of letting criticism get you down and make you second-guess what it is you love doing, take a minute to think about it, what do YOU like about your work? Where do YOU see yourself going with it? Are you still getting what you need out of it or do you need to go in a new direction? Rely on yourself to know what is best for you and your confidence to deal with criticism will grow accordingly.

Holly Burns

Monday, 12 October 2015

Tom Langlands - On the Small Side

If you ask most people to think of wildlife they will probably conjure up images of lions, tigers and elephants. Ask them to think closer to home and it may be red deer, red squirrels or golden eagles. Few people will think of anything as small as insects and yet there is a whole world in miniature that is readily accessible and just waiting to be explored. Even if it is just a corner of your own garden or in a hedgerow there is a lot going on in this small world of nature. These important ecosystems all play their part in the overall welfare of bigger ecosystems and the world at large.

I can't resist water. Water fascinates me and the banks of rivers and the fringes of ponds and lakes are great places to discover a wealth of macro material to photograph. It hasn't been the best of summers this year (probably a bit of an understatement!) and yet with a careful eye and a little patience there is a lot more going on in these habitats than may be obvious at an initial glance.

I enjoy going out and setting myself the challenge of spending a day doing nothing but macro work. It is peaceful, relatively comfortable and, with a few exceptions, things tend not to move about too fast. The photography is then easier to control. There is time to think about composition, settings exposure and to look for that different angle on everyday subjects.

When doing macro work 'in the field' I carry a cheap roll up camping mat with me and a can of my favourite midge repellant - Smidge. If you haven't discovered Smidge then you should. Its the best anti midge/mosquito repellant I have every come across and I would never do this kind of work without having it to hand - and no, I'm not on commission.

I spend a lot of time lying on the ground at this type of photography. I also find the best time is early morning. Insects such as damselflies and dragonflies have to warm up and soak in the suns rays before they dry out and start to fly. That will give you a good couple of hours to get the static shots in before things hot up.

Later in the day you can switch to the tougher action shots. Evenings can be good too but be aware that near water it is in late afternoon and early evening that the midges come to life.

If you want to experiment with wildlife photography this is a great way to either start or to try a different approach to what you may normally do. It also makes you look at the world of nature and wildlife in a completely different way.

Tom Langlands

Monday, 5 October 2015

Kim Ayres - Time Lapse at Spring Fling

Spring Fling is an open studio event where 90+ artists and makers throw their doors open to the public across the last weekend of May.

Throughout this year's Spring Fling I was doing photography demonstrations - showing how changing the light can dramatically alter the mood of an image. My own studio wasn't big enough for this, so I fortunate to be able to use St Johns in Castle Douglas - an old church that's been renovated as a space to hold events.

Demonstrating light with Maria 

The day before, it suddenly occurred to me it might be fun to have a go at some time lapse photography - something I'd not tried before.

Time lapse is where photography and video collide. In essence you take hundreds of photos and string them all together in sequence. It requires a camera, a tripod, an interval timer (built in to some modern cameras, or bought as an accessory), and a computer programme to edit the images together afterwards.

I was using my own camera to do the photography lighting demonstrations (actually my own camera was being repaired and my friend, Andy Jardine had lent me his in the meantime), but fellow GPC member, Allan Wright handed me his Nikon for the weekend (along with an instruction manual, as I'm used to Canons), which has a built in interval timer.

It didn't take much fiddling about to get the hang of it, and once I'd done it the first time it was very straightforward. Set the camera to manual and sit it on a tripod; compose the image how you would like it; set the shutter speed, aperture and ISO to get the exposure settings you want; input the number of photos you want it to take for that sequence; and input the interval time between shots.

The first shoot I did, I set it to go every 10 seconds at 1/50th of a second. I was quite pleased with it, although it didn't feel as fluid as I thought it might. Overnight it came to me I should slow the shutter speed to get a bit of movement blur, and take the shots more frequently - so from then on I set the interval for every 3 seconds at 1/3 of a second. I was delighted with the result and did several more sequences across the weekend - including one of me and my son taking down the set on the Monday evening.

I put the following video together pretty straightforwardly. The first sequence is the one that went every 10 seconds. I then took a section of that and zoomed in on the light through the window travelling across the floor, which I quite liked. The rest is the 3 second interval sequences, with movement blur, and the whole lot was rendered and exported to play at 12 frames per second. The music is from the band I'm in, The Cracked Man

I'd recommend giving it a go - it's really not as difficult as you think it is.

Kim Ayres

Monday, 28 September 2015

David Moses - Quick Tips to Improve Your Photography

Quick tips to improve your photography and change the way you shoot forever.

OK - no messing around. You want to take better photos? Here it is.

1 - Take your camera everywhere. Get used to carrying that bad boy around. Get a comfy bag or a belt clip, whatever works for you. You can’t take pictures if you don’t have your camera.

2 - Take pictures every day. In your home, on your way to work, when you walk the dog. Taking pictures in difficult or boring situations is a great way to learn.

3 - LOOK. At your pictures. What do you like about them? What do you dislike about them? Edit ruthlessly.

4 - LOOK. At other photographers. Learn from your favourites. Every now and then you’ll come across some wiseacre who says they don’t look at other peoples work - that is self indulgent tripe. We can all learn from other people.

5 - LOOK. At the situation you are photographing. Don’t just snap and move on. Stop. Count to 30 whilst observing. In that time look at where the light is coming from, where the action is happening, where it is going.

6 - Get Closer. “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough” - Robert Capa.

7 - Interact with your subject - a camera is not something to hide behind.

8 - Play with Depth of Field & Shutter Speed.

9 - Learn. Go to workshops. This is the single biggest thing you can do that will improve your photography. Learn from an expert. Duh!

10 - Shoot from the heart. Be honest and open and wholehearted in your approach. When I photograph someone/something, I am heart and soul invested in the process and in them. I want to do justice to my subject and in those moments, nothing else matters.

11 - Buy a better camera/lens - just kidding, they are a complete waste of money.

12 - Learn the rule of thirds - it’s a great starting point for all composition. And once you fully understand the implications of it, you can cheerfully set about breaking the rules in ways that improve your photographs.

I have loads more to say on the subject of becoming a better photographer - and frankly it is because I have made thousands of mistakes. I think that will be my next blog - all the embarrassing mishaps I have had.

See you then :)

David Moses