7 billion – and counting

Ok, I get it now. The world will end. It’s official. The Mayans were right.

Don’t worry about food shortages, stranded whales, peak oil, funny weather or rising sea levels. It’s simple, and it’s not the economy.

With the added human weight Earth is getting podgy. The extra mass will increase gravitational pull between the Sun and Earth. 12 Dec 2012 marks pivot point, with Earth getting sucked out of orbit. Curtains…good night…sayonara…auf wiedersehen…good bye and good luck.

Just kidding. It’s the economy. Enjoy your weekend.

7 billion? I’m outta here.

Spammers are random – and so is this post

I’ve been spammed. I’m vaguely annoyed as I got spammed repeatedly and I don’t like it.

I should be grateful, as I’m certain that spammers are part of the few bothering to visit my blog.

There’s my long suffering sister of course, an interesting but slightly potty woman living in northern Kazakhstan, and a guy claiming to be an inuit sitting in an igloo somewhere north of the arctic circle. That’s it, but it’s good – start small, think big.

My sis and the woman in northern Kazakhstan are genuine, they’re true-heart  followers.

But I have my doubts about the inuit. In recent emails he called me a geezer and Google Analytics places him somewhere in Greater Manchester. He also claims to use an antenna made of reindeer antlers (ok…possible) and that my blog gets rain fade during adverse weather.

I know the world’s moved on, but that’s rather intricate technical knowledge for a guy who should be spending most of his time worrying about global warming. For all I know he could be King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, tired of ruling the masses and dreaming of a simpler lifestyle. On the web you can be anyone. But anyway, I have my suspicions, I think he’s kidding me. It’s Wayne Rooney, I know it is.

I have a friend who, like King Abdullah, needs a change. She too is busy and life is always complicated. She’s ready to move to the Antarctic to spend a winter meditating with the penguins. She needs a break, but penguins?…they have their own stresses. Maybe her and inuit should meet and walk into the sunshine.

Anyway, as I was saying, there’s futures at stake.

So, spammers, I’ve got my readers, now please go and hassle someone else for a while. Better still, go and get a job, like the rest of us.

Light matters

As a photographer one of my daily pleasures is working with light. In many years of taking images professionally I never lost my sense of amazement at this beautiful medium we work with. It makes me happy.

So light really does matter, and often is the difference between a good image and one that wouldn’t work. At times it’s in the polish provided by subtleties, at others it lies in a radical manipulation of and change to what nature is providing.

Below is an example of how I work with light to achieve a pre-visualised and pre-designed image. The first example shows the result of using only sunlight. The second is the final image after some considered change to the lighting, mixing the available sunlight with electronic flash light.

Where I come from photographers are often referred to as photographic designers. I am very fond of this term as I think that it conveys the skill, thought and creativity that gets applied in photography.

Photographers design, mould and form with light, be it natural or electronic.  We make – instead of take – images using light. Yes we use cameras, it’s our tool, but the real enjoyment, the one that never ceases to fascinate, is making light work  aesthetically and exploring the never ending possibilities it provides.

This rugby world cup got me thinking…National Failure Day

For most people who have given their best, to hear that one has failed is not comfortable. But failure is a necessary part of eventual success, and to positively deal with it is a required skill in becoming successful.

A former boss once told me that I couldn’t write if I tried.

In her eyes I had failed. She was having a bad day and I never found out if she really meant it or if I was her lightning rod. But in many ways she made me think. What if I couldn’t write? I’m a photographer not a writer. Would it really matter? Would the world stop spinning just because of my incessant tries and perceived failures at lining up the right words in the right order?

Of course not, the worst that could happen is that nobody would care to read my writings. And would that matter? Not in the final analysis. What does matter however is that I get a sense of pleasure from writing and that it often brightens my day. For me, it doesn’t have to be good, it has to be fun! And it has to keep my sister amused. What really really matters is that I still try and that I’m allowed to find my limits. And to find those limits I’ll eventually have to fail.

The recent rugby world cup final highlighted that failure and success are often very close. Success rarely comes without the risk of failure. Watch a baby learn to walk.

What would have happened had the All Blacks lost the final? How different would be the perception of their efforts had the French converted just one try? It was thrilling and it was close. What was clear is that each one of these All Blacks accepted the risk of failure for a chance at success.

Risk taking and risk management should be savored as much as a successful outcome. The latter will eventually follow the former.

We need to try things out, and be prepared to fail. How else would we ever discover if we could be good, or even great, at anything? We all could have been world beaters if only we had………….you get my drift…………..

To that end I propose a national failure day. A holiday where everybody goes out of their way to try something new. A day on which we push ourselves and try our very best to fail, to find our current limits. And with it to maybe find a new inspiration and hidden talent.

We need to fail, it’s the flip side of success.

At the end of it all, as kiwis like to say…she’ll be right, mate.

All Blacks for President (if we had one)

In this country full of deliriously happy rugby nuts rugby heaven has just arrived.

Congratulations to the All Blacks for becoming the world champs, and to all the coaches and staff who helped to make this happen.

I have no idea what it really takes to win the most coveted trophy in world rugby. Looking at these guys after the match though, and seeing images of some of them when they were younger ABs, it must have been a monumental physical and mental undertaking.

I seriously do not understand how their bodies cope. If I got up each day to spend a significant amount of time running into brick walls someone, at some stage, would mention that it isn’t all that healthy. Perhaps all those quietly efficient medics behind the scenes – the doctors, physios and osteopaths – also deserve to stand on the podium to receive gold medals. I just can’t see anyone winning a rugby world cup without them.

Last but not least, a round of applause to the French for turning up to the final to compete. Against most predictions they made the ABs work hard for their trophy – it’s rather small don’t you think, why couldn’t it be bigger? – and no doubt raised the collective blood pressure around the country.

In any case, this country is happy, and as the famous saying goes…all credit to the boys.

Go the All Blacks!

You are such a baby…

…and of course she is. It’s gorgeous little Mae, well on her journey to growing up.

She’s pictured here during one of her first milestones. A wonderful naming ceremony with mum and dad, brother Luke, grandmas and grandpops and others who will fill her life with love and laughter.

It was such a beautiful day, in a special setting where a part of Mae will always be.

Weehoo, go Mae go…

Mae's Naming Ceremony, Banks Peninsula, Canterbury, New Zealand
Mae’s Naming Ceremony, Banks Peninsula, Canterbury, New Zealand.



The puzzling thing about expressions

I am the curious type.

One of the things that often arouse my interest when photographing portraits is people’s ability to use facial expressions for communication.

How do we do it? The range of expressions we have at a very early age is amazing. Yes, I know, I’m easily amused. But are we hard-wired or do we learn to communicate like this before our language develops? Nature vs nurture? I think it’s fascinating how we manage to convey thoughts and feelings prior to learning words. Anyway, if there’s a behavioural scientist or developmental psychologist reading this maybe you can comment.

Now look at her please. She’ll be a philosopher when she grows up, a think tank strategist, the leader of the skeptics society or Wonder Woman getting ready to straighten out some unsuspecting guys head.

And all that hard thinking and gesticulating is quite hard work. So let’s have a nap and call this photo shoot a wrap.

But what is she really thinking?

„Go the All Blacks!“

„Same lunch?…again?!“

„Not to put a finer point on it mister but you had your chance and time’s up.“

Emily, Christchurch, New Zealand

Thank you Ma & Pa for allowing images that are a bit on the outer edge of the norm.

And thank you wee girl for making my day.