What a difference a day makes

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Yesterday was a frosty morning, and I made the above photograph at Wimbledon Common with dog walkers and golfers enjoying a chilly outing. The air was crisp and the sky clear but very, very cold. This morning, a huge snow front blanketed the entire UK, and dropped over 4 to 5 inches of snow in blizzard conditions. The British Isles is known for it’s wet weather, so it was a respite from the rain, but when the snow thaws, that will cause another bout of flooding.

Deer Oh Deer

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One bizarre encounter of a Christmas scene at Suria KLCC, led to another, at a smaller shopping centre in Bangsar. Reindeers seem to be in fashion this year. Some years, it seems like Cherubims, and then Angels with huge wings, and then Santa. I only met one Santa so far, and he wasn’t too jolly. At least he had a white beard. I wonder where do these props end up after the season. Most probably in a huge warehouse locked up safely somewhere. Now wouldn’t that be an interesting photo opportunity. Love the cotton wool ‘snow’.

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So This Is Christmas, in Malaysia

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I came away from the Mid Valley mall, one of the largest shopping malls in Malaysia, located in Kuala Lumpur, with some photographs in the video. Being the second last weekend before Christmas Day, the shops were teeming with shoppers, look-seers, families, locals and tourists alike. As usual, the central atrium is richly decorated with giant conifers adorned with all Christmassy trimmings, flashy lights, fake snow, icicles, silver globes and golden bells. This year, there are two log and stone cabins built on the set to attract visitors, and I think they do look pretty realistic, compared to yesteryears, where these were usually painted scenes on flat plywood and styrofoam. Today, set designs have improved by leaps and bounds, the renderings authentic, and the animals are, at last, to scale with everything else.

I guess for kids, these sights can be a bewilderment and awe, as quite often they recollect similar scenes from fantasy or Hollywood movies watched over the years. No Santa here, sadly.

(PS. Sorry about the cheesy tune)

The Chinese are revolting

Saw these four Chinese tourists on the steps on St Pauls the other day, every one a Leica user, all had lens caps on. The revolt is on, Chinese tourists are being wooed  and lured to come visit Britain in their thousands to help the British economy out of recession (see here). Since they are also ‘brand’ hunters, the luxury kind, mind you,  it was no surprise to see these menfolk with the status Leica cameras hung smartly off their Burberry jackets and Rolex adorned wrists. ~ SL

Project : Fairground Attraction

Project : Fairground Attraction

Currently I am working on a series of images on fairgrounds, which I always find to be slightly theatrical but interesting in modern Britain, harking back to Victorian times. Outdoor family entertainment, especially in today’s online based tech world, is limited, and it is always nice to see families enjoying traditional playground rides with all colourful trappings, sounds and lighting of a local fairground. This portrait is of a young lad who mans one of the many game stands in the ground. He was setting up at the time of my visit, but obliged to pose for a photo.

2011: My Best Shots – Review and Reflect

 As 2011 draw to a close, I have trawled through my archive of close to one thousand photographs made over the last 12 months to see if I could identify the most memorable ones, the best ones or the most striking images. Call them keepers, significant images or gems, whatever, these are the 15 photographs that called out to me as I scrolled through the filmstrip in Lightroom. Memorable may not be the best ones, I have discovered.

I tend to shoot less nowadays, opting for more precisely captured images rather than a ‘trigger happy’ mode. I guess that’s simply down to time. The less time I have to sit in front of the computer editing and deleting wonky shots, the better. I also shot film this year, albeit about 10 rolls of black and white and experimental colour negs 120 in total with my Rolleiflex. I guess, less is still more. One observation is that I have simply taken more images with my phonecam, some significant images too, as I have the phone with me all the time. However, I have left these out in my quest.

I believe this is a good exercise for all you serious photographers out there. Review your work and chuck out all the clutter, free up some hard disc space along the way also. Honestly, you will probably not be viewing all the hundreds of other images stored away on your computer. Save only the best, your best. Reflect on what you could have taken or been, how you could have improved the shot, changed angle perhaps, zoomed in a little? Used a wider aperture perhaps? Tilt your frame a little? Used a wider lens? Once you are conscious of the variability that you can have in making your pictures, it will open a whole new world. You will be in control.

Make a book! With all the online publishing platforms available today like blurb.com or Apple albums, it would be a neat little project to put all your favourite images into a book. The quality is amazing, and you will also have the perfect gift for your friends. That is what I will be doing next year, starting January!

As Erwitt puts it rightly,  ..‘Nothing happens when you sit at home. I always make it a point to carry a camera with me at all times…I just shoot at what interests me at that moment. ‘

Lastly, don’t limit yourself to any subject or genre, shoot everything, who knows, you might even enjoy it!

Here’s my Top 15… enjoy! Cheers!

I believe Ansel Adams uttered the phrase ‘Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop’. I guess, in his eyes, I have a bumper harvest.


1. R Chubb & Sons Butcher, 350 Upper Richmond Road West, London SW14 – This was taken last December a couple of weeks before Christmas. A friend who buys her meat from this butcher told me about the pre-Christmas turkey orders which her butchers hand pluck to hang, before customers come to collect. Photographed with a 28mm lens inside the shop, I only had a couple of minutes to grab a few shots, most were blurry, and one was a keeper. The lighting was horribly green due to the mix of fluorescent, and daylight plus a UV lamp by the window. I just love the traditional documentary aspect of this image, the wry smile of the butcher, his sleeves all pulled up, ready for action. These are organically grown birds I suspect, which have been pre-ordered by his discerning customers.

2. Family at the beach, Nice Plage, France  – This was taken in late summer on the Cote d”Azur. This time of the year the beaches are empty, the sea is cold, and the light is simply amazing. It was nice to see a family coming together for a picnic and swim in the icy waters. Not the glamour that you would associate here in high Summer, but ordinary folk having a good time.

3. Odd couple, Nice – Also captured in Nice, I find this image reveals the complexity of human emotions, relationships, inner thoughts and the spontaneity which the medium of photography can capture. Deep in thought or idle conversation, the interpretation is left to the viewer to decipher.

 4. Pete Irving, Urban Kings gym trainer – taken in an ultra modern boxing gym in Kings Cross. The lighting was a challenge, but the camera handled it well. Handheld at 640ISO with the brilliant little Fujifilm X100.

5. Vuvuzela, Notting Hill Carnival, 2011 – I photograph regularly at the carnival in August, and this year I brought out the Rolleiflex and shot some Lomography 120 Redscale film. This was the first time I was using this special film, I was told it was just standard Superia 100 film wound back to front on the spool. It gives interesting red or green tinted negatives depending on the exposure. Give it a stop under and it goes reddish and vice versa, or was it the other way round. I don’t care but the results are nevertheless interesting.

6. Carnival reveler – I shoot a lot of street photography and urban portraits is one of my favourite subjects. Again, taken with the square Rolleiflex, on Redscale film, I particularly like the blurred background which brings attention to the girl’s cheerful face. Now, what’s wrong with a smiley portrait?

7. Ventnor Beach, Isle of Wight – We were on the Isle of Wight for a SLOW Photography weekend workshop and encountered this lovely restored VW campervan parked on Ventnor esplanade. Might just enlarge this and hang it on my wall.

8. The Royal Wedding, Trafalgar Square – This picture of two brothers sleeping on the ground at Trafalgar Square was simply too good to miss. There had only just been a Royal Wedding, and a huge crowd gathered there to watch the live telecast on giant LCD screens. Tired out or just not interested, they slept peacefully whilst their parents stood over them.

9. Outside 30 Camden Square, London NW1 – Simon McGregor-Wood, anchor of ABC News making a live broadcast outside Amy Winehouse’s home, the day after her sudden death.

10. Second Floor, Eiffel Tower, Paris – Not quite sure why this photograph was screaming out to me, but then it always a special moment to be at the Eiffel Tower and the light was kinda surreal too. Definitely a hanger.

11. Havana, Cuba  – Taken in the Cathedral in Central Havana. A tender moment in this photograph of a father explaining the depiction of the Crucifixion to his daughter. A grab shot in all ways, I was there at the right moment. I think I fired off 4 shots but only one was sharp. The first one. Lesson learnt.

12. Malecon, Havana, CubaCuba was the destination of one of our photo workshops. The Malecon is a famous stretch of seafront lining the north coast of the city of Havana with the Florida sea. Just some 90 odd miles away is Florida, where so many Cubans risk their lives to cross over by boat. This photograph was taken in the early evening, where we were walking to our dinner appointment. Four boys fishing in the foreground show the scale of this stretch of coast.

13. Visiting Che, Santa Clara, Cuba – Che Guevara’s monument in Santa Clara is an amazingly stoic place, sparse,  all marble and concrete. A group of local women walk past the huge statue of their favorite national hero.

14. Havana, Cuba – A popular pastime for Cubans is to rear birds. I found this interesting wall complete with growing orchids and tropical plants in the rear courtyard of a restaurant where the Buena Vista Social club members were performing. The light was very low, and it was a gamble to take the shot, at 1600ISO.

15. Tottenham, one week after – A significant photograph of a burnt out building, totally destroyed by fire at Ground Zero of the Tottenham riots in August. The trouble in Tottenham sparked a nationwide riot, the worst in UK history, causing millions of pounds of damage and widespread looting, violence and deaths.

Bring on 2012.

NB. Any of these pictures are available to purchase, just send me an email for a quote. This is the first time I’m compiling this, may make it a regular yearly ritual.