Jen and Stuart’s wedding

Well, preshoots always lead to wedding shoots, and here is my most recent one. The lovely Jen and Stuart got married in Glasgow university in a moving humanist service at the start of July.

It all started as it so often does with a waiting groom and best man. In this case, the very handsome Fraser was on-point. Again, the sun was splitting the skies, and the prospect for my preferred shallow depth of field shots was poor. However, my 5D was employed so that the sensor at least was full-frame. I also used my Olympus throughout the day, but more of that later.

Comfortingly for everyone concerned, Jen and her parents arrived, phew!

And didn’t she just look gorgeous?

This is Jen just before she entered the chapel.

And again with mum and dad.

This was an unstaged shot of Jen’s dad walking her down the aisle; there is motion in it that I didn’t intend, but it captures a lovely moment.

This one a moment later, actually froze the motion; although Jen is beautiful, the most beautiful thing about the picture is her dad’s expression. This is all about love!

The walk is over and the marriage begins.

Stuart’s sister Eilidh read a beautiful poem as part of the service…

But she didn’t find it easy while being overcome by emotion; it was such a moving moment.

The wedding progressed to a lovely handfasting ceremony aided by both mums.

The setting was just beautiful, and it was so nice to see a humanist ceremony carried out in Glasgow University’s chapel.

After the romance of the union, the families celebrated their union with a sharing of the traditional quaich. This one of best man Fraser first…

And another of the beautiful bride.

Since both mothers helped with the handfasting ribbons, both fathers had to take a turn in something! Bringing the whisky to the party was a tough job, but they stepped up to the plate, specifically the bowl, or quaich in this case.

The proceedings came to a close with the signing of the documents.

All of the marriage over, and Stuart and Jen now happily joined, they walked down the aisle as husband and wife…how lovely.

The family then walked around to the quadrangle to enjoy some family pictures. Photographically, the bright overhead sun was a challenge, with the aperture being closed down a little in consequence, and the depth of field being a little fuller than I would have chosen, however, the background is lovely, so it wasn’t a problem. My 5D with remote flash was used and the trusty Sigma constant f2.8 zoom.

I particularly love this one with the light picking out Jen’s dress details.

These were such lovely family images, and Jen and Stuart’s families were simply amazing to work with. As ever, even with an intimate group like this, I prefer to photograph the whole group first, then do the subgroups before people wander off.

I particularly love the closeness of the family. I think the pictures show that so beautifully.

However, the last challenge for the photographer, is some formal photographs of the bride and groom. Jen was really keen to be photographed in the university cloisters. The photographic challenges were the tourists wandering through at frequent intervals, (occasionally, understandably, wanting to take the lovely couple’s pictures), and the bizarre random desks scattered throughout the cloisters. Even with these hurdles, working with such lovely, in-love people as Jen and Stuart in such a great setting, only took a little patience to transform into magical images.

This was a brief but beautiful wedding, and I wish Jen and Stuart all the happiness in the world. Having met them a couple of times now, I’m sure that they will be great together.

Photographically, this was a really interesting wedding; for a long time now, I have been using my Canon 5D and 7D with off-board flash exclusively for any serious occasions. For the last three years I have been using an Olympus OMD-10 mk2 and now the similar but even better specified OMD-5 mk2 for all of my personal photography, and I simply love them. In brief, their sensors are smaller and less capable in low light, as well as limited to a greater depth of field than my Canon DSLRs, however, the lenses are smaller and stellar in quality, and I love them. I finally decided to use both bodies, the Olympus and the Canon 5D together. The traditional big outdoor shots benefited from the large sensor of the 5D, and the indoor shots during the ceremony, were better for the silent shutter setting in the Olympus. I have experimented with the Olympus for off-board flash shots during a reception as a guest recently, and found the shots great, even given its limitations. The bottom line is, with great lenses, which I have, I would happily shoot the whole wedding on an Olympus micro four-thirds setup; in fact, the next time I shoot one I will. Some of the formal family shots were backups with the Olympus just in case, but I didn’t use off-board flash just to simplify my safety-net, but the shots were good (with flash they would have been amazing). Next time I will be ready, and I believe I will enjoy the photography all the more for it.


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Stuart and Jen preshoot

Apologies for the dry year on It’s a long story, but this last year, I became a high school headteacher/principal. I have been really enjoying the experience, and I am really committed to making a difference, but I haven’t by any means stopped taking photographs, I just haven’t found much time for blogging. A few weeks ago, I photographed a preshoot and then last weekend, a wedding for a really lovely couple; I felt that there had to be a bit of blogging to celebrate this wonderful event.

I have always been a believer in the importance of a preshoot, and so I met with Jen and Stuart at Kelvingrove park on a bright afternoon to get to know them, and for them to get used to me pointing a camera at them. I always think that the day of your wedding is the wrong day to meet your photographer who will be asking you to trust fairly personal instructions. I absolutely loved Jen and Stuart, who where just lovely and really interesting too. They where a little shy at first with the shoot, but in no time they where seeing the results and liking them, and so we became pretty comfortable together. Come the wedding day, it was so wonderful to be able to quickly find the shots together and for Jen and Stuart to relax and be themselves for the camera and me!

Talking of the camera, I have spent most of my time just enjoying my Olympus OMD 10 and so I thought, why bother grabbing my 5d mk2 and those big, heavy lenses? I just used my now beloved Olympus and two primes. The combination was tiny and very unthreatening, and wide open at f1.8, those primes look magical.

We started with a few just to get the settings right, as the very sunny day was a challenge for my offboard flash. The flash sync speed of 1/250th a second didn’t allow for wide open shooting, so I hedged my bets by doing some flash-into-the-sun stuff, and some without to get shallower depth-of-field. In the end I just picked the best of each. I may eventually have to get a few neutral density filters to allow lower speeds and wider apertures; honestly, this isn’t usually a Scottish photographer’s problem. This has been a good summer indeed!

Lightroom CC mobile has now included filters to emulate classic film styles as well as modern variants on them. The set is limited, but I love them. This vintage treatment really suits Stuart’s classic good looks.

Jen’s fairly-fifties themed outfit was also just screaming out for a vintage filter treatment too.

These stairs make a lovely backdrop.

I just love this one, again with a vintage filter treatment. Jen and Stuart were just so easy to work with. (It was almost as if they love each other). 🙂

I just love the cool “American Youth” vibe that is going on with this one; I was having fun with the processing.

Jen’s shoes were something to behold, and I felt that they needed their own wee picture to show them off.

The trouble with couples’ shoots is that it can all become a bit close and cuddly; capturing moments with physical space in-between them, but with the close relationship still evident can really add something.

I really like the blending of the yellow of Jen’s skirt with the green and yellow background grass here.

Just aww! I love these moments, and critically, doing them in a preshoot makes it so easy to get them in the actual wedding setting.

Just playing here, this kind of worked, and I believe Jen loves it.

Back to those stairs again.

And one more with a vintage treatment again.

And finally, reviewing the images on my ipad in a local cafe; this relaxed post-shoot image of Jen is just beautiful, and it shows how the tiny tiny tiny Olympus micro-four third system can produce big boy bokeh from a relatively inexpensive tiny prime lens, in this case the 45mm f1.8 wide open.

The wedding itself was beautiful and I’ll share it with you shortly.


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HMS Victory

Yesterday, I fulfilled a long standing desire to visit HMS Victory, Nelson’s flagship from the battle of Trafalgar. As it happens, I am having a lovely holiday with some amazing people in Dorset. We decided to take the opportunity to drive the hour or so to Portsmouth to indulge my Napoleonic naval desires!

My first feeling on arriving at the dry-dock that has been Victory’s home for 90 years was disappointment that she has not yet been fully masted and rigged. But it turns out that there is a sound preservation based reason why not: apparently it may have new rigging within a decade, made from carbon-fibre of all things to keep the mass lower, as her timbers have settled and distorted in dry-dock and the extra weight would accelerate this. Good to know that her keepers are taking her long term future seriously. (You can see the truncated rear mast towards the stern in this image)

Photographically, I was simply not planning any photographs at all; I only wanted to see the ship. But when I arrived I took one stern-view with my phone to share my excitement, and put it from my mind. It was only when I saw the Captain’s (the famous Hardy) day-cabin that I realised it might be fun to try to catch some sense of this truly amazing piece of naval history. I have a basic wide-angle zoom, the Olympus 9-18 with me in my messenger bag with my ever present Olympus OMD 10 Mk2, and haven’t used it much yet, so the relatively tight interiors seemed like the ideal place to make some use of it. As a wide angle zoom it is tiny, barely takes up any space at all in my messenger bag, and is a useful width for interiors or landscapes. On the downside, you can’t fit a fast zoom in to a tiny package, so it is slow at f4-5.6 and the deeper you go into the bowels of Victory, the darker it gets. This meant shutter speeds at ISO 3200 (my preset hard limit for noise) of 1/8th of a second. The secret weapon of the Olympus is it’s sensor-shift image stabilisation and with careful hand-holding it will give sharp images. (Down to 1 second!)

This is the adjoining sleeping cabin with the 6 foot 4 inch Captain Hardy’s cot-hammock:

The other interesting challenge is waiting in spaces until most of the tourists have passed on. Sometimes they add scale to an image, but most of the time it helps to see the ship interior with fewer distractions.

One deck below, Admiral Nelson had these quarters, first the dining and entertaining cabin:

Then Nelson’s day cabin. (At least at the time of the battle of Trafalgar):

The same cabin from the table:

And this rather indelicate one of the Admiral’s heads (toilet). This was in very stark comparison to the holes in planking over the bow used by the ratings to take their relief:


But above all, this first rate ship of the line was a fighting ship and carried 104 cannon and carronades. To face broadsides from these Napoleonic behemoths must have been living hell. These pictures are of some of the gundecks – 3 in all – which in combat would have included the Captain and Admiral’s cabin floors in one long sweep:


This one is a reminder that this is a multi-decked flagship:

Of course, in-between the bouts of martial activity, 800 men and boys had to actually live. These pictures show the gun crew’s eating arrangements:

And of course everyone knows how the ratings slept:

(This picture below the decks blessed with natural light so the next image was high ISO and noisy.)

The ship had to be self-sufficient in terms of essential working crafts as well. Below decks in the incredibly cramped, no-standing-room-for -tall-adults, orlop deck there are some specialist areas. This is the Bos’n’s store:

Low down, below the orlop, these ropes are as thick as human waists. Look at the telegraph-pole sized pillars for a sense of scale. How the crews handled this stuff without automation is a miracle on its own:

The next two are carpenters’ areas:

I believe this is a portable forge up on a gun deck:

And lower still, we come to the holds and bilge areas. Water, being heaviest, was stored her in barrels on a bed of stones as ballast. No natural light reaches here at all:

This last image shows where Nelson slept in a portable field bed as, one armed, he couldn’t easily get into a hammock without assistance and he was too proud. Big cheese or not, in action the admiral’s sleeping arrangements were quickly cleared and the temporary doors gone too. This was just the posh-end of a truly terrible gun deck:

Nelson was shot on deck during the terrible battle of Trafalgar, and after some hours, he died below decks. The wooden wreath on the rib of the boat shows where he died:

The Victory, built around 1760, is simply one of the most amazing preserved displays of history I can imagine seeing. Whether you are fascinated by military history or not, you will have your breath taken away by the scale of this pre-Napoleonic engineering marvel. If you are in Portsmouth, you simply must!


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June Flowers

During a visit to Skye two weekends ago, the amazing Air b’n’b place that we were staying at in Armadale, had a lovely hostess, who had a simply lovely natural garden on the bay next to the Armadale Ferry terminal. I had a ball the first morning with my micro four thirds camera taking lots of handheld flower pictures. I used to mainly do this with my Canon DSLR’s and Canon EF-s 60mm macro and a tripod. I am now shooting flowers with my Olympus macro of half the size and using the scarily effective IBIS sensor based stabilisation in lieu of a tripod. It is fun and organic as a way of shooting. After checking these flowers on return, I decided to roll them into a post of some of my very recent favourite flower photographs.

The first to catch my eye was this beautiful Calendula. I love the amazing composite flower detail:

This Alpine Columbine is beautiful and hideous in equal measure. There is something about the tail of a flower being so elaborate when it has so little obviously to do with the sexual parts of the flower that makes it seem ostentatiously wasteful. Everything has some purpose though, but what?


More detail of the creepy Columbine tails:

I thought this one was a poppy, but it seems to be a Rock-Rose. Its combination of crepe-paper with “basildon bond” texture and incredible flame-flower parts are just beautiful:

And again more directly from above:

An Iris from near the Coral Beach on Skye:

A week later, back home I received a house gift of these gorgeous flowers. I believe this are Lillies:

And again with some stalk showing to balance the pink:

Getting the bit between my teeth I tackled the striking Foxgloves (digitalis) in my own front garden. I love the hairy interiors and Mr Bee showing his busy posterior mid nectar scoffing:

My daughter and I love these unopened flowers higher up the stalk; we think these look like tiny monsters from something like the little shop of horrors:

A Dianthus from my own garden. (Planted of course by a green-fingered previous owner).

My Dianthus is growing beneath this lovely Spirea. I have also included a second image of the opened, super-busy flowers of a more mature-flowered part of the plant:


A Margarita, but I can’t remember from where:

I always find flowers so lovely to photograph. They are perfect subjects for intense, and often magical colour studies.

My Olympus OMD-10 again amazes me. Theoretically the larger sensor from my Canon DSLRs are better, but this, with a macro lens, is absolutely lovely, and so small and light.

Hope you liked them.



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What you are looking at here is the Old Man of Storr on the Isle of Skye. (Actually, I know, of course you are looking at Vishu, but cut me some slack and let me set the scene). The Old Man is at about 500m elevation from sea level. The climb from the roadside is about 300 metres or so, 1000 feet in old units, high in other words! You will therefore imagine my surprise on meeting this striking gentleman attired more for the dance floor than a Scottish mountain. The Old Man is about 50 metres (160 ft) high in case you care. Vishu was just an absolutely lovely guy, with a great sense of humour and a huge personality. Naturally I asked if he would allow me to take his picture, and he kindly consented. It is surprisingly hard to fit in your subject and a 50m tower in the same frame, but here is my quick effort at it.

Vishu kindly raised his cool shades for the second picture so that we could see his face properly and to reduce flash-bounceback; as it happens that hasn’t been a problem anyway. The picture was with my Oly OMD-10 and a 17mm prime. On-board, pop up flash to fill in Vishu’s face was used.

Thanks Vishu. I would certainly recommend some hillwalking gear before you do the Matterhorn though. 🙂


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