How to Take a Great Photo

F8 and Be There
The phrase 'f8 and be there' is an old press photography adage explaining that the sure-fire way to get a great photo is to set your camera aperture to f8, and make sure you're in exactly the right place when that dramatic something happens! 

Although 'f8 & be there' is a simplistic aphorism, a witty joke giving you only two parameters to get a great shot, those two central ideas can be used by photographers of all skill levels to achieve a good result.  

For landscape photographers this means finding the right spot to set up your camera & tripod, at exactly the right time of day.  As you know, sunsets happen over the last half hour of the day, so you need to time your photo trip to be in place and ready for that half-hour.  An hour early and the scene is too bright, an hour later and you've missed all the fun.  Timing is key.
As is being in the right spot. The luxury of planning where to be is something that press photographers rarely have,…

Storms and Jigsaws

Earlier in the year I photographed the Valentine's Day storm ripping apart Penzance promenade, even though it is constructed of two-ton granite blocks. The swells were heavy enough to break up the jigsaw construction and scatter hundreds of them along the shoreline. 

The blocks were recovered from the sea bed and craned onto the top of the prom where they have rested all summer, awaiting someone to come and replace them. Someone genius enough to unscramble the pile and rebuild this jigsaw.

So yesterday I went down with a camera to see how the crane and workmen have been piecing it back together over the past few weeks. 

 The engineers studied old photos and drawings of the prom to make sure the rebuild is a close as possible to the original.

It's a fantastic piece of heavy engineering which is occurring on the promenade now, one not seen since the prom was first built, and when it got breached by a storm in 1966. Imagine how difficult it would have been when it was first bu…

95 Year Old Man is the Youngest to do this...

As ever it's been a while since I posted here, so 'Hello!' and thanks for checking back. There has been busyness in the photo world with a variety of local shoots. Artist of the Month shoots for Cornwall Today magazine always provide interesting people, frequently with amazing art works, and I feel privileged to be able to photograph this aspect of the creative Cornish life. 

I usually shoot quite a few pictures when we (writer Alex Wade and I) visit the artists, of which sometimes only three will make it on to the printed page, so it's great for the other images get an outing too. You can now find the rest of the shoot in the magazine's new Artists Gallery.

So much for culture, for God's sake tell us about the extreme sports! I hear you cry. Well the surfing end of the extreme sports spectrum is alive and well in Cornwall, with Spring time blue swells aplenty thundering in to our shores I can report. Though not for me, alas, with a major (read minor) surfing…

Rake-y Masters

I had been out on a windy, rainy, grey and overcast day to do an interior shoot. Naturally the interior had to have a 'sunny, summery feel'.  Presumably that was the reason it was commissioned in mid December then. Plus it was incredibly urgent, needed immediate post-processing and sending to the client immediately after that, if not sooner.
 So much, so normal. But I knew there was a decent swell running which, if the correct bit of shelter from a difficult wind could be tracked down, would undoubtedly turn up some decent looking waves. With only a brief window of opportunity due to the shortness of the days at this time of year, looking was all I had time to do.

The First Law of Surfing being what it is, I presently came across several sheltered spots which were firing.

Having driven around looking at all the places I couldn't surf, I ended up in St Ives with just enough daylight left to make the interior look, er, summery, and got ready to shoot back to base and start …

After the Storms

Yesterday was a fantastic day down here in Cornwall, the second sunny one after a massive storm that smashed sections of Penzance promenade, the Jubilee Pool and Newlyn Green. On Sunday the promenade was almost as crowded as on Pirate Day with locals and visitors alike inspecting the damage to the prom and pool.  A sort of Dunkirk spirit pervaded the atmosphere.

 At Sennen it was the same story, the cove filled with half-term holiday makers strolling in the sun, having a look at what all the fuss was about in the national press when '200ft Waves' were reported crashing into the cliffs at Sennen.  Today there were decent surf-able waves, the sunshine making Sennen look more like its normal inspiring self. Apart from the sand, that is.

There is a distinct lack of sand on the beach at the moment, the giant scouring swells of the last weeks having shifted it out into the bay, an oceanic action repeated on several beaches in the south west. Never fear though, it will come back, gra…

A Reef History of Time

It was morning, and work timings had unusually left me free for a couple of hours. That would normally mean the surf was onshore, or blown out, or flat or something, adhering as it usually does to the First Law of Surfing. But not today.

Today looked like a bleak, grey, midwinter day with (from a brief glimpse of the sea on the school run) a weak looking swell and the wind threatening to go onshore. But I had time. Time to take pictures. So I trawled along the coast looking for surf or seascape images, but found very little. Until I came to the reef. Which, oddly, seemed to be firing.

 Several locals and some of the Aggy crew were making the most of a small day before the expected 'Hercules II' storm at the weekend.

A chill wind cut through the grey pall that hung over the break, warmed slightly by the relaxed atmosphere.

Then the tide turned and the sets started picking up, throwing heavier barrels just as the sun started to peek through rapidly parting clouds. Blue sky was v…

Tom Bawcock's Eve

This article appears in the December issue of Cornwall Today magazine 
if you want to see it in its full technicolour design glory.

Tom Bawcock’s Eve
A merry place you may believe, Was Mouzel 'pon Tom Bawcock's Eve

It's December 23rd, very nearly Christmas, ‘Just two more sleeps, so exciting!’ as my four year old informs me, at half past three in the morning. Later that day, in the warmth of the Ship Inn, Mousehole, glasses chink and holiday conversations flow. Outside, families stroll around the picturesque harbour, absorbing the village's famous lights as they twinkle in the gathering winter darkness. It’s a picture perfect portrait of a Cornish seaside village at Christmas. But there’s something more in the pub today, a subtle undercurrent of expectation, a buzz in the air, a reason the pub is so densely packed. Oddly, the pub bell rings out quite soon after sunset, and a hush quickly spreads through the pub’s warren of nooks and crannies. A heavy bass voice boo…