2017 has been a fantastic year for me with some notable events under my belt, the two biggest being Wales v England in the RBS Six Nations, where one of my images made the front cover of The Observer. The second major event was Il Palio in Siena in August where I got to cover every aspect of the spectacle over a four day period. my images from Il Palio were featured in The Malta Independent and have been used widely on social media. by Palio di Siena
The following are some of my favourite images of the year, I hope you enjoy looking at them as much as I have enjoyed capturing them.
Here Scarlets’ Scott Williams scores a try under the posts against Saracens. This try put Scarlets into the lead with not much time left on the clock. I took a gamble in the second half, rather than follow Saracens I stuck with the Scarlets attack. Had Saracens not levelled the game right at the death this would have been the winning try and possibly may have had some usage.
Siena is a beautiful city, a jewel in the crown of Tuscany, even without the Palio it is a place I would visit over and over. With the Piazza del Campo, Palazzo Pubblico, Duomo, beautiful winding streets, the list goes on. But the Palio is the lifeblood of the people there and makes it a uniquely magical destination. I was lucky enough to spend time in Siena during the August 2017 Palio (the race is also run in July) to experience and photograph as much of the event as I could. I learnt a lot in those few days and gained more than a collection of photographs.
On 2nd of July and 16th August each year the Palio race is held at Piazza Il Campo between the 10 of the 17 contrada of the city. The event is so much more than the race with events in the days leading up to the race and a historical pageant featuring all 17 contrada. I planned to attend the event on 16th August and duly arrived in Siena early in the morning and after taking time to familiarise myself (again) with the Piazza settled on the best spot for me. After several hours waiting with many others the organisers let everyone know by hoisting a green flag to announce that the race would be postponed.
The race was last postponed in 1980 some 35 years ago. So I resolved to return the following day and take up the same spot. However, I arrived at 10 am and found that the spot I wanted was already occupied (the race starts around 19:30!). I chose another spot and set in for the day, after a nine hour wait I was rewarded with the race itself an experience not to be missed.
The following set of images are taken from both days I hope that you enjoy them as much I enjoyed the day!
A little while back I got to go to a Cardiff Devils game, as foster carers we had the option of going to a Christmas pantomime or the Ice Hockey. We choose the Ice Hockey and what a great experience we had, the kids absolutely loved it and I got a chance to take a few photos.
I didn’t get a press pass for this game as they had already allocated them out, but I got to shoot a few pictures from the side of the ice. The team at Cardiff Devils went out of their way to accommodate us and couldn’t have been nicer. The kids got to meet some of the players after the game and got pictures and autographs with them.
We loved it so much that we are going back next week and with any luck I’ll be able to get a pass for that game and get some more action. Here are a few images from the game, which the Devils won 4-1.
In my last post I gave my first impressions on the Canon 7D Mark II once I had used the camera in a real world situation. In that post I covered how the camera handled at a professional rugby match. The only real disappointment I had was that the lights at the stadium were very good and meant that I didn’t need to push the ISO beyond 1600 to get the shutter speed and aperture needed to isolate and freeze the action. As a commissioned match I didn’t want to experiment too much as it was key to capture the required images. This weekend I didn’t have a commission so looked for a game to attend that would test the ISO capabilities more. I received accreditation for a game at Sandy Park featuring local rivals Exeter and Bath in the LV Cup.
I recently took delivery of Canon’s new 7D Mark II APS-C camera, I got to take the camera out with me to a Professional Rugby Match on Friday 31st October. As the 7D Mark II is designed as a sports and action camera this was an ideal opportunity to put it through it’s paces. This isn’t a technical pixel peeping review of the camera more first a impressions feel for how it performed.
As a freelance photographer I have to buy my own equipment, I currently shoot with two Canon 5D Mark III’s but for sport I really need something with a higher frame rate and deeper buffer. I was giving serious consideration to the 1DX but that is a significant investment so when the rumours of a 7D Mark II starting getting stronger I held off until I was certain that the camera was a reality. Canon announced the 7D Mark II on 15th September and I pre-ordered one as soon as they were listed on the WEX Photographic website. The specifications of the camera looked exactly what; I needed AF on a par or better than the 5D3; 10 frames per second with a huge buffer and the added benefit of a 1.6 crop factor. I owned the original 7D and in fairness it is a great camera but the image quality suffered a lot when the ISO was raised beyond around 1250, in my experience. So the one thing that concerned me about the 7D Mark II was if the image quality would be good enough for my purposes.
As a family we normally go to Italy for our summer break, our favourite and normal destination is the beautiful Lake Garda. This year for a change we decided to take in Tuscany and found an amazing 14th Century Tower in the quiet village of Montecatini Val di Cecina. The owner of the tower Luca was very helpful and friendly, I would recommend anyone to stay there it was a real treat. Apart from the incredible scenery in Italy the other reason we love to visit is the fact that the people there are so incredibly friendly and welcoming, they’re pretty laid back too. We have decided that we will live there one day when the kids have grown up and are no longer dependant upon us (just don’t tell them).
Whilst we were in Tuscany we took in Volterra, Siena, Florence and Pisa. I have posted some photographs before of the places that we have visited but I wanted to combine the whole trip in to one post to also include some photographs that were not in the original posts, for example the landscapes. Sadly for us the trip to Pisa was during a very wet day and whilst we did go up the tower and around the cathedral it didn’t make for good photographs. However, we have already decided to return to Tuscany next year for our break so will go back hopefully when the weather is more conducive to photography.
Normally I take my Canon DSLRs on holiday and a selection of lenses, but of late I have been working with the FujiFilm X system cameras and decided to take only my X-E2 and three lenses, the 10-24mm F4, 35mm F1.4 and the 56mm F1.2. I very much enjoy using this system, it really feels to me like a camera with soul and is so simple to use. For the kind of photography displayed here the camera is more than capable of creating amazing pictures and will be using the system more and more. Also I find that when taking street portraits or candid photographs the size and appearance of the X-E2 is less obtrusive than a big DSLR and makes me far less conspicuous.
So here is a set of my favourite photographs from our trip, they include some pictures of the incredible scenery that we saw nearby and indeed from the tower itself. Please fell free to view and share the link and if so inclined leave a comment at the bottom of the page.
As a photographer it is important to keep pushing yourself and developing your skills. One way to do this is to take on personal projects that aren’t funded by client commissions. In doing this you can try out new ideas and techniques without the fear of failure. I recently embarked on such a project but it has grown from being a small personal project into something much bigger.
For me to be able to realise the project and make it happen I need to get some funding to pay for the trip and expenses whilst capturing the images. The project is will allow me to create a photobook with fine art images of Rodeo Cowboys and Cowgirls in action and behind the scenes. For a UK photographer that is quite difficult as we don’t have rodeos in our part of the world. I became fascinated with rodeo from afar and have since attended the biggest one day rodeo at the Dallas Cowboys stadium in Arlington Texas. That was an amazing experience and has simply intensified my interest in what can only be described as the most amazing sport.
I have been working on the project for some time and have enlisted the support of my friend Skip Cohen who will be writing the foreword for the final photo book. In addition to that I have been in discussions with UK and USA children’s charities who will be the recipient of a percentage of profits from sales one the book. I will announce the two charities in the next week. Further support has been provided by Fujifilm UK and I will be using their amazing cameras for the vast majority of photographs for the project.
The project is really important to me and I hope that it will raise awareness for this incredible sport this side of the pond. The Cowboys and Cowgirls are the most down to earth people you could wish to meet and have time for everyone.
However, it is really important for people to realise that I can only do the project if I get the funding I have set on my Kickstarter campaign. If the project gets to the end date without meeting the target I don’t get a single penny and the project won’t happen. Therefore if you have enjoyed any of the photographs on my blog or on the Facebook page it would be great if you could back the project. It doesn’t matter where you are in the world, although the prices are in British Pounds (£) you can pledge Kickstarter will convert the amount to your local currency when the project completes. Additionally it is important to note that the pledged funds are not taken until the campaign ends and if it is successfully funded.
The project can be found at Kickstarter please click the Back This Project Button and pledge what you can from £1 ($1.60) upwards.
Here are some of the promotional images from the project I hoe you enjoy them and help me to make another trip to get enough to make the book happen.
I thought whilst I was away with the family on a weekend break I would take the chance to really get to know the Fuji Film X-E2 especially as it will be featuring heavily in the photo book project I am working on (Cowboy Up). Here are a few photographs from the weekend all taken with the X-E2 and 35mm Lens. This camera is a joy to use and feels so natural in the hands it makes a change from having the big heavy DSLR and bag full of lenses.
I have used Canon DSLRs for many years now but feel that sometimes they get in the way of the photography and like a lot of photographers have been looking to find a solution to that issue. Having spent enough time with the camera in practical situations I now feel confident that I can use the Fuji X cameras in professional situations. Whilst the X-E2 is a joy to use the key aspect is the fact that the image quality of the photographs is outstanding. As long as your basic understanding of photography is sound you can quickly get to a point where you get the picture that you want using the simple controls of the camera and lens.
This set of photographs is from a family weekend away to North West Wales where we took in Llyn Brianne Reservior and Aberdyfi. Thanks to Jude, Tegan and Bentley (the dog) for their patience whilst I took these pictures. Although to be honest I feel that it took less time to get the shot with this system than my usual cameras.
I was privileged to be able to photograph the worlds biggest one day Rodeo at the AT&T Stadium, Arlington Texas (the home of the Dallas Cowboys). This was my first ever Rodeo and one of the most exciting days sport I have ever witnessed. RFD-TV gave me (and my wife) a press pass for this prestigious event and were incredibly hospitable to us the entire day.
The day gave each event winner the opportunity to win $100,000 outright. But if you came into the event as a qualifier or had an exemption and won your event you had the chance to share in a bonus prize fund of $1,000,000. As it proved 21 year old Richmond Champion was the only qualifier to win his event in the Bareback and took home $1,100,000 for his efforts.
Although this was my first Rodeo it will not be my last and I am working on a project that will take me back again to spend more time with the Cowboys and document their way of life.
There are a selection of photographs from the event for sale in my online gallery