Diverse Abilities (update)

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Although the majority of the shoots for Diverse Abilities were on location around Poole and Bournemouth, part of the project involved taking dozens of head-shots of members of the organisation at HQ. The project has spanned a few months now and it’s great to finally see the whole thing come together as it draws to a close. The final series of portraits was a good way to end the time I’ve been working closely with the charity.

I’ve heard that the website launch should take place early next week so I shall post another update as soon as I hear from them!

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Diverse Abilities

Through December and into January I’m working with leading South West disability charity, Diverse Abilities. I have been commissioned to assist them with a major re-branding exercise. The project involves working closely with the marketing team, staff and service users to provide several hundred photographs at specialist settings, schools and short break activities. The enthusiasm of everyone involved is making this one of the most enjoyable projects I have worked on.

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Snowdonia, Wales.

For the first time in years my family were all in the same country. We decided to take this opportunity to book a short trip to somewhere that means a lot to us – Snowdonia National Park. We were lucky enough to find a country house built on the lakeside of Llyn Gwynant in the Nant Gwynant valley – a place known for stunning views. My birthday was that week and my brother had got married a couple of weeks previously, so it seemed like a good way to celebrate. With a log fire burning in the evenings and no light and sound around for miles, the house felt pleasantly remote. A perfect base for hikes and photography trips.

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By day, the views from the bedrooms were stunning. However, during a clear night the views became pretty spectacular.

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A couple of images taken with the Fuji X100S.

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Here are a few photos taken with my Nokia 925. It’s a very light and capable camera for hikes. I took these as HDR images (to get some of the dynamic range back lost by the sensor) and then added a black and white filter to remove the typical HDR look from the images while still retaining the increased dynamic range.

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Bart’s Bash – The World’s Largest Sailing Race

On Sunday the 21st September 2014, The Andrew Simpson Sailing Centre at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy hosted Bart’s Bash. This sailing race joined together over 10,000 sailors from approximately 725 sailing clubs worldwide. The race itself aimed to set a new Guinness World Record, raise money for charity, inspire the next generation of sailors and to remember Andrew ‘Bart’ Simpson, Gold and Silver  Olympic medalist and America’s Cup sailor.

Saturday saw many of us at the ASSC (Andrew Simpson Sailing Centre) working  to make sure everything was set up on time. All of the boats were lined up and  checked to confirm that they were ready for the families and people taking part the following day. Towards the end of the afternoon, I met with Olympians Iain Percy and Paul Goodison and photographed them preparing one of their own boats for the race on Sunday.

The Andrew Simpson Sailing Centre, based at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy, UK, getting ready for charity sailing race, 'Bart's Bash', and making last minute checks before the big day on Sunday.

The Andrew Simpson Sailing Centre, based at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy, UK, getting ready for charity sailing race, 'Bart's Bash', and making last minute checks before the big day on Sunday.

The Andrew Simpson Sailing Centre, based at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy, UK, getting ready for charity sailing race, 'Bart's Bash', and making last minute checks before the big day on Sunday.

The day of the race saw the wind speed pick up from 4 knots on Saturday to a much more reassuring 18 knots on Sunday morning. Despite the centre being very organised in preparation for the race,  the big job of signing everyone in delayed the race by an hour and gave everyone that little bit more time to clarify and make final checks.

I was originally going to be given my own RIB for the day in which I could position myself where ever needed (the advantage of being a sailing instructor for the centre). However, due to the fact I was required to not only photograph the event for the press releases and for the Andrew Simpson Foundation itself, I was also needed to film the start and finish of each of the three races for the Guinness World Record. All of these responsibilities meant that I would require a driver so that I wouldn’t have to anchor up on the start line for every race. It was later decided I would be located on the committee boat, which was a far more comfortable yacht and large enough to walk around to position myself for the best shot. It also had a spacious cabin below deck which would make it much easier for me to edit my images between each race.

Before leaving for the committee boat I was phoned and asked to take a few photos of Iain Percy and Freddie being interviewed before the big race.

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I brought with me a 5D Mkii and a 60D (for the differing crop factors to double my lenses’ focal lengths), a selection of lenses and a Fuji X100S for the basic filming needed and as a spare compact. This was also the first opportunity I had to test my new Surface Pro 3 out on a job, and a job which should be ideal for it.

Keeping the equipment to a minimum, all of this kit fitted into a single, small (Retrospective 7) shoulder bag.

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I had one of the witnesses/volunteers on the committee boat film for me while I photographed the race starts. The start of race one was quite a sight as boats eased their way to the start line, keeping their sails depowered until ready. Then when the signal was given, a line of boats pulled quickly upwind as they came past the stern of the committee boat and along our port side – perfect for photographs.

Once race one was completed I headed below deck to download the photos to the Surface. I quickly passed them through Lightroom for a quick edit and to resize them for upload. Tethering the Surface to my phone, I sent a few of the better shots back to the Academy to the press team who were waiting for me and would forward them on for the press releases – which to my knowledge were published on the BBC, Sail World, and Practical Boat Owner sites soon afterwards. The Surface was a pleasure to work on and so far seems like a photographer’s dream device. (Note: I shall possibly write a full review of the Surface Pro 3 from a photographer’s point of view at a later date and after more experience. This is mainly because there wasn’t many reviews for the device when I was researching it from people who use it in the way I do – Photography, editing, sketching, music recording and the like. I thought this was strange as this seems to be the niche audience that the Surface is completely ideal for.)

Between each race I had time to upload, back up and make a quick edit of the images, easing the work load once back on land. I shot an email over to the photo agency I was working with as we made our way back to inform them of the arrival of the images shortly. Once I had returned, I pulled up a seat in the office and made some final touches before exporting in full resolution and uploading them to the agency – something that needed a full wifi  connection rather than a tethered phone connection.

Raising over £200, 000 for the Foundation and breaking a Guinness World Record, the day was a huge success, if quite a hectic one. Not only was the turnout impressive at the ASSC, but according to the event manager Tim Anderton, “So many clubs have emailed us to say that Bart’s Bash transformed their club and they got two or three times the typical turnout they would expect for a club race.”

Richard Percy, CEO of the Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation, said “The turnout on September 21st exceeded our expectations and we are very happy that we provided a truly global opportunity for people to come together and enjoy sailing. We hope this event will become a regular feature in the global sailing calendar.”

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Super-moonlight

This years Perseid Meteor Shower was unfortunately outshone by the Perigee Full Moon (appropriately dubbed the ‘supermoon’) occurring on the 10th of August 2014. Although many people initially ventured out at night in search of the meteors, the spectacular moon lit up most of the sky. Although I managed to see around a dozen meteors, the light from the moon made trying to capture any photographs of shooting star trails pointless.

The surreal lighting conditions did however enable me to get some otherwise difficult exposures of the landscape being lit by what felt like a small sun. The images below were taken not long before midnight.

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High Mead Farm (update)

Having a spare couple of days this week, I thought it would be a great opportunity to pay a visit to the guys at High Mead Farm to see how they were getting on.  I was really surprised to see how much the Care Farm had progressed since my last visit. The poly-tunnels are now full of a wide range of different organic food and even the pumpkin patch is inflating nicely. Both the range and number of animals currently on the farm has grown enormously and now includes sheep, pigs, miniature Shetland ponies, donkeys, chickens, chicks, Indian Runner Ducks, turkeys, guinea pigs and the ever hungry goats.

It was great to catch up with Will and hear about how the Farm is progressing. It was also a pleasure to catch up with some of the regular visitors who I hadn’t seen for several months. I offered to update the Farm’s image library with some fresh images, a few of which are shown below.

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Andrew Simpson Sailing Centre Grand Opening

Friday the 9th of May 2014 saw the official opening of the Andrew Simpson Sailing Centre at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy.

Andrew Simpson was an Olympic gold medallist looked up to by sailors around the world. He was tragically killed in San Francisco Bay during an unfortunate training accident in May 2013.

The Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation was founded by Sir Ben Ainslie, Iain Percy OBE and Andrew’s dedicated wife, Leah. The purpose of the Foundation is to honour Andrew’s life and to encourage the younger generation to take part in sailing activities.

 

“On behalf of the trustees of the Foundation, we’re really overwhelmed by the turnout today from friends and colleagues who knew Andrew. It was a tough decision to launch the centre on the 9th May, being a year today that we lost the great man, but we felt that is was another great opportunity to celebrate him. Not a time to reflect and be sad, but a chance to continue the great things that he did in his life,”

– Iain Percy OBE.

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