This is called a BS-1 by Nikon.

It slides into the flash grip on top of the camera and protects the contacts from water, muck etc.

I have just purchased a very expensive DSLR – and discovered that these things (which must cost about 1c to produce) are no longer supplied.

I thoroughly agree that it’s a good idea to limit waste, but this thing is actually useful – I could quite happily do without the umpteen layers of plastic bags, bubble wrap etc. inside the camera box, but this bit???


There are two major NIKON dealers here in the South-West (Toulouse) – Prophot and Numeriphot – as I have never visited Prophot  I’m going to concentrate on Numeriphot (who stock everything I shall ever need…)

Today was a momentous day – every day I welcome a new member to the stable of camera bodies is a momentous day! This has been on the books for a while, but a recent mail from Nikon announcing an open day at Numeriphot made me prick up my ears…in the mail, they talked about  an interest-free financing deal. Now this could be interesting.

I  drove over to Toulouse this morning to start the process…. The open day is the 15th (tomorrow) and  so I was the first client to try the interest-free credit thing, and boy did it take a long time – for some reason the credit agency and Patricia’s computer didn’t want to speak to one another – she spent an hour and a half toing and froing, telephones in both hands, before she got everything organised with the credit company…then I was finally able to get my hot, sweaty hands on what I had come for.

Can’t write anymore – I’m in mode ‘play’…

Finally, many thanks to Patricia (and top marks for keeping your cool!), George, Sebastien & Francis at Numeriphot.

Update: it now looks a bit like this…


Reporters sans Frontieres

You’ve just got to love living in a provincial town, here in France – life is so  S L O W.

Today is International Womens Rights day (International generally means everywhere) the 8th of March.

Reporters sans Frontières (Reporters without Borders) published one of their excellent albums to coincide with this day, and not surprisingly the images are….of women!

The only thing is, where we live we’re not considered part of ‘International’ in any shape, manner or form,  and the album will therefore not be available until tomorrow, or Saturday.

I wonder what would happen if we applied the same logic to Christmas…

No More Mister Nice Guy…

A couple of nasty niggling little events which have occurred recently are making me have second thoughts about photographing circus companies.

I’m usually pretty generous in A: the time I pass, and B: the rates I charge to photograph a ‘shooting’ but this has backfired recently and I’m wondering if it might be better to just stop all together.

The first company called me a few weeks ago, knowing that they were coming to Auch, and wanting to arrange a ‘shooting’ to be able to have a series of images to use for their grant demands, general promotion etc.

I told them my rates (which the chap I spoke to on the phone found extremely cheap) and we agreed on an afternoon shoot during their second week in Auch. I called in on them a few days before to introduce myself, and confirm that I would be there on the day, and that went well. I spent the afternoon with the company on the date agreed and sent them an album of over 100 images, some of which (in my opinion) made very suitable promotional material.

I heard nothing for four days, then, on the Saturday I received a call from the company asking whether it would be at all possible for me to come and repeat the exercise on the Sunday afternoon as while they were happy with the images, they didn’t like the clothes they were wearing. I agreed (reluctantly – it WAS a Sunday after all) and we re-did the shooting on the Sunday afternoon.

Over a week later, I received a mail explaining that they had selected roughly  20 images and asking what was the total number they could chose? I explained that as I had effectively done two afternoons work, that the total of 30 images per shooting would be doubled to 60. Very rapidly I received another mail explaining that as they only needed about 20 images, and that that would involve less work for me, couldn’t I not just forget the second shooting and charge for one?

I can’t help thinking that I’m being made to pay for their inability to decide anything – for instance, choose the right clothes for the photographs. I use a system of forfait – I charge a sum, finished images included, and you take it or leave it. I am not responsible for the fact they don’t think what they are doing.

I’m seriously questioning whether I will actually send the finished images at all.

The second event was another circus company who were well aware of the fact that I would come to photograph the artists working, but instead of a shooting this was just a regular ‘follow up’ of a new company coming to Auch – this is done to keep an archive of the people who pass by here, and the images are sometimes used for exhibitions etc. So I don’t actually get paid for the work, but at the same time, the companies generally get a couple of images.

In the event, knowing that I was free on the Monday, the director asked me to come on the Saturday – great. When I got there I felt the atmosphere was almost like a shooting, with the director moving me around all over the place and suggesting shots etc.

I finally managed to get away around lunchtime, and sent them an album the same afternoon. We had agreed in advance that I would offer them two free images.

The mail I received left me speechless – the wanted a whole mass of retouching on one of the images they had chosen, and on the second image I was supposed to use the body of the female artist from a previous shot!

I wrote back explaining that A: I wasn’t a Photoshop artists, that B: I had never suggested I would retouch to such an extent and C: that I never created ‘virtual’ images from various files, and that they could take it or leave it.

I think, in retrospect, that the fault is mine – I should have taken a written contract with me for both companies to read and sign so that everyone would be on the same page. If there are no boundaries, relying on people being reasonable just does not work – they are all out for as much as they can get, sadly forgetting that my rates are some of the cheapest around.

Oh well, live and learn.

Fairy Story?

Once upon a time, in a land not so far away, a young girl lived in a nice flat, in a nice town. She lived her life, went  to work, went running – all the normal things normal people do, normally.

Since the time she had been living in the nice town she had been making lots of friends, and one couple seemed, on the surface, very warm and friendly and she got on well with them. One day the couple decided to get married – the preparations for the marriage went on for over a year and one day, she received an invitation to the marriage.

Shortly before she received the invitation she broke up with her boyfriend. The couple getting married had met him and seemed to like him, and she thought no more of it – until she received the invitation. The couple asked her who she would be coming with, and when she replied that she would be bringing her new boyfriend, they said no, that they didn’t know him and that they didn’t want him to come.

This made her very upset – were these people, who she had got on so well with, really trying to choose her friends? She decided to go alone to the ceremony, but to skip the reception as she would rather spend the time with her new boyfriend (who had taken the weekend off, just for the wedding).

Then she got to thinking – and a number of strange memories came back to her – wasn’t it this couple who, when they were invited to parties or for a meal and brought a bottle with them, left the evening taking back the bottle? Wasn’t it this couple who offered to make her a birthday cake – and then when they gave her the cake, also gave her the bill for all the ingredients?

Finally she decided to send them a message saying that, all things considered, they had upset her so much that she wasn’t really interested in their wedding – thank you very much.

Not an easy choice – but the best one for her, IMHO

Are you Square?

There’s something very appealing to me about square photographs. I’m not sure exactly what it is, and it’ll probably sound silly to any ‘real’ photographer, but there’s something both serious and reassuring about the format.

At work we’re hosting an exhibition by a local amateur photographer, and he has chosen to frame his 35mm format (24×36) images in a square format. It helps that they are essentially monochrome (snow etc.) but it works SO well.

In the ‘old’ days there were more formats available – 24×36 was the ‘go-to’ format for 35mm photographers, but also 6×45, 6×6, 6×9 etc. for roll film users.  But there were also the formats which had developed from the so-called ‘plate’ cameras of the turn of the century, with strange aspect ratios like 4″x5″, 10″x8″ etc.  Many of these are still in use today, using flexible film rather than rigid glass plates.

For a long time photographs were never ‘re-worked’ as they were simply contact prints – the negative (a light sensitive emulsion on a glass plate) was simply laid onto a piece of photographic paper and the light turned on to expose the paper. Eventually, as the film formats got smaller, ‘enlargers’ were invented to make the resulting prints bigger – but I digress.

I remember my father visiting the railway archives in Edinburgh where he was able to see the original glass plate negatives made when the Forth Bridge was being built (1882/89) – these were 20″ x 16″ (45cm x 40cm) – imagine the size of the camera!!

It’s not simply a case of choosing a square bit from a rectangular negative – there’s an ‘art’ to framing the shot in a square format. I’m used to using a 6×6 camera so the composition is easy – all you see is a square image – and I think this is possibly something that all photographers should try…

This image was taken from a 24×36 format, but framed for a square result. I think it works.

The Phoblographer

The Phoblographer is essentially a Facebook based ‘blog’ all about photography, which seems reaonable given the name…

In between articles about the latest ‘must have’ camera strap or bag, there are sometimes some interesting articles – a recent one regarding the UNSPLASH photo hosting site was actually very good – but then 90% of it was a video made by a working photographer…

Another recent article, entitled « Set it and forget it » is about using the Program exposure mode on your camera. Again, the major part of the article was given over to a video by Eric Kim (apparently a ‘respected’ street photographer – a Google search shows he’s everywhere – virtually, that is) and I have to say his explications, well, they’re completely wrong.

The basic premiss here is that all ‘real’ photographers use manual mode, and that this is not necessarily adapted to all shooting situations. WRONG – manual mode is adapted to ALL shooting situations – it just means it takes experience to set the camera correctly for each shot. To make things easier for the photographer, the manufacturers invented Program mode which lets the photographer change a few settings (White balance (what?), ISO, exposure compensation) while controlling the aperture and shutter speed. Kim explains that he is often going in and out of  dark and/or light situations, and in manual mode it’s a pain to be constantly changing settings, and missing shots. I agree with him.

The idea that Program mode is the way to go is just nonsense – I use aperture priority pretty much all the time – I can choose the depth-of-field I want, and then I let the camera do the rest – I never miss a shot due to camera settings. I shoot RAW so white balance is something to do in post processing, and I can’t remember the last time I changed the ISO value. I do, however, change the exposure correction when the lighting is simply too confusing for the camera and needs a little help (sunrises, sunsets etc.).  That’s why it’s there…

I have never used Program mode – I have total control once I have chosen the aperture value I think is needed for the scene, as the camera will set the shutter speed and I know I can hand hold very slow settings (or use a tripod) and Program mode would take away all the flexibility I’m used to.

Kim is a ‘street’ photographer, and frankly I would have thought he’d know better…

No more Nymphs?

It just keeps getting better and better – the ripple effect of the Weinstein affair is touching more and more cultural events.

This pre-Raphaelite painting Hylas And The Nymphs was painted by John William Waterhouse in 1896. Until a few days ago it was on show at the Manchester Art Gallery. Now all that remains in it’s place is a small card apologising for it’s absence and « it’s hoped the absence will “prompt conversations” instead.

Why? Well following on from the  rape allegations surrounding pretty much every able-bodied male in America, groups are popping-up everywhere with improbable hashtags like #metoo (#balancetonporc in France) etc.  and criticising anything and everything with the slightest gender signification.

The painting above has been slammed (by certain minority groups) as being fundamentally pedophile. Where do these idiots get this rubbish?  Courbets 1866 masterpiece « Les Origines du Monde » has also been attacked – even to the point of being censored on Facebook.

The situation is extremely worrying – people are not allowed to judge for themselves anymore – someone somewhere has to make up everybody’s minds for them. I can fully understand violent or degrading images should be treated carefully, but in more and more cases, these images are left available « the public has a right to know » while true works of art are damned by ignorant sycophants who are just searching for another (lost) cause to latch on to and criticise.

It makes me cross because this is fast becoming the norm, and for a visual artist such as myself, this is really the thin end of the wedge. It has to stop, but even more sadly, to criticise the critics only leaves one wide open to censorship or worse…I fear this is not over by a long shot.


Free Photos?

Had an interesting mail yesterday, from a chap who wanted to use one of my circus images for the cover of his new book.

Judging by the content/title of the book, this is niche publishing in all it’s glory, with a professional audience of about 5 people. He didn’t divulge what the print run was expected to be, but stressed the fact that it would not be main stream!

I suppose I should have been weary when he wrote « I notice on your site, that the images are not free of rights » (Meaning yes, you have to pay to use them) but I looked up the appropriate listing and regardless of the print run, most ‘realistic’ working photographers charge between 300€ and 500€ for a paperback.

I replied to his mail proposing 250€, to which I quickly received an almost curt reply « I’ll be very clear about this, but I shall not be using your photograph »

Er…ok – this means that he obviously expected to be able use the image free of charge, or at least, for very little. Sadly, this can’t happen – it ‘dilutes’ the impact and directly harms the working professional – if everyone were to do this, the pros would never get paid at all. I ‘worked’ to produce the image, so I don’t think it’s unreasonable to think that you will have to pay to use it.

Showing me your pissed doesn’t affect me at all – but rather hi-lights the continuing « It’s on Internet, so it must be free » attitude prevalent at the moment. I wonder if he would consider giving away his book? I mean, after all, if everything is supposed to be free….


Four Hundred and counting…

In fact there are now more than 400 individual albums on my site, 415 to be exact. This is remarkable as I’ve never really counted the contents before, but the system of databases etc. that I have built to ‘control’ the site keeps coming back with ever larger numbers. (For example, there are 4734 images in 181 albums just for the Circus Arts part…for a site-wide total of more than 10900 images!)

I noticed that the albums concerning the CiRCa Festival were not appearing in the general ‘Circus Arts’ part of the site – this was an error, which I have now corrected, and not unreasonably this has increased the total somewhat!

There are only ever a maximum of four albums for the Welcome in Tziganie festival as I keep everything on a daily basis – I don’t break it down into groups or artists. This and a ‘Selection’ album is sufficient.

The circus arts and concert albums are obviously different as these generally have enough content for an album per artist.

Sadly due to lighting problems (or rather, the fact that the level of lighting is getting steadily worse and worse at the Cri’Art, and the people responsible don’t seem to care…)  I am no longer shooting the artists/concerts there. Seemingly the current ‘trend’ is to light the scene from behind, and then to flash the lights on and off all the time, presumably to mesmorise the paying public – sadly this isn’t ideal for taking photographs, so I’ve stopped until they come to their senses.

In any case, I seem to have enough to occupy myself with the companies in residence at CiRCa, and two dedicated shootings later on this year. I’m also hoping to be able to get back into the caserne and continue my ‘Imaginary Dancer’ project this year. Looking forward to that.