Marathon Photo Déclic 2018

I have to admit, I’m knackered. It’s actually surprising just how much effort is involved in organising these things! Anyway, the hardest bit is now over…all that’s left is the jury and the prize giving.

This is someone trying desperately to sell the themes – without any success – to passers by.

The morning started well with 86 participants in the BIJ waiting for the ‘off’ at 10h. I have to do a little speech, explaining things etc. etc. (which apparently that went ok) and at 10h the first theme was splashed up on the video-projector.

Everybody had to meet at the Cathedral in Auch so we all set off and climbed up to the top of the town – and at 10h20 I divided the 86 participants into 2 groups – one group disappeared with a guide, and the other group were given information to follow a little ‘parcours’ at the top of the town to visit things they might not know even existed. What the second group didn’t know initially was that the first group were having a guided tour of the inside of the Cathedral.

At 11h30 the two large groups changed and the whole thing started again – with people moving back towards to BIJ to download their images and eat (very important!) at 13h

We all ate together in the concert hall – we provided the drinks (we even had a keg of beer!) and the participants brought their own lunches.

At 14h the third theme was announced on the video-projector and they all went off out again. Everyone had to remember to meet at Ciné32 at 15h20 – where I announced the fourth and  final theme – « Follow me » I said, and they did…into a circus tent where I had organised a demonstration by a group of local circus artists. This went down very well and at 16h30 we were all back at the BIJ for the last round of downloading.

After the last images had been transfered, we started the diaporama which showed all of the 559 images, one after another.

Everybody seemed to enjoy what we had organized – which of course just makes it more difficult for next year (!) – but I’m happy to say we had the most participants (86), the broadest age range (7 – 77years old) and the most images – 559.  Looking at the initial albums there’s a lot of good work….I can’t help thinking the jury is going to have it’s work cut out tomorrow!

Backblaze – first 3 weeks






I decided to use Backblaze to keep a copy of my image files on a Cloud server. Their offer is reasonable – 50$/year for unlimited space – so I signed up on the 15th of April and started my initial backup.

Things chugged along ok for a couple of weeks, and when I checked, 777Gb of data had been copied (I have 4,7Tb to copy in total…)

Then on the 2nd of May my iMac restarted itself when it installed an Apple update (Like an idiot, I forgot to ‘uncheck’ the ‘automatic install’ of updates.)

When the machine restarted, so did the backup – but for some strange reason there were only 146 Gb of data on the Backblaze servers.

I sent a message to their help desk – the reply (from a certain ‘Christopher’) bore no relation to the question I had asked. I had simply restated the details (above) and received a mail explaining why files were marked for copying etc.

No Christopher – first, read the f****g question.

I wrote back, asking whether or not they had actually read my original mail, only to receive another unintelligible mail.

I also downloaded the IOS app for Backblaze so that I could check on progress on my telephone. It should allow touch recognition to start the app (instead of having to type in the e-mail address and password each time) and asks if you want to set this up when you install the app. This doesn’t work either.

So after my brief experience with them, I’m very disappointed – if only I could get a REAL response to my (simple) question – frankly I cannot recommend a system where the A: users questions are ignored, and B: bits don’t function.

Sadly I’ve paid my 50$ and I doubt I’ll get that back, but I am looking around for an alternative backup system…


In fairness to Backblaze, I’ve just had an understandable answer (took a while guys…) were ‘Robert’ (AKA ‘Christopher’) informs me that they seem to think something on my computer is generating ‘extra’ files which are being uploaded. I can’t imagine where they come from, or indeed what they are – and of course, there’s STILL no explanation for the sudden DECREASE in the file count. They suggest restarting the computer and seeing what happens…

…so I have.


Welcome in Tziganie 2018

Well of course, after a weeks sun, this weekend it’s wet – but we expected it – it’s the weekend for Welcome in Tziganie, the Tzigane music festival here in the Gers – wouldn’t be the same if there wasn’t any rain…

After having complained to the organiser (a friend of mine, luckily!) that there wasn’t enough animation on stage  (I mean, a fanfare (group of very static musicians playing for an hour) is all very well, but it would be SO much better with a dancer)  this year we’ve had dancers with most of the artists.

The festival lasts from Friday evening to Sunday evening, and the very first group was, for me, one of the best as it featured Nuria Rovira Salat, a singer/dancer I met a few years ago and who lights up any stage!


She was the high-light, for me at least, for Friday – yesterday we had a group of Rajasthanis called DHOAD

Tonight will be interesting…

Bye bye flickr

It’s been fun (sometimes) but I think it’s time to stop giving away my images for free, or worse, letting someone somewhere decide what they want to do with my work, and this without even letting me know…

Flickr started as a free, independent platform for file (image/video) sharing a few years ago and seemed quite a good idea – a number of web-based photographic fora didn’t allow uploading of images, so it was easier to use Flickr to stock the images and simply give a link to the image in a forum post.

Flickr has two basic modes – ‘free’, with an unlimited number of uploads, but a limited file size, or ‘pro’ where the file size is unlimited too, but costs $22/year. In terms of security, the user can limit access to his files to a list of family (‘friends’) but people rarely do this, which means that pretty much anything visible can be copied, downloaded and then used by anyone.

On April 19th 2018 Flickr was bought by the people who run SmugMug another file hosting outfit – that I’m not at all familiar with – and the current users of Flickr have until the 24th of May to copy/download/destroy the contents of their accounts if they don’t want it migrated to SmugMug.

I don’t, so I’m off – (as it happens my account renewal is on the 3rd of May, which is convenient) – and like Facebook, this will have little or no effect on me – the few people who ‘follow’ me and get regular updates when I post something won’t have the pleasure of seeing my work, but I think it’s important not to freely distribute my stuff, or at the very least, have an idea of what’s happening to it.

Like I have said on numerous occasions, if you want to know what’s going on, look at my website..


Sunday Morning Sunrise

The predicted weather for today was not brilliant – sure, it’ll be warm but overcast – super for portrait photographers, but I wanted a nice contrasty sunny day.

The sunrise period looked promising however, so I grabbed a wide angle and drove over to l’Ilse de Noé, a small village about 15 klm away. I know a tree there – strange how things can ‘grow’ on you – and it often inspires me. This is what I made this morning – can’t yet figure out which I prefer…

(The second and last images are not the same)

This last image is from a week go – lovely misty start to the day


The Eye of Photography

This is a French site, also available in English, L’Œil de la Photographie is one which just has to be visited!

I signed up to the newsletter a few years ago – this is a mine of information about current work, artists portfolios, exhibitions etc. and I strongly recommend people to visit and read. There’s a staggering amount of work that goes on ‘behind the scenes’ (I know, I’ve tried!) to bring new artists to the fore, and also to catalog what is going on generally, in the photographic art world.

In addition, at weekends, the site is given over to anyone who wants to send in a selection of their personal work – a marvellous way to ‘expose’ new talent to a larger audience. There’s even one of my photos….from a long time ago…

There’s even an IOS/Android web app available for your phone to keep track of events etc.

What’s next to avoid..

For me , it all started with zoom lenses. I can remember doing an art project while attending secondary school in Chiswick – from our school we crossed  the road into Chiswick park with our Super8 film camera and tried to make a film – I can clearly remember watching the results (before editing) and we were pretty much all sea-sick from the constant use of the zoom.

We weren’t the only ones – this was an oft-used ‘effect’ on early television – after the years of three- and four-turret television cameras, pausing to turn the turret round to another focal length, the design of zoom lenses became more affordable, and the television companies had a wonderful new toy! Oh wonder – zoom-in, zoom-out, public feeling sick…

When television became digital, many new after-effects were developed, and there were all sorts of horrible things that, luckily, died a death after a few months.

At time of writing, it’s drones – oh my God can we get enough of these damn things? Apparently not, as they seem to be everywhere. I can understand the added viewpoint for a factual documentary, or news item – it’s clear that it is an aid to understanding an event when the viewer can actually see a ground plan, as it were, but drones are EVERYWHERE – and I can’t help feeling that it just dilutes the overall impact when every last blade of grass is laid bare – nothing, but nothing is left to the imagination – a bit like LEGO in my view. In the old days we ‘built’ our imaginations with square and rectangular blocks – now everything has to have the form of a character from Harry Potter – where’s the imagination in that?

And whatever you do, don’t get me started on GoPro cameras…


Backing up your stuff…

The sword of Damocles hanging over the head of any photographer is data loss. What to do to backup your precious images so that, even after critical data loss such as a bad disk, you can still access your images?

Once I have  images to treat, my solution is to copy them into Adobe Lightroom (which copies the files to an external disk) but also to create a second copy on an external NAS which is RAID1 configured.

RAID (Random Array of Inexpensive Disks) uses two (or more) disks – all the data copied onto the first disk is then ‘mirrored’ onto the second disk – thus if one of the disks dies, the data should still be retrievable from the second. ‘Should’ being the operative word here. ( I should add that there are various RAID options available – from 0 to 6, all with different configurations and numbers of disks – RAID1 is simple mirroring.)

Ideally, an off-site solution would be better – I could create a VPN and copy my images to one of my servers where I work – I’m lucky in that as I am the one that looks after these, I can pretty much do as I want – but I have nearly 4Tb of data, which would take up quite a lot of space.

Cloud servers seemed interesting, but when I checked out the prices, particularly for the quantity of data I need to backup, it got into silly money.

Until today – though a discussion on a photographic forum in the UK, I learned about Backblaze – this is a name I’m unfamiliar with, but their marketing blurb caught my eye – unlimited backup space for 5$ per month.

This could be what I’ve been looking for – so I’ve bitten the proverbial bullet and signed up – the desktop app is already churning  away happily (after automatically finding my LaCie External drive) and we’ll have to see how many weeks it actually takes to upload all this to the Cloud.

A year costs 50$ + 10$ tax = 48 € – which seams reasonable enough for piece of mind.

A single file, or the whole backup can be downloaded from anywhere in the world – and for a small fee they will even FedEx you a USB key with up to 128Gb of data on it.


World Press Photo 2018

The World Press Photo 2018  has just been awarded to Ronaldo SCHEMIDT, a photographer with AFP (Associated France Press) for his photograph of a masked Venezuelan  man covered in flames during the riots in Caracas.

(FILES) This file photo taken on May 3, 2017 of a demonstrator catching fire during clashes with riot police within a protest against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas, by AFP Venezuelan photographer Ronaldo Schemidt won the World Press Photo (WPP) picture of the Year 2018 award and 1st prize in the Spot News Singles category in Amsterdam on April 12, 2018. / AFP / RONALDO SCHEMIDT

This,and the other category winners, will be on exhibition at Visa pour l’Image in Perpignan, later this year.


Very Interesting – but secret!

Strange situation recently regarding my photographic work at CiRCa. There have been 5 companies in residence here in Auch since early January. The only problem for me is that four of them are somewhat allergic to the public actually seeing the images I’ve made – this is a novel situation for a photographer « Sure, come and take all the photographs you want – just don’t show them to anybody »

The two most recent are at opposite ends of the creative ladder – Cirque Aïtal are in the early days of the creation, and things like lighting and costumes are a long way away. The work I’ve been doing with them is essentially just recording their efforts to develop elements which will all go together, eventually, to form a coherent scenario.

Victor and Katy – Cirque Aïtal

At the other end of the ladder are Cie Oktobre – they presented « Midnight Sun » here on Sunday and Monday, to a very appreciative crowd. There are three distinct elements to this performance, and I’m not allowed to show any photographs from anything other than the first – which is frustrating…

Max, Hanna & Nata – Cie Oktobre

Interestingly enough, before they arrive here, each company receives a letter detailing my involvement with CiRCa and what we plan to do with the images etc. and, in my recollection, there’s only been one or two refusals in over 5 years of photographic work here, and over 80 companies photographed.

I would really appreciate them actually reading the damn letter!