“KILLER SPIDER WAS LIVING IN MY HEAD!!” A CREEPY YARN TO SEND YOU SPINNING!

Posted in Halloween, Uncategorized on October 31st, 2013 by wabisabipix

Heres a creepy yarn that will send you spinning.

Its about an unfortunate incident with a spider that I snapped on assignment for the London Metro newspaper  which ended up as a front page on the UK Daily Star as well.The location was a cobweb infested farm building converted into a workshop in Cranleigh in Surrey ,UK.

I managed to persuade the poor guy back into the building on the grounds that he could wear his ear defenders and of course carry a torch.

I must say,I was rubbing my ears for hours afterwards.

http://metro.co.uk/2013/10/30/arachnophobe-in-halloween-terror-as-spider-lodges-itself-in-his-ear-4167716/

and also:

http://www.dailystar.co.uk/news/latest-news/348322/Spider-pulled-from-man-s-ear-runs-up-his-NOSTRIL

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DO TABLETS DREAM OF HUMAN SHEEP?

Posted in Uncategorized on October 30th, 2013 by wabisabipix

 

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Many,many moons ago way back in the mists of time, circa 1995, being state of the art meant having a device called a pager.I recall the sudden surge of adrenaline when working on assignment as a news photographer in Los Angeles driving on the freeway to become suddenly aware of the sudden bee! bee! bee! and the accompanying vibration that sent your blood icy cold.The subsequent frantic search for a pay phone to call the office as you veered off the highway to parts of the city you never knew and probably would never visit again.

The horror when you found you didn’t have enough coins to put in the damn phone!! It was somehow considered cool to be so “connected”. Back then mobile phones were not the essential fashion item that they have become now.They were a lot bigger then and oddly more practical incorporating better technology.

After the mobile phone superseded the pagers,we were equipped with a fantastic device which had the remarkably useful long range walkie talkie mode built in.By long range I mean Los Angeles to Las Vegas at the push of the button! This was designed to work as its main function and bizarrely the phone function seemed to be an after thought.You could even have a conference call on it with all members of the office talking at the same time.Quite a piece of kit,I think the European version was called a Dolphin Phone.

I guess it was too much of a good thing as the phone companies soon stopped that.

How things have changed!

After this everyone became obsessed with data connectivity and phones suddenly became equipped with modem connectivity and data cables. It was quite remarkable to be able to send emails over your mobile phone,even more so for news photographers to be able to plug in our laptops and send that picture over Z Term software at a rather slow modem rate.

At the time it seemed like magic.

A few years later and we now have an all you can eat internet buffet,mobile phone shopping,airline schedule checking and countless “Apps” and tablet computers all connected by wifi and 24/7 News straight to your mobile phone or tablet.

Masses of tablet and smartphone addicts at events and incidents holding them aloft blocking out the views of all around.

Rather than living in the moment we are filling hard drives with recordings that we will never look at again.These  hard drives contain so many memories but are of course build with inbuilt obsolescence and of course  will inevitably die or be superseded by the next USB 12 which will render everything obsolete.

Who remembers Zip Drives?

Bus loads of tourists walking around apparently led their their full size tablets ,pointing the inadequate quality cameras at everything in sight and onlookers transfixed recording accidents and incidents with iphones rather than helping the hapless victims.

Many a photographer covering a historic event as a professional has gasped in disbelief as the shot is ruined by a sea of  smart phones waving or blocking the view that event a step ladder won’t prevent.

I cannot help but feel we have become a little lost somewhere along the line!

Our brains have become totally rewired.

Its almost as if we no longer own our own thoughts.As if we are all using these devices as an extension of our thought process,a hard wired rerouting  that makes you log in to your social network to check whats going on at the worst and most inappropriate of moments.

That urge to check in to one of the many search engines and check out what comes up moments after a thought about something obscure flashes up in your brain, something that probably wouldn’t matter that much if you could remember what it was that you started looking for before you saw that  other link and then  eeerrrrr! where were we?

When I look at my 2 year old daughter recently born into this world I cannot help wondering what she must think of the world she has been born into. Like many children the globe over she has become obsessed with trying to find out what it is that takes up people’s attention so much,what it is that leads us to covet that little black ringing squalk box so much to the exclusion of all around us.

People staring at screens in silence on the trains and buses.Parents and children staring at screens in silence obsessed with chasing their lines of thought  and playing games at the exclusion of all around them.Elderly relatives isolated from their children feeling like they missed the boat somewhere along the line.

Social network pages that carry on long after the owner is deceased.

Explaining to a 75 year old that they need to keep track of passwords for everything from their bank account to their credit cards and that they must have an email account or they cannot do anything and that unless you can remember your multi level password that nice person at the bank wont help you!

Explaining that they should have a phone with them all the time and that its ok not to turn it off when your not using it.

We all have so many passwords for everything and so much data flying about and it all seems to be an electronic mess of pollution and brain muzz!!

Are we still human or just an organic extension of a search engine programmed to spend?

We are all addicts now and the marketing of this “hit “is relentless.

In the 1990’s the classification Crackberry syndrome was hatched.

The technology is simply amazing,the problem is the human vulnerability to addiction and the blast of dopamine from these devices is so addictive that its a habit hard to break.

Its a sinister synthesis that hits all the happiness centres in the brain releasing these addictive chemicals and the next thing you know is that you cannot remember what it was that your wife or partner said 30 seconds ago as we all walk around in a detached haze.

A Quote from the book Fight Club seems rather poignant: “The things you own end up owning you”.

That pager doesn’t look so bad anymore.

I think we all need to go for a long walk and get some fresh air,even better take someone along on that walk and talk and look!

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St Jude’s Storm

Posted in Saint Jude's Storm, St Judes Storm, Uncategorized, weather on October 29th, 2013 by wabisabipix

On the 28th of October 2013  a powerful storm called St Jude’s storm hit the shores of Great Britain bringing 99mph winds, causing chaos and destruction as it made landfall.

The town of Hounslow near London was hit badly  as trees were blown over in the streets.

Two people were killed when a tree fell on a house causing a gas explosion that destroyed a row of houses and left the roof of one house hanging precariously from a tree in the street opposite

I was on assignment that day and below are some of the images from the Hounslow incident.

All images copyright:Kerry Davies/INS News Agency.

INS_Hounslow_House_Hit_By_Tree_45

INS_Hounslow_House_Hit_By_Tree_15 copy

INS_Hounslow_House_Hit_By_Tree_16

INS_Hounslow_House_Hit_By_Tree_12 copy

INS_Hounslow_House_Hit_By_Tree_10 copy

INS_Hounslow_House_Hit_By_Tree_24

INS_Hounslow_House_Hit_By_Tree_27

INS_Hounslow_House_Hit_By_Tree_37

INS_Hounslow_House_Hit_By_Tree_38 copy

INS_Hounslow_House_Hit_By_Tree_32

INS_Hounslow_House_Hit_By_Tree_30 copy

INS_Hounslow_House_Hit_By_Tree_19

INS_Hounslow_House_Hit_By_Tree_11 copy

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INS_Hounslow_House_Hit_By_Tree_42

INS_Hounslow_House_Hit_By_Tree_41

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PHOTOJOURNALISM IN THE AGE OF THE INTERNET

Posted in photojournalism, Uncategorized on October 26th, 2013 by wabisabipix

PhotoJournalists the world over are facing an existential crisis.

I am interested in the experiences of others as our international profession comes under treat by the relentless destruction caused by the erosive effects of the internet and its consumer technology.

To try and visualise a clear route through the carnage that has swept like a Tsunami through society, sweeping all in it path, is quite a task.

For the last 25 years I have worked as a photojournalist for various agencies and publications across the globe.

It is a job that has taken me around the world and given me experiences that I could only have dreamt about were I to have chosen another profession and I am truly thankful.

I started my career working freelance at a local paper in Wales in the UK where by a twist of fate covering a local cricket match turned into a streak of luck when the local paper photographers car broke down and the pictures that I took made the paper. There followed a period in Journalism college studying Photojournalism on an industry course within the UK and some time trying my hand at freelancing in London during the early 1990’s. By another streak of luck I was employed by a British international press agency which threw me on a plane to Los Angeles to join its cavalier crew of young journalists and photographers blazing a trail in magazines and newspapers throughout the 1990’s.I found myself with a battered Domke camera bag carrying Canon EOS 600 cameras and flashes all around the USA from Alaska to Hawaii. Rarely did a month pass without a plane trip to some distant location or thousands of miles driven in a hire car,tiring but great. They covered News and Features and Celebrity stories and made quite a mark on the Industry.

They were quite literally riding a wave.

After my return to the UK, I worked for a national newspaper title in the UK for the next 12 years.We covered News,Features and Celebrity stories in the UK and traveled internationally from locations in Europe to Africa and even south America on assignment. It has been a long strange trip.

The Industry is in a strange place now and I fear for its future.

Photographs and the effort it takes to get them seems to have become undervalued. National newspaper rates particularly for online use have become so low it hardly justifies spending the now overpriced fuel to go out and take them.If images are used online it is less likely that print editions will use the stills the next day as its by then old news. Its a vicious circle. The industry is like a dog chasing its tail that it has finally caught it and is now in the process of eating itself. Many colleagues have been forced to hang up their cameras and go and do something less satisfying to make a living. Its simply become not feasable to carry on when the media is just as happy using shakey smartphone footage and horrible audio rather than correctly exposed, high quality images with professional quality lenses and fine tuned fill flash, used with the aquired knowledge of years of trial and error and judgment of the exposure and composition.

All the talk of” FREE” and” CHEAP” and “EVERYONES A PHOTOGRAPHER NOW”,has sent accountants into a feeding frenzy that is sadly a knee jerk reaction not based on careful analysis.

There are horror stories such as the Chicago-Sun Times sacking its entire team of photographers and pressure to force reporters to file reports on their iphones.The National Union of Journalists in the UK has called for an end to the news video targets  local newspaper journalists in the UK  are being pressured into meeting in addition to their normal job of reporting. Many are ill equipped and inexperienced at doing so and there is clearly a problem with a deluge of pointless video making.Clearly you have to have a story worth making a video of in the first place and this news sense is clearly not well developed enough. Also there is the case of health and safety in often dangerous situations and the added workload of editing the footage into something useful which can often take hours and require technical knowledge. The case of the Chicago-Sun Times will become more clear after a period of analyzing their sales figures compared to their rivals who still employ photographers and those results will certainly be of interest.

If the opinion of their Chairman Michael Ferro is anything to go by its going to be a long uphill battle. I am very sympathetic toward [the photographers]. If I were in their shoes, I would feel bad too. It would be like you’re a carriage driver and the cars come and you’re really upset that you can’t have your buggy whip and hit your horse anymore.”

Michael Ferro Chairman of the Sun-Times Media.

Also a similar horror story has revealed itself across the pond here in the UK the newspaper publisher Johnston Press has announces that it is to sack 24 photographers from its company sending more shockwaves through the industry and almost certainly commiting themselves to self fulfilled oblivion!

http://www.amateurphotographer.co.uk/photo-news/540222/photographers-face-chop-at-uk-publisher?

It may be a period of confused transition by publishers ill advised by bean counters and I certainly hope so. I can forsee that we may be looking at the end of newspapers as we know it and their gradual, if not accelerated migration to that of tablets and laptops in their entirety, is only around the corner.How this happens we shall see but images will still be needed and publications need to establish a cash flow somehow rather being free which is what decimating the industry at the moment. Whether it is through paywalls or sponsorship or advertising,we shall see what the future holds but I hope they hurry up and lay the foundations as pretty soon there wont be many good people left to see it through.

For decades newspapers have been the glue of community and with the mass acceptance of tablet computers as the device of choice for millions and with the current campaigns to cut their price to affordable levels I suspect the full transition is just around the corner.Even supermarkets are jumping on the bandwagon selling their own models packed with targeted  marketing programs. it will certainly save a lot of trees but I’m sure the loss of rare earth minerals will probably counter balance that.

It will be sad if we descend into a planet glued to screens for all of our information at the cost of a lack of communication with those around us, other than by text and email.

Parents ignoring their kids and kids ignoring their parents,a sight increasing in family living rooms worldwide.

I guess thats progress.

However I cannot help but  fear that technology can advance but society can also regress.

In a recent development a french newspaper, Liberation, published an entire edition with spaces where the photographs should have been in protest at the  way photography is currently under assault in publications worldwide,this send waves of praise throughout the photojournalistic community.The British Journal of Photography published an article on it here: http://www.bjp-online.com/british-journal-of-photography/news/2307127/french-newspaper-removes-all-images-in-support-of-photographers

Keen to adjust to change,one thing that is clear, is that video is becoming an integral part of what we do as journalists and for sure it is becoming a part of our kit bags. I have included a panasonic sd700 in my own along with a senheisser mic  with a softie and a juiced link XLR mixer.It provides a superb internet ready combination for churning out mp4 clips with ease.I have experimented with DSLR footage but frankly I prefer to keep my stills footage separate from my Video in my workflow and find the video camera appoach to be far more practical on a day to day basis.

Being a little on the nostalgic side ,in the early days I would travel with film cameras.In the 1990’s it was the EOS 600 camera body which rattled off at an amazing rate of frames.I superceded that with Nikon F4 cameras and then the Nikon F100. The lenses have remained pretty standard ranging from the wide angle 17-35mm ,the 24-70mm and the 70-200mm f2.8 and 300mm f 2.8 in their various incarnations. Currently the Nikon D700 is my body of choice as it can be easily broken down to a small body without the grip.

I also carry an excellent  lumix lx7 with its 24mm f1.4 .

What has changed for the better is the way that flash can now easily be intergrated into the workflow in a manner that is far less time consuming than multiple manual flash however manual flash still very much as its place,I own about 6 speedlight flashes but still also rely on two metz 45 flashes when basic manual flash is required.These are all enhanced by the fantastic pocket wizard radio slaves that have been around for quite a while.

When it comes to bags I’ve always had a preference for Domke shoulder bags.The original f2 was for years my bag of choice but as cameras became bigger I turned to the J1 series as they fitted the 70-200mm better.However with a lot of time on airplanes I ended up using the Think Tank airport range to transport gear as their wheeled cases are simply the best.

When I first started,we carried film cameras and boxes of chemicals and processed films in our hotel rooms when at remote locations. We then scanned them on a Nikon scanner and then uploaded them on an early Motorola phone with a data cable using software called Z term or used a  standard phone line.I recall one hilarious time in Mexico trying to send exclusive pictures of Oprah Winfrey while wandering through the Cancun jungle trying to find a hotel with a non crackling phone line that I could use. In the end I had to pay a hotel owner $1000 to take his fax line off the wall, ah the years of media madness!!!

I  welcome your comments and experiences.

If you are Interested there are just a few examples of my work at www.surreypix.co.uk

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The Brecon Mountain Railway

Posted in Brecon Mountain Railway, railway, steam engine, steam locomotive, train, Uncategorized on October 24th, 2013 by wabisabipix

The Brecon Mountain Railway is a private railway run by enthusiasts that is open to the public and takes passengers on a trip through the gateway to the Brecon Beacons National Park running from Pant along the full length of the Pontsticill Reservoir near Merthyr Tydfil, in the heart of Wales.A day out here is a lot of fun especially if you have young children! Needless to say standing behind the engine outside the carriage while building up speed down hill with smoke in your face is exhilarating.
This video shows the No.2 Baldwin Locomotive at full steam.
Built by Baldwin USA No. 61269 in 1930
4-6-2 Tender Loco 47 tons
This was built for a cement works in Port Elizabeth in South Africa.
In 1974 it ran away driver less and after travelling a few miles it left the track and was wrecked.
It was treated as an accident write-off by the insurers and was purchased as salvage, shipped back as deck cargo to Liverpool and put in to store.
Rebuilding of this locomotive began in 1990 and it finally entered traffic in 1997.
The rebuild was extensive as the locomotive had suffered severe damage in the accident.
After ten years burning oil it is now converted back to coal.
I shot the video hand held on a Panasonic SD700 camcorder.

Check out my website:www.surreypix.co.uk

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Medieval Joust Hampton Court

Posted in medieval joust, Uncategorized on October 22nd, 2013 by wabisabipix

For the Reenactment aficionado’s out there, here is a set of images of the Hampton Court Medieval Joust held during the last bank holiday here in the UK. It was a very colourful day that brought out crowds of people enjoying the last sunshine of the summer and getting into the medieval spirit .Hampton court was the historical home of King Henry Viii and his wives and a trip to the palace is like stepping back in time.

Images strictly Copyright:Kerry Davies

Joust Awful Weather

Joust Awful Weather

Bank Holiday Jousting

Bank Holiday Jousting

Bank Holiday Jousting

Bank Holiday Jousting

Bank Holiday Jousting

Bank Holiday Jousting

Bank Holiday Jousting

Bank Holiday Jousting

Bank Holiday Jousting

SATANIC NUMBER PLATE

SATANIC NUMBER PLATE

SATANIC NUMBER PLATE

Joust Awful Weather

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THE EAGLE HAS LANDED

Posted in Anthony Quail, britain, camera, Donald Pleasence, Donald Sutherland, drama, England, english village, falschirmjager, film location, Film set, german, hollywood, Jenny Agutter, kidnap, Larry Hagman, lumix lx7, mapledurham, michael caine, paratrooper, photoblog, Photography, quaint, Robert duvall, soldier, star trek, studley constable, The Eagle has landed, thriller, travel, Uncategorized, village, walking, winston churchill, world war 2 on October 22nd, 2013 by wabisabipix

“StarTrek to Mapledurham” read the notice board on the wall of the Medieval Church in the quaint English Village of Mapledurham  a few miles away from the hustle and bustle of the city of Reading.This yellowing old press cutting on the church wall was giving a glimpse into the glamourous past that this sleepy hamlet indeed had that few may be aware of.In fact this classic olde worlde village with its alms houses ,village church,Mapledurham House and village watermill  has had quite a blast so to speak and is quite a location in film mythology and well worth a visit.

One would be quite forgiven asking for the local pub known as the” Spyglass and kettle”, well known from its famous past, for it along with its row of shops in fact never existed, other than as part of a grand film set built in 1976 for that classic World War 2 film known as THE EAGLE HAS LANDED written by Jack Higgins.

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A fan of the book and the film I set out with a newly aquired travel camera the Lumix LX7  with a 24mm f1.4 lens to take a look at what remains today.

A classic film from the golden age of all star cinema ,THE EAGLE HAS LANDED,starred Michael Caine as the leader of a renegade German Paratrooper special forces team tasked with kidnapping Winston Churchill in a Norfolk village known as Studley Constable disguised as Polish soldiers on a training exercise.Based on the many myths that arose after the war it derives its legend from the famous military unit that rescued Mussolini from his mountain top prison after a glider assault by the newly developed Fallschirmjager paratrooper unit that blazed a trail during the war.

The all star cast included Donald Sutherland,Larry Hagman,Robert Duvall,Jenny Agutter,Donald Pleasence  and Anthony Quail among many others.

During the film the locals discover the real identity of the disguised paratroopers after one of them meets a gory end when trying to save a young child after it falls into the water near the waterwheel and culminates in a huge shootout when American Rangers led by Larry Hagman roll into town. During the firefight a Jeep ends up crashing into the river near the water wheel and a rolling firefight spreads through the town to its ultimate climax at the local church.

Mapledurham Watermill

Mapledurham Watermill

Mapledurham Watermill

Its a film full of intrigue and action and in my opinion one of the best from the 70’s.

Today the village has returned to its quaint former self and you are more likely to have a pleasant cream tea at the nearby  Mapledurham House than dodge bullets and hand grenades.

Mapledurham watermill

Mapledurham Church

Mapledurham Church

Mapledurham Church

Mapledurham Church

The Church notice board

The Church noticeboardThe” Spyglass and Kettle” was in a position just in front of the church along with a row of shops in the position of the car park opposite the church.A false front was built on the front of the water mill and in fact blown up during the filming.

Mapledurham House

All in it makes a great afternoon out especially if you watch the film first and let your imagination run wild.

I’m still trying to find the secret passage way in the church.

There are film stills here as well:http://www.reelstreets.com/index.php?option=com_films&task=view&id=270&film_ref=eagle_has_landed&limitstart=10

enjoy.

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