THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING:A VISIT TO THE FORMER HOME OF RUDYARD KIPLING.

Posted in aircraft, britain, Burwell, country houses, England, english village, enthusiasts, europe, Great War Society, Nikon, photo, photoblog, Photography, quaint, re-enactment, renactment, retro, road trip, travel, vintage, walking, walks, warhorse, Western, world war one, writing on August 3rd, 2014 by wabisabipix

A glorious sunny day in August and what better a place to visit than the former home of Rudyard Kipling the author of such classics as The Jungle Book and The Man Who Would Be King. Set in the rolling countryside of the  Sussex Wield,just outside the village of Burwash,it is a wonderful 17th century Jacobean house that was his home until his death in 1936. The house is now cared for by the National Trust and is open to the public. You can wander unhindered around the splendid oak beamed interior left very much as the great man left them. His own writing desk is left pretty much as if he has just popped out for an afternoon tea,scrapped sheets of paper containing his writings piled high in the litter bin opposite his desk,even his own Rolls Royce is on display in the nearby garage for viewing. The rooms are full of artefacts that reflect Kipling’s association with the East. The gardens are a spectacular affair,sunflowers ablaze and fresh vegetables and herbs in the allotment growing in abundance. Here you can pick up one of the kindly offered blankets,borrowed to visitors,and enjoy a picnic on the spectacular lawn surrounded by its rustic charm. My visit coincided with the national commemorations of World War One. Hundreds of events are taking place across Britain to remember the “Pals”-groups of friends,neighbours or colleagues who joined up to form their own battalions in World War One.In the spirit of the event, the lawns at “Batemans”,which is the name of this splendid house,had a wartime biplane parked in its midst and a gathering of tents as re-enactors from the Great War Society sent us back on a trip in time to the beginning of the First World War. Mostly volunteers,they gave authentic displays and explanations of the weaponry from the period including pitched battles that stunned the crowds and sent the gunfire and explosions thundering across the landscape.Truly spectacular and a fitting salute to the man who wrote many classic about the period and who indeed played his well documented part in the Great War.

More images can be viewed here:http://…/p830052178 Images Copyright:Kerry Davies/No unauthorised usage/All Rights Reserved

 

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Jack in the Green Hastings 2014

Posted in Battle of Hastings, beach, britain, Castles, Celtic, Christians, England, europe, feature, Festival, folk, fringe, gawain and the green knight, green man festival, hastings, Jack in the Green festival Hastings, jack-in-the-green, legends, may, mayday, medieval, myths, nature, news, Nikon, pagan, photo, photoblog, Photography, photojournalism, quaint, relax, retro, road trip, saxons, tourism, travel, Uncategorized, unusual, vintage, Wales, walking, walks, writing on May 6th, 2014 by wabisabipix

As the clock ticked over and the Sun rose over Great Britain on May 5th 2014, blowing away the cobwebs of winter, I revisited the Jack in the Green Festival on the south coast of England most famous for being the gateway for the Norman invasion in 1066.

It was a fantastic warm spring day of Morris Dancers and mayhem and quite a sight for the senses.It was held in a field next to Hastings castle and overlooked the splendid sight of the main town in all its glory.At its centre was a stage where performances of various kinds ranging from Morris dancing to belly dancing entertained the masses that descended upon the seaside town.

It starts with a procession around the town and culminates with the symbolic slaying of the Jack of the Green which symbolically frees the spirit and welcomes the transition of the Winter into the Summer.The tradition has many roots and I have another article on the subject earlier in this blog.

Needless to say,this festival never disappoints and is one of the best Green Man festivals in the UK and well worth a visit.

Here are a few shots shot on a Nikon D700 with a 17-35mm f2.8.

More Images can be viewed from previous years at www.surreypix.co.uk.KD_Green_Man_2014_Copyright_Kerry_Davies_45ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

Images Copyright Kerry davies/No unauthorised usage .

 

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A walk in fields of gold

Posted in Uncategorized on April 16th, 2014 by wabisabipix

April in Oxfordshire,England,is quite a sight for the beholder as vast rapeseed fields spread across the rolling landscape painting everything in a warm golden glow. Image Image   ImageImageImageImage Camera Nikon D700 and lenses 17-35mm and  300mm f2.8 AFD. No unauthorised reproduction.

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Foggy Eton by lamplight

Posted in Uncategorized on December 11th, 2013 by wabisabipix

As large parts of the east of England awoke to a thick blanket of fog covering all in its path,major airports were subject to delays and cancellations and roads were clogged by traffic jams.I took a dusk walk around Eton on the River Thames just as dusk fell.Famous for the Eton College and in close proximity to Windsor Castle it is a quaint town which retains a very historical flavour.

Camera-Nikon D700 and  Nikon 24-70mm.

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Pictures Copyright Kerry Davies/INS News Agency.

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Retro Cool?

Posted in classic, cool, Leica, Nikon, Nikon Df, photo, photoblog, Photography, photojournalism, retro, Uncategorized on November 7th, 2013 by wabisabipix

This is the new Nikon Df camera with a newly designed 50mm f1.8 lens.

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After its much much publicised entrance with several teaser adverts it clearly attempts to merge the design of a classic FM2 or F3 body with that of a modern SLR in an attempt to capture the kudos of the film days in a almost £3000 package.

My first impression was one of fascination and interest and seeing that mirror box shape reminded me of the days when film was the only option.

The question I couldn’t help but ask questions of however was Nikons marketing ploy of “retro”.

What is truly “retro”?

We live in an age when digital cameras are upgraded every year or two.

Does any camera really last long enough to become truly classic any longer?

In this time when press photographers are having their livelihoods stripped away by a dying newspaper industry it leaves me questioning their pricing.

If camera producers truly wanted to create a classic retro camera would it not make sense to make maximum effort to create a quality example of perfect engineering with quality parts and optics at a reasonable price with perhaps a replaceable sensor that can be replaced with each technological update.

In the 1990’s I clearly remember the cost of professional bodies such as the Nikon F4 and the Canon Eos1 being in the region of £1200.These cameras would last a decade or more if treated properly.

The one thing that remained true was the use of film.

These days camera’s now cost 3 times that cost.The new Df is priced on the region of £2800.

The current workhorse cameras the D4 and D3 offer more features on the face of it and they will soon become obsolete for the next  wonder sensor that turns up and relegates those metal bodies to mere paperweights sitting on a bookshelf gathering dust.

The retro looks only last a short time as a novelty jewellery item, before becoming common place and ending up among other equally identical faux retro bodies looking like they popped out of a plastic 3D printer. These are now living in a used camera shop at less than quarter of the value you paid for them.

What is truly retro?

To me a truly retro camera has to be a film camera.

It is a film camera that will be your constant companion for a decade or more,something that will live with you and your family and be there for all of your experiences,the highs and the lows. It will wear and age with dignity and those experiences will show themselves as worn brass corners where those years of mileage have rubbed away at the paintwork like an ancient stone pathway.

Its gears will be of fine mechanical quality and the shutter and aperture dials will click with a reassuring quality that work as well as the first day it was bought even though a decade has passed.

The focussing screen should enable a bright view of what it being photographed, even in low light,  the image will snap into focus with a diamond cut clarity.The experience should leave you with the feeling of an artist bringing all the elements of a painting into sharp focus in a simple but exquisite frame.

Its lenses will produce a creamy bokeh that renders an  image with a unique fluidic quality, possessed of a character that enhances reality, giving an almost 3D quality .The lens will have distance markings and Hyper focal positions clearly marked to facilitate the pre-setting of focus quicker than the fastest auto focus could manage.

It will have a timer switch which whirs like a quality swiss watch.

The wind on  mechanism will be whisper silent.

Its shutter will produce a muffled unobtrusive inaudible click making it possible for the photographer to blend in to the background unseen.

It will become something you truly trust and covet.

I use Nikon pro cameras for my day to day press work and rely on them ,but for me what is truly retro?

Strangely almost half the cost of the new Nikon “retro” consumer camera  that to me meets the definition of this is……

What is truly retro?

KD_LEICA_M6_1

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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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