“Hence I have suggested that some knowledge of the propriety of composition is desirable, not so much that all our pictures may be surpassingly well composed as that we may keep safely clear of bad composition.”

A. Horsley Hinton
Practical Pictorial Photography Part One (1902)


I was asked recently what ‘catchlight’ meant in portraits.  Trying to describe it seemed to be a bit cumbersome so I thought I’d add these two portraits to illustrate – without and with.

Without catchlights

With catchlights

My model here, my daughter, has quite light irises so lack of a catchlight is not so bad.  However many subjects have really dark deep eyes and it helps to lift the eye from a black disk with just a spec of a light.

As matter of interest, these taken on medium format (120) black and white film, negative scan.  The original images were an exploration of portrait/fashion photography and this is a crop of full photograph – I suspect some will be able to guess from which image and photographer I took my inspiration.


Flaming Sky

Okay, I’ve no doubt that many of you have sunsets that are to die for but one day when I left the supermarket, I looked behind me and saw this lot. Goodness – what to do?

Stay where I was, or make a dash down the road to a field where I knew an old oak tree stood – if there’s one thing you need for a good sunset to be effective it is a good foreground (usually a silhouette).  Oak tree or Sainsbury’s … and we all know how long the best bit of a sunset can last – just a few minutes!  Make the dash….

I managed to get there before the colour was lost completely.  But try as I might I just couldn’t get the angle for all the tree – the trunk has considerable girth.  This is about the best I could achieve.

In hindsight, and the cold light of day, I should have stayed at Sainsbury’s and used reflections from the cars etc. but there we go….. the excitement was great at the time, trying to think sanely instead of manically, knowing time was of the essence – I’m sure you’ve all been there.

What I didnt mention was the shot was taken on slide film in my Canon 30 with a 24-70 zoom – it wasn’t really wide enough, even at full frame. But on the end of the frame were a number of shots I tried to take with another weather phenomenon, i.e. a rainbow.  This was about the best of the set.


St Benets Abbey, Norfolk England

I saw this yacht coming up the river as I paused to take a picture of the Abbey.  Was it going to come up this far, it could easily turn round and return?  Would it pass ‘advantageously’?  I decided to wait and see.

My camera was a Rolleiflex SL66 with the standard fixed 80mm lens with colour slide film (hence the edging), so it wasn’t a question of banging off a number of frames.  Wait. Wait. Wait.  Kerlunk as I fired the shutter.

Unfortunately, the sail hadn’t quite filled from his tack/gybe, however, I was pretty pleased with the result.


Artist at Work

I watched this guy for a few minutes – well I was aware of him for a few minutes.  Initially,  I thought he was a bit of a pain as he was in my way – and it didn’t look as if he was going to move out of the way any time soon.  Well in my usual spirit of ‘go with the flow’ I thought I might as well have him in the shot.

I noticed his hand going up and down every few seconds and realised he was measuring using his pencil.  I’m sure you can appreciate that with his arm down he would be almost a blob in the frame, but with the raised arm it becomes obvious what he’s doing – the hat helps, very ‘arty’ not a baseball cap at least.   Very ‘English’ perhaps, if you subscribe to such notions.

This is shot on 35mm black and white film and scanned for work on the pc.