Kingdom of Fife Dog Agility Show Photographs

April 24th, 2009

A lovely Saturday spent at the Kingdom of Fife Dog Agility Show held at the Lomond Centre in Glenrothes.1457-20090425-7157

I was shooting event photographs of the agility, and also got to see my own dog Nevis competing.  Nevis is an old hand at modelling (if not agility) – he always has his eye on the camera.Dog Agility Photos

With the nice weather, there was loads of light and so for a change I wasn’t having to shoot at the limits for my camera.  This gave me the flexibility to get a really high shutter speed to freeze the dog’s movements (about 1/1000 of a second), yet keep a decent aperture (f5.6-8) to ensure a reasonable depth of field.


There is a bit of a trade-off with depth of field when photographing dog agility though – more is great because you will get more dogs in focus at the critical point of the jump. The downside is that all the extraneous background clutter (other jumps, spectators etc) also has more chance of being in focus and distracting from the subject.

Dog Agility Photos

The small dogs are amazing to watch – they seem to jump many multiples of their own height.

In between classes, I managed to fit in a few quick portrait sessions – this one with a proud dad and three of his pups..

Dog Portraits

Wedding Photography Warm-up, Leith, Edinburgh

April 11th, 2009

Down to Victoria Park in Leith, Edinburgh today to shoot some lifestyle portraits as a warm up session with a couple whose wedding I’ll be photographing out in Italy next month.

Wedding Photography, Edinburgh

As usual, I started with some simple test shots in the house – working out if either of them has a ‘better’ side, or any features they would like to emphasise or de-emphasise.  The ‘best side’ issue fascinates me – many people have no discernible ‘best side’ but for some people it is immediately striking that they do.  These can be people who go through their lives hating every photo taken of them, just because no-one has spent the time in a relaxed environment taking shots from every angle to find the way they look their best.  Sometimes ‘best’ is only discernible to them, sometimes it is obvious to everyone – but you have to give people a chance to find what they are happy with.

Wedding Photos Leith

In this case the biggest issue we faced is that the groom is a good foot taller than his bride – not because she is short, but because he is very, very tall!  So we tried a variety of poses to reduce the height difference.  I find that this experimentation and dealing with specific issues helps get a couple more relaxed about having their photo taken in general, so that when the time comes to go outside and do some proper shots the smiles have relaxed and the apprehension about being the centre of attention has ebbed away. That’s why I think any decent wedding photographer really must offer some sort of pre-wedding session – you have to get to know the couple, learn what poses work for them, what they like to see in photos of themselves, and get them well used to having their photo taken long before the big day.


So when we did get out to Victoria Park we were just able to have a laugh together, and that’s when you get the best shots. Standing, sitting, walking, dancing in the daffodils… they did the lot.  Much to the amusement of everyone else in the park…


Environmental Portrait Photography

April 9th, 2009

Down to some  stables near Cupar in Fife today to do a photo shoot with an animal physiotherapist for her new website.

Animal Physiotherapist

It was a really fascinating session – just seeing the way she works which is very subtle and gentle but seems to have a dramatic effect on the horse.  I was trying to stay in the background and photograph as unobtrusively as possible – we didn’t do any setup shots, they were all taken in the course of a normal horse physio treatment.

Horse Physio

Animal PhsyioBack next week to do some shots of dog physiotherapy.

Wedding Photography at Drumtochty Castle

March 30th, 2009

I’ve just posted a slideshow of a wedding I photographed at Drumtochty Castle in Aberdeenshire back  in  October.  It was a lovely autumn day, and Drumtochty Castle was a fantastic venue for the occasion, it’s gothic grandeur peeping out between the amazing foliage colours of a Scottish autumn.  A wedding photographer’s dream!

Wedding Photographer Drumtochy Castle

After the service in the wedding chapel at the end of the drive, we sneaked off down to the wee loch to get some more intimate photographs of the bride and groom while the guests were getting stuck into their first glass of  champagne.

20081019-if-0881The dancing went on till the wee small hours, but we squeezed in one more setup just after midnight.  The idea for this one came from the groom – he’d seen the great shapes these windows made when the room inside was lit and buzzing.  I just had to figure out how to light it to get the effect they wanted.  I’d love to claim that the ‘kiss’ shadow on the pillar to the left was intentional!

Wedding Photographer Drumtochy Castle

Photos in The Independent

March 18th, 2009

The sales report from my stock agency today highlighted two images sold for a UK newspaper usage.  The reports usually don’t include the name of the client, and can be a bit vague on dates of usage, but after a bit of digging around on the web I managed to track them down to the The Independent on Saturday 10th January.

Ice Climbing in the Gorzderette at Champagny-le-Haut, France.

These shots were taken at an ice-climbing competition, the Gorzderette, in Champangy-le-haut, France.  Myself and Neil were taking part for most of the day, but there was still plenty of time for pictures.  The two the paper have chosen are not actually my favourites – I prefer this one:

Ice Climbing in the Gorzderette at Champagny-le-Haut, France.

When I was at Uni The Independent was my favourite paper, and it was my greatest ambition to get some photos in the paper – it was then at the pinnacle of classy photo-journalism. I think their standards have dropped some since then, but still – another ambition ticked!  Unfortunately now that I’ve had a lot of photos published over the years, my first thought was not

‘Wow, I’ve got a picture in The Independent

it was more

‘Wow, The Independent doesn’t pay much, does it?’

Deer at Dawn, Fife

March 18th, 2009

There was a beautiful still mistiness to this morning in Fife.

Walking the dogs along the railway line on the way back from the stables, I spotted some deer on the other side of the track. They were far enough away not to be bothered by my presence, and milled around for quite a while before casually taking off across the fields.

Deer Leaping at Dawn, Fife

Deer at Dawn, Fife

Linlithgow & Stirlingshire Pony Club Dressage at SNEC, Oatridge

March 17th, 2009

The Linlithgow & Stirlingshire Pony Club had another successful event at the SNEC this weekend – this time it was Dressage, with qualifiers for Dengie in Novice and Open.

Pony Club Dressage

There were some superb looking horses and ponies taking part. Although dressage photography can be pretty difficult, some of these horse and rider combinations made it easy.

More photos in the event photography gallery.

Pony Club Dressage

Two Bums

March 13th, 2009

It still amazes me what photos will sell for stock – as this one did yesterday.  In this case it is quite literally a  ‘stock photograph’ in both senses of the word.

I took this photo about 3 years ago at a the West Fife agricultural show.  I’m not quite sure why I did – but it seems it was the perfect shot for somebody’s text book.

Stock Photography

Kingdom of Fife Agility Competition at Howe Country Centre

March 1st, 2009

We popped along to help out at the dog show at Howe Country Centre as both our border collies are currently in agility training, and Nevis is due to compete in his first serious competitive show next month.

I decided to take some dog agility photos while I was there – it was fantastic to watch!

Dog Agility Photos

From a photographic point of view dogagility events are much harder to shoot than showjumping – dogs are so much smaller and faster than horses, but also much less predictable. When you look at showjumping course, it is very easy to predict exactly which line a horse is going to take, there is a pretty well defined spot where a horse will take off, and there is an almost imperciptle point where a horse will almost hang in the air waiting for its photograph to be taken.

Dogs – well, they make their own rules. They might take off right underneath the jump, or they might take off 4 feet before it. They might take the shortest line through the corner of the jump, or they might rely on their speed and take any line which fits. They might be looking towards the next jump, or they might be looking back towards their handler to see what’s happening next. All of which makes the photographer’s job much more difficult – if it wasn’t hard enough already trying to photograph a small, fast-moving object in poor light.

But I’ve been doing this for a while now, and I’m getting a good handle on how to successfully photograph dog agility events. We got some great shots on the day, and I’m looking forward to Nevis’ big competition in April.

Dogagility Event Photos

My best selling stock photo – believe it or not

February 17th, 2009

My most frequently sold image has just been sold again – yet another European text book.  Every time it sells I am amazed again! I originally took this shot in Belfast when I was working on the photography for a city guide.  This restaurant was one of those reviewed.  When I came to send all my images to my stock photography library I only included it because it was already scanned, so I might as well (this is back in the days when I was still shooting film).  I never believed it would sell as well as it has – a total of 10 times over the last few years.

It always seems to be used in text books, so it’s not my biggest earning image, but it is the one that appears most regularly in my sales statements.