Through the woods

We were excited the other day to discover a whole set of new trails in the woods just between Farnborough and Aldershot and just next to Runway’s End, see below for exact location:

Obviously the woodland has been there for a very long time and up until now was not really been accessible, plus you could never be sure if the Army used it at all for training and that kind of thing. The local council have been hard at work and have laid out a fantastic set of trails, all signposted and there are well placed benches. It sure is going to be a place that we shall visit often.

I went back yesterday on my mountain bike  for a second visit and took the DJI Osmo camera to see what I could get and to try out some experimental filming techniques and I was pleased, very pleased with what I got.

You may be forgiven for thinking that I flew my drone through the woods in some of these clips! Well I didn’t, although I have tried that before in a more remote woodland, but that is another story. DJI took the camera and Gimbal from their Inspire range of drone aircraft and well maybe best to watch the official DJI video…

It is an amazing piece of kit and after a few issues with audio and what have you at the start, DJI have been quick to address these problems through firmware releases and so on.

So whilst the camera is super stable, I mean ridiculously so, the one thing it doesn’t “iron” out are your footsteps, especially if like me, you are heavy footed. I have found the perfect solution for this, capture video from your mountain bike, especially if like mine it has excellent suspension. I was able to capture some superb footage as a result which does look like I am flying through the woods.

I think I shall do more of this in the future, it is healthy for me and my footage!

Music

The music is this video is by Kevin Macleod, an American, New York based composer famed for his royalty free pieces of music that are available through YouTubes audio library for example. You can find out more about him via his website incompetech.com

nicklewis.tech

There is a new site up at nicklewis.tech which is for the moment, something of an experiment, as it was built using Phenomic a static site generator that combines mainly markdown files and ReactJS components together to create sites.

I thought I should try it out for putting up a business page as it were with professional resume and so on. I shall play with this a bit more.

I am also about to create one for officially for my headforcode project, but more on that in a later post.

This year I am pushing my freelance services more and with the news the other day that my contract will now be finishing early June rather than July, I am upping the ante somewhat.

Spring canopy

The joys of Spring and my brother springing a photography challenge upon me! All very “Springy” you see! A friend of his on Facebook started a photo-a-day-for-seven-days challenge to someone, they then pass it on to another. A little bit of fun, Tim shared a great image of Lapsi in Malta and handed the baton to me…

I was a little bit pushed for time if I am being honest and that it had to be a new photo too. So I couldn’t just pull one from the archives. I chose to set off on my mountain bike into a nearby woodland park, called Queen Elizabeth Park, here in Farnborough and very close to home.

It dawned on me, why not grab a picture of the fresh Spring canopy of beautiful lush green leaves. It is not long before they start becoming darker and less translucent. Now is the best time to take lovely photos of them, no two ways about it!

Incidentally the park is one of the places I go to stretch my legs at any time of the year and it is mostly an old woodland which used to be part of Windsor Great Park around the time that Henry VIII was the King. Over time and with the development of neighbouring towns, it became cut off. This is especially interesting when you consider that the Crown Estate of Windsor is about 16 miles from Farnborough. It must have been collossal at one point in time.

Stock Photography: A numbers game?

I can once recall having a conversation with my friend Gary Roebuck about stock photography, its highs and lows, whether it was worth bothering with or not?

However one conclusion we kept returning to was that it had to be a “numbers game” and that it may not really be down to what you have on a library but how many images you supply to it. Gary is a prolific photographer and whilst stock isn’t his main business these days, it acts as a good financial buffer if things fall quiet.

Now we all know how that can happen being a freelance web/photography person like me. There are periods of time that you are rushed off your feet and wished you had employed some colleagues…. then the following week you are grateful you never have!

It is important as a freelance anybody to be able to make good use of all of your skills in some way. You can earn income from all of them if you are smart and dedicated enough. So how can you increase your image count with a stock library? How can you boost sales?

Let’s start with the disappointing bit first and then build you back up for success from a low point. Sounds mean but in many ways, this is how people succeed. Well, the bad news is, it takes time, yeah, doesn’t everything? So don’t drop everything else in eager zest of embarking on a swashbuckling career of stock photography on a whim.

You should take your time, photograph anything, shoot subjects that you can envisage as being  used somewhere, think of a reason why. Take for example a rather dull and boring photo of a satnav mounted on a windscreen, a finger tapping on it, the car clearly parked outside an office, looks like the person is working out how to get to their next location. It is not exciting, it isn’t a photo of two Gorillas fighting over a female, a Formula One car crashing or Paula Radcliffe breaking a world record back in the day (see yesterday’s post) – It’s a boring photo that tells a story, not an exciting one but it works from and editorial point-of-view. It has also sold multiple times.

So if you approach any subject as though it could be useful, has some kind of context, supply it and many more to your stock library, you will see how this works in terms of making an investment in time and using a little bit of imagination.

Tell me about your crazy stock image ideas and success stories! I’m always interested to know!

Wellington Statue

It was a case of just me and the Duke. I have decided to spend more time with each subject, to slow down, try various different angles. I came away thinking of other approaches I could take for this location. The statue is illuminated at night which could lead to some other possibilities. So I haven’t finished yet. If I do, I will update this post rather than create a new one.

The location is not far from where I live, just a short drive between Farnborough and Aldershot, there he is, standing proud.

You will find the story behind the statue of interest and may be surprised that he moved from London to his current spot in the 1800’s because Queen Victoria considered the statue an eyesore where it once stood on Wellington Arch, London.

These images are now available for licensing via our stock agency Alamy.

Stock Photography and how it all began

Following on from yesterday’s post about making a really good sale, really good for just one image, I have been reminiscing….

It was quite awhile ago that I first became involved with stock photography but only really as it switched from the original physical form to digital and online. I think a lot of this was due to a convergence of interests in computing, the Internet and photography. It also looked like a good way of making some extra income. 

Out of all of my interests, photography came first. I can recall playing around with Dad’s old Polaroid, my Grandfather’s Minolta and loved flicking through slides on a magical optical viewer Grandad owned.

I was enthralled recently to see it resurface at Mums and Dads. Sadly all of my Grandparents are no longer with us but they live on as part of our make-up. Once again I was that child sat in the lounge of my Grandparent’s back in the 70’s 80’s enchanted by photos taken now some 30 plus years ago. So there I was, now a 40 something looking at a 12 year old version of myself having fun on a beach somewhere in Pembrokeshire! 

These old slides invoked memories that leapt back into life, as if I had opened an old school book decades later, I was transported back in time. Quite vivid animated memories they were too.  

So when I think of the modern forms of photography and their archival, I worry and care about it a lot. What will our grandchildren see of us in the future or indeed themselves? I hope that trough the methods of viewing and reminiscing things will be technically different but the emotional connection will still be present…… and hopefully easy to dig out of the loft as the old slides were!

….I digressed a little bit but I hope this sets the scene somewhat for why I enjoy being a photographer today and how I use these skills in term of my business, this website and a whole lot more.

Back to the stock business… I signed up with Alamy in 2003 after reading about how they could help you sell images to the World and I’d never thought of this before. I signed up, submitted some sample images and was accepted into the fold.

I can remember during the same year, Alice our daughter wanted to take part in the Great North Run, quite a trek for us but she was super keen. So with Alice enrolled on the junior race (she later did the Southern version too), I had a thought, how easy would it be to get a press pass?

I looked up the contact details, sent off an email and they replied asking me who I’d be respresenting? Hmmm, I didn’t work for a publication but suggested my photo agency and I was in! It was a total blag if I am being honest but then I was nervous as heck, I would be rubbing shoulders with guys from the nationals and the BBC. How exciting?!

I can remember the two days well, so much happened, I learnt so much, Alice loved it and became hooked on running. We even found time somehow to explore Newcastle and Gateshead a little bit. We didn’t care that on the first day it rained so hard, I got soaked, Tina had a brolly but we had to split up for awhile. We met a lot of famous people, such as Dame Kelly Holmes before she became well known. We stood side-by-side with Mark Knopfler on the bridge, the security guys allowed me and seemingly nobody else to get fairly close but just out of broadcast, as I was waving my Press Pass at everyone and it was so amazing. My first ever adventure into the World of global media, music and sporting legends.

I captured a photo of Paula Radcliffe breaking a world record on the day of the main races over in South Shields whilst crammed in with a group of other photographers and a BBC cameraman. That photo has sold through Alamy a dozen times and in fact the last time it sold was last month, well over a decade later!

That weekend 13 years ago has since been paid for a number of times over. We must have spent £300 for accomodation, food and fuel altogether. One photograph has at least paid for that twice over.

I then went on to doing more of this kind of thing but had to give it in after a number of years and because I had health issues. I did try again after I recovered but what seems to have happened, is that the press photography industry became saturated, Getty purchased most London based agencies and every event would have too many photographers in attendance. Everyone now jumping on the bandwagon. 

I ended up focusing instead more on my web interests.

I used to submit images to Getty, Filmmagic, UPPA/Photoshot, Retna but now I stick solely with Alamy. I make sales through them, ok not enough to pay the mortgage and other bills. However I don’t submit enough to them – just maybe if I did, I could boost my sales?

So here begins a fresh attempt at stock photography once more, given the fact that sales are starting to pick up again 🙂

I shall reveal more over the next series of posts.