Shad doesn’t go to an ice hockey match

John is a sports fan, just to clarify, I mean watching not playing.  He used to participate in sports in his young athletic days and I’ve seen proof in the form of judo medals and a picture of him holding some kind of paddle (otherwise I would never have believed it!).  Although he doesn’t play anymore (unless you count the leg lunges he has to do every morning because I run under his feet), he still supports competitive games through the lens of his camera.  Technically speaking, portraying the mood and movement of sports in a still-shot is a big challenge.  It requires the photographer to take pictures of moving subjects without making them look blurred and be in the right place at the right time to capture the emotion of the scene through let’s say the expression on someone’s face.  I often go along with John to give him a few tips and critique his work, but mostly I go for the snacks.  My John is an expert in seeking out and preparing the most sumptuous of snacks (yes I’m a lucky cat to have such a devoted friend).  On the menu can be anything from steamy steak stew, whisker lickin’ chicken or luscious lamb crockpot.

 

When John asked me if I wanted to watch an ice hockey game with him, I had a frightening flashback to square-looking bodies adorned in plastic shields crashing into the huge Perspex barriers that surrounded the ice rink they were playing on.  I distinctly remember a bewildered man with thick furrowed eyebrows staggering around the ice looking for his tooth.  So I opted out of this particular trip and negotiated a small tub of tasty turkey terrine from John before he headed out the door and I headed to my favourite blanket for a nap.  If napping was a sport, I’d be a gold medallist I’m sure.  As for all you sports fans, keep up the good work.  Here’s a few pictures of some brave fit humans working together to score points by hurtling a puck across the opponent’s goal line at anything up to 100 miles an hour with a long curved stick.

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Shad rides the London Eye

The London Eye on the south bank of the River Thames stands at 443 feet (135m) with a diameter of 334 feet (120m) so it’s quite big.  And if you’re 25cm tall like me, it looks even bigger.  But that didn’t stop me from taking a leap of faith with John last weekend when we drove to the big smoke to take a ride on London’s observation wheel, the Millenium Falcon, oh I mean Millenium Wheel.  Wouldn’t it be great if it was the Millenium Falcon with Han Solo and Chewbacca at the helm!  Worrying I didn’t see anyone at the helm of the Millenium Wheel and I had read previously that there was an incident when they stopped the wheel for safety checks after a faulty part was discovered and people were suspended in one of the pods 450 feet above the ground for an hour.  I suppose one incident with no injury in 16 years isn’t bad and apparently there are supplies of water, blankets and even commodes in each capsule to cater for basic needs.  Although if John and I got stuck up there it would take more than a hot drink and a refund to soothe my nerves!

The actual experience was pleasant and the clear blue skies provided an unobstructed view.  John pointed out lots of interesting landmarks to me including the Can of Ham and the Gherkin, the Salt Cellar, the Cheese-grater and the Walkie-Talkie.  No this isn’t a list of the snacks John keeps in his rucksack!  They are nicknames for a collection of unusually shaped structures that have been constructed in the city, namely St Marys Axe office buildings, a glass clad skyscraper of triangular design called the Shard,  the Leadenhall Building (office, retail and dining space) and a handset shaped tower that contains office space and an indoor garden close to St Pauls Cathedral.   The pillars and arches of Westminster Abbey are now surrounded by the slopes and curves of modern architecture that, in London anyway, often have peculiar shapes reminiscent of everyday objects.  I would like to see a cat shaped shopping mall with a rescue centre attached!

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London 360 Click on the photo to see full 360

 

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Shad takes a peek at the Jefferies past

From a pin-point image on a pewter plate with a mix of toxic chemicals, to the invention of Polaroids and into the digital age, the photographic process has undergone a series of radical transformations and improvements.  In the early 1800’s, photography was a hobby accessible only to professionals or the very rich, but now it is open to the mass market with modern electronic media allowing both professionals and amateurs the chance to produce high quality images that can be stored and shared at the touch of a button.  Many of the photos John and I looked at over the weekend were taken on 35mm film cameras with a small single lens and no focussing adjustment.  But their beauty and simplicity helps to keep history alive as I discovered when John told me some tales of the people posing in the portraits.

Thomas J Jefferies (John’s great uncle) served in the Royal Navy and spent time aboard a training ship called the HMS Impregnable (launched in 1810).  It was a 98 gun 3-decker ship with a wooden hull and I imagine life for the crew was hard.  Food was generally boiled by the cook in a large copper pot and weevils were regularly found in the bread.  The food must have been of a questionable quality given that the only way of preserving meat was to keep it in salt and most other foodstuffs were supplied dried.  Having said that, Thomas J Jefferies probably faced many dangers from life at sea as well as disease and the perils of war, so mealtimes were probably considered one of the highlights of the day.

Photography must be in the blood as John’s great great grandfather William J Cornwill (1861 to 1943) was also a photographer.  He must have witnessed some exciting changes in photography because he would have been around when a man called George Eastman started a company called Kodak in the 1880’s.  Eastman created a flexible roll film that didn’t require the constant changing of solid plates and created a self-contained box camera that held 100 exposures of film.  The user would take pictures and send the whole camera to the factory for the film to be developed, giving rise to the first camera cheap enough for the average person to afford.  Strong opinions also run in the family apparently as William J Cornwill was an exponent of reinstating Middlesex as a county and he even appeared in the local Surrey Comet to state his views.  For those of you that would appreciate a quick history update at this point, the City of London in the 12th century was able to exert political control over Middlesex and began to expand its boundaries resulting in problems with the administration of local government.  Eventually Middlesex became absorbed into Greater London with small sections in other neighbouring counties.

William J Cornwill was married to Fanny Withers, an entertainer on stage, and had several children, as was the trend in those days.  Two of his sons, William F Cornwill and Douglas W Cornwill, served in the First World War and one son named Horace Courtland Jason Cornwill was reported missing in action on 7th October 1916.  He survived as a prisoner of war in Germany working in the coal mines before being ex-patriated on 15th February 1919.  All this information might have been lost if it weren’t for the fragile black and white pictures that John has kept safe all these years and the names and dates written on the back of many of them.  Traditional film-based photochemical methods of photography are now a part of its past and new technology does have many practical advantages.  But whatever methods you use to store your photos, whether it’s in an album or in a cloud, you should write about them or label them so your history is never forgotten and your memories can be kept alive.

These are taken from the many photo’s passed down to John from members of his family!

Shad takes a walk around the garden

I’ve got ‘the wild’ right on my doorstep in the form of a rather overgrown back garden.  John says he’s let it get back to nature, but I suspect this noble sentiment is an excuse for not mowing the lawn!  Nevertheless, we both enjoy looking at the garden and all the treasures it holds which is why I like to take a stroll around it from time to time, admiring Mother Nature while I think about my work.  In the 2 ½ years that John and I have been running Shadow Photography, I’ve been involved with happy couples planning their wedding day, excited exhausted mothers eager to have pictures of their young baby for the mantelpiece, highly strung horses next to shiny horse boxes and wily creatures who shy away from the camera. You can find stories about my experiences and examples of the colourful and dynamic images I have produced during my work if you look back at https://shadthecat.wordpress.com/.

 

Weddings are great because people are always happy and the atmosphere is one of romance and optimism.  A bit like the mood created by these adorable garden birds who decided to have a splash together in the bath while I was crouching under the shrubbery with my camera.  Some of the birds in the garden (like the sparrows, blue tits and great tits featured in the photos) are so small I’m amazed they don’t get blown away by the wind.  Don’t worry, I’m not tempted to chase them, I’m far too busy analysing the light and shade in the frame, judging depth of field and generally perfecting my photography skills to be dashing around after my feathered friends.  I was really lucky to catch a glimpse of a green woodpecker as you can see from the picture and I would have taken more shots only this worker bee kept buzzing around the flowers right next to me and it really put me off!

 

I like to take pictures of the flowers because I can play with the focus and emphasise the colour to create some striking shots, like these views of the cherry blossom and bluebell-type plants in the garden.  I have produced a number of beautiful prints from these shots as well as more abstract images from the magnificent architecture that lies at the heart of history in this country.   They make a lovely gift to yourself or someone you care about so if you’re tempted, check out http://www.shadow-photography.com/.  On the website you’ll also discover the portfolio of work that John and I have developed over the last couple of years which gives you a flavour of our style.  Please remember us if you want a professional portrait at a preferential rate, or if you have a friend who plays in a band or a family member getting married and you want to capture the fun on film.  In the meantime, I’ll continue to share my thoughts and snapshots with you in this blog while I beaver away at building the business.  Shadow Photography is there for all your photographic needs and John and I only require a cup of coffee and a saucer of cat milk to keep us happy and working hard!

 

Shad and his mates

Here are some pictures of two very cute kittens that are currently residing in one of the Cat Protection’s pens in West Sussex.  Some of you may know that John takes photos of the cats for his friend who is a fosterer.  These two poppets came into care from a lady who had lots of cats that were breeding willy-nilly and had never received any veterinary treatment.  Unfortunately this type of situation has a terrible impact on the lives of the cats and the litters born to the females in the household, so these two cuties arrived in the pen with fleas, anaemia, cat flu and conjunctivitis.  Apparently many humans think cats that are related don’t mate but this is not true.  Nature has taught us cats not to be too fussy and it only takes an un-neutered male and female a few seconds alone to make the babies!  You’ll be pleased to hear that Teddy and Tinks are now flea-free, infection-free and feeling much healthier and happier.

 

The pretty black and white girl is a 2 year old domestic short hair called Jasmine who was surrendered by her owner because she was unhappy and refusing to come indoors, probably due to the noise levels in the house and the unruly children that were causing her stress.  She is friendly, gentle and playful, although a bit shy until she gets to know you.  She has a potential new owner coming to visit her next weekend so let’s hope she is lucky enough to find her forever home soon.

 

While John and I were in the garden, my mate Ginger came along to check out my photography equipment.  It was good to see my old buddy Ginge and he was very curious about my cameras.  So I started telling him about the importance of using light as a medium and how I store my digital image files, but he cheeky rascal fell asleep on my bag.

 

I also caught up with my good pal Muffin, the haughty black 5 year old who kept looking through my new binoculars last time I came to visit.  Muffin told me some bad news about my old chum Monty, a blue British Short Hair who was in the pen last year for about 10 weeks.  He was difficult to re-home because he has irritable bowel syndrome and can poop for England!  Fortunately, a nice lady saw past his dodgy tummy and fell for his charming and debonair personality.  Poor Monty was hit by a car a week ago and suffered some serious injuries.  To make matters worse, his owner who loves him very much did not have him insured.  Surgery, stitches, bandages, pain-killers, antibiotics and £2,600 later, he is now home but still not out of the woods.  His recovery will be slow and uncomfortable and his dedicated owner is caring for him while he is on cage-rest as well as working extra hours and taking in foreign students to pay off her credit card bills.  I’m sure you’ll join me in wishing Monty every bit of luck and I hope he pulls through.

 

 

Shad contemplates his career

These pictures are of one of my pretty domestic feline cousins.  She absolutely insisted that I share it with you.  Vain, yes I think so!!  But she’s cute so she gets away with it.  Her name is Muffin and being a sleek black cat like me, she is a little tricky to capture on film.  The facial features and subtle colour changes of black cats (just like white cats) can be difficult to see on camera because there is no contrasting colour for the auto focus to lock onto.  With practice, such photography becomes easier and I was pleased with the pictures John and I took of Muffin that day.  So was she, as you can tell from the self-satisfied expression on that adorable little face!!

John and I have been amateur photographers for many years and decided to go professional in early 2013.  It’s been an exciting year given that I am passionate about camerawork and had the opportunity to shoot different people and animals in a wide range of places and contexts.  I’ve learned so much and seen an improvement in my work and I’ve gained a name for myself as a photographer who listens to his clients and creates images that leave a lasting impression.  We’ve also had so much fun and I think it’s important to laugh and enjoy your vocation and help people relax.  But it has also been the most challenging time.  There are so many photographers charging too much without delivering on their promises, or charging too little, reflecting their bargain-basement attitude.  It’s a competitive industry.

Making a success of the business sometimes feels like an arduous task and no matter how honourable and capable I am, there’s always someone out there waiting to get one over on you!  But John and I make a good team.  With John’s skilful use of the lens and his technical expertise, and my impeccable charm and eye for composition, we’re determined to rise to the challenge.  By the way, in case you’re curious, Muffin has a personality as endearing as her petite velvety nose, and we’re just good friends!

Shadow

Unplugged Weddings

For all you up and coming Brides take time to read this article from Photographer Corey Ann

Why You Might Want to Consider an Unplugged Wedding

While some couples encourage their friends and family to snap as many photos as possible throughout the day (they’re even signing up for apps that make it easier to compile everyone’s photos in one place!), others are asking their guests to shut off their camera phones for the day. There are strong arguments on both sides — there’s something so special about seeing your wedding day unfold from your guests’ perspectives, but photographers have noted that “guest photographers” often compromise your professional pictures.  Photographer Corey Ann, an international award-winning photographer based in Northeast Ohio, shares why you might want to ask your guests to put aside their cameras for the night.

Why you Might want to consider an Unplugged Wedding