31 March 2010

House in Ireland sir? No thanks, I'll save it for a coffee

18.5%. The amount Irish house prices fell in 2009. And you thought UK house prices were ridiculous. There is a way to go yet.

28 March 2010

Published Photographer

Picture published in TimeOut this week - online version here, at least for the time being; magazine in the shops - go buy and see...

23 March 2010

Kew Gardens

Dorian Gray

Kew Gardens

This is a bit of a dull shot I have taken a dozen times already. Time for something new and fresh methinks.

Kew Gardens

Crown of Thorns

Dorian Gray

Dorian Gray

Llangollen Canal


Saturday Morning Frost

Wheelie Bin



Leaf Light

How many do they get in there?

Kew Gardens

Apple Genius Bar - 1st Impressions

Well, D. was slick and fast moving and efficient and has gone a long way towards resolving my issues. He swapped over the discs for Adobe Photoshop that I bought from the Apple Store on Saturday that my Mac ruined the same day by trying to eat them with the optical drive; and he advised me to use a company recommended by their store for replacing the optical drive as this company will take 3 to 5 days whereas Apple would take 5 to 7 weeks. All the above free of charge and no quibbling. So, overall, impressed.
What was interesting, though, was his obvious disdain when I told him how disappointed I was in Apple as a manufacturer and that I had never had a similar problem with the PCs that I have owned (a Compaq and two Sonys, for the record). Sure, software issues in the early days but nothing since XP and never any hardware issues. Maybe I have just been lucky but his obvious disbelief in what I was saying, or perhaps his thought that "yeah, well, maybe nothing has gone wrong but PCs? Ugh!" (not something he articulated, just a certain look on his face and a refusal to accept that Apple was second rate in my experience), well, it opened my eyes to the "Cult of Mac". The store is sexy and exciting of course (15,000 visitors would go there today he told me - today being a Tuesday!), and the help very good indeed, but a little humility would not have gone amiss given the problems I've had so soon after going Mac.
One other thing - £200 for extended cover - are they kidding?? Just goes to show how shoddy the products must be if they can ask this and get people to pay up!


This is an annoying little scam. The phone keeps ringing and telling me I have a message from another phone, but the message is only "blank". The automated message then says "to repeat this message or to delete this message, ring 07953 966 066". Now, what is the betting that this is a premium rate number somewhere that you ring and it takes half an hour to delete a message that you didn't need or want or solicit in the first place?

UPDATE: Not, apparently, a scam, just one more scam-like behaviour from those scuzzy mobile phone companies, in this case, T-Mobile in concert with BT. Instead of allowing one to delete the message someone has sent in error (or indeed sent genuinely) as soon as one has heard it, one has to ring the above number, at one's own expense, and delete it. Which is great. Thanks BT / T-Mobile - you get a prize this morning for creating the most irritating thing to have happened to me so far this week (still, it is only Tuesday morning, there is plenty of time for more).

22 March 2010

Shyney Happy People: Part I

Here’s the thing. You wish to take more portraits, more candids, more shots of people generally. What if, like me, you are a naturally shy person? Where “naturally” means from a young age, and where the cause is immaterial (nature / nurture – who cares? The upshot is the same – blushing, quietness and the occasional painful re-assessment of all one’s interactions the morning after the night before)? What then can one do to overcome the problem of gaining the confidence to point a large piece of heavy glass into the face of someone one doesn’t know very well and take their picture? Because it does take confidence, at least if you want to do it well. And before you say it, a street portrait taken from 200 metres away with a 300mm behemoth doesn’t count – that really is like stealing, or snooping, or a combination of both, and to my mind the results are constrained by both the morals and the method. What I prefer is to be taking pictures in the open, with others aware that I am doing so if they pay attention, such that I can be asked to desist if they are not comfortable and I will immediately comply*. Well, here are a few ideas that sometimes work for me and that are helping me slowly gain in confidence in dealing with people through the medium of photography:

1. The Camera as Shield: First learnt over Victoria Falls in a micro light aircraft, a sort of lawnmower with wings – see one here: I found that with the camera in front of my face, and the task of fiddling with settings / focus / framing etc to occupy me, I was divorced from the thigh-shaking fear induced by going up in this ridiculous contraption (just what is the point of the helmet should the engine fail?)**. The thigh shaking isn’t as bad when in front of a person or group of people, but the distancing effect produced by faffing about with equipment can still help on a couple of levels: one, it puts you in touch with something you do have confidence about, namely the technicalities and creative possibilities of your camera, and both you and your subject(s) pick up on this confidence and everyone feels better; and two, it buys you thinking time in the sense that you can see the scene in front of you would be better if pissed uncle Geoffrey weren’t lying down in the middle of your chosen picture spot - fiddling with your camera allows you the space to come up with a polite way of telling your subjects this as well as allowing them time to drag him off whilst you pretend to alter your ISO and check your battery.

2. The Environment as Camouflage: Hidden in the Open.
Try this one as a way of improving your street technique. Select the biggest, ghastliest, most cheesy tourist attraction near where you live and get out and about with your camera there. Think Martin Parr. But of course you aren't concentrating on the attraction itself but the people visiting it. Shoot away - no one will notice your £2500 lens / camera combo differs in the slightest from the pointnshoots all around. Whack up the colour saturation. Eat an ice cream. Let go. You'd be surprised.

More tips to follow soon. Happy hunting.

*FWIW, I try and act naturally if I see another photographer in the street taking a scene with me in it and I would never ask them to desist. This sort of thing happens not infrequently when I am out photographing not because of my beauty but because of the photogenic nature of the places I am drawn to hang out at.

** I have no photographic proof to hand of having done this but if I can find the slides taken with my trusty old FM2 I will scan a couple into this blog. I should add, for the sake of factual accuracy, that the photos I took whilst up in the lawnmower were, if memory serves, uniformly poor, something I happily put down to inexperience, the weather / flat light, and the aforementioned shaking.

20 March 2010

Dorian Gray

So, to Ruby in the Dust's production of Dorian Gray (with songs, I believe). To take pictures. And you know what? It just worked. The set and lighting, as well as the people, were beautiful, which helped. But they were also friendly, cooperative and fun which made shooting a breeze. Of all the photography jobs I have done so far (and they are adding up now), this one was by far and away the most successful, something I hope is discernable from the photos themselves.

MacBook ProLapse

Mmm, several months? Sure, that's fine, I don't mind that the DVD player / burner / reader is kaputt. I mean, its an Apple isn't it? They're shockingly badly made which, after all, is the reason one pays more for them than for PCs, right?

18 March 2010

Dorian Gray

Dorian Gray, originally uploaded by patrickdodds1.

Dorian Gray

Dorian Gray, originally uploaded by patrickdodds1.

Dorian Gray

Dorian Gray, originally uploaded by patrickdodds1.

British telecrap

I swear, it would be quicker to recreate web pages pixel by pixel by hand than it is to rely on BT "broadband" (where "broad" is defined as the width of half an electron).

14 March 2010

West Pier

West Pier, originally uploaded by patrickdodds1.

Keep Trying

Keep Trying , originally uploaded by patrickdodds1.

1000 yard stare

1000 yard stare, originally uploaded by patrickdodds1.

8 March 2010

And, finally, the last one from today: Tom le Paranoid

SOOC as they say. Worth clicking through to the full-size shot (well, the somewhat downsized fullsized JPEG) as it is really quite astonishing how his eyes are the only sharp bit of the pic, a situation that is normally reversed. EXIF shows 1/15 sec at f/5, ISO 3200 with flash dialled in (is that the right expression?) at -1.7 stops. White Balance is, of course, off by a mile but I kind of like it.

... and one more

This one has had some of the distortion knocked out of it in Capture NX2.

New Lens 2

Another example. Bit sharper this time, though straightened a bit so some corner cutting has gone on.

New Lens: Soft Hands

Well, when I say "new", it is in fact 2nd hand. Not cheap, but 2nd hand nonetheless. It squeaks a bit, though I am told if I use it it will stop this. I am also told this could be a sign of the autofocus motor failing. Which is nice. Anyway, it comes with a six month guarantee. This is one of a few shots I took whilst walking to Waterloo. I read that it wasn't soft in the corners stopped down which was clearly a lie, at least at f/6 at 17mm - this is cropped and the woman's hand is still as soft as a rabbit's bottom. But there you go. More to follow.

7 March 2010

People, people everywhere

You see, I am trying to get more folk in my photos. I'm on the case already!

Commute 9

Commute 9, originally uploaded by patrickdodds1.

Ginger hair

Ginger hair, originally uploaded by patrickdodds1.

Commute 7

Commute 7, originally uploaded by patrickdodds1.

Folly 1

Folly 1, originally uploaded by patrickdodds1.


Cuts, originally uploaded by patrickdodds1.

Look Hair

Look Hair , originally uploaded by patrickdodds1.


Listening to Blue Oyster Cult's "Godzilla" here and I am transported back to my youth. All the excitement that music meant, the strange romantic exoticism of listening to live American bands (somehow I always associated live American bands with warm Californian nights), the brain-crushingly loud volume at which I used to listen, Sony walkmans, tapes, LPs.... ah me how it all comes flooding back. Beautiful.