2015 has been a really good year at Inspiral Photography. Here is an overview:
January – Started with a bang with a call from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors letting me know that my image of the bridges over the canal wharf at Castlefield was a finalist in their first UK Infrastructure Photographic Competition. I was featured in the local paper as well as on the BBC website and The Independent’s website.
January – June – I undertook some important work for Sustainable Homes as part of their National Energy Survey and visited Liverpool, Leeds, Sheffield, Birmingham, Nottingham and Cumbria. Some photography was involved but it was mainly a technical commission.
February – A really enjoyable shoot for Borough Care at Meadway in Bramhall. This was an opportunity to meet the deputy chief executive. One of the residents was 105 and definitely the oldest person by far that Inspiral Photography has photographed!
March – A month for travelling. At the beginning of the month I was photographing salt works and strange coloured lakes in Lanzarote as part of my travel photography portfolio. Later, I was in London with my wife for the formal reception at the RICS HQ in Westminster for the finalists of their photographic competition.
April – This month Inspiral Photography acquired the Sony A7ii full frame mirrorless camera completed with Zeiss 24-70mm f4 lens. I had selected the Sony after a great deal of research as a much lighter camera to take on my travels but which had the added benefit that, with an adaptor, I could use my existing stock of Canon lenses. Also, April saw work start on my new office. After the shell was finished I employed a local contractor to fit it out to my specification.
May – Saw me back at Millwood Studios in Stalybridge with Andrew Appleton and the lovely model, Sharon Janney. This workshop was all about more advanced studio lighting set-ups. This studio owned and run by Paul and Jamie Booth has great facilities and has a very friendly atmosphere. Well worth a visit.
June – Inspiral Photography’s office fit-out was completed and I was able to arrange delivery of some new furniture. I also travelled down to Gloucester and met up with Simon Young for dinner. Simon is a superb wedding photographer, photography trainer and all-round very clever guy. As part of my trip I attended a portfolio builder day at Woodchester Mansion organised by Andrew Appleton and ably assisted by Andrew Griffiths, the incredibly friendly owner of Saracen House Studios in Milton Keynes. The Mansion is an unfinished Gothic house dating from Victorian times and was used as the backdrop to photograph four of the UK’s top models including Zara Watson and Annie Moya.
I was also busy photographing restoration work on the old Manchester University buildings for Mather and Ellis Ltd. This highly skilled contractor has been appointed to undertake significant works to the roofing and stonework of the buildings on Sackville Street. These buildings date back to the turn of the 20th Century.
At the very end of June, the last airworthy Vulcan bomber made a flyover of the now demolished Avro Woodford factory in Cheshire. Inspiral Photography was there to photograph it flying over its birthplace and it rekindled my love of aviation photography.
July – In early July, the Guild of Photographers organised a photo walk in the Peak District with an overnight stay just outside Hathersage. It was an opportunity to meet some very talented and friendly photographers including Karl Redshaw, Amanda Turner and Phil Sproson. We took full advantage of the landscape and rare sunset from this summer to get some good images. Sadly the night sky was not as dark as one would have hoped for to obtain first class astronomical photos. Unfortunately, the cloud ruined the sunrise the following morning. An abiding memory from the walk was falling down part of a disused quarry and having to be helped up covered in scratches and some nasty thorns from the brambles. All my own fault and caused by looking around for shots instead of concentrating on the path!
The following week we jetted off to Thassos for 2 weeks. I concentrated on photographing ancient Greek temples, amphitheatres, chapels, and stunning sunsets as part of my travel portfolio. Whilst there we met a lovely couple, Jon and Stephanie who have both become very good friends.
August – Apart from editing the many photographs taken in Thassos, I was also busy arranging for a very large print to be made for a client who lived in the apartment block in Castlefield featured in my RICS award winning image. I contacted the lab and they arranged for it to be printed on fine art paper following which I made arrangements for it to be framed by Alan Wallace of ‘Frames 4 Art’ based in Hartington in Derbyshire. I’ve known Alan for the past 3 years having been introduced to him by my sister. He is a first class framer and undertakes many commissions from art groups in Cheshire. He did a splendid job and the client was delighted when I delivered the picture in person.
At the end of August I helped one of our very good friends, Mike Roberts take his narrowboat for a service in Stone. The short trip from the marina to the service yard gave me the opportunity to operate the locks and get some good shots of the local wildlife and architecture along the way.
September – The highlight of this month was photographing the many different aircraft flying at the Southport Airshow. It was a fabulous day weatherwise and brought back memories from the 1970’s when my dad used to take me to Woodford and the Lightning, Buccaneer, Phantom, Mosquito and other iconic planes would wow the crowds. The sun always shone then and luckily it did again in Southport. Talking of iconic aircraft, this was the last time the Vulcan flew with the Red Arrows at an organised display. It was a magnificent sight to them flying parallel with the beach, white smoke trailing from the Hawks of the Red Arrows. On this occasion I was using my newly acquired 300mm f4 prime lens paired with Canon’s 1.4x extender. I lent my back-up camera paired with the 70-200mm zoom to my very good friend, Stewart Bromley, who had kindly driven to Southport and offered overnight accommodation in his apartment on Lord Street. Sharing the journey in his 1 series BMW and the airshow was his Doberman, Bentley who was very well behaved. During the day I was able to capture some great shots of the Vulcan, Spitfire, Red Arrows and the Typhoon which rounded off the day with some ear-splitting aerobatics.
I also started an Intermediate Photoshop night school course this month at the local college. This 13 week course had some interesting elements so I decided that 2 hours every Tuesday until December would be well spent learning some new techniques including compositing several images together. The image below used the advanced blending tool to merge two images together.
October – Back to Millwood Studios again with Andrew Appleton but this time with model Angela Kate Hudson. Another great workshop this time the subject being art nude. I always thought this genre would be the most challenging but with Andrew’s guidance and Angela’s great modelling I came away with some really lovely artistic images.
This month also saw the very last flight of Vulcan XH558 and the opportunity to photograph it from the Woodford airfield itself which is currently being ripped up to make way for a housing development. A sad occasion but a wonderful spectacle to see ‘The Spirit of Great Britain’ and hear its characteristic ‘howl’ over the airfield one last time.
November – I was contacted this month by Ines Kirby, the deputy Chief Executive of Borough Care, who wanted some images for their latest newsletter. I organised the shoot and delivered the images promptly and they were just what Ines wanted.
It was during November that I decided that Inspiral Photography’s website needed a makeover and instructed Stage Four Studios to proceed with the redesign based on my ideas.
I also attended the very first Photohub in Leicestershire organised by The Guild of Photographers during which I attended one of Guy Gowan’s master classes. As a member of his website and having watched many of his webcasts on post processing images in Photoshop using his ever evolving process action, it was great to meet him in person as he rarely travels away from his base in Ireland. It was also lovely to say hello again to Steve and Lesley Thirsk (Directors of the Guild) and have a quick coffee and catch up with Lesley Chalmers, my mentor and Guild Panel Member. It was also an opportunity to meet up again with Jon and Stephanie who very kindly provided overnight accommodation in Coalville.
The end of the month saw me travel to Portugal to photograph the quaint old town of Albufeira which had recently suffered from severe flooding. Inspiral Photography also photographed the boutique hotel we stayed in which had quite striking architecture internally.
December – One final visit of the year to Millwood Studios this time to explore creativity with speedlights together with Andrew Appleton and Sharon Janney. Exploring the myriad of modifiers and their effect on the speedlight’s output was good fun, as was photographing fruit being dropped into a tank of water.
Inspiral Photography’s final shoot of the year was a seasonal one posed against the Christmas tree and set up at home using a Westcott Rapidbox modifier, off-camera flash and with some added snow courtesy of Photoshop to give it that wintery feeling.
To round off the year Inspiral Photography acquired an interesting plug-in for Photoshop and Lightroom which allows photographs to be rendered with different artistic effects so that they look like drawings or paintings. I’m very impressed with it and look forward to using it more in 2016.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about Inspiral Photography’s exploits in 2015. Trusting that 2016 will be just as packed with interesting events, people and shoots.