Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Chess Boxing at the Scala, Kings Cross

A couple of screen shots from footage filmed ringside at a Chess Boxing event held at the Scala venue in Kings Cross.
I'd seen the event featured a while ago and fancied checking it out for myself. It's promoted as an event where the opponents are challenged to duel both physically and mentally, the rules dictating that there are alternate rounds of boxing and chess with the winner being decided by checkmate or knockout - which ever comes first

Having never been to a boxing match I was blown away by the atmosphere, the crowd seemed to be just as much into the chess rounds as the boxing, some of the chess moves seemed to get a louder reaction than when punches were landed!
Being ringside meant I was in as close as possible to the action, perhaps a little too close at times. I discovered that when a fighter is on the ropes they bend significantly resulting in being caught out with a couple of bonks on the lens during the course of the evening, could have been worse I suppose - could have been caught with a wayward punch!
I've just started going through all the footage from the evening and I plan to cut it together into a short narrative piece looking at the contrasts between these two wildly different sporting events brought together during a bout of Chess Boxing.
More to follow from this once the edit is finished

Sunday, February 17, 2013

South India

Been a while since my last update, I'm currently in the South enjoying the unspoilt beaches of Varkala in Kerala.
I finished the filming in Varanasi and the plan was to then head onto Darjeeling but the unseasonable cold weather led me to cancel this idea and instead head back to Delhi. The journey back by train took a lot longer than expected due to the morning fog which is like Kryptonite to the train services aswell as the increased traffic along the same line to Allahbad where the Kumbh Mela is taking place being enjoyed by 20 million people. Needless to say the 12 hour train journey turned into 24 and when I finally got back to Delhi I considered myself fortunate that my train made it.
After a week enjoying the goings on in South Delhi I jumped on a plane (my first internal flight in India which made a nice change) down to Cochin in Kerala where I was met with a welcome laid back atmosphere very different to the North. Cochin is also currently holding India's first Biennale which was fantastic to see.
It was only a short journey South to the small town of Varkala which has all the sun, sea and seafood anyone could wish for and where I've been taking some time out before heading back to Delhi and then catching my flight back to the UK.
Due to the frequent power cuts and generally patchy nature of the wi fi here it's meant I haven't been able to post as much as I'd hoped but more iPhone images can be seen via my Instagram feed here.
More posts from the trip when I'm back in the land of drinkable tap water, hot water and a constant power supply

Monday, January 28, 2013

Work in progress

Filming continues here in Varanasi and I've been up at dawn each morning to get the best of the light.
Venturing out with a camera rig makes you not the most discreet of passers by and during my first outings people tended to stop in their tracks upon seeing me.
Now after numerous outings most people are used to the sight of the morning weirdo with the big camera and pay no attention to me, gladly this acceptance starts to permit me to be able to get in closer to capture the everyday elements along the river

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Early morning along the Ganges

Some screen shots from some footage shot at sunrise along the Ganges river here in Varanasi.
While I'll be here I'll be concentrating on shooting video documenting a day in the life along the river. Shooting film is a new experience for me and it's been great to sink my teeth into a new process. I'm still learning as I go along and these images represent some footage from the first mornings shooting.
I've been slightly hampered by the weather which has turned quite cold in the last couple of days resulting in thick fog in the mornings, this aswell as the frequent lengthy power cuts here which has made charging my camera batteries difficult.
Along side this in the last few days like many visitors here I've started to experience another thing Varanasi is well known for: bellyache.
After my last visit I was aware that it was a question of not 'if' but 'when' I'd feel the Gunga paying a visit to my belly so it has kind of put the breaks on things at the moment. One positive thing is that this has coincided with the foggy weather which has meant morning shooting was a write off anyway

Evening Puja, Varanasi

Each evening in Varanasi at the Main Ghat the evening Puja ceremony takes place, it's a ceremony I'd photographed previously from the Ghat itself but I'd never experienced seeing it from the waters edge.
We found a boat man willing to take us there (not hard to find in Varanasi) and after the obligatory haggling over the price we glided up the river to where it was taking place. Aside from being visually stunning the sound is also amazing as you hear all the chants being broadcast from speakers accompanied with a din of bell ringing.
As is customary we also lit a few candles as offerings to the river and send them gliding off along the river watching each flickering candle disappear off into the distance. Was really something

Friday, January 18, 2013

Guest appearance

I've recently arrived in Delhi, still feeling the affects of the jet lag from the overnight flight and a following night spent in the Paharganj enduring an all night chorus of dogs barking. But these inconveniences aside all is well.
I've now moved to the Southern part of town where I've spent a couple of nights staying with a good friend who forms one half of the creative duo Asian Creatives and is currently based here working for an advertising agency.
It's been great to see Delhi through the eyes of someone who lives here and this morning I accompanied them on their daily walk to the office which was like no other commute I've ever experienced.
To see more on the daily workings of a city constantly on the move head over to his blog at

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Back to India

So it's time to jump on a plane again and take the overnight flight to New Delhi, I'll be over there for around five weeks from the 15th Jan until the 22nd Feb working on personal projects as well as some client commissions.
I was last there two years ago and I always knew it was a place I would revisit.
Like last time my first port of call will be the Paharganj in New Delhi which can be seen below. It's a bazaar street just next to the main train station and is a first destination for many travellers, while often overlooked I found it to be a great source of images.
So like last time I'll be spending my first night back in this beautiful swirling mess but after that I'll be based in South Delhi for a few days with a good friend of mine who is currently working out there for an advertising agency

After that I'll be travelling East stopping off at the holy city of Varanasi again where the image at the start of the post was taken and then continuing East stopping off at Gaya and Kolkatta before heading North to visit Darjeeling and Sikkim.
After that the plan is to head back to Delhi for a few days to thaw out after a week spent at the last two destinations which are in the foothills of the Himalayas and then jump on a plane to spend a week down in the South of the country visiting Cochin and Kovalam in Kerala

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Recent Portrait: Peter Hansford

A recent shoot with Peter Hansford who is the newly appointed Chief Construction Adviser to the Government.
It was a fairly brisk shoot which took place at the both Orwellian looking and sounding 'Department for Business Innovation and Skills' in Westminster. While he was being interviewed by the writer I took a few shots to give the magazine another angle and then had a quick scout around the office floor and found a row of seats that provided a nice neutral backdrop to the portraits.

Best dishes in Paris

One of the most enjoyable shoots of late was to provide images for a feature on the 50 best dishes in Paris according to the writers at Time Out Paris.
The assignment called for images of both the restaurants interior and exterior aswell as the main shot of the dish that was going to be featured in the article.
I've photographed lots of restaurants in the past but usually the client asks for the focus to be on the interior and I usually saw photographing the dishes as a bit of sideline shot that would rarely make it into print.
This shoot gave me a nice opportunity to really focus on shooting the dishes, I decided the best decision was to light them to give the shots more of an impact and also provide continuity across the different dishes.
Another reason for this is that restaurants are usually dimly lit and contain a mixture of different light sources which is far from ideal ideal. Using supplementary lighting meant I could also get away from the usual plate shots often seen in print where they are shot at an extremely short depth of field (when you don't have the light you are limited to this).
Using artificial lighting was also a bonus as I knew that with the amount of restaurants needing to be shot in such a short space of time some would inevitably need to be photographed in the evening where the lighting would be dim or non existent. All of the dishes were shot with a two light set up, the main light camera right shot through an umbrella to provide a soft flat light without any harsh shadows as well as a second light behind the dish camera left which provided a key light to separate the dish from the background.
An example of how the images were used can be seen below and I've also included some shots from the more memorable restaurants. As a sideline a great bonus of the shoot was that almost exclusively after shooting each dish the chef insisted that I eat it which was fantastic. I think chefs and photographers have lot in common - we're both judged on what we produce and take pride in out work. They were happy with the shots of the dish and the resulting publicity and I was only too happy to sample their creations...

This dish was the French classic 'Blanquette de veaux', the restaurant was called 'Le Jadis' and I noticed they had a French paperback with their name in the title as part of the restaurants general decor so I decided to include it in some of the shots

The above dish is a desert called 'Pain perdu'- lost bread - which is basically an old peasant dish for using up any stale bread. It's the sort of thing any French granny will make on a regular basis, but serve it up on a piece of slate in a Parisian Restaurant and you can charge 10 Euros for it. It was very nice by the way!

For this shot of a carrot cake I got involved in a bit of 'food styling', the tables had paper table cloths which looked a bit uninspiring so I took it off to show the table top which had a bit of texture to it, I also grabbed a tea pot from another (empty) table to add to the scene. Unfortunately I wasn't offered this dessert, but then again I don't like carrot cake

Steak tartare, another classic. Basically raw mince meat with capers mixed into it. The chef at this restaurant was very well known and took a great interest in seeing the list of other places I had to photograph, he had some harsh words to say about some of them...

A desert called 'Paris Brest', so called after a bicycle race between the two towns. The restaurant served specialities from Brittany and the Bretons are known as seeing themselves as separate from the rest of France (a bit like the Corsicans but without blowing up the post offices), hence out came the Breton flag which the dish was photographed on - it worked well in the shot and gave context to the dish

There were some international dishes too, this dish was a cantonese speciality and the owner of the restaurant took the award for using her initiative. Once I'd set up my lights and was waiting for the dish to appear I looked round and saw her bringing the entire restaurants menu from the kitchen.
I only needed to shoot the one dish in question but she kept asking 'Oh and could you just photograph this too, oh and this too perhaps'. I really didn't mind and found it quite sweet - lets just say that she has some new images for her menu and I happily took home about 5 kilos of food in doggy bags...

Of course snails had to be on the list, I was offered these but it was very early in the morning and I hadn't had breakfast yet so had to politely decline

But the highlight has to be the chef at the restaurant 'Le Duc', not only did he insist that I eat the whole of this 'Sole Meuniere' with him and the rest of the staff while they had their lunch before service began but it was also washed down with a few glasses of wine from their excellent cellar - one of which was on the menu at 850 euros a bottle! There is such a thing as a free lunch

Everyday Paris

A further series of shoots here for the site Airbnb to capture more neighbourhoods, this time in Paris.
I was asked to shoot nine different areas across the city and the images would be used to produce guides to give visitors an idea of what to expect from each neighbourhood. They were all shot over the course of a week in late October last year and I was really lucky with the light over the course of the shoot, you can't beat winter light as it gives everything a lovely soft glow. Roll on Spring

An example of one of the guides can be seen below, the area of the Canal St.Martin is one that I know very well and was one of the most enjoyable to shoot.
More examples of the guides can be seen on the site via this link.
Below are some more images from the shoot showing the areas of Invalides, Montparnasse, Bercy, Pere Lachaise, Vendome and the Champs Elysees