Thursday, March 29, 2007

Yet Another Outlet

Good news if you're in the field for stock images, I am now working with the stock photo agency Alamy. Images from all over the world will start to appear at my personal Alamy page which can be accessed by simply clicking the Alamy button below. As always, requests for specific images are given full consideration and researched fully at no charge.

Stock photography by James+O%27Rear at Alamy

In other news, the weather in England was AWESOME for 3 whole days and is now back to what is considered stereotypical English weather: cold and fog. Even at 3pm I can barely see the Necton church steeple and the wind turbines of Swaffham are somewhere out there (white windmills in fog, even I haven't figured out how to photograph that situation... yet). I'll let you know when that photo is available!



Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Unexpected Guest

Soon after arriving in England and finding this wonderful house I began researching the wildlife I could possibly encounter while performing my vocation. Walking around woods and fields in the wee hours of the morning trying to find the perfect angle and lighting means you can run into some interesting creatures. Alaska was full of adventure from large mammals, most notably bears and moose. The Azores had the elusive least weasel to try and find (which I did). England has a selection of deer (have seen both the red and muntjack varieties), the fox and badger (not seen... yet) and lest I forget: the hedgehog.

Despite being covered in 6,000 hard spiked spines, the hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus) doesn't top my list of creatures to be feared while "in the wild" much to the disbelief of some of the Boy Scouts I work with. While camping on Terceira Island in the Azores, Portugal I had one crawl inside my tent and wake me while sniffing around the opening of my sleeping bag. When I realized what it was, I went back to sleep and lived to tell the tale the next day.

This guy was almost flattened by my van as I pulled out of the driveway. Luckily he survived and later in the day I was able to photograph him (or her) whilst rummaging through the flowering hyacinths for bugs and slugs. He's welcome in our yard anytime and quiet honestly would love for a group of them to move in, as long as they sleep in a place where I wouldn't accidentally run over one with the mower.



Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Lights in the Sky

Yesterday's weather was a simply ugly event here in East Anglia. Tempertures were just above freezing. There was a strong north wind that stung your exposed skin. It would rain. Then sleet. Then snow. All in the space of a couple of minutes, then start all over again. There wasn't enough accumulation to really affect travel, but the conditions made going about your daily tasks rather... unpleasant.

Today was better with growing sun breaks and the wind began to calm down. As I returned home from the base the sun was setting and a large expanse of sky opened up and there they were, fat in the middle of the opening: Venus (the star-like light) and the crescent moon. Fortunately I was able to get home and grab a few images from the driveway before the cold and hunger drove me inside. The day really wasn't that bad I guess.



Monday, March 19, 2007

The Exploding Tit

We have gotten a cold snap! A week ago we were outside flying kites and riding bikes on the patio (ok, the KIDS were riding bikes) and it seemed as if summer was on the way. NOT! Today we have snow showers, sleet storms and a brisk wind out of the north. Cold, cold, cold.

Despite being covered in down and feathers, the birds feel the cold as well. Winter finds them in need of high-energy food and the reason suet cakes exist (bird feed in cakes of lard... YUM!). A trick they use to keep warm is to fluff-up their plumage. The spaces between the feathers holds in the heat they generate and is the reason why poofy down jackets are so warm. This little guy (a blue tit) was fluffing-up and looked like he was about to explode!

We also have a new neighbor; a cow in the buildings behind our house delivered a calf over the weekend. I'm doing a sort of "farmer apprenticeship" program with the father and son who run the farm, what fun! I'm sure it will provide the meat of many a future post. Stay tuned.



Thursday, March 15, 2007

Sarcasm Central

This may come as quite a surprise to many of you but there have been times in my life (rare, to be sure) where my fantastic command of the English language has been used in a less-than-congenial manner.

I know, I know. Hard to believe.

Be that as it may, I have often been complimented about the speed with which I am able to spout forth a stream of unbelievably sarcastic statements, sharp as rapiers and barbed as the stems of roses. So it is in this spirit that I offer:

Ever wish you had the perfect comeback for someone's cutting remark or wish you had a way to express HOW you feel without actually SAYING it? Imagine their surprise when you smile and sip a bit of coffee as they see exactly what you're thinking. Oh, I'm a bad man...

Currently populated with a growing selection of coffee mugs it will soon be joined by t-shirts, posters and more. Take advantage of my arsenal of cutting, biting remarks to express yourself and quite possibly not get written up for doing so.



Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Strange New World

Today in a rare burst of cleanliness I extracted the duster from the closet and brushed away the accumulated bits of nastiness from my shelf of beloved cameras I have used (and abused) over the years. Ranging from completely manual Canon FTbs to the AE-1/A-1s of my "cutting teeth" periods to my beloved Canon EOS 1-n and medium format Brooks-Veriwide 100 I can remember the angst and anticipation inside me as I waited for the lab to work their arcane magic on my celluloid creations. I remember the jubilation I enjoyed when I found a lab in Anchorage, Alaska (Photowright Labs on Fireweed, love 'em) that could get my slides back to me in 3-4 hours instead of 2-3 weeks. It was like the photo fairy has sprinkled her magic dust all over me! Reminiscing about those magical old days has really got me thinking about how technology has changed things for artists in general and specifically for photographers like me.

Take this morning for an example. The birds in my back garden feed pretty heavily between 7-11am, thus I'm pretty active at the camera stand during those hours (see my blog posts for the on-going saga of "the blind", link below). As the morning went on I would shoot, switch cards out and continue shooting while downloading and running images through CaptureOne. I'd shoot a little more, switch cards, run the keepers through my Photoshop template actions for my CafePress greeting cards. Shoot a little more, keyword, upload, create descriptions, shoot a little more. So, in those three hours I was not only able to capture my little friends feeding and grooming but process the images, catalog the images, create products out of them and have them available for purchase all within (literally) minutes of the images being captured.
Despite all the changes that have taken place in the process, the motivation is still the same:

I love what I do!

If the light goes to crap (what a concept here in England) I'm able to take my hands off the camera and simply enjoy the starlings trying to get to the suet feeder while the "yard boss" robin runs them off. I can laugh as the green finches never give up trying to crack safflower seeds even though they can hardly get a single one into their beaks! Yes, I'd love to be able to pay my bills with the money made from stock image fees and product sales, but I'd still be doing this anyways.

We've come a long way, baby.



Monday, March 12, 2007

Great Visit to London

One of the great things about being active in some sort of community forum is the ability to network with folks and make new friends. I belong to a particularly active and most useful forum called the Online Visual Artists Forum run by the lovely Sarah out of Seattle, Washington. Through this group I was fortunate enough to become friends with Mr. Paul Helm.

Paul is one of a handful of old-fashioned honest-to-goodness print makers using traditional methods involving such items as plates, ink and presses (like, no electricity or CPUs). He and a group of fellow printers had the ability to have a gallery show in London and I was invited to attend (and I said YES of course)!

So, Saturday found Jill and I driving down to Epping to catch the Tube into London. Morely Gallery is just a short walk from the Lambeth North tube station and the Imperial War Museum and a 5 minute walk from the south bank of the Thames River and the London Eye.

We met Paul who was not only nice as could be but also took us on a tour of the print making facilities of Morley College where he creates his masterpieces. Here's a photo of Paul and I (he's the distinguished looking chap on the right, I'm the pale hobbit-ish bloke on the left) in front of his display area.

Be sure to visit his website to learn more about him and his art, fantastic stuff. An incredible day topped off by incredible weather and my first ever serving of fish and chips at the Three Stags Pub. Highly recommended though you might want to take your cholesterol medication just before eating.



Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The blind: one step closer

While sitting in front of the square-eyed devil known as my computer a wave of realization came over me.

Birds are cool.

Most of the people I know would agree but have already conjured mental images of bald eagles, red tail hawks and the like. I'm referring to the little guys that are coming in ever-increasing numbers to my back yard feeding station.

Blue tits, robins, sparrows, blackbirds. THOSE birds. Plain old ordinary residents of everyday backyard feeders. If you have the time and can sit and watch then, it can be quite a laugh.

Our yard has what I refer to as a "yard boss" and he is the smallest of the three robins I see regularly. But there is no doubt that HE is the boss, HE controls who comes and goes to the feeder from his perch on the bird bath. He squawks, he jumps, he flitters and chases if he were a child of mine I likely would have tied him to a tree just to hush him up. He is quite comical to watch when he gives chase to a blackbird 3-4 times his size AND WINS.

They say that when you pet an animal it releases 5-6 different pleasure hormones and helps lower blood pressure. I haven't given bird-petting a go but I will say that as the "yard boss" does his thing and the blue tits burst into a furious fit of movement (see photo) all seems right with the world for just a moment, and sometimes a moment is all you need to make it through the day.



Monday, March 05, 2007

A Fine and Pleasant Misery

One of the greatest authors I have ever had the pleasure to read is Patrick McManus, a fine writer who creates books about his youth with titles like "They Shoot Canoes Don't They", "Never Smell a Gift Fish" and my long time favorite "A Fine and Pleasant Misery".

I mention this as I had the distinct pleasure to finally go camping (if for only one night) in the fabled woods of England called Thetford forest. As if that wasn't exciting enough (for me at least) it was also the first night camping for many new Boy Scouts that had made the transiting from "cub" to "boy" and were now entering the world of the boy-led camping world (and all that one might imagine that entails).

Having just endured a week of stuck-on-the-couch illness I figured a night in a tent would either cure me or kill me and at the moment either was a welcome option. Suffice it to say I survived with nary a scratch and was pleased beyond reason to discover we hadn't missed the total lunar eclipse. Best of all, everyone lived although the kids with wet sneakers (trainers) weren't all that pleased about it. When asked by my wife how it was I remember thinking it wasn't quite a "fine and pleasant misery" but it certainly had potential.