Wednesday, 19 September 2018

The Photographer's Guide to Cornwall

It was really nice to be contacted by Ellen Bowness asking if she could use one of my images in her latest guide book. The Photographer's Guide to Cornwall is her eighth guide book. Each one is well researched and an invaluable source for both location and planning info for photographers. The quality of the photos is excellent creating a real visual treat. Even if you know an area like the back of your hand it's really useful to have all that information collated in one easy to access source.

The Photographers Guide to Cornwall


To date I've got copies of the Lake District, Yorkshire Dales, Peak District and Cornwall guides. I'm sure I will be adding more to my collection in due course.



My photo is on page 93, a view of Kynance Cove in the evening light. Kynance can get very busy in summer months so choose your time of day wisely.

Kynance Cove
Summer at Kynance Cove


Resources: 

Ellen Bowness - Long Valley Books
Cornwall Flickr Album
My Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Photos

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Cambridge Open Studios 2018

11am - 6pm on 7th & 8th, 14th & 15th July
@ 23 Greenfield Close, Stapleford, CB22 5BT

COS flag

After many years deliberating I finally decided to sign up for Cambridge Open Studios (COS) back in December last year. COS is a group of over 500 artists living and working in the Cambridge area. The highlight of the year is open studios where over 350 of the artists open their studios & homes to display their work during the weekends of July.

I've opted to open up my home during the first 2 weekends in July (7-8th & 14-15th) from 11am to 6pm Saturday & Sunday.

For the last few months I've been thinking about which photos & products to display and sell. I've also spent some time procrastinating the logistics of transforming my kitchen / dinning room into a gallery space suitable for showcasing my work.

To date I've designed and printed some greetings cards and fitted an Artiteq hanging system along part of one wall. Now comes the difficult part of image selection, frames, sizes finishes etc.

Greetings cards

I will have a variety of work on display from classic Cambridge shots to a variety of UK landscapes from the Lake District, Norfolk & Suffolk, Cornwall & Scotland.

Please do pop in and say hello It would be lovely to welcome old friends and new.


Resources:

Cambridge Open Studios
Artiteq Hanging System


Sunday, 29 April 2018

Another New Website - www.marona.co.uk

I first registered my domain name marona.co.uk back in 1999. Lots of people have quizzed me about the origins of the name, the simple answer is it's the name of my house. After searching through atlases (assuming it was a place name) I drew a blank. I then assumed the previous owners may have been called Mary & Ronald or a combination there of. Recently I came across a baby name website to discover the girls name marona (not in the top 1000 names) in Hebrew means "flock of sheep". So there is the answer.

Using Wayback Machine I was able to dig out one of my earliest designs from 1999.


1999 design
1999 design


In 2003 I was featured in Amateur  Photographer magazine and was praised for my clean and simple design. Back then I offered 6 images for sale. The purchasing process required you to download an order form print it out and post it off with a cheque. How things have changed.


Amateur Photographer Websight
Amateur Photographer


By 2006 I had dropped my wife's art work, Cityscape & Cambridge images. Cambridge images had flourished and moved to it's own domain. I was now down to three categories, Landscape, Panoramic & Close-up. I also added in PayPal payments, the order form process clearly wasn't going to catch on.

2006 design
2006 design

Over the next few years the bulk of my website hits and a few sales were for Close-up images. Although I enjoy taking macro shots I was far more focused on landscapes. Fast forward to 2010 and another design change embracing pull down menus and numerous galleries.

2010 design
2010 design

Since 2010 not a huge amount changed other than adding new images and retiring a few older ones. The site remained non responsive and a bit of pain to use on phones since everything was so small. 

Almost a year ago I redesigned www.cambridgeimages.co.uk using a w3schools CSS template and it was finally time to start thinking about sorting out www.marona.co.uk

I decided to stick with w3schools, but have a slightly different feel from my Cambridge site. Using a menu which stays at the top of the page as you scroll enabled me to add more content to a single page. The portfolio pages are also dynamically sizing meaning tablet and phone use should be much easier and usable. I've stuck with PayPal ordering, it's trusted and reliable and effective to implement.

More fundamentally I've re-brand myself as "Landscape photography of the UK". No more cityscape, macro or foreign destinations. Hopefully this will work in my favor and give me a clearer focus when adding new work.

New Website - Marona.co.uk
New design

I hope you enjoy my new site, I've already received some positive feedback with lots of suggestions so I don't think it will be standing still for any great length of time.


Resources:


Monday, 26 February 2018

Reverse image search and sausages

I've been selling photos on Alamy (digital stock photos) since 2001 everything from landscapes, cityscapes, travel and a few images from in and around the home.




Ironically one of my best selling shots is "8 Sausages in a frying pan". It has sold a total of 13 times since 2006 ranging in price from $0.83 to $156. (Alamy pricing is very confusing). So it got me thinking where has this image been used and by whom? When you sell an image on Alamy it sometimes gives you a bit of a hint; magazine, newspaper, website, presentation... you get the gist, but it's never very specific.

A few years ago I was reading the Telegraph only to spot a photo of Wastwater, that looked very familiar and sure enough it was one of mine. There was a small credit, but all it read was "Alamy" a bit disappointing and the stark reality was I only got paid £5 for the privilege.

So how else can you track down where your images are used? Back to the image of the sausages, I found a really useful website https://tineye.com/ a reverse image search engine. You upload a photo or URL to a photo and it the searches through an alleged 26.2 billion images in 3.5 seconds! My humble sausage photo was picked up 30 times across the web.

Here are a few of the more interesting locations my image has featured:
  • Dailymail  - "Hull-based sausage makers Cranswick gobble up poultry producer Crown Chicken in sizzling £40million deal"
  • Newslocker - "MRSA superbug found in supermarket sausages and mince"
  • Telegraph - "Moving guide: 10 things to know before relocating to Qatar"
  • Telegraph - "Ditch sausages for a longer life, say Harvard scientists"
  • Cracked.com - "Sausages are older then the Bible"
But the prize has to go to a Caribbean Villa in Trinidad and Tobago that features my sausage shot as part of their breakfast menu offering.

Give TinEye a go yourself and you may be surprised at where you photos crop up.


Resources:

TinEye reverse image search
My stock photos on Alamy

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Cambridge TV

Back in June I was contacted by Cambridge TV who were producing a series of short programs called Behind the Brush. These looked at the work of artists in and around Cambridge. The photography based program was questioning the aesthetic and commercial value of photography in the world of art and how is social media affecting this industry?

I'm not big on social media, I don't do Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, the only place I regularly post photos to is Flickr. Doing social media well, takes time and I would rather spend that time out taking photos!

The filming took place on a stinking hot Saturday afternoon in Cambridge. I was met by Rick and Oscar on the Backs for the first part of the interview we then moved onto Garret Hostel Bridge, finishing off down near the Mill Pond opposite the Anchor Pub. All in all a fun afternoon and my first ever TV appearance.





Thursday, 7 September 2017

Isles of Scilly Landscape Photography

Sunset from St Mary's across to Samson
Sunset from St Mary's across to Samson

I'm fortunate to have just spent a week on the Isles of Scilly with extended family. The Scillies is an archipelago of islands located 28 miles South West off the tip of Cornwall. Five of the islands are inhabited with countless smaller ones dotted amongst the azure sea. St Mary's the largest was my base for the week, staying in the main port of Hugh Town.

Getting to the Isles of Scilly involves either a 2 hours 45 mins ferry crossing from Penzance or a flight from the mainland in small 9 or 16 seater planes. Flights from Lands End take about 15 minutes or an hour from Exeter. This time round we flew from Exeter, an excellent service both ways despite an aborted take off halfway down the runway on our return due to a seagull encounter.

Being based on St Mary's means you can easily explore all the other islands. A flotilla of small boats make the short trips back and forth to the various "off islands" during the course of the day.

Boat times Isles of Scilly
Boat times Isles of Scilly

St Martins
St Martins

As the week progressed I was able to visit Tresco, Bryher, St Martins & St Agnes. The remainder of my time was spent exploring St Mary's either on foot or catching the community bus. The bus had been upgraded since my last visit, the old rope to close the door had been replaced by a door that now closes automatically. Fares are somewhat arbitrary and calculated on the fly depending on how many stops you want to take, but it's not an exact science. Steve the bus driver has a dislike of small change, you have been warned.

Pot and boat Bryher
Pot and boat Bryher

The weather on the whole was very good, one wet day in a week is good going. Weather on the Scillies changes quite rapidly which is generally a good thing when it comes to photography.

The one drawback with the island day trips is that you only get to visit the other islands during the middle of the day. Missing out on early morning or late evening light can be a little frustrating meaning you need to make the most of daytime photographic opportunities. For sunrises and sunsets I was confined to walking distance from Hugh Town on St Mary's.


Hugh Town harbour sunset
Hugh Town harbour sunset

Sunrises were a little disappointing and I only managed to catch the tail end of  one in a far from ideal location. However, I did mange to enjoy two sunsets. One looking across the harbour (at high tide) which was OK, but didn't amount to much and a second spectacular one from Rat Island (just the other side of Hugh Town harbour wall). The sun just sank down below some thick clouds with no colour at all. Then after 20 minutes the light started turning straw yellow followed by spectacular colours in the clouds a full 30 minutes after sun had slipped below the horizon. It doesn't happen very often, but I can remember a similar sunset on the Lizard in Cornwall. A mediocre sunset followed by amazing colours 30 minutes later. It's often worth waiting around you just never know.

Rat Island sunset
Rat Island sunset

The pace of life on Scilly is very relaxed and despite visiting in the middle of the summer holidays there were still many beaches just a short walk away which were virtually deserted.

Great Bay St Martins
Great Bay St Martins

There are many talented artists and some lovely galleries displaying their work dotted around the islands. I was struck that there seems to be a distinct lack of photographic art work on sale, perhaps there is a niche in the market!


Resources:

Isles of Scilly Flickr album - including location info of all shots


Thursday, 25 May 2017

New website - www.cambridgeimages.co.uk


My original website was launched back in October 2006 and remained largely unchanged through to 2011. It then had a bit of a face lift, but the underlying code was very similar. Plain old html, basic CSS and some Server Side Includes to glue it all together.

My original Website

Over the last few years I've come to accept that a responsive site would be a big step forward. My old design did work on a phone, but everything was tiny and when I tried to scale if for mobiles it didn't look pretty on the desktop.

For the last 18 months or so I've been going round in circles. I tried WordPress, Drupal and various others content management systems (the names of which now escape me), I looked at SquareSpace and one or two other hosted managed solutions. I also downloaded various CSS templates.

I  found myself creating a few pages which didn't really work very well then I would give up and try something new. I kept coming back to Wordpress, but I just couldn't figure out how to create the gallery pages and payment integration. Fast forward 12 months and I came across w3schools.com at first I started working through some of their tutorials. I then stumbled on their templates. Some templates were great other not so great, but there were elements of a number which were really appealing. I downloaded their main style sheet and started to unpick it. It then became apparent all of their templates used the same CSS sheet, so I could pick and choose the bits which I wanted.

After building up a front page and thinking carefully about the structure I set about working on populating the back-end. The most efficient way would have been a database, but I had already decided this was not the route for me. I eventually settled on making the best use of Server Side Includes and creating a set of simple pages which could be easily duplicated and edited in notepad++.


Fresh new look

All in all I'm a bit of a luddite when it comes to new technology, but hopefully my fresh new design will stand the test of time and be usable on mobile phones at long last!


Resources:

www.cambridgeimages.co.uk
www.w3schools.com