Monday, 26 October 2009

Product test: Aquapac PDA Case

One of the latest additions to my kit bag is an audio recorder, which I've begun using to produce interviews, location reports, video commentary etc for the GBP Blog. And so far, I can't fault it ('initial impression' review coming up soon). That is, except for one thing.

This technology is all well and good, but there comes a time when it needs a little helping hand in more extreme environments. Put simply, the audio recorder doesn't like the rain. Suffice it to say this is an assumption and I don't wish to test the theory - but for piece of mind, I set out to find some decent protection for the thing.

Enter Aquapac, who produce all manner of dependable covers and cases. I have been aware of these guys for many years, and took the opportunity to catch up with them earlier in the year at the Ordnance Survey Outdoors Show. Jump forward a few months and they suggested the 100% waterproof PDA Case for my particular requirements.

Rather than waffle on here too much, I've put together the following short video so you can see and hear the test for yourself:

Several details are not mentioned in the video, as I wanted to keep it fairly brief, but for your reference:
  • This case will float in water, and is submersible to 15ft (5 metres)
  • It has an optically-clear rear panel, good enough to shoot photos/video through
  • You can use your PDA stylus as normal right through the case
  • A stylus holder is built-in
  • The product model reference/number is Small PDA Classic (344)
  • You can also check out more more from Aquapac on their Facebook page

If you have any thoughts or comments, feel free to jot them in the comments section.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

New website - honesty and advice

I need your help. But first a little background info.

With hands held aloft, I'll admit that it's been a while since the Giles Babbidge Photography website was tweaked, revamped, poked or otherwise toyed with. I could come up with a number of excuses but, frankly, there's no call for that. So I won't.

Fact is, the site's looking a bit dated these days. And in the words of John Cage (anyone remember Ally McBeal?) - "it troubles me".

But, hey, at least I've realised this - so I'm already on the road to resolving the situation, right?

There's been a fair bit of change at GBP in the past 12 months. Again, no need to elaborate, but one thing's for sure - the direction of my work and the way I promote myself, my services, have both been shaped by the the rise of new media (online social networks, blogs, videos etc) and my desire to adapt and make the most of such technologies. You'll know this if you're following me on Twitter, or have connected via YouTube or LinkedIn.

So what am I trying to say? I'll be completely honest - the current site just isn't me. Sure it's my imagery, my words, my philosophies even... but I feel it doesn't do a satisfactory job of representing me or the work I undertake. Don't ask me how it's happened, but the site is now far too 'corporate' for my liking - and although I frequently undertake corporate work, I'm just not of a corporate nature, so why should the site be if I'm trying to get 'me' accross?

With all this in mind, I'd like to put out a simple request and ask a quick favour of you.

If you could spare just 2 minutes to take a look at the website in its current state [ed. this is no longer available, as the new site is now in place!], and give me some feedback (either in the comments section at the bottom of this post or in an email), I would be extremely grateful. What do you like?... What do you dislike?... What would you prefer to see less or more of?... You know the drill.

Just so it's clear, I'm not going to take your comments personally, not going to take offense, and certainly not going to argue back at you from one keyboard to another. I'm being completely open and honest here, and I would ask you to do the same.

Inspiration often comes in the form of criticism - both good and bad - and as I see it, this is what I need in order to drive the website development not just to a satisfactory resolution, but to create an online resource that I can be happy and proud of.

Your thoughts about this here blog will also be gratefully received.

Thanks guys :)

[Update: Thank you all so much for your positive and constructive feedback. I hope you'll agree that the new site is a great improvement!]

Take shot, take flight

A number of weeks ago, I teamed up with all-round nice bloke John Preston (of Preston Creative Design Consultancy), to illustrate some publicity material for another of his clients.

The brief was simple enough - photograph a single male subject against a bright blue sky, pointing a branded paper aeroplane towards that sky. The reality of the shoot, naturally, turned out to be less than perfect just as soon as the weather got involved.

Arriving in plenty of time, John and I had a scout around the area for the best location, taking into account the sun's direction, the patches of blue sky and the fierce wind that was blowing around the coastal area. It's one thing having a nice breeze blowing through, but on this occasion it threatened to jeopardise the shoot, given that the paper plane was relatively flimsy and our subject's hair could look a mess if he was blown around too much! The morning's weather had generally been pretty good up until that point and the ground was dry underfoot, so at least that didn't pose any real problems.

Whilst Mr. P went off to meet with our subject, I investigated further, picking out a shortlist of two possible 'sets' to work with. In each case, the sun would be behind the subject - acting as a back-light over his right shoulder (and in so doing, balancing the flash nicely). But my main concern was getting the subject sheltered from the wind.

Here's a quick diagram of the set-up (click to enlarge):

Our saving grace came in the form of some trees and bushes, roughly shaped like a letter L, which wrapped around us nicely.

Next thing, moments before the guys returned, it was time to set up my kit. As ever, keeping it very simple, I went with a single lens (50mm) and single light (SB-800, triggered by Pocket wizard, on a stand). Remember, the sun would be my 2nd light - after all, it's free, so why not make use of it?!

That's when things started to slip. And within a time frame of approximately 1 minute, the shoot was over.

In all I shot just 7 frames, including lighting and posing/angle tests, before the heavens opened and we were forced to run as fast as we possibly could back to the cars.

From memory, the sequence went something like: Sun becomes obscured by cloud... wind picks up... single patch of blue sky is replaced by grey rain clouds... torrential rain. What a farce.

Of course, there had always been a Plan B - to head for a local hotel which both John and I have worked with in the past. There, we would be able to set up a more typical 'studio' arrangement in one of the larger rooms, if needs be.

Amid the ensuing deluge, we peered at the back of my rain-soaked camera...

Job done. No need for additional pictures, no need for a re-shoot. The only call was for dry clothes and a hot cup of tea.

Once the pictures were turned over to John's team, they were tweaked a little - just enough to bring a bit more colour into that damn awful sky. The picture at the top of this post is a quick scan of the final document, showing the image as it appeared, so apologies if it doesn't exactly 'pop' off the screen.

In hindsight, and keeping in mind the less than perfect conditions we faced, I was happy with the way these photographs came through. Looking for the positives, the paper plane stands out well from the sky and the 'mood' of that sky ties in well with the accompanying text.

Sometimes, as they say, it's not the destination but the journey - and this shoot was a case in point. The greatest irony of all still remains that as I was driving back to the office, the clouds parted, revealing a great blue sky and perfect sunshine. Bugger.

Still, at the end of the day, the client was delighted with the end product - and that's what really counts.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Now is the time to take action!

Given that it was recently my Birthday, I thought I'd mark the occasion with a Special Offer.

Simply put, here's the deal:

For the whole of this month, I am offering a discount on all rates. Photographic shoots, image restoration, even photo presentation options - everything will be subject to 1/3 OFF.

I'm not one for hidden catches, so there are none. The only condition is this:

All assignments must be booked and undertaken by 31st October 2009, and will be subject to a discount only when the Reference Code GBP30-1 is quoted.

A lot of people are holding back on their advertising/marketing spend (no guesses as to why!), and the issue of cost often over-shadows that of 'value to the business'. That's fair enough.

But at the same time, it is important to remember that bad photography can have a worse effect on, say, a website than including no images at all. Tempting as it is do 'do it yourself,' this is often a false economy.

I want people to be using great pictures in their brochures, newsletters, flyers etc because I know what a great marketing tool photography is.

So, if you've been considering commissioning a new set of imagery for your business, now would be a great time to give it some real thought and take action.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, this offer also applies to the social side of life too - family events, fund-raisers, group trips... everything is covered!

If you are planning an end-of-year event, such as a staff party or a charity ball, you can also benefit by taking action this month.

Secure your December photography booking by 31st October, and you will be given a 10% Discount.

All assignments must be booked by 31st October 2009 , and will be subject to discount only when the Reference Code GBP30-2 is quoted. Bookings will only be secured after receipt of a non-refundable deposit.

Getting in touch is easy - just follow this link and tell me what you have in mind.

Monday, 5 October 2009

A positive exhibition

Well, I'm glad to say that things are finally getting back to some normality, following the past couple of months... which means the GBP Blog is fully functioning once again. Thank you to all those who offered their support in recent weeks; it meant a great deal.

Right then, by way of a quick catch-up, a small reminder of my joint exhibition which runs until 1st November...

Some months ago, my good friend Jane Doel, author of a little book of inpiration entitled 'Positive Steps Forward,' approached me with an idea for a collaboration - to illustrate some of the pages of her book. From this starting point, progress generated further ideas, until the day we said "Let's put on an exhibition!"

And so, with everything in place, our first collaborative show - intitled 'Positive Posters' - has been revealed to the public.

The location is the Pumfrett Room and Coach House Cafe at the Queen Elizabeth Country Park, just off the A3 near Petersfield, Hampshire. Jane is Life Coach in residence at QECP which, together with Butser Hill and West Beach on Hayling Island, has been the source of inspiration for the words of her book and the photographs I have taken to illustrate them....

So, if you are in the area and have half an hour free, why not pop in and take a look?

Entrance is free, car park is £1 all day. And if you have any questions or feedback, you can get in touch with me here.

If you can't make it along, fear not. At some point in the near future, I will be writing a post specifically about the exhibition. I shot some time-lapse footage at various stages of preparation and at the Private View launch evening, and we will also be recording some audio, too.