Friday, 24 December 2010

Merry Christmas!

So, with just a matter of minutes left before the big day, I'd like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas!

And on that note, here's a rather good find I'd like to share with you all - clever, funny, and an interesting reflection on the wonders of social media in our modern-day world. Enjoy!

Monday, 20 December 2010

Always carry a camera?


Whilst heading back from a meeting one chilly morning recently, I felt compelled to pull the car to one side of the road and get out to grab a few pictures of the view across the city.

In my bag, along with the day-to-day items I typically carry, I had nothing to make images with other than a point-and-shoot (my trusty, go-anywhere, Canon G9) and my mobile phone's built-in camera. Choosing the former, I quickly rattled off a number of pictures before beating a hasty retreat to the warmth and relative comfort of the car.

I also recorded some thoughts for Episode #2 of The Active Photographer podcast. It's worth checking out the show notes there, but for those of you who want to skip straight to the audio, you can hear it via the player below.

Episode #2 - Snapshots And Snooker:


This photo opportunity was unplanned. It was exactly that - an opportunity. I hadn't expected to see the hazy view from the top of the hill; if I had, my regular kit would have surely been packed in the car.

Sometimes, it's nice not to be weighed down by the high-end clutter of one's kit. It allows us to concentrate purely on the visual, on what's in front of us - undistracted by which aperture to set or how many different ways a particular lens can be exploited to effect. When we don't have the distraction of such technology, we are left to work simply within our means, making the best of the situation.

Of course, there's the old adage which speaks of always carrying a camera wherever you go. Do I adhere to this? Well no, not always... unless you count the fact that my phone has a built-in camera, which could always be put to use (although I don't consciously think to use it in the same way that I might if I have packed a camera in my bag or coat pocket).

At times like these (and a good few others, actually), I'm often heard to say 'You know what, I'll definitely carry the G9 with me all the time from now on.' In much the same way as drinkers profess 'I'll never drink again!' after a particularly heavy night. Easily said, but not so easily done...

In my own mind, snatching these 'golden picture' moments as they present themselves is a bit like racking up a tally of wins. I've now got a bunch of images to work with, which I'd never so much as thought about when I woke up that morning. As I describe in the audio, I have no agenda for them, but I'm sure they'll be useful somewhere down the line. Self-promotion, stock image sales, illustration during workshops... the posibilities are endless, and it'll be interesting to see where they end up.

Monday, 13 December 2010

The Active Photographer podcast


It is with much joy - and some relief, I can tell you - that I can now proudly announce the official launch of my all-new podcast!

The Active Photographer brings you a weekly behind-the-scenes glimpse into my day-to-day life as a working photographer.

Each week, I'll be be talking to you both on location and back at the office, sharing tips, resources and generally-useful information relating to the world of photography.

To give you a flavour of what the show's all about, why not take a listen to the following audio...


A sneaky listen:


Episode #1:


I'll keep it short and sweet here... To check out more, simply head over to TheActivePhotographer.com, where you can listen to all the shows and see their corresponding show notes, get in touch with me directly and subscribe via iTunes or RSS.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

And then there were penguins...

When the snow hit, what did you do?

In the past week or so, the UK has been hit by a considerable amount of snow; most heavily up north and in the Midlands, but we've also had our fair share down here on the south coast.

Not surprisingly, I received many comments from friends and colleagues who assumed that I'd be out there at the crack of dawn, taking pictures all day, every day. Because that's what every photographer is expected to do, right?

Funny, really. Would you expect a vet to check over every dog they encountered in the street? Should every mechanic take immediate action when they hear a car rattling along the road? Of course not, so why the special rule for photographers?

That said, I did venture out on three of the days that my immediate landscape was coated in the white stuff... but with certain objectives in mind. Hey, even I know I'd be be stupid not to take advantage of such great conditions!

The first day saw me head out into my local woodland to shoot a video review - more about this in another post coming soon. The weather was not ideal (for what I had in mind, snow falling would have been preferential to sleet), but I wanted to get something in the bag, just in case conditions took an even bigger dive the following day.

Thankfully, things got a whole lot better, and so out I went for a second time, to pick up where I left off the previous afternoon. With establishing shots sorted, I was able to film the main review in one take, before grabbing a few additional establishing shots on my way back out of the woodland. Can't wait to see how it all lines up in the final edit!

As a side note... I also recorded some audio commentary, too. If you don't know what this is for (I've mentioned it enough on Twitter!), then keep an eye out at the beginning of next week, when all shall be revealed.

So, back to the snow. Seven inches fell overnight. Okay, granted that's not going to break any records but, believe me, it was enough to raise a few eyebrows around here.

With filming complete, Inny and I headed for an old Saxon path, which we knew would look fantastic - about as close to the idyllic winter wonderland image as you could hope for. It was still early enough in the day that the local kids hadn't spoilt it with their sledging and snowball fights, so out came the D3 with 24-85mm to seal a number of other key images...

Firstly, I wanted to get a new shot for this year's client Christmas card. I wasn't disappointed; perfect white snow, hedgerows with leaves and berries delicately adorned with shimmering white highlights... Couldn't have asked for more, and this was also a great time to get some nice stock pictures taken care of.

And then there were penguins. As far as I'm aware, not native to this part of the world, and we certainly weren't expecting to encounter a couple of four-foot fibreglass beasts on our travels. But, sure enough, that's exactly what we got, having entered into a random conversation with one of the locals. Got to sort him out with a couple of prints - that was the deal - which I'm thinking just might lead to yet more obscure findings in his workshop!

Could make for some interesting portraits...

GBP gets Savvy Marketers Award


You guys know that this year has seen me embrace the online world a whole lot further - all you need do is check out the links at the side of this page, to see where I can now be found.

The likes of Twitter and Facebook are firmly placed as a key element in my day-to-day activities and have brought me closer to so many great people - some of which I've subsequently gone on to work with.

When building your social media presence, it's very easy to forget just who's out there, who you're trying to communicate with, and who's actually taking notice.

Sure, you can post pictures, links, comments and start discussions... but what does this matter if a) nobody is listening or b) you don't gauge the success of your activities?

I've never been one to enter competitions or blow my own trumpet; if people like what I do, then I'll gladly take the praise. So, it came as a very nice surprise at the end of last week to hear that I'd won an award for my efforts!

Turns out Savvy Marketers Awards 2010 named Giles Babbidge Photography the Best Small Business in the category of Best Facebook Page. You can check out the page here.

Savvy Marketers is a great resource created by Louise Barnes-Johnston and Sam McArthur, offering valuable online marketing how-to information to the small business owner. If Louise's name sounds familiar, you may remember it from my interview with her, as described in this post.

I'd just like to say a big thanks to Louise and Sam, and a warm congratulations to all other winners in this year's Awards.

Here's to yet more successful online endeavours in 2011...

Friday, 19 November 2010

Fountain Jam - update


Over the next few posts, I’m going to take a look back what I’ve been up to throughout the past couple of months. It’s been hectic for sure, and it’s about time I shared my experiences with you.

First off, a quick update about this year’s book project, which I originally told you about here.

As the year draws to a close and the long sunny evenings seem an ever-distant memory, Fountain Jam - as I am now calling it - is starting to seem more and more like a reality than simply a project to be worked on over the course of a year. I’ve lost track of just how many images I’ve shot (we’re talking in the thousands here), and it’ll be great to relive the memories during the editing process.

With only a couple of months' photography remaining, now would probably be a good time for me to sit down and review all the material I’ve shot so far; there are bound to be gaps, people or details which I thought I’d captured or which I want to give more time to. And there are technical considerations, too.

One thing which I have been concentrating on during the past few trips to The Fountain is my lighting. Or, rather, how I use the light which is available to me on those evenings. Being a cosy, informal, traditional-style village pub, you can probably guess what it’s like - warm, rustic colours, dark corners created by a certain atmospheric glow… An interior designer might call it ‘mood lighting’.

For me, it presents a challenge, and one which has recently changed in my favour. For so long, I have been making frequent use of a single additional flash (SB-800, sometimes with a ¼ CTO gel attached) simply in order to capture the action. Nice, clean images packed with detail - but hardly what you might call ’atmospheric,’ other than the human element.

Imagine my joy, then, on turning up one evening to see that Keith had begun bringing along an angle poise-style lamp to illuminate his music folder. Sounds tacky and unphotogenic, I know, but in the resulting images, my subjects now have a hugely atmospheric presence, with punchy highlights and deep shadows. Shooting, by necessity, somewhere in the region of ISO 5000 merely compliments this lighting, bringing out the ‘live music’ vibe that we all love so much.

By mixing up the flash and non-flash pictures, it’s clear that the book will now look much more dynamic, much more visually engaging - and ultimately much more pleasing to the eye.

So there you go - things are moving along nicely and an ever-increasing interest in the project is making these final stages of shooting a real pleasure. As a creator of anything, it's always nice to know that you have an eager audience just waiting to get their hands on the final product of your endeavours.

One last thing... Don't forget, the Jam nights are a free-for-all, so you are more than welcome to come along and play some tunes. If this sounds like your sort of thing, why not drop me a line on Twitter or add me on Facebook? As well, you can always check the Thursday Nights Jam page on Facebook, too.

Friday, 29 October 2010

I'm still here, honest!


I know, I know, it's all been rather quiet around here of late - with my last post being way back at the beginning of September.

No excuses, just plenty going on in many different ways - all of which has meant that my efforts have been concentrated away from the blog.

Fear not, though. As a result, there's plenty of content to come shortly: behind-the-scenes video, case studies, reviews and a smattering of opinion - all the usual info and advice that you are used to.

In the mean time, don't forget that you get keep up to date with my antics via Twitter and Facebook.

Back soon...

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

DIY - Suction mount


Going through a bunch of files on my computer earlier today, I came across a collection of DIY project images which I'd planned to share with you a while back via a 'how to' post. Well, better late than never...

So, one of the fundamental elements of crisp, punchy photographs - much aside from good exposure and composition - is that of camera support. Back in the good old days, long before Canon's Image Stabilization and Nikon's Vibration Reduction technologies were around, we had to rely upon steady nerves, heavy tripods and a knowledge of the slowest shutter speed one could confidently hand-hold their camera.

Some things never change and, me being the traditionalist at heart, I still work in the same way - for example, often turning down the offer of heavily caffeinated drinks early in the morning, especially on an empty stomach, so as to keep the shakes at bay.

Now, of course, there are all manner of newfangled brackets, grips, tripods and braces available to help us out of those situations where, quite literally, we could do with a helping hand. But often, they come with a hefty price tag.

Here's how to make a quick and simple, light-weight support for a fraction of the cost, using a number of easy to find components...


You will need:


1x Double suction lifter (I got mine from B&Q)
1x Small ball & socket tripod head (Such as the Hama 50mm)
1x Rubber door stopper
1x 1/4" thread bolt (but do make sure the thread size matches that of your tripod head)

1x Saw (I used a junior hack saw)
1x Knife (Stanley knife)
1x All-purpose glue (if required)


Step 1: Measure the suction lifter handle length and cut in the middle. This effectively gives you the basis of two mounts (if you like, just double-up on the other components and repeat Steps 2-3).



Step 2: Using the knife, carefully trim the door stopper to size, so that it will be a tight fit when pushed into the open end of the mount (as you can see, this isn't exactly a perfect, pretty-looking part once finished, but don't worry too much about this - it wont be visible by the time you're done).

Screw in the bolt and position the stopper as in the picture below. For extra hold, this is where you might want to use the glue.




Step 3: Attach the tripod head to the bolt until it holds firm.

The end result should look like the object in the picture at the top of this post and, with the lever in the 'down' position, will lock securely to a great many surfaces. To release, simply return the lever to the upright position.

Here it is attached to a window:


This is just one variation of a DIY suction mount; search around online and you are bound to find more. However, it has served me well in many situations, specifically where I want to place my Canon G9 in remote places (such as to shoot video footage).

It can be used to hold smaller items such as compact cameras and flash guns; I would not recommend it for heavier kit such as DSLRs.

Whatever your intended use, I would make one suggestion - if setting it up in a place with any considerable drop below, or where there is a risk that it could damage anything (such as a car door panel), you'd be wise to incorporate a safely line which can be attached to a nearby object. It's much better to have your kit swinging in the breeze than come crashing down to earth with the promise of a costly repair bill!

Friday, 27 August 2010

Findings for a Friday - #0006


It's Friday, which can only mean one thing - Here are this week's golden nuggets of knowledge!


Article: OpenBeak - The latest evolution of TwitterBerry (Twitter client for BlackBerry).

Article: Tiny Cardboard Box People Appear All Over Singapore - Brilliant stuff; nice pictures, too!

Article: 5 things to Know About Facebook Places - New location service from Facebook, but...

Article: DIY iPhone Teleprompter - Very clever device.

Article: 10 iPad Observations - After a couple of months' use...

Article: 5 Examples On Building A Brand - More inspiration to help you along.

Article: Should I Charge The artist? - Author asks whether artists should pay him for playing their music on his podcast.

Article: 7 Facebook Marketing Tips From world's Top Pros - Make the most of your Facebook presence.

Article: 101 Freelance Job Sites - A great list to help you.

Article: Fuji Instax Wide Format Instant Camera - Instant photography is back!

Article: Introducing The Photographers Rights Gray Card Set - Easy-to-carry and practical advice.

Article: Photographers' Light The Magic Ingredient - Photography is all about light.

Article: Balance Helps Creatives Showcase Portfolios On LinkedIn - Another good bolt-on tool.

Article: Shoot Tips: Shooting An Amphitheater - Behind-the-scenes advice.

Article: How To Use Your Flash Outdoors For Some Interesting Effects - Includes some nice, simple examples.

Video: Kodak 1922 Kodachome Film Test - Some of the earliest colour motion pictures you will ever see.

Video: Go Behind-The-Scenes With Annie Leibovitz As She Photographs Sean Connery - Exactly as it says.

Video: Sneak Peak At Samsung's Tablet Gadget - A rival for the iPad?

Website: Productive Flourishing - A great resource for helping you to be more productive.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Product test: Aquapac PDA Case


With the launch of my brand new podcast just over a week away, my thoughts have turned to all things audio of late - not least of all the considerations I have to bear in mind when I'm out and about recording content.

A while back, I reviewed the Aquapac PDA case, which took the form of a video and write-up on the GBP:Blog. You may remember it. Well, that video and post has been so well received, and subsequently pushed around the social media world so much, that I thought I'd make mention of it one more time.

Look out for more of the same from me soon, as I am now working directly with Aquapac and a number of other companies offering a range of great products which make our lives that much nicer.

---

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.

Friday, 20 August 2010

Findings for a Friday - #0005


Another week, another great haul of useful links. Enjoy!


Article: $35 Tablet PC Has More Features Than The iPad - The future of market growth in this area is beginning...

Article: How To Create A Branded Twitter Profile Page For Your Photography Business - Excellent, step-by-step 'how-to'.

Article: Five Ways To Increase Your Photo Blog's Audience - A quick numbered list.

Article: Topicfife Photography News - Real-time ranked news.

Article: How Google Social Search Can Help You Get New Business For Your Photo Studio - Exactly what it says.

Article: Fed-Up Flight Attendant Makes Sliding Exit - When enough is enough...

Article: Learn How To Use Podcasting Software To Boost Your Online Business - Exactly what it says.

Product: Rogue FlashBenders - A system of shapeable light modifiers for flashguns.

Product: Pelican Products - Amazing cases and more, this is a collection of videos showing production and demonstration.

Resource: Evernote - 'Capture anything. Access anywhere. Find things fast.'

Resource: Blurb - Turn your blog into a book.

Resource: Productive Flourishing - Some excellent tools to help you manage your day-to-day workflow.

Website: UK Marketing Network - Contacts, discussions, jobs.

Website: Let's Colour Project - A worldwide initiative to transform grey spaces with colourful paint.

Workshops: GBP:Workshop - Excellent, personalised way to learn all the tips you need to make great pictures.

Friday, 13 August 2010

Findings for a Friday - #0004


So, Friday the 13th is upon us... Let's see if we can get you some good luck in the form of inspiration from around the web:


Application: Tungle.me - Scheduling made easy

Article: Are You A Healthy Blogger? - Tips for getting a good balance.

Article: 10 Nifty, Excellent Excuses For Failing At Photography - Exactly what it says.

Article: One Curve For Photo - A radical new concept for DSLR design.

Article: Backpack Photo School: Light Painting In Camp - Creative effects using a headlamp and slow shutter speeds.

Article: Keep writing Those articles! - Short piece which shares tips for article writing.

Article: Photography Light Stand Sandbags - DIY how-to.

Article/video: Police Use iPhone App That Can Identify A Suspect By Taking A Photo Of Their Face - Clever stuff!

Article: Basics Of Copywriting - How to become a successful copywriter.

Article/video: Volvo Accidentally Smashes New Car In Safety Demo - PR gone wrong... we all make mistakes!

Product: Manfrotto 797 Modod Pocket Table Tripod - Brilliant little fold-away item.

Resource: Oh My God what Happened And What Should I do? - Free e-book, just pay with a tweet.

Website: WEX's First Video! - The first purpose-made demonstration video by Warehouse Express (demo: Camera Armor's Seattle Solo dry bag).

Workshops: 1-to-1 and Group Tuition With GBP:Workshop - Learn and improve your photography.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Another last-minute shoot


A quick case study about a shoot from last week, which came at the very last minute from a long-standing client of mine...

Complicated story cut short, I received a phone call on Friday. The details about what was required seemed clear enough - shoot and supply a set of simple head-and-shoulders portraits for use in a forthcoming report. This was as much a surprise to them as it was to me, having already been confronted with a set of images depicting people which "look like they've just escaped from prison." Not a good look.

Thankfully, I had already met some of these people in the past and knew that this really wasn't a fair reflection on them, rather it was a reference to the fact that their current 'portraits' were most likely unflattering, 'rabbit caught in the headlights,' point-and-shoot snaps. Again, not a good look.

To top this off, everything - words, pictures, layout - had to be ready for publishing in less than a week, meaning all images needed to be edited and ready to go at their London office first thing on Monday morning (yesterday).

This is not an unusual amount of pressure for me. It happens all the time, so I immediately knew the setup I would use. And, knowing the sort of office space I would likely be setting up in, my choice of kit was instinctive.

So, here's the 'studio' space we took over for a couple of hours. A fairly typical boardroom affair, it came with an instant backdrop and soft back lighting in the form of large windows and blinds:



Arriving in plenty of time, I tested a few angles to see which window would work best, and decided on the furthest right (as viewed in the picture above). The next stage was to conduct a few lighting tests, arranging first one then two halogen lamps, which would produce soft, flattering results with the minimum of shadow.

Stepping back from the scene, here's what it looked like. Notice how the middle blind is drawn closer to give the desired effect, while the two outer ones (and out of frame in the final images) were left more open to allow extra light to reach the subject:


You can see two of the results at the top of this post.

All said and done, my kit was set up, broken down and all images captured within the space of two hours. The editing process was completed when I got back to the office, followed by the upload and supply of all high resolution files, via my website, later that afternoon.

Friday, 6 August 2010

Findings for a Friday - #0003


Your selection of gems unearthed from the interwebs this week... Enjoy!

Article: The Signature Image: A Fine-Art Photographer Looking For New Gallery Representation - Case Study Examples

Article: Google Analytics For Facebook Fan Pages - How To Set It Up

Article: Retro 1960s Robo-Dog Designs Unearthed - Experimental Electronics Of the Past

Article: Magnum Photos - Abbas: Tibetans In Exile - Photo Essay/Slideshow

Article: 7 Portable And Practical Media Storage Devices - Ideas For Backing Up Your Images whilst Out And About

Blog Post: 23 Fun Amusement park Pictures - Images To Inspire You

Product: The Camera Lens Mug - Geek-out When You Have Your Cuppa!

Resource: Photojournalism Links, Wednesday 4th August 2010 - Links To Interviews, Features, Essays And Photographers

Website: DiscoveredArtists.com - 'An Exclusive Online Art Gallery'

Saturday, 31 July 2010

Value... at what price?


When times are tough, put up your prices. That's what some people would say - but is this a good idea? Is it better simply to stick to your guns, justify your rates... or do you drop prices to bargain basement levels in order to get would-be clients to part with their hard-earned cash?

These are tough times for sure, and the temptation to undercut one's opposition is ever-present. So much so, in fact, that people do this with a complete disregard for the future security of their industry. This is a real shame, I think, because it is only panic and desperation which leads to such actions; ordinarily, these same people would be comfortably justifying their rates to all clients, new and old.

To play devil's advocate for a second, I'd like to pose a question: Can any responsibility be placed on the buyers' side? You have to ask whether clients who insist on 'cheap' are actually worth considering as customers, if they don't value your services highly enough to begin with. For example...

I'm no expert when it comes to car mechanics. Far from it. I freely admit this and, on occasions when my car needs fixing, it is duly taken to my local garage for repair. Of course I want to know, in advance, what the final bill will come to but - and here's the thing - I appreciate that these people have a skill set which I don't and I expect to pay accordingly. They are trusted suppliers, so I know they won't rip me off, and I also know that their rates for a given job will be a fair reflection of the work undertaken.

How many times have you shuddered when your mechanic announces how much the labour alone will be for your repairs? You might ask yourself how long the work will take and just what is he charging for... but certainly the answer to the latter is a simple one - he his charging for the wealth of knowledge, expertise and skills which will ultimately save you money in the long run.

The same is true of a photographer. I've said many times and, you know what, I'm going to say it again - you are not paying a photographer simply to press a button! The technical side of producing striking and effective imagery is a given (we all need to learn our craft) but a shoot is so much more than the sum the parts you see on the day. What about organisation, people management, styling, props, lighting, assistants, location scouting, research, creative meetings...? The list goes on.

When the kit bags are all packed at the end of the day, my work doesn't stop there either. Depending upon the scale and duration of the shoot, the editing process might take several days, along with continued communication with the client, fielding further requests and requirements.

I have recently stumbled upon two local photographers going in far too low on their pricing, jeopardising the local photography supply chain for the sake of getting some quick cash through the door. And we're not talking a just few pounds here.

On one occasion, I heard of a quote being 60% below the going rate. That was shocking enough, but I was stunned to hear of a second at... wait for it... 83.5% undercharged for the work involved. Surely, this can't be a good thing, can it?!

Explaining to new clients that they should think of photography not merely as an additional 'cost' but as 'value to their business' has always been part of the deal as a photographer. And I'm more than happy to have those conversations.

After all, everyone likes to know where their money is being spent, and an educational approach is never a bad thing when it comes to getting the message across.

Friday, 30 July 2010

Findings for a Friday - #0002



Thanks, everyone for your feedback following last week's post (Findings for a Friday - #0001). As of next week, I will be adding additional descriptions to the links I share.

As for now, though, here is a selection of the resources which found their way to my screen in the the last seven days. Enjoy!


Article: No Assignments Without Experience, No Experience Without Assignments... Yeah, That Makes Sense, Right?

Article: Pelican i1015 iPhone Case

Article: Bringing It All Back Home

Article: Creepy German Robot Learns From Humans

Article: How Real Transformers Work

Article: 7 Superb Podcasts For Summer Listening

Article: 50 More Classic Examples Of Art Photography

Article: Twitter Set To Include Photos And Videos In Stream

Article: Sinar Creates Adapter To Mount DSLRs As Digital Backs

Article: FWIGTEW And Other First Weding Acronyms

Article: Morning Brief: YouTube Banned In Russia, Amazon's New Kindle, Motorola Earnings

Video: 2010 Kia Soul Hamster Commercial | Black Sheep Kia Hamsters Video

Video: Walk Across America (Levi's latest viral ad) + Walk Across America - Behind The Scenes

Video: Behind The Scenes Of A Domino's Pizza Photo Shoot

As ever, I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts - either in the comments section here or on my Facebook page).

Remember, don't forget to let others know of any great links you come across - it's all about the sharing!

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Knittage simply lit


When Inny needed some snazzy new shots of her knitted wares recently, for use on her blog and online shop, we used the absolute bare-basics approach of 'one camera, one lens, one light'. The location/studio arrangement was also just about as simple as you can get - a living room coffee table table.

What you see in the picture here is the lighting set-up... A single SB-800 with Pocket Wizard (for wireless connection to the camera); attached to the front is a diffuser panel (for nice, soft, even light). A Magic Arm was used to support the rig just off to camera right, positionable back and forth, left to right, as required.

The camera, incidentally, was hand-held.

You'll notice daylight striking the 'set' from the front - this was taken out of the equation not by closing the curtains, but my letting the flash be the sole light source (and adjusting settings accordingly). Flash light is perfect for close-up detail work, as it is very clean and crisp.

As many of you know, I don't believe in relying on post-production in order to 'save' poor technique - clearly, it makes far more sense to get things looking the way you want them at the time of capture. Case in point - the image you see up top is essentially unaltered.

The most Photoshop work that was applied here was to the image which ended up as Inny's banner - a simple case of choosing the crop and superimposing her logo, to end up with this:


Photo shoots are expensive, time consuming, stressful affairs, right? Nope. This little lot took all of about 10 minutes from setting up to taking everything apart, including time to arrange the object (a Spring Greens scarf, no less!), discuss framing options and, of course, sip a nice cuppa.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Findings for a Friday - #0001


As my online activities grow and diversify - specifically through the use of Twitter and Facebook - it's very clear that a great deal of the information I come across is/would be of benefit to a lot of my followers and those who keep track of what I have to say.

This past week has got me thinking. What use are all these wonderful links to books, podcasts, web pages, assorted resources... if I don't share them?

Here's my plan.

Every Friday, I will be writing a post on the GBP Blog, containing a list of all the useful, intriguing, thought-provoking and fascinating content which I have shared - and which has been shared with me - over the past week.

It won't all be about photography, but a mix of topics including the arts, media, technology, marketing... really, anything that will inspire and inform!


So, to kick things off, here are your Findings for a Friday #0001:


Article: 6 Things Photographers Like To Argue About

Article: 12 Excuses For Sooting Photographs For Free - And Why They're Bogus

Article: Officers Claim They Don't Need Law To Stop Photographer Taking Pictures

Article: Mine Is A Wi-Fi World (GBP:Blog)

Article: 505 Marketing Ideas

Article: Mindful Earning - 3 Rules To Set Prices With A Conscience

Article: Free Weekly Tips To Help You Grow And Enhance Your Photography Business

Article: Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Super Sport

Article: Has Demand For Microstock Photography Peaked?

Article: Proof That Social Media Can Work For Your Photography Business

Article: A Few Things That You Shouldn't Say On Twitter

Article: What Do We Really Mean By Art?

Article: Scanning Around With Gene: Those Darn Cats

Blog: The Photographic World Of Drew Gardner

Book: Purple Cow - Transform Your Business By Being Remarkable

Book: The Linked Photographers' Guide To Online Marketing And Social Media

Comic Strip: What The Duck

Discussion: Is It The Camera Or The Photographer? (GBP:Discuss)

Discussion: What Makes A Photograph Great?

Podcast: BlogcastFM - A podcast by bloggers, for bloggers

Prodct/review: Tweetymail

Product/supplier: GoPro Wearable Digital Cameras

Video: In Praise Of Pea Soup - Shooting In Fog

Workshops: 1-to-1 & Group Tuition with GBP:Workshop


For more of the same, you might like to also check out my bookmarks over on Delicious.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Found object: Video - light painting

If you've ever tried painting with light - combining long exposures with the use of a hand-held light source to etch shapes/words/colours into the air - you'll know what great fun it is.

Typically, you might trace around people or objects, using a torch or a flash gun - and the technique relies on the principle that during a long exposure (anything from a couple of seconds through to several hours), a moving object (the light) will record as a blur whilst static objects remain, well, static.

Commonly, we see this in 'light trail' pictures of cars travelling along a road at night.

I came across this short video recently, which is perhaps one of the best examples I've seen of how you can take things one step further.

Enjoy!





And if you want to know how they did it, take a look at this behind-the-scenes video as well:





This has given me some great inspiration for a forthcoming shoot - I hope you get something out of it, too!

Monday, 7 June 2010

Introducing: GBP:Workshop


Finally, the official announcement!

As many of you may know, I've been quietly working away behind the scenes, putting together a brand new series of workshops aimed at anyone who is keen to learn, explore and improve upon their interest in photography.

The premise is simple: Beginners' guides assume too much knowledge, which means people reading them often end up none-the-wiser. They don't want to be bombarded by photo-jargon - they just want to know what they should be doing in order to improve their image making. Is that really so much to ask?

With this in mind, I've developed the
all-new GBP:Workshop - a series of one-off, 4-hour sessions, centred around a simplified hands-on approach to learning the basics of photography.


GBP:Workshop isn't:
  • Jargon-filled, alienating, uncomfortable
  • Pre-learned knowhow required
  • Vanity lecture disguised as a workshop
  • Uneasy silences in an echoey room
  • 'Keep up or catch up!' mentality
  • Desk-based series of how-to instructions

GBP:Workshop is:
  • Fun, small, group-led participation
  • Run by a professional photographer
  • Tailored to you; bring your own camera
  • The basics, to get you up and running
  • Practical skills which actually matter
  • Step-by-step, topic-by-topic, learn-as-you-go
  • 'Snap and see' hands-on tasks
  • Legible workshop notes and reference material
  • Project ideas for continued learning
  • Online support

I've never been a fan of the way so many seminars and workshops are based around the mentality of 'take the money, teach and run'. For this reason
GBP: Workshop offers on-going support in the form of online discussion; after the workshop, you and your fellow attendees simply upload your pictures to a designated private online album and there we can talk over your progress and any ongoing questions you might have.

Of course, there's no pressure on you to do this, but I'm sure it'll be of benefit - and besides which, it's a great way to network with fellow enthusiasts!

To get the ball rolling, the first workshop I'm running is SLR Startup - which covers the basics of how to master the key functions of your digital SLR camera in order to consistently get the striking results you want.

Details of this workshop, location and prices can be found here.

If you have any questions, please drop me an email or post them in the comments section below (this would really benefit all those interested!).

Alternatively, you can always catch up with me on Facebook or Twitter (hint: you can search my related tweets using #gbpworkshop).


Edit: Here's some feedback from someone who recently had some 1-to-1 tuition with me:

"I hired Giles for a morning's practical photography refresher course to improve my skills and get to grips with a new digital SLR. Giles explained everything in a non-techie way which has really helped me to get the most out of my new camera and take much better images as a result. I would recommend Giles to anyone looking for a photography workshop or one to one training session."


New GBP website


Things have been a little quiet around these parts recently. Have you noticed? There is good reason for this, however...

It is with great excitement and relief that I can now officially make today's first big announcement... My brand new website is now live!

Want to check it out straight away? Be my guest.

This has been a long time coming, not least of all because I have had other work, projects and commitments to attend to, but at long last I once again have a site which I am proud to direct people to (not like the previous incarnation, which I voiced my thoughts about here). Even judging by the screen grab I attached in that post, I hope you'll agree that my latest site is a vast improvement!

So, what's new? Well, the first thing you will notice is the background colour - I've done away with black (eek!) and gone for a nice, clean white appearance. This in itself fits much more with the tone of my approach to things these days, and ties in nicely with my Facebook, Twitter and YouTube pages.

But by far and away the largest change has been the overall content - and, specifically, how to access it. The previous site was so complicated, with far too many links and far too many hidden pages which required multiple click-through navigation. Now, I have stripped it down to the bare essentials - a simple 6-link menu bar affair, based around a portfolio system. Much gentler on the eye and an absolute minimum amount of text for visitors to read!

You may remember that I previously included a link to my newsletter archive. Well, that still exists, but is instead accessed by a link on the Contact page, which directs you to a simplified list of all previous newsletters - with the most recent edition at the very top.

The Contact page itself is exactly that, detailing all the ways you can get in touch with me.

The Blog page? Well... clicking on that menu link brings you right to the front page of this here blog!

A new addition this time around is the Bio page - just a few lines of background info and a mug shot of yours truly.

But what about pictures? Obviously, this is the main area I addressed; it was well documented that I had far too much text versus imagery on the old site, so the balance has shifted dramatically, to put it right back where it should be.

The first thing you notice, landing on the Home page, is a slideshow of pictures, nice and big, plain and simple. The Portfolio page now houses six images, which act as links through to individual galleries for the following areas: PR/Advertising, Location, Lifestyle/Outdoor, Event, Wedding and People. Each of these open up to show a slideshow (featuring full-screen HD view, if that tickles your fancy) and thumbnail guide to all pictures in the collection.

And that's it.

Well, apart from the simplified Client Area, which remains essentially the same in its purpose - to supply my lovely clients with their pictures in the hours and days which following a shoot.

I'd like to know what you think (surprised? Come on, you know me well enough by now!). Feedback so far has been really positive (thanks to everyone who has chipped in already) - but I am still encouraging more people to stand up and drop me their thoughts either in an email or in the comments section below this post.

Right, now to prepare for today's second big announcement!

Monday, 10 May 2010

Make the most of your pictures!


A recent shoot got me thinking about how people don't always make full use of the photographs which they commission. Thankfully, those involved on this particular occasion will.

So, I was asked to attend the relaunch party of a local beauty salon, capturing a series of images depicting the proceedings over the course of a few hours. Getting on site early allowed me to catch up with my client (she contacted me via LinkedIn, having remembered me from a networking group we both attended 4 years ago), and get a good idea of the location and lighting considerations.

Before guests started to arrive, I made it my priority to capture a set of nice, clean images showing the atmospheric, newly-decorated rooms, including detail shots. The rest of my time was then spent capturing a mix of posed and un-posed pictures of everyone chatting, networking and generally enjoying the free champagne.

Perfect PR material.

In the first instance, my images hit an advertorial feature in the local press (see photo above). Ffollowing that, they will be used in both printed and online media well into the future.

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The great thing about photographs - especially the digital variety - is that they are very flexible when it comes to how you can use them. Sounds kind of obvious, right? Well, not necessarily.

Ahead of any shoot, I always have a meeting and/or series of emails and phone calls with my clients, in which we discuss not just the sort of imagery they are wanting, but the ways in which those pictures are ultimately going to be used.

Quite often, thoughts turn simply to the immediate output (profile pictures on a company's website, for example), and regularly the possibilities just... stop. At least in the client's mind. But why should they?

You need to think laterally, people, and consider what other opportunities are out there for spreading your message!

Let's be frank - you're prepared to pay out 'X' amount for my services, so why wouldn't you make the most of our time together? This isn't exploitation, it's value for money. Bang for your buck... call it what you will.

Never be afraid to ask about the potential for using photographs throughout all your marketing activities - there's no such thing as a stupid question.

The point is, I want my clients to make the most of the photographs I shoot for them. That's why I like working with forward-thinking companies, especially if they have their own in-house or out-sourced marketing department.

It's only be being open to the possibilities that you will ever get the most out of this wonderful, powerful communication device we call photography.

Monday, 3 May 2010

Fountain Jam - revealed

Spoiler alert - this post has nothing whatsoever to do with jam... Although I am rather fond of the stuff!

Back in December, as part of my yearly 'Looking Ahead To...' post, one of my bullet points stated "Personal projects - research and develop further; possible exhibition?"

Well, regular readers will know that I am already involved with the Vobes-Babbidge Pinhole Camera Project. This has taken something of a back seat of late, due to health issues on the part of Mr. V, but with things on the mend, we are due to get together for the latest instalment soon.

In the meantime, I have another (self-driven) project under way, which I have kept quiet until now. It doesn't have an official title as such, but the premise is simple: Every Thursday, The Fountain Inn at Rowlands Castle in Hampshire, UK, holds an open-mic jam night. This is a local-level, free-for-all get-together, hosted by ex-Van Morrison member Herbie Armstrong. It's a great showcase for local musical talent, and always full of interesting characters.

I have made it my mission to document proceedings over the course of the year, with a view to publishing a book somewhen around February-March 2011.

Feedback so far has been really positive, with many kind words which spur me on to produce more great imagery of the individuals who stand in front of my lens! And, thanks to a few sneaky glimpses of my camera screen along the way, it looks like there are already a bunch of regulars interested in getting their hands on a copy of the book. Great stuff - I can't wait to see the end product!

To find out more about the Thursday Jam Nights, you can contact me via any of the usual channels or get in touch with the event's co-ordinator, Keith, through the dedicated Facebook page (be sure to tell him where you heard about the event!).

I'm not there every Thursday, but if you do come along and see me, um, 'working,' don't be a stranger. It's a very relaxed state of affairs, and so is my shooting style (not, I hasten to add, due to over-zealous consumption of local ale!). Make yourself known, have a chat and enjoy the tunes!

You never know - you just might make it into the book!

As an aside - a quick shout-out to Lorraine Paintin for the use of the picture you see here. See, I do sometimes get caught out on the other side of the camera - sneaky, Lorraine!

Edit: For a progress update, hit this link!

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Pimp my Moleskine!


Here's a quick general interest piece, which just might inspire you to try something different and increase your productivity...

If you read my 'Looking ahead to 2010' post last December, you may have picked up on a sense that I was wanting to make changes to the work I do, the way I operate, and the way I handle my workflow. Well, you'd be quite right.

Having just put in an order for some new kit, I'm reminded that I am still very much tied down to the modern technology, but one thing is crystal clear to me now - moving back to a traditional diary was definitely the way to go! Almost five months into the year, and I have seen my productivity grow, simply because of the way I can structure my days and weeks using old (ie less-fashionable) 'technology'.

As with technique and the way individual items of camera equipment are set up, there's something to be said for feeling 'happy' with one's kit. This may sound odd, and it is a little difficult to describe, but I suppose it's a bit like a golfer having a favourite club, or a chef having a favourite knife. Whatever it may be, these items make their operators feel confident and comfortable in their day-to-day activities.

So, I've finally got around to personalising things a bit further, inspired by a small leather-bound sketch book I bought Inny for Christmas; thanks to her, my Moleskine diary is now a far less standard, corporate affair, and features a nice new buttery-feel wrap-around cover and fastening.


For anyone thinking of doing the same, there's no need to go out and spend a lot of money. The coloured chamois leather itself was an off-cut bought from an art shop, the leather cord came from a haberdashery and the alien fastening was pulled from a pack of buttons bought at Hobbycraft. Total cost - about £4.

Okay, so it's just a bit of fun really, but there is another accidental advantage to this whole process. Because it's something a little bit different, my diary has now become a talking point on occasions when I'm in meetings with clients, colleagues and contacts in my network.


And just as with so much of this kind of thing, you never know what might come out of the most trivial of conversations!

Just in case you missed the link above, please do check out Inny's site, and her exhibition (I plugged it here), which runs until the end of the month.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

GBP Facebook


Exciting news - Giles Babbidge Photography now has an official Facebook page!

You can check it out by following this link, which will take you direct to the main page showing the latest posts, news, updates and conversations.

I will also be be sending updates to my Twitter page in real time, so can be sure to keep up to date with what's going on.

As ever, I fully encourage you to get involved, to widen the network, so be sure to sign up as a fan and join in!

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Exhibition plug - IngridNation

A quick plug today...

... for my lovely lady, Inny, who now has an exhibition running in Bethnal Green, London, until the end of April. The location is the rather funky Prick Your Finger yarn and haberdashery shop, and the show features work from a number of Inny's more recent projects.

Between us, we've spent our day setting things up and drinking much tea, during which time I documented proceedings from start to finish - everything from discussions first-thing in the morning to the Private View in the evening.

The resulting pictures will be used both as a record of the event and for publicity material in all manner of online sites and publications within the knitting & textiles world.

You can check out more of Inny's work over at IngridNation - so please give her a visit and be sure to give some feedback!

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Article: Service with a smile


“My God! There’s nothing frightens you more than a furtive grocer.” So said Nurse Gladys Emmanuel in the classic BBC sitcom Open All Hours.

One of the things that I love so much about this TV show, especially the further we head away from its original airing back in the mid-1970s and 1980s, is that it presents a wonderful image of what I think is sadly a fast-disappearing entity here in the UK – the friendly, local, independent shopkeeper. With a particular good-natured gentleness, the series exuded a wonderfully timeless charm all of its own, inducing a sense of whimsy and nostalgia for ‘the good old days.’


Earlier this week, I posed a simple question on Twitter: Is the traditional British shopkeeper a dying breed? The responses I received clearly corroborate my own sentiments, with many people disheartened by the closure of vast numbers of their favourite local suppliers. Sure, this can now be put down partly to the recession, but certainly this isn’t the key factor here – it is simply a topical element. The reality is, sadly, a lot more corporate in its nature.

Over the last 10-15 years, via the portal that is one of my neighbouring small villages here in Hampshire, I’ve seen the increasing dominance of the larger national organisations over the ‘little man in the street.’ At one time, some years ago, you could get everything you needed right on your doorstep; this in itself had a sense of assurance about it, but by default it also created and enforced trust, brought people closer together, created healthy inter-village competition (thus fuelling the much-coveted vegetable-growing competitions!) and provided jobs for generations of families living there.

When the local Co-op decided to expand, it was only a matter of time before we said goodbye to the butcher, the grocer and the wine merchant. The Post Office was next to be affected, being incorporated into the back of the newly refitted convenience store (not to everyone’s delight, it has to be said). Give him his due, the newsagent did his best to keep up, forced to obtain a license to sell alcohol to make up for his losses on basic groceries (having stepped in, just about, to plug at least part of the gap left by the aforementioned grocer’s departure).

But let’s not focus on the doom and gloom – it’s not all bad news. My Twitter poll flagged up a number of examples where people have been reassured by the continued survival of their local champions of community. They have related tales of one-to-one assistance more often seen in days of old, acts of kindness and professionalism which you just don’t get when shopping in larger supermarkets and warehouse stores. A shoe repairer glued a boot for free, an electrical shop assistant opened up a sealed pack to check for instructions and offered a full refund if he was wrong… Such stories are somehow quite heart-warming, aren’t they?

As a business owner myself – and, of course, as a consumer – it is immediately clear in the character of Arkwright (played by Ronnie Barker) just how one could/should go about providing a service to one’s customers. He also beautifully demonstrates the wrong way to go about things! The fact is that people love people – treat your customers right and they’ll return to you again and again; upset or anger them in any way, even on seemingly trivial matters, and chances are you’ve lost them on the spot.

As the backbone of many a small country village, corner shops such as Arkwright’s have, along with the church and local ale house, been at the centre of communities up and down the land for as long as we can remember. They say that our lives are progressing, advancing for the better thanks to the wider choice, cheaper prices and greater convenience afforded by the likes of supermarkets - but is this really the case? I’m not so sure.

I think that the recession is an easy scapegoat for not parting with cash. At the end of the day, and in spite of tight purse strings, people are still happy to pay a premium if what they get in return is better produce, better value and better service. And quite rightly so.

Clearly, not everyone believes the hype (dare I say ‘propaganda’?) which saturates our televisions, radios and billboards. This is why we are seeing a backlash, a movement of support for local producers and providers here in the UK. Farmers’ markets, ‘grow your own’ initiatives, loyalty schemes and town incentives are all slowly winning people over to the kind of values which, in all honesty, they probably know have always lurked deep within them all along.

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If you would like to see what I get up to month-by-month, why not take a look at my Blog. And if you’re up to speed with Twitter, then please look me up and say hi. Social media, after all, is no different to our traditional forms of communication, other than it is hosted in a virtual space – so please feel free to comment on any posts, remarks, thoughts and ideas I may come out with along the way – the more the merrier!

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First published at BritishPages.org


Thursday, 25 February 2010

TFM&A 2010


Earlier this week, I travelled up to London for a show called Technology For Marketing & Advertising. In all honesty, it was not exactly what I expected - but please do not take this as a reflection of the show itself.

I think the problem (if you can call it that) was centred around the fact that a lot of the exhibitors were aiming their services very much at big business - or certainly those bigger than mine. For example, one web content company I was talking to said their prices started at - wait for it - £50,000. Clearly not what I have in mind. Ok, so I often undertake assignments for organisations within this ball-park and bigger, but that figure does not really match my budget right at this moment!

That said, there were some excellent speakers at the event, and I would particularly like to share a resource passed on by Dave Chaffey, the "bestselling author, consultant and speaker who enjoys sharing tips, tools and techniques on SEO, PPC, Social Media, Email Marketing, Site Design & Analytics." (this quote courtesy of his Twitter bio).

What follows is actually the web page featuring Dave's presentation slides, which cover a range of topics that might be of interest to you when considering your online marketing strategy. Simply click on the illustration above, or THIS LINK to go straight to the page.

For quick reference, here are the main points discussed:

Q1. How engaged are our email subscribers? Suggestions for measuring and goal-setting for engagement.

Q2. How can we increase relevance? Recommendations on email engagement strategy.

Q3. What will make our campaign more engaging? 5 ingredients of an engaging campaign.

Q4. How can we make our email templates more effective? Practical tips for an engaging template.

Q5. How can we integrate email and social media? Examples of email and social media integration.


I hope you find this as useful as I have, and it would be great to hear your thoughts via the comments section below.