Back To Nature by John Murray

Both Pat and I spend most of our photographic lives in town. I've lost count of how many times we have tramped the streets of London capturing architecture, people and the general oddities of city life. But once in a while we do breath the fresher air of the countryside and point our lenses at  the natural rather than the man-made.

I spent an hour or so at Weald Country Park at the weekend. A beautiful venue not too far into the wilds of Essex, Brentwood way.

Beautifully kept and tended with a herd of deer on tap as well as a wonderful lake replete with the normal duck and wild bird population it is well worth a visit. Plenty of green space and (for the kids) a great adventure playground.

Photographically I found the deer absolutely fascinating and spent most of my time there trying to capture them (on 'film' of course!). They are not in the least bit intimidated by visitors and happily wander up to the fence of their large enclosure to see what is going on.

Below are a few of the shots I managed to get before the rain hit. I shall definitely be returning!

It's Not Brain Surgery... by John Murray

It was our pleasure last week to spend a few days in York photographing the Autumn Meeting of the Society of British Neurological Surgeons. This is a twice yearly, 3 day affair comprising an academic programme: lectures and presentations and a social programme: welcome receptions and gala dinners.

The Autumn Meeting was based in York at the Royal York Hotel adjacent to the National Railway Museum at which the Welcome Reception was held, with the Gala Dinner taking place at the Merchant Adventurer's Hall in the centre of the city.

These events pose a few photographic challenges: the academic sessions are normally in low light and a photographer's presence has to be discreet and non-intrusive. The dinner and welcome reception were opportunities to capture the delegates and guest speakers in a more relaxed environment and therefore somewhat easier.

The biggest challenge is normally the group photograph. Arranging 150 - 200 neurosurgeons in one space within a 20 minute window just before lunch is not the simplest of tasks (and being 10 feet up a ladder adds to the challenge!) But we got the shot with me perched aloft and Pat arranging the subjects.

The SBNS administration team were great to work with as were the delegates themselves, so it was a real pleasure to be there for the week.

This is our third assignment from the SBNS to shoot their Bi-Annual conference and we look forward to many more.

Their next meeting is in Newcastle in April 2016 at the Sage and we hope to be there with them then.

Above is a small selection of shots from the conference.

Greenwich & Lewisham Young Peoples Theatre - Sun Kissed by John Murray

Another photo shoot for Sydenham Arts Festival on 12th July 2015 - Sun Kissed - A playful dance theatre performance put on for Sydenham Arts Festival by Greenwich and Lewisham Young Peoples Theatre Group. A lively bunch of young ladies in boiler suits with ginger wigs and a bag of lemons! Wild, wacky and very creative. Check out the "Client Album" for more shots.

Sydenham Arts Festival - The Hoof by John Murray

I had the pleasure of photographing an event for Sydenham Arts Festival on Saturday 4th July: a music night at "On the Hoof" - a lovely bistro/coffee house in Sydenham High street. I hadn't been there before and was pleasantly surprised with the eclectic decor: a wall of mirrors, a wall of black and white photographs, metal buckets for lamps shades and rustic furniture. A real treat, both musically and the food served! Various musicians played throughout the evening while I ate delicious food! Here are some photographs (view them all under client albums)

 


Shooting Neurosurgeons in Southampton by John Murray

One of our regular clients is the Society of British Neurological Surgeons (SBNS). For many years I have photographed their events, in the early days as a guest with a  decent camera, but more recently as their 'official photographer'. The highlights of the SBNS year are the bi-annual conferences often held at prestigious locations over 3 days.

This year the venue for their conference was St Mary's Stadium - the home ground of Southampton Football Club. Comprising specialist lectures, seminars, the presentation of abstracts covering the very wide gamut of neurosurgical topics and  a supplier exhibition the conference this year had the highest attendance I'd ever seen in excess of 300 delegates.

The photographic remit is straightforward: document the conference from set up to close down with one important set piece - the group photograph.

We had 20 minutes out of the busy schedule to assemble and photograph between 200 and 300 neurosurgeons. The obvious location was the stands with nice even rows of seats to be filled in. Pat and I descended to pitch side (with security on hand) 20 minutes ahead of shoot time to prepare. We took some test shots to determine how many heads we could fit in one row within the frame (I was using the Canon 24-105), to check the light and to get me up the ladder as some elevation was needed!

At 12:40 the stand started to fill and fill and fill. Pat wrangled the neurosurgeons into position "Some spaces over here", "No, not there please you'll be out of shot" and, after what seemed  a lifetime, they were all in place.

I dispensed with "Cheese" replacing it with "Sub-arachnoid Haematoma" which did get a few laughs I must say!

Six or seven shots and all was done. Without a shadow of a doubt the preparation paid dividends.

Pat processed the shot, added the logos and text and, using my new Canon Pro 10, we had prints ready for sale with 1 hour.

I heard from a few people  that they thought it was the best group photo many of them had seen for a long time and that is very nice to hear!

And here is the end result. I look forward to doing it all again in York in September for the Autumn conference.

John        



Keston Ponds by John Murray

An impromptu visit to Keston Ponds to take some shots suitable for creative backgrounds. It was a lovely sunny day and a lot of families were enjoying the outdoors plus a trio of young ladies were riding their horses through the water. It's a shame I only had my macro lens but I was still determined to take a few shots! 

Pat           

Congratulations are in Order! by John Murray

One half of PNJ Photography is Pat Couder. Pat has been an active member of the South London Photographic Society (SLPS) for some years. I'm pleased to say that this year she has won two prestigious SLPS awards:

The Lantern Slide Trophy: This is awarded to the member gaining the highest total of points in all Colour Print competitions, both Improvers and Advanced, during that season. Pat is an Advanced member.

The Lincoln Trophy: This is awarded to best Digital Projected Image in the Advanced Category final. This trophy was presented in 2009 by Jeff Royce and named in remembrance of Barbara Lincoln and her father, LH Lincoln both long term members and officer holders.

So well done Pat and here she is with her well deserved trophies:

If you are interested in finding out more about the South London Photographic Society please click on the link.

Mall Shooting... by John Murray

OK this isn't a report from the US of A about another gun-toting fool going postal but about an area of photography that I love: taking photos in shops and shopping malls.  OK that maybe doesn't sound too exciting or too photogenic but trust me it really is both! Homebase, Sainsburys, Tescos, Lakeside, Westfield I've done them all with varying degrees of success.

Firstly let me talk about technique and the key word is discrete! Although I lug round a Canon 5D Mk3 I can still keep it subtle. I use a hand strap, keep the camera close to my body and pick my moment. The aisles in a supermarket offer cover (if you're a little nervous) and patterns, lots of patterns. Bottles, tins nicely lined up. Shallow depth of field. Bright colours. All of these appeal to me and make an interesting shot (I appreciate it's all very subjective of course). My choice of lens when I'm doing this kind of exercise is either the Canon 50mm f1.4 or the Canon 100mm f2.8. Both let in a lot of light and, wide open, lead to some lovely shallow dof shots.

The ISO needs to be cranked up of course and the white balance dealt with at some stage but there are so many subjects to focus on !

In a shopping mall it's less easy. Security invariably dish out a caution if I'm less than subtle. No arguments from me ever. It's effectively private space so best to smile, agree and move on.

A garden centre or DIY store with garden section is definitely worth the effort and less discretion is needed I find. I was approached by the owner of a garden centre once and he was a camera enthusiast and delighted when I showed him the shots I'd taken.

The other sensible approach in stores outside of malls is to simply ask if you can take some shots. I've done this successfully in a few shops including Lush. The answer is rarely 'No'.

I can only advise you to try to some time. For me it is always a great chance to fulfill one of my principle aims in photography: making the ordinary look extraordinary :)

The gallery below contains some examples of where I've dared to shoot in-store!

 

John

London... by John Murray

When PNJPhotography aren't on assignments we like to get out and shoot for our own pleasure. I've lost count of how many times Pat and I have tramped the streets of London in the sunshine, the rain, the wind looking for those great shots.

London is a photographer's dream venue. Whether you enjoy shooting architecture, people, cityscapes or just those good old tourist sights, it's all there for you.

Although we like to seek out new locations, look round new corners and uncover some of London's hidden gems we invariably end up walking the course of the Thames. Our most trodden route is probably from Westminster Bridge down the Southbank towards Tower Bridge. The views across the Thames along that stretch are wonderful with a wide range of architectural styles on display. With the London Eye, the Merry-Go-Round and the booksellers all on display, plus the odd street artist it's hard not to find something to photograph. Eventually you reach Wren's house and the Millennium Bridge and some cracking view of St Paul's. And of course people. Lots of people :). At the Bridge the choice is to cross or carry on - both choices have their rewards. Crossing the Bridge gives you St Paul's and the City, carry on though and you pass the Globe toreach London Bridge, Borough Market  and beyond, to Tower Bridge.

I defy any enthusiastic photographer to walk that route on any day of the week, regardless of the  weather, and not come back with a card or two full of great images. I can't imagine another City that presents so much diverse photographic opportunity!

John

London's Domes.jpg

It's February....where did January go...? by John Murray

One month into 2015. Doesn't time fly? But a positive start to the year for us with a great assignment from nextbike UK to deliver two images for an exhibition stand. One image to represent the City with some London icons in shot and one image to represent 'suburbia'. Each of our shots would, once delivered, have a 'bike station' superimposed upon it by nextbike UK (think Boris Bikes). In order to accommodate this added extra each shot needed a) to be shot at just the right angle and b) to have enough foreground space to allow the stand and some words inserted. 

Pat and I used up a considerable amount of shoe leather in London looking for the ideal city shot. We eventually found it on the south side of the Thames looking across to the City skyline comprising, amongst other skyscrapers, The Gherkin. Once the shot was in the bag (avoiding roaming tourists) we headed to our respective homes to consider the 'suburban' shot.

This second shot needed to mirror exactly the angle and skyline of the first replacing the City skyline with residential houses and the Thames with some greenery. I searched Chingford and Woodford, Pat trawled the highways and byways around and about Bromley. After submitting a couple of ideas to nextbike UK Pat finally hit paydirt with a composite image combining my City foreground plus two separate images from her neighbourhood. The reflection between the two images was perfect and the client loved it. A final piece of manipulation (removing a string of Christmas lights from the City shot) and our work was completed and the customer satisfied.  

We're both looking forward to seeing the finished stand this month and we'll try to get a shot of it on here in due course!

John