Monthly Archives: May 2015

A favourite picture – Maxine Lister

Baby gorilla

Christopher the baby gorilla. Picture World © Maxine Lister – All rights reserved

I first met Maxine when she spent a day with me on a one to one workshop. Although she was already taking lovely pictures we spent the day fine tuning and honing her skills with the camera. Her passion for wildlife was obvious from the outset as was her dedication to conservation. Maxine has logged thousands of air miles since our first meeting volunteering at various wildlife conservation charities and NGO’s around the world. She now specialises in wildlife photography with a particular focus not surprisingly on conservation issues. Her aim is to help support charities and NGO’s via her photography, website and blog and to make people in general more aware of the natural world and for them to want help save it. You can find out more about Maxine and see more of her pictures at

The photograph at the top of the page is one of Maxines favourites from her trip to the Cameroon, I’ll let her tell you all about it…


This is one my of my favourite images from my time spent volunteering at Ape Action Africa (AAA) in Cameroon. AAA work to help protect gorillas, chimpanzees and other primates from the bush meat trade that is so prevalent within this country. It is estimated that within ten years there will be no wild gorillas and chimpanzees left in the forest.

Christopher was rescued at just four months of age (he is nine months old in this photo), he was given to an expat couple as a gift and they gave him to Ape Action Africa to look after. It is believed that his mother dropped him whilst fleeing from a farm.

Baby gorillas need round the clock care as they are in danger of becoming ill very easily, the round the clock care happens for around 2 years after that he will be introduced into a gorilla group so that he can the develop his social skills and become as wild a gorillas as he can in a captive environment.

The hope is eventually that the animals within Ape Action Africa will be released back into the forests of Cameroon but finding a safe haven for them is extremely difficult.


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Sadly this week American photographer Mary Ellen Mark passed away. She was a truly dedicated photographer, portraiture, photojournalism and advertising she tackled them all. Her photographs appeared in all the major magazines, in many books and exhibitions. She often worked with  people who were “away from mainstream society and toward its more interesting, often troubled fringes” as Wikipedia describes her. If you are not familiar with her work do check out her website at Mary Ellen Mark it’s well worth a visit to see her work and learn more about her.

Unexpected sensor dust…


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Leica V Lux Type 114 with the lens zoomed out to 400mm. Picture world © Geoff Wilkinson – All rights reserved

If you use a DSLR you will probably be familiar with the problem of sensor dust. You will be familiar with the scene, you have just taken the worlds greatest picture, your rush home excited and plug the card into your computer. The picture flashes up on the screen and there it is your masterpiece… ruined by lots of ‘out of focus’ odd shaped dots, you moment of would be famed dashed upon the rocks.

Ok so maybe I’m exaggerating a bit, but you know what I’m talking about. Dust spots,  irritating but they are a fact of life, when you change lenses on a DSLR if you are not careful and quick the tiny bits of dust that are flying in the air see your sensor exposed and make a beeline for it. Your picture can of course be retouched in Photoshop or the like and a regime of sensor cleaning is sensible and well worth the effort.

However here’s a mystery, and also an answer, how on earth does the dust manage to get on the sensor of a non DSLR. My friend Ivor  was telling me the other day that he had sensor dust on his pictures from a non DSLR, a bridge camera if fact. I hear you ask how on earth…. well when you think about it there is a really simple reason. Bridge cameras and some compacts there is a fairly, in some cases an extremely, powerful zoom. My own Leica V Lux type 114, which I love, zooms from 25mm to 400mm for example. This is a problem for all makes however,  when the camera is switched on the zoom springs into life and extends from the camera body, the more you zoom out to increase the focal length the further the lens extends from the body, got it so far? When you turn the camera off the reverse happens the lens shrinks back to the body, it’s like an optical trombone really. It’s also like a bellows sucking air in and out as the lens extends and retracts, so see what happens, tiny particles of dust are drawn in and settle on the sensor, mystery solved. That’s ‘how dust gets on the sensor of a non DSLR camera.

Every time I turn my camera off I wipe the extended lens barrel with a lint free cloth just to get rid of any troublesome  bits and pieces that might be lying there temped to enter the camera. Its not a perfect solution but its got to help, give it a try..






VE Weekend

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A couple of weeks ago I paid a visit to the Royal Gunpowder Mills in Waltham Abbey, Essex. The occasion was the  VE  Celebration Weekend and my aim was to photograph the re-enactors taking part in it. As the weekend was about the Victory in Europe day everyone taking part was in WW2 uniform, British, Polish, German and probably a few more countries that I didn’s come across during my visit. Let me say at the outset that everyone involved was taking part in ‘living history’, there were no politics or idealists involved. I saw several signboards saying ‘Our aim is to recreate a small section of the Allied and Axis forces that existed during WW2 and not to promote, in any way, political regimes or ideals’. It really was a ‘living history’ experience, a little like being transported back in time with my camera.

My aim was to photograph some of the people involved rather than big action dramas. Never having been to one of these re-enactments before I was not sure what to expect, how serious were the participants, how authentic would everything be ? I have to say the participants were fantastic, they were more than happy to explain everything in detail and their knowledge of their respective subjects was exhaustive. As for the authenticity and attention to detail I can only say it was amazing, the amount of time, effort and money that had been spent was first class. Best of all from a photographer’s point of view people were very happy to be photographed, it was an excellent opportunity for both portraiture and still life of weapons and equipment.

I decided not to burden myself with too much camera equipment, I took my Leica V Lux type 114 which gave me 24mm to 400mm (35mm equivalent) and my Nikon D7000 with the 10mm to 24mm Nikon zoom. With a camera over each shoulder I felt more than equipped for whatever ‘VE Day’ threw at me. In the end I shot nearly everything on the Leica V Lux, however I am a bit of a sucker for wide angle shots so I am glad I took the Nikon as well. As I usually do I set both cameras to Aperture priority as I like to have control of the depth of field, the ISO was set to 400 as there was light cloud and I wanted to keep the shutter speed up. I shot everything in colour and made the conversion to black and white in Photoshop CS5.5.

Although I was only able to stay for a couple of hours I really enjoyed my time with the re-enactors, as I said everyone was very obliging, if you are looking for a great day out for some photographic inspiration you won’t go far wrong with these guys and girls.

Please remember all pictures and text are my copyright so please don’t use them without my written permission many thanks. So here we go with a selection of the photographs that I took..

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My favourite portrait of the day, I really like this strong close-up. I deliberately framed this tight so that just the eyes show beneath the peak of the cap.

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Soldier of the Polish 3rd Carpathian Division.

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British soldiers on the move..

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I would like to thank all those taking part in the VE Celebration Weekend for their help and co-operation with this post..

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A British pathfinder paratrooper taking part in the re-enactment of 6th Airborne Division at Breville Woods, St Comb, France.

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A wounded soldier is helped to the Medical Officer at the Breville Woods engagement.

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Polish Military Police of the 3rd Carpathian Division.

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Sniper ! Luke is from ‘Field of Fire’ which is a good entry point for re-enactors who are just starting out.

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A jeep with soldiers arrives from the 6th Airborne Division

This selection of portraits below show what can be achieved quite simply, they could have been taken with a simple P & S or even a ‘phone, it’s not about how much the camera costs rather it’s about just taking the time to look.

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this barbed wire is actually string, it fooled me from a distance

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Please remember all pictures and text are my copyright so please don’t use them without my written permission many thanks.




Darren Gatcum is an Essex photographer, I first met him when he attended one of my photography workshops. Although a semi-pro photographer at the moment Darren has gone from strength to strength in a short period of time. He has photographed football, golf, ice hockey and many other sports, plus many music events.

Below is one of his photographs and the story behind it.


World © Darren Gatcum- All rights reserved

Valiant FC was in the West Essex Sunday Charity Cup Final against CFC Flamengo. I was asked by Valiant FC to photograph the cup final at Thurrock FC’s stadium.

I positioned myself near the goal as that is where the action tends to be in football and I was not disappointed on this occasion.

I like this photo because it captures the action and the determination of the players. You have the number 2 defender from Valiant FC sliding into tackle the striker from Flamengo CFC with the dirt flying up from the ground. The sheer determination of the striker can be seen in his face as he leaps over the number 2 defender.

I was shooting with a Canon 5D3. To fill the frame you need a long lens so I was using a 300mm f/2.8 lens. I used manual mode because I like to have full control over all my camera settings. In order to isolate the players from the background I was shooting at f/2.8 which is the standard aperture for shooting football. To freeze the players I set my shutter speed at 1/1000 which is the minimum shutter speed for shooting football. The match was under stadium lights which were awful. As a result, I had to increase my ISO to 8000 to get the correct exposure. High ISOs are no longer a problem with modern DSLRs.

The final score was 2-2 and the match was decided 7-6 on penalties with Valiant FC coming out the winners.

You can contact Darren via his Twitter account at @DarrenGatcum.

A simpler and lighter life..

I spent much of my life travelling all over the world with up to twelve or thirteen cases of camera equipment, I have now decided that it’s time for a simpler and definitely lighter life. Who were the main benefactors of all this equipment, well I expect the subjects were because I had everything to hand, the excess baggage guys and girls at various airlines certainly  and of course my chiropractor. In the days of film, remember film, the cases roughly broke down to 1 big Lightweight case full of medium format Mamiya RZ camera bodies, lenses from 50mm to 360mm, polaroid backs, prisms, motor drives etc. 1 big Tamarac shoulder bag full of 35mm Nikon camera bodies and lenses from 24mm to 200mm. Then of course there’s all the other stuff, a metal case with filters, two makes both Lee and Cokin, another metal case full of film, daylight film 100 ISO, 400 ISO, artificial light film all in both 120 and 35mm and Polaroid instant film. Oh and of course a Fuji Instant camera for quick left to right captions. Two cases of Elinchrom lights packed in Elinchroms own fine cases, a bag full of stands for the lights, a bag full of modifiers, umbrellas, soft boxes etc for the lights. Another bag with a heavy Manfrotto tripod with spare plates naturally. How many’s that so far? 9 I think. Well going on, a metal case for miscellaneous bits and pieces like extension cables, clamps, hooks, gaffer tape and anything else you can think of. Then of course there may well be props, backgrounds or specific clothes for the subject and finally your own personal stuff. You can understand why the airlines were so pleased to see us with all that excess baggage to be paid for.

Several of the bags have been ditched thanks to the change to digital cameras. No longer do I need both a medium format and 35mm cameras, the filters have been cut down drastically, all of the warming and cooling filters are gone as I can do that in the camera. The film case is obviously gone so now I’m fine tuning what’s left. Until recently I had been carrying a very big, excellent and beautiful Lowpro case (well it was to me anyway), this contained 2 Nikon digital bodies about 8  lenses a Nikon speed light and other camera related parphanalia. Then things changed.

Because I take a picture nearly every day to go on my Wanstead Daily Photo blog I needed something small and light to carry around, a camera that would fit in my pocket. After a lot of research, ploughing through magazines and trawling the internet I decided on the Leica D Lux 6. I went along to Red Dot Cameras in Old Street, London to try one out. Ivor is the owner and a Leica enthusiast he  is one of the most knowledgable Leica people around. The camera impressed me, small, light , pocketable and I liked the styling I was sold and took the plunge. The camera proved brilliant, exactly what I need for my daily blog, I was more than happy. One day it occurred to me that I had never made a print from it, jumping in at the deep end and rather than just do an A4 I decided to make an A2 size print, I thought that would really show up any faults. We use Epson printers and  for this particular print I used the Epson Stylus Pro 3880. The quality was fantastic, more than I could have hope for from a camera with a relatively small sensor. Long story short, I was so impressed with the print quality I used  the camera to photograph two covers for The Green magazine.  When the V Lux type 114 came out with it’s much bigger sensor I couldn’t resist and bought one, again I am truly delighted with it. So much so It has become a bit of a workhorse, used in the studio, on location, for portraits and also for most of my stock photography. I will be talking about both the D Lux and the V Lux in more detail at a later date.

So for now this is my day to day camera bag setup. A small LowPro Micro Trekker 200 backpack, inside the Leica V Lux type 114, a Leica D Lux type 109, a Nikon 50mm F1.4 lens and Nikon D7000 with a 10/24mm wide angle zoom lens. There is also a Nikon SB900 Speedlight and various remotes etc, this combination really works well for me, I have focal lengths from 15mm to 400mm (35mm equivalent) all in one small bag. If I want something light and inconspicuous, perhaps for street photography or just to carry all the time I use the D Lux type 109, for studio, stock and really everything else I use the V Lux type 114. The Nikon comes into it’s own with the 10/24mm wide angle zoom, it’s a lens I love for interiors and where space is really tight, you can achieve some really dramatic perspectives with it. The Nikon 50mm f1.4 I normally use wide open at f1.4 for throwing the background really out of focus. All in all it’s a kit I am very happy with now I just have to work on the lights…