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Darren Gatcum – a favourite picture..

Here’s another picture by Darren Gatcum in the series from contributing photographers. One of the reasons that I am publishing these photographs is that I want to show that photography is accessible to everyone. You don’t need tens of thousands of pounds worth of gear, although in Darren’s case doing a lot of sports photography and up against many other photographers it certainly helps. What you really need is determination to produce top quality pictures and be willing to learn…all the time!I hope you enjoy Darren’s story this month.

You can contact Darren via his Twitter account @DarrenGatcum


World © Darren Gatcum

World © Darren Gatcum

As a sports photographer, you need to be prepared to photograph various sporting events at various locations in different weather and lighting conditions. Throughout May, I was busy photographing Sunday league football finals across Essex. I also photographed the celebrity PGA Pro Am golf championship at the famous Wentworth golf course in Surrey with other sports photographers.

The variety of sports is one of the reasons I just love this type of photography. One day I am photographing a football player flying through the air to head a ball and the next day I am photographing Rory Mcllroy hitting a golf ball.

At the PGA Pro Am golf Championship, I witnessed Chris Evans’ team get a hole in one. I immediately took a few shots of the celebrations and sent a photo that afternoon to Chris Evans at the BBC. The photo subsequently appeared on Chris Evans’ Facebook page with a thank you from Mr Evans himself. The photo received over 3,000 hits on his Facebook page. The moral of this story is that with sports photography you sometimes need to be at the right place at the right time and take full advantage of any opportunity that does arise.

I like the Chris Evans and Graeme McDowell photo because it shows the excitement of getting a hole in one.  When the ball went into the hole I knew there would be celebrations on the green. Accordingly, I positioned myself on the ground in front of the hole. I was shooting in manual mode. I was using a Canon 1DX with a 100-400 f/4.5-f/5.6 lens attached.  I stopped down to f/5.6 as I wanted both the players and the flag in focus and the background out of focus. Although it had started to rain when I took the shot, it was still a bright sunny day so I left the shutter speed on 1/2000 and the Auto ISO was at 3200.

I enjoyed photographing golf and hope to do a lot more in the future.

Head to toe portraits..

Here’s a quick observation, two pictures that Colin Murphy recently sent me from India recently illustrate the point perfectly.

I am always stressing to students how important it is to  ‘get close when you take a portrait’, also ideally you want to show the persons character. While the overall head or face will probably be your main concern you should also think about features that are personal to your sitter, is there anything that stands out? As you can see from the photographs Colin has captured two different aspects from this subject..

I’ll be returning to this subject on a few days..

_DSC4401 - Copy

World © Colin Murphy

World © Colin Murphy

World © Colin Murphy


World © Geoff Wilkinson - All rights reserved

World © Geoff Wilkinson – All rights reserved

….and I’m not talking about fish. I have a pair of very old cameras, old by digital standards anyway. They are Nikon F80’s dating from around 2001, see what I mean by old. They have gathered a lot of air miles and have had a lot of film put through them. I don’t think this model was ever thought of as ‘professional’ but then again I have rarely used big heavy professional cameras.

The point of this post is that after 14 years both still work perfectly, for anyone starting out and wanting to use film they would be great. Interesting I have been looking on Amazon and secondhand they still fetch between £55 and £125 which surprised me.

The point I wanted to make was that the exterior appearance is still perfect. I have no idea what they make modern camera bodies out of, I expect I could find out with a little research, but this pair of bodies look pristine. When I was a staff photographer on the Daily Mail in the 60’s I had the original Nikon F bodies in black finish. It was amazing how quickly the black finish wore off, got scratched and scuffed in the day to day hurly burly of Fleet Street. Within a few months they looked very sad and battered, mechanically of course they worked perfectly and having a battered Nikon body with brass shining through the black was the height of professionalism, or so I thought at the time.

Have a look at my F80’s at the top of the page and then click here to see Elliott Erwitt’s Leica M3 from the 60’s and you will understand what I am talking about…which finish do you prefer..

As a point of interest you can now buy a brand new Leica, the Leica MP Correspondent designed by the singer and Leica user Lenny Kravitz. It arrives having had ‘an elaborate wearing process completely by hand has carefully rubbed, scuffed and scratched the black enamel finish away in several places on both the camera and lens to let the bright brass surface shine through’ The nostalgia almost brings a tear to my eyes but be prepared to pay $24,500 with lens for this limited edition beauty, you can click here to have a look…ah the price of the good old days…

Colin Murphy – India …

Here’s a little story. My friend Colin was a very keen photographer for many years back in the days of film, remember film? As life got busier for him his photography gradually slowed down until he wandered into our Gallery one day and we got chatting. Colin is now really back in the swing of picture taking, now once again he is a very keen and has become a very talented photographer. One of his loves is portraiture, he travels extensively for his work as an engineer and I have seen great portraits from many countries.

Colin is currently in India working and he has limited time for photography but he did manage to send me a set of images taken on a day off. I have chosen five to show you, they are in black and white and high contrast, I think they work well and really convey the atmosphere of that enormous and fascinating country. Anyway have look at Colins pictures below and I hope you enjoy them…

Technical stuff: Colin used Nikon D6oo and NikonD7000 cameras for these pictures. The lenses used were the wonderful 58mm f1.4 and the 35mm f2.

World © Colin Murphy

World © Colin Murphy

Below are two lovely portraits where the high contrast really makes the pictures leap of the page. Another one I really like is the last one, the dynamics of the body shape make for such a powerful image.


World © Colin Murphy


World © Geoff Wilkinson

World © Colin Murphy

World © Geoff Wilkinson

World © Colin Murphy

World © Colin Murphy

World © Colin Murphy




A great evening..

I had the pleasure last night of talking to the Chingford Photographic Society, a really good local club. There was good turnout and I have to say they provided excellent tea and biscuits during the break. I ran through a brief history of my career but mainly focused on showing some of my photographs that I have taken over the years  for YOU magazine, London and PEOPLE magazine, New York. Mostly they were from my portfolio collection and included Sophia Loren, Bryan Ferry, Tont Bennet and a host of others. I really enjoy giving these talks, I’m happy to chat about my experiences and techniques.

Next month I’m talking at the Woodford and Wanstead Photographic Society, it’s my local club, I’m looking forward to another great evening..


I’m sorry that I have not been able to post much lately, bit of a technical problem, my fault I hasten to add nothing to do with WordPress.

I have several things in the pipeline and will be posting them soon, thank you for your patience..

A favourite picture – Glenn Avant



Picture world © Glenn Avant

I have known Glenn for several years, he lives on the London/Essex borders from where he runs his photography business. Although a generalist his love is wedding and portrait photography for which he is well known locally, although having said that he has just returned from photographing a wedding in Scotland so obviously distance is no problem. When you get a moment do check out his website by clicking on the link below.

I’ll leave it to Glenn to tell you about his photograph shown above.

“Taken with my 135 f2 Canon lens, mum was getting her daughter ready for a shoot. I saw an opportunity and ended up with a quite nice image.” Always be on the lookout for that shot….Knowing this young lady was nervous for her shoot I fired a few shots before hand, catching her unawares and in a relaxed state and without a care in the world. I think it captures a more natural pleasing image.

Technical stuff: Canon EOS 5D Mk3 with a Canon 135mm F2 lens, the exposure was 1/200th of a second with an aperture of f4, the ISO was 100

To see more of Glenn’s photographs visit his website at to see his varied galleries including weddings, portraits, events and landscapes.



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.


ISO:  1600



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…


LR L1070331

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..