GF Smith Fine Collection

October 21st, 2016

Well over a year ago now, my good friend Matt from Stride Studio sent me a link to a project being run for GF Smith, that was looking to crowd source a set of images for their new paper sample book, the Fine Collection. The idea was really simple, upload some images to, and they will pick a series to be featured on the pages of the book, to showcase how good the set of papers used are for photographic output.

Now I’m pretty pessimistic with things like this, but as I love the sample books GF Smith do, and always wanted to be featured in one. I picked six of my favorite images and uploaded them.

I’m so glad I did though. While I was asked for 3 of the images in high res, about three months after submission, I then didn’t hear anything about the project from GF Smith or their designers. Even the guys on the GF Smith stand at the Photography Show didn’t know anything about the project. So I resigned to thinking that I hadn’t made the final cut.

That was until an email landed in my inbox the other day, from someone asking me about this image of mine they had seen in the Fine Collection. I replied back asking which image it was, but also called GF Smith to see if I could get a copy.

The book arrived yesterday and I couldn’t be happier to see that I am actually featured in it (I’ve had a lot of work miss-credited to me recently!). A definite career highlight so far and little dream come true.


This is the image they chose, it’s one I shot on large format film back in 2011. The room was a renovated workshop, belonging to the estates dept. at the Royal Hospital here in Liverpool. It’s been one of my favorites for a long time, with everything being white or light grey and the room so empty. I’d imagine now its filled with racks of shelves and covered in paint as it was supposed to be a paint store.

It’s so good to see this image along side the 65 other brilliant works. It’s even more amazing for me that I was selected from over ten thousand other submissions.
The designers have sequenced the images by color which I think works great, and is a nod to the tradition of doing that with sample books for things like ink and paint, as well as some of the older GF Smith books.

I’ve picked out below some of my favorite spreads, as well as my image along side a great shot of the Holocaust memorial in Berlin by Matt Adams. Plus there is a brilliant cat pic on the cover by Elias Fecher, everyone loves a good cat pic.

So so happy.






5D mkII vs 5D mk III – my thoughts.

June 5th, 2013

Ok well I’m going to get straight to the point here. If you already own the 5D mkII, in my opinion the mkIII isn’t going to be an upgrade you desperately make. The difference in image quality is so small it’s not significant. All the improvements are mainly ergonomic and general functions. I’d only get one if my mkII kicked the bucket.

Now I only had the camera for a short time, and this isn’t a ‘scientific’ test but the images below are pretty much direct comparisons. First though, what did I like about the camera!?

1. 100% viewfinder
This is plain and simply great. Miss having this after years of shooting on the 1n. 100% over 98% doesn’t sound much, but it doe’s make a big difference.

2. 3:2 ratio screen
One of the things I dislike about the mk2 is the 4:3 screen, I always find framing a little awkward with it. The screen on the mk3, as well as being bigger, is much easier to frame with. It does have a problem in that it can have a lot of info over-laid on it in live view but I’m sure I’d get used to it.

3. Digital Level
This is a great and handy tool. It is VERY sensitive, but easy to get to grips with. Using it in Live View though it has to fight for space with other info and that’s a big shame. It gets really small compared to when it’s on it’s own when not using Live View. There may be a way to get it to come on separate using the Q button, but I couldn’t figure it out.

4. Upto 7 shots in AEB
Means some big HDR potential. I did a few tests but not really had a good play. If I was doing lots of HDR spheres this would probably be a deal maker in itself. I didn’t try the HDR mode in the camera, ’cause as I shoot raw I don’t really need it.

5. Auto ISO that actually works properly
It’s kinda useless on the mk2, but on the mk3 it works as I think it should! Put the camera in manual, pick a shutter speed and aperture, let the camera pick the iso automatically.

So what didn’t I like?
Well there are a little things here and there relating to functionality, like not being able to pick the focus point directly with the rear joystick. I find the grip uncomfy, compared to the mk2, which isn’t as comfy as the mk1. But then I’m comparing them all to the 1n which is really nice to hold. Having the Live View options as separate items in the menu and not appearing to be able to register them in the quick menu.


Anyway lets look at some images. These have all had the same settings applied in Lightroom, WB, contrast etc. All are taken with the 24mm ts-e II using the same shift. They where all then sharpened with Nik Sharpener. The only weak link here is that I forgot to reset the Picture Style in the mk2 to Standard from my user setting. All shots at 100iso.

Generally what I would say about the images below is that the sharpness is identical really. The extra 1mpx makes very little difference. The biggest difference I can see is the in the colors. The mk3 seems to have crisper, more accurate colors, with a little extra saturation. This could be down to what my Picture Style settings are on the mk2, but then I’m not sure how much those settings actually effect RAW files. At this ISO noise is basically not a problem.
Now I haven’t had a chance to compare high ISO shots from each camera yet, but the mk3 does look to perform better, but really its just more detail. Images at 6400iso off the mk3 are still really grainy!

So have a look at these comparisons. If you want bigger shots click on each one and it should open much larger.




Overall as I say I’m not in any rush to upgrade. If I was looking to replace my mk1 again, then I’d certainly go for one over the mk2 (which is still available!!). But for now I’ll wait until my mk2 dies.

Tools I use – Winter Kit

March 14th, 2012

Gonna be a biggun this one!
Now and then I get an email asking about the kit I use and that got me thinking that I should write some blog posts to point people towards.

I thought for my first one, instead of camera kit, I would talk about the outdoor clothing I like to use when out shooting landscapes. For me the clothing I wear in the great outdoors is as important as having the right camera kit. Don’t wear the right thing and you’re not going to be comfortable. If you’re not comfortable you can’t concentrate properly and you’re not likely to hang around for the ‘right’ light. In the winter this is even more important as conditions are usually less than ideal.

For me I want stuff that not only keeps me warm, dry and lets me hide from the elements, but that also keeps me cool and dry when I’m walking into an area I’m going to shoot. Staying cool keeps you warm! I prefer kit with an ‘athletic’ fit over ‘relaxed’ fit as I just find baggy clothing annoying. Closer fitting clothes tend to work better anyway as they can do their job easier. Oh and I want bright colors if I can get em. Black is so boring.

So what do I personally prefer?

Arc’teryx Phase AR base layers (Zip Neck Top & Tights)

For a while I never bothered with ‘technical’ base layers, I always just wore a cotton tee under everything. The problem with that is a cotton tee just soaks up sweat when you’re moving, then when you stop you get cold quickly because of the damp fabric. So on the recommendations of a few people I picked up the Phase AR top and tights.

As I already have some Arc’teryx kit so I knew the quality was going to be high. Surprisingly they were pretty cheap as well, not something you usually associate with Arc’teryx. Performance is spot on. I’ve worn the top a fair bit over the last few winter months and stayed cool and dry when on the move, nice and warm when I’ve stopped. The tights, while only making it out on the colder days, have performed just as well, nice and warm but not making me bake.

The choice of the Zip neck over the Crew neck top was to get some extra protection for my neck. I get some bad pains if it gets to cold, so the higher collar helps a lot with that.

The only quibble I have is with the tights. They have a seam that goes over the front of my knee which can become uncomfortable. It means I have to hike the leg up a bit to get around it. Would be nice if it was smooth.

Arc’teryx Atom LT Hoody
I’ve had this jacket for like three years now and it’s something I reach for pretty much all year round. It is easily the best piece of kit I’ve bought over the last few years. So what makes it so good?

Well first up they use a really tightly woven nylon fabric to make most of the jacket. When you first feel it you think it’s not up to much, but in reality it is super tough. I’ve rubbed it against rock, brick walls, scaffolding, trees, members of the public and I reckon it still looks like it did the day I bought the jacket. It’s near enough windproof as well, which is handy, and as it doesn’t use a membrane its highly breathable.

The fit on the jacket is spot on, close but not skin tight. It’s helped by having Powerstretch panels on the side, basically a fleece with a smooth outer side. These have bags of stretch and give some handy venting. They definitely aren’t wind resistant at all though, it just whistles through if you’re standing side on to a strong wind.

Out and about I reckon it’s warmer than a fleece of the same weight. Helped by the windproof fabric but also because the synthetic insulation works really well. All combined you get a really light jacket, about a good 100+ grams lighter than a fleece and light windproof combo. Even more if you compare it to a fleece and Windstopper jacket. Its packs really small as well, easily half the space a fleece takes up.

Of course as good as something is, there is always something you want to change. I’d add some adjusters to the hood, maybe a little peak, just to increase the protection from the elements, but in reality its not like the hood is awful.

*UPDATE* I like the jacket so much I bought a second ’cause it was on sale, this time lichen yellow.

Rab Microlight Down Jacket
While the Atom is great in the cold, there are times some extra warmth would be nice. Last year I looked at down jackets to help with this but wasn’t sure it was worth getting one. When these Rab’s came up at half price though I thought ‘sod it’ and got one to try.

I’ve been really happy with my decision, you get a really nice instant feeling of warmth when you put one of these on. It definitely seems like I could stay out in really cold temps with this over the Atom.

The build of the jacket is good. Fit wise it’s a little tight round my chest for the medium, but not restrictive. The cut is a little short, I’d prefer maybe one extra baffle on the bottom. While I usually go for hooded jackets, I’ve found that with this I can have it done up and have a nice tight warm seal round my troublesome neck and just use the hood of the Atom.

The pockets aren’t lined like the Atom, so not super warm, but behind the down so you do get some insulation. They have a good size so I can stuff a good few things in. While it packs down well into its chest pocket, I actually prefer to stuff it into it’s sleeve. It actually packs down a little smaller than the Atom this way.

I’d like to see a draw cord on the hem and lined pockets but overall its a nice jacket. If I was to buy another I’d probably go for the Mountain Hardwear Nitrous as it has these things, but it’s not cheap.

Montane Superfly eVent Waterproof
I picked the Montane up on half price sale. It has a good fit, is a decent weight, pleanty of adjustments and is bright orange, so a winner in all my categories for jackets.

The Montane is made from eVent which is a really breathable, waterproof fabric. There though is the biggest problem with this jacket, as it’s so breathable it ends up dumping heat out quite quickly. You end up feeling a little chilly without the right layer on under it. So in hindsight I should have probably got a jacket made from Gore-Tex Pro Shell.

In use the jacket does exactly what it’s supposed to and at 470g, it’s pretty light. Any issues I have with it other than the fabric are just visual really, I just prefer the look of jackets with waterproof zips instead of the front storm flap.

Softshell Pants – Arc’teryx Gamma SK and Columbia Headwall
Basically both of these are made from some highly weather resistant stretch material. The Gamma’s look to be a little tougher but there isn’t much in it.

While they do a good job of keeping the elements at bay, after a few hours you do start to notice the wind cutting in a bit. The tights help with that.

Both of them fit me fine, 34 regular. The Gamma’s have a higher waist but also a baggier cut being ski pants. I probably should have got the AR versions which are the same material but a more active cut. The Headwall’s could do with bigger pockets and maybe one more leg pocket, at £25 though they were a total steal.

Sealskinz waterproof socks
I love these things, have like three different versions, and I never go out without them on. Nearly every trip out lately I’ve ended up with my feet submerged in water. With normal socks I’d have ice blocks, but with the Sealskinz I they might get a little chilly initially but out of the water they warm up nice and quickly.

The merino wool lining is nice and soft, never had any blisters, the fit though can be a little iffy. My knee highs keep falling down even though they are a little tight round my actual foot.

They just work though so are worth the little bit of faf. Just be careful not to dry them out on the radiator though! I’ve killed a pair quite quickly doing this.

You can never have too many hats. I have three. One thick wool beanie with a little peak on it, a simple acrylic mix one in a nice bright green and a nice little fleecy Powerstretch one in yellow. They all do a good job of keeping my bonce warm. The Powerstretch one fits in a pocket without taking up much space. If it gets a bit cold I throw the green one over the yellow one. Simples.

Inov-8 Roclite 295
Personally I don’t like walking in boots, I find them too restrictive, heavy feeling and the stiff soles are a bit uncomfortable for me. What I go for then are these light, flexible trail shoes from Inov-8.

They have a really aggressive sticky rubber sole made out of a series of squared knobs. That works great on soft ground, but I have to admit they get a little squirmy on hard ground and rock. Catch a knob funny on a rock and your foot goes west! I find the flexible sole and tacky rubber very confidence inspiring though, you can feel everything so you know exactly what your foot is doing, so even with the squirm I never feel out of my depth.

As they have a thin mesh upper they might not seem the best winter choice, but combined with the Sealskinz I’ve never had a problem with overly cold feet even in snow. It does help speed up the drying of them so when your back to in the car, whack the heater up to full and your feet are nice and toasty again.

If Inov-8 made a version with slightly shorter, broader blocks, they would have real winner.

Snowy Snodownia

February 10th, 2012

Couple of new shots from Snowdonia after a recent bit of snow. Was a bit disappointed to be honest as I didn’t get out there till the end of the week, all the lower level snow had melted. But still was a nice day out in the fresh cold air.

I’ve used a Hitech 0.6ND Soft grad on the Tryfan shot. I bought a Lee starter kit and the Hitech to see what it was like and to be honest it seems pretty good. No major color cast that I could see, definitely going to buy a few more and see how they are.

Recent Snowdonia images

October 31st, 2011

Few pics from recent trip to Ogwen.

Back in Blog

October 20th, 2011

Well been a bit lax with the old blog recently but I’ve been keeping myself busy with a trip to Valencia, bunch of interesting work for Liverpool Mutual Homes and hurting my back! Anyway there are a few updates to my Flickr which you can check out by clicking one of the images below. I’m going to try and keep up with the blogging and maybe get some gear reviews done as well.

Also got round to adding some stuff to my website –

Liverpool One Interchange / Wilkinson Eyre

May 16th, 2011

Recent shot of the bus terminal at Liverpool One, designed by Wilkinson Eyre.
Been wanting to photograph it for a while, just never got round to it.
I took this from just outside John Lewis and had about 6 Merseytravel security guards eyeing me up!
Got away without a pointless lecture. Annoying thing for me is those red and white plastic barriers that seem to litter the city.

Energy Centre / Levitt Bernstein

April 13th, 2011

Recently discovered this little jem of a building, but think its been there about a year.

It is Liv Uni’s new energy centre designed by Levitt Bernstein and I think it looks great.

More to come.

Llyn Tegid

March 28th, 2011

View across to Aran Benllyn

The paint store

February 7th, 2011

An awesome looking workshop from a recent shoot of a refurbed part of the Royal Liverpool Hospital.
This is to be a paint store. Wonder what it will look like in a few months?