Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Some of the simplest bits of kit are the most important. I've had this Manfrotto tripod head (model 410) for longer than I care to remember, something like twenty years I should think - it's been all over the place with me, from Honduras to Iceland up mountains and down rivers. It's never let me down. It's robust and reliable, although can get a bit stiff to use in the cold. Then, last week, as I was standing under the M4 Flyover in London, waiting for the sun to set (as you do), I noticed that one of the adjustable thing-a-me knobs (as it turns out, Item number 410,03 if you must know) had been shattered, and in fact the head was almost, but not quite unusable. I can't recall a moment when I would have broken it, I must have given it a bit of a smack - but considering the abuse It soaks up it's quite impressive that it lasted as long as it had.

I was delighted to discover that the exact same model is still in production, and available at my normal supplier - so ordered a replacement right away, but today I've been taking a closer look at the broken one, with a view to throwing it away, but was pleased to see that even someone with my lack of mechanical talent was able to remove the broken section. I checked the Manfrotto website and easily located a serial number for a replacement part thanks to the well designed exploded diagrams of their products, and went on to order a replacement. Presuming that I'm able to replace the part ok, and I'm confident I can, it is going to mean I'm going to have two of these heads in working condition, but for such an important bit of kit, that's no real problem. The thing that impresses me most though is the service and quality provided by Manfrotto - spare parts routinely available for 20 year old bits of equipment, and a product made solidly enough that it lasts for that long in the first place, but is still repairable by a novice. Hats off to you guys. Long may you thrive.

As always, you can see more of my work on my website:

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Moving house can be a bit disruptive, on all sorts of levels. My recent move has made me make a number of changes to the way I go about things. Not least, it's not quite so easy for me to drop into the photographic suppliers in central London to pick up the odd bits of equipment and materials that photographers need in their everyday life. So I've started to make use of the various delivery services available. I was a bit curious as to how the courier companies would cope with the challenge of delivering the 9 feet long rolls of "seamless" background paper I often use for portraits on location when one is trying to get that clean studio look (see here for an example of the kind of jobs I use them for The one thing I wasn't expecting is that they would fold it up up to put it in the back of the van making it pretty much unusable. I need not have worried though. One quick phone call to the supplier and they sent me another one that arrived, with no bends in it, the following day. So, does anyone want a bent roll of white paper?

Thursday, July 07, 2011

I'm not exactly the worlds best dressed man. When I'm on the road with my cameras, things get even worse. Limited space and constantly worrying about baggage allowances means I tend to travel with the minimum of clothing.
I love this company who make clothes designed for travel. They are light, pack small, wash and dry quickly. Coincidentally they also print my name on all my clothes for me, a pretty cool bonus. My only gripe with them is that they don't seem to accept that anyone on the planet has legs that are longer than 34" or arms to match, and so I cannot wear a lot of their things. However, some stuff does fit me, and I just wanted to let people know they have a sale on right now (7th of July). Have a look at the excellent Hilltop Jacket (over £59 off).
(Yes, I know we have the same name, but I have no connection with this company at all, other than liking their stuff.)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

I was recently at a "major camera producers" HQ here in London, and waiting for a meeting. I got talking with another photographer there, who had the following problem: He had recently bought an expensive 400mm lens from a well known supplier here in London, that was sold as a "new" lens that had been used as a "demonstration" model and was slightly reduced in price. This lens had then developed a minor fault that the "manufacturer" was struggling to identify and fix. As the photographer had been honest with them about the reduced price purchase arrangement, there was a complicated debate going on between him, the camera producer and the original store about the status of this lens. The manufacturer was suggesting that this lens was could be classed as "second hand" and so any warranty the photographer had was actually with the store rather than with themselves, while the store were saying it was a "new" lens and so the warranty should be supported by manufacturer. At the time I spoke to the photographer the situation was unresolved, and the manufacturer was not saying it would refuse to fix the lens under warranty, but just that they needed more information as to the status of the sale. The photographer, however, was stuck in the middle and obviously very frustrated with the whole situation. I don't know how it all worked out - I'm pretty sure those nice guys whom I also deal with at "the manufacturer" would have sorted it out in the end, but still, it's a warning for us all.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The call for entries has just gone out for the annual photographic portrait competition at the National Portrait Gallery here in London. Here's a link to the information. The e mail arrived in my in-box while I was out shooting the photo that will be part of my entry this year. I was down in the west country to photograph Jolyon Jenkins, a senior radio producer at the BBC. This is my third attempt in four years to get an image into the exhibition. Fingers crossed that this will be the year. Entries close around July 7th, so get a move on if you are thinking of entering.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Update on the images from my Sweden trip towards the back end of last year. An edited selection of the images from the trip can be seen here

Friday, November 26, 2010

Occasionally I find myself stuck at airports with many hours to kill before the flight. It's never much fun, and often turns into an excuse to eat expensive chocolate while staring blankly at departure notices. Occasionally in the past I've arrived at the airport so early that the more enlightened carriers have been able to move me onto an earlier flight on the same route, even though I didn't have a flexible ticket. The budget airlines have never been particularly helpful like this, but I notice today in an e mail I received from easyJet, that they are now offering to do exactly this, and free of charge too. EasyJet are very keen to extend the amount of business travellers that use their airline, and they are pushing this feature as a reason to fly with them if you are travelling for work. Most budget airlines don't fly so frequently to any given destination that this is likely to happen very often, but it's definitely worth keeping in mind. I'm interested to hear from anyone who has managed to take advantage of this, and get themselves onto an earlier flight. Is it really free as claimed or are there some sneaky added charges?