Friday, 24 July 2009

Sveti Stefan and Montenegro

The famous Sveti Stefan Hotel was created by converting a historic fortified fishing village during communist rule in the former Yugoslavia under Marshall Tito. The accommodation is in the style of individual cottages set around little gardens linked by a rabbit warren of narrow cobbled alleys and steps. The privacy of the location on a rocky isthmus connected by a narrow causeway has made the hotel a magnet for movie stars and celebrities and it was on the shortlist of destinations for Charles’ and Diana’s honeymoon. Then came the Balkan civil wars and although Montenegro was not directly involved, the embargo on tourism forced the hotel into a sort of limbo, ticking over without western visitors. It was during this period that the Hotel hosted the notorious chess matches between American Bobby Fischer and Russian Boris Spassky. Fischer was convicted of sanction busting in the American courts and went into exile as a result.

Now that sanctions are over and tourism has restarted, Sveti Stefan has returned to some of its former glory. Because of its unique geographic location it is an instantly recognisable symbol of Montenegro, their Eiffel Tower or Tower Bridge, and it is pictured on the cover of the country’s only guide book. The hotel is very much the “Flagship” for hospitality in Montenegro and the government use it to impress important visitors. The dining terrace perched on top of a cliff is often used for State banquets and during my two week stay the Montenegrin President hosted a reception for foreign investors and a dinner for the Russian Prime Minister. The normal business of the hotel isn’t disturbed by these occasions and the dignitaries pass through the common lounges to their dining area. Guests watching football on TV were surprised to have the two Heads of State join them for the last half hour of a match.

Of Montenegro itself, the country is still a best kept secret with beautiful coast, gorges, national parks, and a Unesco World Heritage Site around the Bay of Kotor with its many fine, (if slightly decaying), examples of Venetian architecture. To see my stock photos of Sveti Stefan and Montenegro click HERE

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Bradley Wiggins

Having already won World Championships and Olympic Gold medals for pursuiting on the track there was no question about the power of his "Engine", but most track riders who transfer to the road don't aspire to being more than a prologue time trial specialist. It seemed thus for Bradley Wiggins, whose previous Tour de France rides gave no hint of this years performance. With his job done at Beijing, Bradley has transformed himself into a contender for overall victory by shedding the pounds necessary to get the power to weight ratio which allows him to climb the mountains with the other main contenders for the yellow jersey and today at Verbier leave some of them struggling in his wake including Lance Armstrong who now has only a slender lead on Bradley's third place time.
To see my stock photos of Bradley Wiggins, click HERE

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Alex Hua Tian

Alex Hua Tian was the first three day eventer to represent China in the Olympic Games, competing in 2008 Beijing. He took part in a recent competition at Powderham Castle on his dappled Gray FBW Chico. He is the youngest ever Olympic rider, ranked at 21st in the World in mid 2008.

To see my stock photos of Alex Hua Tian click HERE

Friday, 19 June 2009

Tom Boonen, Cocaine and the Snogging Defence

Current reports on the latest case of Tom Boonen failing a drugs test for cocaine indicate that the the amounts of the drug detected were small and that they might have come from secondary contact such as a handshake. Though small, the amounts are significant and a hypothesis that I haven't seen anywhere is of transmission by kissing a cocaine user which may explain Boonen's reticence about how the drug entered his system. Might be embarrassing to explain who he has been snogging! To see a stock photo of Tom Boonen wearing the yellow jersey as leader of the Tour de France Click

Mark Cavendish

For the first time for many years UK has a rider in professional road cycling who is consistently winning stages of the Tour de France. Mark Cavendish from the Isle of Man owes much of his phenominal sprinting speed to the early part of his career racing on the track at the Manchester Velodrome where he won the world championships for the madison race partnering multiple olympic Champion Bradley Wiggins.
On transferring to Road racing, Mark immediately started to win in opposition to some of the top sprinters in the peleton. Mark Cavendish will start the 2009 Tour de France as favourite to win the green jersey of the points competition. I have photographed him during the track World Championships and the Tour of Britain. To see stock photos of Mark Cavendish CLICK

Monday, 15 June 2009

Bedruthan Steps Cornwall

Bedruthan Steps is one of the most dramatic views on the North Cornwall coast. The cliffs are partly owned bt the Nation Trust who use the old Cornish name of Carnewas. When the tide is out a white sand beach is exposed, accessible from steps cut into a crack in the cliff, but the best way to see it is at high water during rough seas when wave break over the jagged spikes formed by the erosion of the north coast over the past millenia. It's an important landmark on the long distance southwest coast path and hikers with boots and backpack mix with trippers who have strolled down from the nearby car park and tea rooms.
To see my stock photos of Bedruthan Steps CLICK

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Exeter Devon England

It's difficult to photograph your home town, familiarity makes you pass by something a visitor would notice. The favourite subjects are Exeter Cathedral, the quay and River Exe, the House that Moved, Mol's Coffee House on the Cathedral Close and the Royal Clarence Hotel.

To see my Stock Photos of Exeter, CLICK

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Nicole Cooke

I first became aware of Nicole Cooke at the Cycling World Championships held in Plouay Brittany. I had just arrived and wasn't particularly interested in watching the Junior Women's road race until I noticed a British jersey in the leading group and Nicole went on to win with a mature tactical attacking style way above her years. Whilst still a junior she completed the triple of winning Road, Cyclo Cross and Mountain Bike World titles in the same year. It didn't take long for her to make a mark on the senior ranks and when she raced again at Plouay in a World Cup Competition round she took another fine win and went on to take the series for the first time. Nicole was racing with the support of strong professional teams for her successes in tours of France and women's Giro, (Tour of Italy) but wins eluded her when wearing the national jersey in the Olympic Games and World Championship races as her opponents marked her every move and forced her to chase breaks without help.

Finally everything came together on the world stage in 2008 when she won the Olympic Road Race in the Beijing Olympics followed by a World Champions Rainbow jersey with the help of a stronger team of British girls.
To see my Stock Photos of Nicole Cooke CLICK

Monday, 8 June 2009

Course Landaise in Gascony

The south western corner of France known as Les Landes or Gascony has it's own take on bovine pastimes. Whilst Spain and other parts of France have bullfighting and Pamplona has its bull running, Gascony proves that the female can be as deadly as the male with its traditional sport of Course Landaise. The sisters of the fighting bulls get their chance of revenge in the arenas of the little towns in the region as competitors dodge or jump out of the way whilst they charge. The cows are not hurt or injured in any way and may take part in contests for several years though there is an element of goading to make them angry enough to charge. The humans have several roles in the proceedings. A more experienced man known as the cordier holds the rope that ensures that the cow charges straight, entraineurs get the cows attention and encourage it to charge. The competitors or sauteurs clutching a white handkerchief stand in front of the charging cow until the last minute before dodging to one side and the sauters leap or somersault over the top of the cow. One of the jumps with arms spread out is known as the angel.

Mes images de Course Landaise sont ICI

Bryher, Isles of Scilly

Bryher is one of the westerly islands in the Scilly isles. With about a hundred inhabitants scattered over it's 327 acres it's a quiet and peaceful place, idyllic in summer but has a different face in rough weather with nothing to protect it from the storms crossing the Atlantic. Visitors can camp or there is the luxurious Hell Bay Hotel. Not much else except for the Fraggle Rock pub, church and village shop, the Bryher Stores. There is a good chance of seeing seals though they tend to keep their distance if you try and get too close. The beautiful views are inspiration to artist Richard Pearce who paints in a studio overlooking the beach.

To see my Stock Photos of Bryher, click HERE

Chris Hoy

Very few Britsh cyclists break into the area of being recognised in the street but few could miss the imposing form of Chris Hoy. (Sir Christopher Hoy MBE). Multiple world champion and now reigning triple Olympic Champion in the Individual Sprint, Team Sprint and Keirin competitions.

My Stock Photos of Chris Hoy can be found HERE

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Come One Come All....

Stock luminary and pundit Dan Heller has written about the large quantity and value of stock photography traded outside the boundaries of the usual stock outlets. He predicts that increasingly photos will be found by using search engines and advises photographers to get their own web sites and self market. For many stock photographers, especially those for whom stock isn't their main income, running their own web site to licence their photos is something they intend to do but will probably never get around to. An simpler and cheap alternative course is to write a blog for search engines to find linked to the selling back end of an established agency like Alamy. All well and good but for the blog to be found it needs to be written using relevant words like stock photo, photography etc and the main subject, but it must also be well linked to other websites. With this in mind Alamy contributors are cordially invited to join an experiment in blogging about their stock collections and trading links for their mutual benefit.

Despite having criticized some of Alamy's actions I remain a great supporter of their unedited and democratic model of selling stock photography. The photo heading this is an example. My most recent sale. What othe agency would have accepted a picture of a crudely executed embroidery copy of Leonardo da Vinci's painting of the Last Supper hanging on the wall of an obscure Devon church?

Friday, 5 June 2009

The Calanques

Between Marseille and Cassis on the mediterranean coast of France is a strip of land which has mercifully escaped the development that lines most of the Cote D'Azur. The terrain is a series of rias, submerged river valleys, cut into pure white limestone cliffs by the gushing rivers that followed the melting of the great sheets of ice which covered europe during the last ice age. It's hard to imagine all that water now in an area notable for its aridity, with only the most tenacious of plants clinging to life in the cracks; this scrub vegetation is known as maquis. The two ways to explore this dramatic piece of country are on foot, a network of marked trails and sections of Grand Randonee criss-cross the plateau and wind down to the little beaches and coves (calanque). The less energetic opt for a boat trip, taking in a half dozen calanques or perhaps dropping off for a day at the beach.

To see stock photos of the Calanques CLICK

Monday, 1 June 2009

Zara Phillips at Powderham Castle Horse Trial

Even if you are not a fan of a sport it's always nice to have the opportunity to see it practiced at top level so when I saw that some of the world's top eventers were competing on my doorstep I made the effort to get there. The natural centre of attention was Zara Phillips. World Champion: tick. Former BBC Sports Personality of the Year: tick. Minor member of the royal family but would get promoted if the changes to rule on succession come to pass....: tick. Actually she was in danger of being eclipsed as Katie Price aka Jordan had also entered the event but was a no-show. Zara on her horse Toytown came out winner and I came back with a very satisfactory set of action shots of dressage, show jumping and cross country rounds as well as some nice natural candid portrait shots to add to my stock photo collection.

Postscript. With rumours of the impending wedding of Zara and Mike Tindall Zara has had a run in with overzealous photographers. No members of the royal family were hurt or inconvenienced in the taking of my images which can be seen at Alamy, so to find them CLICK

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Auschwitz Concentration Camp

The undistinguished little town of Oswiecim in Poland, about an hour's bus ride from the popular weekend city break destination of Krakow is better known by the German version of its name. Auschwitz. Along with its neigbour Birkenau it's a name which has become synonymous with the horror of the Nazi's attempted extermination of the Jews.The first impression is of rows of solid brick built barrack blocks, like any other Army installation, which it was prior to becoming the infamous concentration camp. Only once inside the buildings does the magnitude of the crime against humanity committed here is revealed with the rows of photos of the shaven headed victims, men women and children looking down from the walls. Some of the horrors are all too apparent, the torture cells and gas chambers; some poignant, the piles of suitcases with names hopefully written on them, and piles of spectacles taken from those executed. Some macabre, like the huge collection of artificial arms and legs.The ultimate horror though is that Auschwitz was organised like a giant factory. Here are the order sheets in triplicate for Zyclon B poison gas, here are the bales of human hair for turning into fabric, a production line of death.

To see more photos of Auschwitz click HERE
Please contact me about free use of photos for school projects or non profit organisations raising awareness of the holocaust

Monday, 25 May 2009

Abbey Gardens, Tresco, Isles of Scilly

Tresco is home to one of Britain's most famous gardens which draws visitors from all over the globe. It owes it's existence to a micro climate generated by the currents of warm water which cross the Atlantic from the Gulf of Mexico known as the Gulf Stream. This ensures that although the latitude of the Scillies is further north than New York the temperature seldom approaches zero and tender plants that only survive in greenhouses on mainland UK flourish out of doors on Tresco. The garden is built on the southwest facing slopes rising in a series of terraces above the ruins of the old Abbey church. There is something to see all year and even in November there are bright pink nerines in flower and the large succulents tree ferns and palm trees that are the symbol of Tresco.
To see more stock photos of the Abbey Gardens, Tresco Isles of Scilly click HERE

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Flying into Tresco

The Isles of Scilly are only 20 miles from Lands End, but the 20 minute helicopter flight seems like a trip to another country and another time. A few seconds after take off from the bustling town of Penzance, the big supermarkets and sidings of the railway terminus shrink below as you circle Mounts Bay and leave St Michaels Mount behind. Hugging the coast at first you fly over Newlyn Harbour, crammed with trawlers, it's Cornwall's busiest fishing port. The catches landed here are whisked off to Europe's top restaurants. Turning onshore the Sikorsky 61 passes over the patchwork of small fields of the Penwith peninsula with the chimneys of the abandoned tin mines visible far off as the north coast comes into view. Then before you know it, the rugged cliffs and tawdry tourist trap of Lands End are below and you are out over the Atlantic Ocean. For anyone more used to flying high in airliners the waves look awfully close and the sight of the Longships lighthouse with its tiny helipad doesn't offer any comfort to the nervous flyer so it's a relief when low grey shapes appear on the horizon. Land Ho!
As you get nearer the sea haze clears and you can start to pick out features, the red and white striped daymark on St Martins, shaped like a giant artillery shell and the strip shaped bulb field with their high windbreak hedges. It certainly doesn't look like part of England below, the long beaches of sparkling white sand and clear blue water could be the South Seas or Carribean. This impression increases as the helicopter comes into land at the airfield and you see the palm trees of Tresco's famous Abbey Gardens.Touchdown, and you instinctively (though needlessly) duck your head below the swooshing rotor as you walk to the large wooden shed that serves as the airport terminal. Welcome to Tresco!

To see my stock aerial photos of the helicopter flight to Tresco click HERE