Blog Relocation

A very short post here to announce that my blog has now been relocated to my new website at

I have been guilty of not posting anything in a long time, primarily because much of 2015 has been spent revamping my site and moving it onto another platform with the usual delays and obstacles that occur. However, I am delighted to say that the makeover is now complete and the site is live! I hope you like the end result.

As part of this transition it emerged that moving my existing posts over was too technical a procedure. So unfortunately I will no longer be posting on this WordPress blog. However, the site will remain open so you will still have access to all my old posts.

Thank you to all of you in the WordPress community for your support and I look forward to welcoming you on my new blog!


Website Update

2014 has certainly been a busy year, with and without the camera. I’ll save the end of year review for a few more weeks yet, but I feel have managed to cram in a lot of work, projects, and exhibitions over the past 11 months. One positive is the amount of portraiture work I have undertaken and the opportunity this has given me to experiment with lighting. A downside is the lack of landscape photography, which I shall blame on my moving house and the lack of time (and money!) to dedicate to any major trips this year. But you’ll be pleased to know that I’ve already got my eye on 2015 to remedy this year’s shortfall… Consequently, things have been a little quieter than usual on Dodge And Burn over the last couple of months but normal service will resume in the new year.

In addition to the above, however, one of the major reasons for the limited blog activity of late is that I have a big development to announce. The eagle-eyed among you will have noticed that recently went offline. Do not fear: I am not giving up on my online portfolio! It is because I am moving my website onto a brand new platform and, while I’m at it, giving the entire thing an update. The look of the site will remain familiar but it will be cleaner and fresher. More significantly, the structure of the galleries and of course the images themselves will be given an overdue facelift.

As part of this migration, I intend to incorporate Dodge And Burn into my new site. I’ve yet to finalise the technical details, so in the meantime Dodge And Burn will continue to run as normal here on WordPress. But watch this space for a more formal announcement. Having all my sites in one location not only makes things easier for me, but it allows me to give back more readily to you, the visitor, in the form of more regular and centralised updates. I shall keep you posted but, needless to say, it is a really exciting time to see the new site coming to fruition.

Before I sign off, let me alert you to some upcoming exhibitions in London that you must find the time to visit:

Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2014, on until 22 February 2015

Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2014, on until 30 August 2015

Take a View Landscape Photographer of the Year 2014, running from 1 December 2014 – 31 January 2015

These are three of my all-time favourite photography exhibitions in the City and I believe they all offer late night openings on one day of the week in order to accommodate for those of us who are stuck in the office. Make the most of it and get yourself down to the National Portrait Gallery, the Natural History Museum, and London Waterloo station.

Foray Into Film: Day 52

Seven weeks ago I started the Foray Into Film project and now, 52 days in, I’m going to draw it to a natural close. As mentioned in my last post, light leaks in the OM-10 mean that I’m going to have to get the seals repaired before shooting any more rolls. I intend to get this done towards the end of the year; in the meantime I will be going back to digital, armed with some valuable lessons. So as a final post on this project, I wanted to keep it simple and run through the key things that I have taken away with me over the past 52 days.

  1. Getting into film photography is not as daunting or intimidating as it might seem. In fact, with the huge market in used film cameras, it is incredibly accessible and relatively inexpensive to get yourself started. You can pick up a used OM-10 with 50mm lens for between £30-40 on eBay.
  2. But be sure to bear in mind the cost of developing and printing. This will quickly outstrip the cost of your camera in no time.
  3. Get into the habit of shooting one frame per scene. This is probably the greatest lesson I took from the entire project: learning to be patient and be purposeful with every press of the shutter. It’s easy to neglect this way of thinking in digital photography, but it doesn’t hurt to be wary of being wasteful.
  4. The ‘look’ of film is undoubtedly special and incredibly difficult to replicate in digital. I will almost certainly spend the next few weeks trying to emulate the look of Tri-X 400 in Lightroom, but I know deep down that any efforts will look second best to the real thing.
  5. Not only have I been shooting just film for the past seven weeks (OK, I confess I did shoot digital on two occasions), but I have also been shooting with just the one focal length: 50mm. After only a few days of getting used to the field of view, your eye really does kick in and you can visualise and predict shots with increasing ease. Take the time to know your gear.
  6. Processes are simplified. As I have discussed previously, when you only have three dials to worry about, it’s far easier to get straight to the heart of taking photographs rather than messing around with camera settings – and this is wonderfully liberating…
  7. However, the advantages of digital are occasionally missed. For example, there were times when I missed the presence of an in-camera histogram. I also found it harder to ‘view’ different scenes in black and white, whereas with my X100S it can convert to mono as you look through the viewfinder.
  8. The excitement of having your photos developed cannot be topped by any equivalent in the digital workflow. It’s also sad to think that there are entire generations who will likely never experience this.
  9. For candid street photography, the OM-10 might not be my preferred camera simply because the shutter noise is so loud. The (relatively) quiet mode of the digital age is, again, something that I missed.
  10. If you want to concentrate on the fundamentals of photography, it is hard to argue against the teaching experience that shooting film offers. Stripping away the digital safety-net invariably means you will make a lot of mistakes, but this is the best way to learn.

One final point I would like to make is to stress that it is never a case of picking one or the other. Photography can be quite a partisan activity at times – Nikon vs. Canon, zooms vs. primes – but this project was never about finding out which is ‘the best.’ I’m not now going to trade in all my digital gear for developing chemicals. Nor am I never going to pick up a film camera ever again; I am in fact considering buying a used film TLR to experiment with in the future. It’s about learning the strengths and weaknesses of both and understanding how they can complement one another in order to make you a better photographer.

Foray Into Film: Day 38

The moment has arrived: I picked up the prints from my first roll of developed Tri-X 400 earlier in the week. First things first, and you have probably heard most people say this, but it felt great to experience the thrill of ‘picking up the photos,’ opening up the envelope and looking through the prints. It’s a fantastic feeling and while digital does have it moments, when you spot an imported image that you instantly know is a keeper, it doesn’t quite compare to the anticipation and excitement of processing film.

On the downside, it seems that the OM-10 is suffering from signs of old age as there is evidence of light leaks. Most of the images that I took in bright daylight suffer from a slight over-exposed banding down the right hand side, running vertically across the frame. The positioning is fairly consistent throughout and I’ve been lead to believe that it is likely the foam seals on the back of the camera door that have failed. It has probably affected half the roll.

This is, of course, disappointing. Nevertheless, it is not the end of the world and, thankfully, some of my favourite shots are not affected. I’m going to need more time to look through my work before I can provide a fuller analysis of the things I have learned, so in the meantime I wanted to share with you my initial impressions of Tri-X 400. As I mentioned in my first Foray Into Film post, Tri-X 400 is a film that I was especially eager to try. It is legendary in the field of street photography and I keep trying to recreate it digitally (with varying degrees of success!).

So, let me attempt to describe the findings of my first Tri-X 400 experience:

For street photography it just ‘feels’ right. I would estimate that about two thirds of the 36 shots fall into the rather nebulous category of street photography, but those that do really stand out. Tri-X has such a distinctive look – a subtle brooding – that gives images an edge. Architecture too. I successfully nabbed a few shots of the Lloyds Building, Gherkin, and the Walkie Talkie and it is so effective in capturing urban environments. On the other hand, I wasn’t as impressed with the effect it had on landscapes, with the few I took being overly oppressive and bleak.

The exposure range is outstanding. From shadows to highlights, the tonal range that is captured is extremely impressive. Personally, I find the shadows to be a little too dark – although I accept that this is partly a result of me not having control over the developing process. But the detail in the mid-tones stands out in particular and is probably one of the most apparent differences I have noticed between film and digital.

It turns grain into an art form. The grain produced by Tri-X 400 is as aesthetically pleasing as I had been made to believe. It is so well controlled and consistent, but neither does it steal the show. It discreetly adds to the image, rather than distract from the main subject. It’s fine, it’s smooth, and for me, its presence is one of the main reasons you would want to shoot black and white.

Colourful subjects need colour film. OK, that is over-simplifying the matter considerably, but I did see a pattern emerging when reviewing my shots: subjects with strong colours significantly lose impact when shot in mono. For example, with shots of flowers, while the Tri-X performed well, when I view these particular prints I am visualising them in their original vibrant glory.

Shooting Tri-X 400 is a user-friendly experience. Let me clarify this point: I do not feel that the film is punishing me for every little mistake that I may make. The wide exposure range no doubt assists significantly here, but regardless, it feels like the film is always working with you and trying to get the best out of every shot. This obviously makes it great for first-time film shooters.

I will hopefully be able to post some scans of my shots in my next post. In the meantime, if anyone wants to share any DIY tips for fixing light leaks, let me know…


Foray Into Film: Day 31

We’ve reached the end of August already. I thought at this point I would be writing up a concluding post on Foray Into Film, but instead this is a short announcement that I am going to run the project into September. Delays with developing mean that I still haven’t had the chance to review my work – and I consider that to be a fairly crucial step in this whole process! So until that time I’m going to keep the film-related posts coming.

Having just finished a roll of Kodak Tri-X 400, I’m now debating whether to stick with black & white or go for colour. My two choices are Fuji Neopan 400 or Kodak Ektar 100. The former is another black & white film film that, like Tri-X, I came to be aware of through the work of some of my favourite street photographers. The latter is a very fine grain colour negative film, renowned for having quite a distinctive look. There are even those who say it bears some resemblance to the famous Kodachrome 25; for that reason alone I am intrigued to try it out.

By way of brief overview, the past month has been a very full-on learning experience. I would say that the greatest lessons I have taken from shooting film so far – lessons that I can feel are sticking with me and instilling good habits – are definitely those of composition, timing, and being patient enough to really ‘see’ shots before pressing the shutter. I was down in the New Forest for a few days last week and took my DSLR out for an early morning landscape session. I found myself behaving as if l still had the OM-10 in my hands. I could really feel myself hunting for shots and adopting a ‘one-frame-per-scene’ mentality. I managed to get the photo below in one take and I dare say that might not have been the case a month ago.



Foray Into Film: Day 23

One of the most valuable lessons I am taking from this project is understanding the importance of…timing. I was shooting on Blackfriars Bridge earlier in the week, getting an evening shot of the Thames and the Shard. I carefully set up the framing and just before I was about to press the shutter I noticed a train crossing the river in the background, heading into London Bridge station. I thought it would make a pleasant addition to the image, but preferably when the train was pulling out of the station and heading in the opposite direction. So I waited, with camera glued to my eye. And waited. And sure enough, after a few minutes, another train started to pull out across the bridge. It was at this point, however, that an unwanted sightseeing boat chugged into view and ruined the composition. So I waited some more. Once it had disappeared out of frame, the train was long gone.

What followed was about 15 minutes of waiting for the correct timing of trains and boats, while all the while the sun was setting behind me. Now that might not sound a long time, but this wasn’t a pre-planned landscape shoot. This was an opportunistic shot. It also feels a lot longer when standing on a blustery bridge! But in the end I achieved the composition that I wanted. The ‘handicap’ of not having an LCD to immediately view the photograph you have taken is in many ways a wonderful thing. Rattling off five shots of the same scene in under a minute may give us plentiful options to ‘pick the best’, but so often this method lacks thought and consideration. Nothing hones your sense of timing like knowing that you don’t have the opportunity to instantly review your shots, coupled with the desire to not waste film.

And there’s no excuse for when we are shooting digital. The rear LCD can be a beneficial aid but it shouldn’t become a complete crutch. Nearly all modern digital cameras will have the option to turn off image playback completely. Try it for a short period. Avoid the temptation of retrospectively fixing a shot because you didn’t like the way it was composed the first time around. Remove this feature and take the time to really think about all the different aspects of the scene, knowing that when you press the shutter it is composed exactly how you want it. Over the course of this month I have found that increased sense of control over my photography – and the images I am creating – to be extremely satisfying.


Sources of Inspiration: My Favourite Film Photographers

I’m past the halfway point of my Foray Into Film project and thought that I’d use this post to share with you my influences for picking up a film camera – photographers who utilised the medium and whose work I find particularly inspiring. If you’re completely new to film photography, check out the following names for a great introduction.

 Ansel Adams
The Tetons and the Snake River

An unrivalled champion of light, clarity, and depth

I was unsure whether to include Ansel Adams on this list, given his ubiquity in the world of photography, but upon reflection it made little sense not to include him. How can anyone not be inspired and/or influenced by arguably the most famous photographer to have ever lived? From his masterful control of light to the wildness of the landscapes he shot, for me, his work made me realise how beautiful photography could be. The first time I viewed The Tetons and the Snake River I was compelled to visit the same location – it was an instinctive, visceral reaction that I had never experienced before. More significantly, it made me want to create work that had the exact same effect on other people.


Vivian Maier

Vivian MaierAn unknown New York street photographer 

Since the recent discovery of Vivian Maier, there has been huge public interest in her life and work. Epitomising the unappreciated artist, her huge collection of negatives and prints only reached a public audience after her death in 2009. In a short space of time she has gone from being unknown to one of the most respected street photographers of modern times. I recently saw the movie Finding Vivian Maier, which documents her life through those she worked with. It’s a fascinating insight into a woman who had this incredibly natural eye for photography and yet shared her work with nobody.


William Eggleston

egglestonThe master of colour and American symbolism

Simple, vivid, and immediately recognisable, William Eggleston’s work is characterised by his use of colour. His popularity grew with a photographic style that involved vivid imagery and otherwise mundane subjects: diners, road signs, parked cars, gas stations, vending machines – classic American scenes.


Joel Meyerowitz

joelA personal favourite and hard to categorise 

Joel Meyerowitz is one of my favourite photographers full stop. His work spans 35mm, medium format and, most recently, large format. His subject matters are also varied: his street photography is energetic, while his landscapes are serene. He also created a moving portfolio taken from ground zero in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. I’d also recommend taking the time to hear him speak: he is one of the most engaging  photographers to discuss their craft, with no arrogance, but just a deep connection to his work.


Garry Winogrand

garryOne of the greatest photographers of the streets

More street photography from America here, but what makes Garry Winogrand’s work stand out from so many others is his sense of timing, emotion, and the natural environment he captures. His work is typically filled with character: people expressing shock, pity, humour, tiredness. You truly feel as if you are observing the scene there and then, through your own eyes. Winogrand was also a firm advocate of shooting often: he left behind approximately 2,500 undeveloped film after his death in 1984.











Foray Into Film: Day 11

I’m halfway through my second week of Foray Into Film and it’s been a steady learning curve so far. Since my last post, I’ve moved away from landscapes and portraits and have been doing a lot of street photography to really put the camera through its paces in a fast moving environment. Thankfully, central London offers up plenty of opportunities to experiment at every turn – quite literally.

So what I have learnt about shooting film on the streets?

1) I’ve formed a good habit of regularly checking the aperture on the lens but I’ve found that when shooting on the street one can be a little more ‘reckless’. The reason I say this is that I nearly always shoot at f/8 on the street as it is my preferred balance between depth of field and shutter speed. I set the aperture dial before I step out the door and I’m good to go. It’s one less thing to worry about.

2) The biggest lesson this past week is that good manual focusing technique pays dividends. The fast-paced action of the streets means that you not only need to be constantly anticipating what will happen, but you need to convert that awareness into instinctive reflexes. There’s no secret to improving here other than practice, and lots of it. But something as simple as knowing intuitively which way to turn the focus ring to bring focus forward or push it back is crucial. It’s all about knowing your gear inside out – and that goes for digital as well as film. That said…

3) …give yourself a helping hand by pre-focusing. There are countless pages on the subject all over the web so I shall not be teaching that lesson today. But what I have discovered is that when shooting film on the street this is almost a necessity if you want to put the percentages of a ‘good’ shot in your favour. Pre-focusing your lens, memorising  how much depth of field you have to play with, and knowing how far you need to be from your subject to achieve a sharp shot is extremely beneficial.

4) I mentioned in my post last week that shooting film has helped me to slow down and think more. I find this concept difficult to apply on the streets. Yes, there are less digital variables to worry about, but the subject isn’t going to slow down and wait for you just because you are using film. So, in some respects, using film for street photography is the ultimate test of your ability to get the shot in the heat of the moment.

Incidentally, I haven’t drawn any strange looks because of the ‘old’ camera I am carrying, which I am slightly surprised by. Perhaps more surprising is the fact that I actually feel less conspicuous carrying the OM-10 compared to any other camera I have used. I can sling it over my shoulder, no bag required, and because of its age I can treat it a little rougher than I would, say, a brand new DSLR.

One final point before I sign off this post: I am taking the OM-10 everywhere I go, without even really thinking about it. Literally, not a day goes by when I do not have it on me. Again, I’m sure a part of this is down to me being a little more abusive towards it because of its age and condition ;-) Regardless, if this is the case then I’d recommend everyone only purchase second-hand! We all love our cameras, but sometimes perhaps our desire to protect them gets in the way of using them as much as we all want to.

I’m going to keep going with the street photography for a few more days and then perhaps turn my attention to experimenting with depth of field and shooting wide open at f/1.8.


Foray Into Film: Day 4

I’m halfway through the first week of my August project: dedicating the month to film photography. I started using the hash-tag #ForayIntoFilm on Twitter and while it wasn’t the intended title of this project, I figure it’s catchy enough to use as the ‘official’ name! Before I go into a little more detail about the things I have learned so far, here is a brief overview of the gear I am using:

  • An Olympus OM-10 camera. Originally launched in 1979, it’s a great introductory 35mm camera. Although there is an adapter that can be purchased to turn it into a full manual camera, I do not have this so I am effectively using it in aperture-priority mode.
  • Two lenses: a 50mm f/1.8 and a 28mm f/2.8. The latter is in slightly better condition but I am starting off with the former as it is so versatile.
  • I picked up three different rolls of film and I won’t announce them all here, but the first one I’ve selected is a classic: Kodak Tri-X 400. I’ve always admired the use of this black and white film in street photography and so it was an easy decision to give it a test-drive.

This is the set-up I have been using for the past few days and so I thought I’d use this post to share with you all my initial thoughts. So far it’s been a positive start. Keep an eye on my blog throughout August as I’ll be posting regular updates on my progress. If you have any questions for me, just drop me a comment or message.

Initial Impressions

1) While I wish I could brag that this was seamless, I must confess that loading the film was more fiddly than I thought. I consider myself to be fairly dexterous but threading the leader into the take-up spool took several attempts before it engaged. Maybe the Olympus OM-10 is particularly awkward, but I suspect I am to blame here.

2) I learnt the hard way that turning the camera off does not disable the shutter release. The end result will be a very abstract, out of focus first exposure…

3) Perhaps the biggest difference I am encountering between film and digital is the need to constantly check the aperture. With digital we can always see the selected aperture in the viewfinder and the f stop becomes an almost unconscious point of reference. With film there is no such indicator (bar looking at the lens itself) and I have taken a few shots wide open at f/1.8 when I really wanted to stop down.

4) Strangely, I thought that the inability to view the image immediately post-shot would be a difficult habit to break but I have not found that to be the case.

4) Less shooting time, more thinking time. The knowledge of only have 36 exposures certainly comes into play here, but I have found myself slowing down and making every shot count. Whereas with a DSLR I might fire off several shots of the same scene, ‘just to make sure,’ with film there is limited capacity to be so frivolous. I’m eyeing up shots more carefully, really considering the most ideal light, and trying to ensure that I get the shot in one exposure.

6) It is refreshing to have fewer digital variables to worry about. With the OM-10 I simply set the ISO to match the film speed, check the aperture, and I’m good to go. No white-balance, no auto-ISO, no bracketing, and no menu navigation to get your head around.


Upcoming Project: Film Photography

Since my last post (way back in April…) a lot has been happening behind the scenes. Firstly, all important work. I’ve been doing a lot of headshot/portrait jobs over the last few months and it’s great having a consistent run on one subject to really hone those skills. Secondly, I’ve been in the process of giving my website a facelift but more on that at a later date. Thirdly, I took a short trip to Slovakia and while I will try to do a post on that at some point, in the meantime you can view a small selection of street photos that I took on my Facebook page. Finally, I’ve been brainstorming new projects to undertake and I have found a fitting one to start imminently.

For the month of August I am going to be dedicating myself (and Dodge And Burn) to film photography. I will reveal more in my posts over the coming days/weeks but, in a nutshell, I’ve acquired an old 35mm film camera and am using it as the perfect excuse to bite the bullet and put my skills in the world of ‘real’ photography to the test ;-) I shall be posting about my inspiration behind this project, the gear that I am using, the highs, the lows, and if I’m feeling really brave I’ll even show you all the end results.

I guess I should get my excuses in early then: I confess that I am hopelessly inexperienced with film photography. I’ve handled film SLRs and taken the odd shot here and there but I have never truly experienced using the format or immersed myself in the process. I’ve never even loaded film before. But this is precisely what this project is all about: taking a leap off into the deep end and hopefully finding out that I can swim after all (or at least tread water long enough until help arrives…)

So, if you’re new to the world of film photography yourself and are keen to see how I fare and ask any questions or make any suggestions along the way, then stay tuned. Alternatively, if you’re a dab hand and fancy a cheap laugh, likewise you are more than welcome to come along for the ride. Keep checking out this blog throughout August or if you want to be alerted to my posts automatically via email, you can sign up at the bottom right of this page.