Sunflowers are People Too

27 July 11

Posted at 9:49

Whilst frolicking in the sunflower fields of South West France last week I started imaginging how alike fields of sunflowers are to crowds of people. Even without the help of the funghi growing in the more shaded areas the sunflowers began to remind me of the festival crowds, synonymous with Summer..

early crowd sunflowers

Here for instance, a smallish, bright crowd, out there early afternoon for some mediocre indie band or pop wannabees.

Flagging at the Front

Here we are later at the main stage, a massive crowd and, oh dear, some water needed at the front they look dehydrated and are flagging.

By now I was having fun with the sunflower crowd and could not get over the similarities to other festivals. As ever I was lost and looked around for my mates...

Can't Focus

And yes as ever focussing was difficult and everyone looked pretty much the same. At times like this you often get distracted by that particularly, in fact, impossibly attractive girl dancing on someones shoulders, moving like an angel and knowing all the lyrics. I turned around and there she was...

Standing Out

I had to give myself a talking to now. I'm in a field of sunflowers on my own, they are not a crowd and we are not at a festival. If we were there would be some impossibly tall bloke with two heads in front of us blocking our view. As all sunflowers have a single head and are exactly the same height I must come to my senses and get off to where I'm supposed to be at the supermarket,......unless, oi mate, we can't see .....

Behind the Big Bloke


The London FolkFest

26 July 11

Posted at 5:37

Last night I went to Balham. It's not often I go to Balham on a Monday night, or any other night for that matter, but that may change in the future. The reason I ventured as far south as five stops from the end of the Northern Line was that The Travelling Band  were appearing at The Bedford . To my embarrassment I've never been to The Bedford before and had never heard (or at least remember hearing) of Tony Moore, the guy who runs free gigs at The Bedford. Tony is behind The London FolkFest and was an original member of Iron Maiden I believe. (I'm sure I have an album in the attic). Tony has been and is a great supporter and fan of The Travelling Band, so he's a top bloke in my book, add to that he was wearing red cuban heeled boots so I knew he must be someone special!

Tony Moore

This is Tony spotting me taking a photo of him while he was trying to photograph the crowd packed in The Bedford for the first night of this years London Folkfest. I spoke to Tony later and told him I would blog about last night today. Had I known his pedigree I may not have referred to the event as his 'little' festival - sorry Tone!

Well in actual fact it is quite little but from what I saw that just means a hell of a lot of people are missing out on seeing some fantastic up and coming talent for free in a close up and friendly atmosphere. I arrived just as the second set of the evening was finishing, I avoided the Northern Line by taking the car! So I just caught the last two numbers from Tom Copson. I'm a tog not a reviewer so I'll just say I wish I had been there to enjoy his full set. Check him out here

Next up were Felix Fables

Felix Fables Live at The Bedford

What a joy this four piece 'Folk 'n' Roll' band are. When I Googled Tony Moore  I found out that Tony's club had been a launchpad for many big names including Paulo Nutini. Felix Fables generate that same happy atmosphere that you get from Paulo, a least when he performs in more intimate venues. Michael Baker, lead vocal, seems to think his mission in life is for his audience to actively show they are enjoying his music as much as he is and he achieves his mission. The whole talented band ouse fun and jolifications through their music.

Felix Kicking


Felix Fables

They have a single out next month. I suggest you try and catch them live.

As I said earlier I came to see The Travelling Band, I always try to catch them when they are in London. Last night just two of the band, Adam and Jo, were appearing to do an accoustic set. The band commence a tour of Devon and Cornwall later this week.

The Travelling Band - Acoustic Set

It was interesting to witness a stripped down Travelling Band, I did see the band do an acoustic set in Manchester last year, but last night with just Jo and Adam it was quite different. It served to show the depth of the songs they write, their superb harmonisation and the emotions they can conjure with their music, lyrics and the way they deliver them.

Adam Gorman - The Travelling Band


The Travelling Band - Sundial

I can't wait until the next time I see The Travelling Band - at Cropredy in a couple of weeks

The only sad thing about last night was that there's an 1130 curfew so the music had to end.

Tony with support from the FAI (Folk Alliance International) has launched The London FolkFest this year, it continues for the next three nights. I suggest if you live south of the river you get along there, The Bedford, Bedford Hill, Balham SW12 and even if you live further afield it's worth a trip on the Northern Line or even a drive. I'm sure The London FolkFest will become a lot more than just a little festival in years to come.


Bastille Day in Carcassonne

25 July 11

Posted at 4:53

Last year my mate Rick declared he had always wanted to see the fireworks at Carcassonne on Bastille Day. Something of a surprise to me as I can't remember him ever mentioning it before but never the less once mentioned ten of us had soon agreed to rent a house in Carcassonne this July in order to see the fireworks. To our surprise this is a very popular annual event attracting, it is said, as many as 700,000 people. So late last year we got a place booked and started to plan our adventure.


The house was brilliant and accommodated us easily. It was about 15km from Carcassonne and about 10km from anything at all. That was something of a double edged sword - we certainly couldn't annoy the neighbours but getting in and out would have been easier with a 4WD. As too many nights out would be a challenge we stocked up with essentials (vin,biere etc.) and the party commenced.

The prime reason for being here was to see the fireworks on the Thursday night. We researched on the web and talked to locals. It appeared that folk claimed their spot as early as mid morning, the firework display commenced at 2230. There are two bridges leading to the Old Cite of Carcassonne where the display took place, they apparently were prime viewing places along with the banks of the river Aude. We enquired about getting taxis, or hiring a minibus - out of the question we were told - it takes hours to get out of town after the show - there are 700,000 people there. We decided to take two cars and park them our side the the autoroute junction and to walk in and out of town from there (assuming many of the visitors would be coming from Toulouse). Two of us volunteered to drive and therefore by default stay 'dry' (I guessed I'd need a steady hand to photograph the fireworks so I had no probs).

We went in to town late afternoon and soon found that our chosen parking place was in fact a longer trek away from town than we envisaged but seeing the swarms of people arriving we decided to stick with it.

Fast forward to about 7 pm when we decided we should take up our positions. The place was rammed and it soon became clear that ten of us trying to get a spot together would not be possible so we split up. I tiptoed through throngs of people to take up a prime position on the river bank. I claimed a clear spot of grass big enough to just stand on, much to the consternation of those around me. The territorial behaviour of people in such circusmstances is hilarious. The atmosphere was hostile but gradually as people moved a little, or breathed in, I tried to make myself bigger until I had enough room to sit on the grass - it was half past seven - still three hours to the off and I already had cramp but daren't give an inch. After about an hour I had been accepted and was joinng my new friends in tutting everytime new arrivals tried to find some space. By nine o clock every possible vantage point was taken and the atmosphere was more of excited anticipation and good humour. I was pleased I had not been on the beer earlier as 'relief' would have been very difficult.

Ready to Start

This is my viewpoint wth just half an hour to go, I had now secured enough room to put one camera on a tripod and felt like old friends with those around me. Some people were now in the river watching as it was the only space available.

First Show

Then just after 2230 the first show of fireworks went off to a tremendous cheer. A modest display then followed.

The Cite Burns

Then just when I was thinking 'what's all the fuss about' the whole old town appeared to go up in flames. It was really dramatic.

Love the Cite

Whilst the Cite burned the firework show continued, massive applause for this display. This was followed with a display of fireworks which gave the impression of water putting the flames out.

Put the Fires Out

I've not really caught the impression well in this photo but as you can see the flames were being doused. After this the display began in earnest....

Let the Display Begin

The setting is really magnificant

Full Sky

The fireworks fill the sky

Many colours

I was pleased I'd got a position from which I could catch the reflections.

Fireworks 1


Fireworks 2


Fireworks 4


Fireworks 5

The final crescendo came a full half hour after the display had commenced. It was by far the best firework display I have ever witnessed and I am well pleased that Rick said he wanted to go there! A couple of hours later we were back in our country house, still marvelling at the spectacle we had witnessed.


Portraits of a Family

05 July 11

Posted at 10:18

On Sunday I spent a couple of hours photographing a friend's children.


Holly and Daisy

I had three subjects, two girls, Holly and Daisy..


...You can see from these first two images I was blessed with a photogenic duo. With them was Oscar their younger sibling

Blowing Petals

Oscar was far less interested in being a model than his sisters.

Three up

...he doesn't look too sure about this but stayed still long enough for me to capture them.

Mono surprise

At a new location Holly and Oscar make a lovely mono portrait..

The Poser 

Whilst Daisy trys a bit of serious modelling.

Tired of Waiting

Even the top models have a lot of hanging around and waiting, this candid shows our girls were no exceptions..


...but in no time we are ready for fun and action again

Behind Bars

..with the emphasis being on fun

Film Star Like

Having fun can look quite sophisticated. Now where's that Oscar got to?

Close Up

..ah! here he is trapped by his sisters. Last of all a final image of all three again..

The Cover




01 July 11

Posted at 6:29

Today I popped into town to replace the lens hood I lost at Glastonbury. A Nikon HB-48 lens hood actually I was informed by the kind man at Grays of Westminster, but he like every other London Nikon dealer was out of stock. Being so close I decided to pop round the corner and take a look at the J30 day of public sector workers action. I don't hold any strong views either way about today's protest - as I heard someone say on the radio today, "politically I am a leaf floating on the breeze" I guess that probably sums me up.

On arrival at Westminster I must admit I was impressed with the turnout - I have not seen so many photographers, news crews and police since the Royal Wedding! There were a hell of a lot of protesters also, just as well I suppose. Many of them looked too young to be public sector workers especially if youth unemployement figures are to be believed, so I assumed they were students spending the day supporting their teachers!

I'd not been there long when I clocked my first interesting person. He shouts his protest as his angry partner exclaims "I thought I told you not to wax it".

I Told You Not To Wax It

I could tell it was going to be a fun day but hold on what's all this comotion?

Stop and Search

Our young would be anarchist has been singled out by a dozen boys in blue and paperwork in triplicate has been completed for a "stop and search". The gent in the hat with pad and phone was an on site legal advisor who prolonged the whole process by asking more questions than PC Plod. The best advice would have been to explain to the lad that wearing a scarf over your face and badge declaring I am an Anarchist might just arouse the interest of the cops patrolling a massive protest march. Anyways the lad seems proud of his little ticket.


Back out of the mele a more genteel image

Lambeth Pensioners

The old folk seem quite happy, they've found some space and what a nice banner. However it did not win my prize for 'best banner of the day' this one did...

Easy Riders

Ten out of ten for creativity and a touch of humour. There was some competition for teachers witty banners..

Teachers Wit

Too subtle miss - take a look at Easy Rider sitting top of the class

Then just as I was thinking this is all good humoured and light hearted I spotted some more police action...

Police Action

There was a massive crowd and a lot of tension, I muscled through a crowd of fellow togs and to my surprise I found KG 501, was he chanting his favourite Jim Reeves number? or is he holding a mobile phone ID parade? Neither, he was telling the aggressive crowd to 'back off' or he'd call his chums at The Feathers and they'd be there like a flash. I decided to check for myself...

Closing Time at The Feathers

...he wasn't joking, as I arrived at The Feathers I heard 'Smiffy' say finish your pints lads and outside now - KG 501 is in a spot of trouble. They swiftly assembled and adopted the folded arms body language - arms and hands can be difficult in the absence of a pint and a ciggy.

Enough of the police I thought, I had better shoot, that is photograph, some teachers and their placards, I set off to find some...

The Old Star

Silly me, I'd left it too late, strike or no strike, when the afternoon bell goes it's business as usual!