London and a mixed bag of Photography

Last week I ventured off on a day trip to London.  It had been a while since my last visit and I was long overdue a day of ‘me’ photography.  I had no real agenda and no expectations of what i would find or photograph, but, as London is place where you can find and photograph anything and everything, i was more than confident of getting something ‘in the bag’.

With that in mind it did make me take a little more kit that I really should have, but, with the light weight of the Fuji XT1 and its complement of amazing lens’ it wasn’t a real issue.  I did however make a return trip to the car shortly after parking at the rain station to dump my tripod as a last minute decision to leave this behind.

Monday morning in London was manic, it’s manic every morning to be honest, but this particular Monday was the day after the London Marathon.  The cleanup process was still in full swing and there were stacks upon stacks of those meal barriers everywhere, but, the cleanup team must have been very hard at work all night restoring the city to its normal self ready for there Monday morning onslaught.

I love the huge diversity London offers and it’s great to see all the tourists taking in the sights but i’d wish they would leave those blooming selfie sticks at home.  Having nearly had my eye taken out on a couple of occasions was beginning to wear a little thin as they waved them around with little or no regard to those around them.

All-in-all though it was a great day where i photographed ‘that’ anything & everything, from some of the iconic buildings, life on the street, life under the street and even those blooming tourists with their selfie sticks, lol.  The weather was very changeable with some heavy rain showers but it certainly did not stop play, moreover, it helped create a winning image, more about that a little further on.

Again, the Xt1 was a dream to work with, occasionally shooting from the hip and zone focusing for the street shots – but i must admit that i still need a little more practice at this technique.  As for that tripod i left behind, i didn’t even miss it.  I photographed a few long exposure images, some in excess of 75 seconds, all helped with the Lee Seven5 filter system, and just used what was available such as walls and even the pavement.  It helped me compose some great images with a low perspective and the freedom of working without a tripod was very liberating.

The week ended on a high by me submitting an image into the Fujifilm_UK #fujifridaychallenge, with the weeks theme being reflections, and having my entry chosen by renowned Fuji X Photographer Paul Sanders as the winning image.  As mentioned above, the image was taken just after a heavy rain shower and i was in an area of high-rise office blocks, with a view of the Shard in-between, and the wet pavement in combination with the glass sided buildings created an amazing reflective scene.

Anyway, I hope you like the images i’ve added below.  Please do feel free to share the blog and leave me a comment and if you missed my last blog post on why i moved to the Fujifilm X system you can read that here.  Thanks, Rob.

London Photography by Rob Ferrol

There’s more to London you know.

News reader on the streets of London by Rob Ferrol

News reader ready for action

Tourists in London posing with selfie stick

Grrr, the curse of the selfie sticks.

Padlocks left by lovers

Lovers locks

A newly married couple on Westminster bridge, london

Just married

big ben London with blurred London bus and jogger

Lunchtime rush hour at Westminster bridge

stormy clouds over westminster by rob ferrol photography

Stormy clouds over Westminster

London bus blurred with motion as it passes red london phone box by rob ferrol

elderly females taking a cigarette break

Fag break

two males outside bookshop in london by rob ferrol

Another fag break

lonely female in cafe by rob ferrol

Deep in thought

 

london city skyline in black and white by rob ferrol

London city skyline

long exposure of tower bridge by rob ferrol

Tower Bridge long exposure

st pals cathedral by rob ferrol

St Paul’s from Millennium bridge

statue of fire fighters and st pals cathedral by rob ferrol

Firefighter statue near St Pauls

shard reflections on a rainy day in london by rob ferrol

The winning shot

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Nottinghamshire Pre-Wedding Photography – Thoresby Hall

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The weather in North Nottinghamshire can be bizarre at this time of year.  It had been foggy for the last few days without the sun making any appearance, but, it seemed Jo & Craig had all that in hand as literally just a couple of hours before their pre-wedding photoshoot the mist lifted and we were blessed with the most amazing light for their 40 minute photoshoot.

rob, ferrol,pre,wedding,photography,photographer,nottingham,nottinghamshireJo & Craig booked me to photograph their big day way back in 2013 and the pre-wedding shoot was a perfect time to catch up and run through their plans over a warming cup of coffee, but first we had to make the most of this glorious evening light -it was fading fast!!

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They are getting married later this month at Pearlthorpe Church on the edge of the Thoresby Estate in North Nottinghamshire followed by a reception at Thoresby Courtyard what has the backdrop of the stunning Grade 1 listed Thoresby Hall.  Coupled with the wonderfully ornate gardens they have certainly chosen one of the regions finest venues to say their “I do’s” and i’m totally delighted that they have also chosen Rob Ferrol Photography to capture their special day.

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I like to work in an unobtrusive way using a blend of contemporary and reportage photographic techniques to capture the full essence of your special day to create a compelling storybook portfolio of images for you to treasure for a lifetime.  If you like to find our more about our Wedding Photography please do get in touch or feel free to drop by our website or Facebook page.  We would love to hear from you.

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Mystical Marrakech and beyond.

I’ve been lucky enough to do a fair bit of travelling over the years.  Unfortunately much of this was before the photography bug had bitten me.  Anyway, having planned a surprise birthday treat for my daughter i figured that this would also be a fab opportunity to try my hand at a little travel photography.

I’d visited Morocco some 15+ years ago and had many fond memories of the culture, people and lifestyle of this amazing country.  The sights, smells & tastes of the spice markets & street food were a bewildering attack on all of your senses and i was excited to experience these again, with my daughter, and this time with my camera in hand.

I was also keen to pay a little attention to the amazing architecture that still exists in this country, some of which has not changed its appearance for hundreds of years.  From the mystical medina of Marrakech’s old town to the long abandoned Casbah’s on the edge of the Sahara desert there was certainly plenty to capture our attention.

For the trip i travelled light from a photographers point of view, with just 2 Fuji XT-1’s and a small selection of prime & zoom lens’. The cameras were amazing to work with, especially in the tight confines of the Souks.  I was able to work relatively unnoticed and if you’ve ever been to Marrakech you’ll know how difficult it can sometimes be photographing on the streets.  Many people dont like having their photograph taken and those that do often come asking for money for the privilege.

Marrakech itself is a city that is full of life, it never seems to sleep.  That said, it’s at night that it seems its liveliest.  We travelled in July and, true to our expectations, the heat of the day was pretty much unbearable, hence the reason many stay indoors during the day and emerge at night when the temperature had dropped a little.  Talking of the temperature, towards the end of our stay the temp was 45 degrees Celsius and with the heat index of the stiff Saharan wind this felt more like 49 degrees celsius.   Anyway, the buzz of the Medina at night, especially on the Jemaa El-Fnaa is a must for any traveller to Morocco but watch out for the Snakes & Monkeys!!

So, enough of the blurb heres a selection of images from our trip which includes Marrakech and our excursion through the High Atlas Mountains to the edge of the Sahara Desert to visit the ancient Casbah’s of Telouet and Ait Ben-Haddou.

Moroccan Flag.

The Moroccan Flag. The green pentagram represents the 5 Pillars of Islam.

With Snake charmers, Monkeys, food & entertainers the square of Jemaa El-Fnaa (square of the dead) is a full-on sensory overload but certainly a must see!!  The Koutoubia Mosque, the largest in Africa, sits close by to the west of the square and if the towering minaret doesn’t grab your attention the call to prayer certainly will.  Views of all the activity are best viewed from one of the many cafes that offer roof top terraces and one of my favs was the Le Grande Balcon Du Cafe which offered panoramic views and there most amazing spot for capturing the sunset, but get there early to secure your space.

Morocco, Marrakech, Jemaa El-Fnaa, Sign

The tanneries are somewhat of an experience and if your a little sensitive to strong odours then maybe its not for you.  But, if you do visit you’ll be given a bunch of mint leaves to ward off the smells a little and a whistle stop tour finishing of being taken to see the “finished products” AKA the leather shop.  Here you will experience the most amazing display of leather goods but also the most amazing level of pressure sales you’ll probably ever come across.  Don’t be forced into buying if you dont want anything but if you do, be sure to bargain hard and firm.

Morocco LR-5888

The tropical gardens, Jardin Marjorelle, offer some respite from the madness of Jemaa El-Fnaa with their abundant collection of exotic Cactus and other plants & palms set around the deep blue of the buildings that were once an artists studio.  Until 2008 the gardens were owned by the designer Yves Saint Laurent.

Jardin Majorelle Marrakech

The alleyways of the souks are a maze and getting lost is all part of the fun.  Almost anything is on sale from skins to bones and treasures to tatt.  If you can’t find it in there then i dont think it exists. Be prepared to haggle and walk away if you dont get the price you like, very often they will chase you and agree to your offer.  Their sales patter/technique can sometimes appear aggressive but dont let that stop you bargaining.  Also watch out for the ‘ever helpful’ guides – young males who seem to be everywhere to help guide the lost looking tourist.  As we found out they can, and will, lead you the wrong way, or the long way (but not always though) and expect a little payment at the end. Having already visited the Souks of Fez one thing i did notice in the Souks of Marrakech was the abundance of mopeds.  The booming things were everywhere, even in the most crowded of places they were intent on pushing their way through and on the quieter alleyways they seemed to travel at some speed so do watch out for them.  It’s something that i do not recall being an issue in Fez.

Medina & Souk, Marrakech, Morocco.

The Palais La Bahia, Palais El Badi and the Medersa Ben Youssef each display fine examples of Moroccan architecture from the ages.  With intricate mosaics, carved cedar wood and the finest moulded plaster walls that any modern day architect would find difficult to emulate.  Listen for the Storks nesting on the walls of the Palais El Badi, they make the strangest noise at dawn & dusk.

Morocco, Marrakech travel photography by Rob Ferrol

We ventured out to the edges of there Sahara desert passing through the high Altas mountains, along twisting roads and the Tizi n’Tichka, the highest mountain pass in North Africa, to the Casbah’s of Telouete and Ait Ben-Haddou, the latter of which has been the backdrop of many films including The Mummy, Gladiator and the more recent The Game of thrones.  Although we didn’t make it to the Sandy “dunes’ part of the Sahara, which was another days travel away, with was certainly very barren and a world away from the hustle & bustle of Marrakech.  We even had time for a Camel ride but thats another story 🙂

"Berber TV"  at the Casbah of Telouet.

“Berber TV” at the Casbah of Telouet.

Morocco is truly an amazing place and has much to offer any traveller, certainly more than one visit could cover anyway, so im hoping to make a return visit myself sometime soon.  If you’d like to experience a different lifestyle & culture then be sure to put it on your bucket list.  As always, if you enjoyed this little blog please do leave me a comment and also feel free to share it on your social media sites.

http://www.robferrol.com

Lowepro Pro Trekker 300 AW Review

When it comes to choosing a camera backpack it can be a little daunting with the choice on offer, but, choose the wrong one and you will pay the price – not only in reliability but also the higher price of a bad back.

I’ve spent many days in my youthful years hiking across hills and mountains and know only too well how much difference a reliable and comfortable backpack can make to your time spent outdoors.  Camera backpacks are somewhat different though, they have to provide comfort to the wearer and also provide effective protection for your valuable camera gear.

When I started photography a few years ago I had a budget DSLR and a couple of lenses.  The weight was minimal and it was fairly easy to lug around and at the time I had a Tamrac Expedition 5 backpack.  But the photography bug soon grew along with my collection of gear – bigger camera, bigger lens’ and all the assemblage of the average landscapers needs i.e. filters, cable release, tripod, and a few extra lenses etc.  Add to that a few items for personal comfort while out on the hills i.e. flask/fluids, rain coat when not in use (which is rare in the UK hills) you’ll soon need more space and a more functional bag. 

Over the years I was quite happy with my Tamrac bag and could have just upgraded to the Expedition 8 but as it filled up I found it increasingly uncomfortable on my back.  I found it was lacking in padding on the shoulder straps and the back wasn’t very ergonomically shaped, I was also frustrated with the lack of external pockets for personal items.  Carrying a flask and packed lunch with a Tamrac bag was a ‘no go’ unless you were brave enough to put them in with your much loved camera and lenses, so, I ensued on long search for an alternative.

I’d looked at many different types and the choice was bewildering to say the least.  There were many reviews on the internet to help my decision but there is a huge element of personal choice.  Top of the priority list for me had to be comfort, my back is not getting any younger, and this was closely followed by versatility and reliability. 

 

Of the many I looked at the Lowepro Pro Trekker 300 AW seemed to fit the bill.   First off I noticed an immediate difference in the appearance, it looked more like a traditional backpack which appealed to me. Too many camera bags look like, well don’t laugh, but ‘camera bags’ and can attract unwanted attention especially when travelling overseas.  The comfort level, both on the back and the shoulders, was miles ahead of the bags I had previously owned and tried.  The harness has a whopping ten point adjustment system so you can alter the height of the load on your back and anybody who has done any amount of hiking will tell you that this simple adjustment can have a huge effect.  It also has a well padded ‘removable’ waist belt.

The back itself offers ample load carrying capacity with internal space for a pro range DLSR with an attached lens, spare camera body, up to 5 additional lenses and ample storage space for filters and additional kit etc.  3 options for carrying a tripod – it easily accommodates my Manfrotto 190 x ProB, an external removable laptop pouch suitable for a 15.4” widescreen laptop. There are two side pockets, one of which is set up to take a hydration reservoir. The other has internal pockets for storage and memory card slots.  The removable bag hood has two pockets and with the hidden attached straps can be turned into a bum bag/waist pouch.  The bag also conforms to many airline ‘carry on’ baggage requirements.

Protection for the camera gear is impressive too with Velcro adjustable padded dividers not unlike many camera bags and the main compartment is sealed with YKK spashguard zippers and when you’re in the thick of it in the elements there is also an attached ‘all weather’ cover for extra protection.

 

Out and about the bag performed well, it felt very comfortable while walking and all the contents were held securely in place.  I’ve not been out in a torrential down pour as yet to test its all weather capability but if the level of quality I’ve found in the bag continues I’m sure it will perform well.  There is plenty of space for all my gear and it’s a welcome relief to have space for my packed lunch rather than have it stuffed in my coat pocket.  On the whole. A very versatile backpack which I highly recommend.

There was only one issue I had with the bag and that was finding a supplier with stock, even the UK Lowepro distributor had them on backorder, but, after a long search and many phone calls, I found one and got my hands on it the next day – maybe its testament to it popularity, who knows.  One final word of caution though, prices varied widely between stores from £198 to £267 so shop around but keep your fingers crossed for some stock.