Reflecting on a good year – 2013

Just been archiving a load of images from 2013 so i thought I’d put up a little blog post as a sort of reflection on the year.  Its been one of my busiest photographically and i’ve pressed the shutter button more times this year than any other.

One thing that I have noticed this year though that I have neglected making images for my own pleasure, most of my work has been commercial or wedding orientated, so, over the course of the next twelve months i intend to make more of an effort to shoot some personal images in the genres of Landscape & Street photography.

The images below are not a “best of”, they are more of a look back of some fun, memorable moments from 2013.  I hope you like them!!

The glitzy highlight to the North Notts business calendar.

The glitzy highlight to the North Notts business calendar.

The highlight for me was seeing the Vulcan Fly.  As a young Airman I used to stand in awe as this huge beast flew it's practice displays above RAF Marham.

The highlight for me was seeing the Vulcan Fly. As a young Airman I used to stand in awe as this huge beast flew it’s practice displays above RAF Marham.

It's been rumored that the road to Spurn Point has been destroyed by all the recent storms making future visits here impossible.

It’s been rumored that the road to Spurn Point has been destroyed by all the recent storms making future visits here impossible.

This place was something else.  A surreal mix of industrial abandonment & tranquility.  Well worth another visit or three.

This place was something else. A surreal mix of industrial abandonment & tranquility. Well worth another visit or three.

Cant beat getting some shots when names like Citizen, Rihanna & Victoria's Secrets are in the lens.  All part of my commercial clients Advertising campaigns.

Cant beat getting some shots when names like Citizen, Rihanna & Victoria’s Secrets are in the lens. All part of my commercial clients Advertising campaigns.

There were plenty wedding throughout the year.  Along with the stunning brides there were some stunning venues too.

There were plenty wedding throughout the year. Along with the stunning brides there were some stunning venues too.

I was luck enough to gain early access to Hodsock Priory to photograph their annual Snowdrop display.  Well worth a visit of you are in the area.

I was luck enough to gain early access to Hodsock Priory to photograph their annual Snowdrop display. Well worth a visit of you are in the area.

Being only 10 minutes drive away this play was always a favourite for a day/evening out.  It also proved a popular spot for many of my pre-wedding photoshoots.

Being only 10 minutes drive away this play was always a favourite for a day/evening out. It also proved a popular spot for many of my pre-wedding photoshoots.

Ya can't beat celebrating with good friends.  We've known Gill & Glen a long time now and whenever we're together there is always much fun, laughter and eeerr beer!!! :-)

Ya can’t beat celebrating with good friends. We’ve known Gill & Glen a long time now and whenever we’re together there is always much fun, laughter and eeerr beer!!! 🙂

A big highlight to our summer was hosting a child from the Ukraine for a few weeks.

A big highlight to our summer was hosting a child from the Ukraine for a few weeks.We gave a few weeks of our lives to give years of life to the little people of Korosten, Ukraine. An area affected by the Chernobyl disaster. I’ve blogged about this earlier so will leave a link below.

The Aurora Cancer Charity Awards were one of my busiest events of this year,  I love working with charities and having lost close family members to cancer this once was close to my heart.

The Aurora Cancer Charity Awards were one of my busiest events of this year, I love working with charities and having lost close family members to cancer this once was close to my heart.

For the second year running Andrew asked for Alan from A Team Fitness who runs 'boot camp' style parties for kids & big kids.  I wonder what he will choose for his birthday party theme this year?.........

For the second year running Andrew asked for Alan from A Team Fitness who runs ‘boot camp’ style parties for kids & big kids. I wonder what he will choose for his birthday party theme this year?………

A big celebrity shoot, this time for another Cancer Charity.  Weston Park Hospital Cancer Charity asked me to photograph their annual 'light the night' walk and the bonus this year was that Jessica, the charities patron, would be there for a special photoshoot and to start the event.

A big celebrity shoot, this time for another Cancer Charity. Weston Park Hospital Cancer Charity asked me to photograph their annual ‘light the night’ walk and the bonus this year was that Jessica, the charities patron, would be there for a special photoshoot and to start the event.

Another celebrity in the bag this year was Colin Salmon who was presenting the awards at the Redemption & Justice awards.

Another celebrity in the bag this year was Colin Salmon who was presenting the awards at the Redemption & Justice awards.

This year saw the 70th Anniversary of the Dambusters raid in Germany.  A occasion that was marked by a memorial flypast of the Lancaster bomber.

This year saw the 70th Anniversary of the Dambusters raid in Germany. A occasion that was marked by a memorial flypast of the Lancaster bomber.

Sticking with the Lancaster theme.  I photographed the ceremony to mark the laying of a memorial stone in memory of a Lancaster that crashed close by killing many of its crew.

Sticking with the Lancaster theme. I photographed the ceremony to mark the laying of a memorial stone in memory of a Lancaster that crashed close by killing many of its crew.

Jodies Birthday party was at Creswell Craggs.  A prehistoric cave complex which suited these Neanderthal kids to the ground.  I tried to give this image a 'Land that time forgot' look.  Not sure if it worked...

Jodies Birthday party was at Creswell Craggs. A prehistoric cave complex which suited these Neanderthal kids to the ground. I tried to give this image a ‘Land that time forgot’ look. Not sure if it worked…

Lost count how many times i've been here.  There have been occasions when I never made it out of the car but when the light is good you can see its well worth it!!

Lost count how many times i’ve been here. There have been occasions when I never made it out of the car but when the light is good you can see its well worth it!!

I entered a few images into the Nottingham Flickr groups 'Connected' exhibition and was in awe at the quality of the work on display.  I even managed to sell one of my images on display.  I wonder if it's gracing a prime location or a toilet wall somewhere in someones house

I entered a few images into the Nottingham Flickr groups ‘Connected’ exhibition and was in awe at the quality of the work on display. I even managed to sell one of my images on display. I wonder if it’s gracing a prime location or a toilet wall somewhere in someones house

Andrew loves sports day which is a far cry from my childhood memories of them.

Andrew loves sports day which is a far cry from my childhood memories of them.

I love street photography.  One of my goals this year is to shoot a lot more than i did in 2013.  Capturing life in an uncontrolled environment is not easy but its loads of fun.

I love street photography. One of my goals this year is to shoot a lot more than i did in 2013. Capturing life in an uncontrolled environment is not easy but its loads of fun.

Not sure why I've included this image.  Possiblhy because it encapsulates all that is right with this country and all that is wrong with it too!!  I love this country for its history, architechture, culture and diversity  but boy do i get annoyed with those that run it.  I'm not going there in this blog though :-/

Not sure why I’ve included this image. Possiblhy because it encapsulates all that is right with this country and all that is wrong with it too!! I love this country for its history, architechture, culture and diversity but boy do i get annoyed with those that run it. I’m not going there in this blog though :-/

Managed a few model portrait shoots along the way too.  Mostly TFP stuff, portfolio building, playing with lighting techniques etc.

Managed a few model portrait shoots along the way too. Mostly TFP stuff, portfolio building, playing with lighting techniques etc.

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.