What pumpkins do when Hallowe’en is over

I went to the Hebden Bridge Pumpkin Festival last weekend. A trip to Hebden Bridge is always something I enjoy, as it’s such a pretty little town with a wonderful vibe.

This time I noticed quite a few changes since my last visit. Some of the old shops had closed and quite a few new cafes had opened, some with a definite hipster feel, making me wonder if Hebden is becoming a little too gentrified.

One thing that hasn’t changed though is the creativity of some of the folks who live there, as these pumpkins show. This little collection made me chuckle, and wonder what pumpkins do when Hallowe’en is over!

Ribble Valley Mod Weekender, 2018

The annual Ribble Valley Mod Weekender has came around again. Once more the streets of historic Clitheroe, Lancashire, were taken over by scooters, Fred Perry polo shirts and Dr Martens boots.

I love the smell of the two-stroke exhaust from the scooters as they ride into the town. Everyone is so proud of their wheels, and there is real effort to dress and act the part. At times the event can be busy and it’s tough to get good pictures, but I came away with a few I’m very pleased with.

For anyone interested in participating in the event or viewing more pictures, there is a Facebook page and an Instagram hashtag. It takes place every September.

The British Thoroughbred Retraining Centre Open Day

Today, I spent a few hours photographing the Open Day at The British Thoroughbred Retraining Centre. The BTRC is a British Horse Society Approved Retraining and Facility Centre, and is one of the most immaculate yards I have visited.

The BTRC hold an Open Day every year, and I can heartily recommend a visit if you are a horse lover like me. It is truly heart-warming to see what they are doing to retrain beautiful racehorses like these, who have reached the end of their racing careers.

I took the photo opportunity as a great chance to try out a new toy, the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens. I’m used to shooting at focal lengths of 50mm and above, so opening out to 24mm felt very challenging and unfamiliar to me first time around. However, I do like the results – as in the shot of ‘Fizz’ above.

If you want to find out more about The BTRC and their work, please visit The BTRC website.

British Horse Society Northwest Camp 2018

Last week I volunteered a day of my time to The British Horse Society to photograph their Northwest Camp at Aintree Racecourse. This is the second time I’ve been one of their official photographers – the last time was in 2016. I got some great pictures second time around, and am already looking forward to next year.

The above images are some of my favourite pictures from this year’s camp. I will update my British Horse Society project gallery with some of these.

For the technically curious, I shot all these with my Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM lens at various focal lengths. I think it performed superbly despite the dim lighting conditions in the indoor arenas.

If you like the idea of staying in the jockeys’ accommodation at historic Aintree with your equine friend (they will have to sleep in the stables of course!), then keep your eye on the events section of the society’s website for next year: The British Horse Society.

Hebden Bridge Handmade Parade

Last weekend I attended the Handmade Parade in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire. This festival happens every year around the same sort of time, and lasts all afternoon, passing through the streets and ending up in Calderholmes Park where there is more drumming/dancing, and lots of food trucks.

The light was challenging – bright sunlight with accompanying high temperatures – but my camera coped well. I used the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM lens to get up close, and am pleased with the results.

As the parade website above says, the theme for this year’s parade was turning the town into a travelling carnival, with “ridiculous rides, surreal sideshows, weird circus, and all the fun of the fair”.

If you have never been to the town I heartily recommend it. The people there are friendly and there is a huge selection of vegetarian/vegan cafes and individual shops selling ethically sourced products. Visit the Hebden Bridge website to find out more.

Training for The Races

I recently had the absolute pleasure of staying in one of the lodges at Sun Hill Farm, the home of Ann Duffield Racing, a well-known Yorkshire-based racehorse trainer. The gallops run right past the lodge so visitors have the pleasure of watching the horses train while relaxing in a wonderful outdoor hot tub.

These pictures were taken using the Canon EF 70-200mm f2.8L USM lens at 200mm, with a shutter speed of 1/100th of a second to blur the movement and create a sense of speed. The rider in the red skull cap cover is ‘Gentleman George’ Duffield, the retired flat racing jockey.

For a horse lover like me, this was a pretty near perfect stay. The only thing that would have made it better was having ridden one of the horses myself – but realistically, handling a two year old racehorse is probably a bit beyond my capabilities!

My pictures got a mention on their blog, and Hayley gave us a wonderful tour of the stables on the last day where I met some of the above horses.

Why do photographers take pictures?

I attended an interesting talk last night that asked a couple of questions I’ve never really considered before in terms of my own practice as a photographer.

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As a photographer, do you enjoy the thrill of the chase involved in finding a good picture or do you enjoy the final image more?

For me, the final image is everything. While I do enjoy wandering around and taking pictures, it can be quite painful and frustrating at times. Looking at the final image either on screen or in print is what makes it all worthwhile.

Do you take pictures with a view to recording what is happening now, always with an eye on how your pictures will be viewed several years in the future, or do you take pictures simply for the sake of taking them at that moment?

I definitely take pictures with an eye on how they will be viewed in the future. I used to be very particular about excluding things like logos and cars and street fashions, simply because the currency of the subject matter makes it too familiar to be remarkable. It was a while before I realised that in twenty years time images of these subjects will in fact be very interesting.

I’m curious to hear how others answer these questions!

Exhibition: ‘Liverpool’s Boss!’

The first showing of my Liverpool’s Boss! project starts today in Liverpool. It’s a small exhibition of only part of the ongoing project, but I’m delighted that it is taking place for the first time in the Baltic Triangle, where many of the images were made.

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The Baltic Triangle is home to Liverpool’s thriving Creative & Digital (C&D) community, and an area that only a short time ago was little more than a large stretch of imposing red brick warehouses, largely disused and derelict.

If you’re able to visit, please drop by Coffee & Fandisha, 5 Brick Street, Liverpool, L1 0BL. Their website is www.coffeefandisha.com. The exhibition will be there until January 2017.