A Week Review #3

Last week started with a fascinating look round the “Nanoscale and Microscale Research Centre”, which culminated in using the scanning, and transmission, electron microscopes, something I’ve always wanted to do!  I really wanted to share the fly’s eye I imaged on the SEM, but unfortunately we had a little trouble getting the images off the program; they will be uploaded to my Twitter (@mgb_visuals) as soon as I get them.

The business module involves creating a business plan for the magazine we’re creating, and Steve got us started on this on Tuesday, giving an interesting insight into the world of marketing and making a career out of photography!

I mentioned in the last post about Chris Upton coming into talk to us on Wednesday, but if you have a moment, check out his images of Thoresby Colliery before it closed; they give a often unseen view into the mining industry in the 21st century.

The week ended with myself and Letty (@lifeoflet) filming what inspires us as part of a duo of videos we’re making for the undergraduates.  We tried to keep it unscripted to give our answers as genuine a feel as possible, and although we ended up laughing more than talking, it was interesting to really take time to think where I find inspiration from.

We’re going to the Peak District on Friday so I’ll make sure I share a post about that later in the week, but in the mean time, take it easy!



Underwhelming Sunrises.

We had a fantastic talk by landscape photographer Chris Upton on Tuesday, and as landscapes are an area I’m looking to improve, I journeyed home to the Cotswolds on Wednesday intending to head out early the next morning.

I had checked the weather and sunrise was set to be a beaut, so at 6.30am I was up and out the door.  Unfortunately the clouds decided not to play ball… But I stayed out and shot the old viaducts used for the railway before it got shut down in the 60s (below).  This was a prime example of something that I’ve been struggling with a bit recently; although it is nice sometimes just to head out and take photos, I have briefs to complete so I need to start putting a bit more planning in before I go out.  I didn’t really take full advantage of my time; I knew I wanted to shoot a sunrise, but didn’t actually know where, and didn’t really have a backup when the sunrise was a significantly underwhelming.

However I’m learning from all experiences and taking it on for the next time! It’s all a learning curve.

Take it easy, M



A Week Review #2

This semester I’ll be giving a general overview of what happened during the week, if there are workshops or days out I want explain in more detail, I’ll tackle them in separate blogs!

This week consisted of microscopy, inspirational talks, helping with the undergrad course, and magazine design.

The first of our microscopy lab days was really interesting; we had a brief overview of just a couple of the types of microscope, learnt how to set them up for photography, and had a practice taking images.  Below is an image of a muscle fibre slide, I also tried taking images of some pond water, but unfortunately I just missed the focus… Oh well, practice makes perfect and all that!

On Tuesday Wildlife Kate (@katemacrae) came to give us a really fascinating talk (below).  It was truly inspiring to see how inventive she was at generating film and photography from subjects some would consider “just boring British wildlife”, and it definitely gave me some ideas for future garden projects at home!

We also had a morning helping David and Steve with the undergrad biological photography module (wish I’d had it for my undergrad!), not a huge amount to say now but a developing project through the term.

Finally we had a day on magazine design, D&S had kindly got hold of a huge amount of magazines for us to analyse as groups, and perhaps gain some ideas for the upcoming magazine project!

Take it easy and more blogs to follow next week!



Guess who’s back?

After a good few weeks off recharging the batteries (literally and figuratively) I’m back up in Nottingham ready to get into the semester.  My photography came on leaps and bounds last year, but I want to get more creative with it this year, try new things.

I’ll start off by giving a quick heads up about the various modules I am doing for the rest of the course.  The magazine is the big project of the semester and is the culmination of a few different modules:

  • ‘Professional Techniques in the Field’ – the actual creating of the magazine including 5 article titles (blogs on each coming soon)
  • ‘Commercial & Business Application for the Professional Imager’ – writing and shooting additional articles and features for the magazine
  • ‘Business Start Up’ – drawing up a business and marketing plan for the magazine

We also have a microscopy module (using the different microscopes and conducting scientific research using them) and a marine and freshwater biology module.

The course finishes with the summer projects (something big planned for this so watch this space) but just before that we have the superb group exhibition we’re going to be putting on as a course!

The blog this year will mostly consist of what I’ve been doing during the course on a day-to-day basis and I’ll keep you up to date on how I’m getting on with the projects!

Meanwhile, take it easy and I’ll leave you with some images I had fun taking over the Christmas break.




84 Days Later

When I was applying for this course I thought I knew my way around a camera and could take pretty decent images.  But after 3 months I have learnt to take more of a critical look at my images, less thinking “Yes. Done. Next”.  I’m trying to experiment, less staying in my comfort zone, and although it may not work all the time (I’ll be honest it doesn’t work a lot of the time…), I’m having fun doing it!

So what’s new for 2017?  I just received my briefs for next semester and a slight pang of apprehension followed by excitement hit me; it’s going to be a very tough few months but I’m really looking forward to going out and getting my teeth into it!

You might ask what is the main thing I will take from my experience over the past few months?  If you take a look back through my posts you will see reoccurring themes like ‘read the assignment carefully’, and ‘take your time’; but mostly, I’ve rediscovered enjoyment of learning, knowing I don’t necessarily understand everything but striving and wanting to learn!

Because I want a little recharge, I’ve attached some of the images I have taken in my spare time, for no reason but the enjoyment of taking images.


Gettin’ Jibby With It

The semester has flown by and the last deadline of 2016 approaches.  In the ‘Film production’ group project, we were split into 2 groups of 5.  Brief was to each create a 2 minute piece that you would combine with a studio piece to create a 16 minute production.  You were director for your piece, directing a counterpart in the other group who filmed for you, and vice versa.

I worked with Ollie Tookey of @wildworldmedia to create my piece on an introduction to Jubilee campus and the wildlife it contains (Ollie shooting below).  The project required me to really plan (not my strong point…), and although I thought I knew what I wanted on the first day, I hadn’t spent sufficient time working out a schedule, so I properly prepared that night and it was smooth sailing after.

For Ollie’s piece on animal tracks and signs I took the role of cameraman.  I’ll admit it took me a while to get used to the cameras, but after a while I managed to get some shots I was really proud of (patience was required to get the shot below!).  I especially enjoyed the jib work; at the beginning I did have some struggles, but after attaching a “counter-weight” (Ollie’s bag) I was able to create the smooth motion associated with jibs.


To Bee or Not To Bee

This week has been purely spent filming for the final assignment of the year, the group film project.  But I’d just like to take a step back and look at the project that was in for the week before, the research poster.  A project that required us to research a scientific topic and create a poster aimed at undergraduates.

This project was slightly different to the others in that it was back to the world of scientific writing, something I hadn’t done since my undergraduate.  I chose the world of aposematism and Batesian mimicry; in layman’s terms: warning colours, and “copying” the warning colours of something, even if the organism is completely harmless.  I focused on the world of insects and concentrated on the wasp, bee, and hoverfly families, as they have some of the most obvious warning colours in the animal kingdom (included below is a tiny example of the variety of organisms that fall into these groups).  This piece really required me to draw on skills learnt from previous workshops, including the sessions done on studio photography, and Photoshop (both addressed in previous posts).  It was a really interesting project that got me back into the mindset of researching and referencing my work, and also allowed me to experiment with a different design structure (section added below).


Partridge in a Pear Tree

Last week saw me travelling to my home county of Oxfordshire to take images for my next assignment which tested our skill in using images to enhance a larger body of text.  The brief was to write a piece and capture images about something that had both positive and negative impacts on the environment; 8 images to enhance, and 1 creative image to use as a front cover to the work (results below).

Because of the recent controversial words posted by the RSPB on the subject, I chose the management of land for shooting game.  So, I got the permission of a local gamekeeper to spend the day walking around a shoot.  As I had only one day available, I prepared a list of the topics I was going to discuss, and the sort of images I needed.  It is important however to be flexible when on location.  This was highlighted when I found a partridge that had succumbed to disease, so I wanted to take full advantage of the situation.  I took a range of images so I could use them in several ways; one turned out as­­ my favourite image from the day (the image and how I used it in the piece below).


Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.

The second of this week’s deadlines came in the form of the identification project; pick a specimen from the museum, photograph it, use these photographs to create an infographic in Adobe Illustrator highlighting how to identify your chosen subject in the field.  This was using the knowledge we’d gained from our time with Greta Powell earlier in the course (see Adobe-Wan Kenobi Part 2).

I chose the Atlas Beetle (below) as my specimen because I’ve always been fascinated by the sheer size of these insects and the impressive horns they use to do battle over mating rights.  With a tonne of instructional sites on how to make various objects in Illustrator (examples below), I had great fun tinkering with the design.  In order to allow me to spend that long designing the project I had to be pretty organised with my time.  Now ‘organised’ isn’t a word often used to describe me. I need to place crucial items required for a day so I virtually fall over them, otherwise they’re forgotten (even then it’s not guaranteed…).  However this course is really helping me get to grips with this challenge in my life.  I’m starting assignments early enough so that I have time to tinker, and I’m feeling in control; a new and welcome experience!