Sunday, September 30, 2012


A few weeks ago I built a digital SLR/ iPad photobooth for Hannah and my wedding party. I'm planning on doing a post on how it's all made but thought I'd share the results first. It's best viewed full screen (button in the bottom right corner). Enjoy. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Letterpress Wedding Invites

Here are a few photos of our wedding invitation. It was a simple, intimate ceremony for 20 guests at The Old Marylebone Town Hall, followed by a couple of hours at the local pub and supper at The Dock Kitchen

Being a small affair, we wanted to have a very personal invitation that was both informative and a pleasure to look at, even after the wedding has finished. 

I've always loved the look of letterpress printing and our wedding invitation proved to be a perfect opportunity to put it into practice. I booked studio time at the St. Bride Foundation Studio and was helped by the wonderful Helen Ingham of Hi-Artz Press.

Below is a video explaining all about how Letterpress printing works and a few photos of the final invite.

It took about 3 evenings to design and print the invite. It went through numerous versions. A few things that took some time to get right were:

  • Ensuring the correct amount of negative space between the R and the A, and the A and the D of 'RAD'. What would take 5 seconds to do in Photoshop took 30 minutes to do in the studio. I had to slip thin pieces of paper between the woodblocks until it looked right. 
  • Spacing the words in the left column so that all lines started with 'T'. This did however use up all the capital Ts which meant I couldn't start the right-hand column with 'The Old Marylebone...' it just had to be 'Old Marylebone...'. 
  • Justifying the right hand column to the right and the left hand column to the left. This left the whole thing far more balanced than having both columns justified left. 
  • Spacing the whole design vertically- the distance between RAD and AND, and AND and HAN proved tricky. *Wow, never thought I'd write a sentence with 5 ANDs in a row! You need thin pieces of 'furniture' to put between the lines. 
  • To ensure all the text had the same weight impression, I had to place think strips of paper under the letters that have had more use. This took ages. Trial and error is the only way. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Talalla Surf Camp

Hannah and I spent a great week surfing with Jack at Talalla Surf Camp, Sri Lanka. Highly recommended. Check out the video they made of our week. 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Will Self on wind turbines

I've always enjoyed Will Self's books and newspaper articles. Always incredibly eloquent and seemingly forming his own opinions based on reason rather than dogma. I'm happy to hear his view on wind turbine development has been unaffected by the endless shite that is churned around the Daily Mail and The Telegraph (click on links for examples). 

This programme is well worth a listen- I particularly like the section between 7-8 mins where he puts into context the undeniable contradiction that is the 'NIMBY'. Not sure how long it will be available on BBC iPlayer so if the link doesn't work- I apologise.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Anglesey exploration

I've spent the last week up in Anglesey, North Wales. We were staying at my parent's house in Rhoscolyn, a small village on the south coast of Holy Island. 

Despite having visited the area 3 or 4 times a year since I can remember, I've never managed to fully explore the island. That is until this last week when it was just Hannah and I exploring further afield. I can't believe how much I've been missing out on. There are so many beautiful beaches on every side of the island, quite often with no one on them but us. 

We visited Newborough, Church Bay, Rhosneigr, Portmeirion (not technically Anglesey), Beaumaris, Red Wharf Bay, Moelfre and  Borthwen. All of which we highly recommend. I've made a little video of our week:

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Fibonacci hares

I've just received some prints I've ordered from The Printspace, my favourite high quality photographic printer in London. I ordered a few copies of my 'fibonacci hares' photograph as a giclée print on hahnemuehle photorag paper and am really happy with the results.

The photo was taken a couple of years ago when I was on a site visit for a windfarm proposal. There had been particularly heavy snow in the preceding few days and visibility was pretty poor so the site visit was compromised somewhat. Mainly just to have a bit of a walk, myself and a colleague decided just to head out into the snow and see what was there.

I remember it being very quiet, other than the sound of our footsteps in the snow. We stopped walking briefly and out dashed three hares from the hedgerow. I'm no biologist but from watching the events that followed I can be fairly sure that they were two males chasing after one female.

I managed to take a few frames, one of which was the basis of the print. I particularly like the faint triangular silhouettes of fir trees in the background. 

Why call the print 'fibonacci hares'? Well, briefly after I took the photo I was watching a really interesting documentary about the origins of the Fibonacci sequence. Supposedly, the Fibonacci sequence first appears in the book Liber Abaci (1202) by Leonardo of Pisa, who was known as Fibonacci. He was considering the growth of a hypothetical rabbit population (yes- I know rabbits and hares are different species but forgive my artistic license).

His assumptions were as follows:
  1. That a newly born pair of rabbits, one male, one female, are put in a field and the rabbits are able to mate at the age of one month.
  2. With a pregnancy duration of 4 weeks. At the end of its second month a female can produce another pair of rabbits.
  3. That rabbits never die and a mating pair always produces one new pair (one male, one female) every month from the second month on
The puzzle that Fibonacci posed was: how many pairs will there be in one year?

He concluded that:
  1. At the end of the first month, they mate, but there is still only 1 pair.
  2. At the end of the second month the female produces a new pair, so now there are 2 pairs of rabbits in the field.
  3. At the end of the third month, the original female produces a second pair, making 3 pairs in all in the field.
  4. At the end of the fourth month, the original female has produced yet another new pair, the female born two months ago produces her first pair also, making 5 pairs.
  5. At the end of the nth month, the number of pairs of rabbits is equal to the number of new pairs (which is the number of pairs in month n − 2) plus the number of pairs alive last month (n − 1). This is the nth Fibonacci number.
This results in the Fibonacci sequence (0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55...) where the next number is the sum of the previous two numbers. 

The documentary went on to explain the relevance of this sequence, two aspects of which I found really interesting. Firstly, how closely the sequence relates to the golden ratio, which is conveniently evident in the photograph itself - with the horizon placed 1/3rd of the way down the page. Secondly, how the sequence appears in numerous biological settings. It is suggested that everything from the gaps between branches in trees, arrangement of leaves on a stem, the flowering of artichoke, the shape of an uncurling fern to the arrangement of a pine cone all display a adherence to the Fibonacci sequence. 

Given the events that occured in the snowy field that day, it seemed appropriate to name the photograph after a study of breeding rabbits. This is also why I have decided to give the photograph as a wedding present to a few close friends of mine. 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

RNLI tour of Britain - Stage 2

Nick P-B and I are about to set off on the second leg of The RNLI Tour of Britain- a cycling trip that visits every lifeboat station in the UK. We are hoping to raise £25,000 for the RNLI over then next 6 or 7 years.

The trip has it's own blog, visible here. We are also tweeting some of the more notable events, our twitter account is 'Rad_and_Nick'.

Last, but not least, is the fundraising page, where you can unload some of that hard earned money of yours to help the RNLI 'save lives at sea'.


Thursday, March 3, 2011

How many lightbulbs?

David MacKay clearly articulates energy use in the UK and the potential options that we have available to us.

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Sartorialist

A great little video about The Sartorialist - the person and the blog. Check it out.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Cycling & HGVs

This morning I held the hand of a lady that was run over by a HGV. She was cycling on the inside of the vehicle that turned left. I very much doubt she survived.

I don't want to scaremonger and still always encourage people to get on their bikes but PLEASE watch this video to understand how to avoid being the next victim. No matter how much experience you have it's always worth reminding yourself about this problem.

You have just as much right to be on the road as any other vehicle- never be afraid to dominate your lane and make motorists follow behind you.

Cycle safe,


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Do the Green Thing

The Green Thing

I attended a very interesting lecture at the Royal Geographical Society last night. Accompanied by Nikki Linsell of Reset Development. It was part of the RGS' '21st Century Challenges' series and this one was titled: Can the UK ever be Sustainable? Chaired by Jo Confino (executive editor of The Guardian) with three speakers: Sir Stuart Rose (CEO of Marks & Spencer), RT Hon Hillary Benn MP (Spineless politician... more on that later) and Andy Hobsbawm (founder of Do The Green Thing).

Stuart Rose spoke first, he discussed how M&S have managed to change their business model to 'Plan A'. Making matters of sustainable development (Economic, Environmental and Social issues) a priority. He has shown that large corporations can achieve significant triple bottom lines and have a responsibility to play a part in the 'paradigm shift' (his words not mine) that is necessary to achieve a sustainable future.

Next up was Hillary Benn, whose opening line revolved around (and this is somewhat paraphrased) how "humans had achieved wonderful things in the last 4 million years since the world was a burning ball of gas". This left the majority of the audience squirming in their seats, who were quite aware that humans (homo-sapiens) have only been around for between 55,000-200,000 years (depending on your definition) and that our earth, not being a star, did not originate as a burning ball of gas but as molten rock.

After this, he strayed into what I imagine is far more familiar territory, somewhat animated self-congratulatory prose about the few political achievements the UK can be proud of (Climate Change Bill, Feed-in-Tariffs etc.). He was of the opinion that the responsibility to act on Climate Change lay both with the populations and the governments- it was shared. On the surface, this sounds very nice and democratic but it is increasingly apparent that very little is being achieved with this set-up... more on this matter below.

His speech was presented in a manner that reminded me of a preparatory school headmaster whose only remaining pleasure in life is to bask in the attention of his 10 year old pupils because anyone old enough to think for themselves has realised he is full of shit. My prevailing thought for the latter half of his speech was how ironic it was that the two most inappropriate words I would use to describe him was Right and Honourable.

Fortunately, he was followed by Andy Hobsbawm, whose presentation was both relevant, interesting and remarkably inspiring. The audience was captivated. I urge you with whatever limited persuasive power I have to check out the website of the non-for-profit he co-founded: Do The Green Thing. At a very minimum you should meet The Green Thing.

His philosophy is based around the idea that if we are to change people's behaviour to lead a greener lifestyle, we must make them want to change. That the best ideas to address climate change should be actions that people would like to do, rather than ought to do. I completely agree with him.

The Green Thing seems to operate on the principle that the individual have the ability to act on climate change and make a significant difference. That it should be a grass-roots movement that forces politicians to take notice and listen. I would love to believe this and still, albeit rather optimistically, hope we live in a world where one's individual actions can inspire a generation.

So, just a quick round-up: there were three speakers loosely representing business, government and people and three ideas of whose responsibility it was to lead us on a path to sustainability. Who is right? Personally, I believe that at both a national and international level there exists a 'tragedy of the commons', that while looking out for our personal interests (holidays abroad, meat intensive diet, consumerist urges etc) we have failed to address our common interests- the natural environment on which we all depend and on which our individual interests ultimately rely.

This has led to a stalemate, where we all shift blame and responsibility to other parties and nothing is achieved. This is particularly relevant considering the (rather unproductive) Cancun Climate Change Conference is in progress as I type. What we really need (at least on a national level) is for cross-party agreement that Climate Change is an issue of such international significance, with such diabolic consequences, that it warrants the decision to be taken out of the hands of the public and strive for cross-party government consensus that outlines that path the UK will take to a sustainable future. In short, they must lead us.

After all, we as a nation, never had a referendum on capital punishment. The public was never asked of their opinion- instead our politicians, of all parties, showed leadership and agreed that it was in the national interest to abolish it. I can not think of a more suitable issue than climate change that calls for government to act in a similar manner.

It should also be noted that Jo Confino chaired the panel excellently, encouraging interesting debate and not taking any prisoners.

Without wanting to distract from my main point of this post, I always like to finish on a positive note, so check out these wonderful blog posts from Do The Green Thing's blog (there are so many but here's three that caught my eye this morning):

Be inspired folks.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Sally Mann: The Family and the Land

Sally Mann is having her first solo retrospective at The Photographers' Gallery.

"Mann is perhaps best known for Immediate Family, her third collection, published in 1992. The book consists of 65 black and white photographs of her three children, all under the age of 10. Many of the pictures were taken at the family's remote summer cabin along the river, where the children played and swam in the nude. Many explore typical childhood themes (skinny dipping, reading the funnies, dressing up, vamping, napping, playing board games) but others touch on darker themes such as insecurity, loneliness, injury, sexuality and death. The controversy on its release was intense, including accusations of child pornography and of contrived fiction with constructed tableaux. Mann herself considered these photographs to be “natural through the eyes of a mother, since she has seen her children in every state: happy, sad, playful, sick, bloodied, angry and even naked.” Critics agreed, saying her “vision in large measure [is] accurate, and a welcome corrective to familiar notions of youth as a time of unalloyed sweetness and innocence,” and that the book “created a place that looked like Eden, then cast upon it the subdued and shifting light of nostalgia, sexuality and death." [Wikipedia]

This is a really enjoyable exhibition. Although the photographs of the decomposing bodies (her most recent photographic indulgence- see photo 5 above) did not move me greatly, I thought that the full face portraits of her children (now adults- see photo 4 above) taken on a plate camera and developed with a wet-plate collodion process was some of her best work since 'immediate family' (photos 1-3 above).
It made me want to explore similar printing techniques and the exhibition in general was quite inspiring.
I learned great deal from the 80 minutes documentary that is shown in a small room off the stairs. I really recommend it to anyone that wants to settle the argument with themselves about whether Mann's photographs of her children are exploitative and offensively provocative. I was relieved to hear her children (now in their 20's) all speak comfortably and intelligently about their mother's work and they showed no signs of retrospectively regretting their involvement in 'immediate family'.
A highly recommended exhibition.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Food for thought folks...

I wanted to share this interesting graphic from 'information is beautiful'.

It beautifully illustrates the extent of european aviation emissions compared to the Icelandic Eyjafjallajokull volcanic eruption.

What will it take to make people realise the impact that aviation is having on the environment? How long will it be considered 'normal' to fly thousands of miles each year for a holiday?

The British Isles has some of the most amazing scenery I have ever witnessed, yet I know more people that have been to South America than I who have visited the wonders of the Scottish Highlands and Islands.

Brits are so fortunate that we have access to an incredibly large rail network- europe is on our doorstep and this is beautifully explained by 'The man in Seat 61'.

I know the volcanic ash is causing unknown amounts of grief for people all over the world (let's ignore the fact that a friend of mine is stuck in St. Lucia with all expenses being paid) and they all have my deepest sympathy. But rather than curse unstoppable natural events, perhaps it is worth appreciating the various advantages of alternative methods of travel.

It is at least some food for thought....

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Terence Coventry

Just a quick post to share a video I rather liked about Terence Coventry, once a Cornish pig farmer, now a sculptor of bronze and steel. I like that his work has been inspired by a lifetime of observation, particularly the part where he is talking about the weightlessness of rooks at the moment of take-off viewed from his tractor while ploughing. That said, perhaps I am just a sucker for the emotional major chord piano soundtrack?

Friday, January 1, 2010

Stephen Wiltshire for Order magazine

Last week I took a portrait of Stephen Wiltshire for an accompanying article in Order Magazine, an Los Angleses based hip-hop magazine. I will post the link to the article (written by good friend Zachary Gottlieb) when it's available.

Stephen is an artist and a Londoner. He is known for his ability to draw incredibly accurate cityscapes. In May 2005, following a short helicopter ride over Tokyo, he drew from memory an incredibly detailed panoramic view of the city on a 10-meter-long canvas. Since then he has drawn Rome, Hong Kong, Frankfurt, Madrid, Dubai, Jerusalem, London and New York on giant canvasses.

Although I must admit his work is not particularly to my taste, he certainly has an incredibly unique talent. I met him in the Stephen Wiltshire Gallery in the Royal Opera Arcade, Pall Mall, London. He struck me as a quiet, gentle but confident man and I hope this comes across in the portrait. Click on the images to enlarge.

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Craft Cartel and the felt vagina

My favourite blog title so far....absolutely loving The Craft Cartel. Their slogan being "For crafty types who don't dig rose-scented doilies- celebrating all that is irreverant, iconic, kitschy, delightfully offensive and made lovingly by hand".

Anyone that has the motivation to craft a vagina... I am a fan of.

check it out.

Christian Marclay vs. David Hockney

Sitting in bed doing a bit of internet exploring it one of my great pleasures- primarily because it is the only warm place in an otherwise unheated house in mid-winter. Anyway, this morning I found an awesome post by Marcela Fae on the work of Christian Marclay, an American visual artist and composer based out of New York. A few years ago he did these great pieces stitching together old vinyl record covers.

They reminded me a lot of the joiners/photo-collages that Hockney did in the early 1980s to which I have developed a small obsession with.

above: David Hockney, My Mother, Bolton Abbey, Yorkshire, 1982

Sunday, December 27, 2009

How to make a canvas apron in 10 steps

I decided to make as many Christmas presents as possible this year. I wanted to give people something homemade, something useful and something personal. After much consideration I decided on personalised aprons. They are really quite straight forward and perfect if you are still getting to grips with how your sewing machine works- as I am.

Below is a step-by-step guide to making one. All you need is the following:
  • a 35 inch (89cm) x 33 inch (84cm) square(ish) piece of cotton canvas or cotton drill (I chose a very durable heavyweight cotton, with the idea that it would last a lifetime, but feel free to use a more flexible lightweight cotton)
  • 100 inches (254cm) of 1 inch wide ribbon (a 26 inch piece for the neck strap, 2 x 37 inch pieces for the waist straps)
  • 136 (345cm) of 2 inch wide ribbon for trimming.
  • reel of thread the same colour as the ribbon
Step one:
measure out the square of cotton canvas according to the measurements below (click on the image to enlarge) or cut around an existing apron that you like the shape of. If you are using the measurements here, be sure to fold the material in half prior to cutting the top corners so the curves are the same both sides. Place this to one side.

Step two:
Get your roll of 2 inch wide ribbon, and peg one end of it to the end of an ironing board (having some tension in the ribbon will make ironing it in half much easier). Fold in half (width ways) and iron flat. Be sure not to have the heat too high if the ribbon is synthetic, plenty of steam should do the trick. Ironing the ribbon will make trimming the apron much easier.

The finished product
Step three:
Cut the 2 inch wide ribbon in to 6 pieces- of lengths corresponding with the edges of the apron. I would highly recommend leaving an inch extra at each end (particularly on the top curved corners which require a deceptive amount of ribbon).

Step four:
Cut the 1 inch wide ribbon (for the neck and waist straps) in to 3 pieces (
a 26 inch piece for the neck strap, 2 x 37 inch pieces for the waist straps)

Step five:
The 2 inch wide ribbon should fold nicely around the edge of your canvas material. Pin the bottom edge in place (roughly). You do not need to leave any overlap on this edge as the side edge trimmings will go over the bottom corners (neatly folded).

Step six:
Sew this bottom edge trimming on staying as close to the edge of the ribbon as you dare whilst making sure you are not missing the side underneath with your thread. I usually leave 3mm buffer to be sure. A simple straight, medium length stitch is all you need for attaching the trimming.

Step seven:
Sew one of the side edge trimmings on. You must start at the bottom edge (on the corner that you have just sewn), but this time you must fold over the ribbon by 3/4 inch or so to stop the end fraying. This will hopefully make the corner much neater. Remember that there is likely a front and back to the canvas, so if you have to make one side neater than the other make sure you choose the front. Continue this around the edges, folding over the corners where necessary.

Step eight:
Now the apron should be the correct shape and fully trimmed. It is best to do any personalisation now (before attaching the neck and waist straps) as you do not want to inadvertently sew the neck strap to the back of the apron with about 500 stitches. I learned this the heard way.

First you want to mark out the letters lightly in pencil. I recommend marking two lines to indicate the top and bottom of the letters, and work between these. I used the width of a ruler for this.

To embroider with a regular sewing machine, you can set the stitch pattern to 'zig-zag' with and a very short (but not non -existent) length. You must test the stitch on a scrap of material
first (perhaps from the top corners that were cut off earlier) and adjust as necessary.

You will quickly realise that straight lines are far easier than curved, but with practise you will be able to deal with curves (again, use the scrap material). I found that lifting the foot of the sewing machine and carefully repositioning the needle produced much better results than attempting to do the curve in one go.

To avoid constantly starting and stopping, you can do all the horizontal lines first without cutting the thread. Then cut and do the vertical/horizontal sections.

Do the vertical sections first without cutting the thread to save time.

then do the horizontal sections

Step nine:
Hem the neck and waist straps by 3/4 inch or so then attach them to the corners on the back side of the apron (leaving the front nice and neat). These are going to be tugged at over the years so you will need to do a fairly thorough job. I did a 'Z' patten, using the reverse mode for the diagonal.

Step ten:
Trim off all the bits of thread and admire your handiwork.

Best of luck.