Paris

Postcard from Paris by Neil Alexander

Last year I took a wee trip to Paris for the Paris Photo expo. The show itself was a bit of a let down, but the city never is. It's one of those places I could go back to again and again and again. Whilst the conditions, and in particular the light were far from ideal, I walked so far my feet hurt like hell, and I only got to a fraction of the places on my list, I had a great time wandering the streets. 

J'aime Paris.

My Best Photographs of 2013 by Neil Alexander

What a year that was eh? A new calendar is on the wall and there are my initials next to the date of every cheque I write for the next few weeks. So it's an ideal opportunity for a little reflection.

 Neist Point lighthouse on the Isle of Skye. One half decent morning of light if memory serves and that was it, but what an amazing place. My first trip proper here in 2013 and there's already a return trip in the diary for later this year. Blog post here.

I made around 20,000 images last year, although about a quarter of those were for timelapses. So it's nearer 15K of which a large proportion as always were filed under Trash. That makes it one of my lowest exposure counts to date. However, looking back over the last few years, an exercise I do every January, reinforced what I already felt to be my best year yet. Not necessarily from a business perspective (my financial year unfortunately ends in the middle of the summer) but certainly from a creative point of view. I feel that my work is of a better standard than ever before, which is extremely pleasing. Reflection over my previous years' work feels like I have the opportunity to take a baseball bat to the little demon that likes to pop up over my shoulder every now and then kindly shouting at me "You are crap and everything you're churning out is dirge". It's a very therapeutic exercise. It also provides me with the ability to see at the most elemental level how my direction as a photographer has changed. 

For your information, here are my previous years: 2012, 2011, 2010 & 2009

 

 Click on any of the images for a larger version.

 The Eiffel Tower, Paris. Seems ages ago I was there. It's only actually a couple of months ago. I went partly for the Paris Photo exhibition, which was a little disappointing, but the Parisienne streets and landmarks provided ample inspiration to more than make up for it.

 This was a really fun day out. These guys were headed up catch the ferry to the Isle of Man for a blokes weekend hurtling around the lanes. I joined them as they met up on the M6 and photographed them all the way culminating with this carefully choreographed rolling roadblock so that I could get a photograph of them all together. There's more here.

The finely manicured beach at Deauville in Northern France. This beach is so well maintained it is quite unbelievable. Every morning a team clear up all the debris left from previous day and then two tractors turn over the sand removing any previous sign of human presence whatsoever. Bizarre.

 

 Blea Tarn. A trip to the Lake District that provided a great deal of wind and rain, and very little else.

Boathouse on Wast Water. This image wasn't made in the best of circumstances. There were 2 Search and Rescue Sea Kings searching the lake going round and round in circles for over an hour whilst I was there. It later transpired that they were searching for a diver who didn't reappear after diving to a sunken wreck in England's deepest lake. 

 The Forth Road and Railway Bridges, Edinburgh. After scouting the shot the previous night, a spur of the moment decision saw me dashing to a different location in the hope of making this photograph. The light performed and it worked a treat. Blog post here.

 Technically, this photograph was actually made towards the end of 2012, but it took me some months to finish the composition that I'd initially had in my mind when making the original photograph. There's more details on the Photoshop work that went into this here.

 Spur of the moment decision one weekend to head up to Snowdonia and make some photographs of my wee car. It was cold, really cold. Blog post here.

Bamford edge in the high peeks at dawn. I've headed up here. I should still here in the half light of predawn hoping for some colour in the sky. When that didn't pan out I don't go out a couple of XP 900s and started playing with some of the camera flash. The full SP is here.

 

 Finally, many of these images are available as fine art prints from my print shop.

Parisienne composite by Neil Alexander

Late last year, I put together a shoot with a couple of great models at the DeVere hotel in Cheadle that I titled "A little bit of Paris in Cheadle" . My original intention had always been to give the final image more of the Parisienne feel that I envisioned during the original shoot, but as ever time got the better of me and I never managed to get back and perform the final edit. Even the original edit managed to get me a Silver Bar award in the Guild of Professional Photographer's image of the month competition. However, in the last couple of days I finally made the time to finish it off. As I didn't have anything suitable for a backdrop in my own archive, I scoured the stock libraries to find something suitable. I didn't want anything as obvious as the Eiffel Tower at night. Something a little more subtle suited better. Eventually I found a great shot of Notre Dame taken from the opposite side of the Seine at dusk which was perfect.  Then it was a case of some serious masking in Photoshop.....

You can see from the screen grab below that several tweaks to my masks were required to get the railings etc as tidy as possible. I then positioned the backdrop image just where I wanted it, and finished off by darkening the inside of the glass door behind Jen and a couple of presets in Lightroom. Around 2 to 3 hours work all tolled.

Screen Shot 2013-07-10 at 11.10.25.png

And here is the original image complete with lovely red roof and bird poo stains. I'm really happy that I finally managed to finish this off and I love the result (at top).