Thursday, 22 December 2011

I've been fulfilling a Gallery order

And it came out of the blue...

Colour from Black and White

I got a call from Norman, owner of Kaya Gallery on Plymouth's Barbican. He'd had a customer call in asking after a print of my Barbican Steps shot, actually one of Norman's favourites from my b&w collection.

I called in to talk about it face to face and to catch up with any news. While I was there, I took the opportunity to show Norman some of my recent colour work and he chose four there and then! He was really, really taken by the shot used for the cover of Plymouth Magazine (see previous post) and returned to it a few times to look again.

Barbican By Night

Norman was also really taken with this one of the surfers and was another he kept returning to:

Last Surf of the Day

While looking through some others, at one point he peered at Burgh Island, which was in the background to the main subject, and said something about the hotel. I didn't say anything at the time but I knew I had a photo of it waiting in the digital darkroom. So I resolved to process it as soon as I could, and then show him when I delivered the others - to try for another sale, of course ;)

Before I left, I gave Norman one of my 2012 calendars as a portfolio of some of my work. Even though it's for the American market (i.e. with major American holidays and events marked on it) he was really pleased with it.

I went home and ordered the mounts etc and got on with the printing. I'm really, really impressed with the quality of the Epson Stylus Pro 3800 - every time I fire it up after a not having used it for a while, I bless the time spent on profiling etc. The prints are true to what I see on screen and it really does my photos justice.

Anyway, once that lot was done, I got on with the one of Burgh Island Hotel. I was pleased with what I thought would be its appeal to Norman and his customers, so duly printed it as well.
Time passed and some more redecorating took place (I'm working on bits of the kitchen and front room right now) and then....

..the mounts arrived.

I got to work right away, getting them signed, mounted and bagged. A quick call to Norman to confirm he was at the gallery and, 20mins later, I handed them over.

I waited until after he'd had a good look, going back and forward mostly between the surfers and the view of the Barbican, drinking them in. He mentioned a couple of times that he'd get the surfers one framed to show it off to its very best. So I guessed he was pleased :) so it was then that I whipped out my Burgh Island Hotel...

Burgh Island Hotel
Burgh Island Hotel

He took a while to acclimatize to it, looking at the others and then coming back to it. It only took a couple of minutes to make up his mind and then he said he'd take that one as well. Mission accomplished!

..From 1 b&w came 5 colour sales so, all in all, I'm a very happy bunny - 6 prints in total and a nice little Christmas present :)

Thank you, Norman!

Post by: +Mark Highton Ridley
comments / feedback / tweets / likes / +1s always welcome :)

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Got the front cover on a print mag!

I mentioned a while ago that one of my images was being used by a local publication...

Front Cover!

I was a bit hesitant at first as no fee was involved, but the fact it was a print magazine and the extra local exposure I'd gain, made it worth some consideration. The space given to the cover credit I was promised on the inside tipped the balance, so I went ahead with it.

So here's the magazine - and there's a link to my website from this electronic version in the credit (page 3, bottom left):

Click to view the full digital publication online
Read The Plymouth Magazine issue 89
Online Publishing from YUDU

The original image is a landscape orientation and they chose a great crop for the mag. Here's the original:

Barbican At Night
Click the image to see a gallery-style poster print in my Zazzle store - and from there you can see lots more gifts, posters and greetings cards of my Plymouth Series.

I know some of my fellow photographer-blogger friends also occasionally let their local publications use their work. Its got me wondering just how prevalent this is.

If you're a bit of a photog and have been approached for use of your work without a fee, share your experience with us in the comments. Who knows, we might learn something interesting!

Post by: +Mark Highton Ridley
comments / feedback / tweets / likes / +1s always welcome :)

Monday, 5 December 2011

Newsy update - photos and Zazzle

Been hard at work on designing products for my store over at Zazzle, now reporting back!

Huge changes in time for the Christmas rush

Zazzle made a whole bunch of changes to improve the shopping experience with easier navigation, a cleaner look and enhanced searching. This meant all us storekeepers having to make lots of edits / changes to the way existing products are tagged and categorised to fall in line.

Big job!

As frequently happens, many little glitches and gremlins crept in that made making the changes more than a little tiresome at times, sometimes not "sticking" and needing to be redone.

But, good on Zazzle, the shoppers never saw any of this behind-the-scenes activity - a bit like the graceful swan, not much to see on the surface but mad paddling going on under water!

Many massive coupon savings

Zazzle have really been pushing on their promotion activity (as I have!) having had amazing offers for Black Friday, Cyber Monday and some for specific seasonal items. They keep announcing them on the header on each page - so keep your eye out for them!

Back to new designs

Now that I've caught up with all the changes on existing gear, I've been able to finish off the greetings card ranges I was working on when it all happened. Have a look at my Congratulatons cards as an example. Now that they're all done, I'm back once more to creating new designs. In the last week I've been working on expanding my already successful Desiderata range, making sure that there is plenty of variety to suit most tastes.

I find it really pleasing to combine the coming-of-age guidance of Desiderata with some of my fine art photography. I've selected each pairing based on some aspect of my image and the core messages of Desiderata. For example:

Strength, Courage and Determination

Florets spiralling in to pollinated, then
to set seeds in the centre, representing growth
to adulthood, ready for the next of life's phases

Purity and Valour represented by
St George and the Dragon

Tough journeys always have places of Peace
and Serenity to strive for

..and, because it's the season for it...

This one is intended to complement
the idea of Silence and Peace

The good thing about giving these as gifts is, that as well as being positive, encouraging and supportive, they will endure long after other gifts have gone to upgrade heaven. Who in your circle of friends and family would love to receive one?

Post by: +Mark Highton Ridley
comments / feedback / tweets / Likes / +1s always welcome :)

Monday, 28 November 2011

Zazzle recommendation and $10 sweetener

Why would I recommend Zazzle?

The creators and designers on Zazzle - mostly folk like you and me - each have their own store(s) and provide fantastic designs on apparel, gifts and cards, covering every occasion and topic you can think of, and many more besides.

Here's the main reasons why I'd recommend them, and Zazzle:
  • the vast majority of the items are designed to be personalized, for example where you supply a name or upload a loved one's photo.
  • the quality of the printing is exceptional, reproducing the rich, vibrant colours you see on screen
  • a fantastic returns policy and customer service experience - second to none in my experience
  • And another thing... you're supporting some of the 99% - individual creative artists and designers
The proof of the pudding is in the eating. If I'm recommending Zazzle, do I follow my own recommendation? A resounding "yes" - I buy all my greetings cards there and any other gifts where personalisation and / or a specific design is important.


Of course, you're going to find my work on standard media such as stretch-frame canvas and poster prints. My recently added ranges of gallery-style prints and fine art greetings cards are proving popular, so there's something to suit all pockets...

Post by: +Mark Highton Ridley
comments / feedback / tweets / Likes / +1s always welcome :)

Sunday, 27 November 2011

A bit of housekeeping...

Consolidation is the name of the game

My new photos have made it into my gallery at last! Many have appeared in recent weeks on Panoramio, Flickr and Google+ so it was more catch-up than presenting entirely new work for the first time.

Still they're all in one place now. Check 'em out with this link: My new creative photography

I've been experimenting a little with an impressionist style - which should be easy to spot amongst the piccies you'll see at that link. As usual, I'd be delighted to hear if you connect with any of them.

If you do, each has a feedback / ratings box or you can drop off a general comment here. Whichever way, I'm sure other visitors (as well as me!) would love you to share your thoughts.

In the run up to Christmas, you might be interested in gifts featuring my work. Gallery Prints are an inexpensive way of owning and enjoying my work. Although they can be framed, they looks great as they are and just stuck on a wall with pins, sticky stuff etc.

Or how about choosing from amongst my really gorgeous jotter / notepads for somewhere to hold your important thoughts and creative  ideas. If you know someone who will be lucky enough to get a new phone, iPad or iPod this Christmas, you can also get my work on skins for all the popular models.

You can find many other products like mugs, tear-off message pads, birthday and various other greetings cards (luck, congrats, sympathy and so on). Pretty much everything apart from the posters are personalizable with your text or chosen name.

Support the 99% by buying from artists, artisans and crafters!

Post by: +Mark Highton Ridley

Monday, 21 November 2011

Entering the Black and White Spider Awards again

Having had some previous successes with the Black and White Spider Awards, I've entered some more photos this year.

The Impotence of a Broken Groyne

The groynes along the Jurassic coast around Lyme Regis are being left to fall into disrepair and decay, allowing the debris from cliff collapses to be washed away and so leading to further cliff erosion. This is a good thing for fossil hunters!

The Impotence of a Broken Groyne

I was drawn to the lovely textures in the wood, enhanced by years of scouring and burning by the salty sea. And what's more, the grain formed lovely wave-like undulations in the wood, echoing and mirroring the sculpted sandy mud and the sea itself.

Oh, and I hope you groaned at the pun in its title!

Last Surf of The Day

This is the original black and white version of my better-known colour one. It was taken at the close of day on a photowalk with a good friend at Bantham Beach in Devon.

Last Surf of the Day

Wouldn't it be great if the guys in the photo got in touch?! Taken 24th April 2011 in case you think it might be you.

Tousled Mane of a Dartmoor Pony

This is one of my personal favourites. These enduring, graceful ponies have been on Dartmoor maybe since the last ice age, perhaps longer. The way they move, their look and their stoic attitude to the visitors to Dartmoor makes them feel both close and distant at the same time; wild but approachable, common but regal.

Here it is on a stretch-frame canvas, available at my Zazzle store. Click to see and buy. Also available on a range of other products.

Tousled Mane of a Dartmoor Pony
stretch-frame canvas

Leave your Good Luck wishes and feedback in the comments please (pretty please, hehe!)

Post by: +Mark Highton Ridley

Monday, 14 November 2011

Bronze Merit Award - International Loupe Awards 2011

What great news I got today!

International Loupe Awards 2011

I entered one image into this year's International Loupe Awards, "The Room In My Mind Where My Memories Are Stored" and was delighted to hear today that I received a Bronze Merit Award!

It's the image for July on this 2012 Calendar, which features a selection of my very best work

Share my joy, \o/ - yaay!

Post by: +Mark Highton Ridley
comments / critique / feedback / tweets / +1s always welcome :)

Saturday, 12 November 2011

I'm a Featured Artist!

So what have I been up to, what's my news?

Cutand-dry feature

I'm so flattered by this wonderful blog post that my good friend, Betty, wrote about my art work. I was fascinated to see which images she chose for her post. I wonder if you would have chosen the same?

Betty's got a great writing style and a huge following - I'm sure that many of you could end up following her blog, too! Have a look, it'd already had 28 comments when I visited a while ago...

Highton Ridley Emporium...
I've been beavering away putting my new colour work onto canvas and gallery-stye poster prints as well as on various gifts and household gear - things like mobile phone skins, coasters, spiral-bound notebooks, trivets, treasure/trinket boxes, picnic/display plates, mugs and more besides.

You have to have such gear around - why not have beauty too?

If you end up stuck for a gift for someone over Christmas - maybe even for yourself - I've got a great 2012 calender featuring some of my very, very best colour work. Follow the link and see the images I've chosen.

If you've got an unruly teenager at home - or one just preparing to leave for the first time, seriously consider giving them the timeless coming-of-age (and beyond!) Desiderata poem.

I've got those brilliant words on a range of posters with complementary artwork from my portfolio - there's bound to be something they'd be drawn to. It can be a great maturing influence - have a read and see what I mean - Desiderata on...

Gallery News
I've had a bit of swap-round at Duchy Square Gallery in Princetown, in preparation for the run up to Christmas. They've taken three of my impressionist / colourist - style pieces and I've taken away a couple of black-and-whites.

Have a great weekend, folks!

Post by: +Mark Highton Ridley
comments / critique / feedback / tweets / +1s always welcome :)

Monday, 24 October 2011

Preparing new artwork gifts for Christmas

I've been continuing my colour journey, three steps forward, two back but progress is being made!

The journey

...goes on and on, down from the door where it began

Bantham Beach Exit

So what have I been up to? I've been going back over my unprocessed RAW images in the digital darkroom and choosing some to work on in colour.

All this old work was taken with black and white in mind and that's meant that I've paid particular attention to the composition and tonal relationships. Of course, this in turn means that I've had a great success rate when taking them down the colour route.

Having worked on a couple of dozen, I've now created a whole bunch of new products, mostly Gallery Prints and Stretch-frame wrapped canvases in my Zazzle store, in time for the Christmas season.

Last Surf of the Day

If you know anyone who loves windsurfing, then this image as a Gallery Print or Wrapped Canvas would make a great gift for them. Which would you choose?

The gallery prints look so good that I've created many using that as a style of presentation for my very best black and white work. Here's an example Gallery Print of a Cosmos flower and bud, side-lit by the setting sun:

Do you know folks that would enjoy receiving one of these as a gift? Would you be delighted if you got one as a gift?

I love reading such feedback - and it helps to keep me producing work that my public enjoys, so if you've got a few moments to spare, you know what to do!

~~Highton Ridley :>)

Post by: +Mark Highton Ridley
comments / critique / feedback / tweets / +1s always welcome :)

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Continuing a little sidetrack down the colour route...

Continuing a little sidetrack down the colour route...

Now, where's that rabbit hole?

I was with a friend (and my camera), visiting Sptichwick, a delightful little valley of the River Dart on the edge of Dartmoor National Park. I spotted this fabulous mushroom growing a little way from the river bank and, under the dappled sunlight, it looked like something out of Alice in Wonderland.

Woodland Mushroom Under Dappled Sunlight
Someone on Google+ suggested that there might be a dazed-looking caterpillar nearby, maybe hallucinating after having chomped away at the mushroom's foot! hehe!

I'd be delighted to hear what you think of this shot, so don't delay, comment away!

Post by: +Mark Highton Ridley
comments / critique / feedback / tweets / +1s always welcome :)

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Slowly, Sowly, Colour HDR

Formally revealing my interest in colour HDR and tone-mapping techniques...

Would you like to see more?

I've been experimenting for a while with HDR. Regular followers will know that I started out a couple or so years ago on my b&w work, where it suited the image.

Recently I moved onto using it in the digital darkroom with colour shots, but haven't published much until now, preferring first to play around until I'd mostly mastered it. Well, I don't claim to be there yet, but I feel comfortable enough with the technique to start to publish.

Plymouth Barbican by Night, August 2011
I'm very pleased with the way this one turned out. Would you be able to tell that I used HDR and tone-mapping techniques? If not, then I've succeeded with that aspect, hehe!

On a different note, I believe that I've bumped into a compositional issue with this shot, one where composition and the desire for "pretty colours" are in conflict. I won't say what it is because I don't want to influence you but if you do spot it, I'd love to know (after all, I may just be being paranoid, hehe!).

I'll leave it a few days, and if anyone has commented about it, I'll say what I mean in reply.

Post by: +Mark Highton Ridley
comments / critique / feedback/ likes  / tweets / +1s ..are always welcome :)

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Initial reviews of HDR software

I've been looking at upgrading my HDR software...

My current HDR software

I currently use Mediachance's Dynamic Photo HDR and it has worked really well as part of my black and white workflow, when I felt it would help with developing my artistic intent for the image. Dynamic Photo HDR is available as a free trial, which doesn't expire -- but it does watermark images.

As a reference for testing the other HDR software, I took a colour image that I'd already processed with Dynamic Photo HDR (and with further treatment in Photoshop). It's the one from my last post here.

The reviews - initial reactions

I checked out:
  • Nik Software's HDR Efex Pro - 15 day free trial
  • HDR Soft's Photomatix (version 4.1.1) - Free trial doesn't expire, it watermarks some of the images it produces though
I used a few different RAW images that I already had taken, from which I produced the different exposures for the software to work on.

The photos weren't taken with HDR in mind, so I was initially seeing how it could be used to produce realistic-looking images -- we've all seen the super-real HDR treatments of cityscapes at night but I'm not initially checking it out for those sorts of image.

HDR Efex

Good points:
  • Many presets to apply, giving you a starting point from which you can endlessly tweak
  • Can add individual control points which apply all the global controls locally, while confining them to a soft-edged radius of influence
  • Integrates well with Photoshop
  • Cityscapes, as per their video demo, seem ideal for it

Bad points:
  • Skies can be very noisy
  • On my system everything slows down horribly
    (dual core, Windows XP, 2GB Ram, loadsa free, defragged hard disk space)
Conclusion: watch this one, once it matures some more, it stands a great chance of setting new standards by which HDR software will be judged.


Good points:
  • Industry leader
  • A good handful of presets to apply, giving you a starting point -- keep tweaking to get closer and closer to the results you're after
  • Noise reduction option for underexposed images can really help noisy skies
Bad points:
  • Can produce that instantly recognisable "Photomatix" look, if not used with care
  • Suffering from complacency due to being market leader - user interface is more clutzy than it needs to be
  • Can be a bit of a struggle to get used to, hindered by the user interface
Conclusion: If you need to get to HDR right away, Photomatix comes out on top when compared to HDR Efex. But if you're reading this a few months after I post it, do check where HDR Efex has got to...

Overall conclusions for initial reactions

I was able to use both HDR applications to get close to the reference image. Although I said that Photomatix came out on top when compared to HDR Efex Pro, when compared to Dynamic Photo HDR, I'm not so sure.

So what will I do? I've uninstalled HDR Efex Pro, I'm keeping Photomatix and will keep comparing Photomatix with my current "champion", Dynamic Photo HDR.

I'll take a few shots with HDR in mind and see where it takes me.

Post by: +Mark Highton Ridley
comments / critique / feedback / tweets / buzzes always welcome :)

Monday, 8 August 2011

HDR - the colour gambit

For quite a while I've been using HDR on and off as part of my mono workflow...

What next?

..and I'm thinking of exploring the technique on some colour work.

Here's the first with that in mind. It was taken a couple of weeks ago, heading home westbound on the M3/A303 route after visiting a client site in Staines, near Heathrow.

Chicklade Bottom Farm
The road was quite stressful, so when the lighting was good, I turned off onto a side road when I got the chance.

What a treat to bump into this scene - quite idyllic and representative of the English countryside. The folk who live here must be delighted with their home.

Really, I'm just exploring for now, so I hope you like how it turned out.

comments / critique / feedback / tweets / buzzes always welcome :)

Sunday, 24 July 2011

A retrospective of a shot of mine from 2007...

A retrospective of a shot of mine from 2007
A study of texture, pattern and geometry, implemented in the architecture of an office block in Arundel Street, close to Temple tube station, London.
Arundel Street, London

With a nod in the direction of +Alfie Goodrich for making me think of doing this, thanks :>)

So to exercise my photo-discussion vocabulary, I thought I'd take apart this image. It'll help me think about it and share what was in my "vision" at the time. By "vision" I mean the conscious and the many layers of semi-consciousness at play when I took at and as both "developed" in the digital darkroom.

The setting was a visit with a government department in the Strand, and on the way from the tube station I spotted a building with interesting, geometric architecture and even more interesting possibilities for my ongoing theme of abstract architecture. I hurried on to my meeting, putting it out of my mind in the meantime, with an intention to do something about it afterwards.

On the way back from my meeting, I took out my camera (that I'd taken with me on the off-chance, like ya do - you do, don't you?). The skies had cleared and the sunlight was bright and direct, angling in at near 45 degrees - as the shadows show,

I loved what the light was doing with the concrete pyramid-like structures under the window and their interaction with the rectangular, textured tiles at their side.

Having the whole area on the right hand side taken up by the rectangular tiles was too much though and I started hunting around for a viewpoint that would solve it.

I tried from across the road, up and down the road a bit and, finally, hugging the wall of next building, a few paces south. I was delighted with what was evolving and , having the main elements as I wanted them, it was a case of fine-tuning.

By staying close to the wall, and crouching down a little, I got my framing about right, paying close attention to squaring off the windows in the top left corner. I then moved around a little more to make the intersection of the wall and the bottom edge of the windows. I zoomed out slightly to make sure I could be pedantic about the cropping in the digital darkroom (easier to crop than to add what isn't there!).

I was conscious the whole time about the balance between the negative space on the rhs and the rest of the image. The hint of reflected light on that wall, brought out by a little dodging, helped to reduce its visual "weight".

Compositionally, there are three areas, each occupying roughly the same space and each sharing similar characteristics - texture, angle, pattern.

For those paying really close attention, there's a single strip-light visible in two of the windows - I could have cloned these out but I like how they balance the two slightly lighter strips in the rhs wall. Ok, that was serendipity - but note that I still made a conscious choice.

As an aside, a good friend of mine, +Gordon Charlton once said that a photo is like a sentence. Every word in the sentence is there because you want it there. It belongs because somehow or other it describes or enhances what you want the sentence to say. You don't put in random words that having nothing mousetrap to contribute, do you?

So I try to do the same in the "visual" sentence my images are speaking.

Anyway, on with the retrospective...

By choosing a very small aperture and a telephoto lens I've been able to flatten the image, removing one of those visual clues that helps the seeing part of the brain to recognise things for what they really are. In other words it helps enforce its abstract nature.

I've given it a contrasty treatment over the whole tonal range to boost slightly what the bright, direct sunlight had already given me. This emphasised the geometric patterning and texture as well as the difference between each of three areas.

What is my intention with this type of shot? I've always been a bit observant and I've discovered that so many folks just don't see the interesting and beautiful stuff around them that I notice as I go about my daily life. So I like to share it :>)

Ok, retrospective over. Will you try out +Alfie Goodrich's vocabulary on your own work? If so, make sure you share.

Make sure you share this with photogs you know who are trying to improve.
Weekend almost over, oh no, still loads to do!
I hope you've had a good one :>)
~~Highton Ridley

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Ships may come and go

Ships may come and go
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Saturday, 23 July 2011

Down At The Beach - a bit of a playful, exploratory...

From Google+
Down At The Beach - a bit of a playful, exploratory shot that I was really pleased with.
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Saturday, 16 July 2011

Down in Flames - Out now on iTunes!

Down in Flames - Out now on iTunes!

It's always nice when...

A few weeks ago Mark Griffiths of The Sharp Darts got in touch.

The band is from the suburbs of Birmingham, UK with added spice from Australia. An indie rock five piece, The Sharp Darts have been blasting out performances to packed audiences around Birmingham and the Midlands over the last year.

He was asking permission to use one of my Urban Ugly images for the cover of their next release and I was delighted to say yes!

See which one was used on Down in Flames - Out now on iTunes!

If you're interested, here is the full Urban Ugly set to music by my good friend and thereminist, Gordon Charlton.

comments / critique / feedback / tweets / Google+ always welcome :)

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Dying Craft

Dying Craft

Maybe that would have been a better title for the piece. Built in the days of wheelwrights/wainwrghts and cartwrights. Look at the skill that's gone into the making of those wheels!

Flatbed Milk Churn Wagon
Bredbury Hall Hotel and Country Club, 2011

The wagon is now being used as a showpiece outside Bredbury Hall, a place where I was staying on business again. As I've mentioned in the last few posts, I first stayed there back in 2008 and on my return last month, it was a great chance to be able to shoot this wonderful echo from the past in its entirety.

I took my ultra-wide angle zoom lens to be able to get it all in frame. Thanks must go again to my brother, Trevor, for such a great gift a couple of Christmases ago.

I challenge anyone to get a better composition of this piece! I had to go round and round, up on tippy-toes and crouching down, walking backwards and forwards, camera glued to my face !

Some of the reasons I settled on this viewpoint / composition:
  • The turned front wheel gives it a feeling of movement
  • The angle / point of view / perspective takes the eye on a nice little journey on the way through the image
  • The whole wagon is pointing in the direction of some milk churns, with which it would have had a daily connection in getting the milk churns to the dairy or out for sale
  • The lamp jutting into the sky was an added bonus!
  • And finally, the wooden stump on the left acts as a nice stop and prevents the eye from wandering out of the picture.

Have a look at the close-up of the wheel closest to you - you can see it three or four posts ago - and admire the craft of the wainwright.

comments / critique / feedback / tweets / buzzes / +1s always welcome :)

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Another from Bredbury Hall Hotel and Country Club

Another of my occasional ventures into colour...

The Door J'adore

Hmmm... not my most inspiring of titles, but I do like the rhyme and it fits in nicely with the general theme for the image of "contrasts".

The Door J'adore,
Bredbury Hall Hotel and Country Club
Stockport, June 2011

To start you off  there's the obvious free/trapped - freedom of the sky, a shut-door, trapping what's inside - also the sky trapped in the reflection in the glass. I'm sure you can see lots more along the same lines... I've left you some clues!

See all my other photos taken at Bredbury Hall

comments / critique / feedback / tweets / buzzes always welcome :)

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Bredbury Hall Tractor - reloaded in colour

From my stay in Bredbury Hall a couple of weeks ago...

Dressing up the grounds

Fordson Tractor

This is a revisit to a previous shot, one I did in black and white. I thought I'd give it a colour treatment this time, something I can use in a calendar at some point over in my Zazzle store

The tractor is a one of those shipped to the UK after World War II to help in the recovery. I think it's a Model N from a bit of online research.

comments / critique / feedback / tweets / buzzes always welcome :)

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Bredbury Hall Wagon Wheel - back where it belongs

I was really pleased during the week when I returned to a hotel I stayed at regularly back in 2008. When I was there before, I was out in the grounds with my camera and got talking to the groundsman, Barry.

We made a bit of a connection and I said that if I visited again I'd bring along for him a print of one of the photos that I'd taken during my stay.

Back where it belongs

He (and the hotel where it's going to be framed and hung) were overjoyed by it. here it is:

Old Wagon Wheel, Bredbury Hall, Stockport 2008

Calling all Zazzlers

If you're a Zazzler, I'm looking for folks to review my QC Pro Template Building Guide for Dummies on their blogs / squidoo lenses. If you want a free copy of the guide ($30/£22 normal price) and you're happy to commit to a review, do get in touch! [use]

Have a great Sunday everyone!

comments / critique / feedback / tweets / buzzes always welcome :)

Friday, 25 February 2011

Waiting for remaining winners to get in touch

[Updated: Tues 29th March 2011 - just waiting on 2 now]
Fourteen of the twenty winners have now been in touch... apparently some winners didn't receive the email I sent giving them the great news... so check below to see if you're also one...

Winners who haven't yet claimed their prize

If your name is in green, I haven't heard from you yet, so see if you're one of those missing out on a prize!

Fridge Magnets

  • Carolyn Marshall
  • Graham Richardson
  • Jeff Farabee
  • Charlyn (critter creations)
  • Dominique McDonough
  • Kelly Riccetti
  • Tracy Anderson
  • tnbackroadsblog
  • Stephanie Queen
  • D J C

Pack of 5 postcards

  • Elizabeth (cutand-dry)
  • Senecio Editions
  • Javier Echaiz
  • Elizabeth (Elizdesigns)
  • Jana (craftcorner)

Hand printed, signed, mounted prints

  • Nancy McDonnell (f8hasit)
  • Belinha Fernandes
  • Melissa (Zazzle Gallery)

Framed canvases: 25 inches by 17 inches of pure loveliness

  • Deborah Green (DizzyDebbie)
  • Stevie (fastgear)
So if your name is in green in the list above, drop off an email to me highton.ridley [@] to claim your prize.

If you didn't win...

Here's a soothing image to take your mind off your disappointment ;-)

Ships May Come And Go
If you like it... click it to get to the image page and then click the "recommend it" button you'll see under the image. Thanks :)

comments / critique / feedback / tweets / buzzes always welcome :)

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Winners annnounced: Spring Madness Freebie Prize Draw

Did you win? Fingers crossed, maybe you did...


With a suitable drum roll... here are the winners of my crazy February fine art give-away. 20 of you were lucky enough to come away with a prize. If you aren't one of them, better luck next time!

[Some details of my next fine art give-away are at the end]

If you're one of the lucky ones in the list below, you need to send me a delivery address so I know where to post your freebie. Send it to

So in reverse order and without further ado, here are the lucky winners.
Congratulations go to:

Fridge Magnets

  • Carolyn Marshall
  • Graham Richardson
  • Jeff Farabee
  • Charlyn (critter creations)
  • Dominique McDonough
  • Kelly Riccetti
  • Tracy Anderson
  • tnbackroadsblog
  • Stephanie Queen
  • D J C

Pack of 5 postcards
  • Elizabeth (cutand-dry)
  • Senecio Editions
  • Javier Echaiz
  • Elizabeth (Elizdesigns)
  • Jana (craftcorner)

Hand printed, signed, mounted prints
  • Nancy McDonnell (f8hasit)
  • Belinha Fernandes
  • Melissa (Zazzle Gallery)

Framed canvases: 25"x17" of pure loveliness
  • Deborah Green (Zazzle Gallery[oops!] DizzyDebbie)
  • Stevie (fastgear)
(If you didn't yet receive the email telling you you'd won, check your spam folder)

Well done to you all! Good luck in the next one :)

Next Give-away

I'll be pushing to get my newsletter membership higher and that is where you come in. To enter, all you need do is tell your friends about my site and suggest they sign up for the newsletter (I'll be announcing prize winners in March).

The easiest place for them to do this is at the top of the right hand column on my home page:

If one of them wins a prize, you do too!
So get cracking right now! I'll post about it here in a few days but the sooner you start....

Here's a suggestion you could use:

Hi {name}

Sign up for Highton-Ridley's newsletter at the top of the right hand column on his home page: and we both stand a chance of winning one of his canvases (and more, besides!).

I like his work a lot. He comes at photography from an artistic side and some of his work is really striking. He mostly does black and white but some of his colour work is really good as well. Check out Lake's Edge for example, or Knot A Rope Knot
Make sure you sign up for his newsletter and we both might win!

Winners, please...

So, were you one of the lucky ones? If so, please tweet, share to facebook or buzz about your good fortune - use the share buttons below to do this if you like. Oh, and share your joy in the comments here :)


Tuesday, 15 February 2011

This month's Freebie Spring Giveaway now closed to new entrants

..but you can still improve your chance of winning...

Weekend Draw

I'll be doing the draw this weekend. Until then you can rate, review, recommend, tweet, fb like, blog about, etc as many of your favourites as you like. The more the merrier and the better your chances :)

One way to find them is to look on the "portfolios" tab on any pages of my website.

Good luck everyone!

..and watch out for another freebie give-away next month :)

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Mixed feelings but any publicity is good publicity?

So what do you think...

Approached by a magazine

So I got a message via my flickr gallery from someone at Dartmoor Life Magazine. They liked one of my images there, one of a Dartmoor Pony grazing next to gorse, and wanted to use it on their web site.

They didn't have a budget for it so I agreed, on the condition that it was credited to me. And they did.

So, do you think I should have held out for payment or is it a case of any publicity is good publicity? I'd be interested to hear what you have to say.

comments / critique / feedback / tweets / buzzes always welcome :)

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Spring Madness Freebie Prize Draw!

[Update: That's this month's freebie prize draw closed to new entrants now. You can still rate, recommend, review, tweet, fb like, blog about it etc. to improve your chance of winning. You've got until the weekend, when I'll be doing the draw. Good luck!]

As some of you who are past winners will already know, this is a great chance to own some of my signed originals.

Valuable give-away prizes

It's been well over a year now since my last freebie prize draw. With January almost over and doom and gloom just about everywhere you look right now, I thought I'd do my bit to cheer up your New Year by announcing my most valuable give-away yet!

Where's the catch?

There isn't one! This is part of my marketing campaign to get my work "out there" and to get the word spread about it. With your help, by taking part, you'll give my website and photos much more exposure — just what a struggling artist needs, hehe!

The Prizes

The top prizes are two of my ex-exhibition fine art images on canvas, signed on the back by me to show they're originals. Not only those canvases, I'm also going to give away 3 second prizes of signed, mounted fine art prints of mine, all lovingly created in my home studio.

Hold on to your hat, I'm not finished yet... 5 lucky people will win a 5-pack random selection from my fine-art postcards, to either collect or send on to deserving friends.

And finally, on top of all that, 10 lucky people will win a 5.1cm square Rope Knot fridge magnet from my Zazzle store:

Yes, 20 prizes in total! How's that for Spring Madness?

How to win

So what do you have to do to be in with a chance?
  • Only people who have signed up for my newsletter are eligible..
    if you've already joined my blog or signed up to my website with Google's Friend Connect, just check your settings for my site (click your "face", choose options, site settings, messaging, and make sure you're set to receive my newsletters)
  • Send an email to with yes please in the subject
    — this will give you your first chance of winning!
  • Lots of other chances are to be had:
    • get over to one of my mono, colour or flora galleries and rate, recommend and / or review your favourite photo there, saying what you like about it
    • come back to this blog post and leave a comment saying what you've done
    • ..or stumble the photo you like, tweet about it, buzz it, post about it on your own blog, facebook, squidoo lens... etc...
    • whenever you leave a comment on my blog post saying what you've done, that's another chance you get!
So rate, recommend and review, blog, link, tweet, buzz, facebook and stumble as many photos as you like, another winning chance every time!  But please only do this with ones you really like.

Will you win one of the freebies?

Ok, so how do I select the winners? Simple...
  • From those on the mailing list who reply as above, I randomly choose two winners for the canvases
  • From those who comment on my blog post as above, I'll randomly draw the remaining prize winners
Winners will be announced in my next newsletter and on my blog after the freebie draw closes on Valentine's Day.

If you are one of the lucky winners you'll need to email me a delivery address to send your gift to. If you're nervous about revealing your home address, it's ok to give me a PO Box number or business address, it's your choice.

Good luck — remember, you've got until Valentine's Day!

If you know someone who you think would like to take part, point them to this posting so they can get on my newsletter list. They'll get the chance to sign up for it when they join my blog or sign up with Google Friend Connect on my website.

[Edit] I've now added a panel at the top of the right hand column where you can see past newsletters and sign up for it (do it, do it NOW!)

Sunday, 16 January 2011

A timeless story - Man and His Dog

I managed to squeeze one more out of those shots I mentioned in my last post. I didn't think this one would work but I was determined to give it a go as it was quite promising.

Man and His Dog

I was really drawn by the way Mans' face was hovering in the light just above Willow's head as he watched her posing — his expression was perfect for it.

I had to fight again with camera shake and noise - ISO 1600, f4 1/15th second but I think I've just about coped with it ok in the digital darkroom.What do you think?

Man and His Dog

This is Willow, owner of her human master, Mans. She really is a gorgeous dog, alert, adorable, sort of obedient but a bit slow on the uptake sometimes!

I'd love to hear from any other folks owned by Pomeranians out there :) So don't be shy, say "hello"!

comments / critique / feedback / tweets / buzzes always welcome :)

Saturday, 15 January 2011

A battle with noise

These shots are the only two that were worth rescuing from a whole bunch, maybe 50 or more..

A lesson in being prepared

I half-heartedly took my camera bag around to some friends with the intention of seeing if I could get some shots of their Pomeranians. They have three, a mum, Bonnie, and her two puppies, Hamish and Willow. I've featured a shot of Hamish before but didn't really have a decent one of Willow.
But being half-hearted, I didn't check my gear before I left and when I got there and dragged out my bag I found I didn't have any batteries in my flashgun —doh!

Anyway, the only thing to do was to bump up the ISO to the max (it was late evening) knowing I'd get noisy images, but what do you do? The on-camera flash casts harsh shadows so that was a no-no, so I din't really have any choice. Even at ISO 1600, the colour one was f5.6 at 1/13th second and the bw one was f5.6 1/6th of a second.

I'm so glad the lens has in-built image stabalization!

Anyway, without more ado, here are the shots that made it...

Willow Exerting Mind Control "You will do as I say...!"
Willow is a real cutie and a bundle of fun. She has loads of energy and, in common with poms everywhere, seems to have an uncanny way of letting you know what she's thinking, just by looking at you in a certain way. Sometimes when I'm there I get the idea that it's us who are being house-trained by them.

You know, getting up and opening the door for them. Getting up and letting them back in again. Getting up and following them to the patio doors when they seem to be asking you to look at something. Getting up and opening the door for them, letting them back in again... and so it goes on!

I Do Look Pretty!
..but you can forgive these beautiful creatures almost anything. Just look at her pretending that there's something interesting taking her attention just out of shot. Something to add a little bit extra, a little bit of alertness and tension - like she could dash off at any moment. Like a pro model! Honestly, they're more intelligent than you'd credit!!

comments / critique / feedback / tweets / buzzes always welcome :)

Friday, 7 January 2011

RNIB Raffle Donation

Happy to help a local fund-raiser...

In aid of ...

..the Royal National Institute for the Blind.
Some fine, upstanding degree students over at City College, Plymouth, have put together a fund-raiser Salsa evening, culminating in a raffle. It's on the 21st Jan, so if you're local, there's still time to get a ticket!

So I got a very nice email before Christmas from a lady called Nicole, asking me if I'd like to contribute a piece of artwork for the raffle. Well, filled with the Christmas spirit, how could I refuse?

In all seriousness, my gran suffered from all sorts of sight problems and always had nothing but praise for the way the RNIB helped her, so I'm glad I was able to return the favour.

It's an ill wind that blows nobody any good, so, although I've got a fair selection of my work taking up space rather than being on gallery walls (there you go, a sign of the times), it meant that there was a good selection for Nicole to choose from when she arrived to collect. I helped and we finally settled on a framed version of "Ships May Come and Go". It looks similar to...

Ships May Come and Go

I hope it works out really well for them and lots of money gets raised for this very worthy cause. If you're local, do get along - who knows, you might even see me there!

comments / critique / feedback / tweets / buzzes always welcome :)

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Happy New Year! Save 20.11% on Mugs, T-shirts and Posters! - UK only

Happy New Year!

The one you've been waiting for! Save 20.11% on Mugs, T-shirts and Posters! Get over to my store and choose something special for yourself, friend or family. Go on, you deserve it!

Hurry, offer ends January 5, 2011 at 23:59 GMT
When you get to the checkout, use Code: NEWYEARSSALE
full offer details here

May 2011 bring you the best ..and the strength to deal with it!
~~Mark (Highton Ridley)


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