Working with the charity Healing Little Hearts in India

One of the things I love about photography, is that people let you into their lives. We get to see behind the scenes of events and stories. It is a very privileged position to be in.

I was reminded of this when De Montfort University, where I teach, asked me to take a group of students to India. The goal was to document the health charity, Healing Little Hearts.

The charity was founded in 2007 by Dr Sanjiv Nichani, a Paediatrician based in Leicester. He was concerned that whilst illnesses such as Malaria and Aids were recognised, not enough help was being given to children with congenital heart disease. A million children die of heart disease every year, across the world! In a lot of cases surgical intervention, could treat the disease and completely transform a child’s life.

Over the past few years the charity has slowly grown to the point where last year they sent twenty teams to different developing countries. In November they treated their 1500 patient! In addition to operating on children, they also train local doctors. We went to a camp in the busy industrial centre of Vijayawada, in the state of Andhra Pradesh. The visiting team was made up of doctors from the Czech Republic and the UK.

Having been to India before, I knew that the students would have a lot to come to terms with. There is obviously a culture shock, but also witnessing open heart surgery could possibly prove to be a challenge. Nothing really prepares you for this type of job. You just have to get on with it and digest it all afterwards.

At the beginning of the week, we witnessed children being screened. Some of them were obviously very ill and got out of breath very easily. Surgery started on the Monday, with up to four operations being carried out each day.

One lasting memory will be of a little girl, being screened early in the week and going into surgery. On the last day we were there, I went to the recovery ward to say goodbye. Having last seen her attached to all manner of tubes and sensors, I was shocked to see her crawling around her bed playing with a family of dolls. This was just three days after having had major open heart surgery!

Overall the students coped fairly well. A few took a little time out, but they worked hard. It was a life changing experience for them all.

It was a real privilege to witness the work of the charity. If you would like to know more about them please visit

Environmental Portraiture Workshop for the RPS on April 28th.

I will be running another workshop for the Royal Photographic Society (RPS) on April 28th. This workshop is about approaches to portraiture on location. There will be plenty of practical photography, going out into the old and quirky market town of Wirksworth in Derbyshire. We will divide into small groups, to go out and about in the town. Other tutors include Paul Hill MBE and Nick Lockett MA.

‘Sitters’ and locations are arranged in advance for you to photograph – or you can go off to do your own thing. And there will be a session on how to use lighting to improve portraits, and the opportunity to get feedback on what you take.

Topics include:
– Portraits on location
– Directing people in a photo shoot
– Continuous feedback on your images
– Location lighting
– Portfoio reviews of previous work

To book please visit: The RPS Website

How to save YouTube Video and Other Documents to your iPhone

I recently received this question which I have been asked a few times on workshops.

‘Hiya. Could you suggest a quick way of downloading a YouTube video on a private account to my camera roll to allow me to use in a LumaFusion project’.

Here is one solution: Download a copy of Readdle Documents. This allows you to download files from the web. Then in the Readdle Documents built in browser go to and paste in the URL of the video. It will then allow you to select the quality you want and download. Save the downloaded file to your camera roll. Job done!

Readle Documents is a really useful app to have on your iPhone as it allows you to save and manage all types of files.

Android phones do not have the same download restrictions as iOS, so you can simply use the link in your browser and download the video.

This should only be used on private accounts or where you have permission to download the content.

Immersive Story Telling…. It’s Horses for Courses.

As I mentioned in a previous post I have recently been experimenting with producing Immersive 360 content. An early attempt was to create a factory tour of a working Pottery in Stoke on Trent. My initial still images just didn’t give you that ‘feel’ of the place. Which hasn’t really changed in a hundred years. However the 360 images allowed you to look around and really explore the environment, in a way that conventional images just couldn’t achieve.

I am not convinced that 360 content will ever go fully mainstream, especially if you have to wear goggles to view it. However for some content, it works really well. I am currently working on a project that uses 360 video and whilst doing some research, I came across the video below. It tells the story of ‘A Day In The Life Of A Trans Woman’. Initially the camera shoots from a third person perspective, but later on it becomes first person. So we get a real insight into how people are viewing and reacting to the person telling the story. Whilst there are loads of videos on YouTube using 360 video, this one is using it to tell a story in a way that couldn’t be done any other way. It is an original approach that really uses the medium well.

As an aside. The comments to the video tell a story in themselves!

Some Joys and Frustrations with Android

A quick update on my journey into Android! As some of you will know I have been experimenting with using a Samsung S7 Edge phone for Mojo. The good news is that it has opened up loads of new opportunities. I have been doing a lot of experimentation with 360 Video, using the Samsung VR goggles. This also opens up the Oculus platform, which has a lot of exciting potential.

However there have been some frustrations. The Samsung Camera App is excellent in normal light conditions, but in low light really applies too much noise reduction and sharpening. The resulting images just make skin tones look too ‘plastic’. The work around is to shoot Raw, which works fine, but requires post processing. An extra step that I was keen to avoid. The easy solution I thought would be to find an alternative photo app, that gave me more control over my .jpeg work flow. Whilst there are loads available, not all of them are compatible with my hardware and Android version. You soon get the feeling you are a beta tester. Some features work and others are just not available. I suppose it is part of the problem of being an open system with multiple manufactures. Something I never encountered with Apple.

I would be interested in hearing what camera (stills apps) people are using.

Camera FV-5 looked great. However some features including exposure compensation and Touch Exposure just didn’t work.

Open Camera was also interesting until I tried to store my images on an SD card. From then on it just crashed every time I tried to open it.

For video I am using Filmic Pro, which is as good as ever. My Audio recording needs are taken care of by Field Recorder, which has a very professional interface and is a joy to use.

So I suppose the inevitable question will be, do I miss my iPhone? I have to say for 95% of the time I would say no, but choosing apps isn’t as straight forward as on the iOS platform. More devices and more manufacturers means more choice but more potential issues. With Apple you are restricted by the hardware and the whims of one manufacturer, but everything just seems to work out of the box.

The experimenting goes on. I will report back soon!

An Immersive Tour of the Burleigh Pottery Factory – A Documentary Approach

I have always had an interest in manufacturing industry, it probably stems from my grandfather who was a pattern maker and an amazing craftsman. A few years ago I was given the opportunity to photograph at the Burleigh pottery factory in Stoke on Trent.

Burleigh is a rare success story in Stoke. Whilst most pottery manufacturing has been moved to the far East, production still takes place on site.

On entering the factory I was amazed by how everything just looked like it would have done in Victorian times. The only concession to modern manufacturing methods seemed to be the kilns, which are now gas fired. It really was like stepping back in time.

Burleigh Pottery – Transfer Department Click for bigger image.

For the next few hours I took stills, using black and white film in my Leica. I have to admit after processing the film I was really disappointed with the results. They did the job, but just didn’t capture the wonders or atmosphere of what I was seeing.

A few weeks earlier I had been approached by a web design who wanted me to do a 360 virtual tour for one of his clients. The more I thought about it, the more I was convinced that this would be a great way to capture some of the atmosphere of what I was seeing. Whilst shooting real estate or architectural pictures is pretty easy with a VR rig, trying to capture people who were moving, was a lot more challenging. To create a full 360 degree panorama, I had to shoot four images using an 8mm lens and then stitch them together using software. My approach was to get an action shot of someone working, and then, just fill in the other 270 degrees around them. I put the images online a few years ago, but soon took them down because of issues with the Flash plug in. Having now discovered a simple HTML solution, I have now posted the VR 360 tour again.

The tour can be viewed in any browser. However with a phone or a tablet you can use the built in accelerometer to ‘move’ around the images. To get the best experience try using VR Goggles. I tried it with the Samsung VR Headset, using the Oculus browser. Unlike 360 video you can really get high resolution images, so they look great. Give it a go!

Kit used: Canon 20D – Sigma 8mm Lens – PTGUI Pro – KR Pano – Affinity Photo.

The iPhone X – Fur Coat and No Knickers –Time to change!

Maybe I should start by explaining the title. In the UK we have a saying ‘Fur Coat no Knickers’, it is used to describe something that looks impressive, but in reality is nothing special. This term for me, pretty much sums up the new iPhone X. Many of the ‘ground breaking’ features, have been available on other phones for almost two years and for a much lower price. The entry model costs £999 in the UK. For many people, a substantial part of their salary!

I am disappointed in Apple, for years it has been the choice of creative people all over the world. The company under Steve Jobs was truly innovative. Their products and software changed the way people worked, in a revolutionary way. However the focus now seems to be on creating fashion/status items and to extract as much money from people as possible. My frustrations started, when they dropped the 3.5mm jack with the introduction of the iPhone 7. Half my sound accessories became redundant, and I had multiple sound sync issues. So I have decided to jump ship and try an Android phone.

Continue reading

Dealing with iOS/Android Spam

App Klaxon: For the past twelve months I have been travelling around Europe in a Campervan. I have relied on my phone for loads of things including emails. Unfortunately Email spam was getting to the point where my main email account was becoming unusable. I use spam filters on my laptop but couldn’t find anything similar for the iPhone. A few days ago I found SpamDrain it seems great so far, it has knocked out everything. There is a cost of £16.50 per year per account but it is saving me at the moment. Could be useful for Journalists travelling.

There is a 14 day free trial as well! If you use this link I get 3 months credit

Mojo, The Future and Will It Involve Apple?

I should apologise for the recent lack of posts on this blog. For the past twelve months I have been on a sabbatical from work. This has given me a lot of time to reflect and also work on a book about Mojo skills, which will be published in the New Year.

Red Hydrogen

Over the past five years, more and more journalists have come to realise that their humble phone, is capable of producing serious news content. The limiting factor is not the technology they carry, but a lack of imagination on how to fully exploit its capabilities. At the same time, some news organisations have also woken up to the fact that they can substantially cut their overheads by equipping a single journalist in the field, with nothing more than a phone, a microphone and a tripod. With news organisations like the BBC and RTE the Irish broadcaster championing the format, it has quickly grown in popularity. Continue reading

Time to Reflect

I am currently travelling around Europe in a Campervan. I have a years sabbatical from work, which has given me loads of time to reflect! On Friday I visited Sebastian Selgardo’s Genesis Exhibition in Gerona. It left me a bit cold really. (First off there was not one picture of Peter Gabriel, and to be honest I think the band went downhill after he left … sorry a joke for the over 50s) There are obviously some amazing images but as a body of work it doesn’t really have a message for me. It is too diverse. It got me thinking about why I take pictures. Down the road was a demonstration against forced redundancies outside a bank. Without thinking I started taking images….. here was a reason to get a camera (iPhone) out. To show support to people who are fighting a system that wants to throw them on the scrap heap. Thirty odd years after I started taking pictures, my goal hasn’t changed. I hope in a small way my cameras contribute to creating a better world! It sounds crass and probably what I would have said when I was a naive 17 year old, but I can’t think of any other reason why I do it. It’s certainly not for the money I earn! I will get off my soap box ????