Is Steven Spielberg the greatest living film maker?

Yes. If you disagree please leave a comment saying who and I'll look at their work and prove you wrong. If you say Chrispoher Nolan yes, he's very good but he confused a lot of people with a few of his films. You want to be entertained not confused when watching a movie. Don't get me wrong I like all of his movies but for me Spielberg is number one. 

If you think of the films he’s directed some have been a tad off, like The Lost World: Jurrasic Park and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the crystal skull but every director has their slip-ups. I’m talking filmmaker here. He has produced so many films that without him we wouldn’t have such classics as Poltergeist, The Goonies, Gremlins, Back to the future and the list goes on. A 3 time Oscar winner, when it comes to films you know you see his name attached you’re going to get your money's worth.

He has directed some of the most memorable movies of the 20th and 21st Century. I can't think of any other director that hasn't stuck to one genre thats done that. Example Tarantino, remember his sci-fi epic, or Kubrik's kids film. He's the only one I can think of at this moment in time. 

I’m looking forward to Ready Player One. I’m reading the book at the moment and with Spielberg, at the wheel, this is going to be a great action adventure sci-fi thrill ride. I hope.
Spielberg rules the film world and has done for years. If you’ve never seen a Spielberg film I suggested you start with Jaws then move to Jurrasic Park two great monster movies at there best. Then Saving Private Ryan and Schindler's list. Then see one of the ones he produced like Back to the future. Classics.

Here's a list of Spielberg directed films you should at least watch once in your life maybe twice  

  • Jaws
  • Jurrasic Park 
  • Saving Private Ryan 
  • E.T the extra terrestrial
  • Close Encounters of the Third Kind
  • Indiana Jones trilogy
  • Hook 
  • Catch me if you can 
  • The Terminal 
  • Schindler's List
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Michael Keaton

With the success of Spider-man Homecoming, it’s hard to think that it was all down to Tom Holland performance as Peter Parker / Spider-Man. For me, Michael Keaton stole the movie. He was terrifying as Adrian Toomes / Vulture but let's look back at some of his classics.

I first came across Michael Keaton in Tim Burton‘s  Batman It was a complete change from the old Adam West TV show. Keaton was a dark version of the Batman and went on to reprise his role in Batman Returns again and what some say a better film to the original. After that Keaton played some roles that passed me by. I think I was re-watching  Batman and someone mentioned Beetlejuice  I had no idea what this was, some said it was a comedy other's a horror. Not really being a fan of horror I wasn’t too keen. I sat down and watched what is now an iconic role. Who else could play Betelgeuse?  You will always remember Keaton’s performance in Beetlejuice. So Keaton was a comic actor too who knew?

When Multiplicity came out I wasn’t too sure on it. I then saw it had been directed by the great Harold Ramis who gave us Groundhog Day and Caddyshack  I  thought what could go wrong. It’s by no way the greatest movie and very silly in parts, it’s a nice family film.  Keaton plays the role so well. Having to play four different versions of himself at points, it was very very funny.

More time goes by and Quentin Tarantino comes along with Jackie Brown not a major role but enough to remember he’s in the film and I’d say a bit of the comic relief in the film. Keaton goes on to make other films but not ones that stand out for me, well not until his amazing performance in Toy Story 3 as Ken. If you’ve not seen it what are you doing? He completely steals the film. One thing for me there wasn’t enough of Ken in the film.

Next, he ends up working with Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg in The other guys again every time Keaton was on the screen I was laughing. Keaton makes a few more films including the remake of Robocop (I won’t link this one as well, just watch the original) Then Birdman comes out and finally the Academy sits up, what a performance. Sadly he didn’t win the Oscar but it definitely reminded people he’s not just Batman or Betelgeuse he’s a true artist. The following year he stars in Spotlight another great film. Actually, both Birdman and Spotlight won the best picture award at the Oscars would they have won without Keaton? Will never know, but his brilliance is finally being shown.

The last film I saw him in and the reason I’m writing this because of The Founder that film made me think more about Keaton and how he’s been in so many classics. He is brilliant in The Founder. You go from wanting him to succeed to hating him. Not the greatest movie the directing and edited are a little bit off, not saying I could do better at all but for me, Keaton holds it all together so well.

If you’re interested in any Keaton film I’ve created links to each one of his films listed here it takes you to IMDB where you can find out more. I felt Keaton needed some more praise and I fully believe we will be saying Academy Award winner Michael Keaton sometime soon.

Michael Keaton is Batman, Birdman, Beetlejuice, The vulture and Ken to me that makes him a legend in the acting world.

I broke my camera

I haven't really but it has happened. 

So, what if you did, what do you do? Firstly obviously have a little cry and say "why does this always happen to you" once you've gotten over that rubbish you have a few options. First, take it to your local camera store. They normally will be working with a camera repair company that will charge a set rate and they will fix your camera for you after a few weeks. In theory, you can pay twice by doing it this way once to the camera shop and once to the repairers, so the price could add up. You could always go straight to the manufacturer, that's what I did. 

 With any product, you get a warranty. Sadly if the problem is accidental the warranty doesn't normally cover it,  some times they do might as well ask first. That's the same when taking the camera to your local store, if it's in warranty it could be covered. 

Taking it to the manufacturer you are guaranteed the work is done properly and it's not someone who learnt to repair the equipment by watching Youtube videos. I always recommend going to the source. They made it they should repair it. 

Best thing to do is keep your camera safe this way you won't need to go through the repair process. Keep a strap on your camera, always have a bag. it may be weatherproof but keep it out of the water. Safety first. 

What camera should I buy

When you first start in photography it can be a little tricky to know what to buy. Well here are my tips that hopefully make it less stressful for you. Firstly the make does not matter, get that out of your head. If you like Canon you're going to get a Canon if you like Sony you're going to get a Sony. What matters is, does it have a manual mode. Thats it. If it has manual mode great. Firstly if you don't know about photography and modes best thing to do is, put your camera in Shutter priority mode or Program mode and see what the camera's light meter is telling you. Normally the flashing lines will give you the information, then switch it back to manual mode and mess around with the settings. Thats the beauty of digital photography you can change all the setting and keep snapping until you're happy. Photography is a form of art so a really under exposed photo could look great compared to the "correct" exposure. 

 There are lots of things in photography you might need to know at some point but at the start as long as you get a correctly exposed image thats all that matter. It sound be fun not stressful. 

The thing I'd buy if I was starting fresh with photography 

  1. Camera with a standard zoom lens say 24-105mm or 70-300mm 
  2. Tripod
  3. Spare battery 
  4. Memory card
  5. Bag

That's about it really, you can pick up good starter kits from most camera manufactures, they will give you camera and a lens and I'm sure whatever shop you buy them from they will do you a good deal on spare battery and memory. 

Try SRS Microsystems in Watford,UK. Not only will they help you  on what camera to buy but they will help you set up your camera so you'll have no problems starting out. 

 

Be Creative

You can be very creative with photography, either in camera or in post. Long exposures, double exposures, light painting. They are the kind of things you can do in camera. in post you can do all that in theory and then some. 

This is both light painting and long exposure. Very simple really, just make sure your camera is on a tripod the room is dark. With a touch while the shutter is open light paint. Going over areas you want to stand out more. 

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Shot with flash and low ambient light to bring out the subject. I then moved the image into photoshop and edited in the sparkle effect. You can do sparkles in camera but that would mean doing a long exposure and over exposing the subject, not the look I was going for. 

In photoshop you can create actions and even purchased action from website. This image was created by using an image from Unslash.com and the Energy action by Seven Style. You can see and buy more actions by Seven style by clicking here. With all actions you can tweak them to your own style, add things and so on. 

Photoshop has change photography for the better. Be it removing spots to doing extreme things like above. The best photographers now days must be good at photoshop. 

Music videos

Any good photographer needs to offer more than just photos luckily most DSLR's and Mirrorless cameras do video and film in 1080p. High definition or HD for short. The newer models are filming in 4k, or UHD.  The more you spend on a camera the better the results. High-end, full frame, 4k cameras can cost a lot. If you're not looking to spend a lot you can get a low budget camera that will give you good results, not the best but way better than the miniDV cameras they use to produce.  I've had the chance to film a few music videos for some musical acts. Most of my video I go for the comedy angle. Stupid and silly, with good music as the key. I've seen far too many videos of bands playing on top of cliffs or in the woods. If you want people to view your videos you have to keep them entertained. That's my opinion and yes there are many good music videos with woods and cliff but I'd mainly stay for the music. I find laughter the way forward. 

Here are some of the videos I've filmed and edited 

If you're looking for a cheap, simple, funny and fun video for your musical group let me know. 

Watch photography

Now-a-days if you want to tell the time you'd look at your phone. The smart phone has changed everything from taking photos, filming videos, browsing the internet and telling the time and so on. Well, people still wear watches, and people still pay crazy sums of money for them. As a person who doesn't wear a watch but is still fascinated by the repair process, Jewellery and Watch photography are on the same line. They are both small products that need good eye catching images to sell. The more detail in a photo of a watch can definitely increase the potential of selling the item. 

The best way to shoot a watch is on a photography table, having a main light and then a few other lights to pull out the detail. Always find out what background the client wants first. In each shot you need to highlight the brand, making sure it is visible and if you need an extra bit of light and don't have any more lights, then you can use a reflector and if you don't have reflectors a white card will work nearly just as well. All product photographers have white card. It's something you'll use for the first time and think why wasn't I using this all the time. Like all products you photograph you should always focus stack the images. You can use Helicon focus or photoshop. I recommend Helicon Focus. 

I took some shots of a watch repairer, or horologist, to use the proper term. 

A guide to editing Jewellery

So you've been asked to photograph some Jewellery. Firstly you need to know what background the client wants the item on. White, Black and so on. You'd then need to shoot the item making it look the best you can. The diamonds need to sparkle, you don't want a reflection of your camera and tripod in the item, so make sure you shoot the item correctly. I'll go into shooting jewellery in more depth in the future. 

Now the item is shot but the background isn't pure white. What do you do? Firstly take the image into photoshop. Create a new copy of the image in a new layer, on mack thats cmd and J. Once on you have your new layer make sure that the correct layer is selected. 

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With this image above, I wanted one part of the necklace, so with the pen tool you cut out your item. The pen tool is very tricky to use if you don't know how, I'm still trying to figure it out now. If you can't get to grips with it you can use the quick selection tool by pressing W on a mac keyboard. The quick selection tool is great but not a precise as the pen tool so make sure you check the area you want to cut out is selected correctly before the next step. 

Once the item is selected again create a new layer via copy so cmd J on the keyboard. This will cut your selected item out and put it on a new layer. 

This image is an example and not cut out correctly 

This image is an example and not cut out correctly 

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Then, make sure the layer below is selected and create a new blank layer. Once that is open and selected press shift and F5 giving you the Fill box. Make sure the fill content is White and mode is normal and the opacity is 100% then click ok. 

Once that is done turn on your above layer. The cut out image, if you've cut it out correctly, should end up with your item on a pure white background. 

You'll know its pure white by picking the eyedropper tool and selecting any part that is white and if the # is #ffffff then its pure white 

Layer mask 

Layer mask 

Once that's done, you can create a reflection. This is achieved by copying the original cut out and going to EDIT in the menu bar and clicking transform. In the transform section, selecting Flip Vertical. You would then, whilst holding the shift key drag the second image below allowing the two bass parts to just about meet. Once they meet you would go back to the layers panel and create a layer mask.

You would then choose the gradient tool, and from there pick the Foreground to Transparent mode. Whilst on your new layer you would drag up. This will softly blend away, giving the impression of a reflection. 

Once this is all done you can perform the normal editing changing levels and brightness of your item and maybe some colour correction. Though if you have shot the image correctly you wouldn't have much to do.

I hope this helps anyone trying to reach these types of results. 

Equipment update

As a photographer, you always here gear isn't everything. It's true you can use your phone and get an amazing photo nowadays. Though when you have the right equipment you can get that amazing shot nearly every time. I recently sold my Canon 70-200 f2.8 mkii lens, for a Canon 100mm f2.8 macro as I wanted to concentrate on shooting jewellery and products. I do miss the 70-200mm yes, but I wasnt using it as much as I would have liked. 

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The 70-200 is the best portrait lens I've ever used. If you're shooting a wedding its great due to the focal length and the wide aperture. You can be some distance away and get a great portrait. A lot of photojournalist have them to get them celebrity shots. If you're shooting portraits it's definitely the lens you'd want to invest in. Saying that I don't mean only if you shoot with Canon. The new mirrorless systems are taking photography to the next stage. The new Sony A9 which is being focused mainly as a sports camera, would also be great as a wedding camera and with the 70-200 on an adapter you wouldn't miss a shot.  

The canon 100mm f2.8 lens in theory is an  upgrade. Upgraded is a odd word when the cost is nearly half the 70-200mm but this lens does what I want it to do. I'm actually looking to get a wide angle macro as well in the future so I can cover all the products I wish to photograph. You can get such detail with this lens, its 1:1 macro so the whole sensor will be covered. If shooting small objects its something you'd want to invest in. 

 

Moving forward, an upgrade of my camera body is needed. Having the Canon 5d Mkiii for nearly 5 years now, I feel it is being left behind. Not only by Canon themselves with the MKIV being released earlier this year but also the mirrorless systems. I had looked at the Canon 5DS for more megapixels due to product work but Sony had the A7Rii which has a larger number of megapixels than I'm using now, not as many as the 5DS but it was smaller and had a lot more gadgets built in. I kept hearing bad things about Sony and there battery life and single memory card slot. So I've held off, and mainly because they cost a lot. I don't mean a few hundred, a few thousand. Even with selling all my gear I could maybe afford the body, so no lenses, and a camera with out a lens is pointless and stupid.

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Sony then come along and bring out the A9 which is only a few more megapixels than I'm using now, the extras 20 fps, when would I use that? Probably never, unless shooting a wedding or sports event. How often does that happen, not very. Which is sad actually. I like shooting weddings. 693 focus point, my Mkiii has 60ish thats a massive jump. Total silent shooting mode, perfect for golf shots or even weddings. This camera does it all it seems. Dual SD card slots and a battery upgrade and ability to add a grip. Oh, and also no black out. No black out?  On normal cameras the shutter opens and the viewfinder or screen goes black well, with the A9 this doesn't happen, you just keep shooting. The focus tracking is working all that time too. So you're never not in focus. Again why would I need this if Im only shooting products? It's better to have and not use than to not have and need. BUT, a big but there, the cost. £4,499. no lenses. This camera is to compete with the Canon 1Dx and the Nikon D5 both professional sports cameras costing around the £5,000 to £6,500. So the Sony is cheaper. Does a product photographer need one. No. I don't believe they do.  Do I want one, 100% yes, if money wasn't a problem, yep I'd think I'd fully change from Canon to Sony. 

Till then I'm still using my Canon 5D mkiii, with the 100mm attached and when doing some landscapes I have the 24-105 f4.5 and for portraits I use the 50mm F1.8 and the 85 f1.4, though I still miss the 70-200 f2.8 it's still the best lens for portraits. 

Product photography

Having a Jewellery/Watchmaker father I've seen a lot of Jewellery and watches in my time. I use to look at the photographs on websites and think who took them? God that must be an easy job. You place the object on white paper take photo and that's that. Oh how wrong I was. For someone who has shot gigs, wedding, babies, family portraits and model portraits. Product photography is the hardest. Lighting is key, bad lighting the object looks poor, the client won't sell their items and you won't get work again, There are many different ways to lighting objects  from a home made light box, to a light tent or a LED light box.

home made light box

home made light box

light tent 

light tent 

LED light box 

LED light box 

Having used all three types I can say the best way to light an object is full control. You'll need a lighting table and a good few flashes. This allows you to control where each part of the light will go. Control comes with modifiers mainly. Snoots and soft boxes are the way forward. You don't need to use all the power the flash will give you but with a snoot on your flash you can send a direct beam of light to the point you want to enhance, say a label on a beer or wine bottle. The best way is to try it out. 

As I said at the start, I have a Jeweller for a farther so I started shooting some of his items. I noticed I was getting the best quality even with an LED light box or a table set up. What I needed was a macro lens. When it comes to Jewellery, you want to see all the details and you can't reach that without a macro lens. I said goodbye to my 70-200 f2.8 mkii, there was a tear or two and got the canon 100mm f2.8 macro and the canon 85mm f1.8 as I'm still wanting to do portraits. 

The 100mm is incredible, the detail is amazing. I take a shot and think, why the hell is it not all in focus? Thats when I discovered focus stacking. Focus stacking is taking an object and photographing it many times, each time changing the focus point and then with photoshop stitching it all together. So I gave that a try and what do you know, they all looked rubbish. Photoshop wasn't doing what I wanted it to. So I searched the web spent many a time on youtube seeing what am I doing wrong. The images are all correctly lit the lighting hasn't changed why am I getting a blurry mess of a photo. Thats when I found Helicon focus. This software stitched every image together giving me super sharp images. That any jeweller would want on their site. Helicon Focus also came with Helicon remote, an extra bit of software that allows you to tether your camera to your computer and control how many shots you want to take, what the aperture and exposure will be on on your camera and it shows you the DOF and what's in focus. You can set it up to shoot from 1 image to 999 images, but I don't know why you would shoot that many. Most jewellery items are between 8 and 30 shots depending on the detail you require. Once the images are shot it will then take you to Helicon Focus and stack the images together. 

For any photographer looking at Jewellery photography or macro photography focus stacking is the key and everything is so sharp.

The Space between

In photography standing out from the millions of photographers is near impossible now days. Everyone and their mum is a photographer.  You have to do something different. 

I then searched the web and was seeing great photos but mainly night time landscapes. Though they were taken up very tall building and well that's not for me. The photos produced look amazing but the portraits were all the same. I get it if you're selling a object and you have a model you don't want some crazy colours distracting from the product. 

I thought I'd try some effects on my portraits and see what happens. The response has been good, I've gotten about 100 new Instagram followers, which I know isn't a lot now days but its a start. 

I think the new style stands out more and is something that I'll keep doing. 

So models, companies, bands or who ever wants a new photo in this style get in contact

info@lawrencewalters.co.uk 

Top Ten Comedy films

Everything has gotten so serious, it's crazy. The world has gone and lost the plot. Like a crap movie on the "Movies for men" channel. Thankfully there's comedy films that can take away the rubbish for a few hours. The good thing about comedies they aren't to long that you get bored. Well here's a few comedy films you need to see before you move to the country and buy a goat.

First on the list is "Step Brothers". Staring Will Ferrell and John C. Reily. The story is set around two middle-aged men living with their parents at the ripe old age of 39-and 40. The two characters are very much alike by both having the mental age of about 14/15. It's like they never grew up for whatever reason, bad parents maybe? 

This is a film you need to see if you just want to escape and watch two idiots. It has so memorable moments, I would go into each one but that would take far too long. The boats and hoe's scene is hilarious.

Next up "Superbad" the story of three friends trying to make it to a party with booze. Written by Seth Rogen and Even Goldberg who actually wrote the first script when they were 13 years old. The main characters are named Seth and Even after the writers them selves. The dialogue is extremely rude and with some great casting of double oscar nominee Jonah Hill and odd bod Michael Cera, who act it in such away you believe they are teenagers looking to get the booze and the girls. the sub plot of Fogell fake ID with the one name of McLovin really steals the movie. Seth Rogen and Bill Hader play the two police officers sent to investigate an incident in a Liquor store where Fogell has used his fake ID and from there it just gets better and better. A laugh a minute.  

When a TV show makes it to the big screen it's normally just a money making scheme. Maybe Trey Parker was just making "South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut" to make more money, maybe he wanted that Jet Ski I'll never know. Though this film is definitely an upgrade. The swear words aren't bleeped out for TV and in what world can you have Saddam Hussein being the devils lover? Only in South Park. When I saw this in the cinema I laughed so much it hurt. I'm not a fan of musicals and didn't know this was one. The songs are well placed and have a lot to do with the plot and they will stick with you for years. I was surprised when I found out it had an oscar nomination for best original song "Blame Canada", an 15 rated animated film about 4 friends seeing a movie that makes them swear in front of their parents resulting in a crazy over protective mother blaming the country that the film comes from and then talking the government into going to war with them. It's also a Guinness world record holder, as the most swear words in an animated film. 399 swear words, now thats a lot. 

The Farrelly brothers have brought you some classic comedies in the past and probably will do again. Though it is their first movie directing and writing together that still holds up as one of the funniest films. "Dumb and Dumber" Staring Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels, as the two friends that go on a road trip to Aspen, Colorado to return a briefcase. The little bits in the film add up to it being one of the films you can watch over and over. With the dead parrot being a slight play on Monty Pythons sketch you can't not laugh. The doggy stomach and broken toilet scene, brings more of the childish comedy into play and the way the little things, how Jim Carrey character can't read simple words and Jeff Daniels helping him, Yet Jeff Daniels character reading a map is quiet something, "According to the map, we've only gone 4 inches." A film that is on any comedy loving fans list.

Borat Sagdiyev, what a guy. A news reporter by day and ladies toilet photographer by night. Sacha Baron Cohen has created a character that offended a nation. He did it so well too, In "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan" Borat travels to America to learn about and interview important American people for his job, but after seeing Pamela Anderson in "Baywatch" he sets out on a mission to travel across America to find her in California. Having the general public involved and not know they are being filmed is definitely why Borat is such a loved creation by Sacha Baron Cohen. The shock factor, of the stuff he does. Trying to buy a women on the street of New York, "very nice, how much?" This is not for everyone, I've tried to tell people to watch it but they hate Ali G and well its 2016 theres no talking to anyone, even if it is a completely different character.

A good comeback story, or underdog story, can really make a film. Look at Wales or Iceland in the football this summer, underdogs doing something people didn't expect, Ok neither team won but they did very well. In movies it's differnent the loser has to get the girl, score the goal, beat the bully. You don't want a sad ending, actually I don't think many films have sad ending. Well apart from "The Decent" that was a total holy crap ending, if you see it in America it's different. Happy, happy joy, joy ending. Anyhow "Dodgeball: A true underdog story" The story of a really nice guy, that owes loads of money to the banks. With the group of "losers" that use his gym they need to make $50,000 in a so many days or Ben Stiller the mean owner of the gym next door buys it and turns it into a parking lot. Ben Stiller plays a brilliant bad guy in this, normally he's the nice guy in films. It was good to see him going overboard as "White Goodman". His real life wife Christine Taylor is playing the love interest of Vince Vaughn's character "Peter La Fleur". When the three of them are together there are some memorable scenes. "Nobody makes me bleed my own blood - nobody!"

The supporting cast are great with some stupid one liners and some scene stealing parts. Patches O'Houlihan played by Rip Torn (cool name) will make you crack up, "Holy hell, son, you're about as useful as a cock-flavored lollipop"  It's nice feel good movie where you know what's going to happen but you still need to watch it. With each viewing little bits will pop out that you missed. The DVD commentary is just an add to the comedy genius of this film. The two main actors do nothing but fight and storm off about 40 minuets into it and is replaced by the commentary for "There's something about Mary" the actual comedy is hidden in the extras but I never found it. Also whats a DVD?

Will Ferrell again with director Adam Mckay this time Will Ferrell plays the instant legend Ron Burgundy in"Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy" catchy title. This film is a laugh riot, from the first time you see Ron Burgundy till the end. The film is based around a man at the top of his game trying to and failing hard to deal with the loss of his job and to a women. That sort of stuff doesn't matter now days, but in the 70's it could really break a man. The add lib lines are what stand out the most when Will Ferrell and Christina Applegate are trying to say nasty things about each other at the end of the news report. Steve Carell plays the extremely dumb weather man Brick Tamland and pretty much steals every scene he's in. 

"I'm Brick Tamland. People seem to like me because I am polite and I am rarely late. I like to eat ice cream and I really enjoy a nice pair of slacks. Years later, a doctor will tell me that I have an I.Q of 48 and what some people call mentally retarded." all this is being said as he puts mayonnaise into a toaster and turns it on. Brilliant. Paul Rudd or Phoebe from "Friends" husband or as some have come to know him now as, "Ant-man" does a really good job at playing the layed back cool one, well, he thinks he's cool. The sex panther part is again a great bit of writing from Will Ferrell and Adam Mckay. The lines the background actors say about the smell are on point. Another hit. shame the sequel was rubbish and so long. Ah well. 

Coming from a Saturday night live sketch Mike Myers and Dana Carvey made the jump to big screen in "Wayne's World" the story of Wayne Campbell and his friend Garth Algar as they sell there public access TV show to a local station. The producer of the show wants to change thing and steal Waynes girlfriend Cassandra. It's a classic with amazing moments. The Bohemian Rhapsody bit is pure brilliance and I believe because of this scene the song entered the American Billboard charts again 16 years after it's release reaching number 2. Not bad for a comedy film to get a band in the charts again. Ok it is up there with the greatest song of all time but the film made people remember and go out and buy it. Anyhow Mike Myers has a lot of characters under his belt from Austin Powers to Shrek I still think Wayne is his best, I'd love to see a third film, though not sure it would work they being older and that. The sequel is actually not that bad either. 

It's that time again, the Eddie Murphy time. So last time I spoke about him in John Landis's classic Christmas movie "Trading Places" well the two are together again this time in " Coming to America" abouta Prince that travels to Queens, New York to find a wife. Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall both play multiple characters and with the amazing make up by Rick Baker (who had just recently won the first oscar for makeup on another John Landis film "American Werewolf in London")  you can't tell its them. The barber shop scenes are the best laugh out loud bits in the film but the story as a whole is one you can watch over and over and still not be happy he gets the girls in the end. It's an American film you think they won't let him get the girl? Look out for some cameos too, you have young Cuba Gooding jr in there and Samuel L Jackson. Not to mention Darth Vader as the king. James Earl Jones likes to play a King doesn't he? Classic 80's, they really don't make films like this anymore, just rubbish remakes. 

Last is Ghostbusters, you've seen it. You know what happens, you know it all, I have 3 copies of it on Blu-Ray, One copy is due to the brilliant art work done by Dan Mumford and the others I dunno, special edition steel books maybe. Anyhow brilliant film written by Dan Aykroyd and the late Harold Ramis. A lot of the lines and scenes are improvised, when you have Bill Murray as the main actor you know it's going to be funny. It's was a smash hit at the time and I'm lucky enough to have seen it on the big screen, no not when it first came out, I'm old, but not that old. Even with the remake/reboot this year it makes you see why this is such a great movie and how sad it is that we don't get films like this anymore. All films start with a story and this is simple yet works so well. Ghosts, lets catch them, stop the world from ending and then kiss the girl. It's a story told oh so many times, "Ghosts are real" ok that line is taken from the reboot as a joke at how bad the writing is. If you've not seen it, watch this one then the remake and ask yourself why did they do this? The answer is, money. 

So thats my list, it's long I know, but actually only ten.

 This is my opinion, I can not be wrong as it's only an opinion before you start saying I missed this and that out. 

Here's the order I'd have them 

 

  1. Ghostbusters
  2. Superbad
  3. Coming to America
  4. Dumb and Dumber
  5. South Park
  6. Anchorman 
  7. Step Brothers
  8. Wayne's World
  9. Dodgeball
  10. Borat         

Top Ten Christmas films

Christmas is a special time isn't it. A time for family, giving, love, booze and all that jazz. It's actually about what films are going to be on the normal telly box, the first 5 Channels and maybe that freeview crap.

 Every year, I bet, when the TV/Radio times comes with the Christmas listings you're all "ooh whats on?" Every bloody year, ITV love to put "Hot Fuzz" on, not like its been on ITV2 10 times already this year along with "The Mummy". Anyhow, lets not get into how bad ITV are with their movie choices. 

Christmas films. Well you've got to have the main ones in your list and mines no different. I won't go into those ones you already know.

Lets start 

" It's a wonderful life",  "Home Alone" and "Jingle all the way 2", Ok I joke about "Jingle all the way 2", that one can go in the bin. Yes, the Christmas lists must consist of the main two "A wonderful Life" it's something for the older generation and "Home Alone" for the youngsters, or 30 somethings. They need to be on every Christmas list. 

Now the rest is the tricky part. Is 'Die Hard" the greatest Christmas film?  Sad to say, No. I'd love it to be, I love that film. It has a brilliant performance of a bad guy by the late, great, Alan Rickman and so much action it's silly. The only Christmasy bits, really, are the music and the Christmas tree that falls over near the end. We know it's Christmas Eve, but if this film was set at Easter or in July or whenever it wouldn't matter and would still be a great action movie. Thats why It's on the list. 

So we have 3 films already, what's next. More 80's?

Ok then, "Gremlins" This is a classic. A lovely American town, covered in snow, a child that dresses as a Christmas tree and tiny monsters going ape shit. What more do you want? Ah, I know, Santa falling off a roof. 

"Gremlins" is a story of a boy that doesn't listen to his Grandfather. Basically if that kid at the start didn't sell the Dad the Mogwai none of the troubles would have happened and people wouldn't have died. No one wants a death at Christmas. Even that mean old hag Mrs Deagle didn't deserve to die. It's a much darker film than you think. They tell you Santa Claus isn't real and in the original script by Chris Columbus the Gremlins eat Billy’s dog and roll his mother’s decapitated head down the steps of the family home. Merry Christmas. See, listen to you're elders when it comes to freaky little creatures.

Next on the list is "Elf", the modern classic, loved by all. It's so stupid it's fun. It brings a smile to your face. Some of the lines Will Ferrell says are genius "Good news, I saw a dog today"  are being used on a daily basis whatever time of year. I do have one bit of negativity on the film, well, more on Santa really. When they find Buddy in the bag, why don't they take him back? You stole a child! Ok it was from the orphanage but at least one of the Nuns are going to get into trouble, they lost a child. Thats the only problem I have. The film as a whole is spot on. More than enough for children to be entertained for a few hours and humour for adults to enjoy. 

Love is all around, well maybe not in "Love Actually" but it is a good British Christmas film. Eight different stories and in some way all connected. So many stars. Ah, Alan Rickman again. This time he's a bad guy. Hang on a second did he only play bad guys? I find Bill Nighy's character really interesting, some of his lines are really on form and well written by Richard Curtis"Yes I have, Ant or Dec. It's a - it's a personalised felt tip pen" "Hiya Kids, Here is an important message from your Uncle Bill. Don't buy drugs. Become a pop star, and they give you them for free"

The film shows so many different ways love can be all around. Setting it at Christmas really makes the film. I think without the Christmas backdrop it wouldn't be as good. 

3D is a thing that came and went didn't it, well, did you know the third Harold and Kumar film was called "A very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas" The 3D parts are a gimmick really but the film as a Christmas movie is something else.  A good buddy movie with the standard stupidness of Harold and Kumar you've come to expect in the past. It's a film not for the children if you were thinking about putting it on. The jokes are offensive and some of the scenes are in bad taste but you can't not laugh. As for Neil Patrick Harris doing a big musical number. He steals the movie again, just like he did in the other two. Worth a watch if you're over 18 and don't find drugs use and rude naughty words offensive. 

Muppets, no not that guy you know from the pub, the Jim Henson lot. "The Muppet Christmas carol" is one of the best film versions of Charles Dickens "A Christmas Carol". The muppet twist makes it funny and well worth a watch, the songs will stick with you for years. The buddy comedy between Rizo the rat and Gonzo the great as the narrators will have you in stitches. Some of the lines from the pair are spot on and good for adults and children. "Mother always taught me: Never eat singing food"  It also shows Michael Caine isn't just a "geezer" actor and has a soft side. Must be hard acting with The Muppets.

EDDIE MURPHY!!! The real hero of the 80's films, I don't think I can name a bad Eddie Murphy film from the 80's. Well, he starred along with another big name of the 80's Dan Aykroyd in "Trading Places" a film by John Landis who already had hits with "An American werewolf in London" and "Animal House". Based slightly around the story of "The Prince and Pauper". Being a dark comedy and very funny it still holds up as a classic Christmas story of revenge. The bad guys, played by film legends Ralph Bellamy and Don Ameche really keep the film moving. Their bet between each other to see if Eddie Murphy's character can do the job that Dan Aykroyd's character is doing is to do with race and class. The story shows you can lose everything but if you have people around you at Christmas you can come together and get revenge, thats the true meaning of Christmas, right? Revenge! Classic film and definitely one of my favourites.

"Bad Santa" is a story of a drunken conman with the skill to crack safes that dresses up as Santa in big department store to rob it on Christmas Eve with his little helper. Billy Bob Thornton played the role of "Willie" drunk most of the time. That is commitment to the role. The film is stolen from Billy Bob by Brett Kelly playing the kid "Thurman Merman" His stupid questions to "Willie"  that annoy him constantly. He calls him Santa, knowing he's not . It's a story of friendship, where even if you are the bad guy you can still have a heart and how the Christmas season can make you know your life is a mess and it's not all about having money. Bad Santa is a very funny film and one you can watch year in year out. 

This is my list and here's the order i'd have them in.

  1.  Elf
  2.  Home Alone
  3.  Die Hard
  4.  Trading Places 
  5.  It's a wonderful life 
  6.  The Muppet Christmas Carol
  7.  Gremlins
  8.  Bad Santa 
  9.  Love actually 
  10.  A very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas 

It changes depending on the year. 

Other films you should see around the Christmas period are

A miracle on 34th street, Home Alone 2,  Krampus, Scrooged, Die Hard 2, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, The Holiday and The Grinch

 

 

Editing

First of all this isn't a lesson on how to use photo editing software or anything similar, it's just giving information about what I use when editing photos, designing a poster or editing a video.

 I shoot all my photographs in Raw. What is Raw I hear you say? Well, it's a file format that captures all the image data recorded by the sensor, not like Jpeg, which is compressed and you lose bits. Raw gives you the best quality and with the amazing software from Adobe you can take a photo you thought was rubbish and make it into something brilliant. Adobe has lots of different software for photo editing. I do a lot of mine in Lightroom

Before Lightroom

Before Lightroom

After Lightroom 

After Lightroom 

Everyone knows about Photoshop it's the one that can take your spots and bumps away right? Well, it does loads more than that. I do all my poster design in photoshop. It gives you a plane canvas which you can just draw on. 

Before Lightroom and Photoshop

Before Lightroom and Photoshop

After Lightroom and Photoshop 

After Lightroom and Photoshop 

When editing videos I use Premier Pro and After effects. Premier is simple and has everything you need to work on your video footage be it 1080p or 4K it works. After effects allows you to put in those extras and special effects. Fire balls, flying cars whatever you want to imagine.

Light

Everything in photography is about light. How much you let in is the key. The less your image is going to be darker and the more it will be brighter. Now over or under exposure of your sesor or film can work to make a great photograph. Just remember photography is a form of art. You don't have to follow the rules.  

image.jpg

Light can come from any place, be it the sun, a flash or a lighter and so on. Without the light you can't get that image 

From Sunglasses to camera straps

As my previous blog said I like Peak Design. So I thought I'd go into more detail about  The slide and how I found them. 

While on twitter, not doing much, a tweet from Tom Welsh (@getdeluxe) appears regarding new sunglasses made by people that are in the video and photography business. I thought "hey this could be interesting"  

I've ended up on Indiegogo and on the Tens sunglasses campaign, The video makes these glasses look incredible and at such a low price. I buy two. They are the best pair of glasses i've ever owned, strong and what you see when you have them on just makes everything look better. Even on a cloudy day.  

So I've just found this great site where you can fund products before they are made and get them at a much lower price than when they go on sale to the public. This was brilliant, why had no one told me about this. I googled crowdfunding sites and came across Kickstarter.

Click the glasses to find out more. 

 It was there where I thought what about camera accessories. The first one I come across was Peak Design and The Slide. Which had sadly ended already but I watched the video and wanted in. This strap is a thing of beauty. When owning a camera you want it to be safe and secure when not using it. This did it all! The anchor link quick correntors clips are a great idea, simple to connect and strong. The strap its self has a padding and a non-slip webbing like on a seatbelt. The adjustment part is something that makes changing the size super easy. Clip, then slide it to fit your body. It can be a shoulder strap, a neck strap or a sling style camera holder. If you're looking for a new strap this is the one. Peak Design at the top of there game, I wonder if they will ever move into making cameras?  5/5

 See their kickstarter video below 

Music photography

Ah, the type of photography I enjoy the most. When photographing music events it's best to know the music already. You can prepare by listening to the groups before hand, get to know the songs. Even better is to watch a live YouTube video that way you can get to know their set and know when they are going to play the hits or when they are going to do those jumps and go into the crowd. 

Bane - Camden Underworld London  

Bane - Camden Underworld London  

Message the band, always good to build up a relationship with them. Up and coming bands are always looking for photos. You will have to offer your service for a low rate or even free but with a band getting bigger they could use you again. Exposure is a good thing.  

The Hell - Black heart London  

The Hell - Black heart London  

Group shots are great, you get to meet the band, talk to them learn what type of style they want. No more in the woods photos thank you. You can learn different poses from looking at other images from magazines and on line. Do something different than what you've seen just make sure everyone's in the shot. Experiment with lighting too, anything that makes the image stand out. 

Brawlers -EP recording Watford 

Brawlers -EP recording Watford 

Walks

Yeah, this is a very simple one, when you go for walk take your camera with you. I'm not talking about your smart phone, you don't have the control which can make all the difference.  Manual control is what I think all cameras should come with, full control is the way forward. Automatic is only for my car. 

Click image for Walkit.com 

Click image for Walkit.com 

What's better than walking your dog? You both get the exercise you need and you can get some great shots.