A la recherche du temps perdu

A much belated paean to film.

It’s almost Halloween, with the summer holidays a distant speck away. Faint, though memorable, like a drifting scent on the breeze or the lingering finish of a fine wine.

Holidays are all about a break from the routine, and so it was a fitting opportunity to reawaken a long-lost love affair with film.

Back in the day it was all about 120 medium format. My weapon of choice was a Hasselblad 503CW. Streamlined Swedish design, over engineered manufacturing. Constructed with watch-like precision and the durability of a tank. Made to last, and cost a fortune.

Paired with my Hasselblad were my favourite film flavours – Ektachrome 100G, Portra 160, and APX100/400

Nowadays, it’s the Canikon DSLR hegemony, Lightroom/Capture One workflow, FTP upload. It’s the economy, stupid. No longer do clients want to pay or wait for film and processing, and digital is just so damn convenient, flexible and high quality. What’s not to like?

I guess I’m just showing my age, but I miss all that ‘hassle’, just like vinyl nerds geek out about album sleeves and turntable platters. There’s a ritualistic routine that brings with it a certain tactile joy.

Loading up that first film back, setting aperture and speed, and clunking out those first few frames was definitely Proustian. It was what holidays are meant for.

Is film ‘better’ than digital? Maybe not, just different. But the images certainly have a very different ‘feel’ to them. It’s great to have you back, baby.

Herewith, some random frames from our holiday in Gorran Haven, Cornwall.


Luck of the Irish


I’m usually pretty clueless with wedding anniversary presents as it’s overshadowed by our daughter’s birthday a couple of days before.

But shortly before this year’s (back in late September), I was in County Waterford, Ireland on a travel shoot for Conde Nast Traveller. The final location on the last day was Ardmore, a lovely little seaside village. This was where I stumbled upon Ardmore Pottery & Gallery run by the charming Mary Lincoln.

The stars had clearly aligned. It was our ninth anniversary – for which the traditional present was pottery. I was quickly drawn to the simple forms of Mary’s green pottery which was reminiscent of the malachite colour of copper roofs. She explained that the glaze was made from copper, a local metal that used to be mined nearby. It’s this mining heritage that gives rise to the name Copper Coast for the UNESCO Geopark to the east.

Within ten minutes I had a card, and a lovely cup and bowl gift-wrapped (my wife’s a breakfast cup kinda girl, and I’m a coffee bowl kinda guy). A leisurely browse around the wares of the other Irish craftworkers in stock and I was soon on the road to Cork for the flight home. Job done!

The gentle charm of Ardmore belies some real gems such as the White Horses restaurant run by the three Flavin sisters and the astonishing Michelin-starred House Restaurant. I’d definitely consider a return holiday there, and Mary even rents out a charming wooden chalet overlooking the sea, called Mullarkey’s

I coulda been a contender

Fresh tuna auction, Tsukiji fish market, Tokyo, Japan

Fresh tuna auction, Tsukiji fish market, Tokyo, Japan

I was a tad disappointed not to make the finalists of the Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year 2014.

But anyway, I made the shortlist with a ‘commended’ in the Food For Sale section for this image of the fresh (as opposed to frozen) tuna auction at the Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo.

Fresh tuna command a premium over their frozen counterpart and sell for upwards of US$10,000 each.

Check out the shortlisted entries. What great company to be in.

Here’s to next year…

Into the heart of Borneo

And whence from Hong Kong to Borneo armed with a copy of Redmond O’Hanlon’s tale of his journey into the mountainous interior of the island with poet, James Fenton.

We on the other hand headed for the less adventurous and infinitely more comfortable option of Borneo-lite – a Shangri-La beach resort next to an orangutan sanctuary.

Pool/beachside R&R aside, we did manage to tear ourselves away from the lounger long enough to fit in an orangutan encouter, riverboat trip, rainforest canopy walk and a nighttime wildlife trek in the rain.

It was but a taster of the energy-sapping humidity, and soul-destroying onslaught of mosquitos of a true rainforest adventure, made easier to bear by the proximity of hotel pool less than an hour away. Oh, I do love the smell of DEET in the morning.

So, all in all, win, win.

And by strange coincidence, Bill Bailey’s Jungle Hero documentary on William Wallace aired on BBC2 shortly after our return.

Borneo from the airFlying into Borneo

Borneo rainforestIn the rainforest canopy

A bigger splashA bigger splash – poolside R&R

Borneo sunsetAnother day, another glorious sunset

Salaam Bombay!

Guardian Travel, Sat 11 MayPublished in today’s travel section of The Guardian is Rosie Birkett‘s feature on the Irani cafe heritage of Mumbai, which you can also read online.

Beautifully evocative, wittily illuminating and above all warmly affectionate, Rosie’s piece perfectly encapsulates our wonderful trip around Mumbai back in late January with the guys from Dishoom.

Far be it for a photographer to moan about how their images are used, but here are the photos in all their glory.

Radio Restaurant, MumbaiThe wonderfully ruined Radio Cafe

Boman Kohinoor, Britannia & Co, MumbaiThe sprightly and sharply sarcastic Boman Kohinoor of Britannia & Co

Chicken berry pulao, Britannia & Co, MumbaiThe sumptuous chicken berry pulao, signature dish of Britannia & Co

Long time no see!

Easter holidays notwithstanding, it’s time to get back into the swing of things.

It’s only been a few weeks since I got back, but its like it never happened. So a v brief recap on a wet, (relatively) cold trip to Hong Kong before getting back to work matters.

Star Ferry, Hong KongThe historic Star Ferry still remains as an iconic trip down memory lane.

Wong Kar Wai, Avenue of Stars, Hong KongWong Kar Wai’s plaque on the Avenue of Stars – director of one of my favourite HK movies, In The Mood For Love.

Louis Vuitton, Hong KongHong Kong ain’t nothing without the big brand shopping…

Bombay Bootcamp Part 1

Back in late January, I was fortunate to travel to Mumbai with the v charming guys of Dishoom on a press trip arranged by PR angel, Gemma Bell for journalists from Conde Nast Traveller, olive, The Guardian and The Telegraph.

It’s pretty much set the benchmark that will be hard to beat. Ever.

IMG_0019With my travel budgets normally restricted to cattle class, it was an absolute luxury to have Club Class seats courtesy of BA. Probably only bested by a trip to France in a Learjet with Renault. The irony being that on arrival in Mumbai, everyone had to get off the plane onto a rickety bus to the terminal building.

The flight landed about 1am, but with snail’s pace immigration and building work for the new airport holding up the already gridlocked traffic, we didn’t check into the hotel (Taj Mahal Palace) until around 3am.

Still, I was eager to get up early to check things out on my first visit to Mumbai. Further posts to follow…