Snap chat. Learning from old snaps.

Shop Girl

It’s instructive to look back at your old snaps and learn from them. I reviewed at a set of people images I took from my first Turkey photography trip.

They’re serviceable, but they would’ve been much better pictures if I hadn’t I zoomed in, lopping off the top of heads. I seem to have had a tendency to get in for the portrait without noticing much else around. Apart from the man reading the book and the shop girl at the doorway, the images don’t have much in the way of context. Even in those two, I could’ve stood back a bit further. I haven’t given you much in the way of a story … although the Lollipop Boy’s story is pretty self-evident ! He would’ve benefited from more of the wonderful wall texture in the background. I needed to give him more space.

So, my lesson here is to remember to stand back and look at what else is around. Have you learnt any lessons from your own pictures?

~ Spotted Cow

Lollipop boy


Bearded man

My friends are in Turkey

Evil eyes

My Journey Anatolia photography friends are in Turkey right now. There is one photography trip every year and I’ve been to Turkey with them 3 times in the last 7 years, all on different itineraries.

I’m obviously not there this year and I’m watching enviously as they post their daily phone images on Facebook. I know that the really good stuff will come after the trip when they’ve reviewed their takings and put in some processing time.

These guys changed my photography enormously.  I look back at the images from my first trip when I fancied myself as someone who knew a thing or two. Honestly, the overall quality was poor, terrible even. There were the odd ok images and I’ll post them here next time (as something to learn from!)

~ Spotted Cow

Goodbye Summer

Summer Holidays

I’m hanging onto the warmth for as long as I can. London has had a fantastic summer this year and I’ve been on three (!) holidays, which is very indulgent.

There was the May week to my friend D’s remote village of Esparragosa de Lares in Spain. Then, two weeks on a Turkey photography tour in July. And finishing off with a super hot August Seville flamenco and eating week. They were all very different trips and I thoroughly enjoyed the variety. Click on the tags to read the posts.

Since I’ve taken all my annual leave in the summer months, I am now chained to the office desk until Christmas when I see my family. However, not to worry. There’s plenty in and around London for weekend diversions. Coincidentally, there are 3 B’s on my list – Brighton (sea air), Bletchley Park (code-breaking, espionage and Enigma machines) and ballet at the Royal Opera House. Stay tuned.

Out-of-town readers, if you fancy a London weekend, they’re giving one away on the London’s Autumn Season video on the Visit Britain website. Come visit !

~ Spotted Cow

Three is a good number


As you know, I’ve been posting stories and pictures from my Journey Anatolia photography trip to North East Turkey. The trip is for all levels of photography and every evening we submitted an image for the Photo of the Day discussion. I enjoyed these sessions because I could reflect on the day, look at other people’s pictures and think about how I might shoot differently.

One of my takeaways was that whenever an image came up that had three people or objects, the concluding comment post-discussion would always be “… and three is a good number”.

I hadn’t thought about that. But of course, you get the optimal balance and asymmetry with having three objects. Three reasons are better than two when you’re arguing a case in point. Goldilocks and the Two Bears wouldn’t be quite the same, would it? Unlike the Rule of Thirds, it’s not a rule of thumb as such. But if you are fortunate enough to have three things in your picture, the composition looks a little bit more even … in spite of three being an odd number. Go figure.

~ Spotted Cow

Lady in doorwayThree ladies on a pilgrimage

A man came up the road

A man came up the road

One day, we hopped out of the minibus to take the obligatory tourist photo of a ruined castle in the distance, and a man came ambling up the cobbled road, umbrella at the ready for the coming rain.

He saw us – 10 obviously foreign touring photographers and two guides, cameras all pointing in one direction – and he stopped. He told us what a wonderful thing we were doing, photographing his beautiful countryside. He shook hands with all of us, conceded to a few photographs, and went off on his merry way to a cheer of goodbyes.

It was a simple incident. Not more than 15 minutes passed. Nevertheless, it amazed me everyday how amiable the rural Turkish people are.

~ Spotted Cow

Man tells us how wonderful the countryside is Man went off on his merry way

Cow Stories

Cows in the mist

Seeing as we are the Wandering Cows and I was in lots of pastoral places in rural Turkey, it would seem appropriate to include a post on cow pictures. Here are my favourites.  Most feature cows in the mist as we were up high and the clouds were low.

The people of the Kaçkar have two – sometimes three – homes, and they move up and down the mountain seasonally for their livestock to graze. In the summer, they are in the high pastures and many of these are not accessible in the winter because of snow.

I have decided that cows are more personable than other domestic creatures, like chickens for example. Cows have very engaging facial expressions and chickens do not ! Here in the Kaçkar, there are no fences and the cows roam freely, allowing me to get up close with the camera.

~ Spotted Cow

Cow in mist Cow with cowherdsCow peering out of pen

Telling stories

Animated Lady 1

I told you that I went on a Journey Anatolia photography trip to Turkey, up into the remote North-East. The focus is mainly on people photography … and I have to say, the people in this area are remarkably friendly and hospitable. They would offer us cups of tea and tell us stories of their lives.

In one of the Çamlıhemşin villages, we met this lovely smiley lady who was very animated and she chatted away to us with wonderful energy. Our guide translated, although only inadequately, because she kept talking over him!

I too hope that when I’m at a grand old age and dependent on a crutch, that I will sit on my daybed outside my door and regale the occasional passing visitor with my tales. Ha !

~ Spotted Cow

Animated Lady 3Animated Lady & GuideAnimated Lady 4

Day One. Warm-up shots.

Interested ladies

It took me a bit of time to warm-up to the rhythm of shooting pictures on the Turkey photography tour. Believe me, it’s a pretty intense activity when your main focus is taking in the surroundings and looking for images.

It was proposed and agreed that we would each submit a Photo of the Day at the end of everyday so that we could be constructive and learn from each other’s pictures. There was huge emphasis placed on the fact that it was not a competition … which was duly made into a joke if anyone became too aggressive. Nevertheless, the pressure was on.

We were based in the minute town of Çamlıhemşin and our first full day was spent visiting the local villages and meeting the people. We had a local guide with us to break the ice.

The image of the two ladies on a bench against a pink wall was the one I submitted for Photo of the Day. Phew! To be honest, up to that point, I didn’t think I had anything worth showing anyone. However, I did have three to choose from by the evening. Below are the other two. Would you have made the same choice?

~ Spotted Cow

Two ladies at the door Lady with duck


People Photography. Turkey.

Children from a violin family

I’m off to Turkey soon with my photography friends from Journey Anatolia. I’ve been on the trip twice before – once around Western Turkey and a second time to the South East. This year we’re going to the North East, near Georgia, and I’m excited.

I’m excited about meeting up with my friends Rod & Anne, and Serkan. Rod & Anne are the trip photography mentors, and Serkan is the Turkish-English tour guide, translator and Journey Anatolia proprietor.

The single most important thing they taught me about photographing people is to interact with them. Talk to them, even when you can’t speak the language. Gesticulate, make a joke, laugh, anything. You get a much better photo when people are relaxed, consenting and looking into the camera. It helps that the Turkish people are so warm and wonderfully hospitable.

The second most important thing they told me was not to cut off people’s extremities when taking the photo – feet, hands, top of the head.  I used to do it with singular regularity.

These are some of my pictures from the last trip to the South East. I’m hoping to hone my technique some more.

~ Spotted Cow

Man with green hat Street vendor Man with fans Turkish woman with headscarf