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10 Questions with Paul Salter – conqueror of Mount Kilimanjaro (and our Internal Hero!)

September 18, 2013
This week, we are introducing Paul Salter, PhotoBox’s very own User Experience Architect, who recently took on the formidable task of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro – all in the name of charity Childreach; the raised money went to a school in Africa. Here is an insight into his experiences and how this daring encounter has left him craving more. 1. What motivated you to go there? Adventure! This was coupled with my desire to do something that truly makes a difference and for a charity, Childreach. Though if I am totally honest, it stemmed from one of my colleague’s ideas at PhotoBox. Whilst I was a junior, he told me about his desire to do it someday, and a few years later, I saw Childreach advertising the challenge and thought, I’ll do it! I then promptly went home and signed up. 2. How long did the whole climb take? I did the Machame route – which is not just the most popular route, but it is one of the most difficult routes due to lack of acclimatization. So it took four days and one night to get to the summit and then a day and a half to return to the point at which we could breathe properly… and get a bus back to civilisation! 3. How much preparation was there involved (for travel preparations, injections and so on)? A lot. I was a pincushion leading up to it. I had 15 days off in the end for the climb, so a tidy three weeks off work! 4. What were the highlights of your trip?   Meeting James (below)  – an orphan I happened to have the pleasure of meeting before my climb. Playing what I like to call ‘danger football’ (rocks, hills & potholes the size of a car on the field) with the kids from the school that the raised money went to. Walking through Moshi on my own and happening to make friends with some locals who I had a beer with. The camaraderie with my fellow trekkers. Hitting the second to last summit (this was the hardest part of the whole trek). 5. Did you have to overcome any fears or unexpected hardships before/during the climb? No fears really – the main hardships were fatigue and altitude sickness. I ended up hallucinating a little bit on summit night, I kept seeing people running past my left and right and no one could run at that altitude! 6. How did you feel when you reached the summit of Kilimanjaro? What was the view like? EPIC!! I’ve not felt anything like it before, it was pure elation and the views were breathtaking. It was just out of this world – my pictures and my poor attempt at an explanation will never do justice to the real experience. 7. What’s next on your list of crazy adventures? In the near-ish future, Tough Mudder round 2 – then possibly Mount McKinley is something further down the line I’d love to do.

Hong Kong – my favourite experiences in five photos

September 5, 2013
Introducing Jayne Gorman, a travel blogger and social media consultant who writes at the award-winning 40before30.com, which is about her journey through 40 countries before her 30th birthday. Find her on Twitter (a lot!) at @jayneytravels and on Facebook (too often!) at 40before30. Hong Kong as seen from Victoria Peak In Hong Kong I seem to find myself either staring upwards or gazing down. In Central the sun’s beams bounce from one reflective glass skyscraper to the next. In Kowloon the neon coloured street signs fight for attention, the premises often several floors above the sign that advertises it. My recent trip to Hong Kong was bursting with memorable moments and photographic opportunities, below are five images that represent some of my favourite experiences. 1.     The Sky Terrace at Victoria Peak The peak tram that hurtles up the surprisingly steep track of Victoria Peak is a popular tourist attraction. For me the ride was only a fraction of the fun though. Better yet was riding the elevator inside the Sky Terrace (a mall perched on the peak) and getting this first glimpse of the view that was waiting outside for us. Once we had wound our way up the escalators, trying not to spend too much money in the souvenir stalls, the journey ended at the open air Sky Terrace. Here we were rewarded of 360 degree views of Hong Kong from the highest point in the city; overlooking the harbour, multitude of skyscrapers and (as it was a clear day) the mountains beyond. (See first picture). 2. Mongkok Markets Mongkok is only a few Metro stops from Central on Hong Kong Island but can seem like a world away. Street markets teem with locals purchasing items like fresh flowers, goldfish and lucky birds from the specialist markets. The Flower, Goldfish and Bird market, as they are self-explanatorily known, are all within easy walking distance of each other and are brilliant for browsing. Selling more tourist-tempting items is the Ladies Market, which offers an array of clothing, souvenirs and Gangnam Style gadgets! On my visit to Mongkok I was more preoccupied with people watching than shopping. In one busy road a group of teenagers were queuing to have their pictures taken on the tarmac. I’m not sure why they were having their picture taken here exactly, but I think the splendid electric backdrop has something to do with it. 3. The Tea Ceremony I’m a huge tea drinker and love how ceremoniously the Chinese treat the consuming of it. Hidden on an uphill alleyway in Central Hong Kong we found this traditional teashop. This elegant, softly spoken member of staff took us through a tasting ceremony, each tiny cup as delicious as the next. She would meticulously wash and warm each cup before offering us a taste, her movements all measured and precise. 4. The Big Buddha The Ngong Ping 360 cable car zigzags through the mountains of Lantau Island, swinging you high over the international airport and delivering you

The Importance of ‘Relationships’ in Photography

August 29, 2013
By Maria Slough, of Maria Slough Photography. This week, we are introducing Maria Slough, a portrait and media reportage photographer whose photos are used to gain press coverage across magazines and newspapers. Maria will be guest blogging on the topic of finding relationships in photography, thus helping us PhotoBoxers become better photographers. Over to Maria for more info on the topic… Maria: There are many different relationships in photography. By “relationship”, I mean the way in which two or more concepts, objects, or people are connected. It begins with the unique relationship that we have with our camera or smartphone. Next consider the relationship that you form, sometimes instantly, with the subject that has inspired you to immortalise its image. Finally it involves the relationship that your photograph inspires in its viewer. Whatever genre of photography you enjoy, seek out these relationships within the potential picture and you will be rewarded with amazing results! 1. People Capturing relationships between people is a real privilege. Be ready to photograph the stolen moments which come in-between the posed shots. This is when people are momentarily relaxed and the emotions of what is normally only shared privately, is briefly revealed to us, such as in the photograph below of Times Best Selling Author, Pen Farthing and his family. The photograph of actor Martin Clunes and his horse Chester taken during a shoot for Your Horse Magazine, shows there is a playful side to their relationship. There are other more subtle relationships to look out for. The first picture below shows the relationship that the Violinist shares with her instrument, and the second is about the relationship between her image and its reflections. 2. Places When photographing locations look for the relationship between the foreground and its backdrop. Unusual perspectives always stand out so be bold and move around to get the shot. You will find relationships everywhere – between what lies above and below the horizon; between reflections and shadows; and between your subject and the main light source such as in the first picture below: In contrast the relationship between two clouds in this second picture below appears to be hostile. This cloud formation was made even more dramatic by the relationship between the dark shadows at the top and bottom of the photograph. 3. Animals Photographing animals is often a challenge but extremely rewarding. Simplify the process by deciding what relationship you want to capture. Is it the relationship between two animals; between a pet and its toy; or are you looking to make a single shot more interesting? To make your photograph stand out, look for a natural relationship of colour and contrast within the shot such as in the pictures below. The dog’s brown eyes and brown markings form a natural relationship of colour. Similarly, the grey of the gravel and the green of the grass emphasise the cat’s colouring. 4. The Lens Finally, encourage anyone you are photographing to form a relationship with your lens. Reverse the roles

Six Life-Affirming Photos that have defined the 2000s

August 19, 2013
Today, photos are such a commonplace part of our lives that we have forgotten how important this free gift to humanity is. Photos express and immortalise our prized experiences, milestones in one’s life, as well as very powerfully convey events across the world. Despite the prevalence of TV and video, the ability of photos to move and inspire remains unchanged. To celebrate the enduring importance and power of photography, 19th August has been defined as World Photography Day, an international day whose purpose is to recognise photography as a gift which is truly ‘Free to the World’. World Photography Day marks the invention of the Daguerroetype, a photographic process developed by Joseph Nicèphore Nièpce and Louis Daguerre, which was announced on 19th August 1839. Since then photography has come a long way with digital cameras and Smartphones. To acknowledge World Photography Day, we bring you six life-affirming photos that capture historical milestones since the year 2000. While we are aware that the most instantly recognisable images from the noughties revolve around civil unrest, war and conflict in general, we have assembled for you six photos that depict human achievement, technological innovation, or a sense of triumph or nostalgia that has made the last 13 years so interesting. Please don’t hesitate to share with us any other pictures that have marked the decade for you. 1. The tribute in light shines on the fifth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the Word Trade Centre in NYC. They shine both potently and hauntingly as a reminder of the presence of the absent twin towers, which were such a notable fixture on the NYC skyline. Today, the new building One World Trade Centre occupies the previous site, suggesting that symbolic rejuvenation is well underway. 2. The Concorde takes off for the last time as flight 216 on November 26, 2003 from Heathrow airport en route to Filton airport (near Bristol) where it would become part of a heritage centre. The Concorde breaks the supersonic barrier one last time at twice the speed of sound. This photo captures our sense of loss and nostalgia at the abandonment of a technological marvel. 3. In the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Michel Phelps won an unprecedented medley of Gold medals, while breaking numerous World and Olympic records. This photo was taken after he won the 4x100m freestyle relay swim, and has become one of the most defining photos expressing human perseverance and sporting achievement. 4. When Iceland’s EyjaFjallajokull erupted in 2010, it caused massive air transport chaos throughout Western Europe. However, on April 22 the Northern Lights were seen above the volcano – making for a splendid photo contrasting ethereal beauty in the skies and geographic violence on Earth.  5. The Diamond Jubilee in 2012 marked the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II to the throne. This photo captures the exciting culmination of the Diamond Jubilee concert held on 4th June 2012, outside Buckingham Palace, and which was partially attended by the Queen. 6. On 19th July,

How to take great photos of your pets

August 15, 2013
Pets play a huge part in most families – but most of the time they just want to make things extremely hard when it comes to trying to get a successful photograph of them. Although some of you may have it down to a tee, some of us don’t find it easy at all. So to lend a helping hand, we have come up with some guidelines to help you get a pet photo that you can be truly proud of. Make the most of your pet’s character If your pet is very sleepy, then picture them sleeping, if they’re hyperactive and playful then capture them leaping in the air or performing their favourite trick. At the end of the day, no one knows your pet better than you do, so play to his or her strengths. Use natural light If it’s possible, then we advise that you should always use natural light when trying to take a photograph of your pet. Try to avoid the flash at all cost, as not only will it cause red eye but it will also frighten your pet, so any preparation you have already made will be lost. Try Macro Dig out that long lens and make your pet the centre of attention. Fill the frame with your pet’s face and get some stunning portraits. Catch them unaware It is probably one of the hardest tasks trying to get your pet to stay still when you actually want them to be – which is why it is a good idea to photograph them when they’re surprised. Call or whistle at them and in the few seconds that you have their attention, make sure you get that snap! Take more than one If your pet is doing something that you just have to photograph, then get down close to them and just keep taking photos one after the other. Your pet may become impatient and move around a lot, but keep persisting and you will get the most unexpected and best photos of it. Be patient Trying to get a perfect picture of your pet isn’t something that is going to come after your first try – it demands a lot of patience. Once you start taking a few snaps, your pet will eventually calm down and that will be the perfect time to try and get that one flawless shot. Be experimental If you have gone to the trouble of setting up a photo session, be sure to make the most of it. Experiment with different angles and approaches, take loads of different shots, and you’ll be sure to have one truly outstanding photo. © Jessica Keating Photography If your pet is dark-coloured It’s pretty hard getting that perfect shot when your pet has dark fur. But finding a complimentary background for your pet is one easy option to help with this – try to make it as light and bright as possible, so all the attention is drawn to your pet. Do