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Baking cupcakes portraits

So it’s raining and an outdoor portrait session isn’t looking so appealing? No problem, what do you like to do at home? We can turn just about anything into a fun portrait session. Melissa and James love to bake so that’s what we did as the first part of their portraits. You’ll be seeing quite a bit of these two over the next few weeks as their session is in several parts, and I’m working with their very talented mum Claire on a really exciting project, about which I will tell all soon. In the meantime, who can resist some heavily-laden-with-sweets cupcakes?

Jess portraits for a purpose

My beautiful friend Jess has recently decided to brave the world of online dating and asked me to do some portraits she could use on Guardian Soulmates. I think it’s a great idea to invest in some professional portraits for this as it can be a wonderful boost to your ego at the same time. An hour after we’d uploaded her new profile picture, Jess had eight new potential dates! I knew it was a good picture, but even I was seriously impressed by the instant demonstration of its power. Here’s Jess and if you’d like to go out with her (and I hope nobody would be so shallow as to judge on looks alone even though she is amazingly gorgeous) you’d better be very special indeed because she is. She doesn’t live in Leeds by the way, she lives in Dorset. Just in case.

Ali - February 27, 2012 - 12:01 pm

LOVE these Susie!! Jess will be snapped up NO problems!! Will have to get you to do some for me!! I haven’t even got a shot of myself for my website!! x


It’s half term this week and looking for a last minute treat for the children, I saw an offer for a mini-cruise to Amsterdam with P&O from Hull. On a whim, I booked and just a couple of days later we were off to explore. It hadn’t really occurred to me that Europe has been in the grip of an extreme cold spell and that Holland was going to be part of this. So my plans for a a trip on the canals weren’t exactly what I had in mind. We did have a trip on the canals, but we had to walk on them. Apparently this freezing only happens about once every decade and indeed it’s ten years since last time so we were really lucky to experience it and it was quite magical. We had a brilliant time and I thoroughly recommend it.

Arriving at Rotterdam on Saturday morning after a good night’s sleep on board, we ventured on deck to have a look. The sun was shining but the cold hit us instantly. Good job we brought those hats.

A coach took us to the centre of Amsterdam. We dropped our bags at the hotel (Movenpick – also excellent) and set off to see what we could see. It wasn’t long before we encountered the party atmosphere on the ice.

At first we were a bit scared to step on it. After being told for years that frozen canals, rivers, lakes are dangerous and you mustn’t set foot on them, it went against our instincts to encourage the children on. Especially when there did appear to be some dodgy looking patches. But the Dutch didn’t seem remotely concerned so we started to enjoy ourselves. We didn’t take to the special long skates that everyone seemed to have for these once in a decade events, but we walked on the canals for a long way.

On the bottom left of this set of four you can see a moped with two people on it. Unbelievable.

I loved the lack of traffic though we did nearly get knocked over by a bike every two minutes.

Impromptu ice hockey…

Getting a bit chilly by this stage.

It may look like we were taking the children into the establishment on the right but we weren’t. Honest.

Shop windows. I don’t know what was being brewed in the bottom one!

We went to Anne Frank’s house. It was very moving and I was impressed with how sensitively it was done. You could easily walk past without noticing it, as it was kept exactly the same (apart from being called Anne Frank House obviously).

Jasper in the Lomography shop. I liked this shop a lot:-)But didn’t buy anything as I’m still loving the X100 and it’s all I need for now. One day I will go back to film again for some fun again but not yet.

A trip to one of the bars set up on the canal for a warming drink.

Look, that’s me on the right! I was actually there too.

As the sun went down we came across this spectacle. We weren’t entirely sure what was going on as it was hard to see with such huge crowds. But it seemed that children were speed skating racing on the canal. There was a lot of excitement and a fair few crashes.  People were gathered on roofs and in all the building alongside it to get a good view. The only way I could see was by holding up my camera and looking through the viewfinder.

The next morning the weather wasn’t so bright. This is the view from our hotel room.

We went to the Van Gogh museum.

It started to snow again.

Photographers day out, Roundhay Park

Earlier this week I joined a bunch of other local photographers for a get-together and play with our gear around Roundhay Park and its great wedding venue The Mansion. Cris Matthews, who is a top guru on using flash, set up the day and asked gorgeous model Stef to brave the cold for us. Although the idea was to experiment with flash, the natural light on the day was actually really lovely so flash became a little redundant for most of us, and especially for me as beautiful natural light is all I ever really ask for. A couple of these do have a little flash to add interest but frankly, I think they would have been just as good without. What makes the shots is the light and the beauty of Stef. Nothing more required. Some of these were taken on my Nikon D300 and some were on the Fuji X100.  It was great to get together with everyone and talk shop. Thanks to Tom Arber for taking my favourite shot of the day … with my X100 so I’m claiming it:-)

The shot below is the one Tom took with the X100. Fabulous.

And just to prove that in fact I did finally give in to the pressure to use a bit of off-camera flash. It will never be my personal favourite style of photography but when natural light isn’t available it has its place…

Sledging in Meanwood Park

So it finally snowed at the weekend and it was a chance to play with my X100 again. By the time we dragged ourselves to our favourite sledging spot in Meanwood Park in the late afternoon, the slope was looking a little worn and really there was more grass than snow. But that wasn’t stopping anybody and fun was had by all but especially Digby, who once he’d got over the indignity of being made to wear a parka and successfully wriggled out of it, had the best time narrowly avoiding collision with on-coming sledgers as he capered around. The park looked really pretty as the sun began to go down. 

There is a ridiculous head-gear theme going on as you will see. This wasn’t intentional, it’s just what my family wear. What can I do. Jasper at least managed to look slightly less weird as he wasn’t wearing a hat although the strange raised eye-brow expression (reminiscent of his grandpa) means he fits in nicely. Sasha is too cool to pose as well these days so reverts to pulling faces. I include her poking her tongue out to persuade her that smiling nicely would be less embarrassing. Although I still think she’d disagree.

The girls are both keen on netball and decided a bit of shooting practice using snowballs would be a good idea.

The snowy rooftops of Meanwood as the moon came out.