Monday 22 January 2018

Quick update

As always, it's been months since I last updated the blog - and plenty has happened in that time. I'm still producing two weekly video programmes for the TSC channel on YouTube. I am now appearing on camera in the Tuesday news show, which has been quite a learning experience - not just because of the technical challenges of lighting, recording video and sound in a 'studio' type environment, but also because presenting to camera really isn't my thing; I'm much happier behind the camera! I'm rapidly discovering that reading a script, sounding natural and looking into the camera is quite a challenge, and I've developed a new-found respect for TV news presenters.

The BBC's newsreaders have nothing to fear!

On top of the TSC production work, I have produced a lot of videos for the CPSA, including reports from their major championships in 2017, instruction videos in their 'How to Hit' series, and promotional videos for Facebook and other social media platforms. There are more of these in the pipeline, with the CPSA Annual Awards and the CPSA World English Sporting Championship coming up later in 2018 - follow their YouTube channel and Facebook page to see my work as it appears. And members will have seen my regular articles and photos in the CPSA magazine, 'Pull!', as well as the occasional write-up in Clay Shooting magazine.

My photo of Austin Coxhead on the cover of Pull! magazine

Plus there's been a host of smaller projects for clients including Eley, Just Cartridges, Save The Rhino, and many more. In case you're thinking it's all about shooting, I have also worked on a number of non shooting related projects too - most recently filming a performance by the lovely Yasmine Giles.

I've continued to steadily upgrade and update my gear, so my main video kit is now based around the phenomenal Panasonic GH5 micro four thirds camera, with a selection of prime and zoom lenses. My main stills camera is a Canon 5D Mk iii, mostly with prime 35mm, 50mm and 85mm lenses, but also my trusty old Sigma 70-200 f2.8 which produces stunning quality on the full-frame format, despite being nearly 20 years old! For wildlife I reach for my Canon 300mm, another stunning lens. I edit video in Final Cut Pro X running on a 27" iMac.

Tuesday 5 July 2016

A taste of real videojournalism at the World Sporting Championships

I spent a hectic and exciting few days working for the CPSA at the World Sporting Championships, at EJ Churchill's shooting ground near High Wycombe.

It was a terrific event, with all the atmosphere and excitement that you'd hope at a World Championship. That was no accident - the organising team from EJ Churchill, the CPSA and many more had worked hard to make it an event to remember.

I remember working in the Press centre at Woolwich at the London 2012 Olympics, and watching open-mouthed as radio reporters and videojournalists compiled their reports on laptops, uploading the finished pieces direct to their newsrooms.

How times change! Here was I doing the exact same thing - interviewing a sponsor or a winner, then rushing back inside to knock out a quick edited version to upload to YouTube, Facebook and the rest.

It was every bit as exciting - and nerve-racking - as I'd imagined. Normally I can take my time over an edit, fussing over a cut, tweaking the colour balance or the EQ on the audio. Here time was everything. I quickly learnt the value of having a basic "that's good enough" colour grade and EQ preset to throw onto everything, and covering up the odd jump cut with a simple lens flare transition.

The results looked a little rough around the edges, to my eye at least, but they did the job. It helped enormously that I had prepared some title graphics and selected a piece of royalty free music in advance. It meant I didn't waste valuable time at the venue, and it added a degree of polish.

All in all an exciting few days doing "real" videojournalism, a valuable learning experience, and most of all the client was happy with the results. So happy in fact they sent me a thank-you card. Isn't that lovely? People so rarely bother with cards nowadays, but it meant a lot to me.

I must give a quick shout-out to Lucy and Kate from Tweed Media, who were in charge of the social media side of things - posting a massive amount of material on Facebook and Twitter, and generally building the excitement around the event. Also to the lovely folks from Bucks New Uni media department, who were filming for EJ Churchills and were very forgiving when I stole part of their desk. Oh, and Carlito's Coffee which kept me going through the long days - a lovely guy selling some seriously good coffee!

To watch the rest of the videos, check out the CPSA's YouTube channel. And to see some of the great work done by the rest of the team, search on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for the hashtag #WorldESP

Thursday 19 May 2016

A busy week!

Every time I look at this blog, I'm horrified by how long it is since I last posted. My excuse is that I'm rather busy. It is only an excuse - I'm sure I could make time if I tried, but there's so much else to do!

Since January I've been running the TSC Clay Shooting channel on YouTube. TSC, or The Schools Challenge as it was known, is an excellent initiative devoted to encouraging young people to take up shooting, identify talented individuals and encourage and help them develop into the shooting stars of the future. 2016 Olympian Amber Hill, for instance, cut her shooting teeth with the Schools Challenge, and there are other promising youngsters following the same path - Tom Scott for one.

Plus I'm busy producing video content for other channels too. Take this week, for example. If you're a fan of shooting videos, you've probably watched several pieces I filmed and/or edited, probably without even realising it. There's usually a credit at the end, but who reads those!

The week started on Monday with a piece that I'd filmed and edited for The Shooting Show, following long-range rifle shooter Mark Ripley on his mission to protect this year's crop of lambs from marauding foxes:

Next up, on Tuesday it was TSC Clay News, the channel's weekly roundup of all things clay shooting. This week's show included a fun item on Olympic gold medal winners Richard Faulds and Peter Wilson trying out the guns that belonged to the late Bob Braithwaite, who won Britain's first ever Olympic shooting gold medal at Mexico 1968:

Wednesday brought this piece that I'd filmed for Fieldsports Channel, a look behind the scenes of the Princes Trust charity clay shoot in Yorkshire, featuring Promatic Traps:

Tonight will be the weekly TSC Clay Shooting feature, which I can't put up here until it's released at 7.30pm. UPDATE: Here's that feature...

In the meantime, I've also produced a couple of IT training videos for a bank, done a selection of photos for a shoot, and even managed to win a charity clay shoot myself! I'm rather proud of that one. It was the World Pheasant Association shoot near Stockbridge, and I get to have my name engraved on this splendid trophy, a black grouse sculpture by the talented Simon Gudgeon.

Yes, that's me on the right, sharing an inappropriate joke with Jonathan Young of The Field.

So that's my week so far. Who knows what Friday will bring? But I'll be heading out with foxshooter Robert Bucknell to see if we can film him shooting a fox. Always a challenge that one - how many videographers are happy to work singlehanded off the back of a pick-up truck in total darkness? Filming a wary animal that most people only get a fleeting glimpse of at the best of times?

I'm not complaining. I love it! The only thing is, it does rather distract from updating this blog.

Tuesday 4 August 2015

A moving tale

Here's a video I made recently for the Gamekeepers' Welfare Trust, to help them publicise their work supporting gamekeepers and their families in times of need.

So much of the video work I do focuses on activities and action, and there's little in the way of real human stories and emotion. This one is quite the opposite - it's a moving tale about a keeper who suffered a horrific accident, and his determination to continue with his active, outdoor lifestyle as best he can. And, of course, it's about the people who have helped and supported him in that. His family deserve more of a mention than they get in the video, but it also talks about what his employer and the GWT have been able to do to help.

It was a moving, and humbling, experience filming David and I wished I could have spent more time with him. I hope you enjoy the video - and if you can, support the GWT in their work. Click here to find out more.

Interview with a legend

I was particularly proud of this interview with George Digweed, which was published in the CPSA members' magazine 'Pull!' George is an absolute legend in the world of shooting, with an astonishing 26 World Championship titles to his name at the time of writing this - he adds to them so often that number will probably be out of date in no time.

George's shooting career spans four decades and throughout that time he has worked hard to keep his place at the top of the Sporting tree. I first interviewed him back in the 1970s, for what was then Shooting Magazine, and I've watched his progress with admiration ever since.

George's name and face are instantly recognisable to just about every shooter in Britain and beyond, but it's rare to get a glimpse of the man behind the image. I was flattered that George talked openly with me about his feelings, and some difficult moments in his life. I hope this piece conveys something of George's warm, caring and fun-loving side - something that rarely comes through in reports of his achievements on the competition stage.

Thursday 16 July 2015

In the thick of it

I was pleased with this nicely timed shot which I took at a recent World Pheasant Association charity shoot at the excellent Oxfordshire Shooting School. This was the flush, with 80 or so clays thrown over four guns in what feels like no time at all. Things get very heated, not least the barrels! It's one of the few occasions when a side-by-side is an advantage, but you do need a good glove on your left hand.

This shooter is doing the sensible thing, holding the breech high to throw the empties over his shoulder without hitting the loader in the face, and presenting the empty chambers ready for loading while keeping his eyes on the targets. The loader has one shell in each hand, which I've found is the quickest way, rather than trying to get too clever and manoeuvre two cartridges into the breech with one hand.

When my turn came I was keeping up a good rate of fire when suddenly my gun wouldn't close. In the heat of the moment I grabbed someone else's Beretta o/u and kept going. It turned out that a screw on the barrel lump had started to undo itself, and the head was hitting the floor of the action before the gun was shut. Not what you need in the middle of a flush!

More photos from the day here.

Probably the best ferret in the world...

Just a random ferret photo really, but I couldn't resist. This is one of three youngsters born to my jill a few weeks ago. And no, I wasn't really getting it drunk, although it did seem interested in the taste around the rim of the can.