The Image Story


Have you ever seen a photograph and wondered how it was taken? I’m not talking about the dry technical details here but the real story behind the image. How it came to be. Well a new site just launched aims to help you find out more.

The Image Story is all about sharing the craft and inspiration that go into making photography by those who are passionate about it. It helps explain how the image came to be. What inspired the image? What preparation was needed to make the shot? What decisions were made about composition, timing, and the overall execution of the image? All this in the photographer’s own words.

Regardless of what you like to shoot there’s something for everyone with categories covering:

  • Photojournalism
  • Travel
  • Portrait
  • Landscape
  • Editorial

Because they’ve just launched there’s not a huge number of images there yet and the submissions are mainly from the creators friends and contacts but this will only get better over time. In fact if you think you’ve got a great image and want to tell the story of how it came to be you can even create a submission for consideration. Definitely a site to bookmark and check out on a regular basis as it grows and expands.


Before They Pass Away

BeforeTheyPassAwayOne of the main reasons why I travel to the places I do is to experience different cultures, beliefs and ways of living. With globalisation I’m sure it won’t be too long before we’re a homogeneous mass living in roughly the same way and consuming roughly the same things. With this in mind, I was delighted to discover a project and associated book by Jimmy Nelson called “Before They Pass Away”.

In Jimmy’s words:

In 2009, I planned to become a guest of 31 secluded and visually unique tribes. I wanted to witness their time-honoured traditions, join in their rituals and discover how the rest of the world is threatening to change their way of life forever. Most importantly, I wanted to create an ambitious aesthetic photographic document that would stand the test of time. A body of work that would be an irreplaceable ethnographic record of a fast disappearing world.

He took with him an ancient large format camera and after several years roaming the world has produced an amazing set of portraits highlighting the ethnic diversity that still clings to old traditions today. The journey documented include:

  1. Ethiopia
  2. Indonesia & Papua New Guinea
  3. Kenya & Tanzania
  4. New Zealand
  5. Mongolia
  6. Siberia
  7. Nepal
  8. China
  9. Vanuatu
  10. Argentina & Ecuador
  11. Namibia
  12. India

There’s a huge book available, but you can also visit the website – – to check out his stunning photography and explore information on the tribes and groups included. I highly recommend it as the images are beautiful.

Finding Dark Skies


If you like to do astro-photography – shooting images of the sky at night – one of the key things you need to do is avoid light pollution from nearby cities, factories, etc. There are several sites that help you to identify those areas that have been designated as dark-sky reserves but often these are specific places that may be too far away to be of much use to you.

However a new website featuring a mash-up of Google Maps and the recent NASA “Blue Marble” Earth at Night photos means it is now much easier to spot potential dark skies nearer to home.

The Blue Marble Night Lights 2012 Navigator allows you to move around and zoom in and out just as you would with Google Maps, but shows the night-time illumination instead of the traditional map or day-time satellite images. This means you can spot areas near you where there is little light at night and hopefully therefore little in the way of light pollution. Of course for the perfect star shots it still might be worthwhile planning a trip further afield (I know from visiting some pretty remote areas on my travels that the sky can be stunning with no light pollution) but the Blue Marble Navigator is a good option if you want to give astro-photography a try.

More examples of analog photoshop

venice-thomasbarbeyI’ve posted a few articles recently about how the majority of things people do in Photoshop could also have been done in the dark room back in even the earliest days of film photography. I discovered another great example of what is possible with film the other day and thought I’d share it with you.

When viewing the image on the right or when you first view Thomas Barbèy’s gallery you might think you’ve seen it all before. Clever and witty manipulation of photos to create slightly surreal final images. Surely that’s something anyone with a reasonable knowledge of Photoshop could do, you ask yourself.

However, Thomas shoots on film and all the images are created not via digital post-production, but instead via analog dark room techniques. Inspired by artists such as Rene Magritte, M.C. Escher and Roger Dean,  Thomas Barbèy achieves his images through a variety of methods including in-camera double exposures, exposing two negatives sandwiched together at the same time and even re-photographing collaged images.

From his website:

I travel a lot to take photographs of different things and places. Sometimes I use an image several years later, but only when it fits, like the perfect piece in a puzzle, and completes my latest project. Some images are composed of negatives that are separated by a decade in the actual time that I had taken them and only come to life when they found their perfect match. it’s the combination of two or more negatives that they give birth to a completely unusual vision, but most of all, the title I give the final image is the glue and the substance of the piece.

So, if you tend to dismiss a photo that has been post-processed in Photoshop as not being a “real” photo – something from the good old days of film – then remember that Photoshop grew out of dark room techniques and there are many creative ways to process photos both via analog or digital methods.


After a horrendous couple of weeks where my planned trip away over the Christmas period has slowly imploded – problems getting visas, passport lost by Royal Mail, and finally the entire trip being canned – (hence the lack of posts recently) I could really do with some inspiration. So it was pleasing to discover some stunning shots from this years National Geographic photo contest.

The deadline was last Friday (sorry you’ve missed it for this year) but The Atlantic’s Alan Taylor has hand selected 50 great shots from this years entries and the standard is certainly high.

Check out the curated 50 shots over at The Atlantic or visit the National Geographic site to browse all the entries and be inspired!