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Sunday Times Business

This job for the Sunday Times used in Business yesterday is a neat example of how press photographers work day in, day out. Especially with a sunday paper there is a huge amount of content not directly news related. Anyone walking to the newsagents and carrying the Sunday Times home knows just how much there is in it. In the era of the £4.00 pint of lager I find it staggering this paper costs only £2.00. Think about it, all those journalists, photographers, editors, art directors, sub-editors, printers, lorry drivers, etc. etc. bringing all that together every week (or day in the case of  the smaller but no less impressive The Times). Why some people think it should be free staggers me. It almost is!

Anyway, this shot is of Colin Moir, a former professional footballer who has grown a successful business manufacturing and fitting metal chimneys and ducts. Forget your modern ideas of a professional footballer, this gentleman was playing for Notts Forest to 60000 people in 1959 for just £9.00 a week. He left because he married and needed to support a family. His company just fitted £500,000 of ducting to The Shard.

The job for the press photographer is to create a visually striking image from often not very promising sounding subject matter. Here, after a few minutes scouring a factory for ideas I came up with four different shots. Of course only one will be printed but we need to create a choice of images and shapes to fit a page. This shot was achieved by placing a piece of steel duct on a trolley at head height and moved it to a steel door as a background. Being a factory, most backgrounds were cluttered with equipment and strip lighting. Colin is lit with a flash through a translucent umbrella to his left and to add colour a red gel on another flash saturated the door with red. Both flashes are fired by radio triggers so there are no wires trailing anywhere. Changing lenses created different shapes within the tube rather like a hall of mirrors. It was difficult to know when to stop!






Blakeney in The Times

The Times used my photograph of Blakeney in Norfolk yesterday to illustrate a story on how the recent floods have changed the landscape of some well known British coastal spots. My image was taken using a 85mm f1.8 lens at its widest aperture to create a very shallow depth of field and a slightly ethereal effect. This can be quite tricky in bright sunshine as even at a camera’s fastest shutter (8000th sec in my case) the image can over-expose and bleach out. To combat this make sure the camera is set to its lowest ISO (usually 100 but sometimes 50) and use a neutral density filter. Here I used a 9x ND filter which simply cuts down the light reaching the sensor. They are not cheap but very useful on occasion, particularly when using very long exposures on a tripod. See my post Tranquility in Photography Tuition for an example.


Tony Benn

I was sad to hear of the death of Tony Benn as I had the pleasure of photographing him “one to one” for The Times quite a few times – four or five I think. When his passing was announced I started tracking the pictures down and here are some I found. One of them won me a Fuji Press award back in the mists of time. Some were used in the Daily Mail the next morning. For those interested in technique the shot below was taken with a 300mm lens at f2.8. The wide shot looking up was a 20mm lens and the black & white was shot using a 135mm f2 lens on Fuji Neopan 1600 film. Not only is it nostalgic to think of shooting film, how strange now to see someone smoking inside.


© Copyright Michael Powell 01673 838040


Winter Olympics retouching for The Times

©Times Newspapers/Marc Aspland Contact 01673 838040

©Copyright Marc Aspland/The Times


The Times Sport Photographer Marc Aspland is busy working hard in Sochi. On Sunday he called me to ask if I could produce a multiple exposure montage of Team GB’s snowboard slopestyler Billy Morgan for the next day’s paper. I did two versions, the first using all 25 frames Marc took in one burst but I preferred this one where I chose alternate frames. The trickiest bit was removing the remote cameras and wires between the action and the sun. It’s times like these you appreciate how many millions of tones a top class DSLR can now capture. The Times used it very nicely in both print and iPad editions.

Time lapse wedding ceremony for Victoria & Maxwell

Here is a time lapse of Victoria & Maxwell’s Sussex wedding ceremony. Rather pleased with this one. I like the shot over their heads when they sit down – a quite different view.

Victoria & Maxwell from Michael Powell on Vimeo.