Gwrych Castle

Gwrych Castle stands proudly in the hills above the seaside market town of Abergele, North Wales. To motorists on the busy A55 main expressway below, this dramatic landmark may conjure up romantic images of medieval knights and fair maidens, the truth is that the castle was built in the 19th century as a private residence. 

Living less than a mile from a remarkable piece of history that we have admired for many years, together with other historic castles and country houses, certainly added to the decision to begin our exciting new chapter in Abergele.

Gwrych Castle in winter snow

Gwrych Castle in winter snow

Constructed between 1812 and 1822 by Lloyd Hesketh Bamford-Hesketh, the castle was a memorial to his mother's ancestors, the Lloyds of Gwrych, with 128 rooms, including 8 bedrooms and 18 towers. Set on a sloping hillside with panoramic views of the Irish sea and surrounding countryside, it was everything a fairy-tale castle should be. should be and remained in the family for generations. 

During World War II the Government requisitioned the property to house two hundred Jewish refugees and it survived at least one German bombing raid. The family finally ceased ownership in 1948. In the decades that followed, the Castle was opened to the public as a major tourist attraction and was known as 'The Showplace of Wales'.

Gwrych Castle sits in woodland above Abergele near the North Wales coast.

Gwrych Castle sits in woodland above Abergele near the North Wales coast.

Ownership of the property changed hands a number of times and the castle began to fall into disrepair. The estate closed to the public in 1985, plans to renovate the building into a luxury hotel and casino were not fulfilled. Whilst standing empty for several years extensive looting and vandalism at the hands of squatters left little more than a derelict shell. 

Created on a romantic dream, the luxurious residence of the ancient Heskeths was eventually allowed to decay for decades. Its opulent interior included grand marble staircase vanished, the extensive park and gardens overgrown through neglect. If not for the admirable efforts of historian Mark Baker, who has campaigned for the restoration of the castle since being twelve years old, Gwrych may have fallen even further into disrepair, if not entirely vanished. The Gwrych Castle Preservation Trust, founded by Mark Baker, is painstakingly rebuilding Gwrych and its grounds. The Gardener's Tower has been restored to the same state as when the property's last resident, Winifred Bamford-Hesketh, Countess of Dundonald, lived there a century ago. New life has also been given to the grounds and both the tower and gardens are now open to the public. There is still a enormous amount of work required to restore life and pride back into the castle and the trust is dependant on the valiant efforts of volunteers. Events are held on a regular basis to provide much needed funds.

There are no shortage myths and legends in North Wales and Gwrych Castle has its own mysterious stories to share. Visitors speak of ghostly encounters and sightings whilst dog walkers tell of the strange behaviour of their pets when nearing the castle. Halloween ghost hunts are organised by the trust and as part of the new year celebrations a Haunted New Year Eve event has been planned.

For photographers, Gwrych Castle is a must-see location with endless photo opportunities.

Photographs were captured on an iPhone 7 Plus and iPhone X. All images © Adrian McGarry 2017.

Pensarn to Rhos-on-Sea

Wales boasts the world’s first continuous walking and cycling route along an entire national coastline. The North Wales coastal path stretches from Bangor to Prestatyn, around 60 miles in all. We have been exploring the section between Pensarn, close to where we live, and Rhos-on-Sea to the west. This section of the path is about 7 miles long and passes through Llanddulas and Colwyn Bay before entering the charming seaside resort of Rhos-on-Sea or Llandrillo as it is also known.

The North Wales Coast Path.

The North Wales Coast Path.

Our walk begins at Pensarn's small promenade where there is ample parking. The path runs next to the railway line at this point and is traffic-free except for cyclists (beware!); several parts of the Wales Coast Path are designated sections of the National Cycle Network. There are good views of Gwrych Castle high in the wooded hills at Abergele as we leave the car park. Passing the Castle Cove Caravan Park we are reminded of just how densely populated the area is with caravans. The cafe on the park serves freshly cooked food at reasonable prices.

There are great sea views all along this walk with an abundance of wildlife and fauna. Information boards are regularly positioned to explain the different species and history of the area. At around 2 miles we reach Llandullas. Close to where the River Dulas flows into the sea is Tides Cafe Bistro, located at The Beach Caravan Park, no shortage of refreshment stops on this route! Llanddulas Beach, similar to Pensarn, is mostly rocks and pebbles with the remains of wooden groynes, at low tide there is a beach. After following the route of the Dulas for a short distance, we pass a private house that until 1932 served as the Llanddulas life-boat station.

The path now rises and presents a sharp incline as it traverses the Penmaen (meaning stone head) headland. As the pathway winds and lowers back to sea-level, the landscape is dominated by concrete sea defences known as 'dolos'. Each block weighing approximately 5 tons, some 22,000 structures were used in a major coastal protection project in the 1980s to protect the area and especially the adjacent A55 expressway road.

There is a reminder of the intense quarrying of this area as we approach Raynes Jetty, constructed to transport limestone rock onto freighters via a conveyor belt system. In 2011 five lives were lost when the freighter MV Swanland sank in stormy weather after collecting 3,000 tons of cargo. Shortly after in 2012, the MV Carrier hit rocks adjacent to the jetty and was eventually dismantled on the spot. Another short incline brings us to a disused stone structure that was an ammunition store for the quarries.

Our view from this elevated position is of Colwyn Bay's coastal sweep through to Rhos-On-Sea, a wide expanse of beach and the Little Orme headland in the distance. The path joins the promenade at Old Colwyn and leads us past Porth Eirias, part of The Colwyn Bay Waterfront Project. Opened in May 2013, this facility for water sports enthusiasts offers kayak and canoe hire in addition to lessons in sailing, windsurfing, paddle boarding and power boating. It is home also to a bistro designed and developed by Welsh Celebrity Chef Bryn Williams. The initiative to redevelop and upgrade the sea defences here have provided an attractive waterfront; a key attraction for visitors and an important asset to the local community. 

Colwyn Bay with Penmaen Head in the distance.

Colwyn Bay with Penmaen Head in the distance.

Sadly, standing out as a sore thumb in this otherwise modern and impressive environment is the now abandoned Colwyn Bay Pier. The Grade II-listed Victoria Pier closed in 2008 and its future was cast in doubt amid acrimonious ownership battles, failed restoration attempts and ultimate abandonment. A partial collapse of the pier in 2017 gave the local council the opportunity to receive permission for a full demolition which is scheduled for 2018. 

The beautiful new promenade stretches into the small village and seaside resort of Rhos-on-Sea. A small harbour, created by the formation of a rock breakwater that protects the village from flooding during high tides, presents a serene scene of moored boats and harbour jetty with the coastline stretching beyond. A wide variety of seabirds including oystercatchers, dunlins, red shanks, cormorants and many more can easily be spotted here. Our walk ends at Britain's smallest church, Saint Trillo's Chapel sits on the harbour path and is named after a 6th-century saint. Services are still held here and has seating for six.

Rhos Harbour sunrise

Rhos Harbour sunrise

All photographs were captured on an iPhone 7 Plus. All images © Adrian McGarry 2017.

Autumn In Alsace

We had fallen in love with the charm and beauty of the Alsace region of northeastern France last year when making a couple of brief day trips with the family. Katrina and I promised each other that at some point we would take a road trip through the many towns and villages and explore more of the area. This year, as Autumn beckoned, we decided that it might be a good time to keep promises and make the trip. We weren't disappointed.

Autumn in Alsace © Adrian McGarry

We collected a hire car across the border in Basel, Switzerland and set off towards the town of Colmar. The journey is mostly motorway, well sign-posted and takes less than an hour.

Colmar

Colmar, half-timbered buildings in paint-box colours line cobblestone streets to the delight of tourists.

Colmar, half-timbered buildings in paint-box colours line cobblestone streets to the delight of tourists.

Colmar, at the heart of Alsace, has an undeniable charm and is a top tourist destination. In the past we've day-tripped in summer and also at Christmas when the narrow cobbled streets and squares in the historical old town are turned into enchanting festive marketplaces. In contrast, visiting between these two popular tourist periods gave the town a more relaxed feel and we were able to admire the half-timbered houses, streets and canals without the high season bustle and queues. On a visit here you'll enjoy great Alsatian cuisine, lovely wine, and a proud culture. Our hotel, chosen because of it central location in the old town, gave us plenty of opportunity to step out onto the cobblestones and immediately begin strolling through the centuries-old town. This was to be our base for the next three nights whilst we explored the region during the day.

The Alsace has changed rule several times over the centuries between France and Germany and these combined influences have created a unique heritage of architecture, cuisine and traditions guaranteed to charm and delight.German half-timbered buildings adorned with distinctly French shutters give the town an intriguing photogenic ambience. Around every corner is another photo opportunity. In the late afternoon and evening when the streets and shops are illuminated, the town takes on an enchanting atmosphere

Probably the most photographed view of Alsace is taken from the Rue de Turenne bridge in the 'Petite Venise' area. Gondola boats transporting tourists along the river Lauch glide silently below in this most picturesque area of the town. This is the Krutenau district, where market gardeners, fishmongers and tanners once transported their goods by boat. The old fishing cottages on Quai de la Poissonnerie (fisherman’s wharf) conjure up a delight of candy-coloured architecture that look as though the pages of a child's fairytale have come to life.

Colmar is situated on the Alsace Wine Route (Route des Vins d'Alsace), considering itself to be the capital of Alsatian wine (capitale des vins d'Alsace). The 170 kilometre wine route is one of the most popular ways to explore the traditional villages of the Alsace region whilst learning more about the region's world-famous wines. We drove out of the town next morning and followed the wine route North for around 15 kilometres.

Riquewihr

Riquewihr, a romantic, medieval gem.

Riquewihr, a romantic, medieval gem.

Our drive took us through gently rolling countryside, lined with beautiful golden coloured vines, aglow in the late autumn sunshine. We didn't know much about Riquewihr prior to this visit, so we were immediately stunned by the beauty, colour and character of this romantic, medieval gem. Behind its 13th century fortified walls there is an authentic charm with brightly painted buildings, timbered walls, arched doorways, window boxes bursting with colour and a maze of narrow alleys. The insanely picturesque Rue du Général de Gaulle is the pedestrian-only main street with numerous souvenir shops, patisseries, wine merchants, cafés and restaurants spilling onto the cobbles. At the top of the street is the Dolder Tower, dating back to 1291, the Dolder was an integral part of the town's walls serving as a watchtower and gated access. 

We had expected to stay in Riquewihr for around an hour, some three hours later we reluctantly left and headed for our next destination.

Ribeauville

Ribeauvillé is a charming town which has successfully retained its heritage.

Ribeauvillé is a charming town which has successfully retained its heritage.

We only had to travel around 5 kilometres for an afternoon visit to Ribeauville. Framed by vineyards and rolling hills extending to the foot of the Vosges, the town is overlooked by three ruined castles and once again we found ourselves strolling through streets straight from of a storybook. The narrow main street, crowded with eateries, pottery shops, bakeries and wine sellers is bisected by the beautiful Tour des Bouchers, or Butcher’s Tower, a medieval clock tower and gateway.

Enjoying a well earned beer, we rested our now aching feet and sat outside a typical winstub allowing the afternoon sunshine wash over over us. A winstub, if you didn't know, is a traditional tavern of northeastern France. A typical Alsatian Winstub (means literally “wine room”) will usually have a cozy interior, panelled walls, heavy wooden chairs, traditional red checked tablecloths and curtains. This is where you will find Flammkuchen or Tarte Flambée offered, a thin layer of bread dough covered with crème fraîche, thinly sliced onions and lardons.  

Haut-Koenigsbourg castle

The Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg, a medieval castle located near Orschwiller in the the Vosges mountains of northeastern France

The Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg, a medieval castle located near Orschwiller in the the Vosges mountains of northeastern France

The next morning we drove through early morning mist to reach the edge of the Vosges mountains. As the low-lying veil began to thin, we could clearly see our next destination. The Haut-Koenigsbourg castle dominates the skyline at an elevation of 757 metres (2500 ft). Constructed in the 12th century, the castle is built on mountain summit rock and was positioned to watch over important trade routes below. It was reduced to ruins by the Swedes during the Thirty Years' War and subsequently abandoned. 200 years of neglect followed. In 1899, after Alsace was reincorporated into Germany following the Franco-Prussian War, Kaiser Wilhelm II began a ten year restoration project.

With spires, courtyards, spiral staircases, chandeliers, stained glass and canons, the castle has been beautifully restored. Following centuries of battles, fires, pillaging and abandonment, Haut-Koenigsbourg castle is a wonderfully restored monument of European history. From the castle, there are stunning views spanning the surrounding Vosges Mountains, the Alsace plain, Germany’s Black Forest region and, on a clear day, as far as the Swiss Alps. 

Kaysersberg

The River Weiss runs through the town of Kaysersberg

The River Weiss runs through the town of Kaysersberg

We drove back down the winding roads of the mountain and rejoined the Alsace Wine Route. We covered around 30 kilometres before reaching the town of Kaysersberg. Overlooked by the Chateau de Kaysersberg ruins, Kaysersberg is another picturesque village with a pedestrian only main street and, the now very familiar, brightly painted shops and houses.

Recently voted on French TV as this year’s winner of France’s Favourite Village, Kayersberg translates to ‘Emperor’s Mountain’ a reminder of its strategic importance in this area's warring past.

After exploring the main street and a maze of narrow streets we came to the point where the buildings straddle the River Weiss. This is probably the most photographed views of Kayersberg and can be seen on numerous tourist guidebooks and postcards.

Eguisheim

Ranked as one of the most beautiful villages in France, Eguisheim has a quaint, picturesque charm

Ranked as one of the most beautiful villages in France, Eguisheim has a quaint, picturesque charm

Eguisheim is yet another village that you just can't help but fall in love with, picturesque, accessible and friendly. We visited last year during the Christmas markets and instantly knew that we had to return. Walking through the narrow streets and ornate squares, we were able to appreciate even more the charm of this beautiful medieval village during a quiet autumnal afternoon.

As soon as we parked our car we could see one of the prominent stork nests in the village on top of the Church of Saint-Peter and Saint-Paul. The stork is a constant feature in many Alsatian villages and towns folklore, having been part of Alsace culture for centuries. Symbols of happiness and good luck, legend says that if a stork flies above your house, then a baby is on the way. In the mid 1970s, the white stork was almost extinct in Alsace. Conservation programmes have encouraged the birds to return once again from their wintering grounds of Africa. A stork sanctuary on the edge of Eguisheim are hoping to breed and re-introduce storks to the region.

As sun started to set over the sprires and towers, we began our journey back into Colmar for our final night.

Hartmannswillerkopf

Hartmannswillerkopf, a beautiful, sombre tribute to the fallen soldiers during the bloody battles between 1914 and 1918

Hartmannswillerkopf, a beautiful, sombre tribute to the fallen soldiers during the bloody battles between 1914 and 1918

Next morning we bid Au Revoir to Colmar and began our drive back to Switzerland. There was to be one final stopping off point, more sombre and respectful than any of our previous destinations. Hartmannswillerkopf, known also as the Vieil Armand is a rocky peak in the Vosges mountains of Alsace. During the First World War, French and German troops fought a continuous, bloody battle to control he mountain. 

An estimated 30,000 French and German soldiers fell on the "Mountain of death", as it became known. A National Monument and Franco-German remembrance site is dedicated to those who lost their lives. The cemetery here has 1,264 graves of soldiers who could be identified. 12,000 unknown soldiers are buried in a memorial crypt. Above the Crypt stands the altar of the Homeland (l’autel de la Patrie), bearing the coats of arms of towns that contributed towards the monument.

The battlefield, including well preserved trenches and shelters, can be accessed on foot. It was surreal to imagine the horrors that must have unfolded here as we walked through the forest, a carpet of freshly fallen leaves crunching beneath our feet. Looking at photographs taken at the time of the battles, the mountain was a desolate, ravaged landscape of tree stumps as far as one could see. Now, some hundred years later, nature has reclaimed the land.

The new facilities and museum at Hartmannswillerkopf are impressive, the cemetery and crypt are beautiful, respectful memorials to futile hostilities and appalling loss of life. 

On our way back down the mountain, through the vineyards and eventually along the motorway, we didn't speak much. No doubt the experience at Hartmannswillerkopf had touched us but there was something more. After a four wonderful days, that had flown by too quickly, we didn't want to leave this amazing cultural and historical region, always a good sign when you're left wanting more after a holiday. We'll miss the colours, hearty meals, wine, beer and the friendly welcoming atmosphere. There is a lot more to explore and experience in Alsace and already we are talking about a possible return next year.

 

All photographs were captured on an iPhone 7 Plus. All images © Adrian McGarry 2017.

What the HEIC is Apple’s New Image Format?

Apple’s iOS 11 update changes the way we capture and store images on our iPhones and iPads. A new default image format HEIF (High Efficiency Image File Format, pronounced “heef”), created by the developers of the MPEG video format, is designed to save storage space whist maintaining photo quality. HEIC is the file format name Apple has chosen for the HEIF standard and files may appear as .HEIF in the metadata of an image.  

After 25 years of accepting JPEG as a common image format it is not surprising that an alternative has been developed to potentially surpass and replace it. HEIC makes it possible to store twice as many photos in the same space AND potentially have them look better. HEIC acts as a container for images and audio and Apple uses it to store still images encoded with the HVEC (H.265) video format. This adaptation lies at the heart of Live Photos as multiple images can be saved within container.

Compatibility outside of iOS 11 is, at least for the time being, a consideration. Images convert to JPEG automatically when you need to transfer them to other platforms or social media sites. There are a number of converters on the market already for handling HEIF files on Windows. The HEIC format can be turned off in the iPhone or iPad settings.

Up to now, I haven't had any major issues with the file format and I've opened them in numerous apps and transferred back and forward to my iMac and MacAir devices which are not yet upgraded to High Sierra. 

One word of caution is that Live Photos captures a high resolution still image and 1.5 seconds of movie before and after you take the shot. When choosing the new Long Exposure feature, the system cleverly stacks and blends the frames together and produces a great looking motion blur effect (tripod recommended). Whilst the image is more than acceptable for sharing on social media, closer inspection will show that the quality is less than the original still image. This is because the video, albeit high quality, is not at the same resolution of a still image. Furthermore some cropping will take place, in my example the image with the effect was approx 10% smaller. The overall quality was not as sharp or detailed as the original even though a tripod was used. 

Live Photo Original

Live Photo Original

Live Photo Long Exposure

Live Photo Long Exposure

Floridian Skies

I've been fortunate to spend a lot of time in Florida over the last thirty years or so. The reason for so many returns to the southeasternmost U.S. state is mostly for the boundless photographic opportunities. From theme parks to wildlife to seascapes and landscapes there is plenty of subject matter to satisfy the most insatiable photographic appetites. Without doubt, my favourite subjects are the dramatic and vibrant skies that can be found throughout the year, especially during the stormy season. No surprises, all shots were taken on an iPhone.

Bowditch Point at Dawn. © Adrian McGarry 2016

Bowditch Point at Dawn. © Adrian McGarry 2016

I'm no weather specialist, so I can't offer any scientific reasoning as to why the dawns and sunsets can be so exhilarating in Florida but with the right clouds before, during and after a storm, the skies fill with amazing cloudscapes that ignite with a spectacular colours as the sun reflects and refracts off the clouds. Take a stroll down to a beach or a fishing pier at either end of the day and you'll have a front row seat for a most spectacular offering from Mother Nature.

Ft Myers Beach, a storm approaches at dawn. ©Adrian McGarry

Ft Myers Beach, a storm approaches at dawn. ©Adrian McGarry

I have always preferred photographing 'interesting' skies rather than the perfect, uninterrupted, blue skies that are usually associated with postcards. The blue and golden hours before/after the sun rises or sets are my favourite times, I recently listed my top 10 tips for golden hour photography.

Ft. Myers Pier, blue/golden hour. ©Adrian McGarry 2016

Ft. Myers Pier, blue/golden hour. ©Adrian McGarry 2016

It's not just we photographers who appreciate this Floridian colour show. From the South West beaches of the Gulf of Mexico all the way through the island chain known as 'the keys' to the most southerly point at Key West, sunsets in particular are celebrated on mass by crowds of tourists and locals alike. Mallory Square in Key West hosts a nightly extravaganza of street performers and music to accompany the setting sun, elsewhere the ritual is repeated as my photograph from Naples Fishing Pier shows.

Tourists and locals gather to watch the sunset from Naples Fishing Pier. ©Adrian McGarry 2016

Tourists and locals gather to watch the sunset from Naples Fishing Pier. ©Adrian McGarry 2016

And it's not only the dramatic, storm-fuelled skies that can create beautiful scenes. On quieter days when the clouds hug the horizon and the sky is not so technicolor, I concentrate on foreground interest. Along the coast at Naples there are old pilings that once supported small jetties, presumably serving the beautiful mansions that line a large stretch of the beach. These old relics make beautiful, interesting subjects when set against clouds and the sinking sun.

Naples Beach Pilings at Sunset © Adrian McGarry 2016

Naples Beach Pilings at Sunset © Adrian McGarry 2016

Waiting on a Wave, Naples Beach & Pier ©Adrian McGarry 2016

Waiting on a Wave, Naples Beach & Pier ©Adrian McGarry 2016

And of course Florida beaches have endless palm trees to add interest to a composition.

Endless opportunities to add palm trees into your composition ©Adrian McGarry 2016

Endless opportunities to add palm trees into your composition ©Adrian McGarry 2016

If you would like to know more about my iPhone Photography and live or are visiting the North West of England then please check my events listing or why not join me on a Manchester workshop

 

 

 

Fireworks at Disney World

As exhaustive, exhilarating and expensive though your day in the Magic Kingdom may be, there is nothing to beat the explosive grand finale of the thrilling fireworks spectacular. Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida is the highest consumer of fireworks in the world and the evening display that illuminates the night sky high above Cinderella's castle is truly magical. Amazing lighting effects interact with a stirring soundtrack in a tribute to Disney characters and films. Overall the event is a wonderful eye-popping extravaganza choreographed to highest Disney standards.  

Walt Disney World Halloween Fireworks © Adrian McGarry 2016

Walt Disney World Halloween Fireworks © Adrian McGarry 2016

The cost of the nightly fireworks is not something that Disney shares. Estimates puts the expenditure at anywhere from $41,000-$55,000 a night! The spectacular New Year’s Eve and seasonal special displays are anticipated to cost over $100,000! That rolls out to at least $15 million a year for Magic Kingdom fireworks alone. Epcot and Hollywood Studios parks also have firework displays that are probably half the cost, that comes out to at least $30 million a year for them. Unconfirmed rumours are that the parking fees (currently $20 per day) pay the bill.

It's a great show-piece and is surprisingly easy to capture on an iPhone as my image above confirms.

 

 

Improve Your Smartphone Photography

Welcome to the age of smartphone photography. This may be the greatest time in history to be a photographer. The majority of us carry a mobile device at all times that includes camera technology capable of capturing images that are hard to differentiate from high-end DSLR shots. If you aspire to create images of a professional standard, now is the time to explore the potential of your iPhone camera.

I launched my iPhone photography workshops earlier this year and they have been extremely popular and successful. Participants, regardless of prior photography skills, discover new apps, workflows, tips and tricks that inspire them to capture stunning photos that they never thought possible with a smartphone.

My iPhone Photography workshop is conducted in Manchester city Centre. 

My iPhone Photography workshop is conducted in Manchester city Centre. 

The workshops are centered around a photo walk within Manchester. The diverse subject in the city allows us to cover many genres of photography including street, urban landscape, long exposure and HDR. The sessions are relaxed and tailored to suit the individual's needs with everything explained in a hands-on, friendly way. The emphasis is to have fun whilst capturing great shots. Martin Bennett from Urmston recently joined me on a workshop and has this to say; "Adrian was extremely accommodating and easy to work with right from the point of making an enquiry and everything about the day itself was well organised, relaxed and friendly. I really got the sense that Adrian wanted me to get as much as I could out of the day."

From inexperienced to advanced users, my workshops are tailored to suit individual skill levels and photographic goals. Each workshop is intended as a one-to-one training session, however up to two additional participants of similar skill levels can be included if you prefer.

Martin, a recent workshop attendee photographing the Beecham Tower, one of Manchester's iconic buildings. I provide the use of a tripod for HDR and Log Exposure shots.

Martin, a recent workshop attendee photographing the Beecham Tower, one of Manchester's iconic buildings. I provide the use of a tripod for HDR and Log Exposure shots.

Nicola Warwick from Chorley was another recent workshop attendee and says; "Adrian was generous with both his time and his knowledge, we spent a very pleasant few hours exploring Manchester's Northern Quarter in Manchester, discovering photographic subjects down the backstreets that I'd not come across before. I'd been looking forward to our 1:1 session and it was just brilliant!"

The good news is that I am keeping the workshops running throughout the coming months and taking bookings through until the end of the year. The workshop lasts around 3 hours and costs £75 (a £20 deposit is required). Times and days of the week are flexible but are not available during evenings. Add up to two additional participants with similar skill levels to yourself for £60 per person (£20 per person deposit required).

You can book your workshop here.

I am also available to present lectures to photographic societies, art clubs, corporates and private functions. These fast-paced presentations include examples of my work and real-time demonstrations of techniques and workflows. South Manchester Camera Club recently responded following my presentation; "Terrific. Thanks for a superb night’s instruction." In early September I visited Warrington & District Camera Club and they had this to say;" The whole event was very enjoyable and you presented it in a very engrossing and exciting manner. We'd definitely recommend this to another camera club!"

My presentations are fast-paced, entertaining and full of tips, examples and information..

My presentations are fast-paced, entertaining and full of tips, examples and information..

My next smartphone photography event is on October 27th when I will be presenting 'iPhone Photography & More' in Gatley, at the United Reformed Church Halls. If you ever wanted to ask questions or find out more about iPhone photography then this is a perfect opportunity. When I appeared at Chapel Camera Club earlier in the year they said; "If you don’t own an iPhone, you’ll certainly want one after Adrian’s convincing talk. You’ll be putting your DSLRs away."

Whether you're totally new to photography, or a seasoned pro, there's a lot to be gained by attending my workshops and presentations. Inspire and ignite your imagination to get the very best out of your smartphone photography that will leave others wondering how you ever achieved such remarkable results with just your phone!

Any questions? Don't hesitate to get in touch, I'd love to hear from you.

Create Photo Art Workshop

Explore The Art of Mobile Photography

Following many requests, I'm very excited to announce a new creative workshop for 2017. Please join me at Stockport Art Gallery as I invite you to explore your creativity beyond the capture of a photograph. Discover a thrilling and captivating world of art that can be created on an iPhone or iPad with a few inspiring apps.

My unique approach to creating photo art is guaranteed to successfully teach participants how to create stunning artwork from photos - even if they have never previously painted. Don't worry if you are new to smartphone photography or apps, this 3 hour masterclass is suitable for all abilities to develop their own creativity with ease and fun.

Saturday March 4th 2017, 12 noon.
Stockport Art Gallery and War Memorial

Wellington Rd South, Stockport SK3 8AB 

Price: £25 per person  - Take advantage of the early bird pricing of £20 per participant with just £5 deposit. Places are limited, so why not book now to secure your place and avoid disappointment.

The workshop is designed for you to take part with either an iPad or iPhone, alternatively you may follow the workshop and take notes for later use. I will send a list via email of apps that will feature at least one week before the workshop date so that you may purchase and install them if you wish. Some of the featured apps are free to download.

Refreshments will be available on the day, you are also welcome to bring your own snacks and drinks.

I look forward to welcoming you in Stockport's beautiful Art Gallery.

iPhone In The Hands of The Pros

Following on from all the coverage of Apple's iPhone 7 launch last week, I'm excited to see photos emerge that have been taken with unreleased iPhone 7 cameras. Apple CEO Tim Cook tweeted links to Sports Illustrated and ESPN last weekend highlighting images taken with the company's latest smartphone.

Tim Cook Tweet SI
Tim Cook ESPN Tweet

Sports Illustrated photographer David E. Klutho took photos at the Titans-Vikings NFL game in Nashville. The images look superb and if we hadn't been told in advance that they were shots taken with a smartphone we would never have guessed as they they do not look out of place amongst the other images on S.I.

At the same time ESPN photographer Landon Nordeman was covering the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York. His series of images were again captured using the new iPhone 7 Plus camera which is set for release tomorrow, Friday Sptember 16th. "The autofocus and exposure performed exceedingly well in various lighting conditions" commented Nordeman.

On assignment for TIME, professional photographer Corey Arnold was also one of the first to get his hands on the new phone, testing it in the canyons of America's stunning Zion national park. The resulting images, he says, are stunning: “I’m impressed with the improvements from the iPhone 6s Plus." 

Professional travel photographer Austin Mann is no stranger to the iPhone. He has test-driven previous Apple devices and he's done the same with the iPhone 7. In conjunction with Nat Geo Travel and Nat Geo Adventure, Mann visited Rwanda to track gorillas and put the new camera features through exhaustive testing. 

The video "review" (below) about tracking mountain gorillas is a beautifully produced 9 minutes long mini-documentary. Austin Mann's photos and full review can be found on his website.

Aside from the excitement of seeing the first photos emerge from the new camera, it isn't anything new for professional photographers to use the iPhone for their work. Take for instance Pete Souza, the Chief Official White House Photographer, who has long taken behind-the-scenes photos of US President Obama, his family and the various daily ongoings at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

Pete Souza on Instagram

Pete Souza on Instagram

Indie writer and director Sean Baker used an iPhone 5s to create Tangerine, a movie which made a big impact at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. He has again repeated the act with Snowbird, a beautifully shot short film featuring model/actress Abbey Lee.

For years, professional wedding photographer Sephi Bergerson had wanted to shoot an entire wedding with just an iPhone. With the iPhone 6s Plus he finally advanced had to technology and fulfilled his plan and beautifully captured the wedding of bride Ayushi and groom Abhishek in India.

For the ultimate example of a professional photographer getting the best out of the iPhone look no further than Kevin Russ. His self-made job saw him abandon everyday life for a constant road trip, living out of his car, documenting the epic, rugged landscapes of America almost exclusively on an iPhone. He became a huge hit on Instagram in 2013 and the following year saw him embark on an even more testing journey through the Southwestern United States, hopping freight trains with just his phone and minimal possessions. 

Tomorrow, when the iPhone 7 goes on general release be prepared for a swell of images shared throughout social media and blogs. Technically, the images will range from stunning-to-average-to-poor emphasising what we already know - that regardless of the technology, the best images are made by the most competent photographers. The iPhone 7 once again confirms that the best camera is the one you have with you.

New iPhone May Touch A RAW Nerve

It's official... Apple has unveiled iPhone 7. Increased battery life, new Jet Black colour version, dust and water proofing, larger storage options were all included in this latest update of the world's best-selling smartphone. The additions were equally as newsmaking as the controversial omission of the headphone jack; the era of tangle-free, wireless listening is now upon us.

Re-engineered, the iPhone 7 Plus.

Re-engineered, the iPhone 7 Plus.

It is major changes to the iPhone camera system though that has enthralled iPhone Photography enthusiasts like myself, leaving us eager to upgrade to the latest model. The iPhone 7and 7 Plus boast a re-engineered 12-megapixel camera with larger f/1.8 aperture, six-element lens and new image processor. Optical image stabilisation is now standard on both models (previously limited to the Plus). Apple claims the camera is 60% faster than previous models and will record more detailed photos and videos with increased noise reduction in low-light conditions. There is also a new 7MP front-facing camera and improved, smarter, LED flash onboard too. Pretty impressive, however it's Apple's changes to the flagship Plus model that has left me scrambling to pre-order. Embedded in the iPhone 7 Plus model is a second 12-megapixel camera with a focal length of 56mm offering a 2x optical zoom; a first for the iPhone. As if this wasn't enough there is the promise of an intelligent shallow depth of field portrait mode coming later in the year.

Alongside these hardware changes is the imminent launch of iOS 10 billed as Apple's "biggest software release ever". Improved messaging, maps, notifications, news, Siri interaction, Home Kit and Photos app all feature in this major overhaul of the mobile operating system. The standout news is that photographers will be able to edit raw files taken with the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus cameras. I'm expecting third party developers to take advantage of this option in a big way. Adobe with their Lightroom app and Google with SnapSeed have recently introduce RAW editing into their latest releases. 

Inevitably, there will be those that sneer, snipe and reject the device as a below par photography gadget. Good enough for the 'Instagram Generation' and wannabes but never anywhere near the ultimate perfection that 'serious' photographers insist upon. I have come across a certain amount of pomposity within some photography circles that dismiss anything that isn't produced by Canon or Nikon and that doesn't carry an eye-watering price tag. Opinions that are possibly aired by the same, or like, individuals who a decade ago were dismissing digital cameras as inferior toys, yet today proudly own an all-singing high-end DSLR. Comparisons can also be drawn with those who once decried the use of Photoshop editing over the art of traditional darkroom techniques, yet now boast an Adobe Creative Suite subscription and 'educate' us on best practices in Lightroom workflow. 

Refreshing then to hear that Magnum pro photographer Christopher Anderson, who has already been shooting with the new iPhone, quoted by Apple as saying "This iPhone is going to be a part of any professional's repertoire of tools. The camera didn't just handle low light, it rendered the separation of colours in a way that reminds me of film. Just Beautiful."

There is no substitute for experience, no fast-track to honing skills and perfecting competence; it is my belief that a skilled photographer will create a worthwhile shot on almost any device. Professional travel photographer and iPhone user Jack Hollingsworth took to Twitter to say "Smartphones still need smart photographers to create smart photography".

@photojack

Professional photographer Jason Nocito who has also been using the pre-release iPhone 7 says "I love the depth of field capabilities and the ability to shoot fast without losing sharpness. This iPhone proves you don't need a five figure rig to be a great photographer. This camera is gonna change the game." 

Truth is companies are commissioning work on the iPhone, stock photos taken with an iPhone are being purchased for ad campaigns and editorials, I run workshops with companies who wish to empower staff to take images for social media and web work. The purists aren't happy as they see newbies eroding their livelihood. It is an uncomfortable truth that technology has just about changed every industry on the planet and those who transition their business models to adapt to new trends and practices will be the ones who ultimately survive and succeed.

The iPhone is not a DSLR and vice-versa, each has its own merits and come into their own in certain conditions. However, the iPhone cannot be ignored any longer as a fad or a toy, it is a serious piece of kit that is evolving at a pace that many of us wished for but never thought possible.