• Identifying tree in winter

    Just arrived - latest issue of LandScape Magazine with a story they commissioned on identifying trees in winter. I wrote the piece and was able to sell a few pictures to them as well - mainly the details of buds and bark. Sadly, most of the tree portraits came from Alamy, but that's the way of the world right now - big magazine groups have all cracked these bulk buy deals with Alamy and the like. Great for the mags. Not so hot for the photographers....the days of making a living out of stock photography a distant memory for most people. However, I am pleased to say that the magazine did fall for my dps opener of an oak tree at sunrise. Lovely to bring to life a Kodachrome that I shot near Bracknell in Berkshire some 36 years ago...on the way to do a hotel brochure photoshoot if I remember correctly.

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  • Frosty morning finds

    I am continually fascinated by all the hidden details of patches of ground that I feel I know intimately. Different seasons, different kinds of weather and light and even my own receptivity from one day to the next draws me to certain elements; often things that are easily overlooked or taken for granted. When you are almost over familiar with a place it's all too easy to walk along with your brain closed off and your eyes seeing nothing new, nothing noteworthy or exciting, but there will always be something there if you tune in. It might be a fleeting glimpse of an unusual bird, a flower or a butterfly or beetle you've never found before in this place, but equally it might just be the play of light on something relatively commonplace. A couple of days back a late morning hop with the pups on my most local of Commons - Bromyard Downs - revealed frost hollows where the sun hadn't quite reached and, probably, at this time of year never would before dusk. Here the browned, spent vegetation of the old year lay crystallized, rigid, every contour etched with hoar frost. Something relatively mundane, brown, dead revealed a hidden beauty.

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  • Illustrated London News in the 1850s

    Stumbled across some rather tattered old copies of Illustrated London News the other day - two massive beaten up volumes for 1852 and 1856. Sadly, these were without the lovely whole page colour plates that were occasionally issued for special events, but still contained a wealth of fascinating wood engravings and accompanying stories. Even the small - ads are a fund of information. Some of the better images have already been photographed and added to the archive and I thought you might enjoy seeing one or two. ILN was probably the most complete view of the Victorian world, updated on a weekly basis. Just the thought of all those people employed to make the large woodblocks for whole page images 14" x 9" and even double page spreads almost twice the size, week in week out, is pretty mind boggling.

    Monster seen off The Cape of Good Hope:

    The "Princess", Captain A.K.N. Tremearne, ship's log 15th September 1856 - 'At one p.m. saw a very large fish, with a head like a walrus, and twelve fins, similar to those in a blackfish, but turned the contrary way. The back was from 20 to 30 feet long; also a great length of tail. It is not improbable that this monster has been taken for the great sea-serpent. Fired and hit it near the head with rifle-ball. At eight, fresh wind and fine.'

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  • Happy 40th Tree Week Birthday to The Tree Council

    Yesterday found me in the Cholmondeley Room in the House of Lords, kindly invited by The Tree Council to help celebrate their 40th National Tree Week birthday. A great abundance of suits, ties & black shoes. I'm glad to say that I bucked this trend - it's a celebration for heaven's sake - let's get a bit of colour in there. Several speeches by the blokes in suits extolling the virtues of TC and the goodly work they are doing planting trees. Very true. All polished off by a young actor who read a Felix Dennis poem about the elm (after all that was the spur that got the Tree Council off the ground in the first place) and then an excellent poem of his own about tending the needs of the less fortunate plants and trees in his world. A lovely lyrical piece. Good to catch up with a few old friends & even got collared by one or two fans. Won't let it go to my head though.

    So, Happy Birthday Tree Week - keep up the great work.

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  • A few steps back in time

    Yesterday found me on a noisy, sawdusty factory floor photographing some new machinery for the construction of SIPS systems for timber-framed buildings. It seems so long since I was regularly, gainfully employed shooting industrial images. Since the advent of digital photography an awful lot of companies now simply call on the most gifted amateur in the office to pop & grab a shot that will be okayish. This brought back many memories of long, hot, dirty days on industrial shop floors trying to make it all look good enough to grace the company brochures and annual reports. Way back then it was all down to the professional retouchers to remove the grot and grime, but now a few well spent minutes on Photoshop can almost make a silk purse from a sow's ear.

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Archie Miles photography

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