Fine Art Print #1 - Hollywood Panorama

This year is turning out to be pretty interesting…Like everyone else with a small business, I have seen my diary empty faster than a pub with a coughing drunk propping up a bar. So, how to make the best out of a bad situation? 

I’ve been meaning to sort out the website for a long while - and it was spurred on by accidentally formatting a hard drive just before Easter…I’ve spent almost every waking hour trying to recover what I can and re-editing what I have left. I’ve lost all my New York photographs, which is galling as I have so many memories of an epic trip that I can’t now see - but on the upside - I have to go back, right?! 

As part of the refresh - I have set up an online store, where I am selling a range of my favourite photographs from my travels around the globe, limited to 50 a piece, numbered and signed on the rear. 

I am printing them on the exact same paper I use to display them in my own home - the finest Hahnemuhle Photo Rag white cotton artists paper, which elevates the photographs to things of beauty! 

Each week, I will shine a spotlight on one of the collection, talking about what I was aiming for, what I was feeling - maybe some some the technical, geeky stuff - who knows? 

In addition to this, I will be offering 15% off the featured photograph for 7 days using the code 15OFF at checkout. 

I think this idea has traction - so much of a photograph is the thought process behind it, which is endlessly fascinating for me, but it’s not very often I get to share this with anyone else. That’s where photography’s magic comes from. It can be interpreted as many ways as people who look at it, but the true meaning is like a secret, waiting to be told. 

And now we have reached just the right level of pretentiousness, let’s dive right in…

This photograph was taken in July 2019. It was one of those trips that was booked after a few too many beers with no real way of paying for it - but I had somehow convinced myself I deserved a treat; so I spent my 40th birthday exploring a city that had always fascinated me, but never really had any desire to visit. I’m not a very curious sort of a person naturally! 

Needless to say 4 days is nowhere near enough time to get under the skin of the beast and I want to go back as soon as I can to see all the things I didn’t get to see last time. 

Despite never having enough time on these trips, I love planning them. It focuses the mind - forcing you to get to the nub of what you want to capture. I had 4 things on my list: Paramount Studio Tour; The Comedy Store; catching up with friends and getting up close and personal with the Hollywood sign. 

I booked onto one of the many, many walking tours of the Hollywood Hills that you see advertised on Air B&B. As a tourist, I don’t think you’d find your way right up to the sign too easily, and it was actually a really great walk. The hills are beautiful. The rest of LA is not that beautiful. It’s mostly highways and strip malls - but up in the hills, it is like being in a beautiful little English village. But with sun. And pools. Lots of pools. 

I’d already planned in my head what I wanted to get. A lot of the group took lots of selfies in front of the sign, and they’re great, I’ve nothing against them at all - but when I’m taking photos, I’m not interesting in placing myself there or being self referential. I want to immerse myself in the moment. And that sign, it’s special.

I would put money on it being the most recognisable landmark in the world. So much of our culture is symbolised by that sign. To be stood right behind it was exciting and pretty immense. 

The view over LA is stunning. The huge Hollywood Reservoir and Mulholland Dam looks so small from on top of the hill and the city unfolds forever, separated from the horizon by a distinct layer of smog which is pretty disgusting, granted - but…

With these sort of shots, when I know exactly what I want, and I know exactly how it’s going to work - I allow myself a few moments to drink it all in, to be present in the moment and allow myself to enjoy it. I remember feeling really quite zen. I always feel peaceful and calm when I’m that far above anywhere. I was tired for sure - I only arrived in America at about midnight , so this was probably around seven o’clock the next evening on a minuscule amount of sleep after a day walking around Hollywood.

I usually process my city photography in black and white. My LA set was the first in a few years where I felt that shooting in black and white would strip away so much of the feeling and warmth that many of those I took exude. If you look at the LA and San Diego pages on the site, the vast majority are colour; and it’s sort of nudged me in a bit of a different direction. I think I am now more interested in finding the warmth and colour in even the most gritty and industrial places. It’s definitely a challenge for me. I like being in my black and white comfort zone, but I’m learning…

This panorama is a composite of 28 separate photos stitched together in Photoshop.  I get mixed results from my panoramas - but this one turned out great I think. If you take all the photos from a static position, the perspective can sometimes be out of whack, but Photoshop has done a great job here. 

I always set the aperture at 8 for landscapes and for this, the ISO was set at 400, with the shutter speed adjusted to maintain good exposure. I always shoot in Manual - mainly because that’s how I learned years ago - so I actually have no clue how the semi automatic settings actually work! 

Processing wise, very little had to be done to this. I always shoot in raw, and convert to JPEG in Lightroom - and as I’m stitching lots of files together in Photoshop, I don’t like to do anything to them in Lightroom. 

Once they were merged in Photoshop, I think the only adjustments I made were to make it look a little warmer and a bit of cropping and it was really that simple. 

This is my lasting memory of LA - and I have this hanging over my sofa so I can see it when I’m working at my table. It makes me think of those balmy evenings with Bruce Springsteen in my ears and 4th July fireworks, Venice Beach and expensive pints in a British themed pub somewhere in Santa Monica (I think…) 

So - for the next seven days, you can get this 30x12 inch print for only £29.75 (plus P&P) using the discount code 15OFF at checkout. All transactions are secure and handled by PayPal.

My store can be found in the menu at the top of your screen and the Hollywood print is the first item. 

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