Once Upon an autumn day,
Colorful leaves began to fade
In the midst of a chilly, frosty air
As multitude of trees grew steadily bare.
Once upon an autumn day,
The whispering breeze was here to stay
Moving aimlessly through the countless trees
Scattering leaves with the greatest of ease.
Once upon an autumn day,
The leaves whirled freely in every way,
Until at last they came to rest
Finding a haven in which to nest.
Once upon an autumn day,
The trees were dormant, and the leaves lay
Waiting for the winter snow to fall
To quickly obscure them one and all.
Getting a decent portrait shot when you are outside in the middle of the day can be pretty tough. Bright summer sunshine can seem like the perfect light for shooting outdoors, but it often causes horrible shadows across the face and not to mention the model will quite often be squinting their eyes.
Using a flash that has HSS (High speed sync) ability, means you can often overpower the ambient light and/or fill the shadows in.
A built in flash on your camera can normally only shoot at a maximum of 1/250th of a second, whereas with HSS you can shoot at up to 1/8000th.
When using HSS flash and having your camera set on manual or shutter priority, you can expose for the face & have the background nice and dark.
For this shoot in Les Bois, Chamonix with Claudia, I was using my Nikon D750 in manual mode so I had full control of all the settings with a Sigma 70-200mm f2.8 lens and a yongnuo YN560 flash with YN603 remotes. It was a slightly cloudy day which was really nice as there was not too much in the way of direct sunlight.
It can be quite tough when you are starting out doing portraiture as you often get stuck with not being able to direct your subject in the way you want. Practice, practice practice! Shoot from lots of different angles and have your model/friend/friend of a friend/willing person from a Facebook message you sent out. to look up, look down, drop a shoulder, sit down, smile look away. As I said before, practice and you will get there.
A huge thank you to the lovely Claudia for letting me get some shots of her.
I've just got myself a drone & am still getting used to the controls. I've managed to piece together a few short clips into a short 3 minute film. Enjoy.
I received an email last night to inform me that I was the winner of the Chamonix Source Magazine winter picture competition.
I'm really really happy at winning this as I've never won a photo competition before!
A massive thank you to ZeroG Chamonix (the best snowboard shop in town) for my awesome prize.
It was the 22nd of January (my birthday) and I didn't know what to do, so I made the most of my lift pass and headed up the Aiguille du midi, this was after stopping at Bluebird cafe to pick up a bacon & egg roll and a can of Irn-Bru to take away.
It was so cold up at nearly 40000m with a very strong wind kicking up alot of spindrift. I started to head down the arete towards the Col du Midi when I saw that the Compagnie du mont blanc where putting in the fixed ropes for easier access to the vallee blanche. I thought it would be a cool picture to show the guys out working on the ridge, so I started snapping away. The sun had'nt quite made it above the ridge yet and I could see it creeping slowly up and to the right while the two workers where slowly moving down & to the left. I kicked a small ledge off to the side of the main ridge to let other people pass me, popped a couple of ice screws into the ice to give myself a good anchor & waited for around 30 minutes, eating my now semi frozen bacon roll and drinking the ice cold can of Irn Bru until the workers where directly in front of the rising sun, and thats when I got this shot. I'd like to think it was worth the torture to capture the image!
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The tall, dark Frenchman and the English rose.
At the weekend I met up with a lovely couple living in the beautiful town of Thones in the Haute Savoie.
We sat down to lunch, which Maddie had kindly made for us and had a wee chat about the wedding day and how I go about my work and shooting the day. I find this to be really helpful as it gives both the photographer and the client a chance to get to know one another, after all, I will be documenting one of the most important days of their lives.
Why should you have a pre wedding shoot?
Chances are you haven’t had your photos taken by a professional before, so how do you know what to do? On your wedding day you’ll be surrounded by cameras, not just the one you hired. With everything that is going on during the day, it’s great to have one less thing to worry about.
Whether you are camera shy or a photogenic vixen, the e-shoot is a great opportunity to instill confidence and build comfort in front of the camera. It can be daunting to have a camera follow you, it happens to all of us, and it’s best to get that anxiety out of the way in advance. In no time, you’ll stop focusing on the camera and more on each other. Your nerves will calm and your stress will float away. Your interactions with each other will become more natural and you’ll learn to avoid the innate reflex to stiff up and smile directly into the camera.
I've been to Thones a few times, and on the way out of the town, there is a beautiful old hump-back bridge with a river running under it. I thought this would be a nice place to get a few casual images for the couple.
After the shoot at the bridge, we headed to the wedding venue which sits high above the small ski town of Le Grand Bornand. From here, the views across the alps where truly incredible and you could see for some miles and miles. I'll be keeping my fingers crossed for beautiful weather on the day!
Clicking on the images will bring them out in a lightbox.
Its truly a wonderful feeling to be part of someones special day and to capture all the raw emotion, natural smiles and sparkles in peoples eyes.
I was in Edinburgh over the weekend to photograph the wedding of a lovely young couple called Sean and Emma.
The weather was surprisingly dry and sunny with not quite "Taps Aff" temperatures but considering its April in Scotland with not a spot of rain, I'll take that for a pound note!
Here is a wee sneeky Peek at their special day.
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Only 2000 Images left to edit! :-)
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On Thursday, I made the most of the full moon and the beautiful weather we have been having, by heading up into the high mountains for a wee overnight camping adventure.
First I set off from the busy Mer de Glace tourist attraction:
Next I made haste up the glacier and was soon enjoying the solitude on one of the busiest weeks of the winter.
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.
After just a few hours of sliding my way up this expansive glacier, the binding on my splitboard broke. This got me pretty annoyed for a while as I hadn't got as far as I wanted to, but the whole point on going on a wee adventure like this was to simply get away from the norm and I certainly had! So I unloaded my bag, put up my tent and had a cup of tea!
As day turned into night, the stars started to come out. I didn't expect to see much in the way of stars since there was a full moon and usually the moon will flood the sky with too much light to be able to see them.
After spending an hour or so outside of the tent standing around, I was so cold so decided to head to the warmth of my sleeping bag, make another cup of tea and read my book "Blood River". Its about a journalist recreating H.M. Stanley's famous expedition through the Congo from east to west by motorbike, canoe and on foot. A truly gripping read which sets my imagination into overdrive on whats next for travels and holidays!
So I'm in my nice warm sleeping bag as comfortable as one can be when you're lying on an icy cold glacier. I can't get to sleep due to the light pouring in to the tent, so I grudgingly climb out of my cocoon, put my jacket and boots back on and clamber out of the tent to be faced with an incredible sight, which I will never forget.
I set my alarm for 4.30 am to hopefully get some shots of the sunrise, but it was not to be, for there was a white-out and strong winds rattling against my tent. Therefore, I climbed back into my bag and slept until 7.30 am.
If my binding was not broken, then I would have carried on exploring for the morning, but instead packed up my tent and made my way back to civilisation.
I'd love to try and get a multi-day trip in some time this spring but it's now wedding season and I'm heading back to the UK.
A few weeks back, I took a big slam while out riding & buggered my knee. I'ts been slowly starting to get better so today I went for a wee tour up the mountain just behind my house, to check how I would be. Starting at just over 1000m, I had to walk for the first 150 vert before putting on my Splitboard skins & sliding my way up through the forest and out into alpine pasture and then traversing up onto the tete du Prarion at 1969m.
Arriving at the top it was blowing an absolute hooley, so I dug a wee snowhole & sat and ate my jam sandwiches & drank tea.
I didn't get any shots of my descent as the weather was coming in pretty quick and I was not up for getting lost in a whiteout! So my knee held out pretty well with just a few twinges when I jerked it a bit too much.
I'm looking forward to getting a big tour done this season & might just try snow holing overnight instead of taking a tent or relying on getting to a refuge.
Watch this space!
I was fortunate enough to be asked to cover the Chamonix stage of the Freeride world Tour for www.Chamonet.com The tour is a multi stage event where some of the worlds best off piste big mountain skiers and snowboarders compete against each other to find the most creative, stylish and technically challenging line down the mountain.
On Thursday, my day started at the top of Flegere where I could meet the competitors, have a chat about the tour and get some photos. It was also a chance for the athletes to view the area where they would be riding down. This was a very relaxed affair with the competitors all chatting between themselves on what route to take, which cliffs looked nice to trick off and where not to go.
An interview with the winner from the first stage of the tour: Sascha Hamm.
This is the first interview I have ever done. note to self : get a decent mic and sort out the exposure!
After 40-50cm of snow falling just the previous night, the face was looking in good condition for the following days proceedings, although high winds and variable temps meant that a hard crust had formed in places so the competitors had to pick their line wisely.
After the mornings proceedings, a few off us met up with the 3 times FWT champion and one of snowboardings big mountain living legends Xavier de la Rue for an afternoon of testing out the Hexo+ Drone. Please click on the link for more information https://hexoplus.com/
It was so easy to operate the Drone using just a smartphone app, there are a number of differing commands pre programmed in to get you flying straight out of the box (I did end up kind of crashing it into the mountainside) however all was fine and it launched again without any problems. Check out the following video from Red Bull where Xavier uses the drone to capture some incredible footage of a recent big mountain line herein Chamonix. http://www.redbull.com/fr/fr/snow/stories/1331774676798/xavier-de-le-rue-voie-couloir-mallory-chamonix-pente-video
Overall it was a really fun day hanging out with all the competitors, there was a super relaxed happy vibe and to top it off, I got to ride with one of snowboardings greats.
Day 2 started at around 5,45 for all the riders. I thought I would get up the mountain nice and early to make the most of having the chance to ride a few laps by torch light (shame I forgot my head torch) There was still just enough light though to get a few incredible runs on an empty mountain.We had been blessed with another 30cm of snow overnight, making conditions really great for the days proceedings. As the morning light broke through the quickly dispersing clouds, sunrise gave us a wonderful light show over the mountains and a bluebird powder day to follow.
I met up with my good friend and fellow photographer Tom Humpage and we discussed where we would position ourselves so that we could cover as much of the mountain as possible. Once the first few competitors started to make their way to the top of the mountain, Tom and I made our way to our positions. I got myself setup directly below the start and tom was off to skiers right, where 75% of riders chose to come down!
I was using a Nikon FX camera with a Sigma 70-200 f2.8 lens with a 2x teleconverter giving me a focal length of 140mm-400mmat f5.6. Zoom was ok but with the teleconverter, it softened the images just too much! Overall, I'm not super happy with any of my images from the competition day, however, being there with all these amazingly talented riders and seeing the camaraderie between them meant it was an unforgettable experience and a fantastic couple of days.
Some time before Christmas, I was asked to take a few snaps of a friends dog "Bijun" Unfortunately Bijun had been diagnosed with cancer and it was unsure how long she would have left on this world.
Sadly,Bijun was put to sleep just the other day surrounded by her loving family.
Here is a wee poem to go alongside the images of this lovely wee dog
I Loved You Best
So this is where we part, My Friend,
and you'll run on, around the bend,
gone from sight, but not from mind,
new pleasures there you'll surely find.
I will go on, I'll find the strength,
life measures quality, not its length.
One long embrace before you leave,
share one last look, before I grieve.
There are others, that much is true,
but they be they, and they aren't you.
And I, fair, impartial, or so I thought,
will remember well all you've taught.
Your place I'll hold, you will be missed,
the fur I stroked, the nose I kissed.
And as you journey to your final rest,
take with you this...I loved you best.
Copyright © Jim Willis 2002, All Rights Reserved
Last week my good friend and aspiring International mountain leader Oli Carr and I headed through the tunnel du Mont Blanc into Italy for a spot of snowshoeing and a reconnaissance mission for ski touring (for when more snow finally arrives!).
It was a relatively leisurely start with the obligatory Italian coffee stop and stock up of food and suplies "mainly Grappa".
Starting in a small village at 1800m called "Bonne" high above the Aosta valley, we set off towards the Refugio Degli Angeli, 1150m above us. Normally in the winter, this would be a great ski touring route, however there was very little snow & it wasn't until around 2400m that we needed to put snowshoes on. The trail up started on a hardpack fireroad and eventually turning into narrow singletrack covered with a hard crust & 10-20cm of chalky snow. The sun was blazing down with hardly a cloud in the sky and there was not a sound nor anyone around, Absolute tranquility.
As we moved further up the trail, the snow became much softer and we found ourselves sinking with every step. We put our snowshoes on and decided to walk straight up the mountain instead of trying to traverse our way up. Walking up a 30° slope for over an hour is pretty bloody tiring but much quicker than sinking with every step. This was my first tour at altitude and I was certainly feeling it! the thirst, the sore head and the feeling of lethargy setting in! As Oli put it "A type b kind of fun". I had also forgotten to zip my gaiters into my trousers and was starting to suffer from cold, wet feet due to snow getting in through the tops of my boots.
After setting off, we arrived at the refuge four hours later. It was clean, comfortable and very very cold. For the next couple of hours, Oli proceeded to melt snow for cups of tea & refill our camelbacks. We also polished off the bottle of Grappa, which certainly helped to warm the cockles! while I tried to thaw my frozen toes! After a tasty re-hydrated chicken curry dinner, we braved the cold and headed outside to gaze at the incredible, star-filled night sky
The following morning, we where awake around 7am and where lucky to witness an awesome sunrise.
After forcing a breakfast of muesli down our throats , we left the refuge and where hoping to climb a little higher, unfortunately the snow was getting a bit too deep for the dog to be able to plough through, so we turned back and started the descent.
We decided to take pretty much the same way down as we had came up, this was fast and somewhat entertaining.
During the descent, we done a bit of avalanche transceiver training where one of us would go and hide behind a rock while the other would try to find the partner using just the tranceiver, since Nanuq also had a tranceiver, we done some multiple burial scenarios too! Its all good and well to have the neccesary tools for safety when in the backcountry, but they are useless if you dont know how to use them.
Overall, it was a very enjoyable wee tour, I'm really pleased with some of the pictures I managed to get and I'm looking forward to coming back when there is enough snow to ride the awesome terrain we encountered.
It has taken my almost two months to put it together, but I have finally finished my first ever wedding video.
How hard can it be to take moving images and put them side by side into a short film? Alot harder than I ever imagined! Its not like photography where you can in some instances "take a test shot, look at it, adjust settings or positioning then carry on!
Would I shoot a wedding video again? ask me the same question in a couple of months time.
If you or any friends are interested in having either a wedding video or would like a photographer for your special day? please get in touch with me and I will send you a link to the video.
The change between autumn and winter has literally happened over night.
Last week, I was out hiking with my wife and dog, and the temperature was a balmy 19°
Yesterday I was in a blizzard wearing5 layers and my snow boots!
With more snow on the forecast for this week, I had best get my touring setup and avalanche safety gear out of the cupboard.
It is a bit strange to be out walking in the high mountains in just a t shirt at the begining of November.
Yesterday my wife and I headed to Les Contamines national park for an 8km walk up to the beautiful lac Jovets which sits at the foot of the high Mont Blanc massif at 2174m. It was a beautiful day with barely a cloud in the sky.
Arriving at the lake, we where gifted with this beautiful view.
One of my most recent jobs, was photographing an apartment in Chamonix.
The apartment was dated and tired looking until the awesomely talented http://www.alpineeco.com/projects/apartment-le-betty/ stepped in and gave it a new lease of life as a spacious, modern and bright property.
In a couple of weeks time, I will be embarking on my first photo based expedition.
I will be kayaking down the river Arve which starts in the Chamonix valley in the Haute Savoie region of France.
The river runs for around 100kms, through the towns of Le Fayet, Sallanches, Cluses, Bonneville, Anemmase and eventualy joins the Rhone in Geneve.
I will be giving myself four days to complete the paddle.
Photos will follow shortly!
To capture the happiness, warmth and affection between a parent and child, is a truly wonderful thing!
I've recently done a shoot for Tim & Kristin in Chamonix for their newborn twins Aidan and Alice.
It was the first time I have done a shoot with twins and I must admit, its not the easiest! When one cries, the other one smiles. When one smiles, the other one sleeps!
It was an enjoyable experience and I am constantly learning how to deal with clients, building up a rapport and expanding my portfolio.
Please check out my portrait gallery to view some of the shots!