National Geographic The Photo Ark

Photo Ark pop up Vilamoura Portugal

Photo Ark pop up Vilamoura Portugal

I recently had the opportunity to visit National Geographic’s Photo Ark exhibition whilst in Vilamoura Portugal, although the exhibition is touring extensively and showing in many museums and pop ups worldwide.


The Vilamoura exhibition hosts over 50 pieces of works by Joel Sartore and runs until September 30th, entrance fee €10. I may add it’s worth watching the accompanying video which gives a light hearted look behind the screens showing how Joel mostly uses a light box with either white or black background to great success (most of the time) to  ultimately represent the 12,000 species of endangered animals featured, highlighting their plight due to habitat loss.


Below is a statement from Joel Sartore on his ambitious project, I wish him the best of luck.


National Geographic Photographer and Speaker Joel Sartore

About the Photo Ark

The Photo Ark started back in 2005, when my wife, Kathy, was diagnosed with breast cancer. My career as a National Geographic photographer came to an abrupt halt as I stayed home to tend to her and our three children.


It’s been more than 10 years, and Kathy is fine now, but that year at home gave me a new perspective on the shortness and fragility of life. I was 42 at the time, and as Kathy recovered, one question continued to haunt me: How can I get people to care that we could lose half of all species by the turn of the next century?

Perhaps a series of portraits, made as simply and cleanly as possible, would give us all a chance to look animals directly in the eye and see that there’s beauty, grace, and intelligence in the other creatures we share the planet with. Black and white backgrounds level the playing field, making a mouse every bit as grand as an elephant. In these portraits, they are equals.


All species are vitally important to our very survival; we need bees and even flies to pollinate the fruits and vegetables we eat. We need intact rain forest to regulate the amount of rainfall we get in areas where we grow crops. But beyond what’s in it for us, I believe that each species has a basic right to exist.

There are about 12,000 animal species in human care around the world. So far, I’ve made portraits of more than 8,000, and we’ll keep going until we get them all. It’ll take another 15 years or so. The goal is to show the world what biodiversity actually looks like and get everyone to care about saving species while there’s still time.


I hope you agree that the future of life on Earth is something that deserves our full attention. If so, please tell your friends that you care about all creatures, great and small. Share the photos. Help us celebrate. Join others devoted to saving species and habitats. We all can make a difference.

Joel Sartore


Nick Brandt - This Empty World

Having been a fan of Nick Brandt for a number of years, an opportunity to view his new exhibition and meet the man himself was one I wasn’t going to miss.


Waddington Custot Gallery, Cork Street, London are showing 17 pieces from his new exhibition “This Empty World” from February 7th until March 7th 2019.

Once again Nick focuses his lens on East Africa, and brings to us the plight of some of our great animals, how they fight a loosing battle to compete with mans environmental destruction and how our governments remain apathetic.

This Empty World shows a move from black & white to colour the use of clever lighting, emphasizing the juxtaposition between the natural surroundings our animals live in, and our ever increasing concrete jungles.

This Empty World by Nick Brandt

This Empty World by Nick Brandt

River Of People with Elephant at Night

River Of People with Elephant at Night


Nick Brandts photography and his work with the comendable Big Life Foundation continues to hammer home the message about the destruction we are doing to our planet, a wonderful, thought provoking exhibition, well worth a visit.

Kevin Cummins - So It Goes

I had the pleasure recently of meeting the legendary Kevin Cummins when he exhibited at the Lucy Bell Gallery in St Leanards, East Sussex while promoting his latest book “So It Goes - Punk And The Aftermath “

Punk music played a massive part during my teenage years in the late 70’s.

One of my weekly rituals was to buy the music papers that would hit the news shelves on a Thursday morning, always Sounds & NME, (New Musical Express was for the dinosaurs).This would be our guide to what gigs we would travel to over the next week or so, (this was the pre-internet age).

The music press was my introduction to Kevin’s work. Living in the south, the northern scene was unreachable to me, those superb Manchester bands where rarely within my reach, but the reviews of these gigs where often published along with Kevin’s photographs.

So It Goes encapsulates the the northern punk scene, the author was in a unique position, working so closely with The Buzzcocks and several other pivotal bands, he was totally imsersed within that scene.

As I mentioned the punk movement had a big influence on me as it did many others of mt era, talking to Kevin and reminiscing about this time was great.

Congratulations Kevin on the publication of your latest book, in my opinion a great piece of work well worth a few quid!


As for my copy and the B’dum B’dum annotation, if you weren’t there you won’t get it!


Monovisions Interview

So Sebastian Markis editor of the online black & white photography magazine Monovisions contacted me to do an interview for his publication, quote:"We admire your work and we think it fits perfectly with essence of our publication." - your dam right flattery's gonna get you everywhere!

Mono vision is a great publication, full of inspiration from long past to up and coming photographers, as their byline states "Your everyday source of b&w inspirations", so I really do suggest you bookmark this one and use it to top up your creative juices, may your mojo bottle never be empty!

Here's the link, enjoy .......

Miggo - A new kind of camera strap, cover thingy!

Every now and then something different comes along, this is one of those things.

Miggo is a protective camera strap, click on the image to take you to their kickstarter site.

Quite often rather than lug around all my kit I'll just stick on a lens and pop my DSLR in my "man" bag (it is manley, honest), however something I not very good at is keeping my Nikon away from my keys, I think this may be the answer to protecting my kit.

Eastbourne Pier

It's been a while since I posted anything to the blog, so apologies for that.

I shot this the other week at Eastbourne and if your interested here's a little behind the scenes look shot with the Iphone and edited through instagram to give it a bit more impact.

I've stared using Instagram for my iphone colour shots, I seem to have so many places online to post stuff, but when it came to sharing these little snaps I had no place for them but Instagram seems to fit just nicely.

Oh and if you want to follow me on Instagram I'm billallen_

ND Magazine

Got invited to post to ND Magazine, not only is it a another place to share online it's also got some interesting articles and interviews. 

I particularly like the layout, very simple  and easy to use, they seem to be having something of a growth spurt at the moment with new content being added daily, along with the familiar names you find on Flickr, G+, 500px etc there are also some big hitters, with the likes of Levin, Lange, Brandt etc included in the mix, which I like.

Free (donations accepted) and well worth a look me thinks!


Not the easiest of shots, the wind was gusting over 30mph right to left and the incoming wash traveled the whole distance of these cobbles with each wave.


Ive tried to shoot this location at Langney Point in Eastbourne on the UK's south coast a few times, it need the right combination of tide and a rough sea, but not to the extent that I risked being swept away, or that the camera shook too much in the wind, Saturdays conditions were quite favourable. 

Another from that day! 

Behind the scenes. 

And for those who are interested , here's a little behind the scenes shot. 

Face in the rock.

It wasn't until after I'd set up the tripod & filters that I noticed this face - concentrating too much on fitting the scene in to a 2:1 crop, and having the shoreline enter from the bottom left corner.Composition is important but you can miss the little things.

Look in to my crystal ball !

Recently it's not been great for any long exposure work, a bit too bright with featureless sky's, so I've been popping a 4" crystal ball I picked up on Ebay in my bag and experimenting with it, using my 50mm f1.4 to loose the background and getting in close to capture the main body of image within the crystal (which it turns out is surprisingly sharp).

The photo's below are a single image, however I've taken the area in the image seen through the crystal and flipped it on it's head which seems to work better and the overall effect was more like what I wanted to achieve, rather than leaving you looking at a blurred background and upside down focal point.

Click on the images to enlarge.


Dungeness situated on Kent’s south coast in the south of England is well worth a visit, dominated by its two nuclear power plants the area is home to a wealth of photo subjects. I’ve been there several times and this is a selection of what I came away with from Saturdays little treck.

The set up!

The sound mirrors where built around 1930 these were the predecessors before radar designed to pick up the sound of enemy aircraft from over the English Channel and were purposely placed in remote areas to cut down on external noise.

Incoming Storm

I popped along to Newhaven on the UK's south coast this afternoon and for once timed it right as a storm was coming over from France, the light was great.

Below are both piers shot from the harbour wall.
5mins, f11, ISO 100, 70mm.BW110 ND

Leica MK2 1935 vs IPhone 5 2013

A friend lent me his fathers 1935 Leica mk2, this piece of history had formally been owned by a reporter for the Daily Express so had done the rounds.

You forget just how much is done for you "in camera" so with each shot it's, set the asa (once), pull out the lens, use a light meter, estimate the distance, set the shutter speed, set the aperture, wind on the film, and shoot.

Anyway I decided to run a little test to see just what was achievable and unachievable with two cameras  78 years apart.

For the Leica  I used Ilford FP4 125iso b&w film, and for the post process on both it was Lightroom 3.

After b&w conversion in LR3, I gave the leica images a little noise filtration and cropped the IPhone images to roughly the same, then some minor vignette, contrast and levels on both.

Although by no means a scientific experiment the results were quite interesting and the smoother less detailed shots from the Leica I preferred.

Has photography really advanced that much, we still the same light source, that big bright one in the sky and although gear is far better technically , is that always so important?