The Church Cat

The night before the recent wedding I photographed, I attended the wedding rehearsal, and when leaving the church, we were greeted with this beautiful and quite striking cat. It was big…very big. I believe it is a Maine Coon, and it was probably nearly 3 feet long, excluding its tail. It has a beautiful black and grey coat, and was very friendly. In the graveyard environment I thought these images would work well in black and white.

A few more pictures are below:

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Wedding Photography


Last weekend I photographed a wedding. In due course I will post a few more pictures and perhaps talk a bit more about it, but for the moment I thought I would just pick out this image. If you’re ever photographing a wedding, whether it’s for friends, family or commercially, get lots of abstract shots. Make sure you notice the details; close p shots can make great space fillers if you are creating an album or self-publishing a book to give to the happy couple. The flowers, the lapels, the cravats, the stitching of the dress, every little detail will help remind the bride and groom of all that happened on the day

Get Inspired for Instagram

Horsham Park
Horsham Park – look for symmetry and vanishing points to draw the eye in

Previously I wrote a piece about why I like Instragram, and why I think it has had such a great impact on smartphone users around the world.

This time I thought I’d write a bit to help you get inspired. Obviously Instagram gives you plenty of flexibility, you are only limited by your imagination and creativity.

Either choose a theme or pick random things, but a great advantage is that you always have your phone with you, so you can take pictures of anything any time. Look out for bright colours, unusual patterns or objects, cloud formations or reflections in water.

Instagram has plenty of filters available, and this is perhaps one of its key features. While preparing an image, experiment with the different filters available. I find it’s always worth trying the filters on each image, because they affect every image very differently. Don’t disregard images that might not be perfect, as the filters might just hide some of those imperfections.

Ilford HP5

Think in the square format when taking pictures; when I look through my Instagram timeline, I tend to disregard images that aren’t square…especially those that have the horrible black bars top and bottom or on the sides. To me, these images particularly detract from the image (there are free apps available that let you prepare images for the 1:1 ratio and apply a coloured or white background). I always use my iPhone’s built in camera app to take pictures, then I choose it from the album in Instagram to upload it, mainly because I don’t know how else I might want to use the image in the future.

Stream on the Isle of Wight

There are several ideas for inspiration that might help you if you are struggling. Why not try a ‘365 project’; a bit of discipline is needed, but take one photo per day, every day for a year. Use Instagram as the medium to publish your results. It could be a photo of where you are, a self portrait, or an image representative of the highlight of your day.

Create a ‘bucket list’ of things to capture and upload, and set yourself a deadline. Why not try the list below, and upload one picture to represent each item:

  • drain cover
  • leaf
  • bark
  • cloud
  • insect
  • tower
  • smile
  • jewellery
  • glasses
  • vegetable
  • wheel
  • rust
  • letterbox
  • bottles

Take one per day over two weeks. When uploading the images, add the tag #convexum to the caption.

If you’ve been inspired by my this post for any of your Instagram images, add a hashtag to them and then add a comment to this post, mentioning the hashtag so I can see your results.

My Instragram username is @laurencemadill

Whatever’s This Weather?

Cloud Front over Lyme Bay

What is it with this weather? Am I the only person noticing significant changes in the British weather pattern? I’ve done some research on monthly rainfall figures; but there’s no real trend to show that it’s getting much wetter, and, as shown on the chart below, the trendline for annual rainfall over the last 100 years shows only about a 2.5% increase over the period, which isn’t significant, and the recordings don’t go back far enough historically to identify whether there is actually any trend at all. The other issue is that these recordings can only be either averages for a very large geographical area, or recordings for one specific place. The reality is that conditions vary dramatically, even over short distances.

The Met Office has reported that some parts of the UK has already had 250% of its average July rainfall in the first 10 days of the month, but this in no way says either way whether it will stop raining now for the rest of the month or whether it will continue with more extremes. In fact, a trend line plotted over the July rainfall totals since 1948  shows that July rainfall has actually gone down by 25%. Additionally, data since 1948 shows that the rainfall trend for May, June, July, August, September and November has actually gone down since 1948.

It feels as though the country doesn’t get a summer any more. Perhaps it doesn’t, or not in the traditional sense that we perceive Summer as between Spring and Autumn, and coinciding with schools’ Summer Holidays.  The weather conditions we get depend on the Jet Stream, a stream of air that moves above the Atlantic, west to east, at between 11 and 17 kilometres above sea level, travelling at around 160kph. The direction of the Jet Stream shifts, sometimes it flows north of the UK, sometimes south of it, and sometimes over the top of it. At the moment, it is passing to the south of us and is allowing the unsettled conditions to its north to spread over our country. It’s not really understood why the shift happens, but it really a significant impact on our country’s weather.

The extreme weather we are getting, then, isn’t so much the large volumes of rain overall, but the intensity of the rainstorms that we appear to be getting. I think the Met Office has had warnings for heavy rain in place over some part of the UK nearly every day for several weeks, and the sight of locally torrential downpours appears, at least to me, to be something that we will see more of in the future.

Your comments would be appreciated.

UK Rainfall Chart
Annual UK Rainfall Totals since 1910

[For more information on the Jet Stream, this BBC article provides an excellent explanation:].

Cofffeeeeeee – love or addiction?

Coffee Handle

I’m a big fan of coffee. I love it. I don’t need it and I’m not addicted to it. I drink coffee because I enjoy the taste of it, nothing more complicated than that.


Caffeine is mildly addictive (“regular use of caffeine causes mild physical dependence, according to; it can make you feel bad for a few days but doesn’t cause the same issues as drugs or alcohol. People say they need a coffee in the morning before they can do anything, but is this the body’s physical need for caffeine or is it a psychological requirement, where just the thought that you are sitting down with a coffee at the start of the day is actually all it takes?

I don’t feel the need to have a coffee every day, it’s not something I crave. I like all different coffees. I guess I go through phases, at the moment I like to drink latte, often with hazelnut syrup in it, but not a full shot of syrup like most coffee shops would use. I’d want a maximum of half a shot of syrup.


The strength of the coffee I drink will vary too, anything from two to six shots in a latte, usually only two to three in an americano. What’s your favourite hot drink? Take your vote here:

The coffee industry is booming, coffee makers, the French coffee press, percolators and espresso machines with steam wands for heating milk readily available for home users. These espresso machines are in a somewhat different league to the espresso machines in a busy commercial coffee shop like Caffè Nero, Costa or Starbucks, mainly because commercial machines maintain the most consistent pressure and water temperature, but nevertheless, domestic espresso machines are great.

Coffee shops are popular despite the recession, and their use continues to grow.

Talking of coffee….there might just be a new blog around the corner….

Vintage Camera #3

Canon AE-1 Program

I’m taking a bit of a liberty calling this camera vintage, it’s not even as old as me…well the one I have isn’t anyway. The AE-1 Program was introduced in 1981 as the successor to the AE-1, its key difference being the ability to set both the shutter speed and aperture automatically. Mine was purchased by my parents in 1983 (no doubt to take embarrassing baby pictures of me), but I first got to know this camera when I began private photography lessons and eventually went on to complete an A Level in photography.

I used this camera through most of my A Level studies, developing the films (mainly Ilford HP5, sometimes FP4) and making prints myself. I enjoy using this camera and have achieved some great results with it. I still consider this camera to be a suitable backup camera if I do any commercial work.

Below is the camera and a few samples of images taken with it, the first films I developed and printed myself.

Why I love Instagram

I love Instagram. Fact. But what is it about this little app that has made it so popular?

Instagram is an app available for the iPhone and now the Android market that enables users to take snaps of square proportions, apply a tilt shift or a centre focus effect, apply a style that represents a number of vintage or toy camera effects, and upload the image for others to view.

You can follow users, and they can follow you. You have a timeline of posts t hat have been posted by people you follow, much like Twitter. Anyone can click a ‘like’ button on your image, much like Facebook, and anyone can post a comment on your image. You can include tags with the # symbol, again like Twitter. And yet Instagram does not provide a facility for browsing a user’s images or following users on their website. It is all done via the iPhone app.

I’ve become somewhat addicted to Instagram, I like the effects, I like the sharing of images, and I like. The community. There seems to be a generally very positive vibe among the users, none of the hate messages that can pop up on Twitter and Facebook and the like. That’s not to say it doesn’t happen; I’m sure it does, but it’s isolated and very rare.

Since its launch a wide range of associated applications and websites have cropped up that enhance what you can do. You can now, for example, use a website to browse a users’ posts etc. you can download all sorts of iPhone apps that allow you to apply different effects to images, to help crop them to the right proportions, to create text-based graphics and more, so there is a great range of possibilities.

Recently, Instagram’s target audience has expanded, perhaps trebled, with the launch of the app for Android smartphones. It’s now even more available and even more popular. With a whole new wave of creative people tapping into it and sharing their lives.

The app has turned every user into a photographer. It has given them the power and inspiration to be creative and to express themselves, and for this reason alone it is great. With many young people using the app and sharing their pictures, it has inspired them to look at the world differently and, hopefully, inspired a whole new wave of future photographers.

My Instragram username is @laurencemadill
Below are a few highlights of my Instagram uploads

Vintage Camera #2

Kodak Retina IIs

The second in my series of posts about vintage cameras is a Kodak Retina IIs. It was produced between 1959 and 1960, and has a Xenar 45mm f2.8 lens with a Synchro-Compur shutter. Around 20,000 of these cameras were made in its short production life.

This camera is known as a Coupled Rangefinder camera, which essentially means that when you look through the viewfinder you see two images from different lenses, by adjusting the focus, it brings the two images into line to create a single sharp view in the camera. Being coupled, it means you can read the distance from a wheel around the lens.

Kodak Retina II S
Kodak Retina II S

The camera uses 135 film, the standard 35mm film. It was somewhat easier to get this camera working, and I’ve now got an Ilford HP5 film in it and have started carrying it around with me, so the results of this should be published very soon.

Photography Tips: Lightning

I’ve been a keen photographer for many years, but until recently I had never had any success in photographing lightning. I also very rarely see lightning storms, so I hadn’t had much opportunity. Recently though, a storm was floating around Lyme Bay that I managed to capture. I thought I might share a few tips with you to help you capture some lightning for yourself.

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