Hello and welcome to my blog '81adventures'!  I am Martin Drake, a digital artist, filmmaker, architecture lover and photographer.
I am also Creative Director of an exciting new animation storytelling studio called Infectious, and  Art Director at the established Preconstruct, leaders in visualisation for the built environment.
Professional Links

Just My Type - Lovely Stories About Fonts

Continuing on the Typography theme... here is my recommended read for all you type geeks, Just My Type by Simon Garfield.  It is a carefully crafted series of stories about fonts, superbly entertaining and very engaging.  I have only a chapter to go and I have loved every minute of it.

You can get it on amazon, as an iPhone/iPad App or if you live in Bristol get it in the last bookshop on Park Street for £2...a bargain.


Adobe Ideas Typography Experiment


This morning I have been playing around with Adobe Ideas on the iPad. It is essentially a painting app, however what is really nice about it is that it converts each brush stoke into vectors. This means your canvas has no set resolution and when you email your finished artwork to yourself as a PDF, you can then open it in adobe illustrator and continue editing.

Another other great feature is that it smooths out your brush stokes, making it look like you have the steady hand of the most accomplished graphic novel artist!


A new brand ID for Oslo?

See all the images on my BEHANCE portfolio

I had a lovely long weekend in Oslo recently and as always took hundreds of photographs to document my trip. Bored of the hours I usually spend collating and short listing the images for a Flickr, I instead created this simple brand ID for the city.

The word Oslo is sat within a larger letter 'O' which  forms a portal to a variety of graphic bold images representing the cities culture and environment.

Hope you like it. Feedback always welcome - graphic design isn't my usual specialism!




TEDxBristol Animation by Infectious

TEDxBristol from Infectious on Vimeo.

On the 8th of September 2011 TEDx an independently organized TED event is coming to bristol. TEDxBristol's organiser Karl Belizaire challenged our new Brand Infectious to create a short promotional film for the event.

The events theme is ‘the world around us’ with a particular focus on creativity, innovation & sustainability. 

The event will take place on the 8th September, 2011 at the newly opened M-Shed, Bristol. 

More info:




The event will feature a showcase of the region’s leading thinkers, innovators, artists, philosophers and social business leaders representing such diverse fields as social enterprise, sustainable food, green energy, engineering, education, visual and digital art and game design among others.

TED was founded in 1984; the acronym stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design. The annual TED conference brings together some of the world’s most fascinating thinkers and doers. In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TED created a program called TEDx where x = independently organized.

”The event is as much about the attendees as it is the speakers,” says UWE graduate Karl Hakeem Belizaire who applied and received the TEDx license. “TEDxBristol is a platform for sharing inspiration and is all about a passion for ideas. We believe in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and ultimately, the world around us”

One hundred participants will be selected to experience the TEDx revolution. The event will also be live-streamed via screening events around the world. Tickets for TEDxBristol are £35 for the full day. Anyone interested in attending the event can register their interest by the 28th July on the TEDxBristol website: www.tedxbristol.com


Bristol Skyline

Moody sundet in Bristol last night.


Berlin, a Capital City Full of Historical Interest and Eclectic Architecture

Here are my photographs from my recent trip to Berlin Flickr.


I have managed to edit 450 down to about 50, which will hopefully be a more digestible number!  I have included background info and stories to accompany most of the images.  Berlin was a fantastic city, full of historical interest and eclectic architecture.  We spent a wonderful 2 days exploring by bike and visiting the sites.

Commissioning Architectural Visualisation - AEC Magazine

I was recently asked to contribute to an article for AEC Magazine, a free industry journal on "Design, Management & Collaboration in the Built Environment".  My article addresses how to craft effective briefs and realise the true potential of visualisation as powerful marketing tool.  It includes a couple of recent case studies from Preconstruct.

If you are in the industry I would love you to hear your thoughts on the article, an online version is available here: 'Commissioning Design Viz, AEC Magazine'.  You can also get a pdf download here.


Bristol Cityscape

Just thought I would share this shot taken from my balcony of a Bristol Cityscape.  

I was testing out my newest lens: SP AF28-75mm F/2.8 XR Di on my Nikon D5000.

It was taken at 9pm 27th April - f14 6secs 75mm, on a tripod.

See the a larger image on flickr.


Happy Accidents - Trafalgar Square 

I was taking some photos at Trafalgar Square in London for use in a series CGI composites. The photos were never intended to be viewed as individual compositions, but by chance 3 of them hold up rather well - Happy accidents.

Set on Flickr


Opps... I Missed Easter

Oops... I meant to upload this photo on Easter weekend but missed the opportunity.  Nevermind here he is my little easter bunny friend.


Devon Shots on Flickr

Shots from my recent trip to Devon on Flickr.

Visited the National Trust's Knightshayes Court, Totnes, Blackpool Sands and Dartmouth Castle.  A very beautiful part of the country.




Took a few snaps at Funderworld this evening on the downs in Bristol.  Spend most of the time fighting with an old tripod my dad donated to me - I am very grateful but I couldn't manage to get the fixing stable! Anyway I have posted a couple of shots on flickr  Might head out for a second try.


Alex Beckett’s Bristol Photography Workshop

Model Juliette Burton shot at Alex Beckett’s Bristol Photography Workshop at Goldbrick House on March 26th, entitled Beginner and Intermediate Lighting.
Had excellent time at the workshop, the emphasis of which was off-camera flash. The morning consisted of theory, an equipment walk-through and demonstrations, the afternoon was spent in small groups shooting models.

Goldbrick House’s trendy interior provided a sophisticated backdrop for the shoots but I couldn’t resist the urban decay and graffiti of the street behind when my turn came to shoot.

This was my first experience of using off-camera flash, so of course I made all the school boy errors including; forgetting to turn things on and sync speed issues but it was all good fun never-the-less!  Now I just need to invest in few pieces of equipment and plenty of practice if I would like to master the art.

Many thanks to Alex, my excellent team who I shot with in the afternoon, and model Juliet Burton.
Since the shoot I have found out that the grafitti tag in the background of the image is for the Bristol band Wilder.



Free Professional Quality White and Grey Cards!

For one day only I have decided to give away exclusive free content at 81adventures.  
Free downloadable and printable white and grey cards.  This fantastic free asset is a must for any professional or amateur photographer.  
Save yourself some pennies and click the links below to download your free cards:
How to use your card:
1.  Print
2.  Follow one of these helpful guides:
What else is happening today in photography?  Well Jessops have just launced their 1DS Scent cam:

Bristol Photo Marathon Exhibition 2011

The Bristol Photo Marathon 2011 took place on 5th March and was organised by secondlook.

Participants were given a disposable camera and had to shoot the following topics in order:

1 - entry number, 2 - Stop, 3 - Looking Back, 4 - Open, 5 - Hot Hot Heat, 6 - All That Glitters, 7 - Perfect Patterns, 8 - The Devil's In The Detail, 9 - Go 10 - All Smiles, 11-20 - Shadows & Shapes

You can see my images on Flickr here.  My favourite shot is above can you guess where or what it is?

An exhibition showcasing all 2000 pictures taken by the entrants is now on show at The Showroom, 31 College Green, BS1 5TB -  Daily 11am -6pm until 3rd April





Rankin on Jamie Oliver's Dream School Channel 4

Jamie Oliver has chosen superb portrait photographer Rankin along with a top line-up of inspirational figures to teach at his Dream school.  Jamie's Dream School is a seven-part documentary series, designed to inspire a group of 20 teenagers, who have left school with few qualifications, to give education a second chance.  In doing so it challenges the current education system which Jamie believes is failing a huge percentage young people.

It is fantastic that Jamie chose photography as an unorthodox subject to include.  It was great to see that in the first 2 episodes, it has arguably been one of the most successful subjects and has really caught the imagination of the students.  In his first lesson Rankin instructed the students to photograph themselves and then deface/enhance the images by drawing, painting etc. on top of them.  This was inspired by his previous exhibition/project entitled Destroy.

So should photography be taught in schools or maybe as part of art class?  I would say so wouldn't you?

If you haven't seen the first 2 episodes I suggest that you tune in on Wednesday night at 9pm on Channel 4 for episode 3 - and catch up on the rest with 4OD 


Further Reading:

Jamie's Dream School Channel 4

Jamie's Dream School on Jamie's Site


Rankin's Main Website

Rankin Portfolio at Renehauser

Rankin on Facebook  (he doesn't seem to be much of a tweeter!)

Rankin's the lives of the saints movie



Cooking and Baking Snaps

A few cooking and baking snaps from the past month or so.  Baking courtesy of my girlfriend, photography courtesy of me… well I have to do my bit!

Full Collection on Flickr



Canon PowerShot S95; The Perfect Point and Shoot Camera? 

Canon’s premium compact, the PowerShot S95 is the most recent purchase to my collection.  I was looking for a camera I could carry with me day-to-day, would fit in my pocket and would outperform the image quality of my iPhone. My recent trip to Tenerife was the perfect opportunity to put my new friend to the test, needless to say, I was impressed.

My other two potential choices were Panasonic Lumix' DMC-LX5 and Nikons Coolpix P7000.  DP review posted an in-depth comparison of the three cameras but in the end it was the S95 that ticked all my boxes.  The LX5 was a close contender but the protruding lens and seperate clumsy lens cap, meant it wasn’t the ideal pocket camera I was looking for.

I won’t provide an in-depth review – there are plenty of these knocking around – but here are my top ten reasons why I think it is the perfect compact, point and shoot camera.

  1. Good Low light Performance.   Obviously not as good as a larger sensored DSLR or a micro four thirds but for a compact it beat cheaper models hands down.  This is because of the relatively fast F2 lens and high ISOs that perform well.  It even has a special mode for low light (illustrated by a candle on the dial) that reduces the megapixels and increases the ISO - This gives great results.
  2. Excellent ‘Auto’ mode.  My girlfriend snapped away in this mode all holiday with excellent results.  The auto white balance was also spot on 99% of the time. Even in tricky scenarios, such as photographing dolphins jumping out of water and fish swimming in tanks it performed very well.
  3. Superb Screen.  The images look so bright and vibrant that once you have taken a few snaps you can’t help repeatedly scrolling through them!
  4. Manual Control.   This was another primary reason for the purchase and it has a superb level of control for a compact – everything you would expect of a low end DSLR: manual mode, aperture and shutter priorities, ISO etc. 
  5. Simple Intuitive Controls and Menus.   My most important recommendation before purchasing a camera would be to visit a shop and ‘try before you buy’.  I compared the 3 shortlisted cameras in Jessops and knew very quickly this was the right camera for me as I was able to pickup how to use the menu and controls very quickly.    A particularly nice feature is the customisable rotating lens ring around the lens.
  6. Cool and Fun Scene Modes.   My favourites include HDRI which shoots 3 exposures and tone maps them into a single image for you and Tilt Shift or ‘Miniature Model Village’ as my other half calls it.  Note; great time saver - I spent ages creating this effect in Photoshop the other day!
  7. Genuinely fits in my pocket.  Enough said.
  8. Shoots in Raw.  A must for me when it comes to image processing.  It also shoots in the typical jpg and jpg + raw combinations.
  9. Macro.  You will get this with most compacts but I forgot how fun it is to get up really close to a subject – something I can’t do with the DSLR lenses I have.
  10. It is Beautiful.  Is this important?  Of course, we all get pleasure from using beautiful objects – just ask Apple.

 My full resolution sample images on Flickr


Further Reading

- S95 on the Canon Website

Wirefresh - Canon Powershot S95 vs Lumix LX5

dpreview Group test - Canon PowerShot S95, Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5 and Nikon Coolpix P7000


Lacock Abbey Photos

Full Collection on Flickr

A selection of images I shot last August at the village Lacock in Wiltshire.

It is a great place to visit... the abbey and village have been used to shoot many films and TV series including; moonraker, several Harry Potter Films and the BBC's Pride and Prejudice.

By the National Trust Abbey is the Fox Talbot Museum which has an exhibition space that always has an excellent photo exhibition on.

William Henry Fox Talbot (1800-77) was the owner and resident of the Abbey. He made the earliest known surviving photographic negative of a small window in the south gallery.


This is my favourite image, it is of the Tithe Barn in the village itself.


My Tenerife Photos

Full Collection on Flickr

A selection of images from my recent Holiday to Tenerife. The dolphins, whales and pengiuns etc were at Loro Parque in Puerto de la Cruz, and the dramatic landscapes were at Parque Nacional del Teide.  
Teide is the most visited National Park in the Canary Islands.  Teide is a stratovolcano and at 3718 m above sea level is the highest point in the Atlantic Ocean.