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.
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Entries in photography (25)


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!




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.

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.



Photofocus Episode 64

Thank you to Scott Bourne (www.scottbourne.com or www.twitter.com/scottbourne) and special guest Tamara Lackey (www.tamaralackeyblog.com orwww.twitter.com/tamaralackey) for giving me 2 great answers to the question I submitted to Scott's podcast - Photofocus.



Question Nine – Workflow Suggestions for Making Selections

 When I shoot I tend to shoot many compostion options of the same subject/shot. When I get back and import my pics into lightroom I face the very difficult and often frustrating task of choosing the best one. What methods can you suggest to speed up this process and make it simpler. Martin Drake from Bristol, UK

Tamara: I think a big part of photography is how you view composition. Some photographers will look at something in the field and see a composition that works or can arrange things in such a way to get the image they want. If you don’t have a vision for the composition and just shoot a bunch of frames in the field, it’s similar to the argument of whether you get it right in the camera or fix it in post. I would suggest thinking about why you’re composing the image the way you are before you click the shutter. What do you want the viewer to get out of the image when you take it. When it comes down to selecting the best image, you need to explore what it is about the photograph. Is is the composition? The mood?

Scott: I still struggle with this as well. My workflow is basically a two-tier rating method. My first pass I quickly reject the images that I know I don’t want. Then I go through them again give them a 4 star rating for the images I really like. Then I recommend taking some time away from the images for awhile and when I come back, I go though them again and promote my favourites by giving them a 5 star rating. Try to step away from your images and come back with fresh eyes.


Good Morning Pigeon

Took this shot this morning through the window onto my balcony. Had to be very careful not to scare the pigeon away!



Bath Tilt Shift Effect

Went to Bath last weekend and visited the Abbey, Roman Baths, and Spa.  You can take a tour which takes you up the tower of the Abbey.  It includes seeing inside the bell tower, behind the clock face and up on the roof.  There are great views over bath which is where I shot these images from.  I thought it would be fun to apply a tilt shift effect to them; I used a combination of Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop.


Here is a selection of snaps I took at the Abbey and Baths:





Freelensing Fun

Freelensing is shooting with your lens detached from your SLR body and holding it just in front of the opening.  It's a cool technique to experiment with as no expensive additional equipment is required!

Freelensing can produce interesting effects such as: a very shallow depth of field, macro focussing and light leaks.  For these examples I used my prime 35mm Nikon on a D5000, I also reversed the lens so that it was the wrong way around.  

I've broken stages I approached this task below:

1.  I made sure that I was in a dust free environment -  it is much easier to get dust into your camera body and on the sensor by shooting this way.

2.  I shot the subject normally with the lens attached in aperture priority mode F1.8.  I noted the shutter speed used. The focus was set at the minimum distance.

3.  Changed to manual mode and set the aperture to F1.8 again and the previous shutter speed.

4.  Removed the lens and held it in reverse directly against the body. I had to hold the small lever on the back of the lens (or front in this case) to open the aperture up.  On my lenses, when you detach them this lever springs in one direction and closes the apeture to the minimum setting.

5.  I focussed by moving the camera closer or further away from the subject.

6. ...and then Shot!


 Further Reading:

Freelensing on flickr:


On Photojojo:


101 examples:




The National Trust's Prior Park in Bath

Had a stroll around Prior Park in Bath today.  Here are a set of pics I took with a borrowed Canon 5D MII from work.



My favourite is this shot of 2 swans with an over turned boat in the foreground: