Going to the dogs

Greyhound racing track side bookmaker

Wimbledon Greyhound Stadium is the last remaining dog racing track in London, and one of a handful of tracks in the UK.  Is the sport literally going to the dogs?

They're off!

They’re off!

My husband likes a flutter, so we headed to the stadium in Plough Lane, as part of one of many regular Instameets organised by the London Instagram community.  This one organised by the queen of Instameets, Natalie.  We gained free entry and a printed sheet with the races and runners listed, using their Oyster Card offer, one of many packages on offer by the stadium, clearly doing all they can to get punters customers through the gates.  The stadium is past its best, a bit shabby around the edges, a posh venue this isn’t!  It’s all part of the charm and adds to the ambiance of a pastime that has seen better days.

As a small group of mobile, and other, photographers, we took a position near to the starting traps in the hope of capturing the dogs in full motion as they leaped out chasing after the toy bunny hurtling round the outside of the track.  Sadly, an iPhone is not an ideal camera in these conditions – the low light and the slower shutter speeds nowhere near good enough.  Any captures would be more by luck than judgement, although some of the group did get some great shots with their ‘big’ cameras.

But the lack of doggie photos meant there was more time for people watching, and what an interesting crowd!  From a lady celebrating her 90th birthday, old chain smoking guys with faces full of character, groups of younger people on the piss, families with children and couples just out together for the evening.  All life was here.

The unhappy punter

The unhappy punter

The girl from Trap 6

The girl from Trap 6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While I walked around attempting to take candid shots of some of the characters, my husband was busy placing a few bets.  As I said, he does loves a flutter, mainly on horse races it has to be said, so he did his usual bit of research with the Sporting Life, and came up with a few ‘naps‘.  He put his bets on all sorts of combinations, reverse forecasts, tricasts, even a straight bet to win.  Nothing!  You might as well bet on an interesting sounding name, that’s what Natalie did, and she came away with four winners!  But here’s the thing, out of 13 races, seven of the winners came from Trap 4. Coincidence?

The trackside bookie

The trackside bookie

Would I go again?  Might do, it’s not far from home so it’s convenient.  But for me, as someone who doesn’t really find betting (especially losing!) pleasurable, I’m not sure what else it has to offer.  Except great photo opportunities of course!

Checking out the form

Checking out the form

Pondering

Pondering

The happy punter

The happy punter

 

The life of a superstar

David Beckham with motorbikes at Belstaff event

As part of helping to manage the Instagramers London community, we sometimes receive  last minute invites to cool events.  Sunday 15 September was one such event.

Jess (my Instagram partner in crime) and I were given access to the media pit at the official opening of the flagship Belstaff store in New Bond Street, during London Fashion Week, where a mystery celebrity was due to make a guest appearance.  The Belstaff brand has received a makeover since the days of musty old motorbike jackets and boots, and said mystery celebrity is due to be the face of their new collection of upgraded and upmarket merchandise.

We arrived in good time, in the pouring rain, to a very male dominated gathering of photographers who were moaning and groaning about having to wait around, under cover, for the start of the event.  They seemed to think it should be hurried along so they could go home, or the pub!  One even had the cheek to look down his nose at us because we said, like him, we were also there to take photographs – with our iPhones!  What a tosser!

We set ourselves up to watch the show, we had heard rumours it would be a footballer, and there would be a parade of motorbikes.  As a number of celebrities (none I had heard of – but then I’m not an avid Hello! reader) arrived, posing on and around a  shiny motorbike parked in front of the store, we could hear the gutsy sound of motorbike engines revving in the distance.  The poor celebs, dragged from the warmth of the shop floor clutching their flutes of bubbly, and herded into the wind and the rain, under canopies lining the street.

Triumph and Norton - classy!

Triumph and Norton – classy!

Then they arrived, lots and lots of beautiful classic motorbikes, Norton, Triumph, Ducati.

Then he arrived, David Beckham.

Beckham poses for the Paparazzi

Beckham poses for the Paparazzi

The guy looked cool in his Belstaff biker jacket, very comfortable, if a wee bit bemused by all the fuss.  And there was a fuss.  There seems to be something about Mr Beckham, something that almost transcends his celebrity status.

He’s a celeb’s celeb!

During his time, David Beckham reached the pinnacle of his football career, having achieved over 100 caps for England and playing for some of the most successful clubs in Europe.  But rather than turn to football management or TV punditry, Beckham has made the most of his assets (ahem!) and carved out his very own brand, Brand Beckham, along with his wife Victoria.  Good luck to them.

That  Beckham smile

That Beckham smile

Another shot for the Photo Editor

Another shot for the Photo Editor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next morning I received a message from the Mail Online through You Tube to say they wanted to use my video clip for their article.  Thankfully, many of the ‘unknown’ celebs are named in their piece!

And this is the full version of the video on the Instagramers London You Tube channel.

I’m a simple soul, and this was a fun night!  Our thanks to Simon and Cody from The Communications Store

My Raynes Park

Frozen Field by Debs Coady
Cannon Hill Common

Morning Light

Sunny St Saviours by Debs Coady

Sunny St Saviours

Pause by Debs Coady

Pause

Frozen Field by Debs Coady

Frozen Field

Park Life by Debs Coady

Park Life

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A little while ago I was tipped off about a local photo contest, the first of its kind in the area,  running to promote the local My Raynes Park Festival.  Not averse to taking a few snaps with my iPhone in the neighbourhood, I decided to enter the maximum five shots taken in and around the area.  I’ve never entered a ‘proper’ photo contest before, prior to this I’ve only ever submitted photos to Instagram related challenges, with mixed results!

I have to confess to being pretty pleased with my submissions and it felt pretty good to have my photos displayed on the organiser’s online gallery.  As the closing date drew nearer, more and more photos appeared and 168 photos were submitted in total, in two categories, under and over 17 years of age.

A few days later I received emails telling me that two of my images, Pause and Morning Light had been shortlisted.  Well chuffed!  So, I was invited, along with my guests (dragged hubby and the kids along!) to the prize winning event on 15 June 2013 at the Raynes Park Library, in the presence of the Mayor of Merton, Krystal Miller.  When we arrived, of course we made a beeline towards my two photos, only half interested in everybody elses!  Is that ungracious, or just human nature?  It is a contest after all and we snub all  competition!!  But they both looked so great mounted on the wall.

So to the awards.  To be honest, the awards part is a bit of a blur.  I remember that Pause received a highly commended, and although I thought Morning Light was a far nicer photo, I was delighted to receive the recognition.  But when they announced the winner of the 17+ category as….Debs Coady with Morning Light, I was so shocked, or gobsmacked as I think I might have said to everybody at the time.  How lame is that?!  But, OK this is a small town local event, but I was actually thrilled to bits!!  And so surprised, because I didn’t think both my shortlisted photos would even get a mention.  But they did and I am extremely grateful and very pleased to receive a couple of certificates, £100 winners cheque (now banked!) and I am now the proud owner of two rather lovely mounted photos.

Good on you Raynes Park Photo Festival, I look forward to the next one….

 

Snapseed – my go to app of the moment

IMG_1365

IMG_1365I love mobile photography.  I’ve been a fan since I discovered Instagram in March 2011.  But to many people Instagram is purely about taking a quick snap using the camera feature of Instagram and posting it straight away using one of the inbuilt filters.  That’s certainly part of what got me hooked on Instagram way back when, but there is so much more to mobile photography than Instagram.

Thankfully, Instagram allows the user to edit an image before it’s posted, giving the photographer a chance to be a bit more creative with their work, and get the desired look and feel of the photograph before it’s time to share.

Many mobile photographers produce work that may be more akin to art, in that the processes used, whether the use of filters, layers, blending etc, produce work that might bear little resemblance to a traditional photograph.  Others might use editing processes to gently enhance an image, to improve the photograph and the view.  I prefer to fall into the latter category, and my favourite app for applying subtle enhancements is Snapseed.

A few months ago Snapseed could be purchased for £2.99, until Google got hold of it and made it available for free .  In my opinion, it is still a bargain at £2.99!  I’m not offering a tutorial here (there are some getting started tutorials here) but it has all the essential basic features, like crop, straighten, sharpening, tilt shift, and all the usual exposure and saturation controls.  It also has a number of filters, black and white, vintage, grunge and drama.  But the best thing about it is its ease of use.  I have to confess I didn’t get it at first, but once I did get it, I found it intuitive and extremely powerful.  Most of my photographs are edited with nothing else.

There are many photography apps around, many offering a great suite of features, but for all round capability and ease of use, Snapseed is definitely my go to app of the moment.