Shaw House 2024

Charles I trial at the Cromwell Museum

Charles I memorial march (ECWS)

ECWS plus details from around London and events including The Society of King Charles the Martyr, The Royal Stuart Society, The Order of the Crown of Stuart, and The Memorial of Merit of King Charles the Martyr.

John – John Beardsworth

Last year – 2023

Early last year the monarchy was very much in the public eye, with Prince Harry releasing an autobiography and then the coronation of King Charles. Re-enactment photography continued, though street and protest seemed as interesting. Not enough time for the Lake District – that must change in 2024.

Death of the Queen

If they ever let us choose, I’d certainly vote for a republic, yet I appreciated the historical significance of Queen Elizabeth’s death and wanted to capture the atmosphere in London before the funeral. In any case, for those two weeks everything else was cancelled!

People left flowers and soft toys, shop windows marked her life, but I encountered little grief and no tears (see don’t be fooled that everyone queueing in London is mourning the Queen). For me the death of a stranger brought back memories of those I’ve lost, and how my left-leaning Mum was royalist while my right wing Dad called the royal family “parasites”, and in the ten days before the funeral I felt contradictory responses.

Most ludicrous to republican eyes and yet fascinating was The Queue. During the day it snaked along the river like a pilgrimage, or like the supermarket car park queues of early Covid lockdown, while overnight it transformed into huddles of tired figures shivering in blankets as if they were suddenly homeless or refugees from war or natural disaster. By the day of the funeral I’d had my fill of crowds and tried to photograph what was happening elsewhere in London, ending up in a pub with a smashed window, but then those contrasting emotions made me dash to see the hearse turning onto the A4 (Cromwell Road, I should add).

Was it all less about national pride and loyalty than a common feeling of “job done” – by her in how she’d defined and redefined her role, by the government which didn’t screw things up, and by police and armed forces. It wasn’t just the ceremonial, but I noticed how they’d sealed every side road for the length of The Queue to protect people from vehicle attack, and portable toilets had been placed everywhere. After a reign that began as Britain was losing its empire and ended after a decade when England had lost its mind, for a few days everything worked as it should.

The following spring the Coronation seemed a more muted celebration than I’d expected, and it was a stroke of luck that in my local park I spotted a replica of the Coronation carriage sponsored by Uber. I ended up watching the big day on TV while brewing a beer.


From the first day of the Russian full-scale invasion of Ukraine, I’ve been photographing protests around London in support of Ukraine’s resistance against the attack and the rapes, atrocities and other war crimes committed by Russian soldiers. Initial shock and improvised posters then turned to determination organisation, and national pride at victories on the battlefield, at sea, and in the Eurovision song contest.


As 2020 began I was drawn to things falling over (Brexit was finally happening) and in the subdued celebration of Chinese New Year one could sense the first distant ripples of Covid-19. After February’s gales, in March the pandemic stormed across the UK. Even with Johnson’s government packed with ministers chosen for their loyalty to Brexit rather than for their competence, who would ever have imagined that the UK would go on to suffer more Covid-19 deaths than any other European country?


In mid-March the Johnson government delayed implementing lockdown and other public health measures. The Prime Minister avoided emergency public health meetings and preferred to be photographed shaking hands in hospitals, and it soon became apparent that he had been as complacent with the nation’s health as he had been with his own. Businesses and public places were already emptying and central London had become strangely quiet. I remember photographing the woman with the visor, mask and gloves, and thinking that she looked ludicrous, yet after that morning it would be 4 months before I would again venture into the centre.

Lockdown in Leafy Dulwich

In spring my part of south London is at its verdant best, and 2020’s weather was particularly fine. Fear of the virus mixed with mundane anxieties over supplies of toilet paper, flour and eggs, but people soon found ways to use their time at home, learning to bake sourdough bread – or in my own case how to brew beer. Signs appeared praising the NHS, every Thursday front doors opened to applaud and express gratitude to key workers, and soon every street was decorated with discarded face masks and gloves.

The second wave

By the summer of 2020 people could meet again, even hug, I saw friends outdoors in London’s parks and shared my home brewed beers, and the city seemed almost normal once a variety of protests had resumed. Yet after this respite everyone feared a return to lockdown and as winter approached Britain had developed its own more virulent “UK Variant” of the virus. Again the government again delayed lockdown and masking requirements, and only a week after Johnson joked that we would all enjoy a “Merry Little Christmas” he was forced to put on his serious face and cancel everyone’s plans.

The beginnings of hope

The UK managed to kick off its vaccination programme ahead of more cautious countries. After my first vaccination in March 2021, it was 4 more weeks before lockdown restrictions were lifted and I felt ready to see if central London had returned to nature. I found an area where families were painting their own national memorial and marking each loss with a red heart. Johnson visited the wall in the middle of the night.

A nervous joy

My second vaccination had been scheduled for lunchtime on May 17, and the government then chose that day to allow pubs to reopen outdoors. Next door to the clinic was an interesting-looking pub (not the Wetherspoons shown here preparing for reopening) and while some people feel unwell after their injections, it made me feel like a good pint and a pizza. A new routine? Certainly later in the year I was back at the same pub after my next Covid jab!

During the summer leafy Dulwich’s residents developed a new habit of protesting against badly-planned road closures, a chess festival was staged in Trafalgar Square, and hundreds of naked cyclists rode through central London. Was normality returning?

Winter 2022

Unlike other countries which implemented “vaccination-plus” strategies including wider public health measures, the UK government was exceptional in its reliance on vaccination alone. So it quickly relaxed indoor mask-wearing requirements, was slower to vaccinate children (who always spread disease!), and accepted the resulting higher infection and death rates.

It then became know that throughout the Covid-19 lockdowns, when everyone else couldn’t meet friends or spend time with dying relatives, in Downing Street parties had been happening, bottles arriving in suitcases, and Johnson had repeatedly lied about them and about his own involvement. His apologists still claimed he had “got all the big calls right”, even after UK deaths reached 150,000 in January 2022. By the time he eventually resigned – after promoting a sex pest – that number was 200,000.

Cherry blossom time, South London

At this time of year my daily walk often takes a left turn down Winterbrook Road in Herne Hill for the spectacular cherry blossom.

The Yoshino trees were planted less than a decade ago as an experiment – Yoshinos are usually for parks – but they have been such a success and I doubt I am alone in looking forward to their appearance every spring. It was this time of year when I first saw Dulwich in the daytime and decided that I’d try to find a place to live here. 30 years later, still here.

I always walk with my camera but I hadn’t expected that the blossom would also attract so many of the local parakeets – though in these times of the virus I wonder if they may be panic eating? After all, the blossom won’t be available for much longer. Maybe like me they are already looking forward to next year? See here for more about the trees.

The day before

With only one day to go before the UK leaves the EU, Remainers from all over the country gathered for a final, well final-ish, protest against Brexit.

SODEM intend to keep protesting and holding the government to account. Although Brexit will have been “done” in the sense of leaving the world’s largest free trade bloc, nothing about the relationship with the EU is going to change until the end of the year’s transition period. By that time the new trading relationship should have be negotiated. but it’ll all be done in the dark and presented as a fait accompli. The broken British electoral system turned a 43% popular vote into a 56% Parliamentary majority and has given the government the ability to do whatever it chooses.

Vintage sports cars

I wouldn’t consider myself a car enthusiast, and I doubt I would ever have noticed the Vintage Sports-car Club if I hadn’t been up in the Lake District one autumn and noticed an event at a nearby slate quarry. Knowing that the location would provide wonderful backgrounds, I spent the day high up a fell in alternating rain and snow, and in following years have experienced torrential rain and peak autumn colours.


BJ forced back to Parliament

The day after the UK Supreme Court’s 11-0 verdict had ruled Boris Johnson’s suspension of Parliament to be illegal, BJ had just arrived to face the House of Commons.

Ragged Victorians

The ‘Ragged Victorians – The Great Unwashed‘ are a living history group re-enacting the lower classes of Victorian England, c1851.

Whitehall Watch

Parliament has been on its summer break since Boris Johnson moved into Downing Street. The new government’s planning for a kamikaze Brexit is being conducted at the Cabinet Office in Whitehall, and the SODEM protesters have started a daily “#Whitehallwatch” protest in that area. Whatever the weather, they are there – and yesterday was very wet! I was mainly taking pictures but took a couple of iPhone videos outside the Cabinet Office and then the 5 o’clock shout at the gates of Downing Street.


The 2016 Brexit referendum turned Britain into an international laughing stock.

Brexit’s leaders couldn’t agree what kind of Brexit the country had voted for, and the hapless Theresa “Brexit means Brexit” May wouldn’t seek wider consensus to seek a sensible Brexit (big assumption, I know!). She then decided to call a general election but lost her small majority in Parliament and found herself in office but with even less power than before to shape events.

After a couple of years of this self-inflicted chaos, Remainers eventually regrouped and in October 2018 I went on the “People’s March” to demand a vote on the actual Brexit deal that would “trump” the 2016 referendum. That day’s pictures led to this project, and since Westminster is only an hour’s walk or a quick bus ride from my home in 78%-Remain Dulwich, I then started going up to Parliament Square most weeks.

This is a selection of my favourites. Also see my Instagram and blog posts on Brexit which are mainly links to short YouTube videos of the more eventful days and curious moments.

Another 6pm shout

Last Thursday a far right mob had walked from the Old Bailey to Parliament after their leader had again been sent to prison, this time for activity that endangered the trial of child abusers. Some thugs went straight for the anti-Brexit protesters and forced them to flee. Flags were burnt and poles were broken, but thankfully no-one was hurt and the protesters were back outside the Houses of Parliament yesterday (Monday).

So here’s the daily protest, again recorded on the Fuji X-T2. It’s with the 10-24mm, wide open, and I got the sound much better this time. What a difference one switch makes – not “blown out” and pretty clear when you consider all the traffic.

Daily protest

Every evening the SODEM pro-EU protesters go to the gates outside the Houses of Parliament and tell MPs what to do with Brexit.

This is with the Fuji X-T2, shot at 4K, and yes, I know I overcooked the sound. As I have been doing more video, I acquired a Rode VideoMic microphone last week and this was its first outing. In this case though, I don’t think the blown out sound (not sure what the tech term may be!) seems too wrong.

Yellow vests in Whitehall

On Saturday I was in central London just as a protest march approached the Cenotaph in Whitehall. It turned out to be a “yellow vest” protest mixing chants about Lee Rigby (the soldier murdered in Woolwich by Islamist thugs), prosecution of soldiers for alleged crimes, and in favour of Brexit. Once you’ve got the idea, I would recommend turning the sound right down – the singing doesn’t get any more musical!

The British way

This morning I was idly recording close-up clips of flags fluttering in the sunshine outside Parliament, filler material for other videos, when I heard the angry Brexiter. Maybe some words had already been exchanged between them, but I think he had recognised the elderly former Conservative MP John Gummer and was directing his rant at him. And then a passerby intervened…..

Since when did taunting frail old men belong in British politics?

Guy Verhofstadt visits SODEM

On Friday May 10, 2019 the former Belgian PM and now head of the EU Parliament’s Brexit committee Guy Verhofstadt was in London to help kick off the Liberals’ campaign for the EU elections. Hold on a second, I thought the EU was supposed to be undemocratic? Anyway, as part of his trip, he arranged to meet Steve “Mr Stop Brexit” Bray and the SODEM protesters who campaign for the UK to remain in the EU.

As before, it’s a combination of Fuji X-T2 stills processed in Lightroom, and video shot on an iPhone8, all assembled in Premiere Pro.

Extinction Rebellion

I’ve just added a couple of new collections of pictures to the site – one on the Brexit protests and another on Extinction Rebellion.

A year ago I remember telling a German friend how I have never really felt at home in London, even after 30+ years and how I’ve always thought that in 5 years’ time I would be elsewhere. I’m a European first, from Northern England, and always wince if anyone refers to me as a Londoner. My friend loves her adopted city in the Rhineland and she was surprised and saddened by my comment, as was I, and it was one of those conversations that has just stuck in my mind. Surely I should find something to like?

Unconnected to that conversation, shortly afterwards I began taking long daily walks, not missing a single day for over a year, and it was such a surprise to find how much I have enjoyed rediscovering the city. Some days I stay close to home in Dulwich and have learnt to appreciate nearby Brockwell Park, or I’ll go explore elsewhere in London such as the paths along the river towards the Isle of Dogs or Greenwich, places I used to visit when I first started taking pictures. Another aspect of this re-acquaintance with London is the odd stuff that goes on in this huge and varied city. I feel that’s why I am doing more “street” photography, and it also explains my project on the Brexit protests.

So photographing April’s 10-day-long Extinction Rebellion protests wasn’t just interesting but provided the exercise that I really need. They blocked roads and bridges, preventing buses from south London reaching the centre, so they certainly stretched my daily walking routine. 16 km on a single day was an exception though – it’s really not the kind of thing “Londoners” do.

Musical Monday

Almost three years after making the country an international laughing stock, the Brexiters still don’t agree what Brexit means and Theresa May has failed to force through her “Brexit means Brexit” on March 29.

So protesters remain outside Parliament, Brexiters alleging betrayal and treason, Remainers more hopeful that Brexit can be reversed. It’s busier when there is a major vote or on Wednesdays when Theresa May attends Prime Minister’s Questions, and recently Mondays have become more lively as regional Remain groups swell the numbers for “Musical Monday”.

As before, this is a combination of hand held iPhone 8 video and Fuji X-T2 stills. One photo shows Jacob Rees-Mogg arriving at Parliament in a taxi, protesters on either side, and gives an interesting but misleading idea of the scale of the demonstrations. I am sure I’ll miss this when it’s all over.

1640s timelapse

After experimenting with the iPhone’s standard timelapse feature at the Brexit and Extinction Rebellion protests here in London, I thought it might suit a historical re-enactment that I was going to over the Easter weekend. The phone was left on the tripod while I carried on photographing, and the files were automatically imported into Lightroom Mobile and synced to my computer.

Though I am able to assemble the movie in PremierePro, it’s not very high tech. And it is fun.

Another day in Brexistan

The scenes outside Parliament continue to fascinate me, and on a nice day it’s too tempting to continue my daily walk round Dulwich and carry on the 4-5km into central London, or I’ll just catch the bus up to Westminster and spend an hour or two there. This was a Wednesday, usually more busy thanks to Prime Minister’s Questions, but it was particularly significant as Theresa May was due to travel to Brussels later that day to request another delay to the UK’s departure date.

The movie is a combination of iPhone video and stills taken on my Fuji X-T2. Some video is 4k 60fps, but the timelapses were shot with the phone on a Jobo Gorrilapod which fits nicely into my small “walkabout” rucksack. It was assembled in Premiere Pro which I am slowly feeling more confident using. It still takes me hours to put something together, and there are only so many times you can listen to some of these demonstrators’ voices….

Brexistani Times

The video does have a few rough edges, but I hope it gives a good impression of the scenes outside Parliament every day. It’s a combination of stills taken on my Fuji X-T2 and video from my iPhone.

Ploughing on….

Shire horses ploughing ground to make a wildflower meadow in Brockwell Park, South London

One morning last week I got home from a brisk walk around Dulwich, pleased to have done my daily exercise and ready to spend the rest of the day working.

But I was straight back out of the door soon after turning on the computer and seeing that a local pub had tweeted a video clip of Shire horses ploughing in the park. It’s not something that happens often in the 21st century, certainly not 4-5 km from the centre of our capital city, so the shoes were back on and 20 minutes later I was in Brockwell Park.

It turned out to be a perfect afternoon with clouds coming right out of a John Constable landscape. The horses belong to Operation Centaur and were breaking up ground that’s going to sown with wild flowers.

This is pretty-well straight out of the camera – just cropped a little. Weak pun intended.



Street candid

I have always admired “street photography” which I see as essentially observational or candid and regardless of the physical location (I like this definition candid public photography), and some of my earliest “serious” photographs like the couple in Trafalgar Square fitted squarely into the genre. It’s a challenge to spot the amusing side of otherwise-ordinary scenes and to draw pictures out of often-crowded, fast-changing environments.

John – John Beardsworth

2017 has been and gone

I knew I was struggling to keep the blog going, but I just realized that I hadn’t made a single “real” post in the whole of 2017! I am still alive, I do tweet, quite often, I still help people in forums, occasionally exchange harsh words too, and Facebook a little too, which I am told is a verb. But for some reason, I’m just not as communicative as I used to be!


I did in fact have a long post lined up, but just never got round to publishing it. It was about the Fuji X-T2 which I did get in September 2016, days after they released it, and it was going to be “3 months with the X-T2”, then it got pushed back to 6 months, then a year, and I still intend to unleash it on the world!

In short, the X-T2 wasn’t content to remain as a second camera to my Nikon D800 and pushed it aside for almost all types of photography. Mid way through 2017 I added the 100-400mm lens to my kit bag and while I still have my Nikon I barely paid any attention to its replacement the D850. I’m happy with the switch, if that is what it is, and all three of my favourite images from 2017 were shot on the X-T2.

The first picture here isn’t perfectly-sharp but I love the subject and the expression of the boy in the passenger seat. It reflects a bit of a change in my photography as I’ve slowly been getting into vintage motorsport since encountering the Vintage Sports Car Club 5-6 years ago in the Lake District. I’d only been to a few events, but in 2017 I “went for it”. This was at the old Brooklands circuit and I had no idea what this car was. Its shape is freakish, and the engine noise is like no car that I’ve ever heard. But in fact it it quite well known, a one-off special built in 1911 by FIAT to beat the land speed record, and it’s powered by an aircraft engine. Just watch this video if you want to know why it is named “The Beast of Turin”.

HastingsMy second favourite was taken in late October at the annual re-enactment of the Battle of Hastings. My re-enactment photography began in a small way 12 years ago when I had nothing to do one weekend and went to an event nearby. But as someone who studied history at university and who still reads academic works on the subject, I imagine it was always likely to attract my interest. I am still not a re-enactor and nothing would make me want to dress up and go into battle, yet as a photographic subject I still find it presents interesting challenges and enjoyment.

I often get my best shots away from the battle itself, sometimes before it begins when they’re lining up before entering the battlefield, or afterwards when they’re sweaty and knackered. So this picture was taken when the Norman army was beginning to assemble and for a moment this French re-enactor gave me a look of such hostility. I don’t know whether he was playing up for me or was just annoyed at the big lens – this was on the 100-400 – being pointed in his face, but it’s the Norman version of Millwall’s “No-one likes us, we don’t care”.

Castle Crag
But my favourite picture of 2017 is, not surprisingly, from the Lake District. I was there a lot again – thanks to my brother and his wife – and got two particularly-wonderful “peak autumn” weeks in mid November.

This shot was taken using the 55-200mm late one afternoon from a spot just over Seatoller in Borrowdale. It’s not a scene I had ever noticed before but at that time of year the light falls beautifully along the line of the fells.

As so often with my longer-lens landscapes, I had been up there to photograph a different scene – Castle Crag itself. But isn’t that the beauty of photography? Planning is great, but reacting and improvising is so much more rewarding.



I’ve written about 10 books teaching aspects of digital photography, though my background wasn’t in photography or graphic arts and I had to figure things out. Photography had been a passionate hobby, and I loved darkroom printing, then working for the printing press manufacturer Heidelberg I first tried Photoshop in the early 1990s and slowly built up my digital experience with scanned negatives and slides. Then in 2003 I mentioned on my blog that I had just bought my first digital camera, a Nikon D100, and this led to the opportunity to write the first of three books on digital B&W.

Advanced Digital Black and White Photography is probably my favourite book. Partly that’s because I know it contained a few big firsts for books on the subject – Lightroom, Photoshop’s B&W panel, using SilverEfex, and smart object workflows. In many ways, it’s still bang up to date.


My knowledge of Lightroom has origins in my murky past as a spreadsheet warrior. As a chartered accountant, in the 1990s I learnt to program Excel and databases and then moved to financial IT consulting, implementing big accounting systems, OLAP cubes and “business intelligence”. That background happened to be ideal for managing photos and the developing field of “digital asset management”, so I soon found myself improving clients’ Lightroom productivity and designing web sites (my own web site has been going since 1997) which integrate efficiently with their workflows. And after using it for about 30 years, I do know Photoshop pretty well too.

Note that I have moved all my newer Lightroom content over to my other web site, Lightroom Solutions.

#2016top3 3/3 – Grange Crags

Grange CragsThe third of my #2016top3 favourite images, a birch and bracken on Grange Crags, has in fact already been on the blog.

The photo was taken in mid January, and what I like so much is that the scene was completely different when I first noticed its potential but developed exactly how I imagined it.

I had gone to Grange Crags that afternoon only thinking of taking a wide angle view in the opposite direction, a sunset across Derwentwater to Skiddaw. But as I waited I saw a line of birches in the sun that contrasted against the trees in the shadow of Grange Fell. There was one birch that I could isolate – I like compositions involving negative space – though I didn’t like how all the bracken in the foreground was in bright sunlight. But I spotted how I was in the shade and the shadow was probably going to move up the slope. From then on it was a matter of waiting and hoping the shadow would continue in that direction, nicely parallel to the slope.


#2016top3 2/3 – Honister Pass

You’re looking up the Honister Pass from the Buttermere side, and the lights at the top belong to the quarry.

It’s a scene I’ve shot in daytime with the light coming down the valley and picking out the curves of the wet road, but the idea of shooting it at night has been in the back of my mind for a while. Usually in the evenings I just want to eat, read, review the day’s pictures, nip to the pub. In November though it was getting dark well before pub time and it was also very mild for the time of year, so this was an ideal opportunity to get the shot.

The first attempt didn’t turn out too well. The light trails were soft, and I’m unsure if it was because a tripod leg may have been slightly loose or because I was finding it too dark to focus with the Fuji. But helped me work out the rough exposure time – and prepare for long waits between cars.

It’s a combination of two 75 second exposures with my Nikon D800. I had already been waiting half an hour before a car appeared. It headed up the valley and then stopped half way, so that was the end of the first exposure. Almost immediately another car started coming down and this second exposure stopped just before the white headlight trails reached the red ones left by the first car’s rear lights. I did take another exposure which recorded the second car as it came all the way down, but I prefer them this way.

#2016top3 1/3 Rainbows

Double rainbow over Derwentwater from Ashness Jetty

In the last few days there’s been a Twitter hashtag going round, #2016top3, for your favourite 3 landscapes of the year, and as I had joined in I thought it was a good excuse to get myself back into posting to this blog.

I like to get up to Borrowdale early each November. It can be risky, and last year I got one day of sun and mist followed by a week of solid rain. Or you can be too late and a big storm has blown away all the leaves. But this time I really hit “peak Autumn”. The landscape was full of autumnal colour, and mist / fog / sun / snow had been perfect conditions for photography, but this picture came on the one day when it was raining and I was just taking it easy.

That morning during a break in the rain I spent an hour or so playing around with close-ups of the carpet of red maple leaves in the back garden. Sun kept breaking through, and I remember noticing a rainbow over Castle Crag, but it soon vanished and I would have been perfectly satisfied if those red leaves had been all I’d photographed that day. So when I set off for Keswick I wasn’t thinking of rainbows – it just seemed a good time to nip into Booths supermarket.

Nothing in particular made me stop as I passed Ashness jetty, just the thought that the day was short, but the rainbow appeared the very moment I went down the steps. The picture was taken on my Fuji X-T2 (I’m preparing a hands on review) and was only gently adjusted in Lightroom. At the time I was awestruck by the brightness of “the rainbow” and I didn’t even notice the second one. It just left me thinking that with photography sometimes it’s inspiration that comes looking for you.

Fuji XT-2 – an easy camera to like

X-T2_BK_18-55mm_FrontLeft_White-590x480I can’t be the only photographer whose head has been turned by the new Fuji XT-2, and this week I had a great chance to play with one at Fixation in Vauxhall. So if anyone else is wobbling or wondering – and if anyone still reads this blog – I thought I’d jot down my impressions.

Bear in mind that I’m not very familiar with Fuji bodies or indeed with electronic viewfinders (EVF), and my most recent hands-on experience of either was after the XT-1’s release. I was also limited to handling the camera and wasn’t let loose to use it in practice!

  • In the hand
    • Robust feel and it wasn’t too small in my big hands.
    • I didn’t particularly like the grip which felt angular and big – adding 50% to the body’s height.
    • I much preferred holding the camera without the grip and it felt very comfortable with the 18-55mm lens.
  • I was a little concerned about its heavy battery usage
    • This would be mitigated by getting the grip with its two extra batteries.
    • As 4K video is an attraction of the camera, I can understand why one would get the grip.
  • Electronic viewfinder
    • The updating speed made it barely noticeable – very impressive compared to when I last played with an EVF.
    • I liked how the EVF showed the effect of changing aperture, shutter speed or ISO. I imagine that comment is no surprise, if you’ve used an EVF much more than I have, but I felt myself thinking about how I would use it in practice.
  • Key controls
    • Liked the dials for shutter speed and ISO
    • Really liked the aperture ring on the lens – that takes me back!
    • Quickly got used to changing aperture, shutter speed or ISO without taking my eye from the viewfinder
    • Enjoyed the focus points – quickly figured it out
    • Liked the one click zoom in for critical focus
  • I liked the 3-way articulated LCD and felt it was sufficient for holding the camera high, low, or more importantly at waist level for covert photographs or for simply maintaining eye contact
  • No built-in flash – on the other hand, I’m an available light photographer
Sept 12th Update: Uh oh

Sept 12th Update: Uh oh

So will I get one?

Not sure, might do, but the doubt has little to do with the XT-2, which I immediately liked very much.

It’s really that I’ve no great desire to move from Nikon or change my D800, and I am unsure if I really want to carry a second camera body. It’s handy when you need different focal lengths, and I did feel that it wouldn’t be hard to use the Fuji and Nikon at the same event. Unlike using different bodies from the same camera maker, these two would be so different that I would never be confused. The other worry is if I would be able to limit myself to just an XT-2 and a single lens.

We’ll see.

Hadrian’s Wall

Sometimes re-enactments seem to come to me, rather than me finding them. In September 2015 I was up in the Lake District, in fact cooking my evening meal, when I caught the words “re-enactment” and “Hadrian’s Wall” on the television in the other room.

It turned out that a 100+ strong group called Legio I Italica had travelled from Italy for an event that weekend. Being on “il Vallo di Adriano” seemed hugely emotional for many of the participants. Initially at Birdoswald, in the evening they transferred to the more remote Housestead fort where, after having left Rome in 40C heat, the sudden temperature drop gave them a real sense of guarding the Empire’s Northern frontier.

Sealed Knot hi res photos

These photos are copyright of the photographer but may be used freely for Sealed Knot publicity.

Try to give a photo credit to the SK and the photographer.

We’ve reviewed the photos for authentic details and other potentially-awkward content, but contact John if there’s something you notice.

Earlier periods

Every historical era has its re-enacting enthusiasts. Imperial Rome has an obvious attraction, and lets people research authentic uniform and tactics, but others enjoy being Saxons or Vikings for the weekend and are not deterred by a relative paucity of evidence. By the Medieval period, documentary records and paintings again offer plenty of assistance, and the Swiss enthusiasts I found in the Chateau de Chillon really reminded me of Flemish Renaissance scenes.

A few of these pictures come from re-enactments of the Battle of Hastings (1066) held on what has traditionally been regarded as the original site. Around 3000 re-enactors from across Europe attended the big event held on the 940th anniversary, and a hundred charging horses literally made the ground shake.

History Pages

These pages share my pictures of recent historical re-enactments with participants. Only recent events are here but I can easily upload other galleries if you want to see something from previous years or look at a certain group or topic.

If you are shown, I happily send you copies of the pictures for your own use or for regimental web sites etc – ie for fair, non-commercial use. Just tick those you want and email me.

About my pictures

I’m a professional photographer and author of books on using Photoshop and other digital photography subjects, but this is just a personal photographic project. The Civil War was my main subject at university, where I was taught by John Morrill who had just published his Revolt of the Provinces, and I’ve continued to read academic studies of the period. But I’d never been a re-enactor and it was only in 2004 after I’d begun making a living as a photographer that I saw the Sealed Knot in action and it caught my imagination. I eventually joined the SK (Tower Hamlets) and the project is still going strong after more than 10 years.


2011 in black and white

Some of my best colour photos

Some of my best photos in colour.


I created these two print-on-demand books for myself and to give to friends. They are not on sale to the general public, but contact me if you would like to buy a copy. They aren’t cheap but they do make nice presents.


I am happy to assist artists using my photos as reference material, but my pictures are copyright. Just don’t reproduce them as paintings or drawings and sell them as your original work – sorry to say, that has happened.



Historical re-enactment

I studied history at Cambridge and have never stopped reading academic studies of the English Civil War and other mainly early-modern periods. Once I became interested in photography, history-related projects never came to anything until one summer weekend when I had had nothing planned and heard of a large multi-period re-enactment event nearby. Straight away I realized that I had a new subject for photography, and in hindsight it seems obvious that it would turn into a 15+ year project.

Apart from appreciating historical details, I also found it brought together other influences. One was that I had grown up reading newspapers and had always admired war reportage – above all, Don McCullin’s work in Vietnam, Northern Ireland, Cyprus, and Lebanon. Another is my knowledge of art history, and sometimes a scene suddenly reminds me of Uccello or Breughel, for instance, or a Grant Wood on another occasion.



I’m not sure one should ever explain one’s photography, and categorising it here into projects, landscape and historical re-enactment is obviously crude.

My liking for long term projects like Speakers Corner or events like the death of the Queen may have developed from admiring the work of photojournalists like Don McCullin, Brian Harris in the early Independent newspaper, and documentary photographers like Chris Killip or Sebastaio Salgado whose exhibitions I’d seen in the 1980s before I owned a camera.

My historical re-enactment work is more recent but with similar roots in the newspapers I read as a teenager – McCullin again, Biafra, N Ireland, Vietnam. But it’s more directly related to studying history at Cambridge, specialising in the English Civil War, and the illustrations in text books and other reading material. So I enjoy responding to a fast-changing scene and political events like Brexit, Covid-19, or now the Ukraine war, improvising and extracting rather than constructing images in a studio.

Landscape might be a mix of those two approaches and I’ll happily spend hours contemplating a view and resolving minor details before responding to a sudden change of light. But why rationalise or overthink how or why one is drawn to natural beauty? I just hope you enjoy the pictures.

Also see my Instagram where I post brand new pictures.


The Shard

This project took shape in late 2013 as London’s and western Europe’s tallest office building neared completion. With its elegant, instantly-recognisable profile, I always appreciate how the Shard appears to photobomb so many other scenes in this big city and offer a new way to illustrate 21st century life. Like the project’s inspiration, Hokusai’s series of Fuji prints, there will be 36 frames, eventually….

English Civil War

The 1640s and the English Civil War has always been my favourite period, so the heart of my historical re-enactment project is on the Sealed Knot, Europe’s largest re-enactment group. While I do shoot in colour, I didn’t see paintings from the period until I moved to London, and I grew up seeing the likes of Van Dyck and contemporary lithographs reproduced in books in B&W. So to my eyes the 17th century looks right in B&W.


These pictures are all from southern Italy – mainly from periods based in Tropea, Calabria. I suppose what I like about the south is that there’s less “perfection” than one encounters elsewhere in Italy where everything has been tidied up and restored, and there’s also more of a connection to earlier Mediterranean cultures.

Life during wartime

The re-enactment scene isn’t just about pretend fighting, and the “living history” side allows people to depict camp life, music, crafts and other non-military aspects of their chosen periods. Since many events are based at historic houses, I particularly enjoy looking for anything happening indoors where the surroundings often provides strong echoes of those times.

Speakers Corner

Back in the early 1990s I seemed to photograph Speakers Corner almost every Sunday. Before or after going for dim sum in Soho, it had a similar mix of serious political and religious debate, humour and weirdness. Christian evangelists waved their bibles, someone claimed he was Jim Morrison, a British Muslim convert was heckled about why he was no longer a Buddhist, while others argued for the overthrow of capitalism. Among them Donald Soper was still addressing crowds after 50 years, confirming my hope that Speakers Corner remained a symbol of Britain’s democratic tradition.

Yet as time passed I fell out of love with the place. It became more about bearded men shouting praise of whatever deity featured in their sacred book. The Christians there had all been born again, while Muslim preachers from the Middle East or South Asia attracted their own groups to shield them from scatological heckling or indeed from any serious questioning. An authentic British bigot might still rail against sodomy or racial mixing, 9/11 and Iraq conspiracy theorists, but it all seems just a freak show for the tourists. And their phones and selfie sticks are everywhere, and rows of phones on tripods set up for livestreaming much become as much part of your composition as the speakers had once been.

So the last photograph shows a Jewish convert to Christianity speaking to tourists. A police horse had just passed by, expressing itself as eloquently as any speaker that day!


Over the years I’ve been to the US many times on business and as a traveller. I certainly feel very at home in New England, not surprisingly, but I am more drawn to the much less European appearance and culture of the South West, California, the North West, or even Las Vegas (and I certainly do feel out of place there!).


About me

20th Century

Re-enacting 20th century wars seems a distinct part of the re-enactment scene with more interest in collecting original kit, some having family history, and also the occasional intrusion of contemporary interests. These can be as innocent as the Italophiles baking pizza and ciabatta in a 1940s Italian army kitchen, or how a group portraying US paratroopers share a liking for Americana, while a more left-leaning personality seems drawn to the Red Army. Depicting Axis powers is more difficult, so Wehrmacht re-enactors stress they’re the regular German army and people are wary of anyone in Waffen SS uniforms – not least because some own a tank.


Not surprisingly, the Napoleonic re-enactment scene is pan-European, and although the TV series Sharpe seems to have drawn in some British enthusiasts, it’s my impression that they seem to share more Europhile attitudes than their English Civil War counterparts.

Politics by other means

My historical re-enactment photography reflects my fascination with 17th century history, and I’m less interested in details of weapons or uniforms or military matters. So while most re-enacting is about the fighting, I am always hoping re-enactors will depict the underlying issues of the Civil War.

This first set of pictures shows the Sealed Knot‘s Tower Hamlets Trayned Bandes re-enacting the Putney Debates at St Mary’s Church where in 1647 the victorious New Model Army’s generals met soldiers’ representatives to discuss the peace settlement. Ideas like universal (male) suffrage and freedom of conscience (if only for Protestants) seemed dangerously radical at the time but would later be at the core of the Anglo-American democratic tradition.

Re-enactors try to avoid modern politics, so this group was careful before agreeing to support a 2013 event in Wapping which featured the veteran left-wing Labour politician Tony Benn. He was there to unveil a memorial plaque commemorating the Colonel Thomas Rainsborough who had supported the Levellers at Putney. As a curiosity, speakers also included the then-backbench MP Jeremy Corbyn who no-one (himself included) imagined would soon become Labour Party leader.

In 2019 and resuming after Covid, the Cromwell Museum in Huntingdon organized a series of events including a re-enactment of the trial of Charles I, which led to his execution in 1649, and on local witch trials, the Levellers and the Putney Debates.

If the trial of Charles I interests you, I recommend the very readable The Tyrannicide Brief by the leading war crimes lawyer Geoffrey Robinson who describes the events but also shows its influence on Nuremberg to trials where he was involved such as ex-Yugoslavia and Saddam, and even to Guantanamo.

A war for religion

Religious difference was a major cause of the war and the reason cited most often by individuals for their choice of sides. Some re-enactors are drawn to Puritan firebrands such as the preacher Hugh Peters (who helped found Harvard while exiled in the American colonies), but others like to portray the established church. I’ve even seen one or two brave souls portraying Catholics.

List View

SNAG-0014ListView is a plug-in for Lightroom (3 or later) that displays images in a list style just like in most other DAM (digital asset management) programs. Sometimes it’s a lot easier to review your metadata entry in a list than by scanning through a grid of thumbnails.

Other things you can do with List View:

  • Change the information in any column
  • Save columns as presets
  • Sort by any column
  • Save custom-sorted pictures to a new collection
  • Export metadata to a browser
  • Export metadata directly to Excel (or OpenOffice etc)
  • Export data as CSV
  • Export data as tab separated text
  • Edit metadata in a File Info panel

All posts related to List View.

As with my other main plug-ins, it’s available from Photographer’s Toolbox.

Capture Time to Exif

The plugin’s original purpose was updating the EXIF data of scanned photos, making Lightroom display them by capture date instead of the date the negs were scanned.

Capture Time to Exif is essentially an in-Lightroom interface for Exiftool. Its main purpose is to allow you to edit EXIF data, particularly dates, without having to understand much about command lines.

So you can:

  • Update the Date Time Original EXIF field of scanned images. Lightroom’s filter panel and smart collections can then find the images by searching for when the pictures were originally taken rather than when they were digitised.
  • Write other EXIF and IPTC information such as the camera model and maker. You can enter whatever Exiftool command line arguments you choose.
  • Store frequently-used command line arguments as presets.
  • Write directly to TIF, PSD, JPEG, and DNG file formats
  • Write directly to proprietary raw formats – though normally it will use sidecar files, which have limitations.
  • Generate a log file which can be run as a batch file in Shell/Terminal – use this method for debugging or other advanced needs.


Capture Time to Exif is for all versions of real (not Cloudy) Lightroom from the old version 3 up to Classic on PC or Mac, and is available from Photographer’s Toolbox.

The trial version is limited to 10 images at a time but is fully functional.


Big note

Big Note
is a very simple free plugin which adds a custom field to the Metadata panel. This lets you add notes about the picture. You can store any text in the field, and it can also be searched by smart collections.

Big Note is free and should do the very limited job for which it’s designed. But it is totally unsupported.

I am cautious about encouraging people to enter custom metadata in Lightroom. It is stored only in the catalogue and is never written to the images’ XMP files or included in files exported from LR. That’s both good, in the sense of privacy, but bad in that the data is trapped inside the catalogue. So I do not generally recommend the use of custom fields if you can’t support them yourself.

The plugin code is unencrypted and might help you learn bits of Lua, LR’s scripting language (see the LR SDK and particularly the reference manual). You don’t have to know much about coding if, for example, you just want to add a second custom field to your catalogue.

But please don’t ask for help using it. Big Note is free and will do the limited job for which it’s designed.


Locktastic is a simple plug-in for Lightroom 2/3/4/5/6 that:

  • Marks read-only or “locked” files with the red label
  • Selectively imports read-only files from a folder, bypassing LR’s standard import dialog

When photographers review images in the field, it’s common to “lock” those that they particularly like. This simple procedure makes it that little bit harder to delete a good shot. Some time-pressed event snappers do this locking much more systematically, “chimping” during the event and tagging pictures they particularly want to work on when they get back to their desks.

Unfortunately Lightroom won’t show which images are locked – in fact its import from camera routine removes the read-only file status (if it imports from the hard drive using “Add”, the read-only tags are preserved).

This plug-in is designed to solve those problems.


Syncomatic-workflowSyncomatic (available here) is a Lightroom (3 or later) plug-in that synchronises Library and Develop settings between groups of files:

Here are some examples of how it’s being used:

  • One photographer sends JPEGs to clients
    • they add ratings in Bridge for pictures they want
    • client sends the files back to her
    • she imports the JPEGs into LR
    • she then uses Syncomatic to copy the client’s ratings from the JPEGs to the raw files
  • Another photographer outsources her raw processing but continues to keyword and add other metadata to raw files in her catalogue. When the TIF/PSD files are returned, she updates their metadata with Syncomatic.
  • Files hidden inside stacks, or virtual copies, don’t have the same metadata as the one that’s on top. Syncomatic corrects this.

All blog posts relating to Syncomatic.


Expression Media & iView Mediapro

Between 2004 and 2010 I used iView / Expression Media and Bridge to manage my picture archive and writing projects (I now use Lightroom), and worked with some leading pros to improve their digital asset management and photographic workflow. This covered:

  • personalized training
  • scripting and automation
  • integration with Photoshop, Lightroom, Aperture
  • data migration
    • moving your metadata to Lightroom
    • getting metadata into Expression Media

About these scripts

These scripts come from those projects:

  • the scripts are free but are unsupported (here’s my Amazon wish list)
  • use them at your own risk – test them on test files in test catalogues
  • custom scripts can be quick for me to write but can save you lots of time. They can be on an Amazon basis.

Adapting for Expression Media

Edit the script in Notepad or TextEdit. Look for the CreateObject line and replace the word “iView” with “ExpressionMedia”.

Adapting for PhaseOne MediaPro

Edit the script in Notepad or TextEdit. Look for the CreateObject line and replace the word “iView” or “ExpressionMedia” with “PhaseOneMediaPro”, so it reads “PhaseOneMediaPro.Application”.

About the re-enactment project

about the historical re-enactment project

What I think makes my historical re-enactment project different is that it combines photography with my long-suppressed aspirations to be an academic historian, specialising in the English Civil War. In a sense, I’m trying to report and explain the war and its lasting impact on British history. Too much Don McCullin for my own good?

Originally this page was based on an article I wrote for Amateur Photographer magazine where I described the project on, its technical aspects and the creative choices I make. The article covered a holiday weekend when I was “embedded” with the Marquess of Newcastle’s Regiment of Foote, part of the Sealed Knot’s Royalist Army. For two days I took photographs, and then on the Monday I was kitted out, handed an 18 foot long pike, and marched onto the battlefield ….

causus belli

I’ve always loved history and in particular the English Civil War thanks to three wonderful teachers at Bolton School, and when I went to Cambridge it was with the intention of a life in academia. But those undergraduate years enriched me with other equally-exciting interest and while I was still passionate about my subject I wasn’t so single-minded. Meanwhile Margaret Thatcher’s depressing government was hacking away opportunities in my chosen field, so I put aside the idea of doing a PhD and “got on my bike”, enduring a 2-decade career in accounting before eventually digging my way out via financial IT.

In my late twenties a teenage interest in photography suddenly became a passion, and I had my own black and white darkroom and slowly transferred these skills to digital. In 2003 that led to my first book on digital black and white and this new confidence in my photography meant I was searching for new subjects. One day I hit upon combining my interest in history with my photography, and in retrospect the idea seems so obvious that I can’t work out where it had been hiding.


The original concept was broad – recording how the past is kept alive by ordinary people. I was interested in depicting how they dedicate their spare time to running steam railways, driving vintage cars, and a variety of other activities. It was never intended to focus on military re-enactment though, not least because I like the old British tradition – a reaction to Cromwell – of being suspicious of the army and militarism. But as is supposed to happen in war, the plan didn’t survive the first big encounter with the subject…

first skirmishes

Military Odyssey was a huge multi-period re-enactment event that sprawled over the August 2004 holiday weekend. From what I observed, the hobby seemed to fall into two very different scenes – those groups who into the twentieth century, and those who did earlier periods. The former often seemed to be more like militaria collectors, so the members of the 2nd Guards Rifle Division had taken advantage of the ready availability of original Red Army gear. The guys seemed more liberal/left inclined than one group with black Waffen SS uniforms – they also had a Tiger main battle tank. Others had more attractive contemporary overtones though, so I felt much more at ease with the Italophile surgeon whose two man Italian army kitchen re-enactment group was cooking ciabatta and pizza in a field oven. To service this very diverse market were stalls selling all sorts of medals, books, maps and other military paraphernalia.


The other half of the scene I detected at Military Odyssey consisted of groups who re-enacted periods largely before the twentieth century. I found these groups much more interesting, perhaps because the participants struck me a lot less materialistic and less into collecting. The exceptions were mostly amongst those whose periods were in living memory and where they had interesting personal connections, such as the Victorian infantry group whose members had ancestors who had fought in the Boer Wars and had inherited pieces of equipment or uniform.
collectorsBut in general, I liked how this part of the scene (really more of a spectrum) seemed much more into the history for its own sake, and I saw every era from WWI to the American Civil War, back through the Napoleonic era and on into the Dark Ages and Romano Britons. The only group I’d ever heard of was of course the giant of the British re-enactment scene, the Sealed Knot. It re-enacts my period, the English Civil War, and that weekend fielded 3000 soldiers plus cannon and cavalry. Finding a great spot very close to the action, on each day shot so many pictures I filled all my memory cards and even had to switch to jpegs rather than raw format. Since that first encounter with the Sealed Knot I’ve photographed dozens of English Civil War musters.

the campaigning season

Each year there are a few dozen English Civil War re-enactments which take place all around the country, often in beautiful locations with connections to historical events. Some are on the original sites of the battle they depict.

Events vary in size. At small ones there might be just 50-100 participants, maybe one or two cannon, and a living history camp. These are less crowded and more informal, so you can smell the gunpowder and get nice and close with your camera. Larger “major” events such as Wetherby might have 2-3 thousand participants, cannon, and cavalry, and can be very impressive.

showing one’s colours

cavalryA very satisfying aspect of the project has been sharing the pictures with the participants (who of course can’t carry cameras themselves!). Immediately after the first event I attended, I had set up an online gallery and posted its URL in the Sealed Knot’s online forum. The resulting feedback was hugely encouraging – after all, you can’t photograph yourself when you’re in the 17th century – and I now create a gallery after every battle and leave it online for a few weeks. I gladly email full-res files to anyone who recognizes themselves, and occasionally sell prints to re-enactors. Not being too mercenary, and showing I shared their interests, I found it was a great way to introduce myself at other re-enactments and it soon led to opportunities to photograph private events or Newcastles Regiment’s invitation to join them for Wetherby.

While I am glad when people see themselves in my pictures, I’m very clear about not wanting to take photographs for that reason. A war photographer doesn’t shoot “team photos” and the pictures would soon become very different, more records of events. You need a certain detachment.

An English or British Civil War

I grew up thinking of the English Civil War, but over the last 30 years historians have increasingly interpreted the war in less Anglocentric ways and describing it as a more complex series of overlapping wars in the three kingdoms of England, Ireland and Scotland.

This picture of a member of Owen’s regiment, a Welsh unit, shows how the war grew increasingly brutal but also illustrates its ethnic or national dimension. At the start of the war Protestant settlers in Ireland had been massacred, and in England there was a constant fear that the King would bolster his army with native Irish regiments. In fact Parliament passed the ordinance of no quarter to the Irish) as a deterrent. But Welsh and Cornish speakers were aware their Celtic languages meant they could be easily mistaken as being Irish. One atrocity was after Naseby when the King’s baggage train and large numbers of Welsh-speaking women had been captured, and later in the war many besieged Royalist garrisons delayed surrendering until they had received guarantees for the safety of any Welsh and Cornish soldiers.


I always arrive nice and early. For one thing, I like to see the battlefield and get some idea of what’s planned. I’ll try to decide where to sit, generally looking for where I can shoot into the light (to make the best of gunsmoke) and the background is also very much part of my thought process. Apart from not wanting the crowd in my pictures, it’s amazing how much modern junk we can overlook.
Arriving early means there’s time to raid the Living History camp where you find all sorts of contemporary scenes – cameos of Puritan preaching, candle making, music, and other crafts, soldiers relaxing. Also just before the armies march onto the battlefield, they usually get held up at a gate or some other bottleneck, and at these moments you can get nice and close – there’s often an interesting tension in the air.

a godly people, a godly army

Right from the start I sought to depict the wider history of the Civil War, not just its military aspects, and religious differences were a major reason for taking up arms. In England Parliament’s Puritan leadership opposed the government’s attempts to make worship conform to practices that some regarded as close to Catholicism, similar policies in Scotland caused rebellion, while in Ireland the native Catholic Irish rose up against the Protestant settlers. Once war began, the established church sought to uphold the King’s authority, Parliament remained in control of Presbyterians, while Puritan fundamentalism flourished in the New Model Army and grew it a crusading or at times revolutionary self-belief – or at least allowed it to attribute its victory to its godliness.


There aren’t many opportunities to capture these religious aspects of the conflict, so I try to seize every one. Puritan preachers and their High Church opponents sometimes perform cameos near the crowd line, or before a battle you may find a preacher in the living history camp. Very rarely you can get shots of ordinary churchgoing folk – the picture on the left was taken at the Sealed Knot’s annual church service.


Battles often show a historical engagement that happened in the area. The action lasts roughly an hour, and often deviate from their script – so a regiment moves left when it should have gone forward, or withdraws when it should have stayed close to the crowd line. So I’ll often move to 2-3 viewpoints. Fortunately I’m tall enough to shoot over spectators’ heads if needed.

Battlefield-wide scenes are impressive to the naked eye but are inherently chaotic. “Everything and the kitchen sink” doesn’t usually make a good photograph, so I’m continually seeking out details, individuals or patterns within the chaos.

I mostly zoom in with a 70-200mm f2.8 lens, often with a 1.4x teleconverter and with the camera usually on a monopod. This brings the risk of only seeing whatever action is happening in the viewfinder, so I continually look up from the camera and scan the scene for anything interesting that may be developing – it’s a similar experience to sports photography.


Apart from my particular preference for the history of the English Civil War, there’s another reason why I like re-enactment of warfare in the period from the 16th century through to the American Civil War – gunpowder and all that smoke. Generally, musket or cannon fire looks at its best when you’re shooting into the light and the sun is coming through the smoke. The contrast range can be very high though and on sunny days you can also get extremely bright reflections off any shiny breastplates or helmets. I always shoot in raw format but I also tend to underexpose. Even if the pictures then look too dark on the camera’s LCD screen, I can then lift the shadow tones later on computer, knowing I’ve captured detail in the brightest parts of the picture.


This need for tonal range is why I only shoot in raw format. You also need a lot of pictures to be sure of capturing fast-moving action and gunfire. That imposes quite a logistical burden, because in a couple of hours you can easily shoot a few hundred 15Mb frames. There’s no time to review and delete duds in the field, so I now carry enough memory cards for 1000 shots and can also download pictures onto the Epson portable hard drive that I keep in my bag.

Powering all these electronics was a problem for the Wetherby weekend. As I was camping, I bought an adapter for the car’s cigarette lighter to supply power to my three chargers. I also bought an extra 4Gb memory card which held 250 raw files and feel that it was an easier solution. Spare camera batteries would be a good idea too. It all means more weight – luckily Beardsworths are built for manual work!


When you photograph muskets or cannon firing, there’s a fraction of a second between seeing the first sparks from the fuse, and flames shooting from the barrel. You have to be dead lucky to capture both in the same frame – and a moment later the entire scene will be lost in a mass of white smoke.

So you need to listen for the order to fire, or see the match being put to the breech, and then keep shooting pictures. My previous Nikon D100 needed to write the pictures to its flash card after only 4 shots, so I often missed the crucial moment, but Wetherby was my D200’s first re-enactment. It lets me blaze away at 5 frames a second for up to 21 frames – perfect for the heat of battle.

War on Photoshop?

scotsI don’t do a lot of Photoshopping to the pictures. I will happily remove anachronisms like the 20th century telephone poles behind these Scots, and I’ll also dodge and burn just like in the darkroom, but I don’t believe in adding anything that wasn’t there.

However, cannon fire can be hard to capture because it happens so quickly. Your first frame may capture sparks shooting from the fuse, the next may freeze the explosion from the barrel, but you’re extremely lucky if you get both in the same frame. So what I sometimes do is blend two exposures in Photoshop, shift dragging one image onto another and then painting on the layer’s mask so I end up with the perfect combination. I don’t really see that as subterfuge or cheating, more “previsualisation” and the result of planning and technique.

black and white

Another early decision was to make the pictures black and white. Partly my own preference, this was also a nod towards the great tradition of war photography which I’d grown up admiring – Capa or Baltermants’s WW2 pictures, or McCullin’s work in Vietnam, N Ireland and other conflicts. I wanted to apply a reportage style to the 17th century and b&w seemed ideal.

Another factor was that my school and university English Civil War textbooks were illustrated with contemporary lithographs and woodcut prints or greyscale reproductions of Van Dyck’s paintings. I only saw colours much later in London’s National Gallery and I still feel I subconsciously dismiss these paintings because they show the rich and powerful, not the ordinary reality of the period. One Sealed Knot commander, who in the 21st century is a graphic designer, immediately spotted what I was aiming for when he said that for the 1640s black and white is simply “authentic” (a doubleplusgood word in re-enactment circles).

I don’t just photograph the English Civil War though, and I extend this concern for visual authenticity to other periods. To my eye, sepia and purplish tones work best for the American Civil War, while the earlier Napoleonic era seems inconceivable in anything other than bright colour.

For the black and white era pictures, I use Lightroom or Photoshop’s black and white adjustment layer, in the latter case often using more than one adjustment layer when one conversion mix doesn’t work for the whole picture. I’ve tried Silver Efex Pro a number of times, and I do like it, but I don’t really like its preset-driven interface and I consider it overpriced.

The final prints use special paper and inks – Permajet paper and their pure MonochromePro inks.

Some pike regiments only fight “at point” (left) as it is historically accurate. The alternative “push” style of fighting (right) dates from the less authenticity obsessed 1960s origins of re-enacting. More like a rugby scrum, it’s enjoyed by participants and the watching crowds.

the reluctant knotter

This project started in 2004 but it was only when it was still going strong in 2007 that I decided to join the Sealed Knot. I still have no inclination to become a re-enactor myself, and I have only been in kit twice – once was for the studio shot for the magazine cover. The other time was for real at Wetherby when the Newcastles kitted me out, armed me with an 18 foot pike, and marched me onto the battlefield. I’m not at all ashamed to say I made a poor soldier – I don’t like being ordered about, pike blocks crushing into each other was too much like rugby union for my taste, and the battle was in the middle of a storm. Shafts of light were coming through the clouds and the swirling gunsmoke, great action all around, and all I had in my hand was a wooden pike. Never have I missed my camera so much!

Another reason for a reluctance to join up was that Knotters generally camp near the events and there’s a big element of socialising around a beer tent (the Sealed Knot is nicknamed “the armed wing of Camra“). Much though I like my real ale, I like to be independent and camping holds little appeal.

In borrowed uniformBut the key reason for my eventually joining up was photography and wanting to get closer to the action. As Capa said “if it’s not good enough you’re not close enough”….

Some people join particular regiments because they were recruited by friends, others were literally born into theirs (the Knot’s been around for 40 years), and others simply feel drawn to the Cavalier or Roundhead cause. I’m one of that last group whose conscience determines their flag. So is that King or Parliament? Well, that’s probably where I experienced the danger of being embedded with the military in Iraq or Afghanistan, and I worked hard to ensure the Newcastles, a fiercely Royalist regiment, never uncovered my true Parliamentarian sympathies. You know, I’m rather lucky I didn’t meet a premature end with my head on a Royalist spike….


I’m a writer who can take good pictures and a photographer who can use words effectively – a combination that doesn’t always go together – and so I hope that my publishers don’t waste time or money correcting grammar or spelling, or sourcing the images that help make the book jump off the shelves.

On the right you can see the books I’ve published, and I’ve also tech-edited a number of books including Peter Krogh’s The DAM Book.


If you’re a publisher checking me out for a writing project, I can take on anything involving these programs which I use daily:

  • Image editing – Photoshop – Lightroom – Aperture – Capture One
  • DAM – iView / Expression Media / MediaPro – Extensis Portfolio – Bridge
  • Web design – Dreamweaver – WordPress
  • Mobile – Adobe DPS

While I list programs where I’ve plenty of experience, that’s not always necessary. It is just as important to understand what the typical reader would seek to accomplish. In fact, in one case I received a commission to write a book without ever having seen the program which was its subject – and began writing the book too. My wider experience allowed me to discover, and convey, what the reader would need to learn to use it effectively.

Open Directly

Open Directly is a plug-in for Lightroom 2/3/4/5/6 that opens images directly in another program. That other program may be another raw converter, or any program the user chooses. In either case, the plug-in simply sends the original file and invokes the other program.

Other raw converters

Some Lightroom users want to manage raw files in Lightroom but use another raw converter to adjust them. Unfortunately, Lightroom’s Edit With command generates a TIF file rather than sending the raw file itself. Dragging the thumbnail to the other raw converter program’s icon isn’t much use when you work in full screen mode. Another alternative, Lightroom’s Export command, can launch the other raw converter but only by generating copies of the raw originals. Open Directly was originally intended to get round these problems.

Not just raw files, not just raw converters

You aren’t limited to raw converters – you can send photos to any other program.

For example, here one “editor” is set to Mac’s Mail application and another is HoudahGeo, a program for geotagging photos. You can add up to 6 different programs and while programs like Excel or Dreamweaver might be amused to receive a batch of raw files, there are no restrictions on the apps you can choose.

Payment and Updates

The trial version only allows one external app to be set up.

Purchasing the plugin will give you a registration code that will remove this restriction. All future updates are free.



Search Replace Transfer

Search Replace Transfer is a Lightroom (2 or later) plug-in designed for bulk changes to text in Metadata Panel fields.

It searches through the chosen metadata field looking for a word or phrase, and then replaces all its occurrences with alternative text.

  1. Searches and replaces text like a word processor
  2. Appends text before or after existing text
  3. Adds sequential numbers
  4. Transfers text between fields
  5. Copies metadata between IPTC location and IPTC-Extension fields
  6. Parse + Audit checks you’ve entered data in fields like the title, caption and keywords
  7. Makes most EDIF/IPTC and Develop values searchable
  8. Transfers metadata from iView/Expression Media

Quick links

LR etc

There’s much more on Lightroom at my Lightroom site

As one of the leading experts on Adobe Lightroom and on DAM systems such as iView and Extensis Portfolio, I work with leading photographers to help them establish robust and efficient workflows.

Lightroom pro training

  • Based in London and the North West (elsewhere by arrangement)
  • One to one or small group
  • Screen sharing over the internet
  • Quick start or advanced
  • DAM, metadata and Library speciality
  • Develop productivity
  • Migration from legacy systems

Lightroom plug-ins

Other scripts



You can contact me by email. Please make your subject line obviously human or leave it as set by the link. 

My Italian is good, and I am OK in French and German. Please don’t blame me for Brexit – it’s really not my fault. Seven years on, that still makes people laugh (and cry).

And if you see me somewhere, do say hello. I am told that in person I am nowhere near as frightening as you may – quite reasonably – expect.

You may also find me here:


I’m not sure one should ever describe or rationalise one’s photography, and categorising it into projects, landscape and historical re-enactment is obviously crude but at least it offers a few signposts and hints.

As a teenager I remember seeing the work of photojournalists like Don McCullin or Robert Capa in newspapers and magazines, and was struck by how the Independent newspaper used the pictures of Brian Harris. Maybe this interest led to my pursuing long term projects like Speakers Corner or trying to cover events like the death of the Queen, Brexit, Covid-19, or more-recently the protests against Russia’s attack on Ukraine.

The interest in photographing historical re-enactment is more recent and is a development of having studied history at Cambridge, specialising in the English Civil War, and a continuing fascination with the subject and academic work.

Landscape is a different mentality and I’ll happily spend hours contemplating a view and resolving minor details before responding to a sudden change of light, but this takes me back to my dislike of rationalising or overthinking. Does one need to explain being drawn to natural beauty? I just hope you enjoy the pictures.

As well as the categorised galleries here, also see my Instagram where I post brand new stuff.