Punch, Ki’up, Click
Perhaps that should be the title, but when two passions of mine merge into one, it is a great feeling.
Gradings are normally stress filled affairs where you are worried if your skills will show up in your mind that day, or perhaps have taken the day off. Well at least they are for me. I went into the last grading with a completely different mindset than before. This was the first time I had taken part where my attention could be focused on something completely different and concentrate on another passion of mine, Photography.
Instead of the normal Ki’up that accompanies a skill, I opted for something I have been hearing for 15 years. A trusty click of a shutter and a photographer's instinct (with a bit of Hapkido knowledge).
When looking back over some of the many images, a few stand out to me for different reasons. They are not necessarily the best photos technically, but the ones that evoke the most thought and emotion inside of me. Each of these is worth an essay in itself, but lets try and keep it brief.
Fall fall and fall again.
It is one of the first things you learn when you put on a white belt, but falling is one of the most technically challenging and hardest things to do when your mind says no. It is also one of the things that you do most. Well it’s definitely what Mr Murray did most of in the last grading (in a good way of course).
Perhaps it is some secret fixation that only my inner self can confess, but every photo of someone falling seemed to have the familiar shape of Mr Murray. It must be the name. Nevertheless, there was not one complaint, grievance or protest to be heard. Infact, I told him my observation a few classes later and he didn’t even realise that he had been used as a rag doll. I admire his mindset but the great thing about this is that most people in the dojang have this attitude; that the body will give up before the mind.
How am I ever going to kick two people to the face at once? What to aspire to.
No matter what belt you are, the next one always seems so far away. Skills look harder, faster and more complex than before. As a yellow belt I could barely remember attacking form and used to wonder how on earth you could ever remember all 10 of them! For some this could come naturally, but for the rest of us earthlings the repetition of skills brings them to second nature that only falters when your mind strays from the ordinary.
Now I concentrate on perfecting all 10 of these forms while looking forward and thinking there is no way that I am ever going to kick that high.
One day I hope to just try this skills and heavily embarrass myself in the process rather than leaping like a gazelle doing the splits.
Never get bored at breaking
The one thing that you can't practice in class is breaking part of a dead tree. The thing you quickly learn is that it's not the speed of the punch or kick; it’s the technique behind the movement. That is the one thing you can practice. The one thing that you doing in every class. I’ve learnt to never underestimate the parts of the class that you take for granted as they are often the most important.
The hardest part is thinking that you can’t do it. The mind is a powerful weapon, and if you think this, the probability of failing climbs dramatically. Your moment could come at any time. A black belt told me when I first joined that Master Chang will only ask you to break a board when he knows that you are ready. Even before you think that you’re ready. Something only a lifetime of experience can bring. If he chooses you, you know inside you that can break it.
It’s the little things
In the past 5 years I have gone to every grading, whether participating or not and in all that time this was only point where I could remember Master Chang getting up and showing how a skill should be performed. This is not to take anything away from Dimitri. Grading for a black belt is tremendously hard and I would be more worried if Master Chang didn’t say anything while I was grading. Perfection on any skill is impossible. We are always learning, always trying to improve ourselves and every time we perform the basics of any skill we learn something new no matter how small. Whether that be about an opponent or how everyone's bodies react differently.
No matter what grade we are we are always prepared to learn and our Hapkido community is an amazing place to do this.
We are half way through the year and that means that it’s only another 4 months until Christmas (yes 4 pay days) and also until the new Star Wars film is out.
I have always thought that Canary Wharf underground station looked a bit futuristic and by a bit I mean a lot! While looking through the new trailer for Rogue One I saw some familiar sights that I spotted immediately as this station. Cue all Star Wars fans flocking to this station me included.
New York left a lasting impression on me. I still find photos today that I want to go back and edit and it makes me relive the trip I had over there. In many ways it is so similar to London but also so very different. You definitely do not get the feeling that you only get when sky-high skyscrapers in every direction surround you; although some say London is starting to get that.
Only our very last day there we didn’t know what to do. We had so much planned that we were spoiled for choice. In the end we chose to do something that not many people told us about. There is an aerial tram that connects Manhattan Island to Roosevelt Island. There is hardly anything to do on the other side but it offers great views back over to Manhattan on the way over. I took this one just before the trip over there.
China town seems like it’s own little world cut off from the heart of London. There are so many things here that stand out from the London crowd, bring tourists flocking here to see it.
Unlike the traditional arcades that you get when you go and visit family by the sea front, China town has a few of its own. The neon scenery makes for great photography, even if they are empty.
The Hungerford footbridge is one of the lesser-known landmarks in London although you can see it from the most tourist of places. It links up charring Cross up with the London Eye and Southbank.
I first walked over it on a university trip looking at different architecture. Obviously this bridge came up and has turned into one of my favorites.
You can photo it from so many different angles and I have spent many hours shooting timelapses from its walkway. Yet again the symmetry of my shots comes through.
I recently spent an evening walking around Soho and Chinatown in London. Probably not the best idea I’ve had in the world as when you tell people this they usually assume you end up in a place like this. Luckily I have a good excuse to be wandering the streets with a camera in my hand.
I only stumbled across this place but it doesn’t take much imagination to work out what it is. I didn’t have a tripod with me as I had just come from work so I had to bump up the iso that helps in giving the image a nice grainy look adding to the post processing.
I did a mini photowalk along the Thames on my way home recently; and by mini I mean 20 minutes out of my way so I don’t miss the train photowalk. I had the mindset of just photographing random street scenes as I usually concentrate on architecture shots around the capital but this night wasn’t great for it.
I forgot how much I love just randomly walking around London with my favourite Spotify playlist on and just concentrating on finding different compositions. Unfortunately London’s light that night wasn’t great so I had to do something different with the processing but I like it.
There are so many things to see on the Southbank of the Thames. This is why I call it the Photographers Walk and I’m sure many other photogs do too. I didn’t stray too far from Waterloo Station but in that short distance you walk down a few bridges where the scene changes in between each. This is a shot of a food stand in a traditional American Van. At least that’s what I think it is. What ever the case the food looked great.
Ha yes a cleaver name I know. I’ve been sitting on that one ever since I wanted to go and photograph Shepperton Lock. Finding somewhere to take off with an RPAS is harder then it looks. I always look on Google Maps to scout locations and with that comes with a plan to be able to take off in a safe place. I had the perfect place in mind but I was too close to some trees. Places just look so different from the air.
I had to move to a different location the other side of the lock. The annoying thing is that rivers without a bridge are very annoying and I had to drive the long way round. The long way around being 30 minutes where I found I was on private property. Again another no go. I did a short walk along the river until I found somewhere suitable and prepared for take off. About 45 minutes after I planned to.
I think it was worth it. I think this was the max altitude of 120m. A nice way of looking at Surrey.
You take so many things for granted when you just don’t notice what’s around you. You sit in the same seat on your morning commute, take the exact same walk into work and take the same route home.
At least I know I do. When you walk slightly slower into work you notice so much more.
I decided to do exactly that one morning alone with my camera. Yes it nearly made me late for work but what I captured was worth it.
This guy was just sitting there chilling on the side of the Thames as I walked by the London Eye. The Houses of Parliament sits just opposite with the usual cluster of tourists gathered this side of the river taking photos and annoying commuters walking by.
As usual in London it was a grey morning. I do see some amazing sunrises on my journey into work but of course I never have my camera with me. Perhaps I should start carrying it on me.
On the 6th November, a group of photographers in my Arcanum cohort were set a task to document your day. The end result was a collection of images from around the world showing what all of us were up to. This day in the life of, has been put into a website that I will share once it is finished but all of the photos look great. You’ll just have to take my work for it.
My set of images documented my commute to and from Surrey to London, but I did make it out the office at lunchtime to go and visit the Tate Britain, which is a short walk away from my work. I spend about 45 minutes just wandering around taking photos of everything that looked interesting to me. The place is filled with huge rooms and on an unusually quiet lunchtime looked even bigger when only filled with one person. Ok you got me… there was actually a second person in this photo that I managed to remove. I was waiting there for ages seeing if he would move but no. Both people were trying to get the perfect shot of different paintings and were taking there time. Yes this meant that my subject didn’t move much, which was great, but the other person didn’t either. I think I did a pretty good job on removing him. The irony in trying to get the perfect shot backfired on me.
There is a word that is beginning to become taboo. A word that when spoken creates panic from people and governments together. That word is drone, and while becoming more and more popular, they are creating a stigma of danger and while people are misbehaving it’s always going to appear that way.
It’s important to not put anything or anyone in harms way. Never fly over anything that would put anyone in danger if you did have a sudden crash. You can be the most careful person but a sudden gust of wind could do anything.
I also now have to call it a Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS). Doesn’t that just sound so much better! Who needs a drone when you have an RPAS.
Of course drones are not allowed to fly in London’s airspace so it’s back to the good old fashioned roof tops for London images.
If you’re lucky enough you can access parts of the Mayor’s office. It looks out over the Thames onto bankside below. It was a wet day and umbrellas had just been put away. A shame really as I think that would have made a great image.
I wanted to split the image into different sections using the diagonal lines from the scene below. In post I just made subtle adjustments in Lightroom to bring out the contrast in the scene. I was tempted to remove everyone in the scene just leaving the two people in the upper centre of the image. In this case a simpler image would perhaps be better.
So I finally caved and have bought myself a DJI Phantom 3. I know, I know I shouldn't have but what can I do. What's done is done. To be precise it was the Phantom 3 Professional with a 4k camera for video. I wasn't going to scrimp out on the camera obviously.
I had it delivered to my parents house in the leafy suburbs of London. Once I found out it had been delivered, it was a long 4 days before I got a chance to actually get my hands on it.
After ripping open the box to quickly get the batteries on charge I fixed on the prop guards and read up on the manual one more time. I had been studying this even from before I put in the order so was pretty up to date on my knowledge.
There are so many rules and regulations to drone use. It makes it hard to fly professionally. Luckily this is only for personal use until I can get CAA approval and that takes time and lots of money.
Looking at things from this high up gives you a different perspective on this that are so common to you. It seems to enhance my interest in the mundane. There are so many new things to explore.
Here are the rest of the photos and a little video of my first flight.
Don’t you just love it when you have a few spare hours at an airport! Well I guess not everyone sees it that way but if you ever travel with a photographer that has had plenty of sleep you will see them running around the place looking for new angle rather then sleeping in the corner.
Don’t worry I’m like a normal person when jet lagged in an airport. Where’s the nearest bench to lie on? But sometimes the time is right to do a little exploring.
That’s what happened here at Heathrow Terminal 5. Somehow we had an hour to kill before check-in so I went roaming around and came across this shot looking down onto a café below.
One of the great things about living in London is the contrast between old and new. The city is constantly changing. I can’t even keep up with the amount of new skyscrapers there are. For all I know there could be a building nicknamed The Ladle to follow on from the kitchen themed name of The Cheese grater.
The building that lurks behind Tower Bridge here is the Shard. It is actually quite hard to get them lined up when you are looking for a certain perspective. Of course when the tripod police are lurking nearby as they were here, every shot adds some fun risk to the equation.