The Spark that (Re)Ignited My Running

In 1993 I ran the Great North Run and damaged my knee to the extent that to all intents and purposes I did not run again for almost 20 years.

I tried a few gentle jogs every now and again but within a mile the pain was unbearable and I eventually decided to not push it in case I extended the problem to other sports that I was currently still able to do … squash, cycling, football, skiing to name a few.

And then Thunder Thursday happened. 28 June 2012.


I’d love to say it was the lightning bolt that provided the spark but the truth is it was the rain that did it … someone put their all into that rain dance!

The metro was off, the city in chaos and the traffic was literally grid-locked everywhere. I was stuck on a bus, I’d moved about 20m in an hour and I was a long way from home.

More importantly though I was a long way from my son’s nursery. He was safe of course and the normal 6pm pick-up rule was long since abandoned I’m sure but my wife was also stuck on the Coast Road so she couldn’t get to him either.

So I took the decision to get off the bus and run the 5 miles to nursery. I’d been playing squash that day so changed into my squash shoes, slung my bag awkwardly over my shoulder and set off running. It was more of a walk/jog … I was semi-fit but not “run fit”.

The rest of that day is largely irrelevant. Ultimately a friend got to the nursery before I did and my wife got to me before I got home but in the meantime I’d jogged 4 miles.

The next day was when it got interesting as it suddenly occurred to me that my knee was not sore, and nor had it been the previous day either.

So I went for a tentative run, and then another one, and another .. and there it was … I was a runner again.

My theory is that because I had been playing a lot of squash at the time that will have strengthened the muscles and ligaments around my knee and that was all it needed. A course of strengthening exercises before any one of my test runs and perhaps everything would have been different … but that’s hindsight for you … or common sense, one or the other.

A few weeks later I pulled a calf muscle 🤣 …

… but I recovered, trained hard and on 15 September 2013 I ran the Great North Run again. A year and a half ago I would never have believed this possible. Not a PB but a pretty decent stab at it. I’ll be back!

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100 Strangers / Round 2 / #103 Shiplu

Round 2 / #103 Shiplu by haggisandchips
Round 2 / #103 Shiplu, a photo by haggisandchips on Flickr.

That’s a bit better, only 6 days since my last stranger … still a bit off the 3-4 per week I used to manage though.

Please click on Shiplu’s image for more information.

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100 Strangers / Round 2 / #102 Jens

Round 2 / #102 Jens by haggisandchips
Round 2 / #102 Jens, a photo by haggisandchips on Flickr.

It took me a while but I’ve finally grabbed another shot for the second round of my 100 Strangers project.

Please click on the image to learn more about Jens.

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The Creative Talent Circle

#44 Eric
#44 Eric, a photo by haggisandchips on Flickr.

The Creative Talent Circle

18 months ago I photographed Eric Murphy for my 100 Strangers project. I did a little digging into his background as I sometimes do and so happened upon a local photography group called The Creative Talent Circle.

It has taken me a long time to get around to attending one of their meetings but tonight I finally did … and I’m really glad that I did.

This was way out of my comfort zone which is odd given I can photograph random strangers in the middle of a busy street yet somehow photographing paid models in an organised setting was a little nerve-wracking to me. I guess it’s the fear of being out of one’s depth whilst surrounded by professionals and competent amateurs!

The Creative Talent Circle

The group was really friendly though and helped me get started with the right settings on my camera and plenty of encouragement. By the end of the night I had stopped copying others (mostly) and was talking to the models explaining what I wanted them to do and coming up with ideas of my own – perhaps not new ideas but also not something that I had just seen someone else ask for.

The Creative Talent Circle

I learned quite a bit tonight and when I go back I will definitely be more confident to adjust the setup as I want it and as with everything else in photography I now have lots of points in my head that I need to try and apply next time. I’ve just spent far too much time painting over backgrounds to make them darker or lighter and much of that could have been avoided with the right camera settings and paying a little bit more attention to angles.

The Creative Talent Circle

I also learned NOT to ask a professional model to smile … none of those shots came out as I would have hoped. Perhaps I need to dig out my joke book ;).

I’d like to thank Eric, Alisia and all the models for organising and taking part in a really fun night. I’ll definitely be back someday.

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100 Strangers … Round 2 !!!

Round 2 / #101: Chris by haggisandchips
Round 2 / #101: Chris, a photo by haggisandchips on Flickr.

And so I start on the long but fun road of another 100 Strangers project …

… please click on the image to read more about Chris.

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SOLD !!!

A while back I received an email that at first I suspected was a phishing email – it was telling me that Getty Images had paid me a sum of money for one of only two photographs that I have licensed through them. It took me a while to be able to verify this but verify it as genuine I did. I’m not talking pennies either – someone paid a large sum of money for the use of this image – I know who they are but not what they want it for and I guess that I will never know that.

I am SOOO PLEASED though, I’ve always liked this image and it tickles me every time I remember the hassle I had taking it (click on the image to view it on Flickr for the story – although it will probably only interest technically minded people). The fact that someone else likes it enough to pay for it is the icing on the cake.

Photography is and always will be “just a hobby” to me … but a bit of recognition is nice too 😉

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October 2012 ~ A Month in Pictures

Another October … another Month In Pictures.

Via Flickr:
01 Oct: 30 Days Left
02 Oct: Grey’s Monument
03 Oct: Speed Shopping
04 Oct: No Comment 😦
05 Oct: Easy Rider
06 Oct: Cross/Garden Spider (Araneus Diadematus)
07 Oct: Wish I Was There

08 Oct: Alfred Hitchcock
09 Oct: Retrospective
10 Oct: Jasper & Millie
11 Oct: Geordie Neet Oot
12 Oct: Weevils Wobble …
13 Oct: Levitation
14 Oct: Steam Train

15 Oct: Helix
16 Oct: Rob Lee
17 Oct: Lapsang Souchong
18 Oct: Dark Side Of The Moon
19 Oct: Early or Late ???
20 Oct: Penshaw Monument
21 Oct: Roaarrr!!!!

22 Oct: Burning Bright
23 Oct: acrO cificaP
24 Oct: Coming Home
25 Oct: Spongebob
26 Oct: Castle Keep
27 Oct: Yet Another Candleholder
28 Oct: Shutter Stock

29 Oct: What Summer?
30 Oct: Blackbird
31 Oct: Wooooooo!!!!!!

This picture is my final submission for my October Challenge 2012 project. Find out more about the project and see pictures taken by other photographers at the October Challenge Flickr Group page.

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Olga by haggisandchips
Olga, a photo by haggisandchips on Flickr.

I only spoke to Olga for a relatively brief period but it was a pretty relaxed affair other than her metro arriving which forced me to rush my shot and ultimately I didn’t get one that I was happy with. However, I have her card, she has mine and whilst we shared a metro journey part way home there was a discussion that suggested that perhaps we might meet again to get some better photographs. I left this in Olga’s hands to peruse my Flickr photostream and get in touch if she wanted to.

I will reiterate here that I am more than happy to photograph any willing subject so, Olga, if you would like to pose for me again then please do get in touch and hopefully we’ll sort out that background as a first step 😉 and the rest can come naturally.

I couldn’t resist me favourite question of “what’s the maddest thing that you have ever done” and Olga recently walked up the Ouseburn, a nearby tributary of the Tyne – I was slightly confused by this at first until I realised that she literally meant up the Ouseburn rather than alongside it. Coincidentally she also mentioned going into some of the tunnels in the vicinity – a topic I had been discussing with a friend earlier today.

Olga, thanks for letting me take your photograph today and also for making sure that I got off the metro before I strayed too far in the wrong direction so that I did actually get home today 😉 – I would have loved to take a better shot of you but it just wasn’t to be.

It’s a long time since I’ve photographed a stranger – tonight’s revellers excepted and Olga may be the push that I need to venture into this area again.

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11/10/2012 ~ Geordie Neet Oot

Tonight was a first … never before have I shoved a camera at close range into the face of a stranger without asking.

I like this photo and it will only encourage me ;).

I was on my way to get the metro home when I saw these three huddled in a doorway and I simply raised my camera, took a shot, gave them the thumbs up and a smile and walked on. I wish I had handed them one of my cards now but perhaps that would have killed the moment … there is something very fleeting about this photograph that I and no doubt I alone will treasure.

Seconds earlier, the following gentlemen pushed themselves in front of my camera and I was happy to oblige. At this point I was on my way home from an evening out in a real ale pub with no less than 13 hand pulled pumps so it is highly debatable who had had more to drink at this point and I did ask them their names but it now escapes me what they are so I can only refer to the following as Geordie Revellers … there was a Brian and a Tommy and that’s about all that I can remember …

Geordie Neet Oot

Geordie Neet Oot

Geordie Neet Oot

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Five A Day

Five A Day by haggisandchips
Five A Day, a photo by haggisandchips on Flickr.

So, just to prove that I do have a little variety in my photography I thought that I would post one of my non-people shots.

If truth be told I used to love doing stuff like this and it’s likely I will go back to my roots a bit …

… because I’m now finding it really difficult to approach people and ask to take their photograph. At the end of my 100 Strangers project I found it pretty easy to walk up to someone and say “Can I take your photograph for a project that I’m doing …”, but now I’m not really doing it for a project the whole thing strikes me as weird. I know it shouldn’t but it does … and I’m sure that I’m missing out on some great encounters as a result but c’est la vie – I just can’t quite shake the feeling!

So recently I was challenged to employ a few tricks of the trade to photograph food and this is the result – fruit smothered in oil – looks good enough to eat … but I wouldn’t if I was you ;).

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