These images were a complete surprise to me.
I was out with my dear Ruth Amanda and her lovely daughter Nola one Saturday afternoon. We took the sights of London, The British Museum, Covent Garden and on our travels I was happily taking photographs of anything interesting.
This scene very near The British Museum was a delightful find. An original Penny Farthing Bicycle was parked outside a shop, so I took a few images along with the clothing on the dummy.
It was like capturing a piece of history.
This really was an elegant shop, the clothing from another era being sold for today's discerning gentleman.
All Because of a Stolen Bicycle
By Michael Vincent
To receive a Bicycle on your birthday has to rank as a happy moment for any youngster. I can only imagine how the young Cassius Marcellus Clay felt on his 12th birthday to receive such a gift from his parents. Let's assume he was happy beyond measure because his life and ours was about to transform in the most dramatic, entertaining and moving way imaginable.
His bike was stolen while he was in a store looking for some free candy with his friends. His discovery of his stolen bicycle would be a turning point in his life. In the next moment he declared; "I wanna find who stole my bicycle and give them a whupping"
How would you have reacted in this moment?
Young Cassius's declaration led him to the local police station where he ended up in a conversation with Joe Martin. As it happens, Joe Martin ran the local Boxing Club and said to the youngster, "you better learn how to fight before you go beating anyone up".
As simple as this story is, it set the young Cassius on a worldwide journey of self-discovery, personal transformation, and hardship. In the process, he took us with him and left us transformed too.
The 1960s were a time of turbulent conversations, the civil rights movement was in full force; Martin Luther King and Malcolm X were doing their bit to push the civil rights movement forward. Martin Luther King preferred to use non-violence as means of expression, where as Malcolm X was open to any means necessary for the rights of black people to be valued and respected. In the meantime, Cassius Clay was staking his own claim to greatness.
On the night of February 25th 1964, he shook up the world, in more ways than one. He became the Heavyweight Champion of the world, defeating the fearsome Sonny Liston. He immediately proclaimed himself The Greatest and the prettiest champion of all time. This was unheard of, a heavyweight champion, so vocal about his prowess and good looks. It is important to understand, that before Clay, heavyweights did not speak out, their managers did all the taking. If they did speak it certainly wasn't with the flair of the newly crowned “King of the World”. No, this was different; this was a new era in boxing, sport, entertainment and show business on scale never seen before.
What happened the following morning would shake up the world right to its very core. At the morning press conference, Cassius Clay was no more, to the world press, he introduced himself by his new name, a name which would become synonymous with truth, self expression, freedom and liberty for all.....Muhammad Ali.
The world was in shock
Cassius Clay during his build up to the fight with Liston had become a member of The Nation of Islam.
His new name, Muhammad Ali, was the name bestowed upon him by their leader Elijah Muhammad. Ali's mentor during this time was the Nation of Islam's charismatic spokes person Malcolm X WOW......this was big news for the worlds press. His conversion to The Nation of Islam was big news, it caused a lot of controversy and it certainly made people dislike him.
Over the course of the 1960s decade, Muhammad Ali would consolidate his proclaim to be the greatest heavy weight champion of all time with stunning victories. One of which was a re-match with Sonny Liston, which lasted less than a round. Floyd Patterson and probably his greatest night as a heavyweight with his artistic display against the big puncher Cleveland “The Cat” Williams.
The Williams fight for Ali was a showcase of hand speed, fancy footwork, mind games and the famous enough “Ali Shuffle”.
I was just a toddler during this period; I have my mother to thank for introducing me to Ali. I was born the week before his first Liston fight. My mother watched the fight cradling me in her arms.
I have loved Ali ever since I first heard his name, which was around 1970/71. I have vivid memories of seeing the newspaper review of his fight with Joe Frazier. I was too young to know let alone remember the significance of this fight, which Ali lost.
1964 to 1967 were the golden years for Ali. The big turning point in Ali's life came when he point blank refused to be inducted into the Armed Forces to fight in Vietnam on the grounds it conflicted with his religious beliefs.....ANOTHER BOMBSHELL MOMENT FOR THE WORLDS PRESS.
Stripped of his title, not allowed to work, three years spent in exile, Ali's world came tumbling down.
Without realising it, this singular event in history would become an important moment in the civil rights movement, global conversation about the Vietnam War and public opinion about Muhammad Ali.
This Undefeated Champion became the People's Champion and it would be a title he would never lose. This was a victory of the highest moral order. He regained his license to fight again and set out to regain his crown. His loss to Joe Frazier would illustrate how difficult it would be because boxing had moved on, new and more powerful, crafty heavyweight boxers emerged during his exhale. The Ali of the 1960's would require a re-invention to live with this new breed of heavyweight.
The 1970s proved to be the most exciting decade for world boxing, Joe Frazier, Ken Norton, Jimmy Elis, Bob Foster, Jerry Quarry, Oscar Bonanvana, George Forman, Joe Bugner, Henry Cooper (still fighting) and Ali were all attempting to reach the zenith of sporting achievement – to be crowned The Heavyweight Champion of the World.
Frazier loses his title to Foreman in Jamaica.
Ali and Frazier fought the re-match; Ali gets the split decision.
Ali loses to Norton with a broken Jaw.
What is exciting is the fact that all the top heavyweights fought each other.
The jewel in the crown for this decade was the epic "Rumble in the Jungle".
Ali Vs Foreman
This fight takes place in Kinshasa Zaire at 4 am in the morning.
This is the fight Ali was supposed to lose.
George Foreman was another version of Sonny Liston only worse. Sonny Liston at his best would not have beaten George Foreman no way.
Ali had no way of winning this fight..................on paper.
The Greatest found a way through the Foreman defense. Ali found a way into his mind and out thought him and knocked him out. I saw this fight as it happened.....I was ten years old and remember it like it was yesterday.
Ali was on top of the world…again.
If he had retired then perhaps the rest of his life would have been in good reasonable health. As we all know, Ali’s health began to deteriorate after "The Thriller in Manila", his third and truly epic fight with his greatest opponent Joe Frazier. Ali won the fight after 15 brutal rounds with Frazier retiring on his stool. However, he suffered greatly due to the complications of Parkinsons disease.
The writing was on the wall, he had a few more fights with Ernie Shavers, Ken Norton, Chuck Wepner and Leon Spinks – he lost the title to Leon Spinks and won it back for the third time.
Ali’s worst night as a boxer came against Larry Holmes, he suffered the indignity of not not winning a single round, battered and bruised and left a wreck on his stool like Frazier in Manila. This was heartbreaking to watch. Ali was my hero and to see his end come to this was truly sad. Yes, this was the end of Muhammad Ali the boxer.
His very last fight was against Trevor Berbick, which he lost, after this fight, I actually lost interest in boxing for quite a while.
Ali drifted into relative obscurity.
With failing health to Parkinsons disease, it was only a question of how long it would be for the great Muhammad Ali to live.
I am writing this tribute because, on June 4th, Ali passed away. He had lived far longer than most people who were plagued with this debilitating condition. This is a tribute to Ali’s strength of character and will.
This strength of character and will was born back in the 1960’s during his exile.
What impressed me about Ali was that he still made appearance in public…around the world, supported by his Lonnie. He made several trips to London during the 1990s.
One evening in 1991, I had the wonderful pleasure of meeting Ali and entertaining him and his family with a performance of magic.
He invited me to his hotel to teach him a few magic effects. I had the pleasure to see first hand, up close and personal how well he looked, he looked fit to me, his speech was slurred, however, we enjoyed a good conversation and enjoyed our magical time talking tricks. He invited me and my mother to have dinner with him and his family; as you can imagine, she was made up. This was truly wonderful.
I would like to end this tribute with a very special letter I wrote to Muhammad.
I hope you can read this in heaven.
My mother held me in her arms the night you fought Sonny Liston. She told me years later she was afraid that Sonny would spoil your pretty face. That night, you made history on two counts. Firstly, you shook up the world and secondly, the seed was planted deep into my mind by my mother about your existence.
I never imagined in my wildest dreams that my passion for magic would bring us together. I could not believe it when I got the call to entertain you and your family.
You made me feel I was YOUR BEST FRIEND.
TEACHING YOU MAGIC JUST DOSENT get any better. We had fun the following morning discussing magic.
Come to think of it, you were my very first student; The Vincent Academy has done well since 1991.
Having dinner with you and your family made Mary's night; I have not seen my mother so lit up by anyone since. That was special beyond measure.
Now that you have returned to the commune with "THE FORCE", we are left to ponder the great teachings of your life.
The lessons I learnt from you are to be open to having a renewal of my mind, that gift comes from God. With my mind anew, I can see the world and people differently.
I can speak my truth coming from a position of love.
My time on earth is short, spend it doing the things I love, make people happy, spread joy and love everywhere, smile, bring peace to hostility, love to fear, compassion to those who need it, forgiveness and humility to all.
Most off all, love to myself as a man who as every right to be here and fight for my little piece of heaven here on earth.
Thank you Muhammad, you taught me the greatest love of all.
With Ali now resting in heaven the world has become still. I felt it; I had this same feeling when Princess Diana passed away, as if, the world stopped spinning just for a moment.
I am sad beyond measure and yet feel so privileged for having met one of the finest examples of a human being ever.
We are left to carry on, perhaps, I little piece of Ali will be left within me, I hope so, I will really miss him.
What can I say?
I am guilty as charged, I have been seduced by a most gorgeous mistress, The Fuji X-T1.
This is one beautiful camera and I have now designated it my Official Travel Companion when on the road doing my shows and seminars around the world.
Many photographers have shared how the lightness of this camera has been one of the major factors in moving over to The Fuji System. I must be honest and say, I still love my Nikon and will not be letting her go.
I am just clear about how and when I will use both of these truly wonderful tools for my photography.
Nikon for Studio, Landscape and Portrait work while at home.
Fuji for Travel and that includes all the genres of shooting I enjoy: Street Photography, People, Places, Cultures, Buildings, Nature and Life all caught in the Fuji Frame.
It took me a while to make the adjustment to Fuji cameras because I was more worried about the battery life and image quality. Not any more, extra batteries more than make up for the superb colour reproduction and straight out of camera jpegs this camera delivers, really stunning.
The Mirrorless Technology has educated me further into Understanding Exposure - my friend and teacher Bryan Peterson has been a great support in helping me to understanding what happens to the "light" once it enters then lens. Armed with this knowledge and a Fuji Camera, I can also see now what happens to the image prior to shooting.
I am very excited about traveling with this Camera. Next week I hit Amsterdam and I hope to come back with some great images from using this camera along with the gorgeous 10-24mm Wide Angle and the agile 35mm 1.4.
So, this love affair has begun and I hope our romantic relationship captures so truly gorgeous vision and memories down the road.
I have been shooting seriously now since 2009. During that time, I have given a lot of thought to my style and expression.
As I look at my arsenal of kit, I can see a lot of toys. When I look at my images for review, I see a lot of expression, joy, dynamics composition.
A friend of mine said to me that she loves my angles. It took me a while to see what she meant.
I final understood that some of my best shoots came about through the use of me shooting at the wide end of whatever lens I was using.- be it a 24-70mm or 17-70mm or even my basic kit of 18-250mm
Recently, I have been experimenting using my Wide Angle Lens a lot more - Sigma 10-20mm
My teacher Bryan Petersen said this lens is a story telling lens. It must be used to communicate a foreground, middle and background subject matter. This means creating an image with multiple layers of interest that all adds to the expression of the scene.
In using this forgotten Lens from my kit, I am excited about the future possibilities I can create.
If it means getting closer then that means I will need to interact more with my subject and surroudnings .
This is a Lens for the fearless.
As for Landscape and Cityscape shooting, this lens is a no brainer.
Stay tuned, lots more coming.
My teacher Bryan Petersen said to me that every image I capture will be a self-portrait.
This has become a fascinating concept for my photography. It implies that whatever I shoot will be a reflection of what is going on inside of me in my life – this will impact my vision and consequently what I choose to create with my camera.
I woke up this morning to the news that the great magician Paul Daniels has passed away. This start to the year has been rather strange, the dark cloud of death has hung over all of us with foreboding gloom.
Many friends and family members have passed on – it has left a strange feeling on my heart. The images in this post were taken today, I decided to go out for a walk and just shoot what I felt, and these are the images that spoke to me.
The light was beautiful; the sky was a rich blue in hues.
As I looked over this collection, one thing spoke to me – LIFE.
Life is for living.
Yes we all die at some point, which is a done given.
How we choose to live is the magic choice we will all have to make for ourselves.
We are not here for long so let's just celebrate life and each other.
Sing, dance, make love, and enjoy your favorite food.
Chill with a cigarette if that's your thing.
Magicians, show a card trick to lonely stranger it might cheer them up.
I am glad that I went out for this walk.
I felt alive and free.
Fly like a bird
Be curious like a squirrel
Be graceful like a Swan and remember, be like water, shapeless, formless.
When all is said and done about London, I have come to the realisation that this is one beautiful city to live in. As a photographer, I have the privileged now of experiencing the world in 35mm.
My eye and mind sees every potential shot in this frame. Tonight, I caught the magical "BLUE HOUR", just in time, to capture this shot in a five image bracket and then processed in Adobe Lightroom and fine tuned in Photoshop.
The elements of light, gesture and mood interplay in a kaleidoscope of colour and emotional content against the back drop of Trafalgar Square.
"There is only you and your camera. The limitations in your photography are in yourself, for what we see is what we are".
and one more from my mentor Bryan Peterson
"Mike, every photograph you take will be a self-portrait"
Nelson's Column under a crescent moon.
The Sun, Moon and Stars are there to guide us.
The Natural History Museum in Black and White
Fuji have announced that the X-Pro 2 will be out in February and the reviews have been gushing with full praise. I came into the Fuji world of cameras a year ago and have really enjoyed the experience of using these amazing cameras.
I mentioned in a previous post how these cameras have transformed my knowledge and understanding of exposure etc. One thing I can say about these little box of wonder is that it has made me very excited about the future for my personal style of shooting.
I enjoy all types of photography, however, Steet Photography of people takes "guts. Candid shoots up close and personal is an art. The Fuji cameras almost make me invisible with a little bit of misdirection, as I learnt from Zak Arias.
Today was an exciting day because I had a breakthrough in shooting people on the streets using the X-T1 paired with the wonderful 27mm Pancake Lens.
The images below all feature my collection from today's outdoor adventure.
I just want to say, Fuji has done a wonderful job in raising their game in such a competitive market place. They are here to stay and I feel the X-Pro 2 will be a wonderful `addition to the Fuji family.
We are all connected...
Who are you connected to?
This Blog post draws inspiration from the title of an Ian Fleming short story, "A Quantum of Solace". It is one of the finest stories of human nature I have ever read or studied.
I realised that at our base level of humanity, we are all connected, there is no separation. When we loose a loved one or a relationship comes to an end, our instinctive need is to find and experience some measure of comfort to deal with our loss, our need or our emptiness. It is an awful human experience to have; and yet a required human experience.
When I saw the out pouring of thoughts and feelings on Facebook regarding David Bowie's passing I decided to revisit the artwork I had shot last year and to experience a place that has now become a shrine for a truly great resident of Brixton.
My experience today was extraordinary. The place was packed with people, their iPhones, taking pictures along side professional photographers with monster lens trying to sneak a shot; all united in the moment. A celebration of the life of a Brixton boy.
I too was connected in that moment.
I took shots of the artwork, now a shrine, the flowers and the crowd. I spotted one lady with tears in her eyes, she was sad, yet peaceful and serene. Photographers standing on benches and tables for a better vantage point. It was raining. Emotions were somber.
Through it all, I became intrigued by this outpouring of grief, love, sadness and expression. As I took my images, the eyes of Bowie's painting looked down on us all. I wondered what he thought of this all. He was connecting with us too!
A measure of comfort is hard wired into our DNA and it was a privilege to have this visceral experience today and to capture this moment.
I became present; let's make an effort to appreciate the people in our lives that matter most to us. Don't wait until it is too late. Send flowers today while our loved ones can still smell the roses.
As for David Bowie, I appreciated his genius for re invention, I loved his work on the Young Americans Album. I was blown away by his performance as Tesla in The Prestige. As showman, I appreciated his self expression.....without apology.
If there is one thing I will take away it will be...
To not remain attached to who I think I am.
I choose to be a fluid concept as a human being, ready to shift in the face of life, to create, to contribute, to love and to serve. Xx
I have been shooting with Fuji's mirror less cameras for one year now and I must say, I love it. I must also confess, I will not be giving up my love affair with Nikon Cameras any time soon. Like any love interest, there is faithfulness and integrity that makes the relationship special and long lasting - that's how I feel about my Nikon bodies and lens.
My relationship with the Fuji's brand of X-based cameras began out of curiosity with the X-100T. Having shot with this camera over the last year, it has transformed my photography. The reason for this simple - the fact there is no mirror in the small body means the image I see before shooting is exactly what will be recorded by the sensor.
Being able to see the image before recording it means that I have been able to make adjustments to the exposure either during manual shooting or when in Aperture Priority mode, using the Exposure Compensation dial. This simple visual confirmation in camera has given me an even grater appreciation for the relationship between "Aperture", "Shutter Speed" and "ISO Values".
I have been able to transfer this knowledge over to my Nikon D7100 and D750 with AMAZING results.
I loved the experience of shooting with the X-100t so much, I treated myself to the amazing X-T1 for Christmas. This came with the 18-135 3.5-5.6mm Lens and it is simply fantastic.
I felt very comfortable operating this camera as the menu system is almost identical to the X-100T. There are a few variations in terms of how I access the ISO etc - nevertheless, this is a wonderful piece of engineering.
This particular body is an Interchangeable Lens system, so like a DSLR, I now have the options of adding further Lens variations. I think I will enjoy this for now with the kit lens. It is compact enough for my needs and will feature a lot on my travels.
The image quality is first class, the form factor makes it almost invisible - it will be more so with a smaller Prime Lens like the 23mm or 35mm.
I am still learning about this camera and will document my experiences and images as I go along throughout 2016. For now it is welcome addition to my profession arsenal.
This is a post I have been meaning to write for sometime. My inspiration to write today came during my visit to my local Kodak Express Print Service in Kilburn. Before I get ahead of myself, allow me to back up just a bit.
Photography as a craft, the technical and artistic discipline is simply astounding. You have to go back a hundred years plus to fully appreciate how far it has come. My study into the history of Photography has got me present to a few things, which I would like to address in this post.
I am present to simple gratitude to the great thinkers and creators of Photography for their tireless drive and commitment to the forward movement of image creation. Consider this: in the early days, imagine the complexity of exposing a light sensitive medium which had been previously saturated in toxic chemicals, consider also how this light sensitive medium was then allowed to be exposed to light for a "controlled" period of time to create the very first photographic exposure. My mind boggles at the thought, persistence and ingenuity that made photography the craft it has become - all this before the digital age.
Why do I bring this up?
I have been photographing and sharing my work now since 2009 - I did not start to take Photography seriously until March 2013. For the first year, all of the sharing of my images have been digital. This would be either through email, on my website or Facebook.
Look at how easy it is to share our images now through social media: Facebook, Tumbler, Instagram, Twitter etc.
I reached a point with this process where I began to feel something was missing. I couldn't put my finger on it. I enjoyed the process of shooting, post processing and sharing and yet, I experienced emptiness. One of the things that inspired me was writing about my images - the commentary became a big part of my self expression since losing my hearing – something however was still missing.
The answer to my emptiness came to me after thinking back to my early days when I had a Kodak Instamatic Camera. One of the biggest thrills for me as a child was taking a photograph and watch in astonishment as the camera spewed out a sheet of light sensitive paper and the film developed right before my eyes.
This memory triggered the numerous trips I made to my chemist to pick my film rolls, which had been processed into photographs. These memories connected me to big thrill of what it means to be a photographer and image creator.
There is a huge emotional content attached to holding a photograph in your hand. I know for myself, as a child and well into my teens and adult years the joy I felt when I held my memories in my hand. The act of creation is a powerful driver and in photography, it becomes a visceral event - from seeing the image in my mind, taking the photograph and then, the final outcome, seeing the finished print and holding it in my hand.
This experience is a memory I cherish now in the digital age - I am amazed that this final outcome hadn't occurred to me sooner. I think the reason for this is found the term "digital photography". Digital Photography is exactly that, image creation, albeit on a light sensitive medium called a "sensor" with its 34 Mega Pixel rating. What misdirected me was the whole infrastructure of sensors, memory cards, computers, imaging software, raw files, jpegs etc. I completely forgot about the most important outcome for "me"......print.
I had a big breakthrough in my photography when I began to speculate about my images and what they would look like if I had them printed?
This question in my mind has had a huge impact on my education, technique, my vision and how I approach my shooting and subject matter.
I wonder how this image would look if I printed it? WOW.....
This question brings me to the point of this blog post now. Over the last year and a half, I have built quite a portfolio of images that I felt inspired to have printed. I wanted to experience the richness of colour, tones, hues and dynamic range that I saw with my eye at the time of shooting. This has been a thrilling experience because the final outcome of a physical end product in my hand is how I feel a photograph should be experienced.
Sharing images from one computer screen to the next is fine and certainly has tremendous impact. Printing my image and having that experience for me brings the whole experience of photography full circle.
My friends at Kodak Express Kilburn do a wonderful job in taking my digital images and presenting me with the final print. They have been great teachers to me in helping to fine tune my post processing to achieve the perfect balance of colour, light and shade.
The image below shows of my latest collection wonderfully displayed by Ash, Anis and Hansh. They bring a high level of professional expertise to their print service and come highly recommended.
Magician, Lecturer, Speaker.