Free photo editing tutorial

I receive a lot of interest from fellow photographers regarding photo editing.

So I have put together a small but I hope very useful “curves adjustment” tutorial.”

The PDF is approx 1.5Mb so very manageable, it is “FREE” and I hope it opens another door in your photo editing techniques.

If you have any questions about the tutorial please contact me here

Download here

Ta ta for now


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Only ever post your best photos?

1-5The internet has given us all the ability to interact with one-another instantly from anywhere and about anything, which we frequently do! The proof is here in this blog as I tap merrily away…….

20 years ago if you had said “I am going to write a blog and post it for everyone in the World to see” you would have had some very strange looks indeed.

Technology and especially the speed in which we can transfer data from one place to the next has been driven by our hunger to be heard, be seen, to hear and to see. So now we arrive nicely to the title of this blog, “only ever post your best photos,” I have read, heard and been told this advice many many times and it confuses the hell out of me!!

I think of this advice a lot especially when I post a new photo to my website or Facebook page. Is it my best photo, “surely not,” “of course it is,” “so what if it isn’t,” “so what if it is.” All this stuff and it is messy stuff, flows through my mind and I bet the minds of thousands upon thousands of people everyday as they post up their latest blog, photo, update or anything that they personally construct, and there it is my friends! “Personally construct,” these two words mean you have put together something yourself and because it has been written, taken or crafted by yourself it is precious, yours and simply it must be the best thing you have ever done or at least one of the best things for you to be showing the World, right?


In your case it might be, in my case it certainly isn’t but what I do post I find interesting and what one person finds interesting I can show you a thousand who would disagree. I think displaying what you consider to be your best work to a client is very important, but would the client be interested in some of your not so “best” work too? Would it show your creativeness your journey and even add that human touch? I guess that is a question that will go on and on in the minds of thousands of people who ponder over their latest creation thinking is this good enough to show the world….


If you find it interesting I strongly suggest you post it, but do expect thousands to disagree!

On this page are photos I took that I find interesting, is it my best work, no, but I like it.


You can see more of my photography here or be social here it would be great to see you!


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Shooting outside of a studio (and behind the scenes video)


If you have read any of my previous posts you will know I am looking for a better basic space that offers me some natural lighting, some interesting textures as in brick walls and enough room to setup my Elinchrom Quadras. I am not looking for a 30×30 box, oh no, it must have windows!

As I have stated before, this type of place exists however hire costs are extremely expensive. So my quest is to find a new reasonably priced location that I can take on a mid / long term lease continues unabated. With my interest in reasonably priced space at an all time high I seem to stumble daily upon many articles written on the internet regarding studios and their merits .

A couple of days ago I read an interesting view point on ref photography studios and their uses which often leads to a lack of creativeness. I read this with interest as the author went onto say money would be better spent on lighting or gear that will enable you to go out shoot, learn your trade and become a better photographer. The author was writing in reply to a tweet he had seen from a student looking to raise cash towards building a permanent studio at his university.

I do agree with some points raised that a studio can remove a certain amount of creativeness if it is the only place that you shoot, but I do not agree that a studio space should not be used or in fact you cant become a better photographer by using a studio. Where else can you setup lights in a controlled environment and master clam lighting for arguments sake?


Now I come to an example of a non studio (controlled) environment, the attached photos on this post were all taken in a small apartment, they certainly could pass for being taken in a studio, well I hope they can!! What the shots do not show is the confined space, the time it took to set up the lighting correctly, and the 10 near misses we had with the light stand and a reflector.

You can take reasonably produced photographs outside of a studio that look like they were shot in a studio but not with the same level of control or efficiency on your own, trust me.



I would always recommend hiring a studio for a couple of hours if it is a studio look or a controlled environment you are after, save your gear from the pitfalls of knock and bangs, save the models health and safety and save your own time and money. It just makes sense!

You can see more of my photography here or be social here it would be great to see you!

And finally here is a BTS look at how the attached shots were taken, I hope you enjoy.

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One of the hardest things I find with my photography is choosing whether to display a Black and white or colour image! Don’t get me wrong some images are destined and definitely shot to be black and white and others are certainly only going to be colour, its the ones that I see with a foot in each camp so to speak that I have trouble with 

I’m starting to wonder if the real reason why I find it hard to choose is simply because the image isn’t that strong to start with and hence the need to try a B&W edit too.


Attached are 2 identical images one B&W and one colour, it would be great to get some good old honest feedback.

  • Which do you prefer 
  • Is the image weak
  • What would you change

A little background: The image is a business portrait capturing the feel of the coffee shop owner and her products above and beyond the coffee.


If you read this please do take a moment to let me know your thoughts 

You can see more of my photography here or be social here


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Keeping up appearances

Several things have happened over the last week:

Birmingham at nightJonathan Bell©

Birmingham at night
Jonathan Bell©

  • I’m one year older
  • I have spent a lot of time up high buildings
  • I’m still no closer in finding a suitable location for a studio (please see first post)
  • I have written 3 entries into my blog (never thought I would get this far)

The one year older thing really shouldn’t bother me at all I mean we all do it, get older that is and I’m not one year older overnight it takes 365 days to get there for heavens sake so I should be prepared! The truth is it doesn’t bother me until the day after my birthday, when I will begin the mourning process of a lost year for the next 30 days or so! The last 365 days have been slightly different from the last that I wont go into right now but I do promise to divulge at a later date. I will be honest, I did start to write everything down, but it was too much for me to take in let alone anyone else…

Moving swiftly onto high buildings that have been prominent over the last week. The Shard in London and the Cube in Birmingham, they are very different places and offer very different things to their visitors . The Shard is brand new, slender, shiny and standing proud whereas the Cube is squat, bulky and hidden away to some extent.

The visit to the Shard was a surprise trip for my birthday and thoroughly enjoyed for that reason alone. The building to me was soulless, the visiting experience felt clinical as I passed through a body scanner and was patted down by a young lady with a metal detector asking “did you forget to take off your watch!” Security passed and now herded into a lift that travels at 6 mtrs a second making your ears pop on the way up, it is that quick it takes away the sense of height travelled so it does come has a surprise when you finally get to see the view. The views are magnificent and can be seen in my second post, but to be honest again, I felt disconnected from the world below much like I do when I fly across Europe gazing out of the window wondering what people are doing in the towns below as they go about their daily business oblivious to you above them. All in all I felt much more at one with the world when I walked out of the Shard and into Borough market having my senses tantalised at every turn.

Now on the flip side to this is the Cube, the squat building more or less hidden out of the way. It is a lot smaller than the Shard, less important yet quietly getting on with things. I really enjoyed it! I had a meal and gazed out of the windows feeling more connected with the surroundings and far more interested in the landscape even if it didn’t have panoramic views of the most famous buildings in the country at its feet.

This now moves me on nicely to my search for a studio space, you see, I don’t need a Shard I need a Cube.. I need the interesting, quiet unassuming not the clinical and soulless. The quest continues to find my own Cube at a price that is affordable and where I feel the building lends itself to the process of being creative.

Needless to say I’m still looking, I have finished my 3rd blog and my feet are firmly back on the ground.

View from the window of the Cube (taken with a fuji x100, you can see more of my photography here or be social here


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London The Shard, Borough Market and the Tate Modern

The Shard a skyscraper in London opened its doors to viewing from the 72nd floor, so I picked up my Fuji X100 and recorded the trip across London to the Shard, the view, Borough Market and the Tate Modern.

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Location location location


1) Natural light with a large window or two

2) Walls: brick, plastered, broken plaster I really don’t mind but I need a wall as long as isn’t some wacky colour

3) Space: I need some not a great deal but more than enough to swing a cat

4) Floor: I really need one of these, preferably one that hasn’t got nails, broken glass, rat droppings or so much rubbish on it I need a skip (please see “space” above)

The Person:

Photographer, owner of Vandal Red Label photography, middle aged, should know better, never learns, likes the world to know, self opinionated, nice guy from Birmingham (UK)


Now I’m not an overly fussy person as you can see from my requirements, I’m an optimist in fact! Optimist! Well I was until I started to look for a suitable location to shoot with the above requirements, they dont exist you see, well that is a lie they do but I just don’t know where for less than £500 for a days hire…..

Now £500+ for a days hire is great when you have a corporate budget but not so great when you only have your own budget for a portfolio update or two. My last shoot at the weekend (see image below) offered plenty of promise, the building was old and full of character and more floor space than you could shake a stick at, it was such a shame that the floor space was occupied by the worlds supply of bric a brac. I struggled to get the shots I really wanted but hey we soldiered on and muddled something together, how I really don’t know! I walked out of there freezing, the model had goose bumps on top of goose bumps and my kit was so dusty I’m scared to change a lens until I’m ready to clean the sensor tomorrow.


Today however I have decided to search in earnest for that elusive shooting nirvana as described above in the requirements. I will find it I know I will and I’m sure along the way I will have a story or two to tell hence the start of this blog, a record of triumph or disappointment only time will tell.

This blog isn’t going to be restricted to property searches I will blog about the shoots I have along the way too, oh, and some of the things that really get my back up in the world of photography! I am going to have a little bet with myself that if I get a reader following this blog they will enjoy my ranting far more than the property search.

Well that’s it for now, a very slow and steady step into blogging the world of Vandal red label photography and all the wonderful things that happen in the background.

If you are interested in the shoot from the weekend you can see the shots here (the album with the blue cover shot)

Last thing, if you would like to stop this blog at anytime or are simply a good Samaritan and already know my shooting nirvana exists and would like to share, please get in touch!

Ta ta for now


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