LRPS Success

The nail biting is over and the frayed nerves are getting back to normal and I’m happy to report that I got my LRPS.

For those who haven’t been keeping up with my increasingly neurotic blog posts, I’ll explain, but before I do here is my hanging plan and my panel.

Mark Lanigan LRPS Hanging Plan

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For non-photographers, the LRPS is the Licentiateship of the Royal Photographic Society. The first of three distinctions they award. It involves submitting a panel of ten images, and five judges critique it and decide whether it’s good enough.

To save you digging through all the old blog posts here is my story in the form of the ten stages I went through to get my LRPS.

1. Take some photographs, preferably thousands. Can be over a weekend or 15 years.
2. Select 50 or 60 that you think meet the criteria the RPS sets, see link
3. Print these at 6″x4 “and drive your wife mad covering the house with them
4. Select 10 that are perfect, lay them out in a hanging plan. then throw them away.
5. Select another 10 that are even better and loving print and mount them at the display size you’ve chosen . Realise your printer is total rubbish, throw away the prints , then send the files to a bureau and then mount the new ones instead.
6. Take your 10 babies to an RPS Advisory Day and be prepared to have the printing, mounting and composition ‘constructively critiqued’.
7. Return home despondent, vow to give up photography and swear that print bureaus are the spawn of Satan. Then spend £400 on a printer and some new paper.
8. Reprint everything plus another ten just in case. Mount everything.
9. Lovingly layout your prints on the dining room table and rearrange and swap them until you run out of time and/or a divorce lawyer calls every hour citing neglect.
10. Drive down to Bath convinced that yours will be the worst panel on the day.

So, in the end. I was successful but what tips can I pass on?

– Print lots of 6″x4″ images. You can’t do a panel on screen in the early stages
– Select images that work together not your ten best images.Your top ten undoubtedly won’t work together as a coherent panel.
– Discard anything with blown highlights. I mean this.
– Don’t choose your latest shots. The judges won’t know. One of mine was nine years old.
– Change your mind and then change it again. Only 2 of my original 10 made it to the final panel.
– Get fanatical about blown highlights. The judges will fail you in a heartbeat for these. Don’t think they won’t notice as they view the images from 6″ away.
– Follow the rules of panel building e.g pairs, ends, central shots etc. The Advisory Day and RPS Forum are great places to learn about this. The judges look for these. Avant garde panels do get through but they are Marmite, so why take the risk.- Attend an Advisory Day. It is worth it in spades even if like me your prints were ripped apart for poor printing.
– Post ideas on the RPS forum and you’ll get useful, constructive criticism.
– Don’t worry about sleepless nights. I woke at at 2am convinced that one shot was out of focus. It wasn’t thankfully…but I still checked.
Every print counts. Be obsessional about quality. One technical issue is a re-submission, two is a fail. And have I mentioned blown highlights?
– Prepare well in advance but check your submission. The day before my Assessment Day, I realised that one print was crooked in the mount.
– Then shut your print box and you’re off to Bath. Allow plenty of time as parking is dreadful.

So that’s it. The day was a blur but I walked away successful. They even asked to keep back my panel to show at RPS Advisory Days over the coming months which was the icing on the cake.

So now it’s time to hang up the camera for a few days and sit back and think of nothing photographic. Well I might just have a gentle read of the submission guidelines for an ARPS……

Why hospitals are becoming like airports

ronaldI was recently visiting someone at Southampton General and it struck me that your average teaching hospital and small regional airport are becoming almost identical in terms of visitor attractions. As you walk through the main arrivals ‘lounge’ you bump into Costa Coffee, WH Smiths and most bizarrely of all Burger King. Nothing says ‘Hope you get over your bypass Dad’ like a quarter pounder with cheese.

So it got me thinking about why should a modern hospital be catering to the same behavioral mindset as an airport? The first reason is that the public, whether holiday makers of hospital visitors will eat gummy bears, slurp Venti Grande lattes and gobble burgers at anytime of the day or night irrespective of context.

“I hope Gran recovers from her stroke”

“Don’t worry son have a caramel frappucino”

“Dad, what is a prolapsed rectum?”

“I’ll tell you later son, when you’ve finished your burger”

“What is a colostomy bag Mum?”

“Do you want another Capri Sun, Tracy”

The second reason is because both hospitals and airports need to take your mind off the reality of what is happening behind the scenes. None of us really want to dwell on the dangers of air travel or hospital surgery so if we can hop ourselves up on sugar, fat and e-numbers we can fool our brains that everything will be alright.

What I particularly loved on my visit was trying to actually get some fresh fruit. Naturally you couldn’t buy any fruit in its natural state so the nearest I could find was a fairly disgusting fruit pot from Costa which I could then pick the bits out that looked half way reasonable.

So the next time you’re looking for a holiday experience without the need to book an expensive flight try your local hospital.

Second hand tourism and the rise of the selfie stick

SelfieOn a recent trip to Venice I noticed the staggering number of people using selfie sticks. These had become the top choice of must-buy Venice kitsch. Say no to plastic carnival masks or gondoliers’ hats and spend your hard-earned holiday money on an old car aerial with a clamp at the end.

As a keen photographer, I’m only too aware of the dangers of experiencing new places through the viewfinder and seeing the world in terms of exposure and composition rather than simply being there. But selfies mean that you don’t even look at the Grand Canal, Grand Canyon or Renaissance cathedral directly, you experience it with your back to the view you traveled all that way to see.

This led me to wonder of there was a new form of tour company that catered for people who wanted to go to a county but have second-hand experiences.

Welcome to Vicarious Tours. “We have the experience, so you don’t have to”

Vicarious Tours will be founded on the principal that getting to the place is tiring enough but having to actually listen to the concert, get up at sunrise or queue for the art gallery is actually a waste of your valuable time. So we’ll do it for you.

Here are some of the tour option.

Culture Vulture: You want to impress the folks back home that you actually saw all that art and culture rubbish, but need proof. We will lovingly Photoshop you into shots featuring the top three museums and against at least one world-class painting. In the evening we will attend a concert for you (please state preference classical/religious/ethnic) and take six minutes of shaky hand-held video on a camera phone. If you buy Culture Vulture Plus we’ll even write a Facebook post for you explaining what was played at the concert and how moving/crazy/magical/awesome it was (please state preference).

Food Lover: Let’s be frank most of the food abroad just isn’t McDonalds. In France they eat offal, in Japan poisonous fish and you don’t even want to think about rural Chinese food. So why not let Vicarious Tours have dinner for you. We’ll go to all of those restaurants the local visit and order the most weird and disgusting food imaginable and then photograph our plates. You can then tell your friends that you ate sweetbreads, Fugu and chicken embryo and have the shots to prove it. For our premium customers we’ll post on Instagram with a suitable caption. (No vegetarian option)


Vinophile Delux: As it’s a sunny day you’d rather to be sitting in a cafe having a beer but everyone says the wine here is great. So do you spend the afternoon in a cellar sipping indifferent wine? Why not let us do the tedious tasting for you. We’ll take various blurred shots of wine labels and even put two bottles of undrinkable local plonk in your suitcase to take home and bore your friends with.

Lazy Boy Special: You’re on a cruise and arrive in a port at 6am. Do you really want to get up, disembark, get on a coach with similarly jaded,fellow shipmates only to be carted off to a series of whistle stop photo opportunities at the local ruins. Of course you don’t. You can have a lie-in, gorge yourself once again on the lunchtime buffet and have a well earned afternoon nap knowing that the crack team from Vicarious Tours is doing all the hard work. We’ll take the tour for you and upload pictures to your phone (password required). Package includes  a set of ten images of you and your partner lovingly Photoshopped into the most popular sites. It’s just like being there!

So there we have it. Vicarious Tours will make even the selfie sick redundant and I can get back to looking at the world through my viewfinder.

New and shiny isn’t always better. Moving from Squarespace to WordPress

Old_siteI’ve been with Squarespace as my blogging platform for many years and they did a great job. Fantastic templates and a solid publishing platform. That is until they updated to version six. Then everything became that little bit harder.

Photo galleries were always a pain and a lack of widgets and a very counter intuitive editor left me frustrated. Add to this an unusable mobile app on Android and it was time to say goodbye.

So why WordPress? I’ve built seven websites using either or in the last five years. Sure they are not quite as beautiful as Squarespace but they are fast and free and I’m afraid that trumps pretty and hard in my book.

I’m not just a cheapskate but $96 a year is hard to justify for the aesthetic advantages alone.

Does yourself find this awesome?


I happily accept that language is an organic and evolving thing; that’s why we don’t say five and twenty to five for 4.35 any more. I like ‘my bad’ and I can tolerate the odd street speak without being violently ill. But two phrases have been cropping up in my life that drive me into a, foam-at-the-mouth, rage.

The first is the use of yourself in place of you. “Is there anything else yourself would like with that washing machine?”. “Would yourself like extended insurance”. No, the only bloody thing I’d like Mr Illiterate Call Centre person is for you to use the English language properly. It is like a knife stuck in my ribs and the next person who does it will be forced to sing the following Stevie Wonder song….after I’ve explained who Stevie Wonder is.

Yourself are the sunshine of myself life
That’s why I’ll always be around, 
Yourself are the apple of myself eye, 
Forever yourself’ll stay in myself heart 

The next one is AWESOME (always over emphasised). This is a hideous Americanism and actually means cool or excellent. However, it is used as an equivalent of a pause. US radio journalists will listen to a three minute opinion piece on net neutrality, the abolition of female circumcision or particle physics and with nothing to say just spout out…. awesome.

Speaker “…so in conclusion my belief is that if the funding for the LHC is approved we can reduce global warming and provide food and water to 90% of the starving world and it will cost 1% of GDP for most developed nations”

Presenter “………….AWESOME”

Awesome should be reserved for things like fill you with awe, like the birth of your first child, a stunning sunset or Zeus flinging thunderbolts from Mount Olympus. Not some app for your smartphone that makes fart sounds.

Three days in Venice

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After the rigours of Northumberland I thought I’d have a relaxing time photographing on my own in Venice. I went with the idea of escaping the crowds and shooting at night and early in the morning and thought that much of what I’d do would be in mono. In the end it was a mixture of the two.

Venice is awash with tourists even before Easter but even so there were alleyways to explore. My only moments of buttock-clenching fear wasn’t pick pockets but wandering down alleyways in the pre-dawn and seeing the odd rat zoom past. Given their diet of Fegato alla Veneziana and Fettuccine Vongole they are the size of Dachshunds (well almost).

So here are a few of the best images


Landscapes in Nothumberland

These are some of the images I took at Bamburgh, Dunstanburgh and Lindisfarne castles. Gorgeous scenery and I managed to bag a few decent pictures.

Then onto Venice but those shots will available in a later post



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