Nothing great comes easy. I rarely want to drag myself out of bed early on my days off, especially if it's a cold, frosty December morning. But how I was rewarded!
The sunrise over Caldecotte Lake that morning was magnificent. While our fingers and toes froze, my dad and I watched a golden Milton Keynes unfurl in front of the drone's camera. Aside from the swans and a single kayak on the lake, it felt like we were watching the whole town awake.
Thank you very much to the enchanting photographer Ana Isabel for inviting me to join her Swan Princess shoot, where she'd brought together some amazing people and props from across the world, to build the most magical scenes. Please go and check out her incredible photography from the shoot on her Facebook Page! After I assisted, Ana was gracious enough to allow me to grab a few frames at the end, which I'm delighted to show below.
Now sit back and relax. I'm going to tell you the (shortened) Russian story of the Swan Princess, written by Alexander Pushkin.
Long ago in a faraway kingdom, there were three sisters. Tsar Saltan, ruler of the kingdom, fell in love with the youngest and became married, ordering the other sisters to be his royal cook and weaver. When he went off to war, his wife (the tsaritsa) gave birth to a son named Gvidon. The slighted sisters were jealous. By fooling and intercepting messages from the Tsar, the sisters arranged for the tsartisa and child to be sealed in a barrel and thrown into the sea.
The sea takes pity on them, with the child growing strength by the minute. They wash up on the remote island of Buyan, where the boy soon goes hunting with a bow. He saves the life of an enchanted swan from a black hawk, who tells him she is forever indebted to him. The next morning the boy and his mother awoke to a wondrous city where he was proclaimed Prince.
A merchant ship from Tsar Saltan's kingdom arrives one day, whom Gvidon gladly hosts. With the swan's magic transforming him into a mosquito, the homesick prince hides on the returning ship. His aunts ridicule the sailor's praise of Gvidon's realm, dissuading the Tsar from visiting with the promise of a squirrel that sits under a fir tree, cracking golden nuts containing kernels of pure emerald and singing a song. Gvidon stings his aunt's left eye and returns to his realm, where the swan produces such a squirrel.
A second ship arrives later and returns to the Tsar's kingdom, stowing Gvidon as a fly and full of wonder about this squirrel. The aunts again ridicule the sailors claims, regaling the Tsar about 33 handsome knights, led by old Cheronomor, rising from the raging sea. Gvidon stings his aunt's right eye and returns to his realm, where the swan reveals these knights are her brothers and that they will guard his city from now on.
A third ship arrives some time later, returning with Gvidon as a bumblebee hidden within its mast. The aunts belittle the sailors marvels and tell the Tsar of a princess whose beauty outshines the light of day with a voice like music of a stream. Gvidon stings his aunt's nose and returns to his realm, where the swan reveals herself to be this beautiful woman with a flap of her wings. Gvidon and the woman were married that evening.
A fourth ship arrives, but Gvidon does not leave with it. He is happy with his new bride, but extends an invitation to the Tsar. Upon hearing the sailors latest tale, the Tsar ignores the aunts and immediately sets sail. He is welcomed to the island by Gvidon, his bride and all the wonders he had heard about. It is then he sees and embraces his long-lost wife and realises the Prince is his son. A merry feast was held and the aunts were set free.
Tsar Saltan and his queen, and Prince Gvidon and his swan princess lived out the rest of their days in happiness.
I wrote this shortened story of the Swan Princess with help from the retelling on Russian-crafts.com, and the original poem on Marxists.org. I originally heard the story on the fantastic Mythpodcast.com. Check out the longer versions if you liked it!
Don't forget to check out Ana's photography from the shoot on her Facebook page!
Model & Styling - Mary Jane.
Photo - Matthew Thompson.
Place - London
I'm addicted to seeing, learning and trying new things. That's what the human experience is about right? When I saw Russian photographer Ivan Gorokhov was coming to London to give a workshop, I jumped at the chance to join and see how he creates his unique style. It's not a style that comes naturally to me and I was looking forward to being challenged.
Six of us met Ivan and Mary at a hotel in south London. My extremely elementary Russian language skills were quickly put to the test when a translator failed to show, and its safe to say I failed miserably. Luckily Mary bridged the gap and we were soon all crammed into a small hotel room. Ivan showed us how to experiment with all kinds of light and posing in the bedroom and bathroom. Soon we were battling our way through the infamous London traffic to Hyde Park where we shot around the gardens until after the sun went down. It was fascinating to watch Ivan work, especially when he took us through his post-processing techniques the next day. Seeing his techniques differ only slightly to mine was enlightening, and demonstrated just how important artistic vision is in the final shot. Take a look at Ivan's work here, and see how my work compares below.
More photographs from this session coming soon.
Model - Kristina Nikitina.
Photography - Matthew Thompson.
Location - Ziggy Beach, Mexico.
Sigma 85mm f1.4
Willen Lake is just one of Milton Keyne's many oases in the city, and doesn't compromise on tranquillity. The Northern side of the lake, shown here, is home to the first Peace Pagoda built in the Western world. It was built by the the monks and nuns of the Nipponzan Myohoji as a symbol of world brotherhood. A beautiful Labyrinth is settled into the slopes nearby, overlooking the lake which is home to a huge variety of bird species. A myriad of adventure is found just across the bridge on the south side, including cable-tow waterskiing, sailing, and high-rope courses.
Photographed with DJI Inspire 1 X3.
Model - Kristina Nikitina.
Photography - Matthew Thompson.
Location - Cafe Del Mar, Malta.
Nikon D750 + Sigma 35mm ART
Outex Underwater Housing
Adobe Photoshop + Alienskin Exposure 7
Last week I was kindly invited to watch the Circus Zyair. And it was spectacular!
My recent photographs of Campbell Park in The Heart of Milton Keynes caught the eye of the circus, and I couldn't pass up the offer of watching the show and taking some more. I couldn't resist bringing the drone to capture some spectacular aerial night shots of the tent, complete with Xscape, the Theatre and central Milton Keynes in the background.
I were blown away by the show, and wholeheartedly recommend it! From the death defying stunts, to immense skill on show, and the first funny clown we've seen in a very long time, it was a tremendously fun and memorable evening.
Photographed using Nikon D750 and Inspire 1 X3.
Behind the scenes
Once the fantastic show finished, we were all too pleased to give the performers a show of our own. After gathering permissions from Circus Zyair and The Parks Trust, we were clear to take some night photographs of the tent. As the mercury dropped and our toes froze, the performers huddled around us and the remote screen to watch the aerial perspective of their illuminated tent. Considering the temperature, wind and 1-3 second exposures, we were all very impressed with the results.
I was so psyched about our first flight in Campbell Park yesterday morning.
Finally, I was photographing my hometown - Milton Keynes.
Having not flown in months for a variety of reasons, most usually the weather, I was stoked to see such a beautiful morning. The diffuse clouds burnt the sunlight across the sky, blanketing the heart of Milton Keynes in a stunning golden glow. The park was deserted besides some grazing sheep and the occasional jogger. It was bliss.