Friday, 21 April 2017


This has been a long time coming.

After a lot of self reflection on my photography along with some changes in my non-photographic life, Pete and I have decided to part ways.  Not as brothers obviously, he is stuck with me on that for a while yet, but as partners in  It is a mutual decision, but primarily driven by my decision to step away from photography for a while.

My interest in photography really started in 2005 after being asked by a work client to take some photos for use in a display at a public exhibition.  Thankfully, Pete had just made the transition from film to a Canon 350D so I had the perfect opportunity to steal his kit to get the shots needed.  Since then I built my own collection which evolved from a Canon 40D, to the lovely 5D Mark 2 with a strong collection of L series lenses (lens addiction!). In 2014, I took what felt like a slightly dramatic decision to change from Canon and I have been shooting with the fantastic Fuji XT-1 since which, for a while, helped me re-find the passion for craft of photography which I hadn't noticed I had lost.

From that first exhibition, photography was the spark that made me want to learn more about the ecology of the natural world, be it birds, bugs, toadstools, the local landscape or the coast. It helped that my day job over the years has involved designing coastal defences, assessing coastal process and, most recently, bringing water and ecology back into developments through the use of Sustainable Drainage which reinforced an appreciation of the world and its natural process.

As a result I realise that I have always seen the camera, and in some respects Photography itself, as more of a tool that helps me learn and get close to the things that are now fascinating me and ultimately I feel like the style of my photography over the last few years hasn't actually reflected the way I wanted it to go.

Whats next?  

For the site? Over the next couple of weeks the website, facebook page, twitter and Instagram feed will change to  Pete has been driving the page for a while and johnsbrothers has been a brilliant springboard to push his photography to another level.  I'll still be in the background, cheering him on, but everything on the site from now on will be his work.

For me?  The kit has gone and I now have have some refocusing to do (laugh) and maybe at some point I will dip my toe back into photography. For now I will be concentrating on other things, probably on a bike somewhere. I will still be on instagram though (@andyjohnsphoto).

Thanks for everything


Friday, 6 January 2017

Andy's top ten of 2016

Echoing what Pete said in his list, 2016 was a strange year photography wise, not least because it has ended with Pete actually writing a blog!  Obviously the highlight was setting up Johnsbrothers photography, but there were some great photo trips and moments as well.

For me, the year was a continued period of reflection on my photography and coincided with a change in style/taste.  It has resulted in a conflict over what I shoot and what I like, and subsequently a  number of failed trips out with the camera, although it turns out some of my failures are actually in my favorites even if they didn't make it to the website.

I'm also getting more and more frustrated/angry with some so called landscape photographers seemingly being happy to damage the very landscapes they are recording all in the name of 'getting the shot'.  Its probably a mid life crisis, but the well documented incidents at Yellowstone park (US), Cape Kiwanda and the Racetrack Playa in Death Valley to name a few (not all were photographers to be fair) are clearly unacceptable, but seemingly lesser incidents like climbing over the fencing onto the protected grass areas at Durdle Door shouldn't be happening in order to preserve the vulnerable locations landscape photographers are lining up to shoot.  

This extends to competition organisers as well.  The winner of the RedBull Illume competition (Materpiece catagory) was this shot, which is stunning.  I admit that I don't know the background to the shot but the Rakotzbrücke Devil's Bridge is somewhere that can still be viewed from the park, but crossing what is generally described as an 'aging relic' is prohibited in order to preserve it. There has to be some responsibility on the organisers to discount images that are encouraging photographers to act in this way? Probably one for a future discussion.

Rant over!

Below are my 10 favorite shots from 2016:

1. The Cobb, Lyme Regis

The Old Cobb

The shot that started it all and not original in any way.  A cold, overcast, slightly disappointing early morning trip which concluded with Johns Brothers Photography actually being started.
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2. Misty


A change of style for me that I liked.  A bit more photoshopery than I would usually do (the glow from the house is massively enhanced, but the edit allowed the shot to reflect the feel of the night better than it did straight out of the camera.  Ultimately it was dark, cold and damp and the house was really inviting.
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3. Misty lane

One that hasn't ever been published due to it not really fitting with the site (and not really being very good).  This was taken on the same night as the shot above.  The mist hanging in the lane was remarkably spooky, almost felt like an old Hammer Horror scene!

4. Burrow Mump Sunset

Burrow Mump sunset

Probably the luckiest, unplanned shot I have ever taken.  The location was one I had on my list as somewhere I could get you quickly from work in an evening, although on this occasion I was on the way back from a meeting in Worcester but because the traffic had been so bad I decided to take the back route home.  The weather had been pretty rubbish all of the way back but I figured I would stop here to relax before getting home.  I had never considered that the sun would set behind the ruined castle.  Unplanned result!
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5. Glastonbury Mist #1

Calm Somerset

A simple, classic shot that helps explain why I love Somerset.  It is also because my favourite shoots tend to be the early morning ones, when you stand on a hill at 5 in the morning wondering what on earth you are doing.  I went to work after this, I was shattered!
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6. Glastonbury mist #2

Glastonbury Tor
A simple, classic clean shot of Glastonbury Tor rising out of the mist.

7. New Bridge, Dartmoor

New Bridge, Dartmoor

Another unplanned shot, and the only one I have ever completed in my suit and tie!  When driving to meetings I often throw the camera bag in the car 'just in case'.  Normally I am too late leaving to get anywhere in time before the light fades, or my brain is fried, but on this occasion it all worked out.  I couldn't make it onto the moor itself, but the River Dart seemed a decent location.  The fisherman under the bridge (who gave me very funny looks as he walked past) made this shot for me.
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8. Cheddar Gorge

Probably the biggest failure I have had with the camera, including the occasions where I have forgotten filters or tripod plates.  The sun was really bright and to try and control the exposure it seemed essential to use filters.  Unfortunately, the filters were the cause of the sunflare that can be seen in the shot because I didn't consider what happens when light hits the top of the filter.  The bright sun meant I didn't spot the flare until I downloaded the images later and I haven't been able to fix it resulting in every shot being rejected.

To be fair, it was REALLY high and I spent a surprising amount of time holding on to my tripod controlling my breathing and trying to stop my legs from turning to jelly (weird feeling) so my thoughts weren't exactly clear.  I also laughed, a lot.  It is always funny heading out with my mate Ian Lewis, but being in a situation where both of us were too scared to move was brilliant, and hence why this was one of my favourite shots of the year.
That's us scarily close to the edge (although looking back at the camera and seeing just how precarious it was setup was probably the worst bit).
9.  Waaaaave...

It wouldn't be right to not have a Lilstock shot up here.  I think this was my first trip out in the year, it was certainly my first wet feet!
This was actually the first proper trip with the XT-1 after the Cobb.  I had shot other things, including Crufts, but it was good to get back to the sea.

10. And Finally....
Not a photo, but look at those ears! 
If the video doesn't work (mobiles seem to have an issue, then go here.
Me on instagram
Johns Brothers on instagram

Saturday, 31 December 2016

Pete's top ten of 2016

It's been a strange old year. Nothing quite went as expected, both globally of course but also closer to home as I spent a large chunk of the year off work and unable to get out and about. On a positive note though we did manage to launch the website Andy and I had talked about several times in the past and, having only got into landscape photography properly in November 2015, I've managed to stay positive and enthusiastic about the hobby throughout the year. No sign of slowing down either, with more trips being planned and of course even more equipment being purchased. Plus I seem to be back to good health again so onwards and upwards!

I've got a good feeling about 2017, but for now here's a quick look back to ten of my favourite shots of 2016 (in no particular order!).

Trevose Head Lighthouse: 21/10/2016
Trevose Head Lighthouse
A surprisingly successful trip down to Cornwall for a few days, where both myself and friend Ian Pain outdid ourselves with how well we had organised everything! We did several coastal locations but I think this is my favourite.
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Lizard Point Sunrise: 21/10/2016
Lizard Point sunrise
A location I struggled with for quite a while as to get a good angle you've got to get closer to the edge than I was willing to get, but this just about works for me. The sunbeams from the lovely sunrise made this shot a keeper.
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On top of the world: 30/12/2016
Top of the World
My last photo of 2016, taken on a particular foggy day around Devon. I've seen this view multiple times over the years but never tried a photo, on this day I got quite lucky with the conditions! About ten minutes after taking this shot, Dartmoor was lost from view.
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River Teign: 05/11/2016

River Teign

Three visit to the same locations in three weeks, attempting to get these lovely colours at their best. It's another well-trodden photographic path but the appeal of the location is far too good to ignore.
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Milky Way over Exmouth: 07/08/2016
Milky Way over Exmouth
Ever since I saw the incredible images by photographer Mark Gee part way through 2015 I've wanted to give astrophotography a go. I've been out in the dark at ungodly hours on several occasions in 2016, and whilst this is not my favourite nighttime photo of 2016, it is the best shot of the Milky Way I've tried so far. Plus I like the fact it was taken from my hometown in Exmouth!
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Wimbleball Lake: 24/05/2016
Wimbleball Lake
A trip to Exmoor during May that I found hard going, but I came away with a few shots I was happy with. This is probably my favourite, one very tranquil morning at Wimbleball Lake.
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Djupalonssandur: 10/02/2016
As with most coastal shoots I've done, I left this place with wet feet.
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Road Trippin': 12/02/2016
Road Trippin'
My first real view of the Northern Lights didn't disappoint. This evening was something else to behold, with the lights getting more and more dramatic as the hours past. This was just the start of the light show, a few hours after this the entire sky was dancing with a fantastic multi-coloured display. It was truly the most incredible sight I've ever seen. Andy keeps telling me I need to write a blog-post about Iceland as I have hundreds of never-shown before images, I'll get around to it one day!
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Vatnajökulsþjóðgarður Ice cave: 14/02/16
Vatnajökulsþjóðgarður Ice cave
In an outstanding trip across Iceland earlier this year, the visit to this Ice Cave was the highlight. To get the opportunity to visit such a remote place without any tourists getting in the way, and to get a nice sunset like this, was a really great moment. Later on the same day I took the following photo, making it probably the single most productive photographic day I've ever had...
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The Northern Lights: 14/02/2016
The Northern Lights
I have to be honest, I love this photo. I'm an awful critic of my own photos but I'm really proud of this one, in fact it's printed and framed and hanging on the wall as I type these words. It's only the second picture of my own I've liked enough to hang on a wall!
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Monday, 10 October 2016

Johns Brothers. Not bloggers

OK, we admit it. Neither of us are especially good at updating this blog page.  We do actually have a plan; if anyone could see the list of subject titles sat in the blogs 'to do' list they would be pretty impressed/worried for our sanity!

One of the reasons we formed Johns Brothers.Photography was partly because, over the years, we noticed that one of us would be very actively shooting, while the other would be a bit quiet.  The theory of this site was to try and have more regular updates from one or the other of us.  Plus, seeing your brother posting more than you is a real motivator...

Unfortionaly, due to poor health and serious stress levels at both of our work places over the last six months, we have both struggled with finding the time to get out, and so this blog has been a bit of a low priority.

Hopefully, things will change soon, so please keep checking.  We will obviously post any updates on whatever social media happens to be available at the time we get around to it.  

New photos posted on the main site tend to get their own announcement.

Andy and Pete.

Monday, 11 July 2016

Johns Brothers. RAW makes you lazy

"Shooting RAW makes you lazy."       gasp!

There, I have said it and even made it bold and slightly larger text to make it stand out.  Why do I think that when everywhere you look online or in magazines states that you should aim to shoot RAW?

It’s it probably worth starting with a little summary of a RAW file before I go and say anything else.  Having said that, what is the point of Wikipedia if not for shameless links to save writing lots of text?  

Shameless Wiki link to explain RAW files:

Alternatively, here is a basic summary of RAW files for those who don't want to leave...

"Raw image files are sometimes called digital negatives, as they fulfil the same role as negatives in film photography: that is, the negative is not directly usable as an image, but has all of the information needed to create an image...Like a photographic negative, a raw digital image may have a wider dynamic range or colour gamut than the eventual final image format, and it preserves most of the information of the captured image" (copied from the wiki page).

Back?  Good.

This post is actually a reaction to a starting to shoot film a while ago, and more recently my change to the fuji system which renders jpegs much better than the Canons. 

It started as a feeling that digital makes things a bit too...easy.  

With traditional film (and I am ignoring self-developing of film in this) or jpeg, you shoot a frame and get a photo that represents the exposure and white balance you set in the camera.  That is it, no going back.  What that does is make you look at the results in a slightly different way (which I think will be the subject of a different post), but also gets you actively thinking about settings, light, weird objects within the frame etc.  Ultimately, it slows you down and makes you think about what you are doing because you don’t have instant feedback, and every frame has a direct financial cost.  Individual frames become very deliberate and planned.

Shooting digital in itself, even with jpegs, removes a significant amount of risk from a shot purely from the fact that any mistakes can be instantly seen and then you re-shoot. Also, ISO is really not a concern anymore with modern sensors (although you are fixed by the sensitivity of the film you choose so there is an argument that digital can actually be more complicated ...).  With RAW you get the added benefit that you don't really need to think about nailing the exposure because of the extra latitude in fixing things in Photoshop, and of course, white balance is an easy change of a preset.  Frames become disposable and risk having no meaning.

The benefits that RAW brings are important, and when I discovered photography I was told that I should be shooting RAW and considering one of my ‘skills’ is that I don’t get daunted by the technical stuff (rubbish super power!) I figured I would jump straight in.  That means my shooting style from the start has developed based on the flexibility of the format.  Fundamentally, there is nothing wrong with that, but after picking up my first roll of newly developed film and being surprised by the results, I realised that the flexibility has meant I had stopped checking my settings before pressing the shutter, safe in the knowledge that, in terms of exposure, I don't really have to worry, and that is a bad habit to get into. Admittedly the laziness only applies to the more candid side of my work, when shooting a landscape I tend to shoot in manual so I am forced to check everything regardless.

I am not suggesting that shooting RAW is wrong, what all of the above means is that when starting out concentrate on the photography, not the amazing things you can do and get away with when using digital.  I guess one question is why I don’t suggest learning with film, which would remove all crutches.  The reason is that the instant feedback of digital is also the main thing that makes photography accessible and its importance should not be underestimated.  Film is great fun, satisfying and the tones and grading between colour are just amazing, but shooting a roll over a couple of weeks, then waiting a week for it to be developed is not a great/easy way to learn from mistakes unless you are really good at keeping notes.

This isn't about not shooting in RAW, it isn't really even a criticism of its use.  The quality and even the flexibility gains are too important to pass up, but I stand by the above. If you are starting out, ignore the comments that state you should shoot RAW, there are significantly more useful things you can learn before you get to that point.  The RAW format shouldn't be seen as a safety net, it should be the way to get the best quality possible and its flexibility should be used to your advantage (exposing to the right for example). 

Get it right in camera, then use RAW to make it better. 

A random photo I happened to take the other day.  

Monday, 6 June 2016

Johns Brothers. The Cobb

28th February. A Sunday. Last night, it seemed like a good idea.

The wine probably helped.

At 5am on a Sunday, getting up for the sunrise suddenly does not seem like such a good idea. 

The wine is...regrettable.

Our chosen location is Lyme Regis, a not-too-far-away coastal resort town and one that has been on the list for ages, but I've rarely visited. On this cold February morning, however, all I can think of are two things - coffee and bacon.

Andy supplied the coffee. Bacon would have to come later. We arrive at the famous Cobb, a breakwater dating back hundreds of years described by Andy as a race track, due to its glorious banking, sweeping bends. The Cobb has been shot thousands of times of course, but we thought we'd give it a go. This would be the first time we've been out shooting together for ages....years in fact. It was nice to just get out and talk rubbish about cameras.

We were totally unprepared for just how cold the morning would be, and within twenty minutes we were both frozen and again questioning our life decisions. Not even Iceland was this cold. But we persisted, at least for a little while, knowing that this much effort on a cold Sunday morning would be rewarded.

As it happens, the sunrise was flat and lifeless and there was no real reward, but if every trip was a success that would take the fun out of things. Right?

Then we went home, had coffee and a bacon sandwich, and decided to form this website. 

True story.

Andy and Pete

Pete's shot

Andy's shot

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Johns Brothers. Welcome

We've talked about doing this for a few years and now we've finally done it. The website represents literally hundreds of hours worth of work, much of it stood outside in the cold waiting for the right conditions and recently sat in front of a computer screen wondering how to actually build a website.
We got there in the end, and we're proud of the end result.

Feel free to have a look through our galleries and we've love to hear what you think. If you like what you see please help spread the word by sharing and liking this page.

You can also follow us on Facebook or Twitter (@Johnsbro_photo), and we also use Instagram (johnsbrothers2529) for behind the scenes things.

Thank you for looking.  Any feedback is appreciated!

Andy and Pete