Author Archives: darkhorsephotos

About darkhorsephotos

Experienced Qualified Professional Photographer, Ex Miltary Royal Navy 24 years B.A Honours 1st Class Hons Currently Building a business & home in Normandy France.

Update……   Eventually.  

After what has been a hell of a challenging few months and lots of changes in the place….

Time for an update…
The Gite Is active & has a few good bookings confirmed this year, June being fully booked…

But sadly May & July are quiet…   And the Tour De France is local for three days in July… Normandie will be absolutely bouncing wall to wall with Cyclists…


We have American, Canadian & Australian clients this year, so it seems the word of the Gite is spreading…

And returning clients from the UK too…  As well as some new Clients coming to experience the peaceful way of life & superb weather here in Normandie..


Lately it’s been all heavy physical work and most of it done only by myself….

The heaviest of that being the Joists put up onto the First Floor of what will eventually be Gite 2…

7meters in length by 225mm by 75mm ….. In pine..

I can thank Royal Navy Leadership Training & problem solving for the ability to get such monster ous joists in place by myself….

The images below are of the Gable end yet to be complete do…  It’s 12M by 7M by two stories….  The size of a semi detached house in the UK…

Yeah…. That IS the wife’s mini in the space that will be Gite 2….   Gives the sense of size…

We hope to have a good few more clients this year, and are looking to achieve the rest of the roof above the joists complete this year too ….

WE would love to have you over here as Clients & Guests to experience the fantastic way of life here…..

A pleasant surprise for the end of the year.

A long over due blog post…..

Was very pleasantly surprised when a former student posted an image of me and some very kind words posted on my personal facebook page, shared with my friends & it has been shown a lot of love by them.

Randall Hobbet
Randall’s personal website
Tumblr > well worth a look


” Sometimes a simple lighting check results in a great shot.
Just discovered this one hiding amongst the ~1800 images I took of Raphaella Mcnamara at Hallam Mill 15 months ago.

This is my friend Andy Milne who was instrumental in giving me my start in working with professional art models.
Andy introduced me to a number of the top UK models while my wife and I were living in Oslo, Norway and traveling frequently to the UK for pleasure.

Andy facilitated my first ever studio shoot in June of 2012 connecting me with incredibly lovely and sweet Ivory Flame, providing the lighting set-ups and coaching me on communicating with a model during a shoot.
You always remember your first time, right?!
Thank you so much Holly for such a memorable launch on this passion of mine.

Andy and I connected four times over the next year and a quarter in London and near Manchester for shoots before we repatriated to California in October 2013.
Now, this past year, the first full year back home in California, the world of model photography – dance, fashion, and art nude — has consumed much of my time and energy. I’ve done something like 37 arranged shoots and taken over 30,000 pictures in 2014 and am loving every bit of it.

Andy, thank you for giving me such a great start, and thanks too to all the models I have worked with – you all are so amazing and wonderful and beautiful.
I love you all! ”

Below are links to images of Randall’s from the tuition shoots.

Katy > Sculpted

Kayleigh Lush > Flowing Red

Ivory Flame > anonymous

And finally one from Manchester session at Hallam Mill, with the fantastic Raphaella McNamara


I am very pleased to have been a part of Randall’s journey & growth as a photographer.

Please DO go check out his Tumbr & Personal website….
The Dance Work & Art Nudes are fantastic.
Randall’s personal website
Tumblr > well worth a look

All images ARE Copyright of Randall Hobbet.
Some of my Favourites from his Tumblr account.

raphaella > window light


Kayla > Santa Cruz Beach

Lament for a Fallen Oak

And finally a reminder that Spring is coming.
Which is a call to arms for myself to get out & work this year.
Having found a few secluded & not so secluded locations in the past few months to shoot figures at.

Been a while…… Allegedly.

Yes, it’s been absolutely Ages…..
Way over due & needed.

There has been somewhat of a mad rush this last week to complete the basics of downstairs ( Gite 1 ).
Added to that has been a major milestone achieved.

A full electricity line established into the house, it’s only taken 13 THIRTEEN bloody long and awkward months to achieve, with what could only be considered a complete F#€k Up on the part of Sorapel / ERDF.

They arranged three Rendez-vous’s and only managed to keep the final one after a bit of much needed chucking the paddingtons out of the pram in a very heavy Scottish Accent complete with Scots Slang on the telephone.!!!!
Absolutely Ragin… Translates rather literally. Hahaha……

Anyway, they failed to turned up on day one, they cancelled visit two, they turned up after launching Paddingtons on day three…. BUT here’s the kicker, they brought the wrong cable & fuse, they brought a12KvA & 60Amp…!
To say they were a tad unhappy when I refused to sign their paperwork & then the Language Started….

And YES, the chap had spoken to me in English, he understood & knew exactly what was being said, even in my best pigeon French, with google translate .!!!!! But all of a sudden … Lo & behold, the chap suddenly knew nothing & was all ‘ I only speak French ‘ ……
I still didn’t sign the paperwork… !!

I ( WE ) had ordered, paid for the 36KvA Triphase option as 12KvA 60amps isn’t enough for the 600Msq place. 12 is the maximum MonoPhase & funnily enough the ‘ standard / Normal ‘ for a Maison ….
But this is not a normal Maison, which was obviously apparent when they turned up with the petite line.!!!
That line would just blow as soon as the three ovens ( 32amp ) each, the underfloor heating 6 x 16 amps, the three TV’s & associated boxes , the lights & plugs…!

Anyway, they turned up day after and fitted the correct line & box, so all is done…. For now…


Back to the changes downstairs….
Gite 1….

Was extremely happy to have my Father fly over from Edinburgh to Rennes, to help & advise me with other work that I need to get cracking on with.
AND to actually stick in place the two major double glazed doors that constitute the living room & bedroom 2 access.
They are 180 wide & 215 tall, around 130Kg each & expensive…
They needed specialist fitting, or more to the point, I didn’t quite have the trust in myself to fit them….

The fitting of them effectively made another milestone….
Another large piece of the house WATERPROOF.
The other four Oak framed 9 pane windows had been restored & reglazed, painted & were fitted.

Waterproof means the fitting in of the Electrics & associated bits n bobs, but we needed that mains line first before going live or installing any actual plug sockets etc…
Something to do with the Sparky & his insurance cover / legislation etc…

But that needed me to crack on with more PLASTERBOARD…:-(
Another 40 sheets of 2.5M x 1.2M each…
Ceilings, walls & a false bulkhead ( he couldn’t rout into the wall as it was steel reinforced ) and it wasn’t square which wouldn’t have made my hanging a kitchen unit off it any easier, so I stuck up a Framework and hid the cables….

One of the biggest things I had to do for the first time was put up the timber for the Ceiling framework, to take the plasterboard, there’s a set distance needed between each beam and it turns out my 60cm times table isn’t as acurate as it should be… 😦

You would think it’s simple wouldn’t you…
But the room wasn’t Square…. Doh…. The boards were square though…… And in order to keep it tidy ( military OCD had kicked in by then ) there was a tiny bit of reshuffling & creation going on…..

It’s up, hasn’t fallen down in a week , which gives me enough confidence to say it isn’t coming down anytime soon…. Lol…
It all needed Insulating & there wasn’t much room to do it… Lots of head banging & scratching & elbow bumping & cursing….
Luckily I didn’t have to use Laine de Verre, glass fibre, I used the Superquilt as it’s cheaper ‘ere than it is in the UK.
Still needed 100Msq though….

Think how big your living room is & compare sizes….

Somebody this week asked me online about Why I was using Timber and not Montant / Rail ( metal studding ) .?
It is a very reasonable question, some of it is down to Ease, and a lot of it down to practicality & expense.
It was nigh on impossible to get ‘ T ‘ bar rail ( roof studding ) to fix to the concrete lintels which form the first floor level, added to that, they wouldn’t take the weight of the plasterboard, the length required was 4.6M each, and were a damn size thinner to get in place so I could screw the plasterboard to space wise, which takes us back to my 60cm times table and non square room. !!!

And after such a mental week or two, I decided that Saturday was one to treat the pooch to a right damn fine romp along Utah Beach…. & a relaxing day off for me…
I slept for nearly 11 hours Saturday night / Sunday morning…
I must have needed it….

Finally…… Image heavy…. Bring on July…

A rather enjoyable afternoon taking images of the progress & editing them ready for web usage, as well as keeping the documentation of the Progress & changes…
I’m sure one fine evening in @ 5 years I’m going to go to the Big book shelf on the living room wall, lift off a Rather Large & Worthy Tome AND SMILE…

Managed to get through 73 frames with the D3s, and a wide angle… Well I wanted to see the place as a whole not have to piece together images like a jigsaw in PS just to understand ….

I guess we best start outside….;-)
Not much changed since December last year in reality, the place IS watertight, after the two minor leaks were remedied…
Above the Kitchen window is where the a Dog Leg starts, the tiles up there were double drilled to secure them to the roof batons, BUT only 1 screw was used to secure them.!! Added to that was the complication of the Dog Leg.
The Ridge tiles, didn’t quite cover the top row of tiles… Leaving the single drilled hole open to the rain… The water ran down inner membrane & onto the Velux gap… Now solved…. Silicone & a second screw…!

The other minor leak was also solved, with a bloody good coating of Bitumen & a stiff brush….!
Water was gaining access down the concrete by the Gable end. & dripping slowly on to the deck.. But oddly enough, it only happened when the East Wind was blowing the rain towards the back of the house..! ??

Anyway, having the roofspace open, was a bonus as the leaks did no damage & were found over time & cured… A positive thing…

Inside we go then… Lower level, Accom 1, living room > Dining room…
Dining room will be in the area where the bike is parked…
A big space, 7.5M long by 4.5M wide…
The west facing side will be very light & open… Where the image was taken from….



Off to the right in the first image you can see a doorway …
This will lead to Bedroom 1, accom 1. 4M long by 3.5M wide…
West facing window.


You can see through door to bedroom ( off the living room ) another doorway to the far side which will be Bedroom 2….
Again a light & open space… Bigger room 5M by 5M, with a separate doorway off to the Bathroom …
The black line on the floor will be a dividing wall between bed2 & Kitchen passageway.
YOU ARE VIEWING FROM THE BATHROOM DOORWAY, kitchen to the Immediate Left..


A superb bit of hand crafted skill from my Fathers hands….
A red pine Staircase, with twist…
Still covered in cardboard & tape to protect the treads until it’s all varnished & finished… It is a fantastic bit of skill & labour.
And on it… The Guardian of Her Domain…;-)
Though shalt not pass unless you have treats..!




The guest bedroom ( where I’m writing this from ) is at top of the stairs, west side, and you’ve seen that before… Besides it’s not Tidy…;-)
The same with the bathroom… Although it is now completely Plastered & ready for tiling & painting !!!
Shower ( Gucci one ) is working and the 3.6Bar pump is putting out a strong pressure…


The passageway ( 8Meters in length ) has three beams through it.. Entrance to kitchen & the Dining room opposite…
Both also finished ready for painting. & decorating…
Dining room on west side, kitchen east… Long thin kitchen, & Chauffe Eau room there too… Needs cupboard doors, but they are coming in July hopefully… Hopefully..

And onto the Living room… Le Sejour…. Grand Sejour….

7.5M across by 10M long. Huge… !!!
All lower walls plastered. & dry lined…
It SHOULD be said that my Eldest Nephew Paul Daglish did the dry lining , at my wife’s request, he would have skimmed it all… Even the awkward as hell sloping bits…!

You can see the rafters & beams, the OSB on the roof at the mo.
This week coming I will be insulating & cladding / strapping the inner roof… It’s 6M off the floor at central point…!
And YES… All that wood on show has indeed been coated & brushed with woodworm killer…! !!! A job that felt like painting the Forth Bridge…!!
In the first & third images, there is an unfinished Window Space…
This is a left over form the original building, & we are obliged to use it as it was a feature… Hopefully it will become a feature Stained Glass window at some point in the future, but tp it will forever be known as the Dog Window….:-) hahaha…






As you can see it’s a huge space…. !!

But finally… Arty stuff….
The bit that makes me Smile at the end of EVERY DAY HERE….
The house faces Due West…. !!!




Now that’s a VIEW…. !!!!!

Long over due….

Yes, a long while since I got the spare time to sit and think about another blog post.

To be fair , as far as the actual building process goes it’s all been very quiet…
Money has been the responsible for that….

The whole world is affected by Budgets, some work some don’t , but I have to make this one work…. There is no get out of jail card.
It’s all been manual labour tasks this past month, trying to clear the ” garden ” … It’s more of a Weedery than a garden…
And parts of that weedery are nearly five feet tall… !!!

The Strimmer is the weapon of choice to try and keep on top of the ones in front of the house.

More clearing of the accumulated soil on the hard stand close to the Studio Block, this has taken a long time owing to the shallow root system of the ivy / nettles / brambles & rat grass… But it’s getting there…

It may not look much in the image, but the bit that’s back to concrete hardstand is around 1000 Msq….. !!!!!

Other tasks > clearing the roof of the studio block…
Not quite as bad as I thought it might be, but still took two days…!



AND the clearing of the soil / root / weeds & stones ( bricks blocks & rubble ) from the front of the studio block, the bit that I need to extend the building to 8M wide. So I can put the new supports in place concreted / bolted to the existing wall..



Back breaking work… And in between all of this graft was D-day….!!!

Next blog post will be about the shots I achieved over that week..
In the mean time…
Take it easy… Put your feet up and enjoy the Sun …



Catch you on the Flip Side.

Long hard physical week…

What a week from hell, !!!!!

Lord knows, I’m not the biggest of lads, but jings…..!
My back & arms & shoulders are sore….. They know they lifted & shifted this week..

Firstly… Was the removal of the concrete / plaster from what will be a feature wall ( when my Darling Wife gets back from Foreign Duty with the MoD, she will be Re-pointing it, she doesn’t know this yet…:-) but hey Ho, it’s officially Decorating & that’s not my job …. Haha… )

Nice Pink Sandstone that needs a clean white finish repoint, but it’s gonna be awesome when done …

To say it was awkward to get off was an understatement..!!
It smashed the Chisel..! And caused me to batter my hand with the Mash a Hammer ..! Sore doesn’t cover that..!!!!! My language was somewhat Blue.!!


Next up was a nice delivery of tools from the UK, in that lot was a 9″ Grinder..
A heavy unit.. & a diamond blade to go with it…
5+Kg & my Arms & shoulders know it…!

It was to cut a new doorway between Living room & Kitchen ( giving access to the Bathroom ) in Gite 1… And to extend the doorways into the Bathroom & Bedroom 2…

Everything the other dude of that black line HAS to go… Big doorway, but it’s about potential wheelchair access & ease of movement..

To say it wasn’t easy is an understatement.!!!


You couldn’t see the thing to cut it from all the Dust.!!!!!!

I was whiter than a uniform at a KKK meeting.!!!!
Jings. It took me half an hour Walkies with pooch to clear most of the stuff off me, the wind doing a decent job of clearing my lungs..
Yes. I had PPE… I’m not daft…!



A start was made. & one of the other doorways extended.. & all cleared up this morning,
Ready for Monday’s revitalised efforts..!!!


Today is a rest day…
And I need it… Sore shoulders – arms – back & generally tired.. I slept till 10 this morning.. Even pooch didn’t wake me….!
8AM constitutional.!!!! Usually..

Oh and it’s Chelski v Scousers in 30 minutes…. SkyGo here We Come…..!!!
Oh & Pooch wants to Play ….


Best Light & planning for it. Studio = Exciting times.

Who would have thought that planning a simple open plan Box building to take photos in would be so complicated….?

Of course it would be… !!!

There are aspects of several places I want to take the best from & create THE BEST STUDIO IN NORTHERN EUROPE… !!!
Attracting TOP Photographers from all over to come Shoot here, Achieve here, Teach here & Love the place.

The Daylight of Hallam Mill, the Cove @ Pini’s Brent Cross, the Dark Room @ Contrast Glasgow.

20140409-093323.jpg image by me @ Hallam Mill, The Charming Miss Abbey Tagney, dancer extraordinaire.

20140409-093527.jpg image by me @ Pini’s, The Loveable Sisters, Rosie & Macie, having an absolute ball with fabric…:-)

Anna the Ballerina, @ Brent Cross, one exposure, one shot, one take….


And lastly some lightpainting in a DarkRoom.
Rebecca Leah, Professional Model.
Image By Miss Lisa Mason, credit where it’s due…..


I’m after the ” best possible light ” and that means dedicated areas of brightness & shade & fall off & directionality, variety, usability, uniqueness ( definitely a major point ) , blackout room, Make up Room, changing areas, Client reception / waiting room, windows , doors, access…..!!!
And they are just a few of the things on the list… !!!


A starting point had to be the actual layout of the building to be.
NOW, do I start from Roof down.? Or Ground floor up.? Or the Areas that I want & adapt the walls from there.?

Head scratching galore… I guess once I get started with the basics things will fall into place.

A box, yet because I’m wanting two storeys, there needs to be internal walls, or at least a pillar of support for the Floor joists. This is probably the cheaper more space conscious thinking.?

The above image is strong in the Thinking Process, added to that is this one..


The Studio block IS almost North / South in its layout, making the Aspects of it EAST / WEST… :-). Strongest Directional Light.
And I have to make best use of that fact with the shooting areas , at least on the upper floor…….



Something as simple as a Velux in the roof or a dedicated door facing east / west will give me entirely different results as seen above.

Cassie Jade, a model I know posted a Location image, somewhere she went for a shoot.
A disused Workshop / Industrial space, it featured a pair of long thin strips of windows in the roof.
A new bit of thinking.? Oh how the opportunities are there to be explored.!!!

Chiara Elizabeth, another model I know, posted another Location image & that also appealed to my sense of scene setting…



The second image is also something I want to be able to create in my Studio Space.

Everything IS DOABLE…. Just takes organising & thinking…:-)

Exciting Times Ahead I think…. 🙂

Plans & forward thinking…. Or thinking forward…?

At First glance it seems rather simple to stick up four walls & create something simple & habitable…

At first glance…… The key words…!!!!!!!

It’s that time of the month where the budget has been and gone, there’s waaaaaaaaaay too much month left at the end of the £>€ conversion rate….
And thinking has to be about controlling next months outgoings & workings….

I think the problem with any ” Creative ” process is having the experience to be able to Adapt & Change & Go with the Flow, making the best of circumstances & happenings…

Half Full, Never Half Empty has long been a saying I’ve thought of as being ” very me ” ….. And here comes the ‘ BUT ‘ …..

BUT I don’t quite have that experience to be spontaneous with building a house….
I have ( or feel I have enough ) skills to attempt most things, have enough understanding & brains to work out what’s what… Sometimes though you just need that ” confirmation ” from someone who’s been there & done it from being a 15 year old apprentice through to bring a Journeyman & then on to a Master of his trade….

In the previous career, I HAD to plan, HAD to organise, HAD & WANTED to lead by example, hell you can’t take a Nuclear Submarine to sea for Three Plus Months with no chance of a a Food Top Up, if you ran outta something you Ran out… The plan was to run out towards the end, but ….. Never the stuff the Skipper likes, not if you want to have a grumpy Old Man in Charge of 20,000 Tonnes & a whole lot of Nuclear Warheads…..
Ok, you’re gonna use it up at some stage, but there ARE things you don’t want to run out of….. coffee, sugar, milk….. Etc….
Best you hope it’s not the Bog Roll that runs out…!!! 🙂 What goes in must come out….. Hahaha……
I can already see Stevie Micallef & Jean Brodie muttering on about Vegetable Curries & using certain Veg..:-) haha…..

Anyway… Plans & First Glances…

The image is the Layout of Gite 1…. Approximately..!!
Big boxes = Rooms, small boxes = Doors, Red lines = Windows / external doors….! Simples…
Or not as the case may turn out to be …..


The thing is….. The walls are there, the floor is there, there’s a ceiling of sorts…. BUT…. ( we’re back at that word again ) what needs going in there is :- AND there’s the Women’s Perogative, the twenty years of ” oh, I wouldn’t have put that there !!!!! ” to consider ….. 🙂

Lighting… What / where / Spots – pendants.. Lamps…Wall mounted / roof mounted ?

Plugs… How many….? Where.?? This reflects on what kit is going where. TV etc….. Which is reflected in the position of the lighting.??? & the Heating….

Heating… Underfloor.??? Electric wall mounted radiators, wheeled plug in ones.???? gas fire.?? ( does that mean an external gas tank & Plumbed line in…???? Thermostats & wiring for them…??

Insulation….. Probably more important than you think … But it needs to go in DURING the process…

Kitchen…. Simple enough, but it needs to be light bright & airy & user friendly…. And the Plumbing…!

Bathroom …… Simple enough you’d think…. A cludgie, a shower & a wash hand basin…. BUT… The plumbing needs to be SUCH that it ties in with the existing plumbing to the Fosse & to the Hot water tank & cold water feeds….. AND works with the Kitchen ( see above ) …

Oh and it all needs the Windows & Eternal doors Fitting…!

AND on top of that little lot… I’ve gotta get the Sparky & Plumber to understand ( my Spoken French is improving BUT… ) & get the lines run DURING the process of putting the basis together… 🙂 hence the requirement to get the What’s Going Where Sorted EARLY……:-)
Image taken Late Nov 2013….. My Nephew Lee Daglish & my Father respectively…


Photography & needing a Challenge .

Oh, it’s been SO LONG since I actually went out with my proper work camera and actually challenged myself to be creative & think…

So when Saturday morning arrived and all the Horseboxes & traffic past the East side of the house ( main road from Carentan , it’s only a ‘B’ class road ) I twigged that it might be wise to check the local website for Graignes Hippodrome……..

It’s only a thousand yards from the front door, I could have walked and checked, but wanted to be sure & give me maximum time to take pooch out & check the camera & clean the glass…..

I discovered there was an entire afternoon / evening floodlit event…!!!!!!!!
First race was @ 16:40 by the website, so I duly rocked up in my best scruffs & my wooly hat with the RN badge…

It was Trap / Buggy racing, the kind where they have to Trot, but by god, it was seriously quick trotting…
It took some mental working out & metering of the light & awareness of the direction to get the right exposure without testing or shooting willy nilly on Automatic….

First shots were…!!

Graignes Hippodrome

The driver was 60 years old if he was a day… And no slim jim…!

Graignes Hippodrome

First shot of the day….! Get It Right First Time Or Fail


I was overjoyed at them, right first time & no mucking about..!!!

there were some really challenging lighting conditions & the very sudden Hail Storm brought rainbows  out afterwards…

Graignes Hippodrome

Challenging lighting conditions.:-)


The chance opened up to leg it across the track & shoot from the inside …. I was sure it was getting a swearing at as they flashed past me….! BUT WHAT A SERIES OF SHOTS I GOT….
This being a favourite.


Key Inspection ….

Well, we are in France & that Most Certainly brings Officialdom & Red a Tape to the fore….

Today was a Red Letter Day though…. A Very Special Red Tape Officialdom Day..

The Electrical Consuel, ( the only building inspector that I need to get a certificate off ) arrived, spent 35 minutes going through 32 plug sockets. & 6 radiator boxes. 6 TV points & 6 telephone points ( don’t get me started on jobs for the boys !!!!!!! ) 11 lights & one Oven connection…!

Every single line was checked, he almost had a Tartan Fit ( how very Scottish of me ) when he discovered the Water Tank in the Comblé ( learning new French words Daily ) attic….! And that it was above some of the Electric junction boxes….

But seeing as he had never seen that before, HE had no rules or regulations to fall back on to say NO….. So he was left with no choice but to PASS the Building AS Safe… 🙂

Certificate in Hand, ( the Sparkies Hands as he needs a copy so he can supply US with his 10 year guarantee on his work ) and a copy of it ready to go to ERDF ( the mains elec supplier ) to complete the Paperwork for the permanent supply…:-)

All We need now is the Devis ( estimate ) to arrive from ERDF & to get them paid upfront & then the work done within two & a half months… & things are almost All Singing / All Dancing…

Well, Apart from the half dozen other complications of a staggered build process 🙂

A Rather Talented Strawberry Blonde Friend of mine once said to me ” Small Steps forward & you will get there…. ” then he went off to go bang the Tubs & play some Rock n Roll………

Today was a big step, a great step, it’s good to be going forward 🙂

Last week saw my Wife finally arrive here for a bit of a holiday…
The first time together in @ 4 & 1/2 months… Some HUGE changes since saw the place..
But it was TimeFor a week of rest & taking pooch out for fun…
Beach & Forrest… 🙂

West coast beach @ Pirou, must have been @ 10Km + to ourselves…!!!

Lessay Forrest…
Pine cones & Squirrels GALORE….


Her BEST Cesear Romero impression….. 🙂