The Italian Job

Just had a few days in Italy. Lovely place, lovely people. Never been before, but will go again. So here’s a visual diary of some of my wanderings. I know I know, self-indulgent. But it’s not about me, it’s about there.
















































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This is the new Honda ad. It is very clever.  Have a look and press the R key to watch the parallel narratives unfold.

Now imagine this done for charity. Pressing the D button to see in real time the effect that your donation can have on someone’s life.

It would be very very compelling. Who will have a go I wonder?

Editor Thomas Grove Carter gives some insight into the production process using FCPx  here.  Well worth a read after viewing the video.


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There you are minding your own business in:

1) A valley in Wales
2) A glen in Scotland
3) A vale in England
4) A moor in Ireland

….and making a call on your iPhone to your partner asking them to arrange to get your central heating serviced before the winter…….when without warning a rather colourful individual circles around you fondling a large tripod with a camera on the end of it, the whole ensemble artfully balanced over their shoulder. There is a funny look in their eye.

There may be other people with this person, some may be stroking another large tripod (not necessarily a bad sign, but generally the bigger it is, the worse it is likely to get for you), but as a rule if there are two tripods in the party, it is a really bad sign. These are what are known in the business as People Reliant on A Tripod (lets just use the acronym P.R.A.T. although it may quite possibly be an A.R.S.E. – Artful Recorders of the Supposedly Exotic).

If there is another person wearing headphones whilst stroking what appears to be a dead cat on a pole, this is really really not going to go well for you. This is a Technician Operating Stereo Sound Equipment & Recording (also known as a T.O.S.S.E.R). And it’s certainly going to be a long day for you. So before you put the iPhone away tell your loved one, “Darling, I may be some time. Keep me something to eat that I can microwave later.”

Watching you

They might be watching you

If you suspect you are in this predicament but are unsure, these are some of the key phrases to be alert for, listed by the regions mentioned above * NB this is not an exhaustive guide simply a random sample of previously utilized phraseology that we are aware has been used to ‘subdue’ other victims of this scam:

1) “Can you dress up in these miner’s clothes and put some coal dust on your face and hold this pickaxe so we can take your photograph?
2) “Can you wrap this tartan blanket around you and hold these bagpipes and when we put this blue stuff on your face could you try to look maybe a little fierce whilst we take your photograph?
3) “Can you wear this red riding jacket, top hat and black boots and hold these reins, sorry we don’t have a real horse so it will be my assistant at the other end, but they will be out of frame so nobody will guess, and then maybe you could hold up this dead fox so we can take your photograph?
4) “Can you wear this green onesie and pixie hat, crawl into that bog and cut out some turfs to make a fire with, and then bake these potatoes on the smouldering embers so we can take your photograph?”

Useful phrases that you may employ in response to being confronted by a PRAT or an ARSE making such requests of you:

1) Why do you want to photograph me, and what are you going to do with the pictures?
2) Who will see them?
3) What about copyright and control over my IP?
4) Will you be selling these pictures?
5) Please may I have a copy?
6) When I’m dressed up can you take a picture of me with my iPhone?

Likely responses to your questions (which should provide incontrovertible proof that this is a genuine PRAT, ARSE or indeed even a TOSSER):

1) “Nothing much, I’m a researcher into endangered people and forgotten tribes.
2) “Only a few people, just my fellow researchers, academic partners, my publisher, all the folks on my Instagram, and anyone supporting my Kickstarter.
3) “Oh you don’t have to worry about that stuff, we ticked the correct boxes when we set up our Facebook account.
4) “Well that depends on a lot of things, we’ll get back to you on that one.
5) “Would a small jpg file be ok?
6) “Is that an iPhone 3 you’ve got? Really the picture quality is crap on them to be honest, so we won’t waste our time taking a picture with it. Best you save up for an iPhone 5 instead and we’ll just send you the small jpg, if we remember.


NOT endangered

This is a live horse. It is NOT endangered

Now its crucial that you realize at this point that despite what the PRAT, ARSE or TOSSER might have told you in response to Question 1 above, chances are YOU ARE NOT AN ENDANGERED TRIBE. There is a simple test, known as The Corry Test – check your iPhone for any communications from Survival International, from a Mr Stephen Corry. If you have any, you might have cause for worry, otherwise relax. However if you don’t have an iPhone you might still have cause for concern. Our simple flow chart at top will help you determine if you are indeed endangered, so don’t get too anxious until you’ve had a good look at that.

Obviously there will be regional variations to look out for – here are a few examples to be aware of if you live in North America (and in brackets the appropriate response you should offer):

On the East Coast:
“Can you wear this false beard, yellow waterproof and rubber boots and hold this large plastic lobster?” (Your answer: “Er…a beard….but I’m a woman!”)

In the Central plains
“Can you put on these chaps, stetson and boots and sit by this campfire looking wistfully at that pony in the firelight while you drink some coffee out of this mug?” (Your answer: “Why are you still flogging that dead horse?” * (See example below)
“Can you wear this crinoline dress, look hot and hold this hoe?”    (Your answer: “Did you just call me a hoe?”)

On the West Coast
“Sit on this VW Beetle and hold this surfboard will you, and can you tousle your hair a little?” (Your answer: “Hang on that’s not a VW it’s a Prius – are you trying to make me look really stupid?”)

Key thing to remember is that none of the above are members of endangered tribes, one is a doorperson in a well-known seafood restaurant chain, one is an actor selling Jeeps, the third is Miley Cyrus and the last one is a Silicon Valley executive on a weekend off. None have any problems. They/you may have work/life balance issues, and the work part might be under some pressure, but generally you’re all doing ok. Be wary of anyone who suggests otherwise and points at piles of odd clothing for you to wear.

This is what a dead horse looks like.

This is a dead horse, and it is being flogged.

MAJOR WARNING: requests for you to get dressed up for any gig where the main props are bows and arrows, a bison, a tepee or a buckskin suit with fringes, is BAD for several very compelling reasons, just say NO as it WILL all go horribly wrong for you*. A similar outcome is certain for any shoot where it’s suggested they need you to stick black tape over a few teeth, dress in faded dungarees and sit in a rocking chair with a banjo on a front porch anywhere in Appalachia. Once again, not tribes, not endangered, the correct answer is NO.

(*NB Previous one with bison/tepee/buckskin is not necessarily ‘NO’ its….well…damn complicated..see….technically it is a tribe, well several in fact…but..oh never mind…best use Google and decide for yourself, search terms such as ‘Little Big Horn’, ‘Richard Harris in Horse’, or ‘Kevin Costner in Wolves’ should give you a head start on the decision making process. But shit, if you need Google to find all this out you’re in deeper trouble than you realize.

Other stuff to keep a keen eye out for if you live in the south are any requests that involve you wearing chains, black face make-up, white coveralls and funny hats, and being called ‘boy’. These are rap artists and are not really an endangered tribe. And be suspicious of any requests for you to wear a large droopy mustache and carry a concertina as it’s really easy for confusion to arise as to whether you’re representing the Italians or Mexicans, (or a member of the Village People come to that) distinct groups you’d really be wise not to offend, although the good news for all of you is none are tribes and you’re not officially endangered either.

NOT endangered

This is not a horse, it’s similar but a little different. It is NOT endangered either.

Finally, avoid ANYTHING where you’re asked to wear any bit of kit that could be interpreted as being even remotely insulting to the Islamic faith, whilst I’d be the first to admit its a great look in the right situation and eminently practical (think Carrie Mathison in ‘Homeland’ for example, or my favourite Peter O’Toole in ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ ), it is a whole world of pain for you if you offend anyone.  Good news is though, you’re not a tribe and not really endangered either…..well….er….unless you live anywhere near or in Israel, in which case…hmm well you technically ‘could’ be part of a tribe…well…its complicated again. Best just apply the Corry Test, check your iPhone, and when you’re on it just Google ’12 Tribes of Israel’ and try to make your own mind up.

Warning for those in the Southern Hemisphere:

If you are approached and asked the following anywhere in the vicinity of Botany Bay:

“We’re doing some images to reflect the near extinction of Australia’s very very first human inhabitants, the first people to set foot on this vast continent, would you mind wearing these leg irons and chains, and talk with a cockney accent as you stroll out of the surf…”

Just say no, firmly, and walk away. Seriously: the only answer is NO NO NO. Especially if you are an aboriginal person with more than a passing interest in the Dreamtime and know precisely what terra nullius means.

PRATs are everywhere. TOSSERs may be eying you up right now. There may even be an ARSE right behind you as we speak. So be aware, guard your heritage, keep your Levis tightly buttoned, check your iPhone for emails from Stephen Corry, and be constantly vigilant, before they pass your way.

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Island Light


Loch Don, Mull © John MacPherson

I love islands. I like their light. I was able to get onto 41 Scottish islands one year. Each one was different. And their light played a huge role in defining that difference.

Clouds part, shafts of light spill down reflecting back off the seashimmer to illuminate the clouds from below, draping the land in an ethereal glow. Sometimes it is subtle, other times it is dramatic, but it is always interesting.

Here are a few images that are simply of land and water, with a little bit of light, but all taken around only one island, Mull, just off Scotland’s west coast. If you’ve not visited Mull, you should. It’s the light…it’s…well…you’ll need to see it for yourself to fully understand.

And there’s the taste too, the unmistakeable tang of salty air. But maybe, just maybe these images will do you, for now.


Looking towards the Garvellachs from Carsaig © John MacPherson

Looking towards the Garvellachs from Carsaig © John MacPherson


Loch Tuath and Ulva © John MacPherson

Loch Tuath and Ulva © John MacPherson


The road to Dervaig © John MacPherson

The road to Dervaig © John MacPherson


Out to the Atlantic, Firth of Lorne, from Carsaig © John MacPherson

Out towards the Atlantic, Firth of Lorne © John MacPherson


Ardalanish, near Fionnphort, Mull © John MacPherson

Ardalanish, near Fionnphort, Mull © John MacPherson


Mull from Isle of Inchkenneth, Loch na Keal © John MacPherson


Light. cloud, sea © John MacPherson

Light. cloud, sea © John MacPherson


Water and mountains, Glen More © John MacPherson

Water and mountains, Glen More © John MacPherson


Ocean light © John MacPherson

Ocean light © John MacPherson


Light patterns, turn of the tide © John MacPherson

Fishing boat in light patterns, turn of the tide © John MacPherson

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Where the tar ends (Italy) © John MacPherson

Where the tar ends (Italy) © John MacPherson

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The big cat

Amur tiger and people, Highland Wildlife Park © John MacPherson

Amur tiger and people, Highland Wildlife Park © John MacPherson

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