Monday, May 21, 2018

New video from Pop Evil: A Crime To Remember (and show in Reno tonight!)

Pop Evil have released a new video for the track, A Crime To Remember, the third video directed by Columbia Tatone, and the third from the band's latest album, Pop Evil. Continuing the message of the album to all of us... "Are we divided? Are we united?"

Pop Evil's producer, Kato Khandwala, was tragically killed in a motobike accident last month in Los Angeles: this video is a tribute to Kato, too. There is a fundraiser here if you would like to help his young daughter, Paris, during this sad time.

Pop Evil have just begun a USA tour with Poison and Cheap Trick... wish I was in the USA for that one! Find all tour dates here on Pop Evil's website, and get VIP passes and tickets here! Sacramento folks--still time for a road trip up to Reno, the show is tonight!

Toon's Tunes Pop Evil photos galleries are here:

Friday, May 18, 2018

Review: Five Finger Death Punch, And Justice for None

Ivan Moody, vocals, Five Finger Death Punch
Ivan Moody, Five Finger Death Punch, at Louder Than Life 2017
Just released: Five Finger Death Punch's new album, their seventh studio album: And Justice For None. Their seventh studio album, already with several singles taken from it: Gone Away, an Offspring cover; Fake (the one track on the album that you might want to cover the mynah bird's ears for... or not. I always wanted a mynah bird who knew how to swear); Sham Pain (with a nice play on words); and When The Seasons Change.

Jason Hook, guitar, Five Finger Death Punch
Jason Hook, Five Finger Death Punch, Aftershock 2017
It's what we've come to expect from FFDP, and more: powerful metal-rock, blistering guitar, insane drumming and thundering bass, with Ivan Moody's vocals ranging from grouchy-angry-growling honey-monster to the most soulful, deep and touching troubadour on the rock scene today.

There's anger, there's angst, there's royally-pissed-off-with-that-certain-someone; there's relationship breakdowns, there's love, there's life-on-the-road, there's the feeling of being in a festival crowd of twenty thousand fans, and there's hope. And there's also the best cover of a country song that I've heard to date (Blue On Black, original by Kenny Wayne Shepherd):

Check out their website for info on where to buy your copy, or head to your local store. If you want the vinyl, there's a couple more weeks to wait--pre-order and you should receive a digital copy immediately (I did).

Five Finger Death Punch are currently on tour in the USA and Canada: I hope to see some European and UK dates on here soon. Fingers crossed!

More photos from Five Finger Death Punch shows, including at Aftershock, Louder than Life and Chicago Open Air festivals:

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Folk on the Pier and Kinder Shores: a weekend of music in Cromer

Fairport Convention
Fairport Convention, Folk on the Pier 2018
This past weekend was a Cromer full of folk music: from the Kinder Shores concert and CD launch on Thursday, benefitting the Rees Foundation and work with care leavers, through three days of Folk on the Pier, with concerts in the Pavilion Theatre on Cromer Pier, and fringe events throughout the town.

Glen Latouche, vocals, Edward II
Glen Latouche, Edward II, Folk on the Pier 2018
In true festival style, there was something for everyone: Richard Digance making everyone laugh, stirring céilidhe from The Urban Folk Theory, a jazz-folk twist from the Hopi Hopkins Trio, reggae-folk fusion from Edward II, songs of life from Fraser Nimmo, and such an enjoyable show from Palmerston... and many, many more. So many good shows, and such varied performers.

All-time crowd favourites Fairport Convention sealing the deal, and providing the finale to the festival, on Sunday night.

The Urban Folk Theory
The Urban Folk Theory, Folk on the Pier, 2018
There were morris dancers too, both Kemp's Men of Norwich out on the pier, and a dancer as part of Ashley Hutching's Morris On on Saturday night. A lovely way to spend a springtime weekend by the seaside.

Kemp's Men of Norwich Morris Dancers
Kemp's Men of Norwich, Cromer Pier
Known as the "best gig on the North Sea" (it really is ON the North Sea, it's out on the water, on a pier), the festival this year celebrated its 20th birthday, several performers having played the first-ever Folk on the Pier back in 1998, too.

Folk music plays a huge part in British social history; telling stories through song, as protest and as commentary, passing on history from generation to generation. If you are just getting started listening to folk music, check out the repertoire of the artists who performed at Folk on the Pier. It's a great place to begin.

Richard Digance, Kinder Shores concert and CD launch
Richard Digance, Kinder Shores Concert and CD launch, Cromer 2018
Folk on the Pier photos, all performers (more will be added here): Folk on the Pier photo gallery
Kinder Shores photo gallery: Kinder Shores 2018 photo gallery
Fairport Convention: Fairport Convention at Folk on the Pier 2018
Edward II: Edward II at Folk on the Pier photo gallery
Urban Folk Theory: Urban Folk Theory at Folk on the Pier
Kemp's Men of Norwich Morris Dancers: Traditional dance, Cotswold Morris side from Norwich photo gallery
Many more photo galleries: Alison Toon Photographer music photos

Keep an eye, and an ear, out for next year's Folk on the Pier: it's never too soon to make plans! And if you haven't already, check out the Kinder Shores CD, for which many musicians donated songs. It's for a very, very good cause.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Photo gallery: Edward II, Saturday's headliner at Folk on the Pier, Cromer

CROMER, NORFOLK, 12 May 2018: Folk on the Pier, Pavilion Theatre, Cromer Pier, Norfolk, England, UK.
Edward II, Folk on the Pier, Cromer
Edward II, a fusion of reggae, rock and British folk music... a beautiful, multicultural musical experience that made me realise how much I have truly missed England and the UK. Returning to Folk on the Pier, Cromer's annual folk festival, twenty years after they first performed here... they ruled!

Glen Latouche, vocals, Edward II
Glen Latouche, Edward II
Music that is infinitely danceable, yet full of history; industrial and pastoral, Jamaica and Manchester and the guys making music on the streets where so many peoples have made this, their home. Edward II takes us there with a smile and the warmth of a summer's day. And a Night Nurse. Don't forget the Night Nurse!

Many more photos in the Edward II photo gallery: click here!

Check out Edward II's latest album, Manchester's Improving Daily, and more of their music, here on their website, and on Facebook too.

CROMER, NORFOLK, 12 May 2018: Folk on the Pier, Pavilion Theatre, Cromer Pier, Norfolk, England, UK.
Edward II, Folk on the Pier folk festival, Cromer, Norfolk 2018

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Review: Shinedown, Attention Attention: get ready for some festival anthems!

Shinedown, Aftershock 2013
Shinedown, Aftershock Festival
Shinedown's latest album, Attention Attention, was released a couple of days ago, and it's full of hard-rocking-festival anthems. Ranging from the wonderfully-bass Black Soul to the almost-pop-chart-ready title track, Attention Attention runs through the entire range of hard rock, and is going to be mandatory listening for anyone planning to see them at one or more of this summer's festivals.

It's the perfect workout album; listen to it at the gym or on a fast walk, and you'll burn a few more calories.

Devil, taken from Attention Attention, is the latest single from Shinedown:

Get Up might just be this year's festival anthem...

I wonder if this year's festival set will include wonderful, over-the-top pyromania like we saw at Aftershock 2013, when Shinedown's visuals made everyone gasp, or the more toned-down-preppy-but-still-burning version we saw in 2015? Wait and see, wait and see...

You can see Shinedown tour dates here, including dates with Five Finger Death Punch earlier in the year and Godsmack later in the sumer in the USA, and at festivals including Download festival, Castle Donnington, in the UK, Rock am Ring and Rock im Park in Germany, Graspop Metal Meeting in Belgium, Download Madrid in Spain, and then, in October, at Aftershock in Sacramento, California.

You can listen to Attention Attention here on the Shinedown official YouTube channel, then go and buy Attention Attention through your usual music supplier.

Many more Shinedown photos here in the photo galleries!

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Swan Lake, Vienna Festival Ballet, Cromer

Vienna Festival Ballet, Cromer
Last night, I saw a beautiful production of the ballet, Swan Lake, here in Cromer at the Pavilion Theatre on Cromer Pier. Performed by Vienna Festival Ballet, with everything just right for the setting; fog on the lake, dancers at the ball, romance, friends, a jester, the bad, bad guy; the evil twin, the beautiful swans, the deception and the heartbreak.

Beautiful dancing, and so cool to see how a major performance can happen in quite a compact venue. Not only that: when you realise that this ballet company, with all the sets, gorgeous costumes, dancers and backstage crew pack up and move on to another, distant venue overnight, it's difficult not to be stunned. It's not just rock bands who live on the road.

(I particularly loved Ashley Selfe's jester. He wasn't simply dancing the part... he was a character, the entire show.)

Last night, there were people of all ages in the audience. Last year, I really, really wanted to take a certain little lady to see Sacramento Ballet's annual Nutcracker at Christmas, back in California... but what felt like sky-high pricing put it way out of reach, especially as I wasn't yet sure how a three-and-a-half-year-old would react. She most likely would have been mesmerised, like the children in the audience last night; or she might have needed to leave after a few minutes, but without an accessible ticket price, we didn't find out. Last night's show opened up professional ballet to everyone, and Vienna Festival Ballet do the same year-round.

Take your kids to the ballet, and to modern dance. Let them hear opera; let them experience classical music, heavy metal, folk, rock, everything. It's how they learn who they are. You never know, one of them may be the next Nureyev or Fonteyn.

Vienna Festival Ballet are constantly touring and performing a variety of ballets: check out their website for all the tour dates... and don't miss!

(Now I need to find a ballet to photograph... let me know if you have one!)

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Red Sun Rising: Thread, a review

I took Red Sun Rising's new album, Thread, for a drive to Norwich and back the other day. I've been looking forwards to this release for a while; expecting them to build on Polyester Zeal and hoping for more of the beauty of their cover of Alanis Morissette's Uninvited.

Thread is a collection of eleven hard rock songs, topped with Mike Protich's winning vocals. I hear a lot of influences in here... from the opening notes of the first song, Fascination, which I thought was going to morph into Zombie, but didn't, to Deathwish, which at one minute in sounds more like a Blind Guardian song than any song I've heard while not listening to Blind Guardian, but then segues to an Avatar-esque stomp and ends as a stadium-rock, emotional singalong.

Stealing Life is a rather beautiful rock ballad. Clarity, on the other hand, is a huge, heavy, rock blast. Benny Two Dogs? A story...

Thread, in its entirety, is a grower... an album to listen to over and again. Red Sun Rising sometimes feel as if they are trying to be rock stars, rather than just being the musicians that they already are. At some point, the music will take over, and we'll look back at this album and at Polyester Zeal and Uninvited and say, wow, this is where it all began. (They've also started a thread of pretty-cool videos, directed by Brad Golowin... see the connection between Deathwish, and Uninvited yet?)

Mike Protich, vocals, Red Sun Rising
Red Sun Rising, Sacramento\s Ace of Spades
Find Red Sun Rising on Facebook here, and tour dates here... including Northern Invasion and Aftershock festivals in the USA. I hope to see them tour the UK/Europe soon!

Red Sun Rising are Mike Protich, Ryan Williams, Dave McGarry, Ricky Miller, and Pat Gerasia.

P.S. Comparison to Blind Guardian can only be a good thing. Now I have an appointment with Hansi Kürsch for a walk on the beach...

Monday, April 16, 2018

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Marillion tour: Gateshead and Cambridge, England

Marillion at The Sage, Gateshead, England UK
Sometimes, people ask: why see the same band, over and again, whenever you have the opportunity? (Maybe they ask, because they haven't seen Marillion, yet?)

Well... because. Because we all have one or two performers who we want to see, again and again, because every time is a new experience. Marillion do that for me, without fail. Even with a similar set list and even with (some of) the same audience, a different town, a different venue, another evening, a new day, a new twist... every show is new. Every show has its own character, its own personality, its own being, and the two Marillion shows I saw this week were no exception.

They are a joy to listen to, and a dream to photograph.

Marillion at The Corn Exchange, Cambridge, England UK
The tour continued last night in Birmingham, and then on to Brighton, Bristol, Reading, Liverpool and York, with many dates long sold out. The set list, a strong mix of the latest Marillion album, F.E.A.R., and songs from other albums from the past thirty or so years. (Not revealing the setlists here... go to if you want to know.)

Steve Rothery, guitar, Marillion
Steve Rothery, guitar, Marillion, Cambridge
The expressive, dynamic frontman Steve Hogarth in full voice; Steve Rothery's hypnotic guitar, Pete Trewavas' wonderful bass, Mark Kelly's masterful keys and Ian Mosley driving it all along on drums, together with a wonderful light show, entrancing video, and a beautiful sound production... what's not to love.

Pete Trewavas, bass, Marillion
Pete Trewavas, bass, Marillion, Gateshead
The Sage, Gateshead: a venue built for symphonies, with acoustics that orchestras dream of; soft seats, no standing, two ringed balconies; a place for sitting and dreaming away with the music. The Corn Exchange, Cambridge, a historic and lively building that once saw the weekly trading of farmers, reminiscent of Thomas Hardy; (I was wandering around Cambridge all afternoon thinking of Oxford and Hardy... another place I need to visit.)

Steve Hogarthy, vocals, Marillion
Steve Hogarth, vocals, Marillion, Cambridge
There are people who travel the world to see, and hear, their best bands; Marillion fans, more than any band I know. There's a reason for that.

Mark Kelly, keyboards, Marillion
Mark Kelly, keyboards, Marillion, Gateshead
If you haven't seen them live yet, make sure you do.

Ian Mosely, drums, Marillion
Ian Mosely, drums, Marillion, Gateshead
All Marillion tour and festival dates can be found here: 

Marillion, The Corn Exchange, Cambridge
Many more pictures in the photo galleries, and you can buy pictures too:

- Marillion at The Sage, Gateshead, 11th April 2018
- Marillion at The Corn Exchange, Cambridge, 13th April 2018

Marillion, The Sage, Gateshead

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Some Guys Have All The Luck... The Rod Stewart Story at Cromer Pier Pavilion Theatre

Some Guys Have All The Luck: Rod Stewart Tribute
Paul Metcalfe as Rod Stewart, Some Guys Have All The Luck
Easter Bank Holiday weekend in England, the seaside town of Cromer is bustling with visitors, despite the rain and the cold weather. And the Pavilion Theatre at the end of Cromer Pier, full at 8 p.m. for an evening of Rod Stewart's music, presented by Paul Metcalfe and his band: Some Guys Have All The Luck.

Some Guys Have All The Luck: Rod Stewart Tribute
Some Guys Have All The Luck, Cromer, 2018
There's a huge difference between tribute bands and covers. The tribute band takes on the personality, the voice, the charisma of the personality they are emulating, throughout the entire show. Some Guys Have All The Luck does this, very, very well.  Mr. Metcalfe sounds, and moves, like Rod, for the entire evening. And the first half of the show is an interesting and educational mix of music and anecdotes from Rod's life story, with some wonderful archive photography on the big screen. The second half (yes, there's an intermission, it's theatre after all) is a rocking Rod Stewart concert, plain and simple.

Some Guys Have All The Luck: Rod Stewart Tribute
Some Guys Have All The Luck, Cromer Pier Pavilion Theatre, 2018
Beginning with songs from early in Rod Stewart's career--Handbags and Gladrags, and the wonderful contribution to Python Lee Jackson, In a Broken Dream--a snippet of Maggie May, and on through the years... You Wear It Well, First Cut Is The Deepest, Tonight's The Night... all of Rod's biggest hits. The poignant Killing of Georgie. The amusing Do You Think I'm Sexy? All the goodies, not forgetting Baby Jane... finishing off with the inevitable Sailing, and then the full version of Maggie May.

(Maggie May was "my first" Rod song--and my first Top of the Pops! A schoolteacher set us some statistics homework: go home,  watch Top of the Pops and then report on how statistics are used in the music charts. That night, Maggie May was number one--with Slade's Coz I Luv You soon to follow. Go ahead, do the sums, I don't care one bit.)

Some Guys Have All The Luck: Rod Stewart Tribute
Some Guys Have All The Luck, Cromer Pier, 2018
The most important part of a tribute show is that it be fun, and Some Guys Have All The Luck was definitely that; there was dancing in the aisles, the band were very obviously enjoying themselves, and we were all singing along. A very enjoyable and entertaining evening!

Some Guys Have All The Luck: Rod Stewart Tribute
Some Guys Have All The Luck, Cromer, 2018
Catch the show at another of their tour dates: full schedule is on the band's website. Many shows all around the UK this year! If you can't get to Vegas to see Mr Stewart himself... go see Some Guys Have All The Luck instead. Or do both...

See the full photogallery from the show at the Pavilion Theatre, Cromer Pier, here!

Some Guys Have All The Luck: Rod Stewart Tribute
Paul Metcalfe as Rod Stewart, Cromer, 2018
(I'm really happy the show closed with Maggie May. Sailing is, for me, Rod Stewart's equivalent of Chris de Burgh's Lady in Red. A beautiful song... and yet so played-to-death that I don't want to hear them again. Maggie May I will never, ever tire of.)

Walking the beach with Chris Rea

After listening to a lot of Rod Stewart, while working on the photos from the show on Saturday night (coming soon... tribute band, not realRod), I took another old favourite for my walk on the beach; Auberge, with all the slide guitar and orchestration on the way to Overstrand, and The Road To Hell on the way back. Not that the beach is the road to hell, very much the opposite.

This guy deserved/deserves to be so much better known than he ever has been.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Looking for wall art? How about a seascape?

Seascape; dramatic, overcast
Seascape, North Norfolk, England
I have added a load of seascapes to the photography portfolio and website, if you are looking for some wall art, please take a look! While they can be purchased as high-resolution files for personal printing, the professional print option will provide top-quality, delivered to you directly.

Playing around with the different options and print sizes will show various price options, ranging from lower-cost, high-quality professional prints, right through to an investment in a print on a large block or ready framed for mounting on your wall.

My personal favourite is the beautiful print quality of a Hahnemühle Fine Art Print on Photo Rag Paper. To find this option:
  1. Click the Buy button
  2. Select "Buy from UK Printer"
  3. Select "Fine Art Print"
  4. Select "Hahnemühle Fine Art Print"
  5. Select the size that you'd like
  6. Select "Photo Rag Paper"
  7. Click Add To Cart. 
If you are in Cromer this week and would like to see some examples of these various print qualities, pop in to the Cromer Art Week exhibition at the Parish Hall--it continues until Thursday. My portrait of a gentleman on the street is printed on the Hahnemühle photo rag paper... the two band photos are on coloured blocks.

Seascape; dramatic, overcast
Seascape, North Norfolk, England

Friday, March 16, 2018

New album: Ministry, AmeriKKKant

Al Jourgensen, vocals, Ministry
Al Jourgensen, Ministry
Ministry's AmeriKKKant was released like the mother-of-all-bombs onto an unsuspecting world just a week ago. I had to battle with corporate America to obtain my digital copy--turntable isn't installed in new home yet--and I had to take this on a beach-walk too, on this cloudy, rainy, bitterly-grey-windy day on England's east coast, totally in-synch with this album, heavy waves thumping the shore.

AmeriKKKant is an album for listening to very, very loud. A genius mix of sound-bites, deep bass and insistent drums, industrial orchestration: repetitive like the drums of war, this is AmeriKKKa.

If the name of the album doesn't give it away, the artwork on the vinyl will; the back is Lady Liberty, middle finger raised, striding away from her pedestal, not a backward glance; a grey land of smoky destruction and searchlights behind her.

Al Jourgensen, vocals, Ministry
Al Jourgensen, Ministry
Don't expect to come away from a listening feeling all goody-goody, self-righteous and justified in belief. It's like being thrown into a huge washing machine full of dirty water and pebbles, being accosted by presidential stupidity, racist mantras, war-proud sentiment, white-supremecist hatred; filthy mud that needs to sink to the bottom and stay there. Instead, we have to ask, how did we let it come to this, AmeriKKKa? (Or anywhere else, for that matter, anywhere else.)

I came to the church of Ministry very late: a full convert, I am very happy to have been able to photograph and experience them at both Houston Open Air and Chicago Open Air in recent years (click there to see more photos).  Those of you in Sacramento, don't forget: Ministry will be at the Ace of Spades on Monday, 26th March and as of now, there are a few tickets left.  (I won't be there, because I've done my own version of that Lady Liberty thing for exactly the reasons embodied in this album, and am now on the other side of the Atlantic, middle finger raised.)

More info on how to obtain your own copy of AmeriKKKant, tour dates and more, here on Ministry\s website. Sheer genius.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

New album: Myles Kennedy, Year of the Tiger

Myles Kennedy, vocals and guitar, Alter Bridge
Myles Kennedy, Houston Open Air, Alter Bridge
I took Miles Kennedy for a walk along the beach, from Cromer to Sheringham, earlier today. No not literally, though I'm sure he would have been good company; rather, I took myself for a walk, with Myles Kennedy's new album, Year of the Tiger, as the soundtrack. The album was released late last week: after listening to it several times at home, it deserved to be accompanied by the beauty of the beach.

Myles Kennedy, vocals and guitar, Alter Bridge
Myles Kennedy, Alter Bridge
When you're walking on pebbles, trying not to twist an ankle or wrench a knee or drop the camera: stopping every so often to photograph the clouds, the sky reflected on damp sand, then clambering over sea-worn wood and rusty metal steps that end way too high above the sand... skirting the newest earth-slips from the rain-soaked cliffs, then you're not studying the music, note-by-note, but rather absorbing the essence of the album.

These are the thoughts Year of the Tiger gave me, this morning: family, love, loss... a father, gone: a a mother, struggling: a child... longing to understand. How you manage to carry on.

Myles' guitar, plus a touch of bluesy-grassy-roots-hearted Americana in the banjo and steel guitar, serene slide, and a vocal range that compares with both Buckleys, father and son. If you've listened to Alter Bridge, this isn't Alter Bridge. If you've heard Myles Kennedy with Slash, this isn't Slash. This is personal. It tells a story. Myles Kennedy lost his father at an early age, and this story, sometimes though his eyes, sometimes his mother's--has been a long time coming. There's an explanation here.

Each song is a gem. "Through our tragedies we find out who we are." Year Of The Tiger sets the pace; The Great Beyond is huge... but the song that I keep replaying is song 10, "Love Can Only Heal".

Clouds and beach at low tide
The beach. A walk from Cromer to Sheringham.
Myles Kennedy is currently on tour in Europe and the UK, with dates in Birmingham, Nottingham, Manchester, Glasgow, London, followed by shows in the USA. Full tour info and tickets here on his website (scroll down on the home page).

I listened to the album several times on my walk.

I didn't write Myles' name in the sand. Though I freely admit: the thought did cross my mind.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Roving Crows last night at Cromer Pier -- and mark your calendars for more music!

If you have never been, Cromer Pier has a beautiful theatre, right at the end, just before the RNLI lifeboat station. Like all good theatres, it has a lovely bar where you can buy refreshments before the show, and during the day when you want to just sit on the pier and watch the waves. It's also the only place where you can still see an end-of-pier variety show!

With seating for about 500 people, the cosy, red-inside theatre has really good stage lighting and is a wonderful place for an intimate music experience. Last night brought the return of the Roving Crows to Cromer. I very much enjoyed their sometimes-surprising blend of traditional Irish folk music with rock and other styles. Here's an example, from their latest album, Bury Me Naked:

The last time Roving Crows were in Cromer was for the Folk on the Pier festival, which happens again this year. Mark your calendars and diaries: 11th - 13th May 2018. And also, the night before the festival, Kinder Shores, in support of the Rees Foundation, a really important cause--helping people who have been in care. Check their website.

For more info on what's happening on Cromer Pier, see the website:

And Cromer Pier Pavilion Theatre... wouldn't it be a wonderful venue for an H Natural show. Just thinking out loud...

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Photo gallery: Esplanade, a procession for women, on the prom, on International Women's Day, Cromer, Norfolk

Esplanade: A Procession for Women
Red parasols on International Women's Day, 2018
Such a cool way to celebrate unity on International Women's Day! A procession of women, from tiny to tall, carrying red parasols, winding their way down to Cromer's promenade and onto the pier this evening, to mark 8th May, to commemorate the centenary of British women being able to vote, and also inspired by Sisi, one-time Empress of Austria. The event was organized by Dr. Sarah Lowndes, writer, curator and lecturer--you can find the whole story here, in the North Norfolk News.

Esplanade: A Procession for Women
Young participant in the parade
Click here to see full photogallery from Alison Toon Photographer!

Esplanade: A Procession for Women
Red parasols on the pier

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

On photography... continous learning. And a new look at the pier.

Abstract art?
Last week, snowbound, still exploring all the new, British TV, I discovered Sky Art's Master of Photography competition. (For those outside the UK, I think it's available on YouTube--here's an example, where the contestants were challenged with photographing Michael Madsen) And yes, I binge-watched the two series. It's a competition similar to others: begins with twelve contestants, ends with one supreme winner, 150,000 euros richer.

As a photographer, I found it intriguing. Not so much by the photography itself--it's all subjective, after all--and not even by the comments of the judges and mentors, though it was very interesting to hear, and see, their insights. (Most important comment? "It's your photo. Do whatever the hell you want with it.") But both inspiring and intriguing because of the challenges that were set, each episode, for the photographers. Seeing and understanding how each photographer had their own comfort zone, and places where they would much rather not be. Seeing how they learned and improved by being forced to take up a challenge at very short notice, with little time to prepare.

Colour and structure
Some found situations like backstage, or sports, overwhelming--places where I feel very much at home. Some excelled in posed, studio-lit environments... somewhere I am very, very reluctant to go.

What was clear? We all need to keep challenging ourselves, each and every day, with the camera. Pushing the boundaries of our own experiences. Yes, there will be our preferred subjects... but we can learn every time we try something new. Even if it's only, "I don't like that".

Know where, and what, this is?
Looking at other people's work is important; whether it's photography or painting, architecture or music or bizarre fashion statements. Only by observing do we know what works for us. Only by trial and error do we understand how the camera works best in our own hands. It's only a tool that captures a snapshot of imagination: there is no right, or wrong, way to use it.

The photos in this post are just a new look at the picture postcard that is Cromer Pier. Yes, all of them. Can you figure out where they were taken?

Beneath Cromer Pier
Low tide

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Settling in... how long does it take? Are we nearly there, yet?

Cromer Pier on a snowy winter's day, Cromer, Norfolk
Cromer Pier, during The Beast From The East, 2018
As you have probably seen, Alison Toon Photographer has moved back to England, UK, from Sacramento, California. There have been a few gaps in publishing here... it will soon be back to normal!

Cromer is a wonderful, traditional British seaside town, with sandy beaches washed by the tides twice each day, a beautiful pier with a theatre, and lifeboat house, at the end; great fish-and-chip shops, old-fashioned, tempting sweet shops, lots and lots of local, family-run small businesses, an so many community events that I know it's going to be a wonderful place to live, and to photograph.

I'll be posting a lot more very soon, but here are just a few of the venues, events and festivals that will be within reach:

Cromer Pier: concerts, shows, and festivals throughout the year
Cromer Hall: open-air concerts
Norfolk's many festivals
The Waterfront in Norwich
University of East Anglia, Norwich
Cambridge Corn Exchange... Marillion will be there soon!
... and many, many more.

It's starting to become real... after far-too-many weeks of organised chaos. I have moved many times, locally, cross-country, cross-continent and internationally. International moves are, by far, the most complicated and stressful--even when you are moving back to a country that you know and love, even when you speak the same (almost) language. It's a mass of large and small things to be organized, managed, dealt with, endured and enjoyed. From huge steps like securing a new home, to silly little things like having no pepper (or salt, or sugar) in the pantry. From replacing each and every electronic device that ran on another country's 110 v system with new devices and appliances that run safely on 240 v, to dealing with the insane, huge amount of packaging material that comes along with every darn purchase.

From having to nip out and buy a new bread knife to cut the amazing gluten-free bread that you were so excited to find, to wondering if your old bread knife and all the rest of the stupid stuff that you thought was so important to ship in that little international shipping pod will arrive before you've begged, borrowed or bought replacements while waiting. (Said pod is currently on a container ship that will dock in Hong Kong within the next few days. Why was it sent the long way around the world? Don't ask me. I have no clue. It's having its own adventure.)

From laughing with joy seeing a huge double-rainbow across the sea, to wondering when you'll see your overseas family again.

And preparing to launch an exciting new photo service here... just as soon as the snow has melted, the roads have been cleared, and the delayed shipment of brand-new business cards arrives. What will it be?

You'll have to watch this space for news!

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Musicians are artists. No really... artists with paint: Bob Dylan and Ronnie Wood

Window display, Castle Fine Art, Norwich
If you are nearby, take a few minutes to nip into Castle Fine Art in Norwich, (or maybe one of their other branches?) They have exhibitions of limited-editions by not one, but two, major musicians: Bob Dylan, and Ronnie Wood!

Part of the Ronnie Wood collection on display this week at Castle Fine Art in Norwich
I'd seen examples of Bob Dylan's work before, but I quite-shamefully had no clue about Ronnie Wood. His work is stunning... would love one of these pictures on my wall.

At the intersection -- yes, there is one -- between rock music, art, and wild horses, his work has an immediate appeal. Find out more here on his website and find out about the possibility of ordering your own copies here.

And then, there's only one song to play: