11 Mar 2015


Carl Pendle visits Sri Lanka to investigate their new resource - elephant dung. He also drank a lot of tea, but not while knee deep in elephant dung.

Up until my recent visit to Sri Lanka I’ve never given much thought about tea. What I like is that you basically just drink it, then you make another one. You don’t froth it, throw whipped cream on the top, mix it with crushed ice, stick cinnamon sticks into it or pay over $300 a cup for it like you would for a luwak coffee whose beans have passed through the digestive tract of a weasel.

Your tea drinker is a charitable, down-to-earth sort who enjoys scratching their bodily parts in public whereas your soyamilk-mocha-strawberry-frappucino drinker tends to have frequent nervous breakdowns.

Why do I mention this? I’ve just returned from a week-long trip to Sri Lanka where I learnt far too much about the tea producing procedure to hold the attention span of your average reader. But don’t worry because soon I want to talk about elephant poo. 

I learnt that tea is a lot like wine but obviously with less grapes. There are, like the wine industry, professional tasters who have a brain full of useless and meaningless adjectives to describe a popular drink. The big difference between tea tasters and the winos is that the tea tasters terms don’t sound like a florist describing the sex life of preserved fruit – “What a wonderful flowery bouquet, with just a hint of crystallized lemons and oranges mating.”

This is a lot different from your professional tea taster who has a pre-approved list of descriptive terms and can’t deviate from this list if ‘snail snot’ is the first thing that pops into their head after tasting a pot of Darjeeling.

I know that many of you don’t believe much of what I write but I can assure you that I’ve seen a tea tasters tea chart while visiting the Pedro Tea Estate in the cool hills of central Sri Lanka and I can faithfully report that ‘cheesy cresty’ is a pre-approved term to describe, no not underpants, but a cup of freshly brewed tea.

For starters, your professional tea taster won’t begin tasting, and again I’m not joking, until they have personally witnessed the ‘Agony of the Leaves’. This is a term tasters use to describe the moment when the leaves are doused in boiling water. You don’t get this with wine. I’m not aware of any ‘Agony of the Grapes’ ceremony where wine tasters gather round to show their last respects for a vat of grapes being crushed to death by a gang of unwashed French farmers.

Once your tea taster has wiped the tears from witnessing the ‘Agony of the Leaves’ they can then begin tasting the tea, all the time appreciating what the leaves have just been through. The taster then moves along the line of cups dipping his soup spoon into a cup, sipping the tea which he then thrashes about in his mouth before gobbing the backwash into something that looks like a wooden milk churn. I watched our guide perform a tea-tasting and I can reveal that it wasn’t pretty or scientific-looking. It invoked a lot of choking and throwing-up memories.

Next comes the moment when the taster describes the tea from his pre-approved list. They could use baggy, brassy, choppy, shotty, grumpy, sleepy, dopey or sneezy. The latter four are of course members of the Seven Dwarfs who also happen to be big tea drinkers.

Once the tea has been tasted it is then graded. One of the top grades is BOP (broken orange pekoe) then it goes down in scale into OF (orange fannings), PD (pekoe dust) and then just D (dust), the lowest grade that is put into tea bags, that’s right, the stuff you drink. Dust makes a good strong cup of tea to mask the flavours of sweet wrappers, rat’s droppings, nasal wastage and anything else that happens to get swept into an empty tea bag. There is another grade of tea you might not have heard of. It’s TWBODBFITB or (tea with bits of digestive biscuit floating in the bottom).

Apart from tea, Sri Lanka is very famous for its elephants. But how did they arrive on this small island in the middle of the Indian Ocean? History can help here. As you know elephants are very good at crossing unsurpassable geographical obstacles. I recall crampon wearing elephants abseiling down the Alps, and now I’m hearing of early elephant explorers in very large boats using jet propelled trunks. Of course I have no idea how elephants arrived in Sri Lanka but I’m thankful that they did because just an hours drive east of Colombo is one of the best animal sanctuaries in the world.

There is nothing fantastically entertaining about the sanctuary. The elephants don’t sit around and tell you jokes. Basically it is a bunch of elephants standing around eating and pooing. But it is this elephant by-product that I want to talk about because some strange human has formed a business empire out of converting elephant poo into recycled paper.

I don’t have the facts behind the evolution of this idea but going from elephant poo to paper must have involved quite a lengthy and creative thought process. It is possible to buy a sample at the ‘Elephant Dung Paper Shop’ near the sanctuary where there is a helpful placard outside telling curious tourists how the paper goes from the elephants bottom, to being collected, boiled, disinfected, pulped and transformed into paper.

Before you go thinking about feeding your dog Post-It notes and taking it for five walks a day - I would say that the elephant paper dung inventor is ahead of you. His paper poo idea is manufactured under Patent No 11440.

Not far away from the elephant sanctuary is a very unique hotel that my girlfriend and I stayed in. It is called the Hill Club in the small village of Nuwara Eliya at 1900 metres above sea level and therefore quite a high dive. This area is often referred to as little England, and it’s not because it looks like the outer London suburbs. The explorer Samuel Baker settled here and got uncontrollably homesick and, like you do, he imported Hereford cows, planted strawberries, leeks, potatoes, built a brewery, country house and even got a horse-drawn carriage to come over complete with its own English blacksmith.

The Hill Club Hotel still lives in that world. To be any more colonial it would have to offer elephant hunting trips with big flared barrel guns where the most useful thing for a dead elephant would be to turns it feet into umbrella stands. Obviously a close relation of the elephant paper dung entrepreneur.
Anyway, at the hotel you’ve your usual pictures of the Queen, Princess Diana and Prince Charles, loads of silver cups, cabinets full of old books and pictures of important members that are now probably dead. On the walls are many heads of stuffed animals who don’t look particularly happy about being there. There’s a cheetah, lion, and, most unusual of all, a water buffalo, two in fact. Now I’m no expert on shooting wild and dangerous animals but every time I’ve seen a water buffalo it never looks very threatening and is knee-deep in mud.

So, I’m happy that hunting is no longer practiced in Sri Lanka and the civil war ceasefire has lasted over a year now. So I can faithfully report that the most dangerous and upsetting thing you are likely to see in this fantastic country is the ‘Agony of the Leaves’ ceremony, oh yes, and the local populations driving skills.

17 Feb 2015


Here is my latest film.  It was filmed with an old Hasselblad camera the 500cm

INTO THE HASSELBLAD - PORTRAITS from www.carlpendle.com on Vimeo.

This is a snap shot from the film

5 Sept 2014


In June I was sent to Italy to create three travel and food films for an Aussie company (not allowed to show them yet but soon). Inbetween filming I was playing around with a new lens I bought off Amazon which is the SLR Magic 26mm 1.4 toy lens  For only £66 or so I was stunned how good it was. Yes it is a bit of a toy but if you're after some cool effects this is great. And even at 1.4 it is surprisingly sharp. The bokah is all weird and swirly but some very useable shots.

Filmmaker Philip Bloom has been recently playing around with the Petzval lomography lens and, again, the results are very cool but I was surprised just how similar they were to the SLR magic toy lens. If you're on a budget you might want to consider the SLR Magic lens as I think the Petzval is selling for over £400.

Have a look at the results below then wander around the net and Philip Blooms feed to see more.

27 Jan 2014


Todays food blog is about the humble English breakfast - that fry up that is envied the world over for having most major food groups covered on a single plate. Problem is from a food photographers perspective this dish has been photographed more times than most and getting an original shot of it is always going to be a challenge. So I thought I'd kill two birds and photograph it as I ate it and put together a little montage of that gastronomic act that was both pleasurable to the stomach and to my photographers eye.


Me, I love a good sweet. Not only do I love eating them but I love photographing them. What is not to like about a good picture of some sticky, gooey, eye-inviting piece of candy that doesn't want to make you rush out a buy one? No much, why is why todays food blog is dedicated to the humble sweet and all those lovely pictures of them that gives you a warm and fuzzy feeling all over. Not forgetting the sugar rush as well.


It's kind of bizarre that being a food photographer I don't write many food blogs about the industry I work in. I'm around food all the time and see a lot of what goes on behind the scenes so I'm really well placed to get involved. But depleting fish stocks in the one area of my industry I care a lot about and would like to see the health of our oceans and fish improve.

A couple of months ago I read quite a controversial piece in the national press that most of the vitamin supplements we take are quite useless and do very little, if anything, to add to our overall health. Which led me to put two and two together, fish stocks and vitamin supplements, to wonder firstly, do we need take fish oil supplements and just how is this industry impacting on the level of fish in the ocean?

The subject seems a bit of a minefield. We all know fish oil is good for us but the levels certain fish like cod in our oceans is at a dangerously low level so it would make sense buying cold liver oil tablets isn't helping. On the other hand, a lot of the fish oil from these pills comes from sustainable sources like sardines, krill and the like.

It is also interesting to note that fish oil doesn't actually come from the fish naturally it originates from the fish eating marine microbes so farmed fish doesn't contain fish oil and has to be fed it via feed for it to have any. Told you this was a bit of a minefield. 

Although the bottom line is that continuing to over fish our oceans whether it be for fish oil or fish has got to be a bad thing for us and the planet. 

4 Dec 2013


I'm a big fan of Sugru which is a kind of miracle material that can be moulded into any shape and becomes hard and rubbery once set allowing it to be used for thousands of jobs. They tweeted the above picture a few days ago to give people ideas for stocking fillers so I decided to animate it into a gif. Check out their website for some inspiration http://sugru.com/

2 Dec 2013


Can't resist roasted marshmallows or a gif. Did a little adventure day yesterday with the kids and got a few shots of this

19 Nov 2013


This is my latest food video from a recent trip to Lithuania. Lithuanian Sakotis Cake is a very popular traditional cake from this Baltic country and is often eaten at weddings, Christmas and other celebrations.

The origins of the dish are a little sketchy but it seems probably that it originated in Eastern Europe/Baltics. It a very simple dish where batter is poured over a metal cylinder that rotates over a wooden fire causing peaks of cake mixture to form.

Each country has their own name and recipe for the dish but the ingredients of eggs, sour cream, sugar, butter and flour are fairly consistant.

I came across this dish on a food and travel photography job in August and thought this cake would make a great little video.

I'd like to thank WWW.LITHUANIA.TRAVEL for organising the trip, WWW.FOODANDTRAVEL.COM for commissiiong me to go, the writer on the trip WWW.CLARISSAHYMAN.CO.UK who helped me with the captions and, of course, the bakery  in Ignalina WWW.ROMNESA.LT who let me film the wonderful Maryte.

For photography geeks this was all filmed on the Panasonic GH3, one lens and it was all hand held.

Hope you enjoy it.

6 Nov 2013


Took this on a recent job in Lithuania. Don't know why but just love the colour and composition of this simple shot of some apples and pears at a market.

17 Sept 2013


Look what I found on my cat today. Not best pleased but thought it was an opportunity to turn something quite disgusting into a work of art! Anyone for a poster print of a flea in their bedroom?!

16 Sept 2013


I've recently returned from a food and travel photography job in Lithuania. I saw this lovely lady pour out a glass of freshly milked milk (if that makes sense) and offered it to the writer for a sip. I quickly shot of 7-10 frames to capture her doing so. As I've been editing the shots today I thought this one would make a nice gif animation so here it is.

25 Aug 2013


I'm in Lithuania at the moment working on a job and while out and about came across this great piece of graffiti art of an old lady carrying a Mcdonalds bag. I'm not sure if this is a copy of a Banksy or an original but I love it.

5 Jun 2013


A client approached me a couple of months ago interested in a long term timelapse project. I've done time-lapses in the past for them but only ones that have lasted a few hours rather than weeks, months or even a year! They asked me if I could do one that could last 2-3 weeks while their product (a pepper) changed colour from green to red. Knowing that it could be done I said yes and looked into it further.

As I researched it a couple of things sprung up - long term time-lapses were quite a specialist area and very few photographers were doing any that lasted much longer than 24 hours. There were a few companies that did just that and most of their work was in the construction industry where timelapseing a building going up was something architects and their clients wanted to record. But this was a very niche area and their equipment was very sophisticated often with stand alone units even fitted with servers and wifi for sending pictures to a computer at a different location.

I did find one or two people trying long term time-lapses and I looked at what they did and adapted a system that would work for me and my client. Above is a basic breakdown of what I've come up with.

1. This is the finished set up. We have the camera in a watertight case connected to a battery which is then connected to a solar panel to keep the battery topped up.

2. Here is a close up of the camera housing with metal brackets fixed to the back and attached to the wall.

3. The battery is a leisure battery (not a car battery) which is perfect for providing a trickle of power to the camera. A camera doesn't use that much power but when you're leaving it outside for weeks at a time it will soon weaken which is where the solar panel comes in to keep the battery charged.

4. Inside the case is a Canon DSLR attached to two 'L' shaped metal brackets. Initially I had plans for a quick release bracket to go inside but room was so tight that I had to find a wooden base to which everything is attached. Running into the camera (on the left) is a intervalometer that I can program to set the interval of my timelapses. This isn't the Canon one which is very expensive but a cheaper one from Amazon that I've used before and never had any issues with.

5. Here you can see the top of the camera and to the right in the bottom of the case is a volt convertor. The voltage from the leisure battery is 12 volts and much too strong for the camera which prefers 7-8 volts. So what this handy gadget does is convert those 12 volts into 7 volts. There is a dummy battery in the camera that leads to this converter.

6. Finally, the bottom of the case I've fitted a hole and rubber washer that takes the lead into the battery outside. As you can see it is just a cigarette lighter adapter which then feeds into a cigarette lighter socket to the battery.

The SD card inside the camera is 64gb which is capable of holding over 8000 images. If you're not worried about shooting in RAW (which I'm not) and are ok with medium jpegs (which I am) then the card can hold a lot of photos onto it and in theory stay in the field for a long time. And if the battery gets enough charge from the solar panel it could happily take timelapses for months until the card eventually fills up or something else happens.

If anyone is interested in me making one of these for them please get in contact. I offer three types of set up:

1. The complete kit you see here. Camera, case, battery the lot all tested £ 1, 750.00
2. The complete kit but without the battery (very heavy for posting)        £ 1, 550.00
3. The complete kit without the battery, camera or solar panel                  £    950.00

Please get in contact via carl@carlpendle.com

And here is the final result of all this hard work. It was so worth it.

29 Apr 2013


On 23rd April I travelled up to London as a finalist in the Food Photographer of the Year awards held at the Mall Galleries. I'd been nominated as a finalist in the 'Food in the Street' category so me and the Mrs went up to see how my picture did. And it did quite well. Out of 6,500 worldwide entries it came second so was quite pleased with that. And I got this rather nice sticker for my efforts.

19 Mar 2013


Here's a quick example of an animated gif from an old painting.

25 Feb 2013


I know my photography blog is not the best place to put a picture of my cat but I actually like the picture. If it wasn't for the stipes of my carpet it would have just blah but they contrast well with her coat. If she looks like a mean, lean, killing machine...that's because she is. My kids don't touch her!

13 Feb 2013


Couple of weeks ago I shot a video for Will Taylor for his very popular blog Bright Bazaar It was a lot of fun to make and Will is a great guy. The video, as you can guess, is to promote his new book which will be out some time in 2014.

In the meantime enjoy the video.

14 Dec 2012


This is for all those restaurants and chefs who've been on the wrong end of a critics or bloggers review.  Being a food and lifestyle photographer I've seen first hand just how hard the food industry work. While not all deserve glowing reviews there are some critics who sensationalise their experience as entertainment just to sell newspapers, magazines or get more hits rather than a true reflection on the restaurant or chef. And in this current economic climate a bad review can kill a business.

13 Dec 2012


This is one of my favourite shots from my weekend in Brighton. It is a classic shot of the pier nothing original from this shot but once I chucked it into photoshop and added a few of my favourite textures then it has come alive.


This is one of three pictures I took on Brighton beach over the weekend. This is the old pier which is now falling apart and slowly rusting in the sea. Shame but it does make for a stunning picture. I've added a few textures in photoshop to produce something a bit different. Let me know if you want a print of this.


Went to Brighton over the weekend to shoot a video (to come) and it was one of those glorious cold wintery December days and Brighton beach looked glorious. Rough sea, piercing blue sky, no fog (not that you get much in Brighton) and decided to take a panorama of the pier. Then brought that into photoshop and added about 5 or 6 layers of texture to get what you see here which looks a bit painterly. 
Hope you like it. And if anyone wants to buy a print please get in contact carl@carlpendle.com

29 Nov 2012


While this photo montage is a bit gruesome and not very foody it is in my top 10 of food photographs I've ever taken which is a bit odd considering I spent a lot of my time making food look as appetising as possible. I guess part of the appeal is that I've always been a huge fan of street photography and photojournalism and this appeals to me on that level. I also like the fact that you can't see the butchers face yet the pigs is dangling, half on, down my his side. As I said, it is a bit gruesome.

26 Nov 2012


Finally got around to sorting out this years Christmas card. It's a bit different and went for a red and green letters theme. Would like to say a big thank you to this FLICKR GROUP  whose letters and numbers I borrowed for the card under the creative commons license. And especially Leo Reynolds where all but two of the pictures were his. A truly incredible amount of letters in his portfolio.

8 Nov 2012


Over the summer I went to Devon and while the weather was pretty terrible most of the time I was there I managed to grab this picture as a ray of light created this rainbow amongst the rain. I've added textures and played around with it in photoshop to create this here.