Toby Smith

Latest Tweets

#backclimateaction

SKIPSEA, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 8, 2015

The UK Department of Energy & Climate Change is promoting the use of photography to tell your climate change story in their #BackClimateAction photo competition. Rather than photos of melting glaciers and polar bears, the DECC wants to see photos showing the ways in which climate change could affect the things you value most in your day-to-day life.

Beginning at 9am GMT on 2oth February , launched the competition by inviting you to post your images to Instagram or Twitter with a short caption and the hashtag #BackClimateAction. The contest ends on Friday, March 6, and the winners will be announced later that month. First prize is a photo masterclass with Getty Images in London.

Read more about the contest on the DECC’s website.

To inspire the public to take part in the photo contest, and to initiate discussion around a wide range of climate change issues, the DECC has commissioned me to illustrate ways in which climate change could affect the UK. In the above photo, I show how rapid coastal erosion has undercut and washed away roadways and private property at the Yorkshire Village of Skipsea. The image shows the full moon rising over the North Sea in a 15 minute exposure.  I also photographed less visible ways in which climate change could affect life in the UK, such as its fish markets, where invasive species will appear in greater numbers due to changes in water temperature.

This is really great initiative and I look forwards to seeing the different ways in which both professional and amateur photographers, SLRs and Smart Phones can capture Climate Change in the UK.

On the 3rd of February 2015, shortly after 4pm, Akis Kollaros was cycling along Homerton High Street in London and collided with a tipper truck making a left turn. Paramedics were on the scene within seconds but were unable to revive him before Akis was pronounced dead at the scene.

On the 20th January 2015, during morning rush hour in Hackney Stephanie Turner was cycling through the junction of Amhurst and Seven Sisters road and was also hit my a tipper truck making a left turn. She suffered critical injuries and died shortly afterwards.

My wife and I live equi-distant between these 2 locations and know these roads well. Like Akis and Stephanie we rely on our bikes both to commute and get around London. We are only too aware of the perils of sharing a road with heavy goods vehicles and are almost exactly the same age as Akis and Stephanie. We feel saddened and frustrated that such young lives, similar to our own, could end in such preventable and similar circumstances.

I read the tributes and flowers laid for Stephanie at the scene of the accident with feelings of grief and frustration. My sympathies extend to the families and friends of Stephanie and Akis but also to the truck drivers who, regardless of fault, must be suffering great anguish.

As a cyclist. driver and someone who contributes to the construction industry I appreciate the complexity of the debate on ‘how to improve cycle safety’. However, reviewing the statistics and scores of ‘ghost-bikes’ I have spotted around London I cannot help be angered at our lack of action to ‘prevent the unnecessary loss of life’ in our own city.

As a photographer I feel strangely compelled to add to this debate and somehow reflect on the issue with my work. I spent some hours filming video at both locations which itself was very meditative. The footage here depicts the junction where Akis was killed and was filmed a day later at exactly the same time. I hope by removing the traffic and pedestrians the viewer can feel a sense of loss, peace and remembrance.

Offshore Wind

I’m excited to be in the mix for a commission looking at climate issues in the UK. Inspired to dig out and process some images captured en-route to some sea-forts off the Norfolk Coast.

OFF SHORE WIND FARM, NORFOLK COAST - MARCH 03, 2012 OFF SHORE WIND FARM, NORFOLK COAST - MARCH 03, 2012 OFF SHORE WIND FARM, NORFOLK COAST - MARCH 03, 2012

Norfolk

5 images from a weekend in Norfolk… Great company, beautiful light and big skies…





XMAS UNWRAPPED

In August I travelled East with the Unknown Fields Division, to Vietnam, China and beyond. We traced the supply chain of the world’s consumer products across the South China Sea down cargo routes and inland to their production. Ahead of the main body of documentary work from our field trip we want to share this festive video which reveals exactly how and where all the santa hats, decorations and disposable tat really comes from…

Yiwu in China is not only home to the world’s largest wholesale commodity market but also many of the “Just in Time” factories that produce seasonal or trending products.  Christmas consumables are finished in summer ready for wholesale, packaging and shipping to principally western markets.

SPRING – AN EVENING IN FRENCH GUIANA

Saturday, March 22, 201, 22:04 UTC.  A searing flash of magnesium bleaches the night as 2 solid rocket motors and a Vulcan engine lift 780 tonnes of rocket towards the heavens. 4 seconds later at 4km away the ground shook and the air reverberated. I was stood behind my tripod tracking the launch in HD on a 600mm lens with another camera snapping stills at 12 FPS on a 200mm lens clamped to a brick wall. My fingers and toes were crossed hoping that 3 remote cameras had sprung into life on timers capturing the same scene at wide angle!

This exciting evening was the conclusion of the first stage of ‘Geosynchronous Satellites.’
A project whereby I traced the narrative of commercial satellites from their design and construction through to international transportation and space-launch. The project is to be published as a collection of still images and an exclusive short film featuring UHD video, time-lapse, custom animated graphics and overlays.

SUMMER – HOT NEW WEBSITE

I collaborated with with Thomas Hole on a new website with new editorial functionality including video embeds, print sales, social media integration and importantly a redesigned and integrated map gallery.  “HS2 – Walk the Line” can now be browsed in its entirety above a Google Map base-layer with both captions and the rail-route displayed.

AUTUMN – ALL ABOARD A CONTAINER SHIP

Following on from our 2013 trip to Madagascar I was once again invited by the Unknown Fields Division to collaborate on an experimental field-trip . We began with a cargo-ship voyage across the South China Sea before heading inland into Northern China. Treading a familiar path to my 2009 project on ‘China’s Energy Pioneers‘, we focussed on deconstructing the supply chain behind consumer electronics right back to their mineral source and toxic by-products.

WINTER – ARMING UP AND EXPORTING OUT

I’ve moved further towards full multimedia output in 2014. 4K cameras and professional sound give clarity, bite and realism to subjects whilst animation can add extra context to subjects. I’m also proud to welcome Brian and Chloe to the team.  Together we’ve ramped-up production quality on location and sped-up delivery of new projects from the editing desk.  We were immediately put the test last month on a commission in Bangladesh to document how hospital ships bring healthcare to the isolated, migratory communities of the Northern Delta.

We’re all looking forwards to getting our teeth into new projects in 2015 but until then we leave you with this tranquil bit of “Slow Television” from The South China Sea.  Full 4K video at 4280 pixels wide, 24 frames per second and 93 minutes long without a single dropped frame.

Kind Regards

Toby Smith

PICTURE CAPTIONS

Image 1 – Xmas Unwrapped in a Chinese factory near Yiwu.
Image 2 – Ariane 5 with its payload of 2 satellites launches from French Guiana.
Image 3 – SES-6, a communications satellite, undergoes testing in Toulouse.
Image 4 – Screengrab of www.tobysmith.com -> HS2 – Walk the Line.
Image 5 – The bridge of the Maersk Gunhilde container ship.
Image 6 – Coal Mine, undisclosed location, China.
Image 7 – The South China Sea in 4K