Archive for the ‘creative’ Category

Old stuff

May 13, 2012 Leave a comment

Old stuff can look amazing!

Another season has ended at my photographic society and the summer closed season is upon us. During this time some members embark on their annual trip to Italy or France or Africa, some members stay closer to home and head to the sandy beaches of Cornwall or Wales (last year was a popular year for Northumberland – including my own trip).

This year, I intend to venture out to the lakes in August and may get chance to whip out the camera at the golden hours for sunsets (and sunrises if I can get my butt out of bed). So watch this space for amazing Lee Big Stopper slow shutter speed photographs.

This blog post isn’t about amazing vistas though. That will come later in the year. This post is about a different kind of photography…

Inspiration from others

At one of the last meetings of club we had a knock out competition where members usually showcase or tryout some new stuff they have been working on in advance of next season’s league comps. One image in particular tickled something in my creative imagination and was screaming for a re-shoot.

As a result of another photographer’s shortcomings, I now have what I believe to be a killer idea for an image to create and enter for next season. I don’t have any of the subject matter though…..yet!

I intend to create a ’still-life/record’ type shot of old/antique/vintage objects in a mono, yet very detailed style. This has led me to venture over to trusty eBay for a gander of what can be obtained for my bucket of ’props’.

Old stuff can also be expensive!

Oops! Using funds from my microstock sales I have managed to spend over £30!…. On old tat! I have bought a few really old keys, a couple of pocket watch movements and an old coin (photography can also be educational). I just need to find/create a setting for my shot. This is proving tricky. I have an old tool shed in mind, with a window to provide an interesting light. I can’t think of where one is though!!

I can see the shot now, mono (perhaps sepia-ish or some sort of ’vintage’ effect), gritty, very sharp with a wide range of tones from almost complete dark shadows to almost blown highlights.

I know I am getting ahead of myself, perhaps posting this blog is a bit premature but I am so excited about the photograph forming in my imagination.

I’m not too worried about the cost of the bits and pieces because I intend to shoot all of the objects from various different angles and process in various different styles for my microstock sales that I am confident I can recoup the funds (and more over time) – and there is always the option of re-sale on eBay anyway.

Who needs to go on lavish foreign holidays to get excited about photography? Not me – this year anyway!

Image details

ISO 100, f/22′ 1sec, Sigma 150mm macro



Royal Blue

March 29, 2012 Leave a comment

Royal Blue – something a title different from my norm.

Sometimes the weather is too bad to play outside. The winter is the worst. Going to work in the dark and coming home when it’s dark. On these occasions I like to have a go with the flash.

This shot is made using some blue textured paper, the tap in my kitchen! and a baking tray! Of course, there is the camera equipment too!

Trying to achieve the perfect crown is not an easy task. Especially when I am relying on my tap settings (basically, turn it on a tiny tiny bit so there is a steady drip drip drip) being consistent. With the baking tray underneath the tap, the textured paper behind the drips of the tap and the flash pointing from the side towards the paper (not the tray where the drips land) all I need to do is set up the camera. The idea is that the light bounces off the paper and onto the tray where the water is landing. Time the press of the shutter as the water hits the tray and hey presto!

How do you focus on where the water lands though? A tip I got from Gavin Hoey is to place a pen where the water is landing and focus on that. He has lots of videos on his site with tonnes of tips and tricks, including a full video on how to shoot water splash shots. Go check him out.

Sounds easy doesn’t it? Try it and see how many shots you take before you are happy. It’s a lot of fun!


Trail Blazin’

March 17, 2012 Leave a comment

Trail Blazin’

One of the first times I experienced the capabilities of the ultra wide angle lens, the Sigma 10-20mm, I remember being blown away by the amount of extra scenery you can fit into the shot.

As usual I try to fit in as many elements as I can with this shot. It’s a dark and cold evening and I’m in the mood for trying something creative. Playing around with the bulb setting on my camera, I spend a good couple of hours exposing (before my fingers drop off) trying to capture the different light trails whizzing underneath the bridge I am perched on. That’s the beauty of light trails – no two shots will be the same. The traffic is changing all of the time.

On this particular evening I am lucky that a maintenance truck is laying out traffic cones with flashing lights on the northbound section of the motorway. Great! Another element I can use.

This long exposure captures enough light from the passing vehicles to illuminate the central reservation as well as the detail in the concrete road. The light from the towns and cities in the distance help to give a slight orange glow to the base of the sky. some may see this as light pollution but I think it gives a hint of sunset feeling.

My favourite part of this shot was actually an accident (perhaps I shouldn’t admit that?). The exposure was long enough to capture the trail of a passing aeroplane in the distance. For me, it looks like it could be a shooting star and is actually makes the shot. Sometimes photography does include a little bit of luck.

Urban Directions

February 22, 2012 1 comment



Taken in an underground car park using various lighting methods. The striking prime colours bring a real connection between the foreground, middle and background of the scene.



Trophy and gold medal for overall winning image of the Lancashire and Cheshire Photographic Union annual PDI knockout competition 2009 as well as acceptances in numerous other exhibitions throughout the UK.


The setup

The scene before me cries out to be photographed. It’s pitch black in the corner of an empty underground car park. I set up the tripod and camera, loaded with my trusty wide-angle lens. I love using the wide angle because the range from 10-20mm gives an ultra wide perspective on the scene. With bulb mode selected I have complete control over the exposure time. There is an art to this though. Too long an exposure and all the important parts will be washed out. Too short an exposure and the scene will not reveal itself.


The shoot

Flash gun, small torch, and home-made gels at the ready, I click the shutter on the cable release to start the exposure. Excited with anticipation of what is about the unfold and be revealed on the camera’s preview screen I run around like a mad man attaching different coloured gels and firing off the flash gun, taking extra care not to capture myself on the memory card. The picture in my mind is clear. I want to include three primary colours that complement each other and collectively create an image which is striking enough to the viewer to stop and take at least a second look.


I sprint back to the setup, click the release button again and wait for the big reveal. It’s always a tense moment when you shoot on bulb mode because the exposure is more of an educated guess than a sensor-calculated time. The camera’s display looks great. I can’t wait to get this up on my monitor to see what it really looks like!



Surprisingly, relatively little boosting of the saturation is needed for this shot. The colours speak loud enough for themselves already. Just a little bit of curves and levels adjustment to bring out some of the detail in the rugged concrete and darker background areas.



Bulb mode. Aperture F/5.6. 135 second exposure. Red, green and blue acetate moulded to fit on the flashgun and the small torch using black gaffer tape. Tripod. Cable release. Good grippy trainers.



Night Photography

December 5, 2011 Leave a comment

Winter is now setting in and the early nights are upon us. So what do we do when us enthusiasts get home from work of an evening? Do we wait all week for the weekend or are there other ways to get enjoyment from our beloved black boxes?

Photography has always been and will always be about working with light. Whether that be sunlight, flashlight, street lamps, torches, whatever.. It is about capturing what you see or creating something you see in your mind using light.

A couple of years ago I was introduced to the idea of ‘painting with light’. This idea opened up a whole new strand of photography for me. Bulb mode was no longer a mystery. Shooting at night more often than not requires long exposures, sometimes minutes. It also involves waiting around, wrapping up warm and the anticipation of what will appear on the camera’s display when the shutter finally closes. I love it.

Painting with light can involve many different light sources. I like to use my flash gun and a mag light along with some coloured acetate or ‘gels’. The gels add that extra touch to the image by giving the light source different colours. Light shining through the coloured gels projects light of that colour.

There are hundreds of examples of this kind of night photography online. Here is an image of mine that I am particularly proud of :-

LCPU Knockout Competition Winner!!!

November 30, 2009 Leave a comment


The LCPU – Lancashire and cheshire Photographic Union consists of many camera clubs throughout the region. The annual knockout competition was held on 28th November 2009 with some 37 clubs entering 5 images each. By my calculations that’s 185 entries.

My image, “Urban Directions” managed to battle through 9 rounds to fight off the other 184 images to win the competition. This photograph won me a nice shiny gold medal to keep and a trophy to take pride of place on my mantle piece for the next 12 months.

I am over the moon!


Urban Directions does it again!

August 11, 2009 1 comment


I received another acceptance into a national exhibition for my image, Urban Directions, this weekend.

Each acceptance into these BPE accredited exhibitions count towards recognition in the ability to produce photographs of great quality. After recieving 25 acceptances i will be awarded the BPE* designation – so still some way to go but i’m definitley off the mark.

There were over 1400 entries into the same category, out of which only a certain percentage can be accepted so i am pretty pleased with this result.

The actual exhibition will take place Saturday, 12th September, 2009 at the Washbrook Village Hall, Suffolk, IP8 3JD, starting at 2.30p.m The Village hall is on the old A12 opposite the Elizabeth Hotel at Washbrook apparently.

Dont forget to check out my latest images on the main website.