Archive for the ‘mono’ 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



Castle Rock

February 24, 2012 1 comment



Castle Rock

Another view of Dunstanburgh Castle whilst on a holiday in Northumberland. This is photographed on the same night as my sunset shot. Well before the sun decided to appeared I worked on trying to achieve a real moody black and white image.


The setup

This castle has been photographed many times. Some would say you only have to look for the tripod holes in the rocks to find the effect spot from which to shoot it. I don’t care. I always have to go out and give my own take on subjects for myself. I decide to go for a long exposure because there is enough detail in the sky to be able to capture the movement of the clouds. The trusty 10 stop filter is required for this job. An exposure of a good few minutes can be achieved at this time of evening when adding this filter.


The shoot

Tripod all set up low down, wide angle lens attached I focus on the big rock just in front of me. Aperture set to give sufficient depth of field I meter the exposure and calculate what that should be if the scene were 10 stops darker. Being careful not to knock the setup I screw on the B+W 10 stop filter. Set the camera to bulb mode and press the shutter release cable.


It is always a tense moment waiting for the time to elapse and the image to appear on the rear of the camera. I don’t want to get this wrong and have to repeat the process so I always check and recheck my settings for this kind of shot. Some exposures can go into their minutes so each take is precious – even in this digital age.



Conversion to black and white is necessary when shooting RAW. Curves and levels adjustments made then sharpened to finish off. Sweet!



Sticks and Stones

February 21, 2012 Leave a comment


Shot at Llandulas beach, north Wales. It’s the “almost” uniform recession of the groynes as well as the detail in the foreground that makes this picture for me.

The setup

Foreground is so important when shooting landscapes. It gives a sense of scale as well as depth to a picture. It brings the sole shot together. Foreground interest gives the viewer a starting point for their journey through the image. Tripod is a must for this shot – a long exposure of 100 seconds requires complete stillness, which is difficult when you are freezing your assets off on a windy beach.

The shoot

The trusty wide-angle lens is out again. I get really low down to the ground, and in close to the rocks to exaggerate their size. I know the shot I want in my head. I want milky water, almost fog-like, frothing over the rocks and a calm tranquil sea for the groynes to descend into. For this I need a Neutral Density filter capable of stopping down the light for a good few seconds. It can only mean one thing… This is a job for the 10 -stop filter!

I arrange the kit, making sure the camera is focused on the right spot to ensure the whole image is sharp. Using the camera’s exposure meter I now calculate how long I would need to leave the shutter open for based on its current reading. Being careful not to move the setup, I now attach the 10-stop filter. With bulb mode applied, I now dial in the aperture (f/22) and press the shutter-release cable button and wait. This is the hard part – waiting for time to pass, concentrating on not disturbing any rocks underfoot otherwise the whole setup will have to be restarted. 100 seconds later – click. That’s it, done. I view the camera’s preview image and histogram to make sure the calculated exposure time was accurate. Got it.


Being next to the sea it is inevitable that the filter will catch some of the spray from the water, especially on a windy day, so a few minutes viewing the shot at 100% is necessary to make sure I clear up the dust-bunnies using Photoshop’s spot-healing brush. Some levels adjustments and sharpening and I’m happy.


Knock Out Wonderboy!

November 20, 2011 Leave a comment

Knockout competitions seem to be becoming somewhat of a speciality for me!

At the end of each season at camera club we have a knockout competition whereby each member is allowed to enter up to 6 images to be projected digitally. The images are all entered into a piece of software on the computer and randomised. The images will then appear in a random order to be voted against the image next to it. Members vote for the image out of the two they like the best and it goes through to the next round, knocking the losing image out.

Long story short, I won! Here is the winning image…

I call it “Sticks and Stones”

North Wales

March 1, 2010 Leave a comment

At 4.30 am the alarm went off to signal a belated first trip to the coast was about to start!

This outing was to start in Colwyn Bae and finish in Llandulas on the way home (with a short stop at Macdonalds in between of course).

Itching to test out some new kit i’d recently invested in, I couldnt wait to unload the car and hit the beach as soon as I arrived.

I’ve processed and uploaded some shots from the weekend to my website. Be sure to check out the ‘North Wales’ and ‘Creative‘ sections for the latest ones.

I love the milky water effect created through long exposures like the one above.

Thanks for looking.


The 5am Fisherman

March 26, 2009 1 comment


This photograph was rewarded 19/20 in my camera club’s annual portrait print competition last night amongst some fierce competition!

‘The 5am Fisherman’ – History: –

Out on a trip to Heswall, on the Wirral, photographing the stranded boats in the estuary, I met a lovely chap named Colin who happened to be a member if the local camera club. This guy lived nearby and told me he comes out every morning to try and capture that ‘perfect shot’ of the estuary. He had such a classic face that I feel is brilliant for a portrait, lots of texture. So I thought it rude not to ask.

Colin kindly agreed to show us around the local area for the rest of that morning, introducing us to Perch Rock Lighthouse as well as some other great locations which i may return to for future shoots.

I wanted to give the image a more interesting name than just the guys actual name so I chose ‘The 5am Fisherman’ because of his wirey white beard and the fact I photographed him next to the boats.

You can see more of my work on my website PepperArt.