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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

 

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Club Photography

April 12, 2012 Leave a comment

 

2008 was important year for my photography. After a while of ’meaning to’, I finally took the plunge and decided to go along to a local camera club/photography Society and see what they were all about. I must admit I had no idea of what to expect although I had heard about club competitions from a friend, who is a member of a club in Winchester, and the idea of winning trophies appealed to me very much.

 

I tried a couple of clubs before I found the one for me. The first one i attended was the closest to my home. It was held in a small back room in a local library. A nice enough membership but not very big and i am sure i brought the average age of the people in the room down by about 40 years!

 

I did meet another prospective new member there though that had already done the research on some other local clubs and was planning on attending another the following night. We swapped deets and met at the next club.

 

Now this was more like it. Over 50 members, (not all members were over 50 either) and we were greeted with a warm and friendly welcome. Where do i sign?

 

I did! I signed up that day and the following season i became a member of the committee, and remain so to date.

 

Since joining a club i have viewed photography in a different way. Before, my aim with each shot was to get everything in sharp, all in focus, no noise etc etc.. Most of my concentration was on the technical side of the shot. Nothing wrong with this but it didn’t have any creativity.

 

I have seen a wide variety of work from club members as well as work from other club photographers in the region. I have been inspired by so many different people and made quite a few friends along the way, not to mention the skills i have developed too.

 

I now look more towards the compositional and story-telling side of my shot before clicking the shutter. This has given me a new direction. I think more about project work, trips out to shoot various vistas…just having fun with my camera. I certainly use my camera a lot more. Before joining my photography was about going out and finding something (normally an object) to shoot. Now it is about going out and using my camera, using the light (complaining about the light) and getting out with other photographers.

 

If i were to pick out my favourite element to being a member of a photographic society it would be the competitions. With this comes the excitement, anticipation of what the judge of the night is going to say (which I can guarantee only the winners on the night will totally agree with what the judge says), and the scores of course! There is always some friendly rivalry throughout the season.

 

Are you a member of a camera club? If not, i highly recommend you seek one out and attend one of their open evenings to find out all about club photography. I warn you now though… It is addictive!

 

Links:

 

iPad Apps

April 11, 2012 3 comments

It’s true that photographers love gadgets. And whether you are an Apple fan or an Android fan, there is no denying the presence of the tablet.

 

Nearly two years ago now, i was issued with a phone for work, (a blackberry curve – our IT dept restricted its use to text, work email and phone calls so it isn’t really a blackberry anymore), so I sold my beloved iPhone 3G. I had owned this phone for 18 months and still managed to sell it on eBay for £180! More photography kit funds thank you very much!

 

Ever since, I have missed the apple mobile experience but cannot justify signing up for a £35 per month contract for 2 years (£840!) for a second phone when the one i now have costs me nothing, except a bit of street cred.

 

Turning 30 was something i was dreading. I have hated getting older since i was about 23. Yes, i know some readers will be thinking ‘you are still young – wait till you hit 40/50/60 or whatever’. Sorry – I will be in senile by the time I hit these numbers!

 

Deciding against a party, and instead being selfish and buying something just for me, I thought, was a good way to make me forget about the number. Enter the iPad 2. Wow! What a genious piece of kit this is. This was designed for photographers and anyone with a love of imagery. It was designed for me.

 

Opting for the wifi only version in black i can connect to the internet knowing it isnt going to cost me any more than the initial purchase price. In fact, i could upgrade everytime a new one comes out and still have change in my pocket compared to buying another iPhone – almost. 😉 Not that I would because this was a present from my gorgeous wife.


Apps

The app store is a sea of crap with pockets of wonder hidden in its depths. I have tried and deleted many apps and kept a few which i consider to be gems. These are the apps i use all of the time. Anything i find just sitting there, i delete. I hate clutter.

 

After using the ipad since December 2011 (4 months now) what apps do i find useful?

 

Blogsy

Blogsy – this is a wonderful little app that lets you write your blog posts, save them for later, keyword, tag, categorise etc and publish to the blogsasphere when you are ready. So i can type my blog posts offline whilst on a train journey for example (guess where i am now) and publish when i reach an internet connection – home/work/coffee house etc.

The user interface (UI) is friendly and you can format your text to however you want. You can add images to your posts, grab pictures from the internet or your ipad photo library etc. It isnt a free app but well worth the money for any regular blogger.

 

Zite – this is an online magazine which is delivered to you in an exciting format each time you open the app. It is tailored to the subjects you like to read about. You can then say if you liked reading a particular article or not. If not, it wont send you any more like it. You can block certain sources. You can request more from a specific source. It really does try to give you what you want to read. This app is free and does require an internet connection – however, see below for my solution…

Read it later – this is a great little app which I use with Zite. As the name suggests it gives you the opportunity to store articles from Zite on your iPad so you can read them later. There is a free and a paid version. I use the free version. I love it.

iA Writer – I am currently testing this one but wanted to include it here because I am actually typing this blog post from the app. I intend to then copy and paste the post into Blogsy for key wording and categorising etc before posting to PepperArt. Why?, I hear you ask. Isn’t that a long way around to achieving what can be done in Blogsy alone? Yes! It is! However, the UI is clean, simple, and helps me to focus on what i am writing about. There are no distractions of formatting options or font styles etc.. Just plain old-fashioned text. Beautiful! 🙂 And the word count alone is worth all sixty-nine pennies.

 

So, those are all about browsing the internet, blogging and writing. What about photography related apps? Afterall, this is a photograopy blog isnt it (?).

 

Viewing images on iPad2 is a rewarding experience. Especially when it is your own work. I am sure iPad3 will be an even better one with its retina display.

500px – this is the popular 500px.com website but suitably designed for the tablet user interface. You can access your account through the app and view your favourites, the people you follow…pretty much everything you can do with the web version. What’s more… Its free.

Flickstacker – for some reason, Flickr haven’t created an app tailored to the iPad. Instead you need a third party app. This is the one I have chosen. This app again lets you do all the things you can with the web version including commenting on others work, view your account and contacts etc. A pleasure to use. You can actually link your 500px account to this for a small fee. I don’t personally see the point when I have the 500px app. I am waiting for the 1x.com app to be made. That will be an experience!

 

There are loads and loads of photo editing apps out there. The apps that have survived the various cuts on my iPad are as follows :

iPhoto – a native Apple app. This has some great basic editing features. I mainly use this for fun. I particularly love the fact it syncs with the built in photo app automatically. Apple app – so it is not free! Quality though, as you would expect.
Pixlromatic – this is a suite of effects! or ‘plug-ins’ if you will. Square crop, black and white, scratchy background, romantic.. Loads to choose from and lots of fun to play around with. I particularly like the vintage effect. I think I got this one for free.

PS Express – photoshop basic adjustments in a nifty little app. I know Photoshop have just released Photoshop Touch but i dont really envisage using the ipad to edit my proper photography. Just fun photos for social purposes. So i cant justify paying for it. The basic tools on this app such as blur, cropping, tint, black and white etc are quite handy. The UI is pretty cool too – swiping your finger across the screen to adjust the effect…sweeeet!

What apps would you recommend? Am i missing out on any?

Seascape

April 5, 2012 2 comments

Seascape

This vista could be anywhere. There are no telling signs of what country it is in, never mind what city. This shot is taken from the beach at Colwyn Bay, North Wales near the pier.

Using the 10 stop filter during the mid morning light I manage to create some fantastic movement in the clouds as well as the milky flows effect in the water. I think you are beginning to get the feeling by now that this is completely my favourite type of subject at the moment. My favourite to photograph that is. I appreciate lots of other genres such as rugged portraiture, soft focus floral, tac sharp macro and abstract.

I love the simple nature of this image. It almost breaks a few ‘rules’ too such as having the horizon in the middle rather than on a third and the lead in line of rocks doesn’t actually lead into anything solid, just the water. I think it just works.

What do you think?

 

Kit used:-

  • Canon 40D
  • Sigma 10-20mm wide angle
  • Tripod
  • B+W 10 stop filter

Waterfall at Llandulas Beach

March 31, 2012 1 comment

Waterfall at Llandulas Beach – North Wales

Sometimes a shoot requires extra effort and some risk. The risk in this case is that I am stood in the middle of the fast flowing water with my tripod legs dipped below the surface, wedged in between some rocks to steady my kit. With wellies on I am fairly confident my feet won’t get wet, but the grip on the soles are not the best and I am conscious that if some part of me does get wet it will be all of me! All or nothing – including my camera kit! Worth it? I think so!

A neutral density filter is required for a shot like this. A 10 Stop filter would be overkill for what I am trying to achieve here. 3 stops will be plenty, given the available light on this particular day. A polariser is also needed to bring out the cloud detail in the sky.

Flowing water is a brilliant subject to photograph because you can control the kind of mood you are trying to create. You could use a fast shutter speed and freeze the movement or use a slower shutter speed as above to give a more milky effect. I particularly like the smaller flow on the right of this scene. Can you spot the caravan park?

Llandulas beach is a shingle beach in North Wales with plenty of subjects to photograph. You can see more of my work from this location on my main website. I like to work a location when I am there. There are receding groynes in the sea (wave breakers), plenty of pebbles with interesting shapes and colours and this waterfall of course. Whilst only a small beach I think it is worth a visit for any landscape photographer.

Lowepro Vertex AW200

March 29, 2012 Leave a comment
Mini review

I have been after a new kit bag for some time now. I already own a couple of bags. I have one for walkabout shooting or shoots where I know I only need the camera and one lens, like photographing butterflies and damselflies – the Kata Ligh-tri 315 DL. My other bag has historically been for my landscape work or for storing all my kit in or for just going out and not really knowing what kit I will need.

My kit has built up significantly over the years though and the Kata DR 467 just isn’t big enough anymore. Ideally I need a bag that can hold all of my kit at any one time without it being a squash.

Having done some research online and asked around I finally went for the Lowepro Vertex AW200. I was a bit nervous at first of buying something that wasn’t from the Kata range. I now realise this was silly. This camera bag is a beast. It can hold all of my kit (except tripod which has its own padded bag anyway) and has a gazillion pockets. I even have room to grow into the bag – perhaps a dangerous thing because that will no doubt cost me more money!

The main sections are zipped off with weather proof zips and is padded to high heaven so I know my kit will be protected from accidental knocks. I have managed to fit my main camera body, two medium sized lenses and 3 other lenses and still have loads of room to spare. All of my filters are inside, as well as the usual stuff like spare memory cards, batteries, maps, etc etc.

Highly recommended.

 

Path to the beyond

March 21, 2012 5 comments

Path to the beyond

You guessed it. This is the result of another successful trip to The Roaches. Roach End in particular. The sky is fairly cloudless and does little to enlighten this sunset picture….until the little cluster comes along and tickles the sun itself.

This shot is actually two separate exposures – one for the landscape and one for the sun. The difference in brightness is way too big for my 0.9 Lee Graduated Neutral Density filter to handle so it has to be done.

Like most other landscape photographers, I don’t consider this cheating – just using the tools I have to hand. Both images are captured by me and merged to recreate the scene before me.

Composing the scene is always the hardest part of any shot. I always like to include some form of foreground subject/interest. Whether it be a simple stone or a winding path such as the one above, I find it useful to have something for the viewer to begin their journey through the photograph and these features give depth to the image.

Having had some success, coming second in a league competition this image has been part of a local exhibition.