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Posts Tagged ‘creative’

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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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.

Poppies at Bamburgh Castle

March 15, 2012 Leave a comment

 

Poppies at Bamburgh Castle, Northumberland

Northumberland seems to have been the designation for 2011 camera club holidaymakers. Every man/woman and his/her camera has ventured here this year. The puffins on the Farne Islands attract thousands of tourists to the North East of the country each year and I am no exception. However, my love of the area lies not with the birds but with the landmarks. There are castles galore to be seen and wandered around. Bamburgh Castle is my favourite and trying to find a different view to photograph from is a menacing feat – Not least because it has been done a million times but also because of the position of the sun. One night I tried to shoot at sunset from the other side of the castle and found it difficult to get into a position where I was not also photographing my own shadow! The alternative at this time of year is to shoot into the sun with the castle in silhouette.

The shoot

Driving along the main road towards Bamburgh, with the castle in front of us, I notice the grassy field beside me with dashes of orange and red flowers springing up through the growth. The lightbulb moment happens and I pull the car over in the nearest lay-by, leaving my wife to tend to the car whilst I dash over to investigate further. Yes! Poppies! Perfect!

I know the image i want. The clouds are necessary in a shot like this, the colour of the poppies will bring the image to life and the combination of red blue and green will make the shot. I set up the tripod as low as it will go, attach a circular polariser and ND grad to bring out the detail in the sky. Using a wide angle lens has its advantages and disadvantages. It depends on what you are trying to achieve whether it is appropriate to use one. In my case I want to capture the poppies as well as the gorgeous sky. The castle has now become the least significant feature in the image. That’s ok with me. I am trying for a different take after all. It is interesting how shoots turn out.

After a good 30 minutes or so, tinkering with the composition, I return to my wife and car a happy camper. (any longer and the wife and car might have left me there!).

Derelict Beauty

February 27, 2012 Leave a comment

Derelict Beauty

 

I frequent The Peak District a few times throughout the year. In particular I love to photograph the rocks and surrounding atmosphere at Roach End. The Roaches is a ridge on a hill consisting of cliff face and large boulders – a lot of fun to manoeuvre when out running, but that’s another hobby. The area is so peaceful and quiet, except for the sound of the grouse fluttering by every now and then. Well worth a visit.

 

The setup

This old disused barn has been on my agenda for quite some time now and I have avoided it’s temptation on each visit because of its obvious lure to other photographers. That’s the trouble with photography – i always think someone else will have already photographed it. My challenge is to capture this barn from a different angle with some beautiful lighting.

 

I tend to find this location has more to offer for sunset than sunrise due to the positioning of the sun throughout the year combined with the direction I like to shoot the area from.

 

Running with the idea I need to shoot from a unique angle, I climb over a barbed wire fence, hobble over the mossy banks of hidden boulders and eventually position myself low down in the most uncomfortable position. This should do it!

 

I like to use my wide angle lens from low down positions usually to capture the foreground elements and give scale to the image. This time, all foreground elements were just moss and reeds. There is a boulder protruding from the undergrowth in the middle distance though. This will be my foreground interest and will require a higher viewpoint.

 

The shoot

10 stop filter is required again to capture the movement of the clouds and give this shot that little something extra. I have to be quick though because the sun is about to set and would be too low to light up the barn. I’m borrowing a fellow photographer’s Lee Big Stopper to test out the difference it makes against the B+W screw in filter. Wow! This is much easier! I have to get myself one of these!

 

Afterwards

Some minor adjustments such as levels and curves and a little bit of dust bunny bashing before I can sharpen and save this beauty. I love it when all the elements come together at the same time.

 

Lee Big Stopper ordered. 8 months later it arrives. I can’t wait to get out and play!

 

Urban Directions

February 22, 2012 1 comment

 

URBAN DIRECTIONS

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.

 

Awards

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!

 

Afterwards

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.

 

Settings

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 :-