October Highlights

October – ten months of blogging, and what a blast I have had … if someone said to me 10 months ago would I like to photograph a wedding – I would have run a mile, I can now say that I was “the wedding photographer”, I have discovered the style of wedding photos I would like to produce and through the experience I can totally appreciate why wedding photography is expensive and how with the changing light you really need to live and breathe your camera.

If at the beginning of the year I would never have thought I could take an amazing set of photos with gels, smoke and an adorable baby in my own kitchen I would have thought they were having a laugh…. I am beginning to realise anything is possible! Continue reading

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Day 304 – Happy Halloween

A quick play in the garden with pumpkins lit by candle light, manual mode on my wide angle lens, a splash of smoke and some coloured gels, a sparkler…. to wish you a Happy Halloween!

Straight out of camera
Straight out of camera

I started shooting with a wide aperture – F7.1, and a 3.2sec exposure on ISO100, to capture the ambient light of the pumpkins. I was surprised to see how much detail was reflected in the slate tiles that the pumpkins were sat on, so I choose to make the aperture narrower so I could record more of the texture, which meant as a consequence I had to increase the shutter duration.

Added smoke and green gel flash
Added smoke and green gel flash

I added smoke, and the flash behind on a 1/16 exposure. Flash outside is hard to control… it blows everywhere, but it adds a great texture to the image.

More Smoke and green gel
More Smoke and green gel

More smoke and the background looks very spooky.

Blue Gel flash
Blue Gel flash

Changing the colour gel on the flash creates a totally different feel – I have used gels before – in this set up with the pumpkin when I used an orange gel and here when I experimented with a variety of colours  – they do work really well with smoke!

Blue gel and unsatuated the orange!
Blue gel and unsaturated the orange!

Here I kept the blue but removed the orange colour from the image in lightroom, just to see how it changed the mood of the photo.

No smoke ... but added a sparker
No smoke … but added a sparker

A sparkler adds a lot more light to the image and flicks up sparks like the wire wool – my first attempt the sparkler was behind the pumpkins and they don’t really interact.

Sparkler, Blue Gel Flash and smoke
Sparkler, Blue Gel Flash and smoke

Waving the sparkler round in a spiral though adds depth with smoke behind and a blue flash… it is interesting what effects you can achieve, my final image below I added a couple of textures and experimented with different blending modes in Photoshop to create an image with a different feel. Happy Halloween!

With text and textures added in Lightroom
With text and textures added in Lightroom

Day 303 – Evening Light in London and HDR

Another challenge, this time low light photography without a tripod in London as dusk approaches.

I thought I would have a go at a couple of HDR images – where you take three images at three exposures – about a stop apart – and merge them together as an HDR image in Lightroom. I have shared the settings on the middle shot. For this to work, I set my camera up so it automatically took three exposures and multi images at the same time so there was less rick of ghosting and camera shake – ideally a tripod should be used. Continue reading

Day 302 – The Tower of London

One of the most famous landmarks in London is the “Tower of London” – this is one of the Royal palaces and is currently home to the Crown Jewels. It is also an amazingly busy and popular place with tourists and families during half term. We visited, as I always wanted to see the Crown Jewels and I never had … and because it is one of the most prominent landmarks on the Thames when we visit London.

My attention today was to try and capture a view of the Tower of London that my friends from other countries would enjoy, to try and avoid the crowd and to follow the rules – there were many areas where photography of all kinds was prohibited, and to capture some unique views of London that you would only be able to see inside the Tower of London.

Exploring the Tower of London - ISO100, F5, 1/320sec
Exploring the Tower of London – ISO100, F5, 1/320sec

An introduction shot – Continue reading

Day 301 – London Underground

A few days away so I want to share with you some icon photos from London. My first thought was to capture the underground – now to capture images on the underground is an interesting area – permits can be required if wanting to take professional images but there seems to be no ban on adhoc photography as long as a tripod and a flash are not used, and that you stop if requested to do so. A lot more guidelines can be found here – Photographing the underground

I was not going to plan my shots, rather just carry my camera and take a photo of a moment. I just wanted to capture my day and not really identify anywhere where the photos were taken. I wanted to capture the mood of underground in off peak travel. Continue reading

Day 300 – A different view, a different beach

I wanted to try a comparison shot with the nd filters and with a polarising filter today … so aimed to go prepared and I also watched to capture the beach, some coastal interesting shooting wide. Busy morning planned – I also got to enjoy an 11k walk with hubby and the photo buddies. Continue reading

Day 299 – Studio with Teens

Part two of my Old Bakery workshop, and we were photographing teens. One of the teens is mine and she brought along a couple of friends.  As I mentioned it was a busy session, the teens were not as popular as the new born, but they were very co-operative, none of them had been models before or in a studio – but they took direction well and had fun during the evening.

My first challenge was to set up the speedlites – I had not done that before, and with a couple of new photographers asking me questions it was a steep learning curve and really made me put my brain into action. It was then a challenge to get the girls to relax and to give them some idea of how to pose (I really don’t have much clue on that) and I wanted to capture some fun images of the three of them together.

There was three set ups…

  • Black background lit by speedlites
  • White infinity curve lit with strobes
  • Black background continuous light with the reflector.

Black background and Speedlites

ISo400, F8, 1/200 sec - adding props helps the shoot feel fun - but it is not sharp enough as my focus is off.
ISo400, F8, 1/200 sec – adding props helps the shoot feel fun – but it is not sharp enough as my focus is off.
ISo400, F8, 1/200 sec - one stop less light
ISo400, F8, 1/200 sec – one stop less light
ISO400, F8 1/200 sec - flasg behing (rim light) flash to the right softbox and red flash inside pumpkin.
ISO400, F8 1/200 sec – flasg behing (rim light) flash to the right softbox and red flash inside pumpkin.
ISo200, F8, 1/100 sec - using a prop gives the model something to do! Speedlites
ISo200, F8, 1/100 sec – using a prop gives the model something to do! Speedlites

A close light was softer light, the back light had to be kept of the background and as the light was so close you had to be aware of the shadows they created on each other. I shot slightly from above as otherwise the background was cluttered.

During the evening there were also lots of discussions going on.

  • I got a great tip on how to improve my pumpkin photos – by either fixing the problem area with lightroom filters in a way I had not considered (it worked!) on in camera on another shoot by including a reflector – and what to look for to get it right. To take comments from face to face photographers was a bit nerve racking… but really positive and I know if I can’t get it right I am going to ask for help.
  • A demo was given on the use of light and what different lighting effects are called
  • A demo was given on reflectors
  • A light meter was introduced and it’s use explained – I own one … and I learnt more about using mine … so am going to bring it along in future,
  • It was so lovely that some of the photographers were willing to share their ideas, their methods and teach others.
  • I also got to try a  EF8-15mm F4L fisheye lens – lovely quality of glass, and on the crop sensor zoomed in there is no vignetting, but zoomed out there was, it was a great opportunity but not something I think I would currently use often.  I think next time I am going to see if I can have a go with a ef24-70mm F2.8 markII – as I think that is the next lens I would like to have.

Black background and Continuous Lights

ISO800, F3.5, 1/100sec - experimenting with continuous lighting
ISO800, F3.5, 1/100sec – experimenting with continuous lighting
ISO800, F3.5, 1/100sec - experimenting with continuous lighting
ISO800, F3.5, 1/100sec – experimenting with continuous lighting
ISO1600, F5, 1/125 - experimenting with changing settings and angles. Not in foucus enough.
ISO1600, F5, 1/125 – experimenting with changing settings and angles. Not in foucus enough.
ISO800, F3.5, 1/100sec - experimenting with continuous lighting
ISO800, F3.5, 1/100sec – experimenting with continuous lighting

A light to her left, sometimes a reflector to the right – changing the angle she was to the light and the angle I photographed from made a real difference, the better shots are when I positioned on the same level. I wish I had more time to observe this area, and it was fascinating to see all the fine differences when they were pointed out to you, the photograher explaining this was very patient!

At this point thought I was slightly disappointed that some photographers did not seem interested in the teens – they just wanted babies. It meant there was more time for those who did want to photograph them, but I think photographing any subject is worth doing, you realise how building a relationship with the model is important, how showing them the image on the back of the camera helps with the interaction and you also realise how incredibly brave this young ladies to sit in front of the camera, I admire all three of them … and I hope they will choose to model again for me.

White background and strobes

Shooting groups - ISO200, F5, 1/125sec
Shooting groups – ISO200, F5, 1/125sec
Three models - ISO200, F5, 1/125sec - not as easy as you think....
Three models – ISO200, F5, 1/125sec – not as easy as you think….
Another selfie - ISO200, F5, 1/125sec - watch for backgrounds! i left these in as it is a behind the scenes shot!
Another selfie – ISO200, F5, 1/125sec – watch for backgrounds! i left these in as it is a behind the scenes shot!
Having fun - ISO200, F5, 1/125sec
Having fun – ISO200, F5, 1/125sec
ISO200, F5, 1/125sec - white backgound and strobe lights - some poses just don't work, but the models are relaxed and having fun!
ISO200, F5, 1/125sec – white background and strobe lights – some poses just don’t work, but the models are relaxed and having fun!
ISO200, F5, 1/125sec - white backgound and strobe lights
ISO200, F5, 1/125sec – white backgound and strobe lights
ISO200, F5, 1/125sec - selfie, high key shot!
ISO200, F5, 1/125sec – selfie, high key shot!

I may have not got the perfect posed photo – but I captured the girls having fun, they relaxed, they enjoyed themselves and they wanted to do it again…. so hopefully I can convince them at my house….  posing is something I need to learn more about … I keep saying that – but it is true! However I was impressed with how much more confident I was with my camera and how much more I understood the exposure pyramid.  I cam away thinking…

  • I need to take control of my lights (read more)
  • I need to learn how to pose people so they are comfortable – but the most important thing is to relate to them and value them… they are not props!
  • Glasses are a nightmare – I need to watch for glare and reflections….
  • I need to get level with the model, and make sure the eyes are focused and I capture catch lights in them
  • I need to experiment more and more ……

Day 298 – The Great South Run

Today I  took part in the Great South Run. This is a 10 mile road race and I am doing it to raise awareness of my son’s medical condition. It has been a struggle to get here… 2.5 years go I was 5 stone heavier … I lost weight and than was challenged to run my first 10k, I did that and then decided I’d like to do a bigger event and signed up to do the Great South Run.

I was never a runner. Prior to January 2014 I had never run anywhere. But today I did. Two weeks ago my running number arrived… and in case I could not share photos of it today I created a flat lay to mark the occasion. Continue reading

Day 297 – Studio Session Baby and Toddler

I visited the Old Bakery for another studio session, and this week we looked at baby and toddler photographing and to be honest I did not take many photos, I found it a bit overwhelming in the attitude of some of the photographers who attended. It is hard posting that online but I really felt them some of them forgot the most important part of the evening.

Being posed for a portrait
Being posed for a portrait

Continue reading