Day 356 – The best camera ever

When I started my journey this year I thought getting a better camera would make me a better photographer… I never imagined what I could learn along the way, I wanted to recreate images that I had seen other people take so assumed I needed to know what camera they used what lens they had, what their shutter sped, ISO and aperture were and with the right ingredients I too could achieve that amazing image.

What is the best camera ever?

It could be a stated of the art full frame camera with an “L” series lens, Continue reading

Day 282 – Remember the essentials.

Today I grabbed my Canon 6Od and my kit lens 18-55mm for a walk on the beach. The idea was to revisit the camera as my daughter has been using it, check the settings and to take some photos. The first thing I noticed today was that it was a lot lighter than the 7D mark II which I have been using for a while.

I just had the idea of playing around with some beach compositions and just being comfortable using it again, I checked the memory card was inplace before I left and saw there was a battery in it – however it was not charged!! No spare. So disaster!

That could have meant no photos today …. BUT Continue reading

Day 217 – 1 day 12 photos

On the 1st Saturday or each month there is an Instagram challenge to post 12 photos, 1 taken every hour on one day – I always thought is was impossible, but on the 1st August I gave it a go… I am behind posting as I have been away… but on the 1st of August I set the timer on my iPhone to go off every hour, and at that point I had to take one photo.

I was spending the day traveling… the plan was to drive 261 miles, stop off at various points on the way… so it would be interesting to see a snap shop of my day, cause the finished images are to go on my Instagram page – they are all square cropped.

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We have a long drive in our camper van, we stopped for walks, met up with friends, drove, drove and drove some more, enjoyed a beach and then spent the evening with more friends. I was glad to be able to create a snapshot of such an interesting day.

1 day 12 photos
1 day 12 photos

Day 116 – 10k Run.

Today I did my 2nd 10k of the year – this one in Southampton city centre, with a a unique ascent!

This is me and my running buddies near the start taken on my trusty iphone.
This is me and my running buddies near the start taken on my trusty iphone.

Towering over the River Itchen since 1977 is the Itchen Bridge, (pictured) spanning 870 yards (800 m), is 92 feet (28 m) at its highest point and weighs 62,000 tons – as a a real treat for the event the bridge will be closed and the 10km will take you over and back across the bridge between miles 4-5.

At the top of the bridge almost 100ft up, you get a stunning view of the entire city, (not that I really appreciated it) right up the river, across the commercial centre and then out to see towards the Isle of Wight. On the descent down from the bridge back into towards the city centre, you get a close up of the vast premier league stadium St Mary’s – home of the Saints football club.

This is a view I captured of the bridge the other day on my nifty 50 on the fifth floor of a neighboring building … the view was OK from there …

Southampton View - taken through glass. 50mm lens, ISO 800 F13, 1/640 sec
Southampton View – taken through glass. 50mm lens, ISO 800 F13, 1/640 sec

This run was one of my training runs for the Great South Run which I hope to complete later in the year – I am doing it to raise awareness for Kleine Levin Syndrome (KLS) – and hoping to collect sponsors. I did not do it in my fastest time – although my husband did – he got a fantastic new PB in less than an hour, I was happy with the result… and my lovely medal – I don’t run to get a PB… I run because I can 🙂

My 10k medal taken on my SLR with a lovely shallow depth of field.
My 10k medal taken on my SLR with a lovely shallow depth of field.

Day 110 – Owl Photo Experience Day – Part 2

I have finished editing the 900 photos I took on Saturday for now… I edited down to 349 to keep as raw files, and then edited my favorite ones of those so that I only only sharing my favorite 24… you saw some yesterday, and today I am sharing the owls that you may see native to the UK. I have processed the photos in Lightroom with the help of some actions from the Nik Collection.

European Eagle Owl

European Eagle Owl, ISO400, F5.6, 1/800 sec, focal length 150mm
European Eagle Owl, ISO400, F5.6, 1/800 sec, focal length 150mm

This owl was similar in colouring to the Northern Great Horn Owl I posted yesterday, but this time the eyes were a bright orange colour.

European Eagle Owl, ISO400, F8, 1/800 sec, focal length 370mm
European Eagle Owl, ISO400, F8, 1/800 sec, focal length 370mm

When I listened to the lifestyle talk the other day, I was reminded to look at some of the details… so as well as his amazing eyes, we can see the details on his claws and feathers.

European Eagle Owl, ISO400, F6.3, 1/2000 sec, focal length 150mm
European Eagle Owl, ISO400, F6.3, 1/2000 sec, focal length 150mm
European Eagle Owl, ISO400, F6.3 1/800 sec, focal length 500mm
European Eagle Owl, ISO400, F6.3 1/800 sec, focal length 500mm

Barn Owl

My first shot of the barn owl I capture with a smaller aperture – I was using half the range of the camera and although I like the context of the surroundings in which you can see the Barn Owl, I think the background is really busy and distracting, so I am going to stick to a shallower depth of field and work with shutter speeds that allow that.

Barn Owl, ISO 160, F10, 1/500 sec - 340mm focal length
Barn Owl, ISO 160, F10, 1/500 sec – 340mm focal length

Below is a classic “bird on a stick pose” which my camera club seem to frown on… this like birds doing something and sadly this experience was very much “bird on a stick” variety… as they did not have permission to fly the birds in the forest.

It was though a tricky shot to capture with the light sky, the Barn Owl lit by sunlight from behind, which almost gives him rim lighting yet exposing the shot to capture the details in the feathers without blowing all the highlights.

Barn Owl, ISO 200, F6.3, 1/400 sec - 229mm focal length
Barn Owl, ISO 200, F6.3, 1/400 sec – 229mm focal length

The next two photos of the Barn Owl are exactly the same shot,  edited differently using Lightroom to create two different images – for me this is one of the amazing things that you can do in your digital darkroom –  and it is what inspired my interested in photography in the first place … I know now that if we all started with the same raw image we would develop them our own way and all create different end images… Lightroom, Photoshop and creative thinking are not new – it has just become more accessible…

Barn Owl, ISO 200, F8, 1/1000 sec - 500mm focal length
Barn Owl, ISO 200, F8, 1/1000 sec – 500mm focal length
Barn Owl, ISO 200, F8, 1/1000 sec - 500mm focal length
Barn Owl, ISO 200, F8, 1/1000 sec – 500mm focal length

Tawny Owl

The Tawny Owl had lovely colouring and was the last owl we had the chance to photograph, amazingly everyone was still with us, we had all been aware of each others lenses and moved our feet to change angles and to try and create different unique images on the various cameras present.

Tawny Owl - ISO400, F9, 1/200 sec - 213mm focal length
Tawny Owl – ISO400, F9, 1/200 sec – 213mm focal length

It was amazing how moving feet and moving the owl made a difference … I do wish that we could have incorporated more greenery into the shots, but Spring growth is only just arriving, but equally more foliage could have created more shadows and distractions, it was hard enough trying not to include the tether that the owl was tied on with in the shots … these ones I have purposefully left it in!

Tawny Owl - ISO400, F8, 1/400 sec - 150mm focal length
Tawny Owl – ISO400, F8, 1/400 sec – 150mm focal length

Looking out into the wood – the Tawny Owl captured in a more natural setting.

Tawny Owl - ISO400, F6.3, 1/1000 sec - 340mm focal length
Tawny Owl – ISO400, F6.3, 1/1000 sec – 340mm focal length

I finally managed to get some green foliage into this shot in front and behind the Tawny Owl which really adds depth to the image – it is just a shame that it is not in focus due to my shallow depth of field, but with the wind ruffling the owls feather shutter speed was more important.

Tawny Owl - ISO400, F7.1, 1/1000 sec - 229mm focal length
Tawny Owl – ISO400, F7.1, 1/1000 sec – 229mm focal length

My final share – I really wanted a shallow depth of field for this one, the Tawny Owl ducked down inside the tree to escape the wind and I just loved how you could capture the eyes and the beak peaking out – this to me felt like one of the most natural shots I achieved today as I could imagine the Tawny Owl in her nest just like this, watching, waiting …. it has more of a story feel.

Tawny Owl - ISO400, F6.3, 1/1000 sec - 370mm focal length
Tawny Owl – ISO400, F6.3, 1/1000 sec – 370mm focal length

I was not the only person who attend the Owl experience – yesterday I included my son in the photos, he edited his and I choose my three favorite to share with you, he normally spends his time working with computers or drawing… so it was lovey to share a day with him.

My fav. photos Jake's captured during his experience
My favorite photos Jake’s captured during his experience

I hope you have enjoyed sharing the Owls with us… it was a great day out and I would recommend it and for £45 I think it was a great price too.. and if you are looking for some pointers for your own photos … I found this post helpful – photographing raptors!

Day 109 – Owl Photo Experience Day – Part 1

Wow, what a day – I spent yesterday on an Owl photography experience day, I had the opportunity to photograph 6 owls that were taken from their home in captivity to a location in the New Forest National Park so that I could take photos of them in natural surroundings, with natural sunlight, it was a bright day, shadows and wind.

I took over 900 photos – so culling them down was the first job … I took so many as I used a high speed shutter as I wanted to ensure that I captured the owls with their eyes open, I took my tripod for stability and my big lens – my sigma 150-500mm, the draw back of which was that other photographers could get a lot closer to the animals than I could.

The day was run by Captive Light photography – there was a photographer on hand to offer advice if you have specific questions, he often emphasised the importance of checking the histogram to ensure you were exposed to the right for the highlights – you really wanted to capture the details on the owl feathers, and had a falconer  from Liberty’s Liberty’s Owl, Raptor and Reptile Centre who was looking after the owls and was able to share with you interesting facts when you asked him questions.

I took all the photos in Raw, so processed only my favorite few which I am going to share with you today and tomorrow…

Siberian Eagle Owl

Siberian Eagle Owl - ISO 200, F8, 1/1250 sec - 174mm focal length
Siberian Eagle Owl – ISO 200, F8, 1/1250 sec – 174mm focal length

The photographers – there was about 17 of us, were able to get within a couple of meters of the owls… I was joined today by my son Jake, he has always been interested in owls, so he came to take photos too and to study the owls for a painting…  I was able to catch him with a couple of the owls too.

Siberian Eagle Owl - ISO 200, F6.3, 1/500 sec - 150mm focal length
Siberian Eagle Owl – ISO 200, F6.3, 1/500 sec – 150mm focal length
Siberian Eagle Owl - ISO 200, F8, 1/800 sec - 247 mm focal length
Siberian Eagle Owl – ISO 200, F8, 1/800 sec – 247 mm focal length

I wanted to take a good selection of photos – landscape dimensions and portrait – capturing the whole owl and getting close to some of the details and with an aperture that would give a great Bokeh for a background.

Siberian Eagle Owl - ISO 200, F7.1, 1/3200 sec - 439mm focal length
Siberian Eagle Owl – ISO 200, F7.1, 1/3200 sec – 439mm focal length

Asian Brown Wood Owl

A different location, and my son again – as each new owl came out it was a challenge to adjust the exposure so that the highlights were not blown out as the bright sunlight, dapple shade, changing locations to work with the light and the direction which the owl wanted to face … interestingly they generally liked to face into wind!

Asian Brown Wood Owl - ISO 200, F16, 1/25 sec - 150mm focal length
Asian Brown Wood Owl – ISO 200, F16, 1/25 sec – 150mm focal length

The Asian Wood Owl had really dark eyes, and it was hard to capture any detail in them, this was because he was a nocturnal owl, which usually roosts during the day – quite often he had his eyes shut or partly shut.

Asian Brown Wood Owl - ISO 200, F8, 1/250 sec - 150mm focal length
Asian Brown Wood Owl – ISO 200, F8, 1/250 sec – 150mm focal length
Asian Brown Wood Owl - ISO 400, F8, 1/640 sec - 150mm focal length
Asian Brown Wood Owl – ISO 400, F8, 1/640 sec – 150mm focal length

Northern Great Horn Owl

The Northern Great Horn Owl had such amazing eyes, the yellow was so bright and striking they just had to be captured close up. This owl just seemed to ooze character, and had a stronger presence about him.

Northern Great Horn Owl - ISO400, F8, 1/160 sec - 500mm focal length
Northern Great Horn Owl – ISO400, F8, 1/160 sec – 500mm focal length

This triptcych shows the member of staff fro Liberty’s trying to get the Northern Great Horn Owl to sit in an ideal spot for photos.

Northern Great Horn Owl and the member of staff from Liberty's
Northern Great Horn Owl and the member of staff from Liberty’s

It was amazing how he seemed to disappear into the tree – you can see why owls are so hard to spot, and he had quite a lot to say for himself.

Northern Great Horn Owl - ISO400, F8, 1/200 sec - 174mm focal length
Northern Great Horn Owl – ISO400, F8, 1/200 sec – 174mm focal length

The final shot I am going to share today is this one… it the eyes that I like most about this owl, and I think the background here is lovely.

Northern Great Horn Owl - ISO400, F8, 1/800 sec - 370mm focal length
Northern Great Horn Owl – ISO400, F8, 1/800 sec – 370mm focal length

Pop back tomorrow and you can see the other three owls that I photographed.

Day 80 – In the Bucket

Something different – I took some video yesterday of my puppy – Sparky playing ball in with an automatic ball thrower in the garden … this was recorded on my iphone and it is what I used to try and capture the action shots of him the other day.

Videoing is not something I am that comfortable with – I can do it on my camera and on my phone and I have worked out that if edited in Photoshop CS6 I can grab stills from it … which I think is rather clever. You can see a couple of edits below.

Video Stills - edited in Photoshop from my Iphone.
Video Stills – edited in Photoshop from my Iphone.

I uploaded the video to my dog’s facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/Sparky.BorderCollie – which only has 49 followings and was amazed at what happened in the first 13 hours – the post was seen by 3,076 people and amazingly watched 1,136 times – I sometimes lack confidence in what I am posting – but this I think is brilliant evidence to show that whatever picture or image you choose to share, you never know if it will take off and if it will be the one that makes your famous… so for other people to enjoy your photographic moments you really have to share them with others and see what happens … it might not be as bad as you think!

Anyway … I have now added the video to You Tube too…. you can view it here….

Day 48 – Patterns

Today I don’t have the ability to take photos from my DSLR memory card so today I am going to share a few iPhone photos. It is hard not having any control over the camera … But I am going to just have a go at capturing random patterns.

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Day 33 – No camera :(

ISO 50, F2.4, 1/120 sec - Iphone - no control at all!
ISO 50, F2.4, 1/120 sec – Iphone – no control at all!

What makes a good photo?

A camera – any camera, but not taking that camera out with you – means that you can not use it to capture the photo at all. It is impossible… so you may see the opportunity and you miss it completely cause you do not have the means to capture it. A good photo relies on having a camera with you.

This morning I headed out on a cold dark dog walk, I left the camera at home, planned to do my regular walk and then – a change of plans, there were loads of dogs in the first field, so I choose a different walk… and this meant I was able to enjoy the frost on the farmers fields whilst watching the sun turn from darkness to dawn and this amazing glow…. and all I had to capture the moment was my camera phone – better than no camera … but I really wanted more control.

What makes a great photo?

The right light, a great composition and control – my phone frustrated me this morning as I could not control the depth of field, the light balance the length of exposure… I would like to had under exposed the sky more, I would have liked a tripod so I could have took two shots and blended them together ….

This morning, I know I did not capture a great photo… but I did capture a moment in time – and I was glad I was there to witness the stunning sunrise and maybe tomorrow I will truddle along with my DSLR too… and no doubt the light with be awful!