Year Two (86) – Water Play

Toddlers are fun, two little boys playing in a paddling pool is great fun, but as I had no choice over the setting and we were in bright sunshine with a bright pink paddling pool, the shoot cause for some creative thinking – a reflector put the pool in the shade, adding some fill flash brighten up the shadows and turning the images into black and white created a timeless feel.

Paddling Pool Fun
Boys having fun!

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Year Two (09) – Film Noir

Another exciting evening at the Old Bakery and this time with the help of Lucy and a grand piano it was time to dip into the darkness and have a go at my own take on Film Noir style images. Black and white traditionally – but to great shots you need to include the whole black and white range – making sure the black is black and the white is white – without blowing out the highlights. Continue reading

Day 342 – Christmas at Osborne

A trip to the Isle of Wight and a visit to Osborne House, English Heritage home to Queen Victoria at one of their busiest times of the year is cerainly a challenge for my 365 project. Continue reading

Day 289 – Distorting Light

Sometimes you see something online or in a magazine and you think, can I do that … or at least can I acheive something similar. I love the way light is refracted, so I am going to have a go and see if I can create my own image similar to this. Refracting light with glasses.

I sorted out my equipment:

  • Tripod
  • 17-70mm Sigma Lens
  • 430exii canon speed light on camera put pointed upwards
  • a selection of glasses
  • black and white paper

First I wanted to start with getting the whites white before I added the background.

ISO100, F8, 30sec - rear sync flash
ISO100, F8, 30sec – rear sync flash

Photographing glasses on a white background was harder that I thought – they are not really defined from the background. I was limited with light and ended up shooting in a darkened room with the lights on in the room behind me.  I used a white foam board for the background and placed the glasses on a grey worktop. I had to over expose by a couple of stops to get the background white.

ISO100, F5, 6sec - rear sync1 flash
ISO100, F5, 6sec – rear sync flash

I added the background I wanted to distort – I have included a wide short so you can see what I used – it is an A4 note book balanced against the foam board. Adding the background reduced the amount of light that was reflected back so I had to adjust the settings again and I also experimented a bit with depth of field. I was delighted to see the lines refracted in different ways on the glass.

ISO100, F6.3, 15sec - rear sync flash
ISO100, F6.3, 15sec – rear sync flash

I was not happy with the worktop base so added a piece of glass on the worktop which made it a lot more reflective. and I went closer which effected the available light. I did not realise in camera that I was getting reflection from the yellow lights behind.

ISO100, F6.3, 25 sec, rear sync flash
ISO100, F6.3, 25 sec, rear sync flash

I tried a different shape glass and it was really interesting how the light was reflected differently and how the dabbled effect of the work top shows through in the reflection.

ISo100, F16, 30sec
ISO100, F16, 30sec

With this image I experimented with the depth of field – at F16 the background and reflection and much sharper – but the longer shutter speed picked up all the imperfections in my glass and created a horrible yellow glow – I wish I had noticed this whilst I was using my camera – it would not have taken long to turn the light off behind me … it is amazing how far bad light travels! The narrow depth of field – works really well and I wished I used it throughout – but I didn’t – so I can try again!

ISO100, F6.3, 10sec - converted to black and white.
ISO100, F6.3, 10sec – converted to black and white.

The yellow tint of the lights behind me disappear when I turn the photo into black and white in Lightroom – a definite advantage of working with Raw files. My idea originally was to compose three glasses together – but I think I prefer the patter on an individual glass – it draws you in more to admire the detail – I think the stem is really fascinating.

ISO100, F5.6, 10 sec - converted to black and white
ISO100, F5.6, 10 sec – converted to black and white

I then thought I would experiment with a bottle and added a straw for interest – more stripes but this time is a different direction.

ISO100, F5.6, 6sec, red colour pop
ISO100, F5.6, 6sec, red colour pop

Some photographers hate colour popping an image – but I was experimenting by adding extra details to the image and to see if it works. I will let you decide – but it is interesting to see how water magnifies the refraction in the bottle and how solid glass in the base of the tumbler on the left also has the same effect of concentrating the lines.

ISO100, F5.6, 6 sec - rear sync flash, black and white
ISO100, F5.6, 6 sec – rear sync flash, black and white

The flower I think looks less distracting in black and white – and I think adding pouring water to the image adds interest and if you look closely you can see the background distracted in the bubbles. The rear sync fresh allowed me to freeze the movement of the water, and you can see the water clearly as it is on one of the verticals in the background.

Below – another shot of pouring water – this time the water falls within a white vertical and it is much harder to spot, the glass is also further away from the background…  so it is reflected differently within the glass.

ISO100, F5.6, 6 sec - rear sync, converted to black and white
ISO100, F5.6, 6 sec – rear sync, converted to black and white

A great experiment highlighting for refraction:

  • watch out for reflective light
  • different glasses refract light differently
  • a narrow aperture with close up objects – I think I said that the other day…. I hope today it gets embedded into my memory.

Hope you enjoyed my challenge.

Day 286 – A different view of the Solent

Today’s post – a different view of the Solent, are a number of picture taken either on the Isle of Wight ferry or from the Island looking back across the Solent towards the New Forest coastline – so a different view than normal. The weather was misty, and slightly over cast and the images on the whole lacked colour and punch so I thought they would be perfect to convert to monochrome.

Leaving Lymington River - ISO125, F13, 1/100sec
Leaving Lymington River – ISO125, F13, 1/100sec

Above the view Continue reading

Day 269 – Visit to a Photographic Studio

I have mentioned before that I follow a number of photography groups online, and last week I saw a post offering the opportunity to visit a  photographic studio – Old Bakery Studio, use their lights and equipment, their infinity cove and to have the opportunity to photograph a motorbike.  I have never tried to photograph a motorbike – but then I have also never been in a professional studio, so I decide to give it a go. The event was organised by Richard from Mad about Macro, and was the first of many events he hopes to run in future.

ISO800, F5, 1/20sec - Working in a studio with other photographers.
ISO800, F5, 1/20sec – Working in a studio with other photographers.

It was a brilliant evening – there was about a dozen photographers there, all with different levels of experience and all took it in turns to use the equipment. We all had come across Richard through a variety of sources – some from Highcliffe and Infinity Camera Club, some from Lymington Camera Club, all of us had something in common we wanted to take more photos and were happy to share what we knew already. There was quite a strong opinion that club photography was about competitions, not so much doing practical sessions – and I discovered that we had several mutual friends – as a lot of people belong to more than one camera club – I just don’t have the time!

There was another occasion where I was meeting a group of people whom I did not know – but this time I felt much safer this time – partly the confidence I gained from the last experience and because we were meeting and staying in a fixed location. Everyone was friendly and welcoming, there were mainly canon users, but a good mix of canon and sigma lens, and some lovely homemade cake offered half way through.

This is early on in the shoot. The lights are set so that there is a shadow on the wall. ISO100, F11, 1/250sec
This is early on in the shoot. The lights are set so that there is a shadow on the wall. ISO100, F11, 1/250sec

The lights were there to be positioned and set up correctly… the above photo really highlights the importance of “chimping” my image, and learning about what I can see in the view finder. There is a huge shadow in this image and the lights had to be moved to compensate for this. I also realized that  although I want the background to be white I don’t want to blow out the highlights on my subject.

ISO2000, 1/50sec, F6.3 - no flash.
ISO2000, 1/50sec, F6.3 – no flash.

I did some research before hand to help me think about what I wanted to photograph, I read a little about what makes the best angle, about focusing on some of the details. The conclusion of which was to make images from low angles at the font of the bike – however it was important to experiment – above the angle looks all wrong! this was taken without the studio lights attached – I upped the ISO and shot it in Av – you can see how the white balance is different, and close up the ISO offers a lot more grain!

ISO100, F7, 1/160sec - Studio Lights
ISO100, F7, 1/160sec – Studio Lights

Using the studio lights I was able to capture a whole more detail – although I am disappointed that the highlights overpowered the wind visor at the front.

ISO100, F8, 1/200 Ssec - studio flash
ISO100, F8, 1/200 Ssec – studio flash

Experimenting with different crops again creates a different feel – I thought about the space the bike might move into in the above image and wanted to think about a square crop for instagram.

On previous occasions when I have worked with a model they have talked about the importance of communicating with the model. Neil, the bikes owner was a really interesting gentleman, he watched at times in amusement as between us we took 100’s of photo’s of his bike – it had done 6,000 plus miles since May – and I felt more relaxed with him once I got to know him slightly – I think talking to the model puts both people at ease – and this was the first time I stepped out of my comfort zone and gave it a try… (phew – I think it was scary thinking about it rather than doing it – I hope he never knew how nervous I was!)

One of the things I found out about Neil was that he use to take photos in the 70’s… and amazingly he came along to the studio to be our model for the evening because he was asked, he was also amazed at how much thingshad changed since then…  I think that is also why he looks amused – in the days of dark rooms and only 24 exposures a lot more time would have been taken on compensation rather than chimping!  I took his email and promised to send him a photo.

ISO100, F8, 1/200 sec - Studio Flash
ISO100, F8, 1/200 sec – Studio Flash

But as well as talking to the model, I need to learn to give them instructions – looking back at this photo now, he looks too relaxed and almost resigned to the flashes going off – it would have looked better if he was holding onto the handlebars. I have changed into to black and white though – as to me Harley Davidson’s are a classic – and with the gentleman in the hot seat – I think it suits a timeless feel. The wall is also not as white as I thought it was ….

Handheld - no flash. close up of the motorcylist
Handheld – no flash. close up of the motorcyclist
ISO100, F10, 1/125sec - Studio Flash
ISO100, F10, 1/125sec – Studio Flash

Helmet on and you can’t see his eyes, helmet off and he is not suitable to drive on he UK roads… either way he needs to be holding on to the bike if I was going to add an appropriate background.

iSO1600, F5, 1/60sec - No Flash
ISO1600, F5, 1/60sec – No Flash

The shot I got of Neil holding the handlebars was taken when I was not tethered to the flash, I had pushed my ISO up and the result is grainy. It does however look almost like he was driving at me .  Another great shot of Neil holding on to the bike, was taken by a different photographer – whilst I looked on –  I had to push up my ISO again as I did not have the flash attached – but it just made me smile – Richard (the photographer) was taking Armchair photography to new lengths!

Armchair Photography - a different take. ISO800, F5, 1/30sec
Armchair Photography – a different take. ISO800, F5, 1/30sec

I had read online about the fact that it was important to focus in on the details of the bike – that is what bikers like to see… so I got closer and focused on some of the shiny bits …. I am sure they all have technical names – all I know is that they were very shiny, the bike almost glowed and that also meant they were very reflective.

A close up of various parts of the motorbike and lots of photographers.
A close up of various parts of the motorbike and lots of photographers.

Once I started looking into the details – it was amazing how many photographers there were in the reflections, but looking closely it is not just the photographers that are reflected in the scene – there are parts of the studio too… which would need to be edited out if this was for an editorial shoot – suddenly the reason why you want a giant white box makes a huge amount of sense.

Reflections - ISO160, F6.3, 1/125 sec - Studio Flash
Reflections – ISO160, F6.3, 1/125 sec – Studio Flash

However some reflections have a purpose – and this one was done with a purpose in mind.  This was my first studio shoot, and my first time having a good look at a Harley – I needed evidence that I was there … so this reflection was taken on purpose. Amazing to think I dressed to work well with the colours of the image 🙂

A selfie is a Harley - ISO160, F6.3, 1/125sec - Studio Flash
A selfie is a Harley – ISO160, F6.3, 1/125sec – Studio Flash

One of my favorite images from the shoot.

Black and White Edit, studio flash - F10, ISO100, 1/125sec
Black and White Edit, studio flash – F10, ISO100, 1/125sec

I came away thinking:

  • I am going to use the triggers I have for my flash more – as these are the same ones we were using to set off the studio lights.
  • Use off camera flash and studio lights opens up a whole new world about photography
  • If I am switching between flash and no flash – I need to set up my colour balance to Auto … if I am just using flash then setting the white balance at the start of the shoot would be a good idea (hence my colours are all over the place!)
  • Manual mode is essential with flash – you can’t use Av – as it can’t predict the amount of light you are going to add to the scene.
  • Getting to know the model and talking to them helps everyone feel more relaxed and tell them what you want them to do is essential
  • The subject of the image does not matter – if it gives you the opportunity to try something new.
  • Take your time – you don’t need 500 OK images – you need 1 or 2 you are happy with.
  • It is difficult looking for different angles from the other photographers – but you need to think about what the end images are for
  • Reflections can be a nightmare and you need to be aware of them.
  • These sessions were not for a total beginner – you needed to have a grasp of your iso, shutter speed, aperture and exposure, know how to operate your camera – as everyone was working different models – to really get the most out of the session. I would however recommend it and I hope to attend again.
  • I had a great time ….

Day 262 – Making the most of Bright Sunlight

I was lucky enough to go for an afternoon walk through Wilverly Inclosure in the New Forest – I have not taken my camera out here for ages, as it is a nice circuit to run rather than carry a camera but with my calf slowly recovering today I thought it woud the perfect opportunity to explore at a slower pace and take some photos.

The bright low sunlight through the trees created some magical light in places, but it also created lots of dark shadows and made it tricky to capture the depth of colour in the scene before me – but it also meant that the scene was full of contrast and I have read that high contrast images work really well in black and white, so I decide that I would convert them all into black and white afterwards in Lightroom.

Wilverly Inclosure in the New Forest - ISO100, F5.6, 1/100sec
Wilverly Inclosure in the New Forest – ISO100, F5.6, 1/100sec

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Day 261 – Red Deer

During the course of my 365 I have shared with you a variety of photos of New Forest Deer – there are several species that are free roaming in the New Forest and last night I was able to photograph a herd of Red Deer, which are the largest deer that can be found in the National Park – they were grazing in the early evening on an open area on forest so I got as close as I could.

I had my 28-300mm lens with me, was hand holding and I knew that to separate the Red Deer from the busy background it was essential to use a shallow depth of field – the tonal range was very similar, so I really need to ensure I had a clear focal difference between the deer (mid range) to the trees behind. I choose to use Aperture priority mode so that the camera could select the appropriate shutter speed, and auto ISO – although I have restricted how high the auto iso can go in the camera settings.

The results of the shoot are most likely to only feature on my web site and the ISO particles don’t distract when I am sharing small images, and as having the deer sharp was the most important factor, I was happy to work with that.

Red Deer - ISO1250, F5.6, 1/400sec
Red Deer – ISO1250, F5.6, 1/400sec

The Red Deer were on a slope in the distance – they spotted me straight away – so I grabbed a shot… I wanted to move closer so that I could loose the featureless sky, but I wanted to go home with at least one image – and in this image you can see the deer are below me with the hill between us, as you can’t see Continue reading

Day 253 – Filling the landscape

Monday night at camera club, the guest speaker was Slawek Staszcuk – and he showed us a range of urban and countryside landscapes that he had captured over the last few years. He was originally from Poland, but now lived in the UK and was enjoying taking photos of our unique landscape and historic churches, and he talked lots about the importance of capturing photos in the right light and the amount of time it takes sometimes to wait for that perfect moment when the clouds act as a giant light box lighting up the shadowy side of objects, how the position of the light can add depth and interest to the landscape. He also talked about how your eye is taken to the brightest area of the image or the area with the most contrast – and this is often the area in the photo where the landscape meets the sky – the horizon – which is not necessarily what is the most interesting part of the image – so he did not often include the sky in his images unless they added to the story.

Slaweck talked about minimal editing, he prefered Lightroom – but he also only spent at most a minute of two and and would prefer to get the image right in camera – he carried filters with him and would often use a 10 stop ND filter for images with water, and a graduated filter to achieve the effect he wanted.

Slaweck also talked about the fact that taking an original images was getting increasingly harder – we are inspired by others, other images we have seen, and try to replicate them with our own photos – he likes to try new angles, new directions and to try and create something different, he often photographed from afar using a large zoom lens – all this information  very much reinforces the talk about Coastal environment I listened to a few weeks back, different light, different lens and different compositions add to your interruption on the image.

So how has that affected my photos today … I went out to capture the New Forest landscape, but as the sky was cloudless and blue – it was about 8.30am in the morning, I focused on excluding the horizon and using a zoom lens to capture the landscape.

Monochrome Morning - ISO400, F11, 1/160sec
Monochrome Morning – ISO400, F11, 1/160sec

It first struck me as to how the seasons are changing – the heavy dew on the grass looked almost like it could have been frost – I choose to covert the above image into monochrome, as I felt it highlighted the colours in the light more.

Highliand Cow in the Forest - ISO100, F5.6, 1/200sec
Highland Cow in the Forest – ISO100, F5.6, 1/200sec

The Highland Cow became my subject is this one, but I  shot low and carefully framed the subject so that I did not include any sky, but the New Forest moorland fading into the background behind. I took this as I really liked the diagonal angle of the cows horns and the way the colours of the cow worked on the same colour palette as the heather and gorse.

Selective Landscape - ISO100, F5.6, 1/250sec
Selective Landscape – ISO100, F5.6, 1/250sec

Slaweck’s landscapes had a greater depth of field than mine – but the idea was to create your own image based on the inspiration of others … I wanted to draw your attention to the heather in the foreground, but give a sense of scale and depth – the lightest part of the photos is the telegraph poles, it draws your attention, but I think helps balance the image, and gives a sense of the vastness of the New Forest.

Heavy Dew - ISO500, F14, 1/200 secs
Heavy Dew – ISO500, F14, 1/200 secs

The heavy dew across Setley Pond – the New Forest ponies add interest to the subject and the reflections add an additional layer to the image. The early morning sun and the damp grass creates an image full of neutral tones.

Reflection of the Sky, ISO800, F22, 1/60sec
Reflection of the Sky, ISO800, F22, 1/60sec

One of the images that we were shown on Monday was a reflection… we were told that a polarising filter really enhanced reflection images – sadly I did not have mine with me… but I liked the contrast between the pink heather and the blue sky, so captured the moment.

The Morning Dew - ISO1600, F22, 1/400 sec
The Morning Dew – ISO1600, F22, 1/400 sec

The morning dew and the heather was lit beautifully in the morning light – it will be interesting to see if I can head out earlier – sunrise this morning would have been at 6.20am,   the golden hour ended at 7.04am, whereas this image was captured at 8.45am – I wonder what it would have been like 2 hours earlier…. perhaps I need to start getting up earlier to enjoy the better light.

Below is a close up of the heather – I wanted to capture the light on the heather in the foreground – but I have not got enough separation between the foreground and the background for it to work – why – simple, my own error, I had too narrow an aperture – of course F22 will not achieve the desired effect, I would have been better shooting at F5.6, by day 253, you would have thought I would have remembered to check my aperture before I click the shutter button…. gggrrrr!!!

The heather, ISO2500, F22, 1/400sec
The heather, ISO2500, F22, 1/400sec