Bluebell Woods

On previous years I have captured photos of Bluebells, and today I was checking out the location for a possible portrait shoot, with only my nifty 50 to hand – and the frustration that this brought really highlighted the importance of anticipating the shot and taking the right equipment or traveling with a full camera bag.

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Bluebell Wood

I love the woodland – but with the nifty 50, I could not zoom in and compress the background, bring the flowers closer together – the dull light of an overcast day though meant great lighting conditions and only very soft shadows.

I focused instead this time of thinking where I would sit subjects within the woodland, how to make the images light and airy… I like a softer style and when I compare the subject with images taken in previous years I can see my composition has improved too!

Bluebells 2017
A bluebell
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Woodland Details
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Bluebells in the Spring
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Year Two (121) – Autumn is coming

Autumn in the New Forest, a great time to explore and notice the details… the photo below captured on my 5D mark iii with my nifty 50, is to me a great autumn image, the leaves are just turning, puddles offer reflections, the sun is shining  and the path is inviting you to explore.

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Reflections in a puddle

This one was taken on the Canon G7x, Continue reading

Year Two (47) – Creative Buttercups…

One challenge of photography is to try and look at things differently – you can easily get in a creative rut by doing the same thing and taking photos at the same angle – so I headed out in the sunshine with my Nifty 50 lens, with the aim to choose a spot – sit down and spend a few moments photography and experimenting with aperture to create a range of different images of the same scene.

Emma as part of her #Yearwithyoucamera free photography course, encourages you sometimes to think differently about your images…. Continue reading

Day 348 – Festive Selfie

Christmas is approaching quicker than I would like but as the Christmas tree is now up, it was time to take a Christmas selfie… I saw a great tutorial online using a Christmas tree and thought I would try and create similar….

I had my camera, a darken lounge lit only by the Christmas tree, my tripod, nifty 50 lens.

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Bokeh

Having white Christmas Tree lights makes rather boring Bokeh! My idea was to add me to the image – so focusing the camera in the dark was to be a challenge, I had the idea that I wanted to include a story book and me … so I used the book to hold my iphone, and used the light on my phone to light up my face….

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Landscape Image

In landscape – I was not really including enough of the book…. as I could not move the camera back any further… it was time to compose the shot on a different direction….

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Portrait view

The torch light is not as bright – but it was the shot that I was going for… the rest of the image I had visualised in my head in photoshop… I took this is manual – ISO100, F1.8, 1/10sec. There are two different shades of light though – a yellow tint from the Iphone and bright white from the LED Christmas Lights.

I toned down the yellow on my face, added some Christmas magic coming from the book and presented it in a square format as I wanted it as a social media profile photo. The light is a little harsh still on my face … but it is the right idea and I would love to take a photo like this with a child reading a book by the Christmas tree.

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Christmas Profile photo with photoshop edit.

I have since found another tutorial – pop over to here:

Day 316 – Revisiting Bokeh

I did an experiment with Bokeh … and I wanted to try again, today I was practicing my studio set up and wanted to see what would happen if I added Christmas Lights to the shot … due to space restrictions I was not able to get far enough back to add a foreground subject as I needed a good amount of depth between the two – but I was able to experiment with the boken shapes I made with my mum’s unusual shaped whole punches.

ISO100, F2.8, 1/30sec
ISO100, F2.8, 1/30sec

My set up was basic… see this terrible photo below…

  • low light from window
  • camera and nifty 50 lens on tripod in foreground
  • fairy lights strung up paper behind to make the background plain… the flash and softbox not required
  •  black filter cap with a whole in, over which I places numerous wholes – the cutters were something like these:
behind the scenes peak
behind the scenes peak

But the results are great.

I experiments in manual with the length of time the shutter was open and the size of the aperture – wide apertures worked best, the best effect was without a shape on the lens, just using the natural aperture … and around 1/160 – 1/100 sec worked well for the timing without letting in any extra light, altough the green and blue lights were stronger in colour for the camera to pick up.

Day 263 – Raw or jpg

I shoot Raw, I mainly edit in Lightroom – the reason I shoot raw is because back when I started someone told that this was the best thing to do … but I never really understood why at the beginning, and for a long time I shot in jpg and raw – but I was really not sure what to do with all the files I was creating. Nowadays I tend to shoot 100% raw as it is so easy to develop the images in Lightroom into the correct size files for the media that I choose … but is that the only reason….

I read an article recently online explaining the difference between Raw and Jpg – you can read it here: Raw vs Jpg and I thought that a comparison between the two files would make a great post, so today I popped out with my nifty 50 and took every photo as a Raw file for me to develop and each as a jpg.

Jpg and Raw comparision
Jpg and Raw comparison

The purple flower has more depth in the raw file, I can make it more vibrant and distinctive and the fine detail of the flower is more distinctive.

Jpg and Raw comparision
Jpg and Raw comparison

There is not much difference between the raw file on the dripping lead than with the Jog other than the fact that the shadows in the background are darker making the damp leaf stand out slightly more.

Jpg and Raw comparision
Jpg and Raw comparision

Looking upwards at a very delicate spider’s web complete with spider – I feel the individual strands of web are clearer in the raw file and the spider is a little sharper, there is more clarification between it and the background.

Jpg and Raw comparision
Jpg and Raw comparison

Only fair to include the photo buddies – using Raw I can lighten the shadows and make the details around the Border Collies eyes clearer.

Jpg and Raw comparision
Jpg and Raw comparison

A selection of leaves in high contrast light – the contrasts are much greater in the raw files on the left – the black darker and the colours more vibrant.

Finally below – a grab shot… lots of sunlight, lots of shadows, a distant person – the jpg image is processed to be quite flat with the person in blown highlights – the raw file enables me to correct some of the highlights, the sun now offers warmth rather than blown our light and there is more contrast between the leaves – they are exactly the same shot – taken at the same moment … yet the Raw file processed is a much more interesting image – I think.

Jpg and Raw comparision
Jpg and Raw comparison

An interesting experiment – it is great to compare – and these images highlight to me that I want to continue to shoot Raw so that I can develop my own images, add my own style and interruption rather than the cameras.

I really think the difference between raw and jpg links very much to the old days of film:

  •  It is the difference in sending your film off on a 99p special offer to be developed at a quick turn around lab – this would be your basic jpg
  • A jpg with incamera editing enabled to make it black and white etc.or by using a  quick tweak in lightroom with a predetermined preset is like sending it off to a lab and the lab deciding how they want to process your image – it may be better than just a basic jog but it might not be.
  • Editing the raw file in light room or camera raw, and then editing with adjustment brushes or into photoshop is like having access to your very own dark room, you have control of how long the lab develops each image, you can adapt your style to suit the image and you recover information that you can not see …  and if it is wrong in camera – you have a chance to make it right!

I think it is amazing you now have access to your very own dark room without the cost of chemicals and the fear someone is going to walk in on you and ruin your images by letting in light – instead you have a portable studio on a computer via software that you can start and stop with ease, it is not destructive and you can have endless attempts to get it right.

What do you shoot jpg or raw?

Day 252 – Changing Viewpoint

Today I chose my 50mm lens, my thought was to go for a local walk, choose something to take a photo or and experiment with different viewpoints and see what happens.

I purple wild flower caught my eye in the grass and I decided that this would be my subject, I choose a wide aperture to separate from the background, and then whilst leaving the flower there for others to enjoy I moved the camera into a variety of positions to capture it.

Looking down on the Flower. ISO100, F1.8, 1/1600sec
Looking down on the Flower. ISO100, F1.8, 1/1600sec
Level with the flower and with the grass behing. ISO100, F1.8, 1/3200 sec
Level with the flower and with the grass behing. ISO100, F1.8, 1/3200 sec
Loooking into the sky. ISO100, f.1.8, 1/3200
Looking into the sky. ISO100, f.1.8, 1/3200
Muted tones of grass and sky. ISO100, F1.8, 1/3200 sec
Muted tones of grass and sky. ISO100, F1.8, 1/3200 sec

I think my favorite composition is the last one (below) – I think the colours are lovely and the image has a very soft and relaxed feel, a totally different style to the photos I took yesterday. I can also see how my editing of these flowers have been influenced by seem one of the photogrpahers I follow online -as this time I have reduced the contrasted and reduced the blacks more in editing to produce a soft image – what do you think?

Selecting just a grass background - ISO100, F1.8, 1/3200 sec
Selecting just a grass background – ISO100, F1.8, 1/3200 sec

Day 249 – Running out of Steam, but we are going to grill them!

I am on day 249… and I feel i have lost it, I have run out of steam – yesterday I tried to take one photo every hour for a challenge that I did before on the 1st Saturday of the month and I was not inspired, nothing looked right, nothing inspired me and I woke up this morning thinking this was it … I have run out of blog!

And then the most amazing thing happened – thanks Adrian – a local artist and friend –  who had gotten up early this morning and gone Mackerel fishing and surprised me with some fresh mackerel – and I thought … I have just got to capture those….

So sorry to the faint hearted … this is a photo of my tea tonight, my hubby has agreed to cook them… but here they are on my chopping board just 3 hours from being caught on a fishing line from one of the beaches I regularly take photos of… this inspired me to pick up my camera with enthusiasm this morning after all!

I used mainly my 17-70mm lens, window light from the left hand side and handheld on auto ISO.

17-70mm lens, ISO200, F6.3, i1/40 sec
17-70mm lens, ISO200, F6.3, i1/40 sec

I thought about how I would like to present them – we got 11 fish… I choose 3 as it would create a more powerful composition… thought about the diagonals presentation, the colour – I choose to showcase them on wood but with a grey behind matching the fish colours. i added two limes – one whole and one half for colour, but felt it needed more texture so added some fresh basil…. the only herb I had available!

I17-70mm lens, SO1250, F6.3, 1/30sec
I17-70mm lens, SO1250, F6.3, 1/30sec

I got in close – not my ideal shot… and they have dripped on my wood block which is distracting!

17-70mm lens, ISO3200, F11, 1/25
17-70mm lens, ISO3200, F11, 1/25

Closed and with diagnoals firmly in mind – the fish follows the line of the chopping board and the diagonals run into the corners.

17-70mm lens, ISO1250, F4, 1/125sec
17-70mm lens, ISO1250, F4, 1/125sec

Looking at details … not to my personal taste…. but don’t they look fresh!

17-70mm lens, ISO1600, F4, 1/100sec
17-70mm lens, ISO1600, F4, 1/100sec

Fish tail – looking at the details of the fish…..

17-70mm lens, IOS640, F4, 1/60sec
17-70mm lens, IOS640, F4, 1/60sec

The shiny texture of the scales – just shows how fresh this fish is.

50mm lens, ISO1000, F4. 1/60sec
50mm lens, ISO1000, F4. 1/60sec

Changed lens – just to see …. and a different composition of the same arrangement.  My favorite shot has to be my first and I can’t wait for dinner tonight …. any anyway as the title says … I may have run out of steam … but today it does not matter – hubby is going to grill them 🙂

Day 239 – Tea and Croissant

Something different today, I am on a home based day and was wondering what I could photograph for today’s blog when one of my teens came back from walking the dog with a croissant to enjoy and brighten up my day … I did not really need the calories, but why not – but to make it extra special I thought I would use it to inspire me to take some still life photos with natural light from the window.

I thought I would experiment with the position of the camera and how it impacted to the photo. I carefully set up a cup of peppermint tea and the croissant on a matching plate, and then took a variety of photos. The only lighting was diffused window light to the left, and I used my 50mm lens through out – hand held, I also choose a wider aperture – so that I can see how the focal point impacted the image.

ISO400, F5, 1/250sec
ISO400, F5, 1/250sec

My first composition. The wooden surface was fairly neutral but had lines which I angled in one direction, whereas I choose to angle the cup handle, croissant and cutlery in the other direction from it.  I left the teabag in the tea with the twinings label on purpose but the tea bag does not add anything to the shot when I photograph it from this angle. The depth of field is such in this photo that nothing is truly sharp and in focus… but this was just my scene setting photo, t show the space around the objects.

ISO400, F5, 1/200sec
ISO400, F5, 1/200sec

I got lower, focused on the cup of tea, with a hint of the croissant in the foreground. Unfortunately the grain of wood changes in the background – but this could be sorted out in Photoshop by feeling in the area with the other wood.

ISO400, F5, 1/250sec
ISO400, F5, 1/250sec

Lower again, and you see less tea – more of the background – but I like the light on this image, the focus point on the tea label “enjoy me” – your eye is drawn to the writing in a photo … and here… well I have to see when I did enjoy my almond croissant it was lovely!

ISO400, F5, 1/250sec
ISO400, F5, 1/250sec

I changed the focus point to the croissant – it is the same angle as above but it is the croissant that is the subject. The black writing on the tea label is now the darkest point on the image and is distracting, especially as you can not make out what it says.  I think together these images encourage me to think about what I want the photo to say … if I am selling the croissant – the second photo showcases the product, but if I was selling the concept of breakfast or a relaxing cup of tea the first shot would be the stronger image. It really depends on what “story” you want to tell to the audience.

ISO400, F5, 1/160sec
ISO400, F5, 1/160sec

Shot from above – the teabag in the cup is now a messy distraction and does not work. The side lighting had burnt out the detail on the croissant and the shadows look much harsher – it needing a reflector to the right to balance out the lighting. The knife also makes the croissant look small, and cuts the photo almost in half. The photo also looks very flat, the tea cup and croissant loose its depth … it is kind of flat, don’t you think? For me this photo does not work – but I think it is really important to still share it…

ISO400, F5, 1/320sec
ISO400, F5, 1/320sec

I have talked lots about the importance of moving your feet and changing angle, and that is exactly what I did here, I am now shooting towards the window – there are so many reflections on the cup, the shadows are looking much darker and the angle of the objects photographed are not as strong.  I have not moved any of the objects or the lighting just me – and this really highlights to me how important it is to position the photographer in the right place to create the image you hope to achieve,  note the label is partly hidden, the handle and spoon are on competing angles, where as the knife and spoon form a triangle that point you out of the image – this for me does not work.

ISO400, F5, 1/250sec
ISO400, F5, 1/250sec

Moving closer – above and just focusing on the cup .. I changed angle and you can see some reflection from the window – but I think you are missing part of the story … where’s the croissant….  I think the crop is much too tight.

ISO400, F5, 1/250sec
ISO400, F5, 1/250sec

The opposite of cropping tight is to shoot wider, so I moved further away as I was using a fixed length prime lens.  I dont’t think it is such a strong shot as one where only part of the croissant is shown.

ISO400, F5, 1/250sec
ISO400, F5, 1/250sec

In this photo, I have moved again and this time the light is behind me. The background objects, which I have not noticed in any of the other images are now in shot and are a distraction, but the colour on the cup is lovely… you get just a glimpse of the spoon and the nice, you are told to enjoy me, and I just want to reach out and taste that croissant – I should reshoot without the clutter – but I have eaten it!

Instead though I removed the background in Photoshop, as it always good to practice your skills..

Edited in Photoshop - background edit, sharpened, burned and dodged.
Edited in Photoshop – background edit, sharpened, burned and dodged.