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 →
To help with the festive mood I visited a nearby market town to enjoy the Christmas carols organised by the Romsey Lions Club, I had my DSLR but no one really had a camera so instead I opted for hubby’s new camera and a scene mode – which meant it only capture the photos in jpg.
I converted them into black and white in Lightroom to add a more timeless feel.
The scene mode used a very shallow aperture to take a series of quick photos at a range of exposures and then processed them together in camera – it enabled me to take some atmospheric record shots of a very busy event.
What makes a photo a piece of Art? What makes my photo stand out about anyone else’s, what would make it worthy to hang in a gallery in London (other than me being dead 🙂 ) What makes it more than a record shot,more than just am image …
I had hoped to photograph hang gliders on the cliff top with the sea in the background, but after a morning gardening I was greeted with grey skies and the hang gliders had gone home… instead I was left with the most boring skies – they were totally full of one big hazy cloud and were acting as a giant light box. I decided instead to take some photos of the sea – it is amazing how different the water looks on an overcast day.
It wasn’t quite that grey … I have turned it into a monochrome image in Lightroom – but the sea had no character today, the skies no texture and it barely looks like a photo at all. The one yacht on the horizon at half sale looks lonely and alone, it is quite a depressing feel to today’s photos I think.
Looking towards the Needles and there is such a contrast between the image I took on day 240 – the white cliffs soak up the light, the details are hidden … there is a totally different feel. When someone asks you what settings you used to take that image … does it matter, not when the light is so different – but images tell a totally different story.
Playing around with the contrast, two boats sailed in shot, but the sailors look cold, huddled together. This is the height of British summer, it is August bank holiday weekend … and yet this photo tells a totally different story!
Altering the yacht in Light room to increase the exposure, to brighten the sea and to lighten the image – I have managed to create an image I like and that I could imagine on someone’s wall. this one feel timeless, I feel it could be a much happier brighter day and I feel it is a timeless image that you would look up at on your office wall in the depth of winter and remember the good times of summer, and they say the camera never lies…. I think it can really stretch the truth!
Continuing on thinking about the composition of every photo that you capture, and I have been looking at different composition techniques inspired by Emma – she shares some wonderful examples.
Colour – Harmonious (or ‘analagous’) colours are ones with similar shades and tones.
Discordant – these colour combinations shouldn’t work, but they often do. Colours that jar, or seem to be haphazard, can make a striking photo
Abstract -Abstract photography doesn’t try to replicate reality, but suggest something using colour, shape, texture and other composition techniques.
Repetition –The most appealing design technique out there
Break the rules – Now you know what the rules are, you can break them.
So last night I headed off to the beach with these composition challenges in mind and worked with the late evening light.
Above – my location, as I looked out to the Needles of the Isle of Wight, I decided that this shop with the pale sky, green headland, white cliffs and sea was full of Harmonious neutral tones and would be a great place to start as it sets the scene for my location.
This area of beach was damaged in the storms in February 2014, and they have recently put a new barricade in place. This shows of the power of red, leading lines as well as being a repetitive pattern, it would have been a stronger short if there was a person or something of interest at the steps towards the end.
As the waves crashed onto the shore they made all sorts of abstract patterns which varied with the changing light, changing waves movements and shutter speed. These shots work in both monochrome and in colour as the tones are very subtle.
The beach is naturally a place you associate with blue and yellow, I was pleased to be able to find an abstract of these harmonious colours on one of the beach huts – the wall was blue and the door yellow. It also works as it shows off the texture of the material – weathered by the sea, and the paneling of the wood is in two distinctive patterns.
Another beach hut, this time the colours are discordant – they don’t really balance at all in the picture, the tight crop gives an abstract feel and without me telling you in is a beach hut you are left wondering what you are being asked to look at. The purples, greens and orange sunlight are at odd’s with each other and clash.
As the sun began to set it coloured things with a distant orange feel and with the water in shadow – I snapped this image, again an abstract with discordant colours … however I think in this case the birds are too close to the top of the frame and cause a distraction.
Now it is time to break the rules – I shot into the sun with the horizon in the center of the picture. There is no real focal point, and the breakers cut completely across the picture. I like the tones of the image, but I don’t think it is a very strong composition.
Another go at breaking the rules – my watermark is distracting (but automatically placed – sorry) the horizon is too low, but I have included lots of rules too – there lots of space in the composition, there is detail and a sense of scale in the foreground and there is something of interest of the thirds!
And after all the rain we have had recently the warmth of the sky is a pleasure to enjoy!
I am starting to experiment with studio backgrounds – I want to take more baby and toddler photos and one of the things that became obvious when taking photos in a clients home was that to get a clean and pleasing backdrop I would need to think about supplying it myself, so today I experimented with some wallpaper and an old piece of skirting board, some window light on an over cast day and a few props to see what was achievable, and what happened when I changed the image in Lightroom to monochrome.
I hope to continue my experiments over the next few weeks.
A different angle – still lit by window light to the right
Monochrome effect 2
Basket on Green Backdrop
Basket in portrait with window light on green paper
Knitted baby nest on green background – focus goes more to the baby
A fake backdrop and floor lit with window light.
monochrome studio for a toddler
Baby nest on floor boards – the floor boards take the focus from the baby.
A hand knitted baby nest on floor boards in monochrome
Remember the swans? I spotted a swan on a nearby New Forest pond a couple of weeks ago and said that it looked like she was on a nest… well today I decided to go back and revisit and I am so glad I did.
I had my 18-250mm lens and my tripod – I wasn’t ready to start as I also had the dogs with me … and by the end I wished I had my big telephoto lens, but as the photos are for online use I was able to crop them down to create the image I wanted.
I stuck to back focusing, aperture priority although I did try dialing in some exposure compensation to get the histogram balanced as I did not want to blow out the white feather details.
This was my first glimpse of the babies… wow! As approached the nest I must have startled mum and she stood and shook at us … I spotted the babies, grabbed a frame and then hoped for a better glimpse of what was in the nest.
Mum then kept her babies from view and Dad patrolled the area.
Now I was ready… the waiting began.
They then disappeared from view … and I waited some more and then noticed that they were now around the back … awkward to get too, but I knew I had to try again.
One daredevil made it round the front to say hello to mum and I thought my session was done…
I had only capture d 2/3 cygnets but I was delighted to suddenly spot number 3!
Fast shutter speeds were important cause the cygnets were in the shade and moving around a lot, but due to the clutter around the nest I felt that the depth of field was more important as I wanted to capture the whole story, without the background being over whelming.
I discovered today to get the right shot takes patience … I don’t have a lot of that … not with the dog tied to a tree barking…. but once I knew there were cygnets in the nest, I wanted to see them… and we waited and waited … and then once they appeared I wanted to capture another photo … and another photo and then I wanted to try different angles, but could not get to them … I wanted to see if they would move again… and then the dogs were bored! I loved capturing these moments… but I am not a wildlife photographer… the waiting was too much and once I started capturing the cygnets it was hard knowing when to stop!
I got to visit a friend and she had suggested having a mini studio session in her home, using what she had available – 3 foam builds and a some interesting objects we had a go at setting an area to create some interesting shots. I took with me one flash, wireless triggers, umbrella and a light stand, with my camera of tripod these are the results of my experiments with her.
First we played with backgrounds and although the glass table gave interesting reflections are preferred a plain white background – the third shot.
We then changed the subject and had a go at photographing black bottles – my friend had a great collection of bottles. Glass is tricky to photograph, and I feel I would have benefited here from another light, which I did not have. We choose three bottles deliberately for the composition, with the red detail in the centre … although my eye seems drawn more to the red on the bottle lid as that is lighter… (and unnoticed at the time) along with the annoying reflection of my flash and umbrella on the bottle of Bulldog. Looking back at this image though I feel my camera angle is too high, as I appear to be looking down onto the bottles.
We then choose some individual objects to photograph. I loved the brilliance of this blue vase, it almost glows in the light, but the one flash does not create an even lighting effect and there are a lot of different reflections within in the image.
Another vase, this one was much older – but I loved the detail of the etched design. It had much more of a matt finish and therefore was not affected by the reflections as much, although there is still a glare at the top. For stock photography this bright reflection would need to be moved – so something I need to consider in future.
During the course of the experiments we also introduced different backgrounds by using wall paper samples… but I want to look into this more on another occasion. We also photographed some corks … my aim here as to draw the viewers eye to the variety of corks and I focussed my shot on the “star” in the foreground.
My final image is a set of three… three blue bottles, I sat the three bottles slightly behind one another and then took the photos with a shallow depth of field with the idea of focusing on each bottle in turn. These three bottles were an amazing blue colour and went really well together … now I am looking forward to seeing the photos that my friend took too.
Isn’t this the cutest little young man – he is only 11 days old and I got the opportunity to take some photos of him, there was lots to learn and it was a wonderful opportunity to capture some unique moments … but there was also so much to be aware of.
I started off by watching and reading some web sites as this was totally new for me:
I discover babies look best in black and white as it tones down their skin and makes the images look timeless.
Shutter speed of 1/100 sec plus is essential .. on the shots I used a slower shutter speed I had movement – so having a higher ISO is more important. I also had image stabliser turned on!
Props are great – I took 2 baskets with me, and they both worked – mum loved it too. I would love to try an old suitcase, or something … but the props need to be bigger too!
I used too much white/cream – a darker colour in the basket and on mum for feeding would have been better as less reflective on baby.
Babies sleep through anything once they have a full belly.
My childcare background really helps with confidence – I was happy to handle the new baby and mum was relaxed and happy that I did it … she thought he looked so cute. Going into mum’s personal space needs talking about first.
You had to go with the moment, i captured feeding, Dad holding the baby, and sleep time – and if the baby is not happy then a cuddle and a different shot … you need loads of time…
You need to move – similar shots from all different angles, zoom in and zoom out.
I want to capture more babies and I wish I had shots like these of mine, and the great news is this mum has an expectant sister… so I am hoping I get to have another go.
The photos that I gave to the Mum and Dad can be seen here: