Year Two (87) – Scavenger Hunt Revisit

A year ago my camera club did a scavenger hunt – earlier this week they repeated the activity, only this year fewer members came along for the challenge -and I have come to realise very few photographers in the group taking photos out of their preferred subject but for me that is part of the challenge, and an evening where you are sent off with a subject to capture … helps you get to know other club members, see what their skills are and how flexible their approach is … it is not about the most amazing images imo it is about seeing how people think and work as a team.

This year we were in teams of 4,  we had 2 hours to choose 6 photos from 6 subjects – take the images, resize and rename them before judging! Continue reading

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Year Two (55) – Learning

Monday night was members night at Southampton Camera Club, where 4 brave (or foolish) club members stand up in front of the rest of the membership and share something fascinating about their photography, and what an enlighting evening it was… with members talking about a variety of topics.

Colour Calibration

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Day 334 – A opportunity to see a photographer at work

I spent an amazing day in a photo studio with 2 members of my local camera club watching them work. I wanted to learn more about lighting and using a studio, and they kindly offered me the opportunity to come along, watch what goes into the starting blocks of creating their award winning images, they put together – they are not just photographers, they are contemporary artists and an amazing amount of thought and creativity goes into the images they put together.

Their photos are amazing – and award winning – they recently got presented with a Photographic Society of American Best of Show Gold Award in the Bregenz salon in Austria – and all their portrait shots tell a story. Please visit their web site – Quality Pixels or follow them of Qualify Pixels Photography on facebook to see some of their stunning work.

The studio space with a grey background
The studio space with a grey background

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Day 330 – Graphic Artist Inspiration

We had a great speaker at camera club this week – Vicki Boulter who is a graphic artist and who amazing images which are very different from the regular portraits that we normally see. Vicki is a graphic designer by training… the same as me and she really inspired me to try something different. Continue reading

Day 325 – My first Boudoir – Studio part one

If you have been following the process of my 365 you will know it has taken on the role of pushing myself outside my comfort zone, learning new photographic skills and learning more about working with people, and having fun.

Hands on learning with a great model - ISO6400, F4.5, 1/20sec
Hands on learning with a great model – ISO6400, F4.5, 1/20sec

I had an opportunity to be one of four tutors at a studio session shooting Boudoir, at the Old Bakery, my role was to help with the equipment and I took along my lap top so we could look at each others raw files during the evening, so we could get an idea of how to develop our ideas. Continue reading

Day 294 – Photography is about having fun

Monday night at camera club, Gavin Hoey came along and gave an inspiring talk called Snap Happiness. I have seen his talk’s before, and met him on the bluebell railway earlier this year. It was a inspiring talk and it was great how he incorporates videos of photography sessions and live edits – made to look simple.  The first time I heard hi speak I was blown away with how complicated everything was in photoshop, elements and lightroom – but this time round, it made sense, it reinforced what I knew and yet I still came away from the first half on the evening with new ideas I want to try.

In the 2nd half of the evening – Gavin set up a simple studio set up, and showed us how with one light you could set up a portrait session, and how you could then edit the image and bring out so much more to it…. he really helps inject enthusiam into photography and I came away feeling more confident about being adventurous with my own flash. Continue reading

Day 290 – A visit to the sea

We had a visit at camera club on Monday by a local photographer – John Buttress who had been awarded a fellowship of the Royal Photographic Society (one of 841 people) and his specialty was exploring Coastlines. You can view his fellowship panel here.

It was an interesting evening, he shared with us photos from all around the UK and from Nova Scotia. Most of the photos were taken around the hours of dawn and dusk and had the most amazing light, but to me the photos gave me a different view of the beach he had looked at the details of the sea scape – the parts of the scene rather than the whole. I came away thinking that he had a great eye for creating pictures and that I could benefit from looking at more of the close up details – so this was my intention when visiting the beach today!

The beach - ISO100, F16, 1/125 sec
The beach – ISO100, F16, 1/125 sec

I was back at Highcliffe, this time with a battery in my camera and walking into the opposite direction… the light was interesting, the clouds diffusing it and at the same time allowing sun rays to shine through.  I wanted to make photos though from the beach rather than the bigger picture.

Paw prints in the sand - ISO100, F16, 1/100sec
Paw prints in the sand – ISO100, F16, 1/100sec

When on of the photo buddies ran along the wet sand – he left indents in the sand which quickly filled with water and then disappeared.  I captured them cause it gave me the feeling that I was not alone, and I loved how the waves retreated into the background adding a slight sense of timeless movement to the image.

A brick eroded on the beach - ISO640, F16, 1/200sec
A brick eroded on the beach – ISO640, F16, 1/200sec

This brick caught my eye – it was such a great colour, and when the tide washed around it and then back out to sea it uncovered a third stone – so I had three distinctively different stones, the power of red and a lovely indention in the sand – details can be interesting!

Where the sea meets the beach - IOS400, F16, 1/400sec
Where the sea meets the beach – IOS400, F16, 1/400sec

This is my favorite shot today – I love how the water is lit by the sunlight, how the bubbles add texture to the sea, how wet the sand looks and how symmetrical the image looks. I think the colours are great too. It is a relaxing, soothing image and contains a lot of negative space.  What do you think?

A pebble on the beach - ISO250, F16, 1/320sec
A pebble on the beach – ISO250, F16, 1/320sec

Watching how the water moved on the beach and the patterns that were left on the sand was interesting, and there were so many great textures to examine – I liked the diagonals on this image, as you are led through the picture, with the slight movement recorded on the water.

Wet Sand - ISO250, F16, 1/320sec
Wet Sand – ISO250, F16, 1/320sec

Wet Sand, another image inspired by John’s talk, his talk and images really highlighted to me that less is sometimes more. I don’t like the fact that you can not identify the location, but I do like the timeless feel the image has, and how it reminds me of the beach, the moment before wet sand ruined my shoes, family days out, my eldest’s first walk ( on a sandy beach 16 years ago) and I can really understand how the right light could add more to an image like this – my photos were captured mid morning.

Black and white coastline - ISO320, F16, 1/400sec
Black and white coastline – ISO320, F16, 1/400sec

The beach in black and white – the foam acts as a leading line to the sea, the items in the sand draw your eye and the reasonable shutter speed freezes most of the foam on the sea.

Reflections on the sand - ISO100, F16, 1/100 sec
Reflections on the sand – ISO100, F16, 1/100 sec

Stepping further back – there was also some amazing reflections on the wet beach of the sky, the texture of the wet sand provides all sorts of interest. I have boosted the yellow and blue colour saturation in this image, as I wanted those colours to be enhanced.

My final image is of a large piece of seaweed – the two stones lead into the image, and I chose a shallow depth of field so that the line of the sea weed would be softer and not draw you out of the picture. Timing was tricky here, as I wanted to freeze the moment that the sea touched the seaweed so I had a contrast of textures and so that the white foam highlighted the details on the sea weed even more.

Seaweed at the waters edge, ISO125, F6.3, 1/200sec
Seaweed at the waters edge, ISO125, F6.3, 1/200sec

I have certainly discovered this year that I enjoy taking photos in the natural environment. I have also discovered that hearing the stories behind other people’s images and seeing examples of their work can certainly inspire my own images. I think being a member of a camera club is a great idea – it brings variety to my photography and encourages me to see things differently. I have never followed or researched a famous photographer as I have always wanted to create my own images – but I think maybe I need to look at more work of others…

So today I am proposing a question… and would love to read your answer in the comments below … Who are your favorite photographers, who inspires your images or who do you think I should look at?

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 267 – Printing and Digital Projection

Camera Club this week was amazing – an evening on monitor calibration and printer calibration for getting the most out of your prints and digital files …. I know the importance of both… I have a Spyder to calibrate my monitor… I use the correct colour profiles when I am printing on my expensive photo paper – but my images have never looked quite right – they often come back darker than I anticipated … I have never let on – I went to college and did Graphic Design for 2 years … but I had no idea why! Continue reading