Year Two (95) – Fields of Yellow

I have notice on my wonder thought facebook some of my friends showing photos of sunflowers and thought I would capture some too… and add some sunshine…

In close - ISO200, F3.5, 1/1250 sec
In close – ISO200, F3.5, 1/1250 sec

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Year Two (40) – More flowers

My mum likes to explore gardens, I like to take photos – so today’s challenge was to try and combine the two and to take various photos of the gardens we were exploring. Today’s visit was to Furzey Gardens in the New Forest – it is a charity run garden which is home to  the Minstead Training Trust, which provides residential care and horticultural training to adults with learning disabilities. Continue reading

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 272 – Morning Dew Bokeh

At the weekend I shared some photos of some experiments on my lawn with a reflector. I also spend some time capturing the dew drops, and felt that I wanted to share those in a separate blog post.

Today’s set up:

  • Canon 100mm macro lens
  • Tripod – with the centre pool reversed and the camera hung underneath
  • A shutter release cable
  • A reflector

I wanted to practice my focusing for macro – I don’t seem to always focus as sharp as I know i should be able to … so the dew drops would provide an opportunity to experiment. Continue reading

Day 270 – Morning Reflectors

Today I went outside to enjoy the morning dew – it was beautiful. A sign that Autumn is on its way, my grass needs cutting and a great reason to get close and look at the details with my macro lens.

Today’s set up:

  • Canon 100mm macro lens
  • Tripod – with the centre pool reversed and the camera hung underneath
  • A shutter release cable
  • A reflector

I focused on some toadstools in my lawn Continue reading

Day 268 – Photography for Bloggers Part 1a

I was not happy with the photos that I took for day 266 – my first attempt at flatlay, so I had to choices – to go away and try a different style of photography or have another attempt at this one. A second attempt won – after all the idea of the blog was to improve my photography, so stopping when I find something hard, is not the way I will learn new skills.

Flatlay might not be a style of photography that I like – all though many of the examples I have seen a very pleasing on the eye – they do include skills that are useful in all aspects of photographer – cross transferable skills.

So where to start … more research, I had a look on google and I read up:

  • Styling flatlay photography – I need to create a story, or think about what I want the photo to communicate. There are loads of ideas here.
  • Flat Lay photography tips – a video – I watched a demonstration on the thought process, and which talked about natural light creating the right tones.
  • I read up about light – not for just flatlay but for still life images – I found her light diagrams really helpful.
  • Adding contrast and brightening the picture works well.. along with keeping a theme.
  • A really useful bluetac tip in this blog along with encouragement that it takes practice.
  • I never even thought of “flatlay” for clothes – this could be a great way to display products, presenting them into a situation to create a mode.

Today I choose the room based on the light available – not based on where I wanted to take the photo.  I took the last photos in my lounge – it is south facing, with lots of direct sunlight, even though I tried to diffuse it through a sheet – today I headed west – and used my kitchen floor … as I often think the light in there is much softer. I think something has just dawned on me – it is about the light – not the space available…. why do I therefore use my lounge….

My inspiration – afternoon tea … the story – time for a break … peppermint tea, biscuits, pretty plates – I thought more about the composition. I wanted to include flowers – ideally pink ones, to match the flowers on the cups – my crop includes part of a daisy … I should have cloned it out … but it is a good example of including something that should not have been included. My papermint tea – matched my phone case … and I had the idea of including a web site on my phone that related to the post.

Afternoon Tea - F8, 1/80sec, ISO200
Afternoon Tea – F8, 1/80sec, ISO200

I rearranged – included more of the daisies, tossed in some mint to reflect the peppermint flavour of the tea, swapped the biscuits for cake and I removed my phone case as I thought it looked too heavy –  the mint looks messy, the daisies unrelated and I think the phone now looks too dark.

ISO160, F8, 1/80sec
ISO160, F8, 1/80sec

I tried again – I cropped closer – made the focus the story – my tea break… a cup of tea and a read of my phone – the image I wanted on the phone was not clear enough so I photoshopped my own image into it and I like it.

Afternoon Tea close up - ISO200, F8, 1/80sec
Afternoon Tea close up – ISO200, F8, 1/80sec

Today I was doing a lot of work for the Coastguard Association – sorting out paperwork, preparing raffle prizes for an event at the weekend, so I thought I would take a photo themed to that – the blue and yellow colours work well together, the blue-tac trick was excellent and worked well. There are some shadows – it seemed to bounce back from my reflector rather than the light source.

Inspired by the work I am doing for the Coastguard Association today - ISo160, F8, 1/80sec
Inspired by the work I am doing for the Coastguard Association today – ISo160, F8, 1/80sec

Following the inspiration I have seen on other posts – I then choose to crop tighter to try and get the image to tell a story – I also edited the colours in lightroom to create a more muted image – I stuck to a square crop as instagram flatlays are usually a square crop. I like this image – it tells a story … coastguard, raffle, pen to write peoples names on …  and is perfect for a blog post!

Close Crop - faded - ISO160, F8, 1/80sec
Close Crop – faded – ISO160, F8, 1/80sec

So what I have learnt

  • Light is essential, I need to learn more about light
  • Less is more
  • Flatlays and still life images need to tell a story – you need to think about what to include, and equally what not to include
  • I have so much more to learn!

Day 259 – Insects and Reptiles Part Two

Yesterday I posted the first part of my photo experience evening with Captive Light and I said something was missing – I was really pleased with the photos I captured within the two hour session, I got more good photos than I would have imagined and I was interested in how the lights etc were set up… but I did say something was missing and I did not now want to include that in yesterday’s post.

First thing that was missing was the set up – what did it look like… so here is one of the areas that we had to photograph in, you can see how busy the background was, and how much a challenge it was to create the images that I shared yesterday.

Studio Set Up for the Photo Experience.
Studio Set Up for the Photo Experience.

BUT – the thing that I felt was missing from the images yesterday though was a sense of scale – how big is a Tarantula, how small was the baby Gecko … you have no way of knowing with the images from yesterday – so today’s share are images from the same photo shoot but with a sense of scale, kindly provided by one of the staff at Liberty’s.

Hog-nosed Snake - 17-70mm lens, F13, 1/160sec 54mm focl length
Hog-nosed Snake – 17-70mm lens, F13, 1/160sec 54mm focal length

This Hog-nosed snake was very lively in the evening … he moved really quickly which made it hard to focus on his eyes and to capture the action as his tongue darted in and out. He was a relatively small snake which you can tell by the handlers hand in the image.

Milliped - 85mm focal length, F8, 1/160sec
Millipede – 85mm focal length, F8, 1/160sec
Milliped - 130mm focal length, F8, 1/160sec
Millipede – 130mm focal length, F8, 1/160sec

Above these are Millipedes, they were just sleeping in the moss, they weren’t really a very interesting subject but when you see one rested on the handlers hand you can see they were pretty big. You really need that sense of scale to realise that.

Rose Trantula, 28-300mm focal length, F10, 1/160sec
Rose Tarantula, 28-300mm focal length, F10, 1/160sec

A rose tarantula on the sand, you can tell by the sand pixels that it is a good size and that it is possibly scurrying towards me … but until the handler goes to move it backwards – very carefully … you do not realise what a big spider it is!

300mm focal length - F10, 1/160sec
300mm focal length – F10, 1/160sec

Finally that baby gecko – was he large or small…  I captured a more interesting one of him balanced on a stick yesterday when the image suddenly became alive as he poked out his tiny tongue – a delightful capture, but also one where I had to crop in close and concentrate to ensure that his eyes were in focus.

Baby Gecko - 17-70mm lens, 70mm focal length, F13, 1/160sec
Baby Gecko – 17-70mm lens, 70mm focal length, F13, 1/160sec

Below you can see him being very carefully handled and places on the stick – he was tiny, and that sense of scale is totally missing from yesterdays photos., there is no reference point.

Baby Gecko - 17-70mm lens, 70mm focal length, F13, 1/160sec
Baby Gecko – 17-70mm lens, 70mm focal length, F13, 1/160sec

I really had a great time photographing with Captive Light again, it is very informal – more of opportunity to try your skills with  some fantastic subjects, everything you need except your camera in included and you come away with some great images – well I did … so I think I might request some of the workshops on my wish list.

Day 242 – Grey Skies

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.

ISO100, F5.6, 1/500sec
ISO100, F5.6, 1/500sec

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.

ISO100, F5.6, 1/500sec
ISO100, F5.6, 1/500sec

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.

ISO320, F11, 1/400sec
ISO320, F11, 1/400sec

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!

ISO320, F11, 1/500sec
ISO320, F11, 1/500sec

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!

Day 190 – sunlit leaves

Bright sunlight on the leaves this afternoon caught my eye, so I tried to capture the sunlight and shadows. I was looking up to the leaves. In my first photo I was delighted how I managed to capture the sun back lighting the detail on the stem.

ISO100, F5.6, 1/800 sec
ISO100, F5.6, 1/800 sec

This photo was taken side on, there was a huge contrast between the dark shadows and the brightness where the sun was shinning on the leaf, and I was really pleased that I managed to captured the detail on the brightly lit leaves. with the additional darkenss the ISO has increased and the shutter speed lengthen to compensate.

ISO640, F5.6, 1/250 sec
ISO640, F5.6, 1/250 sec

For all these photos I had the ISO on auto, these leaves caught my eye as although they were brightly lit by the sunlight the leaves above were creating shadows on them. The brighter sunlit leaves in the background and the spots of blue sky are distracting though, I think.

ISO100, F5, 1/320 sec
ISO100, F5, 1/320 sec

Side on again, and  this time it was the position of the leaves that caught my attention, the two layers almost look like a reflection of each other, and I find them interesting to look at.

ISO100, F5.6, 1/250 sec
ISO100, F5.6, 1/250 sec

Last photo for today, back to looking up at the leave again, I got some great back lighting around the edge of this leave, and I love the silhouette of the fly and its winds. The fly was on top of the leaf and I feel it add’s interest to the image.

ISO160, F5.6, 1/320 sec
ISO160, F5.6, 1/320 sec

I then decided it would be interesting to just extract the fly and the textures on the leave, so I cropped the image down to include just that in Lightroom… and the detail on the leaf is really amazing, especially as the shutter was only open for 1/320 sec.

A closer crop of the fly.
A closer crop of the fly.