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.

photochallenge-20161016-beaulieu-0415-1
Reflections in a puddle

This one was taken on the Canon G7x, Continue reading

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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 281 – Using my light meter and Experimenting with flash

I need to experiment with how my flash works, so when I found out I needed to create a new passport image of me – I decide it was the perfect opportunity to experiment with my speedlite, and my reflector and inspired by Gavin Hoey’s recent video on using my light meter – which you can see here – http://www.gavtrain.com/?p=4857

What an interesting experiment.

It is really difficult when I am the model – once again no one will willing to volunteer … but with the help of my tripod, a few clips, my shutter release, fixed focus 50 mm lens – I had a go.

My first discovery was that I really hate being in photos – however today i have no choice… so excuse the pained look on my face… I am going to give it a go.  I am sat on a stool with a window to my left – an over cast sky outside. Continue reading

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 248 – Macro Images by Reversing your lens

Another way of doing Macro photography which I did not mention the other week is reversing your lens. Emma suggested that as this week’s challenge – you can see how to do it here: Reversing the lens -so I decided to use my nifty 50 lens and have a go.

How does it compare with the other techniques I tried earlier – Macro experiments.

50mm lens, ISO320, F1.8, 1/60sec - Closest focal point with lens
50mm lens, ISO320, F1.8, 1/60sec – Closest focal point with lens

I started off with three small flowers on my work top. Composition wise – this is awful, these are harsh shadow and the photo is not in focus, but this is the closest focal point I can get with my 50mm lens., but I have included it in my blog as you can see where I am starting from and what the scale might be.

Reverse Lens, ISO320, 1/60 sec
Reverse Lens, ISO320, 1/60 sec

This is my 50mm lens round the wrong way on manual – as the video says I have no control of the aperture but I was presently surprised how close I could get- it was hard to focus, harder than I imagine, as the depth of field was very shallow – but I was amazed at how close you could get.

Reverse Lens, ISO400, 1/60 sec
Reverse Lens, ISO400, 1/60 sec

Moving further back, as I was surprise how close I had been able to get to the flower I took another photo. The composition works well, the colours are clear and I was really pleased with the results… so I decided to continue to experiment with a different bunch of flowers.

50mm lens, F5, 1/13sec, ISO800
50mm lens, F5, 1/13sec, ISO800

These roses are taken with the 50mm lens, they are lit with quite harsh lighting, but I wanted it bright so that I had a good source of light when I moved closer with my reversed lens.

ISO1600, 1/60 sec - Reverse 50mm
ISO1600, 1/60 sec – Reverse 50mm

This is the closest I could get – I increased the ISO so that I could have a faster shutter speed and I was able to fill the frame with just the center of one roses. I think one time I might experiment with this and a tripod.. on a perfect rose to create a gentle abstract feel.

50mm lens, ISO1600, 1/60sec
50mm lens, ISO1600, 1/60sec

I choose something else to focus on – the edge of the leaf, and although I am not perfectly focused, I can see how close you can get and how shallow a depth of field you can achieve. I then tried to increase the aperture – but because of my light conditions. I was unable to capture a steady enough image, so haven’t shared one – sorry!

100mm lens, Iso1600, F2.8, 1/60 sec
100mm lens, Iso1600, F2.8, 1/60 sec

Then I thought does this only work with my 50mm lens – time to experiment and I changed to my 100mm macro lens. Would it work. These are the flowers for reference, with a shallow depth of field, focused onto the yellow rose.

100mm lens, F2.8, 1/60sec
100mm lens, F2.8, 1/60sec

I got as close as I could with my 100mm lens the right way round and was able to create a very similar image to my 50mm lens in reverse – which actually surprised me. It was easier to focus with the 100mm macro lens and there was significantly less risk of my lens being damaged, but it definitely highlights to me that Emma was right – you don’t necessarily need a 100mm macro lens, if you are prepared to take risks and experiment.

I them obviously had to work out what the 100mm lens could achieve in reverse – I had the idea that if the 50mm reversed lens was able to produce similar results to a 100mm lens, could I achieve something even better, however I came across a problem – I could not get close enough to focus … I mean I was almost touching the petals when I took this image below and it is totally abstract … no matter where I moved on the focal plain I could not achieve anything in focus – so maybe reverse lens use is limited to only certain lenses – I don’t know … but with my 100mm macro lens it wasn’t possible.

BUT, to end with a positive – what a wonderful way to create toned backgrounds to work with when compositing images, design posters or other graphics – straight out of camera and it has a unique abstract feel. I rather like it!

100mm reverse lens, ISO1600, 1/60sec
100mm reverse lens, ISO1600, 1/60sec

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.

Day 231 – Composition Challenge part 3 – After the Rain

It is essential to think about the composition of every photo that you capture, and I have been looking at different composition techniques in my composition challenge inspired by Emma – she shares some wonderful examples.

  • Background – If you haven’t mastered backgrounds yet, please take one thing away from this whole month: your background mustn’t distract from your subject. No distracting highlights or red spots. No telegraph poles sticking out of heads (or any other intrusive overlap of subject and background).  Do make the subject stand out from the background (“background separation”) by using a contrasting colour, or knocking the background out of focus, or lighting the subject differently.
  • Straight horizon – This doesn’t need an explanation. It’s the one rule of photography that can’t be broken, and until it’s automatic, it’s something you should check in the viewfinder every time.
  • Form/Shape – Sometimes the form of your subject is all you need – it is the photograph. Keep it simple and minimise other distractions.
  • Texture – Use lighting to emphasis texture where it’s important (side light brings out texture, front lighting eliminates it). And use contrasting textures to highlight your subject.
  • Looking into/out of the frame – You get a very different connection with your subject if they have eye-contact with the camera, than if they are looking out of the frame. And it doesn’t have to be people or animals – many inanimate objects can appear mysterious and interesting if they are “looking” out of the frame, or about to exit to one side.
  • Creating depth – From your perspective drawing lessons you’ll remember how to give the illusion of depth by using converging lines. The same rules apply in photography.
  • Suggest movement – Once you start to go beyond taking a record shot, and have started creating a deliberate emotion or reaction in your viewer, you have become a photographer. If you can take the light you have available, and the subject in front of you, and deliberately make a suggestion to someone looking at your photo, then you are an artist. Suggestions include Blur (long shutter speeds) panning, using the law of physics to imagine what happens next.

With those thoughts in minded, I went for a walk with my 50mm lens and captured some of the detail of some local wild plants and fruit after a shower of rain.

Including fruit in the background adds depth to this image giving the impression it was laden with fruit.
Including fruit in the background adds depth to this image giving the impression it was laden with fruit.
I liked the form and shape of these seeds against the muted background.
I liked the form and shape of these seeds against the muted background.
I centered these seeds with the frame, thought about a muted background and used the shallow depth of field and the converging lines of other grasses to add depth.
I centered these seeds with the frame, thought about a muted background and used the shallow depth of field and the converging lines of other grasses to add depth.
I love the texture of the fruit here, the depth provide by the background leaves.
I love the texture of the fruit here, the depth provide by the background leaves.
The horizon does not matter when you don't include it, but when there are water droplets you need to ensure they drip downwards and compose correctly.
The horizon does not matter when you don’t include it, but when there are water droplets you need to ensure they drip downwards and compose correctly.
The raindrop coated apple is on the outside of the frame, drawing you into the photo
The raindrop coated apple is on the outside of the frame, drawing you into the photo
I like the texture with the berries lit by water, the soft background draws your attention to the berries.
I like the texture with the berries lit by water, the soft background draws your attention to the berries.
Great textures and I love the reflection, the position of the horizon does not matter as it is not included but the perspective draws your interest.
Great textures and I love the reflection, the position of the horizon does not matter as it is not included but the perspective draws your interest.
On the edge of the frame, drawing you eye to the detailed raindrop with a nice soft background.
On the edge of the frame, drawing you eye to the detailed raindrop with a nice soft background.
A cluttered background does not draw your attention to the details as well, especially when there are brighter tones.
A cluttered background does not draw your attention to the details as well, especially when there are brighter tones.
Muted colours and the soft light brings a calm sense of a gentle breeze to this image and a slight sense of natural movement.
Muted colours and the soft light brings a calm sense of a gentle breeze to this image and a slight sense of natural movement.

Final message today – did you know it is World Photo Day – there is an amazing gallery of images from all around the world that have been posted here. If you take photos – be brave and submit one … you never know what it might lead to. I have submitted my header image – the New Forest at Dawn with my border collie in it… just because I like it….

Day 216 – Meadow Flowers – Composition Challenge

Out with my nifty 50 today, as I have not used if for a while… so traveling light I headed off to find some meadow flowers which had been mentioned on a local facebook group as looking lovely … I never knew they were there until today, some looked lovely, some were over their best – but it was great to experiment and to think at the same time about some of the suggests of Emma’s composition challenge.

The first challenges she suggested to consider in the first week are:

  • Viewpoint – High, low, extreme, intimate, abstract, predictable, unexpected – your point of view is what links you to the person looking at your photograph.
  • Framing – A simple technique to focus attention – use the foreground to frame your subject
  • Negative space – Also known as whitespace, this is where you deliberately provide lots of breathing space around the subject.
  • Diagonals – A very strong composition device. Diagonals suggest energy and movement.

 

50mm lens, ISO100, 1/100 sec, F8
50mm lens, ISO100, 1/100 sec, F8

I started thinking of my view point, and I choose to get close to the flowers and focus on individual flower heads to extract the details from the meadow, it gave no real sense of scale though but by changing my viewpoint so I was even closer and more level with the focus flower made the composition stonger (see below).

50mm lens, ISO100, 1/2000 sec, F3.2
50mm lens, ISO100, 1/2000 sec, F3.2

The image below includes three aspects of the challenge, I shot these three flowers on the diagonal, really thought about the view point, shooting from underneath and made sure to include some white space around the image. I think it would have been stronger if I had moved more and had the three flowers completely separate from one another.

50mm lens, ISO100, 1/5000 sec, F3.2
50mm lens, ISO100, 1/5000 sec, F3.2

This is another diagonal image this time the flowers on the same focal plane form a diagonal across the image, it is not as strong as the image above as the bright yellow flowers in the background are distracting.

50mm lens, ISO100, 1/4000 sec, F3.2
50mm lens, ISO100, 1/4000 sec, F3.2

This photo is a reversed look at framing, I was determined to capture the poppy against a muted background so that the red stands out.

50mm lens, ISO100, 1/1600 sec, F3.2
50mm lens, ISO100, 1/1600 sec, F3.2

I love this one, the poppy is on the diagonal, and the wind blew just as I took it do it has added a real painty/abstract feel to the image.

50mm lens, ISO100, 1/1600 sec, F3.2
50mm lens, ISO100, 1/1600 sec, F3.2

Thinking about the negative space and the viewpoint, I went down beneath the poppy and shot upwards, I love how the sun reflects on the petals. I also like how the poppy heads echo the direction of the flower.

50mm lens, ISO100, 1/1250 sec, F3.2
50mm lens, ISO100, 1/1250 sec, F3.2

With the meadow flowers and the bee in the foreground and the Father and child blurred in the background, I think this image provides a great sense of location to the flowers, with the houses in the background, you can see they are in an area where they can be enjoyed. You can see how the view point of the image is low and close to the foreground flowers with the focus on the small details.

50mm lens, ISO100, 1/2500 sec, F3.2
50mm lens, ISO100, 1/2500 sec, F3.2

A final shot, changing angle to capture the wildlife on the flowers,  with the detail on the flowers on the left of the image there is still plenty of negative space top right .. I could easily imagine Happy Birthday or similar written there.

50mm lens, ISO100, 1/800 sec, F5.6
50mm lens, ISO100, 1/800 sec, F5.6

Thanks Emma for the composition challenges and I look forward to trying more….