Favourites

No matter what you do everyone has a favourite, with me and photography its no different, of the thousands of images in my archives there are some that I keep going back to over and over again, the ones I show when people ask me what I’m up to, the ones I choose the pc background from, the ones I print and frame for display. The more I get into this the larger the collection becomes and better cameras don’t necessarily make it easier as I still include images that I took with my first DSLRs.

So what makes a particular image a favourite?, well sometimes its the time of day, that occasion when the lighting is just right and the image comes out just as I imagined it and you know that the odds are very high against ever being able to take it again. For others it could be the amount of work that I put in afterwards to create a mood that didn’t exist at the time, that took so many steps in editing that I’d lost track of what I’d done yet I remained pleased with the final result. Whatever the reason these are the images that I copy into a separate file so I can access them immediately, if you haven’t then I can only recommend you start one.

Wind driven water pump

Wind driven water pump

I’ve attached two favourites, the first of the water vane in the wheat field brings back memories of how it was taken, the position I’d chosen was the home of hundreds of persistent flies that I had to ignore until I’d achieved the image then run to chase them off, so glad the final result was worth it.

Return from Patrol

Return from Patrol

The second Return from Patrol was a lot of work considering the subject, I knew what I wanted and it took so long editing to get it there, there are lots more on display in the Favourite Photographs Gallery, take some time and look around…

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Mixing it up

Sometimes I have images that in themselves are pretty straightforward but always look as though something is missing. Looking through my files I came across this image of part of the Roman arena in Verona Italy that I had taken on holiday.

Original

Original

2015-(116)

Final Image

The subject was interesting enough however there was nothing distinct about it that would make it stand out (ref the original image). I then stripped all the background from it, darkened the remains to resemble a night scene and changed the structure of the stonework to give a very grainy effect. Behind the image I added the moon with a blue tint and lined up the two, in all I was quite pleased with the final effect, open to comment.

The second image was treated similarly using another part of the same arena stonework, in this case the arches once cut out gave a window effect so I added the sunset taken at Verona that evening behind the arches and gave a hue to the stonework to match.

Archway

Archway

These are just examples of what can be achieved with a little effort so never delete shots just because they don’t look interesting, just mix it up a little.

Camera Canon EOS  550D with EFs 18-135 IS lens. More images  can be found in this sites galleries as well as high definition versions available through my online shops.

Night Shooting

Night is a fantastic time to take photographs however choosing the correct time is as important as choosing the location. My favourite is the short period of time between the sunset ending and the darkness of night being absolute when there is still some light left in the sky, sometimes the eye cannot see it but the camera will record it when taking long exposures. After this time the sky becomes a black mass and only the subject is lit.

Somewhere in the above I said long exposures, with not much light around and wanting the keep the same depth of field without increasing the ISO with its inherent noise means that you can no longer hand hold exposures, certainly not greater than 1/30 second. The obvious solution is a tripod which once set up can give exposures for as long as you need. But what if you don’t have one with you at the time, well any stable platform will do, a stone wall, a bridge parapet and I’ve even used the top of a rubbish bin (and once in a graveyard the flat stone of a tomb). In short anywhere safe where the camera cannot be moved during its exposure time.

Enjoying the Singapore night life

Enjoying the Singapore night life

I’ve attached a couple of images, the Singapore shot was taken from the bridge parapet (with my hand through the camera strap in case of an accident) and the shot in Verona of the arena was actually taken with a monopod (a single pole tripod). For the techies Singapore was ISO 100, F8 for 8 seconds and Verona ISO 100, F9 for 3.2 seconds.

Night at the Arena in Verona

Night at the Arena in Verona

Taking long exposures with a monopod can be done though it needs a little more thought. Set the camera to time delay (to give the camera time to settle once you have pressed the button) and find something to hold the monopod against ( a railing, signpost, anything). Frame and focus the image, press the button and hold the monopod in place, the countdown beeping should start, giving you time to get settled, the results can be reasonable, who said taking photographs wasn’t fun.

More images can be found in this sites galleries as well as high definition versions available through my online shops at the bottom of the page, please visit if only to view and comment.

Soldiers Dawn

Sometimes I find that I’ve captured a great image of the sky and then wonder what to do with it. On this occasion it was the beautiful lighting that occurs at daybreak and then only lasts a moment or two. Having captured it, it seemed to cry out for an image in front to make it more dramatic somehow, that’s when I found this statue of the soldiers in the local park. So just grabbed the figures and reduced them to almost black, scaled back on the cropping to fit the sky image better and merged the two, the result gave me what I’d been thinking of.

Dawn of the Warrior

Dawn of the Warrior

Ok so I failed on the basic rule to not put the subject in the middle of the frame but on this occasion it seemed to work better, open for comment on this one.

More images can be found in this sites galleries as well as high definition versions available through my online shop, please visit, all comments welcome.

Take the Moon

It’s a clear night and there’s a full moon just staring down at you. Ever tried to take a photo of the moon, you have a camera right so of course you have and what do you get, a white dot in a sea of black. It’s pretty tricky right, it’s very bright and the shot looked straight forward until I took it and looked at the result.

What was obvious was that for me to get a reasonable image in the frame I needed a telephoto lens and ideally a tripod. I tried a few shots with my 250mm telephoto resting on a beanbag, left the lens on AF and achieved big patches of white blur, not good. So moved to manual focus, and started bracketing shots and achieved some reasonable (though still small) images, great if I just wanted to add a moon to a landscape.

Moon example1

Moon Example

Then I managed to get hold of a small telescope (1200 mm) and with the camera attached for once managed to fill the frame and yes I had to use a tripod but the telescope spotting scope helped as the image was being viewed using the camera preview and without the spotter I would have found searching the blackness for that elusive bright patch really frustrating. Adding to this the fact that for all long lenses the slightest movement to the tripod this end caused big movement the other didn’t help.

The end result after a lot of shots was passable but it was great fun trying to work it out not forgetting of course that the moon is moving all the time so a few minutes after I put it in the frame it was out again. I’ve attached an image showing the result and an image of the cats that I thought would work using the moon as a silhouette.

Togetherness

Togetherness

I’m certain better images can be achieved so no doubt will try again soon.

More images can be found in this sites galleries as well as high definition versions available through my online shop.

The Right Light

There’s a lot to be said for choosing the right time of day to take your photos, your decision determines the mood of the final image. Previously I mentioned taking photographs on a bright sunny day, everyone’s favourite time, how often have you looked at your final result and thought that the images were flat, or in high contrast (very dark areas and very bright ones), how often have you looked at the result and thought that it looked ‘washed out’?  This is because what your eye sees is not what your camera sees, the eye will compensate rapidly for changes in lighting levels as you look around, the camera of course tries to record what it monitors in that fraction of a second the image is taken and is often fooled by the sky or the sun or reflective surfaces, even those with multiple sensors embedded.

Of course we don’t always have a choice when the shot can be taken, it greatly depends on where we are at the time but when you do have a choice you can of course help by choosing not to take in the middle of the day. At this time the sun is directly overhead so there are few shadows and therefore little sculpturing to give depth and shape to objects, trees or hills and images become flat as objects blend into each other and colours fade. You will have noticed how in late afternoon when the sun is across the subject that the shadows give objects that depth and shape and also observed that the colour of the light changes from being bright and harsh in the middle of the day to becoming warmer and softer as the day progresses.

Midday landscape example

Midday landscape example

Given a choice I’d choose mid to late afternoon every time for that warm effect and about an hour before sunset when I really want to add some soft enhanced colour into a landscape shot. The first image was taken at midday, the sun is high, shadows short and the scene is flat.

Late sunshine in the Barossa

Late sunshine in the Barossa

The second shows a mid afternoon image and already sculpturing is taking effect in the tree trunk.

The third image gives an idea of how the colour changes as the day progresses towards evening with the colour of the vines changing from light brown to a warm golden brown.

More Landscape images can be found in this sites gallery ‘Australia in View’ as well as available through my online shop.

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There’s always time to take it

Evening rainstorm

Evening rainstorm

I’ve been asked when is the best time to take photographs, humorously the best answer is when you have a camera in your hand, mine is never too far away, my DSLR goes with me when I go out at weekends and a compact is permanently in the car, you never know when you will see something interesting, how often have you said “I wish I’d had my camera with me” when the unexpected image appears. The question of course really related to the weather and whilst the above is true enough most people associate good photographs with bright sunny days, blue skies and wisps of cloud in the sky. Generally this is fine after all who doesn’t like a sunny day however look at images that move you, when were they taken, often as not you would say sunrise or sunset or storm clouds moving over hills with the sun peering through.

Stormy Rural Landscape

Stormy Rural Landscape

Snowstorm

Snowstorm

Misty morning in England
Misty morning in England

As you have already guessed photographs need mood and therefore depend upon lighting available at the time to be really effective. I’ve taken photographs as a thunderstorm approaches, on a gloomy fog filled day, at night in the rain and even in a snowstorm on a mountainside; don’t be put off looking for a good image just because the weather isn’t kind to you. I’ve attached examples of each of these types.

High resolution versions of my photographs are available through my online shop, please enjoy.

Sunset Opportunities

The sunset time of day can present more varied opportunities than just photographs of the sky with a few interesting clouds in them. That very low sun can set the mood for contra jour shots where as expected you take directly into the light, this would give a strong silhouette to the foreground structure which could be a tree, pier, building etc and show the brightness of the sky behind. The first of these two images demonstrates the basic silhouette effect achieved by shooting into the light and can be achieved at most times of the day.

Silhouette Marker

Silhouette Marker

Alternatively however the lighting of this time of day can be used to accentuate the foreground and produce almost no sky imagery at all, whilst still contra jour. This very different second image of the cyclists was taken utilising the warmth of the setting sun, this creates a very moody atmosphere.

The long ride home

The long ride home

This shot was taken whilst walking along the banks of the river Arno in Florence, the sun was directly in my eyes and all these cyclists were passing me heading home no doubt. The opportunity was too good to miss so with the opportunity of high shutter speeds from my trusty Canon EOS DSLR I listened for the cyclist coming up behind and shot as they went past.

High resolution versions of my photographs are available through my online shop, please enjoy.