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.

Animals

Animals, they’re all around us, from the wild ones that we often can and a great deal that we can’t see to the domestic variety on farms and in the home. The list is pretty endless so its only natural that they find a place in my portfolio. The zoo is a pretty obvious place to find the more exotic ones plus there are plenty of wildlife parks showing native animals in Australia. The distinct advantages of course are that I can get in a lot closer and don’t have to travel too far to find a great variety, my visits to these places often result in hundreds of images to choose from. There still remains the problem of course of achieving the right image, apart from the Meerkats they don’t pose for the camera so everything is about patience and timing and a reasonable zoom is essential, I find my 55-250 lens adequate for the job.

Meercat

Meerkat, suricata suricata

2007-(131)R

African Lion, panthera leo senegalis

Then of course there are the crowds and the kids but who said anything about this being easy. I’ve attached three images to show that reasonable results can be obtained, the Meercat and Lion were from the local zoo and the otters from a wildlife park in England. So give it a go, its good practise and certainly a good day out.

2015-(069)

Asian short clawed otter, Aonyx cinereus

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

Macros, or getting in a bit closer

stampAs well as taking wide angle shots of landscapes I’ve always wanted to get in close to my subject, to do this properly takes a dedicated macro lens but most lenses on digital cameras will have a macro capability so until I’m rich enough to buy the lenses that I need like most I must make do.2014-(110) Flowers seemed the most obvious subject to try first as shown in the examples attached. 2014-(133)Obviously stability is a prime here as I found that the slightest movement when in this close can cause a lot of movement on the image so a tripod is considered essential though it can be one of the smaller desktop models as the subject is only inches away from the lens and it allows a larger f stop to be set. 2014-(132)If you haven’t thought about it then I can only recommend giving it a try, you might surprise yourself.

Flowers

Flowers just ask to be photographed, I’ll bet that there is no-one who has bought a camera who has not taken a photograph of a flower at some time. Although you can take them outdoors on the plant itself I find that setting them in a studio type environment works much better, to start with there is not all that background clutter of other plants, fences etc and they are not always in the best position to be photographed or lit and of course you would need to get down on your knees in the flower bed. I did say studio environment but this doesn’t mean you need a studio.

I use sheets of black or coloured mounting card as a backdrop and natural daylight, often on the patio. With the flower in a suitable holder it can be rotated to achieve the effect, the backdrop is far enough away that the card doesn’t come in focus and the composition can be better displayed to suit.

Floral display

Floral display

Carnation

Carnation

I’ve attached examples of flowers using the black background as examples.

More flower 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.

Posters

Ever thought about creating your own posters?, its not that complicated when you consider all that is needed is an image and the right slogan, photo editing tools will allow you to add text to an image in a range of fonts and sizes. Having searched the web for some appropriate slogans I set about matching them up to some images that I had that needed something extra.

2014-(129)It seemed obvious to start with a flower, there are so many good quotations around them.

Looking deeper I came across this weather vane and the following text just jumped to mind.

2015-(009)In conclusion I’ve added this example for a little deeper thought, 2015-(010) Its not that hard once you try, I’d recommend anyone in having a go.

For those who’d prefer to just buy posters you are welcome to browse my current submissions in my online shops at Fine art America and Rebubble.

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.

Digital Cameras

Digital cameras, don’t you just love them, I was a sceptic at first where the best image was 6mp and couldn’t stand against 35mm when printed above 6 x 4 (that’s 150mm x 100 mm for the metric fraternity). I was still old school, 35mm colour and black and white negatives plus 35mm slide film, a fairly expensive hobby where you couldn’t see your results until you spent time in the darkroom. Being expensive and limited (max 36 shots to a roll) also meant that you thought a lot more about the shot before you took it, there wasn’t a wide margin for error.

My first digital camera was a 3mp compact (a Ricoh Caplio G4 wide) and at the time considered a toy against my 35mm Olympus SLRs but the advantage it did have straight away was the ability to view the image and if necessary take it again. Image quantity was limited to the space on the SD card and given the choice then of taking hundreds of low quality images or a few high quality images the choice was clear, high quality every time, if I took a shot then I wanted the best I could get, there wouldn’t necessarily be the opportunity to take it again, after all I could always get another memory card or just dump it to a computer file. It became a great little camera to carry around in the car and given it was early days still for digitals it did produce some really nice images at 2048 x 1536 pixels.

Cable Car in the Blue Mountains

Cable Car in the Blue Mountains

That digital camera was only the first of many (attached is an image taken on it in the Blue Mountains New South Wales) and I still have it to remind me. Currently I have a Canon 550D digital SLR and wouldn’t trade back to the roll film version for anything, these modern cameras are serious tools. This one is 18 mp giving 5184 x 3456 pixels and I’ll probably upgrade again one day but we all have to work within our abilities and for the moment this works really well for me.

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