Barter Books, Alnwich

I love Barter Books. My first visit to this fabulous second-hand bookshop was quite by accident, back in 2011. We were visiting Alnwick, primarily to go to the castle and gardens, and discovered Barter Books whilst wandering around the town one day. This time, when we decided to go back to Alnwick, the bookshop was on my list of must see attractions.

I decided to make a short film about our visit to the bookshop, and wanted record a short introduction. Talking to the camera in public is something I’ve found difficult, too difficult to even attempt, but I decided that I had to at least have a go and record a short introduction to camera. I was a tourist and it didn’t really matter how daft I looked.

All in all I enjoyed making this short film, and of course the shop was everything I’d remembered and more. I’m not 100% happy with the video, but it is progress in my photographic journey, and as my first vlog style recording marks a little milestone.

Anyway, enough words, here are some moving pictures ….

 

 

A day out at Tatton Park

I love taking photos, but recently I’ve been trying to branch out into making short video clips. The scope for storytelling is much greater with video, and don’t we all just love a good story – children and adults.

Way back in the late 1980s/early 1990s, I did spend a few long summers as a wedding videographer. I started off assisting one of the local wedding videographers, learning the craft, before he sub-contracted me out to film under his brand.

There can be a fairly fixed pattern to a wedding, the story you tell is already meticulously planned out through the day. I want to tell my own stories. So, in order to get back into the swing of planning, filming, looking for shots, telling a story, sound design, and post-production editing, I’ve been making short films of days out.

Here is a short couple of minutes clip of a day out at Tatton Park in Cheshire, all shot on an iPhone, a little different than the shoulder mounted VHS camcorder I got started with.

Thank you for watching.

Danny.

P.S. Here’s a photo a guest took of me filming a wedding. You can tell it was the 1980s by the double breasted suit with shoulder pads. You can also tell it was a long time ago by the fact I have a head full of hair, long since departed.

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Dark Food Photography

“Is that dark photographs of food, or photos of dark food?”, I hear you ask. Well in this case it just so happens to be both.

Food photography is a genre I love, but often struggle with. Just as I’ve figured out how to light food photos to really show off the tasty treats at their best, a new fashion for darker, low-key images has emerged. I’m no follower of fashion, those who have seen how I dress bear witness to this, but I do love these darker, moody images, and have tried and failed to replicate them myself. I needed some help, so just like everybody else, off to YouTube I went.

Over on YouTube I discovered this rather excellent tutorial, entitled “Dark food photography – SHOOTING and EDITING”, presented by channel host Joanie Simon, on The Bite Shot channel. I already subscribe to this channel on YouTube, due in part to Joanie’s very relaxed and fun presentation style, but mainly because of her excellent food photography. Joanie is a most talented photographer, and her presentation style is both charming and natural, yet she doesn’t appear to take herself too seriously. The whole channel is just a joy to watch.

Here’s a link to the video in question.

After studying the video, and gathering as much information from it as possible, I made a trip to my local Hobbycraft store to pick up some supplies, mostly black foam board, popped the camera on a tripod, and started building a setting for something dark yet sweet to take a picture of.

Here’s what I came up with.

Salted caramel and dark chocolate cupcake
Salted caramel and chocolate cupcake

No doubt you will see a certain similarity between Joanie’s composition and my own – hey, great artists steal, right? – although not quite so good, but I did choose to ignore Joanie’s editing methods and use my own. I’ve been slowly improving my editing workflow over the past couple of years, and am happy with my post processing workflow, but if you follow the advice in the video you won’t go far wrong.

I’d just like to say a quick thank you to Joanie and the rest of the team behind The Bite Shot channel for continuing to push out such entertaining and informative content. Thanks guy, and keep up the good work.

If you want more content from Joanie and the gang, as well as a subscribing to the channel on YouTube you can also find them on Instagram and Facebook. Just click the links. 🙂

Danny.

I made a video

Video is of course the future of social media. It’s a great medium, and not that most of us have access to faster internet speeds than we did 10 years ago, it’s usage will only continue to grow.

Way back in the later 1980s/early 1990s, I used to video weddings at weekends. Super VHS had just arrived as a format, and I used to run around in a double breasted suit with a camcorder on my shoulder, recording the couple’s happy day.

These days video is a lot different, and most of us will have the ability to record HD 1080p video in our pockets or bags. My biggest issue is that I don’t try. So, in an effort to get back into the medium, and get up to speed on modern methods of editing, I decided to record a short behind the scenes film of me preparing for a portrait session at home.

I do hope you like it, and thanks for watching.

Danny.

A white wall, some gels, and a pretty girl.

Looks like it has been a while since I last updated this blog. For regular readers I apologise for having left you in the dark for so many weeks. Please allow me to make up for this with a post about a photoshoot where I attempted to transform the front room into a photography studio. I already had some speedlites and a couple of softboxes. All as I needed now was a model.

 

If truth be told there was only one choice for this photo assignment. I’d worked with Katarina before, knew that we got on well, and that she wouldn’t mind me experimenting without any real clue of what I was doing. Katarina is also a very talented photographer and a really creative artist, so was the perfect person to have around for a few hours of lighting experimentation.

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There isn’t a great deal of space in the room I was shooting in, it does however have white walls. If you don’t add any light to your backgrounds, they tend to go dark. A white wall will turn into grey. Plain, uncoloured paint may not be a particularly thrilling background, but if you fire coloured lights at it, the results can be good.

Luckily I’d got hold of some gels for my flashes, and decided to have a go at turning the white walls different colours. I mean who doesn’t want some colour in their life eh?

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Hey, now we’re getting somewhere.

For those that don’t know, when shooting with coloured gels, the more you increase the power, the lighter, more washed out, the effect appears to be. I’m using minimal power through a blue gel here, which is why the colour is so deep and vibrant. For a more subtle effect, turn the power of your strobe up, and less colour is thrown. This seem counter-intuitive at first, but is easy to understand after a bit of practice.

For the next shot, we decided that a nice pink colour would be best. Too much red would take away the impact of the red strawberry, so I washed the colour of the red gel out a little by increasing the flash power. This gave us pink rather than bright red.

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Next off we went for a green background.

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Finishing off with yellow.

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I very much enjoyed this photoshoot with Katarina, and was pleasantly surprised what can be achieved with minimal lighting equipment and a blank wall. Hope you have enjoyed the pictures of Katarina, and that fellow photographers may be inspired to get out their flashguns and try firing some coloured lights at your walls.

Danny.

Learning Landscapes

I am always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn how to do it. – Pablo Picasso

I love landscape photography, I’m just no good at it. Perhaps saying I’m not good is a little harsh. I know what the problem is: I just don’t try hard enough. Good landscape photography requires effort. There are only so many views of my garden I can create.

With all of this in mind, I decided to get outside and try to capture some landscape and architecture images. Something that will get me out an about, looking at different vistas, and hopefully a little exercise whilst walking from place to place. I’m not quite at the point where I’ll be popping over to Iceland to capture the glaciers under the aurora borealis, or following in the footsteps of Ansel Adams, treking through Yosemite National Park, but anything that gets me off the sofa and practicing my landscape imagery will be a good start.

I’m very fortunate in that I live fairly close to the Peak District, so one evening recently I popped out and tried to capture a scene from the landscape.

Crowden

This was taken just as the sun was setting. I was hoping that the sky would catch ablaze with the late evening colours as the sun set, but alas this was not to be. Hoping that I’d capture the most brilliant sunset on my first attempt was perhaps a little optimistic.

Next on the agenda was a long exposure featuring water. I’ve seen lots of these images where the long exposure makes the surface of the water appear flat and smooth. I knew in my mind what I wanted, and that was some clouds in the sky that would streak, a flat, still water surface, and a high contrast black and white finish. Blakemere Moss in Delamere Forest, Cheshire provided just the scene I was looking for.

Blakemere Moss, Delamere Forest, Cheshire.

At home we’re members of the National Trust. We like to visit places on holidays in the UK, and to go for days out. I’ve already written about visiting , where I concentrated on the autumn colours. This time I wanted to take a picture of the house, but also captured a little of the wildlife whilst I was there.

The house at Dunham Massey Damselfly

I know the damsel fly image doesn’t count as a landscape, but I like it and this is my blog so it’s going in. 🙂

And now that elusive sunset. I’m very fortunate in that I get to visit Scotland quite regularly. If you want a beautiful landscape, stunning scenery, or inspirational view, then there are few places around the world that can match it. Of course Scotland obliged me with the colourful sky I was looking for.

Scottish Sunset

So far I’ve enjoyed my time learning how to take better landscape images. There is still much to learn, but the journey is going to be a very interesting one, and something I am very much looking forward to.

As always, thank you for reading.

Early evening photoshoot with Katarina Marie

Shooting with experienced models always fills me with confidence. If they’re also photographers then I know the results will be good. Katarina Marie is one such “modelographer”, talented on both sides of the lens; a true artist.

For our first photoshoot together we decided that we should head up to Largs on the west coast of Scotland. We wanted to capture some of the late afternoon sun, and if the weather wasn’t with us at least there would be ice cream at the world famous Nardini’s. Fortunately we did get some sun, and so here are the photos we created together.

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First look was in the bag, so Katarina did a quick costume change and we walked along the coast a little and found a shelter which we thought would look good.

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There is no point going to the coast if you’re not going to visit the beach, so after getting bogged down in some deep sand we eventually found a nice section of the beach we could shoot at.

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We’ve now got some great images stored, but the sun was starting to set and we were losing the light fast. A quick costume change and a chance to capture the last throws of daylight.

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As the sun set we started to notice some beautiful colour in the sky so tried to record that too.

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I think we managed to fulfil our brief of capturing the late afternoon and early evening sun. This time of day, golden hour and beyond, is a great time to create photographs. There is almost magic in the light, and something I should do more of. Sadly we didn’t get to visit Nardini’s for ice cream, but I am very happy with the images we created together. This would not be the last time I shot with Katarina, but that’s a story for another day.

Danny.

Making a cup of tea

I dont get the chance to create much video, but that’s something I’m in the process of changing. I love the drama that can be captured in a moment of time with a photograph, but for telling a story, moving pictures are hard to beat.

I created this video as an exercise in short, snappy edits, but also to try out some Foley sound recording techniques, all the while keeping in mind the idea of story. This story was simply about tea. What better story could there be?

Hope you like it.