No update

One of my biggest concerns when I started this blog was about me not updating it. I have a reputation, deservedly so, as somebody who is good at getting projects started, but not so great when it comes to finishing them. I didn’t want this to happen with my blog, but with no update for two months it would appear that I’m dangerously close to having another unfinished project left by the wayside.

I don’t want this to happen. My photography has come on leaps and bounds over the past 12 to 18 months, and I have created some wonderful images I’m really proud of.

A little bit of real life has cropped up n my personal circumstances recently which means I do not have a huge amount of time to keep updating this blog continually, but I am determined to keep it going and for it to be a record of my photographic journey. With that I shall upload a few recent images, just to get me back into the swing of things.

Paul
Paul

 

Artemis Fauna
Artemis Fauna
Cinnamon Gaze
Cinnamon Gaze
Harley Monster
Harley Monster
Fat lad inna hat
Fat lad inna hat

October Photo Challenge

When it comes to new projects I am a very enthusiastic starter. I always throw myself into the task with vim and vigour, learning as much as I can about the subject matter, getting started, finding out what I’ll need to do to get on with things. However, those that know me, and know me well, will already be aware that when it comes to finishing said projects, I am less than successful. My life is littered with examples of new hobbies, skills, computer programs, and a while host of new ideas that have been started well, but once I’ve figured out how it all works, understood the concept, or made a good start, I’ve lost interest and gone on to find the next new thing.

So, when super amazing and talented muse, model, photographer, and all round good egg Sinopa Rin suggested I should take part in the October Photo Challenge I was a little hesitant. The idea is that there is a set theme for each day, and you upload an image related to that theme. I was keen, but then I always am with new tasks, but a little reluctant because of my track record of never finishing things. Then I got a grip of myself: it’s only a few photos and it’s only for one month. I can do this yes? Easy.

It was decided that the best place to share the images with the world would be Instagram. I downloaded the app, set up an account, and got started.

Well here we are on the final day of October, and therefore the challenge. How have I done? Well I’m delighted to report that I have uploaded an image each and every day for the challenge – today excepted, but due to the theme for today, Trick or Treat the best photo is to be taken later when the little ones come knocking on the door looking to scare me and procure some sweeties.

The fact that I have applied myself to the challenge thrills me. I’ve thought about each theme, sometimes on the day, others planning my image in advance. It’s been great for me to work through something and not only start, but to get right through to the end. That was the challenge for me and I’m delighted to get there. I would like to say thank you to Ms Rin who also took part in the challenge for the nudge to get started, to my truelove for helping out with suggestions, ideas, and the occasional work as photo assistant, and to all of my Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook friends and followers for the encouragement along the way. It’s have been a delight.

In no particular order, here is a selection of some of my favourite images from the challenge.

Image of me holding a wine glass. In the background a clock is showing the time of eight o'clock
Day 23: Eight o’clock
A model, Amy, is shown in the photographic studio from a great hight, making her look smaller than her five foot one and three quarters of an inch height.
Day 25: Small
A dinner plate is shown, two pieces of toast with scrambled egg on, and some mushrooms on the side.
Day 29: Full
My collection of Lego mini figures, all neatly presented standing on a chessboard
Day 17: Collection
A tiny snail makes it's him underneath the petals and on the stem of a plant. I think it's an elderberry but may be mistaken.
Day 4: Up
Four images of plants and moss growing out of cracks in concrete
Day 21: Growing
A close up image of a crisp leaf, fallen from the tree, lying on the grass.
Day 10: Crisp
Image of me juggling apples, keeping them up in the air
Day 4: Up
A tin of Lyle's golden syrup
Day 8: Golden

Taking the pith helmet photograph

Fat man in a hat
Gentleman Explorer

 

Yesterday I had a spare half hour, with not much to do. Perfect opportunity to practice off-camera lighting. So, I put the camera on a tripod, popped the flash behind a lighting modifier, grabbed hold of a reflector, and snapped away. I posted the resulting image on Twitter and thought no more about it.

Shortly afterwards, one of my Twitter pals, @leftmidfielder, asked me how I’d set up the shot. I’ve never really done a set-up shot before, so thought it would be fun to explain how I went about making the image. Here goes.

The camera used was a Canon 5D with 85mm f1.8 lens. I set the ISO to 100, the aperture to f8, and the shutter speed to 1/160 second. This was just an initial guess, that would cut out any ambient light in the room. I had no idea if these settings would be right, but it’s not a bad place to start.

I set the flash to 1/4 power, zoomed the head wide, and put it on a lightstand behind a white shoot through umbrella. Lightstand went to camera left, and as high up as the ceiling would allow.

Image shows the camera on a tripod, and the umbrella used as a lighting modifier
Set up shot

A few test shots told me the light wasn’t quite right, it was all a little dark. I decided to up the ISO to 200 rather than increase the flash power, to help save battery life and keep recycle times short. This looked right to me and the on the histogram.

Now all as you need is a fat man standing in front of a white wall, wearing a silly hat, to hold a reflector. Like this:

A photograph of yours truly, wearing a daft hat, holding a reflector
Fat man wearing a hat, holding a reflector

The reflector is essential in this shot, especially with a shadow causing hat like this. The reflector will lift the shadows under the face.

The flash trigger is a Yongnuo TN-E3-RT. It’s a copy of the Canon ST-E3-RT, but at a much cheaper price. I’m also holding a Hahnel combo remote trigger that allows me to take pictures whilst I’m on the other side of the lens.

As for post processing, there is actually none. The image is straight out of camera. I suspect that Lightroom adds a little sharpening by default, but I’ve not moved any sliders. In my limited experience, I’ve found that when the lighting is right, the need for post processing is diminished.

Hopefully this will help somebody somewhere in some small way. If you found this useful, inspiring, amusing, irritating, or dreadful then I’d love to hear from you.

The joy of books

The joy of books
The joy of books

I was asked on Twitter recently if I preferred reading electronic books on a Kindle for instance, or “real” paper books. I seemed to be the lone voice defending the modern ebook. The general consensus of opinion was that real books are the best and electronic books are a pale imitation.

For me the distinction is not quite so clear cut. Above all, story, narrative, or content are king. A poor book is a poor book regardless of the format. A great book is a wonderful thing on tree based paper or via electronic ink or photons. The important thing is what the author is telling you. The delivery medium is secondary. Having said that …

I travel a lot for work. I spend a lot of time on trains or waiting for them. I like to read a novel on the journey. I have photography books to try and learn from. I have plenty reference books for work (the paid work, not photography). I really can’t take two novels, a book about lighting and another on composition, and five or six books on different programming languages and database administration. This isn’t possible, or at least wasn’t until I invested in a Kindle. Now I can take all of the books and more with me, and they all fit in my pocket. I also have access to the very same books on a laptop, desktop PC or a tablet should I need. This, in my opinion, is a wonderful thing and it fills me with joy.

Nono of this means that I don’t enjoy the “old fashioned” books. I have a large collection of paper books. I often visit charity shops looking for titles I’ve not yet read. I received two new books in the post today, with a third expected too. I love “real” books; I love electronic books. So, when asked “Book or Kindle”, my answer is both.

Using a reflector on an overcast day

Self-portrait
Man in a coat

It was an overcast day, and the light was not very interesting. I thought I’d try a quick self portrait because I read than an overcast day will not cause any harsh shadows, and the clouds act like a giant softbox. Well this is true, but the light os also lacking something. There is no punch. I decided that this would be a good chance to try out my reflector. I placed the silver side of the reflector pointing outwards towards me. The difference was incredible. It really does help the subject stand out, and makes a huge difference.

I shall be sure to bring my reflector and use it next time I’m taking portraits under an overcast sky.

Bright Idea

The author has an idea

Another image taken for Ian Street’s Summer Photo Fun photography project. This week’s theme is “Bright”. I wanted to post something a little different. I knew that I wanted a low key image because I thought that would be different from the norm. Then the Bright Idea concept hit me and here is my image.

Unfortunately the model is a bit funny looking, and was sweating rather profusely. This is what happens when you are you own model and there is no make up artist available.