Nice to Meet You

•April 1, 2016 • 1 Comment

Here is my submission for the first assignment in Cameras, Exposure and Photography.

This photograph actually a building next door but one to my house, while the building itself is only just over two hundred years it is home to one of the oldest industrial law courts in the world. The Barmote Court which building is home to governs lead mining in Derbyshire and even though lead mining almost completely ended around 100 years ago the court still sits every year as it has done for over 700 years to deal with legacy issues. In framing this shot I tried to capture something of the grand history and imposing power of the court in the perspective I shot the courthouse from.

MoothallbThe top left is was way overexposed owing to the sun being there which also caused the rather annoying lens flare but I decided those were a price worth paying as I’d been taking pics of this building all day and this was the only one that got the lovely warm colour of the sandstone so nicely.

A Course taught by Peter Glendenning!

•April 1, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Here is the place I’ll share my assignment pictures and anything else I do related to the Michigan State University Mooc Specialisation Photography Basics and Beyond: From Smartphone to DSLR

Excercise: Focal Lengths

•August 29, 2011 • Leave a Comment

For this exercise I was using the 5D and 24-105 and 100-300 lenses though didn’t get quite to explore the full telephoto range as I had to get out of the way for a lifeboat launch!

First off a scene shot at 24mm

Sunset over the river Arun in Littlehampton with a traditional  fishing boat pulled out onto the mud flats to be worked on. Hard to see in a shot this wide angle but there are a couple of interesting looking buildings on the far bank that we will zoom in on over the course of the exercise.



Next lets zoom in a bit, more or less  a standard lens view at 58mm:

The interesting buildings are starting to show in the pictures now, a white house pretty much dead centre and something else a little to the left of that.






Next is the last one with the standard zoom, 105mm:

Ahh, now it becoming apparent the other interesting ‘building’ is looking like it is really a boat on tributary we can’t see from here.






Time to swap to the 100-300 and see what else we can see. Lets zoom in to around 140mm:

Yes that is a boat, so lets zoom in on that to see what we can see.







160mm to see what difference a little zoom makes

While I was lining this up the chaps on the traditional fishing boat dropped its boom hence the disappearance of the rather distracting ropes that appear in the previous frames, while they are a nice feature of the wide angle shot once the context of what they are is lost to the tighter view they become an annoyance. Here is as far as I got before the doors on the lifeboat station behind me opened and I had to get out of the way but one last shot at 300mm taken from a little further along harbour wall confirms what we have already seen about the detail in the centre remaining in proportion and simply being magnified by the zoom.


Cropped a little as I’d got the lens hood cross threaded and it had intruded onto the frame, note to self, if the shot is important spend a few seconds checking for howlers on the camera display even if the kids are yelling for fish and chips!

The right camera for the job

•August 28, 2011 • Leave a Comment

In my sequence of compositions exercise I explained how using the the discrete but very capable Powershot G10 had let me get some shots I wouldn’t have managed with the 5DMkII (particularly with a  great big white L series 100-400 on the front of it!). Well another weekend and another music festival and its time for the other side of the story.

While there were a whole load of potential shots I didn’t even try to take as the big obvious setup would have certainly been noticed and even a subconscious reaction would have spoilt the shot. But the other side of the story is exactly that, it is a big obvious setup, which more than once just wandering round had people asking to have their photo taken. But more than this it got noticed by the performers on stage on several occasions and the reaction was rather favourable! For example I was spotted lining up the shot below and the singer looked into the camera till I’d taken it and lowered the camera.

So while any camera is always better than none it would seem choice of camera (and lens) can have quite an influence on the resulting image for reasons as much psychological as technical.

A Sequence of Compositions (and a trip back to the 80s)

•August 23, 2011 • Leave a Comment

After a load of total failures at this exercise the Flashback to 80s music festival at Clumber Park looked like it might prove an ideal spot for another attempt! EOS5D with the L series 100-400 should be ideal, well the best laid plans and all that, a finger infection meant on the weekend of the festival I was down to one useful hand so time for a rethink! Well I won;t manage all I had in mind with the SLR but I think the Powershot G10 might produce interesting results as well, with added advantage people will be far less likely to notice me taking their picture and carry on with what they were doing.

With around 10000 people expected I decided to get the final sequence I had in mind I better arrive early and stray slightly from the brief towards the end of the sequence  getting to the front then recording a sequence as it changed through time and movement around me rather than by me. First shot as I get out out of the car and I’m there early enough to be at the front of the carpark.

Though looks like I’m not the only one getting there early!

Arriving at the ticket barrier and we get our first glimpse of the stage, though everything is still looking very 21st century! Still there is a stage and I guess that is where the action will be so lets see what we can find on our way over there.

Big stage, big screen and deck chairs and picnic tables, guess the 80s generation are showing their age, but lets keep heading for the front, the next couple of shots are just a couple of little candid shots the G10 is so good at, at least half the folks glanced in my direction while I was taking them but no one deviated from what they were doing.

But then again there is certainly some 80s hair on display on the deck chairs!

Spotted the two ladies in the very 80s skirts as I headed to the stage, and when the closer one bent over it was just too good to miss! Had to crop the shot as I was a little far away for the powershot but I’m pretty sure the EOS with huge white L series would have been noticed and I wouldn’t have got this shot. Anyway not quite at the front yet so time to move on!

More 80s colour heading to the front!

Getting to the front and it is getting busy but I’ve got myself a good spot and should get some interesting follow on shots over the next hour or two.

On stage the crew are busy setting up for the first act and testing the smoke generators! Time to move closer to stage along the front ready for the acts to start.

The warmup act are doing their stuff so lets see what the crowd think of it!

They certainly seem to be having fun!

This shot is from a little later in the evening but laying the photos out it seemed to fit here better!

So finally time for the big 80s names the crowd was really here to see, here is where I ran up against the limitations of the powershot as after the the first couple of acts it got a bit dark to get useful images.

And it doesn’t get much more 80s than Toyah belting out “I want to be free”!

With the 5d I could have kept shooting but much after this and I was having to ramp the ISO up into the unacceptably noisy settings to get anything with the G10. In the end I took about 30 shots in the walk from the car park to stage but laying them out the sequence here seemed to tell the story best. Many of the other shots are very similar to the ones presented and while they would fit into the sequence I think they would distract from the story being told, in the words of my teenage daughter ‘too much information!’

Object in different positions in the frame

•July 17, 2011 • Leave a Comment

This exercise calls for an object against a large even background. I headed up to the local reservoir to see if the sailing dinghies on the lake would fit the bill but guess the weather was too much for sensible sailors to be out. So time to think again, on wet British summer afternoon even backgrounds don’t get much larger than the grey sky, so I just need to find an object that can be repositioned against it!

This looks promising with a quick snapshot.

But 2 flags in the frame seem to detract from the image, there is no clear point of interest and I find my attention moving from to the other. So for the remaining shots I framed things so just the Union Jack was in shot.

I took several shots with the flag at different points in the photo and the sequence that follows shows them in the order of how well I think they work, with the most effective first.

Rather to my surprise I find a pretty much central placement of the flag seems most effective.

Again keeping it pretty central but moving it reduces the impact slightly as the colour of flag seems to be lost in the grey of the background.

Moving the flag to the edge and the composition is starting to look altogether rather squished! The feeling is similar which ever edge it is against or whichever way it blowing. The flag is prominent against the background.

Moving it into a corner squashes things even more and the colour of flag is lost against the large area of grey.

The central position being the best was rather a surprise to me and clearly makes the point about what works in one image not working in another. Centrally placed subject usually seem boring to me but the fact this isn’t always the case was very strongly made by this photo from the Magnum Photo of the week recently. In the Magnum photo (yes the tree isn’t quite central but the photo is almost a strong if you crop the bottom slightly to make it central) I think the very strong symmetry coupled to the wheel tracks leading to the tree which give it the impact. With the flag I think it is the movement captured as much as the position which makes it appeal most.

Playing with light

•July 12, 2011 • Leave a Comment

I’ve scanned through the course and read the forums so know some of the later work is around lighting. Up till now I’ve just tended to shoot with whatever light is there but Emily sitting in the window a couple of weeks ago got me thinking! Then a couple of days ago the lighting I had in my mind appeared so we set up this photo.

The main source of light is our nearest star, bright mid afternoon sunlight from a cloudless sky back lighting Emily through the window (looking out of the window you face pretty much due east) by being bounced off the white painted house directly across the single track lane we live on (now that is one big reflector, don’t think it would fit in my camera kit!). Then some artificial light from the 5 x 40w halogen bulbs in the ceiling fitting about half way between me and Em and slightly to my right which is all diffused and scattered by the Swarovski crystal light fitting.

Looking at the colours around her neck and the colour of the t shirt which is really white I guess the AWB picked up on the strong daylight (confirmed by the as shot colour temp of 5000K) so giving the artificial light the warm orange feeling which I think contrasts nicely with the stark back lighting. Adjusting the image to the 2700K colour temperature of the halogen lights gives natural skin tones and a white t shirt but everything in the background takes on a rather strange blue tint. An added complication of using different light sources in one shot I guess.

1/400 sec at f5 brought the silhouette effect I was looking for and the wide aperture helped throw the glazing bars on the window and lamp behind her out of focus. There wasn’t a way to set this up without one of of the glazing bars growing out of the top of her head, at the moment I’m not sure if I should leave the vertical bar as it or have a play in Photoshop to either get rid of it all together or thin it down to the width of the horizontal bars.