Xmas lights - bungalow in Hethersett UK (Taken with instagram)
October 2011 iPhone Photo Of The Month - Taken at Kingfisher Lakes, Lyng, Norfolk using the Pro HDR app by eyeApps on an iPhone 3GS.
As part of my journey to becoming a better photographer I am trying to get out there and take photos as much as possible. The best way I have found to improve my practical photography skills is to attend Photo-Walks where I can learn and practice my techniques alongside like minded people where we can bounce ideas off each other.
Adding to this a great local photographer and friend of mine DigitalDrifter had organised a Photo-Walk with a twist by integrating a local historian as a guide into the walk. This historian from the Ragged Ramblers Society was no ordinary historian that just gives an in-depth knowledge of well known buildings and places. Instead he told fun and interesting stories and facts on quirky parts of this fine city of Norwich.
The Photo-Walk was so much fun and the time just flew by even though we had been out there for 3 hours or so. As the whole distance of the walk was quite long it did feel a little hurried at times but I’ve been told by the organisers that the future walks will be shortened over the same amount of time.
When I got home and processed my images through iPhoto ready to upload my favourites to Flickr. I found that the knowing the stories and history behind what I was taking photos of has effected how I take my shots. From the composition, lighting and depth of field have all been inspired by this extra knowledge of my subject or scene.
When you take photos of something or somewhere try to find out more about it and the history behind it as I’m sure it will help improve your photography as it has mine. In the future I will try this whenever possible.
On Saturday 19th February I attended a free seminar at Warehouse Express Norwich on how to use lighting, thanks to fellow photographer Paul Judkins aka DigitalDrifter for letting me know about the seminar. The seminar was hosted by Steve Aves a lighting expert with 30 years in the photography industry.
Steve explained how to light a subject using two lights, the first directly in front and the second coming in from the side or the back. He used many different lighting control accessories such as Softlite Reflector, Softboxes and Umbrellas.
It was interesting to see how and when to use the lighting accessories for different styles / situations. I learned the difference between the two main styles of portrait / lighting photography which are High-key lighting and Low-Key lighting. High-k ey lighting works best on people with dark hair or dark skin and is less forgiving on people with less than perfect skin complexions. Where Low-Key lighting works better when taking photos of people with light colour hair or men with beards and is more forgiving on people with bad skin complexions.
After each section of the talk the attendees were allowed to take photos of the model using their own cameras with all the lighting setup used in the seminar. I only watched at this stage as I currently only have a compact bridge camera that cannot tether to the lighting to trigger it.
I came away more knowledgeable about using lighting and how the different accessories work to change the lighting affect. Also now more determined to save up for my first Dslr that at the moment would be a Nikon D3100.
On 6th January 2010 the Mac App Store was added via a update 10.6.6 and to my astonishment while browsing the store I came across Aperture 3.0 being sold for £44.99. This was such a shock as Apple sell a boxed copy of the same app in their retail stores and on their online store for £173.00. I always thought that the original £173.00 was slightly too expensive for the average consumer although this is pro level app that is used professional photographers. If the price had been about £70.00 then that would have been a fair price so the Mac App Store price of £44.99 is an absolute steal!
Hopefully this price is not just an introductory price as I’m sure the low price will made in the huge amount of sales.
Aperture is a very powerful image editor and image / video organiser that can dramatically speed up your workflow. In the latest 3.0 version Apple added Faces and Places features that were first added iPhoto ‘09 which allow you to organise photos by people through face detection or Places through using GPS coordinates stored in the photos EXIF data.
Here is a list of some the other key features in Aperture 3.0: * Create stunning slideshows * loads of editing tools for creating professional photo-books * Organise all your videos as well as photos * Lots of great plugins to extend the power and functionality of the app
Conclusion If you have been taking photos for a while or have started to feel limited using iPhoto then Aperture would be a worthwhile purchase. I will buying aperture with money from my next pay-check.
I love the effect of the glow coming through the woods!
A year ago I decided to start taking my photography seriously thanks to being inspired by my friend and Photographer Paul Judkins who’s fantastic photography and passion for the art has been infectious. I have realised since taking up photography seriously the importance in keeping the camera stable while still having the freedom of movement. This is exactly what a monopod does by eliminating all up and down movement that you get by holding a camera freehand.
About 6 months ago my partner bought me Velbon UP-400 Monopod that I had been considering buying for a few months. Although it is a budget level monopod costing about £20 I was surprised on how good it looks and how sturdy it feels.
It has three locking sections that work well independently of each other and even after 6 months of regular use they still hold the locked position with no movement. At the top is a comfortable foam grip that I feel like I could hold for ages with no discomfort. The sturdy aluminium construction is fairly light weight and can be easily carried around on a photo-walk with little effort.
On the bottom end of the monopod is a hard rubber foot that works well on hard slippery surfaces and can be screwed in to produce a metal spike to help stability when using on soft ground like grass. On full extension the monopod is high enough for a 5”8’guy like me to use the camera at head height. I have been using this product for 6 months with no signs of wear or tear.
Obviously there are better / more expensive monpods that are more compact and light weight. But I never really found the size or weight of this product to be an issue when using or carrying it around. The only glaring omission from this monopod is that it does not come with a tilt and pan or ball head for more freedom of positioning (Note: The camera does screw onto the top of the monopod without any head attached). Although at this price it would be daft to expect it to come with a head included. I will now look into buying a head now that will increase how useful this monopod will become.
If you have less than £50 to spend then I would highly recommend purchasing the Velbon UP-400 and look into buying a decent head to use with it separately.
1. You don’t need a DSLR to take great photos
Take photos with whatever camera you have at the time, so you don’t miss the shot. It’s possible to create fantastic photos even with a point and shoot or camera phone.
"The Best Camera Is The One That’s With You" - Chase Jarvis
2. Make use of the available light
Outdoors - Use the available daylight or sunlight to light your subject. With direct sunlight try shooting with light coming from behind the camera onto the subject or from an angle to the side.
Indoors - Try to use light from windows and angle your subject so that the light is passing across the subject that you are shooting.
3. Don’t just shoot standing up!
Instead of shooting standing up try kneeling, lying down or sitting. Shooting from different angles and levels can totally change the composition of the photos.
4. Keeping batteries working in cold weather
In the cold keep batteries as warm as possible. If batteries get below a certain temperature then they start to discharge even without being used. Keeping a battery warm in a inner pocket that is close to your body or pocket that has pocket warmers in it will ensure that your batteries don’t discharge. It is also a known fact that even batteries that seem flat can be revived by keeping them warm, giving you time to get a few extra shots out of it.
5. The importance of getting out there and shooting
Although reading books, blogs and video tutorials can be useful to learning photography, it is more important that you get out there and shoot as much as possible.
6. Using flash
Whenever possible try not to shoot using the flash on the camera and use external light sources or flashes. Try a standalone light or flashlight hitting your subject from an angle this will give your subject some perspective and a more dramatic effect.
Using the on camera flash straight at the subject will result in a blown out over lit photo in about 9/10 shots. If you have to use the on camera flash then soften the light with by diffusing the light. If using a flash gun on a hot shoe the you can by a diffuser that fits over the flash. For built in flashes then try putting a bit of white or cream paper in front of the flash when taking the shot or attaching a bit of masking tape these hacks will produce the same effect at diffusing the light from the flash.
7. Join a Flickr group
Flickr is a great place to upload your photos so other people can enjoy browsing and providing useful comments on your photos. Joining groups can add extra benefits as you be able to find like minded Photographers that like doing the same kind of photography as you. Most groups provide challenges regularly (usually monthly) on different topics for group members to try to shoot. This gives you a topic to focus perfecting your skills on.
8. Go on local arranged photo-walks
Going out on photo-walks can be highly beneficial to photography learning. Most walks are lead by a professional photographer that is happy to give advice when needed. The rest of the group will have a wide variety of skills and are from all levels from novice to pro. You can learn a lot about photography by collaborating with others and it’s also is great fun to be around other photographers.
9. Find podcasts and blogs that will enrich your knowledge
Podcasts and blogs are a great way to keep up to date with the latest photography news, software, hardware, tips and techniques. Here are some of my personal favourite blogs and podcast that I recommend that you follow.
Photography Blogs and Podcasts
Zarias - Blog
creativeLIVE - Livestream
Scott Kelby Photoshop Insider - Blog
Moon River Photography - Blog
Complete Digital Photography - Blog
Light Stalking - Blog
Vincent Laforet - Blog
Digital Photography School - Blog
Pixelated Image - Blog
Digital Composting - Blog
Ginter - Blog
GreyScaleGorilla - Blog
Stuck In Customs - Blog
This list of my current favourites will keep you busy reading and listening for quite a while.
10. Keep a journal about your journey through learning photography
It’s a great idea to document what you have learned about photography through the years. Also your favourite photos that you have taken with explanations on why you like them.
There are many ways of doing this but I have found that creating a blog on Tumblr about photography is an easy way of keeping a photography journal. On Tumblr I can easily post Text, Photo’s, Audio and Video from my iPhone or Mac computer.
I can then go back at anytime to refer to how I took a particular of photo or my thoughts on particular products, services or tips. Also this public journal hopefully will help other budding photographers who are taking the same quest to take great photo’s.
What gear i used on the photo-shoot:
- Kodak DX7630
- Veloron monopod
- 2GB SDcard
First set of fireworks
First I used cameras preset setting for taking shots of fireworks. Then took a few with in shutter priority mode. Some at 2.0 and the majority at 3.0
I noticed that that if I tried to use 1.5 or faster shutter speed then the photos were too dark and the fireworks were very faint. When using 3.5 plus shutter speeds tended to be a bit busy and produced blown out shots.
Second set of fireworks
Tried a different angle towards where the fireworks were being set off which was upwind of the display which enable shots more clear of smoke.
Here is a link to the best of the photos that I have posted to Flickr - http://www.flickr.com/photos/simonbainbridge/sets/72157625208074567/
Yes it’s the time of year when it’s dark when you wake up and dark when you finish your day job. Autumn / winter time does not leave much time to practice your photography in good light.
"It’s times like these when you have to find different ways to improve your photography"
On the 6th November I will be attending a local Fireworks this display. This will be a great time to try my hand at firework photography. A chance to use the shutter priority settings on my Kodak bridge camera.
I will be taking my new monopod with me to try and steady the camera while still keeping very mobile. Also taking an extra battery as the cold weather will reduce how long each battery will hold a charge. I have discovered on many pro photography blogs that keeping the spare batteries in your pockets will use your body warmth to prevent them from losing charge.
I will hunt round on my bookmarked and subscribed to photo blogs for hints and tips on taking photos of fireworks before Saturday.
I will add a new post soon about my experience of taking firework photos at the display. Also I will add links to my photos that I will upload to Flickr.
This is my personal blog mainly talking about my learning progress in developing skills / knowledge of photography.
I will post views, thoughts, experiences and my favourite photos.
Here goes …..