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Photographing the world … one picture at a time

Ruminations on accuracy and imagination

I’ve recently returned from Northumberland where I indulged my passion of photography. I decided to take as many pictures as I could and, by way of a project, experiment with the post processing of those pictures. The reason for this is that I find myself constantly wavering between the two schools of reproduce accurately what you can see (sometimes rather dull) and post process the image until it squeaks in order to get the final picture (more interesting picture but hardly accurate). On the one hand it’s great to faithfully record the subject and you can see that in some of the birds of prey shots I did at Kielder Water Birds of Prey Centre here. On the other hand, I think Titan the Robot (yes he’s real - look him up on youtube!) looks better given his post processing makeover.

To find and stick with a style or not, that is the question? Let me know what you think

P.S most of the post processing in the northumberland pictures has been achieved by using Adobe Lightroom and OneOne Perfect Photo Suite 8 0. If you are not using them at the moment, download the demos and have a play. I think they are rather good!

Portrait Shoots

I’ve been doing a number of Portrait shoots recently so I thought I’d better revamp that part of the site to make it easier to look at the results of individual shoots. There’s something about shooting portraits that gets my creative juices flowing so to speak. You’ve got to ensure that the starting image, taken during the shoot is as good as possible so that means checking and rechecking the lighting, camera on manual working to the sync speed of the lighting, the aperture required to put the model in the best light and an ISO as low as you can manage. I’ve recently picked up a Gossen light meter that will control my Elinchrom lights automatically. This has proved to be a god send when it comes to taking readings and means I can concentrate on the framing of the shots without worrying too much about exposure.

Yet this is only half of the story for me. I continue to use Apple Aperture as the mainstay of my workflow to ensure the resulting image is as good as it can be. However, I’m now using the rather excellent perfect PhotoSuite 8 and it’s plethora of customisable presets to enhance the images until I’m happy with them. This takes loads of time but I’m pleased with the end result so it’s a worthwhile investment.

A final thank you to Ellie, Hannah and Naomi, my latest muses for patiently posing for me over the last week or so. Your time and grace is much appreciated!

Fiendish at the Library

So, a couple of days ago, I finally got round to visiting the new Library in Birmingham. There’s a lot that has been said about this new building, about how much it cost and detractors of the overall design. I wanted to go and explore it for myself, photograph it and draw my own conclusions.

Thinking about the shoot beforehand, one of the challenges I realised I would need to face was people. Trying to photograph architecture with loads of people present can be an exercise in absolute patience waiting for gaps in the ebb and flow of people visiting the building at the same time. However, I also wanted to show that the Library was, first and foremost a building to be used and that people were an essential part of this. I decided that I would take a slightly different take and use long exposures to introduce people’s movements into my pictures whilst still capturing the essence of the form and structure of the Library. I also wanted to convey the sense of space within and around the Library so I decided that a set of wide angle shots were the way to go.

Armed with my trusty Manfrotto tripod, my Canon 5D Mk iii and a Canon 16-35 wide angle zoom, I set out on a day that was supposed to be sunny but ended up being slightly cloudy. Asking permission to take shots in the building first (and it’s always worth doing this even if it’s not strictly necessary as it then gives you some recourse if challenged!) I then spent a highly enjoyable couple of hours exploring the new building and taking in the views across Birmingham from the new viewing platforms. I discovered, to my surprise, that in the age of information on line, wikis, ebooks and Amazon, libraries are still cool places (or at least this one was). The new Library is a triumph of design in that it caters for the traditional (and still very apparent) use of a library but also melds this with many different areas for reading together or alone, meeting people, using the internet, or just hanging out in a building filled with books.

Internally, the use of very modern escalators and moving walkways has been blended with modern book shelves in the round, the use of glass to ensure adequate natural light is present and numerous types of working space to allow people to work on their own or in small groups. The shots I took can be found here. Let me know what you think, and if you are in the area at any point, make time for a visit. You can find out more on the Library of Birmingham’s website here.

A mention to another great company

Attended a very good portrait workshop run by 36exp and run by the incredibly talented Rosella Vanon. A great way to improve technique and a lot of fun as well. Special thanks go to Laura and Anna for being very patient models in the face of many cameras! You can find the results here

Fiendish in Portugal

Took a new lens on holiday to Portugal. A Canon 100mm macro/portrait L series lens and I’m very pleased with the results. The f2.8 max aperture allows a nice smooth blurring of backgrounds and the 100mm lets me take shots without being on top of the subject. All in all a winner.