I wasn’t wrong, the last week has been a very busy one.
I’ve been back in the studio at Photolink in Manchester working on the new season for Shop Direct Group. This week the brand was Pineapple, who specialise in dancewear and fitness clothing. As well as this I’ve been shooting still life fashion at home for Attitude Clothing, which is really quite different. They specialise in alternative clothing, aimed at the Rock music fanbase and Goth culture.
This is one of the things I love most about being in the freelance industry, you find yourself working on things that you wouldn’t necessarily take an interest in. I’m neither a Dancer or a Goth but I enjoy the challenge of shooting and editing their different styles of clothing. From bright neon ankle warmers to black PVC leggings there’s a lot to think about. I won’t go into technical details, I’m trying to steer away from boring my non-photogeek audience and more towards just letting the world know what’s going on. If I get time I may post some little “how to” type things that go into more detail about what I do.
Anyway, moving on. I’m not allowed to show the photos/videos of what I have shot this week as they have not been published by the clients yet, but if you want to see them you can click the links above to the sites and you’ll see my work there.
Thankfully I do have some photos to share with you. Yesterday, after a pretty hectic day rushing around Manchester between location shots and studio shots I got home and found my girlfriend sat on the couch looking like she had just walked off a fashion shoot herself.
This is not the normal site, Lydia on the couch, yes, but it’s usually her relaxing with a cup of tea or a glass of wine. As part of her work Lyd manages a lot of make-up consultants, these ladies (I’m sure there are some men too) asked her to try out some of their products and come up with a style that would fit the brand. This wasn’t anything official, just a bit of fun.
Not wanting to miss a photo-op I moved a few things around in my studio (the dinning room) and shot these.
I am really happy with how these turned out, not just to show off how gorgeous Lyd looked but also because I haven’t really done this at home before. I’ve done a lot of studio shoots before but to be able to light and shoot this at home with all my own kit was really satisfying.
So that’s about it for now, I’m just waiting for the next delivery of clothing to turn up for me to get to work on for the next two days, then back in studio at the end of the week before the long awaited two week holiday!
Thanks for reading,
Last week I photographed two weddings, usually these would have been at the weekend, but oddly these were on Thursday and Friday.
Now midweek weddings might seem a little odd, logistically you would think it would be difficult for people to attend, but it didn’t seem to affect these particular couples as there were over 100 guests at each of the weddings.
Firstly on Thursday we had the lovely Adrian and Victoria,
These two were great, really sweet and natural. After the bride dodged some spectacular rain showers to arrive looking pristine, there was a lovely church ceremony. This was followed by a short drive into the nearby dales to the Alma Inn, a fantastic hotel/restaurant/wedding venue perched atop a small hill surrounded by rolling farmland on all sides.
We were so lucky with the weather, it really was a miracle. When photographing weddings it is actually very beneficial to have a nice even cloud cover to help diffuse the harsh sunlight you get around the time of day most couples tend to get married. But in this instance the clouds were thick and threatened rain almost all day.
Thankfully the rain seemed to time itself perfectly, when we were inside it seemed to pour down but as soon as we wanted 15 minutes outside to get shots like these the rain halted and we were able to brave it.
Here’s a couple more shots that I particularly liked from Adrian and Victoria’s day.
So that was Thursday’s wedding, thoroughly enjoyable and after a long drive home, downloading memory cards, putting batteries on to charge and a much too brief sleep it was Friday.
Friday’s venue was nothing short of spectacular.
I have to admit I had never seen this building up close before so when I arrived I was a little taken aback by it. I had arrived early to get familiar with the place and to get a few shots before the guest began to arrive. I was glad I did.
Equally as spectacular was the arrival of the groom, Phil. His lovely bride to be, Sam, had arranged a little treat for him on their special day.
I’m not a biker myself, but I am a fan of beautiful machinery such as this. Every inch of this huge beast of a motorcycle (or hog as Phil called it) was crafted to perfection and it made one hell of noise when he gave it the beans!
Needless to say, once the guests started arriving, everyone wanted to have a go. There were plenty of photo requests from the men wanting to sit astride it and also from the ladies although they mostly had to sit side saddle, high heels and short skirts aren’t exactly Harley Davidson attire.
Sam and Phil had decided that after the ceremony they would have a small reception in the grounds before heading off to a smaller venue for the wedding breakfast and evening festivities, which was perfect for me as it allowed a little extra time to get some shots in and around this fantastic place.
After we’d finished at the memorial, we still had some time to spare so we headed off into the surrounding park for a few more shots, again we were extremely lucky with the weather, just managing to get back into our cars before he heavens opened again.
I think this last one is my favourite from the day, I had to use a bit of Photoshop trickery to straighten out the tower as it had been quite distorted by my lens at this particular focal length but overall I was really pleased with how it came out.
So that was Friday’s adventure, another happy couple starting their new life together as husband and wife.
I’ve just realised that I have gone a whole blog post without really going into any technical detail on these shots, if anyone is interested feel free to ask.
This week I’m back in the fashion studios, which is always good fun. The new season it starting up and no doubt it’ll be a busy one. Fortunately, I have a two week holiday in Barbados with my lovely girlfriend coming up soon so plenty to look forward to.
Thanks for reading, as usual there’s plenty more photos and stuff on my site if you’re interested. Feel free to pass me on to your friends or even recommend some good blogs for me, I’m always interested in what other people are up to, I’m nosey like that 🙂
Firstly a quick apology for the ridiculous title of this blog. My attempt at a joke after not posting a blog since 2011!
It is primarily down to my own laziness that I have been absent from the blogging community for a long time but I have been roused from my lethargy by a series of kicks from friends and family.
Chief instigator in the kicking, is one Fergus Ford, who just keeps on writing amazing stuff and posting some pretty cracking work at the same time, please stop by his blog if you get a chance.
So I’d like to show a little of what I have been up to in the past 8 months. As a relative newcomer to the freelance photography game, I have been trying my hand at everything I can get, from fashion to weddings and a few small things in between.
One small thing in particular is this little princess.
The arrival of the Olivia Jean Hart, the first daughter of our friends Lisa and Steve. We (my lovely girlfriend and I) were lucky enough to meet her just a couple of days after she had been born and what a lovely little lady she is.
Lisa asked if I wouldn’t mind taking some photos, how could I mind?! She was the perfect model and we got some lovely shots for Mum, Dad, Grandma’s and Grandad’s to ahhhhh at.
She is already much bigger now, but still just as lovely.
What next… erm, weddings, lots of weddings. 2012 seems to be the year that everyone we know is getting married. Now I had never set out to be a wedding photographer, but I was asked to take the photos at a number of friends and family weddings this year and I have to say, as stressful as it can be, I am starting to really enjoy it and I have already been booked to do some more later this year and next year too. Here’s a couple of my favourites from earlier this year.
As well as being lucky enough to be asked to shoot these sorts of things, I have also managed to land a few clients in the fashion world. Now fashion is about as broad a subject as photography itself and I have come to learn that you wont always be shooting things that you would either wear yourself or would even enjoy being around someone who did.
As with most work I guess, you take the bad days with the good. So I can’t complain about spending weeks in a windowless studio on set with a guy modelling hundreds of pairs of underpants, with a body that wouldn’t look out of place if it was carved from granite, when the next shoot is a lovely Brazilian lady modelling lingerie.
My work in the fashion world has varied a lot. For some clients, they send me boxes of clothes, accessories, handbags, jewellery etc and I set to work ironing, dressing mannequins, setting up lighting, shooting and editing the photos for print and web. For other clients, I simply turn up at their studio and edit either photos or videos that have been shot their or on location.
I’ve been lucky enough to work with some great people on various shoots this last 6 months. I’ve learned a lot about the industry and also found that I have a bit of an eye for some of this fashion stuff. For those that know me and my regular wardrobe of grey t-shirts and blue jeans pretty much all year round that may come as a bit of shock!
So here’s a couple of shots of some of the clothing I’ve photographed for one of my clients, attitude clothing.
So that’s a quick round up of what I’ve been up to work-wise. I have to admit with all the work I’ve been doing, I haven’t taken my camera out for myself nearly enough in the last 6 months, but here’s a few shots that I’ve managed in that time.
So that’s about it really.
I promise I’ll do my best to blog more frequently about the goings on in my world.
Thanks for reading.
Hello All! So for those of you that read my earlier post about the latest craze to sweep the international photo blogging world, you will know what’s coming. For those of you that didn’t, a quick update. I have taken up the challenge set by my friend James, to come up with somewhere is his current location, Barbados, that he hasn’t been and send him there to take photos and report back. I sent him to the highest point on the island, Mt Hillaby. I’ll leave it to him to report his experience, click here to see it. So, the way this works is that in return James set me a challenge, hence this post. I live in the centre of Manchester, that’s the one in England for any of my international readers. James came up with an absolute gem of a challenge. As he is surrounded by water on a relatively small island, he wanted to send me to a place where I too would be surrounded by water and see what sort of photos I could get. James chose the nearby Audenshaw reservoir. A spectacularly unremarkable man-made water storage facility a few miles from my home. I was looking forward to the challenge of coming up with an interesting perspective on the reservoir but unfortunately I foiled at the first hurdle. As with most of Britain’s man-made reservoirs (I have since learned) The Audenshaw Water Facility is not open to the public. I jumped though as many hoops as I could find, and eventually got in contact with a very nice man who gave me the unfortunate news that access to the site could be granted but for the princely sum of £300. So with a heavy heart I asked James for a new challenge… So James being the sterling fellow he is, came up with another great challenge. And here it is…. The Manchester Velodrome Awesome. Now I have never been to a velodrome, I did however know one existed in Manchester. Ever since the Commonwealth Games were hosted here in 2002, Manchester has been home every manner of sport’s venue. I looked up the venue online to see if any events were coming up that I could attend. Bingo, the very next weekend the first event of the new national seasonwas being hosted in Manchester. This was is it, challenge accepted, date confirmed, camera battery charged, away we go! So for a starters, a quick panoramic shot to show off the venue.
Now this shot can be achieved in a number of ways. Most simply with a wide angle or a fish-eye lens. The eagle eyed amongst you will notice that I have achieved this shot by “stitching” together a set of photos to create a single wide angled shot. There are a few tell-tale signs that give away the fact that I don’t own a wide-angled lens. I’ll not go into them here, but who knows, if you’re lucky I will write a blog about it someday soon. I was fairly pleased with how this shot worked out. It gives a good sense of the size of the arena, just how close to the track the crowd is and also the sheer ridiculousness of the banked corners around which the riders hurl themselves. Next I gave myself the a couple of goals, things that I wanted to capture in the evening, namely the sheer speed at which these incredible athletes manage to achieve on a push bike! Now there are a number of ways to show motion in a photography. Using a fast shutter speed will help to freeze action that you would not normally see with the naked eye. On the other hand you can use a slow shutter speed to allow blurring into the photo which if done correctly can be a great effect. As we were indoors in artificial lighting, I fitted my 70-200mm f/2.8 lens to my camera to give me enough reach to get close to the action and a wide aperture coupled with a high ISO to give me the shutter speed I would need to get some sharp shots. Firstly I positioned myself on the outside of the track, just at the end of one of the huge banked curves and got this shot of one of the sprint races in full swing.
For those, like me, who know little about the rules and regs of velodrome racing, there are many types of racing. The sprint is a strange race. It would seem simple, two guys race around one lap, first one over the line wins. That does seem to be the main gist of it except the race has an unusual start. The two riders set off at a crawl and have a strange game of cat and mouse at what seems to be the slowest possible speed without falling over. This continues for a full lap and then one of the two suddenly makes a move and then they are both going flat out for a full lap at the most ridiculous speed. It does make a strange spectacle but entertaining none the less. Again I want to point out the ridiculous angle at which the two riders above are going round the track. There’s no trickery here, the camera was held completely level and as you can see, the riders are at about 45degrees! From a similar position I took this next shot during a longer race. The guy pictured was miles ahead, but still going hell for leather.
This was due to another interesting racing discipline. I never managed to catch the name but in this race there was a sprint lap every now and again and extra points were given to the fastest time for that particular lap. Again keeping it interesting, perhaps horse racing or NASCAR could learn a few things? Just a thought. Before heading into the “paddock” or “infeild”, I wanted to pay tribute to the official photographers present at the track.
These guys, and girls, laden down with their gear risked life and limb to get their shots. They were literally within touching distance of these athletes. Now I have a lot of respect for these professionals, I was however quite surprised by the methods they were using to get their shots. They began by tracking their subject around the bend, allowing them time to focus accordingly and shooting of a number of shots along the way. This part I thought was great and I gave it a go myself later. The thing I was surprised by was the use of flash. I am a huge fan of flash photography but I would never have thought it would a) be tolerated in a high speed, close action environment such as a velodrome where the slightest error by any of the athletes would result in some quite spectacular crashes or b) be the preferred method of a professional with the standard of modern camera equipment available to them with ultra wide aperture lenses and almost noiseless image sensors these days. I even noticed some radio triggers being used to set off remote flashes positioned around the track at various intervals. This intrigued me as most of my experience with off camera flash is portrait based where the flash and subject are positioned according to the photographers wishes. In this environment the photographer has no control over where the subject is and I this is where I guess the experience comes into play. Knowing the right spot to position both yourself and the remote flash is something that would take a lot of trips to a velodrome, or simply do your best to copy those who have done it before! Now to the infield… I decided that I would try my hand at what the pros were doing, but from behind the safety of the steel railings. I wanted to try and get a shot without any flash before emulating the pros. After a little while struggling to capture anything with my 70-200, being too close to the action really, I switched to my old kit lens, the 18-135mm. Now this is not an ideal lens for this type of work with it’s varying maximum aperture. Thankfully as I was planning to shoot at 18mm. the widest setting so the aperture could open to its fullest. At f/3.5 this would give me enough light to keep the shutter speed high enough.
For this shot, I did as the pros did. I tracked the riders round the bend, giving my camera time to focus and fired off a burst of shots hoping to catch the speeding pair in sharp focus somewhere near the centre of the frame. For this shot I used a shutter speed of 1/100th of a second. As you can see the background, i.e. the banked track, is nicely blurred showing the motion of the riders at they are caught, frozen in the middle of all the movement. I particularly like the wheel spokes in this shot, they really emphasise the speed of the riders as well as the poise they maintain whilst thundering around the circuit. OK, time to break out the flash gun. I decided to stick with the kit lens for this, as it would give me more useful focal lengths at this distance and as I would be using the flash, I could sacrifice a few f/stops in aperture. Again after a few attempts, I bagged this shot.
I tried to keep the flash use low. As you can see, the use of flash is not hugely prominent in this shot, there are no ugly shadows behind the bike. Using the flash allowed my to shoot at a 1/320 second (using the FP setting, more details on request). Again there is a certain amount of blurring present both in the background and also again in the wheel spokes. So for my last shot of the evening, something a little different. This time to emphasise the speed, I would lower the shutter speed and hold the camera still rather than taking the shot whilst tracking the bikes. The idea is to keep the background still and allow the movement of the cyclists to create a blur across the image. I kept the flash in place, this would give more detail to the moving subjects for part of the exposure but the slower shutter and the speed of their movement would still allow them to be blurred across the remainder of the exposure.
So there it is. As you can see this time, the track is kept sharp and motion free whilst the speeding bikes go past in a flurry! I’d like to say a big thank you to James for this awesome challenge. I hope you’ve all enjoyed reading. Lastly, I invite you to become the latest to join in this new craze. James already had Mayur, join the challenge all the way from India with some great photos from an old fort his home town near. Now Mayur has since subscribed to my blog so I hope you’ve enjoyed this one! So if you fancy it, get in touch and we’ll take it from there. Thanks again for reading, until next time!
So tonight I decided to get out of the flat and have a wander around the city centre.
Now that the nights are closing in early I thought it would be a good opportunity to get some shots of the city by night without having to stay out too late.
I have always been a fan of using long exposure to give a still photographs movement. It’s not exactly rocket science, simply extending the length of time the shutter is opened for will mean that any element of the scene that is moving during this time will become blurred in the photo. There is a bit of an art to getting the effect to work. It all depends on the speed of the moving items, the amount light in the scene and exactly how much blur you are after.
Being in the city centre there was a large amount of artificial lighting, some of which I needed for the photo, some of which I could have done without.
My chosen subject for tonight was the large wheel in the city centre, by the Arndale Centre. Probably not the most original of subjects as a quick internet search would prove but I figured I would try and get something I hadn’t seen before.
Firstly, if anyone is interested in this sort of thing, for long exposure photography, a tripod is essential. The downside of leaving the shutter open longer is that the chance of the camera moving during the exposure is greatly increased. Even the steadiest of hands would struggle to shoot a 30 second exposure without introducing the dreaded camera shake blur.
Mounting the camera on a sturdy tripod all but eliminates this problem. One thing that also helps is “shutter delay”. This is a setting available on most DSLR cameras. Strangely, camera shake can be introduced by the camera itself. Vibration from the movement of the internal mirror during the exposure process can lead to the same effect as your hands shaking. The exposure delay setting simply adds a time delay between the mirror movement and the shutter opening in order to give the vibration time to die out. Simple and genius.
OK, enough of the tech, to the photos!
The first one is just to set the scene. The whole wheel, from right in front, to keep the circle as uniform as possible
As you can see, the long exposure has resulted in the blurring of the moving wheel, whilst the unmoving parts of the photo remain sharp. As I mentioned earlier the city is full of artificial light, which can play havoc with the white balance in a photo. For these photos I shot the image in RAW, knowing that the WB could be a problem. RAW, as well as a million other things, gives you the chance to alter the WB on your computer if the camera hasn’t managed to get it quite right.
OK, so basic shot there, as probably shot a million times but hey, it still looks cool.
In the first photo you can see that the individual carriages of the wheel are not visible. This is due to the fact that the wheel was turning throughout the whole 30 seconds exposure so at no point were they able to produce a still image of themselves on the sensor.
For the next shot I wanted to be able to see the carriages but maintain the movement aspect. For this I needed to time the shot so that for a part of the exposure the carriages were moving and for the rest of the time they were still. Took a little patience but here we go…
As you can see this has worked quite nicely. During the time the wheel was still, the carriages and the frame give a crisp image. During the time the wheel was moving, the blue lights give us the interesting trails of light we saw in the first photo.
Next I tried a similar close up but using the same technique as the first shot, ensuring a smooth blur with the motion of the wheel.
I really like this one, it looks like Saturn’s rings or the edge of some intergalactic racetrack.
For the last shot, I wanted to try and capture the wheel from a different perspective. Now the word wheel instantly makes you thing of something round, obviously. So how about this one…
If you hadn’t figured it out, this shot was taken looking at the wheel from the side, so that the carriages were coming towards me and up in front of me.
Now this is something I haven’t seen before so I’m pretty pleased with this. To me it looks like a giant slide, but made of light.
So that’s it for the wheel. As you can imagine there are a million things you can experiment with when it comes to long exposure. Traffic makes a great subject, as you can see from the photo at the top of my blog, one of my all time favourites, taken on the glorius island of Madeira at Christmas.
Also, you don’t have to be limited to the night for long exposure. If you look up ND filters and their uses, you’ll find a multitude of subjects. I may well write a blog about the subject one day.
Right, that’s all for now, hope you’ve enjoyed reading.
2 posts in one day!
This one has photos too.
Whilst doing a quick google search for “bokeh lights” in a hunt for some inspiration for some digital artwork I want to produce I came across a technique or phenomenon which goes by various phrases, but the term “Bokeh Altering” seems to sum it up best.
I won’t bore you all with the technical details about bokeh, but a brief description would be that it is a term derived from the Japanese word for “blur” (please don’t quote me on translations but it seems to be a generally accepted derivation). In photography it is used to describe the characteristic of the out of focus part of any photograph. Wide aperture lenses produce more aesthetically pleasing blurring when compared to standard lenses due to the nature of their construction. Again leaving out the details, alteration of this quality can lead to some really interesting results. The best thing about this is that it is really simple to produce, seriously, Blue Peter wouldn’t even have to bother with a “here’s one I made earlier”!
So for this little experiment I am attempting to alter the most easily recognisable characteristic of Bokeh. You’ll have seen it if you have ever watched a sappy movie where some star-crossed lovers are walking down a street at night, the camera cuts to a close up and the scene behind them is thrown into a glorious blur of night sky and soft circles of lights coming from the street lights, passing cars and/or Christmas twinkly lights.
This blurring of these small light sources into perfectly round soft circles is what I am looking to alter…
You can literally chose any shape you like and as long you can cut it out of a piece of card you can do it.
For starters you will need a suitable lens. From what I have read the wider the aperture the better, for reasons that are a little technical and I will spare you all the details. My lens of choice is the Nikon 50mm, F.1.8. It cost me about £75 on ebay brand new and it is still one of my favourite lenses!
I attached the lens to my Nikon D7000, as it was going to be a low light shot and the high ISO capabilities of this camera put my little old D80 to shame. I could have used the D80 and mounted on a tripod to allow longer exposure time and get the same shot but I love shooting on my D7000 and using it handheld in this situation was just easier.
OK, to the pictures!
All you have to do is create a lens cap out of card that will fit over the lens and cut the desired shape into middle, the size of the hole is debatable but roughly l.5cm across seems to work quite well.
Just to set the scene I took this shot without the star cap. I’ve taken this shot on numerous days and nights and even had a couple published on the Manchester Evening News website. Tonight has been a cloudy, drizzling rain sort of night so I quite surprised how nice this turned out.
The control. Again not using the star cap, this shot is to show the natural bokeh effect created by forcing the lens out of focus.
As you can see, the points of light in the photo have been blurred into creamy soft circles. This particular shot was taken by manually focussing the lens to about halfway between the infinity setting and the closest possible setting. I took one shot with the lens focussed at it’s minimum bit it was so fantastically blurred, all the circles merged together, which would not illustrate the point as clearly.
Third shot, the big finale…
OK, with the lens manually focussed the same as before, I placed the lens cap over the front of the lens and shot the exact same scene…. here it comes…
Ta da! Voila! There you go! As simple as that. As you can see, all of those lovely soft circles have been “magically” transformed into stars!
I can’t wait to get out and experiment a little more with this. I’d like to play around a little bit with some foreground detail in focus and some off camera flash effects. The possibilities, as they say, are endless!
For those who enjoyed this brief experiment and would like to know more of the details of why this occurs you can either google the term “Bokeh” or “Bokeh Adjustment” and read to your heart’s content. Alternatively you can message me and we can have an in depth “geek-out” about the subject!
So as it is now midnight and a certain someone has fallen asleep on the couch I’d better sign off.
OK, it has been a while since my last blog (should that sound like the opening line of confession?)
Anyway, down to business! After a great Skype catch up with James and Sian over in Barbados, (Ferg was away over in St Lucia) I have taken up what is currently called “Challenge Kat-eka”, a worldwide photo challenge that is sure to be taking over everyone’s lives very soon!
The general idea is to challenge James to go to a part of Barbados that he hasn’t been and take a set of photos that show it off. In return he will find somewhere in your country/city to do the same. I am a huge fan of this idea, both as a recent immigrant to Manchester and as a photographer with a lot of spare time on his hands.
So firstly I have had to come up with challenge for James…
Having been keeping up to date with his recent challenges, and James’ own requests for something a little different. I set to work finding something further away from where he had been before. Thinking outside the box a little, rather than going north or south, I’ve decided to send him up!
Living on the beach (not literally), James spends most of his time at sea level. My challenge is the furthest from sea level James can get without leaving Barbados. Mount Hillaby is Barbados’ highest point with stunning panoramic views of the island from 1115ft/340m above the sea.
Now I have done a little research and I haven’t seen any photos other than very nice postcard-esque blue sky vistas.
My challenge to James is to come up with an original set of photos from the viewpoints along the ridge at the top of Mt Hillaby.
James will be challenging me in a similar way and I can’t wait! We will reconvene in a week with our photos and display our work for the world to see!
If you have somehow stumbled on this blog, or if I have shamelessly asked you to read it, and if you like what you read, click the “follow” button and join my army of loyal fans! (last count was 4!)
Thanks for reading,
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