Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Some things are definitely better taken out of the photo

You can see from this photo that if you want a picture of a horse and carriage with the bride and groom in the carriage then you get more horse than human. If you take the photo from the back then the view of the horse is not as attractive as this photo.

You have to take at least one photo like this as this, among many other things, is what the bride and groom will want to remember about their day.

I didn't think they would want to remember the double yellow lines so they have gone. I didn't think they would want to remember the deposits from the horses so they have gone too. I also took away some oil marks on the road. I think it looks neater and that's what people want to see.

Happy snapping

Monday, 29 June 2009

Favourite photo of the day

Here is my favourite photo from Saturday. When I take photos at a wedding I promise to hand over between 100 and 150 photos but the total number depends on the opportunities that I get to take them. Generally I am able to hand over more than 300 photos and these are only the ones that I think are really good photos. A lot more photos than this are taken on the day. I suppose I could double up on every photo and convert them to black and white or sepia but I only do this a few times to give some examples of how the photos may look. For this wedding I will hand over 404 photos which is a record for me.

I went with this couple to the venues a couple of weeks ago. I knew this lake was a fine background. On the day of the wedding I was able to tell them that this was a contender for my favourite photo of the day and it is my favourite, even though there are 403 other contenders!

Happy snapping

Sunday, 28 June 2009

You can even see the groom's shoes

This photo is from what is now yesterday's wedding. I have taken photos when none were allowed during the ceremony. I have taken photos when the vicar has said anyone could take photos at any time. At this wedding I was asked not to use flash. The problem with this is that you need a tripod. That's not a great problem. To avoid camera shake you can put the timer on. My camera gives me a two second option which is fine except if you see a smile then it doesn't usually last two seconds. You can use no timer but then you may see camera shake from just pressing down on the camera because the church is dark and it is a long exposure.

An added complication is that if anyone moves they become blurred. Flash would have solved this problem but if the vicar thinks that it is a distraction then he is the person in charge. I took a lot more photos knowing that a lot would be blurred, alternating between timer and no timer. Ironically an SLR camera is not silent and the noise may be a distraction. Also ironically the vicar remains anonymous because he moved. the bride and groom didn't move so you can see them clearly. What is that on the sole of the groom's shoes?

Happy snapping

Friday, 26 June 2009

Prepare for the snaps

I have a wedding tomorrow in Glossop and I went to look at the venues a couple of weeks ago. I showed you two of the photos as it gives me a chance to know where I am going and what kind of choice we have for backgrounds .

It also gives me the chance to mention the sort of photos that I take. One that you may see on the website at www.gradwellphotography.co.uk is the bride and groom looking at a photo of themselves. It doesn't matter whether it is a mirror or a picture frame but if it is a mirror then they get an extra picture. Their reflection often turns out to be a fine photo on its own.

I am showing you the photo on the right simply because it was an added suggestion, and I do like added suggestions. The church in Glossop is a great place to take photos. The venue for the reception is perfect for the group photos and has many lovely backgrounds, but the photo on the right is an added bonus. It is on the route for the day.

I always finish a blog with 'happy snapping'. It sounds like no preparation has been made. Well it has but a 'snap' may be the best photo of the day.

Happy snapping.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

The National Media Museum

If you have an interest in photography then you have to go to Bradford to the National Media Museum. If you have not seen an IMAX film then you have the opportunity to see one there. I have been to the museum a few times since it opened in 1983 and initially there were not that many IMAX cinemas around. There are quite a few more now, but it would be a convenient time to watch a film if you do get to Bradford.

The museum used to be called the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television, but because they have added radio and the web they couldn't afford to make all their signs that long. In their adverts they say 'The Photography Collection is one of the finest and most extensive anywhere in the world'. It is worth going to support a national museum which is not based in London, it is worth going for all aspects of the media but it is also worth going for its photography collections.

Happy snapping

Monday, 22 June 2009

Right Place Right Time 2

I went to a family wedding reception yesterday (20th June). My daughter had her camera and took this photo. It is not an expensive camera. It doesn't have many megapixels which means that there is a good chance that the photo will pixelate when you enlarge it. In old terms you will see grain but often this is an effect that people look for. You see it on any greatly enlarged photograph, e.g. when you see photos printed as wallpaper.

It is the cutting of the cake. I cropped it to less than a quarter or less of its original size so there are less than a quarter of the megapixels. I am including it in the blog because it is about being at the right place at the right time as per yesterday's blog. Another second and the expression would have changed. They did have the normal smiles a second earlier but then decided to cut right through the cake.

The photo on the left has just been cropped. It is not difficult to see the pixels but that's alright as pixels are much less important than smiles. On the right you see even more pixels as the photo deteriorates with each manipulation. I have simply desaturated the photo and put in a white vignette. There are many times when better smiles can be photographed after the main photo has been taken so be ready for them.

Happy snapping

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Right Place Right Time

The news from Iran is not good. Bombs, water cannon, tear gas and anti-riot police are all mentioned in reports based on Twitter or blogs but it is not based on photographs from the BBC. Foreign news organisations, including the BBC, have been subjected to strict controls which prevent reporters from leaving their offices.

On the news we are watching videos of protests that have been made by protestors holding up their mobile phones. They are getting the photos that are being published across the world. Although they are not professional, the phone owners have become photojournalists. Remember the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989? The images of the protestor stopping a tank in its tracks will remain in many memories.

It doesn't have to be photojournalism. It can be sport, holiday snaps, portraits and even landscapes, but the rule for the best photos is to be at the right place at the right time.

Happy snapping

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Adding text and other manipulations

I was offered a post as deputy manager in a care home today (19th June) and I accepted it. Hence the dictionary photos that were in the blog a few days ago. I received a letter asking me to come for interview last Saturday. That afternoon I cycled over and took these photos from the road.Basically I could only use these two photos for a presentation that I was to give during the interview. Hence the dictionary photos and I used clip art for the other slides.

The photo on the left was cropped a little. I desaturated it and then put a mask around the sign. I increased the brightness and decreased the contrast of most of the photo so that the text would be more prominent. For the photo on the right I just cropped it a little and added the text. The quality needed for PowerPoint slides is not great so I just took these with my compact.

I don't usually add text to photos but it works well with slides and it may be something to consider if you have the right words.

Happy snapping

Friday, 19 June 2009

A few minutes can make a big difference

This photo of The Platform in Morecambe has been taken from the top of the Midland Hotel. As a bonus it is during the 'golden hour' - see previous blogs.

I think The Platform is a very nice building that looks even better in this light, but I wasn't too keen on the no entry sign and the road looks a bit patchy. I didn't spend too long, about ten minutes on the computer and I smoothed out the road and took away the sign. The amendments are in the photo on the right. You can see the changes and this is for a photo that is not very important. I tend to spend longer on wedding photos particularly if they are going to become a canvas or even if it is just a nice smile. On the computer a few minutes can make a big difference.

Happy snapping

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Thanks to mobile phones...

Folowing yesterday's blog on the slightly hidden history of Morecambe, here is one aspect that is not hidden at all. I remember the Polo tower was originally part of the Pleasure Beach in Blackpool and now it is a Morecambe landmark.

I have been told that a few years ago the local council were in negotiations with the owners of the Pleasure Beach / Frontierland and they were persuaded to bring some rides over from Blackpool including this one. Since Frontierland closed a few years ago this tower has been left as a monument to former times. At least I think that's why we have the eyesore.

I read that a telephone company had bought the rights to use the top of this tower for a zillion years. So we can be grateful to mobile phones for preserving this site for us.

Happy snapping

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

It's written on the walls

This is not a photo that you will normally see of Sandylands, Morecambe. I didn't have my camera when I saw it but I went back that evening to take the photo. While I was taking it I spoke to someone who was passing by. He remembered the Palace theatre. He told me that the building with the advert was not the theatre itself. Where I took the photo was the car park and behind me was the theatre. It is now a block of flats.

So it's too late to photograph the Palace theatre and who knows how long the advert will last. Even if the building is standing, the owners may decide to paint the building. There is so much history that is seen in the buildings, and very often it is engraved into them.

If you look carefully at the spelling of Palace you will see that it may have said something else in a different era. At first glance I thought it was the Palladium. If you can help identify the old words then please add a comment.

Happy snapping

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

I bet you can't see the join

I was in Glossop at the weekend to meet up with this couple who are getting married in the near future. It is good for me as I get to know the church and the reception and it is good for them. They can use me as an excuse to look at the venues and run through the events of the day. It also gives me a chance to mention possible photo poses.

There is the standard pose where the bride and groom are stood side by side. Then the bride stays still because it is easier to move the groom, who moves behind the bride. This is pose number two. Then the groom moves to face the bride for pose number three. You can get a lot of photos in the space of a few moments.

These photos are not the standard poses but they give natural smiles because they are different. The photo on the left is just cropped. I have done a little work to the photo on the right. There was a bench and table in the top right corner. It was distracting so I took it out. Bet you can't see the join.

Happy snapping

Monday, 15 June 2009

Dictionary 2

Following on from yesterday's blog here is the finished slide. I did take photos of each of the nouns in the title but from an artistic point of view I thought that two was enough.

If you use PowerPoint then you will know that you can insert text boxes as well as images, but I had made a composite photo and had already added text.

Notice the main change from yesterday. I have erased most of the photo and I have just left the important text with a little bit of blurred text around it. Then the artistic bit - moving around two cut-outs for the polished result (well I think it's good).

Happy snapping

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Photo of a dictionary

I was preparing a PowerPoint presentation today and I was looking for photographs to put in it. I am talking about the role of a deputy manager so I photographed the words in a dictionary and put them on a slide.

In this photo I blurred all the other words and I sharpened the words that described a role. I didn't use a flash because I thought natural light was better but the photo was a little dark so I increased the brightness on the computer.

I may show you the finished slide in another blog but the definitions looked even better by erasing most of the photo but leaving a little of the blurred words around the non-blurred definition.

Happy snapping

Saturday, 13 June 2009

I should be on commission

These photos were taken for a pre-wedding meeting which took place this evening (I am writing on Friday 12th June), and as you can see from the clock it was fairly late in the evening.

This is the church of St Paul, Caton. From the second photo you can see that I can't get a better picture of the church tower because someone has had the audacity to build a row of houses in front of it. The picture on the left is a good example of converging verticals. I am too close to the building and the bottom of the tower is so much nearer to the camera than the top that it looks like the sides are moving towards each other.

On the right you can see that I have taken out the registration number of the car. This is to save the car from any embarrassment :-) The main purpose of the pre-wedding meeting is to see where the photos may be taken. There is horse and carriage for this wedding instead of a car and I would like a photo that has the bride and groom standing by the horse and carriage as per the second photo. They will block the view of the pub and the church will be in the background. We will see if it works next month.

In the meantime you know that you can get two meals for the price of one at the Black Bull in Caton. I should be on commission.

Happy snapping

Friday, 12 June 2009

Pre-wedding Meetings

For those with a good memory, you will have seen this pose back in a February blog. You can see that photo on my website at www.gradwellphotography.co.uk and then click on the secrets page. You see the photo before and after manipulation. The wedding last weekend was at the same venue - Morecambe Parish Church.

I am showing this photo to show you that I go round the venues with the bride and groom prior to the weddings. I can suggest settings for the photos but it really is up to the bride and groom where the photos are taken. I mentioned three places where photos could be taken and each had the church in the background. This time the bride suggested a change in order of the photos and it worked very well. The church was in the background and the wedding car with the bride and groom in the foreground.

Another point is that you can't legislate for the weather. This photo was taken the week before. It wasn't quite as sunny on the wedding day but at least it didn't rain. It's a pity that the grass had not been cut but I don't think that the grass length affected the photos too much.

Happy snapping

Thursday, 11 June 2009

The First Dance

This wedding was on the 7th June. I was watching the forecast in the previous few days. It changed from light showers to heavy showers to light rain. In fact on the day there was no rain. Even the day before I heard the forecaster tell me there would be showers later in the day. This is later in the day. It is after 9pm and the sunlight is still flooding through the windows.

In this photo I have done my usual blurring of the guests. I always like the first dance photo. I think that more than any other time of the day the bride and groom are being presented to their guests. Alright, they walk into the room for the meal and there is applause, but this lasts a few seconds. The dance lasts minutes. Even in the church they are surrounded by assistants (like a vicar or a best man).

I always take a few photos of the dance as expression is important and this can change from second to second. I also like different backgrounds including the DJ (who also becomes blurred). I also like black and white and sepia and vignettes. You can always tell which photos I like as they get variations on these themes.

Happy snapping

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Any photo can be a masterpiece

A couple of weeks ago I wrote how you should use Morecambe Bay if you have it. Well this couple did get their Morecambe Bay photos with the car, but for a different viewpoint I tried this photo.

The sea defences could be seen in the top left of the picture. It was a distraction as were some marks on the road surface so I smoothed them out on the computer. It is so easy to amend things digitally that there really is no reason why distractions could not be removed. There are no excuses now. Any photo can be a masterpiece.

Happy snapping

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Photos within Photos 2

The last blog was enititled photos within photos and was based on simply cropping a photo further. The quality of most digital photography means that this is very easy to achieve. Today's blog is also about two photos in one but this time I have added a photo into a frame on the wall.

I am not trying to pull the wool over anyone's eyes. The bride and groom know what was on the wall. It was actually a notice that said welcome to the hotel. Call it artistic licence. I don't object to changing the notice because it can be taken as two pictures in one, it can be taken as the happy couple thinking about their wedding at the church, but mostly it can be taken as a bit of fun with photography.

Happy snapping

Monday, 8 June 2009

Photos within Photos

I was taking photos at a wedding today. It was at one of my favourite churches, Morecambe Parish Church. I also went to the homes of the bride and groom to take some photos of the preparations.

The photo on the left shows the context. The bride is being helped into her dress. The photo on the right is the same photo. I can't instruct brides to look like this. She is trying to see what is going on but you would never know this if you just saw this photo.

I amended this photo a few times. You can always tell when I like a photo because you also get a black and white version or a sepia version or there may well be a vignette added which is usually white for weddings. The point here is that sometimes there is an excellent photo within a photo.

Happy snapping

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Morecambe Dome

This is The Dome on the prom at Morecambe. It is run by the Lancaster City Council and if you get on the website you can see the sort of events that take place there.

I saw Melanie there last year. She was a big star from the 60s. I thought she was great and I really enjoyed that evening, but The Dome was only half full. What a shame!

This photo was taken a few days ago when the weather was a bit better than it was yesterday. I was there yesterday as this venue held the count for the very first Morecambe Parish Council. You can read my thoughts on the politicsfornovices blog, but I didn't take a photo then because it was breezy and cool. It was the sort of weather where you keep moving and it doesn't make great photos even if you do stop. The best weather is no breeze. You don't want camera shake. You want it warm enough so that you can take your time, and a little sunshine to light your subject and cumulonimbus to enhance your sky.

Happy snapping

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Outdoor options are better

If you look back a few days you will see some photos of Arnside. They were taken last Sunday. We had a lovely weekend and there were quite a few people at Arnside, mostly in the pub but some were on the sand in the estuary.

I am sure that anonymity remains with this photo. Even if you knew the person you would not recognise them from the photo. They were dots almost on the horizon in the full photo. Wouldn't it be much better if you knew them or if it were you. Even better if you could recognise yourself and your dog.

This is what I try to do with brides and grooms. Take their photo from a distance but have a background that is relevant to the wedding. I have a wedding on Sunday and the forecast is not so good. I do hope I can get outdoor photos but we may have indoor group photos. I have my fingers crossed for good weather. You can get great indoor photos but it is much better to have an outdoor option.

Happy snapping

Friday, 5 June 2009

Frontierland Morecambe

This photo is Fronterland in Morecambe. I used to live in East Lancashire and Frontierland is one of the places we went to for our days out. It was a mini Blackpool Pleasure Beach and was owned by the same family. It closed in 2000 and most of the site lay derlict for many years.

This is the main entrance on the prom. The main site is now taken up by Morrisons and recently other large shops opened. It took some time but now there are calls for this frontage to be improved.

As for the photograph, it is worth photographing because next year it may not be there, and also it is good to remember how Morecambe has changed. Like most family snaps, it records memories even you can't now walk through the main entrance.

Happy snapping

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Morecambe's Egyptian Connections

This building is on the prom in central Morecambe. Till Christmas 2008 it was a Woolworth's shop but has been closed since then. I took the photograph today (3rd June) partly because it was a nice evening and I went for a cycle ride, and partly because I wanted to show you the art deco design of the building. The most noticeable art deco building in Morecambe is, of course, the Midland Hotel, but there are many others.

The photo on the right is a close-up to point out a possible Egyptian connection with art deco. This is not my original thought but I heard it from Peter Wade who conducts walking tours of Morecambe. I can recommend them. Can you see the triangles which are possibly pyramids. Peter also mentioned glamourous names of hotels. There is one called 'Luxor' that is near Regent Park. Like most of the small hotels, it closed many years ago.

Are there any more Egyptian connections in Morecambe?

Happy snapping

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Kent Viaduct

This is the Kent viaduct as seen from Arnside. If you want to walk across the Bay then you can start from Arnside and you finish at Kents Bank. I did this walk a couple of years ago with Cedric Robinson, the Queen's Guide. As I remember it, the walk took two or three hours as we were shown the safe route across the Bay and in particular the river channels. When we arrived at the railway station we found out that trains were not stopping at Kents Bank and we had to walk a little further to Grange-over-Sands.

It took a couple of minutes to get back to Arnside by train and so we crossed the Kent viaduct. It is 522 yards long and has 50 piers and it saves you a couple of hours walking, although looking at this photo, have some of the children technically almost completed the cross-bay walk? Probably not, and I bet you can't get back that way anyway after completing the walk. I am glad that I did it but I would not do it again. The scenery barely changes in those two or three hours, and the main view of wildlife is on the coasts.

If you want to get a view of the whole viaduct then you have to look along it or use a wide-angled lens. You can't see them on this photo but I have other photos where you can see chains hanging from the piers. I have been told that this is to help people who have been caught by the bore. I actually met someone who had been taken by the bore. She showed me newspaper cuttings of the ordeal. My thoughts are that the real problem would be if you are carried towards the sea rather than upstream into the river but what do I know. I also think that if you have been carried by the bore then you wouldn't be able to stop yourself by grabbing a chain.

The other common fact associated with Arnside bore (or probably any other bore) is that it moves faster than a horse can gallop. Maybe I should have waited for that bore - see yesterday's blog.

Happy snapping

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Arnside Pier

This is the pier at Arnside. There is quite a history to it and you can read the plaque if you ever visit. It's main purpose now is to allow people to sit on benches and take in the view.

I thought that the second photo was better cropped to this shape. There was nothing much below this photo and above it the sky was quite plain. One thing I did on the computer was to remove the flagpost as it did nothing for the picture. I am sure that you will not be able to see where I removed it, but you can check where it was by looking at the shadow, and I also left the lowest part in situ. I think everyone in the photo remains anonymous and I don't have the Google Earth problem of invading privacy (see previous blogs).

It was a lovely day and I did have an ice-cream but probably the best thing you can do here is watch the bore. I heard the siren which is the warning for the bore but I think it still takes 30 minutes for the bore to be seen. I didn't stop because for a really high bore I have been told you need water coming into the bay from the rivers and also the better bores are in Spring and Autumn.

Add a comment if you know more about bores.

Happy snapping

Monday, 1 June 2009

The honest colour

As promised, here is a photo of the curtain that has been manipulated on the computer. The first thing I have done is crop it. I took it to black and white and then added a little red and a little yellow, which is usually known as sepia.

It would be better to take the photo at night because then the curtain lights would be at their best. However by changing brightness and contrast you can also increase the effect of the lights.

These are simple techniques on a computer but they can really transform photos. As for honesty, have you seen the way that any decor is affected by disco lights? They take on the colour of the light. What is the honest colour of the curtain? Well it depends on the honest light.

Happy snapping