Friday, 31 July 2009

Poetic views

I like the symmetry of these photos. The photo on the left of the bride and her father is just as they enter the church. They are headed into the building but the glance over the shoulder is a glance to the past before marriage takes over. This may sound a little poetic so you can think of it as the last look of freedom :-)

On the right the couple are about to be welcomed into their new life as husband and wife. It says to me 'here we are about to enter into our future married life'.

From a different perspective you can think of these photos as an opportunity to take a picture of the back of the dress. I have zoomed in with these photos but they do get a photo of the full train as well.

Happy snapping

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Two for the price of one

Wedding days are busy days. There is always plenty to do and because of this the day flies by. So when the bride and groom are getting ready I try to take the photos without affecting their preparations.

I like to find a frame. It could be a mirror, a painting or a photo and then superimpose a photo from the day. It only takes a second to do this. Wherever you get ready you are not far from a frame to look at or a frame to hold. I remember at a previous wedding asking the bride and groom to look at a mirror with a poster on it. The manager of the hotel wanted to take down the poster and I had to explain that nobody would ever see it. The bonus of taking a photo in a mirror is that very often you get a good photo as a reflection as well as photos like the two above.

Happy snapping

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Three dimensions in Morecambe Bay

I don't think that you can beat Morecambe Bay as a background. There are lots of wonderful views all around the country. Bill Bryson chose to live in Yorkshire but he called the Bay the best view in Europe in his book "Notes from a Small Island". It makes sense to use it for backgrounds to wedding photos and taking them in the evening is even better than in the afternoon. I try to combine twenty minutes of photos on the prom with the first dance.

The photo on the right shows a detail of the wedding and that background helps again. The flower still looks good even though it is now evening. The bonus is the light and the shadows certainy bring out three dimensions to the petals. Take the same photo in mid-afternoon and you only get two dimensions.

Happy snapping

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Photo Manipulations

It was a fine evening on Saturday and you can take photos almost anywhere on Morecambe Bay. You may recognise this vantage point because you can just see the car park near the Dome. It may look strange to you and the reason is because I have taken out the rail and if you know the area then you will also know that the rail protects you from a drop of a few feet.

I don't object to taking out rails if the photo looks better for it and I think it works this time. If I like a picture then it is converted to black and white and sepia and I may put in a vignette for good measure. So here is one variation on this theme. A bit of cropping and black and white and you have a totally different photo.

Happy snapping

Monday, 27 July 2009

Make things click

A couple of years ago I received a 'thank you' card from one bride and groom. I appreciate all thanks, verbal and non-verbal including cards, but this one was home made. I had put two photos together and written the words 'thank you' on one of the photos. They had cut the 6"x 4" photo in two and stuck them onto A5 card folded in half. The card was balanced by having one on the front and one on the back. The note was very nice too.

I have stopped asking brides and grooms if they want me to do this for them - I just do it. If they want to use it that's fine, and if they don't then that's fine too. In this example from last Friday I chose a couple of photos and left a bit of space in the sky for the words.

I saw a sign for a flower shop today that said something like our reputation grows with your recommendation. I am thinking more along the lines of making everything 'click' at a wedding. If you can think of a suitable pun then let me know.

Happy snapping

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Eric and Wedding Photography 2

On Thursday I had a pre-wedding meeting - see the blog from two days ago. The wedding took place on Saturday 25th July and here is the first photo from the day. I will get more photos on the blog from the Friday and from the Saturday wedding but I wanted to put this one on the blog so that you can compare the practice run with the real thing.

We managed to get a lot of views of Morecambe Bay in the background. We went back in the evening for this photo but it is a popular place. I think the rehearsal was great but you can't beat the real thing.

I will post more photos from both weddings in the next few days.

Happy snapping

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Two photos from the day

These photos were taken in the afternoon (Friday 24th July). I normally take photos on the prom with a setting sun but the forecast was not good. we took photos at the first opportunity. As it happens it did rain for less than ten minutes in the morning but other than that it was fine with lots of sunny intervals.

I printed this photo and took it back to them in the evening. It is 10"x 8" but it doesn't matter about the proportions of the photo in the photo. I wanted to be generous - that goes without saying, but it is great advertising when you get a photo back on the same day.

The main photo has been amended. I have taken out a distracting wall in the bottom left-hand corner. More obviously I have taken out the rail. You can get onto the beach quite easily in Morecambe but it is not quite as easy as this photo would suggest.

Happy snapping

Friday, 24 July 2009

Eric and Wedding Photography

I went to see a bride and groom this evening for their pre-wedding meeting. I have written that Morecambe Bay is a great asset for photographers and I certainly like to use it, but I have not yet used Eric Morecambe for weddings. He is now on the programme for the day as can be seen from the photo on the right.

We have planned to use the usual views of Morecambe Bay. We will also have scenes of Morecambe centre from where we are taking our photos. I look forward to every wedding and I enjoy each wedding day but it certainly looks like this day will be fun.

Happy snapping

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Lighting makes the landscape

The weather was not good when I was travelling through the Lake District. I should say the weather was excellent if you like really heavy showers but I didn't see many walkers and for that matter there were very few cars. I did take photos of cloud moving across the tops of the mountain tops. I took one or two that I thought were very dramatic but when I looked at the photo there was little to see because it was so cloudy.

The lighting certainly does make the photo and when I got back to Morecambe I saw this view across the bay. I cropped it because at the top of the photo is very dark cloud. The foreground is interesting. You may be able to see the hundreds of birds. I didn't see them when I took the photo but I will be looking out for them next time.

Happy snapping

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Right Place Right Time

I was travelling through the Lake District today (21st July) and I had my compact with me. The light was not brilliant. In fact there were some really heavy showers but on a couple of occasions we saw a little sunshine. I suppose I should always carry an SLR but compacts are convenient. You never know when you are going to take your best ever photograph.

I have a lot of admiration for landscape photographers. They must be very patient people. I like to ask for a smile and take a photo. With weddings it is even quicker than that as you don't have to ask for the smile. If I take a landscape photo and the lighting is good then it is not because I have waited for it. I have just been at the right place at the right time. This photo is of Lake Windermere. When I saw the sunlight coming through the clouds I thought this would turn out well in black and white. As it happens it makes little difference as the photo is almost monochrome anyway. Still, at least I gave monochrome some thought before taking the photo.

Happy snapping

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

You can't mistake mother and daughter

I spent a little time on the photo on the left by masking different areas and putting a little colour into those areas. It is not a technique that I have used before and there may be a simpler way to get colour into a photograph but you can see what I have done so far. The cup is whiter the cake is pinker the wood is red/brown, the outfit is a paler pink. With a little more work it may look more realistic but I will investigate further to improve my technique.

On the right you can now see mother and daughter together. I was surprised to hear that the first photograph was taken in the late 1950s. The ashtray does date it a little but I had thought it was from the seventies. You won't be surprised to read that they are mother and daughter.

Happy snapping

Monday, 20 July 2009

Change the photo with a few more clicks

Following on from yesteday's blog I have continued to amend the photograph. The first thing I did was to improve the white dots. Then I decided to remove the picture above this lady's head. I didn't think it helped the picture especially as the line of the frame can be seen through her hair. I increaded the contrast a little but then I increased the contrast and decreased the brightness of the cake and everything on the table.

Time has faded the print and so it has lost contrast. It is easy to improve and even selecting part of the photo is a fairly easy technique. My favourite techniques are those that dramatically affect a photo with one click of a button. Making a photo sepia falls into this category and with a couple more clicks you get a vignette and the photo on the right.

Happy snapping

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Photos of Photos

I was recently asked to copy a photo for someone and also to see if I could improve it. The photo on the left is in a substantial frame and you can't take the photo out. My first thought was that I could scan the photo. I did this but the photo was out of focus. It looks like the glass is so thick that the photo can't be scanned. My next thought was to take a digital photo of the photo and then work on this secondary photo.

The first thing to deal with is the angle that the photo was taken from. If you take the picture directly from the front then everything is in proportion but the flash reflects and becomes part of the photo. Take it from the side like the photo on the left and you have to change the proportions back to what they were (the photo on the right). I'll talk you through some of the other changes in later blogs.

Happy snapping

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Favourite Photos

A couple of months ago I wrote about some photos that I took of my daughter. I didn't include my favourite picture. I often write about my favourite photo at weddings and I often know when I am taking them that they are going to be my favourite of the day or at least a strong contender for that title.

This photo session only lasted twenty minutes and I didn't know which would be my favourite at the time. It was only later that I saw the detail of the bracelets and how they added to the photo that I made this photo my favourite of the day. It may be that if you lie down you get a different photo and maybe you relax more. There were a lot of good photos taken in a few minutes and the easy answer to taking a lot of good photos is to take a lot of photos.

Happy snapping

Friday, 17 July 2009

Terrorists don't carry tripods

There are some fabulous stories on the internet about police officers stopping photographers from taking photos in public areas. One person suggests that you take photos of police officers who are about to arrest you for taking their photograph. Tell the police that you are within your rights to take the photos and if they arrest you then tell them you will sue them for wrongful arrest. I think this is a little headstrong. I am of the opinion that we should be able to take photos in public areas. If we are terrorists then we could just buy a book with all the photos and maybe a map as well. I would be very careful about upsetting any police officer. If you drive a car then it may not be too difficult to find a law that has been broken by your ownership. I am also sure there are lots of laws that could be used against anyone who upsets a police officer. The moral of this story is don't upset them and if they say don't take photos then don't take them. Leave the training of police officers to other times and other places.

There is an easy answer for terrorists if they want to take photos - take them with a small camera. The person who gets stopped with an SLR and a flash is almost certainly a keen amateur. If they know what they are doing then they will probably be carrying a tripod. So be aware terrorists, and don't use your tripod.

Happy snapping

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Times to keep the camera hidden

I went to an anti-BNP meeting on the 13th and there were a lot of people supporting it. There was a policeman outside the building along with four civilians. You shouldn't stereotype people with shaven heads and tatoos who stand outside these meetings but don't intend to enter, so I will leave it up to you to think who they might be. I had taken my camera and I was considering taking a photo of the five of them but I decided not to. I thought that taking a photo may have been seen as intimidating for them. Why should I want a photograph? Could I use it as some kind of evidence against the four of them? I had considered taking a photo because it is a comment on what was happening. When we left the building only one person was there and he was texting. Was there a group of BNP supporters elsewhere? Was there going to be trouble? I don't think there was any trouble but I didn't get that photo.

If you search on the name Alex Turner photographer, you will discover that last week he was asked why he was taking photos in the high street. His story goes that he asked why they were asking. He refused to answer because he did not know what authority these people had. He was then arrested. One of the officers felt threatened because he took her photo. Alex puts forward the case that he is not an imposing figure and he was just taking a photo. Some may say that we should not be intimidated when we go about our lawful business. Sometimes it's better to keep your camera hidden.

Happy snapping

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Two more photos from Saturday

Here are two more photos from Saturday. The first kiss has taken place in the church, but sometimes this is the first opportunity for a first kiss. I follow instructions when I am inside the church and the instructions this time were again for no flash during the ceremony. This meant like the last wedding that I took more photos knowing that some would be blurred by movement. Once outside you know you don't have to worry about blurring.

Just before I took the photo on the right the couple had been walking. There is nothing wrong with photos of the bride and groom walking but if you ask them to run, even if it is only for two yards then the expressions change dramatically. That is what is happening in this photo. It's a simple instruction but a different photo.

Happy snapping

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Even the horses are getting on well

The beauty of digital photography is that you don't have to worry about the number of photos that you take. You might have one or two chances for a great photo with film but now everyone can act like a top photographer of the 1960s. Just keep taking photos. This means that for every wedding I get a lot of great photos. My favourite for this weeks's wedding is on the left. I'm not sure why, the background is not significant and there were another four or five photos that were similar but each time you take a photo the expressions are slightly different.

The photo on the right is another contender for the best photo of the day. It sets the scene with the horse and carriage. This time it is timeless as there are not TV aerials or lamposts. It looks even better after I have tidied up the car park but I think the reason I like this one is because of the pose of the bride and groom and the pose of the carriage drivers. Even the horses seem to be getting on well.

Happy snapping

Monday, 13 July 2009

Wedding Photos Completed

I tool photos at a wedding yesterday (11th July) and I have now worked on all the photos to get them the way that I want them. The photo on the left is a very rare example of a photo with me in it as it was taken by my assistant. I like it because it is timeless. There are no vehicles or road markings. Alright I did tidy the road markings and there are TV aerials and a lampost, but it is almost timeless. The black and white gives it a dated look too.

I like the photo on the right because it is just before the bride and groom are going to make their entrance at the reception. There was a slight delay, they sat down and were having a conversation. I don't like to intrude but I have to take photos and I didn't know whether it was a private conversation, but as soon as I took it there were big smiles, They wanted that photo which makes it mean more to me. I'll show you my favourite photo of the day tomorrow.

Happy snapping.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

No road markings and no rain

A couple of weeks ago I went with this bride and groom to the church and to the reception. The photo at the church gates is too close to the church tower, so we knew on the day of the wedding that this was the place for the photo. The church tower is there (no converging verticals) the horse and carriage is there and the bride and groom are in the forground. All the elements are there even if they only rode 100 yards before they got out. It was very good of the bride and groom and the drivers of the carriage but that is the nature of people on wedding days. Everyone works together to make the day go as smoothly as possible.

You may not notice that the road is tidier than roads generally are, and you may notice that there are no road markings. While I took this photo my assistant got an even better one of just the bridal party and the horse and carriage and the pub. What a pity the pub has no connection with the wedding. There two other changes that you may be able to work out. One is fairly obvious but the other may take a while to work out. Add a comment if you can see them.

I always look at the weather forecast and in the last few days I had been expecting heavy rain all day. The forecast did change to light rain all day and then it changed to light rain but beginning in the afternoon. I must have watched at least five TV forecasts and looked at the internet just as many times. we changed our plans because of the forecast and all the group photos had already been taken. We were going to wait till we got to the reception. As it turned out the rain started as I was returning from taking photos of the first dance - at 8.40pm. I should learn my lesson. I'll stop looking at the forecast.

Happy snapping

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Today's pre-wedding meeting

I had a pre-wedding meeting this evening (10th July) at Christ Church on Broadway in Morecambe.I happen to live on Broadway so it wasn't difficult for me to get there. It was a fine evening and in the few minutes that I had before the bride and groom got there I was able to take photos around the church.

I found that one of the best views of the church was taken from the middle of the main road. It may take a little longer than usual to take these photos! The photo on the left is the original and on the right is the photo after I manipulated it. The first thing I did was crop it. Then I tidied up the grass a little and then I disguised what was left of the road by putting in a little more grass.

Happy snapping

Friday, 10 July 2009

Night Photography 2

You probably take your camera on holiday. Now you have to pack a tripod as well. These two pictures were taken in France. There are many buildings in France that are lit at night.They are showing their building off so take advantage and take a photo. I am in the photo on the left. My camera has the options of a two second delay or a twelve seconds delay. I always use delays at night (as well as a tripod) so that you don't get any shake from pressing the shutter. After ten seconds the camera's red light flashes so you may even see me smiling.

The photo on the right was taken at the port of St Malo. Generally you have plenty of time to kill in ports so have a look for those landscapes at night. Look at the effect of different types of lighting. The main building looks white and the buildings in front look sepia. You can change the colours with the white balance settings on your camera. I like the warmth of the tints from the red and yellow but if you prefer the whiter look then check out the settings on your camera.

Happy snapping

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Night Photography

As a teenager I remember someone telling me that they really like night photography. I enjoy night photography too and sometimes just hearing that someone else enjoys something can inspire you to enjoy it too. It is not difficult with today's cameras but you do need a tripod. I will qualify that. You don't need a tripod but you have to rest your camera safely on something flat, and this can greatly limit your photo opportunities. So I'll go back to my first comment and say that you do need a tripod.

The photo on the left is just a back street. It is pretty uninspiring during the day but at night it has an air of intrigue. What will you find just along the street? The photo on the right is also an uninspiring subject in daylight. At night it is the subject of a photo that provides its own lighting. I have written blogs about the historical importance of photographs. It may just be a telephone box to you but it is an historical document to me.

Happy snapping.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Don't be short of a subject

If you are stuck for a subject then look up. The sky belongs to everyone and there is no copyright. However the best photographs still depend on the best lighting. There is an advantage with the sky in that I took this photo a couple of days ago and the 'golden hour' had passed. Everything on the groung was in shade but the golden hour continued in the sky.

The photo on the left has only been cropped. The photo on the right has been cropped a little more because this is the area with the greatest interest. You can almost see a face in these clouds. I did increase the contrast as well and I did apply an orange filter to give it even more drama.

You may like cloud formations for their own merit but you can also use them as backgrounds. This photo was taken at a 45 degree angle but the best cloud views if you want to superimpose someone in front are taken horizonatally. This is the way that the clouds would look naturally.

Happy snapping

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Another view of Morecambe Bay

This is Morecambe Prom looking into the Bay. It doesn't do justice to the view and I should cycle over and take another picture. I am sure that we have our own micro climate in Morecambe and we have wonderful sunsets. I have driven along the M6 on many occasions and the sky inland looks cloudy and the sky over the Irish Sea looks blue.

I suppose this work of art is telling us that Morecambe bay is a view to behold. If Antony Gormley can have living statues in Trafalgar Square then we can have a natural canvas in Morecambe. We can go one better and have our picture taken on Morecambe Bay and we will already be framed.

There is a lot to see in Morecambe but you have to look for it. If you see Eric for the first time then make sure that you have fifteen minutes to read the inscriptions in front of him. Walk along the prom and you will find lots more inscriptions telling you many facts about the geography and history of the area.

Happy snapping

Monday, 6 July 2009

Photos through the generations

On the 31st March I introduced you to my grandson Connor. He is my son Tim's son and Tim is on the right. Apart from this text there are also 27 years between these two photos. I would have a picture of me and an Easter egg but they never lasted long enough with me for a photograph to be taken.

Of course there were no digital photos in 1982 but it is easy enough to scan the photo and save it digitally. At higher resolutions you can see imperfections in the photo and I have done a little tidying, but in print it doesn't look too bad. This is the basis for digital photo restoration. I would do a before and an after of Tim's photo but it looks so much more effective when photos are in a poor condition.

Happy snapping

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Different Views, same viewpoint

I was writing about panoramas yesterday. The photo on the left is a typical panorama of Lancaster. The river Lune is obvious. There is the Millenium Bridge. You can just see the portico of the maritime museum which is directly under the spire of Lancaster Cathedral. The Ashton Memorial is clearly seen on the horizon. This photo could easily be improved by taking it again with an SLR (I took it with my compact). It could be taken with a tripod, and it could be taken on a clearer day, but it is not bad for a snap.

I turned to my right to take the photo on the right. I was stood on the footpath on the Carlisle Bridge which carries the West Coast Main Line railway. The link between the two photos is how easy it is to get two or more photos from one vantage point.

Happy snapping

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Panoramas that mean something to you

I went to Morecambe library on 2nd July. Behind the main counter is a calendar with pictures of local scenes. The standard proportions of size of photos are 6"x4" or 7"x5" or even 8"x6" but this calendar had photos with a lot of different proportions. I noticed a couple of panoramas. It is expensive to get different sizes printed but putting them on the computer or on a blog doesn't cost anything. If the picture is one that you want then it is worth getting it printed.

I took this photo in Lancaster. It is alright. The view is alright. The lighting is alright. If you had a house in the view then it might just be a great photo for you and if you took the photo you would take more care of composing so that your house stood out. The rule of thirds still stands even if the photo is panoramic.

I have panoramic photos of Lancaster and Morecambe that you may see on calendars but why not look for that panorama that means something to you.

Happy snapping

Friday, 3 July 2009

The camera teaches you how to see

On my website at I like to have a quote of the month. In October 2007 it was Dorothea Lange who said 'the camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera'. What did she mean by this? I can only give my interpretation but there have been many times when I have seen more in the darkroom than when I was taking the photo. Photos are also transformed when they are converted to black and white. The 'camera' may allow form and structure to dominate over colour.

I think this quote could take care of quite a few blogs but I'll just give one more example. The photo above is a building in Kendal. It is still Burton the Tailor's shop but it is also a history lesson. Montague was Mr Buton's first name and he advertised himself as the tailor of taste. There may be many people who have walked past this shop many times and they have not looked up. They have missed their history lesson, but even if they have looked up they still may not know that he was a tailor of taste because the writing is so small, or they didn't have time to read the full inscription.

There are items of interest all around us but a camera can help us look.

Happy snapping

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Superimposing Photos

I like to take photos of the bride and groom while they are getting ready and looking at a picture or into a mirror. I superimpose a photo of the day and it looks like they are contemplating the day ahead. In the case of using a mirror there is always the possibility of an added bonus that the photo in the mirror turns out to be better than the direct photo. You may get two photos for the price of one.

The photo on the right is the one I chose for the mirror. The bottom left corner had some bricks that were distracting so I took them out. There were a couple of young boys in the photo that had nothing to do with the wedding party so I took them out. Finally for the image on the mirror I made the second photo a lot darker. Framed photos are not bright unless they are lit.

Happy snapping

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Portraits in sepia with vignettes

The quality of digital photography is fantastic. I have an A1 poster on my wall and all the photographs I take are this quality. So if there is one small part that you like in the whole of a photograph then you have a good photo. In a group scene there may be three or four excellent photos that could be printed out at 6"x4".

As it happens both of these photos were just of the individuals. The photo of the bride was taken at the reception. The photo of the groom was taken outside the church and I ask him to hold out the ring. I tell him that he can relax as only the ring will be in focus - and it is the only thing in focus for one photo. This is another photo which just happens to be taken from the same photo. This is not a bad technique to get anyone to relax. All you need is a prop and tell them to hold it out.

Happy snapping