Saturday, 31 October 2009

Hey presto and no manipulation.

Here is my female model who is always available for a photo shoot. We went for a walk after a short drive so here she is ready to go. I have chosen these two photos to hightlight asymmetry. On the left you can see that Molly's eyes don't seem to be looking at the same place. It might be an illusion. Her eyesight seems to be perfect but it doesn't look quite right. It may just be that she is looking at an object very close to her like the head restraint.

We are all asymmetrical in some respects. It may be the shape of our mouth or the lines around the eyes. You can manipulate photos to reduce this asymmetry but that is part of us just as Molly's eyes are part of her. So what you can do is take the photo from the side and hey presto, no asymmetry.

Happy snapping

Friday, 30 October 2009

Morecambe at Night 3

I did take a lot of photos while I was walking the dog on Monday but I'll stop showing you night photographs of Morecambe with these two photos.

The main point of showing them to you is that you don't need a tripod. As long as you have a flat surface you just put your camera on timer so you don't get camera shake. The photo on the left is taken from behind The Midland towards the west end of Morecambe. The building which is almost the last on the right is The Battery, so called because the army used to fire artillery from the adjoining headland.

The photo on the right is the Stone Jetty. It is the only remaining part of Morecambe's harbour and at one time there was a railway line along it. Although the Jetty has lost its purpose it remains a distinguishing feature of Morecambe. Just look at all those flat surfaces to take more photos from.

Happty snapping.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Morecambe at Night 2

Between The Platform and the Superbowl you will find the cinema and KFC as seen on the left. Turn round and you look towards the Prom as seen on the right.

The photo on the left was taken by leaving the camera on a wall and putting the timer to two seconds to avoid camera shake. On the right the camera was placed on the rail. You can see the rail that continues after the pelican crossing, and you can also see that I had to hold the camera. Take a look at both photos. There is no noticable shake so the moral of the story is that you can take photos at night even if there is a small rail. However a tripod helps a lot.

Happy snapping

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Morecambe at Night

On Monday I took the dog for a walk along Morecambe Prom. It was a still warm evening which makes it very good for taking photos. Unfortunately I couldn't carry a tripod as well as a camera and hold onto a dog lead. I say unfortunately but the dog is giving me an excuse to take a walk in the evening and there are a lot of flat places where you can place your camera. In thirty minutes I had taken at least as many photos and I will show you some of them over the next few days.

The photo on the left should need no introduction, but I will tell you anyway. It is the Midland Hotel. You do lose some control without a tripod but it isn't bad. The Midland is one of a very small number of buildings on the sea side of the prom. Across the road is The Platform, the former railway station but now a small concert venue. The superbowl is across the road from The Platform.

It is well worth taking your camera out in the evening. Street lighting makes buildings look very different. It gives you a different view of scenes that you have seen many times and most importantly it makes a good photo.

Happy snapping

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

The benefit of props

How do you take portraits? Well you can look at the camera or look away. You can take a close-up or show the surroundings. The ambience may give a deeper understanding of the subject's character. However today I will consider props.

If you have something to do then there is a much smaller possibility that you are conscious of the camera and become nervous. Fortunately Connor is a natural in front of the camera. He doesn't need any props for this reason but props can still be used as this gives meaning to the photo and a different expression. In this case it is a "would you like a chip" expression.

Happy snapping

Monday, 26 October 2009

Places of interest

You have probably heard of Eric Morecambe's statue in Morecambe. It attracts many visitors and it is not just a case of seeing the statue but you can spend some time reading all the inscriptions in front of the statue. Some are very funny. There are many other informative and decorative inscriptions on Morecambe Prom. You can see many on the route from Eric to Heysham but you'll find these photos in the opposite direction/

Follow the coast in a north-easterly direction as that is roughly the direction of the coast, and you soon arrive at the Morecambe and Heysham Yacht Club racing office. This is the photo on the left. Just in the right hand corner of this photo is the information plaque on the right. It concerns the wildlife of Morecambe Bay.

There are so many things to see in this country. There are so many things to see in local neighbourhoods so we can't complain about lack of photographic subjects.

Happy snapping

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Can you see the wind farm?

If you thought the subject of yesterday's blog lacked interest then the photo on the left was taken within a couple of minutes just as I got off the beach and back onto the prom. There is interesting light from the sunshine and shadows. There is also a range of buildings and a few people to take your attention. Did you see the wind farm in the background? It is hard to think of this wind farm at Caton Moor as close to Morecambe but it certainly looks close in this photo. If anything there are too many important subjects in this photo as opposed to yesterday.

You can't blame me for taking yesterday's photo. It must be 'arty' because I turned the camera and there was someone else taking a photo. It must be the most photographed boat ever!

Happy snapping

P.S. I did carry a tripod but I didn't use it for these two photos. At this enlargement I think you can tell. so the moral of this story is...

Saturday, 24 October 2009

The centre of attraction

On my recent walk along Morecambe Prom I saw this boat. The reason I am showing you these two photos is so that you can see the difference between colour and black and white.

I have cropped the photos slightly differently and the the boat certainly dominates the frame in the second photo. Since the boat is white (and a bit worse for wear) the first photo is dominated by the boats in the background because of their red colour. Take away the colour and a closer crop and the foreground and now the subject of this photo becomes the centre of attraction.

Happy snapping

Friday, 23 October 2009

Lancaster Castle and The Priory Church

Lancaster Castle and The Priory Church are fine sights. This photo was taken this morning (22nd October) and as you can see the sun was shining brightly. The sunlight is hitting both buildings and casting shadows on the buildings which adds further interest. We know that sunlight can bleach detail as seen in the blog entry for the 12th October but in this case the exposure shows detail.

The Priory has looked like this for five or six hundred years. For roughly the same amount of time the castle has also looked like this. Both buildings are much older than this but both have been altered. However there is a strong sense of history looking at this photo. Some other buildings are visible but these too are mostly the older part of Lancaster. The trees are the modern addition but this too gives the photo a strong sense of history.

Happy snapping

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Photo manipulation is everywhere

Following yesterday's blog I thought that I should set the record straight. The sun always shines in Morecambe and to prove it here is a photo from 21st October. Alright it does rain occasionally but the weather always seems better than the forecast and it is often sunny in Morecambe but clouds may be seen in the background over the Lake District hills.

I mentioned that in yesterday's photo I had sharpened and brought out the colour a little. I have done neither today so you can't compare like with like. Even if I had made exactly the same changes on the computer there is a difference in the camera. Today's photo was taken with a "natural" setting on the camera. Yesterday's had a "vivid" setting. Even if you don't think that you have manipulated a photo I'm afraid that you have. Manipulation is everywhere.

Happy snapping

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Morecambe Bay the millpond

Alright this photo wasn't taken today. The weather is not so good at the moment. It has been raining heavily and the forecast is not much better so next time you see the golden hour of sunlight, the first and last hours of the day, then get out your cameras.

The Bay was very calm which meant that it was a good time to take photos if you like reflections. It is a totally different photo when the tide is out but the main thing that makes the photo is the lighting.

You may be able to tell that I have brought out the colour in this photo but just a little. I have also done a little sharpening but I think both of these effects adds to the artistic side of the photo. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I prefer this to a photo with cloud cover.

Happy snapping

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Science helps art

Although digital technology has taken over from traditional film, there are still a lot of similarities. Cameras still look the same. Both film and digital cameras need lenses, and the quality of the final photo is related to the quality of the lens as well as the camera itself. The amount of light that falls on the negative or on the digital sensor is related to the size of the aperture and the length of time that the shutter is open.

Even though techniques have changed dramatically there are many similarities between film and digital. Digital processes often try to mimic those of a darkroom. One such technique is depth of field. A lens focuses light from a subject onto a particular point. If it is the retina of the eye then we see things in focus. If it is the digital sensor then this subject is in focus.

If the lens has a small aperture then there is a greater acceptable range of subjects that are in focus. if the aperture is large then only a small area is in focus. This area is called depth of field and it is a nice technique that emphasises the photographic subject. This is now a simple procedure with computer software. It may help to learn the science of photography and know about things like depth of field.You can get by with a purley artistic background but science helps, not least is the ability to use computer software.

Happy snapping

Monday, 19 October 2009

The camera teaches you how to look

A couple of weeks ago, when I was driving from Halton to Morecambe, I stopped and took a few photos and published some on this blog. I am often writing about how a camera lets you see the things around you and this blog entry is no exception.

I took these photos because the lighting was good. I like cumulonimbus clouds as they give texture to the sky and they also give different lighting effects to the ground. You can't see the fluffy white clouds in this photo (think The Simpsons) but you can see the effect on the ground.

I had just taken photos of Lancaster city centre and I mentioned the landmarks on this blog. I turned to my left and I saw the motorway. I hadn't realised that you can see the motorway from here but there was the motorway nicely lit and there was the standing traffic. Alright there are lane closures to blame. Perhaps I only noticed because of the standing traffic. Perhaps it was because I was using a zoom lens.

Happy snapping

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Transform your portrait

This photo has a fairly nice background. The reddy brown leaves contrast well with the green grass and there is no significant distraction in this background to take your eye away from the main subjects who happen to be my parents-in-law.

The main thing with any portrait is to look for expressions. I think that the red cardigan is distracting but this distraction is easily removed with the sepia version on the right. If you want to concentrate the image on the head and shoulders then cropping does the trick. Add a white vignette and you get the photo on the right. These are easy techniques which transform photos.

Happy snapping

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Artificial Lighting

I showed you some photos of the Trafford Centre a couple of days ago. Inside the centre was a performance from a group called the charity dreamgirls who were singing in order to support a number of charities. This was not a 'photo shoot'. It was definitely one photo just at the end of their performance. I would have taken more because I like the way the lighting is set up for me (along with thousands of others), but they finished two seconds later.

The reason I am showing you this photo is because of the lighting. Even though we are indoors and at some distance from the subjects, there is little blurring because the lights are so bright. Have you noticed how much detail you can see? If you read the poster the words printed in white are much more legible than the red. It is worth remembering that if you are designing your own poster.

Happy snapping

Friday, 16 October 2009

Connor becomes a film star

There is a Disney film called 'Up' which is being advertised at the moment. Adverts can be so realistic that my grandson Connor wanted to touch the nose of the dog.

In this photo I have extended the floor of the advert to the floor of the shopping centre so Connor has become part of the film. Well it's an idea for different photos and it is worth looking out for adverts in which you could play a part. I don't know if it is better in monochrome but you could take this idea further by using an artistic filter on Connor.

Happy snapping

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Not quite candid

When I took the photos at a recent wedding in Manchester I was taken to the reception by bus. I thought that this was going to give me a lot more photo opportunities but as a general rule it is not good to take photos from a vehicle because of the extra camera shake even if the engine isn't on. There is a greater cause of camera shake and that is falling over by moving around the bus. As a rule if you see a great landscape from a vehicle then try to take the photo on foot or even better with a tripod.

However I didn't need to move to get this photo. I knew that I had to use flash because of the camera shake and because natural light would have emphasised the windows and not the subjects. As the child was asleep I asked if I could take this photo so it is not completely candid but it is very similar to the image I saw before I asked if I could take it.

This photo has a gentle theme to it and I think the vignette helps to bring out this gentleness. On the right I cropped the image a little tighter and for the same reason added another vignette.

Happy snapping

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

A shared moment

There are two main advantages to using natural light. The first is the look of the image. Natural light can be wonderful. Flash gives you control, it is consistently good and lights the subject of the photo but is not a patch on nature.

The second great advantage with using natural light is that it is much less obvious to the people around you that you are taking photos. It is much easier to take informal photos if guests can forget that you are there. The photo is candid because it isn't a pose. It doesn't always work but this is a lovely shared moment just before the wedding began.

Happy snapping

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Expensive buildings are everywhere

Yesterday the photos of the Trafford Centre showed that sometimes shade is better than sunlight. Today's photos shows the more usual method of using sunlight to enhance your mane subject (get it?).

On the left we have one of the lions which in heraldic terms is possibly a lion sejant. I say possibly because one of its paws is not on the ground. The photo on the right puts these lions in their setting. There has obviously been a lot of money spent on the centre but not so long ago expensive building were built locally like town halls or railway stations.

You don't have to go far to see expensive buildings.

Happy snapping

Monday, 12 October 2009

Cloud cover may make a better photo

Photography is generally better when the weather is better. I have written about the better light in the 'golden hour' and you generally get better light with better weather. Rules are made to be broken and here is an example.

The photo on the left was taken fairly close to one of the entrances to the Trafford Centre. I walked away from the entrance for the photo on the right and cropped it a little tighter - you can see more of the roof on the right. However the main difference in the two photos is the lighting. We had cloud cover for the first photo and the sun came out for the second. The sun has bleached the stone and contrast has been lost. It is harder to read the inscriptions on the right and if that is your objective then you would wait for cloud cover.

The bottom line is personal preference and this time I prefer cloud cover.

Happy snapping

Sunday, 11 October 2009

The Experiment

I think it is really worthwhile joining a camera club. I was a member of the Morecambe club last year but then became too busy to continue. Most members were retired but the advantage of this is that you have some extra time to take your photos. There are many advantages to being a member. Just talking about photos with others makes you think more deeply about them. There are also competitions throughout the year when not only do you get your photographs talked about (almost always constructively) but you also get a mark.

Yesterday I picked up a booklet for the Nuffield Theatre at Lancaster University. In it I read about a photography competition and exhibition. The theme title is 'the experiment' and apart from that there are very few rules however you do have to live in the Lancaster and Morecambe area. Winning entries will be exhibited next Spring.

So if you have any ideas for me, or if you want to join in yourselves then entries have to be in for Friday 4th December.

Happy snapping

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Photo manipulations are everywhere

It doesn't take much to make a photo distinctive. On the right I have used the photo which is on my profile and added it to the text for the blog name.

Sometimes I add text into the photo itself. Whether the text is at the side of the photo or in the photo itself the image has changed. It has been manipulated. A month or two ago I joined in someone's blog about photo manipulation and there was a suggestion that it was alright as long as the words 'this photo has been manipulated' were added. To me this is such a vague term that it is meaningless. Even if you have no control over the way your camera takes photos then just by choosing your camera it is different from the photos of other cameras. If you have a choice of settings then you may choose types of photos like 'vivid' or 'natural' or even 'sepia'. Manipulations are everywhere.

Happy snapping

Friday, 9 October 2009

Sometimes it is easier to change the lens

In a recent blog I mentioned that a longer lens is better to minimise prominent facial features. Of course the main reason for using a longer lens is to take photos of subjects at a distance. When I was in Glasson Dock a couple of weeks ago I was using a telephoto lens to take photos of Sunderland Point.

I kept using the telephoto lens for more of Glasson Dock partly because many photographic subjects are at a distance e.g. at the other side of the dock, but mainly because of laziness. This photo should have been taken with a standard lens. There is no reason why i could not have stood nearer. Standing at this distance may be better to reduce prominent facial features, but the building isn't vain. There is also less chance of camera shake if I had been nearer to the Victoria Inn.

Notice that this 8"x 6" cannot be cropped to 6"x 4". The frame is too small and there is not enough sky or foreground. I have been known to clone more sky but there is too much texture in the sky to make this an easy task. Much easier, if I wanted a 6"x 4" is to change the lens.

Happy snapping

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Isn't technology amazing?

This is a similar viewpoint to yesterday's photos. The orange building remains prominent even though it is a long way in the distance. The detail in digital photography never ceases to amaze me. You can see the terraced houses which are near the new orange flats. I have blurred out the registrations of the first two cars but didn't need to for the third car. This saves embarrasment for the cars as they are shy little things.

I remember when digital cameras were just starting to get better than film cameras. A friend showed me his new digital SLR at a rugby match. I have to say that I saw no significant difference until I saw his photos on the computer, and now technology is so much better.

I stood at the crossroads and snapped away. Just think of the improvement if I had used my tripod. By the way, I have left the road markings in today.

Happy snapping

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Lancaster from the north

If you travel from west from Halton on Foundry Lane you get to a crossroads with Kellet Lane. Take a look of Lancaster from this crossroads and this is the view. It is interesting to look at the major sites. The most striking feature in colour is a very new orange building which has been built above a listed building. It has received a lot of attention in the local press as well as a lot of complaints. It is certainly striking even from this distance but beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Compare this with the sepia version. Colour must have played a significant part in the complaints.

Other prominent buildings can be seen on the horizon. From left to right you see Lancaster Cathedral then the Ashton Memorial. Almost breaking the horizon is Lancaster Town Hall with its clock tower. Similarly the chimney at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary doesn't quite cross the horizon but just to the left of the chimney you can see the spire of St Thomas' Church.

On the 8th March I wrote about the support structure for the Millenium footbridge which resemble the masts of a ship. This structure is quite distinctive then back to the horizon you have Lancster Castle and The Priory Church.

Happy snapping

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Which photo do you prefer?

While I was in Hornby (see yesterday's blog) I took this photo of St Margaret's Church. The lighting was good and dark clouds gave texture to the sky. I am not keen on road markings. I think they detract from the beauty of the building, so think of this photo as art, not as a record of a scene.

On the left there are road markings and telephone lines. Now have a look at the photo on the right. There is a better cropping. Most of the lines on the road and the lines in the air have gone. Now see if you can see any clues that I have been there. If you were buying a postcard of the church which photo would you prefer?

Happy snapping

Monday, 5 October 2009

I'm guessing it's a salmon in Hornby

Yesterday I wrote that you don't need ideal circumstances, but they do help. Wind is not good. You may be able to shelter from the wind and still take great photos of its effects but photography is a lot easier without this addition to camera shake. So today (4th October) the weather was very kind. I like sunny intervals as clouds give the sky some texture and they give shadows on the land.

This is Hornby Castle and you are also looking at the river Wenning. The castle is not open to the public as it has been split into private flats, but there is a footpath along the river. The interesting thing today was that fish were jumping upstream. I wish I had a telephoto and a tripod. Still, you can't have everything. Did you see the fish in the photo on the right? I am not an expert but guess that it is a salmon.

Happy snapping

Sunday, 4 October 2009

You don't need ideal circumstances

I took this photo a few weeks ago. we have not had a good summer and although the sky is blue it was quite cold and very breezy. I did not have a tripod. In fact I didn't even have an SLR. I took this with a copact and my ususal technique is to place the camera on somewhere flat and use a timer to avoid blur from the shutter release. On this occasion I held on to the camera because of the wind.

I converted to monochrome and made a tighter cropping to avoid a lot of the foreground which has little of interest. I did straighten out the photo on the computer because the surface wasn't flat, but this photo shows that it doesn't take ideal circustances and an expensive camera totake good photos.

Happy snapping

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Keep taking photos

This photo was taken in the Lake District. More precisely it was in the Grizedale Forest. There are a lot of famous scenes that would lend themselves as backdrops for portraits but it seems strange that this photo came out so well because when I took it I thought the portrait was good despite the background. There were quite a few areas of grass that were worn. It was not a place to take a photo of the Lake District. The lighting was good but it would have been good anywhere.

I remember getting the advice that when I was taking portraits take note of the caricature of how photographers work. Think of Austin Powers with his camera and the way he praised his models. It is a caricature but the advice was take a lot of photos. Don't expect every photo to turn out brilliantly but if you take enough then some will. The big surprise here is the poor background actually turned out well. The background in the photo is much more interesting than in reality. The motto is keep snapping.

Happy snapping

Friday, 2 October 2009

Wait for the builders to finish

I grew up in Manchester and as a teenager I took photographs and printed them in a darkroom. It was not easy and I never progressed to colour printing but I did manage to take street scenes of Manchester. Included in my photographs of the 70s are photos of Deansgate. I was in Manchester on 30th September and I took this photo. I remember being in almost the same place thirty years ago.

All mo photos in the 70s were monochrome so on the left I have just cropped and converted to monochrome. On the right I removed a few white lines. There is a lot of clutter in this photo including the plastic sheets protecting the roof of Manchester Cathedral. I just spent a few minutes but you can start to see how you could get an excellent photo even if it is just a snap at lunchtime. The perfect photo would have no repair work to the roof, better lighting and no lamppost. You can do a lot with photo manipulation but sometimes it is better to wait for the builders to finish.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

How to exaggerate facial features

I have a willing model. Not only do I have a willing model but I can take as many photos as I like and she doesn't get tired of having her photo taken.

Alright, you can see that the model is our dog but there is also another useful purpose for taking this particular snap of our family pet. It is to show that you should not get too close to models. How would your model feel if you got this close and thus exagerated the size of her nose? If you get too close then the perspective changes and noses look bigger. This happens to some extent wherever the model stands but it is more obvious when their nose is close to the camera. This is why it is better to have a large studio, better lighting and a zoom lens. In this way the facial features will not be exaggerated.

You can click a few buttons on the computer and change perspective and this method is significantly cheaper than the studio option, but some people prefer to ban this method and only allow the rich to take better photos. Still our dog doesn't mind if we exaggerate the size of her nose.

Happy snapping