Sunday, 31 January 2010

Kendal Wedding

This is one of the photos from yesterday's wedding in Kendal. I like to get home so that I can print an enlargement and three small prints that I put in fridge magnets and give to the bride and groom and their parents, and this is the photo I chose. I also made it sepia but my choice for the magnets was the monochrome version.

I have now worked on a few dozen photos but there are many more to work on and I'll be doing this over the next few days. I will also share some of the photos with you. This allows friends and family to see them and it allows me to advertise the work that I do. I didn't have time to print an enlargement but they will get a present from me in the near future. Apart from passing on photos of the day I also get chance to take a few more photos including the first dance and the 'genuine' cutting of the cake. I'll show you more over the next few days.

Happy snapping

Saturday, 30 January 2010

Lighting and Exposure

Following on from yesterday's blog, these two anchors are outside the Lancaster Maritime Museum. They highlight the need to consider lighting and exposure. On the left the brightness of the illuminated sign means that the anchor is relatively darker. It isn't lit very well anyway but it would have been so much better if the sign hadn't been there. I could have moved around so that the sign wasn't in the background but it was easier to compare it with the other anchor. The light is better on the right and the exposure is much better. You can't always affect the lighting but it is good to be aware of the backgroundand have easy control over exposure.

Happy snapping

Friday, 29 January 2010

Lancaster Maritime Museum

This is the Lancaster Maritime Museum on Lancaster Quay. I wrote about it on the 22nd December when I took a photo from the opposite side of the river Lune. I must have chosen one of the few days when there was scaffolding affecting the light so here it is in all its glory.

Verticals were converging on the right because I was stood right next to the building, so when I got home I distorted the photo in order to straighten it up. I thought the sepia effect worked well too. In the photo on the left notice the anchors as I will write about them tomorrow.

Happy snapping

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Lancaster Priory and less noise

Yesterday I showed you two techniques to darken an image. This was done to limit distractions and to reduce noise. Noise is not necessarily a bad thing as it adds texture to the photo and sometimes photos are too 'smooth' but in the yesterday's photograph of Lancaster Cathedral and today's photo of Lancaster Priory my preference is for less noise.

The second photo has simply been made darker. I haven't used the burn tool because I think the distinct light in the bottom left of the photograph is part of its interest rather than a distraction.

Happy snapping

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Lancaster Cathedral and less noise

I took this photo yesterday. I have shown you a photo of Lancaster Cathedral on the 26th and 27th August last year. At that time I was talking about converging verticals because I took the photo from across the road. This time I am at some distance in a car park so I have not distorted the perspective of this photo.

I have cropped it to 6"x 4" which fits the shape of the cathedral better than the original 8"x 6". I thought that the light on the tree in the bottom left of the picture was distracting. So too was the light in the bottom right corner. It is a simple technique to darken areas. It was called burning in a darkroom and there is a burn tool on the computer. My original intention was to make the photo lighter but this increases the visible detail and as this detail is limited it shows what was termed grain (the grain of the chemicals on the paper) and is now called noise. Apart from using the burn tool I have also increased the general darkness of the photo which means that less noise is visible.

Happy snapping

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Mercer Hall Great Harwood

You met Immy yesterday who is based in Great Harwood. In fact he is just across the road from the Mercer Hall, and here is that hall. John Mercer was a chemist who was born in Great Harwood and he developed a process that strengthened cotton, which was not a bad thing for Great Harwood as there used to be many cotton mills in this town. His name is also celebrated in the name Mercer Street which is not far from the hall. The distinctive Towngate clock is officially the Mercer Memorial Tower.

As for these photos, just look at the difference that monochrome makes. Telephone boxes are red for a good reason. They are distinctive. However the colour takes your eye off the architecture. One simple change makes a huge difference to the photo. I should mention that I painted the lampost, tidied the floor and took away the yellow lines - well it is all in the name of art.

Happy snapping

Monday, 25 January 2010


I got my hair cut yesterday at Immy's in Great Harwood. I used to live here and I have been having my hair cut by Immy since he started working as a barber. I was talking to him about the benefits of websites. I didn't mention blogs but both can serve the purpose of pubicising your business. I said that I would put a link on the website. Well there is a link because he cuts my hair and I am a wedding photographer.

As for these photographs, Immy only had a moment to spare. I only took two photographs and this is one of them. On the left it is cropped to show his advert on the window. On the left I simply cropped it a lot more and changed it to sepia. This makes it a totally different photo and could have now been taken anywhere.

Happy snapping

Sunday, 24 January 2010

One more from Kendal

Although this is the third pre-wedding meeting it is the first wedding and you will see some photos on the blog and on the website in the next couple of weeks. I am showing two more photos just to show you how photographs may be manipulated.

On the left we have a typical pose. The only difference is that the lawn has been tidied. I don't feel there is anything wrong with this. The lawns may have been tidied an hour later and it makes a nicer photograph. The other change is that the bride and groom are stood on a manhole cover. Stiletto heels are not good if the lawn is soft. I don't like making work for myself and I do prefer lawn to path, but if it means the difference between taking the photo or not then a manhole cover is good.

On the right there are no parking lines. I have also taken out a sign for the disabled parking. Again it is much easier to have people covering such things but it is also a very nice option to amend photos later. If this had been their favourite photograph then I would have improved the tarmac too.

Happy snapping

Saturday, 23 January 2010

You know it is Kendal

Still on the theme of backgrounds, as you have seen from two or three blogs in the last week, I like to get something that is relevant to the wedding as well as the bride and groom. In the photo on the left we have Kendal Castle. Now I know that they are not getting married at the castle but it tells you where they are. I like countryside in the background but unless you know the area very well then many photos could be taken anywhere. You know where you are with Kendal Castle.

One of the hardest things to do on a wedding day is to stop the bride and groom smiling. If I get anything close to the photo on the right then I will be really pleased. Of course I'll get the smiling ones as well.

Happy snapping

Friday, 22 January 2010

Ready-made backgrounds

Pre-wedding meetings are the time to look out for possible backgrounds and poses. This one at Singleton Lodge is ready-made. It looks like they are prepared for photographers by having the white ribbon bows on the swing. I don't think that they usually have the white snow on the ground but who knows with the weather we are having?

Whatever the background you can always crop tighter and background becomes almost irrelevant. I was thinking about smoothing out the snow on the left and I would do this for the big day although this usually means picking up leaves rather than smoothing out the snow. I think the white vignette on the right blends in well with the snow but you can see if we have snow on the wedding day in about three weeks.

Happy snapping

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Singleton Lodge

I wrote a few days ago that the main purpose of a pre-wedding meeting is to look for the best backgrounds. There are backgrounds that are used because they are picturesque and backgrounds used because they are relevant to the event. They are a reminder of what has happened. This is Singleton Lodge and this background serves both purposes.

I like to improve photographs by manipulating them. Look at the photo on the left. the cone in the background is a distraction. It took one second to get rid of it. So too are the cars. Wouldn't it have been so much nicer if we had been there are a couple of hours earlier and nobody had walked on the snow? I worked on the snow for about five minutes to show you how snow could improve but I don't mind spending longer.

Happy snapping

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Mist on the hills

I have already cropped the photo on the left. It has not changed greatly but there was a wall at the bottom of the image which was distracting. I could now have been in the middle of the field rather than next to the wall. I took it because I thought the weather conditions were interesting, and as most of the interest is behind the trees the second photo has been cropped again. Imagine how much more interesting it would be if this view meant something to you. That is the difference between buying a framed picture from a shop and getting your photo framed.

If I had wanted to enlarge this photo I would have taken it with the camera on a tripod. As there is always a possibility that the next photo that you take is the one that you want on your wall, then the logical answer would be to take every photo with a tripod. I suppose that you lose spontaneity and you can always go back and take it again (weather conditions permitting). I think that the rectangular vinette fits in really well with this photo as it merges with the mist on the hills.

Happy snapping

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

What's the message?

The photo on the left has not been manipulated. It is a very simple technique - just take the photograph while a car is passing. I thought there was a message here somewhere. Maybe it was the illusion of speed, because the car was not moving particularly quickly. Maybe is was that speed camera sign.

You may have guessed that the photograph on the right has been manipulated. I thought the overhead cables were distracting, and so too were the white lines on the road, so they have gone. I wanted to highlight the sign. I could have blurred everything else but this would have reduced the effect of the 'genuine' blur of the car. I decided to add noise to the rest of the photograph apart from the sign before making it sepia. Finally I cropped it because I didn't think there was too much interest at the top of the bottom of the photo.

Happy snapping

Monday, 18 January 2010

Pre-wedding meeting II

I was talking about the main purpose of the pre-wedding meeting yesterday, and that is to find the best backgrounds. This background is particularly appropriate because we have the church and the reception both in the same photograph. The only thing that you don't see is that the three of us are on the pavement and I have no means of moving backwards. I would like a full-length photo of them both but this would mean that they are stood in the middle of the road. They don't know this yet but they will if they read this blog.

For the second photograph I have simply converted to monochrome. There are so many variations for each photograph. Yesterday's sepia photograph had a small rectangular vignette which I think makes the eye look more at the subject of the photo. The simple answer as to which variation is that it depends on personal choice. The beauty of digital photography is that you don't need to choose - you get all the variations.

Happy snapping

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Pre-wedding meeting

The pre-wedding meetings have started this year. They are helpful because I see the venues for the photographs and I can get the ideas of the brides and grooms regarding where they want their photos and when they want me to be there.

I usually get the order of the day sheets back at these meetings and I did get them yesterday. This gives me chance to know when and where I am wanted, but this could be done on the phone or by email so the real purpose is to check the backgrounds. I really liked this background even though you can't see much of it. You will have to wait another four weeks before you see more of this background.

Happy snapping

Saturday, 16 January 2010

What would Leonardo think?

I admit to manipulating photographs. I do it to enhance them but I haven't done anything to this photo except crop it and the result is on the right. I think this improves the photo because there is no distraction from the paintings that are partially visible.

If you think about the control of the image for paintings then the power lies with the artist. You may get artists who do include warts and all or you may find artists who manipulate the image. Who would have thought that the Mona Lisa was drinking a cup of coffee? I think Leonardo would approve.

Happy snapping

Friday, 15 January 2010

David Cameron III

I couldn't help it. I said I would give you two blogs on this poster but I will just add one more. I know you can probably think of many other possible manipulations but I am not adding any beards or moustaches.

I promise no more overlap between and but if you want to see some good uses for photographic manipulation you could take a look at

I can recommend the work (well it was me).

Happy snapping

Thursday, 14 January 2010

David Cameron II

And so for blog number two on David Cameron, or should I say the slimmer face, slimmer nose and more hair version of him. Today I have cropped the image so that it fills the whole of the photograph. Before cropping I distorted it so that it now looks like I am stood in front of the billboard. It is now clearer how the rule of thirds applies. Personally, I would have left him his normal shape and made the image slightly larger so that his eyes, not his forehead becomes the focus of attention.

I have combined my politics and photography blogs because this is an obvious example of how the two are linked. Mr Cameron will not cut the NHS. It strikes me that there are many Conservatives who do not like the idea of giving something away for nothing. Why should we give the same priority (based on need) to someone who has never worked a day in their life. This is not my view. I think something like illness and injury is more important than ability to pay and this is the NHS. If you don't think Conservatives will think like this then I have added some graffiti on the right. It is a quote from Daniel Hannan the Conservative MEP. I know that David Cameron described his views on this and other matters as eccentric but I do think that a lot of Conservatives think like this. Hence the graffiti.

As for the photographic technique, simply add some text in a handwritten style and just to make it look a little less like a computer manipulation just tilt it slightly to on side.

Happy snapping

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

David Cameron I

Today and tomorrow I am going to combine my two main blogs, politics and photography. This billboard is outside Morecambe Football Club and has been displaying the heavily manipulated photograph of David Cameron for about a week. The weather has taken its toll on the advert but there are principles of photography that I want to discuss.

The first photograph is the original. The second is simply a 6"x4" crop. I used flash which means there is slighly more contrast than a photo taken without flash. I could have taken the photo directly in front of the billboard. There are three problems with this. Firstly any reflective surface will send back the flash. Secondly I want to show you tomorrow a manipulation that straightens the board. You can't always stand in exactly the right position to take your photo. Thirdly I would have been in the middle of the road.

I have written blogs about the rule of thirds and how our eyes move through a photo. We tend to look at a photo in the same way that we read a book - from left to right. So the most important subject is on the left and then our eyes move to other things. Mr Cameron's forehead is obviously very significant in the rule of thirds. The message comes after this. The image has had a lot of work done to it. There are no skin blemishes and it looks like he has lost a little weight. Maybe Mr Cameron's weight does vary but check this image with other photographs.

The main message is about the financial deficit. There have been minor Conservative proposals so his quote is not incorrect but it is a message of image not of content. As for the message on the NHS, well I will come to that tomorrow.

Happy snapping

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Morecambe Pier

Morecambe used to have two piers. One was called the West End Pier which was not surprisingly found in the West End of Morecambe. The other pier was called Central Pier and opposite the former entrance to the pier is this pub. There is a painting of the pier on the sign to the pub and there is a large stone semi-circle that marks where the pier used to be. There is also another reminder of the pier because we have the Old Pier Bookshop but there is nothing to see of the pier itself.

Central pier opened in 1869 and lasted till 1992. It is interesting to note that Thora Hird's father was the manager of the theatre on this pier when it was damaged by fire in 1933. Thora lived around the corner next to The Royalty Theatre which has been knocked down and is now part of the Arndale centre.

This photo was taken by putting the camera on timer and placing it on the promenade wall. Look around and you will see many places where you can put your camera down for night photography. Alternatively you could carry a tripod.

Happy snapping

Monday, 11 January 2010

The Midland from The Battery

Here is one of my favourite photographic subjects - The Midlan Hotel in Morecambe. It is a splendid building. It is obviously an example of art deco but it was designed to look like a ship in port. This image has been distorted by the addition of the conservatory and the roofline too has been changed. The bow of the ship actually goes to a point but you have to check out the perimeter wall to find this point.

I took these photos with a compact camera and took them from the Battery car park on Morecambe prom. Compare them with the photos from a couple of days ago. all I had to do was turn round to take a lot of differnet photos. I have simply increased the contrast to get to the photo on the right.

Happy snapping

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Photographic Inspiration

You can find photographic inspiration anywhere and yesterday I was looking through the brochure for the local cinema and theatre. One source of inspiration is the photos in the adverts to promote the films. It might be the subject, the compositon, the posing, a digital technique or anything that you like about the photo but you can learn from any photo.

Nature isn't a bad place to look for inspiration. I was given this advice as a teenager and it was nothing to do with visual art but for playing the classical guitar. I was told to listen to the sounds in nature and put this type of feeling into my music. If you can be motivated by the sound of the wind moving through the trees then I would think it is much easier to relate photographic techniques in print to how you use your camera.

Whether you look for inspiration in nature or in artifacts, the important thing is to look.

Happy snapping

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Reasons to crop the photo

On the left you can see some of Morecambe Bay's sea defences. Unlike Southport where you need a guide to get to the water, we get high tides twice per day. The water is fairly high at this moment if you bear in mind that you can walk across the Bay (as long as you do have a guide). Photographically I am not keen on the way that the picture is divided by the rocks, the sand, the water, the mountains and the sky.

I prefer the cropping on the right. Your eye is directed towards the Stone Jetty and the Midland Hotel. I also like it because without the picture on the left you can imagine that the waters come right up to you. The sun was setting so the lighting is not good in the foreground anyway. One more reason to crop to the Jetty.

Happy snapping

Friday, 8 January 2010

Commander Forsberg and Morecambe Bay

Where do you go to take your photographs? Some photographers may look down on you if you say two yards away from the car in a car park. This may be because the more effort that you put into your photography then the more you get out of it. It may also be that if you walk some distance you are much more likely to get a different photo from many other photographs taken by many other photographers.

These photos were taken two yards away from the car in a car park on Morecambe promenade. I am not embarrassed as life is too short to miss the obvious views. You will save time if youake an ordnance survey map and look for their viewing points. They are marked for good reason so take your camera there. This car park at the Battery has a memorial to Commander Forsberg OBE. If you take a look you can get the details of the plaque. It tells you that he was a great long distance swimmer and among other things he swam across Morecambe Bay 29 times. From both photos you can get a sense of this wonderful achievement.

Happy snapping

Thursday, 7 January 2010

The end of Christmas

I generally write blogs the day before they are published. I am telling you this just so you know that I didn't take the Christmas tree down too late. The lights and decorations had gone when the sun shone through the window casting shadows on the wall.

I am setting the scene with the photo on the left. On the right you just have the shadow. I changed it to monochrome because I thought it gave historical depth to the photo (OK I just preferred it)

Happy snapping

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Morecambe and Paris

On the left we have Morecambe Road in Morecambe. It was taken yesterday and I don't normally stand in the middle of the road but it was fairly safe this time because traffic wasn't moving very quickly. If you look carefully you can see the outline of Lancaster's Priory Church which is next to Lancaster Castle.

It reminded me of the photo on the right, taken on the Champs Elysees. The rather more dominant outline is the Arc de Triomphe. I suppose that I should be used to traffic standing still on its way to Lancaster, but usually the jam starts at the next roundabout. I was safe in both photographs. On the right I am standing behind a bollard and on the left the car coming towards me is some distance away (and there are cars that are stopped behind me!)

Happy snapping

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Photography or Videography?

I much prefer photography to videography. I like to be in full control of the final image. I like the ability to use the rule of thirds for the composition of the photo. If someone is walking along a path then composition rules change all the time. In fact I feel there is so much more control in any aspect of photography rather than videography.

I also like the better quality of image in still photography. In general the image on a screen is around a third of that in print. To put it another way the same quality of photo could be enlarged onto a screen three times the size of the photo. I have very good quality enlargements on my wall that are A1. Have you seen your television screen freeze? If there is any movement you can see a blur, but you don't detect blur if the image doesn't stop. Our eyes accommodate for the movement.

It's not all bad for videos. At weddings they can easily record the speeches. The problem I have with this is that I don't like my own voice. I particularly like placing readings next to brides and grooms. If you haven't seen it you can see examples in the blog on Friday 13th November 2009.

Happy snapping

Monday, 4 January 2010

Commercial Photography

There are so many photographs on the internet which are used to buy and sell things. Think of eBay or any website. It doesn't matter what you want to buy, but if you know someone who lives near the item you want to buy then they can take a photo and send it to you. I took this photo yesterday in Morecambe and sent it to someone in Manchester.

It may be that the car dealer has photos on their website but even if they do then you have your record of the vehicle as well and you get the photos that you want.

Happy snapping

Sunday, 3 January 2010

On The Tenth Day of Christmas

It is the tenth day of Christmas and as I couldn't find any lords a' leaping I will settle for this nativity scene. Notice that both photos are taken using ambient light. However there is a big difference in exposure. I used the automatic setting for both photographs but look how the background has made such a difference.

The average exposure depends on the average lighting but on the right the photo is dominated by the lamp. By accommodating for the bulb everything else is darker. The same thing happens when you use a flash. Try it yourself. Pick a subject in twilight. Take the photo with a flash and then turn it off and see the difference.

The close-up on the right looks a lot more atmospheric and this has been helped by cropping out the background. The bottom line is whether you like the photograph or not. My preference is on the right.

Happy snapping