Monday, 28 February 2011

Desk Lighting

I was at a conference on Saturday (see yesterday's blog) and I just had a compact with me. I didn't want to be conspicuous as I wasn't the official photographer but I could see some great photos. In the morning I took a couple but only when people in front of me had moved from their seats.

In the afternoon I moved to near the front of the hall and the person in front of me was working by desk light. He is actually lit by the reflection of the light from the desk. Studio lighting can be expensive, well all you have to do is use the lighting that is available to you. It's just that you have to make sure your subject doesn't move as this movement would be a blur. The answer is easy if you are the official photographer - take plenty of photos.

Happy snapping

Sunday, 27 February 2011

The disadvantage of flash

I was part of the Liberal Democrats North West Conference yesterday and here is one of the photos. I did take more but I will only show you them if I get permission but I already have that persmission from the Minister from the Department for Communities and Local Government. I was thinking of putting it on my politics blog and writing about the ease in which anyone can talk to a Liberal Democrat Minister or how I am able to take a photo like this when I am barred from doing so in many public areas for no obvious reason, but I am placing this on my photography blog so I will stick with the photographic aspects.

If you don't use flash then you do get ambient light. The atmosphere of the room is reflected in the photo whereas flash produces an artificial scene. It makes a bright foreground and a harsh shadow in the background. In fact if you are not close to the subject then the flash is almost useless. The trick if you are using flash is to get close to the subject. The drawback to turning off the flash is that if there is any movement then you get blur but most of my photos were fine yesterday. However the big advantage to turning off the flash is that most people won't know the camera is working.

Happy snapping

Saturday, 26 February 2011

In praise of Morecambe Bay

There is one wonderful thing about living in Morecambe and that is you can always take a photo of the Bay and it is really difficult to take a bad picture. It doesn't matter if the tide is in or out. In fact it gives you a different photo even if you took it from exactly the same place.

The time when you take your photo doesn't matter. I have written about the 'golden hour' which is the first and last hours of sunlight in the day. On the right you can't even see the sunset but it is still a fine photo.

Happy snapping

Friday, 25 February 2011

And finally

I am always more interested in the backgrounds when I take photos at a pre-wedding meeting. Foregrounds are definitely more important on the day but the bride and groom have to make decisions about where they want their photos including the main group photos.

The interesting thing about both of these photos is that they both have St Peter's in the background and they both have the ruined St Patrick's. The Viking graves, seen a couple of days ago, are just the other side of St Patrick's and then you have Morecambe Bay.

Happy snapping

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Nice stonework

One thing I like to do during the day is get the bride and groom sat down together. If there is any height difference it reduces it. In this case you would not normally think that there was an interesting photo here. Turn around and you have a wonderful view of Morecambe Bay but the stone wall is not without character. Change the photo to sepia with a vignette and it's almost like a set for portraits.

P.S. You probably didn't notice the cigarette but in the foreground yesterday. I took it out for the monochrome version but I do spend much longer on the wedding day making the lawns look more cared for. Well they could have cut the grass just before the wedding!

Happy snapping

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

No mistaking this view

Wedding photographs will record the event but they also record the place and there is no getting away from this place. You have to be in Heysham. As it happens it is a stone's throw from the church that you saw in yesterday's blog.

On top of the view in the foreground, the view of the bay in the background is often spectacular. However even on this misty day you can still appreciate the view, and most eyes will be on the bride and groom anyway.

Happy snapping

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Photographing a moment

This is a very simple photograph to take as all you have to do is step away from the bride and groom and take it. I like this scene because it shows the couple with the church and it will also show the moment when they are leaving as a married couple.

The photo on the left is the standard colour version and all that I have done is to crop into a 3:2 format which is a common proportion for enlargements. On the right I have just added a small vignette and changed it to sepia which was a technique that was often used in Victorian times, It gives the photo some character. The changes tell you immediately that something has been done and it also makes you think that the photo was taken years ago - especially when the bride and groom are dressed for the part.

Happy snapping

Sunday, 20 February 2011

If one expression is good...

The simplest pose is to look at the camera and stand at a slight angle. You don't have to follow any rules but generally you don't turn the head so much that you would see the nose in a silhouette as this exaggerates its size. On the right you can see that the silhouette would not include the nose but much more important than any rule is a natural expression, and I think we got one here.

Expressions are more important than anything and if one person isn't ready for their photo you can still pick out the other. Hence the photo on the left. This couple were stood together in the original photo. You couldn't see a black background as it was a shoulder, but with today's technology it is quite easy to get a good photo from one that would be previously thrown away. You would never know but when I took photos at the Midland Hotel for a doctors' dinner there were two doctors stood slightly apart. I took two photos of them both but had to crop them so there were two separate photos of them. They can be seen at but you would never be able to guess which two.

Happy snapping

Saturday, 19 February 2011

The simplest pose

The good thing about dark backgrounds is that you don't get distracting shadows. The other good thing is that you don't get distractions. Your eye is only drawn to the person in the photo.

The simplest pose is with the body at a slight angle. I think most people face the camera when asked for their photo but the angle gives a third dimension to the image. On the right you don't need to tell people to stand at a slight angle when there are two together. The natural stance here is to be standing slightly towards each other.

Happy snapping

Friday, 18 February 2011

Preferences for variations

One of the simplest ways to get people to pose is to ask them to stand at a slight angle and look towards you. Yesterday you saw the opposite angle. I generally amend photos to monochrome, to sepia and for good measure I often put in a vignette. These photos show the colour and the sepia versions.

Which of these variations do I prefer? Well it varies from photo to photo. You can put any colour tint into photos but I like sepia as it looks like an instant suntan and in this case I'll choose the version on the right.

Happy snapping

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Sepia with or without vignette

I took this photo a couple of days ago with my portable black background. Black is convenient because it limits the harshness of shadows. It is still possible to get a distracting line but circumstances have to be exceptional.

One easy tip is to ask your subject to step away from the background which helps to put the background out of focus. As for the adaptations on the computer, I chose the sepia version which means that you are not distracted by the brightly coloured dress and attention is directed towards the hair and eyes. On the right I put in a white vignette. You may prefer it with the vignette but as it only takes a few seconds to add, at least it allows choice. My feelings are that vignettes allow the photo to stand out. If you overuse the technique then it doesn't stand out any more.

Happy snapping

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Historical Evidence

There are many reasons why you
may wish to take a photo and one is to make a record. Yesterday I showed you a photo of the Morecambe and Heysham Yacht Club Race Office with an emphasis on the lighting. The lighting is not quite as dramatic on the left in a photo that was taken around 14 months ago, but as historical evidence it just tell you that it has been given a lick of paint.

This information may be of significant interest to you if you are a painter and decorator, but compare that with the photo on the right. The Arena Funfair and in particular the bandstand were derelict for years. I don't suppose anyone thought they would ever be demolished but deomolished it was. How many happy memories were lost with the derelict building? Well it might mean something to you and those memories are not lost with photographs.

Happy snapping

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Morecambe and Heysham Yacht Club Race Office

Very often lighting makes a photo. I was thinking about studio lighting and how this enhances the subject. You can do so much in controlled environments and nowadays you can do so much on a computer, but in this photo it is much better to wait for the right weather conditions.

As well as the light that is striking the Morecambe and Heysham Yacht Club you also get an interesting sky. I have done very little to this photo apart from cropping. Maybe a change to monochrome or an increase in contrast could help but I am happy to just show you the change caused by cropping.

Happy snapping

Monday, 14 February 2011

Photos in public places

I was talking with someone yesterday about photography in public places. You couldn't take photos on a tour of a public building in Lancaster. I replied that at least you could take photos of the grandeur of the building from the outside.

In galleries there tend to be restrictions on flash because light damages the colours in canvas or cloth. There shouldn't be restrictions of photography with sculptures but I don't mind if there are because restrictions tend to be abused. Very often we don't deserve our photographic freedom.

The photo on the right was taken partly becasue I liked the look of the shields but also because there was a sign just out of shot that told me that I couldn't take any more photos after this point. I did use a tripod, and as you can guess I didn't use flash. It is often better to use ambient light as this photo is a much better representation of the room than any that could be taken with flash.

Happy snapping

Sunday, 13 February 2011

One more variation

Yesterday you saw a sepia version of Morecambe Bay. It is converted to monochrome today. There are so many variations that are possible on the computer and combine that with a fine photograph of the sun setting on the bay and I don't think any amendments will look bad.

On the right I have just added a finishing touch with my signature - well its not mine and anyone that has seen my handwriting will tell you that I should stick with computer-generated handwriting.

Happy snapping

Friday, 11 February 2011

On the way to modern art

Many years ago I attended a lecture by an artist. He presented a canvas of an urban scene that was like a pre-raphaelite in its detail. His next canvas was obviously the same scene but without the detail. It was more like in the impressionist style. Then he showed the same scen is a more modern art style but we still knew what the shapes were depicting. Then we were shown a very modern piece of art. Triangles and rectangles were just visible but if you knew the source then it did mean something.

This is what I have done with this scene of Morecambe Bay. I have not really changed the photo on the left but you can see that I have made a few changes on the right. However you still know where it is. I went round the Tate Modern a few weeks ago. don't get me wrong. I thought a lot of the 'art' was rubbish but others appreciate it.

Happy snapping

Thursday, 10 February 2011

More on Morecambe Bay

On Saturday I wrote about a statue and how on
Morecambe prom and how it has a great background in its present site. You don't have to use any public funding to pay for foreground items as these photos show. I do like the statue and it is probably worth the money but these boats cost the taxpayer nothing as far as I know. They may even bring in some revenue if there are mooring charges.

As for the photos I think floating boats look better than those stranded in low tide - see Monday. You get the reflection of the boat if the water is still. The photo on the right was actually taken on a misty dull day. It is generally better to wait for the best conditions, or at least the conditions that you want to photograph, rather than amend photos but I don't think the result looks bad.

Happy snapping

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

All of Lancaster Castle

I wrote about the comparison between Lancaster and York on Friday and how Lancaster Castle was far superior to York's. I suppose the whole of York within its walls could be considered a castle but that really isn't comparing like with like.

By coincidence the local Lancaster paper had an article on developing the castle on the same day. It may become a heritage centre along with a hotel. Who knows what is in store for Lancaster? I thought I would add this photo as it gives a better idea of what the whole castle looks like rather than just seeing the gatehouse.

Happy snapping

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

More Morecambe Bay backgrounds

Morecambe Bay is there - just - on the left. I don't suppose these cormorants cost as much as Venus and Cupid, maybe they did but I would still put them on a list of reasons to come to Morecambe.

You can see more of the bay on the right along with a much more historically important foreground, the Viking graves. I suppose they are priceless but you don't tend to see them advertised as a reason to visit the area. Still, they make an interesting subject to photograph.

Happy snapping

Monday, 7 February 2011

Morecambe Bay in the background

You don't have to have a statue to get a nice foreground. You don't have to worry about the background when you are looking at Morecambe Bay.

On the left is one of the boats that are moored near Thornton Road. I have passed these boats hundreds of times and I have only ever seen someone with one of them on two occasions.

On the right are the Viking graves in Heysham. I have shown them in a previous blog from a different angle. This one is shows the coastline towards Morecambe and you can see a little of the coast on the opposite side of the bay.

Happy snapping

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Venus and Cupid 2

Here is one more blog copied from my politics blog. Well it still has photos with it.

Before I leave Venus and Cupid I thought that I would show you a couple more photos. It is an ideal setting as there are so many angles that show you great backgrounds of Morecambe Bay.

What would I do if I were able to make the decision about keeping this statue? Well the debate is not about living within our means. We just can't do that. The debate is about priorities. If you think about Morecambe and its attractions you may think of Eric's statue, the Stone Jetty and the Midland Hotel. I have told people to come over to Morecambe to see this statue so it is in the list somewhere, and as for cost it must be the cheapest item on the list.

I would imagine that the amoung being asked to keep the statue in its present locatsion is the going rate. Whether the council can afford it is another matter and the only way that I would know where my vote would go is by looking at the other priorities.

Happy snapping

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Venus and Cupid

Occasionally I copy my photography or my politics blog and publish them on the same day because there is a relevance to doing so. Today you are getting my politics blog which is found at

In March last year I showed some photos of this statue called Venus and Cupid which you can see on Morecambe prom. I have taken a few photos of it over the years and I have to say that I quite like it. I know there are some who aren't keen but that's art for you. It is in the news now because it doesn't belong to the council and money is needed to keep it in place.

I have written previously about the Morecambe Bay Independent Party who deny that they are a party when it comes to election leaflets. I know a little about the way they think as they "put Morecambe first" but I am not entirely sure what this means, as one of their members has written to reject the art work in favour of saving money for the whole of the local government district.

I am confused by their stance. I don't know if it is the view of one person (they call themselves independents) or whether it is their party policy to object to spending on works of art in their neck of the woods.

Happy snapping

Friday, 4 February 2011

Lancaster versus York

On Friday 21st January I was starting to show you photos of my recent visit to York. In my politics blog on the same day I was comparing York with Lancaster. I admitted that York has a lot more going for it but one great advantage to Lancaster is its physical geography. The point of the blog was to highlight the great advantage Lancaster had when comparing castles. Unfortunately most of Lancaster's castle is only open to prisoners but things are changing.

Just take a look at Lancaster Castle's gatehouse on the right. I know that you can't see most of the castle in this photo but it does look much grander than Cliffords Tower in York which is seen on the left. In this particular example I prefer Lancaster over York.

Happy snapping

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Desktop Backgrounds

I have three computers and today I thought I would share two of my desktop backgrounds with you. I tend to keep the icons on the left of the screen so ideally I should use photos with very little of interest on the left.

I use these photos of the river Lune in Lancaster because there is plenty of space because of the sky and because of the river. It would be interesting to consider photos with no interest on the left but it goes against the grain to unbalance the photo. The next time I see an interesting view I may choose to put a tree trunk on the left.

Happy snapping

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Abject French Submission

I mentioned in my politics blog that I am reading a comedy book by Al Murray. I am also reading Stephen Clarke's 1000 years of annoying the French and I have just read the section on the siege of Calais. The burghers are supposed to be French heroes who gave their lives for the inhabitants of Calais. As it turns out these same leaders had previously decided to sacrifice 500 of their less well-off citizens.

Rodin produced the sculpture over 500 years after the event but he knew the burghers weren't the heroes they were made out to be. These poses are not heroic. I didn't realise that there are twelve casts of this sculpture dotted around the world. I knew there was one in Calais and I saw this one recently near the Houses of Parliament. Stephen's conclusion is that 'any British parliamentarian who goes out for a breath of fresh air in the park will come face to face with an image of abject French submission'.

Happy snapping

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Photography as a record

Yesterday I wrote that photography helps you to see what is around you. Today the emphasis is on photography as a record of what is around you. This is part of the Arndale Centre in Morecambe and it is being transformed. We will soon have a new hotel.

I don't remember this part of Euston Road when traffic was still allowed. Times change and it can be a rapid change. The photo you take of an area that you think will never change may soon be transformed. Just round the corner from here was Cheapside where Thora Hird was born. It is now part of the Arndale Centre.

It was twilight when I took these photos and as usual I wasn't carrying my tripod so both of these photos were taken from a convenient flat surface. I like the way that you don't need to disguise the members of the public (as per Google Street View) as movement causes blurring anyway.

Happy snapping