Day Four of my Photo Challenge

Day Four of my Photo Challenge
"The British Museum"
Taken on a Road trip with Al Parkinson, After along days jaunt around London, Al suggested we finish off with a trip inside the British Museum before we headed home.
This shot was taken from the balcony over looking the main hall(?)
I never had much time to take time to shoot as people were also wanting to capture this amazing view....
My focal spot for this picure was the the little bulge in the middle window rail.
I converted this to black and white due to the fact the sun had set and it was not as bright as it looks inside.


Day Three of my Photo Challenge

Day Three of my Photo Challenge
"The statues of Crosby Beach - Liverpool"
My photo buddy Stephen Sutton treated me to a photo trip around the UK as I'd recently photographed his wedding.
Sadly the weather was not good at the start of the trip due to the terrible rain and floods of late 2012, as well as the disappointment of not getting a good shot of "The Angel Of The North" or the arch bridge over the River Tyne.
But fortunately once we had arrived in Liverpool (Days 3 & 4) ...the weather changed for the better.
For this Afternoon/evening photo trip and due to sunset at around 4.30 we wanted to capture the sun setting over the sea.
Crosby beach was the location with it's 100 statues of the sculpture. We did this trip two days in a row a I grabbed a few of my best photographs as well as seeing some of the most beautiful sunsets I've ever.
This particular shot of one of the statues was taken about 30 minutes before it was dark.
Those two days of the sun setting over the sea is a memory I will never forget.


Day Two of my Photo Challenge

Day Two of my Photo Challenge
"The Blue Hour - Canary Wharf"
Like day one, I echo the statement...
"To get that shot you have to be prepared to get it".
Anyone who knows me photography wise will know my love of the ever changing faces of Canary Wharf....
Getting the first train out at 5.20 I wanted to catch canary Wharf in the "Blue Hour / Golden Hour".
Although actually my original plan was to shoot the 02, but the building work had begun on the new hotel killing the shot..
So I raced to my favourite location in Canary Wharf and set my gear ready and waited for sunrise.
Moving back and forth the water front grabbing shots this is one of many I like due to the bridge leading you into the photo.
Conditions were again perfect, the slight wind was heading towards me giving movement in the clouds, and when the sun rose, golden red reflections appeared on the buildings.
I also set up my iTouch up on a tripod and captured a timelaspse of the sunrise during my time there.

Day One of my Photo Challenge

Day One of my Photo Challenge as put to me by Al Parkinson
"O2 and the Moon"
They say if you want that shot you have to be prepared to get it.
This particular shot was taken on a 'Birthday Jaunt Photowalk' with my shoot buddy Stephen Sutton.
Technically my Birthday had ended as this was taken at 12.51am on the 13th Jan 2012....
There are nights in photography when everything is just perfect and nearly every shot is a keeper!
On this night here was no wind, and due to it being so late there were no river boats so the River Thames was like a sheet of glass.
This shot ranks high in my top 10 favourite photos although looking back I do wish there was a tad bit more cloud in the sky and the moon was not there!
Beggars can't be choosers I guess!

Don't Count Your Chickens

Three months ago I mutually agreed to photograph a well know vocal outfit (who's name I'll not disclose) at the world famous Abbey Road Studios. This was a double deal as I was previously a musician and singer, songwriter before my photography took over. It was also somewhere I'd always wanted to go, let alone photograph!

Firstly I'll point out that this wasn't a paid shoot, it was an opportunity to add a well known company to my photography CV.

Fast forward three months on and everything was set to go, emails we're sent and confirmed, and I'd even booked a days holiday the following day to recover from a days shooting from 9am to 9pm and edit the previous days shots. But then I got that dreaded email telling me that unbeknown to the person I'd been dealing with, they already had already arranged for someone else to do all video and photography, and that no one else could be allowed inside the studio.

So as you can imagine, in an instant the excitement turned to disappointment.
I guess for two reasons, my passion for photographing and my passion for music.

So don't count you chickens... 

Nightscape Wannabes

Firstly the the title 'Nightscape Wannabes' is not aimed at being disrespectful, quite the opposite in fact. Over the years I've given a few talks on night photography and showed off my nightscape photos to many people who have asked of my photographic interest, some of those are photographers and others are not, or at the time were not. Many have asked to tag along on a shoot with me, most if not all wanting to learn a thing or two on night photography. Although being told your 'doing it wrong' is quite bizarre they actually wanted to come in the first place! And this brings me to the story of someone I unknowingly inspired! Yes I can bore the hind legs of a person rambling on about night photography, but little did I know that this person not only went out and purchased a Nikon D300 secondhand, this being camera I did have at the time of showing him my photos before I upgraded to full frame, but they also went out to London to shoot some nightscapes and then came and showed me their results some months later. And to be fair they were all very good, just needing that little finesse to make them right. So we decided to arrange for a Saturday evening shoot where I said we go in to London and photograph the best locations around Canary Wharf, also they had never photographed that location. Sadly the day we chose it rained all day, and although as I've previously stated that this is not always a bad thing, hazy low cloud is not good. And what this does is with the mist in the air is to give any neon sign lights an exaggerated halo around them that is almost impossible to correct. Sadly the night was not as productive as it could have been, although we did (and don't try this a home kids) climb out on a massive barge and photograph from almost the middle of the dock.
Maybe a re-visit for them is needed when the weather is better...

Podcast Time!

So lately I've been preparing myself for the traumatic experience of podcasting in both audio and visual...
The perliminary tests are done and dusted so now it's time to do the talking!

Why you may ask?
Having watched a million and three YouTube videos and listened to thousands of podcasts on photography, (maybe a tad over exaggerated!) I thought it was about time that I had a crack at this malarkey! I mean let's face it, if Glyn Dewis, Scott Kelby, FroKnowsPhoto and Serge Ramelli along with many others I've watched listened, and learned over the years can all do it, then surely so can I... Can I?
I've bought the equipment and now all I need to do is get my arse into gear!
I hate the sound of my voice and I can't stand the look of my face, but I'll get over it hopefully once I get going. One thing I learn is content is key, so I'll be doing a mixture of location and home editing or a bit of both. One thing for sure there will definitely no 1 or 2 minute videos that some of the well known photographers often put out... For that is totally pointless!

I guess the only thing I can say for now is....

The Way I Shoot Nightscapes

So why on earth would anyone choose to take photos when the sun has gone down... You got to be crazy eh!?

The truth is that shooting early evening or at night is a far better experience in my eyes than in the day. And any serious photographer will know technically (although not a written rule) there are only 2 good times to shoot during the day those being just after sunrise or just before sunset as the quality of light is far better then than that of during the day.

So where does this lead us to photographing at night? Again this falls into a choice of two categories, one being during the 'blue hour' this being 30 - 45 minutes before sunrise or after sunset, or one I prefer, shooting when it's actually dark.

Having been photographing nightscape's for some eight years, it's often debatable to what are the correct camera settings.

Firstly let me emphasise that I'm not here to say this is the only correct way to shoot at night, for everyone has their way of photography whether it be architecture, landscape or portraiture, and what works for some may not always work for others, and despite there being millions of photography books published, in most cases nearly everyone follows a guide to start with, and this is my personal guide to night photography.

I believe a few common mistakes are made when photographing at night and these being the following:

1) Setting the ISO too high.

Setting a high ISO only introduces more noise to the noise you are already getting by leaving the shutter open for an extended time, be it anywhere from 10 seconds to minutes. So unless you are photographing the Milky Way, and for that would need to be at around ISO 1600+ along with it being pitch dark, then anything over ISO 100/200 is not good for night photos.

2) Capturing photos to dark.  

I see a lot of photographs that (in my opinion) are shot too dark. Everyone can see a photograph that is shot a night, so emphasising that fact is just bad practice. I for one like detail in the sky and just because it's the night there are still clouds above. OK I realise some nights are completely clear, but having cloud movement whenever possible adds bundles to the overall effect of the photo.

3) under exposing (not quite the same as above)

One thing I notice in a lot of night photographs is that people are worried about blowing out the lights in streets or buildings etc, so whilst the street lights look fine the most important part of the image is too dark. When I look to photograph a subject I look at the most important parts of that particular scene I need to capture, the rest is irrelevant. No one will care if they can't see what's inside the 12th floor room of a building, or if that street lamp is a little over exposed but not blown out, but what matters, or at least to me is that if for example is if I am photographing London's O2 arena then I want to be able to see the all the detail on the roof as this is far more important than making sure that lights on the poles are correctly exposed.

Lastly when I'm out photographing a location, I'll compose my shot possibly the same way a landscape photographer does, the only difference being that it's buildings. I will also often return to the same locations at a later dates. (see other blog why-i-re-shoot-the-same-locations)

So this is my way of night photography, it may not be the same for everyone, but hopefully for those who have never tried it, this will help.


Why I Re-Shoot The Same Locations

A comment I often get is "Why do you keep on shooting the same locations?"

The answer is simple!
As a photographer I'm not always 100% satisfied with my captures and I'm always looking to improve on any shoot I do. Whilst it may not have been down to the fact that I just wasn't feeling the moment, it's very often down to the elements. Maybe the sky is overcast, it's raining, it's very windy or maybe all of these made that particular shoot not as good as it could have been.

So for this particular re-shoot of London's "Girl With A Dolphin" fountain was of a shoot that I'd organised for the photo club a year ago. Unfortunately the sky on that evening was terrible and because there were quite a few of us on the trip it was a case of pick your spot and shoot from there, and at that given time I thought I had picked the perfect angle but it turned out I'd probably picked out the worst.

The main difference in this shoot was that it was going to be done very early morning, as opposed to the one before that was late evening. Catching the first train out to London was essential and going out at 5:20am is not always easy for a photographer, but if you want to get that shot then you have to get up and get out early! But once I'm out, the shock dies, and I'm usually buzzing with excitement to get to the location and hopefully grab some great photos.

On arrival at the fountain I set my self up in almost an identical spot as before with the fountain statue in the middle of Tower bridge for I still thought it was the best place to shoot it from, only to realise after two shots that it wasn't. I shifted my position about 2 metres to the right so that the fountain statue no longer obscured the middle of the bridge and bingo I'd hit the jackpot! What I'd aimed for getting in the last photo shoot I nailed on the second time round. The moon was out along with slight breeze, a perfect sky with wispy clouds. The crains had gone from across the other side of the river and this time round the fountain was lit up and working. Almost perfect conditions!
So was it worth getting up that early at 5.20? Most definitely as I was back home by 8.30 getting warm and drinking a latte!

So this is the reason why I keep revisiting the same locations time and time again.

No doubt I'll be back again sometime to have another go... 

The Girl And The Dolphin

Critique & Judged

Thursday November 20th, The Photographic Club invited Paul Adams DPAGB ADPS PAGB to judge submitted prints by members of the club.
Members were requested to enter 5 prints to be critiqued and judged.

My 5 Entries and scores were as follows:

Beauty Portrait
Score: 18/20

Gotham City

Gotham City
Score: 19/20

British Museum

British Museum
Score: 19/20

The Portwey

The Portwey
Score: 19/20

Bridge To St. Paul's

Bridge To St. Paul's
Score: 20/20