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Shooting with low-light at events #photography

I did a few photo-shoots at the weekend and needed to cope with low-light conditions. The first event was part of the Birmingham and Sandwell Jazz Festival and was a performance by Chickenbone John playing an amazing guitar made from a cigar box.

JAZZ (20)

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Conveying a mood #photography #art

There are always interesting things to photograph and photography isn’t just about taking snaps. I look at photography as an art in itself and I look for unusual things to photograph.  I found this little chapel down a side street in Bilston and took a few shots early in the evening. The art of photography is imagining what mood an image will convey and I thought this chapel looked cold and lonely.

what mood does this image convey?

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Out at the weekend #photography #art #Wednesbury

I was out at the weekend taking photos. The Sandwell Arts Trail was supposed to be launched and I have a picture in that so I popped down to Wednesbury art gallery. The exhibition wasn’t launched and so I wandered around photographing the gallery with a particular interest in the design of the gallery. I like diffused natural light for my photographs and I think the paintings in the gallery look better in diffused natural light too. The light on the landing comes in through frosted glass skylights and makes it look great. It is perfect light for photography too.

the weekend

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Shooting events in low light #photography

I’ll be photographing the carnival in a couple of weeks and I have other events coming up. We can’t always count on getting good light and even bright sunlight gives us dark shadows. There will be some events indoors as well. Nikon and Canon DSLRs both meter the light using TTL technology. That is through the lens metering (TTL) and this gives good control over the flash. The flash can be used in bright sunlight to light up those dark shadows but if the skies are dark then another option is to use a higher ISO setting.

TOWN HALL - LOW LIGHT

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Too much harsh light #photography

I’m always assessing the light when I’m taking photos outside and I’ve seen some awful, dark photos this weekend. The weather was scorching and so lots of light but harsh light with dark shadows. I had a few photo-shoots. There were a couple of Summer Fayres at schools and then our Father’s Day event in the park on Sunday. You can’t do much about the harsh light except to use a warm filter but the dark shadows are a bigger problem. You have to use fill flash and it is preferable to use a Speedlight rather than a pop-up. I had to use a pop-up on Sunday because I couldn’t carry around too much equipment.

harsh light

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Creating art with your camera #photography

The first users of cameras in the late 19th century were professional people who could afford such devices and artists who were fascinated with the new medium. They experimented a lot and in doing so they became quite skilled photographers. Some of those early images of their models are sought after today because even though they are black and white or sepia, they capture a moment in time that will never be seen again. They also demonstrate the skill of the photographer. This week one of my photographs was accepted for the Sandwell Arts trail. The works of art  will tour the Metropolitan Borough of Sandwell going from art gallery to museums and to the Art cafe. This was my attempt at creating art with my camera –

BLUEBELLS IN THE HEDGEROW

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A beautiful icebreaker #ramble #art #inspiration

I’ve got an app on my phone and it actually counts how many steps I take, like a pedometer. I take more steps on Sundays despite this supposedly being a day of rest. I’m supposed to take 10,000 steps a day according to the app but the most I’ve done so far is 3,000 and that’s pushing it. There’s an app for everything these days isn’t there? I have an app for buying clothes, an app to find my way when I’m driving or call for help if I break down. I have an app for Aldi and another for the lottery results. Then there are the social media apps to help me keep in touch and network, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram. I don’t understand Instagram yet but I’ve never been so appy…

Wednesbury - a beautiful icebreaker

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Enjoying the longest days #photography

These are the longest days before the summer solstice on the 21st of June. This is a great time for landscape photography and we have a lot more time to go out and experiment and improve our technique. The light varies throughout the day and most photographers like the warm light just after dawn and just before sunset. You do have to be careful with the sun low in the sky because there are long shadows.

Photography on the longest days of spring

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Thinking about the light #photography

I take lots of different kinds of photos. Sometimes it is landscapes and other times I’m asked to photograph groups of people. I’m always thinking about the light. A sunny day with lots of light doesn’t always give us the best conditions. A day when we have even white cloud gives us a better-diffused light than when we have bright sunlight. Often in bright sunlight, the shadows are really dark and despite the bright light we need to use fill flash to remove the dark shadows. Photographs send out a message and in this photo the message was simple. I wanted to say how busy Wednesbury market was!

THE MARKET - GREY SKY - LOW LIGHT

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Spring in the Black Country #photography

I live in Wednesbury and it isn’t the most scenic place for landscape photography but there are lots of great places within easy reach. The spring flowers have been evident this week with ‘fool’s parsley’ growing close to pools, the river Tame and the Walsall canal. I was out and about photographing nature in full bloom on Sunday.

spring photography

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A Black Country Event #photography

There are many different types of photography. I’m currently doing a couple of photographic art projects that require high-quality images and I spend a lot of time on those. My print for an art competition is printed on canvas at 300 dpi and measures 20 inches by 16 inches. For that print, I went for high quality. For a Black Country event my priority is getting the shots and although the quality is important, there are many factors I can’t control and so image quality isn’t the top priority. I photographed the Black Country Horse Drive at the weekend and that was quite challenging but it was also enjoyable. Over 300 horses and their owners came to create a memorable event and raise money for Birmingham Children’s Hospital.

BLACK COUNTRY HORSE AND CART

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Enjoying the spring landscapes #photography

Through the winter I struggled with poor light and even had a few photographs that were ‘noisy’. Noise is those little spots often white or purple that appear at the higher ISO settings. Now, though, we have great light and can enjoy walking in the country and getting amazing pictures. But all that green can be a little boring so watch out for things that will break up the sea of green such as walkers, cyclists and horse riders. The spring is a great season for landscape photography as the days get longer and the evenings get lighter.

MAYDAY (7)

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History, art and photography #ramble

It’s Sunday morning and so once again I let you into the matrix that leads to the dark corners of my mind and will share my thoughts with you. What’s on my mind this week? History, art and photography as well as publicity and markets and a whole host of other things. I’ve been designing banners to publicise things. That wasn’t very successful but we learn, move on and improve. I have also been working on a couple of art projects. One involves flowers which leads me nicely into today’s photo which is one of the photos I took for the project. What ya think?

BLUEBELLS - art and photography

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Using a 300mm long lens #photography

The kit lens that comes with a DSLR isn’t usually the highest quality and if you’re serious about photography you soon find yourself buying more lenses. I mostly use a 18 – 105 mm lens for events but for some events you need more zoom. I’m thinking about buying a 18 – 300mm long lens but they are very expensive. It will cost at least £500 and for one that goes really wide it would be more like £750. I’m using a 55 – 300mm lens now and I’ve been using it more to get some idea of how useful a 18 – 300mm would be. A long lens is very useful but you also need to be able to zoom out.

LONG LENS PHOTOGRAPHY AT THE ST GEORGE PARADE

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Developing a photography project #photography

I constantly develop as a community photographer. I take photographs at events as part of my role as a public relations officer doing publicity.  I also do landscape photography, food photography and portrait photography. I not only try to develop the photography skills but the social skills to deal with people and I’m also trying to develop as an artist. I have two art projects at the moment. One is for a competition and is loosely on the subject of spring flowers and the other project is photographing people. I’m photographing people with a wide open aperture and a long zoom lens. That project needs a lot more thought and work. Yesterday, I was out taking photographs to publicise an event and a local company on social media.

Publicity project

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Taking springtime pictures #photography

Last weekend, I went out wearing a tee-shirt and my ‘sun hat’ for the first time this year, it was springtime at last! I had advanced knowledge of narrowboats on the canal and they make for a colourful picture. The light was quite harsh and you can’t always choose which way to shoot. I took some shots into the sun which isn’t always a very good idea.

springtime photography on the Walsall canal

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Experiments in photography #photography

Once a month we have an evening of spoken word, poetry and music in Wednesbury library and I’m allowed to photograph the performers. It is a great opportunity for me to experiment and see if I can take photos in fluorescent light without a flash and learn how high I can take the ISO up without getting noise. I’ve also done experiments with video. The monthly event is on the last Tuesday of each month and at the end of March, I experimented with wide apertures, spot focusing and monochrome.

experiments in photography

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Strange ideas and brain chemicals #ramble

It’s Sunday morning and so I allow you a glimpse into the mind of a serial thinker and ideas person; me. The human brain works on chemicals that can make us feel happy or sad or bring back happy memories or painful memories. Dopamine is the one that zaps the reward centres of our brain and that can be quite addictive. I find it quite difficult to stop eating dark chocolate sometimes and I have to really restrict myself when it comes to beer. Both of these things can lead to strange ideas. Time for a picture…

strange ideas in the park?

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Developing your photography #photography

I experiment a lot with my photography and take an artistic approach. I’m not just taking snaps I want to create artistic pictures that can be displayed and bring some pleasure for years to come. Some photographers have rules that help them compose good shots. I tend to experiment much more with my shots and so have much more rejected. As you are developing your style you will see what works and what doesn’t work. In developing your landscape photography try the 1/3 rule that says 1/3 of the frame should be land or sky.

DEVELOPING YOUR LANDSCAPE

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Archive and library #photography

My camera takes photos that are 24 Megapixel and often that translates to a file size of 12 Mb or more. I then resize the folder to a size suitable for the internet which is typically 1 Mb file size per image. The images take up a lot of space on my laptop and video takes up even more. It is essential then to move them onto some kind of removable storage. My archive consists of a 500 Gb external hard drive and I have just bought a 1 Tb flash drive which will become another archive for images, video and music. I can simply move the latest files from the library on my laptop to an archive and free up space.

SPRITUAL EARTH GIFTS (12)

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Fine tuning your camera #photography

In previous posts, I have mainly covered different apertures, ISO setting and shutter speeds but if you want great shots you have to dig deeper into your camera menus. I have a Nikon D3200 which is a popular and relatively inexpensive DSLR and so I have been looking at more advanced settings for fine tuning the camera.

fine tuning using this menu

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Wide-open in low-light #photography

I’ve been taking photos at more events indoors recently and doing much less landscape photography because of the weather. Indoor photography poses its own problems with low-light. To get some scenes in focus you need a wide depth of field but struggle with the low-light at narrower apertures. The answer is to just stay wide-open and try to take close-up shots of people. After all, at events, it is the people who are the subject!

I kept the aperture wide-open for this shot.

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Using the flash or increasing the ISO #photography

When the light is poor you can usually choose between increasing the ISO which effectively makes your sensor more sensitive to light or you can use a flash. I used a pop-up flash yesterday and that was the wrong choice because my subjects were wearing high visibility vests! The light wasn’t too bad and so a higher ISO would have been a better choice but I realised my mistake and increased the ISO for the rest of my shots. Using the flash is usually a good option if you’re photographing people and doing close up shots.

Using the flash

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Art and culture #ramble

I think the town I live in lacks some cultural opportunities. The art gallery rarely seems to have anything interesting on and only opens three days each week. It closes altogether in the winter. I think we could make a bit more of an effort to get funding from the Arts Council for a summer exhibition. The Royal Academy of Arts has a summer exhibition and so why shouldn’t we? Yes, today I’m sharing my thoughts with you as I usually do on a Sunday morning. I have art and culture on my mind this morning.

art and culture

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