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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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Choosing your equipment #photography

As well as being a blogger I’m also a community photographer and have to take quite a professional approach to that. However, my equipment isn’t so professional. Most of my content including the photographs is published online so I don’t need an expensive full-frame camera. I did upgrade to a DSLR from a bridge camera when I began to do lots of events but I chose the semi-professional DX camera which is much cheaper than a full-frame DSLR. Choosing your equipment for digital publishing is a lot cheaper than if you were taking photographs for high-end magazines.

choosing your equipment

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Using a long lens #photography

Sometimes we need to use a long lens to get a close-up shot of our subject. This can be for wildlife photography or in my case it was to get a shot of a helicopter taking off near my house. The lens I used was a 55 – 300mm lens which is the equivalent of a 10 times zoom on a bridge camera.

helicopter using a long lens

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Fixed apertures on phones #photography

I usually take photos either with my Nikon D3200 or my old Fujifilm S5600 but now I have a new phone I’ve been trying out the camera. I can set the white balance, ISO and shutter speed just like on my cameras, but the aperture is fixed. Essentially, it is fixed wide open. A wide open aperture is great for portraits and selfies but not quite so good for landscapes. The pictures will never be as sharp as a DSLR but I’ve been getting some interesting pictures because the LG G5 has two lenses. There is a normal one and a wide panoramic type lens. I tried the panoramic lens in our town hall and it made brought out the grandeur of the main hall, but with a little distortion. Cameras with fixed apertures can still take great photos, though.

fixed apertures

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Dark winter skies #photography

The photographer’s triangle is; ISO, aperture and shutter speed and when it is a cold dark winter day with poor light, your first choice is usually to up the ISO. This effectively makes the sensor more sensitive to light. You can also shoot more with a wide aperture on aperture priority and that will give you a reasonable fast shutter speed but with a narrower depth of field.

SWAN 1

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Understanding wide open apertures #photography

When we take a photograph the shutter snaps open and closed. The aperture is how wide that doorway to our camera opens. Imagine the shutter as a doorway, the stops go behind the door and so a large stop say F/16 only allows the door to open a little. At f/30 and we have a tiny pinhole and at f/3.5, on most lenses, it wide open. On my 35 mm prime lens, wide open is even wider at f/1.8.

LIBBY ROSE - wide open aperture

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Aspect ratio and framing #photography

When you want to print and frame pictures you have to think about aspect ratio and find a frame to fit the ratio that you have. My camera takes pictures at 6000 pixels by 4000 pixels and so the aspect ratio is 6 x 4. Many modern frames are 6 inches by 4 inches and so will match 6 x 4 prints. The print service I use also does double that size at 12 by 8 inches but there are lots of frames around 10 x 8 too. Some print services do 10 x 8 prints but otherwise, you have to cut 2 inches from your print. If you do have a print service that does 10 x 8 and your camera does images 6 x 4 like mine, then the image has to be cropped before printing.

CLOCK - aspect ratio 6 x 4

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Wide open with a narrow depth of field #photography

Wide open in photography means the widest aperture that the lens will give you. This is often around f/4.5 with most lenses. I can go wider with my prime lens which will go to f/1.8. Take a look at this wide open shot of some beer cans:

wide open
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Which camera is the best? #photography

I have been involved in a little debate on Facebook regarding which camera is the best. The answer, of course, is they all take photos and you choose one according to your needs. If you need one that will fit in your pocket, buy a pocket camera. If you want to take photographs professionally then buy a professional camera! There are an array of cameras available.

camera

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