Monday, 28 June 2010

Wedding Photography Blueprint

Wedding Photography DVDs

I just finished watching this series of four DVDs. The format is that they follow professional photographer Nick Stubbs on one of his wedding photography courses. He discusses and demonstrates various aspects of wedding photography and shows several examples of Photoshop tutorials.
The first three DVDs concentrates on a different part of the wedding - Preparation, the ceremony/groups, and the reception/cutting the cake. The final DVD contains lots of bonus material.
I found the tips on lighting and post-production particularly useful and I'm looking forward to practicing these techniques before I shoot my first wedding.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Outdoors at Night ...Again

I ventured out again last night and I've still got loads more to do! Actually, I'm going to take another 3-4 and call it a day. This was taken overlooking Blackfriars underpass with the camera mounted on a tripod. The images that follow were all taken hand held.

These are the Royal Courts of Justice (the Court of Appeal) on Fleet Street. I was struck by the choice of up-lighting bearing in mind the purpose of the building.

This is The Edge Bar on Soho Street and this type of lighting is generally in keeping with the local area. There's a bit of distortion in this because of the use of a wide angle lens.

One of the shops on Regent Street. The time was 23:25 by this stage, and the lack of natural light helped to hide my reflection.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Judging Colour Temperature 1

Take three photographs, one in full sunlight in the middle of the day, one in shade during the middle of the day, and one in sunlight when the sun is close to the horizon. Make sure the camera's white balance is set to 'daylight'.

Full sunlight

70mm, ISO 100, f/5.6 (Aperture priority), 1/500, WB: Fine weather
RGB: 93, 112, 32


70mm, ISO 100, f/5.6 (Aperture priority), 1/40, WB: Fine weather
RGB: 123, 137, 85

Sun close to the horizon

70mm, ISO 100, f/5.6 (Aperture priority), 1/250, WB: Fine weather
RGB: 99, 101, 55

What have I learned?
Apart from an obvious difference in brightness, I was not aware of any discernible differences in colour because the human eye is readily adaptable. However, where the camera is prevented from making the necessary adjustments for changes in colour temperature, the differences are immediately obvious.

Friday, 25 June 2010


Today, on my way to Regent's Park, I made an unscheduled visit to an exhibition at the Wellcome Collection. It looks at the largest organ in the body from cultural, scientific and artistic points of view.

Although most of the exhibits were originally produced for medical/educational purposes, it wasn't difficult to see them as works of art as well. Tattoos, skin diseases, disorders, wrinkles, bruises and scars are represented as paintings, photographs and even ceramics. The basic elements of design were ever present - lines, shapes, patterns, rhythms and colour.

I was particularly interested in the photographers of Margi Geerlinks who uses image manipulation to produce thought-provoking and humorous images of the human form.

A fascinating exhibition.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Outdoors at Night

The aim of this exercise is to explore the variety lighting effects and colour in artificial light.

These images were taken on the all night photoshoot last weekend. The first 2 were taken around sunset so there is still some colour in the sky.
Although the sky in the final image lacks detail, I liked the glassy effect of the River Thames caused by a 30 second exposure.

This was a crafty shot taken on Monday evening in an amusement arcade in The Trocadero. I wasn't able to fine-tune the camera settings because I was trying to avoid being seen by the security staff and the man using the machine! I managed to rescue most of the highlights by duplicating the image at different exposures in RAW and then tone mapping them in Photomatix Pro.

This is a group of Spaniards in Leicester Square who were celebrating Spain's 2-nil win over Honduras in the World Cup. I'm not sure what type of vehicle cast the red light on the pavement, but I like the effect.

This was taken outside the Hampshire Hotel in Leicester Square. I was first attracted by the fairy lights above the entrance, then I noticed the many different colours being cast by the surrounding buildings.

What have I learned?
The last 3 images were taken with a Nikon D80, which does not perform particularly well at ISOs above 400. Consequently, there was much trial and error and a few deleted shots.
For the next set of shots, I will use a Nikon D700 because it copes better in low light. this will allow me to concentrate more on composition and perhaps be more creative.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Measuring Exposure

Take five or six photographs of any subject, but for each one make five exposures, arranged around what you have measured as the best exposure.
The first should be one stop darker, the second half a stop, the third average, the fourth half a stop lighter and the fifth one stop lighter.

These are bracketed exposures of the top of 30 St Mary Axe (The Gherkin). Ordinarily, I would have cloned out the small object on the left, but decided not to do any editing on these because the purpose of the exercise is to concentrate on the effect of changing exposure. The 'correct' image is the one in the middle. 
I would say that the last 3 are the most acceptable, with the penultimate image showing the most realistic balance between foreground and background.

In all of these examples, I've adjusted the shutter speed in order to maintain depth of field.

In these shots of The Golden Hind, I think I prefer the penultimate image. Though it was an overcast day, the final image appears a little too dark. Again, the third image is 'correctly' exposed according to the meter in my camera.

These shots are of the Monument which commemorates the Great Fire of London. These are the results I expected as I have photographed light colour subjects before, and they are always underexposed because the camera is trying to render them as 18% grey. In this instance the most acceptable exposure is the first one which is a full stop over the 'correct' exposure.

For comparison purposes, I found a dark subject. This is part of a statue near Leicester Square. The final image is the most accurate and is a full stop under the 'correct' exposure.

This view of the Thames, taken from London Bridge is most acceptable in the fourth exposure because it is relatively more saturated though still lacking in contrast. The final image is a little too dark for my taste.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Shortest Night

Yesterday, I joined a group of fellow photography enthusiasts for an all night photoshoot on the shortest night of the year. We met up at 17:00 in a pub near London Bridge and set off to catch the final rays of daylight before the sunset at 21:21. The sun was due to rise on the following morning at 04:43 so we had the entire night to capture the city.

This was one of the first pictures I took with a newly acquired Nikon D700. Taken from Tower Bridge at 20:24 as the sun started to set.

This was my first attempt at zoom burst photography. Taken from London Bridge at 01:34.

This is one of a series of images taken whilst walking along the Thames Path. The time was 02:26.

Another image from the Thames Path, captured at 03:08. The London Eye is one of my favourite London landmarks.

This was one  of my final images, taken from Charing Cross Bridge at 03:58 as the sun started to rise.

What have I learned?
This exercise was gruelling but thoroughly enjoyable!

My daytime photography is primarily concerned with controlling light since it's usually readily available. But in this instance, I had to think more about accessing it first and then controlling it.

I was very aware that my approach was quite different during this exercise (apart from the mandatory use of a tripod and very long shutter speeds). Night-time photography seemed to give me more creative license - I wasn't concerned about whether subjects were evenly light, in fact, the greater the contrast, the better.  Also, blown highlights were viewed as a thing of beauty!

Friday, 18 June 2010

Assignment 3 - Tutor Feedback

Most people taking this course find the colour assignment the trickiest. It isn’t the easiest task to find the required combinations in one or two outings, so a mix of stand-alone images and technical shots is a good approach.  Something you’ve done here, along with the detailed diagrams and good notes for both.

Colour Harmony through Complementary Colours
This set of four images and diagrams illustrates perfectly the harmonious possibilities in a variety of complementary colourways, with the diagrams illustrate the movement in the frame.

I think the bud, in the image of the rose, helps strengthen the composition and guide the movement towards the flower head.  The red here, is highly saturated (is that using PS?), and seems to have lost some of its texture and detail, but it’s nicely defined against the soft focus greens in the background.

There’s a gentler feel to the following shot of oranges in a bowl.  This might be partly due to the soft, low light on the subject – feels a bit underexposed here, although the angle lifts the skin texture on the fruit.  There is a strong compositional conflict between the subject and the chrome basket.

The graffiti detail on the London wall works very well with the shapes and the complementary colours producing an unusual, organic movement around the frame.  As you say in your notes it is almost circular, and the purple/yellow combination – much loved by hippies all around the world – is effective and pleasing.

The following close detail of the tomato and stalk produces a quite different movement, well defined in your diagram.  The colour, and particularly the texture details, are excellent in this shot – a beautiful lens, the 105mm.

Colour Harmony Through Similar Colours
This is a strong and interesting set, with a real variety of subject matter and approach to composition, in which you demonstrate harmony similar colours perfectly. 

The shot of the flower from above, perfectly positioned in the frame, contains a really good range of detail across the dynamic range, and although there is a good depth of field, it is the colour that distinguishes the flower head.  I’m picking up a circular movement around the flower in this image.

With the landscape image, while the flat light lowers the level of contrast and facilitates the idea of similar colour harmony, I think the shot would work in fill strong light.  The colours define the composition, but the real strength is the positive/negative shape, of the rising hill against the skyline.

Playground artifacts or contemporary sculpture, interesting how design and fine art are so close, especially when, as in this image, the structure is ambiguous.  The three plains fall back, defined by the red, orange and yellow elements, creating a nice sense of space (and harmony).

I’m never sure about this type of shot, although there are certainly a range of harmonious similar colours here, and a sense of rhythm around the frame.  It’s crying out for something, an imperfection or an anomalous addition to attract the eye.

Colour Contrast through Contrasting Colour
The first two images in this set are really intriguing; with a highly effective use of infra red and polarizing filters.  Polarisers, of course, produce the most beautiful range of colour and tone in the right light, as well as cutting out surface reflections.  The landscape here in Kew, is classic, with strong cloud detail and a well balanced foreground of lake divided by the tree line.  Interestingly, for me, it’s the sky and the refection that are the real strengths of the image.  With the previous image, the sky is most striking, with a great sense of movement, and the tropical house shimmers below – I think the contrast is pretty minimal here, although the wall does underline the shot.
The lifeguard on the beach could be either contrasting, or colour accent, but works very well, with the use of a long lens to create foreshortening, and the similar colour range of beach and tidal pools.
The close shot of the poppy, similarly to the earlier image of the rose, is heavily saturated here, and I’m missing most of the purple at the centre of the flower head.  I wonder if this is just the transfer to PDF – or the reduction of detail in the jpeg transfer?

Colour Accent
This is the element of the assignment that people tend to find hardest to deal with – examples are out there, but sometimes need a bit of patience.  This set of four is pretty good, with the red bin accented against the field of green.  The strong light is crucial here, saturating the colours and making the red accent stand out even more.

Yes, there’s a humorous relationship in both the size and the angle between the seagull and girl – looks like a morsel ready to be picked off.  The orange top worn by the girl really helps her to stand out as a small and distant subject, and the eye moves between the two, as you show in your diagram.

I see a different dynamic (an additional one I should say) in the following shot of the inflatable in the surf, with the direction coming from the horizon, down with the approaching waves.  The small craft would always attract the eye as it’s so different, breaking up the rolling horizontals of the waves, but the yellow accent helps define the effect.

When you look at the colour of the IronBru, and then at the effect it appears to have on the paperclips, you ask yourself what they put in it…  even the same(ish) colour on colour can work as an accent very well, with the hue and distinct shape of the objects drawing the eye – but, the movement travels around them, too for me.

Your reflective summary is very good, and as you say, this is an assignment which makes you look at images in a different way.  Here you prove that you have been successful and effective in that process – well done

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Using Your Speed Light Flash

I did a workshop today with Studio Time Photography to help me get to grips with my Nikon Speedlight.

On Sunday, I took some pictures at a monthly salsa event for which I am the 'official' photographer. I kept the flash on the camera in TTL mode, and tried to bounce the light from walls, ceilings and pillars. I also used my ABBC All Black Eye Shield.

In this shot the subjects are back-lit, so I aimed the flash at them, tilted towards the ceiling, but shielded them from any direct light. I was very pleased with the lighting in this because there is no obvious use of flash. I've boosted the contrast to make the contrasting colours pop, but no other adjustments were necessary.

These dancers were side-lit (from the right) and I managed to successfully bounce the flash off a pillar behind my left shoulder to fill in the shadows. This is a shot I would have previously missed, but since I attached a 'quick recycling battery pack' to my flashgun, I was able to use my camera in continuous shooting mode to capture key elements of this high energy dance routine.

In this shot the subjects were front-lit by large patio doors behind me, and I added some fill light by bouncing the flash from my left. The use of flash is obvious and there is a dramatic fall off of light in the background. These are things I need to work on.

What have I learned?
On Sunday, I did see an overall improvement in the softness and distribution of the light, but was not able to get consistent results.
Today's workshop has helped me to better understand TTL mode (I'm not going to worry about the other modes for the moment) and see how to get 'studio quality' images using just one Speedlight. I just need to keep things simple!

Friday, 11 June 2010

Measuring Exposure

This is part 4 (penultimate) of my photography course.

Produce between four and six photographs which are deliberately lighter or darker than average, and say why in your written notes.

I took this for a fashion photoshoot themed on the 1940's. This was shot in colour and converted in Photoshop. I wanted to achieve something reminiscent of an Alfred Hitchcock film.

This was taken on a recent studio lighting course as an example of high key lighting.

This was taken on the same studio lighting course as an example of low key lighting. Ideally the model should have worn a black dress, but didn't have one with her.

This is from a recent studio lighting workshop featuring burlesque dancers. I've underexposed the background to emphasise the subject and to give the image a different mood.