Wednesday 28 July 2010

Back On The Weed

Summer Weed, originally uploaded by acampm1.

Always fun capturing the changes the seasons bring - in this case the rivers stalling as they dry up, resulting in thick weed.

For photographers though, there's something more interesting here. Do you think this done with my usual Nikon D3 and 14-24 f2.8? Or perhaps my earlier Olympus E3 and Zuiko 7-14 f4?

Nope. This is an early outing for my Panasonic G1 and Panny 7-14 f4. Tiny, and very good.

Tuesday 27 July 2010

The Birthday Party

Lucy's First Birthday, originally uploaded by acampm1.

Yes, I know, you're bored of the dog. Still, it was a good first birthday party, so have a snap anyway.

D3, 70-200 VR

Should one feel guilty about using a dirty great pro camera to record family moments? I always do, a bit, but my excuse is shooting pictures of my dog is great way to learn how to get the best out of the camera.

So there.

Friday 16 July 2010

Shotgun Wedding Photography

Wedding Shooting Part 3, originally uploaded by acampm1.

It normally starts with someone asking if you could do a few shots at their wedding. This is where you should be saying "No, I hate getting under the feet of the official photographer."  You'll probably find out that you are the official photographer, and that's a good time to run in the general direction of away.

Firstly, you could mess it up, and then you'll never hear the last of it.  If, like me, you shoot landscapes, you probably regularly mess up, shrug, move on and forget it.  Landscapes do not come back and complain the photo is unflattering.  Here's a nice landscape screwup - while I was shooting I exhaled, and since I happened to be smoking a fag at the time...  Oh well, next time, eh?

No, it isn't fairies..., originally uploaded by acampm1.

Secondly, it isn't that easy.  Look at the photo I've headlined with.  Even someone who is completely indifferent to photography can see that it looks rather "professional" (which is not the same as "good").  The reason is that it has Shallow Depth Of Field, as discussed in here before.  The bride is in focus, the background isn't.  Doing that is both expensive and hard (you need a fast lens, accurate focus, and a good feel for how the apertures will work out).  Hence professionals like to use DoF effects, because they can, and now everyone "knows" that is how a good photo looks (even if they don't realise what it is that makes it so).

The second bit that is hard is managing the light.  The wedding probably won't take place in ideal conditions.  That confetti shot was taken in hard midday light, so the only way to stop everybody looking dreadful was fill in flash.  Again, you need to know what you are doing.  I had no idea (I use fill-in flash a lot, but not on people), but I got lucky.

Wedding Shooting Part 1, originally uploaded by acampm1.

Thirdly, you probably want to know something about weddings, so you know who you are supposed to be photographing and when. I know nothing about weddings, it has always seemed to me easier to find someone who hates you and buy them a house.  Fortunately in this case the groom actually is a wedding photographer, so he was able to help.  And we still made a cods of it.

Fourthly, the bride and groom probably don't know all this, which is why they won't stump for a real shooter, so they will be disappointed when you don't do a professional job...

Fifthly, if you are used to doing landscapes, you Post Process.  When you hand your thousand shots over (and you should take at least a thousand shots, because at least one person will have their eyes closed, and another will be picking his nose, so make sure you have lots of cards and batteries) and tell the bride and groom to pick forty shots, they will come back asking for two hundred.  I don't know what a real pro does in those circumstances, presumably takes them outside for a proper kicking.  What I did was PP two hundred shots.  At ten minutes each.  Which is two thousand minutes.  Which is days of work.  These modern times, there is a real danger the divorce will have happened before the wedding album has been assembled.

Anyway, it was good fun, they seem to like the shots, and I've done it now.

But I'm not doing another.  Ever.

And if you have any sense, neither will you.

Thursday 15 July 2010

Doing It Doggy Style

Lucy And The Hose, originally uploaded by acampm1.

Well, actually this was just done as a test of the Flickr link to blogger, but it is a moderately amusing photo anyway. I've been playing a lot with a Panasonic G1, a mirrorless dSLR which makes most normal dSLRs look bulky and needless, but I have to say when you want to mess about like this, you can't beat my huge, heavy D3 Nikon.

However you don't actually need a battleship dSLR to do dog shots. I like this one of Delphi when she was young. My first ever shot with an Ultra Wide Angle lens, which is pretty much my signature style now.

Landscape With Wet Dog, originally uploaded by acampm1.

Dogs make interesting models I think, but then I like dogs. You can do this kind of shot, Delphi looking noble, easily with any camera.

Go Delphi, Go!, originally uploaded by acampm1.

On the other hand, while I have no doubt someone HAS done this on a camera phone, the D3 and 70-200VR makes it a lot easier.

It is the photographer, not the camera, that makes the picture. But the right kit for the job helps no end.

Friday 2 April 2010

Staring At The Sun

It is obvious that your photo will be better if the light is right. But sometimes of course the subject is the light.

Here's one from earlier this week (I told you there would be a few dawn shots for a bit) and others from the past. None of these would have any point at all if it wasn't for the light.

Thursday 1 April 2010


I wanted to show that while we may (or may not) be amazed by the gold of morning, to the fisherman it is just another lousy early morning. The question is, how much motion blur can you get away with? I think I needed a stop in either direction, either more sharpness or more blur. I'll be hoping he passes again...

Mind you, if he doesn't like getting up early, neither do I. You'll be seeing a lot of these now the clocks have changed, and it is only just getting light at seven.

The fishermen are used to me now, after all these years, and greet me cheerily. Well, they grunt anyway, which is as cheery as fishermen get, in my experience.

Wednesday 31 March 2010

We're Alive Again!

Hopefully the worst and wettest Winter since records began is over, and I can start shooting again. I've been out and about for the last few days, and when I get time I'll PP and post.

In the meantime, here's something that won't be alive again, sadly. The other year, in some unexplained nautical catastrophe, all these starfish were washed up on the beach. The shot is notable in that it illustrates how Depth Of Field shots are possible, even with an ultrawide, on 35mm Full frame cameras. Done with the D3 (which was new at the time, so my distress at covering it in sand was palpable) and the 14-24 f2.8 UWA.

Click on the image for a larger version.

Oh, and in unrelated news, Flickr are no longer marking my stuff as unsafe.

Too many Christians, not enough lions, if you ask me.

Tuesday 30 March 2010

Not My Style

As part of a project a friend and I dreamed up, I agreed to photograph a day of my life. Not my sort of thing at all - photographs of record bore me utterly. But, as a one off, it was quite interesting, and I though I'd post the results here. You'll note everything looks underexposed. Do you find that pictures shrunk to tiny sizes have that effect? I do...

No Lucy, you are too small to come on a proper hike.

We've reached the mountains after a long blast over the tracks.

Dog and master in perfect harmony.

Spring is coming, finally.

Baby pine cone.

Mature pine cone.

Delphi loves a hike.

Tracks are now dry enough to get the logging trucks in and out.

And the skies are blue again.

River levels are still abnormally high - trail riding can get a bit scary.

Ruined house in the valley. It must have been hard to scratch a living here.

Climbing back out of the valley.

And back to the car. About 20KM round.

Car dropped off, bike picked up, time for a late lunch.

Cheese and ham toastie, jug of wine.

Down to Marinha beach for a bit of shooting. Rocks with fill in flash.

A friend of mine has a bar in Loule, with live music on a Saturday.

Shady locals mix with tourists and expats.

Mine Host.

The view from behind the bar at closing time.

And there you go. Quite fun to do. You try it...

Monday 29 March 2010

Shooting Bikes

The most worrying thing about this, is that these are all my bikes... Oh well. Bikes and cameras seem to go well together as a hobby - carry the cameras on the bike, if you can't find anything to shoot, shoot the bike.

This is my Harley V-Rod, mildly modified (more has been done since). Parked in a car park, with the rear tyre placed strategically over a skid mark. Waited for dramatic weather.

This is my Daytona 955i. Taken at the docks in Olhao. Dark bike, so high key shooting to show the bike.

This is my KTM 990, looking down and dirty on the West Coast. Shallow DoF to make it stand out from the background.

I actually went to the rouble of riding for this one. Nikon D3, 70-200, tracking autofocus. Eva behind the lens.

This is the KTM being ridden from England to Portugal. I was unable to resist the lure of a snowy background.

The Harley again, this time at dusk, light shining from the low sun. Again shallow DoF to pull it out.

Thursday 7 January 2010

Going To Extremes - 7/1/2010

Well, the weather is looking up, and with luck tomorrow I can do some photography instead of talking about it. Oh, and talking about talking about it, today I want to talk about extreme post processing, having demonstrated gentle post processing to lighten the ground and darken the sky last time. Two shots for you, or two versions of the same shot, one heavily post processed, one not:

Such is the prejudice against post processing, or "Photoshopping" as dim and ignorant people call it, that most shooters will prefer the plain version. Yet I've never seen the plain version anywhere, and the other one has been nicked and put everywhere.

In point of fact everything is post processed. When you take a picture, if you are shooting in JPG, then the JPG engine in your camera will apply what it thinks of as the correct amount of saturation, sharpening, contrast etc. On more expensive cameras you can change these settings. That's effectively post processing. If you shoot RAW, then you can change the settings after you've seen the shot. Post Processing. The colourful shot above was processed in Nikon Capture NX. This is a version of the camera JPG engine in software. If I'd whacked up the saturation on the back of the camera, then the shot would, according to some people, not have been post processed. Because I did it afterwards, on the computer, that's cheating, apparently.

Monday 4 January 2010

Post Processing, Or, As Idiots Would Have It, Cheating - 4/1/2010

We're looking at ways to manipulate the light so you get closer to what the brain sees rather than what the camera wants to capture. Yesterday I described my preferred method of darkening the sky and lightening the ground, the Graduated Neutral Density Filter. Sometimes you can't use a GND - one common reason in my case is that I'm using a lens too wide to fit one too, such as the Nikkor 14-24 used in these two shots. Then you can do the job in post. In both of these shots the Nikon Capture NX software has been used, but if you have a RAW processor that can't manage this, then process the shot twice, layer the two shots over each other in Photoshop and then use Quick Mask to blend one version into the other.

Sunday 3 January 2010

Graduated Neutral Density Filters - 3/1/2010

Note the witty title today. These aren't really a very witty subject - they are a grey filter darker at the top than the bottom, and they enable you to have a lit ground with a darker sky. They're pretty essential frankly, yet they are seen as esoteric. If you want to take landscape shots where you can see the ground yet the sky isn't blown out, then you need one. This is probably the most useful tip I've given you so far...