28 February 2012

Top Tips #9

Something very odd has happened here. I noticed that the admin side of blogger changed recently and it seems it took my top tips about portraits away with it. I shall re-write and report very soon.

That has made me lose my stride. Never mind, sure I can remember what I said.

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25 February 2012

New love

Last night I met the Man of my dreams.

Got to stand next to him most of the evening.
Got to get my hands around him.
Got to put him through his paces.
Got to play with his legs - they go at right angles.
Marvelled at how much easier it is to use his joystick head.

He has opened up so many possibilities for me ...

Have you guessed yet?

I've met my Man, I've met a Man that will make my life easier and will help open up areas I have been reluctant to explore.

I've met my Manfrotto.

322rc2 Joystick friction grip - a joy to hold!

055xProB legs - legs that can do this are very useful

Quick look online shows that this Man is probably going to cost me about £250 but it will be well worth it as currently I hate my tripod so much I never use it. However this was a joy to use (possibly because of the joystick head - never has something been so aptly named). Will check out the business coffers this afternoon and see if it's something it can afford to buy me.

Sigh <3

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24 February 2012

Excellence Awards

Have arrived at the venue for the Burton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust Staff Excellence Awards evening. The fully repaired, tried and tested Canon 300D is set up on the tallest tripod I have got and it is happily capturing an image every 30 seconds as the room for the event transforms into the spectacle it will be.

The meet and greet area has been set up with a backdrop of 9 feet of light blue curtain which we have framed with balloons on one side and an artificial plant on the other.

Now all we need is for the room to really start changing - the balloons and table decorations are in, next the tables will be set and the star light cloth will be switched on. And then the people, 270 people will be arriving.

Should be fun.

Team work - the backdrop is tested out!

The camera kept going for 7 hours capturing approx 830 images. Fingers crossed it got the transformation and everyone arriving. Had immense fun offering portrait shots in the meet and greet area - particularly to the award winners.
So many happy smiling faces.
Had a wonderful time and thanks to the team for generously catering for us and to Alan who has helped me understand more about people management at events like this.

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23 February 2012

Clear night for ...networking

After cloudy nights hampering my chance to capture the ISS again I was delighted to see a sunny day today, which bode well for a clear star filled night. However I was trying out a new networking event. This time with fellow creatives. Very interesting. Hatch'd at Quad in Derby. I may have even received a commission - brilliant. But all this meant I was not able to get out with my camera.

Encouraged to attend this meeting by the delightful Tilley from Red Door Studios. Great chance for us to catch up with each other and discuss our current projects. Useful advice and support given and very gratefully received. Hoping to attend again next month and get some other creative people interested, here's hoping that Michele from Redroo Creatives is feeling better and comes along with us.

Signed up to get involved with Director Marinella Senatore who is producing Derby Soap Opera - the world's largest film. It will be a fascinating project to be involved with.

I may not have captured the ISS this evening but I have had a really rather splendid time networking and caught glimpses of Venus and Jupiter whilst we were driving up and down the A38.

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21 February 2012

Cloudy evening

Nothing to show from last night as the cloud cover hampered any possible thoughts of a capture. However I have sparked a bit of interest about ISS.
If you are interested then I don't mind sharing where I get my information from. The first key to getting to see the ISS is finding out when its orbit will take it near you and where in the night sky you will see it. There are many websites to help - here are some I use:
  • ISSTracker.com
  • heavens-above.com
  • Guardian.co.uk - the science/spacewatch section of their website has useful and interesting information.
Have fun sky watchers and send me an email with your experiences/experiments.
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20 February 2012

Time-Lapse Calculator

Having created a few time-lapse 'films' recently I realise that I need a quick way of working out the maths connected with this process.

The number of images I need to capture to create a decent final result is worked out by knowing how long I will be capturing images for and how long and many frames per second I want the final 'film' to be.

I have set up an excel spreadsheet to help me with the maths - wonder if I could make this an iPad app? It certainly needs to be easily available when I am out and about and capturing time-lapses.

Here's my first stab at it:

Well I know what it means

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Ball and Chain

I have been trying to work out a way to attach my business card to a CD/DVD in a wallet or a memory stick. I have had some small business cards created which say 'Your images from ...' with my details on the back. Currently I have been attaching the card by string - which looks quaint but in my opinion looks untidy.

I love the ball and chain cords that you normally see on blinds and I know you can get them smaller as I have seen them used to attach tags and instructions onto products.

I finally found a company that supplies what I want (Sturge) and they can supply ready-made or the component parts for me to construct myself. Unfortunately I have been unable to work out exactly what it is I want from their long list of options. Today I received a product which had a ball and chain attaching a tag to the packaging in exactly the size I want - RESULT. Now I have something I can photograph and send to the Sturge for them to give me a quote on.


This is how I want it all to work

Fingers crossed that the prices add up and I can purchase these. I can see so many uses. Not only are fingers crossed but they are tingling too.

Minimum order is 10,000 units or 500 metres. I think that is rather too much for my requirements. I shall pursue the ideas passed to me the other day by helpful and resourceful friends.

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19 February 2012

ISS again

As promised I went out again and this time captured the ISS from the top of Breedon on the Hill. Brrr it was cold. But got a much clearer view of the sky and of course being nearer to East Midlands Airport meant a few aeroplanes were captured too.

This is a very short film but watch out of ISS at 6 seconds. Don't get confused with the aeroplane trails.

There is no sound on this video.

In case you missed it here is a still from the video:
ISS approaching Jupiter
Will try again tomorrow.

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Cosmic Time-Lapse

If you are a keen watcher of the night sky you will not have failed to notice the delight of being able to see Venus and Jupiter shining brightly down on us from the South West. I discovered yesterday that the ISS (International Space Station) on its orbit will be visble to us. I have missed it so many times because of cloud cover so yesterday I was hoping that the rain would go. Not only was it going to be visble to us in UK but that it's trajectory would mean we would see it flying (seemingly) between Venus and Jupiter.

I have used what I captured to create this 25 second film. Make sure you are paying attention at approx 12 seconds and you will see ISS whizz up between the brightness of Venus and Jupiter.

There is no sound on this video

In case you miss it in the video - here is a still.
ISS just approaching Jupiter

Now that I have fixed the 300D and it has passed it's rigor tests I am back in the land of looking for ideas for capturing interesting time-lapse events. I thought this was an excellent and challenging idea. I got my act together and about an hour before the ISS was due to pass over I captured the stars out of the open lounge window. Worked wonderfully. Also tried out a few different settings with the camera to see if I could make improvements.

For the actual capture I decided to set up the camera in the window of the office. Three issues created a 'not as good as it could have been' result to this film - one: the street light opposite the house has cast an orangeness to the finished product; two: I shot through the window which is never a good idea; and three: the steam from the central heating boiler occasionally wafts across the scene slightly spoiling it.

On Reflection:
Every time I complete a time-lapse I learn so much - both with techniques to capture the images and also with the software in handling the images and producing the 'film'. Have to say I love every minute of it. Am going out again tonight as ISS is going to be visible once again around 6.45pm this time passing to the left of Venus and Jupiter. I am going to try an outdoor position (so no window and no steam) and away from orange street lights. Results will be blogged about later.

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15 February 2012

Photo Tips #8

Top tips for you and your camera


We all love capturing a stunning landscape image don't we? After all they don't move around, they don't say they don't want their photograph taken and they usually always look beautiful! But they can be tricky blighters - tricky to get that stunner.

This week I'll share with you a few tips to help your landscape images really shine.
  • Really? - First you need to get to the bottom of what it is about this view that is really worth capturing. Have a look around, move around, view it from other angles, think about squatting down.
  • Composition - Think about composition - create a shape, with your thumbs and fingers or create a 'frame' and carry that with you. use it to hold up and frame the shot you are after. Do all this before you get your camera out. How does the scene look through your makeshift frame? Worth capturing?
  • Is it there? - Don't let your camera do all the work - pre-visualise the result in your head - then look hard, is that idea you have in your head actually there?
  • Emotion - Are you drawn to this image you have framed. Do you have an emotional response to it? If so - get your camera out.
  • Control the Light - Don't think about landscape photography on bright sunny days - they are not good photography days. Think about changeable weather. After a rain storm is perfect. Or the golden hours (hour after sun rise or hour before sun set)
  • Conclusion - See what you want to capture - don't just be happy with what you got.

Next top tip - Portraits  - next week.

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Catching up

Oh look I haven't written anything since 5th Feb and suddenly it's the 15th - were did the last ten days go?
This week's top tips will be posted later on today - if anyone has requests then please ask.
I captured some workplace portraits a couple of Fridays ago which I will share with you now that I know my client is happy. I had such a hoot completing this job I really hope we can work together again. I also met the local handyman - there are times when I get fed up of doing DIY jobs so I am going to keep his number close by.
I have been asked to undertake another photo restoration which I collected yesterday and once everything has been finalised I shall share some of those images with you.
I have been to a Business Show at Castle Donington where I got the chance to chat with potential future customers about an idea I have. They were all quite excited about the idea and said I should contact them when I was ready to roll the idea out. Now all I have to do is work out the package and the extras. I'm seeing my mentor on Friday this will be one of the topics on the agenda.
Tomorrow I am going to fix the 300D now that I have the correct bonding agent. Hope I wont be shaken by the results but stirred to create new work.

Will add a pic later and then show you the work mentioned above in seperate blogs.

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05 February 2012

Arden - in print

It's here
It's in print

Arden - the book I produced an image for the cover - is now available in print.
I noticed that someone has already read it and given it a glowing review.
5 stars.

Even better than this I have received an email from Nick (the Author) inviting me to his book signing at Waterstones, Sutton Coldfield next Saturday. Nick will be setting up stall around lunchtime and here's hoping he gets loads of interest.

Fabulous - this is solving ALL of my Christmas and Birthday gift giving this year.

so chuffed

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Photo Tips #7

Top tips for you and your camera

# 7 - SNOW

OK I know I said this one would be landscapes but as it snowed over the weekend I thought you would like some ideas about capturing the snow. There's loads - here goes:

  1. Don't start shooting as soon as you go outside. You must let your camera acclimatise to the cold. Your lens will probably mist up. Also your batteries will run out very very quickly so make sure you take lots of spares with you, warm and snug in your pocket.
  2. Remember your camera is not as good as your eye and it will see everything as 18% grey. This is because the highly reflective tones of snow confuse your cameras metering. It can cope when an image has everything from black to white but when its just white your camera will underexpose - hence grey snow.
  3. Override your cameras automatic settings using exposure compensation or by switching it to manual and taking control yourself. Set to plus 1 or 2 stops - depends on how much snow. Some compact cameras have a "snow" setting - use it. It will have already made those adjustments for you and you'll get much better results.
  4. If you are not sure how many stops adjustment you should make then capture the same shot again and again - make half stop adjustments on each shot. Review them on the spot to help you decide which is the best setting and use that for future shots. Or leave it till you get home when you have downloaded them to discover which is the most pleasing. With a full range of exposure settings you could try and HDR them - I will discuss this on a future top tip.
  5. Avoid getting your digital camera wet, so don't go out whilst it is snowing. The snow quickly melts on your camera and the water can easily get into those delicate digital/electronic parts. If you do go out cover up your camera using a plastic bag and put an elastic band around the lens. Perhaps it's time to get your old film camera out!
  6. Make sure you have details in the shot - trees, walls, hedges - or it will be a bland wash of white. Spiders webs looks great on a darker background, but make sure you get out there before the sun melts the frost.
Quick tips:
  • Dress warm - protect your fingers.
  • Avoid photographing snow when it's an overcast dull day.
  • Remember shadows will help you and add depth and interest.
  • As always - look for patterns.
  • Put sun 45 degrees behind you it will create nice shadows.
  • Batteries will run out fast - take plenty of spares.
  • Use filters if you have them - graduated ones can give lovely results.
  • Take your time, be careful and have fun.

Next top tip ... Landscapes (I promise) ... Next week
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