Photography Blog

I have started to document my journeys out with my camera, it will help me looking back at my adventures and help you to get closer to my thoughts and expressions in Photography.

I welcome comments and suggestions, especially on locations to visit.

Please comment below to suggest locations.

What have I learnt so far in my Photography Journey?

What have I learnt so far in my Photography Journey?

How did I get into photography people ask, expecting me to say I have been shooting since the film days using a darkroom, not because of my age, but it seems that’s what most photographers often say!

Well no, actually a change in career meant I had more time on my hands and I needed to fill this void with something, a new hobby.  So while working a normal working week Monday to Friday and volunteering for a local charity, the Samaritans, I bought a Nikon D5300 which was a big purchase for me.

I was quite cleaver, I was researching for some time what camera to buy and had exhausted the typical YouTube community, Tony and Chelsea, Fro Knows Photo plus many more as you can imagine.  Given my budget and my lack of experience I thought the Nikon D5300 was a good start.

Almost immediately I put the camera into Manual mode due to over the top research I have done, I felt like I knew everything already and of course I was wrong.  I learnt about how Aperture affects depth of field, and how the shutter speed can influence movement and how to compensate using my get out clause ISO.

Overall I felt my images were looking good, they were well exposed and not clipping highlights or shadows.  The problem was that I so fixated with the settings I was missing the most important point, which is that I wasn’t shooting something interesting!  My subjects were just boring!

Composition, the rule of thirds, foreground interest, leading lines etc etc did change everything for the better, but I thought based on YouTube that if I get my settings right my images would look amazing, but they weren’t!

YouTube tutorials round 2.

I researched everything I could and I was slowly getting it, I was taking photography days out, heading out early to catch the best light and staying out late for blue hour and I was starting to really grow as a Photographer, I liked the images I was taking, yes many were not great but I had a few keepers that I was really proud of, so much so that I entered an image into my local Contemporary Arts Festival Photography Open. The image I submitted was an image of a bike in a small village in Romania and it got accepted and was also sold at the Festival. I was so proud of myself that I had to go out and take more images. This was it i was hooked…..

Some years had passed and rather arrogantly thought I was due an upgrade.  I wanted better low light capabilities from a Full Frame camera, I wanted a better sensor.  I researched and researched and arranged an agreement with my wife, (Big Purchase I thought it was wise to discuss this with her!) that I would save up for a new Full Frame DSLR – wow!

I was happy with Nikon as I knew the layout of the menus etc so didn’t want to change, what should I buy?  I decided it was a choice between a Nikon D810 or a Nikon D750.

I decided on the Nikon D750, why you are probably thinking, well the D810 was quite abit more expensive so I thought it best to invest this into good glass, also I didn’t really need the high Megapixels in the D810, I was going to print but not that big, also the D750 is essentially very similar to the D810, same focus system etc.  What swung it was the dynamic range and low light capabilities of this camera which is still one of the best on the market, SOLD! 

I was so impressed with my new DSLR and still am today, it’s just an amazing camera, one that is very very good at everything, but maybe not the best on the market at 1 thing but wow this is so good at shooting in the dark and the dynamic range means that in post I often do very little sometimes in the basic panel.

So where was I, Learning that it!

I’d stepped up in class here but I must be honest at first I wasn’t seeing much difference in the quality of the images, why I often asked?

Well, I suppose what I’m trying to say is that we live in such a beautiful country here in the UK with the Coast, Beach, Countryside, Greenery, Hills, Peaks, Mountains and Lakes it doesn’t matter what camera you have if you put yourself infront of these wonderful places at the right time you will get amazing images!

Was my D750 then a waste? absolutely not, I love it and wouldn’t change it for the world, it just gives me that knowledge that when I press the shutter that I am capturing the very best information with this amazing sensor.

So what is my message?

My message is that yes, invest in gear I’m not saying don’t do this if you are interested in this and have the funds, however to really create great images you need to invest in great experiences, it sounds cliché but it’s true, if you put yourself in front of great things you will take great images, no matter what camera you have.

Regarding learning, do your research, learn how to shoot in the manual and semi manual modes, do shoot RAW, do edit your images, understand composition, asking what do I like, what don’t I like and don’t include things you don’t like in your images but ultimately get out! Invest in good walking boots, waterproofs etc and just understanding the “Rules” and “How to use your Camera” is only the start and doesn’t give you great images immediately.

When I say “Rules”, Composition, the rule of thirds, foreground interest, leading lines etc but often “Rules” are there to be broken aswell so do break them from time to time.

I hope this blog has demonstrated that we all have a photography journey, some long, some short, using a variety of gear.  Photography is a discovery journey and is its individual to you. So again my message is don’t get too hung up on the latest gear, just get out and shoot, invest in experiences and you will be amazed how much you will develop as a Photographer.

Your images will then look amazing, trust me.

Thanks

Below is the image that really started things off for me, the one that i submitted to the Arts Festival and was sold. It looks amazing printed.

website (1 of 1)-38.jpg
Source: 2018/9/24/whathavelearntsofar

A rainy morning. Llyn Ogwen in North Wales

I looked at the weather, rain, clouds and sun, a typical North Wales summers day I thought, great for Landscape Photography too! 

Where shall I go? Its bank holiday weekend so it would be busy, I needed a place where I could get away from the crowds, maybe the weather will deter some people.  I knew I wasn’t going to make sunrise given the 2 hour drive and poor forecast first thing.

I decided on Llyn Ogwen which can be reached along the A5 which runs through Snowdonia national park.  I googled images from here and done the typical “Check You Tube” out, and this location looked good.  My plan was to walk up the eastern side of the lake as from here there is a stream that runs down the mountain side towards the lake, as well as a few small waterfalls which could act as come good foreground interest. The mountain Tryfan is also opposite which would add a great backdrop to the image. 

After Parking along the A5 wrapped up in waterproofs I set off up the mountain, I did not intend to hike the whole way just as far as to tick off the image I had in my head.

Then the heavens opened and it rained and rained.  When it stopped I managed to capture my 1st image but quickly realised I needed to be higher up.  It was so hard keeping the lens clean and using the Lee filters (Polarizer, ND and ND Grads) it was almost impossible to keep the water off.

I made it up to the waterfalls and stream where I could get a good view of Tryfan and Llyn Ogwen and I was looking for a composition where the stream ran through the image from left to right and I had  both the Mountain and the Lake in the frame.  Camera on tripod, using the Lee Polarizer, 0.9 Medium edge ND Grad and the little stopper (6 Stop ND Filter) with a 2 second timer I captured a few images I like.

After it stopped raining, sun, then clouds, then hale, more sun and some rain, as well as lunch I decided to head back down with no idea if the images I took where keepers or not.  I had already notice many images had water drops, so I knew I would need to use Photoshop to correct this.

It’s interesting when hiking up a mountain I always think the worst part is going up, but it’s often the journey down which is just as difficult, and it certainly was the case here, slipping twice on the way down with knees shaking I made it back to the car.

As soon as I got home I uploaded the images into Lightroom and quickly sorted the keepers from those ruined, which there was quite a few due to the rain.

I was happy with some images I took and I have shared them on my website, I hope you like them.

Gear used.

Nikon D750, Sigma 24-105 F4 Art, Lee Landscape Polarizer, Lee Little Stopper, 0.9 Medium ND Grad, 0.6 Soft ND Grad.

1st Attempt Motorsport Photography

Well........ I pubicize that im a Landscape and Street Photographer yet here I am talking about Motorsport Photography!

I was given the opportunity to visit Oulton Park for the 2018 British Touring Car Championship, not only this but it would be VIP treatment and access with Hospitality, garage access, grid walk prior to Race and to be with the team throughout the race. 

I really didnt know what to expect..... being a guy who drives an old Peugeot a sports car was abit alien to me, but ive always admired the tech and the speed and wondered what it would be like.

We gave all our support to the WIX Eurotech Racing with Jack Goff and thank them for the wonderful experience.

OK, Photography wise i hadnt a clue, so 2 days before im watching YouTube videos on Motorsport Photography, taken notes and thought i was ready.... I really wasnt :)

Poised and ready to shoot the race started.... I started firing off 6 frames per second on my D750 and nothing was in focus everything was too fast and it was a disaster.  I changed settings, shutter at 160/sec to 250/sec, auto ISO and F10 with my 70-200 F2.8 Lens.  The challenging part was that it was a very sunny day and i the only way i could keep the ISO so low (100-400) and more importantly the shutter speed in control, was to shoot at F8-F12.

We moved and changed composition and felt at 250/sec seamed to go well at F10 and Auto ISO keeping it at 100. I was using the group AF function, back button focusing at 6 frames per second on the D750, the group AF is the same as in the D810 and the D5 and it safed everything, its just amazing. My images seamed to be more in focus and going well.

That was a real learning experience and it wasnt easy at all.  I expected it to be easier but it really wasnt. 

I have shared some of the images i shot at the event below.

Any comments would be much appreciated, it was so much fun and would definately do that again.

Challenging yourself at Photography really pushed the knowledge of my gear and I cant recomend it enough to do something out of your comfort zone.

Let me know your thoughts!

Trip to the Lake District

I took the opportunity while my wife was away to book myself into a hotel in the Lake District for 2 Nights.  I would head there after work, look forward to a beer and some food in the pub attached and get up early with a full day planned.

The plan was to get up for sunrise over Lake Buttermere and the lone tree to start, the problem i had was that i was stuck in traffic and didnt arrive at the hotel until late so i knew getting up for 5am was going to be a challenge which it was....

I was up and about at 6.30am and in the car driving to Lake Buttermere for 7am.  While driving to lake Buttermere i noticed the amazing light we were getting and i had to make a decision fast, either keep going and risk losing the good light or stop somewhere and try and utilise this great light we were getting.

I stopped to make the most of the light at Crummock Water and i am so glad that i did.  The light was amazing and i spent about 2 hours here getting some great shots. Some have made it to my landscape portfolio on my website. 

Feeling smug that i had made the right decision i headed to Lake Buttermere and to the Lone Tree.  When i had parked up and got to the tree the sun was high in the sky and was quite harsh, although i did get a couple of shots i was happy with.

I walked around the lake and took some great images making it around the lake in a few hours. I stopped also to have lunch and by this time i was thinking of where to go for sunset.

What is the plan i was thinking, the sun was too harsh at the moment so i knew i had a few hours before the light would soften. 

I decided to take the 1.5 hour drive to Wast Water, this place was very remote and i was almost alone.  I was also getting tired and it was great to be able to park the car and not do to much of a difficult walk.  I shot a few panoramas and started to look for a composition for sunset.

As the sun was going down behind me we were getting some lovely orange light hitting the mountains in front of me.

After the sun went down i packed up and drove the 1 hour back to the hotel.  Its such a good feeling and a proud moment knowing your are happy with your images and really cant wait to get them home to start processing them.

After a meal in the hotel and a few beers (again!) it felt like 1 beer was actually 3 after being in the fresh air all day, put it this way, i slept well.

After breakfast the next morning i headed home.

What an amazing weekend!