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Monday, 28 February 2011

Black & White Photography Is Enjoying A Revival?

I saw this article on the Canon website and thought it was really interesting.You might also enjoy a read through......

Black and white photography is enjoying a revival, although it has never really gone away. Why does it continue to be so popular?
There is a certain nostalgia about black and white; not just memories of old photographs but early television too. In fact black and white is very effective at emphasizing the shapes and tones of the subject. Black and white can produce a strong image from a subject that might look weaker in colour.
To help your understanding of black and white photography this tutorial will look at the following areas:

• Winter landscapes
• Portraits
• Urban landscapes
• Night photography
• Using filters
• ‘Seeing’ in black and white
• Shooting JPEG and RAW files

Winter landscapes
Winter landscapes are well suited to black and white photography. At this time of year there is often very little colour in a scene – no vibrant greens and few red or yellow flowers. A snow-covered landscape is already mostly monochrome. You can concentrate on the shapes of leafless trees, stone walls and buildings. Composition and contrast become key elements of the image.
The rule-of-thirds is especially useful in black and white photography, with little colour to distract the eye. Imagine a grid drawn in the camera viewfinder – two vertical lines and two horizontal lines giving four intersections. Aim to place your main subject at one of these intersections. This produces a strong composition.
Another compositional aid is the receding perspective. You can see this if you take a photograph looking down a road or along railway tracks. The lines of the road or track appear to converge, even though we know they are parallel. The eye is attracted to the lines and drawn into the image.

Click here to continue on the Canon website ...

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Back-up Those Vital Photos And Keep Them Safe

I first wrote the entry below a couple of years ago and posted it on what was my then new blog. I was the first entry and it received no hits. Not to be disheartened I left it a couple of years and didn't do much else until I created this blog which thankfully is somewhat more successful.

A few recent events, namely by son dropping a NetBook PC scrambling the hard disk, my wifes PC deciding to set itself back to factory state, formatting the hard disk in the process and then the recent Christchurch earthquake reminded me of this piece I wrote way back then.

On reading it the same is as true today as it was then, especially if you have valuable documents on your PC such as photos or carefully crafted documents for your work. Your documents don't have to be valuable in the financial sense, even if they are of purely sentimental value they deserve a little thought into how they should be preserved.

There was a time when your documents would be wholly on paper and keeping copies safe for posterity was quite a task. Nowadays it is so much easier and just needs the application of a little time, thought and perhaps a little money to make sure your documents it happens.

The piece, which I have edited a little to bring it up to date, read as follows:

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Reach for your camera first, and then the sky.

I've had a great time reading Exploring with a Camera: Capture the Sky and wanted to share with you some of my experiences.

For me sunrise and sunset gives the opportunity for capturing some excellent colours and vistas. I love this shot which puts the foregound in shadow whilst showing off the evening colours. By the way his wasn't taken with a wide angle lens but the cropping has made some think that it was.

This is a late afternoon image with the sun finally peeking out after a dull, rainy day. Great sky colours with just enough contrast to be able to show off the contours of the rocks in the foreground.

A deep blue sky gives an excellent opportunity to show off some some foreground colours. The red and white of this RAF parachute stack is off set beautifully against the deep blue sky and the landscape cropping accentuates the subject.

This image shows off some real angry clouds, it's a classic shot with a low horizon and plenty of sky.

Finally, the most difficult shots I find are air-show shots. The main difficulty is shooting into a bright sky, varying from bright white to dark blue whilst panning to capture a moving subject at a slow enough exposure to show the motion of turbo-props rather than freeze them totally. Thankfully when you get it right it can be really right as these images show.

Now I can follow your blogs through Snaptu :)

As I commute for a number of hours each day I tend to use my (not so) smart phone to keep up-to-date with Twitter, Facebook and other sites of interest. As the Widgets and Web interface are somewhat clunky on my phone I use a download from Snaptu to which provides an excellent suite of apps to do this.

Today I had a big "hurrah" moment when I realised that the Snaptu News & Blogs app would let me read in my favourite blogs from Google Reader so I can check them out in the Snaptu interface - awesome.

Thanks Snaptu!

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

The Rule of Thirds (or not)

I'm posting this in response to a great piece over at thekateyeview about "The Rule of Thirds" and the focal point in an image. The focal point itself is never one of my considerations when composing an image, I just like to capture something that's a little bit different so I guess I generally always go with the rule of thirds, to a point.

It made me think about this series that I took a couple of weeks ago, one of which was my Sweet Shot Tuesday image last week.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Angry Skies and Wet Sands - Sweet Shot Tuesday 22/02

Last weekend was an opportunity to stay with family near Bournemouth, on the south coast of England. Often called "The English Rivera" it is a beautiful area in the summer with long sandy bays and many hours of sunshine. Of course in February it's different. The skies were heavy and angry with an occasional hint of sunshine.

When the sun did come out there was a contrast between the dark and white clouds, the wet and dry sand with the blue of the sky and grey of the cloud reflecting on the sand where it was wet.

Sweet Shot Day

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Cardiff Bay in the early spring sunshine - SST 15/02

The winter has been a grim one and I've been struggling to coordinate having my camera to hand with a dry and sunny day, and those have been few and far between.

Thankfully I took my camera to work recently and the weather obliged so I took a look around Cardiff Bay to see what appealed.

My eye is often drawn by objects that make up "lines", be it a road disappearing off into the distance or an avenue of trees and I like to find an angle that is new to me and perhaps to others also viewing the same objects.

On this occasion I ducked under a foot bridge at Roald Dahl Plass  (English - Roald Dahl Plaza) named after the children's author) to view the structures which act as ventilators for the old dock structure below.

I love the lines they made and took some shots from different angles but the one displayed below is one of my favourites.

Whilst it's somewhat stunning in itself with the blue skies, white clouds and the copper roof of the Wales Millennium Centre in the background I decided I wanted to see what else I could do to make the image more interesting.

As a Linux user my Photo Editor of choice is GIMP (no Photoshop for us folk) so I had a look through to see what it could for me with this image. After the obligatory Crop and Sharpen I looked through the different plug-ins to see what caught my eye. In the end I decided to go for the "Canvas" look on both a Colour and Black & White representation of the image.

On the Colour representation (above) the canvas effect wasn't very apparant so I used a setting of 6.

On the Black & White image the effect could be seen more readily so I used a setting of 4.

Actually my favourites are the original image and the Black & White. What's your favourite?

Monday, 14 February 2011

University Fees, Egypt and Protests - Is there a lesson to be learned?

Well did we expect that result in Egypt? What with relatively little violence and no major intervention by the army or police?

I thought it was really interesting to hear the rhetoric of various politicians of different political persuasions and countries telling now ex-President Mubarak how he should listen to the wishes of the people.

Cut back a few weeks to the rallys, marches and ?riots by British marchers complaining about the new upper limit on University tuition fees. There was no intention of British politicians to listen to the wishes of the people whatsoever.

I started to think about how the Egyptians (and before them the East Germans, Poles and others) managed to overthrow a whole government relatively peacefully whereas we can't even overthrow an incoming government policy.

The answer that came to me was twofold. Firstly the word "peaceful" was very prominent and the second thing that became apparent was the longevity of the protest.

It seems to be that the typical western approach to these things is to all turn up at pretty much the same time, march about shouting for a while and after a few hours all pack up and go home again. In order to break up the boredom there are always a number of people who want to turn violent and stir things up and bit bringing the riot police in and no doubt exasperating those who only want to protest peacefully.

If we go back to Egypt we'll have seen that the protesters were united in their ultimate aim, were organised, seemed to have some kind of plan and stuck together. There were seemingly no factions running around winding up the police or army thus keeping them, if not necessarily on their side, in a position where they had no real reason to intervene. The other point of note was the longevity of the protest, none of this turning up and 9 and clocking off at 5 again to get home in time for tea. No, the people of Egypt were in control and stuck to their aim and ultimately succeeded.

It makes me wonder what would happen if those protesting about the rise in University tuition fees really got their act together and arranged a long protest bringing in protesters almost on a shift basis to keep up the pressure.

What would happen if Trafalgar Square was brought to a stop for a number of days with nobody going out of their way to antagonise the police. Would President Obama and other world leaders be standing up telling David Cameron how should listen to the people? Maybe not, but we can dream.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Red Skies At Night - A Photographers Delight? My SST 08/02

Wow, another week down and now we're now well into February. I've been wondering where the last few weeks have gone and I don't have to concentrate for too long to realise that most of them went on trying to work out what we are going to for a summer break this year. Thankfully now that's all in the bag so I hope to be able to get back to some more regular blogging, and continue to experiment with different photography styles.

Last week I used a substitute image as I wasn't able to copy the latest images from my memory card. Thankfully I found the USB cable for the camera so I'm now able to show the image I hoped to bring last week.

The subject is down to my son who alerted me with a shout of "Red Sky". I didn't have long to get some shots off before the sun went down for the night and there was certainly no time for a tripod so I had to keep the speed up high enough for a hand held shot whilst keeping it long enough for the low light.

I love the colours in the background with the near silhouette of the houses and tree to the fore. It sure was my delight for that night.

Sunset Facing West Over North Somerset

Camera: Panasonic
Model: DMC-FZ8
ISO: 125
Exposure: 1/30 sec
Aperture: 2.8
Focal Length: 6mm

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Sweet Shot Tuesday 01/02 - Publish and be damned

I'm sure that was what somebody said and that's what I'm going to do.

In my case it's not the shot I took on Sunday night of the awesome sunset with the multi-coloured sky. Unfortunately I must have some kind of corruption on the memory card in my camera as I can't get to the most recent pictures I took. My camera will display them but neither PC will, and can I find the USB cable for my camera? No!

So instead, and this is where published and be damned comes in, I'm posting one from the archives. Not really in the spirit of SST but it's still one of my Sweet Shots.

This was taken at Bournemouth Air Show in the summer. I found it very difficult to shoot due to very bright, sunny conditions with the sun reflecting off the sea and a sky that quickly changed from dark blue to bright white as you tracked across it. As the show was some hours long I just kept changing settings, and amongst the many I took I got some excellent shots.

This is an image of our very own RAF Parachute Display Team as they came down towards the beach in a "stack". As I was cropping I noticed "RAF" emblazoned on the underside of the canopies.

<Salutes and stands to attention. Makes yer proud to be British!>

For me the simple bright colours contrast beautifully and I hope you enjoy this one as much as I do.

Camera: Panasonic
Model: DMC-FZ8
ISO: 100
Exposure: 1/1000 sec
Aperture: 4.0
Focal Length: 21.6mm