Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Your first wedding part 4

You have been to the grooms house, now it's the brides turn. The idea is to get her being made up, getting dressed and generally being pampered.
Now the brides house is lightly to be a lot more chaotic than the grooms, for a start there's usually more people there, and they take more getting ready, the make-up, hair, the dresses are more work to get on etc. Expect the bride to be late, not all are but it's fairly common for her to be a bit late, my record is 55 minutes late for the registrar, and trust me he wasn't a happy bunny!! That is a bit extreme though.
Now the tricky bit is you have to photograph her getting in the car, then you have to get to the church before her, to get her arriving. Wayne

Monday, March 30, 2009

Marina and challenged

Yesterday I went for a little walk to chill out in the early evening, I was feeling a bit stressed out truth be told. I ended up at Swansea marina, it's not far to go for a wander, here are some of the pics I took.
While shooting the bridge picture I was challenged by the guy walking on the bridge, he was I believe Indian or Bangladeshi, he wanted to know why I was taking photos... at least I think that's what he was asking, sadly his English was terrible, even worse was my Bangla, I only speak a few words literally, so the conversation was a short one. He wasn't nasty or threatening, to be fair, just courious, sadly he left not much enlightened.
On the subject of the marina, what the heck is going on there? theres flowers for those who have drowned everywhere! the last figure I can get is for Jan 2008, and it was 17 then, and I know theres been a few last year, that seems a lot, far more than normal. Wayne

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Focus stacking

Focus stacking, no I'm not talking about what you get in a Ford garage with a very bad driver, I'm talking about stacking several images together to get a deeper depth of field (more in focus)
This has become popular with macro photographers, enabling them to get all the flower in focus, rather than just the shallow area you'd normally get with a macro lens.
Here I have used it for a landscape type shot (just a test image) the interesting part here is it was shot at F4 on a 50mm lens on a crop sensor camera (equivalent of 75mm lens on 35mm) Theres no way you'd get this depth of field at F4 on that lens.
So hows it done.You take a series of images on a tripod ideally, 3 here, with the focus at different parts of the image, then you combine them to get the sharpest bits from them all. here I have used Photoshops stack layers and blend layers options, but theres other software around, notably CombineZM or Helicon focus. Wayne

Knowing with Nicolas Cage 2009

A film review for a change.
The plot, Nicolas Cage plays a dour astronomy teacher single parent. His sons school open a 50 year old time capsule containing among other things a list of numbers, Mt Cage decodes the numbers to discover a list of disasters past and future, he tries to prevent the future ones, but is there more going on than meets the eye, and who are the strangers, will he save the day?
The film, I found the film a bit slow, and very dark and moody, the special effects were excellent, brilliantly done. Personally I'm not sure about the ending, I sort of got the feeling they just got fed up with the whole thing and ended it quick, had I been the director I think I would have filmed a few alternative endings and tried them out on the audiences, and chosen the most popular.
Plot holes, now to be fair I was very tired when I watched this so I may have missed bits.
What are the black stones for? Why was the little girl who started it all house still intact and not vandalised? What does the second sheet of writing mean, and why doesn't Nick try and decode that? Why do the black stones float in the air? Why was a 50 year old door still there, don't they renovate places, and how does Nick know where to burn off the paint?.
Overall impression , to be fair the films not bad, I enjoyed it, it's an original idea (as far as I know) which makes a pleasant change these days, it's not an action film, but SC-FI, don't expect a "shoot-em-up" type film, more one that makes you think. my score 7.5 out of 10

Warning the special effects are quite graphic, if your squeamish you may be upset at some scenes, not suitable for minors in my opinion.


Friday, March 27, 2009

Dreading the weekend!

Yep, I'm dreading the weekend, mainly because it's that stupid time of year again where all of us (in the UK) have to alter our clocks forward to whats laughingly called British summer time!
What a ridiculous load of round spherical objects, and what a pain in the arse to do.
This silly idea was first started as a joke by Benjamin Franklin in 1784. Taken up by our government in 1916. Then most houses had a single clock that you moved the hands to set, and they had to be adjusted every day because they were fairly inaccurate anyway. Now it's a different story, more and more appliances have built in clocks, heating timers, even the lighting in many houses. Now it's a big time consuming job, and for what purpose I ask? Various reasons are given, from saving energy (popular now) to saving lives, neither are very convincing if you actually study the data.
Last night on my way to my mothers house we spotted a big fire in the Baglan industrial estate, I took a few pics on my moble phone, here they are. Wayne

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

More Bokeh shots

Heres another 2 Alien Skin Bokeh shots, one the Lensbaby effect (I added the chromatic aberation first ) and the other the vignette effect. Wayne

Lost your bokeh??

In case your wondering what the heck I'm ranting on about, it's bokeh. Bokeh is derived from the Japanese boke or bokeru, it means blurred or fuzzy, and I'm refering to the photographic use, throwing backgrounds out of focus.
In practice theres two ways to do this, you can use a fast (ideally long) lens which because of it's narrow depth of field make the background blurry, or you can do it post process with digital, the basic way is to select your subject (here a jolly handsome chap if I say so myself) and use one of the blur options in Photoshop or your favorite processing software.
Now theres a better way, Alien Skin have produced a Bokeh plug-in for photoshop or paint shop pro, again you have to select your subject, but now you have a lot more options for the blur, and lots of presets, like the Canon 85mm F1.2, it's able to alter the specular highlights (if you have them) into various shapes as well.
Another feature is a vignette effect, and a sort of lensbaby effect (or Planer focus) although for me it's missing the aberations present in the true LB shots.
Heres a before and after shot using Alien Skins Bokeh, personally I think it does a much better job than the photoshop blur, it doesn't leave the halo PS tends to with gausine blur. The killer is the price, the best part of £200.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Your first wedding part 3

If your doing the wedding all by yourself, your first call is the grooms house, get shots of him getting ready, putting on his tie and cuff links, showing the rings to the best man etc etc.
Here my groom went for a traditional open shave first in the barbers, a great chance for some different shots.
The grooms house is usually a lot quieter than the brides house, use this time to get your thoughts together, grab a cuppa if it's offered. It's all to easy to get dehydrated on hot days if your running around with a load of camera gear over your shoulder, so keep the fluids coming in. But not alcohol, that will dehydrate you more, and if you get plastered you'll probably mess up the wedding and make a proper twit of yourself. Wayne

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Hectic week!

Well what a week, my dear Mum's gone into hospital for a knee replacement. My hot water system decided to part company with life, leaving us with only cold water for 3 days. My kitchen light packed up, and to end it all I had the wedding from hell given to me for editing!!I have never seen anything like these images, how anybody can get such bad pics with a top of the range camera is beyond me, it's not so much the composition, it's the actual image quality, I can get better shots with a mobile phone camera!

Onto todays image, heres another HDR style image. Wayne

Monday, March 16, 2009

Hi ISO (or ASA as we oldies call it)

There's been a lot work done on improving hi ISO in digital cameras, Cameras like the Nikon D3/D700 can now happily shoot away at 1600 iso with no real noise issues. Well guess what! they will go even further if you don't mind a bit of grain/noise.
If your from a film background you'll know that anything over 1600 iso gave a fair bit of grain, people spent large parts of their lives trying to find ways to suppress it, some claimed Perceptol developer gave a finer grain (but affected the speed) others plumped for Microphen and lived with the grain but gained a speed increase.

Heres a digital photo, taken in available light (at night) at 1/40 th of a second at F4.5 at 135mm, taken at 25.600 ISO... no thats not 2.600 but twenty five thousand six hundred ISO! Yes it's got noise/grain, but by heck it good for that ISO. That would have taken a whole two seconds exposure at 400 ISO, try handholding that!.
The Nikon D3 is the one to beat in my book. Wayne

Friday, March 13, 2009

Black and white conversions

Theres a number of ways to get a good B+W conversion in photoshop, if you have CS3/4 theres the B+W palette, in the earlier versions the channel mixer was one of the better ways, desaturate was about the worst way.

There are a few plug-ins for photoshop giving half decent black and white coversions, virtual photographer is pretty good (and free last time I looked) DXO labs have a film pack that looks promising, it mimics the grain as well, and does some colour films, although I haven't tried it yet.

One I have tried is Nik silver fx pro (see pic) it's a plug-in for photoshop, and while it does a pretty good job, and has some natty features like a sort of zone system, colour filter effect, and some presets like sepia, it is expensive, around £160.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

McDonalds and HDR

I often pop into McDonalds in Briton ferry, it's handy for where I live and with two teenagers who are always hungry (I do feed them honest!!) it's usefull for a snack. I would like to say a quick snack, but sadly quick is something they don't do. Every time I go through the drive-thru I'm told to park up and wait, and I'm not the only one, it seems they aren't very effecient as a "fast food joint".

Onto the images, a few more HDR/tonemapped images, enjoy. Wayne

Monday, March 9, 2009

Whats you bag?

I got thinking about camera bags today, over the years I have had loads, my favorite was a Billingham 450, it was a decent size, well made and like the Tardis (bigger on the inside) the amount of kit I could get in was incredible! On a good day I could get 2 film cameras with motor drives, 8 lens, a Metz hammerhead flash, 2 boxes of Coking filters, plus loads of film etc etc etc.
You may notice I used the past tense... the reason is I no longer have the Billingham you see, good as the bag was, I'm not getting any younger, and with all that kit in it the weight was doing my already dodgy back in. At my age I really needed a rucksack type bag, so when the opportunity came up to swap the trusty Billingham for a rucksack, I jumped at it.

More HDR

Here's a few more HDR/tonmapped imaged, I have just got the new version of my favorite HDR software (dynamic photo HDR) and have been giving it a try out, there's a few changes to the interface but nothing really drastic, it's quite intuitive and simple to use.
These shots were taken last summer on a Nikon D2x, to be honest not the greatest camera in the world. Wayne

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Portraits and improving them.

If you take a lot of portraits you'll know that sometimes your subjects less than flattering, they may have skin blemishes, spots, acne, or just been whacked with the ugly stick. Fixing these problems can take a fair bit of time in Photoshop, well there are other ways. Portrait Pro is a great bit of kit, it makes it easy and quick to fix a lot of portrait issues, in fact everything from face shape to lip colour can be easily changed.
The first step is setting up a grid over the main features, while this looks complicated in the photo, it's actually dead simple and literally takes a few seconds, the next step is just moving simple sliders, or if you prefer there's presets.
Here our subject Tanya has lovely skin (and doesn't need any improvement) but she was a handy subject for these display photos. Wayne

Effects, love them or hate them.

Whether you like special effects on images or not is personal choice, I must admit I'm quite partial to a few, but it can be overdone. Here I have been trying a few new effects out. Theres Fractlius I mentioned previously, and Kubota actions used here. Wayne

Friday, March 6, 2009

Shooting your first wedding (part two)

Ok you have the gear, you have the bottle (No not the whisky! Dohh) And your all set to go, so what should you be doing.
Well a month or two before you should go and see the bride and groom, check all the details (things change all too often) finalise the package they want, and get any fees owning.
A week before the wedding, phone them and check again, you never know whats happened, also at this time you check out the venues, go to the church ideally the same time of day as the wedding (so the lighting will be from the same direction) and the reception venue. Look for places to shoot and things to avoid, now is also a good time to check the time it takes you to get from place to place. Don't do this ages before the wedding, about a week or less is best, to early and the builders might have moved in by the date of the wedding.
The days before the wedding, time to check you gear is all working properly and set it up to best quality or better still RAW (if your used to it) now is also the time to get fresh batteries for the flash and charge up your camera batteries (don't forget a spare set for both) charge your Mobile phone the same time
Print out the details of the wedding package, with all the addresses and contact numbers just in case you forget, check your cars ok and has plenty of fuel, a bottle of water or squash in case you get thirsty, and maybe a few energy bars for a munch, also pack a spare ironed shirt and deodorant, if it's a hot day and your running around you'll get sweaty, this gives you a chance to freshen up for the evening, and covers you if you get something spilled on you.
Next time on "shooting your first wedding" we talk about the wedding itself. Wayne

Thursday, March 5, 2009

And now for something completely different....

As they used to say on Monty Python. Theres a new process taking digital imaging by storm, it's called Fractalius, it's a photoshop plug-in, it seems it's the best thing since sliced bread. Personally I'm not convinced, in my case the jury is still out, indeed it's so far out it's booked in a hotel.... the one they used for the OJ Simpson jury. Wayne

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

part 2

Forgotten village

Had an amazing day today, I went ubexing again (urban exploring) This time two of us went and visited an abandoned town (how can people be so heartless?) it was in a bit of a state and we bumped into another ubexer there (he thought we were security lol) after we found the remains of a castle as well, a double. We got wet, we got dirty, we got photos! Enjoy.


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Black and white

Here are a couple of B+W images, taken around the Southerndown area of Wales.

I'm experimenting with a new way to get a HDR/improved shadow with images, I'm nearly there with it, when I have it working I'll share some images. Wayne

Shooting your first wedding (part one)

There's been a lot of questions on the photo forums recently asking about doing a first wedding, well for those of you thinking about it here's some advice.
First question do you think your good enough? if not then don't do it, remember it's somebodies special day, screw it up and you'll not be popular, there's no second chance.
Second question do you have good enough equipment?, not just a camera, equipment! A spare camera, lens, plus a spare lens, a good flash (yes and a spare, now your getting the idea) plenty of memory cards or film etc, a tripod is not always essential but jolly handy on times.
Next question can you handle the post process work? there's often a fair bit of work involved after the wedding in the editing, especially if they want an album with the frills.
Now we come to the actual pics themselves, what style do they want and can you do it? do they want formal, candid, arty, reportage/photo journalistic or something totally different? most in my experience want a bit of all, if you only have one style your kippered if they want something different.
Can you actually do the job, I know I asked in the beginning if you thought you were good enough, but there's more to it than just taking photos, you have to be a combination of photographer, organiser, safety officer and minder. You have to man manage the groups, getting the right people in the right places at the right time, you have to organise them and control the situation, you have to watch out for their safety, people posing on steps etc, and you may have to get some awkward so and so out of your shot, especially if your shooting in a public park, so minder as well.
That's the first installment, more to come soon on "shooting your first wedding!"

Monday, March 2, 2009

Bad wolf bay (Dr Who)

Here are a few photos of "Bad wolf bay" from Dr Who, actually Southerndown in Wales (nr Bridgend) A very pleasent place.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

A bridge too far

Here's a recent image, another HDR I'm afraid, well tone mapped anyway as you can't see the benefit of "real" HDR without a 32bit display.

This was taken in the Afan valley, I wonder how many young lads have crossed it for a dare in it's present state. Jolly dangerous if you ask me, it's a heck of a drop if you get it wrong, half a day out with the undertaker no problem. Wayne

Packaging I hate it.

Whats happened to Briton with packaging? it's gone mad, in Tesco the other week I asked politely for a carrier bag and was told bluntly NO! it was only when I put my shopping back out of the trolley and onto the counter and started to walk away the assistant gave me a carrier, For heavens sake hows some little old lady supposed to get a weeks shopping home? not everybody goes to town intending to buy shopping, they might just remember they need stuff while they are there, we don't all walk around stuffed with bags in case. When I asked why she didn't want to part with a carrier I was told it's all about saving the planet, in that case why do your teabag come in a bag inside a box then I asked.
On the subject of packaging, why is it carrier bags are made of thin cheap crap that a newspaper will fall through, when a memory card that weighs as much as a mayflies false eyelashes comes packed in something that's tough enough to be used in stab vests! You need oxyacetylene cutting gear to get the little devils out. Toilet rolls are another pet hate, why do they glue the ends down, you waste half the roll getting it open. I bought a roll of clingfilm the other week (saran wrap) the end was stuck down with tape, if clingfilm isn't clingy enough to stick to itself how the hells it supposed to stick to a plate of sandwiches or whatever?.