Nelson Staircase

Nelson

I went staircase crazy over the weekend and wandered around a few particular spots in London taking photos of staircases.

During this short outing I returned to Somerset House and attempted once more to take a photo of this, the Nelson Staircase. I’ve been here quite a few times before, but the lighting, the architecture, my mood, my drunkenness – or whatever – has meant I’ve never got a shot I’ve been very happy with. It’s a lovely staircase to view, but one that I personally don’t find easy to translate into a decent photo.

This is potentially my best effort yet though, I really like the orange light coming in from the lower level.

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Encroaching

Encroaching

I can’t for the life of me remember where this little village was.

I know it was in Italy.

Or Austria.

Pretty sure it was Italy though.

After a while all of these picturesque villages started to look the same, so it was wonderful to see this one on a day when the rain was constantly on and off, and the scenery was moving in and out of view as the weather worsened and cleared. I found that to be much more atmospheric than the blue skies we had earlier in the week.

Italy…I’m going for Italy for this one.

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Faroe Friend

Faroe Friend

The Faroe Islands is a treat for photographers. It’s packed with stunning, diverse landscapes with changeable weather conditions offering a lot of variety in what you are shooting.

I was pretty spoilt when I did a trip there last year with a few friends.

So I have to wonder why, nearly a year later, I’ve only processed one image from there…and it’s of a dog?

Don’t get me wrong, it was a lovely dog…but still.

As soon as we had parked up in a lovely little village this dog was running to greet us. The constant tail wagging seemed to shout ‘New Friend! New Friend!’ and he wasn’t taking no for an answer.

After an obligatory pet we wandered in search for the nearby pier and beach, and this dog was more than happy to follow.

Little did we know that the beach seemed to be his favourite place in the whole world!

I don’t know much about this dog, but in a short space of time I leant that he loves sand. Also, if there was one thing that he loved more than sand…it was stones. Combine those two and this dog went…well…mental.

I’m convinced if you cut this dog open he would consist of:

Pebbles – 70%
Sand – 20%
Dog – 10%

He relentlessly ran around, dug in the sand, chased pebbles, potentially ate pebbles, weaved in and out of us and my precariously placed tripod – just having a lovely time really.

It was a shame to say goodbye once we were done in that location.

So I’m sorry that you’re not seeing the epic landscapes that this place has to offer, but this little pooch has certainly brought me back some great memories of the trip.

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Limides Landscape

Limides Landscape

It’s been a couple of months since I returned from my trip to the Dolomites and thought I would look through a couple of images.

I can’t remember the exact time we got up this morning, but pretty sure it was sometime between 4 and 5 am as the drive to this location was over an hour, followed by a short walk to find ‘Lago di Limides’, a lake that was close by to this spot.

None of the sunrises were particularly spectacular on the trip, which is a shame as you do feel you should be rewarded for getting up early when on holiday. Still, even without amazing light you can’t go wrong with some of the scenery on offer.

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Axelborg II

Axelborg II

I spent a few days in Copenhagen on the way over to the Faroe islands last month, and so I made a second trip to the Axelborg building. It was a huge contrast to my first visit.

During my first visit a few years ago it was a weekend, so it took a long time to actually get in by tailgating and discreetly preventing the door from closing by way of a pamphlet over the lock. Once in, it was pretty dark and access to anywhere other than the very base of the steps was impossible.

This time, however, it was during the week so the front doors were open, the lights were on, the floors were accessible and…the best feature of all…there was an active paternoster! In case you’re not sure what a paternoster is, it’s a lift which has no doors, and simply goes up – over a loop – and back down. It’s awesome! It seems pretty dangerous as well, and I imagine it’s quite easy to lose a limb on such a thing. However, I had never been in one before so it was a great experience.

You can see it ever so slightly at the right hand side of this image.

Otherwise, this is looking down the great set of balconies from the top floor, with John staring back at me from a few floors below.

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Mobile photography – gear, apps and processing

Taken with: iPhone 5s, Pocket Tripod, AvgCamPro app | Processed with Snapseed & VSCO

I’ve been enjoying mobile photography lately. I still carry 13kg of ‘real’ camera gear around with me a lot, but I really like the simplicity of walking around with a smart phone and taking snaps. I thought I would share a post which shows the gear I use to take images on my mobile, and also the apps I use to process those images. I also share a video where I am processing an image taken on my phone so you can see some of these apps in use and follow along with my workflow.

First up – the video. Here’s me processing an image on my iPhone.

Processing a Long Exposure iPhone image from Mike Murphy on Vimeo.

…and now a little more about my gear and the apps I use.

MOBILE PHOTOGRAPHY GEAR
iPhone 5s
I’m thinking of an upgrade when the iPhone 7 comes out, but this is still an excellent smart phone with a decent enough camera in it. More importantly, I always have it on me.

Pocket Tripod ($20)
A very handy credit card sized tripod which I carry around in my wallet. Though I can shoot some images by hand, I do need to use a tripod for my ‘long exposure’ images (more on this in the app section).

The new Universal Pocket Tripod on the scene in the Faroe Islands; AvgCamPro is capturing a long exposure on the iPhone

Edit: The Pocket Tripod is back on Kickstarter, this time it’s universal with the ability to adapt to pretty much any phone size – with or without a case. Check it out – Pocket Tripod on Kickstarter.

Moment lenses ($100 per lens)
An 18mm and a 60mm lens which can be attached to the front of my phone. I don’t often use the 60mm one but do make good use of the wide angle lens. Decent quality, and very small and light so I can also fit these into my pocket to walk around with. They also have a macro lens available.

18mm lens from Moment attached to my iPhone 5s, stabilised with the Pocket Tripod v1; on the scene in Bosnia

That’s it for gear. Nice and straightforward 🙂

MOBILE PHOTOGRAPHY APPS
Taking the shot
iPhone native camera app
I still use this app a lot as it’s easy to get to from the lock screen and means I can quickly grab an image with minimal effort; I use the other apps below if something ‘more’ than a basic shot is required.

AvgCamPro (£0.79)
I use this app to create a fake long exposure. The app takes a series of images over a set time period and blends the images together; this gives the appearance of clouds moving, or indeed water not moving, and is what I use for a lot of my images.

Sample images:

Capture silky water from within a waterfall

Capture the motion of moving objects

ProCamera (£3.99 + in app puchases)
A recent addition to my app suite, I use this for HDR or low light images

Sample HDR:

Taken with ProCamera app, saved as black and white directly from within app

Original non-HDR version saved by ProCamera at the same time

Lapse It (1.99)
A simple to use time lapse app

Sample time lapse (you’ll need to press play):

A video posted by Michael Murphy (@murphyz) on

Processing the shot
Snapseed (Free)
A great app, and probably my ‘go to’ for image editing. It’s got some powerful features for mobile editing, my favourite being that you can selectively adjust areas of your images and also it allows for dodging and burning.

SKRWT (£1.49)
Perfect for straightening up the perspective in your image.

Facetune (£2.99)
I use this for warping my image should I need to straighten something up that can’t be done within SKRWT

Retouch (£1.49)
This is like the spot heal brush in Photoshop, you can get rid of unwanted items within the shot by intelligent healing or by cloning

VSCO (Free + in app purchases)
A set of filters and tweaking tools that I will often run on the final image prior to posting

Enlight (£2.99)
I use this for some simple changes when I don’t need the features of Snapseed

Anticrop (£0.79)
An awareness fill tool that will add to the image you have taken; doesn’t work on all images but is great for those where it does and where you need a little bit of extra sky in the scene, for example.

Publishing the shot
Instagram (Free)
I don’t think any explanation is necessary for this app. I can be found under @murphyz so go ahead and add me 🙂

Here are a few more images showing on the scene shots, out of camera images and then the final processed shots.

Image 1:
On scene

Out of camera (phone) & used as final image

Image 2:
On scene

Out of camera (phone)

Final image

Image 3:
On scene

Out of camera (phone)

Final image

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Misty morning at Angkor Wat

Misty morning at Angkor Wat

If you ever visit the Angkor Complex in Cambodia, may I suggest that you stick on a pair of headphones and wander around attempting to find areas where there are less people. It was by doing this that I felt an appreciation for what I was seeing before me, and though a group of people taking selfies were just around the corner, the music helped to imagine I was there alone, even if this was only for a brief moment.

This scene is very different to the chaotic one which look place an hour before, where hundreds of people gathered by the reflecting pool on the outskirts of the temple waiting for a sunrise. It was in this spot that I first felt somewhat peaceful here and was the first time I thought Cambodia was actually quite nice after all. I embraced this philosophy for the rest of my trip there and had a wonderful time.

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