Tag Archives: white
In China there is a wall, and it is long. I spent some of my time in China walking it.
All of it.
Okay, when I say ‘all’ I mean ‘all I would care to do’. I spent about 3 hours up there, with a bit of sun, and a large backpack. It was pretty tiring to be honest.
Now, I know it must have taken a long time, and it is a stunning piece of work when you think about just how long it is. However I have to wonder why there isn’t consistency in the way it’s built. Part of it features ramp, part of it feature small steps, part of it features really big steps. I don’t know why they just couldn’t use small steps the whole way.
Still, I’m really pleased that I decided to make the trip out there to see it, and would certainly advise that if you’re opting to go for the easy to get to touristy spots, then you go on a weekday and do so very early in the morning.
My lesson for today – don’t be scared to experiment and make mistakes.
This week a friend bought her first camera, a Canon EOS 550d. I had a little something to say in the matter, as I was given a budget and asked to assist, and this wonderful bit of kit is what we ended up choosing. A new dSLR can be daunting for someone who has never used one…I should know as a few years ago I was in the same boat. We started with the basics of Shutter Speed, Aperture and ISO which is where I think most people should start.
By playing with these settings and seeing the results that they have in different light conditions and in working with each other you gain a greater understanding of what they do, and how one effects the other. This is what was happening yesterday when I took this photo, but it was my inexperienced friend who first took this shot and inspired me to repeat it.
We went to the British Museum to have a quick photo session and found ourselves, as is often the case when I visit here, at the viewing gallery which overlooks the great court. After being down in the darkened stairways and compensating for the lack of light using a slower shutter speed and a higher ISO, my friend failed to adjust for the sudden brightness that was available as part of the large open space and glass ceiling that was now in front of us. As such, the images taken from there were pretty over exposed.
However, looking down at the public from this height, the image taken, even though technically incorrect, looked awesome. A solitary figure in the middle of a vast amount of whiteness was quite compelling.
So I stole the idea and took my own shot with the same outcome in mind…though I admit my shot wasn’t as pure and did require editing in Photoshop afterwards. The lady in the shot was busy preparing herself for a photo that her friend was about to take of her.
This image is the result of experimentation. Sure, it may not have been me who was experimenting at this stage, but it reminded me how much can be learnt by playing around and making mistakes, and also how sometimes that one shot you love is created by this.
Don’t be afraid to go wrong.
Today’s image was taken towards the end of my trip to Orford Ness on Friday. After visiting the various buildings that formed the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment we walked across the shingle and on to the lighthouse. I did a quick circle around it using my wide angle and fisheye lenses before sitting down to relax for a while with my 50mm glass.
We were extremely lucky with the weather all day, and though in the morning it was suggested ‘if you have extra layers in the car, get them now before we cross in the ferry’ I was relieved to find that my light layers were enough for the day and I wasn’t cold at all. By this stage we had bright blue sky and sunshine.
Today I am pleased to be sharing some excellent news with you.
St Paul’s Cathedral, who regular readers will know is one of my favourite buildings in London to photograph, recently completed a 15 year, £40m restoration project which aligns with their 300th year anniversary. To celebrate this they held a photo contest for amateur and professional photographers to submit their shots of St Paul’s.
I’m pleased to be able to let you know that one of my shots, Sunny St Paul’s, was included in the top 10 images and will be on digital display in the crypt of the Cathedral during the Oculus: an eye into St Paul’s experience.
But there’s even better news!
Another of my images, St Paul’s – World AIDS Day, was chosen as the overall contest winner!
I’m obviously pleased as punch by this good fortune and my first contest win (out of 3 entered, I think). You can view the competition page and the rest of the winners on the St Paul’s Cathedral website.
Here is my winning image, and the other which is in the top 10 finishers:
St Paul’s – World AIDS Day (winning image) – view original blog post
Sunny St Paul’s – view original blog post
And now back to today’s post. After shooting at the BT Tower on Monday I headed out to do a little bit of early evening and night photography with John (Happy Birthday John!). The light was pretty good by the time we had dinner and walked over the Millennium Bridge to the south side, and I had wanted a new St Paul’s image to go up on the blog along with today’s news – the shots I took from the helicopter on Sunday and the BT Tower on Monday didn’t really have any good, usable ones of the cathedral.
John suggest that I stand on one of the side support structures to try and get a unique shot, which I did indeed try. I then got higher and higher trying to find a better angle until I realised the only way I was going to be happy with the lines in the shot was to actually sit on the four metal rods that are the side support for the bridge (probably not the term the architect would have used on the original plans) and work my camera in between them.
The shots I took came out quite well, and I was pretty happy processing this one in colour, especially as it’s an angle I don’t think I’ve ever seen previously, and when you’re at a location that is so heavily photographer a unique shot is often hard to come by. Recently Vulture Labs has been producing some excellent work, in particular the B&W Toned series of shots, and that inspired me to go for this one in B&W, and I’m glad I did – this is certainly my favourite shot that I’ve taken from this location to date.
I had a mental checklist of a few things I wanted to get a shot of during my trip to Scotland. A few things I didn’t manage to get (star trails, rainbow, majestic stag beside a castle), and a few that I did (fisheye of a highland cow, castle at sunset).
One of the shots I had in my mind was of a lone tree, preferably windswept, which I could process in black and white. This one fit the bill almost perfectly.
As we drove around the Scottish countryside I was always keeping an eye out for potential trees, and many passed us by that weren’t quite what I wanted. Eventually, one did leap out at me as a potential candidate, and so we pulled up at the next available spot, I grabbed my gear and ended up walking back down the road and through a bit of a field to get to it. Steve opted to sit on the beach section where we had parked and wait for me.
After a few shots of my tree I headed along the water to meet him, and found him sitting on a rock relaxing and pointing to a tree nearby claiming I could simply have taken a photo of this one instead of walking all that way for this other.
He was right; this new tree was the one in the shot above and was a much better one than that which I had found (though of course, only by wanting the other would we have found this one). I wanted to shoot it with my nifty fifty, and due to this and the composition I once more had to kick off my shoes and socks and work my way cautiously over slippery rocks so that I could stand in the cold water, submerge the tripod and set up.
I’m a big fan of the work of Ansel Adams and so had him in mind when first capturing this scene as I knew before I even found the right tree that I wanted to do so in black and white. Though different to the image I had in my mind before starting the trip, I’m very pleased with how this one turned out.
Stairs are just awesome for taking photos of.
Perhaps it’s the fact they offer some nice lines, perhaps the symmetry or because they generally offer angles where the light is shown and others where it’s nothing but shadow; maybe it’s something else, and it’s the fact the viewer can then try to image where the stairs are going to take you that is so appealing – I don’t know, but they are very photogenic.
After I saw the light bouncing off the wooden panels in this shot I knew that the only way I wanted to process it was in black and white and that worked out well I feel. I introduced a faint orange colour to the windows as it was pretty sunny outside and this gave the image a more natural feel to how I remembered it on location.
Here’s another shot from the derelict girls school that I visited a couple of weeks ago; it’s really an old manor house with floors that are falling through and is in a bit of a state. To date I think it’s had the least stable floors of any location I’ve had the pleasure of visiting.
When I looked into this room the first thing that grabbed my attention was the black and white chequered floor. I hate to reference Harry Potter again but it did remind me of the scene towards the end of the first book where the trio had to get through the battle chess board and I imagined this scene to be the aftermath of that with parts of the broken chess pieces lying around.
Apart from the floor the room was pretty standard and nothing too special. As I was processing this shot I felt the window wasn’t quite enough as it was. If it had been a little more in view then I could have worked with it as a focal point but it wasn’t quite at the right angle for me to use it. Instead I opted to create a few light rays coming in through the window. I’m new to light rays, and feel the original source of light, the window itself, wasn’t quite enough to give me the beams that I wanted – however I’m reasonably happy with the effect it has given as a result.
Perhaps as I improve I will look back on this and think the rays are horrible, but then that’s natural when you look back at your work and find your skill set has improved.
I would love to know your thoughts on whether you feel the light rays are realistic or not, and of course any tips you may have on how to improve in this area. Thanks.
Here’s another shot from the Beachy Head lighthouse series, and the third which I’ve published to date.
Considering the lighthouse was only really viewable from one side, due to the ocean on the other, I’m finding that I was able to take quite a few unique shots at this location, especially as the trip was split over two days and were taken firstly from the foot of the lighthouse itself, and then from the cliff edge on day two.
The way the images are processed also helps to make the images different of course, and for this one I opted to get rid of most of the colour, which wasn’t a great range anyway, and draw the eye to the red and white stripes of the lighthouse itself. I think the addition of a little vignette also makes it a more moody landscape.
This was one of the last shots I took on the Saturday morning; it wasn’t the best sunrise we could have had, but at this point we could see that the sun really was trying to penetrate the clouds and break through for the day. The fog had pretty much lifted fully by this point.
My hangover was setting in a little bit more at this point, and the lack of breakfast wasn’t helping (I had left my cold sausages and hard boiled egg in the car) so I was not relishing the prospect of walking back over the rocks for an hour to get to the part of the cliff we could climb up to get home.
As mentioned previously though; I’m really glad to have made the trip to the base of the lighthouse as it did certainly offer a more unique view than people would normally get from this location…and that’s what I think photography is all about.