Staff Writer on September 17th, 2012

We have been very fortunate in Surrey this year. As well as hosting the Olympic road races earlier in the year, the final day of the 2012 Tour of Britain cycle race started in Priory Park, Reigate. The crowds were enormous and the atmosphere reminiscent of the Olympic Games. This shot of Mark Cavendish arriving for the start is one of many that I took on Sunday morning. You can see the others in the Gallery, under Sport.

The World Champion in Reigate

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Staff Writer on January 9th, 2012

Having got heavily into Street Photography, I came across a Swiss Photographer recently who explained all the benefits of Flickr.

He suggested not using my own name and specialising in just one type of photography and further suggested that for street pictures, it was a good idea to work mainly in Black & White. And so F4Niko was born and I have been uploading a picture my F4Niko Flickr site every day since the start of the year. I still have a Flickr site in my own name as well as this site and www.goodphotolocations.com but my recent focus has been on F4Niko.

It has been great fun learning how the system works but the best thing is that I already have 38 contacts from all over the World and when I post a picture that they like, they tell me so. This is incredibly encouraging and really helps me to sort my good pictures from my not so good ones. Something that I find really difficult to do by myself.

So let me in turn encourage you to try what I did. Concentrate on your favourite type of photography and keep a Flickr site just for that. If you like street photography, have a look at F4Niko (there is a link in the links list) and make me a contact if you like what you see.

If it’s not too late, a Happy New Year to you all.

Don't believe everything that you read in newspapers

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Staff Writer on November 23rd, 2011

Modern camera equipment is so good that almost anyone can take good pictures and someone who knows what they are doing can take outstanding pictures with relative ease. If anything is wrong it can simply be put right by software that is getting more sophisticated by the week.

So where does the keen photographer go from here? It seems to me that there is no point in fighting the progress of technology. The best is to work with it and let it take us into new areas that were either too challenging, too expensive or too inconvenient in the past.

In my case, as with thousands of others at the moment, it seems to be “stobism” (working with portable lights).

Having used the Nikon Speedlight system for some years, I have now invested in PocketWizard radio control units that are simply amazing. It is possible to set up one, two or three speedlights in different zones and reliably control the power of each flash. So a picture can be taken, reviewed then modified from the camera in a matter of seconds. And I don’t need a van to carry all my gear. I can get three lights, small stands, umbrellas and the Pocket Wizards in a small holdall.

So, if you are wondering where to go next with your photography, have a look at www.strobist.blogspot.com It will open up a whole new world.

 

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Staff Writer on April 26th, 2011

For quite a while now, I have been looking for something to make macro photography easier and felt that it shouldn’t be too long before the camera manufacturers take the screen off the camera and allow us to view it anywhere wirelessly.

Well, it has happened but it isn’t one of the camera manufacturers, it is a Company called Hahnel  www.hahnel.ie that specialises in photographic products.

The Hahnel Inspire uses a transmitter that slides onto the hot shoe of a Canon or Nikon camera and you can then get a live view image on the remote 3.5 inch screen up to 60 metres away. You can also focus from the remote screen, allowing much easier operation and control.

I for one welcome the fact that I no longer need to spend several minutes crouched on my knees with my head bent over trying to focus on a flower in the garden. I can now set up the camera and then retire to comfort and to a place where the sun is not reflecting on the screen and complete the shot.

Thanks Hahnel, I hope that you are well rewarded for your efforts before the camera manufacturers make this the default viewing solution on all their equipment.

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Staff Writer on April 15th, 2011

I am an enthusiastic member of the Royal Photographic Society (RPS) and especially enjoy outings with the Visual Journalism Group. I am also an enthusiastic member of the Reigate Photographic Society which meets every Monday evening less than 5 miles from where I live.

I hope that nobody will be upset by this, but my experience tells me that the majority of the members of traditional camera clubs also qualify to be members of SAGA or even dare I say it, for a free bus pass. The one exception seems to be the Visual Journalism Group of the RPS that appeals to a wide age range. This is no doubt helped by the fact that it is part of the RPS, effectively the governing body for photographers in the UK and awarding much sought after distinctions.

However, I digress. Recently, I was introduced by a fellow student at college ( a young lady of Polish extraction) to Photography Meetups. This, for the uninitiated, is one of these new words (a bit like bookazines – that another fellow Polish student also introduced me to). Basically, it is organised via the web. You have to sign up to a group in your area or one that does the type of photography that you are interested in. Then you simply book in for any event that you like the look of – pay the modest fee (if there is one) and attend. There is no commitment, no annual fee or any other strings.

In the era of Facebook, Linkedin, Flickr and the like, you can see the attraction. The downside might be that because there is no commitment, you might not get to know your fellow meetupers. But again in my experience, they are a very friendly lot, passionate about photography and keen to learn and share ideas.

So where does the future lie? Will the “no strings attached” meetup groups replace the traditional camera clubs?

I really don’t know the answer but there is a conundrum here. Although the meetups seem free and easy for the participants, someone has to organise them. The workload is significant and unlike a camera club where you can expect a good percentage of members to attend, you might do all the work and then find that it has to be cancelled as there is insufficient interest.

My belief is that each has much to learn from the other. If camera clubs organise events, as they do on a regular basis and invite other people to come along without commitment via a meetup web site, there is a good chance that many people will eventually join the club. On the other side some of those who feel that their camera club has become a bit stale might benefit from finding a meetup group and going along.

I think the whole thing is quite exciting and I have attached a shot from my first studio meetup. A great event. You can see other shots in the gallery.

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Staff Writer on November 7th, 2010
EL Skyport

EL Skyport

I have recently discovered a great piece of software issued free of charge by the good people of Elinchrom. Called EL-Skyport v 3, it is available to download from the support tab on http://www.elinchrom.com

The great thing about it is that on opening a new project, it presents you with a basic studio layout with the background, camera and object to be photographed already in place. You can then very easily move things around, change background colours etc and add lights of various types in whatever position you wish. It is a great way to experiment with layouts and keep track of shoots that you have done. Although it is designed for the studio, I see no reason why it shouldn’t be equally useful for outdoor shots with lighting as well.

Serious photographers, whether amateur or professional will love it and for students, it is an absolute dream.

If you are lucky enough to use Elinchrom RX flash units, the software goes much further, allowing you to test and control your lights directly from your computer and automatically save the settings you used.

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Staff Writer on October 1st, 2010

The whole idea behind an SLR camera is that you can change lenses to suit what you are shooting and the conditions that you are trying to deal with. But as soon as you do this on a regular basis with a Digital SLR, the problems start. However careful you are, specks of dust find their way onto the sensor and show up on the light areas of your pictures.

One solution is to try not to change lenses too often by using an 18-200mm zoom, for example, but however good these lenses are (and my Nikon is fantastic) it does defeat the object and for the serious stuff, you need the best glass possible.

Well, to cut a long story short, I found the other day, having taken a bumper number of shots of the British Superbikes at Silverstone that I had two or three quite large marks on the sensor. One of them was showing as a 5mm long line on the PC monitor and it didn’t look like a hair, more a smudge.

I was discussing with colleagues whether to try and clean the sensor myself or head for our local, well trusted camera repairer and it looked as if the latter was the preferred solution.

Before doing that, I had been looking on the web and the Hurricane Blower seemed worth a try. As I was passing a local Jessops store this morning, I popped in and found that their version, the Rocket Blower, so called because it stands on a rocket type base, retails for an incredible £8. Worth a try therefore but I wasn’t optimistic as the mark really did look like a serious smudge.

Imagine my joy therefore when after a few good blows from the Rocket, I took a shot of some white paper, downloaded it and blew it up and there wasn’t a trace of a mark.

I realise that I might just have been lucky, but I did have three marks to deal with. So I am now totally converted to my blower. If it ever fails to deal with some dust, I will then try one of those suction devices, as this is a more serious version of the same principle of using air to clean the sensor. Touching the sensor, even with professional hands, should be the last resort, in my opinion.

Rocket Blower

Rocket Blower

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Staff Writer on August 24th, 2010

As with many things, the more that you do of it, the more blaze you get. The net result of this with photography is that you might go out on a shoot and forget something really basic, such as charged batteries, spare memory cards, your filters or even your lens cleaning kit.

A few things that I now do the night before (if I remember!) are to take a quick shot of anything just to make sure that all seems well. You might also like to make this a shot against a dark or grey background so that you can more easily tell if the sensor needs cleaning. By the way, I now set the camera to clean the sensor each time I switch off and this seems to help.

Then pack the bag in a methodical way and you’re ready to go.

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Staff Writer on August 18th, 2010

Digital entries are invited for the 20th Guernsey Salon of  Photography.
An entry form and a copy of the rules are available from the Guernsey Salon website http://www.guernseysalon.co.uk

The closing date is 23rd October 2010. A great excuse for an Autumn holiday.

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Staff Writer on August 4th, 2010

Photo Journalism is a very popular photographic subject. I know this because the Royal Photographic Society has a group for people who enjoy it and also because a friend of mine in the Reigate Photographic Society runs a similar group for the Surrey Photographic Association and this is well over-subscribed.

As a holiday project and as a complete change to my project on the classical architecture of John Nash, I decided to make Urban culture the subject of my next project. Places in London that came to mind, included Covent Garden, Playstation Skate Park, Camden Market and Brick Lane.

Before I went, I asked my friend who runs the Photojournalist group for some shooting tips (he is one of the best pro shooters of all time by the way – ex Fleet Street) and I pass these on in case they are helpful.

The key thing, as with wildlife photography and many other subject is not to go chasing around but to take up a position, be patient and let the subjects come to you. With luck, as you were there first, you will be part of the scenery and they won’t even notice you. But you do need to be ready to shoot from the hip if necessary. So the lens cap must be off, use a wide angle lens if you can, have the aperture wide open, increase the ISO a bit if required and make sure that the shutter speed is 1/250 sec maximum.

It is amazing fun and I hope that you enjoy it as much as I am doing. It is early days yet and I will hopefully post some more shots in the gallery as time goes by. Several new shots have been added to the gallery today in most of the categories by the way, so please have a look.

Please drop me a line with your experiences and maybe we can use some of your favourite locations on the goodphotolocations.com site.

Street Art in Brick Lane

Street Art in Brick Lane

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