Wednesday, 1 April 2015

The Finger

A few times in the last few weeks the conversation about avoiding lens flare has come up - so I thought I'd just put up a quick post about this well known, but underused technique...

I'm not going to go into the details of merging photos and whatnot, there's plenty of information out there for anyone wanting to learn more about that, but I am going to show you how important this is even when the sun itself is not in the frame. When the sun is in the frame, there are often obvious flaring problems visible in the image - made worse when adding further pieces of glass to the front of the lens when using filters... which is just one of the many reasons I prefer to blend exposures instead. For example:

Excuse the blown out sky!
Along with the two sections highlighted, you might also notice the large red blotch right in the bottom right corner - it coincides with the heather so is well hidden, but still there. Still, these obvious signs usually hint at something wrong - so we try to correct it. This can be done in the simplest of ways... by shoving your finger in front of the sun...

Problem solved.
When the sun is not in the frame, however, the signs are less obvious - but I hope to show you that this problem is still worthy of consideration. So let's take a look at another photo, with no visible sun...

Just to make sure I'm not exaggerating - here's the shot of the sky for the next set of images, with the sun nowhere near the confines of the image itself...
Sun comfortably out of frame.
This is where we come to highlight the secondary type of lens flare, less visible in the top example but present both in that and here - general light leakage. The sun may not be in the frame, but it's still hitting the front lens element (as no lens hood is perfect!), and subsequently being reflected around the inner lens workings before adding a general haze to the final image. Just see the before and after, in terms of the finger technique...

Before and after - without the sun in the frame.
There may have been some loss in tonality due to using a GIF to demonstrate that last example - but the effect is as obvious as it is horrible. Without the finger that stray light warms up the entire shot and reduced the contrast in all of the shadows - this loss of information is what all landscape photographers battle against, so although the blacks can easily be deepened and the colour balance easily restored, the resulting file couldn't possibly retain as much true to life information as could be achieved using a simple finger.

It's all about the finger.

For completeness... here are the final versions of both shots...




Thursday, 1 January 2015

2014: People

I've split my 2014 summary into two parts, you can find the landscapes part over here. This section is focused solely on people - mostly of the model variety. Whilst my photographing strangers has slowed down somewhat this year, I've still captured a few and met plenty of other lovely new faces. Instagram and Twitter have proved an endless mine of pretty faces yet to be photographed - to the extent that I now have quite a backlog to get through (there are worse problems to have!). I'm constantly amazed at the oddly positive responses I get from what I would class as being a weirdo - sending random girls messages asking if I can photograph them - but I suppose the beginnings of a decent portfolio now at least help me with that initial contact.


2014: Landscapes

2014 has been a busy year for me, so I've decided to split my 2014 summary into two parts - the first of which will be concentrating on landscapes and the second on people. It's always interesting to do these posts, just so that I know that in a year's time I'll have something to look back on, cringe a little, and see how much more I've come on in the past 12 months. That, and it's also fun to look back through my year of pictures - something I don't do often enough - and remember all those amazing, fleeting moments of beauty that I've been lucky enough to enjoy.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

The Year Of The Rainbow


It's getting to the time when I've got to start thinking about my 2014 review post... but in doing so, I've realised that one thing has stood out more than anything else this year... rainbows.

For some reason, whether by luck or (lack of?) judgement, I've not really photographed many of these lovely things until this year... but following on from a pretty wet and windy sunrise on Curbar Edge last January I've been lucky enough to find myself out in the perfect conditions on numerous occasions. Sometimes this has been through forecasting errors, I've expected blue skies and had torrential downpours, sometimes through careful planning and picking a location that will work for them, and sometimes I've been in the right place, waiting for them, but to no avail. 


Whilst rainbows are obviously beautiful, they tend to come in the most challenging of conditions - when wind blows heavy showers through and light shoots down in and around them. To make matters worse, the wind always seems to be blowing into the lens, so with all the water flying about it makes shooting them quite an ordeal. You mentally compose your shot, pick your settings, push your camera to its limits in terms of technical stuff, then quickly put it to your eye, shoot, hope for the best, dry it off and repeat - until you've got one you're happy with with minimal rain spots to clean up.


So anyway, here are a series of rainbows that I've seen this year - with each photo being on a different occasion.

Friday, 7 November 2014

I Saw The Light Fading Out

My last days in Sheffield meant I just had to do a walk I've done many times before - a firm favourite, with, in my opinion, the grandest view in the Peak... the walk around Grindsbrook. The forecast was for low cloud clearing as the sun raced towards the horizon, which gave me lots of hope for some very dramatic photo opportunities. As it happened, the sun never got close to showing itself and, if anything, the cloud just got thicker and lower - I counted myself lucky that I was above the rain level.

Still, this thick fog gave me something else to do. There are few places in the north of England where you can escape from other people quite like Kinder Scout. Normally this requires making the hop across the peat bogs to the northern edge, where you can go hours on end without seeing so much as a trace of another person - but in weather like this, I knew it was a safe bet that I'd have the mountain to myself (bar the footprints of the lone fell runner I saw descending as I set off).

So, no sunset for me, but an intriguing challenge to collect a set of photos as the light faded that I'd be proud of - as a fitting end to my regular visits to this most dramatic part of the world. 

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Putting It All Together

There's been a lot of talk of late about how much processing is too much processing - amongst a good mix of non-photographers, novice photographers and pretty much professionals. It's been interesting to read on the one hand and yet so frustrating on the other. So in this post - I'm going to go over the steps I took to achieve this photograph:

The final image.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

York 2015 Calendar


This is a very quick post - but I've recently been made aware of the opportunity to produce York 2015 calendars and I'm looking for outlets.

The calendars will be A4 (fold out to A3) spiral bound and I'm looking to sell them at £5.50-£6 depending on quantity and retail price - estimated to be around £8-10. 

The selection of images will be as follows: 


They will be produce by The Calendar Company and have a very similar appearance to this Sheffield version:


I'm only looking for an expression of interest - and details can be discussed or hard copies delivered. 

Let me know if this would be of interest to any of you!