2016 Photography Blog

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Photographic tips & techniques - a Blog
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Tips, Techniques, & Comments.

January 1 - Types Of Cameras
...35 mm [Digital] Single Lens Reflexes
...35 mm [Digital] Compact Cameras
...Medium Format Cameras
...Large Format Cameras
January 13 - Lighting
January 20 - Natural Light
January 27 - Snow Photography
February 7 - Winter Assignment
February 10 - Winter Photography

January 6 - Types of Camera

There is no such thing as a universal camera, one that will give the best possible result with every subject. There are advantages and disadvantages with each type.

Your choice will depend on the type of photography that interests you.

In addition, your temperament, your physique, and the compromises you are prepared to make will affect what you choose.

35 mm [Digital] Single Lens Reflexes

These cameras are easy to operate and carry. They can produce a high proportion of technically satisfactory results even in comparatively unskilled hands.

Within their limitations they are ideal tools for the general  purpose photography of the British Isles. This type of camera is used by the great majority of advanced amateurs and almost all professionals.

35 mm [Digital] Compact Cameras

The majority of these are intended for fun photography. However, there are a few, costing about the same as an average DSLR, which are capable within their limitations of turning out professional results.

Medium Format Cameras

Once the mainstay of professional photographers, these have, to a large extent, been superseded by the high end DSLRs.  Their formats include 6 x 4.5 cm, 6 x 6 cm, 6 x 7 cm, and 6 x 9 cm [size of negatives] and are still used by some professionals.

Large Format Cameras

Not for the faint-hearted, this outfit will inevitably be large and heavy, especially since a tripod will normally be used!

Successful large format photography calls for considerable experience of the effect of the various camera movements.

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January 13 - Lighting

The quality of light is an important subject for you to understand. Once you are aware of the few, simple qualities, you will be able to take better digital pictures.

Learn to notice the direction of the light. Is it coming from high up above your subject?or in front? Look at the shadows it is creating. Usually a strong overhead lighting is the least flattering when photographing people

...or from behind

...or in front? Look at the shadows it is creating. Usually a strong overhead lighting is the least flattering when photographing people.

Observe the intensity or the brightness of the light. Is it a big light source like a reflection from a nearby wall or building?

Is it a harsh small, light like direct sunlight?

The classic landscape has a dark foreground, medium-toned middle distance, and light background. However, a reversal of these tones can make your picture more eye-catching. These types could be particularly useful for magazine covers, since there is room for light/dark-toned lettering at both top and bottom.

When taking long distance views of built-up areas it is best to work on Sunday evenings, ideally after rain, followed by a stiff breeze, has washed the air clean. Low sunlight will emphasise the detail. Follow the rules of composition – something red or orange in the foreground to provide a centre of interest followed by a green or yellow middle distance.

The wider the angle of the lens the more apparent movement is given to the clouds in the sky,

but care has to be taken to keep the back of the camera vertical since even the slightest tilt will give a 'falling over backwards' effect to the building.

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January 20 - Natural Light

So, from a practical point of view, when planning to photograph an area study the map:

  1. first of all list all the eastward-facing places - castles, houses, villages, landscapes - which will be best photographed in the morning, tackling these before, say, 11 am;
  2. westward-facing subjects are taken in the late afternoon and evening;
  3. while in the middle of the day concentrate on subjects in the shade
  4. and interiors.

There are 2 kinds of weather which most outdoor photographers dread:

  1. The dull, grey days which give no modelling at all;
  2. At the other end of the scale are those with a clear, blue, cloudless sky when shadows become harsh and empty of detail, just as though the subject has been lit by a spotlight.

The ideal day has a sky with plenty of white, puffy clouds that act just like large, floating reflectors, throwing the sunlight into the shadows.

For dramatic, eye-catching results, however, there is nothing to beat the stormy, showery weather of spring when so many photographers stay at home for fear of getting wet! The most ordinary subjects appear strange under the odd lighting with its sudden rays of sunshine and black clouds.

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January 27 - Snow

The majority of people will take photographs with the camera set partially, if not wholly, on an automatic setting. This will be adequate in most situations, but will fail miserably when shooting in snow.

The exposure sensor inside the camera measures the light coming into it, ie the light reflected by your subject. It is programmed to believe that this light averages out to mid-grey or 18% grey.

[What this means is that if the scene had been painted by an artist and then all the paint was smudged together, it would be a mid-grey colour.]

So, even in pure white snow, your camera thinks that this is grey. Hence your automatic shots come out dark, with a blue tinge.

To correct this, more light has to enter the camera. The technical phrase for this is ‘the exposure needs to be increased by 1 to 2 stops’.

This can be achieved by one of three simple steps.

1. If you are using the camera in Shutter Priority [ie you set the shutter speed and the camera automatically sets the aperture size], decrease the speed by 2 steps.

eg if your settings of 1/180 sec shows an aperture of f 8, change the speed to 1/60 sec.

2. If you are using the camera in Aperture Priority [ie you set the size of the shutter opening and the camera automatically sets the speed of the shutter], increase the size of the aperture opening by 2 values.

eg if your settings of f 8 shows a speed of 1/180 sec, change the aperture to f 5.6.

3. If you have a 'compensation dial' turn it so that it shows '+1'.

Snow photo shot using Aperture Priority, 1/2500 sec at f 4.5
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February 7 - Winter Assignment

Marsden Imbolc

Despite the horrendous conditions, over 3000 people turned up on Saturday night to witness Jack Frost being ousted by the good people of Spring!

Not being an official photographer, the photos were taken some distance from the action. This also meant that I was amongst a dense throng of people meaning that it was difficult to change lenses and be in control of the camer's settings!

Consequently I experimented with both the 'P' and the 'Auto' settings!! [Canon 'P': you set the ISO and the camera does the rest; 'Auto': the camera does everything!]

See what you think at galleries.photolens.co.uk.



February 10 - Lighting, The Seasons


Despite the current stormy weather, the sun shines more often than you think in winter. To counteract landscapes appearing bleak, include some bold foreground object.

Hiking in the Yorkshire Dales, England, using Aperture Priority, 1/45 sec at f 8.0

Because the Sun is always low in the sky, the texture and detail in buildings really stand out.

Herrings being cured at Whitby, Yorkshire, England

Actually, the storms we are experiencing can produce some stunning photographs. Plants and trees are in constant motion meaning that a very fast shutter speed is used to freeze the motion. However, low light may mean that this setting will not allow enough light to enter the camera. So why not use this to your advantage?

Use a sturdy tripod and use a slow shutter speed and expose for up to a second or two. The resulting blurred image will give the impression of the windy day you are experiencing.

Crossing a 'bridge' in England's Lake District

It is always essential to plan your assignment in advance, but make sure that you check the weather forecast. Whilst this may not be 100% accurate, if you use the one on Met Office site you will have a fairly good idea of what to expect.

Basenthwaite Lake in England's Lake District
Basenthwaite Lake in England's Lake District15 seconds later
Basenthwaite Lake in England's Lake District after a further 15 seconds

But remember, sunlit photos are more in demand than stormy weather ones. So if the Sun suddenly shines, shoot THEN plan your next shot!

Armitage Bridge Church, Huddersfield, England


February 17 - Lighting, The Seasons