Sunday, November 22, 2009

Twit twoo, two

Hi All,

A cracking month this month and lots from everybody but always room for more.
Following on from Paul's this is an owl from last month in Auz at the Tangarona Zoo.

Face is sharp but wings are just a bit soft but they are in full flight just out of the stump.

Richard B.

Nicks Fish - PP

Hi Nick,

Hope you don't mind had a bit of a play in photoshop and been able to tweak the reds up. As this is only low res it's still not good but if you have the time to cut the mask you can bring color back. However strobes are much better.

Richard B.
In the spirit of combing the archives, and to avoid missing any deadlines, here's a picture of a fish. It was taken on a really crappy dive in Musandam (is there any other sort?).

I have done nothing to this pic, not even cropped it, which is why it's a bit off centre. But that kind of suggests the fish is moving into the centre. OK, it should be further to the right, but it's a real bugger getting a digital pocket camera to fire exactly when you want it. Actually, has anyone got any tips for how to do that?

In case you're curious, this was taken with a Panasonic TZ1 (with the Leica lens), f2.8 / 1/1oo / ISO-80, white balance set to Fish.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

GPP - Day 2 and 3 - Landscapes

Well it's been a long and busy two days dedicated to the second of the GPP course I attended and that was David Nightingales landscapes course.  Great course, and I'm sure I can bore you all next time we get together with all the stuff covered but in the meantime here are the assignment shots I took.  There were four assignments set before we headed out into the desert, these were:
  1. Silhouettes
  2. Sunsets
  3. Landscapes with a Prop/Person for Perspective
  4. 'The Hero Shot' - What is the desert for you?
I must admit I was a little puzzled about the first one as to how it fit into the course title of 'landscapes' but at the end of the day it was only ever a topic to get us thinking and it certainly did that so it did it's job.  Well here are my efforts:

Assignment 1: Silhouettes
(f5.6 1/1250 ISO200 -1EV, Manuel Everything, Metered off the Sky)
Tried to avoid the same old same old of silhouetting on the horizon against a blank sky and instead used the setting sun reflecting off the dunes.  I swear there is no HDR in this shot (or any of these for that matter)

Assignment 2: Sunset
(f5.0 1/1000 ISO 320 -1EV Metered off the sky)
OK, here I used the silhouetter theme as well as the sunset but there were so few othere features to put in teh foreground.  I thought of also entitling this "Nikon Merecats"

Assignment 4: Landscapes - What is the Desert to You
(f4.5 1/8000 ISO800)
What could say desert like a good set of dunes with ugly great quad bike tracks ripped through them, which acted nicely as a leading line literally leading the viewer into the desert.  The vignetting in the shot is not from the lens but added afterwards in the RAW conversion to add impact and draw the viewers eye into the frame.  And yes, we actually had cloud that day, this isn't a cut and paste from elsewhere.

There are two other shots to follow but they require a bit of tinkering in photoshop before they are ready (you'll see why) but one is a second example of Assignment 4 and the other is my efforts for Assignment 3 with the most common desert prop I know (no not a camel).

However, it's getting too late now and I am tired so I'm off to bed and will have to share the other shots another day.  As always comments and critique very welcome.

"Whooo!" not "Whooom!"

Nikon D70s
Nikkor 28-200 @ 170mm, F/5.6
1/160 sec
Built-in flash

I promise this is the last of my 'Animals'.

Camera-mounted flash produced all kinds of red-eye problems, so I did the dirty deed with that Adobe software. Cropping, and shrinking aside, I also took Richard's earlier tip to boost the colours, just to see what would happen.

Off-camera flash might have been the way forward, but I didn't have the kit with me. It was a day trip to a theme park, falconry centre and petting zoo. The birds of prey were not part of the latter.

Actually, when zoomed into the original the detail isn't particularly sharp. I'm hoping that by reducing the resolution in an 800x600 no-one will notice.

ANIMALS - Richard Again, Yesterday, WILD ORXY part 2

Part 2 and yes the last one is me in the shot ;-)

as always C&C appreciated, hope you like.

ANIMALS - Richard Again, Yesterday, WILD ORXY

Hi All,

For those whoe didn't come out and play yesterday this is what we saw, wild in the sand out behind Albwardy. Just in time for another submission to animals.

Shot AV at 5. (full open), ISO 200 to get some shutter speed back 1200-2000 at 500mm (on an APSC=800).

Will post more in a part 2.

C&C please.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

GPP - Twilight and Night time

Well GPP is upon us again and I have been waiting with much excitement as I have been able to find the time to sign up for four of the workshops.  The first of these is Twilight and Night time photography with Chris Hurt.

The course was pretty good with lots of pointers and tips and most importantly a all permission granted opportunity to take the cameras AND TRIPODS in to Mandiate - or at least the hotel part.   It therefore thought I'd share a couple of images from the course as well as a few of the top tips:

Madenate Pier With Burj

This shot is a photo stitch of two shots but other than that there are no photoshop trickery in this.  After all the aim of the course was to learn the trick to get the shot in camera.  I must admit in this low res shot it looks quite a bit brighter than the full sized.  I loved this shot for the composition and the way the longer exposure had smoothed out the water

Madinate Pier and Twilight
(f6.3, ISO250,FL20mm,bum=wet)

This shot I completely love as it caught all the things he was telling us.  Also I shot is 'shady' white balance which gives the shot a lot more warmth than the first one.  Also, focusing on the pier only and not trying to get the Burj in as well allowed me to crop a little nicer and avoid barrel distortion.

So, the top tips from the course:

Twlight lasts for just 30 minutes in Dubai so get there early and set up, because you are not going to get much time.
Best shots are taken in the 15 minutes after the sun has gone below the horizon
Always shoot dusk and twlight shots in manual mode as YOU need to do the metering.  The camera WILL get confused
Spot meter and set your Tv and A while pointing at a clear bit of sky (no sun and no artificial light).  Then frame and shoot with these settings - This works because although 100% of your composition might be focused on the item the foreground the sky makes of far more of the area of the shot and so must drive the exposure.  The camera will meter for he brightest part.
Shoot in shade mode will add warmth - shoot in RAW will allow you to play with WB afterwards
When shooting the light reflections on the water get down real low so that the water becomes a feature of the foreground
Shoot in as low an ISO as you can and put the camera on a tripod - This will give the smoothest colurs without noise and also allow the camera to soak up all those lovely colours.

For both these shots I waded in to the sea in order to get nice and close to the water and also to avoid other shooters getting in the way of my shots.  David no doubt has shots of me doing this and looking a proper wally into the bargin but I don't care, I liek the results.

Comments, critique or jsut suggestions for other was to make the shots work always welcome

Get your animals in and lets have some more critques please folks ;-)

Hi All,

A reminder that the end of the month is fast approaching so get snapping.
I know some of you have done it just not posted so come one get the cable out and download of the camera. (If you got time to download the latest eddition of Grays Anatomiy you can download your shots !)

Also on a personal note I'd also ask a everyone to join in the critique ;-)
I'd much rather have 20 hard critique comments than one "nice shot".

You don’t have to know all the technicalities but we all know some of the basics and more importanly what we like.
For example I posted an underwater shot this month, you don’t have to know about diving or underwater housings and strobes but is it sharp ? Is it a bulls eye ? or does the diaganal line off set that ? what are the colours like ? negative space ? aspect ratio ? etc..

Here is a good guide if anybody wants pointers.

The opposite also works as well if somebody likes a shot and wants to know how it was done etc the idea is to share and learn.

p.s. I know sometimes people just post snaps because they want to so if anybody doesn’t want critque on a certain image just add a note in the post.

Richard B.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Photoshop trick

Hi All,

Nice simple trick to give your photos a bit of punch.

They say with divers, there are two sorts of divers, those that pee in there wet suits and those that lie about it. Photoshop and Photographers is the same so this tip is for all those that lie ;-)


1- Duplicate the background layer.
2- Set blending mode to soft light.
3- Adjust the opacity as you like (about 50% is a good start).

After Post

Nice subtle way to boost the saturation and tonal range.
You almost have to look hard for the difference, its more of an impression, however check out the gray and the texture of the steps. (If need be right click and save the cropped shots to your desk top and flick between.)

There is no other adjustment between these two photos, NO levels, NO curves, NO dodge/burn.

For those who have a lot of photos to work with it's a very quick step and can even be added into your default actions.

The blending modes in photoshop are very clever and worth playing with. Soft light as here mutiplies light tones and dark tones together from the different layers to subtly lighten the lights and darken the darks.

p.s. This photo is not finished, jsut used like this for ilustration.

Coments, critique, abuse and questions welcome.

Richard B.

Animals - Richards efforts II

Hi All,

While the whales were submitted this month they weren't quite shot this month so here is one taken this month.
Clowning around in Musandam

Canon 350D
Sigma 17-70mm Macro at 70mm
f5.6 (full open for this lense at that length)
1/200 (Max sync speed as lot of water movement)
2xDS125 strobes in eTTL
Not much PP, almost none by my standards ;-)
and in Honor of Steven's aspect ratio's I've not gone 4x6 but I do feel dirty.
Coment, Critque and abuse welcome.
Richard B.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


Not normally wanting to fiddle with another mans cow without permission I couldn't help having a play with Paul's larger one.  I reckon with a different crop the 'story' is told much better:

Rather than the shot showing a cow isolated in a shot I think the wide crop kind of tells the story of a solitary cow brooding on its own.......perhaps wondering why the dickins its in a desert under a tree and not in a green pasture.

Also the left hand bush balances nicely on the top left third with the cow on the bottom right.  Maybe if it was my shot rather than a quick crop and re-post I'd also clone out the bottom of the tree in the middle back ground but that's by the by.

Paul - hope you don;t mind me having a fiddle with your cow.

Animals: Cows week II

Nikon D70s
Nikkor 18-200 @ 29mm F/16
1/180 sec

I took some of Richard's comments and redid the image. This time you can see the whole of the tree's shadow, emphasising its isolation. I tweaked the cows' brightness using the Mask tool in PS Elephants 2.0 so that the cows were rendered a little brighter without blowing out the detail of the sand and the blue sky.

Less tweaking of the palette this time. See how the sand is redder?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Animals: Cows week

Nikon D70s
Nikkor 18-200 @150mm and F/16
1/125 sec

There were plenty of animals out and about during last Friday's Gulf News Fun Drive rehearsal. Unfortunately most were camels, and I cannot in all conscience post a picture of a camel here, no matter how cute the young might allegedly be. There was also one sheep; someone had clearly got the flock out of there.

Anyway, here it is: two cows on the roadside, sharing what little shade is available. I have tried to tweak up the brightness so that the animals aren't in silhouette, but the background tends to blow out when I do that. I messed with the colour palette too. In the original the sand is redder, but I think this one is more pleasing to the eye. Oh, and I cropped the background crap out of the image and, as usual, reduced it to 800x600 for the InterTubes.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Animals - Doing what a cat does best.

First offering on the animals front, a shot of our cat doing what cats do best.......if best is indicated by what they do most.

I'm reasonably pleased I managed to find a time when she was willing to sit still long enough for me to take a few shots playing with the exposure etc until I got this shot I liked where tinky's fur is nicely exposed and her wiskers in focus without loosing the soft warmness of the sunlight coming in through the window (which Tinky loves so much).

EXIF data.....erm........f3.2, Tv=1/250, ISO 200, FL=31mm.

Monday, November 9, 2009

How Much is Too Much


In order to add some abuse and lively debate . . . . . . I hope.


This is the original, I like Nell's expression, the out of focus background and composition except for the ballance of the shot.

It can be comon practice to crop a shot heavy, up to 50%, to frame it. It is also comon practice to extend seamless white and balck portrait shots al la Zak Aries, (as I did in "light").

So is this to much ? (Double click for large size image)

It's not a crop, it's not white seamless I've just done a "bit" of photo shop and replicated the backgroud. As the background is so out of focus it's really just an amorfus background so I think its fair.
It also means that you don't loose the resolution like you do in a heavy crop. (Original 2.2 MB JPEG, Edited 7.1MB JPEG and 109 MB Photoshop PSD.)

Let fire with comments, abuse and any questions.

(p.s. It didn't take long, only about 20 minutes to do all the PP.)

Richard B.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Animals - Richards efforts

Hi All,

Not quite back catalogue but taken JUST before new topic and I've only just done the post production so I'm going to claim them.
If I take anymore and I'll try and post them as well.

Generally this is the EXIF :-
Canon 350D
Canon 28-300mm 3.5-5.6 IS L, about 250-300mm no mutiplier
AP mode at f5.6, give a bit of DOF but also all maximum light.
1/2500sec, nice and fast, moving subject, moving boat and moving water drops.
ISO 100, as pleanty of light.
-1.33 EV, to keep water darker and avoid "splash" blowing out.
Servo Focus mode (posted copies may be a bit soft but originals are all in focus)
All shot in burst mode.

Don't you just love motor drive....

If anybody wants to see hi res film strip 16 MB Jpeg and 168 MB in photoshop jsut shout and I'll mail.

Comments, Critque and abuse welcome :-)

Richard B.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Animals - Richards Back Catalogue

Hi All,

After Pauls back catalogue I thought I'd share some of mine.
These all are from Honeymoon in South Africa, managed to see the big five but these are the photographich highlights.

Hate to say "All the Gear No Idea" but it's true and I will admit to having little photogrpahic skill / understanding when took these but I did have a big long bit of glass (but only 6.3?) which helped.

This is from the back of a open landrover about 40m away.

NOT with a long lens, more like wide angle, they were very close.

My mum used to say I fought for my food.

It used to be a giraffe.

Nice and helpfull with the composition.

Liked it so much that we have a 3x2ft black and white version in our bedroom.

Okay this one wasn't in the kruger but it is a great white.
Not shot with my normal underwater photo rig, only used a cheap disposbale camera.

Richard B.

Animal Crackers - Paul's back catalogue

I promise I’ll try to go and take some new photographs of ‘Animals’. Meanwhile, here are a few from my back catalogue. Apart from cropping and resizing, these are all straight out of the camera.

The Water Horse

Nikon D70s
Nikkor 28-200 @ 80mm F/5
1/50 sec
My previous blog submission made mention that it rained almost continuously in Istanbul over Eid, November 2005. Here is further proof. I’m sure that the novelty of riding in a horse-drawn vehicle rapidly wore off. The blurred spokes and legs were all done in camera; no ‘rotation blur’ tweaking in this picture. Unfortunately the background is rather cluttered and distracting, but the reflection in the wet road is nice.

Gulliver's Travels

Nikon D70s
Nikkor 28-200 @ 98mm F/8
1/350 sec
The gulls are at least co-operative as they wheel around the ferries plying up and down the Bosphorus. I took lots of photos, and picked this one because the bird’s eye is in focus and there’s no distracting background.

Wadi Bih Goat

Nikon D70s
Nikkor 28-200 @ 45mm F/11
1/320 sec
This particular blast from the past was taken at the Dibba end of Wadi Bih back in 2005 when it was still permitted to drive all the way to Ras Al Khaimah. I think my subject looks like a philosophy student, with the merest hint of a beard on its chinny-chin-chin. The goat hair is rendered better in the full-size version.

Funky Gibbon

Sony DSC-T1
7mm F/3.5
1/30 sec
Back in March 2007, taken in Phuket, Thailand. I really like the way the gibbon’s eyes are lit up with reflection highlights, and I’m also pleased with how the fur came out, particularly considering the camera that I used.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Eid in the rain

The following four images, although suitable for "Buildings", are not allowed because they were taken four years ago. Hence the November post of an October subject. Madame and I spent Eid in Istanbul in 2005. Most of the shops were shut because it was Eid, although museums and places of worship were generally open, as were the Turkish baths.

I've posted these simply because I like the black backdrops. It's not often that the subject is lit by the sun, the cloudy background is as black as your hat, and I have a camera to hand.

Need I say that the rain threw down almost continuously throughout our stay?