Don's Pages

Monday, 28 March 2011

Silky Water Tips & Slow Shutter Speeds

Last week I took a trip for the first time to Virginia Water at Windsor Great Park (close to Windsor UK).

What an awesome and beautiful location it is for all types of photography. Virginia Water is a massive seven miles in circumfrence but around every bend in the easy going pathway (so easy that you can push a baby buggy all the way around), there is something stunning that will come into view. So be ready for anything.

What you'll need for this trip; a bottle of water to drink. Some toilet roll, there are very few public lavs here, so you may have to use the woods. Sorry to be so practical, but I know that women need these things, my wife certainly did as she had to duckie down in the bushes...

Camera Gear: As it's such a long walk, try and travel light. It's not really the place to bring all your lenses, spare bodies etc... You may like to bring a tripod, I forgot mine, but wished I'd brought it for the Cascade shot below. However, it's not essential, a small beanie-bag would work equally well.

A good camera: My Nikon D700 was with my, but I'd have been happy with my other one, the Nikon D40x or Canon S90.

Some lenses to consider: A wide angled lense for the lake shots. A zoom lense for details in the distance and a macro lense for amazing flower shots.

What's on offer at Windsor Great Park and Virginia Water?
Woodland; many different types of trees and woodland areas.
Lakes and Ponds: Great with ducks, swans and many different types of water life. I even saw a Woodpecker, a Heron and a Falcon.
Stunning Gardens: There are some really fantastic shots to be had here in Spring and Summer with amazing Magnolias, Camellias, Azaleas, Rhododendrons, Daffodils and Bluebells. Your in for a real treat here if you like Spring Flowers.

But my favourite is the stunning water cascade (at Virginia Water).
Please click the image to view it full size.

The Cascade at Virginia Water, Windsor Great Park.
 For this shot I would have liked to have carried my tripod and ND filter. However all I had was my Nikon D700, 28-300mm Nikon Zoom Lense and Circular Polarising filter.
Camera Settings: ISO 100, 1 second exposure, f/25.0, and 78mm. Handheld.

I had to support the camera in my hand by digging my elbows into the mud and laying down flat. You'll get some funny looks from the crowds of people passing by, but don't worry, you know what you're after here, they don't. Well, perhaps some of them do. Sometimes to get great shots in photography you will have to behave like an idiot, but that's just part of the fun of it.

Dirty Doggies: One thing though, just after I'd taken up my prone position on the ground, I could smell something strange as I peered through the viewfinder, just to my right some very kind doggie had left a little brown mound. Funny how you don't notice these things until it's too late. I didn't get any one my clothes, thankfully, but watch out for such hazzards. Once again learn from my mistakes and you will not go wrong:-)

Results: I'm sure if I had taken my tripod along this shot would have been a little bit more sharp, but I was impressed with the way it turned out.

People Don't Know About Virginia Water: What struck me as quite strange, I've told so many friends here in London about Virginia Water and discovered that so few of them have actually visited or even heard of it. We'll definitely be going back again because it's just such a wonderful place. So tell your friends, get everyone to go and visit, then come and share your experience with everyone else to enjoy.

Be aware though, parking is not cheap, it cost us £6.00 for just over four hours. But we think it was well worth the trip and the expense.

Tips for Silky Water Shots from Gavin Hoey.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Dawn Light at Burgh Island

Dawn Light at Burgh Island, Bigbury Devon. UK.
One of our family favourite places to visit. Bigbury beach is a fun, family location with great views, soft sand, and amazing walks to the cliffs and Burgh Island.

One dark morning on a day off from work, I decided to head for the South Devon Coast and in particular Bigbury Beach. I knew there were photo opportunities awaiting because we've been here so many times before. I wanted to try and get some great sunrise shots, but the weather proved to be too dull when I arrived. So I just waited and wandered across the wet sands, grabbing a few shots here and there. I also took a gentle stroll to the top of Burgh Island and enjoyed the view for a while.

Heading back to the car park, I looked out at the Island once more and saw that it was bathed in a beautiful warm light, so I set up the tripod for a few more shots.

There are days when landscape photography doesn't produce anything inspiring, and you don't really know what you've got til you get back home and look at those captures on a big screen. However, just being in a place and soaking up the atmosphere is a joy to me. I feel close and connected to the Creator once again. I'm often so moved that I pray and read a few pages from my Bible that I always carry with me. On this day, I sensed God was speaking to me again. Reminding me that HE is the light of the world.

Then I was led to a passage of the Bible that has spoken to me time and time again; From Isaiah chapter 9 and verse 2.
 2 The people walking in darkness
   have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death[a]
   a light has dawned.

My prayer today is for the People of Japan, that as they re-build their country after the devastation of the Earthquake and Tsunami, they will once again see the light and experience the joy of being close to the Creator of the whole Universe.
Check out my RedBubble Page for more details and to purchase this image.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Don's Photo Editing Process

After a shoot: I'll go through my images and rate them, the ones that I like, I sort and filter, then I go through the following image processing method.

Try to GET IT RIGHT in CAMERA: It really mustn't go without saying that every photographer should try to capture in camera what they were envisioning at the point of shooting.
Remembering; focus, ISO, apperture, speed, light and composition. One thing that can never be replicated effectively in software is the amazing effects of a polarising filtre to reduce glare, haze and enhanced colour saturation.

Too many times I've left my polarising filtre behind and regretted it. It's the one filtre you should always have with you. But don't be tempted to leave it on your camera all the time, it will reduce your lenses ability by about 1 or 2 stops of light. Again, I've made that mistake in low light situations and missed some great shots. So take it off again before you move on from one location to another, particularly if you are going indoors. You just never know what photo-opportunities are going to pop up:-)

My Photo Editing Process:
In lightroom, working in RAW (Nikon NEF files from my D700 or D40x).
Working on RAW files in Lightroom is non-destructive, so you can always simply go back to your original image immediately.

Why Shoot in RAW mode? (I'll be covering that in another section in some detail, but suffice to say here, you can render more detail without introducing noise into your images if you edit in RAW.)

  1. CROP YOUR IMAGE: As I said before, try to get your composition right when you take the shot, but sometimes you will feel the need to crop an image. Do so first before any other adjustments.
  2. EXPOSURE: If you've captured your image right, your exposure should be spot on, but there are times when you many need to bring back some detail in the highlights or shadows.
    1. Highlight Recovery. Brings back details into burnt out areas.
    2. Fill Light: Reveals details in the darkest shadows of an image. 
    3. Black slider: Adjust this until there are no blow-out blacks.
  3. COLOUR ENHANCE: It's always good to see your photo looking great on screen. So do a global colour enhance no. I rarely use the Saturation slider now in Lightroom, because the Vibrance slider is much more subtle and doesn't affect skin tones very much at all. 
  4. CONTRAST: I don't use the contrast slider by adjust the curve in the tone curve panel to produce a slight 's' curve from top right to bottom left. (At this stage I leave the Highlight and Lowlight warnings in the histogram view on).  
  5. LOCAL Adjustments: Colour, lightness / darkness... The adjustment brush is wonderful for this. You can create stunning works using this tool.
  6. CLONING & CLEANING: Dust Spots: Spot removal tool.
  7. DODGING, BURNING: Again using the adjustment brush, but remember to select new, if you've used it already.
  8. VIGNETTE.: use the post crop vignetting tool sliders. (Look at most of the great artistic masterpieces and you'll discover the secrets of the effect.)
  9. NOISE REDUCTION: You'll not need to use this very often these days, cameras are just so good in low-light conditions and noise isn't really a problem. However, it's good to do it gently and watch the effect carefully in your image.
  10. SHARPENING: is much better in Lightroom 3, but I sometimes leave this if I'm going to do more work in PS5.


Friday, 4 March 2011

Apple iPad 2: The New iPad 2: Review and Video

WOW! Apple have done it again.
Will the Apple iPad be the piece of equipment for the year of 2011? I'm sure it will.

My Granddaughter is going to love the iPad2. She already squeals with delight when I show her pics or video on my iPhone 4, and always reaches into my pocket to grab it. She's getting quite the expert at doing that. But with a bigger screen and the ability to zoom even more, Aminata will be delighted. {She's only 18months old}...
Here's a pic of her one year old baby sister Leila running off with my iPhone.

What a mesmerizing piece of kit the brand new iPad 2 is.
I've just watched the video below and am blown away.

I didn't get the original iPad, because it didn't do anyting more than my iPhone could do, and even less, because it didn't have a camera. Now is can do what my iPhone 4 can, but even quicker, and on a much larger screen.

This could revolutionise life for a Landscape Photographer or Imagine seeing your images instantly on the screen in the studio.

Photographers are going to love the brand New iPad 2. Boasting groundbreaking speed, it's thinner than iPad 1 and lighter. It's faster with a new chip and the battery lasts just as long too, (10 Hours). Awesome.

The new iPad can connect directly to your TV or Projection equipment. This will be great to show people their photographs instantly.

You need to check out Steve Job's Video

Will I get one? Of course I will, I'd be a sucker not too.
My son has the original iPad and it's awesome.

Apple iPad 2 Specifications

Check this out guys:
Dual Core A5 CPU: iPad 2 is expected to perform 2x better graphics and 9 times better processing speed than the iPad 1 with the latest Apple A5 chip.
iOS 4.3 Apple will be shipping iPad 2 with the latest up to date iOS 4.3.
Camera: Front and rear cameras, so those who badly missed a camera is iPad 1 must be real happy now. Also iPad 2 will feature FaceTime and rear camera is capable of HD video recording of 720p.
Design: iPad 2 is 33 percent thinner than the iPad 1 with body thickness from 13.4mm to 8.8mm.
Colors: iPad 2 will be available in Black and White color.
Other Features: HDMI 1080p Video Out, Gyroscope and same screen size as iPad 1.

Gripes: Not about iPad, but about iTunes music purchases.
I don't like the fact that you can't re-download purchased music on iTunes.
Nor Apps!
I recently lost everything on my computer and had to re-download iTunes, but couldn't get all the music I'd previously purchased. With every (and I mean) every other software developer, they were more than happy to supply my stuff and provided new unlock keys free of charge: That was onOne Software, Adobe, Portrait Professional, etc, etc, these are all big players in the Photography Software market. Thanks guys!
But Apple? Well you have to pay to contact support and then they don't get back to you. You can visit a Store if you like to wait for hours. Then they'll tell you they can't help. Ahhhhhhhhh! Apple, sort this out...

But, I'll probably still get the new iPad, it's too awesome to give it a miss.

What do others think?

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