Beginning Photography

The musings of a budding photographer

Archive for the ‘Learning’ Category

The rule of thirds

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Funny one this. I took a photo of a wire fence (exciting), and I can’t decide if I like the image that follows the rule of thirds, or the one that breaks it. Two slightly different takes on the same theme presented below. Comments pls

Written by James

April 12, 2010 at 9:59 pm

Flowers: snowdrops

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There’s something very strange about photographers and flowers. I would hazard a guess that everyone who has ever taken up photography as a hobby and bought themselves a DSLR has, within a day of starting, photographed a flower.

It’s easy to see why: great colours, easily accessible and a good photograph is guaranteed… or so you think. In practice taking an inspirational flower shot is tough, the composition is all important as it is this as much as anything else that will make or break the photo.

With that in mind I present my first serious attempts at flower photography, the snowdrops from the garden.


In this first image snowdrops fill the image, a single flower in sharp focus with snowdrops showing different levels of bokeh depending on where in the image you look.


This second image has a little less going on but follows the same idea, focus is concentrated again on a small area.


The final are is a bit of a departure from the others, the two flowers in the foreground thrown out of focus with a wide aperture while most of the bunch in the background is in focus.

I’ve tried three different variations here and I don’t have a favourite, I like them all. I think preference is mood dependent as much as anything. Feedback, as always, welcome

Written by James

March 9, 2010 at 3:18 pm

The Arch: Colour or not?

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This bridge in York has thrown up yet another dilemma, one that I seem to face on a daily basis. To colour or not to colour. Both are presented here and I would welcome feedback from others.

Written by James

January 31, 2010 at 9:17 pm

My 52: Week 4 – Street

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An interesting task this one, had to get over a few inhibitions. It’s tough taking photos of strangers for the first time. Various problems arose, in particular I found that I wasn’t paying much attention to camera settings due to the desire to get the framing correct. As a result in various dark places I ended up with a low shutter speed and lots of deleted images for out of focus issues. This could be sorted with faster glass or with higher ISO.

All images have been processed, real world colours are a bit dull at this time of year, though I may try some colour versions.

This is my favourite from the day, the only downside being that it is every so slightly out of focus due to 1/50 shutter speed

The only black and white of the day, this old chap stopped at just the right moment and had a great expression. The only issue is that I had to give this a bit of a crop as he was stood a fraction too far away and running might have looked a bit iffy.

This one has had a very slight split toning effect added, I quite like it but would like other opinions on it.

Another with split toning, again suffering the same issue, ever so slightly out of focus due to slow shutter speed.

I think for really strong images of this nature you need a great subject. A street performer or musician would be fantastic. As it is they are nice, but not something to write home about. Far more valuable is the learning experience of shooting people on the move, I now know to be more aware of shutter speed.

Written by James

January 29, 2010 at 11:50 pm

Emley Moor and a mistake

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With snow still covering the ground I went off to purchase walking boots just outside Wakefield. This entailed a trip near Emley Moor so I threw the camera in the car with the idea of testing out my walking boots and getting some nice photos. Here is a small selection, with a couple more on my redbubble.


A bit of a different take with this one, the bush up close framing the mast in the background.


I’ve processed this image for an antique look, its a look that looks great with pretty much all photos of Emley Moor Mast for some reason, I’ve had to resist the temptation to do lots of this


I think this is my favourite image of the day.

And finally for this set, a black and white

So, what was the mistake. Pretty simple, a little bit of snow got on the lens and it dried as a dirty smear. As a result in a large number of images I had a small rainbow that ruined the photos. Fortunately I have been able to remove it in the majority without too much trouble, in particular treating black and white has helped. The lesson learned, always make sure the front of your lens is clean before shooting, such a small detail could end up ruining your best ever photo.

Written by James

January 10, 2010 at 8:04 pm

Monitor Calibration – Temporary Fix

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I’ve found a solution to the calibration problem. Taking a number of coloured objects outside I photgraphed them in natural light with all in camera corrections turned off. I exposed so that the image on the LCD looked exactly like the scene, proper colour representation and brightness.

I then uploaded the images to computer and fiddled about with the colours on the system until the image on screen matched the image on the LCD on camera, which of course in turn matched the scence. That should mean my monitor is now calibrated. Any prints will be slightly darker due to the medium, but the colour representation should now be spot on, so I’m a happy tog once more.

Written by James

January 9, 2010 at 4:44 pm

Selective Colour

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This evening I’ve been playing about with a new technique: selective colour. The image below is a proof of concept, I wanted to get one online and see what it looks like before I embark on proper composition. Have a looksee below.

I really like it, it’s an easy effect to overdo but I think in this form it’s subtle enough to work. The technique is as follows.

Open the image in photoshop and right away copy the background layer twice. Go to the topmost layer and use the channels dialogue to convert to black and white.
Next, add a layer mask to the black and white layer, select the paint tool, zoom right into the image and “paint” black on the areas of the image that you want to see through. The black never appears, instead you reveal the image on the layer below which is still in colour. I zoomed in to 500% and used a soft brush on the edges.

Once the coin is revealed you can play about further with levels, curves and exposure settings, or simply flatten the image and save.

Written by James

January 4, 2010 at 10:02 pm