Beginning Photography

The musings of a budding photographer

Archive for the ‘New Techniques’ Category

My New Toy: A Flashgun

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I’ve been a good boy this year so Santa brought me a nice pressie for Christmas: a canon 430EX 2 flashgun. Yay. Having never before used a flash other than the one on board this has been on the desirable list for quite some time. So, Christmas day dawned and I spent a lot of time annoying the family with my new toy. Two here to show, the first a “standard” portrait, the other an attempt at a high key image


Anna high key

In the first image I bounced the flash of the corner of the wall and ceiling behind me. Both are white/light in colour so make a great reflector to diffuse the light nicely.

In the second I’ve bounced the flash off the wall directly to Anna’s front, serving to highlight her features and blow out the light wall behind her.


Written by James

December 27, 2010 at 9:15 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

Black and White

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I’ve been playing about with more advanced techniques for creating black and white images. Rather than simply reducing the saturation I’ve been in the channels dialogue in photoshop, playing about with contrast and generally trying to give black and white images some punch. This one I am really proud of

The detail retention is much improved with the new processing, this is one of my favourite images to date. You can see a higher quality version on my redbubble, linked to in the side bar.

Written by James

January 1, 2010 at 12:19 pm

Extra Processing: Edges

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The weather today has been miserable: throwing it down with rain, crappy light, not inspirational at all. Wanting to stay creative to some extent I decided to have a play with photoshop and see what I could learn. The result, well, have a look below.

It certainly sheds new light on this image and I can see how this could get addictive.

The method itself is relatively simple. Having opened the image in photoshop open up the channels palete and view the red, green and blue channels individually to see which offers the most contrast. Having chosen the best channel duplicate it. Next, working with the duplicated channel, select “filter – stylise – find edges”. The image will become something resembling a line drawing. Choose image – adjustments – levels and bring up the blacks to the point where the image looks its best. Choose whether or not to apply any sharpening, delete the original channels leaving just the new one, and save the file. Bobs ya uncle, one line drawing from a photograph.

Written by James

December 30, 2009 at 8:25 pm

Fun with water

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Another new technique today. Well, I say today, but I spent an hour at it last night and another couple of hours at it again today. Getting focus is HARD. The project: Water drops.

The technique is simplicity itself. Put water in a container, get something to drip water into it (in this case a tap), turn on the flash and snap away. The difficulties lie in two areas. Timing and focus. I’m shooting with a 55mm lens so I have to get in very close, making depth of field very small, probably nore more than 3 or 4mm. The drop is the imporant part, so it has to be in the focus plane. But, you can’t see where that is until the drop hits the water. The result is that you end up taking about 100 photos to get one good one.

The other issue is of course timing, water drops don’t last very long. Ideally this would be done in sunlight for a faster shutter speed and with a longer lens. The results wouldn’t be any better, but it would take less time to get a good one. This particular one is the only one with the cool reflection which is why it’s my favourite.

I’ve posted this one as a bit of an experiment, a slightly larger size image. If it looks crap I’ll go back to my normal size.

Written by James

December 28, 2009 at 3:36 pm

Going with the flow

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A new technique for me today. With the local reservoir/lake iced over I journeyed out hoping for some nice landscape shots. I got a couple, but that’s not what you get to see here today. Instead we have a couple of takes on flowing water. At one end of the reservoir is an overflow which feeds down over rocks creating a rapids/waterfall. The water is flowing fast enough that a very high shutter speed is needed to freeze the action, with a blurred shot still being possible hand held. Here are my attempts at both.

In this first we have a shutter speed 1/640th of a second and still we see a little motion blur. I love the effect.

In this second image I’ve gone all out to freeze the motion, shutter speed at 1/2500.

In this final image I’ve allowed the motion to blur fully, with a shutter speed of 1/25.

Which you prefer depends on taste. They all look stunning on a black background, so much so that I’m now thinking of introducing a photo section with a black background to better show these images off. Let me know which you prefer.

Written by James

December 26, 2009 at 2:33 pm

A framed lake

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I seem to be in love with black and white images. I think it might be due to the time of year, colours tend to be a little washed out and uninspiring but black and white provides punch.

Todays image is no exception, but adds an extra dimension: Framing.

Framing is the use of objects within the scene to create a natural frame around the image, in this case the trees and floor frame the lake. The key is to ensure that the frame doesn’t dominate the image but rather leads the eye nicely into the picture, the frame in this image achieves that nicely.

Written by James

December 8, 2009 at 1:17 pm