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Archive for September, 2009

Me and my buddy Graham grabbed our cameras one night to go experimenting with colour temperature. Seeing some of Damien Lovegrove’s results (link), we thought we’d do our own version…

We setup an umbrella to bounce the flash across the whole scene. Another flash gelled up to colour correct the subject. And a third flash to add  a kick light (also gelled up).

This was the scene with just the main bounce flash in the umbrella to hand grenade the area with light. You can see why we need a kick light on the right side of the image.

This was the scene with just the main bounce flash in the umbrella to hand grenade the area with light. You can see why we need a kick light on the right side of the image.

This was the final image when we added all 3 flashes.

This was the final image when we added all 3 flashes.

We set the camera to a tungsten white balance, main flash in the umbrella, 2nd flash gelled with a CTO gel, 3rd flash with a yellow gel. We did have quite a few problems in getting all flashes to trigger reliably. So I guess we’ll have to get the new TTL Pocket Wizards and go on another Lovegrove workshop 🙂 If your interested in knowing more about colour temperature, you can search for it on Google or you can read a Lovegrove article (link).

Changed the position of the third flash and took the scene from another perspective.

Changed the position of the third flash and took the scene from another perspective.

Here are some of the other frames we took at the location.

Aperture Priority mode, ISO 800, 24mm, +1EV, 1/30 sec, F4. Taken on a monopod.

Aperture Priority mode, ISO 800, 24mm, +1EV, 1/30 sec, F4. Taken on a monopod.

Aperture Priority mode, ISO 800, 80mm, +1EV, 1/30 sec, F4. Taken on a monopod.

Aperture Priority mode, ISO 800, 80mm, +1EV, 1/30 sec, F4. Taken on a monopod.

Manual mode, ISO 200, 24mm, 1/60 sec, F5.6. Used a shoot through umbrella with flash.

Manual mode, ISO 200, 24mm, 1/60 sec, F5.6. Used a shoot through umbrella with flash.

Manual mode, ISO 200, 28mm, 1/60 sec, F5.6. Shoot through umbrella with flash.

Manual mode, ISO 200, 28mm, 1/60 sec, F5.6. Shoot through umbrella with flash.

Obviously, all of Graham’s images contain me as the model!

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One of the problems I’ve encountered in post-production with my images is imagining how they can look unique? I want some of them to be different, but give a familiarity and look that provides an alternative to the actual scene in real life. My earlier attempts in post-production were pretty basic and it remained so for a long time. Slight adjustments to exposure, brightness, contrast, colour, etc… My main problem was that I couldn’t imagine how the photograph could even look different? I guess I was conditioned by the scene when taking the photo, then further conditioned when chimping on the image on the back of the camera, and again conditioned when I saw the image on the computer. I had seen the scene and image so many times, I couldn’t possibly imagine how else the image could look?

So as a tool to help me imagine things differently, I used Lightroom presets. Lightroom comes with a few presets, but I needed much more serious help in looking at these images differently. Initially I used a whole bunch of presets by Matt Kloskowski (link). This helped a lot until I found the Wonderland Presets (link).

I have been using the Wonderland presets as a tool to help me gain a new perspective. I don’t always use these presets in the final image, but from time to time, I stick with a look that I think works. If I do use a preset, I use the preset as a basis to build on and I make further adjustments to get to the image I want.

However, after being on Damien Lovegrove’s session with his picture editor, Marko (link), I’ve gained a whole new perspective on post-production and I’ll be using the Wonderland presets less and less. Amongst the many things I gained from Marko, colour accuracy (or at least believable colour) in skin tones is highly important. This may seem obvious… but seeing the way that Marko works was a technique I’d not come across before. Using presets like the Wonderland series does mess with the colours of skin tones which is why I will be adopting Marko’s approach more and more…

Okay… lets go through the images…

Wonderland: Creative Catalyst 08, ISO 200, 32mm, 1/250 sec, F7.1.

Wonderland: Creative Catalyst 08, ISO 200, 32mm, 1/250 sec, F7.1.

Wonderland: Creative Catalyst 19, ISO 200, 28mm, 1/200 sec, F18.

Wonderland: Creative Catalyst 19, ISO 200, 28mm, 1/200 sec, F18.

Matt Kloskowski’s Sin City - Light Red Preset: ISO 200, 35mm, 1/200 sec, F18.

Matt Kloskowski’s Sin City - Light Red Preset: ISO 200, 35mm, 1/200 sec, F18.

Wonderland: Creative Catalyst 09, ISO 200, 45mm, 1/200 sec, F18.

Wonderland: Creative Catalyst 09, ISO 200, 45mm, 1/200 sec, F18.

Matt Kloskowski’s 300 Look - Strong: ISO 400, 67mm, 1/125 sec, F8.

Matt Kloskowski’s 300 Look - Strong: ISO 400, 67mm, 1/125 sec, F8.

Wonderland : Creative Catalyst 11, ISO 400, 24mm, 1/100 sec, F11.

Wonderland : Creative Catalyst 11, ISO 400, 24mm, 1/100 sec, F11.

Wonderland : Creative Catalyst 14, ISO 400, 24mm, 1/125 sec, F11.

Wonderland : Creative Catalyst 14, ISO 400, 24mm, 1/125 sec, F11.

Wonderland : Creative Catalyst 58, ISO 400, 32mm, 1/125 sec, F8.

Wonderland : Creative Catalyst 58, ISO 400, 32mm, 1/125 sec, F8.

Matt Kloskowski’s 'Sin City - Light Red' preset, ISO 400, 58mm, 1/125 sec, F16.

Matt Kloskowski’s 'Sin City - Light Red' preset, ISO 400, 58mm, 1/125 sec, F16.

There no wacky preset used for this. I guess I just like this frame :-) ISO 400, 24mm, 1/125 sec, F16.

There's no wacky preset used for this. I guess I just like this frame 🙂 ISO 400, 24mm, 1/125 sec, F16.

Wonderland : Creative Catalyst 15, ISO 640, 200mm, 1/200 sec, F2.8.

Wonderland : Creative Catalyst 15, ISO 640, 200mm, 1/200 sec, F2.8.

Wonderland : Creative Catalyst 19, ISO 200, 50mm, 1/160 sec,  F18.

Wonderland : Creative Catalyst 19, ISO 200, 50mm, 1/160 sec, F18.

Wonderland : Creative Catalyst 30, ISO 200, 70mm, 1/1600 sec, F2.8.

Wonderland : Creative Catalyst 30, ISO 200, 70mm, 1/1600 sec, F2.8.

Wonderland : Creative Catalyst 19, ISO 200, 195mm, 1/200 sec, F5.

Wonderland : Creative Catalyst 19, ISO 200, 195mm, 1/200 sec, F5.

Wonderland : Creative Catalyst 29, ISO 200, 50mm, 1/1000 sec, F4.

Wonderland : Creative Catalyst 29, ISO 200, 50mm, 1/1000 sec, F4.

Wonderland : Creative Catalyst 26, ISO 200, 1650mm, 1/250 sec, F2.8.

Wonderland : Creative Catalyst 26, ISO 200, 1650mm, 1/250 sec, F2.8.

Wonderland : Creative Catalyst 29, ISO 200, 24mm, 1/1600 sec, F4.

Wonderland : Creative Catalyst 29, ISO 200, 24mm, 1/1600 sec, F4.

Wonderland : Creative Catalyst 32, ISO 200, 35mm, 1/1600 sec, F4. Added a blue gradient in Lightroom.

Wonderland : Creative Catalyst 32, ISO 200, 35mm, 1/1600 sec, F4. Added a blue gradient in Lightroom.

Wonderland : Creative Catalyst 51, ISO 1250, 105mm, 1/30 sec, F16.

Wonderland : Creative Catalyst 51, ISO 1250, 105mm, 1/30 sec, F16.

Wonderland : Creative Catalyst 51, ISO 800, 24mm, 1/125 sec, F8.

Wonderland : Creative Catalyst 51, ISO 800, 24mm, 1/125 sec, F8.

Wonderland : Creative Catalyst 51, ISO 200, 24mm, 1/125 sec, F8.

Wonderland : Creative Catalyst 51, ISO 200, 24mm, 1/125 sec, F8.

Wonderland : Creative Catalyst 19, ISO 200, 24mm, 1/1000 sec, F4.

Wonderland : Creative Catalyst 19, ISO 200, 24mm, 1/1000 sec, F4.

Wonderland : Creative Catalyst 19, ISO 200, 105mm, 1/500 sec, F4.

Wonderland : Creative Catalyst 19, ISO 200, 105mm, 1/500 sec, F4.

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Montgomery Castle

Last week Graham, Julie and I headed out to Montgomery Castle to shoot and generally mess around with our cameras. Here are a few frames from the shoot…

IMG_5558-Edit

IMG_5569-Edit

IMG_5595-Edit

IMG_5621

IMG_5649

Photo by Graham Law.

Photo by Graham Law.

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Taking pub photos

As you may have read in my first post, a contributing reason of how I got into photography was through the disappointment in the quality of pictures we all took with point-and-shoot cameras in the pub. All the photos were crap and I really hate that daylight balanced flash to illuminate the subjects and that really dark background.

I didn’t get a flash gun when I purchased my Canon 40D in early November 2007. But I did get a 580EX II sometime later in 2008.

Working with flash is more challenging than you expect when you know nothing about flash. Shooting in a pub environment was one thing I wanted to get right. It took me quite a while to settle on a reliable formula (through trial and error)…

So… here it is… ISO 800, F5.6 (go smaller for groups like F8), 1/20 sec to 1/50 sec depending on the time of day and how much ambient background you want in the frame. Cloudy white balance to warm up the subjects (assuming the pub is filled with lots of warm colours). Bounce flash on-camera pointing towards the ceiling. Adjust the Flash Exposure Value (FEV) depending on how low or high the ceiling is. Be careful of the colour of the ceiling as the flash light may reflect the colour of it. If there is no suitable ceiling, use a wall (preferably white) to bounce the flash light off… below are a few examples…

Uses the formula as described at 20/sec shutter speed, 70mm.

Uses the formula as described at 1/20 sec shutter speed, 70mm.

Same singer, but caught her practicing. Taken at 20/sec, 24mm.

Same singer, but caught her practicing. Taken at 1/20 sec, 24mm.

Another of the same girl, except my buddy Graham is holding a flash gun with an optical slave hotshoe behind the singer. You can see the effect of the 2nd light source... same setting as the previous shot.

Another of the same girl, except my buddy Graham is holding a flash gun with an optical slave hotshoe behind the singer. You can see the effect of the 2nd light source... same setting as the previous shot.

This is Gemma Hindmarch. My buddy Graham placed the flash on a small shelf and pointed the flash upwards so the light ran up the wall and the top of the ceiling. This created a large light source around 8-10 feet away and I used my remote trigger (ST-E2). Picture taken at 20/sec at 200mm.

This is Gemma Hindmarch. My buddy Graham placed the flash on a small shelf and pointed the flash upwards so the light ran up the wall and the top of the ceiling. This created a large light source around 8-10 feet away and I used my remote trigger (ST-E2). Picture taken at 1/20 sec at 200mm.

Yip... uses the usual formula... shutter was 25/sec at 200mm.

Yip... uses the usual formula... shutter was 1/25 sec at 200mm.

Again... same technique works for groups! This was taken around xmas time...

Again... same technique works for groups! This was taken around xmas time...

Even at these slow shutter speeds and ISO 800, the detail and sharpness is good.

Even at these slow shutter speeds and ISO 800, the detail and sharpness is good.

Okay... there's no flash used here... but I like the mood of this pub image. Taken at F2.8, 50/sec, ISO800, 200mm. Even in a pub environment, there's plenty of opportunity to take shots without flash.

Okay... there's no flash used here... but I like the mood of this pub image. Taken at F2.8, 1/50 sec, ISO800, 200mm. Even in a pub environment, there's plenty of opportunity to take shots without flash.

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My buddy Graham suggested we go out shooting at Dolforwyn castle which is near by. The castle is on a hill and is quite a mission to climb. The castle itself is just the remains of what was… there isn’t really anything very identifiable to use for the foreground unfortunately.

The first frame of the shoot. Graham wondering what we're shooting next...

The first frame of the shoot. Graham wondering what we're shooting next...

Graham shooting the sunset...

Graham shooting the sunset...

Sunset at Dolforwyn castle. This is the shot taken from where Graham was shooting from in the previous image.

Sunset at Dolforwyn castle. This is the shot taken from where Graham was shooting from in the previous image.

This shot was taken earlier by about 10 min

This shot was taken earlier by about 10 min

Graham shooting the sunset. I should take more silhouette images.

Graham shooting the sunset. I should take more silhouette images.

Another silhouette of Graham with his camera.

Another silhouette of Graham with his camera.

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Home no more

In the town that I live, Newtown in Powys (Wales), we are having a new Tesco store being built. The town already has a Morissons, a Lidle and local grocery stores. I’m not sure if we really need something as large as Tesco’s, but time will tell…

On the land that the new Tesco’s will reside on was the home of one of my good friends. In fact, for a couple of years, I lived in on the property (between 1988 – 1990). So seeing the property getting knocked down was a very sad moment. This happened over the last few days… so many fond memories…

Image processed in Lightroom

Image processed in Lightroom. 10mm at 100/sec, F8, ISO 200, +1/3EV.

Back in May, I had hired an ultra wide angle lens (Canon EF-S 10-22mm) for a wedding and took the opportunity to photograph the building.

In Adobe Lightroom, I decided to base the look of the image on Matt Kloskowski’s Surreal Edgy Preset (video, preset). I changed a couple of things and eventually got the image I was happy with. Below is the before and after…

Before & After

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Welcome to my blog!
I’m a photographer in mid-Wales in the United Kingdom and I’ll be blogging my photographic journey… I’ve decided to start this blog for a few reasons. Firstly, I’ll be travelling aboard soon for a while and wanted a way of documenting my experience. Secondly, having a photo blog will force me to keep focused on taking  photos, hopefully good ones!
So what do I write about in my first post? How about… how I started down this photographic road? Yeah.. that sounds like a good idea! Let’s go for it…
How did it start?
I’ve always enjoyed taking photos, but I never knew anything technical and used Nikon point-and-shoot cameras for everything. The camera went everywhere with me (on my belt buckle) and got the occasional lucky photograph that was really worth keeping. Well… it all came crashing down on October 26th 2007. We had put on a surprise 50th Birthday party for my brother and all of us took pictures all night with our point-and-shoot cameras. On the Saturday morning, we looked at all the pictures and they were all crap! I simply said, “that’s it! I’ve had enough”. That very morning, I found an article on the Internet that spoke in laymen’s terms (but in enough detail) about Canon lenses. I spent a few hours reading the article to ensure I really understood as I didn’t know anything about lenses… (here is the link) I reviewed my choices over the next few days with my cousin Barry Johnston in Australia who is also a photographer (and has shot many sporting events professionally – including cricket matches such as South Africa vs. Australia). With Barry’s guidance… I was happy with what I was about to purchase.  Exactly a week later, I received my first delivery of £1,900 worth of camera equipment on November 3rd 2007. This is what I got:
Canon EOS 40D Body
EF 24-105mm F4 L IS USM lens (with Hoya Pro 1 UV filter)
EF 28mm F1.8 USM lens  (with Hoya Pro 1 UV filter)
My next steps was to get some general guidance on all aspects of photography. A friend in work lent me his Scott Kelby book titled, “The Digital Photography Book”. This was immediately useful and I bought my own copy. My next purchase was “Understanding Exposure” by Bryan Peterson. This was the corner stone for me as it really introduced me to some useful metering techniques. The next book was “Learning to See Creatively” also by Bryan Peterson. These books set the foundation for all my next adventures. I have bought many books since then. Most have been very useful…
Also at this time, I started following professional photographer blogs. Scott Kelby (link), Joe McNally (link), David Ziswer (link) to name a few… This was a hugely rewarding exercise!
So what happened after you started taking photos?
You are so happy when you take your first few photos! I can say looking back in time, they were not that great at all… but… it’s a necessary step to getting better! The first 7,000 frames was about getting to know my camera and its settings. I would shot anything! The camera was with me at ALL times. I’d stop off on the side of the road and take a picture of something, or some swans in a river, a landscape, friends and family down the pub or on an outing somewhere… I tried taking photos in as many different lighting conditions as possible. The real key was having a mentor! I have a lot to thank Barry for… the number of appalling photos (which I was quite happy with at the time) that Barry must have received during that time! He always took the time to explain in detail how I could have taken the shot better. His mentoring is always inspirational and never demoralizing.
The next step forward was flash. I purchased my equipment when I thought I was ready for the next step. Around March/April 2008 I purchased a Canon 580EX Mk II speedlite. This changed everything! From knowing nothing about flash, you realize how hard it is to work with. Even with books, I was going nowhere fast. Frankly, I didn’t really understand what they were saying and more importantly “why?”. So I purchased David Hobby’s DVD seminar (8 DVDs) which was the best thing ever! He’s goes through the theory of flash light and he often repeats what he’s trying to say in different ways until you understand it. What I learnt from these DVDs I carry with me always. In case you’re not aware, David Hobby started the “strobist” community of working with small flashes.
I took around 5,000 frames using flash to understand it better… to the point I could take a reasonable picture (well… at least by my early standards of my ability).
The gear?
Well… once I started getting better, you buy a whole load of equipment!!! Stands, umbrella’s, backgrounds, support systems, reflectors, well… let’s just say simply, you tend to get everything (almost – within reason). You try it out and get some nice results. You try different things and you learn a lot!
By the summer of 2008, I was getting infinitely better results! I’m sure my mentor Barry must have been relieved! I was reading books everyday, reading blogs everyday, and trying stuff out everyday! You could say it was studying full time (except I was actually working as a software engineer during the day). But the evenings were packed with studying…
By November, I purchased a Canon EF 70-200mm F2.8 L IS USM lens and a Canon 430EX Mk II speedlite (my second flash). You could say that getting this batch of equipment was when I decided that this was a commitment and a move towards my goals of going “pro” at some point.
The Lovegrove moment!
One day in mid-November 2008, a friend in work pointed out this blog that I might find interesting – http://www.prophotonut.com. This changed everything!!! A lot of the photos I wished I could take were taken by photographers in the America. I hadn’t actually found a photographer in the UK whose photos I desired… Until this moment! AND… this chap Damien Lovegrove did training!!! I knew instantly I wanted to go on a workshop with him. But… I believed I was not ready for such training by a photographer such as Damien Lovegrove… that’s when I decided I had to get even more serious which (in part) lead to my decision to get the 70-200mm F2.8 lens and a second flash. My evenings were already packed with studying this stuff, but I doubled my efforts and I literally went as far as books could take me. I needed that special ingredient…
To be very honest… I was very excited and quite nervous by the time the 28th April 2009 came round. Damien usually takes 4 delegates on his workshops and I was not a professional photographer. I was nervous about being in the company of 3 other professionals and I would look like a desperate wan-a-be amateur photographer. Damien says on his business website “Maintaining the gap between the professional image makers ability and that of the keen amateur has never been more important”. I completely agree with this statement. It offered reassurance of what I was getting into, but it was also a little frightening…
The 28th April started out by meeting up with everybody in a coffee shop in Bristol. Damien was very friendly and so were the other 3 delegates. By the time I had my coffee, I couldn’t see the fuss about being nervous! Everybody was very friendly and we got on just great! We walked out of the coffee shop and not even 4 meters out the door, Damien quickly pointed out an aspect of lighting. I knew that the day was going to be packed with information! I can’t remember how many different setups we photographed that day, probably 20 different setups around the Bristol Harbour. I can remember one of the other delegates, Rory, saying after he took a frame with Damien’s guidance, “yeah!!! that’s what we paid £400 for!”… If Rory didn’t say it, I was going to! In fact, I had many such moments through the day.
The biggest impact that I got from this day was learning to “see”… This is something that cannot be taught through books. Damien shares his camera techniques and is very generous with information. This is why I will go back again and again for more of his workshops. His Prophotonut blog makes much more sense to me now that I’ve been on one of his workshops. My photography is obviously influenced by what I learnt both in natural lighting and flash.
Out of the 4 delegates, 3 of us are in constant contact sharing each other’s experiences since the Urban Portrait workshop. You can see Ian’s website here ().
This is the link to the shots that Damien took on the 28th April on his prophotonut blog.
What’s next?
I will soon be on my way on some overdue travels to see my cousin and mentor Barry in Melbourne. Then on to Brisbane to see my brother and family. Then finally to Boracay Island in the Philippines.
Although I’m still fairly new at this (just 2 years)… I feel that I have come a long way forward and feel that I can hold my own. And hope to turn “pro” at some point, hopefully in the not too distant future…

Welcome to my blog!

I’m a photographer in mid-Wales in the United Kingdom and I’ll be blogging my photographic journey… I’ve decided to start this blog for a few reasons. Firstly, I’ll be travelling aboard soon for a while and wanted a way of documenting my experience. Secondly, having a photo blog will force me to keep focused on taking  photos, hopefully good ones!

So what do I write about in my first post? How about… how I started down this photographic road? Yeah.. that sounds like a good idea! Let’s go for it…

How did it start?

I’ve always enjoyed taking photos, but I never knew anything technical and used Nikon point-and-shoot cameras for everything. The camera went everywhere with me (on my belt buckle) and got the occasional lucky photograph that was really worth keeping. Well… it all came crashing down on October 26th 2007. We had put on a surprise 50th Birthday party for my brother and all of us took pictures all night with our point-and-shoot cameras. On the Saturday morning, we looked at all the pictures and they were all crap! I simply said, “that’s it! I’ve had enough”. That very morning, I found an article on the Internet that spoke in laymen’s terms (but in enough detail) about Canon lenses. I spent a few hours reading the article to ensure I really understood as I didn’t know anything about lenses… (here is the link) I reviewed my choices over the next few days with my cousin Barry Johnston in Australia who is also a photographer (and has shot many sporting events professionally – including cricket matches such as South Africa vs. Australia). With Barry’s guidance… I was happy with what I was about to purchase.  Exactly a week later, I received my first delivery of £1,900 worth of camera equipment on November 3rd 2007. This is what I got:

  • Canon EOS 40D Body
  • EF 24-105mm F4 L IS USM lens (with Hoya Pro 1 UV filter)
  • EF 28mm F1.8 USM lens  (with Hoya Pro 1 UV filter)

My next steps was to get some general guidance on all aspects of photography. A friend in work lent me his Scott Kelby book titled, “The Digital Photography Book” (link). This was immediately useful and I bought my own copy. My next purchase was “Understanding Exposure” by Bryan Peterson (link). This was the corner stone for me as it really introduced me to some useful metering techniques. The next book was “Learning to See Creatively” also by Bryan Peterson (link). These books set the foundation for all my next adventures. I have bought many books since then. Most have been very useful…

Also at this time, I started following professional photographer blogs. Scott Kelby (link), Joe McNally (link), David Ziser (link) to name a few… This was a hugely rewarding exercise!

So what happened after you started taking photos?

You are so happy when you take your first few photos! I can say looking back in time, they were not that great at all… but… it’s a necessary step to getting better! The first 7,000 frames was about getting to know my camera and its settings. I would shot anything! The camera was with me at ALL times. I’d stop off on the side of the road and take a picture of something, or some swans in a river, a landscape, friends and family down the pub or on an outing somewhere… I tried taking photos in as many different lighting conditions as possible. The real key was having a mentor! I have a lot to thank Barry for… the number of appalling photos (which I was quite happy with at the time) that Barry must have received during that time! He always took the time to explain in detail how I could have taken the shot better. His mentoring is always inspirational and never demoralizing.

The next step forward was flash. I purchased my equipment when I thought I was ready for the next step. Around March/April 2008 I purchased a Canon 580EX Mk II speedlite. This changed everything! From knowing nothing about flash, you realize how hard it is to work with. Even with books, I was going nowhere fast. So I purchased David Hobby’s DVD seminar (8 DVDs – link) which was the best thing ever! He’s goes through the theory of flash light and he often repeats what he’s trying to say in different ways until you understand it. What I learnt from these DVDs I carry with me always. In case you’re not aware, David Hobby started the “strobist” community of working with small flashes (link).

I took around 5,000 frames using flash to understand it better… to the point I could take a reasonable picture (well… at least by my early standards of my ability).

The gear?

Well… once I started getting better, you buy a whole load of equipment!!! Stands, umbrella’s, backgrounds, support systems, reflectors, well… let’s just say simply, you tend to get everything (almost – within reason). You try it out and get some nice results. You try different things and you learn a lot!

By the summer of 2008, I was getting infinitely better results! I’m sure my mentor Barry must have been relieved! I was reading books everyday, reading blogs everyday, and trying stuff out everyday! You could say it was studying full time (except I was actually working as a software engineer during the day). But the evenings were packed with studying…

By November, I purchased a Canon EF 70-200mm F2.8 L IS USM lens and a Canon 430EX Mk II speedlite (my second flash). You could say that getting this batch of equipment was when I decided that this was a commitment and a move towards my goals of going “pro” at some point.

The Lovegrove moment!

One day in mid-November 2008, a friend in work pointed out this blog that I might find interesting – http://www.prophotonut.com. This changed everything!!! A lot of the photos I wished I could take were taken by photographers in the America. I hadn’t actually found a photographer in the UK whose photos I desired… Until this moment! AND… this chap Damien Lovegrove did training!!! I knew instantly I wanted to go on a workshop with him. But… I believed I was not ready for such training by a photographer such as Damien Lovegrove… that’s when I decided I had to get even more serious which (in part) lead to my decision to get the 70-200mm F2.8 lens and a second flash. My evenings were already packed with studying this stuff, but I doubled my efforts and I literally went as far as books could take me.

To be very honest… I was very excited and quite nervous by the time the 28th April 2009 came round. Damien usually takes 4 delegates on his workshops and I was not a professional photographer. I was nervous about being in the company of 3 other professionals and I would look like a desperate wan-a-be amateur photographer. Damien says on his business website “Maintaining the gap between the professional image makers ability and that of the keen amateur has never been more important”. I completely agree with this statement. It offered reassurance of what I was getting into, but it was also a little scary…

The 28th April started out by meeting up with everybody in a coffee shop in Bristol. Damien was very friendly and so were the other 3 delegates. By the time I had my coffee, I couldn’t see the fuss about being nervous! Everybody was very friendly and we got on just great! We walked out of the coffee shop and not even 4 meters out the door, Damien quickly pointed out an aspect of lighting. I knew that the day was going to be packed with information! I can’t remember how many different setups we photographed that day, probably 20 different setups around the Bristol Harbour. I can remember one of the other delegates, Rory, saying after he took a frame with Damien’s guidance, “yeah!!! that’s what we paid £400 for!”… If Rory didn’t say it, I was going to! In fact, I had many such moments through the day.

The biggest impact that I got from this day was learning to “see”… This is something that cannot be taught through books. Damien shares his camera techniques and is very generous with information. This is why I will go back again and again for more of his workshops. His Prophotonut blog makes much more sense to me now that I’ve been on one of his workshops. My photography is obviously influenced by what I learnt both in natural lighting and flash.

Out of the 4 delegates, 3 of us are in constant contact sharing each other’s experiences since the Urban Portrait workshop. You can see Ian’s website here (http://ianfreelance.com/).

This is the link to the shots that Damien took on the 28th April on his prophotonut blog.

What’s next?

I will soon be on my way on some overdue travels to see my cousin and mentor Barry in Melbourne. Then on to Brisbane to see my brother and family. Then finally to Boracay Island in the Philippines.

Although I’m still fairly new at this (just 2 years)… I feel that I have come a long way forward and feel that I can hold my own.

Read Full Post »