Photographer Spreading the Word. Work is For Sale

It’s been a busy old week. Having spent three glorious sunny days last weekend catching up with the gardening, when the weather turned cool I came indoors and began  working on actually being found on the wonderful web. As we no longer have effective agencies to sell our work, us creatives have had to find creative solutions to the question ‘how do I get seen?’ Of course a WordPress blog and a website is a start, but experience has shown me it’s not enough to get you off the ‘starving artist’ income I’d like to avoid.

So I investigated Squidoo. The first day was a nightmare. This none techy person was alsmot driven to the point of baldness and rescued by advice from Zazzle people and my partner. The second day I mastered some of the technique need to build a Squidoo lens. Now I’ve got something to tell you about! I’ve made three lenses so far. (go on, cheer!).

Lenses are very specific. Apparently, the more focussed they are, the more successful they are. So I have one on Digital flower art, one on Photographic Flower Art and one all about hellebores, which I featured in a recent WordPress post. They are quite good fun to do, once you learn the system.

I’ve not stopped taking photos, needless to say! So todays offering is an arum lily. My partner brought them for me (yes, he’s a sweetie, though that might ruin his street cred). It’s not an easy flower to photograph, I’ve found. But I’m fairly satisfied with the result. What do you think?

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Magic Macro Moments-What’s in a Raindrop?

I’ve been playing again. I’m finding macro both fascintating and frustrating. Here’s what happens. I spot gorgeous raindrops on a plant. Then I rush outside, camera in hand. Set up the tripod, switch off image stabilisation, focus with all my concentration, camera on delay shutter release. The raindrop is in perfect focus. Then…whooosh. One tiny bit of breeze makes the leaf shudder and my shot useless. Try again! And again, and again. Then there’s the light, changing by the second, changing the reflections, the brightness of the shot, the sparkle appearing and disappearing. I think you need almost as much patience to take macro shots as you do to shoot wildlife. But the results are both as rewarding and fascinating as wildlife. A whole world in a raindrop! I’ve had a lot of people asking me about macro, and how to go about it. Here’s what I do.

The biggest problem, you’ll quickly realise with macro, is that you have a long lens, possibly with extension tubes, as I do. The minutest movement will be magnified, cause camera shake and blur the shot.

Use a good tripod making your camera as still and stable as possible.

If you have delayed shutter release on your camera, use it. It locks the mirror up before the shutter is released, thereby reducing any camera shake from the mirror movement.

If not, use a remote or wired cable to press the shutter, as this will also reduce any camera shake.

Spend time getting the focus as you want it. Increasing depth of field will enable more in the shot to be in focus, but increase shutter speed. Only you can decide how much time you can allow the shutter, given your lighting and weather conditions. If it is the slightest bit breezy you’ll need the highest shutter speed you can obtain, therefore the smallest depth of field. Be creative and position your main focus of interest well in the frame, allowing the blur of out of focus items to frame the shot. I sometimes underexposed slightly to allow a faster shutter speed. I can correct this under exposure in Photoshop, as I shoot in RAW.

After shot processing usually means a simple exposure adjustment, a little colour and contrast boosting and cropping to improve the framing if necessary.

Macro can be taken to different levels. In the first two shots I’ve used all my extension tubes on my Nikon D90 with a 70-300mm Tamron lens, but didn’t switch it to macro, just zoomed in as much as I could.

Macro water 1

Macro water 2

The next few are full-on maximum, with my current equipment, macro. All extension tubes, lens on full zoom and maximum macro, focussed as carefully as humanly possible. It’s another world in those raindrops! Oh, of course you can cheat. No rain? Get the watering can out and give that plant a sprinkle. This works really well on alchemilla mollis (ladies mantle), which naturally hold rainrops like jewels, due to the tiny hairs on its surface.

Marco water3

Macro water 4

Macro water 5

Macro water 6

Macro water 7

This last shot is full on macro, but I put the tripod a little further away as I liked the jewel like quality of the smaller water droplets.

Have fun with macro and investigate another world!

Photoshop Tutorial Resources for Photographers

Watermead Country Park

Hi everyone. I hope you’re having a good weekend.  As  promised, I’ve been investigating some resources that could be useful if you wish to learn more about Photoshop and how to manipulate your images once downloaded. I’ve found some very interesting sites. Although it would take me weeks to work through all the information available on these sites, the tutorials I’ve read and watched seem very comprehensive and fairly straightforward to follow. So I’ll pass them onto you and you browse away to your heart’s content. The images I’ve posted today are from our walk yesterday at Watermead Country Park. For those of you who are interested, I’ve used a couple of waterfall shots from yesterdays post to create new products on Zazzle. I’m having fun building my shop there. Once I’ve finished photoshopping I enjoy seeing what products some of my shots would be suitable for then going and creating them. Now I just need more people to see them and like them. If you do pop into zazzle please let me know what you think.

Watermead Country Park

OK, here are the sites for your reference and a little about what each one has to offer.

http://www.russellbrown.com lots of video tutorials including creative masking without masking, green screen removal and clone painting. An interesting site with several sections. I’ve found the most useful stuff in ‘Tips and techniques’ and ‘Dr Brown Scripts’.

http://3rdelement.com/photoshop/a-letter-from-florence/ Very easy to watch video tutorials on all sorts of stuff including extracting an object from its background, masking and applying adjustment layers.

http://www.dpbestflow.org/ Find information on here about workflow, colour space, image editing, copyright registration, metadata and more. This is a very technical site but well laid out and with explanations that are easy to read an follow.

http://photoshopcafe.com/tutorials/pen/pen.htm loads of written tutorials, images are not very clear but info is good and directions easy to follow. CD/dvd tutorials available from author. Topics range from creating water drops on an image to using the pen tool.

http://designshack.co.uk/articles/css/create-seamless-web-background-textures-in-minutes written tutorials on subjects like creating seamless background textures in minutes and making reflections in Photoshop. There are weekly freebies inc free textured papers. A designers website with useful stuff for photographers. You’ll also find information about marketing and CSS. This site is well worth a look, although only some of the information relates to Photoshop and photography.

That’s it for now. If I find any more I’ll mention them in a later post. Of course, for those of you with full versions of Photoshop there is also the Adobe site itself. Happy Photoshopping! If anyone wants to add a cool resource they’ve found, please leave a comment. We’d all be more than grateful.

Nature’s Imagination or is that My Imagination?

I’ve been collecting the images in this post for some time now. I’m often amazed at some of the forms nature takes, all by itself. I’m sure it has no idea what happens when humans look at it and see something I’m sure it never intended. But I find them entertaining, interesting and different, as you could not invent these forms. Some are only apparent in certain light. I’ll tell you what I can see. It might just be me. But if you can see it too please let me know, so I know I’m not just a batty old nature lover with an over-active imagination!

The image above is a lump of rotting wood I dragged home to place in my garden. Looking out of the window I saw a wolf. Do you?

This one we call ‘sex on a stick’. Can you see why? It’s a log I took from a pile my friend had bought for her wood burning stove in Scotland. Once the bark was removed it became an ornament that many have asked about. They wanted to buy one!

Here’s another shot from another angle of the same log.

This last one is in woodland close to where I live. The rock it’s growing against is pre-Cambrian, some of the oldest rock here in the UK. but look at the tree. I see a female form, arms above her head, posing beautifully. Do you, or am I crackers?

When I find these things I can’t help but photograph them, although they’re never going to end up on my website as saleable images, in my private collection they do create interest among friends.

Preparations For More Choice on Website

I’m busy. Very. And not just with Christmas. I’m busy preparing to put out on sale some of my best work on my website. I’ve had a lot of enquiries about pictures I show but don’t yet sell, so once I’ve got my collection sorted, ensured they print well and uploaded them all into the right file (and anyone who runs a website will know what a long, tedious job this can be)  I’ll let you know and you can go have a look. I’m aiming to keep prices reasonable, considering the quality of printing I’ve gone for. I order from a professional lab using top quality products that, they assure me, will last fifty to seventy years. That’s a lifetime! I’ve been really pleased with all the work they have done for me so far, and they are definitely better than anyone could produce on a home printer, so I’m sticking with it. Quality matters when you’re looking at it daily on your wall or giving it as a gift.

It’s also my birthday on Thursday, but I can’t really get enthusiastic about getting any older!

So today I’m posting some of my Christmas pic experiments. One day I’ll get around to producing my own cards, but the time isn’t yet right.  One job at a time, or I’ll have too many projects on the go all at once. Let me know, please, if you like any of my experiments. I really appreciate anyone taking the time to comment. I know how precious time is!

Playing With Light

 

zoom burst

 

 

I’ve been pondering all day what to blog about while sorting through all those files. Then it came to me. The primary necessity for photography or art is light. So that’s what I’m looking at here. I love light. In fact I’m prone to SAD in winter, I need it so much. In photography, the light, as we all know, can make or break a shot.

I also love fire. Fire IS light. So I played have played with it quite a lot. Candles, fires, fireworks. They all attract and delight us but aren’t easy to shoot well. And there’s always the question of what mood do you want the finished shot to have? This can affect the angle of the light and the shot and aperture settings as well as choice of subject matter. In the first photo, Zoom Burst, I simply Focussed on my light ball with the camera on quite a long exposure and zoomed out with the lens as the exposure was running. If you have a point and shoot, I’m afraid you won’t be able to do this one. But for those with DSLRs, this is fun to try.

In this next one, I was simply working towards very ambient, quiet images for an agency who sell photos for book covers. They wanted soft, darkish pictures that could be used for fiction.I liked the shadows cast by the candle and the softness of the overall image. I played around with the colour settings in Photoshop as rendering natural colours was not the focus here.

 

Candle Sconce

The next shot is totally different. Here we see a friend wielding a length of Kevlar rope, soaked in paraffin and lit. He then whirrs it around to give a brilliant light show. I set my camera up, resting it on the back of a chair and took long exposures. In Photoshop, I used curves to accentuate the light and lose the surrounding grass etc so that you get the vividness of the light show without the distracting background.

 

Light Show

And below, you see an extract of the flames because I zoomed in as much as I could. I stayed well back physically, of course. My friends playing with fire should be treated with caution. 🙂 Once back at Photoshop I simply boosted the contrast a little so you can see the patterns. This has been used as a background shot.

 

Zooming In

 

There are many, many more ways of playing with light, of course. There are no sunrises and sets here (except my parting shot). No clever sparkles or smoke glares. But there are a few ideas to get your juices flowing and, as it is Saturday night, I’m off through the gate into the sunset.

 

See You Soon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is Deleting Work?

Ice, Ice Baby

It’s been a funny old day. I’ve spent quite some time deleting photos, filing others and going through my emails. I’ve taken an awful lot of pictures over the last few weeks and not stopped to sort them out, file them or delete the rubbish (oh, yes, there are plenty)!

I’m not afraid to take ten times more photos than I’m ever likely to use, thanks to the modern DSLR. When cameras had to be loaded with a film and developed, that was impossible cost-wise. Now it just makes sense. Why NOT take a shot if it just might work. Try it, get it into the computer and delete it if it’s no good, adjust in RAW if need be and in fact play to your heart’s content. But it does mean considerable amounts of time to go through them all and deleting, editing, processing one by one. The processing I love once I’m in the mood. But spending time pressing delete having decided which ones to keep always makes me feel as if I haven’t done any real work. I don’t know why. It’s all part of the job. I suppose it’s just one I find really boring. So here I am watching a Fred Dibnah tribute (Fred was a TV presenter whose real job was mending and felling industrial chimneys and was a real northern England  character) and writing my blog at 8pm feeling like I’ve made little progress. Having already managed to distract myself by buying two new rats (best pets in the world) I’m now trying to make up for lost time.

Braving the snow

My partner reckons I should count everything I have to do with my photography as work, and I suppose it is. But its photography that feels like play and admin that feels like work. I haven’t finished the deleting or sorting. That’ll be a job for another day then. Todays photos are some from that sorting process. Happy snapping!

Crystals

Now tell me, is deleting work? Do you have a photography job you find boring?

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