My Photos on Products

Just a quick post today to show off the products from Zazzle we ordered as gifts. I’m really pleased with them and can now vouch for the quality Zazzle produce. The mousemat is thick durable, and comfortable under the wrist. The mugs are great! I’m glad I decided to use some of my photos this way, as well as offering others as prints on my freshly updated website.

Here are photos of them, modelled by my partner Jon.

 

Shell Mug

Houseleek mugs

Pride Mousemat

 

 

Macro Versatility and Creativity plus Website Updated

How can I ignore the fantastic shapes and forms of flowers? They are beautiful, fascinating and better than anything humans could design!

Hellebore, seed pods forming

Hellebore, flower fertilised

Hellebore, freshly opened flower

Hellebore just opening

These last shots are as close as I can get with my equipment, and give you an idea about the creative us of macro. It doesn’t matter if the entire shot is not in focus. Throw some of the image out of focus and use it to create a softer, more artistic picture.

Hellebore macro creative 1

Hellebore macro creative 2

Who can resist such diversity on one plant? I think some of my friends believe I’m a bit strange as I wander around in my macro world. They miss it, busy getting to the next point (eg the car or the shop). What fantastic stuff they walk past and never see! It’s all there for free and beats a lot of entertainment you pay an arm and a leg for.

What can you see in your garden? Do you have a magnifying glass? Take it with you. Or get the camera out and have a closer look. There’s a miniature world waiting for you to discover it. Be careful, though. You might just find yourself buying extension tubes or macro lenses. Then you know you’re hooked.

PS I’ve cracked it! Sorted my website out, put lots of new images up, organised my prices and sizes and actually got PayPal to work so that my customers can get the image they want with minimum hassle to them. Whew! As a photographer and not a web designer, this was no mean feat, despite using a great web hosting service. I’m just not cut out to understand the logic of the silicon chip! It’s abstract and can’t be composed in a frame. You’re welcome to visit and let me know what you think!

Of course, there are some macro shots on there now, soon to be joined by more. I haven’t just been playing with raindrops. As you know, flowers attract my eye more than anything else usually.

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!

Great News! Sales go Live on Website.

Hoverfly on Thistle. Copyright caffimages.co.uk

I’ve cracked it. I’m not the best tech-head in the world, but I’ve got my website set up to take sales by paypal. Not all of them are for sale just yet, but my large, square format images are, as they’re my visitors’ favourites. Flowers for your walls! Reminders of spring and summer all year round! And they’re NOT print outs from a desktop printer, either. I have a top quality pro-lab printing service, tried and tested printing on Fuji-lustre high quality paper.

These prints make great Christmas/birthday presents. (as family and friends will attest). There was a stumbling block for these square shots until recently, and that was obtaining frames. But now even Wilkinsons has frames available in square format. I bought some for my exhibtion and they’re just fine. A 20″ frame with a 16″ mount sets off my pictures perfectly. If you’re desperately looking for a special present, something NOT available in every high street shop, come and have a look at my website at caffimages.co.uk.

Wish me luck, folks. It’s been a long, hard slog to get things this far. As ever, your comments are always appreciated!

Purple Dahlia Copyright caffimages.co.uk

 

Eden project astounding

Sculpture at Eden

Last month I did what I’ve been threatening to do for a long time. I took my camper and myself down to Cornwall to visit the Eden Project. What an amazing place!!! It’s vast, it’s colourful and loaded with information about our wonderful planet. I completley wore myself out in an effort to see everything but still didn’t. The great thing is, once you’ve bought a ticket and registered it, you can return within a year on the same ticket. I will be going back, despite the five hour journey to get there.

The Domes

Outside, I tried to get a photo of the complete complex of the domes, but despite my wide angle elns, couldn’t fit it all in.

The stairway to the top of the dome

Inside, on encountering the steps, I decided my head would NOT cope with the hights, but for those who climbed these scary steps, the veiw was, I’m told, fantastic.

And some of the exhibits were very interesting.

The Rites of Dionysus

Explanation

This place is well worth a visit or two, and photographers beware. You’ll need a full battery, probably an extra card for your camera and plenty of time to take all the shots you want. I’ll post more on my Cornwall trip another day.

If you want to see more of my photos, please go to www.caffimages.co.uk (there’s also a link in the sidebar on the right).

Books That Inspire and Inform Me

Books that Inpire and Inform me

Ok, So we had the art of seeing yesterday. I often find myself looking for inspiration, for something new. Of course, inspiration can be found everywhere (that’s my next post), but when the light has gone and I’m sat thinking in the evening and need a little direction, what do I do? Could what I do help you? I hope so. I read books, I flip through books full of pictures, and I find new ideas in old print. So in this post I’m listing a few of my favourite books I wouldn’t be without. They may surprise you as choices for a photographer, but why limit yourself to photography books which are, after all, mostly about¬† technique. It’s not the quality of camera or knowing how to use it that makes a good picture, it’s the content. What you point the thing at and how you frame it that counts. So what do you point your camera at? What do you put in and leave out of the frame? What is the picture for? Is it a news item, a family record, an artwork for your wall? Do you want bright colour, a moody look or something to make you smile?

70 mph Down the M1

Some of the photos here maybe wouldn’t stand up to too much professional scrutiny, but unless you’re selling the photo, that really doesn’t matter. What matters is that you get creative and play with your camera. Until you try, you don’t know what you might be able to come up with. After all, since the digital camera became the norm, you can take and delete as many shots as you like without extra cost. So have fun with it!

Inside a Tipee

OK, the books.

The Creative Artist – Nita Leland (1993 – also later editions)

Cultivating Sacred Space (Gardening for the Soul) – Elizabeth Murray

Gothic Fantasies – The Paintings of Anne Sudworth

The Colour Eye – BBC books

And a couple of photography books –

Photographing Flowers – Sue Bishop (includes Inspiration, technique and equipment)

The Making of Landscape Photographs – Charlie Waite (not digital, but good for advice on framing and light)

Light

Patience is a virtue, especially if you like birds

Dahlia

It’s a good job I have a lot of patience. I won’t bore you with the details, but I’ve had a 20+ year wait for diagnosis of a serious condition. I’m a gardener, and I have a son with ADHD. All of these things needed a massive amount of patience to get through, which I’ve had ( I’m still here, and my son is 20 and still alive!!). So you’d think getting the photos I’d like of birds would be a doddle, right? Wrong. They don’t mind me sitting watching them, oh, no. They’re in and out of the garden as if they have it to themselves, even when I actually move around gardening. BUT if I go in and get the camera, sit quietly where I always sit, they disappear? Camera shy starlings? Sparrows with a sense of humour? Blushing blue tits? It baffles me. I can’t go far at the moment until my health improves, so you’d think these creatures I’ve kept alive all winter and oblige with food for their broods would do the decent thing and pose nicely!

I’ve resorted to hiding behind the curtain in my lounge and trying to get the odd shot from there, but the light is against me in that position, so all I have are plant photos. Not that that’s a bad thing, but it would be great if I could capture my feathered friends in action. Perhaps a trip to the local park would be better, as the birds there are very used to people. The tree are much bigger, too of course. But then there are always the flowers.

All this got me thinking on a more serious note, though. I’ve also waited patiently for a long time to see the Liberals get some say in parliament, and now, finally, they have their chance. Not that I’m a political animal, I’m not, and couldn’t hold down a discussion on policy of any kind (please don’t ask me to).¬† But I do know that we’ve needed ‘fresh blood’ for a very long time, and now we have some. And the opportunity is there for reform of the voting system. Hooray! Lets keep our fingers crossed that they actually do make some real, positive changes we can be proud of.

I’ve given you another flower today, as the birds won’t co-operate. It sat still, smiled nicely and will be planted in the garden as soon as the danger of frost has passed. I wonder, what tries other people’s patience?

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