Friday, August 29, 2014

Pontivy Bridge

It's been a while again but I have returned fully fresh and inspired after 10 days in Brittany (France for all those who failed Geography). Brittany it's such a spectacular part of France, with many beautiful towns and landmarks to visit. The highlight for me was visiting a place that should be on every photographer's bucket list - Mont Saint Michel. It more than lived up to all the expectations I had of it, but I will blog about that very soon!

My first post from Brittany is from the wonderful town of Pontivy. This was perhaps the nearest big town to where we were staying, and like many towns in the region, has wonderful character and history to it. Sticking to my HDR stronghold, the photo below is comprised of 5 bracketed shots, and processed in Lightroom, Photomatix, Photoshop and Nik Color Efex Pro.

The filters I used in Nik Color Efex were Pro Contrast and Remove Color Cast. I used High Pass Sharpening in Photoshop, with an added boost of sharpening in Lightroom. I think I'm going to write up more of my processes, I'm starting find them fun.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Simple Life

After trying to think of some words to write, I have decided to go with the title's essence and keep things simple. This an HDR shot from 5 different exposures. I had to use the de-ghosting option to use the chicken from just one of the exposures, and that was after waiting a few minutes for the chicken to walk in front of the tractor for this shot.

I've got a thing at the moment for wanting to 'HDR' old vehicles, and are looking for opportunities to photograph them. The inspiration came after seeing someone ride a very old (perhaps even war period) motorcycle along the roads. This led my mind to imagine a scene of this old motorcycle parked outside an old cottage, and so I am inspired to capture this picture in the near future.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Tea in the Green Room

Staying in the Polish castle 'Zamek Książ' for today's picture, the subject is somewhat a little lighter. This is obviously in one of the more grander parts of the castle, and evoked scenes of tea breaks during war mission briefings (my mind is quite imaginative like that). Indeed, as this castle has been part of Germany for much of it's history, the Nazi's seized the castle in 1944, only to be kicked out by the Red Army (that's Russia, not Liverpool FC) the following year.

I probably should have tried getting away with carrying a tripod round this place, as I doubt they would have had a problem with it, but nevertheless I was visiting with family, so I didn't want to annoy everyone. Therefore, this is a handheld HDR shot, perhaps not as pin-sharp as my Old Church picture last week, but able to capture the dynamic range anyway.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Purgatorio

Forgive me for indulging in a little artistic flair with this picture, it is not my usual subject or approach, but there was something that intrigued me about this little place, especially the composition. It seemed right to give it an artistic 'moody' tone'.

I'm currently reading Dante's The Divine Comedy, hence the inspiration for this picture and it's title. I'm sure most of you are familiar with The Divine Comedy, but for those who aren't, it is a medieval work of a poet who travels to Hell (Inferno), Purgatory (Purgatorio) and finally Heaven (Paradiso). The poem begins in Inferno, which is the part I am still reading, and whilst learning how to keep myself away from Hellfire, I can only imagine what the next stage, Purgatorio, would look like. I think it would exactly like this though (I am kidding of course).

This picture was taken at the magnificent Zamek (Castle) Książ in Wałbrzych, Poland. It's long history actually predates The Divine Comedy (written around 1300), and has largely been the seat of German nobleman over the centuries.

There is no HDR here. I did take bracketed shots, but that was mainly to be able to get the right exposure, before the image got shaky (it was taken handheld). I shot it at ISO 640, but did little noise reduction, so the image did not lose it's grittiness and come out too clean. 'Til next time....

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Oldest Church in Town

Never is it lost on me that it has been a long time (over a month) since my last blog. I've been unmotivated and uninspired, and at the same time incredibly busy with photography work. I will post soon about what I have been working on project wise (interior design shoots), but for today I will post a picture from my latest trip to Poland.

As usual with my trips to Poland, there wasn't that much free time. There is normally a celebration going on of some sort, and this time it was about my Wife's sister, who was getting married. I turned 33 while I was out in Poland and taking a break from their hectic wedding plans, our hosts kindly took me to some old parts of Poland, which ended in visiting this Church in the town of Swidnica.

Not speaking as good Polish as I would like, I struggle to remember the history very well from my fleeting visits to places, but I was pleased to see when I looked this church up on the net just now, that it is called The Evangelical Church of Peace (what a name!) and is a UNESCO world heritage site. There is a great story to how this church came to be built, but I will save that for another blog post!

This is the main organ front, facing away from the altar, and from a photographic point of view, carries on my love of HDR photography. Luckily churches in Poland do not give you grief about using tripods, so I was able to take my time to get these bracketed shots, which made up this picture.

It would not be right to say hello and not blog again soon, therefore, I will be back with another blog post on Thursday.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Faces of the Civil War

Battle reenactment photography is probably no one's specialist photography field, but there is a great opportunity here to try and capture a sense of real history. My latest venture was to Basing House for a Sealed Knot reenactment, and though I took quite a few pictures, I wasn't that satisfied with them. The battle itself was quite far away to get any close up pictures this time, but it was always my intention to get more people shots as well, again to try and capture that sense of history.

The people involved in the battle were very willing photographic subjects, which not really being a people photographer, I am very grateful for. I shot and processed this as an HDR image, but masked in the original RAW images for their faces.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Elizabeth Reigns in Bourton

Nearly a month since I last blogged, and that fact isn't lost on me. I was going to write a blog about my lack of inspiration for blogging recently, but then I think that would only add to the problem. A change is needed I think, either in the style or approach of my blog, but until I figure that one out, here's a picture I took yesterday from Bourton on the Water, somewhere in the heart of The Cotswolds.

I don't normally moan about the British weather (it is what it is) but yesterday for me was the first truly warm day of the year. As a result, my wife and I took a trip to a few places round The Cotswolds, and with the warm weather came the bustling crowds. This made photography quite difficult, especially as people photography isn't really my thing, and also the blanket blue sky can make landscape photography rather 'boring'. A key feature of Bourton on the Watere though, are the several small bridges that cross the beautiful stream that runs through it.

It wasn't until several photos later of this bridge, that I noticed the 'Elizabeth Reigns' emblem on the bridge, and realised that this might be a good look with the feet walking over the bridge. I had intended this to be an HDR shot, but in the end went for a single RAW image, processed in Lightroom.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Interior Challenges

I've managed to get out twice in the last week with my camera, which is quite rare for me at the moment. As I wrote about on Thursday, I shot some pictures at the Bear Hotel in Hungerford last Wednesday, and yesterday I waltzed on down to Basing House in Basingstoke, to take some pictures of the Sealed Knot Civil War reenactment there. It's been a few years since the last pictures I took of a civil war battle, and this year through up some new challenges and opportunities. I'll speak more about that on Thursday though!

For today, I have another picture from the interior shoot at The Bear last week. I am far from finishing these pictures, but am pleased with the way they are starting to turn out. Doing these interior shoots is all still a learning experience for me at the moment. One of the key challenges I come across is what to do when you have a very bright scene outside coming through a window. One option of course is to frame it so you don't include the window, but this may ruin the chance of a great angle or perspective. People may think it is no problem if you use HDR and therefore bracketed shots, but I don't think it is as easy as that. For instance, if the room is bright enough that you only have to go to a  +2 exposure to cover the dark shadow areas, your finished HDR image will look odd if you have to also go to -4 or less to cover the highlight areas, which could easily be the case with a blown out window.

Long time interior design photographers could get round this problem with lighting the main area to balance it out with the window, or leaving the window area as blurry and burn out, which is actually quite common. Masking in the original RAW file is very difficult when you have a heavily framed window such as this one, and may not 'fit' with the tone of the rest of the picture. Therefore, I went for a little blown out, mixed with some detail. The important thing for me is to include into the picture, so that it doesn't take your eye away from the main focus, which is the main room area. Whether I have succeeded with that at the moment I can't tell, but it is certainly a challenge for me to ponder and work more on in future.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Bear Hotel Hungerford 2014

Whilst the sunshine in the UK was surprisingly pleasant yesterday, I was up at the historic Bear Hotel in Hungerford, capturing their recently furbished interiors. Perhaps not the best day to pick to do an interior shoot, but it was fine with me. The excellent light outside gave me excellent light to work with inside.

I have many photos to go through and process but here is an early result from my shoot yesterday. I was inspired to capture the main restaurant from this angle, as I saw a sepia photograph hanging on the wall in the restaurant, which had obviously been taken decades ago. The room looked slightly different then, there used to be a bar where the blackboard area of the photo above is, but the picture itself was all the inspiration I needed to produce a 2014 'update'.

This is an HDR image taken from 3 exposures, post-processed in Lightroom, Photomatix and Photoshop.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Sherborne Cottage

Every now and then I do something a little different on this blog, and I'm sure today's picture qualifies as that. It is always my objective to add a little artistic flair to my pictures, and this is normally achieved using HDR techniques, which I am very fond of. Today I have gone for a watercolour presentation of an English cottage, which I created in Topaz Simplify 4. There was also a lot of additional work done in Photoshop to 'fix' issues created in Simplify.

I have had the original photo on my hard drive for a little while now, but was inspired to create a watercolour version of this photo after seeing various paintings of summer cottage scenes. Though it was actually February when I captured this picture, it was taken on a bright sunny morning, so was able to give it that summer look (albeit the bare tree on the right).