Tuesday, February 28, 2012

English Country Garden

Well if truth be told it's more like an English rural city garden but Oxford is very much a city of the countryside. This was pictured in the Botanic Gardens and though we visited there in the middle of winter, it's still a fantastic place to walk around and find a bit of peace. This is an HDR shot from 2 exposures (0,-2) and was largely post-processed in Photoshop and Nik Color Efex Pro.

As I alluded to in the comments section of the previous picture, the football result on Sunday did go my way and my team was victorious. Had an amazing day because of the result, however it's left me pretty exhausted and creatively a bit unenergetic. So this is quite a short blog today but will have plenty to talk about on Thursday, with it being a couple of days away from another exhibition of mine.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Port of Liverpool

Today is a big day, not for me personally but my beloved football team Liverpool FC are playing in the League Cup Final at Wembley. I will be there this afternoon, in fact am spending nearly all weekend in London in anticipation and aftermath of the big game. So while today's blog maybe be brief, I decided to post a picture from Liverpool, this being the Port of Liverpool building, right on the sea front (where else would a 'port' building be I guess!). I took this image while visiting Liverpool last September and the tourist season still seemed to be in full swing - many people enjoying the day by the front soaking up the atmosphere and eating ice creams (including me!).

Hopefully by the time I blog again on Tuesday, I will be in a great mood as Liverpool would have won the cup final, but you just never know with football. As well as going to the game, this picture is me doing my bit for Liverpool today!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Home by the River

The River Thames that flows through Southern England has been quite a theme of my pictures recently and this is one to add to the collection. This is another picture from my trip last weekend to the Windsor area and another that was pictured in the village of Datchet in Berkshire. Datchet is one of the many towns and villages that the river Thames passes and there is some beautiful sights to be seen as it flows by. I have no idea if this is somebody's home (I suspect so) or is an office of some sort but it's difficult to know as you can't access that side of the river! It's a fantastic sight though and very 'English'.

Another feature that has started to become more common is the square format look to my pictures. This was not a deliberate ploy, they just seem to be framed that way by the time I have finished cropping to my content. My theory is basically to keep in the frame what is interesting and that normally means cutting quite big chunks off the side. I know there are some photographers who present their pictures exclusively in the square format and while I would never be that restricted, it definitely is an interesting dimension to use.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Waiting Place

The most useless place as Dr. Seuss described in 'Oh, the places you'll go!'. And the first line as he describes what the waiting place is - 'Waiting for a train to go'. So that is what gave me the inspiration for this picture. Of course I wasn't thinking about Dr. Seuss when I took this picture but I was certainly inspired by the scenery. I was going for more a compositionally sound picture at the time, with the Windsor train sign placed so I could also capture the man sat waiting and the clock and telephone boxes at the end. The art of it struck me afterwards and that's when I began to think of Dr. Seuss' famous book. I took this picture just last Saturday after visiting Windsor Castle. I'm sure some of my pictures of the castle will pop up on here soon but I was much more excited about this picture after I took it than anything I captured at the great fortress.

I'm now a published author as well!

I'm not trying to modestly overexert my achievements but I have written a book you can find online. Ok so it's unlikely to become a bestseller or sell any outside the Newbury area but yes with my one-day upcoming exhibition in Newbury Town Hall (March 3rd), I thought I'd like to give people something else to look at, other than the pictures themselves. So I wrote and compiled a book called 'West Berkshire in HDR' which would showcase the HDR photos from my local area and also write about the pictures individually. Similar to what I do on this blog actually. There is a bit about the HDR technique in there as well, but the book is really aimed at none-photographers (more specifically Newbury locals) who haven't seen HDR before.

The hard copies are on their way to me but it is also available online as a downloadable ebook. So if you want to have a preview of it or indeed order a copy, please click this link:


Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Church with the Red Door

Say what you see Pete! Sorry it's a little case of 'titles-block' again, but I couldn't think of anything else to sum up this picture really. This picture is from the village of Datchet, just outside Windsor in Berkshire. I was about to write 'sleepy village of Datchet' then, but if you have spent a night there like I did last night, you'd have done well to get some sleep! Not only is it directly under a Heathrow flight path but the rail line that runs right through the centre of it is surprisingly busy at night as well! Having said all that, it is a charming little village and has existed for hundreds of years, even before the year 1000AD. Therefore, there are some historical sights to see around the village and this is the church of St. Mary the Virgin located on the right as you enter Datchet (if you arrive from the M4 direction anyway).

I've spent the weekend in the Windsor area and yesterday visited Windsor Castle. You can never bank on the English weather treating you well but it has been pretty miserable the last couple of days. Not bad when the effect you are after is quite gloomy like this picture but thoroughly annoying when you have about a 3 seconds to get a picture in the castle grounds before the lens becomes coated in raindrops. Hopefully I'll have some good pictures to show from the castle soon.

I mentioned the other day that I can now be found on Pinterest, well for HDR fans I have also set up a group called 'The Best HDR Photographers' and you can find a link to it here: http://pinterest.com/petehalewood/the-best-hdr-photographers/

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Thames Under Oxford / Pinterest

Here is another record from my recent day trip to Oxford. I mentioned last week that I need to go out and shoot some more pictures now and that is still very true. The more pictures you post from a certain location, the more difficult it is to write about. You've already written so much content on the place! Anyways, as opposed to my 'Oxfordshire' shot last last week, this is from the other side of that bridge that goes over the river Thames and is in glorious HDR! It is an HDR from 3 shots and I decided to go for the square format for this picture as there was little if any interesting content towards the left side of this picture. I always remember Rick Sammon's advice about cropping, which is to always make the picture fill the frame, that's what I try to do.


Since Trey Ratcliff's blog about Pinterest the other day, I notice there are a lot of photographers signing up. Which has included me as well, so if you want to have a look, here is my Pinterest page:


I only have 2 followers so far, so more would be appreciated! There was a big debate on Trey's site about the pro's and con's of pinterest. I completely adhere to Trey's core philosophy about having no fear who uses or what happens to your pictures and let be what will be. The internet has changed the way artists can have their work accessed and I think you either accept this and use it to your advantage or don't accept this and spend your days complaining of the way things are. It was a wise person who once said "If you don't like change, you are going to like irrelevance even less".

In a way nothing has really changed in terms of gaining success. A struggling pub band with ambitions to 'make it' don't go chasing money out of everyone who hears their music. They are grateful for any exposure they get. If and when they do make it, they will be able to earn a living, but their music will still be used by people unwilling to pay for it. And the internet hasn't changed that, people have been making tapes and bootlegging music for decades. What a waste of time it would be for bands and record companies to chase every teenager who made a tape from someone else's record and let's be honest we've all done it.

The most important lesson I can offer to people who are concerned about where their pictures end up, is simply always remember to tag and record your information in the metadata. That way your picture will always carry a metaphorical 'chip' in it and some way down the line, someone may use that to track you down and ask to pay you to use the picture.

This is simple enough to do in Photoshop, just click into File and then File Info and fill out all the relevant information, just make sure you get your email address or other contact details in there so people can find you!

I have a 4 day weekend now, which will include heading over to Windsor, so hope to capture some great photos around there.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Madonna Dell'Orto

I've decided to post an 'oldie' (it's not really that old) today due to being pretty swamped with none-photographic issues recently. I'm in the process of buying a property at the moment and will hopefully be moving in very soon. It's taking up a lot of my time anyway and rather than rush a picture together, I decided to post a favourite of mine from last year. I have posted this one on Flickr before but never as a blog.

This is inside the magnificent Madonna Dell'Orto church in Venice, not too far from the Rialto bridge. I took this picture using a gorilla-pod, whilst sitting on the very back bench of the church. It was one of the first pictures I processed on my return from Venice and though I did not choose to use it in my exhibition in October last year, it still remains one of my personal favourites. The paintings on the far wall behind the alter are truly spectacular and I think one of the reasons I like this particular photograph.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Evening Mist

There's been quite a lot going on in the photographic world recently with the announcement of the Nikon D4 and D800. For the last couple of years my realistic dream camera has been to own a D700 which has been out for quite a few years now and everybody knew that a replacement was fairly imminent. Now the D800 has been released, I have a new goal of ideal camera I'd like to own. I know there has been a lot of talk as well about the future of DSLR's and 'mirrorless' cameras appearing on the scene and I think it will be interesting to see how things look in a couple of years, but personally I can't see DSLR's disappearing. My own personal concern at the moment is simply to take more pictures. I'm in one of those periods where although I have hundreds and hundreds of potential pictures on my hard drive, I feel like I'm running low on 'material'. Like most photographers I'm sure, the ratio of photos I take compared to the ones that get processed is incredibly small and it's definitely a case of quality over quantity. That's why it feels a bit like I'm running on low. I'm going through a lot of the archives at the moment to find those overlooked 'gems'!

Today's picture was one I took a few weeks ago while out on my canal walk in Hungerford, Berkshire. There are lots of fields adjacent to the canal and I took a quick detour from picturing the sunset over the canal to picture this field that already started to gather the evening mist.

Thursday, February 9, 2012


I can't remember the last time I posted a picture that wasn't an HDR and I am quite ashamed of that. It was never my intention to become just an HDR photographer and if I had a plan it was to be 50/50 HDR to single image picture ratio. I guess I just always like seeing how a scene will look in HDR and I'm intrigued how an HDR will look when you work on it for a while. I think it's the post-processing I enjoy most about HDR actually. I really enjoy working on photos with the computer and HDR lends itself to this to a great extent.

So as you can guess, this picture is not an HDR and was a single take. It is quite vague to call it Oxfordshire, but I thought it was quite a representative scene of this county. Of course, this is in the city that Oxfordshire is named after, Oxford itself. I still believe in not doing HDR for the sake of it and this picture did not scream to me that it needed the HDR touch. It was taken from inside the grounds of the magnificent Botanic Gardens in Oxford and the river you see to the right is the River Thames, the longest river in the UK. This picture was processed mainly in Lightroom but also in Photoshop CS5 and Viveza 2.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

London Summer Fountain

The summertime hey, seems so far away now but alas we are slowly moving towards it! It makes it extra difficult to remember what the summer is like when you are going through a bit of cold snap like England is at the moment. I took this picture during a stunning summer's afternoon in London last year, while I had some spare time before catching my train home. This building (which I assume is nowhere famous?) is down by Waterloo station and many commuters must pass it everyday going to and from the station. I always like seeing how water features such as fountains will look when you put them through the HDR works. 9  times out of 10 I'm always impressed. I had to poke my camera between the iron-barred fence to get this picture and then try to get a shot wide enough to capture nearly all the fountain which I think I just about achieved. The sun was a great height at this time as well, allowing me to try to position the camera to capture the sun gleaming in one of the top windows.

It seems quite rare now that I choose to use all 3 exposures I usually take for an HDR scene, this again was processed using just 2 shots. After Photomatix, I worked in Lightroom for a bit and used Topaz Adjust to bring more detail out, which especially helped with the fountain.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Dominus Illuminatio Mea

It sounds like something out of the  Da Vinci Code, but actually Dominus Illuminatio Mea means 'The Lord is my light'. It is the motto of Oxford University, one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in the world. This emblem slash statue is above one of the great entrances into one of the university buildings. There are so many university buildings cluttered around Oxford, that it is difficult for me as a visitor to remember which is which. Despite only living 30-40 miles away from Oxford, I visit there surprisingly rarely and know even less about it. I can say that this entrance is near the Bridge of Sighs and behind the Sheldonian theatre. This is an HDR picture but taken from a single RAW file. There was no need to add any bracketed images, as this single picture had captured all the dynamic range necessary.

Have you seen my Flickr Photostream?

There are many avenues for photographers to show their pictures these days, but my personal favourite is still Flickr. I know it lacks the functionality of other websites and is perhaps a bit dated, but after initially developing a passion for photography, Flickr was the place I gained a ton of inspiration and spurred me on to want to create pictures like some of the fantastic ones I saw there. I went through a stage last year of having title plates on my Flickr pictures, which I got a bit bored of after a while. However, now I've decided that beginning with today's picture, I am going to introduce a universal border (without text) on all my Flickr pictures. At various times I've been for and against borders and title plates, but now I've just decided I want my Flickr pictures to have their own separate identity and an alternative way of presenting my pictures. So if you've never been there before, please begin seeing my pictures in a different way:

Pete Halewood Flickr Photostream

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Say Goodbye Sun

There isn't much to say about this picture really. I don't get the chance to visit the coast very often so sunset shots over the sea from me are always going to be very rare. This is another shot though from my recent New Forest trip, more specifically, Barton-on-sea on the south coast of the New Forest. This was the place I had in mind when I planned the trip to the New Forest that day and though the sunset wasn't spectacular that evening in terms of colour, I did manage to capture the briefest appearance of the sun through the clouds with this shot. This was honestly the best it got, it's appearance lasted about 10 seconds.

The Sigma 10-20mm lens has gone

Yes it is with some sadness that say I chose to return the Sigma 10-20mm lens I bought recently. In an ideal world I would have swapped it for another copy but that option was not available, so I settled for a refund. My decision was based on the fact that the images I got back were just not what I thought, they were very soft throughout the picture and left me with a lot of work to do in post-processing. As all photographers know, lenses are not cheap and you have to ask yourself, does the lens I bought for £380 really make £380 difference? I'm sorry but I just couldn't agree with that. £380 will get you a nice few days in Venice and that does make a difference. Is it really that different to the 18-105mm lens I already have? Well it is different (the CA is virtually nil) but again not £380 different. And of course the kit lens is very versatile. I do accept that maybe I just got a bad version and as I said, if I could have replaced it I would have, but I couldn't. I still might buy another copy in future to see if there is a difference with another copy, though if not, I will put the money towards some further photographic investment in the future.