Sunday, April 29, 2012

Gateway to the Castle

An appropriate picture and title for today's blog, as my most recent bit of news involves castles. More specifically, postcards of castles. Two of my Warwick Castle photographs are now on sale at Warwick Castle as postcards and of course I am very excited about this. I was contacted a couple of months ago about using these pictures (Link 1 and Link 2) for postcards at Warwick Castle and now this week I have been sent my own copies and couldn't be more thrilled that my photography is now available to buy (yes I know they're only postcards!) at Warwick Castle.

So to tie in with that good piece of news, I am posting a picture of another castle, Windsor Castle, one of the oldest and most majestic historical structures in the British Isles. This is not an HDR picture (that's 2 in a row, a record for me?) and was processed entirely in Lightroom 4. This is not the great gate that is the main entrance to the entire fortress but one of the smaller entrances, once you are within the castle walls.

Is anyone else in the UK struggling with photographic motivation and inspiration with all the miserable weather we've been having recently?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Wedding Party

A slight change for me today. I'm not a wedding photographer and despite encouragement from others, I never will be. It's just not for me. I have taken pictures at a couple of weddings I've been to but that is purely in the realms of art and creativity, not as a responsibility or service. The idea of being paid and therefore held responsible for capturing someone's special day is just not for me. Without being too modest, it's just in my nature to want to experiment with different ideas and pictures at the capture stage and in processing and I'm not sure this would be to everyone's liking. I recently took a few pictures at my friend David's wedding on Saturday and if you do want to see a few of those pictures, you can at my facebook page There's only a few there at the moment but there will more to come, perhaps even on this blog.

Today's picture was also taken on Saturday and is of the wedding party, once we were at the Elcot Park Hotel near Hungerford, where the reception was. The one thing this hotel does not lack is a beautiful view of the surrounding landscape, which I have tried to capture with this picture. It is a non-HDR shot and was processed entirely in Lightroom 4.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Ad Land London

So hopefully now my busy period that began with moving property less than a month ago and culminating with me being best man at my mate's wedding on Saturday, is over. I know life doesn't really work like that and just when you expect a break something else comes along, but for now it seems I will have more time to focus on photography, get back to putting a lot of effort into this website and seeing much more over what everyone else has been doing.

Today's picture is of perhaps one of the key advertising spots in London, if not the country, which of course is Piccadilly Circus. This was taken a little later than my previous Piccadilly picture a few weeks ago but is another attempt to capture the hustle and bustle of London at night. I know it's not perfect and if I could have captured more of the car speeding past at the bottom I would have, but until I purchase a full frame camera, I'll just have to work with the limitations of my D90!

Amidst all the advertising that appears in this picture, there is a saying (and I didn't notice this until after I'd processed this) which is 'We will either find a way, or make one'. It dates back to Hannibal and has been one of my mottos in life ever since I heard it a few years ago.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Shaw House

I said the other day that I would probably post an oldie today but having given myself a little time to wake up after my friend's wedding yesterday, I've decided to post one of the pictures I took yesterday. I was best man for the wedding yesterday and honestly photography was not really on my mind. I decided to take my camera along anyway to take advantage of any opportunities that presented themselves. Having arrived a little early for the wedding, that took place at this location Shaw House in Newbury, I took a couple of pictures of the building itself.

Shaw House dates back to Elizabethan times and was once visited by Elizabeth I herself. It was also the key focal point of the 2nd Battle of Newbury in 1644. Nowadays it is still thriving and is a tourist attraction as well as a registry office for weddings. This is an HDR from 2 shots (-2, 0) and processed in Lightroom 4, Photoshop and Nik Color Efex pro.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Germanic Poland

I've just been looking back at the blog posts for the last few weeks and realised there has not been many international ones. They have been quite local pictures and though that is obviously my best source of material for this blog, a website that is called 'The Photographic World of Pete Halewood' should have some more regular foreign destinations. Now I am not a professional travel photographer but I am ambitious enough to want to travel as much as possible and though I was downbeat a little while ago about my chances of travelling a lot this year, things have changed a little (I'll explain more about that in a future blog) and there might be opportunities now to go to a few foreign lands this year.

So that brings me today's picture. This was taken in the centre of Wroclaw, a city in the south west region of Poland. In fact it's so far in the south west that for hundreds of years it was part of Germany, where it was called Breslau. This picture shows the German architectural style in the background and the fountain in the foreground is part of the rapidly modernising aspect of the city. Wroclaw is developing culturally and economically at a fast pace and not only is it one of the host cities for this years Euro 2012 tournament but it will be the European Capital of Culture in 2016.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Welcome to Newbury

Having moved into my new apartment now, I have one more task left before I anticipate my busy period being over. That is, on Saturday I will be Best Man to one of my mates at his wedding. It is a great honour to do this and the first time I have been a best man but like most of them around this time, nearly all my thoughts are on my speech that I will have to give. I am working on it but naturally want to spend as much time as possible to make sure it's really good and dare I say it, funny. That's the best man's job really though isn't it? Although I'm really looking forward to this weekend, I will be very happy that on Sunday I can concentrate once more on having much more time to myself and photography. I'm hoping that I will have a new picture to post on Thursday but Sunday will almost certainly be another one of my 'classics'.

Today's picture is one I took as I was about to travel to London a couple of weeks ago. This is just outside the Newbury Railway Station and welcomes people to this rural town once they get off the train. As the train station is actually at the end of this road to the right, I can't help but feel that the sign should face that way but I'm sure there are reasons why it does not. This is a HDR picture from 3 exposures with an extra exposure created out of the -2 exposure to capture more of the sun and the colour of the early morning sky.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Castle Combe Bridge

I was going to post another picture of my local area Newbury today, but with the last 2 pictures being of Newbury, I'm worried they will all start to look a bit deja-veux. Therefore, I've decided to post another oldie from last year.

Castle Combe is a very picturesque and historical village in the Wiltshire countryside. Having a very unique feel to it, it has often been used in television programmes and Hollywood movies, most recently War Horse by Steven Spielberg. In fact, I wanted to get this picture about a year before I actually took it, but when we arrived in Castle Combe, access to the village was closed because they were filming War Horse.

It's fantastic for photography but is also a creatively a challenge to try and find unique angles and aspects to capture. It's probably been done before but for this picture I climbed down from the main path, down to this little stony, weedy area by the river to try and capture a view that encapsulates the bridge (that is a key feature of Castle Combe) and also the medieval houses in the background.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Shire Bridge

Another picture to add to my Kennet & Avon canal collection. I should probably create a new set on Flickr now with all the photos and HDR's I've taken of this canal that runs through West Berkshire. Like Tuesday's picture, this was taken a couple of weeks ago whilst out and about in Newbury capturing some evening landscapes.

This is one of those pictures I have posted but am still not 100% sure if this will be the final version. I've gone back to it more than a couple of times and made some little tweeks, almost entirely to the sky which has been giving me the most trouble. It was a very glowing evening but there wasn't much detail in the sky, however I am satisfied with the rest of the picture I am satisfied with. I'll probably want to experiment a bit more with it when I come back to it later, though I never try to go for perfection as no photo can be that.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Canal Path

I'm almost completely moved into my new apartment now and the computer (basically meaning my digital photography workstation) has now followed me in. So I'm back up and running full time on the photographs but need to get on and process a few now.

Today's photo is by my own judgement not a classic but it was one that I was able to spend about half an hour yesterday evening processing just after I moved my computer in. I know that the Kennet & Avon canal features quite a lot in my pictures but this is what the local scenery is like. This was taken a couple of weeks ago when we were having some very unseasonably warm weather in the UK. It has not been like this over the Easter weekend. The clouds and rain came back home. When the sun is out though, waterways and other water landscapes are always great for capturing sunsets or 'late in the evening' sceneries.

Although I am now moved in, I still have a couple of busy weeks ahead of me but without making too many excuses, my plan is to get back out and take some pictures as soon as possible. I was hoping to visit Paris again this spring but the move into this new property has made that highly unlikely. It simply comes down to all the money spent moving into here. So I'll just have to get creative in good old Blighty!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Apple Market

I was in London about 10 days ago and as 21st century as I am these days (!) I 'tweeted' for some thoughts about where I could take some pictures in the capital (of course not including the obvious places). One suggestion was to head to Covent Garden, which was quite fortunate as I was only a 5 minute walk from there. When I got there, I wasn't sure to be honest. Covent Garden didn't strike me as an HDR place, it's more for people photography, which isn't really my thing (sorry!). However, I've tried to capture the hustle and bustle of Covent Garden while in this particular location, the Apple Market.

If you read enough about HDR, you will eventually hear some advice that says not to HDR people. Now I disagree with this advice, as I think it can really add to an HDR scene. It's true you need to be more careful while HDR processing people, so use layer masking a lot in Photoshop with your original source files, to help get that natural look back where it's needed. I used layer masking in this picture as well to bring more colour back in people's clothes. I used Topaz Adjust for this as well. I've tried to be as faithful to the HDR look as possible though, so was careful not to over layer mask with the crowd. Therefore, it's good to HDR people but be aware, it's a bit of a fine line between looking good and looking unnecessary.

Oh I almost forgot, Happy Easter everyone!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

2nd Battle of Newbury 1644

As I spent all yesterday evening at my new apartment, moving stuff in and setting up broadband (amongst other things), I have decided to post today another one of my 'oldies'. As I said the other day, I have not had much time to sit down and process new photographs, although I'm confident that will change over the weekend.

I do apologise to some of the people who have visited my websites often, you have probably seen me post today's picture on more than one occasion but as I have stated before, I want to try and get as many of my best shots on this blog site as possible at some point.

This is one of my more successful pictures, taken at The Sealed Knot reenactment of the 2nd Battle of Newbury, at the Newbury Showground last year. I am often asked how I processed this one as an HDR but as a lot of people who visit this site will know, it is easy to produce an HDR from a single RAW file, which is exactly what this is. Very often good photography is simply a numbers game. I must have taken over 80 photos of these people firing muskets, hoping to perfectly time the shot with the muskets firing and with this shot I achieved that. It was definitely one of those 'gut feeling' shots as well. I knew as I soon as I looked at the back screen on the camera that this would be the one to keep.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Newbury Twilight

                                                    It seems that it is often the case in a photographic blogger's journey that one has to plead busyness for his or her lack of activity or content. I have chosen to plead that case this week. I am in the middle of a very busy house move which is obviously (I hope you guys understand!?) taking up an enormous amount of my time (and money!). It is my fianc├ęs and I first property together and we are currently buying and filling it with all kinds of furniture necessary. We are very excited about the move, though it is a bit of a drain on my creative energy. I still need to get round to fully writing up that Piccadilly blog from the other day but I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has kept coming to the blog site, I will have much more time to return the favour over the Easter weekend when most of the hard work with our place should be done.

Today's picture is more like my kind of work from last year but that does kind of make sense as it was pictured then. It was photographed the same night as one of my more successful pictures, Newbury Canal at Night. If I'm honest I would have liked to post something perhaps much more recent but as I stated earlier, time has just not made it easy. I used a couple of hours spare to process the Piccadilly picture on Saturday before heading to one of my mates Stag Do's in Southampton but other than that time has been spent purely on the property move. Until Thursday.....

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Friday Night, Piccadilly

Today's written part part of the blog is very short for the moment, as I am in Southampton this week. I took this photo in Picadilly Circus (London) on Friday night and got round to processing it pretty quick. Hope you like it and thanks for looking, when I get back later today, I'll have more to write about it.