Saturday, November 30, 2013

Match of the Day

Saturday night has been the time of day for my new blog post for 2 weeks in a row, but when else is a better time to post a picture called Match of the Day? Perhaps only the British audience will understand this, but of course Match of the Day is the national institution TV show, showing all the highlights of the Saturday's football games. It will be a bit lacklustre for me this week though, as my team is playing tomorrow (#grumpyface).

Photography is a wonderful hobby to have, but once people know you have it, it leads to many requests for picturing various local events taking place. This was a cup final that took place in my local town of Newbury in May, and I was asked to capture some pictures of the Canal Bar FC (team in red and gold shirt) in action. Sadly they lost the final, but it gave me an opportunity to practice some sports photography. I am very interested in this field, and would of course love to picture some of the great sporting events, but I think due to the cost involved, it is a field of photography you have to work your way up to (unless of course having a few thousand quid lying around is not an issue). There are lots of local events that take place though, where you can learn to take your first steps in sports photography, before you make it to Wembley!

Even for a local football match, I tried to make this picture come alive, so I used quite a bit of Topaz Clarity, as well as some cross processing (in Color Efex 4), to bring out the details of the pitch, and give it a more attractive shade of green. The Topaz Clarity gave a great boost to the details of the football shirts as well.

Tip: I am no experienced football photographer, but I do know the key to a great action shot is to have the ball as the key focus of the picture. You can see in this picture that the players only have eyes on one thing, and the struggle to get it shows in their faces.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Magic Kingdom of Krakow

Ok, so I may owe a slight debt to Walt Disney for the title, but I'm sure the Disney Magic Kingdom owes (at least some of) it's design to the magnificent churches of central Europe. All over Europe you can of course find magnificent old and new castles and churches, and Poland is no exception. The church above is St. Joseph's Church in the Podgorze district of Krakow, slightly away from the city centre. It was built at the beginning of the 20th Century, and is well regarded as a magnificent work of architecture. We were only passing by on our way into Krakow when I took this picture, so it was captured during standard daylight (there are some wonderful photos taken of this church at dawn/sunset), but I still could not resist firing off some bracketed shots to create an HDR, no matter if it is a fairly touristy shot.

It was nevertheless a difficult picture to process (as these tall churches often are), as it does feel the building has been compacted a little. I could fix this in Lightroom, but then I lost the pathway leading up to the church, which I had specifically allowed for in the composition at the scene. Sacrifices have to be made occasionally I guess, but the HDR work and a bit of Topaz Adjust has given me a result I was hoping for.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

New Beginnings / The Wroclaw River

Saturday was a fairly new beginning for this site. For too long, I had not been giving it the attention it deserved, and my output of photographs this year has been relatively quite small. The odd thing as I said on Saturday is that my passion for photography is as strong as ever. I'm so keen to learn all the techniques I can on youtube videos and webinars, and having upgraded all my software recently to Lightroom 5/ Photoshop CC, I for the first time want to be an expert on these programs. I have been particularly been enjoying videos by Serge Ramelli and Glyn Dewis recently, and I highly recommend their photo tutorials. The photo community is indeed one of the most giving communities in the art world, and it sometimes astonishes me what you can learn for free, if you want to.

You may notice there is a new look to this website, and as well as having reverted back to my 3 days a week blogging, I would also like to state what this photography website is about:

*Regular HDR (and non-HDR) photographs from myself.
*Tips on taking and processing photographs.
*My view on recent topics in the photography world and software.
*Recommendations of great photographers and websites out there.

What it is certainly not:

*A means to slate any other photographers or photography companies (there's too much of that these days).
*A merry-go-round of ideas I say I'm going to do and don't.

Despite constant going back and forth (due to the whole and rather boring watermark issue this year), all my photos on here will be watermark and border free. I copyright my work, so am not worried about people using it for whatever use, unless it is a large clear case of profiting, despite copyright infringement.

I of course thank all the people who keep visiting this website, and I only hope I can make up for my lack of output this year, with my new 3 blogs a week scheme. It seemed a bit too much to blog 3 times a week before, but even if it is low on text, there will be no problem for me to post a picture at least every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

The Wroclaw River

The river that runs through the Polish city of Wroclaw is the River Oder (pronounced o-dra). This was a handheld HDR (you can just about get away with it in good light) and is taken from 5 separate exposures. As I said, I have been watching a lot of tutorials over the last few months, which has led me to experiment with a lot of non-HDR pictures. I processed this picture over the weekend, to bring myself back into the HDR processing world, which I love so much!

Tip: HDR pictures are always better taken on a tripod. I say that as a guy who hates carrying tripods, and accepts that it is simply not possible to always have one with you. However, though you can get fine handheld HDR's in good light, the slight movements of camera shake can show up when you view the images back on the computer. A set of motion-free sharp images gives you the best chance of producing a wonderfully sharp HDR image.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Bodleian Fortress

Yikes has it really been that long!? I knew I hadn't blogged in a while, but didn't realise it had been nearly a whole month! Well it's a good job I've decided to revert back to an old habit. Oh yes, I will again be blogging 3 times a week, starting today. Every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday (as opposed to previously Sunday), I will post a new photo or topic for discussion. It is the only way I can keep up my blogging habits on here, at a time when I am enjoying photography more than ever.

So having said that, I will keep it brief tonight. Today's photo was taken at the Bodleian Library at Oxford University. It was processed entirely in Lightroom, despite the numerous black and white processing programs available for photographers these days. I am currently trialling Topaz BW effects, and am yet to make a decision whether to make the full purchase. Lightroom 5 (as 4 did previously as well) does a great job of black and white processing, and it's often difficult to judge how a stand alone black and white program can go further. What might win it for me with Topaz's program, is the detail slider they have added, to bring out those extra details in a black and white picture.

Tip: The key to black and white processing is contrast. It's too easy when converting a picture to black and white to overlook how boosting the contrast can really bring the picture too life. They can look quite flat otherwise. See you on Tuesday!