Sunday, 22 November 2009

Clowning Around

While I was out shopping yesterday I spotted a set of three clown figurines that really excited me. I'm not particularly fond of clowns, or figurines, but do you ever just see an object and think 'oh I really want to photograph that!'. I had no idea what I would do with them, just that it was going to be fun finding out.

I had originally intended to spend some time this weekend redoing the scrabble shots for mod 4, because there was some overexposure in the corners of the original, but instead I have ended up combining the scrabble tiles and clowns to come up with this picture.

It doesn't make a whole lot of sense, but I just really like how its turned out. Now I'm not sure which subject to submit...

For this shot I used two of the clowns, backlit by my trusty desklamp, to provide the shadows on the wall, and I used a torch to put a spotlight on the clown in the foreground (I was hoping for a sort of Boris Karloff effect, with harsh shadows to increase the creepiness of the shot but had to compromise because his shiny surface made it really hard to expose). I intentionally underexposed by a couple of stops to darken the shot and add to the creepy atmosphere. I'm not sure whether that comes across to anyone other than me though.

As ever, comments good/bad/indifferent are always welcome :o)

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Scrabbling for Ideas.....Module 4

I've been working on (and stuggling with) the assesment submission for Module 4 of my distance learning photography course. I just can't seem to find a subject that I find sufficiently interesting, or that looks as interesting in practice as it did in my head. I know that this is entirely due to my own lack of imagination, but still I'm finding it hard to be inspired on this one.

Which is ironic, given that the brief is to take photos with out of focus parts, something my husband accuses all my photos of containing ('oh another blurry one! Can't you learn a new trick?....').

The brief was to take 5 images of the same subject; a still life object with points of interest at different depths. The images would demonstrate how selection of focal point and/or aperture could be used for artistic effect. The closest I've come so far to a photo I like is this scrabble board. I'm not sure it's interesting enough, or whether it's just all a bit too obvious.....

Either way it continues my monochrome obsession :o)

I'm excited to have recently purchased the very lovely SB-600 flashgun, which I didn't actually use in this shot. I'm going to be spending a lot of my time trying to learn how to use a flashgun properly for effect, which should keep me out of trouble for a while.....

In the meantime the search for Module 4 submission images continues....Is there such a thing as photographers block??

Friday, 16 October 2009

Diving at Loch Long

Photography has taken a bit of a backseat these last few weeks while I took up Scuba diving! Over the last three weeks I have qualified as a PADI Open Water Diver. While I was waiting between dives I took a few snaps with our little digital compact and....yes you guessed it....made them black and white in Capture NX.

It's a monochrome obsession!

I have also discovered that there is actually a way to make photography an even more expensive can do underwater photography. It involves specialist waterproof housing for your SLR and some pretty amazingly engineered flash units. I don't think I'll be taking my beloved camera underwater anytime soon though having heard the heartbreaking story of one photographer who forgot to do up one of the clips on his camera housing and completely flooded his camera. £3k down the drain!

I'm looking forward to getting some quality time with my camera, but that might not be too likely since I just got a new job and have to move house by New Year. Yikes!

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Indoor exploits

I've been working indoors lately, mainly struggling with my latest assignment for my distance learning course (more on that later). I haven't been getting very far with that, but did have some fun this week taking some pictures for my myspace blog (about getting rid of my evil iPod!).

I quite like this one, it contains two elements that I've been obsessed with in recent photography expoits - squinty angles and black and white filters (applied later using my Nikon NX software). I've been taking a lot of squinty photos lately having gotten the idea in my head that it makes them look a bit more dynamic, and I love black and white pictures because I think they just have more atmosphere.

I'd love to take a course in proper black and white film photography and dark room techniques. I'm particularly interested in lighting for black and white photography. These are things that will have to wait until I have more time, but until then I'm enjoying fiddling with the software and getting a sore neck from all this leaning photography :o)

If anyone has any tips for good sources of info on black and white photography and techniques I'd love to hear from you!

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Macro A-GO-GO!

I finally got the chance to take my new macro lens out for an adventure! Macro photography is something that has interested me for a while now, but isn't something I've had experience with. So these are my very first attempts.....

I've left it a bit late in the year for nice flowers, but inbetween torrential rain showers I found lots of flying beasties! In particular there was tons of hoverflys, tiny wasp-like critters.

I had a grand old time crawling through the undergrowth chasing these, but found it very tricky in general. I was using the camera handheld, trying to photograph flighty little beasties as they flitted about. It was also a very windy day, so when the damn things did finally come in to land, the thing there were sitting on was swinging about wildly. To get the fastest shutter speed I used a wide aperture. I was frustrated that this meant the depth of field was too shallow in many cases to get the whole bug in focus (the first hoverfly photo above has this problem pretty badly).

So how do people get around this? I don't have a ring-flash (I only have the flash built into the camera). So is the solution just to use a tripod and hope for a relatively still bug to land nearby?

I would really welcome any tips/suggestions that you might have on this topic!

Whenever I did manage to get part of the insect in focus I was astounded at the sharpness of this lens. The images it produces are crisp enough to see individual hairs on the body of an insect no more than 1cm in length, it was astonishing. Also the 'bokeh' (quality of the out of focus light/features) of this lens is gorgeous! I'm absolutely delighted with my choice. Now all I need is to develop the skills to use this lens to its full potential!

I used manual focussing for all these photos as I found the auto-focus had real trouble finding what I was interested in. I think that this was the 'hunting' that people complained of in the lens reviews. Personally I prefer to use manual focus when I can, but with such fast moving targets it certainly added an extra level of challenge!

I spent quite a long timelooking for spiders, with the idea that at least they'd stay still and be fixed to a single plane (the web) but alas I couldn't find any. I hate creepy crawlies, and spiders in particular, but somehow they're much less scary when viewed through a lens :o)

One thing I did discover was that blue bottles are really pretty in close up! So at least now when I swat them with a rolled up magazine I'll remember that they're pretty when you forget how gross they are!

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Lens Lust

It's been a while since I created this blog, filled with good intentions, but I have a good reason for my lack of posts.....three good reasons in fact.

Due to a freak series of circumstances, all the lenses I have been lusting after have come into my possession in the last couple of months. I started out with my D300 and the Nikon 18-200mm as an 'all purpose' lens (which I love!). As I've gone along I've been afflicted with lens lust and my shopping list became: a wide-angle lens, a macro lens, a portrait lens.

In the last two months I've become the proud owner of the Tokina 11-16mm, the Nikon 105mm Micro (Macro) and the Nikon 50mm 1.8D. This has opened a truly mind-boggling range of possibilites!

I've promised my husband that these are all the lenses I will ever need, that this concludes my lens purchasing, will this actually be the truth? Time will tell....... :o)

More posts to come when I finally put the camera down for more than 5 minutes......

Sunday, 17 May 2009


Welcome to my brand new photo blog!

My name is Heather and I am an amateur photographer living in Scotland. I have started this blog in the hopes of connecting with other like-minded happy snappers, and perhaps also getting some feedback (be it good, bad, or just plain ugly) on my latest efforts.

I am currently taking a home study photography course as a way to develop my skills, and also to force me into working consistently towards that goal. The more I learn, the more I see that I don't know! I am hoping that by using this blog to document my adventures it might also be of some interest to others who are also on the learning curve.

See you around :o)