Has another year gone round so quickly that we are here again, the British Grand Prix? Well, obviously yes of course. But in describing the British GP to a friend the other day I suggested that as members of the public, we are kept so far away from the F1 cars that even having the Hubble Space Telescope strapped to your camera would hardly provide for adequate pictures! I jest of course but it is difficult. Here, I'll role out my strategy for getting GP pictures you can be happy with.
I'm always somewhat amazed when some contributing photographers to Latitudestock image library go to say Venice and send through just five images from their trip. Maybe it was a camera malfunction, or a failed memory card, but whenever I travel I always try to shoot the hell out of something. On my recent trip to Stratford-upon-Avon, a town of course whose only industry is Shakespeare, there are many statues dedicated to the Bard and his creations. In the park by the Swan Theatre, Shakespeare sits on a chair on a plinth, overlooking some of his most famous creations. For stock images, this was clearly a must but even though it's stock, don't be in too much of a rush and simply shoot it at the first angle you see: be creative and stand out.
Shutter speed often seems the poor relation in the world of camera settings, not least because most people who venture out of Auto will find themselves initially on Aperture Priority where depth of field determines the look they are going for in the picture. However, on my recent trip to Paris, while photographing the Moulin Rouge at night, the spinning windmill above the famous nightspot made me stop and ask myself exactly how I wanted the picture to look. And since I couldn't entirely make up my mind, I thought I'd go for all options, and the key to this was shutter speed.
I've recently started attending London Lions basketball games at the Copperbox Arena in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. It's a great opportunity to try another kind of action sport. The first time I went I joined the Nikon School with award winning sports photographer Mark Pain which I thoroughly enjoyed and that gave (among other things) great court side access. However, even from the public stands, with a 200mm or 300mm lens, you can still get fabulous shots, not least because 10 rows back you are at the same height as the basket so are perfectly positioned for lay ups and slam dunks. These are just a few pics from my first visit. It's a great opportunity to practice your action photos and a fun event to attend also.
Sometimes you really suspect that the pictures are going to be more than you had reasonably hoped for at the start of the day. You can check the back screen on the camera and the histogram etc, but until you get home and look at them 1:1, you can't be sure. This week, on a walk about London, I was absolutely thrilled with the outcome.
I'm not going to comment much on these but let you see the pictures yourself, and if you don't like them, I'm okay with that. Two things however that I will say. First, these are about the picture, what has been captured. They are both shot in Westminster Cathedral, the UK home of Catholicism. The pictures do not express a view on religion, but are simply moments captured while I was inside the cathedral that also resonate because of the wider cultural significance of Christian iconography. I should note too that they are really very nice people at the cathedral and all our welcome (including photographers). I always ask before taking pictures.
Second, I used an 85mm lens in both cases, so that instead of trying to include the entire grandeur of the building (and it is indeed grand) I was forced to isolate a single subject and that led to a more powerful image.
I spent a day shooting in the Westminster area, and of many pictures taken that day, with many images I am very happy with, these were my favourites, I hope you like them too.
I've previously talked about the Nikon 28mm f1.8 prime lens when comparing it to the wide end of the Nikon 28-300mm and on that occasion noted how wonderfully sharp the 28mm prime lens is not only in the centre but edge to edge also. Since doing that test, I've paid much more attention to edge to edge sharpness in my final images and it has encouraged me to use the 28mm prime more regularly. Undoubtedly, the results are significantly more satisfying if you want the highest quality images and a sunny winter's day just before Christmas saw me head out with the D800 with the 28mm attached for a walk around the Limehouse basin: it looks so nice it is hard to believe it's within Greater London.
The winter sun is quite lovely for photographs but when it's low in the sky, the shadows and areas of darkness can sometimes be too much. Now, there's a few ways around that, you can for example use a graduated neutral density filter when you take the photograph, or a graduated filter in Lightroom after the fact (which I am very fond of using) but a technique I used previously but then relegated to the back of the cupboard is using the bracketing function on your camera whereby the camera takes multiple frames at different exposures. So when the sky needs a different level of exposure to the foreground, blending multiple exposures in Photoshop can be just the ticket. Following a recent trip to Chipping Norton, this proved just perfect when shooting the church and the deeply in shadow graveyard.
It seems hard to believe that November is poking its head around the corner and in the UK that means bonfire night, with the first firework displays scheduled for next Sunday. It struck me then that a quick post on shooting fireworks would be a timely addition to the blog. The problem is with fireworks is that there's so few displays each year allowing little opportunity to practice while a display lasts only 10 minutes or so, giving you very little time to adjust your set up should you not be getting the results you want. Accordingly, some prep before the display can really help you make the most of the event.
It seems like ages since I've been to the race track, but with things a little less busy this week, I was back at Brands Hatch last weekend for some motorcycle action. I have to admit I am really a car man but it as fun and I also really enjoyed the sidecar races which must be one of the craziest forms of motorsport ever. And given that bikes are smaller than cars, I wanted as much reach as possible so the Sigma 500mm lens had a day out also which I haven't really used for motor racing this year so I thought it would be a good test for it.
Smithers, release the hounds. I know you shouldn't laugh at your own jokes but oh well. This week was very busy and what I was going to write on will have to wait for anther time because today, I was hunting with the hounds, the wolf pack that is the press photographer corp. Now, I only do the news stuff as a sideline, a hobby if you will, but as an alternative to my usual sedentary travel photography and to mix my metaphors, it's a shark pool. And since celebrities are to them what red meat is to sharks or hounds, the appearance of Vivienne Westwod, Peter Gabriel and Emma Thompson at London's climate change march was a feeding frenzy. Of course, I vigorously threw myself into the middle of it all.
This blog is a mix of many things, with articles on the technical side of photography, equipment reviews as well as simply presenting pictures which are favourites of mine.