This is a photo of Corfe Castle in Purbeck,Dorset. This shot was taken just after 0600 as I wanted to try and catch some early morning mist. My day started at 04:45 which gave me time to drive to the village and climb a near by hill for a good vantage point. A good pair of waling boots were in order as the side of the hill was very steep with loose stones on the way up amd it was at this point that I discovered how unfit I really am. After climbing what felt like a mountain and fighting through the gorse bushes, thorns and putting up with the constant bombardment of flies I finally found my spot.
This shot was taken during a walk through Ashton Court Estate. The balloon teams rocked up just as I was about to leave so I decided to stick around for a while. These balloons didn’t fly on this occasion, it looked like they were being prepped ready for next weeks Bristol International Balloon Fiesta!
Saturday 9th July was Bristol Pride day and as you would expect, there were a lot of colourful characters. There were many performers throughout the day and my daughter is a member of one of the many dance troops that were there. We all met at the well known Tobacco Factory in North Street, Bristol and took a leisurely 20 minute walk to the event, parking there would have been almost impossible. On arrival we discovered that the changing tent hadn’t arrived which left our dancers feeling rather unnerved about the prospect of changing in the open. Fortunately Bristol Community Health came to our rescue ant let us borrow their event tent for 10 minutes so a BIG thank you to them! Despite this minor hiccup the dance routines were amazing and the crowd were fantastic!!!
I wanted to have a practice balancing flash and ambient light so I thought I would try and make a photo of an old neglected shed at the top of my garden. The aim was to get a good exposure for the light outside of the shed and add flash for the inside exposure. I was thinking black and white before I took the shot as I wanted to make use of the textures. After converting to mono in Photoshop I found that the ivy had got lost so the idea of a colour pop sprang to mind. I rarely do colour pop but I thought it worked well in this image.
What are your thoughts? Do you like colour pop photos, is this something you already do or does it have the same effect on you as over cooked HDR has on me (I’m not a big fan!)?
The book has now arrived and it was well packaged I am impressed with the quality of both the materials and the printing. The photos are an excellent match to my screen (calibrated with a spyder), the pages are fairly heavy duty and you don’t lose any photos spread across two pages into a gutter due to the lay flat design. I chose a glossy book but you can also get a non glossy option.
In conclusion, I would use this company again and I would be happy to present the finished product to a client. They are based in Germany and that is where my book was shipped from, I was able to track my book from uploading to delivery. I really liked the fact that you are not restrained to a template design, even when using a template. The colour accuracy was great and the book has a quality feel with great printing and the customer support was there. I would like to see a few more frames and masks to play with but at the end of the day, that is not a deal breaker.
I have been fortunate enough to be included in a product trial for Saal-digital.co.uk, a German professional photo book company. The software didn’t take too long to figure out and I found it a very easy process to customise the supplied templates. I did find that the supplied borders and masks were fairly limited but at lest there were some options to customise them. The supplied gradients were also customisable which was a nice touch and I especially like the fact that you do not get the Saal logo plastered over the book, in fact, it is not on there at all! This allows you to put your own logo onto the book. Saal also supplu ICC profiles for proofing your prints and I have used the profile for Lightroom so I will be interested to see how the colours turn out against my monitor which has been calibrated with a Spyder. The book has lay flat pages so you do not loose any of the photo to a gutter if you spread it over two pages. There is also options to design the book yourself or design the book through Photoshop by means of a plug-in. Despite downloading the plug-in I haven’t figured the Photoshop part out yet so I will need to investigate further. I did have a problem with some of my photos not saving so I used the support page and found that Saal answered within a couple of days. The company offer a wide range of services including a resellers discount option which I feel would benefit people who sell a lot of photo books. So far I have been pleased with my experience from designing the book to the support from Saal, they have even sent me an email to say that my order has been dispatched, nice touch! And a very quick turnaround. When I receive my book I will update you on what I think of the finished product.
One of the biggest challenges of taking portraits at mid-day is the harsh light that casts dark shadows under the eyes and chin etc. Add to this the high contrast and you can have a challenge on your hands. There are a few ways to overcome this, one could be to use fill flash to reduce the contrast and “Fill” in the shadows. This can be great if you have got the time to set the ambient and flash exposures manually but this can’t always be practical if you are photographing an event and are constantly on the move. TTL flash can be used but I find that it can be a bit unpredictable at times; the flash can be fooled by very light or dark backgrounds. Another method can be the use of a reflector to bounce light into the shadows, this works well and an assistant can be useful here. For this photo I decided to opt for open shade. I placed the subjects in an area of shade but had plenty of sky available to cast light onto the subjects. The benefit I find to this is that I do not need an assistant, you can readily see the effects of the light on the face and it helps to prevent that horrible squinting that you can get from direct sunlight. So what happens if I can’t find open shade? Well I’ll just have to use one of the other methods or get an assistant to hold the diffuser part of my 5 in 1 reflector between the subject and the sun!!!
So what is your preferred method of shooting at mid-day in harsh sunlight? Should we just stick to one method or is it important to have a few different techniques up our sleeves?
This is a head and shoulders shot of a girl doing an Irish dance. I went for this particular shot to avoid a lot of distraction in the background. It was taken during a dress rehearsal so there were lots of bags etc. on show. This also made for a more dramatic composition. Shot at ISO 6400, f/4 1/400 sec.
This photo was taken during sunrise at Saltford Marina, which is located between Bristol and Bath. Although it can be hard work getting up early on a Sunday morning, the results can be worth it. Add the bonus of enjoying the peace and quiet of the countryside before most other people are stirring, and you end up with a nice relaxed morning, albeit a little cold at this time of the year!
The camera was on a tripod and triggered by a wireless remote to help prevent camera shake, 1/50 sec @ f/11, ISO 100.