This shot was taken at Kings Weston House in Bristol. Kings Weston House is a grade 1 listed building and was completer in 1917 and was designed by Sir John Vanbrugh and was the home of Edward Southwell. During World War 1 the house was converted to a hospital. In 1935 the house was bought by the Bristol Municipal Charities and leased to the education authorities to be used a s a school. It went on to be Bristol Technical College of Architecture which later went on to be Bath University School for Architecture. During the following years the house was used for a verity of functions including a police training centre. The house is now used for conferences, weddings and private events, there is also a cafe which is open to the public and lovely walks around the surrounding estate.
This photo was taken during a rehearsal of a dance show that was held at Churchill Academy and Sixth Form near Bristol UK. The dancers of Danceblast did eight performances over seven days during the Easter holidays. The dancers ages range from 4 to 18 and the show featured a live band. This was quite a challenging environment to try and photograph as you are at the mercy of the stage lighting so you have to use what you have got to your advantage. Coupled with the lighting is the need for high ISO and a quick reaction to try and capture the moment. I did not want to use flash as that would have killed the atmosphere.
Dating back to 1766 the Clifton Observatory, which sits on top of the Avon Gorge, gives fantastic views of the suspension bridge and the surrounding ares. The observatory was originally a windmill that was used to grind corn but was later adapted to grind snuff; the Observatory then became known as Snuff Mill.
In 1777 the mill caught fire, this was caused by the sails being left to turn during a gale and the equipment overheating. The mill was then left derelict for about 50 years until a Bristol based artist, William West, rented it for his studio in 1828. William West was responsible for transforming the building into what we see today, he installed a large telescope on top of the mill turning into an observatory. In 1829 the telescope was replaced by convex lens and sloping mirror which is known as the camera obscura; this still works today. Light travels through the lens and is reflected vertically down by the mirror onto a table which gives a true image of the surrounding area.
William west also built a cave below the observatory which leads to a viewing platform in the cliff face about 250 feet above the base of the Gorge. The cave, known as Giant’s cave was opened to the public in 1837 and is still accessible today.
I had the opportunity to do some photography in a local gym, I have never done a fitness style shoot before so I was up for the challenge. Although it looked bright in the gym I had to boost my ISO to 1600 to enable me to get any usable levels of ambient light. I added two speedlights to the mix, one with a shoot through umbrella and one in a small Calumet softbox which I used as a rim light. I used a Canon 6d and a Tamron 28-75 f/2.8 lens. Looking back at some of the shots showed me areas that can be unproved upon but overall I was pleased with my first attempt at this type of shoot. Shooting in a working gym was quite an experience in its self due to the fact that other gym members were busy with their workouts. I will definitely be having another go at this type of shoot.
This photo was taken during a trip to Brean Down in Somerset, this is a popular beach which is just along the coast from Weston-Super-Mare. I was trying out a Sigma 105 mm f/2.8 DG macro lens and so far I am quite impressed with the lens. Being a 105 mm lens it also makes a great portrait and short telephoto lens.The image stabilisation works really well and the lens is nice and sharp. I find this time of year great for taking photos like this as there are fewer people on the beach to get in the way.
It’s been a while since I have posted, mainly due to work commitments, but I took some time out to have a walk with the camera. I came across this gentleman who was taking some photos of his prize motorcycle. I ask him if I could take a couple of shots with him on this splendid machine and he was happy to oblige in return for a copy of the photo. I have always liked the idea of street photography but I have also been cautious if not looking like a spy or some bloke creeping around with a camera, hence I haven’t done much of it. Although it is not totally candid, I was able to get a shot of a random stranger and feel comfortable doing it. I am so glad I bit the bullet and went for it and the more I do it the easier street photography will become. One thing I did notice though was that standing in the open with a camera and being totally visible, no one appeared to take a blind bit of notice of me!
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!!!
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 a walk around Brandon Hill in Bristol. The park is home to the famous Cabot Tower and has some wonderful views across the city. The two friends were talking and sitting on the bench and enjoying one of the views.