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.
This is a photo taken from a recent photo walk with Frui and professional photographer Jimmy Watkins, www.jimmyimage.co.uk. There was a group of six of us and we met at Zero Degrees; our first stop was at the top of a multi-story car park which gave a great view towards the city centre. After some coaching and a few shots it was on to our next location which was at the bottom of Park Street where there were plenty of images to be had if you looked for them. It was a great experience and an enjoyable evening spending time with other photographers.
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.
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!!!
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.
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 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.
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.
I decided to have a go at photographing some smoke. I set my camera on my tripod, put it into manual and used my Aperlite speed light in manual mode. I set the flash to 8th power which gave me an aperture of f5.6, the shutter speed was set at 1/160 ( to be honest I wasn’t too worried about the shutter speed just as long as it didn’t go above my flash sync speed). The flash was placed side on to the smoke and fired using a basic wireless trigger; the camera was pre-focused and as I use back button focusing the lens could safely be left on AF without the worry of the camera trying to refocus between shots.
I tried using a candle at first but the smoke that it gave off was a bit sparse and didn’t work very well. I think that people generally use incense sticks but I didn’t have any! I took a page out of a notebook and folded it into a kind of long stick and this worked well, I just had to be careful not to let the flame take hold for too long before I extinguished it to get the smoke.
I took the images into Photoshop, did a bit of transforming, added some coloured overlays and this is the result!
I have received a flashgun from a company called Aperlite, it was sent to me to product test and give my view on the product. The flashgun I have is a YH-500C; C denoting Canon mount. The unit itself retails for about £45 on Amazon so I wasn’t expecting too much. The flashgun arrived from Amazon and was well packed. The box containing the flash was quite sturdy as well. When I unpacked the flash, the first thing that I noticed was that it had a metal hot shoe mount (something that my £200 Sigma flash didn’t have) and on the whole the unit feels well built apart from a slightly flimsy battery door. Once the door is locked into place it feels sturdy and hasn’t given me any problems. The flash has a guide number of 58
The YH-500C has five modes: TTL, Manual, Slave 1, Slave 2, Strobe, auto zoom head plus it boasts thermal cut-out protection to protect from overheating (sadly lacking in my sigma which ended up in damaging the flash unit). The instructions do say that it supports second curtain sync, but as yet I have been unsuccessful in getting this to work. There is a PC port on the side of the gun and the option of attaching the unit to an external portable power pack. The head will swivel 180o to the left and 45o to the right and there are also markings for 45/60 & 75o for tilting the head. There are no buttons to press when moving the head but it locks in place quite with a reassuring click! The head zooms between 24mm, 28mm, 35mm, 50mm, 70mm, 80mm and 105mm. The head also incorporates a wide angle diffuser and a bounce card.
TTL works as well as any other flashgun that I have uses and I like the ease in which I can adjust the flash exposure compensation by directly pressing one of the buttons on the back. Flash exposure is from -3 stops to +3 stops in 1/3 increments.
Manual mode is also easy to use and the power can be adjusted to 1/128 power in 1/3 increments. Again, power is adjustable by pressing a button on the rear of the unit; there are no menus to navigate through. I think this is a great feature as it makes shooting in manual quick and easy.
You are able to vary the power, speed and number of flashes in “Strobe” mode. I have had a play with this and it is trial and error, but then this was no different to my Sigma.
Slave 1 and Slave 2 work well; slave 2 ignores any pre-flash and does it very well. I have had 100% success in these modes and once again, power is easily adjustable. The slave modes are optical and not wireless so the flash gun has to be in line of sight of the master flash. I have used the unit with a Hahnel Combi TF wireless trigger with no problem whatsoever.
In conclusion, it may not have all the bells and whistles of the Canon 600EX-RT but I would have to pay another £400 for that one. What it does do, it does well and it is easy to navigate the menu which is clear and easy to see. As I work a lot in manual and use off camera flash I found the unit quick and easy to set up. I haven’t used the external power option but the 4 AA batteries last well and the flash recycles in about 3 seconds on full power. The build quality is good and I am more than pleased with the metal hot shoe mount instead of plastic. I would rather take this unit out on location rather than an expansive flash as if it were to get broken through being blown over I have only lost £45. Two features I would like to see on the unit are HSS and rear curtain Sync but if you can live without these two features then I would highly recommend this flashgun, I don’t think you can beat it for the price. The featured image was taken with the Aperlite YH-500C.