Gallery

The Circus Comes to Town…

We usually have a travelling funfair on Wanstead Flats over Bank Holiday weekends, but this year we have the circus here instead! circus0 circus1 circus2circus3 circus4 circus5 circus6 circus7

Advertisements
Image

Z is for Zoom-burst…

Try as I might I just don’t really like zoom lenses – I generally find them cumbersome and awkward to use. I’ve always said I’d far rather carry two separate low-light lenses with wide open apertures and swap them about as necessary than carry one heavy zoom with relatively limited apertures. I’m not particularly good at hand-holding my camera steady for any length of time, and to date I’ve not been keen to use a tripod, so this may have a lot to do with my preference for faster lenses that let in lots of lovely light.

However, now that I do have a tripod, I’ve discovered that there is one kind of image my zoom lens can take that none of my prime lenses can manage – it requires a long shutter speed that changes focal length during the exposure, known as a zoom burst image. I’m not sure how practical that may be for everyday use, but it’s a challenge I haven’t yet tried and I figured I might as well give it a go… So combining many of the new skills I’ve learned during the course of this month (including developing photographic patience!), here is my artistically creative, very weird-looking zoom-burst version of a congratulatory bunch of flowers for all of this year’s Blogging A-Z Challenge participants, with a huge ‘well done’ to all of us!

carnation-zoomI took this crazy-looking shot of a vase of orange carnations from above, using a tripod to hold my camera steady while my zoom lens was (inexpertly) turned manually from telephoto to wide-angle during the exposure. It took a lot of trial and error (and I do mean a lot) to get anything anywhere half decent enough to use for this post. I tried so many different permutations of everything before getting to this point, as there are so many different elements to play about with – to zoom outwards or zoom inwards, ND filter or no ND filter, which shutter speed and aperture combination, where best to fix the manual focus (starting point or end point), how quick or slow to manually turn the zoom, what makes the best background?

I found placing the vase directly onto the neutral-coloured kitchen flooring was just too bright, with too much reflected light over-exposing the resulting images, and using an ND filter to reduce the amount of light entering the camera just didn’t work at all well here. So I tried putting the vase on a matte reddish-pink scarf, but although the exposure was much better with the darker colour, it proved to be just too similar to the colour of the flowers. I finally ended up sitting the vase on a washed-out, faded tie-dyed cotton wrap, and the muted blend of colours added nicely to the overall groovy psychedelic effect without detracting from the flowers.

I found it produced a far better effect to focus manually at the expected zoomed-out end-point, and then without touching the focus ring carefully zoom in again before taking the shot while progressively zooming out. I set the camera (fully on manual) at ISO100, f/22 for 2 seconds, opened the shutter and started zooming out continuously as smoothly as possible until the shutter closed again. The final result may be technically far from perfect, as ideally I wouldn’t want to be touching the camera while taking a slow exposure, but it’s impossible to zoom without taking a hands-on approach along the barrel of the lens so I guess a little camera shake was inevitable. And actually I quite like the soft blurriness of the central flower-bud, it all adds to the overall wacky effect…

So here we are at last, at the final letter of this Blogging from A-Z Challenge – phew! And now that’s over I’m sure we could all do with some well-earned Zzzzzz… 🙂

Image

Y is for Yearning…

I still have a yearning to be the kind of creative photographer who can take my camera anywhere, see potential images in the unlikeliest of places and capture beautifully artistic shots, time after time. So although I’m teaching myself about the technical aspects of cameras, for me photography will always be more of an art than a science. I like to think that I’m learning to make the most of the science in order to create an artistic image as best as I possibly can. I’ve improved my technical knowledge and skills such a lot this month through completing this A-Z challenge; making such a concentrated effort to fulfil each topic has given me the push I needed to start taking my photography on to the next level, which feels great…

Today’s image is me out and about with my camera, casually dressed and hair all dishevelled as ever but finally feeling more comfortable being seen to be a budding photographer – so thank you all for your kind words of encouragement along the way, and for inspiring me to try new things in my quest towards expanding my (ever-wonky) photographic horizons… me-and-my-nikon

Image

X is for X-Factor…

What gives an image that X-factor, what makes one image stand out amongst so many others? For me, there is usually a play of light involved somewhere along the line, something special that truly highlights the magic in the mundane and shows everyday life in a different light… I’ve never quite got there with any of my images so far, but I live in hope! In the meantime I love the way the sunshine after the rain brought this usually dull entrance to our local shopping centre to life, a momentary moody illumination that was gone almost as soon as it arrived…

shopping-centreHmmm… this image would probably also work for this week’s One Word Photo Challenge: Rain 🙂

Gallery

W is for Wide-Angle…

Up until 5 years ago, my only practical experience of photography was as seen through a wide-angled lens. I know they have their shortcomings, but nevertheless I quite like seeing my usual three-dimensional world-view flattened out two-dimensionally before me, smaller but wider, slightly curved and perhaps a little warped along the outermost edges. And because even relatively close subjects appear so much smaller through a wide-angle lens than with the naked eye, there is something unavoidably in-your-face about having to be so up-close-and-personal to whatever it is you want to be photographing, having to be so obviously present on the very threshold of the shot, almost being part of the scene you want to capture. For me it creates a different perspective to your photography, in every sense of the word.

For landscapes urban or natural you can see the entire vista immediately before you with a wide-angle lens, without having to step further back in order to fit it all in and risk obstructing your view – which is great, especially in the city. But I find you can also take great people-shots too, with plenty of context to show them as an integral part of the overall framed subject rather than having them individually posed as in a portrait with a deliberately bland background. And of course whatever you take in the original frame, large-file digital images can always be cropped slightly afterwards to help emphasise the main point of interest as necessary. I like to go by the maxim that you can always crop something out later, but you can never add more to the final image.

I’m not always comfortable having people in shot, but I definitely want to improve my street photography skills so will be working on using my Panasonic Lumix GF3 with 14mm (28mm equivalent) pancake lens more effectively to this end in the future…

Hollow Ponds Boating Lake, East London; Borough Market, South London; and an outdoor stairway along London’s South Bank…

boating lake

borough-market2south-bank-yellow

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: Very/Vary

This is my very first attempt at this challenge, and I have to say that the first words tumbling out of my head and stumbling over themselves to hit the page running are that I’m really not very comfortable with the idea of stream of consciousness writing. Or rather, I love the idea, but the reality scares me shitless.

I try to be very cautious in what I say, but its not that I’m scared of writing something that you might not like, but of writing something that I might not like! And then I realise that sounds so anally retentive – why am I so worried about what I might say if I just let my thoughts run wild? Why am I so tentative about writing down whatever whirls about in my head as I hover over the keyboard – the knowledge that I can’t edit anything once it is formed freaks me out, as if the unexpurgated me is too much even for me to handle.

I had so many years of not saying things, not sharing my feelings, guarding myself against being rejected by the world for not being good enough, and old habits die hard. I hold tight to too much, keep it all held in like chronic constipation of life, and that can’t be healthy.

So I’m writing this as it emerges from my mind and I’m thinking – it’s Sunday, it’s not even Saturday, so it’s too late to post anything now. But what the hell, I’ve written it now, and even if is a pile of poo it’s better out than in…

Stream of Consciousness Saturday