Joe Cornish, the great British landscape photographer, advocates taking most of your photographs no more than thirty minutes from your home. So, here's my blog featuring pictures either thirty minutes drive or walk away from my front door or from the place where I'm staying for a few days. I'll also be writing about photography in general from time to time. Please enjoy!

Wednesday, 20 April 2011


I discovered Fotoblur, one of the many online photo communities that have sprung up as the Internet has grown and developed, when I was looking for a competition or two to enter. It's a great place to show your work off, get some feedback and there is the possibility to get images published in Fotoblur magazine. The community gets to select the images which will appear in print by voting for the pictures they like. I've been lucky enough to get two votes for one of my images for the next issue! I doubt that will be sufficient for one to appear given the very high quality of some of the submissions.

There's various special interest groups you can join - I'm a member of the street photography and black and white groups - and I've found that  by joining these groups a larger section of the Fotoblur community get to see your images. There's also the opportunity to 'follow' your peers, too, which is an ideal way to develop your own style and skills. I'm following a number already one of who, Piet Flour from Belgium, produces some of the most stunning portraits I've seen in a long time.

The site is nicely laid out, there's little or no external advertising and it's easy to join. A free membership entitles members to upload one photograph per day while five can be uploaded by premium members, who pay $30 or so per year.

Here's a link to my profile at Fofoblur where you can see the images I've posted, a few of which have appeared here previously:

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

See All the Colours Run*

Having a little time on my hands I decided to play about with the tulip image from Sunday's session and really go for the fine art look!

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Silver Efex Pro 2 took care of the monochrome conversion and I followed a tutorial in Scott Selby and Matt Kloskowski's book 'The Photoshop Elements Book for Digital Photographers' to make the card. I'm quite pleased with the results.

*The Painter's Link by Kate Bush from the album 'Aerial'

Slow This Right Down*

In this digital age it's easy to just shoot, shoot, shoot with your camera and hope that something turns out right. What this means is that you come home with 100's of pictures that need to be downloaded, sorted, appraised and the failures deleted. Once you've got a few pictures that might be reasonable you need to spend time editing them. And perhaps when you've spent all that time you've really not got anything to show for it. I know... I've been guilty of this very thing! The more time you spend in front of your computer, the less time you actually spend taking photographs and, consequently, honing your skills and techniques. Guilty as charged, m'lud!

So... On Sunday I had several bunches of flowers available to photograph, a wet afternoon interspersed with some sunny spells and time to think about what I wanted to achieve. I set up my D700 with the Nikkor 60mm macro lens and set to work. I set the camera to manual and used my (very) old Weston Master V light meter taking reflected light readings by hand and calculating the exposure. I switched to Live View and turned the auto focus off. The only other tool I used was a reflector to bounce some light into the darker folds of the flowers and to use as a background.

What all this achieved was some very lovely pictures, nicely exposed and requiring very little post production work - well, I think they're nice! I also learned a great deal about my kit. Firstly, by using Live View I was actually able to detect just how even the slightest touch on the camera invokes shake; it's amazing! Secondly, calculating the exposure that best suited each image produced far better results than the built-in meter. And finally, by manually focusing I was able to determine the focus point to maximise depth of field. There was a downside... using Live View chews the camera battery very quickly!

Here's a few shots from the session:

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Of course, not everything worked and I had a few dud pictures but only a fraction of what I would have had if I'd shot willy nilly. A very relaxing and satisfying Sunday.

*Slow by Rumer from the album 'Seasons of My Soul'

Looking for the Heart of Saturday Night*

A sunny spring evening, great food with lovely people, live music - Rumer at the Philharmonic in Liverpool - a photograph... what could be better... 

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Such a wonderful evening. Thank you everyone...

*(Looking for) The Heart of Saturday Night - Tom Waits from the album 'Used Songs 1973 - 1980'