It’s time for a sudden realisation that it’s somehow August already, summer is most of the way over and we’re already well on the way to shorter days, colder weather and, eventually, Christmas. Okay, that might be a bit of an exaggeration – after all, I’ve still got a summer holiday to take, and it’s not like the the weather is cooling off any. But even so, somehow July seems to have been and gone in the blink of an eye and I almost didn’t notice it.
Despite this, I managed to get a few posts out in July, somehow managing to pay attention enough to the weeks slipping by to ensure I got some content written up and published, although I did manage to let two weeks of the month slip by before getting anything done.
Last week I was fortunate enough to be able to attend an experience day at Canon’s UK headquarters in Surrey. Put on by Canon, the day featured talks by Canon Ambassadors David Norton and Danny Green, as well as practical shooting opportunities giving us a chance to play about with techniques but also, more importantly, with kit – the sort of kit I had hitherto only dreamt of touching, let alone owning.
The morning consisted of the talks, one by a Canon rep detailing the various improvements in the latest firmware update for the EOS-1D X – something useful for the 1D X owners there, and envy-inducing for the rest of us – as well as the talks by David and Danny (and impressive talks they were – they are really truly two gifted shooters). But it was after lunch that the real fun was to be had, as we split into groups for the practical stuff.
My group’s first port of call was in the grounds of Canon UK, where a small falconry display had been set up for us to shoot, accompanied by Danny Green himself, and starring this little fella.
1/2500sec, f/4.5, ISO 800, 115mm
I can’t remember this little guy’s name, which is annoying because I heard his handler call it often enough. He can’t in all honestly be said to be the best behaved bird I’ve ever encountered; he did as he was told right enough but often took a bit of asking. and occasionally he’d fly off and hide in a tree. Still, there were plenty of opportunities to photograph him.
One of the reoccurring issues I have on this blog is what to do with the isolated images I take from time to time. These can be times when I’ve simply only taken one photograph and felt that was enough, or they can be times when in the middle of shooting I’ve spotted something else entirely and taken a shot or two of it, and realised that the images simply wouldn’t fit at all in the post containing the rest.
I used to have a solution for this: for almost two years I had a spinoff blog called The Daily Photo on which I’d post a single image every day. Usually this would be image from the Creative Splurges archive, but from time to time I’d post a unique image I’d not shared anywhere before. I quit that blog late last year after finding it too difficult to maintain, so I’ve been slowly building up a bunch of random images. The last time I did this I collected them up into a post called Random Gems and posted them as a set. You can probably guess from the title of this post that I’ve thrown together another batch. Whether they can be considered ‘gems’ or not is up to your discerning eyes.
The first shot without a home is this isolated photo of our cat Freddie, who has grown up a bit since the last time you saw him.
1/100sec, f/4, ISO 640, 95mm
On the subject of Freddie, whilst I was out photographing him and his adopted siblings for the post just linked, I had occasion, whilst my macro lens was attached, to snap a quick close up of one of the daisies in the grass where they were playing.
We’ve now reached the last post from my photographers’ trip to Woburn Safari Park back in late 2012, and as you might have guessed from the title, this post is going to be a bit of a menagerie. On top of the aforementioned giraffes, zebras and rhinos, which I should note are amongst the easiest of animals to recognise, there’s also a bear, and an assortment of antelopey type things that I’m less certain of. Animals still aren’t really my strongpoint. I did A-level biology, but it turns out there isn’t as much wholesale memorisation of entire species catalogues as you’d expect a biologist to have (also it turned out I was much better at physics. And then went to university to study media anyway).
Unlike my last post from Woburn, in which we ended the day on foot covered in lemurs, these shots were taken earlier in the day when we were still being driven around in a Land Rover, getting up close to the sorts of creatures that want to eat you. Fortunately, most of those were the lions and tigers we’ve already seen; the worse these animals are likely to do to you is inflict a horrific, likely fatal puncture would with their horns, antlers or other spiky bits. But at least they won’t eat you.
As far as months go, June has been the busiest here on Creative Splurges since January. Even better for me personally, most of the posts this month have seen me experimenting with new techniques, and not entirely unsuccessfully at that. I’ve dipped into my archive for sure, but only one post dated back to before 2014. That said my archive still has a whole load of images in it and I’ll continue to work my way through them from time to time. My policy of working on whichever images appeal to me the most seems to be working well at the moment so I’m sticking with that.
The first post in June was More Bubbles, essentially a sequel to 2012’s Bubbles. My nieces and nephew and the other children in my circle of friends all seem to love chasing bubbles around gardens, and it turns out they look really photogenic whilst they’re at it. Unlike the first bubble post, this time I wasn’t playing about with fill flash or anything else, I was just shooting for the fun of it. Despite this, I got some great shots, and when I got a selection of 200 of my favourite images printed as 6’x4’s earlier this month there were a couple from this set in the pile.
You might have noticed I’ve been doing a fair amount of experimentation in photography lately. I’ve been playing about with ND filters and long exposures, and getting more involved in street photography. This is yet another post of experimentation, one that I’ll admit now didn’t work out as well as I was hoping, but well enough to share.
Last week I came across this tutorial for shooting ‘action food’, and immediately wanted to try it. The other day I found I had time to try setting up something similar to see what sort of results I could get. Instead of using a black surface I used a wooden tray (that I’ve used in the past) which I figured would add a rustic feel to the images. I also decided to use a bowl instead of a mug as in the tutorial, and this is one thing in hindsight I shouldn’t have changed. I chose to shoot at f/4 instead of f/10 too, and that also was a small mistake, as not as much was in focus as I was hoping in the final results.
I started by pouring milk into the bowl from a height.
1/2000sec, f/4, ISO 200, 24mm
This shot, like all of the shots in this post, has been put through a detail enhancer filter to bring out the details and make the milk’s texture a bit easier to see.
I then tried dropping some cereal into the bowl. That didn’t work so well, and the images didn’t come out thanks in part to me shooting at f/4 and also to my poor timing. But I did end up with cereal in the bowl which looked a bit better.
After getting pretty decent results playing about with my new ND filter at Peveril Point in Dorset I decided to take a stroll down to the Twickenham Riverside to play about some more with the technique. It’s been a couple of years since I photographed around that area so it’s good to return with a bit more experience under my belt.
30sec, f/22, ISO 100, 24mm
When I first got down to the Riverside I headed towards the newly refurbished bit, which truth be told looks just like it used to, only cleaner and with less trees. I found a bit with some trees and boats over the water and took a test shot to see how the image looked.
These two chaps siting outside this shop caught my eye, and I really love the brickwork of the shop itself. Annoyingly some woman’s head got in the way for this shot, but this second shot is a bit cleaner.
When I bought a variable ND filter a month ago I knew exactly where I wanted to try it out first: Peveril Point in Swanage, Dorset. I’ve shot there several times before, as well as visiting it countless times throughout my life, and I knew that it contained some interesting rocky outcrops that would work really well with long exposures of water.
15sec, f/22, ISO 100, 32mm
If you’ve not familiar with them, ND or neutral density filters simply reduce the amount of light coming into your camera. Unlike polarising filters or colour filters they don’t make any changes to the light, they just evenly reduce the light in a neutral way, hence the name.A variable neutral density filter simply allows you to adjust the amount of light that is being let in. The practical upshot of all this is that you can get longer exposures in fuller daylight, such as the image above taken in the early afternoon, albeit on a cloudy day.
To get the result, I set my new ND filter to its maximum setting (apparently ND400 if you’re technically minded), closed up the aperture to its smallest setting (f/22 on my 24-105mm), set the sensitivity to ISO 100, and plonked my camera on a tripod to ensure the shot wasn’t just a blurry incomprehensible mess.
The tip of Peveril Point has seen a fair amount of erosion and subsidence over the years, and it’s Jurassic geology leaves rocky islands jutting out of the water. My plan was to let these play alongside the effect of water under a long exposure.
I’ve not spoken of my archive much lately. Truth be told I’ve been ignoring it, but for the best reason: I’ve been taking enough photos lately that I’ve been able to be completely distracted by those and not have the time to delve into my archive to clear it all out.
Let’s turn back to the vaults for a bit, and return to a trip I took to Woburn Safari Park over 18 months ago, and last posted about back in January with a look at their monkeys.
At the end of that trip, which was an organised sanctioned photography trip, we were allowed into the lemur pens at feeding time to get up close and personal with the animals.
1/100sec, f/4.5, ISO 640, 95mm
It hadn’t been a day of great weather; it had been a grey, rainy day, so the light was dull but at least pretty even. You can see the dullness in the images, which kind of undermines any hope I may have had in passing these off as creatures in their natural habitat, as opposed to a park in Bedfordshire.