Since we’re approaching Christmas, let’s talk about train sets. Everybody loves a train set for Christmas. Hell, if I had the space I’d be constantly badgering my wife for one. Space to have a train set I mean, not to badger my wife. If I was complaining about a lack of space to badger my wife you’d think I was talking euphemistically. I was talking about Christmas and train sets and then suddenly people are thinking about dirty things. Stop it. Get your mind out of the gutter.
Continuing my eclectic saunter around my backlog of photographs we return to Cornwall, and the coastal village of Mevagissey, a town so small they don’t even let you drive cars into it. Not really. The streets are all narrow and the car parks are outside of the town. You’ll see a bit more of the town in a later post, but for now I wanted to show you the reason we visited Mevagissey in the first place: World of Model Railways.
1/100, f/5.6, ISO 6400, 79mm
World of Model Railways should need little explanation. It’s a place dedicated to model railways. There are some in cases, clearly valued models to be kept safe, such as this example of one of the great steam trains, the Mallard.
November has been a bit of a lopsided month. It started out pretty strongly but my amount of posts tapered off towards the end of the month. This is kind of expected to be honest; November is a month of birthdays in my family so I don’t often have a lot of time for writing. I have even less time for shooting it seems, as I don’t think I’ve taken any photographs in weeks. The month’s posts were from October at the more recent, or the October before it at the earliest.
The first post in November was London in the Evening. the post was something I hadn’t done in a while: a photography trip out with a friend. It was something we’d trying to achieve for a while, and when we realised the only time we were free was from around sunset one evening. This was great as it allowed us to meet at St Paul’s and photograph it as the foreground to a great sunset. We also had a great opportunity to try out some street photography as the city got darker. This was the day before I got the 24-105mm lens I recently added to my collection, so there was no gushing of image quality in the post, but even so I was very pleased with a lot of the images I got. One of them has already made it onto my RedBubble store, soon I’ll pick my favourite St Paul’s sunset shot to add too.
On my way home from taking some photos of some photos at the Greenwood, I found myself wandering along the Strand on my route to Waterloo Station. This was just after I’d bought my new 24-105mm lens, so I couldn’t help but stop and try grabbing a few photographs before I got on my train.
My first pause came at the junction where Waterloo Bridge meets the Strand. It’s a busy junction, packed with people, vehicles and cyclists running red lights almost every hour of the day. This being early evening on a mid October day, the light was already softening. So, despite the fair amount of movement and busyness of the people in the frame, I elected to take some HDR photography.
f/4, ISO 200, 24mm (HDR)
It took a little bit of playing about to get my HDR plugin to behave with the motion in the frame. Fortunately HDR Efex Pro has a ‘ghost reduction’ setting to help with these sorts of situations. Still, if you look closely you can see some ghostly spectres in the image here and there.
Fortunately, the sky has hopefully proved to be distracting enough that you won’t even notice the people walking around with slightly detached feet.
I briefly mentioned in October’s review that I’d added a new lens to my collection. A few weeks ago my wife and I got tickets to go see the Moscow State Circus, finally giving me an opportunity to take the new glass out into the field to see how it got on. Spoiler alert: I’m really rather pleased with it.
Unfortunately, as you can see from the image above, we didn’t have the best seats. We had a big support strut, and some ropes, ladders and safety equipment that got into almost every shot. I did my best, though, and I’m pretty happy with the results.
As soon as we arrived I drew immediate parallels with shooting at the Greenwood, and started to shoot in manual mode, so to not be caught out by sudden changes in lighting levels or accidentally metering on a brighter part of someone’s clothing. This was made even easier by the lens’s constant f/4 aperture, meaning zooming in doesn’t change the aperture of the lens, thus letting in less light (when you zoom in many lenses, the aperture gets smaller. There’s really no easy way to explain why this is without risking your eyes glazing over, but if you’re interested you can ask in the comments…).
A few test shots later, and I settled on an ISO of about 1000, an aperture of f/4 and a shutter speed in the general area of 1/200th, and got to trying to take some real photos.
There are some things in my life that, no matter how great, just take me time to deal with. This post is a great example of that. For ’twas Christmas 2011 when my wife got me a safari photography day at Woburn Safari Park. It was ten months before I finally arranged to go on the trip, in October 2012. It wasn’t until October 2013 that I finally sat down to edit all of the images properly (although I did cheat and edit a couple ahead of the pack earlier this year). And now here we are in November, and I’m finally posting them, almost two years after my wife originally gave me the gift.
There were about half a dozen of us on the trip, being escorted around the park in a couple of jeeps, with a slight Jurassic Park vibe. This being a properly sanctioned trip, we were able to be taken off of the main roads, where the public don’t normally wander, and with it get closer to the animals than the general public, as well as getting angles they’d not normally see. The first big cat we came across was this sleepy tiger.
I had arranged to meet a friend near St Paul’s Cathedral shortly before sunset. He had told me of a spot atop a shopping centre that was great for shooting the well-known landmark with the sun setting behind it, and we planned to meet there and then wander around the middle of town for a bit seeing what photographs presented themselves to us.
Before I even got to our meeting point, there were opportunities along my way to help warm up my shutter finger.
This time last month I was sitting here, analysing the underlying reasons why, for the first time since I started this blog, I’d had a postless month. There a variety of reasons why it happened, and one of the main ones was that I hadn’t written anything. Keen followers of this blog will have noticed that October seemed to start off pretty similarly. We were almost three weeks into the month before I got a post out of the door. There’s a good reason for that too.
The month started with a man installing a new kitchen in our flat (renting perk: not having to pay for a new kitchen) and for the time the work was happening I stayed home to keep an eye on the cats and help out if needed. Confined to my study, I had over a week sitting at my computer, with nothing else to distract me. To make the most of the time, I decided to concentrate on editing photos rather than writing. By the time our kitchen returned to habitability, I’d edited over 2,500 images from various sets, including some from the big batches that I’d long been avoiding. Pretty good progress, but not a word had been written, and that’s what makes posts. By October 18th I’d finally managed to assemble some words in an appreciable order to warrant publishing a post.
It is, thanks to social networks like Instagram, a bit cliched to photograph food. People who, when first brought a hot meal – whether at a posh restaurant or a Burger King – whip out their phone and snap a photo of their food with a cheesy filter instead of, oh I don’t know, actually eating it, are mocked by most of normal society. As a photographer I find I straddle the two sides of the argument; I can admire the aesthetic appeal of a well-presented plate of food and the desire to photograph it, but taking a poor quality image of a standard plate of food just to say ‘look at ma DINNAH’, especially something you’ve not cooked yourself, just seems a bit pointless to me.
Of course, from time to time I come into possession of a good-looking bit of food, which inevitably isn’t one I’ve made (my plating technique is simple: stack it high, it’s for eatin’, not for lookin’). Sometimes – usually when that food isn’t warm and I’m not starving – I’ll take it aside to take some photographs of it, often by the window in my kitchen which used to have a great big surface next to it.
Of course, having said all that, the first image in this set fits none of those descriptors. Because where better to start than my favourite food, the humble but irresistible bowl of chips?
I’ve finally managed to get down to have a look at the culmination of my Greenwood project that saw me visiting the Greenwood Theatre in December, January and March to shoot productions of All’s Well That Ends Well, Fame and the Greenwood Dance Show respectively.
I’m now, technically, an exhibited photographer.
1/6sec, f/4, ISO 100, 24mm
If you missed it, the Greenwood project involved me photographing at three shows at the Greenwood Theatre (the manager is a friend of mine… and I admittedly also work for the College that leases it) so they could get a bunch printed and put up in the foyer area, the corridors, and the dressing rooms. Most of those images are now up on the walls (the dressing room ones are on hold pending a refurbishment) and I’ve been down to take a look.
When I attended London Fashion Weekend earlier this year, I pretty much assumed it would be a once-in-a-lifetime thing, unless I actually make it into professional photography. So when I caught wind of another opportunity to apply for a spot at the autumn/winter London Fashion Weekend I jumped at it straight away. No shameless ‘I love my Canon’ tweets this time, I just had to drop an email to someone asking nicely if I could come. This later led to a bit of confusion when I received the info for the show without actually getting confirmation I was going, and despite further correspondence not figuring out whether I was originally supposed to be going or not, my name was put on the list.
Before I arrived at the event I was feeling a bit guilty about returning to the show. I thought I’d lucked out a bit getting a place for a second time. At the pre-event briefing I kept my head down, expecting to be spotted and turfed out at any point. I’m a bit paranoid at times. It was only when I chatted to a few of the other photographers whilst queuing outside the catwalk that I realised I wasn’t the only one returning to the catwalk show for a second time.
My fears allayed, I could finally focus (geddit? See, because it’s like – ah, forget it) on shooting the show.