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When Not to Trust your Camera
(and a splash of colour for this page)

One thing that I keep hearing when I talk to people is that they have a great camera but they just stick it in Auto mode and leave it at that.
Well in most cases this is fine; you'll get some pretty decent shots and be able to share them with your friends.
The problem comes when you get some more extreme conditions like the ones at a gig.
musicians playing at a gig
For every one of these shots, the light meter in the camera was either telling me that the shot was way too bright or way too dark.
I ignored it.
With experience and (a whole lot of) practice you can start to estimate what's needed for a shot and by looking at the results on the back of the camera you can get a reasonable idea of how you're doing.
The other thing I never did was to use a flash at a gig. It completely trashes the stage lighting and ruins the atmosphere of the final picture (as well as annoying the rest of the audience and the lighting technician).
The trick to getting good gig shots is trying to push your camera as hard as possible while still getting the quality photographs at the end of it. These were all taken at f1.8 with an ISO of 640, the shutter speed varied but was around 1/100, and are pretty much exactly as they came out of the camera, they haven't been lightened or fussed with in Photoshop.

So the next time you get your camera out, try adjusting the settings yourself. It may work, it may not but that's the beauty of digital. If it doesn't work you can just delete it and try again.
But when you get a bit of practice in, you'll be able to start getting a bit more creative with your photography.

The Joys of Parenthood

crying baby
Canon 5d
Canon 50mm f1.4
f2
1/100
ISO 200
A little while ago I was asked on Twitter by Adam Brooks (@axzr) what my favourite picture was that I'd taken.
It was a really tough one to answer. I've been taking photographs for most of my life and I replied with the picture from the blog post below as it's one of my most recent shoots.
But this got me thinking so I went back and had a look for some of my favourites.
This is one of them. The baby was only a couple of weeks old and I went round to his parents' flat to take the shots using a combination of natural light and two speedlite flashes fired remotely with a transmitter. He'd been absolutely wonderful for most of the time and then just towards the end he decided enough was enough.
This shot was the result.
Guess which one his parents had as a large print and used for the invitation to his Christening?
Yep.
This one.
I love it because it has a real feel of what he was like at that age.
It fills me with a slight sense of foreboding now because, in a little under two months, my wife will be giving birth and we'll have one of these ourselves.

Warwick University Pole Dance Society

pole dancers
Canon 5d MkII
Sigma 28-70mm f2.8
f6.3
1/200
ISO 100
This shoot was all about demonstrating the amazing skills of the pole dancers while getting as far away as possible from any negative associations that pole dancing may have.
I decided to give the shots a very clean and bright look, taking my inspiration from modern dance photography, and having the final images in black and white to give them a classic feel.
The setup was in a room with a very low ceiling (which was not exactly ideal) and consisted of the dancers talking me through what they were going to do each time so I could re-set the lights and get myself ready for the moves that they were going to do.
Over the course of the afternoon that I spent with them, the same words kept going round and round in my head.
'How did you do that?'

I'd like to thank all the ladies, and the gentleman, of the Warwick Pole Dance Society for inviting me along.
I'm still in awe of all of you.

The Lighting

lighting setup
This shows the position of my lights, with the umbrellas giving me a reading of f11 behind the subject reflected off the white paper sweep and the two soft boxes individually giving me f6.3 and f4 on the subject.
I decided to drop the ratio slightly from the traditional 3:1 in order to give a brighter feel to the finished images.
You can see the rest of the shots in my gallery here and you can find out more about the classes (which are open to non-students too) by going to the Warwick Pole Dancers page.

Moving Over

Well I decided to move my blog over here onto my own site so I can (apparently) spend endless hours faffing with the CSS and making things look how I want them.
I think it's going to be good.
You can still see my older blog posts on Blogger but all the new stuff is going here.
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