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Blemish here, a mole there….all in an edit

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I think I may have become obsessive. Is there anything wrong with making everything correct down to the finest detail? I don’t know the answer to that to be totally truthful. I think I will come across as quite patronising if I say that I am totally obsessive because it doesn’t apply in every instance. I mean, if I sometimes forget to put my shoes in the cupboard I wont usually think twice. I can do methodical with obsession, I can honest. Here is a funny example that will show you more about me than I need to say really. A couple of days ago I offered to help my lovely wife Elaine clean up. The first thing I did was head towards my desk which amongst PC’s, printers and monitors  was cluttered with unopened envelopes and scattered notes of names and telephone numbers. I proceeded to remove the said rubbish from my domain which led to dusting and wiping. This in turn led to screen cleaning times two and before I could complete my simple task thirty minutes had gone by and Elaine had completed the whole house. Mmmm enough said.

Cleaning is not my obsession though. Retouching and editing however is; I started working through my images that were shot a couple of weeks ago on my “hat shoot” and realised that my attention to detail may not exactly be the same as someone elses attention to detail. Small skin blemishes, moles, awkward stray hairs, blood vessels in the eyes are all little things that could be left untouched would bug me and make me feel like the job isn’t complete. Like I just said though, not everyone sees things in the same light. The subject of the photo-shoot was the hats, okay, that hats were sat on top of three lovely models but that is exactly where I went wrong. The edits took longer and longer whilst I paid attention to every minor detail. I think the editing procedure went something like this….

1.  Exposure
2. Brightness & Contrast
3. Saturation/Hue
4. Levels/Curves
5. Spot removal (dust spots not face spots)
6. Cropping
7. Masking & Layering
8. Artefact removal
9. Noise Reduction
10.Saving

As you can see from the list that this can be a lengthy job and each image can take up to thirty minutes to complete. This amounts to a serious amount of time when you have a couple of hundred images to do let alone over a thousand. In an ideal world it would be lovely if Photoshop could identify these blemishes and spots, it does in its own way but it’s not the best. So, I revert to Lightroom and manual and edit how I know best. Have a look at a few images that I have finished and see what you think. In my opinion, I am very happy….not sure what the models think as I have only seen messages on Facebook. There is much to be said about-face to face contact. Hope you like the images, as always… comments are welcome

A huge thank you to Stephanie, Margaret, Jemima, Missy, Martina & Rebecca, your help is so much appreciated and I will never forget your patience.

Credits:

StephanieJaneMillinery
Margaret Woodliff-Wright
Jemima Robinson
Missy Ellwood
Martina Peluso
Rebecca May

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Photography in the rain…..?

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Today’s blog entry is dedicated to a good friend of mine Liz Ellis. Liz is a survivor of cancer after battling with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2011. She is a great craft artist/photographer and has recently upgraded to a DSLR. If you get a chance take a look at some of her images on Flickr or have a read of her fight with cancer in her blog “Hope Floats“.

Its been a miserable Spring hasn’t it? With only a few weeks left until the official start of the “Great British Summer” things are not looking good really I don’t want to sound like a doom-monger…. but come on… if the last few years have anything to go by then the track record for the “GBS” isn’t too good with very few prospects of changing. Just for clarification the above image of the aircraft landing at London Heathrow was taking in August 2010…..case closed. Or not?

As photographers the weather is our friend. A cloudy but bright day is good, a day with scattered clouds and intermittent sunshine is better and a sunny day is just perfect. I was chatting to a friend just now who is shooting a wedding today and obviously his concern is the weather and how to get the shots that will justify him completing his contract with the bride and groom. This is a difficult one isn’t it and a potential problem that is totally out of your hands. Everyone dreams of waking up to a blue skies on their big day, opening up the door for an awesome wedding with some superbly lit images for the final album. In the event of bad weather, making use of the things that are a certainty is probably the only option. Use coloured umbrellas for the bride and groom, I know colour popping is a little clichéd these days but one sure fire way to rescue colour on a dull and wet day is to convert to monochrome and let specific colours show through. So let the rain be your friend; use the rain as one of the images elements. Afterall, against the happy couples wishes the rain has now invited itself to the wedding…how rude! But as an uninvited guest it must be made to work…

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Most of us head indoors when it rains, others seek shelter or use an umbrella. Then there is the occasional lunatic that believes he’s an amphibian and is totally oblivious to water, walking along wet streets in a deluge wearing nothing but shorts, t-shirt and a pair of gym pumps. There is always one. It is instances like this that present opportunities for a photographer, once in a lifetime chances that shouldn’t be missed. If you are watching it happening then its too late..whne you envisage events like this unfolding the trick is to watch, previsualise and then do the rest through your viewfinder. Before you know it you have over one hundred images on the card. The more you shoot the more chance you have of capturing that special moment… that jump over the puddle with the water drops flying… that knowing look of a person in the crowd ( This one is not in the rain but take a look at the image below taken at a race in Leeds City Centre) or that chance opportunity of spontaneous incident.

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Shooting in the rain adds a whole new dimension to photography; it gives the subject an added pzaz and that extra interest. Unfortunately with the adverse weather comes a lack of light, in turn impacting on the quality of the images. Not a big problem but something to consider all the same. Pushing up the ISO will give your more scope to play with. Failing that why not try some slow shutter speed action shots…kids playing and splashing in puddles are a great subject matter, but remember to ask permission first. Last thing you need is a confrontation with an angry parent, especially when its raining.

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If you don’t like the idea of getting wet and an umbrella doesn’t quite fit your ideals as the height of fashion accessories then why not head back indoors. Shooting images whilst sat in a cafe or restaurant is great. There’s nothing I like better than going to sit in a coffee-house with a camera. If you sit near the window then images of passers-by and people chatting in the street are a real challenge. Every now and then you will get noticed and a response will present itself for a photo. Some will shy away, some will pull a face whilst others will just carry on with their business. Which ever way the opportunity appears, its yours for the taking.

Looking for reflections is another subject matter in the rain. Distorted reflections of people walking, buildings in the pavement and even faces if you look closely. All these are possibilities and opportunities. The world is your oyster so why not open it. Since the advent of digital photography along with mobile phones nearly all of us have access to a camera whilst going about daily routines. Many of us just don’t use them for what they are good at. Most are capable of at least six mega pixels which gives excellent picture quality. So go on, get out there and try some images in wet weather, you wont regret it.

Finally, the lazy option…stay at home and gaze out of the window. Be it rain dripping from the leaky gutter, water drops battering the window pane or water dripping from leaves. All these can be done from the dry, comfort and warmth of your home without stepping one foot outdoors. Often a look out of the bedroom window can lend a whole new perspective on a scene. Approaching weather fronts can make the surrounding scenery look totally different. Try it! The next time you are stuck indoors with nothing to photograph, head upstairs and look at the opportunities from the upper floor. Things look different from an aerial perspective don’t they?

I am going to close this small “weather” related piece by showing you an image of a weather front from my upper floor. The image shows a rain storm heading south-east from the Pennines across the Yorkshire city of Bradford.  Far from a summer shot but it illustrates that photography is possible in the rain. Thanks for reading. As always, comments positive or negative are welcome. Thank you.

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Just checking in…..48 hours late

The last 48 hours have been manic. I have not had two minutes to even contemplate blogging. Well, actually that’s a tiny fib as I re-blogged a small post yesterday; what I actually meant to say was that my normal afternoon typing marathon on the PC disappeared in to oblivion yesterday.

Monday morning reality sank in. That dreaded word echoed around my head like the never-ending tone of tinnitus. “Dentist !!! ” I know, I know..most of you don’t mind and its routine but I do mind and by no means is it routine. My dentist has deserted me a few times over the years as they always seem to be leaving. The phrase “This will be the last time you see me” has now become a familiar saying on my visits. So back to square one and a new dentist; maybe things just wouldn’t be so bad after all I had not been having any problems why would it be any different. I had tried to put it to the back of my mind over the weekend and just get on with life as normal but it was just sat in the back of my head like an itch that wouldn’t go away. “Be brave, be brave Mark just a walk in the park” is all I kept saying to myself.

One final brush and rinse and I was on my way. I arrived about 15 minutes early as the rush hour traffic for a Monday wasnt as heavy as I perhaps thought. This presented me with a choice: a 10 minute wait in the comfort of my warm car or a 10 minute wait in the surgery watching other victims leaving after been inflicted with unecessary pain. I opted for the first and stayed warm listening to Radio Aire.

When the time came it wasnt that bad actually, I stayed calm, took some deep breaths and pretended to be strong. I could hear the voice of Richard Hammond from BBC’s Top Gear…”Scared, Scared, Scared…quite scared..still scared..very scared”. That was me….scared. Actually the dentist was fine, nice guy..I went through the usual routine, you know what I mean…sit down, open wide, any problems I should know about sir? No !, OK then just a quick clean and off you trot. That wasnt quite how it went! Gutted isn’t the word.

From my viewpoint laid down in that wretched chair I could just see the expression on his face as he prodded his prodder and articulated his Budgie mirror for a better view. The wrinkles on his forehead were enough, three of four times he got to the same tooth and he repositioned himself to another angle. Everytime he reached my front right tooth he stopped. Only five minutes before, after asking me if I there had been any problems he commented how clean and nice my teeth were, what on earth has he found wrong with one of my front teeth. My original state of worry and fear had subsided when I sat down, but as he progressed his way around my top row of teeth from the back to the front and back in the opposite, a sudden state of nervousness returned resulting in my stomach dropping through my backside. The words I had never expected to hear now bounced off all four walls. “You’ve cracked your front tooth”. Oh S***t I mouthed without the words coming out. I had this mental vision of my face next to Jimmy Nail’s mug shot comparing similarities with a toothless Oz (Oz been his character in Auf Wiedersehen Pet)

tumblr_mbhhvt0uzz1qhdw0vo1_400The image I found of “Oz” doesn’t really does his toothless smile justice as he hasn’t got his mouth open but a quick google search will reveal video clips of a more appropriate Oz. This took me totally by shock. Firstly, I just wasnt expecting it and secondly how and when on earth did that happen. Mr “lovely-dentist-person” advised me that he would do what he could to repair it, if not, all the options would be reviewed later. Maybe my vision of ones head on Jimmy Nail’s body was a little premature but it was a scary thought nevertheless. I left the chair (and the surgery come to think of it) like a stabbed rat. (That’s a Top Gear expression I think) and made a beeline for the exit. Unfortunately, I will have to return.

Monday evening was cold, a lot colder than the average for the end of April in Yorkshire anyway but I chose to take a trip up to Yeadon Dam/Tarn. The opportunity to take photographs when there is some nice golden light should never be turned away.  The whole place was buzzing with activity, it was quite a surprise really as the wind and the cold normally puts people off walking in circles around a shallow stretch of water. I could have understood if the Little Fisherman had been open as the hypocritical excuse of a little exercise after scoffing fish and chips is one commonly used by visitors, but it wasnt. Mondays are a closed day, much to the delight of the missus.

As always with my passion for photography, I knew what I wanted. I was looking for silhouettes, low light images with plenty of shadows. Even the possibility of a colourful sunset. As the sun sank so did the temperatures and before long it was bitterly cold.  With a 28-135 IS lens on I grabbed what I could, when I could. I managed to get questioned by a swan and after poking its beak in my lens it withdrew its ideas and carried on foraging. Looking in to the sun can create some wonderful effects, including light flare in abundance. Doing just what I love felt great, cold but great. I kept tapping away composing and grabbing what I could. Always best to get more than what you need as you can always dispose of what you don’t require.

The limited clouds that were loitering around the sun an hour before were now dissipating with the cold air and low pressure. The sun was dipping closer to the horizon creating a noticeable colour change in a narrow band across the scene. The gradient of colour from a pale orange to mid to dark blue was evident as I carried on capturing silhouettes. Runners, walkers, dogs, swans, ducks, trees, houses and boats didn’t escape my viewfinder in the last thirty minutes.  A poor lens choice (again) left me composing a stitch as opposed to a single image with a nice silhouette of Cemetery Road, Yeadon as a foreground to the setting sun.

One hundred and eighty images later, with the sun now below the horizon I wandered the short distance back to my car. I was quite happy with the outcome, but as with any photo shoot what looks good on the camera back doesn’t necessarily look good on the computer back home. Only time would tell. Sitting in the car to examine my images soon gave way to the thought of getting home and feeling some warmth.

Tuesday morning started the same way Monday evening ended: taking photographs. Elaine has managed to get a place in the BUPA Great North Run this year and been her first time she is training hard to give her the best chance. You can actually follow her progress as she writes a blog called “Boothie is doing the Great North Run” every few days.  If you would like to donate some money towards Sue Ryder Wheatfields then you can visit Elaine’s Just Giving Page. If you have looked at the links show previously then you will understand Elaine’s passion for what she is doing. Elaine’s 10 kilometre training route incorporates a circuit of Yeadon Dam/Tarn so whilst waiting for her return it seemed like a good idea to capture a few more images. Well, it would be rude not to wouldn’t it? She wouldn’t mind, would you Elaine?

Might as well make use of the sunshine so off I went. In total contrast to 12 hours earlier, the light was excellent, the sun warmed the morning air and the colour was vibrant. The Swans were just as nosey, the Geese just as rowdy and in between all this the ducks were in abundance.  The shot that probably made the morning was a gentleman fishing by the side of the tarn, he was smoking a pipe and as I was facing in to the sun the light was catching the smoke being expelled from his long pipe. I waited and waited for the perfect opportunity. He was total unaware of my presence which really helped the situation. I envisaged the image in monochrome with the smoke showing up against the dark background. Unfortunately he had a small tent by the side of him and no matter which position I stood in I couldn’t manage to get a decent image that didn’t contain part of the structure of the tent. Still, despite that I was reasonably happy with the outcome. A small preview is shown below and as I am now over 300 images in editing arrears. I will post a link from the last two days shooting on a subsequent blog entry.

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Thanks for looking, as always comments are very welcome and in particular if you like the image above. Thank you.

I shot RAW….then stalled

i_shoot_raw-290x160 That seems a very unusual title for a blog post doesn’t it. As the author of the said title I have to admit that I am not quite sure of the full meaning behind it. As a whole statement it is not true. I didn’t stall because I shoot RAW.  I do however shoot in RAW format and yes I firmly believe that the relationship between my photography and I have stalled. The last couple of weeks have been very dry when it comes to taking images which in turn has allowed the queue in the editing department to dry up too. I will end this paragraph with a one word statement, a statement that includes those responsible for the lack of shutter action…. WEATHER

Now, I know I shouldnt moan about this as Britain in Winter is often wet, windy and cold and opportunities are few and far between. There have been opportunities this year….just not as many that happen to fall in line with my ability to get out and seize the moment. I have managed it, about twenty times in one hundred days. That’s a 1:5 ratio……and that compared to last year’s effort..are you ready 1:4. Now it just took me all of 6 minutes to work out those statistics, quiet pointless really.

So, Tuesday was sunny, windy, sunny and still very windy. Another day in which photography was to take a back seat and a wander around the dam ensued. The wander was great, breathtaking in a different way.. the wind was gusting and aircraft were making dynamic approaches to the airport. Wandering along and a flying can of ex-pop came careering towards Elaine and in a whoosh that would have done the blockbuster movie Twister credit it divided us in the street. The words “Did you see that” in unison echoed out…..had it hit one of us on the bonce this would have been a different story.

Back to the photography and I have now realised that I took more images for the January Instagram challenge than at any other time this year. Maybe I should set myself another monthly challenge…Am I lacking inspiration? ..Yes I am. This is not like me, It is also not like me to admit it too…I have taught students not to do this, I have told members of camera clubs not to do this and here I am doing it myself. The most I have done with my camera in the last week is place a sticker on the lens hood that states in large white letters I SHOOT RAW! Yes I do, I know I do, and now everyone who sees me will know too….that I shoot RAW and not JPEG. So bloody what……

I have to thank my great friend Colin Pitt and his wife Gaynor for their time and patience, there isn’t a day goes by that I don’t have either a Skype conversation or a message from my good friends. Colin very kindly cut me some stickers with the logo for “I shoot RAW” and I called him just now to confirm the actually fit the lens hood for the Canon 100-400. Yes they do Colin, thank you so much. Postage costs will be refunded one day, and I know they are accumulating. Colin’s website can be viewed here http://www.cppimagery.co.uk/ … a great pal, photographer and flight simmer.

Going back to the inspiration….or lack of it in this case; another good mate Dan McIntyre  posted this on his Facebook page this afternoon, and its a point worth noting in my plight to take more photos.

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He does have a point doesn’t he? So that’s my next step forward. Maybe I just need to get out more, maybe I need to stop thinking of things to take and just go back to what I used to do. Put the camera in the car and shoot from the mind! Do what comes naturally. So that’s my next goal.

On a day that has shaken the world with the events in the United States of America, our thoughts are with those affected and their families. You have my heartfelt prayers and thoughts.

il tramonto d’oro

il tramonto d’oro or in my mother tongue…. SUNSET….. My passion for the low light photography never dies. As much as I love after dark image making my favourite time of day has to be sunrise and sunset. There have not been too many opportunities over the last three months with the terrible weather. The weather not only hampered the sky it also put a stop on actually exiting the house. My balance is not what you may call perfect and the thought of falling and banging my poorly head is a deterrent in itself. As for breaking my camera that’s a whole new ballgame.

As my previous post pointed out, I spent an hour at Clarence Dock in reasonable weather. As the day progressed the weather just got better and even though my trip to Clarence Dock had been an unplanned photography excursion I still wanted more. I normally feel exhausted after a day out and as my wife will kindly point out; a day out usually takes it out on me for the following day too with a distinct lack of energy and sometimes a day in bed. Not good, not good at all. When it comes to listening I will admit that I listen but have a tendency to be selective and ignore any basic guidance. I know, this isn’t good is it? I try, I really do try but as I have said before on here…..I go my own way.

Rules and regulations were made for breaking weren’t they? As you know I love panorama’s; I love alternative cropping and I love been “different”. So I thought I would try something a little different on this evening. A different location and a different approach. I have used many foregrounds in the last 30 years but living on a hill can sometimes be a disadvantage. Hunting round for new foreground subjects isn’t easy from a high viewpoint, it’s a case of finding somewhere with level surroundings.

Anyway, on to the images. Clouds are always a good part of the equation when it comes to sunsets and sunrises. A great recipe for a sunset would consist of colour, contrasting black foreground, clouds and an overall landscape. Have a look at the following images and see what you think. I was quite happy with the location but once again, it will probably get very tiresome after a few evenings.

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I hope you like the images. They are nothing special, but something a little different. Thats all for now, be back tomorrow with No More Dead Pixels. Thanks for reading. Bye for now

Just a stitch in time

A few weeks back I put a post on NMDP that jus not demonstrated my love for panoramas and photo stitching but also showed you how a basic stitch was done using Photoshop (or not) and Microsoft Image Composite Editor. If you missed this post and are still interested then take a look here. This is a very neat and tidy approach to stitching and the completed image looks “politically correct”.

One question I asked myself a long time ago, well before I started doing panorama stitching on the computer was “What is right and what is wrong?“. That’s one of those questions that just screams out “Oh my god here we go again…time for a debate”. Well actually I don’t want an argument or even a debate, I don’t even want opinions that is of course unless you want to offer one. Some of you will say that if two images were joined together then they should be seamless and invisibly joined as if it were just one photograph. Others might say…”well, maybe its a little surreal to make things look a little messy and untidy and its more like art”. Yes, both are correct. I do love a clean image one with straight edges and looks as if it could be taken to a bespoke framer for finishing prior to hanging on a living room wall. But, I also love the shabby approach. Below are two examples of what I am talking about.

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As you will be able to see they are two completely different concepts. Both have their own qualities and I would assume its just a personal choice as to which one you prefer. Once again I am about to refer to a previous post but please take a look at this entry here. Kevin has some great ideas when it comes to stitching and compositing images. He focusses on people photography and portraits with this particualr style in mind. Like I state in the post, I think they look absolutley superb. If you go out with the intention of shooting to stitch then you will go on forever. Over the next few days I am going to work on a couple of different ideas which lean a little bit towards David Hockney’s style and see if they work. Today I spent an hour down at Clarence Dock whilst waiting for a friend to finish at the hospital. Whilst I was there I took about one hundred images, some which were intended to be a stitch of a different kind. I had a ball, a passer by looked at me as I contunually kept tapping away at the shutter, she must have wondered what I was doing. In the space of two minutes I had the whole scene covered.

I am going to put a whole new approach on this one… I’m going to edit it with reckless abandon. No matching of exposures, no matching of edges and no trimming of edges…just a slap dash edit that looks like a work of art.

So watch this space folks. Eventually I will catch up and be able to post you any image. In fact, I might jump the queue and do it now. Thanks for reading, please come back to NMDP and see more. All comments welcome.

3 months of nothing..then 3 days of everything

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I sit here at my desktop PC, breakfast is cooking (Porridge in case you wondered) and I have about 90 minutes to eat and turn out a blog that is worth reading and somehow explains my absence. I

3 months of nothing…then 3 days of everything That’s just how it goes isn’t it….typical. It’s not as if we have had marvelous weather over the last three months in the United Kingdom because we havent…oh unless you think that snow and ice is the be all and end all and you are an up and coming Antarctic explorer. My blogging has just slipped in to the shadows ever so slightly as my ventures swallowed up all my spare time leaving me with a double whammy. No time to edit the actual images therefore no time to blog them as well . Ok, I managed to get the snow shots on here with very brief explanation of that particular day except that was only half of it. There was more…

Yes, March 29th was two days ago and since then I havent stopped. What was supposed to follow on from my post “After the worst of the snow” was the rest of my day. Using a very familiar phrase on No More Dead Pixels this is where it all went Pete Tong. The Picture count for 2013 is low…somewhere in the 3000 region (That’s 5K lower than 2012 for the record). But the last three days have seen over 1000 images pass from CF Card to PC and a queue forming at the editing office. I don’t appear to have the time to edit the images quick enough to get them on to my blog to support to the words. I like to be up to date and I am failing…..miserably……yes, miserably.

Back to the 29th and after the random mad dash chasing snow images I even squeezed in another photo session that afternoon…this time at the airport. I know, I know….its my old haunt but every once in a while you need a quick fix don’t you. Anyway it was a prelude. A warm up session as an invitation to meet up with some fellow photographers on Saturday could never be turned down. Karl Wilson is a great image maker whom I met at the Great Yorkshire Stair Climb last year. Please take a look at Karls photography on his website here. Karl is a published and renowned photographer from Leeds and fancied his chances at some aviation photography. A subject matter that has passed across my lens many times.

More on that in a subsequent blog……

So, just so you know I havent gone away and you don’t think No More Dead Pixels is actually “Dead” here I am. Your visits have been truly welcomed so please come back for more. I could never imagined 10,000 hits in the two and half months I have been doing this and for that I am grateful.

The sunset by the way was a lazy one. I took it from the bedroom window last night. Well…..it looked nice.

Back later……

Leeds Bradford Airport | 28th February – Shooting in to the sun grrrr

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The Photos from “The Day of the Faux Pas” .. enjoy !

The Pixel Doctor

Over the years I have gained a lot of experience taking photographs. From location photography to studio shoots; from football matches to weddings and still life to medical injuries. I have done it. As time moves on my passion for this hobby never fades. A few years ago I decided to change my way of thinking and put my knowledge to good use by teaching photography at a local school. Things moved on from this as local groups and societies invited me to do presentations and tutorials on photography and Photoshop.

In the last few months I have had countless people from friends and family to strangers I have met out on location telling me “Why don’t you go out and teach this….use your knowledge”. This is where “The Pixel Doctor” comes in. Yesterday, in light of three enquiries in one day I set up The Pixel Doctor. If you click the image below it will take you to the Pixel Doctor Blog Page

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In today’s world social media plays such an important part of our lives. I decided to set up relevant accounts in Twitter and Facebook for the Pixel Doctor. Links for these are shown below.

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So what is the Pixel Doctor all about?

Well, is there anything you wished you could do with your images but dont know how?

Would you like to take better photographs?

Do you need inspiration or lack ideas?

Or even learn how to use Photoshop?

Learn how to see with an image in mind?

Image Composition

Discover Camera Controls

Working with light

Well the Pixel Doctor can help ….so go one then, why not drop me a line

Posing, Poses and Posers

These tips are by no means intended to be any sort of official rules. These are things I’ve learned as I developed into a photographer. I can only speak from the best of my knowledge, experience, and style. Not all of them will fit everyone’s style and some of them might work or not work depending on what type of photography you are focusing on or how your photo shoot is progressing. I don’t want to announce myself as an expert in this field of photography, because this is one thing I am not. To start with, lets see some examples. Like anything in photography, and just in my personal opinion, people will say there are right ways and wrong ways to do things. As much as I can agree with that statement, in the Model Shoot | 25th June 2012mark_001 (2)mark_001 (10)end if you are happy with your results and they fit the criteria you set out before you began your photoshoot then where is the problem? There are however, photographers that firmly believe that the way they do things is the only way. I don’t condone anyone who is happy to carry on shooting the one and only way they know how as long as they are happy with the results. Some photographers are afraid of change. Fact. There are many phrases that spring to mind but the one that jumps out first is “If it isn’t broken, then don’t fix it”. This can be applied in many circumstances but in some instances it isn’t always that appropriate. Sometimes a little push in a different direction can open up a whole new window of opportunity for you and I. Something as small as someone suggesting something can make you realise. As uncomfortable as it may feel, you suddenly see things from a different perspective. You can open up whole new avenues of ideas and nine times out of ten you will usually end up asking yourself “why didn’t I see that earlier?” or “what was I thinking?”. Photography is not about secrets, it’s not about hiding things away. We share our images with the world for others to see and ultimately enjoy. So why hide the creative process.

In this age of digital photography, presently, we have the ability to shoot and check, adjust, shoot and check again..until we achieve the results we want. So we have no excuse for not knowing that we have what we came for before we leave a set or a studio. We live in an electronic age; and as photographers with digital cameras we now have the ability to tether the camera to a laptop either with a cable or even wirelessly. If you have never tried tethered shooting before I can highly recommend it.

Tethered Shooting involves connecting the camera you are using to a computer or laptop during the photo shoot. It’s a great idea if you are working with a subject (not just a model) where the focus needs to be checked to pinpoint accuracy. tether08When tethered, your camera is connected to your computer or laptop via a USB or FireWire cable, so each image is immediately available on the computer screen for you to look at. I have used it for some macro work at home inside Adobe Lightroom 3 and 4 and had some fantastic results. Using a computer screen to check your images is also a great way to understand how the small screen on your camera can make mistakes. Checking the focusing on macro shots gives a whole new experience when you see the images on the big screen. It makes it easier to place lights, define framing and correct things because you see each flaw in your technique. If you’re using RAW expect for some delay for the images to appear on-screen as file sizes from the latest cameras are quite large.

Back to the subject of posing. Below are twenty ideas that will give you an insight in to what you might want to try when doing a studio shoot. Enjoy !!

  1. Don’t shoot shoulders square on. Shoulders are the widest part of a body and as a photographer it is our job to flatter the least flattering parts of our bodies. Shooting straight on is not flattering. Angle the shoulders slightly to lead the viewer into the photo.
  2. If it bends, then bend it. Don’t let your clients have straight joints. It looks stiff and un-relaxed. Asking your client instead to slightly bend an arm or walk as they have their photo taken will help your client look relaxed and naturally posed. This rule also applies to the neck. If the neck looks stiff, ask your client to tilt their head slightly.
  3. Shoot straight on, or better from above. Shooting from below a person makes even the most gorgeous subject look awkward. Shooting from above can make someone appear slimmer, eliminates double chins, and can provide a beautiful look into your subjects eyes. Shooting from below can make someone’s hips appear wider than they are or any other body part and this is generally unflattering.
  4. No up the nose. Sometimes we forget our perspective and as moms when we photograph newborns we look at them the way a mom would holding them and take a photo. Anytime you are shooting a face from below or at an angle, be careful you are not doing ‘up the nose’ shots where you can see up your client’s nostrils. This can happen during any type of photography, so it’s good to be aware.
  5. Sharkeyes. Sharkeyes are when someone’s eyes in a photo are black and have no light or color to them. Ensure that the eyes of your clients have good catch lights or sparkle to them by asking them to tilt their head or turn slightly one way or another. These small movements can give that sparkle to a client’s eye that can make or break a photo.
  6. Put weight on the back leg. Have clients angle their shoulders so they’re not square to your camera and put their weight on their back leg. This automatically makes them relax.
  7. Give your clients lots of direction. Most people are uncomfortable in front of the camera and you have to direct them. Giving them direction will help them feel confident and that confidence will show up in the photos.
  8. Let one pose become many. You can move your own feet, or zoom in or zoom out or move slightly to the side and take photos from different angles.
  9. Have your clients look places other than your camera. You can tell them to look away, look down over their shoulder, look past your camera to provide a different emotion to your photos.
  10. Give your clients encouragement. When they’re in front of the camera they can’t see what they look like and they need to know if they look good. When they hit a good pose or you’re taking photos that you know have hit the mark, let them know how good they look.
  11. Portraits are traditionally shot a few degrees above the eyes.
  12. Bring a stepladder with you to all your photography shoots and weddings.
  13. Talk to your clients. Getting to know them gives them a sense of trust with you. You want your subject to trust that you know what you’re doing and can make them look good.
  14. Sometimes people’s faces get stiff. Ask your clients to take a deep breath and breath out with their lips slightly open. The few moments after this your clients face will be relaxed and natural – so snap a few. If that doesn’t work, ask them to do the “pufferfish” face where they blow up their cheeks and then let it all out. That helps their face to relax too. If you do it with them, they won’t feel as silly.
  15. Give them something to do with their hands. They can touch their cheek, run their hands through their hair, put their hands on a nearby object…something.
  16. Show them what you mean. Instead of trying to tell your client how to pose, get in the pose to show them how you want it to look. You’re a photographer right? You are visual and probably learn visually and it’s likely that your clients are visual learners too!
  17. Be aware of ears. Shooting people straight on can make their ears appear large. With women if they are tucking their hair behind their ear or if their ear sticks out just slightly it can be one of those things that will bother them later in photos and can sometimes look distorted when in 2-dimensional photography form
  18. Get close. One of the biggest newbie mistakes is to shoot from far away and get lots of the background or landscape in the photo. This happens a lot when we’re not confident with posing. If you force yourself to get close the photo becomes more about the clients and their interactions with each other or with you than about the background.
  19. Limbs. If you are cropping out anyone’s body ensure that your crop lines do not fall at the joints (wrists, knees, elbows, etc.). When this happens it gives the appearance that the subject’s body does not continue past the frame of the photo. Instead if you have to crop, do it where there isn’t a join and this will give the impression that the rest of their arm, leg, etc. continues beyond the photo.
  20. Watch for shadows and light. There’s a reason a lot of photographers like to shoot in that ‘golden hour’ either in the wee hours in the morning or just before sunset. The light is even and not harsh and it prevents you from having strange shadows on your clients faces. Shadows below the nose or below the eyes can give your client the appearance of not being as good-looking as they truly are. Whatever time of day you are shooting aim to ensure that your clients faces are in perfectly even light where there are no harsh shadows. If you have to shoot in the middle of the day, shoot in the shade.

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