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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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Skyline 2013 (No.1)

Sunset from Yeadon - 8th February 2013

Sunset from Yeadon – 8th February 2013

Its been quite a scarce thing has the sunset in Leeds over the last few weeks. The weather certainly hasn’t helped on that front but when you compare it to last year January was pretty good when it came to available light for photography. One hundred and sixty-eight images posted to Flickr for the month. As opposed to the seventy-four from this year that’s a stark contrast for me. Above is the view from my living room window, during the months of September through to March I can see the setting sun. Out of those dates the sun sets too far to the north and west to be visible.  If you like sunsets and the colour of the sky, why not take a look at a complete set of my low light images here – Any comments will be most welcome. Enjoy

Do what the man says….

Yaaay …. I’m back ! Well, the PC is back. Its alive, its working and all is good in the hood. A massive thank you to Andy, its been a long time since we saw each other but this guy went out of his way to help. In the end, it wasnt as serious as first thought and a small purchase from my favourite PC retailer solved it. RAM or random access memory if you are not in the know. What does it look like..well let me show you.

So there you go. That was the problem. I was trying to squeeze a double-decker bus under a low bridge in record time doing 70 miles per hour and it just didn’t like it or fit in the buses case. I can understand why now. I don’t know about you but opening a box containing circuits and hard drives, fans and wires, lots of wires actually, coloured ones as well scares the living daylights out of me really. I can identify what all the bits do, I was brought in to computers in 1982 by a very nice teacher at school called Mr Gaffney. If I recall we were the first school year to have this type of education back then. It was fantastic learning about flow charts and binary, it made sense at the time but it was very difficult to associate it with anything outside the classroom. Logic…now that’s a word isn’t it? That’s what it’s all about. Anyway, without drifting off track; I absolutely loved Computer Studies, it taught me how to program and how to understand computers. And in the end I came out with a GCSE and an A grade. I find it really funny now, since my first computer which was a Sinclar ZX81  ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ZX81 ) people not in the know have always seemed to turn towards me for help. I wonder if computing over the years has always been and still is one of those “you either know it or you don’t” scenarios. Over the years its done me well, don’t get me wrong here I don’t know it all, in fact thats quite rash because I know sweet Felicity Arkwright compared to most after all you only need to read what happened over the last few days to work out that I needed help and I will be the first to admit it. Many times I have been offered a couple of quid or a freebie of some variety for popping round and performing the simplest of tasks on the hosts PC, walking away feeling very happy with what had been a simple task for me and my pockets lined with english pounds.

To give you an example of my incompetence, before Christmas I installed Windows 8 and I loved it, I then went on to have a new hard drive installed and that’s when it went wrong. My initial thought was to blame myself for something I had done, this is despite the fact I hadn’t done anything. It seemed an easy way out. Elaine has seen me like this before, she know what it does to me when the PC is not playing ball. I become quiet and seem to retract inside myself if that makes sense and as much as I will deny that anything is bothering me she knows, it’s a wifes intuition I am sure of it. The very sad fact is, I know what I am like, I don’t think I am happy until it’s the way I want it, and the repercussions of this involve me messing and tinkering until it does what I want. The internet is a massive resource for finding things out but it’s not always the best. In past instances its proved to be my downfall; believing what I read and standing by it until it all goes tits up and then there is no one else to blame but yours truly. This is all by the by now as my machine is alive and kicking. No screen flickers, no sudden shut downs and an up turn in performance.

January was a terrible month for photography. In past years I have managed over 2000 images, blue skies and sunshine been the reason. When you have taken images of places in all weathers it’s very hard to muster up ideas for something different especially when you seem confined to barracks wrestling with a poorly PC. This has an added effect of ” What will I do with the images if I take them as I have no PC”. It’s a non starter really, so I didn’t bother. For almost one whole month I have had my photography brain switched off and used what very little I have had in ideas on writing this blog. But, and that’s a big but…Here I am ready to start editing. And, in the future I am going to try listening for once and doing as the man says……… I think!

S N O W …… yay. I do not think so.

It is my worst nightmare….let me explain. A number of years ago my lovely, shiny new Vauxhall Vectra was parked on our street, kerb side, overnight. Nothing wrong with that I hear you say. Well, you would be quite correct under normalMy worst nightmare...."watch that car mister"circumstances except that very night the snow came down heavy. As we live on a steep hill,  drivers not familiar with the area often decide (ego related) that they can challenge the snow-covered hill as it’s a shortcut. A quick route from Harrogate Road and Green Lane through to Yeadon. To the ambitious driver it must be some ill-fated attempt at competing in their own version of the RAC Rally. As a resident, its down right annoying and even dangerous too.

On this particular day in question, the 2nd February 2009 I was the owner of a very nice Vauxhall Vectra Sri in Black. The car was 9 months old and in lovely condition. It was 8am and the kids were getting ready for school. I was just about to get out of bed and the cry came from the upstairs landing “someones crashed in to your car”….ouch! I thought this was a joke at first as I looked at Elaine. No jokes please, I’ve heard them all.

A car had come down the hill, in thick snow,  hit the camber of the road, slid to the right under very poor braking action only to find a stopping place at the other side of the road. This stopping place can only be described one way: My car ! Enough said. My lovely new car had been subjected to torture by a careless individual who didn’t appear to have the slightest concern what so ever.

You can understand my feelings, I am sure you can. Those are words best kept away from public domain. Elaine and I have a philosophy now; park the cars on the other side of the road when it forecasts snow. This way, any car driver that appears to be one sandwich short of a picnic and dares to drive down a hill that is 1:5 can crash in to a kerb-stone and damage the steering and wheel rims instead of our cars. Last night, in hearing the weather forecast I moved my car to the opposite side of the road, where it has been parked all day.



Looking at the damage, I suppose you can understand the problem and the trouble it causes. It’s not just the damage, it’s the cost of the insurance advance, the inconvenience and then the hassle of getting a hire care that’s so small I will need a can opener to get in and out. On top of that, I need to rip the front seats out of a Fiat Cinquecento and sit in the back, all this so my feet will reach the pedals without having them wrapped around my neck twice. I’m exaggerating I know, but that’s what it feels like. Anyway, as I write this blog post, I can hear the snow melting. My car is on the other side of the road, keeping Elaine’s’ KA company for a change. Where it will stay until the danger has passed. Its forecast freezing temperatures this evening so it could mean an icy start for all in the morning.  As for my car, well.. I will be much happier if it stays in one piece.

Thanks for reading….Night all.

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