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Same subject, same lesson, different location

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A while back I wrote a blog about a trip to London to see Lee Evans and the impromptu photo session the morning after. If you cannot recall this, or maybe you havent read it then take a look here . To cut a long story short I was advised quite early in the morning of shooting images at Canary Wharf that I needed permission to shoot professionally at this location. Well as I wasnt shooting professionally and I had no intention of selling the images I couldnt see the problem. This moved on to them suggesting that I needed permission to use a tripod and would need public liability insurances for said tripod. Well, what a mess eh? In a way the police officers were right, the land at Canary Wharf is private property and a quick look on the website does in fact state that commercial photographers will require permission.

Why does a tripod, a long lens and the actual manner of looking like you know what you are doing make joe public think you are either a professional photographer or a member of the paparazzi? Answer…A sign of the time. My comment to this…does driving a 1984 Ford Escort make you a rally driver? Answer: No.

The very nice people at Strictly Yorkshire Photography Group had arranged a tea-time meet up at Clarence Dock in Leeds City Centre. If you are not familiar with this place then take a look here…(Wikipedia). This is a great locations for photography during the day but at night the scene is set for coloured lighting, awesome reflections, rippling water and countless silhouettes. Trip Advisor, Visit Leeds and various other tourism sites have good things to say about Clarence Dock including

“The docks are nice but nothing to rave about. However from behind it there is a really nice path through the canal. You can walk to Methley and even further enjoying the landscape. I highly recommend this if you have a day off with nice weather and a picnic”

“A pleasent walk on way to Royal Armouries, one can only imagine what this area must have looked like before it was re-developed. Seemed a very busy area, people taking boat trips, riding bikes or just sitting reading. Noticed nice selection of eateries.”

But no where in any of the reviews or details does it say you are not allowed to take photographs. This got me thinking how many images must there be on the internet of Clarence Dock and its waterways on the internet. My first port of call was flickr. Where I found this image and the quote “…this is one of my favourite locations in Leeds to come and test new (or old) camera equipment!” … mmmmm

The evenings photography had already started when I arrived and a few people were stood around arranging images and setting up tripods. I proceeded to do the same and within about 10 minutes of doing so I was approached by a security guard. His words to me were “Do you have permission to take photos?” to which I answered “Do I need permission?” he then began explaining that the land was private property but we could stand further back (approximately 20ft) and that was a public highway. Now this begs the question of signage. Surely if something is private property there must be a sign telling you so. There is a public footpath along side this area over Knights Bridge and within this area are local shops and restaurants i.e. Tesco, Mumtaz to name a couple.  If it was private proprty then surely this would limit access to the shopping area?

Looking at Google Images reveals thousands of images of Clarence Dock, even at night. The BBC Leeds website even praises and hosts an image by a local photographer from the exact location we were stood at. Our latest distant accquaintance “Mr Security Guard” whom incidentally refused to give us his name but insisted he had only worked here a week had stuck to his decision and insisted we couldnt take photographs.

I was tired, my head was in agony and as much as it was ideal for photography a clear night would have been so different. As the others headed off to find a new location, I headed back to my car and a short ride home with my single image. It wasnt a total waste of time but it just felt like Canary Wharf all over again.

Unlike Canary Wharf who have a website that clearly indicates that no commercial filming or photography is allowed, Clarence Dock has very little and the only item I can find relates to a company called “Allied London” who are a property developer who originally purchased the “New Dock” site.

Maybe one day I will find out. Until then, all photographers out there, watch what you are taking…..you never when you are on private property

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What a week……I helped, honest I did. Oh, I even took a sunset

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Ive been on a Twitter diet, a photo diet, a WordPress Blog diet. Everything seems to be taking a back seat at the moment. Don’t get me wrong, this is not a formal complaint its just a statement. A very alternative way of saying that I have been quite busy. Moving on to the whole point of this post and as I already said in the title…what a week it was. I don’t think I have spent so many hours behind my computer for many weeks. Lets work in reverse and start with the sunset last night. What a cracker too ! I looked outside at the last-minute and saw the sky. In a very bad place at the moment with my cameras, think its possible they have both joined forces and fallen out with me. Neither have batteries in them, if they did then the would be discharged of all power and be totally pointless. Two Compact Flash Cards sit on my desk with 48gb of Data on them waiting for back up so that just says everything.

I went to collect my son Scott from his scout meeting and I saw the colours. It looked quite impressive with the naked eye and I hastily pulled up at the side of the road to grab a shot with my mobile phone. The above is an unedited panorama with a Samsung Galaxy S3.  Nice colours I am sure you will agree.

So, lets jump back a few months…August last year in fact. I offered to put together a wedding album for two friends and its been sat in the “waiting to do column” for quite a while now so I decided to pull my finger out and sort it. Phil and Jan got hold of an album and I duly asked them to provide me with the dimensions of the pages. So, on Monday the huge design process began. Weddings can be a daunting scenario for any photographer and I have been in that position but what is a very strange scenario is building a wedding album using images that you didn’t actually take because you were not at the wedding. Anyway, many hours later the task was complete and my lovely friends at Pro Am provided the printing services as well as dispatching via courier too.

It has taken me two days to finish this post. I think I’ve got terribly lazy and not spending enough time behind this computer doing what I love. Time to fix the problem..get out and take some images. Kind of difficult when the rain is pouring and thunder and lightning are singing from the skies above.

Patience is a virtue. Anyway, I got one photo…even if it is a camera phone shot.

Have a nice day all..

Who turned the heating up?… A Mozzie

It was 34′ in my car this lunchtime. Memories of the Top Gear Africa Special came flooding back……this is a nice change though isnt it? Afterall, this is what Summer should be like. We have had so many bad ones over the last few years I think we have all forgotten what Summer actually is.

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I think the above image just sums up the last few years in a nutshell. Lets forget the weather for a minute and talk about its side effects. You may recall my insect bite last week that very nearly hospitalised me yet again. Seeing the little blighter hanging off my leg in hindsight I should have inspected it and then wrung its neck. However, a flick of the finger cut to the chase and sent it from here to oblivion in less than a second.

Years ago, we would have only associated Mosquitoes with the tropics and jungles of the world. Nowadays it appears these little menaces have become illegal immigrants and are now residing in our neighbourhood here in the United Kingdom. How rude and inconsiderate is that. So, have the British Summers been getting warmer? Well, it appears not…you only need to take a look at the statistics and see. So what about this little menace then….

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Complaints of mosquito bites are on the rise in the UK. So should Britons brace themselves for a future mosquito menace? Hovering perfectly at ear level with a lingering, bothersome whine, mosquitoes leave you with bites that lead to itchy, swollen welts. In much of the world, affected by malaria, repelling them is a matter of life and death. In the UK they are a mere annoyance, interrupting summer holidays and barbecues.

Based on a survey of UK local authorities, reports of mosquito bites over the last 10 years are 2.5 times greater than in the 10 years up to 1996. NHS Direct statistics show 9,061 calls in England complaining of bites and stings from early May this year to now – up nearly 15% from last summer. Not all bite complaints are due to mosquitoes – many can be attributed to bedbugs, midges and fleas. But conditions in the UK, particularly in southeastern England, are increasingly hospitable to mosquitoes. “The wet weather through May and June this year, along with a warm summer, has affected the population because mosquitoes like the standing breeding water,” says zoologist Michael Bonsall at Oxford University.

It’s difficult to track mosquito numbers accurately, but the UK authorities are trying to do so. The Health Protection Agency has organised the Mosquito Recording Scheme to look into where and how mosquitoes live and breed. And the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, with help from the HPA, has created Mosquito Watch, a voluntary reporting system geared towards collecting and analysing various specimens. Not only do mosquitoes swarm over pools of standing water, including bowls left outside for pets, they appear under man-hole covers and even travel on London’s Tube network.

But while mosquitoes transmit deadly diseases in many parts of the world, they do not cause major harm in the UK. They may spoil picnics in the park, but they are usually only a major problem when Britons travel to countries with malaria, dengue or other mosquito-borne diseases. But once upon a time, malaria-carrying mosquitoes could be found in the salt marshes of southeastern England.

It is believed that malaria – literally “bad air” – dates back at least to Roman times in the UK, and outbreaks occurred as recently as the years just following World War I. British doctor Ronald Ross, who discovered the malarial parasite living in the gastrointestinal tract of the Anopheles mosquito in the 19th Century, recruited teams to eliminate the larvae from stagnant pools and marshes.

Malaria in England had effectively died out by the 1950s, mostly due to the draining of much of the marshland where mosquitoes bred. But because of the growth of global travel, the number of imported cases of the disease in the UK has risen, with nearly 2,000 a year today.In many cases, live mosquitoes have been found on aircraft, or travelling in luggage, having been transported from countries with malaria. On rare occasions, people may even have contracted malaria in Europe and North America, dubbed “airport malaria”. Five of the 30-plus species of mosquito found in the UK are not native. One variety is coming alarmingly close to the UK. The Asian tiger mosquito – Aedes albopictus – known for its white and black striped pattern has been spotted as close as Belgium.

While the species does not carry malaria, it does transmit West Nile virus, Yellow fever and dengue. “It is possible that Aedes albopictus could make its way to the UK,” says Dr James Logan, medical entomologist at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. “Because they lay their drought-resistant eggs in transportable materials, like used tyres, there is a possibility that they can be transported to a country where they are not normally found. “Some studies suggest that they could survive the UK winter, however, to date this species has not been found in the UK and the HPA are keeping a watchful eye on it.” Bonsall agrees and adds that predictive models show how malaria-carrying species could even make their way to areas such as the North Kent marshes, Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk.

Mosquitoes are becoming immune to the insecticides used to treat them – via spray or bed nets, according to a recent study from Senegal. Between 2007 and 2010, insects with a resistance to a popular type of pesticide rose from 8% to 48%. “This could be a big problem for future control,” says Dr Hilary Ranson, head of the vector group at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.But according to Dr Logan, the health infrastructure and access to drugs in the UK means malaria is unlikely to take hold and cause major problems. Unlike much of the world, the rise of the mosquito will be a nuisance in the UK rather than a serious threat.

And for me, well…..if you have Cellulitis like I do, then you have a constant reminder of them 365 days a year. They are definitely on my Facebook block list.

Thanks for reading.

Excerpts of Article from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-14613140

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

A rapid change of plan….

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Model: Jemima Robinson

Occasionally I need a kick-start, but then again doesn’t everyone? Maybe if you were to answer this truthfully and actually say “no” then subsequently email me; I would realise the problem is actually me. Once again we are heading mid way through the month of July and the photo count is quite stale.

There was the faintest glimmer however, a friend of mine Stephanie got in touch last week and asked if could take some photos of the hats she had designed. Well, firstly I never turn down the opportunity to help a friend and secondly when given the chance to get in to the studio how could I refuse.

I was introduced to three lovely models Jemima Robinson, Rebecca May and a very nice lady that to this day remains nameless. A whole day shooting a subject that I can honestly say I have no experience in shooting before….Hats ! Yes, hats.

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Model: Rebecca May

I have to say these models were absolutely fantastic at their jobs. They made 1500 images roll through my camera like a breath of fresh air. With a large space to work in, air conditioning and every facility you could ask for it was like a dream. A big thank you to Margaret Woodliff-Wright (Hats) , Stephanie Murie (Hats) and Martina Peluso (Make-up) for the assistance during the day and also a big thank you to the technicians from Leeds College of Art for the lighting and equipment.

I have now created a dilemma. As I know from many past shoots, the selection process is probably as hard as the shoot itself. Having said that, having never subjected actual hats before things weren’t as easy as first thought. It quite easy to drift “off-topic” and shoot the model for her qualities leaving the hat to fall by the wayside. It just took a couple of frames to knock me back on the right track, redirecting my focus on the hat as opposed to the glamour side of the photography.

All three models were fantastic at modelling the hats and gave the images every quality that was required.

If you have never photographed in a studio environment before it can be very nerve-racking. Throughout my years as a photographer I have used many studios and lighting set-ups but I have to say the crew at Leeds College of Art have got the dogs doo dahs of set ups. I took a couple of images using my phone of the studio setup, these are posted below.

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Leeds College of Art, Studio

Leeds College of Art, Studio

Leeds College of Art, Studio

A great day’s shooting, somewhere totally different. Thanks for the opportunity.

Fundraising is a family affair for mum of three

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And the moonbeams kiss the sea…..

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The fountains mingle with the river

And the rivers with the ocean,

The winds of heaven mix for ever

With a sweet emotion;

Nothing in the world is single,

All things by a law divine

In one another’s being mingle –

Why not I with thine?

 

See the mountains kiss high heaven

And the waves clasp one another;

No sister-flower would be forgiven

If it disdain’d its brother:

And the sunlight clasps the earth,

And the moonbeams kiss the sea –

What are all these kissings worth,

If thou kiss not me?

I think Canon consulted me before printing this….

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She’s home….

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She’s home…..my lovely car has been finally returned from the Body Repair Centre. Nearly five weeks of driving a Seat Leon Diesel have left me missing my Astra. I shouldnt complain really, courtesy cars aren’t that bad and I suppose they are a life saver if you really need a car. My car went to the insurance companies recommended repairers in Leeds and has been away for nearly five weeks. As you will already know, this has happened before in the same place with a different car. I wrote a post on it a while back here to save me going in to detail.

Happy Me !!!

The story behind a photo…..

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Over the years that I have been taking photographs, many people have asked me questions. Not just at clubs and social events but also whilst in the act of taking the image itself. The questions vary from the obvious “What are you taking a photograph of” to the more direct “Why do you need a picture of that”. Most are polite, friendly and always up for a quick chat, usually about their attempt at photography at some point in life. One of the more topical conversations, especially amongst the older generation is discussing the difference between traditional film and digital photography.

It can be quite hard to justify the benefits of modern technology when in deep conversation with someone who started photography as a teenager during the war. Someone who has had experienced world wars and seen photography move from 12 exposure roll film to the modern-day memory card. In their eyes there was nothing wrong with the traditional method. In the end the outcome was that they got what they wanted. There was no automatic exposure, no scene modes and light metering was limited to either a pocket version or if you were lucky your camera would have a guidance built-in. But the images were exemplary….always exemplary.

Without drifting too far off track I will get back to the image above. I didn’t have many shots of the Humber Bridge in my library, in fact I think the last one I got was on slide film back in the eighties. So an opportunity to spend a day on Humberside was never going to be turned down. I knew what I was looking for before the day even dawned. The weather forecast was quite good with a few scattered clouds thus giving some great light. Referring to the picture above, this was the angle that I had based my ideas upon. Without an ultra wide-angle lens getting the whole bridge in one shot from this location is impossible. Below is a screen shot from Google Earth showing the angle and location it was taken from.

Capture
For clarification the map is rotated to show the angle of the shot, and the North Bank of the river is at the bottom. There were a number of elements that I had set out as “must-be’s” for this capture. Firstly, the sky had to be at least 70% blue, this was so I could make it a rich black when converting to monochrome. I wanted the image to look top-heavy with the sky. Secondly there had to be some cloud content . Third, there had to be something in the image to show scale. Finally I wanted as much of the bridge in the frame as possible. This is how I tackled the ideas.

1. Firstly, the sky had to be at least 70% blue, this was so I could make it a rich black when converting to monochrome. This was something that I knew was totally out of my control. It would have worked if they had been a little more cloud cover but anything more and I would have had no chance. If you know what I am getting at then fair comment, but for you readers that have never come across filters and the effects they have on your images here is a small introduction on the effects in monochrome. In traditional film work filters were usually added to the front of the camera lens to give the desired effect. In this instance a red filter was applied to the image to darken the blue sky and add more contrast to the scene. It also darkens the reflected sky in the water too without affecting the whites in the image. As I am sure you will agree it certainly gives a dramatic look to the scene.

2. Secondly there had to be some cloud content Yes, the blue sky would have worked alone minus the clouds but in my opinion it was always going to look so much better with some fluffy whites in there. They seem to add another dimension to the whole picture. We slate them when there are too many and we cannot see the sun but in images like this, sunset and sunrises alike clouds make the shot.

3. Third, there had to be something in the image to show scale I was too close to capture anything going over the bridge from this angle so a few shots were obtained from further down the river, this obviously meant I had lost the angle and the along with it the whole point of the exercise. Having pondered for a while I decided that there was only one thing that would show the scale and size of this enormous structure and that was a boat. The waterway wasnt that busy but patience paid off and I got what I was looking for. I would have preferred it to have had a sail hoisted but beggars can’t be choosers can they. I waited for the boat to pass exactly under the bridge, but somehow it didn’t quite look right sitting near the shadow. I waited and tried a few in different positions. In the end I was quite happy with this as it sits on the second and third intersection of the image.

By putting the horizon low in the frame it allowed the expanse of the bridge and the underside of the roadway to complete the picture. I hope you like it and the small description that goes along with it. It was only ever going to be a monochrome shot and once you envisage something its only a case of trial and error until you get it spot on.

The image details are as follows:

Camera: Canon EOS 50D
Lens: Canon EF-28-135mm F3.5/5.6 USM IS
Aperture F10
Exposure 1/320 sec
Focal Length 28mm
ISO Speed 125
Exposure BIAS 0 EV
EXIF Date July 21, 2012. 10:56 am

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