Sunday, 28 June 2009

Canon PowerShot G10

The last week has been incredibly hectic and also most satisfying with what I've been able to achieve. On Thursday I spent some time planning content for a series of workshops, master classes and photo walks which I'll soon be launching. Part of the preparation involved me walking one of my favourite parts of the South Downs near Brighton where there's a spectacular range of British orchids, which on this occasion presented a stunning photo opportunity. I didn't have too much kit with me, just my trusty Canon PowerShot G10, and as American photographer Chase Jarvis would say, when asked "What's the best camera?" - "The one that's with you!".

In this case it proved to be an asset as it has the most amazing macro setting for such a small camera. The controls and menus are easy to use and access, making it a constant photography companion.

The first photograph below is of a Fly Orchid Ophrys insectifera.

200 ISO, 21.5 mm, f4 @ 1/160th sec

This frame is cropped from the centre of a landscape format shot which has been processed in Adobe Camera Raw, with a little additional sharpening in Photoshop CS4. The next frame is of a Bee Orchid Ophrys apifera.

200 ISO, 25 mm, f4.5 @ 1/500th sec

This is a crop from substantially the full frame which here shows the plant at bigger than life-size. even though there was bright sunshine, these specimens were all found in open shade which provided a wonderful soft light, which fortunately for me didn't require any fill-flash or reflection.

And finally, the Pyramidal Orchid Anacamptis pyramidalis

200 ISO, 13.8 mm, f4 @ 1/320th sec

I have to confess to being lazy with the Canon PowerShot G10 - I use it almost exclusively in "P" or program mode, which I've never done with a camera until now. I have had to adapt my shooting technique to accommodate the 3.0” PureColor LCD which I now use more than the optical viewfinder.

When making shots like this you must use some form of support. Even though I didn't have tripod or beanbag, I rested my arm on my back pack on the ground which provided enough support to prevent the camera movement which can spoil shots like this. Supported hand-held shots like this takes practice, but with experience you can get incredibly sharp images.

Amongst the workshops I'll be running soon will be one on how to keep your camera steady in a wide variety of situations that you're likely to encounter. At the workshop you'll get the opportunity to try out all sorts of camera supports and practice a variety of techniques.

All my workshops and master classes will place emphasis on practical application - learn by doing, with the absolute minimum of "chalk & talk"!

For those of you interested in learning more about your Canon PowerShot G10, Park Cameras are running a "Get to Know Your G10 " course at their Burgess Hill training centre on the 30th July. The fee for this one day course will be £79.00, so book your place soon.

Friday, 19 June 2009

Jamie's Headshot

Here's a quick head shot I did for my friend Jamie who acts on stage and in a load of corporate video productions. He needed a new and up to date head shot for his book and agent. Normally I would have shot this in the studio, but we couldn't move for hundreds of items of jewellery for a website catalogue. So I had no option but to shoot it outside and without any supplementary lighting.

If you click on the image you'll see a much larger version which gives you an idea of the quality that can be achieved with the Canon EOS 50D and a prime 50 mm f1.4 lens. Also, note the very shallow depth of field (DoF) - the tip of his nose and ears are out of focus with his eyes pin sharp. This shot was exposed hand-held at ISO 200, f2.8, 1/1600th sec. The main light source was daylight diffused by grey cloud with a big (6' x 3') California Sunbounce Pro silver reflector held below and in front of Jamie's chest.

On this day I was lucky enough to be helped by student on work experience who acted as my human interactive lighting stand. The trouble is, the wind got up and I had visions of her being blown away like a kite whilst still holding the Sun Bounce Pro. Would have made a great shot;-)



Brighton Worldwide Photo Walk 2009

Here's a short teaser video we've put together for the walk on the 18th July. Ben & I shot it entirely as stills on a Canon EOS 50D with 50 mm f1.4 lens and a Canon EOS 5D MkII with a 24 - 105 mm f4 IS L Series zoom lens and then handed the images to Steve Paton for editing - this what you get when you know a guy who cuts commercials for a living!

Have a great weekend.


Monday, 15 June 2009

Banksy's Bristol Show

Banksy has gone home to Bristol. The secret show being prepared at Bristol Museum has finally been revealed.

In a rare statement Banksy said "The people in Bristol have always been very good to me - I decided the best way to show my appreciation was by putting a bunch of old toilets and some live chicken nuggets in their museum...This is the first show I’ve ever done where taxpayers’ money is being used to hang my pictures up rather than scrape them off."

The BBC reported: "Graffiti artist Banksy has unveiled his most ambitious British project to date, a made over museum in his home town of Bristol. Staged in the council-owned City Museum and Art Gallery, Banksy v Bristol Museum was such a closely guarded secret even senior councillors were unaware of the plans, while visitors and staff were told that filming had been taking place. The exhibition features animatronics, installations and a sensory display."

Now's the time to find an excuse to visit Bristol!


Thursday, 11 June 2009

Park Cameras Celebrate 1st Anniversary

On Saturday 13th June, Park Cameras celebrate the 1st anniversary of the opening of their new store in Burgess Hill. Be sure to go along as there will some crazy offers available in store only along with representatives from over 40 leading brands, a huge range of seminars, demonstrations, prizes, give-aways and savings on School of Photography courses.


Are Your Online Images Safe?

Theft of images is becoming more widespread with the advent of the various photo-sharing websites. One US family have just discovered that one of their family photographs has been used as an advertising post in a Prague supermarket.

Read more here:

If you regularly upload images to photo-sharing websites then it's best to visibly watermark your images with the international copyright symbol and reduce the file size which will reduce the probability of an image being lifted for commercial use as it will not be a usable size and it will need serious retouching.

Here's an example of a watermarked image from a recent show I was involve with:

I haven't got the time to go into watermarking and resizing images today, but will do so sometime soon.

Have a great day.


Saturday, 6 June 2009

Litepanels LP-Micro Video Light

For some time now I've worked as part of a multi-disciplined stills and video production team at Paul Noble Photographic in Burgess Hill. I must say I'm lucky enough to work with a very talented team from a large drive-in studio with loads of facilities and kit. When I'm not working with Paul, which these days isn't often, I have a small studio/office at home, where I'm in the process of developing a series of hands-on photography workshops and master-classes aimed at enthusiast photographers at all levels. More on this very soon.

Over the last few weeks we've been using the Litepanels LP Micro on a series of stills and video projects. The Lp Micro is a great little piece of kit which so far has survived the rigours of professional production. First impressions are that it's a little "plasticky" but don't let that put you off, though I don't know if it would survive a long fall onto a hard surface!

The LP Micro provides a good level of illumination when working indoors away from windows or with low ambient lighting and will act as good kicker to get a catch-light into a presenters eyes when working on camera, but not in bright sunlight. Here, I still resort to a good pop-up reflector for that!

Below are a few frames from an agency job we did a couple of weeks ago where Paul shot video, with Ben & I doing the stills.

Canon EOS 5D MK II, 24 - 105 mm f4 IS L Series lens at 105 mm
ISO 400, f5.6, 1/320 sec

Outside on the video camera the LP Micro was fine as a kicker when we were working close-in, at a couple of feet. When working further away and if you're working with an assistant, or your client is standing around with nothing better to do, why not get them to hold the LP Micro just out of frame? In my experience, some clients enjoy getting involved.

Canon EOS 5D MK II, 24 - 105 mm f4 IS L Series lens at 105 mm
ISO 400, f5.6, 1/500 sec

It came into its' own when I had to shoot still inside of the lorry cab; with a 1/4 CTO the LP Micro provided just the right balance with daylight coming through the windscreen and the top light from the cab interior.

Canon EOS 5D MK II, 24 - 105 mm f4 IS L Series lens at 24 mm
ISO 400, f11, 1/20 sec

What you can't see here is the rain - it tipped down for the early part of the day, so I made good use of my trusty Kata Rain & Elements cover E702, which is just too short for my Canon 100 - 400 mm f5.6 IS L series tele-zoom. I've now solved the problem by obtaining th extension sleeve kit E704.

Still frame grabbed from Canon G10 movie

Ben & I are working on an ongoing portrait project Faces of Business where we've used the Litepanels LP Micro on a few of the shots. Watch this space and I'll show you some of the images in the future.

Have a great weekend and if you're in England and out making, creating or even taking photographs be sure to have your Kata Rain & Elements cover handy as where I am the heavens have opened and it's pouring rain.


Friday, 5 June 2009

Worldwide Photo Walk, Brighton - Update

Now's the time to sign up for this event on the 18th July as Park Cameras have agreed to give every participant on my Brighton walk a £10.00 (yes, ten pounds, not Euros or Dollars) to spend in their Burgess Hill store.

So far the event this year is exceeding all expectations with over 9,000 participants and 650 cities taking part. I'm sure glad I'm not the one trawling through the images to select the outright winner.



Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Canon EOS 5D Mark II Firmware Update Ver. 1.1.0

I've taken a short break with my family for the last few days and as consequence have been out of touch. In some ways it's bliss having limited or no access the Internet, but today I'm paying the price - 500 or so emails to review. Thankfully, not too many requiring a response.

Anyway, I've only just managed to download the Canon EOS 5D Mark II Firmware Update Ver. 1.1.0 from:

I'll do the upgrade shortly and report back my findings in a few days.