30 Sep 2010

Images from the Forest

I am just incredibly pleased with this image. It's everything I wanted it to be. And I took it as an afterthought, after I'd loaded Misty into the car and had started the engine to go. I looked out of the windscreen and saw this stand of dying plants and got right back out again. The focus is absolutely spot on and you can even clearly see the cobweb attached to the plant. I know, I know - I'm blowing my own trumpet!

This is one of many dead trees on the forest that I've kept meaning to photograph. I would have photographed the whole tree which has been nibbled away by deer at the bottom to the stage where it won't be long before it just falls over for lack of support.  But I thought the skeleton needed clear sky behind it to show up its starkness.

I saw these huge mushrooms and decided to make them an exercise in exposure. I was looking for as much depth of field as I could get so they could be seen in the context of their surroundings. I'm quite pleased but the focus has fallen off right at the front I think. It was taken at f/32, 1/50 sec, ISO 400.

28 Sep 2010

The Creative Exchange - week one

My offering for The Creative Exchange is this dead leaf, just clinging on to the plant before it falls. I can't remember the name of the plant but the leaves are very large. I was experimenting with isolating one thing against a blurred background and I'm quite pleased with it. I'm not sure about the green leaf showing behind - I think it detracts a bit from the washed out tones of the rest of the photograph. But it's early days and I think this is the most creative offering I have so far. I'm pleased with the focus - just what I wanted.

And the main thing is I'm really enjoying myself :-)

27 Sep 2010

Out and about with my new lens

Today my new lens arrived - 55-250mm EF-S 4.0-5.6. I know it's not the sharpest kid on the block but it's a start for me to experiment with. I'm exploring the wonderful world of Canon lenses and making myself a wishlist on Evernote.

 I was trespassing with my Irish Wolfhound round a fishing lake, looking for pictures to take when this crow started yelling at the top of its voice from a branch right by us, alerting all the fishermen. We beat a hasty retreat!
I spent a long time on my knees in the garden experimenting with different exposures for this shot. I'm not really that happy with it but it was the best of the bunch. Shot at f/22, 1/13 sec, ISO 800.

I couldn't resist these colourful peony leaves - a sure sign that autumn's well on its way.

I have one more shot from the day's experiments which I'm saving for tomorrow and White Cotton Tee's new Creative Exchange challenge. It's my absolute favourite and I have to admit a little surge of pleasure every time I look at it. It feels like a step forward. Watch this space...

26 Sep 2010


This post is in response to The Sunday Creative challenge. This week the prompt is 'Nothing', which caused me much thought and pondering with the help of a few glasses of my favourite red wine! Eventually I came up with this photograph which I'm going to call 'Nothing lasts forever'. The rather maudlin title probably comes from the red wine...

24 Sep 2010

Visual Chinese Whispers 2

Aha - look what I made from Justine's eggs! I knew I had this somewhere :-)

Chinese Whispers

Gull at Whitby
This photo is in response to Justine Gordon's chinese whispers challenge. It's quite an old photo taken several years ago with my old Canon EOS 300. I searched all my photos and couldn't find anything suitably eggy but Justine's eggs definitely look like gull's eggs to me!!

23 Sep 2010

Pine Cone

I'm still experimenting with exposures and have been wanting to photograph this strangely beautiful pine cone for a  long time now. It's been sitting on my window sill for many months after I found it in the woods. It's as if it half opened and then changed its mind and decided to go back to sleep. I may use it as a model again when I start collecting lenses. For now it's back on my window sill.

To photograph it I took it outside and put it down on our patio area which, as you can see, has grown quite a bit of moss. I have a small table and chairs out there and the moss carpet makes it very special to me. My husband is mumbling about getting some dreadful chemical out to kill the moss while we're away on holiday. Grrrrr...

22 Sep 2010

Decaying Rose and Exposure Experiment

I'm killing three birds with one stone today. I did say, when I posted the picture of my autumn rose a week ago that I'd record its decay.  I also said a couple of days ago that I'd posted my last pictures on my old camera and the next would be on my new 550D. And I'm currently reading Bryan Peterson's Understanding Exposure which I'm loving for its down-to-earth, non-technical speak.

This is my rose, looking rather brown around the edges and a little less than perky. It was taken at f/5, 1/400 sec., ISO 400. The exercise was to start at the widest aperture, adjust the shutter speed until a correct exposure was indicated and take the picture. Then reduce by one stop, adjust shutter speed and take another picture and so on through all the f stops available.

This is the final exposure at f/32, 1/13 sec., ISO400. Obviously the exercise is to show how to use the aperture setting creatively, either producing shallow or great depth of field. I didn't use a tripod which is why the position of the rose is slightly different.

The lens I'm using at the moment is the original 18-55 EF-S lens from my old EOS 300D which I sold years ago. I'm waiting for a 55-250 zoom to arrive and will then start saving my pennies for the 10-22 EF-S. Both of these are relatively cheap but have reasonably good reviews and will get me started. One day I may feel I've advanced enough to get a couple of really good lenses. May have a look at the 50mm prime lens recommended by Justine Gordon!

20 Sep 2010

Cars and Aeroplanes

These are the last photographs taken with my Sony NEX-5. I collected my new Canon 550D today and as I write this the battery's charging up!

These were all taken at the Goodwood Revival meeting. For those of you who don't know, this is held annually at the Goodwood racing circuit in Sussex, UK. The three-day event features racing cars from the 1940s, '50s and '60s. There are also vintage aircraft from World War II, some of which take part in flying displays and 'dog fights' over the circuit.

This photograph of a flying boat was taken from the rear, looking up along the fuselage to the twin engines. I was shooting into the sun and was a bit worried about exposure but I think it looks fine after a couple of small tweaks in PSE.

This is a bonnet ornament on the water tank cap of an old car. I wish I could tell you what it was but, stupidly, I forgot to take something to make notes in about my photos. I think my husband who was with me might have been a bit cross if I'd taken too long over my photography too. It's best to try and do serious photography on your own, especially when you're on a learning curve!

This is the famous Jaguar bonnet ornament, instantly recognizable. I quite like the reflections in the headlight. I took another shot straight on which had a nice symmetrical arrangement of lights on and around the grille but it did't work out as well as I'd hoped.

It was a great day out - not too hot but mainly sunny. I found that shadows got in the way of a lot of the shots I wanted to take - there were a lot of people there and the shadows confused many of my attempts.

The next photos I post will be taken with my new best friend!

15 Sep 2010

Autumn Rose

There's something about these lovely autumn roses that invokes a nostalgia for the summer that's just gone. This one is so beautiful and so delicate that I just had to capture it before its petals start to fall. I'll try to photograph it through the phases of its decline if the wind doesn't cause that to happen too quickly.

I set up the shot using aperture priority using a large aperture to blur the background but the shutter didn't seem to be able to set itself automatically - it was continually overexposing. So I set it to full manual and this worked fine. I wonder why that is.

But I've decided to upgrade my camera to a Canon EOS 550D because I'm so enjoying photographing again I thought I'd get a really nice, versatile camera while I can. The huge choice of lenses definitely influenced my decision plus the fact that I had an EOS 300 some years ago and just loved it although I'm hoping this new one will be a little lighter. I think I have to make a compromise between versatility and weight.

13 Sep 2010

Autumn Berries

Suddenly the hedgerows are full of berries, a sure sign that autumn really is on its way. I hate the fact that summer's coming to a close but autumn is a season of such wonderful colours that I always get excited about the first signs of leaves turning to red and gold. That hasn't happened yet and the trees still have their late summer green hues; it isn't the fresh green of spring now though, but a duller, darker green as if they're building up their energy for the competition to be the brightest, most over-the-top tree on the block!

I'm still playing around with my new camera, trying out different settings. I prefer to use full manual because then I can see what I'm setting up and can try to figure out why. I still need to get more experience with focusing, especially with shallow depth of field. I would have liked the bunch of berries above to have stood out against a more blurred background so I have a lot more experimenting to do yet.

The wonderful colour of the leaves in this last photograph caught my eye; they were in the middle of a hedge dividing two fields and all around was green except for this burst of pink. I have no idea what it is - at first I thought it had berries on it but when I got closer I saw that they are delicate little seed pods. Ain't nature grand!!

9 Sep 2010

Experiments with reflections

I've been experimenting today with taking photographs of reflections. Nothing very arty yet like reflections in water. I tried that yesterday but it was so overcast and dull the photographs were too dark.

The reflections theme is in response to Kat's challenge on her wonderful blog. It's also part of an exercise I'm doing on bracketing which is where you set up the camera to take three quick shots of the image, one with the settings you choose and the other two +7 or -7 (or +3 and -3). Then you can compare the different exposures and choose the best picture. I'm really chuffed to say that my manual setting was the best of the three for this shot.

I love the colours (or lack of colours) in this photo. It's almost black and white but not. It's a corner of my bedroom which is in the loft so the light comes in strongly and is reflected round the white walls. The strong frame of the mirror makes a good composition I think.

I'm a little embarrassed about this experiment because I hate having pictures of myself taken - I'm totally un-photogenic! But sticking a camera in front of my face makes me a little easier with including it.

Getting the exposure right was a bit of a balancing act which inevitably ended in a compromise. I wanted to be able to show the intricate carving on the little mirror (which I love) but unfortunately doing that made the image in the mirror somewhat over-exposed. This was at the other end of my bedroom, next to another window and the sunlight coming in was very strong. I may try it again when the light's less harsh.

8 Sep 2010

Natural patterns

This is a photograph I took last year on a beach in Scotland. I love the patterns in the rock formations and the subtle differences in the colours.

It was a sunny day and there was a deep shadow on the left of the photograph which obscured some of the beauty of the rock forms. I adjusted it in Photoshop Elements and I think it looks OK now. I'm a rank amateur as far as taking photographs is concerned so I'm always worried that I haven't got it quite right.

I also find it difficult working on the laptop because if I alter the angle of the screen it alters the colours and contrast in the image. I guess the only way to really find out if it's right is to print it out properly on decent photo paper. But since this is most likely to only ever be viewed on a computer screen the problem remains.

I've been taking lots of photos recently because I have a new camera, a Sony NEX-5. I have two lenses for it - a 16mm pancake lens and an 18-55 zoom. The only other one they make for the camera is an 18-200 zoom, although there is a convertor which makes the whole range of Sony a lenses plus some Minolta lenses available. I'm thinking about Christmas and need to have a plan of action ready in case someone decides to give me a lens!! I shall have to do some research...