Friday, 31 July 2009

Clarity given by MET for UK journalists (blogger, that's you!)

The MET have re-issued their guidance about interfering with "journalists" and their cameras.

Hope for all UK bloggers

Many have cried "that's ok for journalists but what about the rest of us?"

I believe that this is great news for many more than National Union of Journalists (NUJ) journalists.

I blog therefore I am (a journalist)

Because of this blog I class myself as a journalist. The guidance given by the MET doesn't include a definition of what a journalist is, and I see no reason why the widely accepted notion that many bloggers are journalists should not apply.

To make it clear, I intend to design, print and laminate a journalists badge to wear when the occasion demands. For me, that is any time when I'm out and about with my camera. I am, after all, a photojournalist by the mere fact of being a blogger who posts photos.

My purpose may be to record places or sights for historic record purposes, architectural interest or as a photo essay with an art bent. These and many other purposes are, to me, journalistic endeavours, making me or any exponent, a journalist.

Do you see any flaw in that?

comment / discussion welcome

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Yaay—got published by the BBC! (again)

I was really pleased that one of my photos has been published by the BBC on their In Pictures site.

I submitted it for their Time theme—mine's the graceful old ladies of the sea shot.

If you've been following me for a while, you'll also know that the BBC featured me and my Urban Decay, Lost Spaces and Urban Ugliness photo essay on their website.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Freebie prize draw reminder

Just coming up to the July draw date (to be held on Sat 1st Aug) - three of my signed, matted prints up for grabs.

Hat Of Wonder And Hope

Remember, to be in it to win it, you must follow this blog and be a friend. If you've joined I should already have sent you a friend request. If I didn't or you missed it, send me one and I'll accept.

Boost your chances

Once your name's in the Hat, here's ways of getting more copies in— one for each one of:
  • Vote up an image with the "Recommend it" button
  • Review any image
  • Post a comment on my wall
  • Comment on a blog entry
You'll find the images in my main site's mono, colour and flora galleries.

NB For the eager - only "proper" comments or reviews will count!

Good Luck everyone :)

My oops corrected!

Voting is now open!

Please vote for my entry in the Saatchi And Saatchi head to head competition - no registration required.

I'm looking for wider recognition

Like many artists I'm looking for wider exposure for my work. Right now and in the near future, the Saatchi And Saatchi Online Gallery is running a number of rounds of voting for the artists taking part.

If you've enjoyed my work, please take the time to vote for my entry and help me get that recognition / exposure. It should only take a couple of seconds — no registration required.

Thanks a lot if you can find the time to help me out :)

Monday, 27 July 2009

One from the beach

I made this capture a couple of summers back around this time of year. I thought it would be a good example of how there are shots everywhere—you just need the right frame of mind, to keep yourself open to suggestions coming from your environment ...and to have your camera with you :)

Footprints and a shed seagull feather

Temporary Canvas, Bantham, Devon, 2007

I was at Bantham beach (a gorgeous spot where the River Avon in Devon meets the sea) at the tail end of a fairly quiet mid-week day. Camera in hand I was just seeing what turned up.

It was heading towards the golden hour and the beach was getting deserted—one of the few folks I passed who wasn't either leaving or packing was another photographer, setting up his tripod amongst the receding waves. It had been a quiet enough day and that meant that the far and of the beach didn't really get much in the way of visitors, leaving the sand relatively undisturbed.

Concept

The sight of the ripples left by the retreating tide and the way they were overlaid by the footprints and other signs of passing, brought to my mind just how temporary human and even animal-kind are in relation to the enduring earth. No matter what 'footsteps' we imprint on this earth, the ebb and flow of mother nature will wipe the slate clean on the next cycle.

Composition

I searched for what I thought was the best composition to try to capture that concept and found the one you see, with the two footprints side-by-side and the happenstance of the feather.

Fairly common occurrences by themselves but the way they were all so neatly arranged on the temporary canvas, it resonated with the thoughts I'd just been experiencing and the shot was made.

As an aside, there is one of those compositional rules that says about using groupings in odd numbers. Someone might argue that its two things and one thing, well I say it's art and not science!

comments / feedback / critique always welcome :)

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Pilgrim's Point — monochrome

...and I wouldn't expect you to think I could leave it in colour...

Black and white version


Pilgrim's Point, Mayflower Steps, Barbican, Plymouth

No great shakes, but not bad. An interesting exercise that has served to remind me that a shot planned for colour is usually best left in colour! Well, the way I choose them, anyway...

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Pilgrim's Point — a rare one in colour!

Well, here's a bit unusual for me, a colour shot!


Pilgrims' Point, Mayflower Steps, Plymouth

Background and funny story behind the shot

I had received a cheeky request from a print magazine for photos of Plymouth they could use (unpaid, mind! but at least they did say they'd credit the photographer).

Well, I haven't taken any touristy colour shots for a long, long time and I thought I should brush up my skills a bit. I don't live more than a 15 minute walk from the Barbican so I headed down there to shoot the arch and point.

Although it was a sunny day, there weren't that many folks around. I waited until the area was clear and tried a few angles, positions. While I was checking out this, my final selection of viewpoint, a German couple showed up in my viewfinder, within the area set off by the handrail.

The chap, I'll call him Hans, was armed with camera and video recorder. To understand what followed, you must realise that I am British, with all that means with regard to queuing, a sense of what's, well, fair, combined with a stoic but non-committal silence when faced by breaches of what should be the adopted etiquette — "when in Rome...".

Hmmph!

So Hans took his time over a bunch of photos, with his misses kinda staying in the background, maybe trying to keep out of my way? But not Hans. Oh, no, out came the video camera and, again, he took his time over it — setting it up, videoing this and that. Then it was a slow walk round while videoing the handrail (it's engraved with pictograms and text explaining the journey of the Mayflower). Then he videoed first one plaque, then the other — from this angle and that. Hmmph!

Cheeky %&^@* !!

Every so often, he glanced down at me (I was on the steps below, looking up, extra low spring tide lapping at my feet). He could see I was waiting patiently to take my shot (still!!!) and then you know what finally happened? The blighter had the cheek to start videoing me, looking up at him!

Revenge the British way!

Well! I did what any British gentleman would do, I gave him the sternest of my mild surprise looks, tinted with just the merest traces of annoyance and scorn (like feather daggers they drifted his way to pierce his karma). Hans has never had the privilege of being oblivious to such exquisite subtlety of mildly-pained-and-slightly-surprised expression before. That'll teach him, thought I!

I think it must have worked on some level of Hans' subconscious because, not too long after, he stopped videoing me, took his time putting his kit away, and without a backward glance he and his lady were off.

Now, I started by saying I'm sure they were very nice people and all that, but you know, come on!

About the shot... I intend to revisit it in the digital darkroom because I stupidly didn't pay heed to the chromatic aberration (the magenta edging to the lhs of the arch) - until the end. Darn it!

Friday, 24 July 2009

Waiting for sugar and milk

I went round to a mate's (mansour eskandary) today — dreadful — no milk or sugar, so...

No tea!

What could be worse? Round for a chinwag, maybe take forward his requirements for selling online, only to find the slack git didn't tell me to bring milk and sugar with me as he'd run out.

So off he went to the local shop — about 20 mins there and back. I'd brought my camera with me just in case he could put his hands on the right gear for some practice product shots — fat chance, he couldn't even find the black backcloth he said he had!

Reaching For The Skies

I'd spotted the farm barn opposite where he lives before but could never find the right spot to frame these wonderful parallels. Well, on this occasion, the light was right and so I tried to find that perfect viewpoint again.

I eventually climbed and perched on top of a wall and, voila, by leaning out a bit (and by using the perspective / straightening tool when I got it to the digital darkroom) I knew I'd got the spot.

Being high up meant I could look down a little over the hedge and I spotted that I coud just catch those weeds growing against the wall. Bingo! Just that bit of additional interest that would make the shot work, in my opinion. Artistic intent realised, just take the shot. Now, would the scene I could see in my mind's eye come out in the digital darkroom?

...then the dang clouds blocked the sun for a while, ruining the lighting. So I just stood around atop the wall double checking my camera settings — ISO metering etc. and looking like a right berk! Quite often the standard pose for a photographer! Sure enough, the sun came out again (after I'd said hello to a couple of surprised cyclists) and I made the shot.

After a suitable number of cups of tea, got back and straight to the DD (digital darkroom) for 'developing'. I'm happy with the way it's turned out — pretty much spot on to my intent, though I have to admit, the weeds were serendipitous but became an important part of the composition — as implied by the title.

So, does it work for you?

feedback / comments / critique welcomed as usual :)
[more shots from the wall due soon]

Oops!

I've just found out that voting on the Saatchi and Saatchi competition doesn't start until this coming Monday - I was late entering and thought it was last Monday.

To those of you who already tried, sorry!

I'll post a reminder on Monday, just in case you still want to help!

Doh!

Help requested...

Please vote for my entry in the Saatchi And Saatchi head to head competition - no registration required.

I'm looking for wider recognition

Like many artists I'm looking for wider exposure for my work. Right now and in the near future, the Saatchi And Saatchi Online Gallery is running a number of rounds of voting for the artists taking part.

If you've enjoyed my work, please take the time to vote for my entry and help me get that recognition / exposure. It should only take a couple of seconds — no registration required.

Thanks everyone for helping me out :)

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Useful photo resources

As promised a couple of postings ago, here are some sites / resources that I've found useful in my photographic learning journey.

I'll not flood you with links, rather I'll dish them out a few at a time over coming posts.

Here's the first few.

Converting to Black and White — The Basics

This one comes from the famous Cambridge In Colour website. Read the tutorial.

TLR Sharpening

This is a free Photoshop add-on from the Light Is Right Studio, one I pretty much always use — especially the capture sharpening mode.

It also has a mode for creative sharpening and one for output sharpening (where you set the sharpening specifically for the size you are printing at and the output device to be used).

Here's the download page.

There are some great quick tips at The Light Is Right Studio, in the form of short tutorials. Check them out here.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Another from Urban Ugly

This is the shot I promised in my last post, taken from a little further up the creek.

Old ladies of the sea

Final Resting Place

Backing up a few paces and turning over my right shoulder from my previous posting, you see these graceful old ladies of the sea, tied up, abandoned and left to decay.

I guess their final act of service is to provide shelter and a home for all the denizens of the creek, and slowly giving up their nutrients and returning to mud. We like a nice bit of recycling :)


all comments / critique / feedback welcomed

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Extreme contrast

This is one of the first I took in my Urban decay, lost spaces and industrial ugliness photo essay (taken mainly around the dock areas of Plymouth - "urban ugly" for short).

Pomphlett Creek

I'm not sure what it was that drove me to treat this with such high contrast. Perhaps it was the drama of the sky, perhaps the starkness of fine ladies against the muddy bottom of the creek.

In a future post you'll see what lies behind this shot — the gracefully decaying ladies who gave the best of themselves in service on the water.



comments / feedback / critique welcome as always

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Waiting for collection

I think this is called "a shot from nothing", borrowing a term from snooker :)

Pallets, Tyre And Junk

Serendipity

I was out with my camera, walking around an interesting area near where I live. I was specifically looking for photo opportunities when I bumped into this scene. The junk was in a backlane beside some small work-yards, stacked and waiting for recycling collection.

I didn't touch any of it — the composition is just as I came across it. What initially drew my eye were the lovely relationships between the elements and their balancing shapes. The pooling of light and the way it fell across the scene was what made the shot for me.

comment / critique / feedback positively encouraged!

Coooliris photo wall

I don't know if you've tried CoolIris as a way of displaying a wall of your images yet. I use it quite often when I want to review all my photos quite quickly, maybe to select one for posting on a particular subject.

The reason this came to mind to post about was that I bumped into the BBC's Viewfinder blog, and the Your Pictures On A Theme page.

Anyway, on to Cooliris (used to be called PicLens).

Cooliris Browser add-on

If you don't have it, you can download it for Windows and Firefox here. Go here for other browsers

The add-on allows you to click an icon that appears on images on any site supporting it (like flickr or google's image search). You then get a wall showing all the images (the wall just goes on and on, as long as there are more images to fill it).

You can also embed the wall when you have a supported feed type for it, like mine below. This is from (and all of) my mono gallery:

Feed source / location

If you're interested the feed for the wall above is at http://www.highton-ridley.co.uk/monochrome/photos.rss

As with all free tools like this, you have to put up with adverts and various attempts to persuasively hijack you to other places. But other than that, enjoy!

Housekeeping...

I've just spent ages rationalising all my post labels. Not perfect but they'll do.

Whew!

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Music playlist - does it bother you?

I've just added a music player and playlist to my template. It plays automatically (it's a little way down on the right hand column). [Update: after feedback from you folks (thanks!) it now doesn't play automatically]

What I want to know is does it bother you? If I get a few comments saying so, I'll take it off.

They are some of my favourite chilled tunes from the last century (that sounds strange!)

I'm hoping you'll enjoy the music enough to leave this window open while you continue browsing.

You'll here such classics as Albatross, Bridge Over Troubled Waters, Cry Me A River and Freebird. I hope you enjoy :)

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Winter Seafront Stroll

Here's another from my Felixstowe trip that I wanted to share with you.

HDR enhances the sky

Once in the digital darkroom I could see that although the composition was exactly as I wanted, the sky left a bit to be desired. It was a bit washed out and not nearly carrying the drama that I saw in person — eyes are so much better than cameras!

Anyway, I put the shot through my trusty high contrast HDR workflow and it turned out quite peachy. I had to take steps to remove the noise that got introduced (I use noise ninja) and I also had to lighten the dark outline around the light coloured jacket that appeared as a result of the HDR. But no worries, I am very pleased with the end result.

Compositionally, I used and abused the rule of thirds, used lead-in lines and hopefully wrote a story with the way the elements interact. I'll let you be the judge :)

As always, comments, critque, feedback welcomed

Friday, 10 July 2009

Introspective ...Walking The Dogs

Walking The Dogs
A shot taken at Felixstowe seafront of a couple walking their dogs
along the concert, with a stray child looking on. Winter 2008.


I was visiting Felixstowe on a day out while staying with friends in the last days of December, last year. I had my trusty 17-85mm zoom fitted, complete with hood because of the lighting conditions.

Because I was with two kids who were full of beans, I needed to keep my wits about me and be ready for when those few magic moments appeared. You know the sort, the ones where you think, "darn, if only I'd been ready with my camera!"

Composing and making the capture

Spotting the potential

Well the lighting was superb, picking out the eager faces of the beach huts and, with the curve of the coast leading the eye naturally to the main beach in the distance, there was plenty of potential. I just had to hope that someone would turn up to provide the subject for this wonderful backdrop.

Preparing for the shot

I noticed the steps coming down from the car park above, so positioned myself so that anyone approaching from that direction would walk into the scene from the right. I then composed so that the main beach was roughly in one of the rule-of-thirds power points.

I could see a couple coming down the steps to the front, and knew the final elements would soon be in place.

Exposure, ISO etc.

Lighting was fine, so there was no need to move from ISO 100. I always stick with aperture priority and f9 at the wide angle end of my zoom is enough to get everything in focus from my feet to infinity. Perfect for this shot. Because I was shooting into the sun (slightly out of frame to the left), the lens hood was essential to minimise lens flare.

I exposed for the sky (exposure lock — point at the sky, half press the shutter release and hold it, then recompose and finally press the release all the way). I fired off a couple of practice shots to check the histogram — I didn't want to blow those highlights.

As it turned out, on the first practice shot I did, so I re-exposed, making sure I was on the brightest part of the sky this time for the exposure lock. Yep, the histogram was showing all was well. I was ready. Shutter speed was 1/250 by the way.

Oh, and as I always shoot in RAW, I knew I'd have some leeway with the exposure, should lighting conditions change between taking the final exposure lock and waiting for the scene to be filled with a subject.

The capture

I was ready and, on cue, the couple entered the scene — with dogs, too! Got lucky with my subjects there :)

The child on the upper concert was a further bonus, adding to the story. I think he'd raced ahead of mum and dad, who were still coming down the steps.

And then I was off for the next shot (Caught By The Surf, if you were curious — and, wow, two in a row were keepers!)

Digital darkroom

Rawshooter Essentials

The first part of my workflow is done in Rawshooter. I initially sort out the keepers from the maybes and the definite binners.

For each keeper, I then make any slight exposure and any initial contrast adjustments before converting to 16bit TIFF, ready to move into PhotoShop.

For this one, the exposure was ok as taken, and needed just a tad of fill light before the TIFF conversion.

PhotoShop

photoshop layers Again, fairly standard for my workflow, I applied a bit of
TLR capture sharpening first, converted to mono using the black and white filter and judicial use of the channel sliders.

While adjusting the sliders, I kept an eye on the interplay between sky and ground but couldn't quite achieve a conversion that convinced me. I ended up treating the sky with a gradient fill to tone it down a little.

I did a little dodging and burning to the rightmost beach hut and applied a slight double vignette to bring the eye's attention to the couple and their implied destination.

I applied my usual final tweak on the curves to increase the contrast and added a slight adjustment to the levels to deepen the shadows and lift the highlights a bit and that was it.

A final bit of sharpening and size reduction as I saved as a jpeg, and it was ready for upload.

Artwork I've sold

I've had a few private emails from followers and others asking about any sales I've made of my artwork.

If you're also interested, you can see them all, since I started keeping records, by following this site-search (all from my main site).

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Accepted into the Saatchi online gallery today!

I feel so honoured, I've just had 20 pieces of my work accepted into the Saatchi online gallery today. See my accepted bw work here

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Parcelled and ready for posting

Just finished printing and parcelling the signed, mounted prints for my June freebie prize draw winners. They'll be in the post tomorrow.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

June freebie prize draw winners

Two winners this month and one reward for persistence!

And June's Winners are...

..and one honorary prize for persistence goes to:
Congratulations you folks!

To let me know which image you'd like to receive, find your favourite one in the Monochrome gallery on my main web site and email me the code and your delivery address.

I'll then prepare your signed, mounted print and pop it in the post.

You could also help me out by filling in a review on the page saying why you want that one. If you click the recommend it button too, you'll vote it up and other peeps will know which above all others you liked.

And it'd be great for you to write a post on your own blog too... ;)

Thanks in advance :) This sort of interaction is very much appreciated (hint, hint to everyone for the July draw!).

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