Sunday, 13 December 2009

Photography and the Law

There are an increasing number of stories in the press regarding the way in which the Police, Community Support Officers and Private Security Guards are interpreting / enforcing Section 44.

In my opinion it appears that the situation is getting worse rather than better, even though Senior Police ranks are regularly sending out internal memo's to officers outlining what they can and cannot do under Section 44.

The first document I read on this was here and although this document is more to do with Photographers rights in general rather than S44, it is very useful and has been kept up to date by the site author.

There are now 1,000's of sites with horror stories from photographers both amateur and professional. Too many to list here and you only have to pick up today's newspaper or click on a news website to get to the latest ones.

That said, I do think that the Not a Crime group on Flickr is really good as well as the I'm a Photographer not a Terrorist website. They are also on Twitter (here) and Facebook (here) and provide links to all the latest stories.

Thursday, 3 December 2009


This isn't about auto or manual focus. In fact it's not about that sort of focus at all. It's more about focus, discipline and concentration.

I'm finding it all too easy to be distracted by all sorts of different types of photography and the gadgets and accessories required for each one. Even more so when it comes to home-made gear like snoots, grids and light boxes. Plus of course the 99p welding glass that gives you a 14 stop reduction in light !

I've tried all sorts of set-ups to get some not so good pictures (and one or two really good ones). Although I would say that it has all been worthwhile because I am learning all the time. Learning not to get distracted by the next fad but at the same time learning that there is tons of stuff about photography that I haven't even scratched the surface of. Having said that there are so many rules etc that apply to photography and yet they apply all of the time regardless of what type of picture you are taking.

So I've reach the point where I think I need to knuckle down and "focus" on the sort of photography that I want to be really good at....and that's all of them. But I know this is a stretch goal so I will narrow it down, in fact back to where I started.

I will be putting all of my efforts into Portrait photography as much as I can (and as a compromise I will endeavour to get out as much as I can to improve my landscapes).

The water drops shots have been fun, especially the colliding ones but I think I'll leave that to the experts like "Visual Assault" and "Kev Lewis".

The only downside now is that the majority of practice sessions will be of yours truly.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009


After a year or so with a DSLR I realised that most of my pictures were going to be of the children. I had already purchased a 50mm f1.4 prime lens and this was perfect for indoor use without flash. The pictures were really good but I needed something better and the answer wasnt a new lens, it was light.

I went for a Canon 430 EX II and also purhased the off-camera cord (what a waste of money that was). After playing with the flash for a while I soon realised that I had to get the flash off-camera but the cord I had just wasn't long enough to do anything of any use at all.

In fact, I didnt really think I could do anything worthwhile until I got hold of a light-stand, bracket, modifier (umbrella, softbox etc). That was when I started making snoots and grids to get some neat effects with the strobe light.

I also spent a lot of time looking at various blogs and forums to see how easy it was to extend the length of my off-camera cord. Given that it cost £50 I was a little reluctant to "cut it up".

The main benefit of the off-camera cord was that it provided full TTL control of the strobe. However, I soon found that the majority of people were using strobes set on manual. This was also the case on the OneLight DVD by Zack Arias, I too have since found that lighting manually gives you complete control and ensures consistency.

Finally, after weeks of trawling through even more blogs and forums I took the plunge and purchased some ebay triggers. I went for the CTR-301P which has a PC connection on the receiver as well. These things don't break the bank at less than £20 but they are really good value. I get the odd mis-fire but for £20 I can live with that. Not long after that (and several nights of trawling through Ebay listings) I purchased the rest of the lighting gear. (Stand, bracket and Umbrella.)

I was now all set to go and get those pictures of the kids I was after. And this is where the fun began......2 kids (aged 2 and 3) don't tend to sit still for long !

Monday, 30 November 2009

How did it start . . . . . .

I was always interested in photography but thought that the SLR's and DSLR's were way out of my price range. That was until I had a conversation with a colleague at work. He had a Canon DSLR ( I forget which model) and he was also a flickr user. After that conversation I went and had a look on flickr (a very,very long look in fact) and also checked out some camera stores to get an idea of DSLR prices.

The next day I was a member of flickr and started uploading photos from recent holidays to Paris, New York and Las Vegas (to drop a few names). If only I had a DSLR on those trips instead of my point 'n' shoot.

I then spent the following few months reviewing cameras and counting the days till annual bonus time. (Fortunately this was before the credit crunch so bonuses were still around.

Finally, and about 6 months after that conversation, I had my first (and current) DSLR. The Canon 400D with the 18-55mm kit lens. I also got hold of a Sigma 55-200mm at the same time.

I have tried Landscapes, both rural and urban as well as countless sunsets but the majority of pictures I take are of our children, with most of those being indoor shots as it is difficult to get out, particularly with the poor weather we have pretty much all year round.

More recently I have been playing with Macro but I think the area I will be focusing on (sorry for the pun) will be portraits and still-life with off-camera lighting.

I have wireless ebay triggers, a light-stand and shoot-thru umbrella as well as a host of home-made snoots and grids, and a Canon 430EX II most importantly.