Monday, 20 February 2012

Project 50 (A journey)

50 pictures, 50 days, 50mm f/1.4 lens.....

That was the target I set myself at the start of the year.  I didn't set any other criteria as I wanted to be able to take pictures of absolutely anything.  The reason for this was because I wanted this Project to help me better understand what it is I like taking pictures of.  I thought that by the end of the Project I would be able to look back on the 50 pictures and see a pattern, trend or genre jump out at me.  Oh, and I also wanted a set of nice pictures too !

The 50th day was Sunday, 19th February and I was kind of sad when I posted the final picture up into my flickr set.  It was the end of a journey in a number of ways, ok it's not a Project 365 or anything but it's still hard work coming up with a decent image each day.  During the project I had fallen behind a few times by either not taking any pictures on a particular day or not liking what I had taken.  This was easily fixed though by taking more pictures next time around.  In fact, I had a set of reserve images just in case I fell short at the end.

So, here I am with 50 pictures hoping they will direct me towards my next project and narrow down the type of photographs I like taking.  This is where it gets confusing so bear with me.  The type of photographs I like taking do not appear anywhere in my 50 pictures.   That's right, looking through the pictures I can clearly see that something is missing.  What I can see though are pictures where I have made use of the flexibility of the 50mm f/1.4 lens.  The majority of images have a very shallow depth of field which is used to highlight a specific subject in the picture.  Additionally, they are all taken in a way which enabled me to produce a square crop image after post processing.  So, the project has confirmed the fact that I love images with a very shallow depth of field.  I also like images where a single subject dominates the shot.  I also started to play with some processing techniques to help me develop a style.  This was really interesting and I have found a couple of areas to work on.  You'll notice a number of pictures have been de-saturated but not too much.

People, where are the people ????
I had to turn this thing on it's head to get some answers.  Obviously, the type of pictures I like are the ones I didn't take any of !  So how does that make sense ?  Simple....."Comfort Zone".  Something I need to get out of if I'm going to take my photography any further.

The Project failed in that sense because I didn't set any specific criteria.  By leaving the subject completely open I gave myself a back door, a way in which I could just take pictures (half decent ones mind) of anything .  So my sub-conscious was at work here making sure that I didn't have to step out of my comfort zone.  In fact, when you look at the pictures you'll notice that the vast majority where taken indoors.  I guess my sub-conscious didn't want me to get any fresh air or exercise either !

Time to put things right
While the Project was running I was flicking through a few photo magazines and books looking for inspiration for the next Project.  It occurred to me that in order to work out my favourite type of photography I had to analyse the type of pictures I like looking at rather than the ones I like taking.  The battle with my sub-conscious had started and I was already plotting the next project before this one had finished.  I would recommend a couple of books by John Berger;  "Ways of seeing" and "About looking".  I must admit it took me a while to get into them but there are pennies dropping everywhere.

This thread is going to go off on a huge tangent but I wanted to include this much in the Project 50 update as it demonstrates the kind of thing you can get out of a photo project.  Look out for my next blog detailing the new project.

So, back to Project 50
If you are looking for inspiration, a small project to get you out with your camera or just looking to improve your skills then I would strongly recommend doing a project 50 (or similar).  The rules are completely up to you so you can get as much or as little out of it.  The huge benefit you get is stretching your creativity.  Having to come up with a new and unique image every day certainly does that.

I hope you like the images and I guess if you got this far you were able to put up with my ramblings too.  I achieved my goals in a round-about sort of way and learnt a lot more about my photography and my comfort zone as well.

Here are a couple of mosaics showing all 50 images.  These were created with "Big Huge Labs" on Flickr.

The full set can be found here

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Welshot HDR Workshop - February 2012

On 4th February I went to the Welshot Imaging HDR Workshop in Liverpool.  The workshop was open to members and non-members alike.  As with all Welshot events numbers were restricted to ensure that we got the most out of the day.

The purpose of the workshop was to show delegates how take architecture shots intended for HDR processing.  Obviously there was a session where this was put into practice and the magnificent Liverpool Anglican Cathedral was our location.  This was then followed by tuition covering how to process HDR images and included time saving batch processing techniques.  A slap up buffet lunch was also provided at the Atlantic Tower Hotel which was our base before and after the shoot at the Cathedral.

The limited numbers for this workshop meant that people could get plenty of one-on-one time with the course leaders.  For this particular workshop we had Welshot Pro Eifion Williams and Adrian Wilson of McFade Photography.  In addition we were lucky enough to have John Arnold of also in attendance.  As with all Welshot events the course leaders and attendees all pitched in and everyone learnt from each other.

Throughout the day we were looked after by Lee Iggulden who made sure we all got the most out of the day.  Lee kept us topped up with tea and coffee as well as arranging transport between the Hotel and Cathedral.  Lee even looked after our gear while we were taking pictures in the Cathedral.  If you ever meet anyone more passionate about photography than Lee, I would be very surprised.

The day had a great flow to it and lead us through the various steps from location spotting, taking the shots, preparing images for processing, the actual HDR process itself and a batch process to save hours and hours of post-processing time.

Adrian (Mcfade Photography) gave a great presentation at the start of the day which included some fantastic images he has taken.  He provided lots of tips covering composition and exposure etc,etc.  When we arrived at the Cathedral we then had further tuition covering how to set up our cameras for HDR shooting.  Adrian, Eifion and John were all on hand to assist us and made sure everyone was ready to go and capture some great images.

Before we all went off to wander around the Cathedral we were given a challenge.  The workbooks provided by Welshot contained some images of the Cathedral taken by Adrian.  Our challenge was to find where they were all taken and capture them ourselves.  As you can imaging some of these images would be fairly easy to find.  The Cathedral is absolutely huge and the vast spaces provide you with an endless supply of ideas.  One or two of the images were taken from places which are usually restricted so one of the benefits of attending these workshops is that you get access to those areas.  This means you can get the shots that no-one else can.

I thoroughly enjoyed the day and learnt a great deal from a great bunch of people.  If you have thought about giving this type of workshop a go but not yet tried then I strongly recommend that you take a look at the Welshot website.  Events are added regularly so keep checking every now and then.

If you have never been to the Liverpool Anglican Cathedral I would certainly recommend it, even if you are not into photography.  I would also suggest that if you do go make sure you check out the Lady Chapel....amazing.

For more of my images from this workshop please click here