Week 8

Settings: f/8, 1/400 second, ISO 3200, focal length 55mm

Set up. I placed a casserole dish in a baking tray & filled it with water up to the brim. Suspended above the dish was a zip lock bag half filled with water, which I then pricked with a needle to allow it to drip steadily. Behind the dish I positioned a large piece of coloured card as a backdrop while in front I had two household lights shining onto the drops (see photo).

Water droplet set up

Next I stood a spoon up where the drops were landing in the dish & used the camera’s auto focus to lock onto it before switching to manual focus. Then I merrily clicked away!

Opinion. I did enjoy this little scenario despite having a few problems at the start. I’d watched three or four You Tube videos beforehand & was attempting to use the non flash method of capturing the shot. In the videos I’d seen the settings used had been f/8, 1/1200 sec, ISO 400 & another with f/5, 1/4000 sec & ISO 800 however, for me both these settings produced very dark images. I experimented with adjusting the shutter speeed & ISO but couldn’t find a good balance. In the end I opted for aperture priority mode to set the aperture myself & let the camera work out the shutter speed (I was surprised how slow it actually turned out to be).

water droplet 2 water droplet 4

Hardly any post production this week. A little sharpening & that was it.

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Week 7

Settings: f/9, 1/160 second, ISO 100, 50mm prime

Set up. During a day out at Brockhole (on Lake Windermere) I thought I’d attempt the classic “using a pier as a leading line” shot.

Opinion. This week’s image involved very little post production editing, partly because I’d taken the original image as a jpeg (I know, I know, always shoot in RAW format) & therefore, couldn’t do a huge amount for fear of turning the final shot grainy & partly, because I didn’t think it needed it. So a little curves adjustment, a slight burning of the sky to bring out the clouds & that was it. Speaking of clouds, I thought they looked quite dramatic & so increased the contrast before creating a sepia version. What do you think?

Brockhole pier sepia

As you may have noticed, I’m still on my 50mm prime kick which some would argue isn’t the best for landscape photography. However, for most of the day I was taking snaps of the kids & didn’t want to be changing my lens all the time. Perhaps this is why the pier looks slightly out of focus when you zoom in a little? Or perhaps it was just my technique!

Week 6

Settings: f/6.30, 1/125 second, ISO 100, 50mm prime

Set up. The witch hazel tree in my back garden is in flower this time of year & produces these unusual yellow flowers, similar in appearance to lemon zest. I happened to notice one morning that a single branch was in direct sunlight while the rest of the tree was in shade & thought it might make an interesting photo. I fitted my 50mm prime lens as I wanted to have the flowers in the background out of focus.

Opinion. While not a bad idea in principle I’m slightly disappointed with the final image. I can’t quite put my finger on why though. Perhaps it’s the composition or, perhaps it’s just not the image I had in my head when I set out. Also, due to the fact it was in direct sunlight, the particular flower I focused on was very bright & caused some clipping issues in post production. Maybe dialing back the exposure a stop would have helped avoid this problem?

Photoshop CS translations

When following Photoshop tutorials online or in magazines I often find they are written for Photoshop CS or CC. Consequently, I’m often coming across instructions to use buttons or functions that Elements doesn’t have. However, sometimes there are alternatives which produce similar results. Here are a few I’ve come across recently.

Photoshop CS: “Neutral Layer”

Elements: Layer>New>Layer. Edit>Fill>Layer (set contents to 50% grey). Change ‘Normal’ blend mode to ‘Overlay’. Then dodge & burn as appropriate.

CS: Layer>Rasterize>Smart object

Elements: Layer>Simplify

CC: Warp mode

Elements: Filter>Distort>Liquify. Set brush size as required. Click ‘pointing finger’ icon in the top left menu.

I’m sure I’ll post others to remind myself, as I discover them.

Week 5

Settings: Samsung Galaxy S4

Set up. A Sunday stroll.

Opinion. There is a saying which states, “the best camera is the one you have with you at the time” & so it proved for this week’s entry.

I’ve done this particular walk many times before. I had even planned to photograph this exact shot sometime in the future when there was a more interesting sky & convert it into a black & white image. However, on this occassion, with a little snow cover, I snapped away on my mobile phone.

Back home, I uploaded it to my computer where I added a sepia tint before experimenting with a little dodge & burn. And there you have it!