Albanian Sunrise

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I decided to take a break from the computer whilst we were staying on Corfu, having had a busy time in the run-up to our trip, the priority was to relax, do nothing apart from explore and take the occasional photos. Luckily I did take quite a few but I never rush to publish my shots, I often prefer to leave them on the hard drive and return to them later. If I liked a photo when I took it and I still feel the same some weeks (even months or years) later, then I am happy. Simple as that.

The villa we rented was so well located and we could see a lot from our high vantage point. We were only 2 miles away from the coast of Albania and the land mass you can see in the photo above comprises of our “personal” mountain in the foreground, the Adriatic and then in the not-so-far-at-all distance, Albania! You could probably swim to it, if you were the sort not scared of very very deep water and able to dodge Cruise ships passing through the channel.

This shot was taken close to 6am in the morning, as I often wake up as early as that even when on holiday, but by jove! It was worth it!

So technically, for my technically minded friends out there, I used a Gorillapod and a ND grad filter for this shot. I mounted the camera on the glass panels that surrounded the pool terrace using the Gorillapod, as you can twist and contort it and affix your camera to all sorts of things. It came in very handy and I will take it on future travels. I always use Lee filters, they are just soooo good.

 

 

Field of gold

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The rape seed fields of Hampshire are progressing fast this year, the yellow flowers starting to fade, making way for the greener colours. I found a place to park up and a footpath to follow for a short distance. It is hard to envisage what the view would be like, because all I could see from my angle were the crops, about as tall as I am if not more so.

Once up in the air I could see the tracks left by the farmer and shot a short video. It was from this sequence that I ended up grabbing this image in Lightroom. I then edited it, adding a little bit of a graduated filter effect to the top of the frame to bring the sky back a bit more, to add some balance to the frame.

Then I decided that I should grab an abstract and from where (more or less) the previous  photo was captured, I switched the camera to look down towards the ground below. Expect to see more of this sort of thing from me, I love abstracts and to be able to zoom in or out from above is a thrill.

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It has been a gorgeous afternoon with temperatures nearly reaching 20 degrees Celsius and really feeling like Summer all of a sudden.

Talking of which…

We as a family do like to use rape seed oil in our cooking and there are a number of local producers who market their goods to many local farmers markets and even to the regional supermarkets. The demand for this crop is growing ever higher but I do wonder if we export it? I hope we do, as it is really nice stuff.

One of our favourite snacks is to get some nice bread, fill a couple of small ramekins with just enough rape seed oil and Balsamic Vinegar. Dip dip!! It goes in seconds but it is definitely one of those lovely comfort foods. It is very good for you too, well at least I think so!

Recommended Links

http://www.coldpressedoil.co.uk/

https://leckfordestate.co.uk/produce/rapeseed-oil – Ooh I should write more about this one, it is a great place to visit the whole year round

King John’s Castle

Having watched one or two videos by my fellow photographers that featured Odiham Castle, I decided to hop in the car and visit the location myself. The closer I got to my destination as I drove into the gorgeous evening light, the more stormy it started to look in the distance as I cruised down the A287 from Farnham towards Odiham. I was conscious of the fact that I may be heading for a storm front, I knew it was too good to be true, an otherwise horrid week of torrential downpours had subsided and had led us all into a fanciful dream that Summer was back. I decided to press on nonetheless in the hope that if the heavens did open once again, it would probably be brief and the sun would pop out again. All photographers know that when that happens, you can sometimes witness an incredibly clear, crisp form of light.

Suffice to say, the rain didn’t arrive and as I pulled up near the Castle, the weather was actually looking like it was on the mend but I had lost the best of the light. Oh well, I shall make do, I decided and made my way down the canal towpath.

The walk isn’t at all far from the nearest parking spot and it is a lovely stroll. I highly recommend it for any time of year, as you get to appreciate Nature and all of her seasons. The Canal incidentally for those of you who don’t know the area is The Basingstoke Canal. We plan to shoot and film more along it’s entire stretch wherever we can in the years to come.

I decided that I will use my DJI Mavic more for photography than video, as photos tend to be quicker to edit and to share on the blog. I shall also collect up as much footage of a location as possible and to take my time over that. Film editing is a longer process, especially if I want to go a little more to town on it, adding music, cutting clips, recording voice overs etc. So I plan to share more video once I have enough to produce a series of mini documentaries. Got to be ambitious!!! Will I follow a theme? Yes, probably quite a few over the course of time and as I practice my flying/filming skills too!

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I joked over on Facebook that I had miniaturised the castle in order to take this photo. In many ways it does feel like I have or maybe I became a giant with a humongous tripod to match? Joking aside, the ability to position a camera anywhere in three dimensional space is still boggling my mind. It is so exciting and I have a head full of ideas for future entries on this blog. So much so, I think I have a firm theme for this site now, which I didn’t feel I had lost at some point in time whilst writing this blog…. I digress!

The DJI Mavic can shoot both RAW and JPEG at the same time. The photos on this page were all shot in DNG format and when I got home, I imported them into Lightroom. All I changed at this point were the white balance as that was off by a long way. I then applied a preset called “Punch” and finally some sharpness to make it look really crisp. The images off the camera were all shot with no sharpness or very little. So it is a very similar process to editing photos taken off my Nikon D7000. The cameras are of a very close resolution too.

The photo below was taken as a test but it clearly shows that on the DJI Mavic, you have the ability to focus and control your depth of field. It is one of the first to offer this and that is pretty incredible. The older drones all featured cameras that are single-focus (I think, correct me if I am wrong) and also suffered from fish-eye distortion. This lens is closer to something like a 50mm with an aperture of 2.8. This makes it a great drone for filing or shooting photography that is quite tight, you can fly through tight spaces using the amazing “Tripod Mode”

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So that pretty much wraps up today’s post, how about a video of Odiham Castle? That will come another time, I want to go back a few more times and shoot some more sequences over the seasons.

Last but not least

It was great to meet fellow bloggers Johann and Roberta Briffa last weekend in Guildford along with two other friends of theirs. The Briffas hail from the sunny island of Malta and regular visitors to this blog, yes there are many of you (joke!) will know Tina and I love the Maltese islands and the people. We look forward to catching up with you Johann and Roberta the next time we visit Malta or when you come back to visit the UK!

Please do check out their blogs, they write frequently, more so than I do and I enjoy every post they share.

https://jabriffa.wordpress.com/

https://chorizoandthyme.wordpress.com/

Roberta, you asked me to blog more, hope this is a good start? 😉

The Spinney

The following short film came to me in a moments inspiration whilst I was out researching a location for both filming and photographing. The light was bursting through the trees in this small woodland “Spinney” and it struck me how beautiful it was.

This kind of shot would traditionally have been created with a camera mounted on some kind of mechanical pulley or rail system. No need for that when you can use a drone. I set my Mavic up to use “Tripod mode” which changes the behaviour of the drone when you fly in a sideways direction to operate at a very steady speed, providing the operator with more control over the smoothness of the resulting video.

I also turned off sharpening in the recording, favouring doing that in post-production. I am liking the D-Cinelike mode which provides for a greater lattitude when editing later.

 

Aerial photograph of Waverley Abbey

DJI_0010.JPGThis was taken from about 100 feet up this evening at about 7pm, the light quite good, if a little overcast. Keep your eyes on my feed over the next couple of days, I have video too that takes you on a little guided tour of this wonderful abbey from up above.

First heavy frost


This morning it is very brrrrrrrrrrr. A quick glance at my weather app tells me it’s -2c out here today. So whilst walking towards the train station, I had a little bit of time to take a photo of Farnborough Hill School and it’s very frosty grounds. 

This week I’ve discovered a wonderful iOS app called Filmborn, that enables you to emulate classic film formats from the likes of Ilford, Kodak and Fuji. I used it for this photo and I’m going to play with it a little bit over the coming weeks. 

Winter is a tough season to get through at the best of times but braving the cold to take pictures is well worthwhile in my opinion. On days like this you can’t beat the light and the beauty of frost. 

The weather forecast this morning mentioned snow up in the North. Some say it’s going to be a harsh winter this year. 

Malta: Shadow & Light

I wrote a post just before we went away, haven’t written since and I have an excellent excuse for that!

We had too much of a good time, the weather was fantastic, we spent all of our time pretty much outdoors even when the evenings got a bit windy and “fresh”. I took some photos and recorded some video clips and did what I normally do which is dump the whole lot onto my little orange LaCie drive.

This little drive is a tough cookie, it is bounce proof and survives being pretty much just thrown into the bottom of my rucksack and it goes everywhere with us. It has now been sat on my desk amongst my usual clutter of stuff for the past 2 weeks, beckoning for reconnection to the Mac. I did just that this morning…

I decided to begin with this photo, as I can remember the reasons that the shot appealed to me and the vantage point from which it was captured.

Tina and I took a walk in the early evening up towards Upper Barrakka Gardens where you have a view out across Grand Harbour, which is a stunning view in itself but for me, this view back in towards the town was there to be taken. I cropped in from a bigger frame to emphasize the detail of the picture, the way in which the shadows help add depth to the scene.

Valletta is blessed with some amazing architecture and it would seem that every inch of the city has a story to tell but it’s the combination of the wooden “Gallerjia” and wrought iron balconies that lend themselves to the city’s (and indeed Malta as a whole) identity so strongly.

 

Spring canopy

The joys of Spring and my brother springing a photography challenge upon me! All very “Springy” you see! A friend of his on Facebook started a photo-a-day-for-seven-days challenge to someone, they then pass it on to another. A little bit of fun, Tim shared a great image of Lapsi in Malta and handed the baton to me…

I was a little bit pushed for time if I am being honest and that it had to be a new photo too. So I couldn’t just pull one from the archives. I chose to set off on my mountain bike into a nearby woodland park, called Queen Elizabeth Park, here in Farnborough and very close to home.

It dawned on me, why not grab a picture of the fresh Spring canopy of beautiful lush green leaves. It is not long before they start becoming darker and less translucent. Now is the best time to take lovely photos of them, no two ways about it!

Incidentally the park is one of the places I go to stretch my legs at any time of the year and it is mostly an old woodland which used to be part of Windsor Great Park around the time that Henry VIII was the King. Over time and with the development of neighbouring towns, it became cut off. This is especially interesting when you consider that the Crown Estate of Windsor is about 16 miles from Farnborough. It must have been collossal at one point in time.

Stock Photography: A numbers game?

I can once recall having a conversation with my friend Gary Roebuck about stock photography, its highs and lows, whether it was worth bothering with or not?

However one conclusion we kept returning to was that it had to be a “numbers game” and that it may not really be down to what you have on a library but how many images you supply to it. Gary is a prolific photographer and whilst stock isn’t his main business these days, it acts as a good financial buffer if things fall quiet.

Now we all know how that can happen being a freelance web/photography person like me. There are periods of time that you are rushed off your feet and wished you had employed some colleagues…. then the following week you are grateful you never have!

It is important as a freelance anybody to be able to make good use of all of your skills in some way. You can earn income from all of them if you are smart and dedicated enough. So how can you increase your image count with a stock library? How can you boost sales?

Let’s start with the disappointing bit first and then build you back up for success from a low point. Sounds mean but in many ways, this is how people succeed. Well, the bad news is, it takes time, yeah, doesn’t everything? So don’t drop everything else in eager zest of embarking on a swashbuckling career of stock photography on a whim.

You should take your time, photograph anything, shoot subjects that you can envisage as being  used somewhere, think of a reason why. Take for example a rather dull and boring photo of a satnav mounted on a windscreen, a finger tapping on it, the car clearly parked outside an office, looks like the person is working out how to get to their next location. It is not exciting, it isn’t a photo of two Gorillas fighting over a female, a Formula One car crashing or Paula Radcliffe breaking a world record back in the day (see yesterday’s post) – It’s a boring photo that tells a story, not an exciting one but it works from and editorial point-of-view. It has also sold multiple times.

So if you approach any subject as though it could be useful, has some kind of context, supply it and many more to your stock library, you will see how this works in terms of making an investment in time and using a little bit of imagination.

Tell me about your crazy stock image ideas and success stories! I’m always interested to know!

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