Friday, October 31, 2014

Enhance washed out blue skies in your photos.

When it's bright and sunny and you set your camera to capture a scene you sometimes end up compromising between great clarity in your images and a washed out blue sky.

Here I'll quickly show you here how to digitally add a little more saturation back into your faded blue skies. At the same time you'll see that you can also add a little punch to the overall colours in your photo.
You can opt for subtle or more extreme results very easily and quickly.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Air BnB Campaign Shoot in London, UK

The London shoots began in a houseboat on the River Thames. The sun was kind enough to pop out so that we didn't have to contend with dull grey looking water.

To keep the swans and ducks interested in staying within shot, one of the guys on the UK production crew was outside on deck with a yellow rubber duck that he made bob about in the water with the aid of a length of fishing line. This kept the ducks and swans curious enough to stick around and give their cameo performances.

After the houseboat shots we moved along to central london for a street musician set up.
This shot is in between some takes the film crew were capturing with the violinist managing to give her cold fingers a rest. It was quite chilly that day. I captured general stills from outside while the film makers were busy filming from the inside of a building. Once the film director had what she wanted, I was able to move inside and capture more still through the same window for this scene.
The last shoot of the day was the party scene which we were able to capture on the top floor of the same building. The film directors and production teams put a great set together and the talent all worked really well resulting in another really fun shoot for everyone involved.

The there was a little more working space on this set and the film director was happy for me to be around her while she was working so I was able to capture a lot of the shots I wanted during the actual takes.

It was another fabulous property and really well located for London's trendy EC1 area. The decor was very tasteful and the property, although a tall and relatively narrow terrace house, captures an amazing amount of natural light. Most of the exterior walls were comprised of large glass windows. And that was the London shoots completed.

Air BnB Campaign Shoot in Kent, UK

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Keeping my DSLR camera sensors clean.

You've been busy swapping lenses to capture that perfect composition, you're outside, and it's windy. Chances are some dust will make it into your camera and attach itself to the filter in front of your dslr camera sensor. This is a little extreme but you can end up with shots that look like this!
Dust on your sensor shows up in your photos.
Where I'm based, you can take your camera in to a camera store who offer a sensor cleaning service. Some of them can even do this for you within half a day. The cost, approximately $60 each time.
I quickly learned to clean my sensor myself! 

I was using a wet cleaning method and even though I'm quite adept at it now, there's still some slight anxiety every time I'm in there cleaning the sensor. If it gets scratched or damaged, basically my camera instantly becomes a paperweight. And even though it's cheaper than going to the store, it still costs me almost $50 for a packet of 12 cleaning swabs plus the liquid cleaning agent. 12 swabs will give me 6 cleanings.

Then I found the Eyelead.
It's a german product and there are various claims that this is the product that Leica technicians use in the Leica laboratory when they do sensor cleanings. 

It consists of a plastic tool with a tacky gel pad at one end. To use it you simply put your DSLR in cleaning mode and place the gel pad down on your sensor wherever the dust appears to be. Then you lift the tool out of your camera and press the pad down against a sticky receiver tape that comes with the kit. The receiver tape is stickier that the gel pad so it removes any dirt that has been lifted off the sensor by the pad,  making it ready for further applications.

I find it really quick and easy to use and it doesn't give me any anxieties. 

I've been using it for about 4 months now and haven't needed to do a wet clean yet even though I've been doing lots of outdoor shooting and making lots of lens changes. It cleans my sensors really well and there is no residue or anything left on my sensors.

I paid $40 something dollars and it came with 10 cleaning (receiver) pads. I've seen cheap copies around for as little as $15 dollars but I don't want to be jamming cheap alternatives onto my sensor to find out if they work or not!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Air BnB Campaign Shoot in Kent, UK

After spending the night in London, we traveled down to Kent to shoot a series of scenes. The film crew would capture footage for the film and I would get the still shots for the media campaigns. It was a fresh and beautifully sunny day as we arrived for lunch at The Bull. After a hearty pub lunch it was time to continue with work.

The location was a beautifully converted windmill and we would be working with a child and with an animal. For this shoot you can disregard all the sayings about working with children and animals. This all went well and I would happily work again with the girl and the cat talent anytime.
The cat was up first and with the help of the cat wrangler, we were able to get a whole range of usable poses for the kitchen window shot. As the day moved on we shot a few other sets within the windmill including bathroom scenes and other window shots. 

Every room and corner in this fabulous conversion would have easily lent itself to beautiful scenes, especially with the way that light entered the spaces, and we were enjoying a beautifully clear, sunlit day. As the day drew on and evening approached, it was time to move on to an outhouse in the garden just before the sun set.

And now it was the girls turn to be the star. With the use of a polarizer attached to my lens I was able to capture a series of shots taken looking outside through a window. Again, with the sun working on it's own clock, I had to engage with the film director in a dance of filming and still capturing to ensure the film director captured her vision as well as for me to get my frames — and all without showing up as reflections in each other's work, while working in a very cramped space, with very little time.
The talent was great as she ran backward and forward numerous times for the filming and then all over again for my stills.
Once we had the final frames for both mediums, it was a wrap on another really productive day at a fabulous location.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Fix converging lines using any version of Photoshop

Especially when you're including architecture in your shots, there are times when the combination of the angle you are pointing your camera and where your point of focus is, leave you with an image Where all the vertical lines slope into your composition. Sometimes you want this effect to be pronounced and at other times it would be nice to be able to compensate against the effect.
If your main job is doing architectural shoots you may have already invested in some high quality, tilt-shift lenses. If you're a Nikon shooter like me, you can purchase a very nice Nikon lens for just over $2000.00. If you have the latest versions of Photoshop or Lightroom CS, they include a function to assist you in fixing converging lines in your photos. But you can also do a simple fix to your photos manually in earlier versions of photoshop that you may already be running.
                             Before fixing the verticals                                                                                and after
In the video below I walk you through one method that I use. My voice was starting to go when I recorded this but you should still be able to easily hear my comments.

Saturday, October 4, 2014


My image "Breaking Up", a conceptual image alluding to the pain and suffering of breaking up with someone or having a nervous breakdown. has just won 2nd place in a competition hosted by Eye-Fi and Studentstock.
I tend not to enter competitions because of the trend to choose winners based on likes through social media. I sometimes feel this method weighs things in favor of popularity above the content of the work. Not that there is anything wrong with this approach - it's just not for me. However, I noticed that this competition would be decided by a panel of judges and not based on social media responses, so I though why not.