The West Ring

Lurchers, photography, and a bit more besides

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Sunset + Coast != Magic

March 17th, 2008 by Iain · 2 Comments

I don’t know whether to be disappointed or laugh at my naivety.

Let me explain. Our holiday cottage in Cornwall was booked long before the 350D arrived and blew me away with its potential. In the weeks before the holiday I read a load of back issues of a variety of photographic magazines (thanks go again to Stephen :-D ). Some of the pictures that really grabbed my attention were the coastal scenes, particularly sunrise/sunset ones. So, I was really looking forward to coming back with some stunning shots in the bag.

It turns out it’s not quite that simple. First time out the only thing that I tried was the rain cover on my new camera bag. :roll: (I’m loving the usability of my Lowepro Slingshot 200 BTW.) The following day the early evening looked promising – dry and not too much cloud so I grabbed my tripod and set off on the long walk to the beach… 250 metres away :-D :cool:

I was very conscious of composition because the beach at Sennen is really quite large, and therefore quite likely to appear flat and uninteresting in a picture. Luckily it does have quite a selection of large rocks on the shoreline at one point. With the sun setting behind me I was able to use a couple of them as foreground interest as they were quite nicely lit (click for the larger version):

Sennen Rocks

I think everyone who’s seen the (unprocessed) holiday pics has has liked that one so I guess I shouldn’t be so critical!

The other thing I was expecting/hoping for was that as the sun settled below the horizon it would light the underside of the clouds. It was looking great until it dropped behind a narrow band of cloud right on the horizon! :mad: However, I did manage a couple of shots whilst it was setting. I took one shot exposing for the ground and one for the sky with the intention of combining them in Photoshop. So here it is, my first attempt:

Sunset over Sennen

Again, I think I’m perhaps being a little too critical (or wishful perhaps?) as that’s not a bad shot, but it’s not magical.

The following day I deliberately planned things so that we’d visit The Lizard late on in the afternoon. I did this so that I could go to Kynance Cove near sunset as this is reputed to be the most beautiful part of the Cornish coastline. Sod’s Law: the tide was in and the cloud blocked the sun as it set!

Kynance Cove

So what have I learnt other than to not get my expectations up? Well, I think I can see why people use sun compasses. I didn’t realise how much the time of year affects where the sun sets. I can now imagine finding a great location and coming back at a different time of year in order to “place” the sun in a better position. Studying the tide times is also useful. And I can’t believe how harsh a critic of my own photos I am! Oh well, hopefully I can turn that into a positive, learn from it, and take magnificent shots in the future!

If anyone thinks”I can do better than that” in a post processing stylee the please shout. I’d quite happily pass on the RAW files so you can work your magic. This would be on the understanding that you’d have to explain what/why/how you did what you did though!

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Quiet Here, Innit??

March 5th, 2008 by Iain · No Comments

As mentioned briefly in my last post, we’ve been on holiday so that’s why it’s been a bit quiet round here. The good news is I took a lot of pictures :-D The bad news is the time it’s going to take to cull and process! :roll: So please bear with me…

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The View From Below – Results

March 5th, 2008 by Iain · 2 Comments

The results are in. Actually, they were in last week, but we were on holiday :-D My picture came fourth in the public vote, and received a judge’s honourable mention, so I’m happy with that. Neil’s post can be seen here.

I enjoyed taking part because not only did it give me a nudge to try something different with a familiar subject, but it has the added bonus of seeing other people’s pictures and their “take” on it.

Neil’s next project however… :shock: Iron Chef Photography – it’s currently got me completely stumped and I’m not sure whether I’ll take part. I’ve already committed to entering the Photo Excellence Awards competition and that’s using up what little creativity I have! But… I did like the whole “taking part” aspect, so what the heck, I’ll see what I can come up with! :-|

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Time For a Challenge

February 22nd, 2008 by Iain · 4 Comments

I was just reading this month’s Digital SLR Photography magazine and they have launched their “Photo Excellence Awards 2008″ competition. As I’ve got so much time on my hands ;-) I’ve decided to give it a go. Being, as I am, a total novice, this will be a real challenge. But the way I see it, it will force me to try out new types of photography and I’m bound to learn something along the way. Who knows, I might even win a 450D…

I’m in at the deep end though, as the first month’s subject is food :shock: I’ve always maintained I have zero levels of creativity so this could be interesting :mrgreen:

The big question is, does anyone fancy joining me in this? Dad? Scott? Stephen? Be brave! :-P

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Wanted: More Hours in the Day!

February 22nd, 2008 by Iain · 2 Comments

I’ve just been lent Understanding Exposure (Revised Edition) by Bryan Peterson (cheers Stephen!) and it’s got me thinking about my up-coming holiday. This book has been recommended by many people, so obviously I want to read it. However, whilst on holiday I want to just chill with Jennie, walk the hounds, sightsee, read the books I received for Birthday/Christmas, study some of the Photoshop tutorials I’ve yet to look and, ohhh… there’s something else… Oh yeah! Take some photographs! :shock: Please, please can I have some extra hours in the day?? :lol:

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Project – The View From Below

February 20th, 2008 by Iain · No Comments

Let’s face facts. Given that we’ve got two gorgeous, photogenic and characterful hounds, and I’ve a new interest in photography, it’s a given that they’re going to feature quite heavily, especially in these early days. But I’m aware that not everyone who reads this site is necessarily a Lurcher lover, and I don’t want to bore them. So, when we’re out I do try and look for different angles when photographing them. We were out on Puttenham Common the other day and I decided to try and get a shot from a really low position.

As I prostrated myself I remembered a project I’d seen on Neil Creek’s blog: Project – The View From Below and decided to see if I could capture a suitable image. I lay on the up-slope of a slight undulation and tried to “arrange” for the hounds to come over the top in front of me. :shock: Honestly, I don’t think the resulting shot is a model of obedience, more sheer good fortune! But I’ll accept that. ;-)


The larger version can be seen here.

And yes, I have read the Terms of Entry!

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How The Rights To Your Photo Are Being Hijacked Through Photo Contests & Social Media

February 19th, 2008 by Iain · 3 Comments

I’ve just read a very interesting and thought-provoking post by Jim M. Goldstein in his blog. The gist of it is that if you’re entering any sort of contest or even posting your pictures on the likes of Facebook then you’re possibly handing over all future rights to that image. Read his post, it’s worthwhile!

Now, I’m not saying it’s an issue for me because I don’t envisage selling any pictures, but it’s something to think about. I’m certainly going to go read the Terms of Use of the projects/assignments I’m thinking of entering (and I certainly wouldn’t have beforehand).

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There Are No Excuses Now!

February 19th, 2008 by Iain · 2 Comments

Dad has very generously lent me one of his lenses on a long term loan. It’s the Canon EF 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS USM so a real step from the kit lens. I’m looking forward to picking it up at the weekend and giving it a whirl.

For those not up with the Canon acronyms the IS means it has Image Stabilisation which should help banish camera shake. Not that I get any now I have worked out what I’m doing! :lol:

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Photography: What I Have Learnt So Far…

February 13th, 2008 by Iain · 3 Comments

…is that it is as complicated as it first seemed! Especially as I have thrown myself in at the deep-end trying to photograph a fast moving subject in our two hounds. Still, I’m making progress and that’s what counts.

Looking at my first attempts I could see that quite often it appeared that their bums were in focus and their faces, well, not. I thought about this and decided that perhaps it was because I’d had too large an aperture, and therefore a small depth of field. My thinking being that in the time I’m taking to take the shot, their speed has moved them ever so slightly out of focus. So I resolved to try a smaller aperture.

This of course brought its own challenges in that it reduced my shutter speed for a given exposure. Again, not helpful when these two are charging around. To my credit ;-) it didn’t take too long before I remembered I could change the ISO setting to “increase my film speed”. Another small improvement…

Around this time I also changed how the camera was focusing. I switched it from using all nine points to just the central one to give me precise control of where it was focusing, and again think that gave me small improvements. But there was something bugging me – I couldn’t remember the difference between the focusing modes, and I was sure that one of them should be used for fast moving subjects. So, back to the guide book that I had been lent and I found it: AI Servo. This last time out I used that mode and there’s a noticeable improvement in the sharpness of the pictures. :-D (The pictures will be online in a day or two!)

Puttenham :: Frosty Start

Though I’ve definitely made some progress in learning what the camera can do, and when to use it, I still need so much more practice to get a much better “strike rate” of in focus pictures. At the moment I am forever guilty of forgetting to check or change something, and it’s usually the ISO. :roll: Surpassed myself the other day though, by forgetting to alter the ISO and the shutter speed having moved from in the trees into bright sunlight…

As I said at the start: it’s complicated, this photography lark. :mrgreen:

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Last Weekend’s Lurcher Walk

February 10th, 2008 by Iain · No Comments

A bit slow in processing and posting these, sorry :roll:

No waffle this time, just a link to the pictures and a teaser (AKA nearly a classic)

Lexi :: whirly!

I really wish I’d caught his face in focus.
Still, it makes me laugh :mrgreen:

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