Monday, 31 October 2011

Getting a lot Closer

My favourite style of photography is the majestic wide angle, usually panoramic, view, taking in the landscape with big skies, sweeping mountains, and long sandy shoreline.  However I also love getting in close and capturing the detail in a scene whether it is people, landscapes or automobiles.

The following shots were all taken using a telephoto zoom, invariably on my trusty Nikon 80-200mm f2.8, a lens I've owned since 1996 and is a must when packing my camera bag.  I've also used a Nikon 18-105mm f3.5/f5.6 and a Nikon 70mm-300mm f4/f5.6, both good lenses but not up to the same standard (or price) of the 80-200. 

The first shot was taken during the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run International Concours held in Regent Street, London.  The event celebrates a country of vehicle manufacture from the early 20th Century and this particular year the celebrated country was Belgium.  The Band of the Royal Forest St Hubert provided a colourful and tuneful centre piece to the event and I decided to focus on a close up of the hunting horn and the red jackets.  With all shiny objects the trick is to make sure you don't get your own reflection in the shot and standing further back with the 80-200 certainly makes this a lot easier.

The second shot from the same event is of a very colourful door on a pre 1905 veteran car. 
The next two shots are close ups of the buildings and kerbs at the Potrero de los Funes circuit near San Luis in Argentina.  After getting plenty of wide shots of the mountains and the lake, it was time to focus on the beautiful colours the buildings had been painted in.



The next shot is of the bow of a fishing boat moored in the harbour in Limoni on Lake Garda in Italy. Again I'd spent a lot of time getting wide angle views of this most beautiful part of Northern Italy and decided to concentrate on the closer views as well.


The final shot is of some oak leaves in the Lake District, a place the wide angle lens was made for.  However this shot works works just as well.


So the next time you are out and about have a look at the finer details when looking at the screen or through the view finder, you'll find some interesting compositions if you get in close and personal.

ALL IMAGES ARE THE PROPERTY OF MACLEAN PHOTOGRAPHIC AND CANNOT BE USED FOR ANY PURPOSE WITHOUT PRIOR PERMISSION.

MORE IMAGES CAN BE VIEWED ON  FLICKR

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Picture of the Week: Sunset over Brighton Pier


One from the archive.  Taken in November 2006 just after the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run had finished on Madeira Drive in Brighton. It had been one of the warmest November days for years, 17 degrees, which had brought out record crowds to watch the 110th anniversary of the world's longest running motoring event.


ALL IMAGES ARE THE PROPERTY OF MACLEAN PHOTOGRAPHIC AND CANNOT BE USED FOR ANY PURPOSE WITHOUT PRIOR PERMISSION.

MORE IMAGES CAN BE VIEWED ON  FLICKR

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

More Speed

For those of us who started in photography before digital cameras came on the scene, high film speeds were usually shunned unless we wanted to use them for a specific purpose.  High speed colour films produced muted colours while the results were grainier than the lower speed emulsions.  Film speeds were rated in ISO (or ASA) numbers, with 50 and 100 being the standard.  400 and above were considered high speed, with 1000 + producing very grainy images and were usually to domain of the arty black and white picture.

In digital photography the ISO number has become the standard measurement of the sensitivity of the image sensor, where a higher number indicates higher sensitivity.  A higher sensitivity allows photographers to take pictures in low light without using flash. However, this gain usually comes at a price: as the light signal is amplified, the noise signal is also amplified, and high ISO images are usually more "noisy" than low ISO images.

The problem for photographers like me who were weaned on low speed films (Fuji Velvia 50 and Provia 100 slide films) the idea of pushing the speeds higher is not something we consider doing easily.  However today's digital SLR cameras can handle high speeds easily and Nikon is renowned for its high speed image sensors.  This year has been a revelation for me and I now push the ISO rating higher rather than risk losing a shot through camera shake and the results speak for themselves.


CHEETAH PROFILE
The following shot of the Cheetah was taken on Safari in South Africa this summer.  The light was very poor and my Sigma 50-500mm f4/f6.3 shoots better images at f8.  I decided to set the ISO to 2000 on my Nikon to keep the shutter speed above 1/500 of a second.


FINGAL'S CAVE
The second shot was taken inside Fingal's Cave on the island of Staffa on the West Coast of Scotland last year.  The cave was very dark and much too big for my SB600 Speedlight to make an impression, so I decided to push to ISO to 3200 and rely on daylight coming from the mouth of the cave.  The result was a very usable image and it can be enlarged to A4 without any real loss in image quality.


Another advantage of digital over film is you can change the ISO rating for every shot where with film cameras you either had to change films mid roll (which was a fiddly and frustrating task at the best of times) or have two camera bodies with different films in each. 

I still leave the digital camera set on 200 ISO, maybe moving up to 400 if the light isn't so good, but now I have no problem pushing the ISO to 1000 and beyond if the need arises and using a tripod isn't practical. 

ALL IMAGES ARE THE PROPERTY OF MACLEAN PHOTOGRAPHIC AND CANNOT BE USED FOR ANY PURPOSE WITHOUT PRIOR PERMISSION.

MORE IMAGES CAN BE VIEWED ON  FLICKR


Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Picture of the Week - London to Brighton Veteran Car Run

On Sunday 6 November the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run will start in Hyde Park and finish on Madeira Drive in Brighton.  This event is world's longest running motoring event and celebrates the Emancipation Run that took place on the 14 November 1896.  Over 500 pre 1905 veteran cars take part in the event.

This image was taken at the start line last year and features one of the 18 steam cars that take part.


Monday, 17 October 2011

The Panoramic View

Sometimes a photographic situation calls for the end product to be a panorama, which can be a ratio from 4:1 to 10:1 rather than the standard 4:3 or 3:2 of a regular rectangle image.  There are two methods that can be used to produce a long, thin image.  


The first is taking the original image and cropping the top and bottom to give you the desired effect.  An example of this is the following picture, which was taken in the Netherlands last weekend.  As you can see the sky in the original shot was cropped to give the required panoramic ratio and produce a stronger composition.

Original image of the sunrise in Haarlem

The final panoramic image

The second method is to use Photoshop's Panoramic Merge function, which knits together a set of pictures into one.  I usually take four or five images of a scene, taken in sequence across the scene, and then use the photomerge function to produce one image.  This works very well and the results are usually seamless.  It can be fooled if you have a crowd of people who are moving around, you sometimes find that people have heads missing, so I usually stick to static subjects. 


The following shot was taken in Limoni on Lake Garda in Italy and is a merge of four individual shots.  As you can see, once the images are merged you still have to crop the left and right edges.  One of the advantages of using this method is with four High Res images, the resulting panoramic image file is much larger than the cropped image above and can produce much larger prints as a result.

The final image, which is a Photoshop merge of the following four pictures





ALL IMAGES ARE THE PROPERTY OF MACLEAN PHOTOGRAPHIC AND CANNOT BE USED FOR ANY PURPOSE WITHOUT PRIOR PERMISSION.


MORE EXAMPLES OF PANORAMIC PICTURES ARE AVAILABLE ON FLICKR




Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Picture of the Week - Salen Bay, Isle of Mull


This week's choice is an image taken last year on a trip to the Isle of Mull.  Salen is on the north side of the second largest island in the Inner Hebrides and this picture was taken on a still evening in August 2010.  

A choice of a wide angle lens (10-20mm f4), neutral density grad. filter, tripod, small aperture (f22) and slow shutter speed (1/8s) produced this pleasing image.

More pictures from Scotland are available on Flickr


Monday, 10 October 2011

Looking for a Different (wide) Angle

When you visit well know tourist attractions it is very easy to go for the 'picture postcard' view when you pick up your camera to record your time there.  Personally I try to find a different angle (though I do take the tourist shots as well), looking for something out of the ordinary to focus my lens on.  This is where my 10-20mm wide angle zoom comes into it's own.  With this lens you have to get in close and find a different perspective.


Below are some examples taken on the recent trip to China during a visit to the Forbidden City.  I spent a lot of time looking for a different perspective on the very worn tourist trail around the World Heritage site. The situation wasn't helped by the fact the sky was very overcast, caused by the air pollution in Beijing. 


The first image is of the Gate of Supreme Harmony and was taken from a very low angle at the bottom of the carving that led to the doors at the top of the steps.

The Gate of Supreme Harmony
Taken low down looking back up the carving leading to the top of the steps

The Meridian Gate is the main entrance the Forbidden City.  A sequence of three shots become one thanks to Photoshop's panoramic feature.
The Meridian Gate
Not one but three wide angle shots and then stitched together as a panoramic
Another technique is to get in very close to capture detail.  The brass carvings on the massive doors were a suitable subject to capture on a wide angle lens
Detail on one of the carvings on the doors


More pictures from China can be found on FLICKR

ALL IMAGES ARE THE PROPERTY OF MACLEAN PHOTOGRAPHIC AND CANNOT BE USED FOR ANY PURPOSE WITHOUT PRIOR PERMISSION.




Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Sometimes You Just Get Lucky


The best landscape photographs are invariably planned.  The right location, the right time of day, the right lens, it's all down to planning.  But sometimes luck plays a part as well, which was definitely the case for this picture taken at Lake Garda.  

After a frustrating day for photography as the lake had been covered in mist, we had returned to our apartment to get changed before heading out to Malcesine for dinner.  Suddenly the mist started to lift and the clouds parted.  Luckily I learned very early on in my photographic career the golden rule of keeping my camera ready, but there was still only time to grab five or six frames from the apartment balcony before the light was gone again.  

A magical moment captured and completely unplanned - very lucky indeed.

More pictures from Lake Garda can be found on FLICKR

ALL IMAGES ARE THE PROPERTY OF MACLEAN PHOTOGRAPHIC AND CANNOT BE USED FOR ANY PURPOSE WITHOUT PRIOR PERMISSION.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Shooting The Light Fantastic: FIA GT1 World at Night in Beijing

On our recent trip to China, the FIA GT1 World Championship held a demonstration at the Olympic Park in Beijing.  We had held Rounds 8 and 9 of the World Championship on standard race circuits in Ordos (Inner Mongolia) and Golden Port (Beijing) but this was an opportunity to take the cars into one of the most visited areas of the Chinese capital city and let the locals see the cars in the 'flesh'. 


The cars from Aston Martin, Corvette, Ford, Lamborghini and Nissan wowed the thousands Chinese visitors who came to view the event and clearly demonstrated that a street circuit race could be held here sometime in the future.


Exim Bank Team China Corvette Z06
While the day light runs were colourful, the event took on a different light when the sun set and the floodlights came on.  The light from the Bird's Nest Stadium and The Water Cube also added an ambience to the event. 
On the Grid - Young Driver Aston Martin DB9 and Exim Bank Team China Corvette
Personally I love taking pictures in these conditions, setting the Nikon Speedlight to rear curtain sync and the camera to a slow shutter speed.  The cars speeding past are caught in a stream of light trails and then frozen as the flash fires.  This is an easy and very effective technique to use in these conditions.


MORE PICTURES FROM CHINA ARE AVAILABLE ON FLICKR


All-Inkl.com Munnich Motorsport Lamborghini Murcielago


On the Grid - The Chinese Flag leads the way in Beijing

The Water Cube

Lamborghini Murcielagos in the Paddock


JRM Nissan GTR
Belgian Racing Ford GT

JRM Nissan GTR

The Bird's Nest Olympic Stadium


ALL IMAGES ARE THE PROPERTY OF MACLEAN PHOTOGRAPHIC AND CANNOT BE USED FOR ANY PURPOSE WITHOUT PRIOR PERMISSION.


For more infromation on the FIA GT1 World Championship visit www.gt1world.com