What the Blog

Little Planet Wedding
21st March 2013 - 0 comments
Over 12 months ago - February 2012 - I was asked by my friend Kim if it would be possible to create a Little Planet at one of her wedding shoots. I thought it was a great idea that she had come up with and then pondered about the logistics of creating an image. My normal Little Planet image is of usually something static like architecture or landscape, but trying this with people? at a wedding?? - crazy idea I thought! Anyway, the idea kept being mentioned and eventually I agreed that it would be a unique photo but also challenging to be able to create, so nothing ventured, nothing gained. Kim asked one of her couples if they would be Guinea Pigs and explained what was needed and also that it might also be a disaster.

The location was Llangollen Railway Station and it was a beautiful day in early October 2012. After the main bride and groom images had been taken it was now up to me to try a 360 sequence of images, so I tried to explain to the guests that I needed them in a horseshoe group arrangement around me so that I could go around in a circle for this one off picture. Although they did as I asked, it then became apparent that standing still (the adults mostly) was not possible because they were telling the kids to stand still (they were!). And this then made me think it wasn't going to work. But I carried on as the group were arranged and just hoped I might salvage a panoramic out of it.

I managed to get 11 shots taken and was just about to shoot the last shot when the tourist train arrived and 50 or more passengers got off and were then in the last frame. I frantically waved my arms to ask them to move away but nobody knowing what was going on just carried on walking through the frame. Luckily my group stayed in position until all passengers had left. They were amazing to do that! Well, 12th shot taken to give me a panoramic and then I was off home to see what I had captured. I thought I hadn't also got the 12 shots I needed because of the commotion but after downloading my card stopped panicking when I saw all the images.

Then I saw that nearly every person had moved their head in one shot and then looked at me for the second shot - they are overlapped by 30% - so just thought there was no way a Little Planet would be created now. Well, luckily I was using PT Gui software and this has an amazing brush tool that lets you erase or keep what part of an image you want, or not, to stay. I tried it with the 'two headed' guests and Voila - it worked!! This meant then that I had 12 images to remove movement but after everything was done and then stitched it all worked fantastically. I just couldn't believe that I had created quite possibly the very first wedding 360 Little Planet image! All thanks to Kim's idea and PT Gui software.

After more cloning for the corners to fill the gaps (it's created as a circle) I was just chuffed to bits at how it looked. I emailed the image to the Bride and Groom and they were just blown away at how it came out - a very happy couple with a unique image to treasure.

The Bump II
28th February 2013 - 0 comments
It's been a while since I added anything to my blog (over a year in fact!!) so thought it might be a good time now to update my site with what's been happening over that time.

I thought I would start by updating and adding the finished print of the pregnancy sequence I took of Jessica and Mike. Although I presented them with a finished print, which is proudly hanging up on the wall at home, I lazily forgot to update my blog for the R-O-W to view.

Jessica had her baby, Imogen, in March 2011 so I should have added this photo quite a while back. The images show her in pregnancy from 4-9 months and then finally holding baby Imogen. Mike, my nephew, also gets a look in too.

The dress also seemed to stretch too, Tony!

Everything stops for tea
18th February 2011 - 1 comment
I recently had the opportunity to meet local businesswoman Rebecca Jenkinson, from Stockton Heath, Warrington, Cheshire who had a dilemma regarding her website images she had taken.

Although she had some photographs of her business products on her website, they weren't giving enough impact to the pretty colours that she wanted to give potential customers, who might like to try her service, which is hiring out tea cups, saucers and plates to potential brides for their wedding day, known as a 'trio'. Or in Rebecca's case a Pretty Little Trio

My task for the day would be to get some images as close ups, some images as illustrations and some shots set up to show the beautiful colours that can be seen in the pretty cups and plates she had to offer.

First things first though, a cup of tea. And a bacon butty!

Although the shots were being taken indoors, it was one of those dull cloudy days with flat natural light streaming through the windows. So I resorted to a mix of ambient and some fill in flash from my budget lighting set. Starting off with a few set up shots of items placed on a dresser we added cups, plates, tea pots and flowers until a pleasing composition was created.

Next came a few shots of Rebecca modelling. She squeezed herself into her wedding dress (no mean feat considering she has triplets now!) to give an impression of enjoying a wedding day feast using one of her cups and saucers. Next came a few more shots of cake stands, cup cakes, single cups and saucers (Lady Hamilton, for those in the know) tea pots, coffee pots, a variety of tea cups and another relaxed shot of Rebecca sitting down, once again using her own china cup and saucer. All told, a very productive day and a happy Rebecca.

It's not the usual kind of photography that I get up to but more importantly it was a learning curve for both of us and we created some nice sets in the short time I had available to help Rebecca out.

The Bump
26th December 2010 - 1 comment
Recently, I've had a great opportunity to record the progress and 'bump size' of my nephew's pregnant girlfriend, Jessica. I saw a series of images somewhere on the internet a while back (I can't remember whose website it was, but thanks for the idea) which showed a pregnant mother to be, photographed at the beginning and I assume each month, as 'the bump' grew, until a final shot with the mother holding the baby in her arms and looking back over the previous nine months images but all the images in one panoramic photo.

I suggested the idea to the parents to be and they thought it would be an ideal opportunity and unique image to have for future years to come.

So, it all sounds easy and having the idea and image in my head, arrived at their home for the first session while Jessicas bump was just developing. I set up my lights and did a couple of test shots then started to fire away. I must admit though, that I had no idea that my flash lights weren't fast enough to freeze the moment fully and we spent a couple of hours with every picture of Jessica taken with her eyes 'synced' to the flash - or just plain shut! It was very frustrating not being able to get an image with her eyes open - we even practiced 'staring' just so I could get some shots, but even that didn't seem to work.

Well, after a long session, I decided to call it a day and was resigned to the fact I might not get a single image of her. So, one last go and then pack up, I thought. Eureka, the very last shot was perfect. Eyes open, hand on hip and looking at the camera. It was well worth the time and effort we put in to it. So, since then, I have been back another two times to get more 'bump' progress images and am half way to a great record event of Jessicas pregnancy. The image is attached and will be updated for the next few months until birth.
Lytham Windmill
04th November 2010 - 0 comments
For a while now, I have had an image of the Windmill at Lytham, taken for a friend, who wanted it as a gift for someone else that used to live there and is now abroad. Great idea and should be hung on a wall in another country now. It was only recently though that after showing a mate of mine the same image from a series of other 360 panoramics, that his wife blurted out where the place was and had relatives there and could she have one for her wall too. In red! My original image though was more land than Windmill due to lack of fore-thought and scouting etc for a better viewpoint. So last weekend, I challenged myself to get back to Lytham and take a superior shot that had some 'impact' and would look even better on a wall in the UK.

Well, Saturday it was. Looking out the window in Warrington, the clouds looked fluffy enough and the sun was setting but not fast enough for me to miss it. Off I went. It takes about an hour to drive there and as I came into Lytham I noticed the sun had gone, the sky was dark and a huge grey cloud with an overfull amount of rain was about to empty - right above me. Well, no point going back, so I thought a 360 HDR would be in order. After checking the view, I settled for a close shot underneath the Windmill and started taking shots. F11 and 30th then 15th then 8th and back up to 60th , 125th. Repeat 11 more times and hey presto - it didn't stitch. Too dark and problems finding 'control points' in PT Gui.

But all is not lost. A simple, single, 360 panorama did the job as back up - as I was in the scouts all those years ago, I've never forgotten the motto to 'be prepared' and also get something in 'the can' before the monsoon comes, which is what it actually felt like when it poured. Rain in the 'horizontal'.

Anyway, the image is available to view in my gallery - in red of course! But here it is on the day:-

Lightroom 3
29th October 2010 - 0 comments
So, after reading last weeks 'pop' post, this week I'm going to talk about what I bought for myself as my present for my 50th. Adobe Lightroom 3.

Why Lightroom? Well, I bought ver. 1 a while back - and didn't understand it. Virtual pictures? What's that all about? So I gave up. Then after a while I started to find a use for it and used it to import, tart up my images and export back into Bridge in Photoshop. My most useful find was combining some 360 panoramic images I created using PT Gui and using the 'presets' in 'develop' in Lightroom to give some old photo technique look to them. Then i upgraded to ver 2. Didn't seem much of a change there though. So I plodded on and got a bit more use from it (but still not fully understanding it) and have basically used it in the same way - to import images, dress them up, export back into Bridge. I think what I wanted and maybe what other photographers want, is to be able to import straight into Lightroom, clean, sharpen, control contrast/brightness etc and then save in to a main library which in my case is Bridge. Ver 2 couldn't do that but I heard on the grapevine that ver 3 could. So I took the plunge last week and downloaded a discounted copy from Adobe. After checking all the import boxes and installing, when I came to look in my library or catalogue as it is called, instead of the 3500 images I have in ver 2, there were about 90 that had imported.

I did a bit of digging around on the internet and found that I have probably imported images from the Beta copy I tried for 30 days. So why didn't Lightroom 3 over-write ver 2 and transfer all my library across? Why couldn't that information be added to the installation process that my images might not transfer and give me the option to correct it? Looks like I have to start from scratch again and re-import everything, due to the fact I am dealing with two separate catalogues. So I still don't understand it! Unless anyone out there reading this can put me on the right track. Thanks in anticipation.
Turning 50
25th October 2010 - 2 comments
Having just turned 50 on Friday 22/10 (thanks for all the cards folks) - I thought it was about time I added some of my thoughts about what and where my photography is going and some projects I have in mind.

The first self promotion is a Pop Art image of myself as in the style of Andy Warhol. I was sent a link from Warehouse Express with step by step instructions on how to create a 'Pop Art' image and thought it would be an ideal start to showing a different way of using photography as art. My usual images are taken for stock libraries and can be quite boring and ordinary but they are, after all, just taken to illustrate or show a place or object. So, after selecting an ordinary image of myself, I followed the instructions and have created something I am really happy with and worth showing.

Keep looking for future '50' projects based on that number.