New images on the website

Moored in the Bay
D800E 70-200f2.8 70mm 2.5 secs f9.0

I have added some new images taken this month into the Filey gallery. I have also added a new gallery with 3 images taken in Hornsea, which is a small town on the East Yorkshire coast.

Hornsea groyne I
D800E 70-200f2.8 70mm 90 secs f16

Less is more - carry less gear


I love minimalism and try to apply the philosophy to most of my life, with varying success. It is difficult when most others seem to want more.

The application of the philosophy to photography is interesting. One can apply it to the gear one uses and there are successful photographers that use one camera and one lens. Of course looking back into the archives many of the greats did not have large numbers of cameras and lenses.

So ask yourself what do you actually need? A camera and a lens, possibly a filter such as a polarizer – an effect that cannot really be created digitally – a tripod possibly and a bag. Everything else is luxury.

Gull and lighthouse

What is the benefit of this approach? Travelling light allows you access to places you find difficult to get to with a large bag on your back. If you do street photography you do not stand out as a photographer. Perhaps the most important is that your back remains intact. It seems that one of the burdens of the wildlife/bird photographer is the carrying of large lenses and tripods with the impact this has on their lower backs.

I used to carry a large tripod, two camera bodies, at least three or four lenses and teleconvertors, lots of filters, an angle viewer, a flash or two and lots of gadgets. Now I carry a maximum of two lenses, possibly a Lensbaby and a couple of filters that I have learned help creating my vision. I also carry a notebook and pen to make notes on my why I have taken that particular shot and what my vision at the time was. I will cover this more in the next post.

So what is the attraction of minimalism as applied to gear? Carry less and concentrate more on images. Walk more, look more, see more. Become more au fait with your gear and learn to ‘see’ with each lens. You do not have to carry the same lens all the time.

Remember the two most important items of equipment for your photography are your eyes and your creative mind.

7 sticks
All images taken from

Always carry a camera

Once a photographer, always a photographer. Can you switch it on and off?

I don't think so and therefore I always have a camera with me. Here is a case in point. I was driving home the other night and looking about me as I always do when I realised the clouds were clearing. By the time I got near There was blue sky and fast moving clouds - my favourite weather - and the rain had stopped. What's more the clouds were moving across the sky in such a way that I knew one of my favourite fields would potentially yield a great minimalist long exposure. With the gear in the car I could stop and get my shot.

I was pleased with the result and as the clouds were moving so fast got a couple of very different images with and without the sun on the field. If I had not got my camera I would have missed the chance or had to get home and then go out again.

Here is one of them:

Folkton field IV
Nikon D800E 16-35 25secs at f16
Processed in Adobe Lightroom Photoshop CS5 and Nik Silver Efex 2


Vision is the art of seeing an image and then creating it. (To read about vision visit the website Craft & Vision and the teachings of the brilliant David duChemin)

Many argue that the equipment is not important, but I would beg to differ - a little. You have to have the equipment you need, as well as the photographic skill, and the couple this with the creative juices and technical ability, either in the darkroom or on the computer (or even both) to turn the original photograph into your vision.

Below are a couple of images that I used a special lens to create. I knew what I wanted and I could have generated at least one of them with Photoshop, but the lens allowed me to get closer to my vision in camera. This saved time at the computer so I could spend more of the most precious resource (time) doing what I love - photography outdoors. It also meant less manipulation and thus less pixel loss/degradation.

Blowing in the wind
Canon 5D2 Lensbaby Composer Single glass f4
Taken with the wind blowing the reeds to create movement. Processed to be relatively high key as I like light images.

Up the trunk
Nex 5N Lensbaby Til Transformer Double glass f2.8
Taken to use the Lensbaby to distort the edges and emphasis the beaches sticking out like pins in a pin-cushion. 
For more information on Lensbabies visit their website.

Project or miscellaneous

I originally titled this entry as 'Project or random' but realised that many images are not random but premeditated, however they are not part of a project per se.

Do you like to take your images as part of a defined project that will at some stage reach a conclusion, or are they taken when you see something you like?
The travel photographer takes his images as part of a loose project to depict the area he is visiting. This to me is still a project, but not as tight a one as the travel photographer who goes to photograph the churches in a capitol city for instance.
Often a landscape photographer takes an images that is preconceived but not part of a project.

I do  all three:
What I call miscellaneous - often spontaneous or planned in a area but not necessarily fitting into any project or image grouping.

Cornelian shore
Taken on a trip to Cornelian Bay just outside Scarborough. I went here with no preconceived ideas of an image although I had been many times before. I did know that if I took a shot it would be of the sea or it's interface with the land, but I have been here on several occasions and not had any inspiration to take an image, but just drunk in the atmosphere and enjoyed the isolation and the soporific effect of the sea itself.

The loose project - such as travel shots of a city, for example Rome that I have depicted in the last couple of posts.

Spanish Steps II
Nex 7 E18-55 at 18mm ISO 100 1/40 f10
Adobe Lightroom, CS5 and Nik Silver Efex Pro 2
This was taken as part of a trip to Rome where my photographic aim was to capture the essence of the city that I felt. This image was meant to portray the fact that anyone can sit and enjoy the world go by and on the Spanish Steps it was mostly the young or tourists, however this man was sat alone and to me showed that locals sit and enjoy the world going by too.

The project - I have a couple of these on the go at the moment. These are great if you are photographing in your local area. I have lived in the same place for the last 8 years and have photographed most of the local area and so now my photography is driven by a couple of local projects. One that is fairly well developed is a project depicting a group of local churches, called 'The Churches of the Buckrose Carrs'. I began with the idea and visited a couple of the sites before deciding how I was to take the project forward. I have been enthused since starting this set of images and pursued it whenever I can get to the churches, but not at times of services as I do not want people in the images. More on this project and how I set up my brief and carried it out when I pout the images on the website.

All Saint's Church, West Heslerton
D800E 16-35 at 16mm ISO100 30s f16
Adobe Lightroom, CS5 and Nik Silver Efex Pro 2

Rome - new gallery added to

I have added a new gallery with fine art monochrome images of Rome to the main website

Photographing in Rome

The previous blog entry outlined how I planned to travel with the aim of photographing Rome whilst on a family holiday. In the five days I wanted to portray the essence of Rome from my perspective. It was great to be back in a city where the way of life appeals to me: warm weather, pavement cafes, good food and sitting to pass the time/watch the world go by.
Wandering around the sites with my family doing the tourist things the main feeling I got was of limitless people. There are tourists everywhere in the key tourist sites as one would expect. I therefore did some long exposure shots using the Nex 7 of sites such as the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish steps and the colosseum.

Spanish Steps I
Nex 7 E18-55 at 18mm ISO 100 15secs at f22
10x ND
Processed in Adobe Lightroom, CS5 and Nik Silver Efex 2
This was taken without a tripod but by propping the camera on the bag which was resting on a wall. This is somewhat precarious and requires some delicate adjustments to get the camera level and stable, but it is a technique I often use when out in a group so I do not have to carry a tripod.

For me though it is the fountains and the piazzas that I enjoy, and of course living near the coast I am drawn to water and so the river.

St Peter's Square II
Nex 7 E18-55 at 18mm ISO 100 1/1250 at f6.3
Processed in Adobe Lightroom, CS5 and Nik Silver Efex 2
This shot was backlit and processed in Silver Efex Pro 2 to increase the prominence of the water droplets using High Structure and a red filter.

Ponte Sant'Angelo I
Nex 7 E18-55 at 18mm ISO 100 25secs at f16
14x ND
Processed in Adobe Lightroom, CS5 and Nik Silver Efex 2

There are more images about to appear on the main website

Photography and a family

Planning a trip abroad when going on a family holiday as a photographer is tricky. How do you balance the overwhelming urge to create your art with the overwhelming need of your family to have your undivided attention? In many ways this is impossible. There are however several approaches you can take:
1. You can ignore your photography
2. You can ignore your family
3. You can arrange a couple of days to yourself to pursue your art
4. You can go out at extremes of day and spend the days with the family
5. You can try surreptitiously to look after your family and pursue your art.

I have tried all of the above and there are advantages and disadvantages to each.
How can you ignore your art? To all photographers the disadvantages of 1 are obvious, especially as you are bound to see the shot of a lifetime. The answer is to go somewhere where you could not possibly pursue your particular type of photography.
For those who wish to remain married and remain alive number 2 is not really a viable option.
Choice 3 has some strengths, but can you arrange the weather, the light etc. Similar disadvantages apply to 4 as well as being exhausted at the end of the holiday.
On my recent family holiday to Rome I tried option 5. I planned to travel much lighter than usual, carrying far less camera gear. I bought a Sony compact camera system and carried it in a shoulder bag. I even travelled with only a small tripod, which I only took out a couple of times.
I had planned the itinerary so that my children, who are 6 and 8, would be shown all the key sites in the 5 days we were there, especially as they had been looking at Roman ruins in the UK. I then tried to make sure I could take advantage of the light, angle of the sun etc for some of the shots I had planned and snuck these into the walking around the city e.g. backlighting a fountain.

Fontane delle Naiadi, Piazza della Repubblica
Nex 7 E18-55 at 51mm 1/400 f8
Taken with backlighting and processed to highlight the water droplets as a main feature of the image.

This was achieved by using maps, Google Earth and The Photographer's Ephemeris and guides on Rome.
Gear:              Sony Nex 7
                      Sony Nex 5N
                      Lensbaby Tilt Transformer and single glass lens
                      ND, ND grad, polarising filters
                      Benro tripod
The gear was carried in a Lowepro Event Messenger 250 and the tripod was in the hold luggage. I also took a 15" MacBook Pro with 2 external drives. The images were processed in Adobe Lightroom, CS5 and Nik Silver Efex Pro 2.