Using the photography equipment you have available

When it comes to photography, I have one golden rule.

Be flexible.

As with all things in life, things will go wrong. You’ll mess up. The sky won’t be right, the clouds won’t go away, it’s too cold, it’s too hot. There are a lot of things that need to go right and that you need to get right in order to get that shot you want.

So recently I was heading for a walk around Carsington Reservoir near Ashbourne. Although primarily a walk to get a breath of fresh air and a leg stretch, I’m trying to get back into the habit of taking my camera out with me. So, I grabbed my camera bag and took it along with me.

After a little while, the sky is looking pretty, the water nice and still and the sun has come out, I reach for my camera with the intent on getting several shots of the reservoir so that I can create a panorama in Photoshop later on. However, when I turn on my camera, it informs me that I’ve made a completely rookie mistake – I’ve left my SD card in my laptop!

I think it’s about time I invest in another one so that I always have a spare in my camera bag but, I’ll deal with that another time. Disappointed at not being able to get my shots, I cursed myself and stuck my camera back in its bag.

I’m a massive advocate of the idea that, in photography, you should use the equipment you have available to you. Yes, the quality of your images will, hopefully, increase as you invest in better equipment but, I think that raw talent and eye that some people have for framing and creating interesting and beautiful images can be channelled through any device. I’m not saying I have this raw talent, I just try my best and have fun doing it!

As somebody who works with and on social media on a daily basis, I’m a huge fan of Instagram. Whether it’s sharing images I’ve captured on my DSLR camera, or quick snaps I’ve taken on my iPhone, I love sharing and viewing images on the Instagram app.

I decided to use my trusty iPhone SE to grab a few shots – a couple simple landscape images, and a panorama, using the panorama tool that iPhone’s have on the camera app. Although I tend to use my iPhone to edit images using either the camera app itself or Instagram. I decided to tweak the panorama slightly using Lightroom and get rid of some shadows that were in the shot using Photoshop. 

Anyway, hopefully I’ve learnt my lesson and will check over my equipment next time before I go out with an SD card. However, it’s nice to be reminded that I have different means of capturing images and that sometimes, it’s just about being flexible and seeing what you can do, with the equipment you have to hand.

If you’d like to see more of my photography, check out my Instagram and Flickr accounts!


7 Tips for Pet Photography

How does the saying go? Never work with children or animals? Just in case you decide to break these rules and capture some images of your beloved pet/s, here are some tips for getting that perfect shot.

1. Get down to their level

Make your eyes level with theirs. It’ll be different for each different animal and pet, and it also depends what situation or position they’re in but, it can make a world of difference to your images. We see dogs from above all the time, going eye to eye with a cat doesn’t happen all the time. You might have to crouch or kneel, you might have to stand on tiptoe if they’re climbing up the curtains, you might even have to lie flat on your tummy to get that nose to nose shot, but it’ll be worth it.

To get this shot, I have to lie flat on my stomach in my Nan’s kitchen, creeping closer and closer to a very unimpressed cat. He didn’t like the clicking of the camera or the way it moved when the lens auto-focused, but he did appreciate the tummy rub he got as a reward.

2. Come prepared

I know this sounds a bit boy scouts but it’s an important point to make. I’ll be covering coming prepared with regards to camera equipment later, for now I’m focused on food. I don’t mean you should bring a thermos and a box of doughnuts, this isn’t a stake out, I’m talking about bringing snacks for your model/s! If you’ve got a little stash of nibbles for the animal you’re trying to get photos of, you can reward them for their patience and good behaviour, but also gain their attention if needed.

3. Be patient

You are going to need a shed load of patience. It depends how you go about getting the photos to be fair. If you just spend half an hour playing with them, interacting with them, getting on their level and just seeking opportunities for different photos, different angles etc. the time will fly by. If you’re more restricted and there are certain shots you need to get – say for a commission, it’s time to bring out the special reserves of patience you have stored away somewhere because you might be there for a while. The point is, to not get worked up.

4. Use the right equipment

Of course, this depends almost completely on what equipment you have open to you. If you have the best equipment that money can buy, a variety of lenses etc. you can spend time using a 50mm lens, before switching to a 35mm, others are content or reliant on using their iPhone to take photos. I tend to use either my iPhone SE or my Canon 400d with the 35-50mm kit lens, depending on what I have with me. Don’t forget, it’s not just about the equipment you use in terms of taking the shot, remember the lighting and situation as well – natural light is always going to be better unless you’re creating something that requires very specific lighting. And beware of using flash or strobe lighting with animals present as they have sensitive eyes and it can spook them

5. Cool, calm and collected

Always stay relaxed. If you have a positive, warm manner with open body language and a friendly voice, animals WILL sense this. They’ll be a lot more relaxed when you’re taking photos of them – in much the same way as a human would be. Move slowly, get down low and edge towards your target, cats and dogs in particular will be spooked if you start chasing them around. It’s also important to keep your voice quiet and measured to keep your pet nice and calm. Confusing them with commands and multiple calls to action will just agitate them and you. If you need to give some instructions, keep it simple.

6. Check the environment

As well as keeping an eye on the lighting in the space you’re in. Look out for what’s in the background of your shots. This doesn’t matter so much if it’s a close up but, for any other type of image, you could take a fantastic shot of your pet, but if there’s a distracting or cluttered background, it’ll ruin the shot. Once again this does depend somewhat on the equipment you’re using, for example, some lenses will allow for the subject to be in focus, with the background blurred or bokeh – this depends on the lens size and the settings used, as well as how the photo is altered in the editing process, so best just to always keep in mind what’s in the shot!

7. What are you trying to show? 

Even if you’re literally just practicing your techniques or trying out a new piece of equipment, there’s always a reason for taking a photo and they should always invoke some kind of reaction or emotion in the viewer. If you’re taking an image of a live subject such as a person, you’d expect there to be some sort of hint into their emotive state and their personality as a whole, from the image, this should be exactly the same for images of animals. Is your cat playful or lazy? Is your dog a tail-chaser or a sofa-hogger? Show that in the images and bear it in mind when you’re trying to get photos of them, show people who they are, what makes them unique and interesting?

So, those are my tips for getting decent shots of your pets, what are your tips and tricks? Let me know!

Dusting off the DSLR in Dovedale

On December 30th I invited a friend from down South to come for a catch up and a trip up to the Peaks. Since he’s a couple of hours away, we don’t see each other that much but, it’s great to meet and have a gossip and show him some of the Derbyshire sights, in the past we’ve been to Bakewell, Monsal Head, Carsington Water, Matlock Bath and more. We usually try and plan ahead so that we’re doing this exploring in the summer and can take advantage of the long daylight hours but, this was a spur of the moment thing!

By the time he made it up to me and we had travelled the hour to the Peaks (Ilam Park specifically) it was already past midday. Not much daylight time left!

Thanks to the recent snow and rain in the area, the place was very very muddy and very wet – especially on the banks of the River Dove in the Dovedale valley, since the river had swamped the path on one side. Thankfully, we’d come prepared with hats, scarves and thick coats to combat the cold and welly boots to wade through the mud and river. 

Since I haven’t taken my Canon DSLR camera out for a good long while, I decided to take it with me on our little jaunt and brush up on my photography skills. I’ve still been doing as much photography as I can but, I haven’t used that camera in a long while – using my iPhone instead mainly. It was really nice just to amble along and catch some landscape shots whilst we chatted and explored.

As you can see, the River Dove had completely swamped the path on one side. My friend managed to scramble up the embankment a little and walk along there. I had my welly boots on and decided to just wade through it!

There’s always room for improvement in photography, all in all I like these photos but they aren’t as good as I think they should be – they’re a little bland and I’d have liked to have done more in the edit but, for a first attempt after a bit of an absence, I’m happy with them.

I’ll definitely be using my camera more this year as I really enjoyed using it again. It’s not the best camera and I’m not a great photographer but, it’s a fun hobby that I enjoy and love to share with others. So, hopefully you’ll be seeing many more images from me over the coming year!

Happy New Year everybody!

Magazine Covers Production Project

DSC_2077-20jpgSo, for a recent production project at University I decided to look at magazines and how they are designed and produced with specific genders in mind. I looked at two popular magazines – one aimed at males and one aimed at females. I know I could have created my own magazines and the design of them would have been completely down to me but, I wanted them to be as authentic as possible and this way people can relate directly to the product.

I did a lot of research into the two magazines I would be creating covers for – GQ for men and Vogue for women, so I could match the tone of the articles featured on the covers, DSC_2029-1the fonts and colours used and the style of the images used as well. I took original stills using myself and my Man as models for each of the covers and layered article ideas and the magazine names over the top.

I kept both images in black and white, with the female emanating ideas of simplicity, purity and femininity (even if I do say so myself!) and the male representing strength, power and masculinity – as is typical within mainstream media.

It was finicky and a pain in the ass sometimes, but with a lot of patience and a lot of breaks to stop me smashing the keyboard, the end result was exactly what I was aiming for!

For those of you who might be wondering, I took the images with a Nikon D7100 then imported and edited them slightly using Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop, I then saved them as simple JPEG’s before opening them separately and adding the magazine design piece by piece – starting with the names and working down from there. Granted, positioning everything properly and fighting for control against my OCD wasn’t always easy, but I got there in the end!

Magazine Covers

On the whole I really enjoyed the project and I’m thinking about doing another one but maybe shake up the status quo a little bit by creating designs that challenge certain representations. For now though, I’ve talked enough! For my photography and projects from me, check out the links at the bottom of any page on my blog and they’ll send you to my various social media pages. Thanks all!


Solar Eclipse March 2015

Solar elclipse image framed by cloudsA Solar Eclipse is an extremely  rare phenomenon, in which the Sun is either partially or completely covered/obscured by the Moon. Eclipses have been observed from Earth for thousands of years, with many cultures circulating superstitions around the natural occurrence. Since there will never be a Solar Eclipse that covers as much of the Sun in the Northern Hemisphere in my lifetime, I wanted to write a detailed feature about my experience, what a solar eclipse is, how to observe it safely and also some media I captured while viewing the eclipse.

Once In A Lifetime…

As I said in my introduction above, an Eclipse on this scale will not be happening again in the UK during my lifetime – the next total Solar Eclipse is forecast for 2090 in the UK. As I live in the Midlands, I saw around 90% totality as the Moon covered only most of the Sun from where I was viewing the Eclipse. However, further North, up into the Faroe Islands, it was reported that up to 98% totality was visible for a short time, with 100% totality visible only on Svalbard.

According to NASA, a solar eclipse can occur up to five times a year, however, this of course depends on where you are in the world, and relies on the fact that a solar eclipse can only occur during a Full Moon. Over the course of the last 500 years, there have been just eight total solar eclipses that were visible from the UK. The last of which took place in 1999 and thousands travelled south to Cornwall and Devon in order to view it.

Safety First!

There’s nothing like viewing a Solar Eclipse first hand, however, it’s important to remember never to look at the Sun directly, even if 90% of it is covered by the Moon, the rays from the Sun can still do irreparable damage to the sensitive mechanisms in the human eye.

Even though the Solar Eclipse was broadcast through television network coverage and online, millions ventured into the great outdoors to view the Eclipse for themselves. However, remembering suitable equipment with which to see the Eclipse effectively but also safely, is key to viewing this rare event.

How To View a Solar Eclipse

A whole range of devices and simple tools can be used to safely view and capture a Solar Eclipse. Something as simple as a colander or sieve can be looked through in order to minimize the glare from the Sun. Others may prefer to create a basic pinhole camera using a piece of paper or a box such a shoe box with a small hole in order to funnel the suns light into a small space and reflect it onto paper. This allows the viewer the see the reflection of the Sun as it is covered by the Moon.

As you can see above, safety comes first when capturing or viewing a Solar Eclipse, however, with the right equipment/tools for the job, it’s easy to view a Solar Eclipse and keep your eyes safe at the same time.

My Experience of the Solar Eclipse March 2015

For the Solar Eclipse I travelled with friends to the open areas of the Peak District which are just North of Sheffield where I am usually based. We decided that being away from man made light and tall buildings/trees and out on the moorlands would be more effective that trying to view and capture the Eclipse in the City.

We knew that capturing the Eclipse with our cameras could be problematic, even with the correct filters etc on our cameras, however, we found that with the cloud cover we had on the day, we could safely use sunglasses to glimpse the event and use the cameras Live View feature to camera the Suns position without having to focus manually and using the view finder.

Below is a vlog post I captured during the Eclipse, I hope you enjoy the video and my image from the event featured at the start of this post, apologies for the lateness of this post since it’s been a month since the Eclipse but I didn’t want to rush the writing and creation of this post and the media attached!

Panoramic Tunnel

Hello all!

Since I’ve been delving into the world of photography more and more recently what with my Facebook Photography page and Flickr page being created and updated as much as possible, I’ve been taking more photos than ever and getting creative!

First off I want to show you the image that I created – it’s selected as the featured post of my home page but here it is if you missed it.


I’ve been teaching myself and learning from others as many editing and image capturing tricks and techniques as possible just to try and improve upon my skills. Slowly but surely I’m picking it all up and I wanted to create a real show-stopper, colourful and surreal image in this tunnel panorama.

I won’t give you a step by step guide on how I did this since you can see the actual shooting method I used in my video but it’s basically a 360 panorama, curled on the polar axis using a nifty Photoshop tool. I won’t say it’s simple, even though I’ve made it sound quite easy since once you’ve pressed a few buttons the real work begins and you’ve got to make it all match up and balance the colours etc. which takes a while!

So here’s the video I made, there’s a fun intro with me going on an adventure to the park, setting up my gear etc and then a real quick taster vlog where I have a little chat with the camera! Let me know what you think of it since it’s something I would like to do more of in the future.

So there you have it, since I’ve created this new category I’ll be making regular photography posts from now on since it’s a huge passion of mine and I want to be able to share it with you guys!

As always, a massive thank you for reading and take care folks 😉