Archive for the ‘Scalespeeder Posts’ Category

On Being Addicted To Shapes And Shadows…

Thursday, January 15th, 2009

Hard Standing“My names Rob, I’m 36 years old and I’m addicted to shapes and shadows.”
Few! I feel much better now that I’ve got that off my chest. The problem is, I don’t think there’s a way to treat this affliction. If I’ve got a free day, I have to stop myself looking out of the window , otherwise if there’s just a hint of direct Sunlight my camera bag is on my shoulder and I’m out of the door before my Wife even knows what’s happening.

I skulk around Industrial Parks, Historical Land Marks, Old Buildings and Slipways. I cannot pass by a subject where I see a shape, or even better a shape with a shadow, without taking a photo.

Public Pontoon, Priddys Hard

I didn’t mention reflections. Oh yes, I have to shoot those too. If I’m taking my Son to school, and there’s not a breath of wind in the air, I gotta go. I gotta find those scenes!

Wooden Hut On Pier. 10 of 365.

Low Sun on a bright day. That’s the best time to shoot shadows. They’re everywhere, sharply defined and changing the very nature of my landscape. Normal buildings suddenly aquire character, and boring shapes are given extra dimension.

I Smell Black Powder...

So I’ve bared my Soul, my addiction to Shadows and Shapes. What’s yours?

Cheers, Rob.

New Year, New Photographic Resolutions

Saturday, January 10th, 2009

Behind Bars. 9 of 365.So here we are, 2009. It’s a New Year, full of hope and promise. We’re all going to be eating healthier, doing more exercise and cutting down on those bad habbits… but what about our photography?

I got my Fujifilm S5700 / S700 almost a year ago, and the last year has been a good one. I’ve taken loads of shots and I’m happy with my progress – but I know that I’ve a long way to go.

One way I’m going to be trying to improve my photography this year is by making a few New Years Resolutions, and setting some goals too.

1) My first resolution is get get technically better with my photographs. I want to use my tripod more, use sharper apertures and lower ISO’s.

2) I’m determined to shoot at least 1 roll of Film a month – the experience of only having 24 exposures to get it right (and the costs involved) sharpen my concentration and force me to take better photographs. I find shooting film, and the discipline involved, carries over nicely into my digital photography.

3) I’m going to take more photographs of people (strangers), both with and without their permission. Street Photography!

4) Really think about photo assignments and competitions I take part in, rather than just throw in something that “sorta” matches what’s required.

I’ve also got some general goals – to take some great bird photographs, photograph all the Churches in Gosport, organise a local Photowalk with local photographers, look at more great photo-books, shoot a roll of black and white film, and get a sponsor for my podcast at

How about you? What are your Photographic New Years Resolutions for 2009?

Cheers, Rob.

Grey Day In The Grey City

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008

I went out for a Photowalk around Portsmouth, UK, on Saturday. It was overcast and raining – a perfect backdrop for the ’70s style concrete buildings, Battleship Grey Warships, and the economic mood at the moment.


Grabbed this one between rain showers – an old Multi-Storey Car Park, well past its prime. Did concrete ever look good?


The light was bad – I had to use High Iso’s to maintain a decent shutter speed when shooting hand-held, so lots of these shots were grainy and a bit soft.


This was taken near one of the University buildings, on my way back to the ferry. I didn’t realise it, but as I was lining up the composition in my viewfinder a queue of pedestrians had stopped while I took the picture – I jumped a mile when I looked away from my camera and saw them all patiently waiting!


The main reason for Portsmouth’s existence – The Royal Navy Dockyard. This is Ark Royal and Illustrious, two small carriers designed to carry Harrier Jump Jets, as seen by the Ski-Jumps on the bows of both vessels.

You can catch up with the rest of the set on my blog
, and I’m planning to return to Portsmouth soon, maybe on a day with some well-defined clouds in the sky for dramatic effect…

Cheers, Rob.

The Return of HDR (To My Work-Flow At Least…)

Saturday, November 22nd, 2008

I have to admit I’ve been avoiding HDR recently due to two reasons. Firstly my main computer died a few months ago, and my back-up PC is very slow, so it’s a pain to process and work on the images. Secondly I was getting tired of the “HDR Look”, you know, over-processed false looking images.

I’m not saying that my HDR’s look natural, but I’ve tried to reign in my enthusiasm and use a bit of subtlety – mainly by converting strong HDR’s to black and white!

Portsmouth Harbour

Yesterday I also had the opportunity to shoot inside a church, The Holy Trinity in Gosport, but I didn’t have much time, so shot hand-held and relied on my S5700’s auto-bracketing:


I use Photomatix to process the three images – one just right, and an under and over-exposed shot, usually by + / – 1ev. I’d have liked to shoot a wider range of bracketed exposures to get deeper images, but I was too pushed for time.

After fiddling with the settings in Photomatix Detail Enhance I save the Tone Mapped image as an 8 bit TIFF, then use my usual processing techniques in Elements. It’s laborious on my old PC, but I think I’ll start doing it more often….

Cheers, Rob.

Build Your Own Beach Macro Set

Thursday, November 13th, 2008

The weathers bad, it’s pouring down outside, you’re not feeling too well anyway, so what do you do? Build your own indoor beach set!

I was still feeling the effects of a bout of ‘flu yesterday, but after watching Andreas Feiningers Video on Youtube, I fancied having a go at a similar macro type shot.

If you’d like to recreate the look too, you’ll need an old baking tray, some sand (or pebbles), something to brush the sand, a subject (in my case a piece of potpourri), a printed out back-drop (it’s a strange colour in my set because my printer was running out of ink) and a tripod:

Beach Macro

I used my camera in macro mode, with a large aperture (f3.5) to reduce the depth of field – I specifically wanted the background out of focus. I wasn’t worried about the white-balance because I knew I’d be converting to black and white.

In Photoshop Elements I stripped out the colour, played with the levels, then applied a Gaussian blur to the foreground and background, masking out the subject.

Next time I’ll try and get more texture into the sand, try a different background, and play around with light more.

Here’s my first go:

Feininger Test v1

Cheers, Rob.

An Hour With Joe McNally

Sunday, November 9th, 2008

Joe McNally, professional Photographer with National Geographic, Sports Illustrated, Life, and many more, recently gave a talk as part of the “Authors at Google Series”.

Joe talks about his career, what inspires him, and how he keeps his enthusiasm in an ever more competitive arena.

A versatile Photographer, shooting from the top of the Empire State Buildings Radio Antennae, the deserts of Africa, and using the worlds largest Polaroid Camera to record the heroes of 9/11, this is a man well worth listening to. Enjoy.

Check out Joe’s Blog, and his main website.

If you fancy watching more videos with photographers, check out these interviews.

Cheers, Rob.

Look Up, Look Down, Look All Around

Wednesday, November 5th, 2008

As photographers we all have at least one thing in common. We tend to take photographs of what we would normally be looking at as we’re walking around, standing up and usually parallel to the ground.

My World

It can be fun to break out of this habit and look at things from a different angle, and this can often produce some unusual images. I’m talking about kneeling down, lying on the floor, pointing the camera up, down, at angles, etc, anything that we would normally not see on a photowalk.

Dress Code?

Of course to capture these types of photographs, you’ve constantly got to be scanning your environment – that’s where the “Look Up, Look Down… etc” bit comes in. As you’re walking along, try and constantly be searching for unusual angles, shapes and subjects.

Job Nearly Done...

When you find something that catches your eye, obviously use different focal lengths, change your physical distance from your subject. Maybe try shooting at from below, pointing up, or the opposite. Look for interesting vantage points that will give you an unusual perspective.

Up And Out

Don’t worry about getting to close – make your subject abstract.

Fresh Batch!

Turn the camera on it’s side to really confuse your viewers.


When you’ve finished, and are walking to the next location, look over your shoulder and see if you’ve missed an angle, or come back later (maybe when the light’s different) to get a fresh view.

Any subject can be shot an infinite number of ways, so just remember -

“Look up, look down, look all around!”

Cheers, Rob.

Before You Go Out Shooting – Check Your Wife!

Wednesday, October 29th, 2008

Following on from The Laddies excellent post about never missing a shot, I thought I’d share the acronym I use to make sure I don’t go out with the wrong settings in my camera – WIFE..

W = White Balance. Go into your camera’s settings menu and make sure you’re set to Auto, so you don’t end up trying to take landscape photo’s with an incandescent setting….

I = ISO. Make sure the ISO setting in your camera is nice and low, preferably at the lowest level your camera will allow, maybe 64, 100 or 200. There’s nothing worse than coming back from a shoot to find all your pics are noisy because you shot them at ISO 800.

F = Focus. I always check that my camera is in auto-focus mode, single focus (rather than continuous, which reduces battery life), and centre focus, rather than multi or area.

E = Exposure. This is all about checking how your camera “meters” the scene for light. I like to use “Multi”, and knock down the exposure by 1/3 ev using Exposure Compensation. I also make sure my camera’s in its “Fuji-Chrome” colour mode. You’ve got to check your photometry because if you’re in spot metering, you’ll find that lots of your photos will be over / under exposed and you won’t know why.

I hope this helps in your pre-shoot camera checks, and if you’d like to hear a little more about my shooting routine, check out Podcast 17 on

Cheers, Rob.

Stuck For Ideas? Simplify!

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

Sometimes it can be quite a challenge to come with ideas of new things to shoot, but a technique that I’ve started to use recently is to really simplify some of my subjects.

I try to get in close, use a longer focal length, or change my framing to come up with some almost abstract photographs.


It’s often a case of looking around for subjects that can be isolated from surrounding distractions, to remove the context and be just left with an idea.

Follow Me

Another option is to look for shapes and colours, and make them the subject of your photograph, you’ll be surprised at what you start to “see” when you forget about the “big picture” and concentrate on the details.


Old buildings are great subjects for this – I love windows, doors, brickwork and the textures and colours you can discover.


Cheers, Rob.

Places I Like To Shoot – From Monks Walk To The Forton Lake Bridge

Friday, October 17th, 2008

If I want to go out for a quick, local photowalk, one of my favourite places has to be the part of Gosport that backs onto Portsmouth Harbour.

About a quarter of a mile from my front door the area called monks walk starts – that includes a wooded area that runs adjacent to the Royal Navy’s armament depot, only frequented by dog walkers and the local wildlife.

Deer Near Monks Walk, Gosport

As I head east, towards the harbour, the trees thin out and you get the first views of Priddys Hard, home of numerous yachts, The Hardway Sailing Club, and a few old Royal Navy Warships awaiting the scrap yard.

Destroyers At Dawn II

I’ve then got to take a short cut through a small industrial estate, through Hardway Village, then down the slip-way to Priddys Hard, where there’s a better view of the destroyers.

scrap destroyer b&w

A little bit further up, past the Sailing Club, you can get a better view of Priddys Hard, and it makes a great scene for photographs, especially if there’s some dramatic clouds around.

Priddys Hard

Sadly one of the biggest scrap ships, an old Assault Ship, either HMS fearless or Intrepid, has been moved, but it always used to be one of may favourite subjects.

Ship Graveyard

About five minutes further is the Explosion! Museum, dedicated to the weapons used by the Royal Navy through the ages.

Look Out Fareham!

The end point for my walk, unless I want to carry on into Gosport Town itself, is the Forton Lake Bridge, a great vantage point for watching warships being moved around the harbour, and a nice subject itself.

Last Bloom?

So, that’s one of my favourite photowalks – no matter how often I go back, I always notice something new, or the light / weather are different – I never tire of it.

Cheers, Rob.