Tag Archives: photography

Where to Find Great Light

Formby Beach at Sunset. Fuji X-T3 with Fuji 16-80 lens.

If there’s one location that seems to always deliver great light, it’s the coast. There’s something almost magical about the quality of light there. If the weather is good and the time of day right, you’re likely to get great light. This image I shot at Formby is no exception.

Formby can be a very challenging location to photograph. For a start, the beach is completely flat and largely featureless. For interest, you need to focus your attention on the streams, gullies and sand patterns of the beach. It’s true that it has great sand dunes, but these are equally as challenging in other ways.

For me, the best time to visit this beach is for sunset as it’s facing west. Although I’m not a fan of shooting into the sun at sunset, I like the colour it produces once the sun dips below the horizon. If there’s high cloud in the sky it can produce a magical sunset and if the sky is clear you can still get great colours.

But what’s really made a difference in this shot is that the tide has turned and is on its way out. When this happens, it leaves the sand ripples filled with water. It also leaves the surface of the beach free from footprints and more importantly, wet. Wet sand acts as a huge mirror, reflecting and intensifying the light from the sky. When you can bring together a sunset/sunrise and receding tide, that’s the best time to shoot a beach.

I used a Fuji X-T3 to capture the image with Fuji 16-80 at 25mm. The camera was set to ISO160 and aperture f/14.0 giving a 1” shutter speed. Although there’s a lot of reflected light on the beach I still used a 0.9 Soft ND Grad on the sky. When I removed the grad, the beach appeared too dark, and I like to get the image looking good in camera.

I hope you like the image and have a great weekend.

Being a Successful Photographer

Infrared tree study using an Olympus EM5 converted to shoot infrared. The weather on this day was painfully difficult. I considered almost all my images to be failures with the exception of a few shots taken of this tree.

Yesterday I published an article on my Lenscraft website titled “How to become a Successful Photographer”. If you have 5 minutes to spare I would encourage you to head over to Lenscraft to read it. In writing the article, something occurred to me which is obvious and yet we often lose sight of. What do we consider being a successful photographer to be?

For some it may be the ability to earn a living from their photography. For some it may be winning competitions or being accepted by a Gallery.

My own definition of being a successful photographer is being able to consistently produce images that are high quality and which engage with my audience. All the other “measures” mentioned above are for me secondary outcomes. What really matters is the quality of my work and how I as the photographer feel about my work.

What I would really be interested to know is what defines success for you? If you have any thoughts, please add them as comments to this post.

Friday Image No. 105

Scalber Force, Settle, The Yorkshire Dales.
Scalber Force, Settle, The Yorkshire Dales.

I love this waterfall. It’s called Scalber Force and is just outside of Settle in the Yorkshire Dales. I actually shot this image back in April and in colour it doesn’t look good. But converted to Blakc and White it seems to work ok.

It seems though as if I were there just yesterday. I can’t believe that Summer has been and gone. I think I need to get out more.

Have a great weekend everyone.

The White Goods Index

New film freezer
New film freezer

Back in the 1990’s I recall reading an article about something called the white goods index. It was intended to measure how much better we are all as a result of white goods becoming cheaper in relation to how much we are all earning.

On Saturday I took delivery of a new freezer. Our old chest freezer had broken a few weeks back and the lid no longer closed. The replacement we bought was duly delivered and filled with all manner of food. Whilst loading the new freezer my wife suggested I buy a second smaller freezer in which to store my photography film. My initial reaction was to think this was an extravagant waste but then I stopped and thought about it. A quick search on the Internet and I found a new freezer for about the same price as three boxes of Kodak Provia in 120 format.

Today I loaded the new freezer with all my film from the fridge, and our new main chest freezer. Seeing all this film in once place made me realise just how much I had. The value is many more times the cost of the freezer and there are a few more benefits. My wife is now happy that she can put food in the freezer box in the fridge. She can store and access food in the chest freezer more easily. I might start using film faster than I have been buying it. Perhaps this last point is pushing things a little too far though.



Help Me to Help You

North Wales, Olympus EM5. 12-40 lens, 1/400 at f/7.1 and ISO200.
North Wales, Olympus EM5. 12-40 lens, 1/400 at f/7.1 and ISO200.

I have been reading some books about blogging recently and apparently I need a mission statement – okay, let’s go with this for a moment. When I started The Lightweight Photographer blog it was my intention to share information about lightweight cameras as well as information about achieving fast results when editing images. Four years on and I feel I have lost a little bit of focus. In an attempt to address this, I wrote a mission statement.

To create a valuable resource of lightweight photography information and to make this freely available.

And this is where I now need your help. When I sit down to write these blogs, as well as the tutorials on Lenscraft, I am guessing a little about what people want. I am also guessing as to what problems and concerns people have about following a lightweight approach. So…

  • Do you have concerns about the image quality of micro 43 for example?
  • Do you like to print A3 images and wonder if you will be giving up print detail?
  • Are you concerned about noise levels with compact cameras?
  • Do you wonder about the aperture you should use with micro 43 cameras for depth of field?
  • Do you shoot with a Lightweight camera? Why?

I really want to hear about your concerns, thoughts, observations and questions. This will allow me to focus the blog and my website to hopefully respond to some of these points. If it is to do with photography but in particular lightweight cameras and image editing, then I would like to hear.

Please take a moment to let me know your thoughts.

Thank you.

Road Trip America

Portland, Oregon.
Portland, Oregon.

Back at the start of May you might recall I wrote a short piece about the equipment I would pack for a trip I was planning to make. Unfortunately, (for me at least) the trip is now over and I’m back in the UK. Whilst I have been trying to write and reply using a mobile phone, I have fallen a little behind. Hopefully things will get back to normal this week.Over the next few weeks I expect to be sharing quite a few examples of photos from my trip as well as share some of the photography related “learnings” I experienced whilst shooting for the duration of the trip.

My trip involved a lot of driving, perhaps too much if I’m honest but I did see some great sights. I started in Seattle for 3 days before driving to Olympic National park where I stayed at Crescent Lake and also Lake Quinault. From there it was down to Canon Beach for a few days. This was followed by a stopover at Coos Bay on the way to Crater Lake. After Crater Lake it was on to Mount Hood followed by Portland then Mount Rainier before heading back to Seattle.  A total of 18 days and 2,000 miles later I have just short of 5,000 new images to work through.

As for equipment, the majority of the time (probably 80%) I found myself using the Olympus EM5. This accounted for almost 4,500 of the images shot. The remainder were taken with the Sony A7r which I carried as a backup camera but also because I wanted some very high resolution shots of certain scenes. I should mention that I had upgraded my firmware on the Olympus EM5 a little while back from version 1.1 to 2.2 and the camera has started to play up a little since then. As there is no way back from a firmware update I thought it best to have two cameras for the trip.

In terms of other stats from the trip, I only used the 12-40mm and 45-150mm lenses with the EM5 and the majority of the time it was the 12-40. I did take a fisheye which I used for a couple of shots and the 9-18mm lens wasn’t used once. It was a similar story with the Sony. All the shots were taken with the 24-70mm lens and 16-35mm was never used.

I experienced 1 memory card failure which was with the EM5. This was after trying to shoot a video of the sea and has happened to me before where I have been mixing video and still images on the same card. This is probably coincidence but there may also be a lesson in there.

The company who arranged everything for me was The American Road Trip Company. They did a fantastic job and provided excellent service. If anyone is planning anything similar I can highly recommend them.

Friday Image No.87

Sony RX10, ISO80, f/5.6, 1/640". 0.6 ND Grad on the sky
Sony RX10, ISO80, f/5.6, 1/640″. 0.6 ND Grad on the sky

I keep having this odd feeling that I am running out of images (I haven’t been able to shoot much recently). I have this feeling that I don’t really like too much of my recent work and that it won’t endure. But when I go back about a year that I start to find images that I like. Here is one example of yet another moorland scene. This is taken on the descent from Black Hill heading towards the Woodhead Pass. Black Hill can be reached from my home by walking across Saddleworth Moor but you need to be ready for a 35-40km hike (round trip) so it’s not something I do regularly.

This particular shot was taken around this time last year with the Sony RX10. The lighting really appealed to me at the time but then I could never capture the mood in post processing. It’s only now that I seem to be able to accept the very dark tones and gritty feel of the image. I doubt this will appeal to a lot of people but it does sum up the drama of the area well.

Have a great weekend everyone.