Westminster Bridge at Night

Westminster Bridge at Night
Taxi pickup on Westminster Bridge, London

Friday, 19 July 2019

The Moon and Me

Photographically speaking, I have a love-hate relationship with the moon.

Clouds are usually a nuisance when shooting the moon.
But just occasionally, they produce some interesting effects.
f/5.6   ---   1/200 sec   ---   ISO 1600   ---   380mm
It's not the moon's fault. There it is, as it has been since time immemorial, and there am I, a momentary speck on the face of the Earth, trying to capture it in all its glory.

And for most of the time, failing miserably.

There are lots of factors I could blame (and often do, to my shame).

A Blood Moon was not expected the night I shot this.
But as it sank towards the horizon, it developed this orange glow.
f/5.6   ---   1/250 sec   ---   ISO 100   ---   400mm
The moon's position - never in the same place twice, or in my blind spot, or too low or too high.

The moon's brightness -  I always assumed that I would need wide aperture and long time exposure, what with shooting at night. How wrong can you be? That old lump of rock can be damned bright.

The weather -  I'm British, for heaven's sake. Of course the weather is going to muck up my photography, especially clouds. It's a given.
Blood Moon, partial eclipse, clear sky. I was in heaven!
Using a tripod, I shot these five images, all with the same settings,
at one-minute intervals then overlaid them in Photoshop
Interesting effect.
f/5.6   ---   Half sec   ---   ISO100   ---   335mm

It's too far / too small - The moon's distance from the Earth is not constant. But that's what zoom lenses and cropping are for, isn't it?

It's too late (or early) - Yes, well, hauling my sorry arse out of bed at 0400 to get a shot of our nearest celestial body is not something that is likely to happen any time soon.

It's too cold -  Oh yes. Gloves and cameras. Not a great combo. How do they do it in snowy places?

This is just about the best shot of the moon that I have ever captured.
It's not so bad, I suppose, but I always want that little bit more sharpness.
One day...

f/5.6   ---   ISO100   ---   1/500 sec   ---   400mm
But the one excuse I haven't used - even though it is the most accurate of the lot -  is that actually, I'm just a bit crap when it comes to shooting the moon.  Oh well. Can't be perfect at everything, can you?

Monday, 1 July 2019

Flashless Photography Indoors

It's been a little while since my last post, and I haven't been out and about with my camera as much as I would have liked. However, I did go to Herefordshire for a week and shot some pictures in and around Eastnor Castle, which was great.

I loved the Dining Room. The rich colours really came out in this shot.
I opted for a tight shot along the table rather than something more
general, as I thought it reflected the intimate atmosphere of the room.
f/2.8   ---   1/60 sec   ---   ISO 800   ---   24mm

Eastnor Castle is unusual in that the original family who built it still own it AND live there. They also allow visitors to bring their dogs in, which is rare indeed.
But much like other stately homes and such like, they do not allow flash photography inside the building. You can click away all day, but without a flash.
The staff member who told me about that eyed my camera with a wry smile. I guess he's used to people using their mobile phones and thought I would be stymied.

Well, I wasn't, although it wasn't the easiest shoot I've done. 

It's rather dark inside Eastnor Castle, much of it lit with very low powered lighting, so I knew I had my work cut out. The day was miserable, so what light did get in through the windows was murky and unhelpful.

I wanted to capture at least some of the vaulted ceiling in this room, which meant stacking
two carefully- shot panoramas vertically.
Unfortunately, Photoshop struggled a bit and it initially came out a bit Salvador Dali.
So eventually, I did it manually and I have to say, I am pleased with the result.

f/2.8   ---   1/60 sec   ---   ISO 800   ---   24mm
And of course I was just there as a tourist, so I had to keep out of everyone else's way, shooting during the gaps in groups of other tourists. With the weather being as it was, there were more of them inside the Castle than is usual (or so I was told). No coach parties though, which was a bonus.
I learned as I went round, adjusting exposure and ISO to get the best results.

The Library. This is a two-shot panorama. The ceiling looks a bit bowed but I was pleased with the overall result.
f/2.8   ---   1/80 sec   ---   ISO 800   ---   24mm
Shooting hand-held made it difficult to keep the shutter speeds down, but I wanted to keep the images as grain-free as I possibly could, so I set them as slow as I dared. Luckily for me, my hands were fairly steady that day.

This room is magnificent and goes right up through two floors with light coming in from above.
Another panorama. Three shots this time. There's a little distortion, but it's not too bad.

f/2.8   ---   1/80 sec   ---   ISO 800   ---   35mm
The results were mixed as you may imagine, but I was pleased to come away with some nice, warm shots. Not being afraid to use Lightroom and Photoshop, I have been able to create some really satisfying and colourful images - I have even made use of the automated panorama facility to get some wide shots in rooms where my lens angle was really too tight.

Anyway, enjoy these few images and if you want to see more, I have posted, along with others from that holiday, on both Facebook https://www.facebook.com/bkbimages/ 
and on Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/bkbimages/