Sunday, 24 September 2017

Family Shoot

It's very rare for me to take photographs of people or children & it's even rarer for me to work in a "Studio Set Up." So when I was asked to do a Family shoot, although I said yes, I was quite nervous as the only times I'd done that type of photography was a couple Maternity shoots. The great thing was that this shoot was for the same person with her husband & her little ones. Another great thing was that they are actually part of my family, which I know at times can be hard to work with but my niece & her family are wonderful & made the whole experience a great one.

We had the shoot booked in quite a while in advance & this gave me time to get prepared. I read a few articles on Family Shoot set ups & while at The Photography Show in March, I bought a Lens Buddy which is a Monkey whose tail wraps around your lens & squeaks; this was to help keep the kids attention. I also invested in a set of soft boxes & a background from Phot-R. These were all reasonably priced & didn't break the bank since I knew I wouldn't be using it regularly. {Though one of my soft boxes is being used as a lamp for my room!} I decided to get the background as I don't have any rooms in the house that are white & we wanted a nice clean background.

Phot-R Background
A month or so before the shoot, I got together with my Niece & I made a note of the type of shots she wanted & showed her the Loxley Colour catalogue so she could see the products they did & what I would be able to do for her if she wanted any shots printed or framing. what I found helpful was that she had some photos I could use as a reference as she wanted some shots of her little boy to be similar to ones she had had done of her daughter at the same age.

The night before the shoot my parents & I turned our dinning room into a "Photography Studio." We moved out the table & chairs, pushed the little sofa we have in there into the corner of the room & put up my background & soft boxes. the next day before my Niece & her family arrived, I took some test shots of my mum to make sure my white balance & ISO were set right & the background looked okay. I also transferred my shot list from my photography project notebook onto my phone so I had them to work from. I also set up my iPad Air so I could connect it to my Keenai SD Card so I would be able to see the shots I was taking while I was shooting.

One of two Phot-R Softboxes
We worked our way through the shot list, taking a break half way through so the kids could play a little bit before we started again. this break also gave us time to look through the shots I had already taken & thankfully my Niece was liking everything so far. Once we'd all had a breather, we started again with the shoot & finished off the last shots on the list along with some extras.

Even though this isn't my type of photography, my Niece & her family made it really easy & enjoyable. The kids were great in front of the camera; my Great-Niece loves having her picture taken so I knew she would be fine but I wasn't sure about my little Great- Nephew as he was only about 8 or 9 months when we did the shoot. But he was so good & when I was taking shots of just him, he happily sat on the floor of my background smiling & laughing at "Kevin" my lens Monkey while I took some shots of him.

My gorgeous Niece & her family
The shoot was about 2 hours in total & once I'd finished, I went through the shots on the iPad before they left & had my Niece chose which ones were her favourites, as those were the ones I would post process. That night my parents kindly took down my background & soft boxes & put the furniture back as {long story short} I'd become really ill. Due to being ill, I had to put off my post processing  for a good week or two but thankfully my Niece was really understanding & didn't mind the delay at all.

USB & Box

Once I had finished all the post processing, I went onto Loxley Colour's website to sort out the products I was getting for my Niece. I had put together a "package" for her which included a USB & presentation box, which I had personalised & a triple frame to match the one she already had. I really do recommend Loxley Colour for anything Photograph related, their service is wonderful & they have a great selection of products to offer your clients & the prices are very reasonable for very high quality products.  The order turn around is really good too; the USB & Box arrived within 5 days of ordering & the frame took exactly a week, including the weekend.

Framed Prints
Even though I am very much a nature/wildlife/landscape photographer & love being in my garden with my camera, doing this family shoot was a great experience & helped to stretch my skills not only behind the camera but also in post processing as checking & editing a family shot is very different to checking & editing a shot of a flower!

I'm so happy with how the shots & so is my Niece, which as any photographer working with a client will know, what a relief that was! So even though this isn't my type of photography, it's something I now know I could do with confidence.

Take Care,

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Stuck Filter - What to do?

I very rarely use filters on my lenses, this is probably down the type of photography I'm mainly doing at the moment {garden & birds} If I were doing more landscape I might use them more. That being said I do own a number of different filters; I have a kit of square filters, both ND Grad & ND in varying colours & densities, that attach to the lens using an adaptor. I also have a few cheap circular ones, UV & Polariser, which simply screw onto the end of the lens. Out of all of the ones I own, I've used the circular Polariser one for my 55-300mm lens the most & even then, I've not used it a lot.

Now if you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you'll know that I recently got my Circular UV filter stuck on my beloved 55-300mm lens! I'm not entirely sure what possessed me to even put it on my lens. I was packing my kit for my recent trip to Edinburgh & I think I had the thought that it might just help with any haze or glare that can come from shooting through a car window, something I'd be doing while away.

I had my roller case on my bed & ticking off my kit list as I packed it {my camera with lens attached sat on the bed next to the case} & I slightly moved the case which knocked my camera onto the floor! Any photographer who has dropped their camera will understand the "almost had a heart attack" type panic that follows this happening! I straight away checked it over & took a few photos to make sure all was well {thankfully it was} It was only on the way to Edinburgh did I realise that the UV filter was stuck!

I struggled to take my lens hood off my lens {I pop it on my lens backwards so it's always to hand} & I think messing with the hood & getting it off, lifted the filter on one side. I then tried to take the filter off & it wouldn't budge! I tried a couple more times while I was away but had no joy. The only plus was that it was a UV filter & didn't effect the photographs I took at all. But I didn't want to leave it on there indefinitely. So when I came home, I ended up on Youtube to see if I could find any suggestions to help remove it & here's what I came across:

1) Rubber/Elastic Band

The idea is that putting a rubber/elastic band around the filter can give you some extra grip & this should help when trying to screw off the filter.

2) Another Filter

This uses the fact that you can stack filters & by using the additional filter on the stuck one, it should give you some extra leverage & the stacked filter should help remove the one below it. This is the one I had the most hope in working.

3) Flicking the Filter

I was really confused by this one as I'm not entirely sure how it works, but the person suggesting it says it does. You just sit & using your fingers, flick around the filter. The guy in the video did say it takes a while but eventually this action should help you remove the filter.

4) Filter Wrench

Call me a noob but I'd never even heard of this! For those that don't know, it's basically a wrench but made to be used on filters {obviously a massive give away due the name! I can feel you all rolling your eyes!} This, like the extra filter or rubber/elastic band is used to give more leverage & grip on the filter to help remove it.

None the above worked for me & yes I did indeed sit & flick the filter, {don't judge me, I was desperate!} which blooming hurt! I then headed to Twitter for help & also mentioned my stuck filter issue in a Instagram post. A number of the photographers I follow had some ideas as well as suggestions 1 & 2 above...

5) Cooling the Filter using a Fridge or Freezer

This is a risky one to try when the filter is stuck on a lens as the cold can damage the flex cables & plastics on the lens {as I was told by someone who does camera repairs for their job} He also said that they were okay to about -10C so the cooling in the Fridge might be okay. I didn't want to risk it.

6) Hacksaw

This one was also a no no for me. But if you're brave enough,  you can use a mini Hacksaw to cut the filter off or cut notches in the filter & then use something in the notches to help screw it off.

7) Send it away for Repair

Basically if all else failed, get a professional to fix it. There are a number of companies out there that can do this; your chosen Camera brand or a company like NRG Photographic. This for me was a last resort option as the lens is my most used one, it lives on my camera & I really didn't want to have to send it away.

Out of all these I only tried the first two as I was really worried about damaging my lens. They didn't work & I think the reason they didn't was because the filter wasn't flush to the lens, it was twisted & lifted on almost all of it. I think if it was sat on the lens properly, using the extra filter might have worked.

After a few failed attempts, it seemed more & more likely that I would have to send it somewhere to be removed. As a last ditched effort, while I was in Lancaster on Friday, I decided to take my lens to Wilkinson Cameras, my local camera shop. The lad in there tried a couple of things, including a filter wrench & a foam pad to try & give him the extra grip he needed. The issue wasn't only that the filter was twisted, as I have already said but it was also quite slimline, so there wasn't a massive surface area to work with.

After a few tries, he asked if I was in town for a while longer & could I leave it with him as the one thing he was sure should work wasn't to hand. That thing?

A mouse mat!

It was the last thing I would think of using but the underside of a mouse mat is designed to grip the surface it sits on so it doesn't move when you're using your mouse. So I wandered off round a couple of shops, met back up with the people I was with & then when heading back to the car, I went back to pick up my lens. When I went back in, it was a different guy behind the counter but after saying why I was there, I was beyond happy to hear the words:

"We've managed to remove it!"

I swear I almost cried! I was so happy & thankful & even after the hassle of removing it, they didn't charge me, which was just so kind of them.

So there you go, a bit of a story time type post with a few suggestions to try if you ever get a filter stuck to the end of your lens. If, though, like me you're worried about damaging your lens or the filter isn't just flush to the lens, I really do recommend taking it to your local camera shop & letting them have a go before sending it away to be fixed.

The offending filter has since been binned & my beloved lens is back on my camera where it belongs.
Moral of the story is {courtesy of the Wilkinson Camera guy}: Don't use cheap filters!

If you have any other suggestions for removing a stuck filter, please feel free to comment them below but I thought the mouse mat trick was a genius idea & I may have to invest in one as part of my camera kit essentials.

Take care,


Saturday, 15 July 2017

My Work Flow

A big part of photography is something called Work Flow, which is basically the processes through which a piece of work passes from initiation to completion. Everyones work flow will differ slightly but will usually follow similar steps.  As I'm interested in other photographers work flow, I thought I'd share the process I take my photographs through & a few of the programs I use along the way.

Step 1:

This obviously starts with making the photograph, which I use my Nikon D7200 to do. Depending on my subject, will depend on the lens I use.

Step 2:

Once I've made my photographs, I need to get them onto my iPad Pro. Although my D7200 has Wifi capabilities, I prefer to use my Wifi Keenai {previously Eyefi} SD Card & App to do this. I just find it much more straight forward to use as once my iPad Pro is connected to the Card's Wifi, it uploads all my photos to the App. Once all the photos are uploaded, I then go through them & save all the ones I want to edit & check to the iPad's Camera Roll.
{Using the D7200's Wifi & App, I have to go through all my photos on the camera & select all the ones I want to upload - a major job when you're taking 100's of photos!}

Keenai App
Step 3:

Now it's time to do some post-processing or editing. My chosen program/App for this right now is Snapseed. It's such a lovely, straight forward App to use, there's plenty of options to help get your photo looking just right, including a number of different filters & as a bonus it's free! I'm quite minimal when it comes to editing my photographs, I'm not one of those people who when taking a shot think "I'll fix it in editing" I prefer to get it right in Camera.

When post processing I generally will up the Structure & Sharpen the image a little. Then I may alter the Brightness, Contrast, Shadows & Warmth {If needed} It's all about personal preference & the feeling I'm trying to convey with the photograph in question.

If I find something in the photo that draws my eye in a negative way, I'll either use the Healing tool in snapseed or I'll use an App called Retouch to remove the offending object if I can.

I have a number of other editing Apps which I'll also use if I decide to have a play & practise my editing skills. I think it's good to have programs/Apps that do lots of different things as it helps teach you how the different options can effect the exposure & look of your photographs.

My Editing App Options

Once I'm happy with how my photograph is looking, I'll export it & then I'll add my watermark using the Text tool in Snapseed & then export again. This means I always have two copies of the finished photograph which comes in handy in a future step.

Step 4:

Once I've finished the post processing, I then delete all the original unedited versions from my camera roll {don't panic, they're still on my SD Card} I then use my iStick & App {a memory stick with lightening connection on one side & USB on the other} to do my first backup. It simply plugs into my iPad Pro & then select all the photographs I want to copy onto it.

Step 5:

I'll then decide which photographs I want to share to my Instagram {I'm going to do another post in more detail on how I work my Instagram} & add them to my Instagram Album in Photos {this is why I always have a watermarked version}. At this stage I may also double check my portfolio & add any to that as well. Once I've done, I'll generally delete most of them so I don't have an overload of photographs on my iPad Pro {even though that's purely what I use it for}

Step 6:

Time for more backing up! Using the USB connector on my iStick, I plug it into my Laptop & transfer all the photographs to my Master Photograph folder, which is then broken down into Month & then date. In each date folder is "Edits" & "Originals" folders.

Once all the edited versions are on my laptop, I then get SD card from my camera & transfer all the original copies into the corresponding date "Originals" folder. After that, the SD card goes back into the camera & I format it.

The final backup I do once all my photographs are on my laptop is to copy them to my WD 1TB hard drive.
{I do need to give this a major over haul & get it more organised. I'm also at some point going to get another hard drive as an extra backup}

Step 7: {optional}

Print your photographs. This step is entirely optional of course & can come earlier in your work flow. You can either do this personally or send your photographs to a professional photo lab. This is not a step I personally do often {hence why I added it at the end} & when I do, I'll send my photographs to Loxley Colour to have them printed.

I would love to print my own but my printer decided to die the last time I tried to print a couple of photos on it. I'm hoping to be able to get a new printer in the future, but printing via Loxley colour isn't too expensive & the quality is amazing! Plus their delivery time is very fast if your wanting normal prints & nothing fancy or framed. I definitely recommend them.

Main Apps are all on the top line.

There you have, my work flow. sometimes I'm really productive & do all the Steps in one day & other times, I do them over a few days or a week. But one thing I will say, is always always always are sure you back up your photographs & have at least one back up of the back up. Laptops & portable hard drives can be temperamental creatures & so having multiple backups is definitely a safe guard just in case.

If you have any suggestions on how to make my work flow better or have any editing App recommendations, please leave them in the comments.

Take care,


Sunday, 2 April 2017

The Photography Show ~ Day 2

{If you haven't read my write up of day one at The Photography Show, you can do that here}

I had a slightly later start on Sunday; so armed with my boxed up Nikon D3200 & D7200 + 18-55mm kit lens round my neck, I headed for the NEC around 11am. I'm so glad I had my camera out as I managed to get an amusing shot of a group of Jedi, who looked like they needed an extra dose of the Force! Although it's great to be there for the show opening, going that bit later was nice as there wasn't a massive crowd walking in.

More Force Needed!
My main agenda for this day was to trade my D3200 against a NIKKOR 50mm Prime & spare battery, listen to a couple of talks & have a general browse around the different exhibitors. So the first place I headed was London Camera Exchange where I said a sad farewell to my D3200 {it has been a fantastic entry-level DSLR & my constant companion for the past few years} & then I had a browse round the many stands & a few of the galleries. Although not on my shopping list, I was on the hunt for a roller travel case. Packing my kit for this trip made me realise that I really needed one & managed find a nice one from Nest which I was pleased with.

My wandering lead me to the Nikon School Stage. While waiting for a seat, I took advantage of the flower photography scene that was set up & took a few shots {if you follow me on Instagram, you know I love a good flower & plant shot} I then listened to a talk on Speedlights, which was really interesting, then listened to David Yarrow at 12pm. I absolutely love his fine art wildlife photography & he was so inspiring! I then had a bit of time before the next talk I wanted to listen to, so I headed back to hotel to drop off the couple of bags I had & got lunch.

I went back into the show around 2:30pm & headed back to the Nikon School Stage to listen to Richard Peters, who I'd seen last year. His wildlife photography is brilliant & his talk was about the process of getting better & learning to build from a shot & evolve shots you already have into something even better! The last talk on the agenda was at the Mobile & Social Media Stage {think that's what it was called}  all about iphonography/phone photography & was given by Sara Tasker. The main reason for listening to this one was for my mum {who was with me} She loves photography too {probably where I get it from!} but likes the convenience of using her iPhone to take pictures. Although I'm definitely a DSLR user, the hints & tips Sara gave about using your phone actually inspired me to start using my iPhone to take photos again, especially for my personal Instagram.

After this, I headed back to hotel, stopping off at ilex camera book stand {being the bookworm that I am} & pick up a couple of books. I also made a final stop at Fotospeed as I wanted to have a proper look at the #fsprintmonday gallery, which like The People's Gallery, I knew a few of the Photographers from Twitter. I also had a really nice chat with Emma about printing, who was so helpful & I came away with their tester paper packs.

Monday was our leaving day & after a busy weekend, we had a lovely relaxing morning before checking out at 12pm. I had planned to wander down the lake by the NEC but the weather wasn't great. So instead when we got a hot chocolate from the Costa in the hotel, I took my camera with my 50mm prime attached & got some shots around the hotel lobby before heading home.

Lobby Light
Overall the show was brilliant & for the cost of a ticket {around £13} you get so much for your money! There were so many shops to browse & free talks to listen to & learn from. There were also some nice set up scenes that you could take photographs of, though a few more of these would be great, as I feel like there were more last year. It was interesting to see the rise in the number of Drone stands & VR this year, so it's not just information on "traditional" photography that's on offer. So no matter which area of photography you're interested in, there's something for everyone!

Attack of the Drone!
I hope all those that attended the show had a fantastic time & if you'd like to know more about any of the kit I picked, see pictures of it or would like me to write a review on any of it, please let me know.

Take care,


Friday, 31 March 2017

The Photography Show ~ Day 1

The Photography Show was on at the NEC in Birmingham from Saturday 18th - Tuesday 21st March; Monday is "Pro Day" & Tuesday is "Student Day". I was there for Saturday & Sunday, which I feel are more of the "enthusiast days" or for those maybe thinking about taking their photography further {based on some of the talks on these days} This is the second time I've attended the show, as I went last year as well.

I set off on Friday lunchtime & after 3 hours or so down the M6, I arrived at the hotel around 5pm. I then spent part of the evening finalising the talks & stands I wanted to listen to/visit, I did this using The Photography Show app & the paper guide that I'd gotten with my N-Photo magazine.

The show is held in Hall 5 & is open from 10am - 5pm each day. In correlation to the show, Capture Birmingham is also on, which gives photographers the opportunity to do photo walks around the city {I didn't take part in these though} An added bonus is that MCM Comic Con is also on at the same time & these two shows work really well together as everyone in Cosplay is happy to have their picture taken & the photographers are usually on the look out for an interesting subject to capture!

Armed with my app, paper guide & list of kit I wanted to get {having a list definitely helped me not get caught up buying kit I didn't need!} I headed over to the NEC, walking passed a group of Stromtroopers as went to the entrance. While waiting for the show to open, I had a wander round Loxley Colour's The People Gallery, which this year was in the welcome area. I was filled with pride, happiness & excitement as I came across my photograph of Jacob the Starling on display! It was such a privilege to see my photograph surrounded by so many amazing photographers work, many of whom I know via Twitter/Instagram.

"Jacob" on display in The People's Gallery

On the day's agenda was a talk/demo by Andrew Appleton on Dance Photography, a talk by Ben Cherry about following Berwick Swans from Russia to Europe & the "Turning Pro" masterclass. Shopping wise, my main goal was to upgrade my camera, sort out a subscription to N-Photo & also to find a lens accessory to help with a shoot I'm doing with a family next month.

Though expedition & dance photography are miles apart in many respects, Andrew & Ben were very inspiring & informative. Andrew also had a dancer with him, named Alexa Hilton, so as an audience we had the chance to get some shots as she warmed up & then did some moves as Andrew took her photograph. As Andrew mentioned numerous times, dance photography is all about timing & well my timing was slightly off when trying to capture Alexa doing leaps, but I did get a few nice shots of her warm up!

Andrew Appleton's Dance Photography Demo

At 2pm I attended the "Turning Pro" masterclass {I attended the beginners one last year} I listened to the first two sections which were very interesting but due to personal reasons I had to head back to my hotel not long after 3pm. I was disappointed as I missed the rest of the masterclass & missed out on meeting up with a few photographers I know via Twitter but it was out of my control. Even though I had to leave earlier than planned, I did managed to a few things off my shopping list; I upgraded my Nikon D3200 to the D7200, I was going to buy it from Nikon but I couldn't get near, so as I wanted a trade in price for my D3200, I went to London Camera Exchange & ended up getting it from there. I got a subscription to N-Photo sorted & came away with a free Manfrotto backpack! I also found a toy that wraps round my lens which will be perfect for my family shoot.

Back at the hotel, I uploaded the few photographs I'd taken to my iPad. Unboxed my D7200, boxed up my D3200 & put the batteries for both of them on charge. The rest of my evening was spent catching up on notifications/messages I'd had throughout the day & planning out Sunday's visit to the show...

My new Precious!

Day two coming soon...


{I've posted a number of my favourite shots from the show to my Instagram, if you'd like to have a look at them @l.e.sphotography }

Monday, 20 February 2017

Photography Basics & Beyond: From Smartphone to DSLR Specialisation

Back in January 2016, I enrolled in a Coursera Photography Specialisation run by two Professors based at Michigan State University. It was the first {& so far only} photography course I'd ever taken & I thought I'd share my experience of the course & what it entailed.

In its entirety, the Specialisation ran from February to September. But there are new start dates every month or so. The course was brand new to Coursera when I took it, so I was among the very first to complete it.

The Specialisation was split into 5 separate courses:

Course One: Cameras, Exposure & Photography
  • Week 1: Basic Principles of Photography.
  • Week 2: Camera capabilities: differences and similarities
  • Week 3: Setting up yourself and your digital camera: Menus, Settings, and baggage!
  • Week 4: Picture Decisions: The Vantage Point and Frame

Course Two: Camera Control
  • Week 1: Elements of Camera Control 1.0: Exposure
  • Week 2: Elements of Camera Control 2.0: The Lens
  • Week 3: Elements of Camera Control 3.0: Depth of Field
  • Week 4: Picture Decisions

Course 2 Week 3: Shallow Depth of Field Assignment

Course Three: Principle of Photo Composition and Digital Image Post-Production
  • Week 1: Elements of Design: Building Blocks of Composition
  • Week 2: Composition means putting the Elements of Design together!
  • Week 3: Photo Editing Fundamentals 1.0: "Workflow," from Exposure through Adobe™ Lightroom™
  • Week 4: Photo Editing Fundamentals 2.0: SmartPhone Apps

Course 3 Week 2: "The Onlooker" Asymmetry Assignment

Course Four: Photography Techniques: Light, Content and Sharing
  • Week 1: The Content of a Photograph
  • Week 2: Light Fundamentals 1.0: People, Places, Things under Ambient Light
  • Week 3: Light Fundamentals 2.0: People, Places, Things under Controlled Light
  • Week 4: Finishing Pictures: Options for Showing and Sharing

Course 4, Week 1: "Portrait en Creux" Assignment

Course Five: Photography Capstone Project
  • Week 1: Defining and Launching your Capstone Project
  • Week 2: Learning from others
  • Week 3: Learning more about critically analysing
  • Week 4: Mid-Term review time!
  • Week 5: Getting ready to be ready to finish your project!
  • Week 6: Inspiration and Perspiration!
  • Week 7: Reveal the Capstone Projects!
  • Week 8: Review, Reflect, and Go Beyond!

Stroll Down The Promenade Capstone Project - "Sculptural Views"

Each course caters for smartphone & DSLR users so even if you don't own a proper camera, you can still take & complete the course. The only stipulation is that you complete & pass the first four courses to qualify for the final course where you put together your own project. The specialisation is done in video form, so you watch the videos, take notes {if you want} & complete a review test, which you need a certain score to pass. Most week's you also have a photography assignment to complete, based on what you have learnt that week. There are given deadlines to keep you on track but you are given 2 months to complete each course. One advantage to this course is that everything is online & you have access to all four of the weeks of the course you're on, so you can, if you want or need to, get ahead.

The only thing you have to be aware of when getting really far ahead, is that the assignment grades are done on a peer review basis. This means that the people taking the course with you {from anywhere in the world} have to review your photograph & accompanying statement. Depending on how your peers score your work, depends on your grade for the week & you need a certain percentage to pass each assignment. You are required to do the same for your fellow learners & have a number of reviews you must complete. You're given a certain number to do but you can do more if you want & have the time too. So if you're ahead, then you may have to wait longer for your grades & there might not be as many assignments for you to review either.

There's a number of lessons about how to critique photographs, these not only help you when reviewing other people's work but I found it makes me look at photographs in general in a different way, picking up on the detail in a shot & not just the photo as a whole. It also helps you to look at your own shots in a similar way.

Stroll Down The Promenade Capstone Project: "99 Lakeland Hills"

So from February through July, I worked my way through & completed the first four courses! To say I was proud of myself was huge understatement! This meant I'd qualified for the final course, the Capstone Photography Project, which is focused on a personal project & how to put a project together successfully. My hometown was my chosen subject & I enjoyed the entire process of working on it; from the planning, to taking the shots & writing up the "Gallery Statement". It was such a great experience & one that will help me as I begin to start other projects.

For those of us that completed the entire course, my fabulous Professors put together an exhibition consisting of one photograph from each learners project. The exhibition was held at the Kresge Art Centre at Michigan State University from the 21st November to the 9th December 2016. The exhibition will also be shown at the Coursera Convention that my Professors will be attending in March. They're also hoping that the exhibition will then be able to be sent & put on display any where in the world. It's absolutely mind blowing to think that one of my photographs could be travelling the world & put on display for all to see!

Stroll Down The Promenade Capstone Project - "Sea Through The Frame"
This photograph was on display at the Kresge Art Centre, MSU 21/11 - 09/12
So overall, I really do recommend this course to anyone interested in Photography. It was such a great experience & has greatly benefited my photography. I'm much more confident with my camera now. I was one of those "stay in Auto" mode photographers but this course has given me the push to play around with my settings more & be more creative when taking photos. It's also made me realise that I'd like to try & make a living from photography in the future.

If you'd like to have a look at my Capstone Photography Project, "Stroll Down The Promenade" in full, then you can find on my portfolio here: Stroll Down The Promenade Project
Please feel free to have a nosey at the other Galleries I have set up on there; some need tweaking & updating but let me know what you think. There may also be prints for sale of some them in the future.

Happy Snapping!


Monday, 13 February 2017

Bird Photography

In my last post, I mentioned photographing wildlife in your back Garden & included Birds within that. However, since Birds are the main type of wildlife that I photograph (though my cats can be pretty wild at times!) & are a great starting subject if Wildlife photography is something you want to pursue further, I thought I'd write a little separate post on Bird photography. Although, I'm definitely not an expert, I thought I'd share a few little tips that help you get started...
So first things first, you need to have Birds visiting your garden!
Tip One: Feed them, if you're not already. This will encourage them into your garden, giving you more opportunities to photograph them. Bird feeders with seeds or fat balls in them seem to go down well for most Birds. Also meal worms & apples cut in half on the ground will encourage ground feeding birds, like Blackbirds to come to your garden.

ISO: 200 Aperture: f/5.6 Shutter Speed: 1/500s Focal Length: 300mm

Tip Two: Be Patient & Don't Give Up! Getting a good shot can be difficult, especially with small garden birds as they move incredibly fast! This type of photography will give you the chance to play with your shutter speed settings helping you learn how to freeze motion or capture a creative blur to show how speedy these birds can be! So keep at it, your efforts will be rewarded.

ISO: 200 Aperture: f/5.6 Shutter Speed: 1/2000s Focal Length: 220mm

ISO: 220 Aperture: f/5.6 Shutter Speed: 1/500s Focal Length: 300mm

Tip Three: Set Your Camera Up First! (This one can be applied to every time to head out with your camera) It can be so frustrating when you see your shot, sort your camera settings out, go to take a shot, only to see the bird fly off before you've hit the shutter! To help avoid this, before you even think about your first shot, sort your settings out. Adjust your ISO & white balance, you can also set a corresponding Aperture & Shutter Speed but these two will change once you begin to take photographs, especially if you're after a freeze motion type of capture. I usually shoot using Program mode in the garden, which means I can set the ISO & then my camera adjusts the Aperture & Shutter Speed itself. This just means I can concentrate a bit more on the composition & creating the shot I want instead of bothering with settings.
Tip Four: Always Have Your Camera With You. As most amateurs or Pros, we photographers will usually grab our camera as we head out the door just in case we see something that inspires us & we want to capture the moment. Yet, when we decide to simply go & sit in the garden, often the camera is left in the house. I'm speaking from experience & had a number of occasions of running back into the house to get my camera & by the time I've come back, whatever I wanted to capture has gone. So get into the habit of having your camera with you even if your staying around your home & in your garden. You never know when a Bird might arrive in the garden while you're there & without your camera, it'll be a disappointing missed shot because you can guarantee the moment you try to move to get your camera, the Bird will have flown off!

ISO: 500 Aperture: f/5.6 Shutter Speed: 1/500s Focal Length: 300mm

I think that's all the "wisdom" I can offer when it comes to Bird Photography, I did say I wasn't an expert! I'm sure there's many more of you that know much more about this than me, so feel free to share any tips you may have regarding Bird Photography.
So if you've never tried photographing Birds, why not give it a try.
Happy Snapping!

Monday, 6 February 2017

Back Garden Photography

I was on Instagram, scrolling through my feed, seeing all these amazing shots of far off places, wishing I could be there. Then every now & then, I'd come across a shot of a flower or a bird in someone's back garden & those shots are as powerful & amazing as all the others!

This started me thinking: Most of the photographs I've taken have been in my back garden & of the birds that come to visit.

Now I'm sure as amateur or pro photographers, we all want to travel to exotic or spectacular locations because a great location to shoot in should usually inspire us & help us to capture some great shots. I know I do! However, some of the most inspiring places to shoot can often be our own back garden or local area & by utilising the resources & locations on your very doorstep, you can hone your creativity & skill as a photographer.  So when you do find yourself in that far off place, you'll be more likely to get that amazing shot because you've already been practising & honing your craft before you get there.

There are plenty of different types of photography that you can practise within your back garden & I thought I'd list a few to hopefully inspire anyone out there that might be struggling to find something to shoot or not sure where to start if they're wanting to try a type of photography:


Garden photography lends itself nicely to practising Macro shots. If you own a Macro lens (Micro Nikkor if you use Nikon), then you can get up close & personal with the flowers, trees & insects in your garden. If you don't have a Macro lens, you can either have a play with seeing how close you can get your camera to focus on your chosen subject, or I remember reading an article that said to turn your lens round & shoot through the back (the part that sits in your camera) as this apparently will do the same thing as a Macro lens (I haven't tried it though). I'm sure you can also get a mount that will fix the lens to your camera this way round so you don't have to worry about letting any extra light onto the sensor, resulting in an over exposed shot.

ISO: 450 Aperture: f/3.3 Shutter Speed: 1/100s Focal Length: 60mm

Depending on the area you live in, will depend on what type of wildlife you'll have the opportunity to photograph. I'm very blessed to live in a fairly quiet area that's flourishing with a few different types of birds. My garden is also a haven for a number of different insects, such as Bees. Plus, I also have a small wildlife pond in the garden, which is home to a few frogs that are happy to be photographed while they're sunbathing!

ISO:250 Aperture: f/5.6 Shutter Speed: 1/500s Focal Length: 300mm
Photographing Wildlife isn't without its challenges & I've found that it has really helped me to learn patience & also become a little quicker at picking up my camera. It's also helped me quicken my lens changes too, since you can guarantee a bird will arrive either on the fence, a rooftop or even join me in the garden when I've just put my kit lens back on my camera & I have to change back to telephoto lens! Of course, you don't have to use a telephoto lens but I find it helps get some nice close up shots without trying to get too close & resulting in the bird flying away before I've taken my shot.

ISO: 1100 Aperture: f/5.3 Shutter Speed: 1/400s Focal Length: 240mm
Flower, Plant & Tree Photography:

This is probably the most obvious as everyone, no matter how small or large their garden, is likely to have plant life of some description in their garden or in their home if they don't have a garden. As mentioned above, these are a good way to practise Macro Photography, but they're also a great subject to help you become more familiar with your camera settings & becoming more creative with your shots. They are a nice still subject (unless its windy, then if you don't want blur, you may need to change your focus mode to Continuous-servo) so you could maybe have a go at creative blur by slowing down your shutter speed & moving your camera. Another thing I love to do is to playing with the Exposure Value, to either darker or brighten a shot. I especially love to do this when shooting in Monochrome. Try lowering the exposure value by a stop or two & see how your shots look.

ISO: 200 Aperture: f/9 Shutter Speed: 1/320s Focal Length: 55mm Exposure Value: -2

ISO: 200 Aperture: f/5.6 Shutter Speed: 1/40s Focal Length: 300mm Exposure Value: -1.7

Well, that's just a few types of Photography that you can begin practising right in your very own back garden! Utilising the subjects in my back garden has done wonders for my photography & allowed me to keep taking photographs even on days when I can't get out anywhere else. So all that's left is for you to get out in your back garden & see what amazing shots you can make!

If you'd like to check out more my garden photography, then feel free to have a browse & follow my Instagram Account: @l.e.sphotography

Happy Snapping!

Wednesday, 1 February 2017


My name is Louise Shepherd, I'm an Amateur Photographer & I'm based in the tiny Village/Town of Heysham, located in the North West Region of Lancashire in the United Kingdom.

I've decided to create this little space to explore my love of photography more as
I've always been fascinated by cameras & photographs. As a small child, I have memories of being surrounded by my parents photograph albums & spending hours looking through them. Amongst the many family photo's is a photograph of myself, camera in hand so I guess being behind the camera taking photographs is something I've done from an early age.

For a long time it's been one of my causal hobbies but I am now beginning to take it a bit more seriously. I've recently completed my first Photography Course through Michigan State University via the Coursera Website which has really helped increase my photography knowledge & also boosted my overall confidence when taking photographs.

I love the whole process from capturing a moment to then spending time editing & playing with the colour on my laptop to enhance the photograph, but only if it's needed of course. Sometimes the best pictures are the ones in their natural unedited state.

I usually keep my main camera, a Nikon D3200, to hand as I never know when I might want to capture my surroundings or a moment in time. I currently have four lenses that I swap between, a 18-50mm, 55-300mm, a Micro 60mm & a 35mm Prime. To find out what else is in my kit bag, feel free to have a nosy at the Camera Kit page on here.

If you'd like to have a look some of the photographs I've taken over the past few years, then please feel free to head over to my Crevado portfolio: L.E.S Photography Portfolio Included there is my first Photography Project "Stroll Down the Promenade."

My hopes with this little place is to document a few of the "adventures" I get up to with my camera whether that's when I go & about, when I'm around the house or in my garden. I'm also going to try & document the process of working towards starting my own photography business.

If you have any questions or suggestions, please feel free to leave them in the comments below & I'll be happy to reply.

Happy Snapping,