From this to this!

One of the joys for a photographer is to see how their images are used by others.  How will they interpret your images or will they change the message you intended when you made the photograph?  One of the pleasures of working with graphic designers is getting a brief of what they want and then going out to achieve the specific requirement, armed with the knowledge of what they are tasked to achieve.  The following image and location was the subject of a recent blog came about following a brief chat with a designer and now it has been used to promote walking tours featuring CS Lewis:

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This image was interpreted in the following way.  Note how the feel of the image is now projecting a much more dramatic and even sinister mood!  The skills of the photographer and the graphic designer coming together.

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All images contained on this website remain the property of Roger Bradley. Images may not be downloaded, reproduced, copied, projected, or used in any way without express written permission.

 

 

November brings remembrance!

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November 1st, All Saints Day, seems to be an appropriate day for my first blog of the month which features the memorial garden of remembrance situated at the city end of the Newtownards Road, Belfast.

During the second world war Belfast was the twelfth most heavily bombed British city with a tonnage of 440 high explosive bombs dropped over two raids.  Originally Belfast was believed to be out of range from German bombers, but the ship building and aircraft factories were the key attraction.

Reconnaissance flights had given the Luftwaffe very detailed photographs of what factories were where within the city. They also showed where the 22 anti-aircraft guns were and analysis showed that 16 were heavy AA guns while 6 were classed as light. As a comparison, 100 AA guns defended Liverpool. The Luftwaffe concluded that Belfast “was the most poorly defended city in the UK”.

My late father was on duty on both night raids and I am glad that I took the trouble to record his memories of that time.

All images contained on this website remain the property of Roger Bradley. Images may not be downloaded, reproduced, copied, projected, or used in any way without express written permission.

All Saints’ Eve

While visiting Hillsborough in Co Down I came across this florist shop at the bottom of the main street and thought it provided a colourful display in the lead up to halloween, sometimes referred to as All Hallows’ Eve or All Saints’ Eve.  A colleague went in to the shop and asked the shop assistant to pose for me as I dodged traffic in the middle of the road.

Bradley-5012This got me thinking about Halloween!  The feast of All Saints was a yearly celebration observed in a number of countries on 1 November, the time in the liturgical year dedicated to remembering the dead and all the faithful departed believers.

The camera settings were simple, Fujifilm X-T1 in manual mode, 400iso, f5.6, 1/125 second.  The camera was fitted with a 23mm f1.4 lens, equivalent to 35mm.

All images contained on this website remain the property of Roger Bradley. Images may not be downloaded, reproduced, copied, projected, or used in any way without express written permission.

 

The photographer’s eye

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The photograph above was taken at Clough Co Down, one of the centres where the Orange Order were parading throughout Northern Ireland on the 12th July.  On the day I surprisingly took very few exposures but this image is one that stuck in my mind.  It’s not a particularly well composed image and it was taken early in the day before the parade started.  So why did I take?

There were several reasons, firstly I noticed the cowboy boots, the lyrics to ‘These Boots Are Made for Walking’ by Nancy Sinatra came to mind!  Another reason for seeing this picture was the fact that nearly everyone else in the scene is standing and the main subject is sitting, so there is a certain juxtaposition.  The fact that the heads of the people standing are cut off help the viewer to concentrate on the main figure.  I lowered my position when making the image so that I was almost at the same level, obviously the person saw me take the image which has not spoiled the photograph.

This image conveys a relaxed atmosphere in anticipation for the parade yet to commence. Probably the dominant feeling was …will it stay dry?  In actual fact it did stay dry until around 5pm!  There is nothing threatening or decisive conveyed by the image, unlike many images of Orange Order parades that you will find in the media.

Photographs are a powerful means for conveying messages and you are really depending on the honesty of the photographer.  In this case Clough was really about a family day out and meeting up with friends.

All images contained on this website remain the property of Roger Bradley. Images may not be downloaded, reproduced, copied, projected, or used in any way without express written permission 

A perspective on General Lundy!

Welcome to the first blog of 2014!  Last year was a busy year for Ulster Photography with ninety-nine blogs published detailing my photographic musings.  I will not promise to repeat that number in 2014.  One way to pursue photography is by undertaking personal projects and this blog details one such project I undertook which detailed the making of the Lundy effigy in the Apprentice Boys’ Memorial Hall in Londonderry.  I made several visits to the Memorial Hall for this purpose.

There were a few objectives I wanted to cover.  Most photographs of Lundy portray its burning, after all that is why it is made in the first place, but I wanted to cover the construction process as I have never seen images of this aspect.  In total I made four visits and took hundreds of images.  The second objective was to demonstrate its size and scale, photographic perspective was used to do this.

Below are two photographs that I have selected that do precisely this:

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Using height, comparative sized of the the effigy to the man on the ladder and the ladder itself conveying height all transmit information that enable the viewer to judge the size of the effigy, even through all of it is not shown in the frame.

Preparations for the burning of Lundy at the closing of the gates ceremony in Londonderry

A close up of the finished head and torso also give evidence of the scale and it is immediately recognisable as being the Lundy effigy. 

All images contained on this website remain the property of Roger Bradley. Images may not be downloaded, reproduced, copied, projected, or used in any way without express written permission

Not close enough!

It was the war photographer Robert Capa who famously said, ‘…if your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough’!  One of the constraints of the Fujifilm X Pro 1 fitted with a 35mm lens forces you to get in close and of course this is what you should do. The following image taken a few days ago illustrates the point.

ISO 200, 35mm @ f4, 1/500th second

ISO 200, 35mm @ f4, 1/500th second

Experimenting with shallow depth of field (DoF) can be a useful way to improve the image. In this photograph I used a single focus point and with the lens at f4 a shallow DoF is assured, the area that is focus sharp is only a few inches wide! In this case the closest brass clasp is sharp as is the profile of the man’s face, both edges of the drum shell are slightly soft and of course the background is out of focus forcing your eye to the parts of the image that is in focus.

So getting in close and making use of a shallow DoF work well together to produce a stronger image; the image has not been cropped, so the full size of the frame was used. Now time to go out and practice these techniques!

All images contained on this website remain the property of Roger Bradley. Images may not be downloaded, reproduced, copied, projected, or used in any way without express written permission.

 

Analysing the Image!

Here I want to discuss just one photograph taken from my shoot in Dromore, which was the subject of the previous blog. It is worth taking time to review images taken and to work out what you did wrong, as well as what worked! I took more photographs of the Scottish country dancers than I did of anything else, this was simply because they were dynamic and quick moving. Here is the photograph:

Camera settings: 200iso, 98mm (70 - 200 mm 2.8) lens, f7.1, 1/200 shutter speed

Camera settings: 200iso, 98mm (70 – 200 mm 2.8) lens, f7.1, 1/200 shutter speed

Because the action was fast moving many images were made to be sure to get better compositions. So what is it about this image? A telephoto lens does have the pleasing effect of compressing the image, so the street houses in the background seem closer. The three girls are well placed in the frame and the girl in the tartan dress is pointing into the frame which is much better. The girl in the middle looking down invites us to question what she is doing. Is she watching the foot work of the other girl or thinking when she comes in to the dance? A photograph which invites us to ask questions is more interesting.

A bit about focus; it is a little bit soft even though the point of focus falls on the middle girl. Yet the shutter speed is more than adequate. A smaller aperture would have been better, say f11. To use f11 I would have needed to increase the ISO, which is what I should have done! Having said this I am still pleased with the image which is uncropped.

All images contained on this website remain the property of Roger Bradley. Images may not be downloaded, reproduced, copied, projected, or used in any way without express written permission.

 

Flag Waving – Dutch Style!

We are well used to flag waving in Northern Ireland and so when I visited Amsterdam I was intrigued to see how they staged public parades.  In this case a trade guilds parade which interrupted the flow of traffic in downtown Amsterdam.

Taken in September it was unfortunately a dull grey damp day.  I remember being rather disappointed with my photographic results, the images lacked the clarity I was after, however I kept taking images with my best walk around lens, a 24-70mm f2.8.   The image below was one taken from this series.

24mm, f13, 1/60, 400iso

24mm, f13, 1/60, 400iso

The relatively slow shutter speed provides the sense of movement in the flag waving.  I had considered making a monochrome version of this but instead opted for colour.  In Lightroom the red, orange and blue filters were tweaked to bring the colour out more strongly and this was about the only manipulation required.

What appeals to me about the image are the diagonal forces produced by the zebra crossing, the marchers, the tram and the overhead cables which are all parallel to one another.  This produces a forceful diagonal line through the photograph.  In general diagonal lines make for stronger images.  By contrast the sole pedestrian standing at the zebra crossing provides an important element to the image and the image would not be as interesting without her.

Despite the technical faults I think this image works to make a powerful piece of street photography.

All images contained on this website remain the property of Roger Bradley.  Images may not be downloaded, reproduced, copied, projected, or used in any way without express written permission.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Burning of Lundy

Today I attended the Burning of Lundy in Londonderry, I had never been to see this annual event before so I was keen to see what photographic opportunities would present themselves.  Late afternoon sunshine brought out the colours beautifully when I photographed Lambeg Drummers, in the background Lundy awaits his fate.

I had to wait until almost 5pm before Lundy was lit, by this time the light is fading fast and a flash unit is useful to balance against the ambient light.  The following are some of the images I was happy with.

This is my initial sift of images with many more left to edit.  I am now looking forward to next year!  Other images available from http://ulsterphotography.co.uk/LundyDay/

All images contained on this website remain the property of Roger Bradley.  Images may not be downloaded, reproduced, copied, projected, or used in any way without express written permission.

Editing Photographs

This past few days I have been very busy covering the Ulster Covenant centenary events in Northern Ireland.  Last Wednesday with a colleague I covered a concert in the Ulster Hall, which was the subject of my previous blog, on Friday I covered a lecture given by Lord Professor Bew in Bangor Abbey and on Saturday I attended the huge procession, which made its way to the Stormont Estate in east Belfast.

I ended up with a huge number of images, on Saturday alone over 1300 raw image files, presenting me with a large editing task.  So how do you cope with editing hundreds and hundreds of images down to a manageable number?

Fortunately programs like Lightroom make the task so much easier.  The first task was to add the metadata information to the images and luckily this just takes a few minutes.  Once this is done the real editing can begin.  On a first sweep any images that are clearly out of focus are immediately deleted.  Then back to the beginning for the second sweep.  Any images that strike me in any way as possible keepers are flagged.

Flagged images are those images which strike me, for example, as having a particular colour saturation that I like, a certain coming together of lines in the composition of the image, a recognisable landmark or feature, a known personality, an amusing depiction or anything else that strikes me.  These images are given a higher rating and its back to the beginning again.

On each sweep the numbers of images reduce and so on this next sweep any images that appear similar are removed and hopefully at this stage a manageable number of images are left.  Here are some of the images that were selected.

William Crawley, Dr John Bew and Lord Professor Paul Bew at Bangor Abbey

At Bangor Abbey I just took around eight or nine images and this was the one I picked so this is straight forward.  However at Stormont Estate on the following Saturday I took 1310 photographs.  By following the steps I described above I reduce this number under 50 which were submitted to the parade organisers.  

Before the parade arrived there were shots to be had, spectators arriving and programme sellers.

Arriving early!

 

The Programme Sellors

There was entertainment for the waiting spectators, here Scottish country dancers perform.

Scottish Country Dancing

At one o’clock the head of the parade arrived and soon reached the top of the processional avenue just below Sir Edward’s Carson’s statue.

The Grand Master is in the centre between the two flags.

It is difficult to imagine the scale of the crowd present.  At the end of the proceedings as the parade left at 4.30pm the end of the parade was still arriving from Belfast.  The following image taken from the platform gives you some idea.  In the distance you will see the parade still entering the gates at the bottom of the processional avenue.

Police were estimating that between 60,000 to 65,000 attended.

This image was taken with a 70-200mm lens set at 70mm, a wider angle lens would have given a wider view, you will notice that the left hand side of the view is excluded.  However I wanted to use a longer lens that would close up the distance so that you could see clearly to the bottom of the avenue.

Two members of the Northern Ireland Assembly carry the banner!

All images were taken on a full frame DSLR camera and are un-cropped, they appear as they were taken in the camera.  

All images contained on this website remain the property of Roger Bradley.  Images may not be downloaded, reproduced, copied, projected, or used in any way without express written permission.