Finding those golden rays

Over the past few days I have been making repeat visits to Island Hill in Co Down, sometimes two or three times in the one day.  I often rephotograph locations that I have been to before and find that it always pays off by helping me to find the “right light”. 

As on my previous visits I left the camera bag behind and just carried the camera fitted with a 35mm prime lens.  On this visit I selected f11 as my chosen aperture and set the infinity symbol inline with f11 on the lens scale, remembering the quotation “f11 and hold her steady”!  The main benefit being that I didn’t have to worry about focusing thereby enabling me to concentrate on composition.

The other thing I have been doing is limiting my exposures to 36, just as if it was a film camera, a discipline I have been observing lately.  From my visit this afternoon I have chosen two images:

Following where the light falls!

Following where the light falls!

Chasing the sunbeams!

Chasing the sunbeams!

Fujifilm X Pro 1 and the Leica rangefinder cameras are just made for this style of 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. 

From light to darkness!

These images were taken at a band parade in Banbridge Co Down for the purpose of testing the Fujifilm X-T1 from conditions of early evening daylight through to late evening street light to see how it would perform.

Obviously as the evening continued I was forced to increase my ISO setting, from 400 to 1600 and then finally to 6400.  How would this effect digital noise in dim light?  I was using a 56mm f1.2 lens, so a fast lens should help considerably.

Later in the evening as it got darker I had to abandon auto focus and switch to manual, the focusing ring on the lens was a delight to use, very smooth!  The images are below together with camera settings.

ISO 400, f4, 1/160

ISO 400, f4, 1/160

ISO 1600, f1.4, 1/60

ISO 1600, f1.4, 1/60

ISO 6400, 32.0, 1/125

ISO 6400, 32.0, 1/125

ISO 6400, f2.0, 1/125

ISO 6400, f2.0, 1/125

ISO 6400, f2.0, 1/100

ISO 6400, f2.0, 1/100

My view: I enjoyed the shooting experience, the slowest shutter speed was 1/60 and good for hand holding the camera.  The only issue to be aware of is manual focusing in low light with a moving target and a wide aperture with shallow DoF!

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

Strangford in winter?

January is a time when some put their cameras away during the depths of winter.  Yet this month started off with severe storms followed with lots of rain and interspersed with the very occasional sunny day.  Today was one of these occasional sunny days when I visited Strangford town.

On a good summer’s day Strangford is a place to be avoided due to sightseers and busy narrow roads.  But the height of winter is very quiet and if its a nice day its perfect for a few seeking out a few shots.  Winter sun in mid afternoon produces a gentle warming of colours and soft shadows – great for photography.

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Hard to believe that these images were taken in the second half of January.  Images captured with a Fujifilm X Pro 1.4mm f1.4 lens.

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

 

 

Product Photography

From time to time I am asked to undertake product photography.  I find this area of photography enjoyable especially when it touches on subjects that interest me.  The benefit of product photography is that generally you control the light, depth of field and background drops.  So there is little that can go wrong.  

This week I came across an old Royal Ulster Constabulary night helmet, worn in urban areas in Belfast and Londonderry during the 1960s after which it was withdrawn.  In selecting an aperture above f9 more than adequate depth of field will be achieved.  The light was provided by a single speed light fired through a large brolly, sufficient to illuminate the item and the background.

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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

 

Photography is about compromise

Compromise means embracing the constraints.

Do you use a wide aperture, a small one, set a high ISO, or a low ISO, what shutter speed should you use?  Its all very complicated and there are so many constraints, your damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

Recently I was asked to photograph Brunswick Accordion Band being recorded for their new CD.  Watch out for its release!  The hall was illuminated by low energy sodium light bulbs which gave quite a harsh white light and the band were seated in rows so the question was what compromises did I have to make to get usable images?

On arrival I decided not to use a flash, it can be distracting to others, it causes shadows where you don’t want them if your not careful, it has a limited distance range and I would not be using light modifiers.  So that decision was simple, I would not be using flash.

I came equipped with two fast f2.8 zoom lenses but quickly disregarded these for faster prime lenses which proved to be a wise decision.  So the issue was what f-stop would I use?  This would be determined by the shutter speed and ISO selected.

Not wanting to set the ISO too high so as to avoid unacceptable digital noise I opted for 640 ISO and with a shutter speed of 1/80 second this gave me an aperture of f2.  In order to decrease the aperture I would have needed to reduce the shutter speed and introduce the danger of camera shake, or increase the ISO and introduce digital noise, neither option was a choice.

The outcome was f2 with its shallow depth of field.  This dictated that I shoot tight shots and to play with the shallow depth of field to produce creative images – looking for those glances, expressions and other moments of interaction.  The vast majority of exposures were taken with a 50mm and an 85mm lens, both f1.4.  The series of images were characterised by selective use of focus.

Here are a couple of examples:

Brunswick Accordion Band Recording Session

Brunswick Accordion Band Recording Session

Brunswick Accordion Band Recording Session

Compromise means embracing the constraints, this can also help you to be more creative. Who would have thought that constraints improves your 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.

 

Environmental Portraits

Having concentrated on mainly documentary, editorial and event photography I welcome the opportunity to stray into other areas.  Recently while photographing the oat harvest at a farm near Tandragee Co Armagh I included shots of the farmer and his delightful children.

I have included four images in this blog, three of which were taken on an overcast morning with fine drizzle.  As it turned out the light produced in these conditions, augmented with 20% flash from a soft box, produced pleasing results.  In effect the weather conditions produced a beautiful soft light.

The final image was taken a few days later in early evening, again with an overcast sky. This time no soft box was used yet the light produced great skin tones and even a slight catch-light in the child’s eyes.

White's Oats Shoot White's Oats Shoot While's Oats Shoot White's Oats Shoot

During the fine drizzle shoot I nearly decided not to continue as the children were getting wet.  However persisting on this occasion taught me to be always ready to take advantage of quality light.  In photography above all else light is king!

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.

Photographing stained glass windows

I love taking photographs of churches and occasionally interior shots, especially stained glass windows.  However inside churches the light is usually poor and use of interior lighting can cause all sorts of colour balance problems.

Today I visited my own church and experimented using only natural light, outside it was overcast but bright thereby ensuring that the window would be well illuminated and seen from inside the way stained glass windows should be seen.

Instead of my Nikon gear I used the Fujifilm X-Pro 1 camera, which I find is becoming my camera of first choice when more demanding work is not involved.  I used the 35mm lens which is equivalent to a standard lens on a 35mm camera, ISO was set to 200 and the aperture f2, almost wide open and the shutter 1/50 second.  Below is the result:

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The colours are nicely saturated and there is very little blown out highlights.  The window is known as The Twaddell Memorial Window in memory of the late W J Twaddell MP who was murdered on 22 May 1922.  In the early part of the twentieth century he was heavily involved in the life of the parish. The window was dedicated on 22 May 1932 tens years after his death.

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.

 

 

 

Scrabo Tower – different lens!

I was inspired to revisit Scrabo Tower with two key objectives, I wanted to recreate the mood of my previous shot and secondly I wanted to use a different lens to see what a difference this made.  My second visit on 6 May was made at the same time of day (early evening) when the light was similar and the sun in the same position as on my previous shoot on 21 April.

On this occasion I used a 14-24mm f2.8 lens as opposed to my 24-70mm and the most obvious benefit of this lens was that it enabled me to use landscape format rather than portrait, thus it enabled a good context shot to be taken.  Taking the shots from roughly the same distance I avoided lens distortion in how the tower was represented.  I did take shots much closer and the lens distortion was obvious.  I took several shots from the same position as before, this is the one I have selected:

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14-24mm f2.8 @ 18mm

For the sake of comparison I have converted the image to monochrome.  Certainly the lighting conditions have been replicated, the structure of the grass is the same, although the sky is lighter, maybe post production work could improve this.  Maybe the two images are complimentary but you can decide which one you like best.

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.

 

Scrabo Tower

The feature photograph for this blog is Scrabo Tower, the tower upon which my site logo is based on.   Scrabo is a significant landmark standing on a scraggy volcanic plug outside Newtownards that can be seen for miles.

Erected in 1857, the Tower was built by local people as a monument to Charles William Stewart, 3rd Marquess of Londonderry. The marquis was a local landowner and nobleman with a distinguished military and diplomatic career. He was Lieutenant Colonel of the light Dragoons and fought in 25 major battles, earning the nickname the ‘Fighting Marquis’. He was also Adjutant General to the Duke of Wellington, during the Napoleonic Wars, before becoming diplomat as Envoy Extraordinary in Prussia and Ambassador in Austria.

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24-70mm f2.8 @24mm

The photograph was taken in early evening on 21st April this year.  It is the side lighting which is responsible for highlighting the stone work and the grass giving both that fantastic structure and texture.  It is this that makes the photograph, without the side lighting the image would look quite drab.

Taken in colour the raw file was converted to monochrome in Lightroom.  While the colour image looks good I think monochrome works better in this case.  The two girls walking their dog arrived on the horizon just at the right time.  It often pays for the photographer to have patience and I did wait for someone to appear in the scene thereby providing some perspective.

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.

 

Monochrome or Colour

For this short blog I have returned to Nendrum Monastic Site, the colour version of this scene has been featured before, but this time I want to compare it with a monochrome conversion.  Here are both versions:

Nendrum Monastic Site

 

Nendrum Monastic Site

The monochrome was created using Silver Efex Pro and a preset selected which makes use of the full dynamic range within the image, hence the fuller detail in the sky.  The problem is that when making monochrome versions I never know which one I like the best, so perhaps you can drop me an email and let me know.  Somehow I think the monochrome has created greater depth, almost a 3D effect.

The joy of photography is that there are endless possibilities!

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.