I have enjoyed the opportunity to take images of my own little boy, the children of friends and family, some christenings and studio work. I use a similar approach to that of my wedding photography and normally use natural light or flash carefully balanced with ambient light. I do also use a "low key" lighting set up comprising directional light from a soft box against a black velvet background.
A small peep at some of the kit that I use a lot of the time or just occasionally.
Yes I do use some really great and functional DSLRs for my day to day work and personal shooting, but we can see detailed images and reviews of those in many places, so here is (mostly) some slightly more off-beat stuff.
I use these modern and old items not just as functional objects but because there is something I find special about them. It could be that I find them exceptional performers, because I enjoy the optical and mechanical engineering, the old-school quality, tactility, appearance or joy of use. Above all, some of these things take me back to the basics of photography and make me want to go out and shoot.
These images have been taken on my various trips around the world. I am a scuba diver and snow skier, which take me to places where photographic opportunities vary and camera kit has to be limited!
I am never without a camera when I travel but this can vary between a rucksack of Nikon DX format kit to a single compact camera like my Fuji X10. I now have another useful travel camera in the form of Fuji's lovely X-E1. I actually enjoy the freedom and creative discipline of travelling light for the change it offers.
Landscape is one of those photographic disciplines that is a fine excuse for being out and about and therefore I love it.
It would be nice to have more time to get up before dawn and get to the right locations, but most of us don't have that freedom of operation and its very frustrating to see the perfect sunrise as you drive to work! I do make the effort when I can and have plenty of frozen fingers to prove it!
I shoot many conventional landscape images with wide angle lenses, including my Nikon 14-24mm f2.8, Tokina 12-24mm f4 (DX format only) and Carl Zeiss 21 f2.8 and 25 f2 lenses. The Nikon D800 camera has been a revelation for the detail it offers and how it improves shot discipline!
However I am not a fan of shooting everything with wide angle and maximum depth of field....it is really interesting to use 85mm and 100mm lenses to crop into the landscape and to use wide aperture settings to give a very dramatic look, with selective sharp focus and blur. Almost all lenses in my collection have been used for landscape at some point!
Most images are conventional exposures, but I do sometimes use Lee or Cokin filters or bracket exposures and combine them in HDR (high dynamic range) software to control extremes of contrast. My HDR images tend to look quite natural rather than somewhat cartoon-like, as I simply use the process to gain more dynamic range.
What you see is what you get...I never add skies from other images or paste objects on different backgrounds. I may clone out a signpost or a dust spot, but that's it.
I try to get to a few air shows each year. It takes a lot to get the right opportunities...a day, when I can go, with decent weather, with enough cloud to look dramatic, nice light too and finally a spectator area where you don't shoot into the sun!
I particularly love Old Warden, where The Shuttleworth Collection is housed, as this is a really intimate venue, with a display line close to the spectators, manageable numbers of spectators and is a comfortable size venue. You shoot with the sun to your side or back and they even do special evening air shows, where the light is potentially great. As the machines fly so low and close you can often get images which appear as if they were taken from another aircraft rather than terra firma.
We are lucky enough to have the Bournemouth Air Festival and it is certainly a dramatic location with a very comprehensive flying program. Lighting isn't always easy here because
you face due south and it can be hazy or harsh.
I have been shooting with a Nikon 200-400mm f4 VR, which lens gives great quality wide open and is just about hand-holdable, if you fancy a workout!
As of 2016 I have introduced the Fuji X-system to my air show photography now that the 100-400 zoom lens is in my bag.
With the the X-T1 generation of cameras, focus is more challenging than with the DSLR combo, but the lens is so easy to carry and handle and IQ is just great when focus is nailed accurately. It certainly struggles more with the high performance jets but with most subjects I am getting a decent keeper rate.
Now i have an X-T2 I have every hoe that focus issues will be a thing of the past as it is significantly more capable.
I have always been fascinated by the smaller animals around us as the adaptation and perfection displayed is incredible. For everything we and larger animals have achieved, somewhere in the miniature world, it has been done better...take dragonflies, one of my big favourites. They crawl around in the water as the perfect submersible predator for between a year and several years. Then on a chosen day they transform into nature's supreme airborne hunters!
When shooting macro I use either natural light alone, a combination of natural light and flash, or just flash.....
For compositions where maximum magnification is not required the ambient light can be sufficient when using a capable camera body with good ISO performance up to perhaps ISO 800.
I often expose manually for the ambient light at or just under 0EV, then use some gentle fill flash. The short flash duration reduces the chances of camera shake or subject movement ruining the image and helps even out the lighting. Combining ambient and flash light in this way is my preferred technique as it usually shows the animal in an element of its environment.
Finally, for real close up work at 1:1 magnification or bigger, flash provides the only real light that influences the exposure. I diffuse it by using a mini softbox or by tacking semi-opaque plastic cutouts from a milk carton over my ringflash tubes.
Personally I never use a tripod as I need to be mobile and take opportunities that present themselves, often in awkward places, like thigh deep in a pond!
I have several macro lenses, one being a Sigma 150mm f2.8, which is great for its working distance and versatility, as it also takes a 1.4x teleconverter for extra reach or magnification. Another is the Carl Zeiss 100mm f2; one of the best lenses there is full stop. It "only" goes to half life size magnification but is fabulous for dragonflies in natural light, using the Nikon D700.
For travel and its handiness with Kenko extension tubes, I use a Sigma 105mm f2.8 and I also have a Voigtlander 90mm f3.5 APO Lanthar as a tiny, optical gem for going really small and light.
Animals at home and abroad.
These images were taken on a variety of Nikon camera bodies and do not include the close up shots I take, which appear in the "Macro and Close Up" gallery. Most were shot using 70-200 f2.8, 200-400 f4 or 70-300 f4.5-5.6 lenses.
The underwater images were recorded on a Fuji F30 or Canon S100 compact camera in proper underwater housings rated to 40 metres depth. These are capable of decent results when light and visibility are good but struggle a bit when the going gets tougher, as it often does underwater.
Authentic vehicles, living history and re-enactments, some shot on digital cameras and others on film cameras including my 120, square format Rolleicord TLR. I think using film cameras gives an authentic twist to the images.
If you belong to any of the living history groups shown please contact me and I will be happy to supply the images free for personal use and for promotion of the groups you support.