Monday, 21 May 2018

Workshops and building a portfolio

What do people think of photography workshops? 

A group of photographers, a model and an instructor. I must admit I have only been on one. I did come away knowing I liked and wanted to pursue the portrait genre. But there was also frustration. It must be said there are probably two types of these workshops; teaching a skill or process, and a portfolio builder. This one, I now realise was the later. That was probably the problem. 


I have watched workshops on line, and they seem to follow the same route. The photographers stand around and then take turns photographing the model. All very quick and little connection made with the model. There isn't time to explore different angles and poses. You have to have a more forceful personality them mine to almost ignore the queue and take your time. 

I came away with pictures I liked, but they were very similar to the other participants results. Maybe now I would take charge more, but I'm not sure I would do another workshop like this one aimed at building a portfolio. 

My advice if you are starting out would be a model studio day. Pick a good studio and model though. You get assistance if you need it from the studio team and the model. You are able to just experiment with no pressure from the next photographer. When you get more confident, hire a good model and studio or shoot at their home or on location if you have a smaller budget. I learnt a lot this way from trial and error and from the model.

I am now looking for the second type of workshop; teaching a skill. I want to start wedding photography. I'm looking for more than just pictures for my portfolio; I need to plan the day, optimise the workflow to produce the finished pictures, and to learn how to run a business. 

This type of workshop seems to be more difficult to find. I attended one, unfortunately it left me with more questions than answers. I tried beforehand to detail what I wanted, and the photographer had a style and business I thought I could learn from. I guess ultimately the skill of teaching is more difficult to asses.


I'm not criticising anyone who provides workshops, just noting that for me they haven't really worked. I may attend some in the future, but I need to be sure they will provide me with the experience I am looking for. I think maybe I need to define that more clearly first.


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Monday, 7 May 2018

Last day of a great weekend

bike leant against the wall, in the shade.
Bike leant against the wall, me in the shade.

Just back from the last ride of the weekend. It always seems better to have cycled on a bank holiday, a day stolen from the work week. And only four days of work until the next time. Life is good.

Saturday was a testing ride, taking in a few of the steepest hills around me.

Sunday was a little easier, a gentle ride to Westerham. It was a longer ride, but less severe hills.


churchill westerham kent
Picture from a while ago. Winston Churchill on Westerham green.

Then there is the bonus day.

It started as a steady ride to Chevening. Until I was overtaken, now this happens a lot but this time a wanted to push myself. Within a few seconds I decided to catch up and see how long I could stay with him. I watch a lot of bike racing and when a rider accelerates away the commentators say the rest of the racers have to react quickly. Now I know how quickly. He wasn't going much faster than me, but the short delay before I gave chase meant he was well up the road. And it took a lot of effort to close the gap. I stayed with him over the undulating route for five or six miles before I turned off. It's amazing how much difference to my average speed this short burst made. I cycled on past Chevening; it was one of those "I could cycle all day", days. But I did need to get home so I completed a circular loop through Dunton Green back to Chevening, then back along Pilgrims Way, up Clarks Lane and through Woldingham. The only steep hill being Burntwood Lane near to home.

A bit of advice: there are a lot of insects flying around. So keep your mouth shut. You're welcome.


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Saturday, 5 May 2018

Early summer sun with Rosie

I had originally planned a second shoot with Rosie for last Monday to coincide with me having the D810, but the weather was horrid, it rained heavily all day.

We were promised better for Friday, and we weren't disappointed.

Rosie once again was well prepared and the chosen area for the shoot was tidy and ready. But in the end the veranda didn't hold our interest for very long. The rest of the location was just too good.

on the veranda using a softbox flowery dress
Softbox camera left

veranda mirror reflection
veranda reflection in the mirror
The next area we went to was the cherry tree, in full blossom. It would certainly been a shame to miss it.




Rosie looks great, relaxed and serene. Pull back on the zoom and she is actually perched on a ladder.
You would never guess from the two pictures above.
behind the scene rosie up a ladder, slippers on
Behind the scene Rosie up a ladder, slippers on
Then finally a walk through the woods. This was the most challenging area. Dappled light meant I had to keep an eye out for blown highlights and the leaves caused an incredibly vivid green light. It was very hard to get ride of. What do you think of my efforts?

portrait in the trees


portrait in the trees white dress

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long weekend cycling

After the last week it was good to wake up to the sun on a weekend. Matt is globe trotting so I'm on my own for all three days.


It gave me a chance to put a few miles on the road bike. And to tackle a couple of local hills. I have mentioned before White Hill Lane, it is a very steep, long hill that gets steeper the further along it you go. There is shorter hill, Waller Lane that comes up from the valley, it's not open to general traffic, their route is Church Road. The lane is used for the Waller Pain time trial every year. In previous years I have seen the reminder too late to attend, but not this time. It use to be used by the Catford CC for the Catford Hill Climb back in the 1890’s, they have now moved on to other challenges. The last few years it has been run by the Caterham Round Table as part of the Caterham Festival.


I have walked up it a few times so I thought I'd try it on the bike. It is hard, especially the lower section, there is a flatter part that I mistook for the top. On race day I planned to stand up and really give it everything to the finish. It was then that I was glad of this test ride. The flatter section turns a bend and climbs again. I wouldn't have had the energy needed for that final section had I gone all in so early. I'll wait a little longer on the day. Strava has the fastest time as just over a minute, the last few years have had winning times around 1 minute 17 seconds. I'll aim for a time that starts with a one.


I'm glad to be out, it feels so good when it's warm. I stopped to take a drink and snap the scene.



cycling flowers leaned against the wall

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Monday, 30 April 2018

Nikon D810 and a photoshoot


It was finally time to try the Nikon D810, it arrived from Hire a Camera on Friday, in preparation for some weddings later in the year. The intention being to get use to it.

The shoot was with a Hana, a model I hadn't worked with before. The shoot I had organised with a model I knew fell through. It gave me a chance to work inside. The original plan was to shoot by the Thames. But considering the weather was not as nice as it had been, the change in plan worked very well. And the 8th floor roof terrace was a bonus.

So what are my thoughts on the D810?

First there is memory. If you are going to use the largest RAW size; and why wouldn't you? A 32gb card gets you 394 pictures. And if you are backing up to a second card. That is a lot of storage. I have seen wedding photographers offer 600 or more pictures. So the number they must take has to be considerably more. It's a big jump up from my D700. I feel stupid admitting I didn't factor it in to my plans. I have a 32gb and an 8gb in both CF and SD and a 16 in CF format so only 689 pictures. I have never had a card problem, or lost any pictures to an accidental deletion, but if it did happen on the big day doubling up on the cards to provide a backup would be money well spent.

The shutter is as quiet as the reviewers say, if you set it to Qc. The standard setting is nearly as loud as the D700, which is surprisingly loud compared to my old cameras, the D70 and 90.

For me the improvements are not going to compel me to upgrade just yet. My D700 has a resolution sufficient for my needs. Having an immediate backup of my pictures isn't a concern. Focusing is still too centre weighted, being little better than my present camera. I know it's a technical limitation with the location and size of the mirror, it's something a mirrorless cameras don't have. Nikon are working on this technology, do I wait or not? The big question about changing will also be whether they change to lens mount. If they do, meaning I would have to buy new lenses, it could be time to jump ship to maybe Sony. They have full frame mirrorless cameras with lenses to match already. So second hand examples will be available. I never thought I would be contemplating this type of move.

The next wedding will mean I hire the D810 again. Second hand they are too much for me to justify buying at the moment.

Here are the pictures from the shoot. The look was lifestyle, editorial. Hana got the outfits right, the room suited my plan, and the roof terrace was a bonus. Although being eight floor up it was very windy and cold. We didn't stay there long.

lifestyle photoshoot white room 

lifestyle photoshoot white room

lifestyle photoshoot white room

lifestyle photoshoot white room


lifestyle photoshoot roof terrace

lifestyle photoshoot roof terrace

lifestyle photoshoot roof terrace

Then just to show you need to keep your eyes open for possibilities, the stairwell and lift lobby were useful locations.

lift lobby black and white photoshoot

stairwell black and white photoshoot



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