Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Don't forget the content

With all the technical information about photography available on the internet I worry that sometimes people forget that one of the most important things about any photograph is having an interesting subject.

I was over at Thom Hogan's site this morning. Thom writes about all things Nikon, and although I'm not a Nikon user, he often has an interesting take on where the camera industry is going.

I don't usually care too much for his photography - he focuses on fine art landscapes. But he has a completely arresting image on the front page at the moment of a snarling lion that he grabbed while in Tanzania.

It's soft, under exposed, and blurred, but it captures such a wonderful moment you can't help but look at it agin and again.

As he says:

"Sometimes the subject transcends the technique, something that keeps getting forgotten (or at least ignored) in this "need more megapixels" world. This is a 10mp image taken with a consumer zoom with questionable technique (when a lion is doing this and you're as close as I was, I doubt your technique would be any better). Yet I'm pretty sure that you had a visceral and real reaction to it when you first saw it. Whatever camera you use, don't forget the content..."

I'm all too aware that many people looking to get into photography are so concerned about sharpness and pixel peeping that they forget photography is about communicating something. Thom's image does that perfectly.

He changes the image on the front page every couple of weeks, and I can't see how to link to the image specifically, so check there soon before it is gone.

Monday, 28 September 2009


The Tour of Britain might not have the glamour of the Tour de France, but when the finish stage came to London last weekend I wanted to get some pictures. Cycling is a great sport to photograph as the riders all wear bright colours, the bikes look like something from a science fiction film and they often pass though spectacular locations.

It's always good to get a different perspective on things, and I managed to get up onto a bridge over the course at the start:

Then I tried a few panning shots from the side of the track. A shutter speed of about 1/100th seemed to get the right amount of motion blur:

Finally, I love shooting against the sun, so I found a corner where the cyclists had a clear view behind them. I used a wide angle lens and pre-focused at 1m (yes, the riders were that close!). I used on camera flash in high speed sync mode to provide some fill. I kept the aperture wide to allow the flash to recycle quickly, as I was shooting on motor drive:


Thursday, 17 September 2009


I recently shot a friend of mine who is a member of the GB triathlon squad. We headed out to Richmond Park on a cold August morning, and despite nearly freezing the death at first, the sun came through for an hour or so at about 7am.

There are a couple of techniques that you ned to nail for these kinds of shots.

The first is mixing ambient light and flash with a moving subject. Because your camera will only sync with the flash at 1/250th, you need to be careful not to get motion blur from the low (for action photography) shutter speed.

The second is panning. When you actually want to have motion blur, rto capture the sense of speed, you need to be sure to get just the right amount. Ideally you want the background blurred and the subject remaining reasonably sharp. When shooting close up with a wide angle lens, this can be particularly challenging. The solution is lots of practice and re-shooting again and again until you get it right.