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Posts tagged Nikkor 50mm
Why imposing limits can boost your photography

As a photographer it is all too easy to fill up the camera bag with every single piece of kit we can physically carry and head off crooked backed spending endless hours in one spot waiting on the perfect light for one single shot.  This can be fantastic but sometimes we need to mix it up and get our minds doing something different.

I like this composition and plan to return soon. I will probably shoot it a little wider and more than likely during sunset or the blue hour

I like this composition and plan to return soon. I will probably shoot it a little wider and more than likely during sunset or the blue hour

I like to do this by imposing limits on myself.  So I made a quick trip to Stirling city centre with only one lens (Nikkor 50mm 1.8G) and two hours to make some photographs.  I like making quick trips like these; it’s a neat little exercise.  I find it is similar to how an artist would use a sketchbook – I am making quick visual notes, saving ideas on shape, compositions and possible locations which can be returned to and examined later, hopefully to create a finished photograph.  Luckily, Stirling has a very small city centre and can be easily walked around in two hours.  Also, it is a medieval city and therefore any modern architecture stands out a mile.

Abstract Forthside Bridge, Stirling Station

The Forthside Bridge became my main interest to photograph.  It is located only a minute from Stirling train station and is a stark contrast to pretty much all other architecture in the area.  It is modern and sleek and highly photographable.  I spotted the bridge as I approached the station on my train from Glasgow but decided to photograph all around the city and focus on the bridge upon my return from the station.

it is similar to how an artist would use a sketchbook ... making quick visual notes, saving ideas on shape, compositions and possible locations...

What I love most about photographing modern structures like this is that they offer great opportunities to go abstract and focus on elements with the structure as well as the structure as a whole.

In any creative pursuit imposing limits makes us think differently in order to find solutions.  As photographers it can be all too easy to just slip on a different to get the ‘perfect’ composition, but sticking to one focal length we are forced to seek out new compositions and ‘work’ a scene to get something new.

5 tips on how to take good photographs in the harsh midday sun

Sunny days are generally not great for photography.  The harsh light can make it very difficult to create good photographs but we should learn to use whatever conditions are available to our best use.  There are lots of techniques and ideas you can do to help in these conditions.

1 - Use a prime lens - the lack of zoom just gives one less variable to worry about when composing your shots... to be honest I prefer primes at the best of times but when the conditions are not ideal (for my needs) a prime is a definite.

2 - Bung on a polarizer - this will kill a lot of the reflections that ruin shots.

3 - Lower expectations - accept the conditions are not your friend here - I'm hardly going to get beautiful soft light at 2pm when the sun is blazing... this can take an unusually long time for us photographers to accept!

4 - Experiment! - I try and use the conditions to my advantage; try out unusal compositions, or including shadows and reflections.  Strong graphical elements can really stand out if you utilise strong sunlight

5 - Plan for later - It's a lovely day, so if I can't get the shot I want now... I make a note and come back later.  The Tyre Distributor image above is a prime example of this.  I like this shot but I know I can work it better on a cloudier day.  I have a 'Locations' folder in Lightroom where I squirrel away ideas I have to return to at a later date

Meeting Glasgow's Creatives: Chantal Allan (Warped Textiles)

Having never been to The Briggait until a couple of weeks ago, I have now visited no less than three times in the space of fourteen days and my latest trip there was to photograph Chantal Allan (Warped Textiles).  Chantal creates fabrics for soft furnishings and accessories and is inspired by nature and maths, especially geometry.

Weaving Loom and Wool Glasgow.jpg

It is always a wee bit strange turning up at someone’s studio to photograph them, after all, with the exception of a few emails, everyone I have photographed for this project have been perfect strangers.  What has been heartening though is that everyone has been friendly and welcoming and most importantly in Chantal’s case, provided tea and biscuits upon arrival.  Cheers.

Chantal and I blethered away about work, family, weaving, photography, visiting Harris… and whatever else came to mind.  It is always great to meet someone for the first time and just be able to make small talk. It really makes a big difference when it comes to photographing them.  Just knowing that the person is comfortable and relaxed makes the process so much easier for both parties involved.

Chantal Allan Warped Textiles.jpg

A large part of the shoot was with Chantal working at her loom.  I am still trying to keep these photographs as natural as possible and this can often mean a lot of images that are unusable for one reason or another.  In Chantal’s case, this was due to the speed she worked at the loom.  It was often difficult to keep up and focus correctly, I really had to try and predict what Chantal was going to do and time each shot.  Not easy at all.

Wool Bobbins Glasgow

Chantal and I knew that some of these images may be used on her Instagram feed as part a #MeetYourMaker promotion so I tried where possible to make sure the images could be easily cropped to a square format if required.

This was a great little shoot.  When I started this project I wanted to try and show the enthusiasm that creative people have for their chosen output and this was abundantly clear with Chantal.   

Remember to check out Warped Textiles website at www.warped-textiles.com.

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Meeting Glasgow's Creatives: Cressa McLaren

Another week passes and my Meeting Glasgow’s Creatives project continues to grow.  It has been difficult for me to keep up with the number of people getting in contact – so if you have contacted me previously I haven’t got back, please contact me again and I will definitely be in touch.

This week I met Cressa McLaren at her studio at the Briggait where she creates all manner of glass pieces including tableware, lighting, her 'Glass Meadow' collection, as well as one-off commission work.

Cressa McLaren at work Glasgow Glass Artist

From the outset I knew this shoot was going to be enjoyable one.  Cressa and I blethered away as if we had known each other for ages.  We spoke about her times as a glass artist in Kirkcudbright and now Glasgow.  We both moaned and enthused about our respective children in equal measure (as parents tend to do).  I was also lucky to see a commission Cressa was working on and we spoke about how such a piece is created.

Meeting and photographing so many different creative people has really been great fun.  Everyone who has participated has been genuinely passionate about their work and all have welcomed me generously.

CRessa Mclaren Glass Meadow Collection

That being said, walking in to so many different situations with minimal photography gear (i dont even bring a flash!) can be very uncomfortable.  I am trying to avoid posed images as much as possible, preferring people to work as they normally would, with me working circling around them.  This has positives and negatives.

Firstly, the lack of a flash means my subjects have been relaxed and natural when I am in there studio - I do not know why, but a lot of people seem to tense up when a flash is used.  Also, I feel flash makes it difficult for visual artists to concentrate on work, thus making my presence more obvious.  Working with no flash has really allowed me to ease up when it comes to working at higher ISO in order to compensate for lack of light.  Many of my shots are taken at 800 or 1250 ISO, something I would previously went to great leaps to avoid.  Don’t get me wrong, I would prefer to be using flash but sometimes working within these restrictions really gets your brain in gear.

Remember to check out Cressa's work at www.cressamclaren.com.

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