Albert Bridge

I've been wanting to shoot this bridge for a while but just never got around to it. Despite the poor cloud cover today, I thought I would have a go. I really enjoyed the shoot, its a very nice bridge and met some fellow photographers there too. 

I decided to take a 4 stop and filter and try to go for some exposures over 1 minute. I also had the idea for a good angle of the bridge from in the middle of the road going across it. This required a fair bit of patience and determination not to get run over.

Definitely somewhere I will go back to when the sky is a bit more interesting. A good sunset spot for the future.

This is my favourite composition of the night, would look great at sunset.

This is my favourite composition of the night, would look great at sunset.

There's a good composition from this side of the bridge too somewhere, I thing it possibly from down the river on the neighbouring bridge with a long lens.

There's a good composition from this side of the bridge too somewhere, I thing it possibly from down the river on the neighbouring bridge with a long lens.

Black and white conversion always works well with the longer exposures.

Black and white conversion always works well with the longer exposures.

Stood in the middle of the road for this, there's a better shot to be had here with some cloud cover!

Stood in the middle of the road for this, there's a better shot to be had here with some cloud cover!

My favourite middle of the road shot.

My favourite middle of the road shot.

Shepherd's Bush Underground Station

I haven't really done much photography on the underground recently. I've got a few places on the list but usually reserve them for summer when sunset and golden hour happen much later.

This weekend Saturday was too cloudy and I wanted to do something relatively close to home so chose Shepherd's Bush Underground station. It has an interesting curve to the platforms and you can look down both platforms at one end of the station which gives an interesting effect. I need to see if there are other stations with a similar layout,

So gear wise I took out the D810 with my trusty 14-24. I used my mini tripod to support the camera as I wanted something really low to the ground for a more dramatic composition. This was also pretty light which is always good. Missed having the tilty flippy screen the Sony has.

Its rare to see both trains stood still like this at the same time so I took advantage.

Its rare to see both trains stood still like this at the same time so I took advantage.

I wanted to get the motion of the trains in this one.

I wanted to get the motion of the trains in this one.

Crashing my DJI Spark

I decided to take the new DJI Spark out today for a new years day flight, my first flight of 2018 turned out not to be my best flight! As you can see from both crashes in the video below.

Lessons learn from this are:

  1. Use sport mode carefully, don't fly too close to trees when using it. The wind can move the drone more when it moving fast.
  2. Use prop guards.
  3. When shooting video from a high altitude move the gimble down so you can see more of the land and less of the sky.
  4. Fly more carefully.
  5. The little spark is quite durable.

I also got my OTG cable working, to do this you need to downgrade the DJI GO app to version 4.1.15 (This is on Android I have no idea about IOS), you will also need to turn off the auto updates or the app will just upgrade and you will end up with it not working again.

 

Two of the destroyed props, The other two are just gone!

Two of the destroyed props, The other two are just gone!

The spark flying after its eventful day, it was hovering nicely here maintaining its position well.

The spark flying after its eventful day, it was hovering nicely here maintaining its position well.

I also noticed that while hovering the spark indoors to check that its ok, if you turn off the light the spark will drift to the side, this is apparently something to do with its ground sensor. So something to be weary of!

Christmas In Maderia

Christmas was a little different this year. In an attempt to avoid the cold and take in some winter sun we flew off on holiday to Madeira. The weather was fantastic, better then I had expected and the island is beautiful. There were tonnes of opportunities for photography and flying the new DJI drone. Obviously this was not an all out photography trip, so that wasn't my main focus but I did get in a few outings, including one into the mountains on Christmas day to see the valley of the nuns, which was fantastic.

I'm gaining in confidence with the little DJI Spark and did fly it over the sea a few times. Will definitely be flying it more in the near future! We did see a Mavic flying what must have been miles away from the pilot, at a height the spark could only dream of, capturing an amazing sunset. I wouldn't be surprised if one of those ends up in my hands before the year is out.

I doubt this will be my last time on the Madeira and already have loads of ideas for shots and drone footage I want to capture next time, maybe next Christmas!

Looking forward to the new year, I already have plans to swap my Nikon gear over to Sony with a new A7R3 which will be followed shortly after by a trip to the Isle of Skye in Scotland. There are also whisperings of trips to the Jurasic coast and to the Lake District so plenty of good things happening in the new year.

 

Sunset from the Hotel

Sunset from the Hotel

The Valley Of The Nuns, I was lucky with almost perfect light.

The Valley Of The Nuns, I was lucky with almost perfect light.

Ribeira Da Janela, better conditions would lead to amazing shots.

Ribeira Da Janela, better conditions would lead to amazing shots.

Pano shot with the drone.

Pano shot with the drone.

Sunrise, something I hope to see more of in the new year.

Sunrise, something I hope to see more of in the new year.

Another drone pano, reaching imposible heights.

Another drone pano, reaching imposible heights.

Last shoot before Christmas

Christmas is slightly unusual for us this year, in that we are having it in Madeira instead of the traditional Rotherham or Kent. Anyway today was my last chance to do some shooting before flying out on Friday. I chose to wander to Tower Bridge and get a few pano shots with the 70-200 on the Nikon, probably one of the Nikons last outings. The weather looked great this morning but failed me and there was no sunset, I came away with a few shots but nothing spectacular.

Sadly Squarespace cant really cope with the size of my pano shots, you can get an idea of the shot I came away with from the video.

 

DJI Spark first flight

I've been good this year, so for Christmas Polly got me a DJI Spark. Its an early Christmas present as we are spending it in Madeira this year and I need a bit of practice before trying it over there! 

So yesterday I took the drone and three charged batteries to Harrow on the Hill for my first flight! Here is the video of flight one:

I learnt a few things from flight one, firstly the drone is really easy to fly and holds its position very well. Secondly, if you have a new battery, it wont work unless you have updated it like the rest of your batteries. Therefore I ended up with two usable batteries and third sports mode is very fast and should be used with care.

I should be able to get some great video footage with this on holiday. It will be getting limited use in London as most of the airspace is restricted and I would get arrested. 

I found that the drone was surprisingly good for photography and has several built in panorama modes that produce surprisingly good results. Here is a shot from Harrow on the Hill, the composition is pretty rubbish but you can get the idea of the quality you can achieve.

This is a total of 9 shots taken in sequence by the spark and then stitched together in Lightroom.

This is a total of 9 shots taken in sequence by the spark and then stitched together in Lightroom.

This 9 image pano is probably something I will use a lot in Madeira. I will be able to get daytime panoramas from locations and viewpoints that would otherwise be impossible.

I am a bit weary of flying the drone out over water even though I do have the care refresh package. Who knows I may get brave while on holiday and do some coastline photography with the drone out over the sea.

Another interesting feature of the spark is the circular pano mode, here the spark literally spins round taking shots from every angle to create a globe, this can produce a wrap around image that you can view with a laptop, smart phone or VR headset, or a little planet image like the one below of my bedroom. Sorry about the mess. 

This is only half of the little planet pano, sadly Squarespace throws a wobbly with the whole thing.

This is only half of the little planet pano, sadly Squarespace throws a wobbly with the whole thing.

Stitching this together after the fact proved a little difficult. The DJI go app will do a pretty nice job for you automatically but if you want the full res image here's how I did it.

  1. Grab all the images for the pano from the memory card, they are all stored in easy to find folders.
  2. Stitch the pano together with DJI Media Maker software, this will give you a classic pano image.
  3. Import that into Photoshop and do any editing you want.
  4. Apply the Polar Coordinates distort filter to the image.
  5. Resize the image to make it a square.

The end result is quite interesting, I think this would work pretty well with cityscapes. When trying this with a cityscape also flip the image upside down before applying the Polar filter.

A beauty shot of the spark with my 70-200 f2.8, a lens that I probably wont have that much longer.

A beauty shot of the spark with my 70-200 f2.8, a lens that I probably wont have that much longer.

I'm very much looking forward to sharing more videos and images created with the spark, sadly no flying today due to most of North London being snowed in!

Regent Street

I would usually advise anyone against going to Regent Street on the first Saturday in December. So today I did just that.

I decided that I would get a few shots of the angels and try to tackle my old nemesis Piccadilly Circus.

Regent Street was insanely busy, there were protesters shaming Canada Goose, people taking selfies in the middle of the road, an army of police and me stood in the middle of the road with my tripod and camera.

I still failed to get anything decent at Piccadilly Circus. Here are a few of the shots I did get and the video to go with them:

 

The Angels do look pretty impressive, this also shows how crazy busy this place is.

The Angels do look pretty impressive, this also shows how crazy busy this place is.

Close Up

Close Up

Another failed attempt.

Another failed attempt.

Finally out shooting again

After a few weeks of having a social life I'm back to doing some shooting again. Tonight's shoot was just after work at locations roughly 10 minute away. I'm lucky really to have locations like these so close by.

I went with the Sony this evening mostly for portability and I haven't shot with it in a while. Excellent camera to shoot with even though the quality isn't as good as the D810. I see a new a7r3 and full move to Sony coming in the new year! Might also try my hand at some drone photography in the near future, exciting things to come!

Lloyd's of London, still not got a shot I'm proud of from this location. Think i need a wider angle.

Lloyd's of London, still not got a shot I'm proud of from this location. Think i need a wider angle.

More Lloyds, not sure Ive nailed this composition. I think it needs a wider angle and moving clouds

More Lloyds, not sure Ive nailed this composition. I think it needs a wider angle and moving clouds

Leadenhall Market, this was more of a recon mission, never been here before and its crazy busy on a Friday. Saturday its deserted! 

Leadenhall Market, this was more of a recon mission, never been here before and its crazy busy on a Friday. Saturday its deserted! 

Either I love this or hate it, I'm not quite sure, I think it shows the vibrance in this area infront of the Bank Of England., I think you need more height to get something really special here. Which would be pretty impossible unless you had a crane or a drone.

Either I love this or hate it, I'm not quite sure, I think it shows the vibrance in this area infront of the Bank Of England., I think you need more height to get something really special here. Which would be pretty impossible unless you had a crane or a drone.

Harry Potter World

An active social life and bad weather have again meant that I didn't get out on a proper shoot this week. I did however have a surprise visit to Harry Potter World, which did give me chance to practice some photography in low light and without my usual trusty tripod. This is an excellent place to visit I would deffinatly go again.

Video Of Harry Potter World

Yule Ball

Yule Ball

A paper model of the main Hall

A paper model of the main Hall

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I could have spent all day with these paper models, I might go to town on an edit of this at some point.

I could have spent all day with these paper models, I might go to town on an edit of this at some point.

This model is very impressive and was used alot in the films. You have to really see it up close to appreciate the level of detail in it.

This model is very impressive and was used alot in the films. You have to really see it up close to appreciate the level of detail in it.

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At the end of the tour there's a room like Olivanders wand shop and a wand box for everyone involved in the films. Can you See Daniel Radcliffes in this picture?

At the end of the tour there's a room like Olivanders wand shop and a wand box for everyone involved in the films. Can you See Daniel Radcliffes in this picture?

Ink

Life has been very busy this month and not really allowed me the time to get much photography done. Not to be dettered I looked for a few indoor projects. This is one of the ones I came up with. Ink into a wine glass, pretty simple really and quick. Were I to have another go I think I would go all out with more lighting and possibly gels. I would probably go for a different composition too so may well revisit this idea at some point. Anyway here are the results.

 

Blood in the water

Blood in the water

Sinister

Sinister

Blue And Yellow

Blue And Yellow

Writing with sparklers

Not much happend this weekend in terms of photography. An amazon order let me down so an indoor project I was going to do will have to wait until next weekend. Not to be totally put off we bought some sparklers from the local shop and did some light painting with them.

From this we learnt that my sparkler writing is not very good and that Polly was really quite good at it.

Polly writing Polly

Polly writing Polly

Polly Writing David

Polly Writing David

Both of us drawing hearts.

Both of us drawing hearts.

St Paul's Cathedral Reformation Lates

Usually when you visit St Paul's Cathedral you are not allowed to take a camera of any kind, other than a phone and even then you aren't supposed to be taking pictures with it. They do however have the odd occasion where they welcome people with their cameras. The Reformation Lates is one of these occasions (you still aren't allowed to take pictures in the whispering gallery).

In an ideal world you would use a tripod to stabilise your camera as the light levels are pretty low.  Sadly they were not allowed at the Lates due to health and safety, although I did see one guy with one, he did seem to know the staff,so may have had special permission.

Not to be put off by this, I instead took a beanbag to rest my camera on and used other ways to stabilise it. Like laying it on its back and pointing it up. When I got fed up with that I just put on a fast prime or upped my ISO. 

 

Looking Up

Looking Up

Breathtaking Ceiling

Breathtaking Ceiling

The Quire

The Quire

The Quire Ceiling

The Quire Ceiling

A busy St Pauls

A busy St Pauls

Gothic Interior

Gothic Interior

Splash Editing

I've been looking through my archives again for shots to edit before I go on another shoot and came across this one.

These images are not easy to edit as water goes everywhere while you are doing the shooting and you have to edit all the droplets out which takes ages! I did see a technique from Karl Taylor where you glue your item to a sheet of perspex and just dunk that rather than randomly drop the item. It also helps to squeegee the side of the tank while you do it too. Oh and use a miops trigger to take the shot for you!

Before Editing

Before Editing

After Editing

After Editing

Chelsea Bridge

Todays shoot was an epic fail for two main reasons, 1. I got there too late and 2. I was involved in a road traffic accident on the way, thankfully no-one was hurt.

Following the accident I wasn't really in the mood for shooting anymore, I got a couple of shots but they aren't my best work. Tomorrow will be a better day.

 

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Tower Bridge

As I said in my last post, this time of year usually brings with it the best sunsets. I stick by this but this time of year also brings with cloudy and unpredictable weather. Before knowing the weather was going to suck,  I had decided to go shoot in tower bridge. There are still a few compositions I haven't shot and probably will always be. The weather did ruin what I had intended by robbing me of a decent sunset so I went for a couple of blue hour shots.

I'm also trying to learn a bit of video editing so took the go-pro with me and made a short video of the shoot. I must stress I'm still learning and don't particularly enjoy the art of video editing yet. Although I'm hopeful that in time it will grow on me. Anyway, here are my shots and the video to go with them.

 

It got a bit less blue hour here and more full nigh time. Still not a bad shot and fewer tourists to cause issues.

It got a bit less blue hour here and more full nigh time. Still not a bad shot and fewer tourists to cause issues.

Other than it not being sunset and the people on the bridge I'm quite happy with this. I still think there is a better shot to be had here!

Other than it not being sunset and the people on the bridge I'm quite happy with this. I still think there is a better shot to be had here!

A quick shoot at London's tower bridge.

Harrow-On-The-Hill Station

I've lived in Harrow just under a year and haven't really explored much.

Other than the Hogwarts-esque school on the top of the hill there isn't much in the way of good photography locations, or so I thought. I don't really use the station at Harrow-on-the-hill but had to one day last week due to my Euston train being broken. As soon as I got off the train I knew it was a great location to shoot. So, this weekend while doing a few errands in town, I took along my d810 with the 14-24 on it and my tripod.  

I went for a sunset shoot and what a sunset it was. It did last very long, only about 5 minutes and then the heavens opened so was there at just the right time for this shot.

I'm sure there are other hidden gems about, its just a case of having your eyes open to them I suppose.

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Blast from the past

I'm in an in-between phase of photography at the moment, the sunset is just starting to be at a reasonable time, I've not been back long from my summer holiday and have a few months before I go to Madeira for Christmas.

I've also been to a wedding and got a cold over the last couple of weeks so haven't been out shooting.

To keep myself going I've been doing plenty of planning for future shoots and have revisited old raw files that didn't get edited first time around.  I've also been trying to learn video editing so I can make half decent videos from my shoots.

Anyway here are some of the results from my raw file editing.

 

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Milos

If you want glorious sunshine and impressive volcanic Greek landscapes, without the crowds in Santorini, then Milos is a good alternative. I enjoyed some great photography, not quite as much as I would have liked but strictly speaking not a photography trip.

In all, a great place to visit but a little too busy for me. Also be warned, the restaurants that score highly on trip advisor will need a reservation for dinner a day or two in advance unless you go for lunch or a very early dinner. The roads aren't great either so getting around is interesting, I suspect a good quad bike would do better than a car would.

Klima Sunset
Pollonia Milos

Pollonia Milos

You could see an arm of the Milky Way when the Moon wasn't visible.

You could see an arm of the Milky Way when the Moon wasn't visible.

Sarakiniko beach, stunning and theres a ship wreck just beyond this hill. Hot as hell and no shade so beware.

Sarakiniko beach, stunning and theres a ship wreck just beyond this hill. Hot as hell and no shade so beware.

The wreck of Afrodite(how its spelt on the boat) beached next to a sewage plant.

The wreck of Afrodite(how its spelt on the boat) beached next to a sewage plant.

Santorini eat your heart out. This is one of the most popular places to take in the sunset up on the top of one of one of the islands highest points in an old ruined castle. You almost certainly won't be alone and there will be cheering when the sun sets.

Santorini eat your heart out. This is one of the most popular places to take in the sunset up on the top of one of one of the islands highest points in an old ruined castle. You almost certainly won't be alone and there will be cheering when the sun sets.

Firopotamos beach, absolutely stunning and not too hard to get to. Also selfi central with the doorway looking out onto the Aegean sea.

Firopotamos beach, absolutely stunning and not too hard to get to. Also selfi central with the doorway looking out onto the Aegean sea.

We went on a sailing trip to nearby Poliegos, absolutely beautiful and unspoilt with electric blue waters and hidden caves.

We went on a sailing trip to nearby Poliegos, absolutely beautiful and unspoilt with electric blue waters and hidden caves.

The beautiful Poliegos

The beautiful Poliegos

Passion Flower Progress

After planting 16 passion flower seeds of different varieties well over a month ago now we ended up with 4 seadlings. Pretty happy to get anything with the British weather.

We had a problem that when we went away on holiday recently we had no-one to tend to our new seedlings. Thankfully we invested in an elaborate automatic watering system that would pump water from a bucket every 9 hours.

All kinds of scenarios played themselves out in our minds, will we flood the flat downstairs, will we destroy our flooring, will the pump fail and kill all the plants, will they get enough sunlight just left under an open window. We were pleasantly surprised when we got home after 10 days all the seedlings had flourished.

So onwards and upwards for our 4 little passion flowers. Hopefully we will one day see elaborate and colourful flowers from them.

This one is our current star performer, probably due to being closest to the window.

This one is our current star performer, probably due to being closest to the window.

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London RAF Museum

Today we visited Londons RAF museum, which until recently I didn't even know existed. I used it as an opportunity to try out my Nikon 14-24 on my Sony body with the manual adaptor. It worked pretty well to be honest and I was glad of the extra speed in the indoor setting. Will definitely go back here, highly recommended, they didn't seem to care about people with tripods either and its free! Although it is 10 quid to sit in the spitfire!

Lancaseter Bomber
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