Author: Lee

Commercial Photography : B&Bs

Commercial Photography : B&Bs

Earlier in the year I was approached by a local Bed & Breakfast. In fact, it was a bit more than a B&B, it was 4 holiday cottages on the grounds of a Country House!

This was a great project, with lots of different elements to it. Firstly there was the cottages, this was the main element to the shot. To photograph the outside and the interiors of each cottage plus interesting details.

These cottages had amazing interiors and were decorated to the highest standards.

With lovely fittings…

…and lots of homely details…

as well as amazing grounds and views.

This was an amazing project spread over a couple of day to capture all the areas that were requested as well as waiting for nice weather for the exterior shoots.

You can view more photos from this shoot and other commercial work as well as further information on my Commercial Work page.

Lightroom – Virtual Copies

Lightroom – Virtual Copies

Lightroom is an amazing tool, it not only allows you to catalog your photos and batch process them, it also allows you to create many copies of the same image, but virtually. So you don’t use up valuable disk space playing with different editing processes. Creating multiple copies, then of course allows you to view them side by side in Lightroom.

So, how is it done.
Start with the original and process that as desired.

When you are happy with the image, right mouse click in it or its thumbnail and select ‘Create Virtual Copy’ another thumbnail will appear next to it, with a “folded corner”.

As well as the virtual copies icon, you’ll see how many images are in the ‘stack of photos’, if stacking is turned on and the filename show a copy number too. Again, if that option is selected in view options.

Now just edit that photo as before. You can reset the settings to put you back to the original, or just continue with those as a starting point.

You now have the option to create as many as you like. When you’ve finished, you can select the edited thumbnails and press ‘N’ on the keyboard to give you a Survey Mode.

So, it’s that easy to create different versions and you can happily keep all of them knowing that you are not using megabytes of disk space.

Photos Revisited

Photos Revisited

One advantage of having so many photo (about 100k) is that you always have something to revisit or reprocess. This week I’ve taken a look at a few photos I took back in 2009, 10 years ago.

It wasn’t long after I’d started shoot RAW, so many are unprocessed, and some I now feel I could improve on the processing.

I’ve been looking at some landscape photos, and 2 locals on one trip that myself and my then wife to be and done. It was too the lovely Isle or Wight. We’d visited Totland Bay in the evening and taken some long exposure photos against a lovely sunset.

Now, long exposure photography is something I really don’t do much, but these looked quite interesting, so I gave the processing another go.

The subtle colours in this image were amazing, and with a little processing, they nicely emerged.

The second image I took a look at, concentrated more on the sky and the lovely crescent moon that was in the sky. I think actually, it was taken before the other photo.

I then looked at photos from an amazing poppy field that happened to be out in Bembridge, near the fort.

I’ve processed these with a slightly ‘flat’ effect to give it a slight old feel to it. Not sure why, I just liked the result. It maybe in a few years time and don’t like it and change it again. The advantage of RAW.

The final image I’ve worked on, so far, was a portrait version with a bit of sky.

A Visit to Meeth

A Visit to Meeth

Once again, I seem to have been too busy to write blog posts.

I’ve been more busy with family-life than work, but I’ve still been doing lots of work too! From photographing Electric cars, to B&Bs, Lightroom Demos and Online Tutoring. Anyway, I managed to escape from kid sitting and work and get out for a little bit of time to get some wildlife photos.

So, I sent myself off to the local nature reserve.

Meeth is a disused quarry which has been turned into a nature reserve. It’s a bit of a walk to get to the lake and quite tricky to see the main lake as well, but along the path there is plenty to see.

I found this Gatekeeper feeding on a thistle.

I was heading to the bird hide at the end of the path, as you get good views of the dragonflies flying around.

Keeping a look around I found some lovely flowers near the ground, so I set-up to watch the flowers and a few minutes later my patience paid off.

On reaching the hide, I stayed to watch the dragonflies flying around and have a bit of lunch, then worked my way back to the car. Just a short visit.

Learning My Telescope, Focusing

Learning My Telescope, Focusing

If like me, you are new to Telescopes and using it for Astrophotography then you too are struggling with a tricky learning curve.

I’m writing this in the hope maybe I can help you with some of the issues I’ve had to try and overcome.

I want to mainly use my telescope for astrophotography. My 2 main issues have been polar alignment of my eg5 mount and focusing to get sharp photos.

My first problem was polar alignment, but I got away with it for shorter exposures, so I concentrated on trying to solve the focusing and getting pin point sharp stars.

I was amazed with my first ever Orion Nebula photo, but on closer inspection I notice it wasn’t fully in focus.

Now to me, when I took it, I thought it was in focus. I’d been told to use Live View on the camera and to zoom in 10x. It was tricky to see, but I thought it was in focus.

I learned a few things here.

1. Zooming in 10x on Live View still isn’t enough to get perfect focus
2. I need some extra help focusing.

Needing glasses for reading, I’d already thought to put those on for looking at the screen to know I’m focused, but I had been told that a Bahtinov Mask would really help as doing it by eye is not enough.

You can buy these, but you can also make them. So I made one from a downloadable template on the web.

Now when you look through a scope with this on at a bright star, you’ll see a 6 pointed star burst. Now you can adjust the focus to get the middle, ’12 to 6′ (top to bottom) line to be exactly in the middle of the other 2 lines. It’s easy enough to do and then you have perfect focus!

So now I had a lot sharper stars. As you can see from this image.

But now the star trails started and this was down to my polar alignment. This image was a 30s exposure, but I wanted more.

Polar alignment took me a lot longer to sort. My next post will talk about how I worked it all out.

The Moon

The Moon

As you may know, my first photos that I took using the telescope were of the moon, then the lunar eclipse. I was pleased with them, but did realise the weren’t quite as sharp as I would have liked. I only had a couple of attempts to crack the focus and hadn’t quite sussed it.

Now I think I’ve got a better grip on it.

Then another a couple of days later.

When I took the top photo and downloaded it, I just said, wow! The detail I could see in the craters was amazing and the most detailed photo I’ve ever taken of the moon.

Now, I just want to get the full moon in that much detail.

The Orion Nebula

The Orion Nebula

In my last post I mentioned that my next project after the Eclipse, was to attempt to photograph the Orion Nebula.

This is the brightest nebula in the winter skies and can be viewed with the naked eye with a pair of binoculars.

My first attempt I was pleased with, but I had a focus problem with it and all the stars looked like ringlets.

I created a Bahtinov Mask to put on the scope to help with focusing and this made a massive improvement in my focusing

So, my second attempt at the Orion Nebula NGC 1976 was big lot better!

Really pleased, but… I still can’t quite sort my polar alignment, so I had slight star trails. Easily edited, but not the nebula, so it’s slightly softer than what I’d like.

On my next attempt I had slight less trails, but they were sill there. Still really pleased with them and I’d like to try and capture the Flame Nebula a bit more, or the other nebula further. The Horsehead nebula, is going to take a bit of work,so maybe not this session.

I’m going to have a go at a galaxy next, Andromeda, so stay tuned for that!

Lunar Eclipse January 2019

Lunar Eclipse January 2019

As I mentioned in my previous post, I am new to Astrophotography, especially using a telescope (as I’ve never had one!).

So for Christmas I got this beast and a big learning curve. (taken with iPhone at dusk) A Skywatcher Explorer 200p with goto EQ5 mount.

I knew before Christmas I was getting it, I also knew that there was a lunar eclipse not long after Christmas and the last total eclipse for 10 years! So no pressure to get a photo of it then!

We hadn’t had many clear nights before the eclipse. so I really unsure as to what I would get, whether I would see it or indeed even I could view all of it from the background as the moon was going to be towards the house at that time.

I’d set a couple of alarms for that night. The total eclipse was between 04:41 & 05:43, but it all started at 02:36. All day I’d been checking the sky, cloudy, clear patches, cloudy…, 8pm clear, I grabbed some test shots and the moon showing full incase it was cloudy when it started. When I went to bed at 11, cloudy, 2:00am cloudy!

3:15am however, clearing with hazy, I could see the moon, but with haze. Ok, go for it!

I had the telescope outside by 3:30 and and ready to shoot just before 4am. I’d missed the start but not the main event.

The first photos before total eclipse were looking good, I used the same settings as my test shots. However the moon in the sky was red, my photos just showed the shadow. Also, as totality got closer, my images were just darker due to less light from the moon. I hadn’t really expected this, or thought about it.

Decreasing the shutter speed allowed more red to show, but of course introduced the potential camera shake on the telescope or of course motion blur from the moon moving.

I pushed the shutter time a but more, up to a 1 second exposure.

But in the end I increased the ISO to keep the blur chances to a minimum.

And this was it, a Super Blood Wolf Moon Eclipse!

now it was just a matter of making sure I had enough in focus images. The Totality lasted for an hour, so there was plenty of time to take lots of photos.

Plus a quick warm up and drink, then with the cloud still staying clear I was able to continue with shooting the moon from that stage back to partial. About 06:20, a big solid cloud bank came over, but at least I had been able to shoot to the same amount of moon crescent as what I started from.

In the end I was really lucky with cloud cover and the temperate and managed to shoot for 2.5 hours. It was a great experience and I was please with the results which were an improvement on my last attempt.

Next on my list to shoot now is the Orion Nebula and close up images of the moon.

Something Totally Different… Astrophotography

Something Totally Different… Astrophotography

I’ve been interested Space since I was about 6 or 7 years old. I’ve loved reading about the planets and all the probes NASA were sending in the 70’s. I watched the first Space Shuttle launch on TV (and the last on an iPad). I have encyclopaedia’s on Space, the Planets, a map book of Mars. Books on Rockets and Spacecraft and Star charts. But one thing I do not have is a telescope. Not even a small one.

I’ve had to wait 40 years, but I have finally got one! I got it as a joint Christmas present with my Son.

Now, the problem I had and have, is I’m totally new to this. I know nothing! The scope came with a lot of extras, which was good and i made sure it had a GoTo tracking function on it. This of course made knowing how to align it for tracking important (and I still not 100% convinced, or have fully tried it). The main reason was this…

A Lunar Eclipse

My priority was to learn how to connect my camera and take a photo of the moon. Easier said than done. However with a little help from a friend I learnt a bit about the Polar Alignment and how to get the camera setup on it. All I needed now was to practice.

With only a couple of weeks to the Eclipse, clear night were essential. In the end, I had about 3 before eclipse night!

My first moon photo was taken at 4 in the afternoon.

Not quite as sharp as I would have liked, but there was still some hazy cloud around.

My next attempt, or the next clear night, was just the day before the eclipse. This time the moon made its appearance at nearly 5pm. So i got a darker sky to photograph against.

I was really pleased with these and felt a bit more ready for the next night.

I’ll write about my Eclipse experience in my next post

Hello 2019, Hello Valley of Rocks!

Hello 2019, Hello Valley of Rocks!

Happy New Year to all my readers and customers.

So, it’s yet another new year, Christmas all done with and back to work for everyone.

New Years resolutions or not, there is nothing to stop you getting out with your camera and visiting places.

Living in Surrey for most of my life, there was plenty to see, but since moving to Devon, it’s opened up a whole new world of places. So, as the kids were still on holidays we’ve managed to get out a visit a couple of new places already.

Our first trip this year was to Valley of Rocks in Lynton. By the time we’d got out and got to Lynton, then found the ‘free’ winter car park, that was no longer free in winter, then walked to the valley it was nearly 3pm.

The sun was starting to set, it was cold, but it made for some great photos, even if they were tricky with the position of the sun.

The valley is an incredible site and definitely a place to visit and explore. As we were pushed for time, we just walked down to this viewpoint and followed the cliff path back, which gave some impressive view too!

The cliff walk took us all along the cliff, (back to where we had originally driven too, but couldn’t park) with great views back to the rocks lining the coastline and path and view towards Lynmouth. The walk also took you over the Lynton Cliff Railway.

I’ll post our next trip out in a little bit, so check back soon.