Peter Buxton Photography: Blog https://www.peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk/blog en-us (C) Peter Buxton Photography peter@peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk (Peter Buxton Photography) Fri, 30 Jul 2021 14:57:00 GMT Fri, 30 Jul 2021 14:57:00 GMT https://www.peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk/img/s/v-12/u466319426-o24949976-50.jpg Peter Buxton Photography: Blog https://www.peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk/blog 90 120 Revisiting old photos https://www.peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk/blog/2021/7/revisiting-old-photos Re-editing old photos can produce spectacular results.


During a walk near Dymock in the Forest of Dean this tree shone out from all the others but the image I captured didn't seem to do it justice as the image just looked flat and uninteresting. However by carefully analysing why the image didn't initially work and then making some careful edits (cropping, some dodging and burning, and some increased colour in the reds and greens) I have created a representation of what I saw and not what the camera recorded for me.

 

Understanding the subject and story

Stuck inside my narrowboat during heavy rain storm my eye was caught by this leaf floating by and the contrasting colour. However the image never really worked for me.

The image lacks impact, but why? I think it's because there are two focal points (the leaf and the drop of water) so the eye flits between them and there is no clear subject or story. But what if the subject is the intense rain falling on the canal, could the image be reinterpreted to convey the story of a summer storm?

Well I think this conveys the story of a heavy rainstorm. By simplifying the image to a degree that almost makes it abstract it creates a much more powerful image.

One never stops learning and I'm currently working through a book on Advanced Composition by Kent DuFault from Photzy. By applying these new skills to some old, somewhat mediocre, photos I really feel that I have created something artistic and with much greater impact.

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peter@peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk (Peter Buxton Photography) composition editing https://www.peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk/blog/2021/7/revisiting-old-photos Fri, 30 Jul 2021 14:55:25 GMT
Gingerbread Wellington Arch https://www.peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk/blog/2018/12/gingerbread-wellington-arch As part of the run up to Christmas my daughter, a structural engineer, creates a gingerbread scale model of an historic building they have worked on. Unsurprisingly there were several videos of its 'destructive testing' in the office which gave me a good excuse to practice my video editing skills.

Considering the entire thing is edible and there are no hidden supports or frames you will be amazed how much weight it can support!

 

Destruction testing of gingerbread model

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peter@peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk (Peter Buxton Photography) https://www.peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk/blog/2018/12/gingerbread-wellington-arch Mon, 17 Dec 2018 13:24:37 GMT
That Grace Kelly look https://www.peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk/blog/2018/7/that-grace-kelly-look "I've absolutely no idea if Grace Kelly could sing"

"Well given how stunning she looked it would be unfair if she had a world-class singing voice as well"

"Well you're an opera singer and I bet I could take a picture of you that looks like her"

My photoshoot with the mezzo soprano Alison Cripps was off to a flying start! Of course I wasn't really suggesting I could make Alison look identical to Grace Kelly - why would I want to do that? Portraits should try to show the underlying character of the person and certainly not make them into something they are not. In my mind it was more that the photographic style of the period portrayed by those iconic Hollywood pictures would suit Alison and portray her as the glamorous opera singer that she is.

So did I succeed?  Well that's for you to judge ...

Alison Cripps black and white portrait smiling and looking at cameraAlison CrippsMezzo soprano

Would I photograph you like this? Well possibly, but only after we had discussed what style would best tell your story. Everyone is different and every photoshoot is unique, only that way can we create an image that is 'really you'. Would you like to work with me to tell your story through an image - then please do get in touch.

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peter@peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk (Peter Buxton Photography) glamour portrait https://www.peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk/blog/2018/7/that-grace-kelly-look Mon, 23 Jul 2018 15:39:28 GMT
Judging a book by its cover https://www.peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk/blog/2018/7/judging-a-book-by-its-cover Judging a book by its cover or, in this case the circumstances in which it is turned into an audio book, is fraught with danger. Audiobooks read by Matt Addis such as 'Servant of Death' and 'Ordeal by Fire' have been a real tour de force and I jumped at the opportunity this week to witness him recording 'The Devil You Know' at Isis Publishing in Oxford.

Paperback Devil You Know resting on a sound deck with a pair of headphonesAudiobook recording of The Devil You Know Influenced perhaps by visions of the Abbey Road music studios my anticipation of a brightly lit studio and control room with loads of space was very far from the mark. The reality was a small cupboard like studio barely big enough to fit a chair in and a control room where sound decks and computer monitors vied for what little desk space there was with heavily marked up scripts.

Matt Addis sat recording The Devil You Know facing a large microphoneMatt Addis recording The Devil You Know

But just as great photographs don't require the very latest equipment to create them neither does a great audio book require an expansive studio. The only thing that matters is the people and their dedication to creating great art. Whether it is the author, Sophia Holloway writing a fantastic book; the actor, Matt Addis giving voices to the characters; the sound engineer, 'Wolfie' using his technical wizardry; or all the other staff at Isis Publishing - each has a part to play in creating a successful book.

Matt Addis looking at camera seated in front of microphone with script on iPad Matt AddisMatt Addis sat in recording studio at Isis Publishing during the recording of The Devil You Know If the laughter, from the recording engineer, at some of the scenes in the book are anything to go by this audiobook should be a great success. The Devil You Know is currently available as an e-book and paperback and the audio book version will be published in November 2018 by Isis Audio.

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peter@peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk (Peter Buxton Photography) audio book B&W reportage https://www.peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk/blog/2018/7/judging-a-book-by-its-cover Tue, 10 Jul 2018 08:21:01 GMT
The Beast from the East https://www.peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk/blog/2018/3/the-beast-from-the-east The importance of always carrying a camera was brought home to me this week when I got caught up in a blizzard in London - The Beast from the East as the papers are calling it. On this occasion it was short lived and, within half an hour had  given way to bright sunshine with glorious opportunities for some great images. Rather than be content with a straightforward picture I did quite a lot of work on it to achieve a more artistic and impressionistic look that I think suits the atmosphere and conveys the experience better.

  Black and white impressionist style image of street scene in the snow with a postbox and a woman walking. 55 Broadway LondonArt deco building in the snow rendered in an impressionist style

The wonderful Art Deco building in the background is 55 Broadway that was built as the Headquarters for London Underground.

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peter@peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk (Peter Buxton Photography) b&w cityscape impressionism london snow https://www.peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk/blog/2018/3/the-beast-from-the-east Thu, 01 Mar 2018 14:29:10 GMT
Elegant portraits can be taken anywhere https://www.peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk/blog/2017/8/elegant-portraits-can-be-taken-anywhere Not working in a studio is no barrier to creating beautiful and sophisticated portraits. In fact working in a client's home can produce better results in my opinion because the person is far less stressed having their photograph taken in familiar surroundings than they would be in an unfamiliar studio. Having a relaxed and confident attitude contributes far more to a fantastic portrait than any amount of studio equipment.

Take for example this very sophisticated looking portrait.

Portrait of a womanSophiaSophisticated portrait taken in a client's home

It could easily have been taken in a full sized studio but in fact this was the behind the scenes set-up.

Woman seated surrounded by photographic equipmentSet up for portrait shootSet-up using a couple of flash guns with simple modifiers, a small reflector and a simple black background

So it really is possible to get fantastic images with a very simple and portable set up. Why not give me a call on 07734 417908 or email me (peter@peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk) so we can discuss how I could take some great portraits of you and your family?

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peter@peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk (Peter Buxton Photography) location mobile portable portraits https://www.peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk/blog/2017/8/elegant-portraits-can-be-taken-anywhere Thu, 31 Aug 2017 09:00:00 GMT
At least dawn is later now https://www.peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk/blog/2017/8/at-least-dawn-is-later-now With the days getting shorter and Autumn nearly on us there is one great advantage for the landscape photographer - getting up for dawn pictures doesn’t need an unfeasibly early alarm! The time around dawn is my absolute favourite time for getting the best light for stunning landscapes - far better in my opinion than sunset. The low light combined with some early mist is hard to beat.

sun rising over low mist. Silhouette of trees and fence and gate.Dawn Early morning in the countryside around the Malvern Hills Not that every trip yields worthwhile images but you certainly won't get them if you stay in bed - tempting though that is when the alternative is to get up before it is light. This morning, however, was absolutely fantastic and well worth the effort of an early start.

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peter@peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk (Peter Buxton Photography) dawn landscape https://www.peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk/blog/2017/8/at-least-dawn-is-later-now Mon, 28 Aug 2017 09:58:42 GMT
Wedding of the Year https://www.peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk/blog/2017/6/wedding-of-the-year M-20170603-334-210M-20170603-334-210

I have just finished editing the images of Heather and David's wedding from last weekend where I was privileged to be able to capture some of the magic of the day for them. Getting the 'formal' portraits is important but I find it is the shots between the posed ones that truly capture the emotion of the day. And whilst I love black and white for portraiture I realise that couples also want to have memories in colour too so I always offer both.

But isn't the blog title a bit over the top? Not at all for this couple and their family there is no question and I hope my images, more of which can be seen here, remind them of this happy occasion for years to come.

If you would like to have some lasting memories of a special occasion like a wedding or just want to capture a fun time with your family why not give me a call on 07734 417908 or email peter@peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk.

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peter@peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk (Peter Buxton Photography) wedding https://www.peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk/blog/2017/6/wedding-of-the-year Tue, 13 Jun 2017 15:11:39 GMT
The camera really doesn't matter https://www.peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/6/the-camera-really-doesnt-matter Nearly every photographer will have been asked, by someone admiring their photographs, what camera they use. Some photographers get very irritated by this assuming the enquirer thinks that if they had a similar camera they too could take similar pictures. Such questions don't irritate me as I think they are a good opportunity to educate someone on what does make a good picture.

Richard Dunn parody of Celine Dion singing All by Myself at Las Vagas airportRichard Dunn parody video

The camera is just a tool, what you create with that tool is the important thing. Whilst it is true that some tools have more technical capabilities than others all this means is the photographer must shape their creativity to match the tool available. A great example of this is a video made by Canadian Richard Dunn when he was stuck overnight at Las Vagas airport. Using just his iPhone, some sticky tape, and various items of luggage he produced a fantastic parody of Celine Dion's 1996 cover of "All By Myself."

All by myself from Richard Dunn on Vimeo.

For the record, I normally shoot with either an Olympus OMD em1 or and Olympus OMD em10. However some of my most popular images were shot and edited on an iPhone, and no, I'm not going to tell you which ones. Why? Because it doesn't matter what tool was used only what was created.

 

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peter@peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk (Peter Buxton Photography) camera creativity limitation parody https://www.peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/6/the-camera-really-doesnt-matter Sun, 12 Jun 2016 09:28:45 GMT
Photography and the collaborative economy https://www.peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/5/photography-and-the-collaborative-economy Peers IncCover of book Peers Inc by Robin Chase

I've just finished reading Peers Inc by Robin Chase, the founder of Zipcar and highly recommend it. In it she makes a powerful case for the way in which individuals or small groups can team up with large corporations, through the use of platforms (e.g. mobile apps accessing online databases), to their mutual benefit. It makes it easy to harness creativity and innovation (which is what individuals do best) with complex organisation, legislation, and payments etc (which is what companies do best). She particularly applies it to the utilisation of spare capacity such as with cars (Zipcar) or empty rooms (AirNB) but the concepts are equally applicable to the creative industries.

For my professional photography I use a platform called Zenfolio which hosts this blog and my web site, archives my images, and also provides all the backend software and organisation that enables me to sell my images around the world through its partnering with professional photographic labs around the world. This means anyone ordering my prints in, say Australia only has to pay local postage and my prints don't have to get shipped to the other side of the world.

This means I (the 'Peer') can concentrate on what I do best, taking images, and Zenfolio (the 'Inc') does what it does best which is all the organisation and backend functions. There are several companies that offer this sort of functionality but I have always had good service from Zenfolio and they have only partnered with professional printing laboratories. If you have need for a good archive and a web site for your images, even if you don't want to sell them, you can get a 10% discount by signing up though this link or by quoting the discount code MX7-59Q-1RV. [Disclaimer - I earn a small referral fee if you sign up but I am not in any other way affiliated with Zenfolio]

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peter@peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk (Peter Buxton Photography) Peers Inc collaboration zenfolio https://www.peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/5/photography-and-the-collaborative-economy Thu, 02 Jun 2016 17:00:00 GMT
Feedback from clients https://www.peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/5/feedback-from-clients Image hanging in client's homeImage hanging in client's home

Getting feedback from clients is the most valuable information a photographer can have. Obviously we all want people to like our images but we shouldn't be surprised if they are not universally admired, so positive and constructive negative feedback is always welcome. Great photographs should convey meaning and so it would be highly unlikely they would appeal to everyone.

Whilst I enjoy having 'likes' on social media sites, such as Facebook or Twitter, getting messages from clients is so much better as it gives more detail and means people are really engaging with my art, particularly they are accompanied by a photo showing one of my pictures hanging in pride of place in their home.

Hi Peter,
Just attaching a photograph (taken on my iPhone ) of your wonderful photograph. It's in pride of place in our dining room. We had it beautifully framed with a triple mat and has a picture light above. We just love it and admire it each night when we sit down to dinner. Mike and I will treasure it always as it brings back such happy memories of Navy days.
Kind regards
Betty Chandler

This picture has proved very popular it, as well as others from the series, are available from £25 (unframed) and £50 (framed).

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peter@peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk (Peter Buxton Photography) feedback military naval https://www.peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/5/feedback-from-clients Mon, 30 May 2016 17:30:00 GMT
A little bit of London https://www.peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/5/a-little-bit-of-london A little bit of LondonSelectively coloured B&W image of London bus on Waterloo bridge.

I took this picture nearly seven years ago but reprocessing it through several of the Nik software modules (SilverFx, DFine2, and Sharpener Pro) has produced a classic picture of the London skyline. It just goes to show that it is worthwhile going through some of the older images in the collection and seeing what modern processing software can achieve.

Available here from £22 unframed.

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peter@peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk (Peter Buxton Photography) B&W London Nik software https://www.peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/5/a-little-bit-of-london Mon, 30 May 2016 15:46:23 GMT
Using selective colour https://www.peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/4/using-selective-colour Selective colour is a black and white technique where one object in the images retains its colour, like all techniques it is easy to overuse. Like any post-processing technique there needs to be a reason to do it that enhances the image or tells a particular story. For me this image is all about the gently decaying house gradually returning to nature. By highlighting the subtle shades of the blossom and fading the rest of the image to resemble and old photograph I think this contrast is emphasised.

The house itself is in Portugal, just north of Lisbon, and was General Beresford's headquarters during Wellington's campaign against Napoleon during the Peninsular war.

Beresford's HQBeresford's HQ

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peter@peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk (Peter Buxton Photography) B&W composition https://www.peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/4/using-selective-colour Sat, 30 Apr 2016 12:17:00 GMT
SilverFx software https://www.peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/3/silverfx-software Dried flower stemDried flower stemKnapp Paper Mill Nature Reserve

I have a definite preference for black and white images. And although Lightroom is very good at making quick conversions it doesn't have the same degree of customisation as say, Photoshop. It is however very quick and easy to make a decent conversion.

For this picture I used SilverFX Pro which really shines in that it can produce some fantastic conversions with the built-in presets but is also indecently easy to customise with a few control points. No need to do any fancy selections, just pop a few of these points on various elements and tweak the settings to your hearts content.

The Nik software suite used to cost $500 but has recently been acquired by Google and is now free and available here. Highly recommended.

Also highly recommended is the 27" iMac, I have just got one and it is a complete revelation both in terms of speed and screen resolution compared to my old MacBook. Just need a bigger desk now to allow me to sit far enough away from it!

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peter@peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk (Peter Buxton Photography) B&W software https://www.peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/3/silverfx-software Wed, 30 Mar 2016 15:00:00 GMT
"Jolly Jack" - the latest RN picture now available https://www.peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/2/-jolly-jack---the-latest-rn-picture-now-available Jolly JackJolly JackA sailor's cap and Bosun's call "Jolly Jack", the latest in my series of Royal Navy still life images is now available. It features a bosun's call and a sailor's cap carefully positioned so no ship name is visible so that it has a general appeal.

Just like the other images in the series it is available in two sizes with a choice of frames or can be supplied unframed. It would make a great present for someone passing out from Raleigh. 

 

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peter@peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk (Peter Buxton Photography) Royal Navy Still life https://www.peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/2/-jolly-jack---the-latest-rn-picture-now-available Sun, 07 Feb 2016 11:09:15 GMT
Lighting effects in post production https://www.peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/1/lighting-effects-in-post-production I have just started using more complex post-processing as part of an on-line course in B&W photo artistry. Looking back through some old images it is great fun to be able to give them a new lease of life. This photo, for example, was taken of a friend when we were visiting the Supreme Court in Washington. The original has an interesting juxtaposition of my friend with the bust in an alcove but really lacked any drama. By adding in some light beams and increasing the light on his face and the bust I think I was able to make a much more interesting image.

WashingtonSupreme Court, Washington

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peter@peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk (Peter Buxton Photography) B&W Photoshop post-process https://www.peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/1/lighting-effects-in-post-production Sat, 16 Jan 2016 21:48:31 GMT
Modern Remembrance https://www.peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk/blog/2015/10/modern-remembrance In Helmand's FieldsIn Helmand's FieldsAll profits from sale go the the Royal Naval Medical Service memorial at the National Arboretum.

In this period of remembrance leading up to 11 November many of us will be all too well aware of the sacrifices made recently by the men and women of today's Armed Forces. This image was taken at the National Memorial Arboretum and is a poignant reminder of these more recent conflicts. The photograph is not staged in any way but is just as I found it. The only change I made in post-production was to remove the individual's name from the cross, partly to protect them and their family but also to recognise that this one mother's heartfelt act is representative of so much suffering.

This image can be purchased from my web site with all profit going to fund a Royal Naval Medical Service memorial at the National Arboretum.

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peter@peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk (Peter Buxton Photography) poppy appeal remembrance https://www.peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk/blog/2015/10/modern-remembrance Mon, 26 Oct 2015 20:23:48 GMT
Inserting a new background https://www.peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk/blog/2015/10/inserting-a-new-background This is a rather more technical post explaining how I produced the image of Cripps and Saunders against a background of musical notes. As always it is really important to have a good idea of what the final image needs to look like before you start. That is not to say it will necessarily turn out like that nor that serendipity and experimentation are not important - they are. But it all needs to start from some form of 'pre-visualisation' otherwise one is not creating an image to the specific brief but reduced to randomly clicking buttons, or applying pre-sets in the vague hope that something will look right. A sort of photographic equivalent to the monkeys trying to write the works of Shakespeare!

For this image I wanted to show the way music connects them and to begin to explore their concept of "two voices, one sound". The notes needed to have an ethereal or ghostly quality as if they were hanging in the air between them. I knew it would look best with a black background so the initial shots of them were taken with a black back drop. In retrospect I would have been better off with a true green screen as that would have made it far easier to separate them out. In the event it didn't prove too difficult although Alison, having darker hair, proved a lot more difficult than Jill.

The obvious thing to create the notes was to invert an image of a sheet of music, this gets some of the way there but is too crisp and not the look I was going for. I then wondered if an effect I sometimes use to create dreamy landscapes, like this one, would create the effect I was after. The 'Orton Effect' was invented by Michael Orton in the 1980s and can be created fairly easily in any editing program that uses layers. There are detailed instructions available but in essence all you need to do is to duplicate the image a couple of times, apply a gaussian blur filter to two of the layers and then use something like Photoshop's "soft light" option to combine them. By varying the amount of blur and the opacity of each layer you can achieve quite a wide range of effects from extremely subtle to almost unrecognisable!

I then deleted all of the black background from one of the original layers and placed the remaining part of the image (i.e. just their heads as the top layer so that they appear in front of the notes.

Have I succeeded with this image? Well it is how I imagined it and, on one level that is the most important point. But for a business it is far more important that the client likes it and that it represents a shared vision that you developed with them. 

Alison Cripps and Jill SaundersAlison Cripps and Jill Saunders

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peter@peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk (Peter Buxton Photography) Orton effect tip visualisation https://www.peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk/blog/2015/10/inserting-a-new-background Sun, 04 Oct 2015 19:00:00 GMT
Opera singers' photo shoot - behind the scenes https://www.peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk/blog/2015/10/opera-singers-photo-shoot Great fun last weekend creating images with the professional opera singers Cripps and Saunders. Their approach to presenting classical music is to make it approachable and not at all stuffy - opera for everyone; and so the brief was to produce some photos to match. At all costs we had to avoid the 'Hinge and Bracket' look.

Alison Cripps and Jill SaundersAlison Cripps and Jill Saunders

We started with some fairly standard studio shots against a plain background, these could be used for their web site or for publicity material. By using a plain background other background images can be easily inserted, I will show an example of this in a later post.

We then tried some shots in a Victorian dining room but, mindful of the brief, I tried to get some less formal poses. The worst thing a photographer can do is to tell his subject to "Just relax" or perhaps even worse "Smile for the camera". I can't think of anything more likely to create stilted looking images. A photographer must do anything, no mater how ridiculous, to get the subject to forget the camera. In this case I got them to stage a fight with some roses and got some really natural and fun expressions.

Alison Cripps and Jill SaundersAlison Cripps and Jill Saunders

Then, to really push the envelope, I took them to the top of the Malvern Hills. Not a major hike but probably the first time the hills have been climbed in long dresses since Victorian times! This time to get natural expressions I asked them to start singing - a real treat for passing hikers. And the song? What else but "The hills are alive with the Sound of Music"!

Alison Cripps and Jill SaundersAlison Cripps and Jill SaundersOn the Malvern Hills

A really fun shoot due largely to Alison and Jill's willingness to throw themselves into the shoot and try whatever was suggested. For the next shoot with them I have some really whacky ideas to illustrate one of their signature songs - 'The Cat Duet'. I've already been to the local sweet shop for one of the props. 

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peter@peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk (Peter Buxton Photography) behind the scene informal portrait studio https://www.peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk/blog/2015/10/opera-singers-photo-shoot Fri, 02 Oct 2015 19:30:00 GMT
Focus stacking macro https://www.peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk/blog/2015/9/focus-stacking-macro _-2_-2

Experimenting with new techniques is always fun and having obtained a cheap set of extension tubes I wanted to see what was possible. As in all macro photography the depth of field is very small and, particular outdoors is a real challenge as even the slightest breeze can move the subject out of the focal plane. However such shallow depth of field really allows one to isolate the image.

One way round this is 'focus stacking' a technique whereby you take several images and move the manual focus a little bit between each shot and then combine them in post production. Not having my tripod with me when I saw these tiny blue flowers in the local park meant I needed to think of an alternative way of doing it. So a fast shutter speed, high speed burst mode, handheld, and move the camera slightly forward and back gave me plenty of images to work with.

Then select half a dozen images that had slightly different parts in focus, send them to photoshop, align the layers, and then blend the layers and you end up with this image. A nicely isolated small flower stem with foreground and background colours that help draw out the subject and suggestions of multiple other flowers in the background.  Just shows that unconventional techniques can produce pleasing images but it always helps if you have some idea beforehand how you want it to appear in the final image.

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peter@peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk (Peter Buxton Photography) flower macro tip https://www.peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk/blog/2015/9/focus-stacking-macro Wed, 16 Sep 2015 20:26:04 GMT
Autumnal Light https://www.peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk/blog/2015/8/autumnal-light Autumnal leavesAutumnal leavesFallen leaves on ground in late summer sunshine. Leaves on the ground and an autumn glow to the sunlight and it's not even the end of August yet. The great feature of my mirror-less Olympus cameras (OMD-E1 and an OMD-E10) is that as well as an exceptional Electronic View Finder (EVF) it has a really bright LCD screen which can also be used to compose the image. As it tilts it is relatively easy to compose shots like this where the camera is almost resting on the ground. The alternative would be to lie completely prone on the damp ground and use the EVF. Whilst I would go to these lengths and more to make the image I prefer an easier option if it is available - any fool can be uncomfortable!

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peter@peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk (Peter Buxton Photography) Autumn Leaves Olympus camera https://www.peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk/blog/2015/8/autumnal-light Tue, 25 Aug 2015 19:00:00 GMT
Keep cropping until there is almost nothing left https://www.peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk/blog/2015/8/keep-cropping-until-there-is-almost-nothing-left ThistledownThistledownThousands of thistle plants on Castlemorton Common, Malvern.

Thousands of thistle plants on Castlemorton Common, Malvern.

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peter@peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk (Peter Buxton Photography) https://www.peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk/blog/2015/8/keep-cropping-until-there-is-almost-nothing-left Tue, 25 Aug 2015 09:23:57 GMT
Waiting for the light https://www.peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk/blog/2015/8/waiting-for-the-light FernFernSunlit fern on Malvern Hills

The dappled sun illuminating the fern is what makes this picture. But I had to get in a rather precarious position in order to balance the bright tones on the left with the 'negative space' on the right. By slightly overexposing the original (without clipping the highlights) there was enough dynamic range to show a lot of detail in the shadows. However this didn't look right as it detracted from the fern so I reduced the exposure in this part of the image in post production. Sometimes it is in deciding what not to show in an image that is the important part. 

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peter@peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk (Peter Buxton Photography) Malvern fern sunlight https://www.peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk/blog/2015/8/waiting-for-the-light Tue, 25 Aug 2015 02:19:04 GMT
Nature in the Abstract https://www.peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk/blog/2015/8/nature-in-the-abstract Tree stumpTree stump

Sometimes an object just cries out to be photographed such as this old tree stump I saw whilst out walking in the Malvern Hills. I could see the photograph I wanted to make immediately and was already thinking about how it should look as I scrambled down to it. Photography books will often describe this as 'pre-visualisation' and make it sound really complicated but in reality it's just having a picture in one's minds eye and knowing what technical factors to chose to achieve the look you want. 

The stump was nearly monochrome in its natural state so a high contrast black and white image was an obvious choice so that the green background did not detract from the main shape. A slight green/yellow tint introduced in post processing brings out the organic nature of it. By cropping tightly to exclude most of the 'context' the image becomes semi-abstract. 

Making strong images is much more about leaving stuff out than including everything to be on the safe side. Albert Einstein has a quote that says something like: “Make it simple as possible, but not simpler.”

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peter@peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk (Peter Buxton Photography) Malvern abstract composition nature https://www.peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk/blog/2015/8/nature-in-the-abstract Tue, 18 Aug 2015 20:28:42 GMT
What makes a good social media profile image? https://www.peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk/blog/2015/7/what-makes-a-good-social-media-image Mark FMark FMark F of maftraductions.com mark@maftraductions.com

A photo shoot this week with Mark, who is setting up a French to English translation service, and who wanted some shots for his website and social media presence got me thinking that it would be useful to discuss what makes a good profile image for a 'web presence'. As with all images it is essential to decide what message one is trying to convey. This clearly has to be discussed with the client and be their decision, but for a typical small business I would suggest words such as approachable, open, and professional. 

There are any number of sites which offer advice on profile pictures but many of them seem to just be giving advice about camera settings, making sure it is in focus and other tips that are really too general to be of much use. Some give more specific advice, most of which I would agree with; in summary: smile with at least a little bit of teeth showing, 'squinch' (this is like squinting but only with your lower eyelid), accentuate the jaw line, and dress appropriately (see my suggestions on this topic here). I would also advise against wearing a hat, and sunglasses are an absolute no (people look at the eyes to assess trustworthiness). Do make sure the background is appropriate and not distracting.

Once you have an image that fulfils the brief then you need to resize it for the different social media channels. I will write a separate post on why just letting the different websites resize your image is a bad idea.

I don't know if Mark will chose this image for his profile or one of the others but I am happy with the set and as he has a range of colour and B&W to chose from. If you look at my portrait portfolio I think you will be able to guess which style I prefer!

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peter@peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk (Peter Buxton Photography) composition social media tip https://www.peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk/blog/2015/7/what-makes-a-good-social-media-image Sun, 26 Jul 2015 16:38:53 GMT
The Power of Black and White https://www.peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk/blog/2015/6/the-power-of-black-and-white Last push to the finishLast push to the finishNearing the finish of the Coltman Stretcher Carry 2015. Low angle B&W image. This image was taken at the finish of this year's Coltman Stretcher Carry across the Malvern Hills in aid of the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal. By crouching down in the ditch of the Iron Age fort on Herefordshire Beacon I was able to get an image of two of the soldiers as they approached the finish line.

In colour it is a perfectly good image but I think the drama is heightened by converting it to black and white as this allowed me to darken the clouds and emphasise the effort these two young men are putting in at the end of a gruelling 10km race. I always try to have a vision of what I want the final image to look like and the story it is trying to convey. My favourite images are where I achieve this with the minimum of 'fuss' and in the simplest manner.

The rest of my images from this year's event are here and for those wanting great photo opportunities, next year's 'Coltman' will be on 18 June 2016 starting at Malvern Library and finishing at Herefordshire Beacon (British Camp).

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peter@peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk (Peter Buxton Photography) Coltman Stretcher Carry composition simplicity https://www.peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk/blog/2015/6/the-power-of-black-and-white Tue, 23 Jun 2015 17:00:00 GMT
Coltman Stretcher Carry 15 https://www.peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk/blog/2015/6/coltman-stretcher-carry-15 Stretcher with RBL PoppyStretcher with RBL PoppyAt the finish on British Camp, Herefordshire Beacon, of the Coltman Stretcher Carry 2015 This weekend was the annual Coltman Stretcher Carry and a great opportunity to get some good action shots as the teams raced towards the finish at British Camp on the top of Herefordshire Beacon.

I am not a huge fan of selective colour images (where the image is converted to B&W but one element is left in colour) as I think it is an overused technique. For me, it is always important to have a clear idea of what story or message I am trying to convey in an image otherwise it is just a snapshot and sometimes the selective colour technique is a good way to convey this message. 

I think this image, which was taken at the finish of this year's Coltman Stretcher Carry across the Malvern Hills, is a case in point as it shows all the elements of the event. This annual race commemorates the life of Cpl Bill Coltman, a stretcher bearer from WW1, where military teams carry loaded stretchers across the Malverns and raise money for the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal. By retaining the colour of its iconic symbol of the RBL the important work it undertakes is emphasised together with the real need to raise money to enable this to continue. The rest of my images from the event can be found here.

Next year's 'Coltman' will be held on 18 June and will offer a good photo opportunity, a chance to support military units undertaking an arduous event, and to support the work of the Royal British Legion.

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peter@peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk (Peter Buxton Photography) Coltman Stretcher Carry Malvern selective colour tip https://www.peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk/blog/2015/6/coltman-stretcher-carry-15 Sun, 21 Jun 2015 17:28:53 GMT
Health and Safety issue? No just over enthusiastic use of Photoshop. https://www.peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk/blog/2015/6/health-and-safety-issue-no-just-over-enthusiastic-use-of-photoshop I don't normally do much work with Photoshop as I find Lightroom provides enough functionality for my needs. Sometimes however radical changes are needed. This was an image manipulation based on a photo taken by my daughter at a site where she is the supervising civil engineer.

© KML Buxton

© KML Buxton

 

 

Certainly not subtle and vaguely reminiscent of the famous image of the New York workmen eating their lunch on a half constructed skyscraper. It does, however, demonstrate how simplifying an image can make it much more powerful.

 

 

 

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peter@peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk (Peter Buxton Photography) photoshop simplicity https://www.peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk/blog/2015/6/health-and-safety-issue-no-just-over-enthusiastic-use-of-photoshop Sat, 13 Jun 2015 21:07:57 GMT
Early morning patience https://www.peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk/blog/2015/5/early-morning-patience Little Malvern PrioryLittle Malvern PrioryLittle Malvern Priory, in the village of Little Malvern near Malvern, Worcestershire, was a Benedictine monastery c.1171-1537. It was founded from Worcester Cathedral. Little remains of the 12th century church, which was rebuilt in 1480-1482.

Having found a good viewpoint patience was required even at 0530 for the light to be as I wanted it to properly illuminate little Malvern Priory

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peter@peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk (Peter Buxton Photography) Malvern building landscape https://www.peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk/blog/2015/5/early-morning-patience Sat, 23 May 2015 09:10:38 GMT
Even really well known locations can be photographed in a unique way. https://www.peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk/blog/2015/5/even-really-well-known-locations-can-be-photographed-in-a-unique-way Reflections on St Paul'sReflections on St Paul'sdifferent perspective on an Iconic location

By spending a bit of time at locations alternative possibilities for imaging even very well known subjects can be found. A combination of a London bus and a reflection of St Paul's cathedral makes for a different view. 

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peter@peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk (Peter Buxton Photography) composition tip https://www.peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk/blog/2015/5/even-really-well-known-locations-can-be-photographed-in-a-unique-way Tue, 19 May 2015 09:14:44 GMT
Controlling the light with a Pringles tin https://www.peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk/blog/2015/4/controlling-the-light-with-a-pringles-tin OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Using a flash, or speed light, allows you to produce all sorts of interesting effects once you use it off camera. A snoot or grid attached to the flash unit allows you to produce very directional light with no spill on to the background so that you can get very dramatic portraits like this one.

Unfortunately I didn't have either of these bits of equipment when I was doing a quick photoshoot with Vinay. Not to worry as I had an empty Pringles crisp tin with me. Well it wasn't actually empty when we started but we soon fixed that minor problem! By cutting a small hole in the side and pushing the flash unit into it I was able to make a perfectly adequate alternative as the silvered inside reflected most of the light and shot it out as a very narrow beam.

In retrospect I should have used the on camera flash turned down to its lowest setting, or a reflector, to produce a small catchlight in Vinay's right eye as that would have given the picture more life and character. 

VinayVinay

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peter@peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk (Peter Buxton Photography) flash photography tip https://www.peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk/blog/2015/4/controlling-the-light-with-a-pringles-tin Mon, 20 Apr 2015 20:13:11 GMT
Down amongst the grass https://www.peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk/blog/2015/4/down-amongst-the-grass Bevere Island, River SevernBevere Island, River Severn

Sometimes landscapes work best when you focus on the small things. But in this case that meant nearly lying flat on a river bank to the consternation of passers by. The focus point and aperture were key to this image to ensure the grass and some of the flowers were in focus with the rest somewhat blurred but recognisable. This ensures there is a good sense of depth in the image. As yellow is quite a 'forward' colour the flowers stop the eye wandering out of the frame. 

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peter@peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk (Peter Buxton Photography) composition tip https://www.peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk/blog/2015/4/down-amongst-the-grass Sat, 18 Apr 2015 06:40:55 GMT
Disaster averted https://www.peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk/blog/2015/4/disaster-averted Back up your files! How many times have you heard that? And to be honest I do back up regularly. But when the computer freezes and corrupts the camera card as you are importing the images for the first time you are a bit stuck. The first thing to do when Lightroom tells you there are no images on the disk is to not panic - the images are probably recoverable. Now there are plenty of firms that will try to recover them for you and many will charge a hefty sum but there are also plenty of DIY options. Some, particularly those with a fancy graphical interface will cost a fair bit to use but if you are comfortable with a terminal interface, and I am, there is a much cheaper alternative.

Digging around a bit on the Internet I came across PhotoRec which is free to use although the author, not unreasonably, asks for a donation if you find it useful. And so, after an hours wait whilst it did its stuff my images of the wonderful Anglo-Saxon church and Odda's Chapel at Deershurst were safely ensconced in Lightroom and properly backed up.

I regularly format the disk in the camera and, whilst I was reasonably confident of getting the recent images back, what did surprise me was that the software also found images I had long since deleted. I wouldn't want to rely on this but it just goes to show how long images you might think you have got rid of hang around.

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peter@peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk (Peter Buxton Photography) recommendation software tip https://www.peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk/blog/2015/4/disaster-averted Tue, 14 Apr 2015 12:00:00 GMT
Mornings are best https://www.peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk/blog/2015/4/mornings-are-best Pershore AbbeyPershore AbbeyOriginally an Anglo-Saxon abbey. Current building constructed around 1100.

As part of the publicity for my wife's medieval murder novel set in Pershore Abbey, The Lord Bishop's Clerk, I wanted to show the building in all its glory. The low angle of the sun just after sunrise adds great drama to the image. There really is no post-processing that can properly mimic the atmosphere of the early morning.

So no short cuts I'm afraid, if you want the 'look' you really do have to get up early.

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peter@peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk (Peter Buxton Photography) tip https://www.peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk/blog/2015/4/mornings-are-best Tue, 07 Apr 2015 10:00:00 GMT
Brand new web site - in above my head? https://www.peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk/blog/2015/4/brand-new-web-site---in-above-my-head Deep WaterDeep WaterDanger deep water sign half submerged. Priory Park, Great Malvern So here we are at the start. A brand new web site using a terrific professional photography site called Zenfolio. A professional photography lab to produce the prints, and bags of enthusiasm. What could possibly go wrong!

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peter@peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk (Peter Buxton Photography) Malvern https://www.peterbuxtonphotography.co.uk/blog/2015/4/brand-new-web-site---in-above-my-head Sun, 05 Apr 2015 09:20:23 GMT