1.1 Trying Reportage

These images are from a few years ago when I was playing around with a reportage theme and B&W. I've included them to demonstrate the various approaches;

'The Decisive Moment'

Man in Chair (Utoxetter Races) - I'd seen him move towards the track and wanted that rear image.

Burton Bike Man
- I waited about an hour for a cyclist to come past (on the right type of bike) and to capture Drakelow towers that seemed to dominate the town.

- I waited to create the idea that Paddy wasn't seeing the world and the world wasn't seeing him (except for the child). Knowing a child would do this I waited with Paddy for some time to capture the moment - pity I got the shutter speed all wrong.


'The Man on The Bench'
(Bath) - and I wanted to contrast with seemingly oblivious people.


The Cyclists at Leek (they woke up a few moments later and where from Canada, touring the UK by bike!).

Stapenhill Boy


'Bubbles in Bath' (taken in Bath) - I like that combination.


- A posed image this time, Ben was selling the Big Issue and posed for this one. I love the juxtaposition of his own vanity (piercings , tattoos, chains and that of the Body Shop.

1.2 HDR - My First Dabble

I discovered the technique in Scott Kelby's LR2 guide book. I like his style, although some will hate it (just like marmite). I followed the technique as outlined - just as well because believe me I haven't got a clue how anyone worked this one out - there is nothing intuitive or logical in it to me (Kelby agrees - I feel better for that).

Oh, yes, High Dynamic Range - essentially its about merging separate shots of the same subject to produce the best possible image. The core idea is that you shoot one at the correct exposure and then one (or more) under and over exposed. The quality of darks, shadows and highlights of the 'merged' image dramatically improves. And, I have to say, even on only my first trial I'm getting the feel that all those magazine landscape covers are using this technique.

For HDR you have to shoot 'RAW' to be able to process it in Photoshop and that causes pain with the Nikon D70.

Setting the camera up was a real nightmare. I searched endless blogs for guidance. Everyone was having the same problem (its not intuitive on a Nikon D70). In the end it was down to reading the Nikon manual. If you ever recall those 'mystery books' as a child where you can choose the next step (go to page 10. for the Study or page 15. for the Library) - no! Well, anyway, you start at page 87 then get directed to 146 then to 135 on to 90 then to 144 and then to 35. There's a logic, but my advice, don't worry go with it (there's a song a there somewhere).

Here it is if you've got a Nikon;
There's a white bracketing option - but as it doesn't do RAW lets move on. Flash Bracketing - now lets come back to that in another section.

Then there's exposure bracketing - that'll be the one then. It can only be used with Manual, Aperture or Shutter priority modes - and Programme mode (a programme that you have created for the camera to follow).

The Nikon will only bracket 3 shots in RAW (and I'd love to see the effect from 5). Bracketing 9 shots sounds wild.

Go to your cameras menu, choose the pencil icon, then option 12. BKT and select AE & Flash.

Then go to option 13. BKT order - I chose 'Under>MTR>Over' - it does what it says - takes the shots in sequence - Under exposed - metered - over exposed.

Now to option 9. EV step - here you choose whether to keep the exposure adjustment to 0.33 steps or 0.5 (I chose 0.5 because with only 3 shots to play with I want maximum impact - if I had 5 shots to play with I would give 0.33 a try for more subtlety).

The maximum +/- exposure that bracketing will accept is 2 stops (and then it limits you to 2 shots, but at least you get to choose whether the 2nd shot is + or -.

Now to it. Press the BKT button (just below the mode selection dial on the left) then rotate the main dial (rear right of camera) and look for BKT in the LCD. Now rotate the sub command dial (front right) and choose the stop increment (notice it wall also display the number of shots 2/3.

That's it happy days.

With that snow fall (winter 09/10) I got out in to Coton Forest, the light was low, shadows and highlights I thought - lets see what HDR does. I took a load of shots (all bracketed) and played around with various stops. The Nikon takes the shots as set up, mine from - to + (e.g. choose a full stop at '0' and it'll take them in sequence '-1', '0', '+1'. Now here's the interesting bit it won't take them automatically - you have to press the shutter x 3 (the LCD display shows if you've taken the 1st, 2nd or 3rd shot). Here's why that's not good. 'Clouds move'. You're set up on your tripod and press that shutter x3 as quick as you can (without causing any vibration) - but the clouds, yep, they've moved.

So for my next camera (whenever and whatever that is) I want auto shoot in bracketing and I want 5 shots.

The Shooting Process

This gets messy when you're first learning it.
Take a test shot to check composition and exposure (to set the initial stop for bracketing). I used the histogram on the Nikon for exposure, keeping it slightly towards dark (I prefer deep blacks and shadows).

Check the histogram, adjust a stop (or 2 if needs be) take another shot (beware you're not in bracketing mode, otherwise you've now got to reel off x 3 shots).

When you're happy with the histogram go to bracketing mode and set that exposure, and shoot x3.

It took me a while to get used to - taking off bracketing mode (otherwise you've now got another 2 shots to reel off), making sure the composition is right before I took the test shot for exposure, testing exposure (using the histogram) resetting to bracket mode (otherwise you'll now take 3 shots of the same exposure). Then of course if the light changes or you want to adjust the composition - you're back to step 1 in the whole process.

(i) Use the image taken for exposure testing (metering) to also check you're happy with the composition. It's little hassle to adjust composition at this point and take another test shot.
(ii) Shooting RAW takes up space - lots of it, so delete the test shot after you're happy with the exposure and composition. It's the bracketed shots you're after and the middle one will be at the exposure you chose in the test shot anyway.

1.3 Joe's Photo Website

There's nothing like choosing to have a your own website to cause you to check out your own best images and then get them organised. So much so that I now know that the first thing I will do when I finish this C&G L3 course is to do just that - with a far more critical and discerning eye. That's what being in the company of some very capable - yest still aspiring - photographers. Thanks Becky, Eric, Jim, Pete, Pip, Ruth, Steve, Steve & Suzy.


1.4 Joe's Kit

Here it is in full glory - just so you know the range and depth of my kit bag. Donations are very welcome.

Nikon D70.
Nikon 50-80 lens.
Nikon 80-200 lens.
Manfrotto tripod (its very good).
Camera bag.
UV filters for both lens.
Lens hoods for both lens.

"That's all folks"

1.5 Wish List

If anyone, having read my kit list, was short on charitable ideas 'm not too proud to provide the following information.

A wide angle lens
A macro lens
A camera that can take more than 3 bracketed shots
A camera that takes bracketed shots automatically
A camera that can do slower film speeds than ISO 200
A camera that can do faster film speeds than ISO 1600 - like the Canon D5 that can do 3200! (imagine that! - what you've got one? - is it just me then?)
A light meter
A speedlite
Some lighting kit
Time in a studio
Time spent taking photographs
Time spent contemplating others images