An afternoon with Benji

So after telling you all I was going to post more regularly I have written no posts for 6 weeks…whoops. Anyway I shall change that by showing you what Benji and I got up to this week.

I met up with Benji at the Bike Park, he was with his Dad on the hill digging (well, Benji was actually asleep in the land rover) and off we went on our photographic adventure. I’ve been wanting to get some nice shots of Benji for a while and had a few ideas in mind, as Benji spends most of his time at the Bike Park I thought I’d get some of him there and it would be more sentimental for the family. We started out at a pile of stacked logs which I used as a back drop.

Once we had a few shots in the bag we moved onto a small ruined building a bit further down the hill. I was using my flash gun off camera with a softbox mounted to it to soften the light. The flash made the images pop helping to complete the image. 

We then headed back to the Land Rover to go to our last location of the afternoon. Whilst I was packing my stuff away Benji had a quick power nap – so I grabbed my camera out my bag and took a few photos of him in the Landy. I tried a different technique more commonly used in landscape photography where I took a set of 3 bracketed exposures to capture more information in the highlights and shadow areas of the image. I then merged the 3 images together in lightroom and edited the images as normal. 

Once Benji had caught up on some Z’s we moved onto our last spot. As we got there the sun started to pop out through the clouds and the sky cleared a bit which was great as it gave the images a bit more interest rather than just being grey.

I had a lovely afternoon with Benji and I am super happy with the images I was able to get with him. He was such a great model and was quite happy to sit and watch the world go past as I did my thing which was great and quite a difference from photographing Skylar who can’t sit still for 2 seconds!

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Winter Wonderland

This winter has so far been pretty mild with only a few frosts to really speak about, that changed this week – albeit very briefly.

My birthday is in January and so far, having just started my 29th lap around the sun I can only recall maybe 1 time it actually snowed on my birthday. After having a relaxed morning and a few calls with my family it started to snow, I didn’t really think much of it until after about an hour when I noticed it had started settling and getting a bit heavier. After checking with the MetOffice I saw that the snow was only going last until the afternoon where it was going to go back to traditional UK winters and be grey an rainy. I donned a lot of clothes (I actually got to wear my snow trousers in the snow!), grabbed my camera gear and set off with Skylar in tow to the Lonely Tree.

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There wasn’t too much around at the bottom of the hill and so before Skylar went too bananas I got her to sit in the ferns and got some portraits of her. (Best to do this first else her tongue features heavily in all her photos! 😀 )

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By the time I got out of the wooded area and almost to the top there was a lot more snow around, I was however nice and warm and dry in all my onion layers.

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Once at the top I switched to my 24mm F1.4 lens, I haven’t had it for long and wanted to put it through its paces to see what I can get from it. Fair to say I wasn’t disappointed.

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We played around in the snow for quite a while and after Skylar got bored of me taking her photo we headed back home. By the time we had got home the snow had stopped and was already melting in the light rain and by about 4pm it had all gone (the best kind of snow, snow that doesn’t hang around and cause issues).

Photo Tip: In snowy conditions you will need to dial in some exposure compensation or the camera will under expose your image leaving it looking dull and grey. I personally use my camera in manual mode so I can set the exposure I want, just keep an eye on your histogram to make sure those highlights aren’t clipping.

That’s all for this post, I will be trying to post more to the blog as I feel I’ve neglected it a bit. See you next time. 

New Toys

So I recently got myself a pair of Cactus V6ii triggers to that I can use off camera flash more easily in HSS (High Speed Sync – basically I can use a faster shutter speed when using my flash) these triggers work on a radio frequency so I don’t have to be in line of sight of the triggers which is ideal for when I am photographing in woods or if I want the flash behind or to the side of me. I also got myself a Neewer softbox flash defuser.

I have followed a lot of amazing dog photographers on instagram and am really inspired by the results that they get when using off camera flash with a softbox and want to do some similar photographs myself.

I briefly  tested the triggers out inside and over the weekend at the bike park but wanted to do a proper test of them paired with the softbox, so I set everything up and grabbed my ever willing model and went into the field behind my house to try things out properly.

Once I had set up in the field my beautiful puppy dawg joined me, we were out shooting just after 7pm which at the moment is in the golden hour just before the sun sets. Unfortunately there was a fair bit of cloud cover so the colours weren’t as vibrant as I had hoped but I am very happy with my results 🙂

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I edited the RAW files in lightroom and then removed some road signs in Photoshop to clean the background up.

I am so happy with the images I got, they came out exactly as I hoped they would (which doesn’t usually happen). I am excited to get out and use this new gear for more photos and hopefully with some more models, now I’ve got the setup I want I am going to try and pursue dog photography a bit more as I love it so much. #dogsrule

Make Shift Studio

For Christmas Tim got me a studio starter kit with 4 lights, softboxes, modifiers and a backdrop. Its such a great starter kit and so one day when it was really quiet in the workshop I decided (much to Skylar’s disappointment) that I was going to test everything out 😀

I set up a white backdrop along with 2 of the lights which I fitted the softboxes to. I also took some props with me – 2 sets of fairy lights and a gorgeous throw that Tim’s mum got us for Christmas which actually really matches Skylar well! I also used my flash gun on camera and bounced the light off the ceiling for extra light.

I first set up with Skylar on the floor laying on the throw, though she didn’t like this much so I moved her chair in and covered that and she just went to sleep!

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Look into my eyes

Once she was settled on her chair I played with multiple exposures in camera. I photographed the fairy lights out of focus on a black background first and then took my second shot of Skylar. This took a fair bit of trial and error in order to not cover her entire face with fairy lights! (I’ve started following Brandon Woelfel on instagram which inspired me to play around with the fairy lights)

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Multiple exposure experiments! 

I had a really good time playing with new techniques and using continuous lighting. Its great to just be able to move a light and see straight away the parts of the picture it will effect. Defiantly going to get a load more props to next time!

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My favorite photo of my princess ❤

 

Sunset Selfies

WOW is been 2 months since I last did a blog post! Can’t believe where the time has gone its like winter now! Anywho a lot has happened in the last couple months. I have finally got a flashgun to play with woop, its awesome and I will do a proper post about it soon.

So enough of my babbling on, today I managed to accomplish something I have been trying to do for a while. Photographing an epic sunset with Skylar dawg lit up with the flash in the foreground. My day wasn’t going great, I had decided to take an unscheduled day off (I normally work 6 days a week so I was looking forward to it) The day started fine then took a downturn when I wanted to do something on my computer which led to more than 2 hours faffing around trying to get my headphones to work before giving up at walking Skylar who was by now really really ready to go for a walk.

I had planned that we would have a wonderful day in the sunshine (which was forecast but the usually grey Welsh autumn/winter weather was in full swing as usual) and I was going to take loads of photos of my besty Skylar. Anyway even with the overcast sky I took the camera and off we went to the lonely tree. The area near the bottom of the hill is quite wooded but also really dark due to the overcast sky’s so we carried on up the hill, as we walked up it was getting closer to golden hour and the clouds were breaking on right side of the valley YAY!!!

When we got to the top I got to work getting all my gear set up and ready for shooting, I did a load of test shots to make sure I had my flash set up properly and not too bright and my focus point right – que bag in place of Skylar who was having a fun time running around like a hooligan. Once I had the focus right It was photography time, Skylar had other ideas though and I forgot the treats so we ended up both being in the photo :-D. I set the camera to interval mode so I didn’t have to keep running between shots to press the trigger again. It worked well doing it like this as I had it set to 10 shots 5 seconds apart to make sure we were in position for at least a few of them!

Needless to say even though I didn’t get any of Skylar on her own this time I am very pleased with the images I got and know what to do next time.

 

Scotland 2017

So I am just back from our annual trip to Scotland (we’ve been 3 years running, sure it can be classed as annual now). We drove up and stayed at our usual spot on the Argyle coast, it took all day to drive up and we arrived just in time for a beautiful sunset. It’s a great spot for this as you can watch from the end of the damaged pier.

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The next day the weather was AMAZING! I got up before Tim and Skylar and I walked along the shore line of the loch. I brought a new filter for my kit, a Formatt Hitech Firecrest 10 Stop ND filter. I am so glad I invested in this as it doesn’t produce any colour cast and is just totally epic for long exposure shots.

I was out for a while and on the stroll back to the car the clouds were getting really moody and stormy looking and I managed to get some shots of Skylar looking majestic.

The sun  came out and again Skylar was my model looking beautiful (totally not bias at all…not even a little…)

We then decided to walk to the pub, this brought into play my inability to calculate how far anything is away. (It was Tim’s suggestion but I agreed) For some reason I had in my head it was just over a mile away and off we went. On the way we stopped so I could photograph a partially sunken boat. I took a couple shots here with the circle polarising filter and with the ND filter so I could capture a long exposure. It was sooooo windy I had the tripod set as low as possible and eventually got one I wanted. We did finally get to the pub, where we could use the Google how far we actually walked, it was 3.8 miles! Needless to say we ate loads so we could face the walk back to the car!

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The next day or so I took some more landscape photos which I am really proud of.

we then headed further north to Fort William where we had a trade stand at the second stage in the downhill mountain bike world cup. We did manage to get out of the stand on the Sunday to watch a bit of the racing which was awesome as I got to test my photography skills on some of the riders.

After the race we packed up and started heading back home.

Overall I am really happy with my photos and how much my skills are growing. Still need a bit more practice on the mountain bikes but I am looking forward to it.

 

 

 

Pawtraits

So as the title suggests this post is all about photographing our four legged friends. As it is spring time all the beautiful flowers are coming out, in particular my favorite flower the bluebell. I really love these beautiful flowers so the aim was to find a lot of them and try and get some snaps of the dogs in them.

It took a little walking around to find a patch big enough for what I wanted but I finally found some. Then it was a case of carefully walking through and around them to get  my photos. I went a couple times with Skylar to get the photos below.

I then borrowed a friends dog in a different location to get some portraits of him. It was great to work with another dog, especially one as relaxed as Alfie. Skylar has to do a lot of running before she stays still for an length of time – hence the tongue in all her photos!

For all of these photos I used my 80-200mm f2.8 lens. I love this lens so much, it gives such a beautiful blurred background and is pin sharp (when I get my focusing right!).

Rhiwargor Waterfall, Lake Vyrnwy

So as you may have read from my last blog I was supposed to be going here on the Bank Holiday Monday but had some car related issues. The car needs a new engine and is waiting to be fixed so in the meantime we have a higher car. I had Saturday off work so decided I would make attempt 2 at going to the waterfall!  After layering the hire car in towels to protect it from Skylar’s hair we were off. I got to the car park for the Rhiwargor Waterfall trail just after 10 am and there was no one else there – brilliant!!

We started off on our walk to the waterfall, it is such a nice walk to do and I really enjoy taking Skylar on this one. She is a bit funny about getting into water and will only go in if she can walk in and will never jump in (which is actually quite handy!). So she had a fun time on our walk up.

Once we got to the waterfall I set out climbing up to get some nice shots of it at all the different stages. I have never walked up it before, it is such a beautiful waterfall, and each stage looks totally different from the last. I don’t have any filters for my camera yet so had to make do with shorter 1/4 second exposures as it was so bright. I am quite happy with the results I got and am ordering filters asap! I also found a really helpful guide on long exposure shooting without filters, so I can practice that in the meantime.

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Us at the top!

On our way back Skylar had a fun time chasing birds and doing some more swimming in the stream. It was such a beautiful day, we were out for just over 2 hours and she slept most the afternoon! I will defiantly be going back here as soon as I can to practice what I have learnt.

Easter Adventures

Adventure one

So it’s the Easter weekend and I have actually got time off! I had 2 adventures planned for Skylar and myself this weekend, the first was exploring by our house.

We moved into this house about 1 year ago and I haven’t really ventured past the lonely tree to the back of the house or  through the woods from the front of the house. I was armed with my OS map and spent a while online making my route via footpaths and bridle ways so I knew where I was going (pretty much). We set off about 10 am and started through the woods and up the hill. We then followed the bridleway to the next valley over.

Once out on the road we walked about 1/2 a mile to get to the next footpath, there were loads of wild flowers in the hedge rows and verges which I love. Also some nice views across the Welsh country side.

We got to where the next footpath should be and that is where things started to get a bit difficult, most of these footpaths marked on the map were unsigned from the road and were unkempt. I tried to follow these as best as I could but unfortunately the way was blocked so I had to back track and go the rest of the way home by road. When we made it back to the town, I took the back road home and found a nice stream for Skylar to play in (she had a lot of lead time due to the road walk), I was also able to practice some long exposure shots which was awesome!

Adventure two

On the bank holiday Monday I had planned our second adventure. My plan was to go to Lake Vyrnwy and photograph the waterfall there. I was all packed and ready to go and after dropping Tim off at work we were enroute. The clouds were clearing and it was setting up to be a beautiful morning. I was about 4 miles into my drive and the car cut out!! Disaster!! I could not get it to start back up so had to call for recovery, when they arrived they couldn’t fix it by the road and suggested it was a terminal problem. I got recovered back to Tim’s work and spent the rest of the day in that area. My grand plan for shooting the waterfall on the back seat I went on a local footpath that I knew had a stream so I could practice my long exposures.

I managed to snap this one which I am quite pleased with. So not an entirely wasted day.