All posts by NatBooks

I am a book worm - always have been. Now I'm aspiring to write but in need of inspiration and advice first. While exploring this, I found a new inspiration - photography. At the moment, I'm beginning to teach myself how to get out of 'auto' and capture special moments. Hopefully, this hobby will become something special in itself, and I am hoping that this in turn will give me something to write about.

Lessons learned

Over the last six months, I’ve learned a lot of lessons both in my photography skills and balancing practice with work and general day to day life.

Lesson 1: Always carry your camera with you – everywhere! I love the bag my parents got me for my new camera because it carries so much kit and I love the freebie I received for subscribing to Practical Photography Magazine because it hides away your kit nicely with different compartments for essentials for a long day out. However, for those moments that you’re not planning, out and about, they are just too big. Must invest in a smaller bag for just camera and kit lens.

Lesson 2: Make sure your camera is fully charged (dim wit, that’s me!) During the autumn/ winter season, a robin visited my garden. It was a perfect opportunity to capture a rare occurrence. Unfortunately, I managed to capture two shots with kit lens (not great, blurred and I know I can do better). I needed the telephoto lens, but as I went to switch lenses, power cut out. I’d not charged it up since last use. The robin flew away. I learned the hard way here. Here are the blurred shots of the robin.

I wanted to blur the background, which I managed. However, I didn’t quite get the focus on the robin. I can see the branches are clearer in the foreground. For goodness shake! Terrible joke sorry. That brings me onto my next lesson.

Lesson 3: Use a tripod. I could have easily rectified these mistakes if I’d have been able to steady the camera better.

Lesson 4: On my trip to London this weekend, I wanted to tour the lot, take shots of everything! However, I learned that this wasn’t improving my skills. Next time, I will plan the spots I want to photograph and practice taking multiple shots with different compositions until I get the best I can before moving on. Here are some my favourite shots.

Not many of the famous architecture or landmarks (these weren’t brilliant and I need to work on this). The top left was a vegan protest. Agree or disagree in their aims, you can’t deny the bloke who posed is a bit of a legend.

Lesson 5: Make time for blogging efforts and practice gradually. I think I tried to put too much pressure on myself to blog every week and life/work got in the way. I will aim for blogging when I can – hopefully, every other month.

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Why have I been away again this time?

August was a very busy month, which started with my wedding. Lots of organising to finish off and then the actual big day (more like a whole 3 day celebration). Then Florida for a fortnight, which was amazing! When we got back, the dreaded jet-lag took over. The next thing I knew, it was September. Where did the time go? This whole summer, I feel like I have not been able to get out with the camera much.

Anyway, today marks the final day of my summer and I go back to work tomorrow. However, now that I am back in the country with camera by my side, I can continue the journey I started. I have a few things planned for the next few weekends: Blackpool and a bit of power kite flying, after dark camera school homework and an Autumn collections project (still ironing out the details on this one).

Keep your eyes peeled.

I’m Back!

Wow! I really need to keep up with this monthly blogging I intended to do. It has been a mammoth time with work and getting the angels through for their exams. Exam season is over and I can get back to working on photography.

My latest project while away has been in preparation for the next Camera School module on the Natural World. I’ve been working with close ups and blurred backgrounds in bright sunshine. Really tried to get the aperture, shutter speed and exposure right. I feel I’m getting better. As always, any constructive criticism and advice is welcome. Here are a few from my Dad’s back garden.

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I played around with the positioning for the best composition. After closely looking at all of the photographs I took, these three were my favourites. While it is encouraged, in many magazine columns I’ve read, to position the flower to the side, I like the last one because of the symmetry the image gives – right above the flower is the bright blue sky between the fence panels. The background is blurred and the attention is drawn to the rose as it evenly surrounded by the green hedging.

The second one required awkward positioning of myself. Tip toes: great if you can stay still. I would have stood on something to give me height, but I was wedged behind the gazebo with very little room to place a platform. Tip toes had to do! Probably not perfect because of the shadow to the left, but I like the brightness of the yellow and the blend into darker shades in the background.

My aim was to emphasise the brightness of the rose. I feel these three out of all the ones I took do that.

My next Camera School project is ‘Still Life’ so if anyone has any tips, tricks and advice, I would really appreciate it. I’m hoping to get out and do some more nature photography while the flowers are in bloom.

Devon

May Day in Devon was a busy one for Nanna’s birthday celebrations, so not much time to take photos of the scenery. I did manage to take some after dinner in her beautiful garden, however. I found this little spot with a secret path – the perfect place to practice lead-in lines. Here’s what I captured.

The garden was another opportunity to capture the Spring flowers in bloom. I love the vibrancy of the flower below against the deep green leaves.

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My next trip to Devon, I will definitely making more time to explore this garden and the acres of land around it.

Nostell Priory

During Easter break, my other half took me to Nostell Priory, a beautiful piece of Yorkshire heritage. This was a great place for me to practice because you couldn’t use flash inside the house and the lighting was low to protect the furnishings from further colour fading. Here are some of my favourites.

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While it’s not perfect because of the slight blur as you look towards the background, I  love it for the angle I took it at. I probably looked strange to other visitors getting low to floor, but it was fun trying to get the shot.

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I would have liked the exposure to be brighter, but like I said it was difficult in the dark rooms. What I do like is the clarity of the words and pictures on the page against the slightly blurred background. I had the widest aperture setting I could get on my Nikon D3000 (I’m behind with the times – kit’s expensive!) and got as close as I could. I really like where they’ve left the glasses and it magnifies the writing on the page too.

When we’d finished looking around the house, we had a walk through the beautiful gardens with an array of Spring flowers in bloom. Now we were outside, I had to continue to adapt the setting for the bright sunshine we had that day.

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The vibrant pink littered this garden at the back of house; they are beautiful flowers (I forget the name of them).  I know I would love some in my own garden next Spring. I wanted to work on macro shots in the garden. Easier said than done with basic a kit lens. I will invest in different lenses later – I know I need to get technique right first. I’m pleased with the way this came out though.

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Not got the same background blur as the first one, but I think the bright orange against the green backdrop helps. Absolutely adore this flower (again, I have no clue what it is called, so if any of you know comment below; it would be much appreciated). The colour is stunning!

This won’t be my only visit while the flowers are in bloom. I will definitely be heading back some time in the near future to work on a few things. If anyone else is looking for a day out to appreciate some great Yorkshire heritage, a beautiful National Trust property and capture its beauty, this is the place to visit.