Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Alton Towers

Took as trip to Alton Towers and decided to try and take some photos of high speed objects.  I ended up taking lots of shots in order to get the few that I think are good enough to share.

All the shots were quite tricky as I was generally shooting into the bright sky but needed a fast shutter speed to capture the motion.  I also tried a few panning shots, the aim being to keep the subject sharp but blur the background.

Monday, 23 August 2010

T189 Portfolio

The OU course had two required elements for a pass. A multiple choice test covering technical aspects of photography is completed online and then backed up with a portfolio of ten photographs, ideally taken during the period of the course but not necessarily so. 

The following are the ten shots I submitted from my collection.

Ready for a Fight?

My favourite shot taken during the course.  This shot was taken by placing the cat on a sheet of glass and then photographing up from below.  Fortunately the weather was glorious and the sky cloud free which gave me this brilliant blue backdrop.  Halfway through the shooting the cat started to lick its paws and I managed to get this shot as a result.

Storm in a Tea-cup
The course is designed to teach and test different technical skills and one of the subjects covered was high-speed photography.  This shot was taken by dropping a coin into a cup of coffee and trying different settings to try and capture the resulting splash.  This was particularly tricky as I didn't have a tripod or remote trigger at the time so everything was done by hand.

My Favourite Things
Another lesson was macro photography and working with very a narrow depth of field.  I set my camera to it's narrowest aperture (of f2.8) and manually set the focus to get this shot.

Last Slurp of Coke

The theme for this shot was everyday objects from unusual angles.  For some reason the idea of taking a photo from inside a can of coke as it was being drunk popped into my head.  Very messy shoot but great fun to do.  And best of all no photoshop trickery involved other than a little cropping for composition.

Pink Flamingo
Portraits were another aspect and I was very nervous about taking photos of real people at the time.  I've gotten bolder (ruder!) as I've progressed but at the time only had animal shots to submit.  This flamingo was actually taken for an earlier assignment which involved looking for 'letters' in nature, in the uncropped shot the neck makes a really good S shape.

Just 1% Away from Man
Another portrait shot taken in Jersey Zoo in the Channel Islands.  The gorilla was really camera shy but on one occasion actually looked up at me as I shot.  I loved the fur texture and so converted it to black and white.

Desert Sunset
Taken whilst I was serving in Iraq as an air traffic controller.  I was driving around the airfield at sunset and noticed the colours of the sky being reflected on the side of this Iraqi Air Force helicopter.

Liquid Corridor

Taken whilst on holiday in New York and is one of the main corridors of the New York Library.  Was really hard to get the shot because flash photography was not allowed so I had to increase the shutter time.  It was really busy and it needed several shots to get a break in the crowds long enough to have an empty corridor.

Taxi Formation
Another lesson was Colour and I took lots of shots of yellow objects when I was in NY.  This was my favourite and allowed me to show off that I had learnt how to desaturate selected areas of a photo too!

Stamping on Liberty

The final theme I chose was extreme perspective trickery.  There is no photoshop modifications to this shot and that is the full sized statue of liberty in the background.  The shot was taken with a wide angle lens from very low down and far away!


As a result of my photos and the exam I was given a Distinction for the course.  Whilst I didn't real like I had learnt that much during the course it really made me broaden my horizons when considering subjects for shots.  I love 'Ready for a Fight' and have it printed out and framed and it looks really impressive blown-up; makes you feel like a trapped mouse! :-)

Open University Course T189

I completed this distance learning course last year and found it quite helpful.  A lot of the course material can be learnt from buying one or two good quality books but the addition of online help and small study groups of peers to critique your work really helps.  The following is taken from the Open university website:

Course content

The course is designed to be studied over a ten-week period, with approximately ten hours of study each week. There are two pieces of work that must be submitted during the course, however, to get the most out of the course we advise that you also take part in the weekly photo assignments (not assessed), and if you miss a week, that you are able to find time to catch up (for example, spend 20 hours the following week).
The course is a creative mix of practice, learning, sharing and reflection:
  • Practice: each week you do a practical photographic activity that broadens and strengthens your photographic experience. Together these activities form the basis of your portfolio that you’ll draw upon for your end-of-course assessment.
  • Learning: each week you learn about different aspects of photographic techniques, as well as relevant aspects of the technology behind digital photography.
  • Sharing and reflection: each week you share your work within the T189 online community of photographers. You’ll steadily develop your ability to reflect upon your own and others’ work, and to write about your increasing visual awareness.
The course will:
  • teach you the key principles of capturing digital images and manipulating these with Photoshop Elements for PC
  • equip you with basic skills to navigate technological developments in digital photography
  • teach you how to critically evaluate your own and others’ work in the spirit of continuous technical and artistic improvement
  • encourage you to experiment with the principles of digital photography and imaging as part of a supportive online community
  • help you to develop a portfolio to be proud of.

Welcome to my Blog

Having spent over 13 years in the Royal Air Force I've decided on a career change.  With less than 3 years of service to complete I'm going to be undertaking various courses and programmes to try and become a professional photographer.  This blog aims to chart my progress.