Outdoor portraits, keeping it simple.

With outdoor portraits, keep it simple. What do I mean by this? Out of the studio we have one light, the sun. It might seem obvious but how we use it matters a lot. What I will say here is that my way is not the only way but it is not a bad place to start from. It works and is very simple.

My favored method for outdoor portraits is to have the sun behind your subject. This puts a back-light on the hair. Once there is back-light on the hair it gives a separation between the subject and the background. Even in woodland you will find areas where the sun shines through. Use these areas as your place to shoot and think of them as your starting point for a shot. 

When you have to sun behind the subject it gives a lovely soft light on the face. It is a very flattering light with no black shadows cast across the face.

The other thing to say here is to use your lens at the widest aperture, f2.8 to f5.6, this puts the background out of focus. It adds to the effect of separating subject from background. 

The first image of Sarra is shows the effect that you get clearly. The light on her coat particularly gives great separation from the background. The light on her face is just stunning.

Sun, outdoor portrait
Using the sun as a back light.

What isn’t as obvious in the first image is the use of a reflector. I always use a reflector to put a little light back into the face. This has the effect of brightening up the face and especially the eyes. It also gives a massive bonus of creating some catch lights in the eyes. This does make a massive difference to any portrait. 

What are reflectors? Basically they are something that will reflect a bit of light. They can be silver, try aluminium foil stuck to a board, a white sheet, white paper stuck to a board. I have used a white shirt that I was wearing. Very easy, very simple. You can buy silver or gold reflectors but I find white is perfect for what I want.

I personally find the Lastolite tri-grip reflectors perfect for my needs. These flip up and fold down very easily and so easy to carry. My kit includes a regular size one and a large on. Both have a white/silver side. 90% of use is the large one on the white side.     

The second shot of Sarra, you can see the catch lights in the eyes whilst still having a lovely soft light on the face. 

outdoor portraits
Catchlights in the eyes.

 

Lumsdale falls in Derbyshire.

Lumsdale Falls in Derbyshire was a place I headed on a beautiful sunny winters day. You can find it here. Not a long drive for me but does take time due to its location. I actually parked in the village of Tansley and walked along the valley to Lumsdale. There are a few parking spaces close to the falls.

As you walk up the path to the falls you come across the most spectacular section first though the path down to them is treacherous when wet. It is not worth the risk unless your photo nutcase. You do get a good view from the main path. The day that I went the flow of water was very good and it was fairly clear. It had been raining heavily a few days before and a lot of the heavy color had gone from the water. My 10 stop nd filter was used to get the effects on the water. The exposure was 20 seconds.   

Lumsdale Falls, Derbyshire.

As you walk up the path there are the ruins of an old mill that worked from the flow of the water. You also come across a small second section of falls which are very pretty. You just have to love the sound of running water, it always gives a buzz. It also makes me feel calm and relaxed.

The top part of the falls is just beautiful. You could sit here and watch the water all day. Again I used the 10 stop nd filter and an exposure of 20 seconds. These long exposures give you a lovely smooth effect on the water. I don’t like the frozen look that fast exposures give but it is each to there own. You make up your own mind for preference. 

Go out and create some great images friends.

Lumsdale Falls, Derbyshire
Upper part of Lumsdale falls.

Derwent valley reservoirs in the Peak District.

Cold and misty morning in the Peak District.

The Derwent valley reservoirs in the Peak District have become a favorite place to visit. Joined to Ladybower reservoir it makes a great walking area. The paths are well maintained and make fairly easy walking. There are much more difficult paths if you want to tackle them. You can find them here. 

The first image is one that I took en route to the reservoir. It was a grab shot which on a cold misty morning where there was a little color in the sky. A long lens was used to compress the image. It is more about shape and form than getting too much detail.  

In the winter I prefer easier routes and leave the more difficult routes for summer. There are numerous parking spots along the reservoirs but I chose the visitor center park, mainly so that I could get a coffee and snack after my walk.  

It was beautifully sunny day as I set to walk along the side of the upper reservoir. My B&W polarizing filter was fitted to take some of the glare from the water. This in turn allows you to get great reflections and deep rich colors. The second image is a general shot of the reservoir but does let you see what lovely day it was and the scenery that I was walking in. Don’t think you could ever regret walking in this area.

Derwent valley reservoir.

The walk was on a wide path, it is quite muddy in places so wear waterproof boots.  It is probably much better in summer. My route was about 8km there and back along the reservoir. You can do circular routes over the hills. Because of a poor winter of walking I need to build my endurance back up so its best to take it fairly easy to start.

When I am walking I will always look for something a little different. The image that I came across on this trip was of a tree. It was in the water and had a perfect reflection. There was very limited space to work in. It would have been great to shoot from a bit further back but you don’t always get to choose. I felt the image was too lovely to miss and decided that the shot would look great in sepia so just took it. It is my favorite shot of the day.

Go out and be creative my friends.

Tree art.

 

Reflections and future plans.

 

Reflections and future plans is really a catch up post and a little about plans for this year. My blog has moved on dramatically over the last year. I have added lots of new posts to it, this has brought lots of new readers and moved up the rankings. A contact form has been added, a subscribe from has been added, a gallery page has been put on the blog. The blog gallery is a bit limited at the moment but will be expanded this year. 

The improvement that I love most is the link to my Instagram page. This shows a constant updating of images that I take and some fun ones. Now I know some of you who love technology will find all this easy stuff but takes me quite a while to work out how to get things working. 

My move to landscape photography began after a dark period in my life. I hold a Licenciateship in wedding photography. This year is the last time that I will cover a wedding. I will still do some portrait photography. They will only be natural portraits rather than studio shots.

My focus will be on improving as a landscape photographer. I will make mistakes along the way but hopefully even at 60 I will look to improve. 

Over the last couple of years I have learned to see the world differently. You see things that other people don’t notice. I have found that I love reflections and long exposures so will work on these. 

Because I am of the older generation we had to do things in the camera. This works for me as I prefer to be out in the countryside than sat in front of a computer. The computer side of things will continue to be a learning curve for me, there are plenty of great tutorials on You tube.

Whereas with portrait and wedding photography I would shoot hundreds of images in a day, now I happy to come away with a dozen.

Most of my shots now are done on a tripod, I still use filters rather than relying on lightroom or photoshop. Its not just about being old fashioned but about enjoying time out in the countryside. 

This year my main target is the Scotland 500 trip which I will do over 2 to 3 weeks. This will be so that I have the time to spend on areas and shots. I have yet to decide whether I will use a campervan or buy a big 4×4 to sleep in.

There will be more places covered in the UK this year. I will do a trip abroad though not sure as yet where it will be.  

I will be moving more into vlogging this year and intend to buy a go pro camera. More on this later.

 

 

A winters stroll at Ladybower.

Reflections at Ladybower in the Peak district.

I decided to take winters stroll at Ladybower reservoir in the Peak district because we had a light covering of snow. You will find it here. It was a beautifully sunny day with a little snow laying on the ground. Now please be patient as here in England 25 mm of snow can bring our country to a standstill!!

There are a few places to park around Ladybower reservoir and you have plenty of options where to go. There are paths around the reservoir to walk that make walking easy. You walk through beautiful pine trees that always make me feel elated.

The countryside was looking stunning and the colors were vibrant. The reflections were just divine. This turned into one of those days that dreams are made of. Rather than relying on luck for those dream days plan to have them. Look at the weather forecast. Look at the direction where the sun will come from to get the type of shots that you want. Do not underestimate the amount of planning that goes into making your images successful.   

Vibrant colors do make me feel happy. To get the colors that I got here, I picked a sunny day where I knew that I would get great reflections. A graduated neutral density filter was used to balance the exposure between the land and sky. 

An exposure of 1/100 th sec at f22 and iso 400 were my camera settings. Because I like plenty of depth of field in my landscapes I use F22 a lot. The shutter speed of 1/100th gives me a sharp hand held image. Much slower than this I will use a monopod or tripod.

Rather than trying to see too much of this reservoir in one go plan a few trips. It is a large reservoir and has the Derwent and Howden reservoirs linked to it.

 

Ladybower, Peak district.

River Duddon in the Lake District.

river duddon, lake district
River Duddon.

I came across the river Duddon in the Lake District almost by accident. I had set off to photograph at one place and slightly lost my way. The drive led me over the Wrynose pass. It had spectacular scenery and wild countryside. 

Never be afraid just to follow your instinct, it can lead you to some amazing things in life.

Stopping often along the route to take photo’s allowed me to take in the beauty of this quiet corner of the Lake District. It is wild, it rugged and often breathtaking in its beauty.

As I headed over the pass I came across the river Duddon. The river has beautiful bridges, waterfalls gushing through rocks and bumbling along gently. It really is a quiet corner of the Lake District worth visiting.

There are places you can pull over to explore the river. As you move along the river you will find a constant changing view of the river. Do maker a few stops to explore.

Wordsworth himself wrote extensively about the river Duddon. He wrote a series of sonnets about the river. If it can inspire this man it should inspire other mortals.

Go out, explore and be inspired.

bridge, river duddon
Stone bridge over the River Duddon.

 

 

 

Sunset at Yeadon tarn.

Yeadon Tarn.
Yeadon Tarn.

It was forecast for a lovely day so I decided to try capture a lovely sunset at Yeadon Tarn. It is in North Leeds in Yorkshire. I knew of it through a friend. She lives close to it and photographs it regularly so I knew you could get great shots there. 

I had spent most of the day out walking on Ilkley moor and decided to call at Yeadon tarn on the way back home. Arrive about a hour before sunset, this will allow a variety of shots as the sun was setting.

It is a small lake used for sailing and many people walk round the lake. It is on high ground so you do capture the sun setting low over it. There is an airport close by so expect a few planes landing and taking off.

There is a decent car park. The path round the tarn is good and walking is easy. The sun was setting over the sailing part of the tarn so I did stay towards the far end to photograph into the sun.

As with most landscape shots you should use a small aperture f16 to f22. You should have some foreground detail to give depth to the image. You should focus on this detail and have enough depth of field to keep the sky sharp.  Use a tripod if you have too a slow shutter speed for hand holding. My favourite 2 stop graduated neutral density filter was used to get better detail in the sky.

yeadon tarn, Yorkshire
Yeadon Tarn

 

Outdoor portraits with children.

Going outdoors to shoot portraits of children seems much more natural to me than being in a studio. I like to fit portraits into a scene. With a little planning you can create beautiful images. People have beautiful gardens that can be used or try local parks.

Look for nice even lighting, open shade is ideal. Under trees, arches in the shadow side of buildings. 

I particularly look to reflect seasons, the first photograph was taken in a 068local park. You need to have good communications with the family to organize the shoot and type of clothes. The autumnal colors of the leaves in the foreground is reflected in the child’s clothes.

Rather than leave shots to chance, plan to get the child in the right place you want to shoot. Then let them be children. Let them behave naturally.

They only have a short attention span so get the shots quickly and move on to the next spot. Make the shoot as much about play as the photography as you can.

Make sure that you take a variety of shots from full length to close ups of the face. Remember that you are satisfying not only the parents but grandparents. All will like different shots so offer variety particularly if you are looking to sell and maximize sales.

The shot below is one from a walk through a park. Not traditional as the little girl is facing away from the camera. Nevertheless it is endearing as you see her face as she carries her dog. It would make a lovely piece of wall art for people rather than a close up of a face.

6435

 

Plumpton rocks in Yorkshire.

Plumpton rocks in Yorkshire is a beautiful 30 acre parkland. The opening times are limited so it is best to check the web site here if you plan to visit. Plumpton rocks can be found between Wetherby and Harrogate.

It has had a lot of restoration work done in recent years to restore it to its former glories. It does come with great credentials, Queen Mary described it as Heaven on earth and Turner painted it. A recent version of Swallows and Amazons was filmed there. 

Choose from a variety paths to walk. The focus of walking is round the lake. 6400 The lake is man made with a dam at one end. You will walk through woodland and between the impressive grit stone rocks. The rocks around the lake are beautiful and have wonderful names such as Lovers leap and Lions den. Finding your way round the paths seems like walking through a maze. 

Some of the Yew trees growing are just beautiful and seem to grow through any gap in the rocks.

Rather than having too much of a plan, it is best just to go and explore. 

The lake isn’t big but is a beautiful setting and the rocks look magnificent.  Go there for a lovely day out and explore.

6401

 

 

Bronte country near Haworth.

Bronte country near Haworth is one place that should inspire your creativity. Some of the worlds greatest literature was written and inspired by this area. Charlotte, Emily and Anne Bronte certainly left their mark on the literary world. A map of the area is here

I wanted to make a good walk so parked up in Howarth and walked to the falls. There are places to park nearer if you don’t want to walk too far. There are plenty of tourist attractions in Howarth about the Bronte family. My main focus was to get to the waterfalls. 

The walk takes you through the village, along a path at the side of the

Bronte, waterfalls
Bronte country.

road. After about a mile you join a track. It’s a good walking track. You follow the path past the Lower Laithe reservoir, across beautiful moorland to  the falls. It is classed as an area on outstanding natural beauty. You can see why when you look at the views. 

When you arrive at South Dean Beck there is small bridge. This is known as the Bronte bridge. It was rebuilt a few years ago after being destroyed by flash floods. 

The fist image is of the small falls to the left as you approach the bridge. The water cascades down the beck. I used a long exposure on the shot to get that smooth feeling in the water. 

The falls themselves are not spectacular but in beautiful surroundings. The second shot is another long exposure shot. It gave me that smooth water with the sky reflected in the water. It does the image a great feeling of depth to the image.

Be inspired and pay this area a visit, you won’t be disappointed. 

Bronte, Haworth
South Dean Beck.