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.

 

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.

 

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.

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

 

Foggy days and frosty mornings.

Autumn is the time of year for foggy days and frosty mornings. Because you can’t see far doesn’t mean you cannot come up with images. You just have to be experimental and see what you come up with.

Autumn is great time for color. The variation and depth in the color is frost, bramblesamazing. Add some frost to it and it can become quite magical. Here a simple shot of a fallen tree with some brambles growing round is lovely. The colors in the natural world are stunning. This type of shot can be taken anywhere close to where you live. Most of us have small wooded areas nearby.

When you are doing this type of shot you have to think in more abstract way. Taking parts and making them into an image. Keeping too much in the image can make it too confusing.

When photographing in woodland it can be dark. You can up the ISO to get a better exposure for hand holding the camera. I prefer to go for better quality so carry my monopod with me. I can usually get away with exposures up to 1/2 second with this.

On foggy days, the camera doesn’t see as well as your eyes. That doesn’t mean you cannot come up with great images. I took this shot on higher ground. The fog was laying close to the ground. You could see the tree tops sticking out of the fog.

When the sun rose it lit the clouds above the mist. Don’t be afraid to photograph in any sort of weather. Use your imagination. You can come up with something to be proud of.

Go outdoors create some wonderful images.

 

 

sunrise, fog

 

St. Michaels Mount in Cornwall.

After a few days at the Lizard I moved on and called at St. Michaels Mount in Cornwall. It is a place called Marazion which is close to Penzance. St. Michaels Mount is in Mounts bay and is a small tidal island. There are 43 of these islands around the UK coast.

It is a very busy place with many tourists. When the tide is out there is a constant stream of people walking across the causeway. Trying to get good photographs is not easy. I went later in the day though it was cloudy the sun was shining behind the clouds. Not a great day day for photography.

The tide was out so the bit of sun that was shining came through and  was glistening on the sands. Taking a low viewpoint allowed me to pick up texture of the sands. The tide line leads the eye through the image and leads you to the castle. Taking a low viewpoint also hid many people walking along the causeway.

I did use my 2 stop graduated neutral density filter to pick up more details in the clouds. This is rapidly becoming my favorite filter. A couple more variations of this filter will be added to my collection shortly.

I have deliberately warmed up the image in Lightroom. I believe that it suited the image better. It gives the image an almost monochrome feel.

Hope you like the image. Go out and create some images yourself.

st.michaels mount, cornwall

 

Taking a walk at Bolton abbey.

A little while ago I went for a walk at Bolton abbey. It is a stunningly beautiful part of the Yorkshire dales. It’s a few miles past Ilkley which is regarded as the gateway to the dales.

I park in the top car park near the village. There is a car park near the river where there is a lovely cafe. The reason for parking a little away is that it gives me a lovely long walk. It goes down through a field. You can walk round the abbey from here.

If you want a good walk then cross the river using the wooden bridge or via the stepping stones. The stepping stones are not the best idea when carrying fancy camera gear.

There is a path which follows the river. As you get into the wooded area it does get a bit steep so you do need some fitness to walk it.

After about a mile you reach a wooden bridge which takes you back over the river. This leads you to the cafe. While you are here stop and have a refreshment break.

From this side of the river you can follow the path. You will walk through the woodland to the Strid. The Strid is a powerful flow of water. The river is forced through a narrow section of rocks. Most of all be wary, it is very dangerous.

You will find photo opportunities all along the walk. Because it is such a lovely destination it does get busy. With a little patience you will get some people free photo’s.

Getting back to the car park is just retracing your steps.

Go out, enjoy our world and take some lovely photo’s.

Bolton abbey, yorkshire

Janets Foss, Malham, Yorkshire.

One lovely day I took a drive to photograph Janets Foss, Malham, Yorkshire. Malham is a rather lovely village in the Yorkshire dales. You can park either in the village or drive up towards Goredale scar and park at the side of the road. Wherever you choose to park, there is a path to follow close to Goredale beck. From either way you will reach Janets Foss.

Foss is used in the UK to mean force but is a Nordic word meaning waterfall. Guess this comes from the times we were overrun by the Vikings.

It is a steady walk but I would recommend a good pair of walking boots. When you reach the waterfall there are limited places to view from. You get more viewpoints if take the footwear off and go paddling. Ok if you don’t mind very cold water.  On a busy day it can be difficult to get a people free photograph. Choose a quiet time if possible. As always with waterfalls it is best to go after rain so you have a good flow of water. It is definitely worth a visit if you are in the area. It is not too far a walk  to Goredale scar from here.

The image itself I would have preferred to be slightly different but will go back at a quieter time to get it just as I want. I prefer a longer exposure than I could get this day. The light was difficult as it was quite contrasty. There was dappled sunlight coming through the trees. I did a little work on it Lightroom to get detail in the shadows. The exposure was 1.5 seconds at f22. Obviously the camera was on the travel tripod and weighted by my camera bag.

Go out and photograph, there is beautiful world out there.

 

janets foss, Malham, Yorkshire

Small sections of the landscape.

Instead of just concentrating on vast vista landscapes. Take some time  to focus in on the smaller sections of the landscape. Small sections of the landscape can represent an area or a season beautifully. When you decide to go out then you should have a plan in your mind of the type of shots you want. Keep the plan flexible. This day I had decided to concentrate on the autumn leaves.

On this particular lovely autumn day I had gone for walk in a local park to take some autumnal photographs. The park was at Nostell priory in Yorkshire. There were plenty of fallen multi coloured leaves on the floor. There was a roughly made bench under the branches of a tree. The scene just looked lovely and so harmonious with the colours. The focus was on the colour of the leaves in the scene so I didn’t need to take in the whole tree. The bench made a nice focal point for the shot. Shots like this look right in flat light which just wouldn’t suit a big landscape.

Keep your eyes open for such shots. They might not the impact of vast landscapes but they are so lovely and remind you of lovely days out.

Get outdoors and see the beautiful world we live in.

 

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Aysgarth falls in North Yorkshire.

One of my favorite places to visit is Aysgarth falls in North Yorkshire. When you arrive there are two possibilities for parking. One is near the pub as you arrive at the village. From the park you can walk down the hill to the falls. Your other option  is to drive down the hill over the river Ure to the national parks car park. Whichever park you use easily leads you to a well defined path along by the falls. The path is probably best described as gently undulating and fairly easy walking. You do have to be careful if you go off the path, which was my undoing. I slipped on a rock and fell backwards hurting my back and I have been suffering from sciatica since the visit. Ouch!!!

I do tend to visit Aysgarth after heavy rain for two reasons. The first is obviously there is more water flowing though there is usually a good flow at most times. The second and most important reason is that it does add color to the water. The falls are split into the upper falls, mid falls and the lower falls. The mid falls for photography purposes are too limited for access. There are plenty opportunities for something different with the upper and lower falls.

Not everyone likes the effect that long exposures give you on water. It can look a little like plastic. I love the effect but whether you use it is your choice. Photographing fast flowing water with color in it can look very messy. The long exposure gives you more distinct, cleaner colored lines. Here I used a 10 stop neutral density filter and had an exposure of 15 seconds at f22. The best thing you can do is try different ways and see what you like.

Go out and create some beautiful images.

 

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