The true beauty of owning a horse in the autumn becomes even more magnificent

charlotte_autumn-2_november_shoot160627

It has been a very long time since I posted a blog on here and for once I have something worthy of a post.

I have wanted to try my hand at horse and rider portraits for a while, so I spent the October Half Term week photographing horses and their owners. I picked the autumn as I thought it would provide me with a good opportunity for my first portfolio especially with all those soft and warm tones up for grabs.

The equipment I planned on using was a 135mm f/2 lens and either a 85mm f/1.8 or a 70mm-200 f2.8. So for the first shoot I opted for the 135mm f/2 lens and the 85mm f/1.8. For me personally the 135mm turned out to work really well for the look I was after.

For additional light, I used a 48inch soft silver umbrella with a Godox Whistro flash on a hacked tripod as a light stand. This hack, proved very adaptable to the uneven ground and with small sand bag provided a good balance between portability and weight. However, one shoot I did, this turned out to be impossible due to the wind, so I ended up using bare bulb flash as a last resort.

Initially, my main concerns were how would the horses would react to the flash and would the light stand and umbrella cause any problems. So far these have not caused any issues and the horses have been fine as long as you take your time moving things around.

From the shoots that I have done, only a few threw me curved balls in terms of backgrounds or lack of them. Wooded lanes and paths have worked exceptionally well and provided me with beautiful backdrops that really set the scene when the colours are right.

The main difficulties I have faced are getting horse in the right position that I still need to work on, but for my first attempts I have been really pleased with the results.

I have found that Polo mints can come in handy to encourage the horse to turn slightly or step to the side. Rattling things also can help to get the horses ears to prick, but occasionally horse just don’t play ball.

The canon 70-200 f/2.8 although very versatile, I prefer the look of the 135mm prime

The 85mm f/1.8 works well for the tighter shots, but I just love the 135mm.

Anyway, here are a few examples.

charlotte-montage-2-fb

horse-mont-web

If you have any questions, please contact me and I will do my best to answer them.

Fletcher

Lume Cube! The Best Of Both Worlds In Terms Of Lighting?

product_social_4A Lume Cube is a very small and powerfull LED light that boasts an impressive 1500 Lumen output and is controllable through Bluetooth technology via an App for both IOS and Android.

This magical little cube is contained in a metal waterproof housing measuring 1.5″ by 1.5″ and will withstand being dropped from about 2 meters.

I first saw the Lume Cube being demonstrated on a tiny trade stand at the Photography Show in Birmingham, but unlike most of the sale pitches, there was something about this little cube that appealed to my curiosity making me stop and take a closer look.

The first thing that really struck me was the size in relation to the light output, it was incredible and then when I started to use the app to control the various features such as brightness, and timing of the light, It was like being a kid again playing with a torch.

Anyway, for Fran to be interested, they had to be interesting and before I could get my hand in my pocket, Fran had purchased four of them.

It’s still early days as I have just been playing with them, but I am sure they will live in the camera bag for when I really need to make use of them.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pL1k9r1e_bg

Here are a few of the specs

  • 5″ by 1.5″ Cube LED
  • Dimmable Between 0–1,500 lumens
  • ¼ 20 Mount Attaches to Tripods & Action Cam Accessories
  • Fully Adjustable Flash Duration & Brightness via Smartphone App
  • Optical Sensor For Easy Off-Camera Triggering
  • 6000K Color Temp
  • No Recycle Time Needed Between Flashes
  • 2-Hour Battery Life at 50% power & 1-Hour Charge Time w/ USB Charger
  • Waterproof to 100′
  • Sync and control multiple lights simultaneously

If you are interested in buying a Lume Cube, currently I don’t think you can purchase them in the UK. However, you can purchase them directly from their website https://www.lumecube.com.

 

The cubes come in Black, Gunmetal Grey, and Silver.

Finally I Have A Zeiss Batis 85mm

When Zeiss first announced the Batis 85mm f/1.8 last year, it was one of the lenses on my wish list, so I placed an order. However, as the weeks and months passed, I wondered if Zeiss were ever going to get enough of these lenses produced to meet the demand.

After waiting for months In the end I canceled my order as I had heard that Sony were going to release the G Master 85mm f/1.4 . So when I heard rumors that Sony were going to have both the G Master 85mm and the G Master 24mm – 70mm f/2.8 at the Photography show at the NEC in Birmingham, I could at least perhaps see  these new lenses and perhaps even test them.

So, last weekend I was able to test the Sony G Master 85mm and the Zeiss 85mm, and both are great lenses, but when the people at Zeiss informed me that the Batis was available to buy at the show and for £769 I had a long hard pause for thought at which lens would best meet my needs.

OK, so the Sony G Master 85mm f/1.4 is faster and perhaps the bokah more circular, but with the Batis available for £769 that’s half the price of the Sony G Master 85mm and both lenses render very well.

Personally the f/1.8 meets my needs and I really like the way the Batis is rendering the backgrounds when used wide open. I have only had the lens for a week, but so far I am so pleased with my purchase especially in relation to the savings I have made. Moreover, with the new Sony 85mm G Master f/1.4 is listed at £1500 that’s a lot of money for a prime in my opinion, but then the Zeiss Otus  85mm is not cheap at £3600.

Even though I have only used the lens a few times, I can honestly say it’s worth every penny and it suits the A7 series of camera very well in terms of size and weight.

Anyway, two shots below, One natural light taken a day after I purchased the Batis with Fran when we went to Witley Court on the way back up to Leeds.

Fran witley fuji velv Web

The Batis used with off camera flash today at Old Moor in south Yorkshire.

Graham3 Web

I am sure the Sony G Master will win many hearts and minds, but is the lens worth £1500? I guess it depends on your needs and pocket. The Zeiss Batis should not be neglected though, it’s still a fantastic lens and if you can buy one for less than £900, it’s a no brainer really.

 

Alternative Adaptors For Sony A7 Series

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If you have ventured into using a Mirrorless camera you will probably know about the numerous adaptors that you can buy which enable you to use a multitude of lenses on a mirrorless camera.

Perhaps one of the best-known adaptor brands is Metabones, with their latest product the T Smart Adaptor Mark lV. However, with an asking price of £350, I was not placing an order for one.

After spending a lot of time on the web and researching all of the alternatives I came across the Techart Saker Falcon Lite. To be honest it sounded to good to be true, but eventually my curiosity got the better of me and the price was low enough to take a punt.

I initially was lucky enough to test it out on a few Canon lenses, the EF 70mm-200mm f/2.8 IS ll USM and the EF 200mm f/2.0 L IS USM thanks to Mr Rob T and I was blown away by the results. Anyway, that was a few weeks ago and in an indoor environment.

Well tomorrow the Canon EF 70mm-200mm f/2.8 IS ll USM and the Techart Saker Falcon Lite will really be put to the test as I am photographing MX (Motocross) at Fat Cats and I will de providing info and images within the next few days of how I get on.

What I can say is that you need to do your homework as to which lens will work with both the Techart Saker Falcon Lite and the Metabones T Smart Adaptor Mark lV and I will also include a list of Canon, Sigma and Tamron lenses that are working with the Techart Saker Falcon Lite I own.

More information about Techart products http://www.deoinfinity.com

Recently Sigma have announced a Canon to Sony E adaptor, (Sigma MC-11) so it looks like if you own a Sony A7 series of camera you will be very well supported lens wise.

Sigma_Mount_Converter_MC1

If you are looking into buying a new camera and have a lot money invested in Canon or Nikon glass, the Sony A7 series of camera are certainly worth exploring.

ECLECTIC STEPS

We take stairs for granted, but use them as a way to ascend and descend from one area to another virtually every day. A staircase would probably be the last things you would think about photographing, but they can provide great photographic material especially in February the weather is often damp wet and cold.

As the photography conditions were looking dull and drab for the few days we had planned in the Yorkshire Dales, Fran and I decided to spend a few days in London looking for potential photogenic staircases together with a few other ideas.

Fran Steps Down Web

Anyway, below are some examples of staircases we found in London. There are numerous staircases that have become well known to photographers, but some of the less well-known ones, require more effort to find.

In terms of lens focal lengths, we used 28mm and 21mm primes with a Sony A7ll. As you can’t use tripods in most public buildings, we used home made beanbags that worked well as ad hock tripods. Some of the images were just hand held making use of image stabilization.

Somerset House

The Nelson Staircase is located in the South Building of Somerset House

Strand, London WC2R 1LA

Stairs Web

Nelson Up web

Heals Department Store

The Brewer Staircase

196 Tottenham Court Rd, London W1T 7PJ, United Kingdom

Heals 1 Web

Premier Inn Blackfriars

1-2 Dorset Rise, London EC4Y 8EN,

Prem Stairs 2 copy

Citizen M Hotel,

Bankside Southwalk

20 Lavington St, London, United Kingdom SE1 0NZ

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Tate Britain

There are some great staircases to photograph

Millbank, London SW1P 4RG, United Kingdom

Tate stairs Web

Tate down Web

St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel London

Euston Road, London

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Lumenzia

What are Luminosity masks?  Luminosity masks are a powerful trick available in Photoshop. However, If you have tried to use Tony Kuyper’s luminosity mask actions (TKActions) in Photoshop but are struggling to get to grips with the complexity, there is an alternative.

Greg Benz has come up with something awesome called Lumenzia and it fixes almost everything that made using luminosity masks a pain to learn and use.

If you are not familiar with luminosity masks and what they can do, the basic principle is, that you are able to make masks based on luminosity levels.

Working with luminosity masks Photoshop is then able to select precisely luminosity ranges and values, which is done using channels. Once the selection is made, you can then adjust only the selected luminosity range/values without touching anything else in the image.

So why are luminosity masks so useful? Have you ever wanted to make your midtones brighter without affecting the highlights or the shadows? By adjusting specific areas of an image based on luminosity values, you are able to create clean and beautiful images using true high dynamic range rather than HDR images, which are not to everyone’s taste.

At first, the Lumenzia plugin interface can look a little daunting, but if you  invest half an hour of your time, I think you will be hooked.

Lumenzia makes luminosity masking simple and visual, so that you can focus on making beautiful images.

Greg Benz provides some very helpful videos and PDF files to get you started.

Anyway, take a look at the video below and this link https://gregbenzphotography.com/lumenzia/

Swaledale Waterfalls

East Gill 1 Word

Swaledale is a stunning valley with many beautiful waterfalls cascading into the River Swale such as Richmond Falls, Kisdon Force, East Gill Force, Catrake Force and Wain Wath Force to name a few. If you look on an Ordnance Survey map, it is clear to see that the surrounding area of Muker has the largest concentration of waterfalls within the Dales area.

Personally, I think waterfalls are best photographed on overcast days and in the autumn when the colour is rich and vibrant. One of the problems can often be the amount of water flowing over them, as when the rivers are in spate, there is often far too much water. One advantage of the river Swale and its tributaries is the water runs off fairly quickly, so after heavy rain the waterfalls can have a good flow after a few days which is often ideal photographically.

Many of the photographs on this post were taken with prime lenses with either 28mm or 55mm focal lengths. To create the slow water dreamy effect I used various shutter speeds ranging from 1/4th 1/8th 1/10th 1/15, and 1/20th.

In terms of filters, I use a circular polariser and either a 2 stop ND or 4 stop ND. I prefer to shoot in manual and set my ISO to 100 and use a shutter speed of 1/4th as my initial starting point. I can then take a test shot and adjust my shutter speed according to my desire of the effect I like.

I take all of my images in RAW, load them in to Lightroom to make any lens corrections, together with shadow and highlight adjustments and then export them to Photoshop for any final processing.

Below are two videos with a basic workflow for both Lightroom and Photoshop. I hope they will provide a visual illustration of how I process my waterfall images.

A few final tips, Waterfall areas are wet and slippery and although wellington boots won’t prevent you from slipping, they can help keep your feet dry and enable you to set your tripod up in locations where it would not be possible to do so without getting your feet wet. Furthermore, you will get more creative perspectives from the usual areas other photographers shoot from.