Update - Drone Photography

Into today’s world, technology moves so fast that by the time you’ve got use to your new piece of tech kit, something else has come along to replace it as soon as.

When I got my first DJI drone, the Mavic Air, which has a F2.8 aperture giving 12MP RAW and JPWG images, and 4K video with 30-120 FPS. I thought it was great. 

 DJI Mavic Pro2

DJI Mavic Pro2

But within two months DJI brought out the DJI Mavic Pro 2, with its 1” Hasselblad gimbal camera giving 20MB RAW and JPEG images with an f-stop from F2.8/F11 and 4K video with 30-120 FPS.

The drone is larger and does make a difference in being able to see in the sky, but apart from the battery use time, which is around 30 minutes and longer than the Mavic Air, its the camera for me that makes all the difference and why I invested in the Mavic Pro 2.

The Gimbal Camera

When you look at the image of the Mavic Pro 2, the camera looks small and uninspiring, but it actually has all the features of an SLR camera.

  • White Balance

  • ISO100-12800

  • Shutter speed 8-1/8000s

  • Single shot

  • Burst shot 3/5 frames

  • Auto exposure bracketing (AEB) 3/5 bracketed frames t 0.7EV Bias

 Screenshot live feed and camera controls

Screenshot live feed and camera controls

It’s unbelievable that such a small camera is packed with all these features, yet the control is done by the app on a phone or tablet connected to the drone controller and works wirelessly. You can do some clever shots like stitching images together, HDR, long exposure, bracketing, just to name a few. It’s like having a real camera in your hands, but being able to photograph from up to 400ft high off the ground and choosing your composition from 360 degree angle, the camera sits on 3-axis gimbal and allows you to move up and down, but now also left to right. DJI believe the drone can work in a stable position in winds up to 22mph.

As a photographer, the drone gives you new possibilities on how you photograph the landscape, but also structures by being able to be above and pointing the camera directly down on the subject. Also it allows you to access places which you can’t reach be foot or by chair. The camera comes with a 10-BIT Dlog-M Colour Profile that gives amazing colour to your images right out of the drone, the images are sharp and crisp, giving 20MB RAW or JPEG and gives you a whole lot of image to work with when it comes to post editing, but the image quality is really good out of the camera. It even comes with histogram and over exposure warnings.

4K Video

The DJI Mavic Pro 2 comes with a number of features like ‘tripod mode’ that makes your drone move more slowly, giving that smooth and more accurate movement, great if you flooring a person. Also Hyperlaps video, something that in the passed you needed special equipment and a large camera being able to process so many images taken within a space of time. Now you can be above your subject and have incredible steady footage. The 4K video is smooth and with the use ND filters, you can make professional looking footage that only the most expensive of equipment has been able to do in the past.

This small but powerful drone, gives new life to photography and videography and is a great addition to your kit, which is compact easy to setup within minutes.

Test Flight

I’ve always worked in manual mode, so I set the f-stop to f5.6, ISO 100 and 24fps. The first thing I noticed was how much faster this drone flies, you can get up to a speed of 20mph, which is quicker than the Mavic Air and allows you to get to your point of interest in a shorter time and saves of the battery, so you have more time to film or photograph your subject.

When you take your thumb off the joystick, it comes to a halt really quickly. Being able to see your drone at all times, is part of the regulations and in this test I went out about 800ft, and I have to say I had no problem looking at the drone, then looking at my screen, then back to the drone. This was half the maximum distance, and I'm sure if I gone the max, I would still be able to see the drone clearly.

With the Mavic Pro 2, you have the ability to move the camera up and down, but also left and right by touching the screen on the device app with your finger. You can move the position at max but you can see the front leg of the drone, which is a shame it doesn’t stop before that, but you can edit this out or just be more responsive to correct the camera away from the leg.

The controller comes with buttons which you can customise, but one allows the camera to look directly 90 degrees downwards, clicking again returns it back to its original position, this is really useful and a time saver as the camera moves slowly so not to seem jittery in footage.

Things like I’ve mentioned, saves a lot of time in trying to do it yourself, this means more time in the air and not wasting valuable battery time.

Final Thoughts

Yes the drone is over £1,000, but DJI is at the forefront of hobby and professional drones. They pack so many great features that it literally can fly itself if programmed to. Its safety features means you're not going to crash very easily. It’s been widely reported that it doesn’t use the full 1” sensor but it still is an amazing camera and great quality of images and video. 

You can always if you want to find fault with things, but for the most part, I love this drone and I know its going to add to my workflow and allow me to create interesting images and video that I couldn’t do with my DSLR without having special equipment, but I'm not going to get the great views from ground as I can from the sky with some of my photography. I don't see myself making movies that involve people, as I got this purely for landscape photography. There are limitations as you I can’t use it within a city and unless it's an open area. Rules and regulations are tight and may get tighter, but I'm sure that they wont effect the kind of use that I have in mind for the drone. 

I’ve posted a number of videos on my website already, which was done with the Mavic Air, and to me they look amazing and this new drone is just going to add more time in the air, a real camera control and a bunch of advance features that I'm sure in time will get to use at some point.

Group Working Together - The Dream Team

Being a photographer at times, can be a lonely path if you're trying to do everything yourself. In the early and middle stages of trying to become established, can be a make or brake situation. Being able to work on a shoestring, can be hard to get the right look for clients, its like using a mobile phone to shoot a wedding, at the moment, you can’t get the quality into images of light and shadows in my opinion, some would say it is possible with the new phones, which can produce RAW images, but the file size is what allows you to get the very best from an image in post editing, which is maybe why most semi or professional cameras now offer 42MB’s per an image, have large ISO that doesn’t show pixelated images so badly, which means if your working indoors, you can use the natural light coming in through widows. Lighting is an important factor in the studio and not so much outside, but gives great effect to images.

All of this can be expensive initial outlay, not including lenses, triggers and reflectors, to mention a few things. But you need to build that portfolio and get it out there to be seen by potential clients and most importantly, learn your trade and fine tune your USP style. if you have all the kit, you need a subject, a location, and unless your looking to pay for both of these, you need to look at alternatives that can work for you and others, via collaboration with models, MUA’s, hairstylist and photographers.

The Dream Team

I think the story goes, that a few photographers got together and looked at how best to get people together and work on a project, that everyone benefits from. Today the group has nearly 90 members, made up of photographers at all levels, models new and some just been doing it for shot time, MUA’s that maybe just qualified, hairstyles building on their talents, all looking to get better and build that all important portfolio. 

As a group, your sharing ideas, knowledge, learning, building friendships, and as a group you support each other and always act professionally in every situation. Everyone is giving their time with the ultimate goal to make stunning images and as a group share them with each other.

I joined the group earlier this year, I’ve been to two events, which one was a stately mansion house, and recently the Wells Cathedral Bishops Palace. There's been a lot more events, but for health reasons I’ve not been able to attend.

It takes a lot of planning, and most of the group get together for a face to face meeting once a month to look at ideas, work out what the theme is going to be, sort out the schedule, all the kind of things that a big shoot needs to have covered.

 Model: Erika Milankavo MUA: Leilani-Chyna Thomas

Model: Erika Milankavo MUA: Leilani-Chyna Thomas

When it comes to the photographing in a place thats new, we all scout out the place to make our own decisions on where we want to photograph the models when they arrive. Everyone looks after each other, so we make sure that all the photographers get to work with all the models and mindful not to take all the time up with just one model, everything works in sync and calmly.


 Model: Meggy Stiby MUA: Bonita Osborne

Model: Meggy Stiby MUA: Bonita Osborne

The group gets new people all the time and for some models, this could be their first real shoot, and the same can be said of photographers and MUA’s, and it can be overwhelming, but everyone makes each other feel comfortable and makes the new ones feel like they’ve done it before as theres never any awkward moments, this is because we all work to the code of being professional at all times.

When the day comes to and end, we go out separate ways, an then wait for the photographers to post their images. When everyone has had a chance to look at the images, its nice to get feedback and if someone feels you could do something to improve upon what you’ve posted, then its taken onboard. Critique is something a photographer needs to be able to take and process, but you're not forced to make changes, but it's good to see anothers perspective on an image.

 Model: Jessica Stiby MUA: Bonita Osborne

Model: Jessica Stiby MUA: Bonita Osborne

Having a group like this, is great, because it brings all sides of photography together who have the best qualities of being able to work together in a professional way. There are times when views or opinions are not shared by all, but as a group it's not about pushing things to one side without listening and seeing if there is a compromise that can be got.

 Model: Keith Bristow

Model: Keith Bristow

The Dream Team is like a real production company, the difference is that non of us get paid, but the group is getting recognise for its work. I believe an online magazine has shown interest in doing a page per a month with the teams work, plus doing a bio once a month on a member of the team, also to be added to the magazine. It’s only by the hard work thats done by all that the group has got to this stage, and it speaks volumes on the work thats created by them for them.

My Bucket List For 2019

I guess we all at some point in our life, for whatever reason, think about things we want to do and I think I’ve got to that point with my photography.

Part of the team.

I’ve been on Facebook since it ever started. I’ve used it to make friends that have the same kind of interest as me, but when you change what your doing thats part of a wider group, you feel sort of on the outside, and so friends you’ve made, you start to loose contact with. When I was target shooting, I had thousands of so-called friends, because they were doing the same as me, but most I didn’t really communicate with. Then when you change to another area of interest, you make new friends, and so the process starts again.

Becoming a photographer and doing portrait work and collaborating with people, doesn’t just allow you to make new friends, but you get invited to join groups, which they are involved with, which can lead to you making new contacts and friends. This can be models, hair stylist, makeup artist and photographers. 

I have five groups on Facebook that I'm part of.

Bristol Models Group

This is a great group, which is all about the above about working together with others, and a way to do collaborations with people within the group. We all might not be paying each other for their time and work, but I’ve seen so many get in to one area or another and get recognised in magazines, or competitions etc. and they end up doing really well and move towards if they want to doing it as a full-time business. 

Bristol Photographers Group.

This is a group of local photographers at all different levels, that share their images, which can range from Street, Landscape, Portrait and almost anything else and others will tell you if they like your work or you can ask for advice about anything to do with photography and get an answer. The thing is with a group like this, that some have had no sort of training in photography, but have an amazing eye for detail and thought into their work, that they should be doing it as a business in my view. But photography as many will agree is hard to setup as a business, and hard to find clients that want to pay for your skills as a photographer, it takes a lot of work and investment above what you’ve paid for your camera equipment.

South West Street Group.

This group I helped setup with a fellow photographer and good friend. We saw that there were plenty of street photography groups, but none covering a certain area. So we set this up to cover the SouthWest of the UK. It’s only been going since June 2018, and has over 40 members, but theses guys are supper talented, and is a great place to show off their work in a place thats related to where they live, instead of being more over open to the whole world and maybe get lost in the shear numbers. I have to admit, that I’ve not contributed much myself to the group because of personal situations, but happy to help others to show their work.

Drone Flyers UK Group.

This group I only recently joined since getting a drone myself. It's a great group with over 7,000 members, which speaks for itself how well run the group is. But you can post images and video that you’ve done yourself, and get information on everything about drones and importantly the regulations that we have to adhere to. It can get heated at times, as some post shows the misuse of drones, but then thats what makes it a good group to be part of, so you know what not to do. If your looking to upgrade your gear, then just like the other groups, you will get real positive advice and real views on whats good and not good.

The Dream Team.

This is really special group, as it involves models, MUA’s, hairstylist and photographers. As a group we come up with a theme and find a location and all turn up to do a location shoot. It involves people from all levels and we help each other come up with work that we then showcase to the world. I’ve made some great friends and its great if you are on a budget to do a location shoot that you couldn’t do by yourself. We get to some amazing locations in the UK, and s I'm writing this, on Sunday we are going to the Bishop’s Palace at Wells Cathedral in Somerset. If you were trying to do this alone, it would cost a fortune, but as a group, we get discount on using places like this. 

Being part of theses groups, builds up my work within my photography when I don't have anything set myself. It’s easy to loose your mojo when you run out of ideas, but being in groups like this give you ideas of projects you might end up doing yourself. 

Bucket List for 2019

Wales

I want to explore new places and some places that I’ve been to before, but not just with my camera but with the drone. I’ve mention this before, that a drone is a great addition to my equipment. 

I want to cover more of Wales as its not far for me to drive to, and has some amazing places that I want to explore. Through one of the groups, I was told about a place called Hay Bluff near Llanigon, Wales. It looks an exciting place and I’ve already made enquires about the place.

Lake District

It would be nice for me and my partner to take the dogs with us for a long weekend up into the Lake District, then she can go on walks with the dogs and I can stop and photograph places that are of interest to me. I’ve photographed some lakes and reservoirs in Wales and would like to do them in the Lake District.

More Studio Work

I have ideas and need to come up with new ideas to do more studio work at home. I’ve spent time building up my gear, and portraiture is my main work, and I love the creative feel to working with lighting and the people that I have sit for me. Each give a different idea of how to bring the portrait to life. 

Street Photography

I need to get out and into the streets and practice what I preach. Street photography is one of things that I did a lot of when I first started doing photography, but health, weather and life in general has put me off getting out and about. One place I want to go back to is Templemeads Railway Station, as I spent time getting info on who to contact to allow me to do this, as you cant just turn up and shoot as its classed as private property. Photographing people that have two things on their mind for most part, is getting to work on time and getting home on time. Between the two are the moments they spend standing or sitting looking at the schedule aboard to see if their train is on time or not.

The long term view

It would be great to get some of my best work printed up and maybe hold a small exhibition of my work, I know many have done this in the pass and has lead to other things, so its something I'm going to consider for the future and if next year feels right, then I will go ahead.

The Mystery Of Landscape

I have a set way of using technology to find places that might be mysterious. It starts with looking at Google Earth. The app shows so much detail, that you can see from above and look at the landscape at any angle. I’m lucky living in the South West of the UK and just across the bridge, I’m in Wales. The Brecon Beacons is just two hours away, and even if the weather forecast says it going to be clear or fine, it’s environment changes within a couple of hours.

Sunrises are a great start to the day, but in October, the sun doesn’t rise until 7am, but taking into account travelling time and getting up, still means I’ve have to rise and shine at 3:30am. 

I find that theres an air of excitement of the not knowing what to expect, as I drive in the dark and head across the Second Severn Bridge, which lights up like a ferris wheel, you feel that you’ve entered another country. Wales has beautiful countryside, mountains, and local communities that if you're a traveller, the people are warm and welcoming and eager to help. Local knowledge, is golden  and has helped me on many a time to find interesting areas to go and photograph or a way to get to the place.

The Martians Landscape

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Just outside a little village called Nant Trefil, lays an old quarry thats been closed down for a number of years. But it's been used for filming of television programs like Dr Who and blockbuster films. It’s a long gravel road that runs for about 3 miles and full of potholes, so you cant drive more than 15 mph, but once you enter the quarry, it all becomes eerie with high black cliffs and green coloured ponds.

I only knew about this place from a local man, who cycles nearly everyday up to the quarry, to sit at the top and look down the valley. He told me he did a bit of photography himself and often goes up to photograph the sunset that I’m sure is amazing. Sadly the road has a gate and is closed at sunset and if your driving like me, you can end spending the night looked in. 

I’ve only covered a small part of the quarry and know that I know how to get up to some the more interesting points, from this local knowledge, I intend to go back.

The Unknown Objects

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Even though this was at onetime a working quarry, for visitors like, there are things that baffle me to what objects, which are huge and manmade where used for. This concrete object stands out at the top the quarry and looks alien like, which is why I can understand that programs like Dr Who was filmed here.

Changing of the weather

DJI_0245-2-HDR.jpg

It’s this excitement of the not knowing, what the weather is going to be like when you get there, how moody the landscape can become. You can set up your camera, and watch the fog close in and down the valley and up the mountains, then suddenly there will be a break in the clouds and then the landscape comes alive with colour.

The Brecon’s is an ever changing place, when it comes to the weather. One minute you can see, then next you can’t. To get a good image take time and patients, you can take a load of images and then think to call it a day and as you pack up, the scene comes alive even more, and so you set up again and carry.  This is how I got this image after sitting for over an hour at the top of the quarry, looking down into the valley, it's a moment that makes all the waiting worthwhile to get an image like this.

Ariel Drone Photography

Not sure if the term Ariel Drone Photography is a thing or not. Good drones that don’t go up in the air and fly away for ever, have so much scope to photography in where they can go, how high they can go, and what angles they can achieve.

As I’ve mentioned in pass posts, that I use Google Earth to search out areas that I can spend the day travelling around to. But what Google Earth gives, is an image taken at some point that can only give you a glimpse of what could be. This all depends on what time of year, what season, and even how the weather has acted during the year before you visit the place.

Pontsticill Reservoir - The Brecon Beacon’s, Wales, UK

DJI_0208-1-HDR.jpg

There are two points of interest on the Pontsticill Reservoir, each giving a different perspective, but for me one is more accessible than the other, as the one is used by canoes and other boating activities. But the other point where this image was taken, has a high wall, that makes it impossible for me to see over from being sat in my chair, but has more of an interest point to the reservoir. This is where the use of a drone allows me to see over the wall and gives me a better perspective of whats possible.

When I looked at the Google Earth, I could see the water funnel and small tower at the end of the walkway that runs across. I’m guessing that the funnel is connected to the water pump house thats on the other side of the road, but not sure if its still in use. Since my visit was at the end of one of the hottest summers on record, the water level is low, and so the funnel lays bare as well as the cobbled stone work that surrounds the funnel.

I’ve seen many images of the funnel and its tower taken from the wall of the reservoir, but only one from above, taken by Photographer Matt Thomas, who also uses a drone in his photography, but he got lucky with the water level high and so gets a totally different image.

Drones have a time scale of how long they can stay in the air, as some its only 20/25 minutes per a battery like with the current DJI Mavic Air that I have, but the latest DJI drone has a time scale of 30 minutes. It’s a bit like working with the golden hour of a sunset or sunrise, you have to look and and see what you can make of an image within that time scale, with some of the best taken right at the last minute.

The great thing about a drone is that they use a 3-axis gimbal, which means your image you capture is not going to have any camera shake, even with a gust of wind. And they can be manoeuvre with such precision, that it allows you to move with small movements, but also turn around to different angles, not something you can easily do with a normal camera.

This image was more about lining up over the top of the funnel to capture the lines. It’s not till I got to post edited it, that I saw what lines and curves the whole image has, and it reminds me of an owls eye, as their large and have this kind of strong brow above the eye. Yes I did a bit of cropping to the image, but thats about it. But the main thing is I couldn’t got this image any other way than with a drone. Without it, you would have to have some sort of scaffolding above the funnel to get the shot, how expensive would have that been. Drones are just another tool and in the photographers bag, that are small and only takes minutes to setup and get in the air, probably quicker that setting a camera up on a tripod. 

The drone is not a replacement, like some think the mobile phone camera could be. It just allows you to get above your subject and come up with exciting images, that you didn’t know you could achieve.

Drones are flying objects, and you need to know how to control a drone, which does take time and flight time to learn how to fly a drone safely. Sometimes because of interference, drones can become disconnected from your video feed or from the controller. This can be scary when it first happens to you, but if you’ve done your preflight checks, and you have a drone that uses GPS, then it should return back to you, and at some point it will reconnect to the controller and video feed.

The are laws and regulations that you must follow that are set out by the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) and governed by parliament. Today there are till those that flout the law, and post video of flights that break theses regulations. 

This is sadly doing harm to the drone pilots that have spent a lot of money on drones and do follow the code. In 2019 new regulations will come into effect, but we don’t know how this will effect those that use drones for personal use. At the moment is advisable to follow the code, have public liability insurance and make sure you are not in a regulated airspace.

Drones are allowing new photographers and videographers to make amazing photos and videos, and its bringing new art to the world of photography, it would be a shame if drones are stamped out or made harder to have and enjoy. We can only hope that the consultation thats taken place over this year will be in favour of those that have skills and follow the regulations to carry on to doing their art in the world of photography and videography.

The Bristol Landscape

I've lived in Bristol for over 30yrs now, and its only through my photography that I've found the true beauty that the city holds. We live such busy lives at times, that we don't see what truly beautiful sites we have around us. 

The city has seen much change over the time that I've spent here, some for the good of the city, some which a few think has been a waste of money. Our park and commons, are a few of the places, which has survived and is cared for by the city. 


Frenchay Common.

Frenchay Common.

The common sits on the edge North East Bristol. The road that runs along the edge of the common, use to have Frenchay hospital on the other side, by the design of the old buildings, the hospital was originally a US hospital during 1942 that sits in the grounds of a Georgian Estate, which started life as a tuberculosis hospital (Frenchay Park Sanatorium) in 1921 and then was handed over to the Bristol Corporation in 1931. Before the hospital closed in 2014, it was one of the major brain injury hospitals in the UK that covered the South West. I myself had a number operations carried out at the hospital and it was great to get out of the ward and go to the cricket pitch that sat alongside the road with the common on the other side. The cricket pitch was often used for as a helipad for urgent medical care, and I would be amazed at these helicopters landing and taking off.

The common sits proudly in front of Frenchay Parish Church, also known as St John the Baptist, which in its graveyard holds the graves of servicemen of WWI and 6 of WWII. It has a beautiful cross with Chris at the side of the church and sits in the grounds with beautiful trees of different descriptions. 

DJI_0065.jpg

I've photographed the church a few times, but you have to arrive early in the morning to have the small carpark empty that sits by its side, and also has a school alongside it.

With the drone, your able to fully appreciate the common and church and its surrounding buildings. It obviously was a wealthy area to live in, by the design of the huge houses around the common, but it's a natural beauty of the place that has been kept, yet the hospital has now been taken away and lays bare for new housing to sit on its site. 

Blaise Castle Estate.

Blaise Castle sits on the site of the Blaise Castle Estate which has its mansion house sat at the end of the estate. The folly castle is grade II listed, and the word 'folly' transcends to the range of garden ornaments usually associated with the class of buildings to which it belongs, so it shows it was an extravagant addition to the estate that sits high on a hill of the grounds, which looks over the Bristol Channel with Wales in the distance. It has rich woodlands and a small lake in the valley, that attracts locals for walks and picnics and a great location for photography.

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I've only been able in the pass to photograph the house and woodland from a distance, and the gradient of the paths leading to the castle and woodland is too much for me in my chair.

Thankfully, the park estate allows flying of drones and small remote control plane, so I took up the opportunity to go one early morning before sunrise to capture the landscape, castle and woodland.

The Drone has not taken over my photography, even though I have done more with it than my camera of late, but it allows me to put a new view on theses places that has been photographed so many times, but not from above so much. You can make technology your friend instead of your enemy, and use it as part of your tool kit. Confidence in flying is something you have to learn first, before you take to the camera aspect of the drone. 

Drones are becoming a big part of technology and has so many uses, which are being used by the emergency services and search and rescue as one aspect, to budding film makers in combination with normal cameras with both producing 4K video. Photographer's like me, are seeing the potential of drones, but with so many in use, there is the worry of the skies being filled too much with them. Sadly drones have been used for criminal purposes and this has made authorities look at who and how drones are used. They can be dangerous in the wrong hands, as some try to fly straight out of the box without looking are the regulations that have been set out. This might lead to extra cost to fly drones or use them from a hobby point of view, rather than from a commercial use that cost to get on top of the cost the drones, which are not cheap for a descent one. But till then I will carry on using my drone and have a bucket list of places that I want to visit and photograph.

To see some images taken click Here.

To see videography taken click Here.

Through The Lens - Part 4

Street Photography.

 

Street photography was something I was doing when I first got my first camera. I would go along East Street, Bedminster, Bristol, UK, looking for interesting people and things to photograph, its fare to say back then I would just be clicking away at anyone or anything, without thought of why I was photographing. 

Street Photography comes in different formats for me. Obejects and places can look so different in the light or shadows that occur on the day, reflections can be stunning, but you have to look deeper into the surroundings to find something unique. Theses days, I can travel along a street without my camera out of its bag, and I just stop and and observe. To me this is a huge part of street photography in observing, you see a reflection and look deeper, you start to see other things that you only notice if you observe for a time in detail. Same can be said of an object, if you look pass it to see the shadows and where they fall, or the light reflecting, looking from below or above, can make the object seem more relevant.

When we talk about the observer in photography, normally we are talking about the person looking at the image we’ve taken, but in street photography, the photographer becomes the observer in the  first instance. Its whole new way of viewing, letting time stand still and focusing on whats around you in more detail.

Street photography and people, works in the same way by observing. We are all different and have unique things about us. We all for the most part dress differently, some in more outrageous ways than the norm. We don't just dress different, we style our face, hair, skin, we wear jewellery, which penetrates our skin, like war paint we have ink engraved with the paws of our skin, all of this to be different and not fit the mould of ordinary. 

When we are alone within the confines of the street, we are constantly thinking about things, holding objects in a certain way, etc. that makes our mannerisms independent of each other. From a photographers point of few, theses are all things that makes them watch people and see how they fit within the surrounds, that make for a good street image. 

Street photographers have to be able to see things before they happen, with the hope that the person they are following is going to so something extraordinary that will make a good street image. It takes time and patients and some days you can get nothing, while others you can get many good images. Different seasons of the year, also make images more interesting from one season to another.

When it comes to editing, a photographer has the choice like any other to make it colour or black and white. Some will say that in black and white, you can cut out all thats not of importance and captivate the viewer to the central character or object, I think this can be true as I look at images and see them in black and white in my mind, I find that a lot of my work is seen in versions in my mind before I take the image. It comes back to vision, vision of the subconscious part of my mind.

I love street photography, but find I have to be in the right frame of mind to go out and do it. Building oneself up, saves a wasted of a day and hours observing and coming away with nothing because I don't have the feel for the job, a bit like writers block but from a photographers point of view.

 

 The Dollhouse In A Street.

The Dollhouse In A Street.

The Dollhouse Reflection.

This image is one of my favourite of Bedminster. I was in the right place, on the right day and time. Looking into the shop window, I saw the dollhouse, but then I looked pass and began to see the street behind me become part of the dollhouse. I move myself from one angle to another to see how the dollhouse fitted within the shopwindow reflection. 

It was a one off moment as the dollhouse has been removed from the shopwindow the next time I visited the street. I don't believe it would work in black and white as it needs the colour of the street and dollhouse to connect with each other. It was a moment, that can never be replicated and makes it for a one off, which gives it meaning now.

Through The Lens - Part 3

Learning

For those that get the idea, they want to learn about photography, do it because they want to make it better, or expand the idea into a business, something which people have a number of avenues to go down.

 

The Camera Club

It’s fare to say I don’t know much about camera clubs, and would be unjust to pass judgement, but they can be a good starting point, if you like the idea of meeting likeminded people and there is no critical side to learning photography. People are a good source to ask questions of, but you need to ask the same question of many to see if the answers are the same, if not then it can be confusing to which to point of view to go with. Photographers will admit they have strong points and weak ones, but some might not acknowledge this, as they been doing it a long time and believe they are right, that can be said of anyone, and not just belonging to a club. For the most part you need some sort of camera, and if your looking to get a camera, you can be pushed into a corner because many will use the same make and model, which doesn’t mean thats the best for you.

The Course.

You can go onto the web and find courses of all types from one day, a number of weeks to part-time and full-time degree courses. The one day or more courses normally only cover a certain aspect from beginner mode and teaches you the basics of a camera, which you would fine within the manual, but find it better being hands-on, but they may offer another course to move up on, which can be expensive way to learn. 

The college of University course, can be done as part-time or full-time depending on your circumstances. But theses courses can be set to news or sports photography, which is photojournalism and maybe what your looking for. Or a course in professional photography, that covers al types of photography and historical attributes that are part of the course. This will lead to learning the pass and and now of photography and give you the openness for you decide where you want your photography to go in the end.

It is structured, but you don't need to have your own camera for the most part as these types of course have full equipment to use and borrow. This is great as it gives you the opportunity to try gear you might not thought of, as well as learning old school large format, medium format, 35mm film and digital and medium format digital. The course will cover location as well as studio based and photo editing.

Ive spoken more about this, because this was the way in with my photography and how I learned and eventually adapted to what I do now.

My Time At Uni

The course I chose was based in my home city and was part-time, which suited my needs. The course was done at a local college but was part of Plymouth University but done at college level. This was great because those that know the difference between college and Uni, know that for Uni you are left to your own devices, where as college has more support, which for me having slight dyslexia did help when it came doing a research paper, otherwise I would failed that part.

 

Being wheelchair bound did bring up some challenges for the course, college and me, but we worked together to make the ability to do things possible. 

 

The course was great for me, even though at times I felt I loss my way, but exploring the different avenues of photography, gave me vision, ability, focus. I came a way, not just knowing the ability of my camera and other equipment thats now part of my gear, but the future of where I wanted to take my photography. It open my eyes wider than the lens, towards the end I knew why I saw things in a detail that made an image to me. It gave me the tools, experience of those tools, to know where I was going at the end of the course, without, I would of been lost and probably had given up the idea of a photographer.

 

The idea of having a degree, for someone that didn’t do well at school all those years ago, does make you feel good, and to pass with a merit, meant I had done better than good, and something that I'm extremely proud of. I did have low points because of my health, but the support of the college and the mainly the tutors and staff, helped me to keep the focus and pushed me to learn more than what was called for in just a pass. I'm very grateful to them. In my home, my degree certificate sits proudly framed next to one of my portraits, which was part of my final pieces of work for the end of the course. It reminds me why do what do, and gives me strength when health pushes back.

 My Degree Certificate.

My Degree Certificate.

Through The Lens - Part 2

Remembering The First Few Months

When you go out to get an SLR or DSLR, you have some knowledge of what theses cameras are about. For many, start out with a lens kit, its a way the retailers can get you hooked up with a camera body and lens to start out with. 

I had done a lot of research by reading forums, reviews and watching YouTube videos. When you look at whats out there, certain names comes to the forefront like Canon and Nikon. But at the time I had read about Sony mirrorless camera and sort of grabbed my attention, it was an all new design, and today Sony Mirrorless cameras are only just been replicated by the likes Nikon and Canon, as they see the advantages.

So my first real camera was the Sony A65 with a 18-55mm lens, this was my starting point in my photography. If I was truthful, I had no idea what to photograph, but I found that looking through the lens I could see the world differently. My first outing was down to the docks in the city centre of Bristol, and I would go along the waterside and photograph wide across the river, the dockside cranes, the boats, all the usual kind of stuff. But I read about the different modes like aperture, shutter, auto modes and for most would say stick with aperture mode, which I did for sometime. Aperture is great for during the day, but as you get into the evening the shutter speed at f8 and above gave a slower shutter speed so my images became blurred and just looked awful.

Then I looked at the manual mode, the option that allows to change all the setting to help bring out the image you were looking for. 

The first few months was about learning about the camera, and as I learned the images became more normal to a degree, but they were still not perfect. But the more I looked through the viewfinder the world became almost microscopic in detail, I began to see light and shadows, colour and detail, angles that made things become objects of interest. Then I began to see people, their faces with lines and age, colour and texture of cloths, hair that whispered in the wind, everything was becoming magnified in my vision.

Showing images I had taken, to the world of social media, is a big thing that can make or break you. Having people you don't know say something negative about your image that you are so proud of, and saying you’ve made mistakes in the way you’ve taken it, or how you’ve edited can be crushing, as there is always someone that knows better, because of experience, but if its done in a positive way that makes you look at what their saying, can make you want to do better next time.

 One of HDR images, I need to go back there are re-photograph this place.

One of HDR images, I need to go back there are re-photograph this place.

When I got my camera, HDR was the new in thing, and software was available to explore doing HDR images. At the time I thought HDR was cool looking, but when I look back and see how over baked my images were, it almost feels embarrassing to look at.

I guess at that point, I had lost my way to what I was initially seeing that was paramount to making good photos. People on social media that I had grown to know became social media friends, they were just names with avatars, where polite about my photos and encouraging, but I didn’t really know them, I saw their work and was inspired by many of them.

It hadn’t been a year yet since I had my camera, but one day I guess I woke-up and thought if I was to carry on taking photos, I needed to learn properly what I was doing and what possibilities were out there for me to get better and where I could take my photography. So I embarked on a FDA course in photography that would give a degree at the end of it, and hopefully make me a better photographer and use that vision that I first saw through the lens to make me better and  images that others would love to view.

Through The Lens - Part 1

Photography in the manual side of things is having a camera, with a lens attached, choosing some settings that suits your need of what you see through the viewfinder and pressing a button, then you have a copy of what you saw through the viewfinder. It’s as simple as that with the manual side  of the machine thats made up of things made by man and constructed together to make the device we call a camera, but how did someone work out that all theses things would make something that millions would use to capture a moment for themselves, or as part of their business and become established for there images? ‘Vision’.

Over centuries, people have had the vision to see pass the paintbrush, to figure out with many obstacles how to capture a scene and put it onto glass and then, to paper, to film and to digitally make an image thats based on 0’s and 1’s, which is the bases of computers that we know to today. All have had a vision of photography as the end product to make images. 

The image, is not defined by anything, its not singular, its not based around any form and can even reach outside our own planet, solar system and near into space itself. But it’s the vision of each of us on how we see things, its an individual thing based on how we think about something that makes sense to us firstly, which we then try to then get others to see same way we do. For the most part, the viewer sees lines, textures, colours, shadow and light, motion, things that they relate to, but its a snippet of the original scene that the photographer has controlled within the space that is limit by the lens and camera used in the first instance.

The thing is today, everyone can take a photo, and to them its a good image, if not then they can hit delete and retake, but the retake has to be better than what has just passed and deleted, and is the vision of what they see that has to be better. Vision is everything in an image.

The Selfie.

The word selfie hasn’t actually been around that long, it was first recorded back in 2001 when a group of Australians created a website and uploaded the first digital self portrait onto the internet, and then on the 13th of September 2002, the first recorded published use of the term “selfie” to describe a self portrait photograph occurred on the Australian Internet forum (ABC Online). The word selfie was crowned Oxford Dictionaries’ Word of the Year in 2013. 

 

This word, this idea of the image, has allowed companies to form or utilise the word and idea of the selfie, to have smartphones to have forward facing cameras to take selfies, social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Pinterest and LinkedIn just to name a few. The selfie is probably the most taken image around the whole world, and there are those that have made their fortune by selling the idea of how best to take a selfie, and actually uploading the selfies numerous amounts of times per a day, that makes them extremely influential in the social media platform. Some have even had exhibitions laid on to show off their work.

Some in the world of photography, would not call this photography, but then when photography first began there were those that thought photography had no place in the world of art or exhibitions around the world.

In less than 20yrs, there has been this explosion of images in the billions or more that has taken the world by storm in photography, and is seen as part of photography that is excepted as photography to many, yet the vision is of oneself or with a small group of other people expanded by the selfie stick, because of the maximum distance one can hold the device away from themselves to capture the image. Some have taken to push the boundaries of the selfie by way of a mirror, as bizarre as it may seem for one to photograph themselves taking a selfie, the new dawn of the selfie it may be.

The selfie is a moment in ones life, which can be spontaneous or critically made with thought of the background as way to show “I was here” moment. A snapshot that put together with hundreds if not thousands, tells the story of ones life, day by day, hour by hour. A celebration for that person that documents in a way that photography was really never thought of to be used in this way.

The popularity of the selfie is not for everyone, as the younger generation are the ones from 2001 have grown up with the introduction of the self portrait image.

As I look back at my own history of images, it was my parents or other family members that had taken images of me as I grew up, with less and less as I got older, maybe because my parents were not into photography in such a big way unlike other people I know, which are of the same age as me. It seems a bit hit and miss to how much of your childhood is captured by others. I have just a couple of images of me as a baby, yet today I see my children taking photos of their children at least once a day if not more. There seems to be an importance to photograph our family and the moments that document their lives that they can look back on, in such fine detail, which can be of the morning, afternoon and evening of each day, from the day they were born. To me this is fascinating because its a form of photography that has no care about the how, where, light, shadow, depth of field, composition to the image, just that its taken in that moment to document a life as it grows and grows, to only look back on as a vision of that moment. Being the vision of oneself or as a member of something like a family or group.

Landscape with the use of a drone.

My photography isn’t that straight forward and people know me understand, but see that it doesn’t hold me back. I’ve been in a wheelchair since 1995, but I’ve never seen myself as one that won’t push the abilities of being in a chair, and my photography has also been about pushing the abilities.

Landscape with a camera.

Living in the UK, we have some amazing landscapes, from right on the doorstep of Somerset, the beauty of the Cotswolds, and the breath taking views of the Brecon’s and Snowdonia, which are all within a days drive from Bristol.

But I can only capture scenes from afar, flat ground or the roadside. Even though most of my landscape is taking from these positions, I try to make them as original as possible. What I mean by that, is the viewer wouldn’t know where they were taken from.

But I’ve always seen places, photographs by others that have climb hills, mountains or places that from a chair are just out reach, this is frustrating, to say the least. 

Chew Magna Lake.

The lake or reservoir is a beautiful spot just outside my city of Bristol, about 20 minutes or there about’s. it use for sailing, fishing and has many different types of wildfowl. One spot along the side of the lake has a wonderful tea rooms and climbing centre for the kids, that pulls people from the city to the lake for a cream tea. 

At the other end of the lake is a roadside lay-by that many bird watchers park up to get out the binoculars out or the long lens cameras to watch and photograph the wildfowl. On sunrise, the sun rises across the lake and I’ve photographed it many times with the mist just sitting on the water from this very spot.

Getting a Drone.

The last couple of years, I’ve seen more and more people taking images or film with the use of a drone. After doing lots of research, looking at images captured with a drone as well as film, I can see the potential for my own photography to take me to new heights without having to climb myself.

The price is something I did consider as some of the top end drones are into the thousands, but there has been a new bread of affordable drones for under a thousand pounds that have the capacity to capture quality images and 4K video. 

One of the top drone manufactures, DJI has tried to reach not just the professionals, but those’s that do it as hobby or for photographers to get into drone photography at a reasonable price. Some may say a thousand pounds is still a lot, and yes it is, but what you get is good and safe quality drones that are easy to learn to fly and can be used for those moments when a normal camera, just quite get there. Of course for me landscape is a love, where my portraiture work is my main work in the studio.

DJI builds in sensors that can detect obstacles and go round them, GPS for spot on navigation, wifi controllers, Sony sensor cameras as well as Hasselblad lenses, batteries with over 20 minutes of fly time, and app that runs and controls the drones with features that let you know how much battery you have left and the ability to bring your drone back to where you took off and land within a foot of that original place of flight. To me this is amazing with powerful and quality features that are packed into these small drones that you can stick in a backpack and take up very little space.

The Law.

Over the years with drones becoming affordable and sometimes really cheap and what many would call useless, and many people using drones in a dangerous way, has lead to laws on the use of drones become what some would call extreme and punching out the hobby flyer. There has been well document cases of people flying drones near airports to film plains landing and causing very close calls of damage to aircraft that could lead to plain crashes. Flying drones extreme heights in places where airforce training takes place with close missy’s. drones that so cheap that they end up flying away and out of control into crowded areas, all these kind of events has meant a crack down on where and who can fly where.

Drones are in the main air space as any other aircraft, man or unmanned. So the National Air Traffic and Civil Aviation Authorities have had to right rules for the use of drones and come up with a license for commercial drone pilots that film, survey or photograph as part of a business, that requires training and licensing. This is not cheap with training starting at £500 - £1,000 and license £285 first year and £175 every year after. If your doing as a business then it’s worth the investment, but then your going to want the high-end drones to do the work. As a hobby, there are still strict guidelines and each flight has to be registered with the NAT, but if you stick to them, you can still have a lot fo fun and get some great images, even though 2019 might see some new laws brought in as more and more people get drones, means the sky’s are going to get fill even more.

I’m not a commercial drone pilot or do I need to be for what I do, which is for myself, but I’m happy to put the images up on my website to show what I can do.

A New Perspective.

There is a great difference from photographing from the ground to photographing from above, the is a view that neither one can replicate and makes them unique. Photographing the lake from above shows the reflections of the sky on the water, which is amazing and just couldn’t be shown from the a ground shot, so they both had there perspective of the same scene, but from different angles. This allows to make maybe 30m from the place my chair will only take me and above or maybe just a couple feet from the ground. This my reason for getting a drone and allows me to look towards film as a videographer, that I never thought of. Maybe one day if I have to, then I might look to become a commercial drone pilot, but at the moment my work doesn’t call for it, and by then there probably too many of them all fighting for a share of the market, who knows.

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From the side of lake.

This is an image I took back in 2015 from the same spot I took a still image from the drone.  It’s kind of ok, not my best work but gives a view that you can get from this one spot.

 

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Still Image from drone.

This is the same spot but has a much different perspective of the lake and land, which I feel has more to the image. Just been from a birds point of view, see the lake and land in a much more realistic view.

 

Chew Valley Lake Movie.

This is a six minute movie I made with the drone, and I just love the colours of the clouds reflecting off the water and you move from one point to another, you see the clouds stand still. I can see why people look to using a drone to capture a scene, either in an image or as a film, its quite breath taking to me, and gives me the ability to be somewhere I can’t get to any other way.

Early morning over Chew Valley Lake - taken with DJI Mavic Air

Women With Child

A dear friend, Tammy (Tammy Jaqueline Snipe) who does modelling and becoming an accomplished photographer, was a couple of months away from having her second child, that I now know is a girl, decided to sit for me.

I wanted to do something different from the norm of a women with baby bump, and so we talked at length about how we would go about it. Tammy has great deal of knowledge of being in a studio and what can be achieved. We looked at clothing, style, accessories, backdrop and lighting.

Tammy is one that likes to change her hair style and colour, and so when we first spoke I asked what colour hair she had this month? “Purple” was the answer that came back, and I thought this is going to make a cool shoot.

For inspiration, I always find it useful to look at Pinterest for looks and styles and I came across an image where the model was wearing a tiara, and so I asked Tammy if she would consider wearing one, this would give a chance for some headshots which could look interesting. The tiara theme lead Tammy to digging out a long blue gown and had some material that looked like mesh that we could use in the shoot. I had used eBay to find a tiara that looked blingy and was cheap enough for the shoot and had sent Tammy photos to make sure she was happy with it. For most of my studio work, I use a grey backdrop. Black can look over powering and colours that are dark can get lost in the shot, and white can be to cold unless you want the subject to be defined in detail, so grey is more of a neutral colour to work with.

My studio is what many would call a popup studio as I work from home and we have a large kitchen thats perfect for portrait work, and is surprising how much equipment I can setup which includes a boom. I work with one or two lights at a time in a shoot and use an array of different softboxes or bar doors. My setup is tethering my camera to my MacBook and using PhaseOne Capture One. I can’t use Lightroom like most because I use Sony A99II which I recently upgrade from version one, the great thing about Capture One is that I can setup a wifi connection between the MacBook and my iPad Pro so I and the model can see the images in realtime in almost A4 size as they are taken. Once the shoot is done, then I import the images into Lightroom and work between that and Photoshop in my  post editing.

 image taken with the use of a boom arm with soft box attached.

image taken with the use of a boom arm with soft box attached.

Headshots

For theses shots I used my boom and Tammy kindly sat on the floor so I could get shots from almost looking from above, not easy from a wheelchair point of view, but it shows that I can’t be held back. I like getting the The Rembrandt Triangle on the face (if you dont know what this is you can look it up) as its beautiful soft shadow on the face. Tammy makes it look the part, but when working with someone, you have to build that communication and trust. As the images begin to take shape, I look at the fine detail, how the hair sits, the hand and fingers in the right place. I feel its the fine detail that’s important in an image and not just knocking of shot after shot, the most I will take in a shoot is maybe 100, and this is down to being able to see the image in a large format on a screen. Its hard to take a shot and then try and show the sitter the image on a small screen on the back of the camera.

 I actually had to get on the floor to get the right angle on the shot.

I actually had to get on the floor to get the right angle on the shot.

The baby bump

I had thought about how soft I wanted the final look to have and so I used a small table and large candle to be just in front of Tammy to be part of the image. It’s a classical look to a baby still in the womb and a candle lit for the child, bring mother and baby close together in thought and touch.

When using a table in front of the sitter, you can end up looking to much over the table as if you are pointing the camera at the table, you then get this odd circle that doesn’t fit the whole image. So you have to get down to the point that the table top looks more flatter and a realistic view, while not looking up at the sitter, so you have to be set back at that right distance for the shot to come together, you can only do this by looking through the viewfinder.

I wanted the images to look so the mother is at one with the child she carry’s, so having the hands hold the bump in a certain way was so important as well as looking at the candle light in thought of love and feeling.

At the end of the shoot, Tammy and I looked through the images and I know she was happy and so was I. It’s great when an idea comes to you that the sitter understands just as well, its like an emotional experience thats between you and the sitter comes together to make something from the things that you put together in thought. The editing is so much easier to do when you have the camera and lighting setup correctly.

This is what I love about portraiture, you find the sole and emotion in the sitter that defines the image you generate together, its a partnership built on the thought process put together be both of you.

Drone Photography

Photography over the years have seen many changes, mirrorless cameras, mobile phones with not one but two lenses, and maybe more recently drones.

The drone has come along way from being just a thing that you can fly around that has propellers and does short flights of 6 minutes or so. They have come to be so sophisticated, there used by industries to survey, fire brigade for detection, police for surveillance, television and film production companies to give new angles to shots, but know the photographer can take their images to whole new level.

The top end drones allow for real cameras to be added, but then your looking at a lot of weight and other problems I will mention later. But there is one company thats made drones with small yet quality cameras, which are fitted with a 3-axis gimbal for real stabilisation, and all at a price that makes it affordable for all who are a novice or photographers, videographers. 

DJI have been at the forefront of this type of drone, with the DJI Phantom, Pro and Mavic Air, and recently just brought out the all new Pro 2 with two types to choose from, one with Hasselblad and a zoom version.

 

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I’ve recently just got myself the DJI Mavic Air that came as a combo, with three batteries, six sets of blades. This small drone packs a load, that makes

RAW/JPEG images at 12MP

4K video and up to 125FPS 

Sony 1/2.3” sensor

ISO 100-3200

shutter 8-1/8000s

auto bracketing 3/5

burst shooting 3/5/7 frames

HDR

auto or manual mode. 

That to me is a lot for such a small camera, which is all controlled from an app thats can be on a phone, tablet or DJI CrystalSky monitor that connects to the controller.

The drone itself can fly on one charge for nearly 30 minutes, so having three batteries, you’ve got an hour and half flying time on one shoot. It’s also packed with GPS and Wifi with a clear signal thats never lost. 

But like all good things, there are downsides, and this isn’t down to the drone, but regulations. Over the last couple of years, more and more people have taken to getting a drone, but don’t realise that there are rules that come under the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority). Certain people go out by a drone and start flying it anywhere and everywhere, there have been cases reported of drones being flown near airports and putting planes and people in danger. They also been used for getting dugs into prisons and flying with danger to people. This has lead to strict legislation and no fly zones that are getting tighter and tighter by the year.

The thing is with a drone, a person is in control of it, just like a car, and if you don’t take time to learn how to fly in a safe place, your a danger to others. To regulations at the moment stand as follows.

Fly no higher than 400ft

Stay away from people and property at least 150ft

Maximum distance 500m

Some restrictions can be overcome if you decide to become a commercial drone pilot, but this cost for training from £500-£1,000, a license from the CAA first year is around £270 and then every year onwards £170. This is ok if you are flying as for a business doing surveys or paid to film or photograph places or buildings. And currently the authorities are looking at other regulations for hobby pilots and this might be taking an online test to show that your competent drone pilot, and to have public liability insurance.

These’s restrictions are hurting people from having fun, but people that take drone flying seriously, already have insurance and are responsible people, and it would be good to see some restrictions lifted if they meet a certain criteria. If there is blanket ban and all have to have a CAA license, its going to hurt manufacturers of these drones design in mind for the hobby person.

Since the drones have GPS built-in, DJI and NATS (National Air Traffic Control Services) who control the airspace have come up with apps that allows drone pilots to view restricted areas and register their flights. This is important part to the future of drones, which show drone pilots are staying in the safe zones and registering their flight plans, but this platform only allows to the basics, where the DJI app actually records your flight and gives detail of realtime footage. What needs to happen is both parts need to come together with DJI and other manufacturers with NATS to come up with an app the covers all, then there can be no breaking of rules or if they are they can be seen and used to deal with the incident.

All this might seem off putting, but for me and my situation of being in a wheelchair, gives me an extension of my landscape photography. When I do research for shoots, its all about access, can I get to the area and the precise point in my wheelchair. There are so many times that I get frustrated because I can’t there. Having a drone is an extension for me to reach places, and come up with images that have a different angle of view.

My view on the drone law is this. I believe that the UK trading standards should crack down on the type of drones sold, if they are for speed flying, have a license that’s affordable for them, for drones flying high and longer distance should have gps and the safety features like DJI have, have an age restriction, should use flight plan apps, do an online test with NATS or CAA to get a license at a smaller fee if any and have an age restriction.

Why I feel theses things should happen.

It means that people that look to purchase a drone, know what is expected of them, understand beforehand why they want to get a drone and what they can do with it. If they criteria was reached then some of the restrictions should be lifted by the CAA. It’s a small percentage of people that mess it up, and they do it with cheap drones bought off places like eBay from sellers abroad. 

As it stands, it there is a place I’m interested in, and its own by some authority, then I contact them to see if they will allow me to photograph with a drone, its places run by English or Welsh Heritage make it more problematic to use a drone, but if you go by the CAA guidelines then if you are taking off from outside the property and over 150ft above property, then you are within the right to fly, but I would advise to ask permission first as it can always help.

I’m still very new to flying a drone and have some practice flights, but soon I will be starting out on my list of places to go to, and really excited on what I might be able to achieve. There are some great groups of Facebook like Drone Flyers UK and forums like DronePilots thats full of information for those that are thinking of getting a drone or just bought one.

Portrait Image - What It Means To Me

Photographing people, isn’t just sitting someone down in front of a camera and taking hundreds of shots, not to me it isn’t.

People I meet for the first time when they come to the studio, get offered a drink and then just sit and chat for a while. Finding out about people gives an insight into what they do, where they come from, what their views are and what their looking for. Doing this makes studio canvas come alive with them in it, with thought on what’s been spoken about and carry’s on through the shoot.

Emotion is everything and comes through when you communicate and gets driven into the image thats created. You have to look at the person, and look into their eyes, because the eyes are everything to expression. My camera technique is “push button focus’, I focus the camera on the eyes and then move the camera to make the composition, that way I know the eyes are sharp in every image. 
They say the eyes are the window to ones soul, they don’t lie and tell how the person is feeling, whether they are happy or sad, angry or just frustrated, they are everything and anything.

It took me some time to working this out. I looked at old work and recent work, and every time, what I see the most is the eyes. I can see where my mistakes were and what made them bad images, most of it was the fact that the eyes wasn’t in focus and ruined the image. Back at the beginning I was a thinking of lighting and composition, and taking loads of images that many just looked the same. I ask myself why did I do that? I wasn’t recognising what was going wrong I was just taking shots and hoping something would look good. 
Then one day I did a shoot as part of my degree and in my final year of uni. We had 15 minutes to get to know the person and take portrait images they would end up using as part of their portfolio.

They were drama students and looked to us to capture the essence of them that would tell their story of why they want to become actors. Each student was paired up with two photographers to photograph them within time limit. I was the second photographer to photograph this guy, and I asked the other photographer to show me quickly what they had done with them, why, because I didn’t want to do the same shots. All we had was one soft box to work with, and it was down to us to decide on lens and shots to be taken. 
This drama student, was black and had his hair short and a little bit of stubble on the chin, but he had theses amazing bright eyes. I decided on a 35mm prime lens and asked him to look into the reflector and look slightly upwards, and took the shot. I looked on the back of the camera and I loved it, then I showed the student. He said “you have captured everything that is about me in one shot”. From that moment I understood what he meant, I had captured his soul.

Portraiture is a kind of art for me, its thinking what can be achieved, which for the most part is the person and for them to see something in it, which they can related to. There are some amazing portrait photographers out there who have their unique style, its hard to fine your own, but if you think about the face, the look, the style and end image, before you meet the person, then your not wasting time and effort.