Author: James Pinder

As photographers, when we walk through our local communities we’re often scouting the landscape around us for good picture opportunities… but how often do we ever look up? Buildings can be great subjects for striking images, and at this time of year when the sun is getting lower in the sky you have a great opportunity to capture the shape and form of architecture and present it in a way most people might not have seen.

 

1. When to shoot architecture

Buildings often look their best just after sunset, when their lights have come on and the sky is a rich, deep blue. Likewise, photographing just before sunset you’ll find that the lower light levels will bring out textures, detail and shadows that you won’t find at any other time of day.

Head out in late afternoon as the day is turning into evening and look for a west-facing building. The best subjects are those with crisp, clean lines that will provide clearly defined shapes in your images.

You want something that really makes the most of the low evening light. Cathedrals and other historical buildings always make for great subjects, but these are also oft-photographed subjects. A nice way to create an architectural image with impact is to look for a more modern building that meets the above criteria and think about how you can give it an abstract treatment.

It doesn’t need to be an important building, and you don’t need to travel to London to find it. Often a simple car park or high-rise block of flats will have that futuristic look that you can really hone in on with your camera.

Now that we know what we’re looking for, let’s think about how we can pick out a building’s abstract architectural details and then frame and focus a shot.

 

2. Set a narrow aperture

Like when shooting landscapes, nine times out of ten when shooting architecture you want everything in the frame to be sharp. So to this end you’ll want to use a narrow aperture (high f number). Typically an aperture of f/13 or f/16 will be a good starting point. You’ll find at these apertures a nice compromise between image quality and depth of field.

Architects love detail. And to ensure you capture these, along with a building’s strong lines and shape, you’ll want an aperture that widens your zone of sharpness.

 

3. Look for interesting shapes and detail

Of course, to maximise the effect of those details you need to find them first! Buildings are tall, wide structures and can be overwhelming when you first look at them. Knowing where to focus on takes some investigation.

A good way to train your eye is to look for any areas where there are repetitive shapes or details. These almost always make for interesting subjects when you zoom in to isolate them.

Likewise, strong diagonal lines can add impact to a composition. You can also try tilting your camera to make an image even more abstract. When going for this kind of treatment, make sure you exclude from your composition any elements that may give away the context of the environment.

Sometimes it is admittedly hard to identify these areas of a building or simply know if a composition will work when you’re composing through your viewfinder. That’s why it’s often worth using your live view screen and even taking a few test shots first to judge a composition.

A good exercise is to use your viewfinder to frame.

 

4. Don’t always use a tripod

Most architectural photos are shot with a tripod, particularly if you’re shooting just before or after sunset. But sometimes, if there’s enough light, you can come away with more dynamic images when you take the camera into your own hands.

Shooting handheld gives you the freedom to move around and try out different angles. There are ways you can still keep camera shake at bay even when the light levels are low. For starters, if your camera or lens has image stabilisation, turn it on.

You can also secure the camera better by adopting a wide stance and tucking your arms in to support your camera. Then, as you press the shutter button, take a deep breath to steady yourself; this will help cut down on any body movements during the exposure.

 

5. Use a circular polarising filter

If you only buy one filter for your camera, make sure it’s a circular polariser. When shooting architecture you’re often pointing your camera up, and a good circular polarising filter will deepen the blues in a sky and brighten the whites in clouds.

To get the best results with a circular polariser, shoot with the sun behind or in front of you. In other words, a circular polariser will produce more dramatic effects when you shoot at right angles to the sun.

 

6. Be patient and wait

Unlike skittish wildlife or distracted children, a building doesn’t move. This means you have time to hone your composition and wait for the light to change, or let some clouds blow into your scene. Being patient and carefully crafting your scene will make for a stronger image in the end.

 

7. Be sensible… and carry some ID!

Most architecture you shoot will be in public places, and with the world being what it is now it’s highly likely that someone in a uniform will come question you about what you’re doing.

Nine times out of 10, they’ll say OK and walk away or even take an interest in what you’re shooting. They just want reassurance, so be polite, explain what you’re doing and make sure you have some ID on hand to prove who you really are.

 

Feeling Inspired?

Camera Jabber is the home of digital photography, with in-depth camera reviews, buying guides, news and photography tips to help you master your camera. For more great content on everything photography, click through to Camera Jabber’s website, here.

And to read more of our blog posts, click here.

Looking to take your architectural photography even further? Check out our wide range of tilt-shift lenses available on our website, here.

 

Food is perhaps one of the most versatile still life photography subjects you can shoot thanks to its varying colours, sizes, shapes and textures. But in recent years the popular Pinterest-style straight-above shots have made this exciting genre seem a bit predictable.

While these types of shots can be beautiful and do serve a purpose, there is so much imagination to employ when you play with your food. Making your food stand out and look appetizing should be the overarching goal of your food photography.

If you’re in need of inspiration, something we like to do is crack open a recipe book. These images in these books are typically well composed, with strong colour combinations and subject presentation.

So with that in mind, here’s Camera Jabber’s best advice for capturing food images that really pop.

 

01 Use Aperture Priority mode

Some cameras may come equipped with a Food scene mode, but even so it’s still usually best to stick with your camera’s Aperture Priority mode. Wider apertures, such as f/5.6, f/4.0 or larger, typically produce the most pleasing results when shooting food photography

This is because the wider aperture will soften the background, as well as blurring the foreground, emphasising the food that’s the point of focus in the frame. This makes your food stand out and clearly defines it as the subject.

Even though your background will be blurred with a wide aperture, there are still compositional considerations here, too. You’ll want a crisp, clean background or something that’s connected with the food.

 

02 Even lighting

You’ll want to make sure you that whatever light you are using for your scene hits the food evenly. This will help avoid any deep shadows or harsh highlights.

As a general rule, the narrower the source of light, the more contrast you fill find. So a broader light source that illuminates a wider area with soft light will be the ideal option.

 

03 Custom white balance

Your Auto White Balance option is great in most situations, but if you are shooting food photography in artificial or mixed light you might run into some unwanted colour casts. Setting a Custom white balance will help keep this at bay.

To set a Manual or Custom white balance setting, you will usually – it varies slightly by camera – select the correct mode, photograph a white object (such as a piece of paper) in the same light where you will be shooting your subject. Your camera will then use this as its standard to determine what’s white within your scene.

 

04 Focus manually

Food photography is a good opportunity to step out of your AF comfort zone and switch to manual focusing. Because your subjects are static, you’ll have plenty of time to focus and readjust, getting your shot just right.

Many modern cameras also have what’s called Focus Peaking, to help you nail down that precision focus. With Focus Peaking enables, as you twist the focus ring you’ll notice points illuminate within the frame. These points indicate what is in focus, and as you twist you can see the zone of sharpness travel through the frame. When they surround your subject, you’ll know it is sharp.

Because so much food photography uses a shallow depth of field, pin-sharp focus on your subject is critical. That’s why it’s better to take control in these situations so you can set it exactly where you want, rather than the camera.

05 Best lenses

A 100mm macro lens, if you have one, will be a workhorse for your food photography. Just like the flowers and insects you may use it to shoot, a solid 100mm macro will enable you to get right up close to your subject to capture bags of detail. Macro lenses also have what’s called ‘flat field’ optics, which ensure that the edge of your frame is just as sharp as the centre.

A standard zoom is also really useful in food photography, and is more likely to be in your kit bag than a macro lens. A standard zoom will let you shoot relatively close up and still fit everything in the frame. However, be warned that shooting at the wider end of the focal range can make subjects look a little distorted and unnatural. Standard zooms really shine when used for those overhead shots we mentioned at the beginning.

 

Feeling Inspired?

This blog post was wrote by our friends over at Camera Jabber. Camera jabber is the home of digital photography, with in-depth camera reviews, buying guides, news and photography tips to help you master your camera. For more great content on everything photography, click through to Camera Jabber’s website, here.

 

And to read more of our blog posts, click here.

Why not take a look at our wide range of macro lenses available on our website, here.

The Team Behind Wilki: Liz Jeary, talks us through her unique Fine Art & Experimental approach to photography. Liz Jeary, joined the Wilkinson Cameras team almost two years ago and is a part time sales adviser at Wilki’s city centre store in the heart of Liverpool. We couldn’t wait to catch up with Liz and find out more about her intriguing and experimental photography…

 

You describe yourself as Fine Art & Experimental – how would you explain that to someone who’s not yet seen your photography?

 

I like to play with texture and the surface of images, be it digitally or physically. In recent years, this has been in the form of Photobroderie, which is printing photographs and embroidering through the surface. I have also experimented with printing on different surfaces, such as textured wallpaper – which my partner cites as being his initial reason for being attracted to me. Some people may read it as conceptual, which is true for some of the series, but there is also a lot of more organic projects which are the result of spontaneous experiments rather than planned outcomes.

 

Your work is supremely individual – what are you influences? You mention Kate Bush!

 

Kate Bush is a major influence! She was the first singer I was aware of as a child and her voice and music has stayed with me since. Six-year-old me didn’t understand the complexity of her lyrics, so my imagination always visualised them in a very literal way. This still translates into my images, such as the Suspended in Gaffa series. My vivid imagination also inspires a creative outlet, sometimes with great humour, sometimes with a sadder outlook, which probably describes me as an individual too. People and shapes are also a big influence – I love unusual faces and seeing them in print inspires me to creatively react, also pulling in references from artists using geometric form, such as Piet Mondrian. During research for one of my degree (in Photography) modules I discovered some of his early work and was amazed to find more traditional, detailed paintings. Seeing his progress from these to the lines and colour blocks he is most widely known for, made me see the impact of being more simplified, which I now apply to my work.

 

You seem to have stayed true to your own creative dreams despite encouragement to go more mainstream?

 

There is a stubbornness within me that will not let me deviate from producing work that reflects me as a person. I can be mainstream but there’s a different perspective within and this comes out in my creativity. I also have strong support and encouragement from my partner and mother, they understand that my creativity is a part of me (and also a form of therapy) and reinforce that its OK to do what makes me happy. When I’m not at Wilki, I still work as a self-employed photographer and some jobs are very commercial, but I keep this very separate from my artistic work.

 

You’ve had several very successful exhibitions – how have the public reacted to your work?

 

With intrigue, amusement and confusion! I was invigilating a solo exhibition a couple of years ago and overheard a couple of passers-by. From a distance, one stated look at these stunning pictures, the other responded with its just Photoshop, this probably sums up initial reactions quite well. Although response has always been positive, I think my work should be seen up-close to appreciate what is involved. I have sold a lot of work through exhibitions, and also received various commissions, so it seems to go down quite well overall, although some people find the quirkier images (such as Wednesdays Child – a series of collaged self-portraits) a little hard to digest.

 

Projects in the pipeline? Whats next?

 

I’m currently working on supersizing some work. I usually start off with small prints (6×4) to experiment with and if these turn out well, I will often leave them alone. With a few exhibition opportunities coming up, I’ve decided to go bigger (A4 & A3) to see how it changes the embroidery and the overall effect. Its mostly working out well but is definitely more challenging, in a physical sense. I’m working up the courage to go even bigger – and wishing I had longer arms! Photographically there are always ideas running around my brain, and I like to keep them there until I’ve worked out the logistics of carrying them out.

 

If you could have coffee with any one photographer or artist who would it be and why?

 

Sandy Skoglund, definitely. To me she is the epitome of converting imagination into a creative reality. I love the way in which she uses colour, shape, and form. Her images are very bold and unapologetic and this immediately transports me into her world. I admire her patience too and only wish I had more of this myself. I also enjoy conversing with artists that have unusual methods or concepts – sometimes the attraction is the process and not necessarily the outcome.

 

What would be your dream commission or project, given an open cheque book?

 

Well I’ve always been drawn to fashion – as an art form, not necessarily as a way of dressing – and one of my favourite designers is Qui Hao. Creating images using his designs would be a dream commission, and an open cheque book would allow me to shoot in any location, with a view to being inspired by new experiences, culture and most importantly, textures. If a time-machine was also on offer, Id like to go back to 18th century Japan.

 

What camera kit do you use and whats your one must have accessory?

 

I currently use a Canon EOS 5D Mark III and various lenses. One of the perks of working at Wilkinsons is getting to try out new gear, which also has a downside of my wish list forever expanding! My one must have accessory is a homemade awl –its a Prosecco bottle cork with a needle in it which I use to make holes in my prints for the embroidery.

 

 

To find out more about Liz’s work, visit www.lizjeary.co.uk or you can find her in-store at Wilkinson Cameras, Liverpool.

 

Spring is well in motion, and later this month it will officially be summer. It’s one of the best times of year to be a photographer. The days are growing longer, the sun is shining brighter, the flowers are in bloom, and for those interested in wildlife, the birds are chirping, breeding, flying around and generally at their most active stage of the year.

There is no better time than now in 2017 to photograph birds, but it can also be quite a challenge. Below, our friends over at Camera Jabber share some of their best advice for capturing close-up portraits of birds. They’ll explain some simple techniques for setting up your camera, as well as some must-have kit that can give you every advantage when trying to capture our feathered friends.

 

How to frame head-and-shoulders shots of birds

When you shoot a close-up shot of a bird, it’s best to concentrate on nothing but the bird’s face. Cut out anything unnecessary in the frame and focus on the head, neck and top of the wings.

A head-and-shoulders portrait of a bird typically works best in portrait format, but this isn’t always true. Some species, such as owls, might look best in landscape format. It’s worth experimenting with both to see which looks right.

It’s also worth thinking about whether the bird looks best in profile or staring directly at your camera. Does one angle reveal more plumage or more striking markings?

 

Setting your focus points for bird portraits

As with humans, pin-sharp focus is critical to the success of a bird portrait, so make sure you are focusing on the bird’s eyes. It’s likely that this point – the eyes – will be off-centre in your frame, so you’ll want to choose your AF point wisely.

You’ll want to choose an autofocusing point that helps you maintain your composition without having to move the camera to focus. Then, dial in a mid-range aperture of about f/8. This will help to increase depth of field and ensure that you capture the bird’s whole head in focus while blurring the background just enough to tone it down and make the bird stand out.

 

Shoot in Aperture Priority mode

Your camera’s Aperture Priority exposure mode allows you to set that f/8 aperture we talked about above as your desired aperture, and then it will determine the shutter speed required to achieve that.

Sometimes if the light isn’t strong enough you’ll get a warning – often a flashing display – that a shutter speed at that aperture value isn’t possible. One way around this is to simply increase your ISO setting to a higher value. This does introduce noise to your images, but modern cameras are very good at keeping this at bay, even at sensitivities as high as ISO 6400.

 

Think about your background

When approaching a bird, try to position yourself so that you can line up the bird with a background that will contrast with the bird to help them stand out.

Background colours play a big part in how well an image will work. The key to a good background is that it shouldn’t compete with the bird for your viewer’s attention.

 

Continuous Shooting mode

Most cameras offer a Continuous shooting, or burst, mode, which allows you to take a series of frames in sequence. Whether your camera shoots 3fps (frames per second) or 8fps, this faster drive mode can really help increase your hit rate. A rapid-fire succession of images can increase your chances of capturing a fleeting moment of perfection.

 

Pre-focus on perches

If you’ve set up a perch in your garden to photograph birds as they eat, use this to your advantage. Anytime you know where a bird will land, whether a perch or a branch or some reeds, pre-focus your camera on this spot and then simply wait for them to land and press the shutter.

A good way to do this is to pre-focus with your AF and then lock to manual focus on your lens.

 

Use spot metering

Many times when photographing birds you’ll find that your subject is small and bright against a large dark background, or the opposite if up high: dark against a bright sky.

This can be tricky for your camera to get a meter reading from. Using your default centreweighted metering, for instance, your camera will read all of that dark background and produce an exposure that washes out your subject.

Your spot metering mode allows you to take a meter reading from a small, select area of your frame to ensure that your subject is exposed correctly. Typically the ‘spot’ is assigned to your camera’s active AF point.

Use a telephoto lens

A fast 300mm telephoto, such as the more affordable f/4 or pro-level f/2.8 lenses, gives you a huge advantage to not only get close to your subject but blur out your background to make the bird stand out.

Using these lenses at their widest aperture will also give you a faster shutter speed, which means you can likely avoid having to increase your ISO setting.

 

Feeling Inspired?

Camera Jabber is the home of digital photography, with in-depth camera reviews, buying guides, news and photography tips to help you master your camera. For more great content on everything photography, click through to Camera Jabber’s website, here.

And to read more of our blog posts, click here.

Looking to take your wildlife and bird photography even further? Check out our wide range of telephoto lenses available on our website, here.

 

A photo book is a blank canvas, a place to bring your best ideas to life. When designing your book, the only limit is your imagination.

With nine different book sizes to choose from in the CEWE PHOTOBOOK range, plus a variety of paper options, there’s a book to suit every occasion, every project and every idea.

Here are five of our favourite ways to get creative with a CEWE PHOTOBOOK.

 

Travel journal

Tell the story of a special trip in your very own travel journal. Combine photos from your journey with diary entries of your experiences to create a book that instantly transports you back to that magical place.

Include recommendations of things to see and do in your favourite destination, and if any friends or family want to follow in your footsteps, they can use your book as a handy guide.

You can add as much text as you like to your photo book, including to the front and back cover, on the inside pages, and on top of photos. Type directly into the text box, or copy and paste from a document or web page. You can also change the font, size and colour of your text to complement the style of your book.

 

Family tree

Create a keepsake for every generation to treasure by designing a book of your family tree. However big your family, you can add extra pages to make sure every branch of your tree fits in.

You can include old family photos by scanning or photographing them, and you could even add copies of newspaper cuttings, birth certificates and more using the same method.

Once your family tree book is complete, order extra copies so every member of the family can have their own version. Perfect for sharing with loved ones who live far away, or to give as a unique gift for a special birthday.

 

Portfolio

Artist, photographer, designer: whatever your trade, showcase your best work in a portfolio book. Whether you’re an amateur or a pro, designing a CEWE PHOTOBOOK is the perfect way to show off your handiwork in style.

Choose a clean, simple layout to let your artwork, photos or designs speak for themselves, or add text captions to each piece for reference.

To give your portfolio the look and feel of a professional book, we recommend True Matte paper. Its smooth, shine-free finish is perfect for artwork or black and white photography, and it will add a real touch of luxury to your photo book.

 

Hobby book

From scrapbooking to sewing, hiking to horse riding, whatever your hobby, bring it to life in a photo book. Include photos of you in action practising your favourite pursuit, or use images of your crafty creations to fill the pages.

It’s not just photographs you can add to your book though – you can also include video clips of you enjoying your hobby. Simply upload a clip and a QR code and video still will be generated. Position these anywhere on the page, and when you receive your book, simply scan the code with a QR reader on your phone or tablet to relive those fun moments.

 

Yearbook

Turn the best bits of your year into a book you can look back on and enjoy for many years to come. Whatever you got up to in the last 12 months, from holidays and birthday celebrations, to fun days out and cosy nights in, capture every special moment in a yearbook.

Organise your book by month or season, and customise the pages with themed clip art to match each time of year. Alternatively, give each member of the family their own section of the book so they can share their own favourite photos and memories from the year.

 

Whichever book you choose to make, the Creator Software is designed to make it simple and straightforward to bring your ideas to life. It‘s free to download and compatible with Windows, Mac and Linux. Download it today and start creating a CEWE PHOTOBOOK to be proud of.

 

To start designing your CEWE PHOTOBOOK or to find out more, click here.

 

And to read more of our blog posts, click here.

Do you enjoy hitting the city streets with your camera, but struggle to take images with real impact? There are all sorts of things that can spoil your street photography, from background distractions and unwanted blur to your subject simply being too small within the frame.

Gaining the confidence to take photos of strangers is something you’ll have to find within yourself, but in this tutorial you will find the best camera settings to give you every advantage you need when you’re out on the city streets.

Below, the team at Camera Jabber shows you how to set up your camera for street photography so that you can not only avoid those nagging technical issues that can spoil a great shot, but also give yourself the flexibility to respond to fast-moving situations.

 

#1 Use Program AE mode 

Perhaps the fundamental advantage every street photographer needs is speed. You need to be ready to capture your moment when it happens. Because decisive moments are fleeting, you don’t want to waste this time by fiddling with your camera settings.

So we suggest shooting with your camera’s exposure mode set to Program AE. With your Program AE mode you’ll fine a good balance of shutter speed and aperture, and you can make quick and simple adjustments by rotating the main dial.

In Program mode, your camera sets both the shutter speed and aperture values its thinks are best for the scene. It means you can let your camera do the maths here and allow yourself to focus solely on composition and finding the right moment.

Many DSLRs and  mirrorless cameras support something called Program Shift, which gives you a little control in these situations. This lets you override the camera’s suggested settings, usually by turning a dial and selecting different shutter speed or aperture. As you adjust one parameter, the other changes automatically. You might use this, for instance, if shooting a candid street portrait and want a slightly faster shutter speed to ensure you freeze any movement.

 

#2 Continuous AF

Very few subjects on the street are perfectly static, so unless you’re very lucky or have lightning-quick reflexes, you’re probably going to have to focus and re-compose your subjects several times.

Setting your camera to its continuous focusing mode will allow you to capture moving subjects more quickly.

Likewise, if your camera has a multi-point AF setting, this will also save time and make you less noticeable.

 

#3 Use a shutter speed1/125sec or faster 

Unless you are doing something creative like blurring the movement of a crowd, in most instances you’ll probably want to freeze motion in your street photography.

To this end, you probably want a minimum shutter speed of 1/125sec to ensure that your images are crisp and as sharp as possible.

However, as we all know it’s not always possible to get the minimum shutter speed you want. So in these situations…

 

#4 Dont be afraid to use a high ISO

In the early days of digital photography you wouldn’t want to shoot beyond a sensitivity setting of around ISO 800 – ISO 640, even, on some cameras – for fear of image noise or smudging of colours spoiling an image. But it was probably from around the Nikon D3 that this all started to change.

Cameras these days are now amazingly good at controlling noise at higher sensitivity settings, even those with smaller sensors.

If it’s a dull day and you’re struggling to get a shutter speed fast enough to shoot your scene, a higher ISO might be just what you need to get that extra bit of speed to ensure a crisp image with having to dial in a larger aperture. A word of caution, however, we’d recommend staying within your camera’s standard sensitivity range and not going into the upper expansion range.

 

#5 Use an aperture of around f/5.6

Portrait photographers often shoot at large apertures of f/2.8 in order to blur the background and create a shallow depth of field that isolates focus on their subject.

With street photography, though, it’s a bit trickier. While you want to emphasise your subject within the scene, you also want to retain enough of that scene in focus to give context. You want to tell a story with your street photography, and a background that is completely blurred will detract from that.

So using an aperture of around f/5.6 will soften your background enough to draw our attention to your subject, but still leave signs and shapes recognisable to let us know where this is all taking place.

 

#6 Use Auto White Balance

Like sensitivity settings, white balance is another feature that has only got better over time, and the Auto White Balance setting on modern cameras does a fantastic job at ascertaining the conditions and delivering the correct tones.

Let it do its job! Street photography requires careful attention to everything going on around you. Allowing your AWB to do its job enables you to do yours.

 

Feeling Inspired?

May 2017’s Digital Splash Awards Photography Competition theme is Street – Find out what you could win and how to enter on the Digital Splash website or by clicking here.
Please note: The Digital Splash Awards run from February until October every year with a different theme each month. This year’s Sport theme runs from May 1st 2017 until May 31st 2017.

 

For more great content on everything photography, click through to Camera Jabber’s website, here.

And to read more of our blog posts, click here.

Looking to take your street photography even further? Why not consider one of Wilkinson Camera’s Shoot the City Photowalks with David Newton. Find out more by clicking here.

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