Sunday, 26 December 2010

December Snow & Ice in Stroud

We've had a lot of snow and ice here in Gloucestershire this December. We don't usually get weather like this until end of January and into February. Well not since I've lived here anyway. I've posted some snow photos already in previous post. Here are a few more from around the area this month.

Frozen lake in Stratford Park, Stroud. 8 December 2010. Sadly this Tesco Trolley ignored the 'Thin Ice' signs and fell through and froze to death.

Cemetery at Rodborough Church, after 11pm at night, 18 December 2010. This is a 30 second exposure. the golden light you see on the left is not the sun rising, it is a street light.

Fields between my house and town. Stroud. 21 December 2010.

Frome River in Stroud. The ruins on the right used to be Capel Mill, which was a dye mill. 21 December 2010.

Path running between the road and the river. 21 December 2010. 

Path by the Canal in Stroud. The Canal is on the right. It's a bit over grown but is full of water. They are working on restoring it to working order. It's a bit frozen over at the moment. That's Peter wearing his cow horn hat in the centre. 21 December 2010. 

Frozen canal in Stroud. Canal company warehouse on the other side with the Hill Paul building towering above it. A few years ago the Hill Paul building was set for demolition, but the people of Stroud didn't want the historical textile mill building destroyed. So, it was converted into apartment buildings. Photo taken 21 December 2010. 

Road closed sign near the centre of Stroud. It was unclear to drivers which road was closed, so they were driving down both ways. It was the road going off to the left that was in fact closed.  In the next photo you'll see why the road was closed. (NOTE: Peter says both roads were closed)

Subway's new Drive Through! Sharp steep curve combined with icy roads does not a good combination make. This road was in fact closed but the cars kept driving on it anyway. You can't even see the road for the ice. 

A Christmas Walk

Note: I'm writing this at 1 o'clock in the morning so when I say today, I mean yesterday. 

Today was Christmas. The first Christmas in 20 years that I didn't share with my children. Alyssa now lives in Torquay with her boyfriend and Sarah lives in the States with her dad where she's going to college. I've been a bit depressed about this for awhile now, trying not to think about Christmas and avoiding Christmas type things. I talked to both of them on the phone today and both my parents and I feel a bit better. I do miss them all so very much though.

That said, I did manage to enjoy Christmas with my husband Peter. Last night I made something very similar to a candy I used to make every Christmas back in the States and in Italy and anywhere I've lived. I say similar as I can't get the key ingredient here in the UK. Well not in my neck of the woods anyway. The candy turned out pretty good. I think I'll try again and add a bit of peppermint to the mix next time and see what happens.

Also last night we watched the second in the Narnia series and exchanged gifts. It was a really lovely evening all around. Just the two of us.

Christmas morning we slept in, then I got up and made us some home made blueberry pancakes. We watched a silly Christmas movie about Santa then decided to pack a lunch and go for a walk in the snow. The temperature was around -2c to -3c today. We both took DSLRs with us and took a few photos along the way. Here are a few of mine from today.

Just up the road from our house.

View of Stroud. 

Peter, with his cow horn hat. 

I saw Peter take this shot then copied him. :-) 

Sunlight streaming under the railway bridge down in Stroud. 

Frozen bus stop.

Frozen lake in Stratford Park. 

Another view of frozen lake in Stratford Park.

Peter sharing his lunch.

Sledging in the park.

Park at your own risk! A very icy car park. 

We rounded the day off with the Doctor Who Christmas special. And have spent this evening working on some personal projects. Tomorrow is Boxing Day here in the UK. I'm not sure what we will be doing. We usually go cycling with The Stonehouse Wheelers and have a special tea at a certain club member's house, but it's a bit too icy out there to go cycling. We could show up by car but our road is too icy to drive and I don't fancy walking that distance. 

Maybe we'll go for another walk. :-) 

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Fun with my Facebook profile page.

Recently I've seen a few screen shots about of people's new facebook profile pages where they've uploaded sections of photos and tagged them to show up across the top of their profile page to form a bigger picture. Some self portraits, some lovely landscapes, and so on. Well I thought I'd have a go, but with my own twist. I didn't know how others made their pages at the time so I developed my own way. What I did was take a screen shot of my profile page, paste in photoshop, cut out the images where I wanted my photos to show up which made little windows. I then slid my photo behind the windows and arranged how I wanted. Then I cut the images out and uploaded the pieces to facebook, tagging myself so they showed up on my profile page. This is my result:

Yes I know, I did it the hard way. If you'd like some easier ways to do this follow these links which people have since shared with me:

If you have a go at this please feel free to share! You can leave a link to your photo in the comment section below or if you have a flickr account you can post it to the Odd Signs group I started here: If you are a member of DSLR User Magazine forum you can post your results to this thread: Facebook Photography Fun

Beyond the Lens- Shooting by Moonlight

Written by Tamara Kwan of TammyLynn Photography

A few nights ago, last Saturday, we had a lovely clear bright night. The moon was almost full and the snow was reflecting the moonlight beautifully. Well, it wasn’t quite as bright as the image above of Rodborough Church makes it seem, as you can see from the clock on the tower it’s 11 o’clock at night. This was a 30 Second exposure.

There’s a bit more than a long exposure going on here as well. My husband was running around the image with a flashlight painting the windows, a few of the monuments and one o f the trees with light. As it was a long exposure and he was constantly moving he doesn’t show up in the image. If he’d stood still for a moment you would have clearly seen him as he was wearing a bright yellow jacket.

With any long exposure you need your camera mounted on a tripod or sat down on something nice and solid. On this occasion I used a heavy duty Gorilla Pod (type of small flexible tripod) and a handy stone wall. I put the camera on manual settings as I wanted to use a 30 second exposure. I also set the two second timer for a slight delay after I pressed the shutter to reduce camera shake. My other settings were an ISO of 200 at f4.

I love how the sky turned out purplish and how you can just make out the stars. The yellow in the background behind the church isn’t the sun rising but is actually street lights down below the church on the other side.

I really enjoyed this late night stroll by moonlight with my husband. I think we might do this again soon. Of course I’ll be bringing my camera and a few torches.  ;-) 
The above photo was featured in the local weekly paper, Stroud Life,  this past Wednesday, 22 December 2010. 

It also made the BBC Radio Gloucestershire website. In Pictures: December snow in Gloucestershire:

I also have a photo in the January 2011 issue of Cotswold Life this month which has just hit the shelves. 

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Disgruntled employee? Or Photoshop?

I saw a number of tweets about a disgruntled Father Christmas at Harrods department store and I clicked on one. It took me to this web page: Dashperiod where I saw the following image and story:

‘Fuck off Harrods’ done by a disgruntled employee, fired by Harrods from his job as the toy department’s Father Christmas, took revenge last night in spectacular style.
Gaining access to a maintenance control room, Lloyd Hudson, 35, from Ilford, Essex, was able to locate the chart and corresponding switches for Harrods’ 10,000 external lights.
Barracading himself in, Hudson disabled the correct lights until he could spell out his feelings to Harrods bosses and Christmas shoppers alike. He was removed by security guards after an hour-long stand-off, then handed over to police.
“He had drunk the best part of two bottles of whisky,” said a spokesperson for the iconic London store, “and it’s that kind of behaviour that got him the sack in the first place.” Hudson has since been released on police bail.
Knightsbridge visitors were stunned.
“Honestly, I am disgusted, ” said Irene Rider, 59, from Gary, Indiana. “I was with my grandchildren. We had just gotten off the bus. I said ‘look everybody’ and pointed up to the lights – but you know what the lights said? They said f**k off. And that is not an appropriate message for a child.  At least not at Christmas time.”
Now this story is making it's way around the internet and everyone is passing it on. But when I saw this story with the above image a number of red flags went up. First off, the web address tag in the upper right hand corner. Second, those look like a strings of Christmas lights, wouldn't be so easy to switch a few off to spell something, especially if you lock yourself into one room. I'm just not getting this. So I did a google search for Harrods green Christmas lights and I found out the following.

Last year Harrods changed their traditional white lights for green lights transforming the building into the Emerald City in honour of The Wizard of Oz's 70th anniversary. X Factor judge Dannii Minigue was on hand to help switch on the lights.

I also came across this image:

Look familiar?

I wonder if the Associated Press has seen this.

Beyond the Lens- Super Mom!

Written by Tamara Kwan of TammyLynn Photography

This is one of my favourite photographs that I’ve taken this year, a portrait of my friend Lorca Simons. She’s an actress from Texas who grew up in theatre and, who like me, now calls Gloucestershire home.

My first title for this image was ‘Come Fly with Me’, but I later thought ‘Super Mom’ a better fit, as she is between 7 and 8 months pregnant in the photo.

Technically I’m breaking a composition rule with this image, but I like it anyway. The rule I’m breaking is the  left to right rule. As we read from left to right then images flow better left to right. She’s ‘flying’ from right to left. I could flip the image, and a lot of people do in situations like this, but I don’t like doing that. I think it makes the image look odd. That could be just because I know what it’s supposed to look like though.

I did not have this composition in my head when I took this photo. I saw this image later when the original photograph was coming out of the printer, and I saw it sideways. I thought, wow, it looks like she’s flying! So I did a quick edit to remove the floor, which was mostly black anyway, and rotated the image. I also added a bit more black space on the left and just below to help with the illusion that she was flying and to give her some space to fly into.

Let’s talk about space for a moment. Composition and how much space you have around your subject can greatly effect how the image looks and feels. Sometimes leaving a bit of space can add drama or tension to an image. Sometimes it’s just wasted space and needs to be cropped away. Sometimes cropping in really close and even cropping away some of your subject can add that extra bit of drama to your image. The general rule of thumb is when photographing wildlife or moving objects is to leave a bit of room for them to move into.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Beyond the Lens - Lost in the Fog

Written by Tamara Kwan of TammyLynn Photography

The other morning when I looked out of my window down towards Stroud’s town centre, this is what I saw. (Image above) Lovely sunshine, clear blue sky....but wait! Where’s Stroud?! The town was nowhere to be seen.

Here’s a bit of a photo to show you what I normally see behind that tall tree on the right:

Hill Paul, Stroud Train Station, The Subscription Rooms and the lovely hill with grazing cows in the distance all hidden under the thick freezing fog down in the valley. Thick fog isn’t unusual, I often can’t see across the valley, but to have such beautiful sunshine and clear blue skies above was truly something to see.  I couldn’t find my camera fast enough.

The top image was taken hanging out of a first floor window with a hand held DSLR Camera. (Both images were actually) Not a lot of post processing done on this image, just the usual RAW tweaks like a slight S with the curves and a high pass sharpen. Camera settings were f/11 with an exposure of 1/400th of a second at ISO-400. Camera was set to AV or Aperture Priority which means I set the aperture value, in this case to f/11, and I let the camera decide the shutter speed. 

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Beyond the Lens- The Decisive Moment

Written by Tamara Kwan of TammyLynn Photography

If you google ‘The Decisive Moment’ you’ll more than likely see Henri Cartier-Bresson’s name at the top of the list along with his photograph titled ‘Behind the Gare St. Lazare’ of a man jumping accross some water and just about to make a splash. My image above reminds me of his image.

What is ‘The Decisive Moment’? Besides being a book by Henri Cartier-Bresson? Well it’s exactly what it sounds like. It’s the moment in which you decide to press the shutter and capture a moment in time. The moment can sometimes make or break a photo, especially when a moment or two before or after a particular moment in time just won’t have the same impact. It’s managing to capture a story or some tension or an expression or an expectation. Like my image above, a moment later and it would have been just another splash photo. A moment before and it wouldn’t have the full impact of what is about to happen.

To me the decisive moment can also be a moment captured in time that you might not have seen other wise.

This photograph was captured hand held with a Canon 5D and 24-70mm 2.8 lens. It was a cloudy rainy day, with ISO set to 100 I still managed to shoot at 1/400th of a second at f/2.8. I was shooting in Aperture Priority letting the camera choose the shutter speed. As most of my subjects were moving and I was mostly shooting hand held I kept a watch on the shutter speed trying to keep it above 1/200th of a second. The 2.8 aperture of my lens helped greatly with this. As I was shooting in RAW I didn’t worry much about the white balance, though in hindsight I should have set it to daylight and saved myself a couple of clicks in post processing. But why not cloudy? It was cloudy and there is a cloudy white balance setting. Well I find that the cloudy setting more often than not leaves my images too yellowish.

The Photo above is of my friend’s daughter playing at Slimbridge WWT. No children or ducks were harmed in the making of this image.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wish I was there! **Missing Mom's roast turkey and cornbread stuffing**

Thanksgiving...A time to give thanks for all the past years blessings...A time to reflect...A time to share with family and friends. Thanksgiving is my favourite holiday because that's when our family comes together from across the miles and busy life styles, usually meeting at Mom's house. The house is full of laughter and hugs and the smell of roast turkey with cornbread stuffing. 

Since I've moved to England I really miss Thanksgiving back home. I do try to keep up the turkey and cornbread dressing tradition on this side of the pond, but it is proving to be more and more difficult. It's just not the same without the rest of the family. And now that Alyssa has moved out and has a busy life of her own it is quite lonesome this Thanksgiving. Missing Sarah like mad too.... Missing my Mom and Dad as well... I'll be running up a phone bill later!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! May your day be filled with family and friends, hugs and kisses, laughter and happy tears, love and friendship....and most of all, joy and happiness. 

Oh and don't forget the chess set! (David, Mark and cousin Stephen know what I'm talking about.)  ;-)

With Love,

Beyond the Lens - The Crypt

Written by Tamara Kwan of TammyLynn Photography

This week I take you for a peak below the Gloucester Cathedral, down into The Crypt. I’ve been to the Cathedral many times but this was the first time I’d been down below. If you haven’t been, I highly recommend it. The architecture is amazing and makes you wonder about what life was like down there 800 or so years ago. Our guide told us about the different architectures and pointed out here and there where the structures had been reinforced. She showed us one room that was a little funeral chapel for the monks. She also pointed out a nice sized cavity in the wall which no one knows for sure what it was used for. Some say it was a safe place to store treasures, some say it might have been a kind of prison for the monks. I learned lots on this visit to the Cathedral; I definitely recommend talking to one of the many guides, they are full of stories and facts about its history.

The above photograph is a long exposure using available light. Carrying tripods around places like this is not ideal and a lot of places and events won’t allow them as they can be tripping hazards. I find that a Gorillapod does the job quite nicely in most situations and this is what I had with me on this day. With camera mounted on heavy duty Gorillapod and set to Aperture Priority with a 2 second delay, I set my camera down on the floor guessing at composition and let the camera do the rest. White balance set to auto (changed to tungsten in post processing), ISO 200, at f/8 this image had an exposure of 15 seconds. 

Here's another photo from down in the Crypt:

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Beyond the Lens - Yummy Mandazi

Written by Tamara Kwan of TammyLynn Photography

There’s a new restaurant in town! C and W’s African Experience in Gloucester.  My husband came across their grand opening while out looking for new cycling routes for the Stonehouse Wheelers.  I heard about them through I am Gloucestershire 365, Twitter and Foursquare. Next thing I know we are having dinner there one night and soon after that I’m doing some food photography for them. They do a great curry and I highly recommend them. I love family run restaurants.  We have guest coming this weekend, can you guess where we are taking them? Yep you guessed it!

The treat in the photo above is Mandazi served with a lovely Kenyan Ginger Chai (Tea). The Mandazi are served warm and are just lovely. I can’t resist photographing my food and I was doing just that when Wanja come walking through with a plate of Mandazi for another customer. I quickly recomposed my shot to include her in the background. I know she’s blurry but the photo isn’t about her, it’s about the yummy pastry, but I feel including her in the background adds to the atmosphere of the photograph and adds interest as well as telling a story. I can almost smell them.

The above photo was taken with a Canon 5D II with a Canon 24-70 2.8 L lens with an ISO setting of 400 for 1/60th of a second at f/2.8. Camera was hand held with natural light coming in from the windows. Post processed in Photoshop using levels and curves and sharpened using the High Pass filter technique. I also added a slight edge burn to draw your attention into the photo.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

The dangers of being a photographer....

Today I had a run in with a horse. The horse won.

I was helping my friend Liz cover an event which involved horses with riders. As they were leaving town they rushed by where I was standing and as soon as I realized they were coming my way I pressed myself up against this building/house which was right up next to the road. After they passed I looked around for any more horses or cars, saw the way was clear and took a step away from the building to take a photo of the horses and their riders leaving. Next thing I knew I was flying across the road and landing in the middle of the road/intersection. I'm not a small person and I hit hard. I was hit on the right and landed on my left side. I had my precious 5D II strapped to my right hand which had Damon's precious 70-200 2.8 L lens attached to it. If it hadn't been attached to my hand with a strap it would have no doubt went flying and crashing into the street. I'm happy to say there's not a scratch on the camera or lens, though the lens hood was scratched up. My strap is padded and it also saved the back of my hand from being scraped on the road no doubt. Once I landed I slid a bit, I think that's when the lens hood was scratched, or maybe when I was getting up. I'm not entirely clear.

Besides a heavy camera lens combo in my hand I also had a loaded Lowepro Fastpack 200 on my back. I'm not quite sure but the horse must have hit the camera bag when it hit me. Lucky nothing inside was broke, though it had obviously been knocked around a bit. No damage to the bag either, I'm happy to say. :-)

What I do remember is thinking I have to sit up as quick as I can because if there are any horses behind me they will trample me. I remember trying to sit up but I don't remember sitting up. I remember someone asking me if I was OK and I remember hearing myself say ‘no’. I remember people talking to me but I don't remember who. I remember being helped to the side of the road, I remember saying don't touch my arm. My friend Liz took my camera away from me, I don't remember her doing that. I remember thinking my left arm might be broke and I remember thinking I might pass out. I remember my friend saying she didn’t like my colour.

Some people helped me across the street to the pub where I could sit down, and this lady examined my shoulder and arm. I was feeling much better by then, though still a bit fuzzy. I was told someone captured a video of the whole thing on their camera phone and asked if I wanted to see. Of course I wanted to see! :-D

What I saw was me standing a couple feet from this building, in the street, my back to the camera. I saw this horse come running down the road from my right and knock me out into the middle of the street. I was told a young person was ridding the horse and it might have been out of control. They did hang about to make sure I was OK. I don’t know who they were.

I insisted I was OK and we walked back to Liz's house for a cup of tea. Peter looked through the images he’d taken, turns out he’d taken a photo of me just before the horse hit me. The horses head is in the photo. By this time I’d started noticing my injuries. My whole left side hurts, especially my knee and my upper arm and shoulder. Bit of skin missing from the heal of my left hand. Knee skint and swelling. Ibuprofen takes the edge off the aches and pains.

I’m not looking forward to trying to sleep tonight and I’m really not looking forward to waking up in the morning. I can still walk, though going up or down any hill or stairs is quite a task. I can’t pick up anything heavy or reach for anything with my left arm and hand. I can’t raise my left arm above my head either. All a bit worrying but will heal in time I’ve no doubt.

This isn’t the first time I’ve been injured while out doing some photography type stuff. Probably won’t be the last either. Am I worried? Naaa. Life is good and I love what I do. J

Here's a photo from the day:

Beyond the Lens - Autumn Colours

Written by Tamara Kwan of TammyLynn Photography

What a beautiful time of year. I just love all the autumn colours. The other day we went walking in the Chalford Valley over by Cowcombe Hill. Over between the railway line and the canal we spotted this little robin. I just managed to change my camera settings and capture this photo of him before he flew away. Well you know robins, he didn’t fly far, but he didn’t pose so nicely out in the open again for me either.

I find wildlife photography quite difficult. I’m just not fast enough and I don’t have a long enough lens. Lucky I’d borrowed a friend’s 70-200 2.8 L lens this day. Also lucky I’d shot in raw. The camera’s auto white balance got it all wrong and the photo came out a bit blue. So I changed it from Auto white balance to Daylight and that made a world of difference.

For those keeping score I shot in Aperture Priority with an ISO of 250; 1/125th of a second exposure at f2.8. Sadly I had forgotten to change the Exposure compensation from -0.3 back to 0 so my image was a bit under exposed. RAW to the rescue! After I changed the white balance to Daylight I upped the exposure to brighten the image. I also added a little fill light at this time, along with nudging the Clarity and Vibrance bars. A few tweaks of the curves in photoshop, a quick high pass filter to sharpen and I’m done. Well nearly, I decided it looked a bit like a post card and the blank space was crying out for some words. I am missing my family and friends back in the States so I chose to write “Gloucestershire, wish you were here!” I think I just might print a few post cards and send them across the big pond. 

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Beyond the Lens - A Game of Snooker

Written by Tamara Kwan of TammyLynn Photography

The other night I went out with my husband and the guys from his office for a few games of snooker and a curry. Taking photos inside at night anywhere is challenging, but most especially in a snooker club. It’s also quite difficult to take photos while playing in a tournament as we were, but of course I had to give it a try.

My advice to anyone taking on this sort of challenge would be to use a monopod to help steady the camera, bump up your ISO as high as you dare, use your largest aperture and have some fun. Why not a tripod you might ask, well they aren’t practical in situations like this and most likely would not be allowed as they are a tripping hazard. You might also ask why not use flash. Flash would disrupt the game and take away the atmosphere of the place. Someone concentrating on a shot wouldn’t appreciate the temporary blindness caused by a sudden flash in a dark room.

I took the above photo using only the light in the room, hand held, (wish I’d had a monopod). I’d set my White Balance to auto, but in hindsight I wish I’d set it to Tungsten. As I shot in RAW I was able to change this later in post processing. ISO turned up to 3200, 1/250th of a second exposure with an aperture of f2.8. Post processed in photoshop, cleaned up a bit of noise, tweaked curves, slight sharpen with a high pass filter.

In case you are wondering, that is not my husband pictured above. He is in the picture though, far right holding a snooker cue watching his colleague line up his shot.

I came in 5th in the MRG Snooker Tournament! :-D  OK, there were only 6 people in the tournament. OK OK so it was a tie for 5th. :-p 

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Me, My Husband and Photography

I'm a photographer. My dad peaked my interest in photography when I was quite young by showing me photos he took on his travels in the army. Old square black and white images stuck in a black book with thick black pages with these little black paper corners. I was even given little cameras as presents when I got older. Do you remember those little compact cameras that took 110 film? Then Polaroid cameras came out! Those were so cool, instant results! I had a number of cameras, can't remember them all, some took 110 film, some 35mm.

When I was between the ages of 19 and 20 I decided I wanted more control over my photography. So I bought my first slr. Canon AE-1 Program it was. .... is. I say 'is' because I still have it! :-D Actually I have two, because not long after I bought the AE-1 I bought another one! I used to carry around both cameras, with different lens on and different film speeds. Sometimes one had colour and the other black and white film. I was ready for anything! Here's an early photo of me with my first SLR:
Please ignore the monkeys in the background, I'm trying to show you my camera. Here's a couple more photos of my early SLRs.
Me and my Dad down by the San Antonio River Walk in Texas. 

My brother David with my other Camera. Yes it was the 80's. 

Another photo of me and my camera. 

OK, enough about me and my camera.....the early years. Back then, well probably before then, my current husband, Peter, was also a photographer, even had his own dark room! Photography is one of the things that drew us together. Only thing is, he's not as obsessed and serious as I am. It's just a causal hobby for him. I live and breath photography and I've turned it into a little business. Photography, not living and breathing. 

I often drag my husband along with me on photo expeditions. He'll take his camera out, take a few pics, but quickly gets bored. Example: We were out walking around this lake, there were these swans and geese and ducks about. I very slowly got down low and slowly crept towards them. When I finally earned their trust and they were getting into interesting posses and I was just getting ready to take my first photograph of them when ....**Thump! Thump! Thump!** Peter decided the mud on his boots needed to come off and starts stamping his feet, scattering the birds. **palm to face** moment. He was totally oblivious to what had just happened. This is the sort of thing I quite often go through when he's out with me. So I don't ask him so often any more. 

On the professional side of things I'll often ask his advice or ask him to be my second shooter. It's a bit like asking if I can pull his teeth, but he usually gives in and helps. He's quite good at it, knows what he's doing and can be very helpful. Things were a bit different with this new job I have though, which is a bit of food photography for a new restaurant in Gloucester, C & W's African Experience. They do a lovely Goat Curry. Anyway he jumped at the chance to help and I hadn't even asked for any help! And he keeps telling me not to forget the Tupperware! He's very eager to help out on this shoot as there is food involved. Bless him.

Here's a quick photo I took at C & W's when I went to meet with Wanja to talk about the shoot:
These are Mandazi which Wanja served me with a lovely cup of Kenyan Ginger Chai (Tea). They were yummy! Served warm and reminded me of spicy doughnuts sort of. Yes I brought some home to Peter. ;-)

Friday, 29 October 2010

Beyond the Lens - Shooting Fireworks

Written by Tamara Kwan of TammyLynn Photography

The annual Ebley Fireworks display was this past Monday. I organized a group of about 20 Stroud Camera Club members to meet up and shoot the fireworks. This was an exercise on night time photography and sharing knowledge on the best way to capture fireworks. The previous week we had another practical evening where we all had a go at capturing moving light displays, this was an extension on that.

The best way I’ve found to capture firework displays is to plan ahead and arrive early. Definitely use a tripod or similar support. Long exposures are a must to capture the trails of light. You don’t need a high ISO as you might think you’d need shooting at night and F-stops aren’t all that important when shooting long distances on long exposures. Also with really long exposures you don’t need to worry with mirror lock ups as the tiny vibration the mirror might cause won’t be noticeable with long exposures. A cable release is handy but not necessary.

The shot above was shot with a Canon 5D II, 24-70 2.8 L lens on a tripod with these settings: ISO 100; f/10; for 8 seconds at focal length of 57mm. I left white balance on its auto setting and shot in raw format. Only a few tweaks in photoshop required. It was originally shot in landscape format, I cropped the sides away getting rid of the dark edges and making the fireworks the centre of attention. 

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Beyond the Lens - Church with a View

Written by Tamara Kwan of TammyLynn Photography

This week I share with you a photo that I took from the top of Slimbridge Church, St John the Evangelist, in Slimbridge. We just happened to stop by when they were giving a very rare chance to climb the tower. The climb up the tower was quite an experience; you need to be quite agile and fairly fit. It’s more than just a steep climb; it’s like a maze of twist and turns on steep ladders with little space to manoeuvre. How I managed to make the climb I don’t know! But I’m glad I did. Wow what a view. My photograph doesn’t do it justice. I’d really like to have another go at trying to capture the lovely view from up there.

For the photographers out there this was taken with a Canon 5D mark 2 and a 24-70 2.8 L lens at the wide end. ISO 100, f18 for 1/50th of a second, hand held and tweaked in photoshop.

Most people know Slimbridge for its Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust founded by Sir Peter Scott, which is also the first thing I knew it for. I love Slimbridge WWT and I’m a regular member, visiting as often as I can. I’ve since learned a bit more about Slimbridge and have discovered that my ancestors are from the area. One is Laurence Bridger who was Rector of the church from 1577 – 1630. There is a stained glass window in the church dedicated to the Bridger Family.  This may not seem like a big deal to most, but you see, I’m not from here. I was born and grew up in America, Georgia to be more precise. I never knew I had ancestors from England, and then to find out that not only do I have British ancestors but that they are also from Gloucestershire! Where I just happen to live! How cool is that? No wonder I feel so at home here. J

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Beyond the Lens - A Surreal Portrait

Written by Tamara Kwan of TammyLynn Photography

This week’s photo is a portrait of my daughter Sarah.  After a little shopping spree we decided we’d like to do a little fashion shoot with Sarah’s new clothes, so I booked an afternoon down at The London Road Studio in Gloucester. We had a lot of fun coming up with and creating this surreal image. We didn’t really have a plan, we were just having fun. I can’t remember whose idea it was for her to sit in the chair upside down and I didn’t get the idea to flip the photo upside down until later in post processing.  

The set up for this image is actually quite a simple set up with very little post processing. I used a black paper background and a simple two light cross lighting technique. Cross lighting is where you arrange your lights facing each other on either side of your subject diagonally. If you look closely at the image you can see that the light on her face is coming from photo left and the light on her legs is coming from photo right. Also the light on her face is quite a bit softer than the light on her legs, this is because a soft box was used to diffuse the light.  The light on her legs is harsher because it’s not diffused and was focused using barn doors. It was originally suppose to be a hair light to light up her hair from the back when she was sitting upright in the chair.

Post processing consisted of darkening the areas of the background where light spilled over onto it; removing part of the chair from behind her back; tweaking curves; and flipping the image upside down.

This is the type of photography I really enjoy doing, where I get to be creative and have a little fun. :-) 

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Beyond the Lens - A Night Time View of Gloucester Docks

Written by Tamara Kwan of TammyLynn Photography

This week’s photo was taken at Gloucester Docks at night. 

This image was really a test shot. I’d recently purchased the new Canon 5D mark II and wanted to test and push its limits. I happened to be attending an evening class with The GMG this night and I thought what better place and time to test my new camera’s abilities than at Gloucester Docks. It was quite dark by the time class had finished and I was thankful I’d thought to bring my tripod. After a little walk around the docks I found this lovely view of a tall ship. I set my tripod up, positioned my camera for the best composition. In this case loosely using the rule of thirds and placing the boats in the photograph accordingly. The lens I used was the Canon 24-70mm 2.8.

I took several shots using several different settings, starting off with an ISO of 200 at f9 for 30 seconds. As it was quite dark I had to turn off the auto focus and manually focus as the auto focus doesn’t function well in really low light. At first glance it was a lovely image with lovely light and colour but on closer inspection the ships and the sky were quite blurry as it was windy. So I increased the shutter speed to 3.2 seconds and the put the ISO up to 3200, leaving the aperture at f9. This gave me a much more pleasing sharper image and I was really amazed at the lack of digital noise in the image. The image above has had no post processing done to it, it’s virtually strait out of the camera. The result is a lovely bright image with fine detail and beautiful colour, amazing as it was quite dark out at the time. I’m thoroughly impressed with my results and with my new camera. J

Sunday, 6 June 2010


I make pancakes most weekends. Back in the States I used to buy a mix, couldn't find mix here in the UK so started experimenting and making my own from scratch. Don't care much for the mix now! :-D

Here's how I make my pancakes:
First I gather all the ingredients.
These are my ingredients for breakfast for two...three pancakes each. (Depending on size)

  • 1 cup all-purpose (plain) flour (I like to sift mine, makes fluffier pancakes.)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt ( A little more if using unsalted butter)
  • 1 egg, large
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter (can use vegetable oil as well)
  • 150 - 175 ml milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
  • blueberries (optional) (Can be added to the batter or served on the side/top)

I mix all the dry ingredients in the bowl and all the wet ingredients in the large measuring cup (or small bowl) with a whisk. Then I pour the wet mix in with the dry mix and blend until all is wet, being careful not to over mix.

TIP: Letting mixture sit for a while will give you fluffier and lighter pancakes. 

Then I use a ladle to spoon mix onto a hot nonstick pan sprayed with Pam non stick spray. (Until recently I was using a cast iron pan which was great, but required more oil) I start off at medium high heat then turn down to medium after the first batch is in the pan. You want it hot but you don't want to cook them too fast.

UPDATE: I now use a ceramic coated frying pan with a little vegetable oil drizzled in pan between each batch.  

I then quickly poke blueberries into the batter in the pan. If these had been small blueberries I'd added them to the mix, but as these were great big juicy ones I added them in the pan.

NOTE: This is really tasty but does make a mess when the blueberries burst with the heat. I now prefer to add the blueberries to the plate, I find this quite refreshing actually. 

When they start to bubble is when it's time to flip them over. You'll have to watch closely to see when they are done. Won't take long after you flip.

They should be a lovely light golden brown underneath when you flip. Mine here are a bit darker than that but are fine. I was too busy trying to photograph them. :-D

After they are done I put them in a warm oven to keep them warm while the others are cooking. When all is done we like to pour a bit of pure Maple Syrup from Canada on them. Yummy!

TIP: You can heat up the syrup to help keep the pancakes warmer longer. 

I really enjoyed photographing food today, think I might do this again. :-)