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. ;-)