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.