Friday, 27 January 2012

A Late Lunch by the Canal

The Lock Keeper's Café in Stroud

Photography information: Above: Canon 5D II, with a Canon 85mm 1.8 prime lens, hand held. 1/1600 of a second exposure at f/1.8. ISO 100. AV (Aperture Priority) mode. 

Wow! What a week! I've had several jobs back to back and it's not over yet! I have another lovely job tomorrow and my eldest baby girl is coming for a visit! I feel a shopping and baking frenzy coming on! :-D 

This week I finished up a big family shoot and have been working all week on a commercial job in which I had to hire several models for. I've been working all day every day from early morning until the wee hours of the night. It's a good thing I love my job! 

As a reward to myself for all the hard work I've been doing this week, I walked down into town for lunch. It was a late lunch as I was working hard to get some images out for the commercial job mentioned above. Where did I go? The Lock Keeper's Café of course! I love this place, and it's right at the bottom of the hill from where we live. People are always asking me where it is so I'll tell you. From town it's the other side of the train station over by the Wallbridge Lock/canal. That's the Hill Paul building behind it in the photo above. Just in front of it is the Cotswold Canal Trust Visitor Centre in the old Bell Hotel. 

The Lock Keeper's Café at Wallbridge Lock

Photography information: Above: Canon 5D II with a Canon 50mm 1.4 prime lens. 1/1600 of a second exposure at f/1.4. ISO 100. Hand held.  AV (Aperture Priority) mode.  

There's no parking so you'll have to make the short walk from town to it. It's well worth the walk though! And soon the foot path along the canal will be open again. I'm so looking forward to that as I love walking along the canal. 

Usually on Fridays you'll find the Friday Forum crew here at the Lock Keeper's. This Friday everyone had something else to do, so it was just me, and I was late. But not too late! They did serve me some lunch. I usually have a ham, cheese and tomato panini with a cappuccino coffee. But today I thought I'd treat myself to something different, so I had one of their specials for the day which today was a Tuna Noodle Casserole. Yummy!

Tuna Noodle Casserole

Photography information: Above: Canon 5D II with a Canon 50mm 1.4 prime lens. 1/125 of a second exposure at f/2. ISO 400. Hand held. AV (Aperture Priority) mode.

Today I had lunch alone all by my lonesome. I don't usually like eating alone and avoid it at all cost. But today down at the Lock Keepers it was quite nice. I did't feel all alone. I'm in there so often that the owner and crew know me quite well now. Also several people I knew were in and out and they stopped to say hi which was quite nice. 

I give the Lock Keeper's Café 5 out of 5 Stars! I highly recommend them for lunch or for just a coffee break with a friend. The staff are always friendly, the place is super clean, the food and coffee are fantastic, an over all lovely atmosphere. Oh and there's free WiFi and papers on hand to read. What more could you ask for? 

While I was there this little girl came for a visit. I couldn't resist asking for permission to take her photograph as she was just too cute! I had a talk with her father the other day and he said he'd be booking a family photo shoot with me soon. I'm looking forward to it. :-)

The low afternoon sunshine coming in through the large window on the right made for some lovely lighting and I waited until she was in this light to take her portrait. The two catch lights in her eyes really bring her eyes to life. The main light source being the large window I just mentioned above and the second catch light being made by the window in the door behind me. 

It's a shame about the window directly behind her head as this bright area in the photo is quite distracting. I burned it down some so that it wasn't so bright. I did notice this while I was taking the photo but there wasn't an immediate solution to the problem, not without loosing the lovely light on her face. 

Two year old Blue Eyed Beauty
The above photograph has had some extra post processing done to it. I did not exactly invent this look all by myself but the technique I used I developed myself. What I do is after normal processing I create a black and white adjustment layer. I really push the contrast of the B/W image then I lower the opacity of the B/W layer by 50% letting some of the colour of the original image come though. You wind up with a lovely desaturated image. Well I think it's lovely, my husband prefers the original full colour image which is below. 

Two year old blue eyed beauty (original)

Photography information: Above: Canon 5D II with a Canon 50mm 1.4 prime lens. 1/800th of a second exposure at f/1.4. ISO 400. Hand held. AV (Aperture Priority) mode.

(Please note: I know who the little girl is in this photo, I just didn't want to say who she was to the world wide web.)

On my walk home I noticed this sign by the canal. It tickled my funny bone so I photographed it.

It's not every day you see this sign. Actually it's the first time I've ever seen it. If we'd seen a sign like this when we were kids you'd been hard pressed to keep us out of it. :-D In the background you can see the road construction continues up Bath Road in Stroud.

Photography information: Above: Canon 5D II with a Canon 85mm 1.8 prime lens. 1/640th of a second exposure at f/1.8. ISO 100. Hand held. AV (Aperture Priority) mode.

I leave you with a few photographs of flowers that I took on the way home today. All taken with the 85mm prime lens. Well and a camera too of course. ;-)

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Early Morning Balloon Ride....almost

Farm in Didmarton at Sunrise
My husband and I were up at 5:30am this morning. OK, I fell back to sleep and we didn't actually crawl out of bed until closer to 6am. We were out the door just before 7am defrosting the car to follow my friend Liz out to this field in Didmarton for an early morning Balloon ride with Chris Hathaway of David Hathaway Transport. She was going on the ride, not us, we were watching her munchkin and taking photographs. 

What a beautiful sunrise this morning, with red streaks across the sky, was all I could do not to insist we pull over and stop so that I could photograph it all. Lucky we got to the field and I caught the end of it...or the beginning, as it was the sunrise. It wasn't as dramatic as we saw on the trip up, but still a nice sunrise I think. It was also very very cold and frosty! It was -3.5C (25F) outside when we left the house. 

The David Hathaway Transport Balloon being filled with air 
A peak inside the Balloon
The munchkins got to go inside the Balloon! 
It's quite huge inside the Balloon
Turning the burners on to heat up the air inside the Balloon. They let the munchkins out first of course. 
The Balloon beginning to rise
Sadly it was warming up quite fast causing lot of mist to rise from the ground., even though the skies above were clear. If they can't see the tree line they can't take the balloon up. They have to be able to see where they are and what's below them when they go up. 

The David Hathaway Transport Balloon
Heating up the air inside the Balloon
Balloon with the sun rising behind it
Up Up and Away!
The visibility just wasn't any good, so with the Balloon tethered to the Land Rover, they took the munchkins up for a little ride. Sadly the visibility was getting worse not better so they called it quits. 

Preparing the Balloon to bring it down
Frosty Misty Morning
I felt really bad for everyone who were invited to go up and were involved on this flight which was canceled in the end. A bit of a let down but not a total loss. It was a beautiful morning, we got to get up close and personal with the Balloon, the munchkins got to go for a little ride and they got to walk inside the Balloon! Oh and I got to take some exciting photographs of the whole thing! I'd say it was a pretty cool morning all around. Literally! 

I think it's nap time now. 

Photographic Information: Camera used was a Canon 5D II. Two lenses were used, Canon 24-70 f2.8 L and a Canon 70-200 f2.8 L. A variety of camera settings were used. A Manfrotto monopod was used with the 70-200 lens. 

Friday, 13 January 2012

Beyond the Lens - Smoke Gets in My Eyes

Smoke or Ghost of  Dinosaur? 

Tonight, Thursday, was Stroud Camera Club night. It was one of our practical evenings where we bring our cameras and laptops and props and things and have a night of sharing, learning and trying new things. On this evening we had a lot of laptops and post processing going on, including one station doing a bit of HDR. But we also had a little mini studio set up in the kitchen where we were being shown by one club member, Mr Jay Martin,  how to photograph smoke. I'd never done this before so I mostly hung out with these guys.

Camera remotely fired flash

We tried two different ways of photographing the smoke. We used black card for the background and against the wall to help control the light. We used a radio trigger to fire an off camera flash gun. And we used a another remote to trigger the camera. We used all manual settings, including the focus. And our cameras were mounted on tripods. (Note: As we were shooting in almost complete darkness the camera's auto focus does not work.) I'm not sure what Jay's settings were on his camera as I was off running my mouth when he was setting it up, but I think it was something like this: ISO 100; F5.6; 1/125th of a second exposure. Not a bad place to start in any case. The flash gun was set to 1/16th power. For the smoke we used an incense stick stuck in a ball of blue tack.

Flash gun manually fired

The second way we photographed the smoke is the way in which I photographed all three of these images. Basically the same set up only I had my camera set up for a 2 second exposure. The flash gun in this case was fired manually, during the 2 second exposure. As we were in the dark the flash from the flashgun froze everything and correctly exposed the smoke.

I really enjoyed this and plan on giving this a another go when I get some free time. All three images on this page were taken tonight by me with a Canon 5D II with a 50mm 1.4 lens. The camera settings were as follows: ISO 100 at F9 with a 2 second exposure. In the top image the smoke has a blueish tent, I added this in post processing.

Do you see the dinosaur in the top photo? Looks like one to me. :-)

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

My Desk

This morning, on twitter, Sean McCormack of Light Room Blog  tweeted: "Is it time for a messy desk competition?" I tweeted back: "@lightroomblog I'd win!" He then taunted me with this tweet: "@TammyLynn_17 Are you brave enough?" Well I wasn't brave enough! But I did finally take a photo of my desk with my phone to see what it would look like to others. I was horrified! So instead of working I wound up cleaning up my desk. I must say, I feel like I've cleared my head and I feel more like getting on with my paperwork that I'm always behind on. :-) 

A few of the things I found on my desk:
4 empty Tic Tac boxes; 3 pair of glasses; 1 pair of sun glasses; 2 pair of earrings; various fossils; A brand new roll of 120 film, lots of memory cards and USB sticks; various photography and camera gadgets; postage stamps, 3 rubber stamps; a digital thermometer; 2 pieces of welding glass; lots of dust; lip balm; several hair bands; various coins from various different places; several pens that don't write; an old photograph of myself; a pedometer that I can't get to work; various business cards; my WWT membership card; 2 perfume sample vials; lots of batteries; stacks of CDs and DVDs, blank and used; lots of paperwork that needs recording and filed; an old Carl Zeiss lens that I turned into a pen holder; a few toys; 3 bottles of vitamins and supplements; clothes pegs; lego; a ruler; a 'Genuine TUIT', round of course; and various other office type stuff and a few things that went straight to the bin. 

Ohhh what the heck, here's a before and after photo of my desk from earlier:

Desk before
And to quickly redeem myself!

Desk after
OK, still a bit junky but it is much better I think. :-) 

What is a 'Genuine TUIT'? I hear you ask? Well when I was growing up my dad had this little round wooden disk and on it was painted 'A Round TUIT'. This disk was cracked. My Dad used to tell everyone that his 'Round TUIT' was cracked, and that's why he hadn't 'Gotten around to it' (what ever it was he was suppose to have done). haha Well somewhere I've got a  perfectly good tin 'Round TUIT' plate, but I lost it. That's why I've not gotten 'A Round To It' yet. Well that is until I found these cute little coasters. I had a whole set but they've slowly disappeared over the years. Found this one on my desk today. Guess I don't have an excuse anymore. 

A Round TUIT
I also found this old photograph of myself, not sure how it wound up on my desk or where the other photographs that go with it are. This is me quite a few years ago. Taken with my Canon AE-1 SLR camera on a tripod using it's timer. Yes I took a photograph of myself. Not sure of the year, must have been around 1985, give or take a year or two. 

Me in the 80's
This next photo I did not take today, I dug it out of my archives to show off my Carl Zeiss Lens pen holder, which I made using an old broken Carl Zeiss lens. In this photo you can see the bits left over after I took the lens apart and put it back together. You know there's bits always left over. :-)

Carl Zeiss Lens
Probably the oddest thing on my desk was the welding glass, both pieces. I bought those dark pieces of glass to make a filter for the front of my lenses to give me the ability to do really long exposures during the day light hours. One day I will try this out. When I get 'A Round To It' that is. ;-)

Photography information: The photographs of my desk, before and after, were taken with my htc Wildfire phone. The photographs of the Round TUIT and old photograph were taken with a Canon 5D II with a 85mm 1.8 lens. The Photograph of the Carl Zeis lens was taken with a Canon 5D II with a 50mm 1.4 lens. 

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Coffee with a Friend

There's not much better in life than coffee with a friend. Or lunch as the case may be. Yesterday I had lunch with a friend in Stroud, today it was coffee with another friend. Well I had coffee, he had a Pepsi. 

Neither occasion was planed more than a few minutes in advance. It's great to have friends like this, I'm very lucky indeed. Both friends are photographers as well and of course we talked about photography. I was the only one who brought a camera along though, neither friend being surprised, I'm rarely seen without my camera. I don't always take photos, I just like having it around. I feel awkwardly naked without it. We talked about more than photography of course, I'm not that obsessed with photography...much.

Top of discussions lately have been what are we going to do with this year. I've made a few resolutions that so far I'm keeping up with. I'm not usually one for resolutions but this year I really want to make a few changes and figured why not start on the 1st. So far so good! Now if I can just stick with it. 

What are these resolutions? All the usual one's I'm afraid. Loose weight, get fit, organize my life. I look back over the past few years and wonder why I didn't do more or better than I did. I'm a bit ashamed really, especially as there is no excuse. I have the time and the resources and I'm not exactly stupid. I can be a bit of a blonde at times, I'll admit to that. And I'm turning into a bit of a grumpy old woman, which I think is funny. 

Let me tell you a little story that happened yesterday while I was waiting for my friend to get to town so that we could go have lunch. I had about an hour to kill so I walked around town and visited all of the charity shops. I'd had enough shopping so I decided to sit on a bench outside Oxfam and dare one of the 'Chuggers' to come speak to me. (For those who don't know, 'Chuggers' are those people who hang about town usually with clipboards trying to talk to everyone about what ever charity they are working for that day. Short for Charity Muggers.) They didn't get a chance to because before long here come my friend around the corner. She asked me what I was doing sitting there. I replied "Practicing to be an old lady". We both laughed, but, I was serious. 

Lunch was at The Lord John in Stroud and was on me. There must have been a lunch special on as our bill only came to just under £10, and yes that included a drink each. Food was great, company was great, we had a lovely time. Then we went shopping! We went to check out the sale at Pure on King Street. I think it was a closing down sale. They've got a lot of cool stuff in there, including some boots that I just loved. I only looked at them though, I didn't buy them. I don't often find shoes that I really like, so today I went back and got them! See image below:

My new boots!
I love my new boots! They were a great price too! :-D

Image information: Both images were taken today with a Canon 5D II and 85mm 1.8 prime lens. Yes the first image is crooked, I like it that way. The second image I used a remote control to fire the camera. As I was using such a shallow DOF I manually set the focus in advance. 

Monday, 9 January 2012

Cloudy Monday Walk to Town

Junction of Rodborough Hill and Bath Road, Stroud

I had an appointment in Stroud today so I walked down into town. It was a bit cloudy and cold but still a nice walk with lots going on. Going to be a lot more going on soon too as there are more road works going to be happening soon. And right at the point where the worst of Stroud's rush hour traffic comes to a stop twice a day during the work/school week. Sometimes over half my travel time to Gloucester from my house is just getting out of Stroud, especially if I go this way. I will be avoiding this way the last half of January. 

The canal in front of the old Stroud and Swindon building in Stroud as seen from Wallbridge
Lots of work still going on down at the canal. Today they were working on removing the little damn they made during some major reconstruction of the canal and road. You can't see the damn anymore as they'd let the water back in, so they were busy removing it from under water. 

Stroud Canal at Wallbridge
Stroud Canal at Wallbridge

This brings out the kid in me, I love watching these guys. As kids we pretended to do just this sort of thing either with toy dump trucks and cranes or with just our the the the sea....and in ditches. I can't help but smile thinking about it. :-)

Stroud Canal looking the other direction

As you can see above the new gates are now in and they are busy cleaning out the other side now. I'm quite sure the guy on the left is not doing what it looks like he's doing.

During all of this resurrection of the canal the path is closed. Looking forward to them opening it back up as I like to walk along there. Hope they finish it soon as come spring time there are lots of babies born along this bit of the canal. Would be a shame if they had to find somewhere else this year.

As I sit here thinking about it all, I guess there won't be so many swans and ducks and other wildlife making their homes along here anymore. Not with the canal all being cleared out. Shame that. :-/
The Lock Keeper's Cafe in Stroud

The Lock Keeper's Cafe is a lovely place to have lunch, I know as I've had lunch there several times now.  The last time I had lunch there was with my husband and I was introduced to 'Bubble and Squeak' for the first time! I loved it! Yummy!!

This is also the location of the Friday Forum where a small group of local small business people meet on Fridays for a bit of chatting and a bit of networking and a bit of working. Quite a few bring their laptops and have them open and logged on. I usually just pop by for a quick lunch and a natter. Anyone is welcome to join in, if you're in the area on a Friday drop in and say hello. :-)

Something odd on my walk to and from town today was the number of flowers I saw about. Very odd for January I think. Here are a couple of the flowers that I saw today.

January Daisies

January Roses

After my appointment I had a roam around town and went in a few shops. Mainly the charity shops, those are my favourite in town. I feel like I'm on a treasure hunt of some sort and I never know what I might find. Today I found what I think is a very interesting and I just had to buy it. Here's a photo of it:

Detroit Spinners Smash Hits!

Yes it's a real record! It's a shame it's been melted like this, but I think it's cool. I've seen this sort of thing on the internet before, one of those blog post where they explain how to do this at home. It's got some pretty good songs on it too, shame  I can't play it! Not sure what I'm going to do with it. What can you do with a bowl with a hole in the centre? hhmmm I just stuck it on a nail in the wall above the stereo. Looks pretty cool, think I might leave it there...for now.

Photograph information: All of the photos in this blog post were taken with a Canon 5D II with a Canon 85mm 1.8 lens. Settings varied. 

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Street Portrait

Canon 5D II, 85mm 1.8 Lens. Camera settings: f1.8, ISO 200, 1/800th second, AV mode. RAW image processed in Photoshop. 

Rarely do I go out without my camera and today was no different. We had some errands to run down in town so I grabbed my camera bags and rummaged through my lenses to decide which one to take. Wasn't a difficult decision, had already decided on one of two lenses before opened up the first bag. I'm in love with prime lenses and I've only got two of them. The Canon 50mm 1.4 and the Canon 85mm 1.8. The 50mm is my favourite, it practically lives on my camera. I love my zooms too, but they are big and heavy and for walking around the 50 is just perfect, small and light weight. Easily fits into a smallish bag. 

As you already know from above I decided to take the 85mm for a walk today. I took a few photos on our walk to town and back, but the above photo was by far my favourite. The shot wasn't planned, was just chance that we ran into Will. 

Usually I tell people to pay attention to their background when taking portraits. I tell them to steer clear of busy and bold background which mostly over power your subject. But I really loved these red phone boxes and I thought they'd make a great background for Will. While I was taking the photo my husband commented on the red phone boxes and thought they might not make a good background. With a different lens and broader crop I'd probably agree, but I really thought this would work. I was pleasantly surprised when I got home and found that it worked wonderfully. Thanks for posing for me Will! 

Friday, 6 January 2012

Beyond the Lens - StroudFM 'Uncovered'

This past October I was asked if I'd shoot Stroud FM's 2012 Nude Calendar. How could I say no?! I knew it would be hard work, especially on such short notice. I basically had to cram three months worth of work into three weeks. And I'd have to go a month without any paid work. None the less I took it on and I'm glad to say I did. Working with the Stroud FM presenters was so much fun, they were all terrific and great to work with. What an experience!

I decided quite quickly how I wanted the calendar to look photography wise. Well honestly I didn't have a lot of choice as time was limited. I chose to shoot everyone at my photography studio in Gloucester and to keep it very simple. I talked to each of the presenters who'd volunteered to model for the calendar before their shoots. We discussed props and their shows. I wanted their portraits to show a bit of their individual show's personality. I also decided early on that I'd have one prop that'd be in every shot to pull the images together. This prop wound up being the cover photo....which I shot during the first shoot. 
Stroud FM Calendar Cover
The photographs I'm posting here are snapshots of the calendar that I created from a PDF file of the mock-up we used to pull the calendar together. The designer of the calendar itself is Malcolm Jackson of the Nailsworth Design Company.  

Before the calendar was launched I released a few teaser photos to give people a taste of what the calendar was like without actually reveling any of the calendar pages. I did this because we'd decided to keep the actual calendar images secret until the 'Unveiling'. 
Stroud FM Teaser Photos
My theme for all 12 shoots was high key and keep it simple. 'Less is more' I kept telling myself. I really enjoyed shooting in my studio which is set up for easy high key photography. I've got a lovely infinity corner cove with lights coming down from the ceiling. Having this set up made my job a lot easier. Made everything a lot more fun too. 
Stroud FM Calendar pages January - June
High-Key Photography, for those who don't know, is basically over exposing your shot. A bit more than thant though, usually shot in a studio with a white background, your subject not having a lot of contrast and not much if any shadows. No real blacks. As you can see from my photos here, I didn't shoot true high-key. I like my images to be a bit more contrasty. My subjects are a bit 'over exposed' but not so much so that you loose the blacks. I set the lights on the background a full two stops brighter than the lights on my subjects. 
Stroud FM Calendar pages July - December
The approach I took with this shoot was casual. All but two persons, as I understand it, had never done anything like this before and I wanted them to feel comfortable. One person had done some life modeling in the past and another person had done some dancing or stripping or something along those lines. I'm not telling you who so don't ask. All but one person is completely nude in their portraits. I'm not telling you who that is either. :-)

How I made them feel comfortable and put them at ease was to just not make a big deal about the whole thing. I kept them in their robes for the start of the shoot and when they were comfortable we lost the robe. I also talked to them and joked around with them during the shoot. I did this because I wanted them to let their guard down, I wanted to engage their attention with the camera, and I wanted to capture natural smiles and expressions. Mostly I was trying to capture a bit of their personalities. I feel this makes for a much better portrait than just sitting there with a fake smile and a blank look in their eyes. 

I've been asked by quite a few how much photoshoping have been done on these images. I can tell you not a whole lot really. These are real people, not models, and they were very brave. I did do some light touching up, but not much. The most photoshopped things are just that, things. The newspaper in February, the CDs in May and the ducks in November. Oh and the Mic in a few of the shots. That's it really. I did the usual tweaks of levels and curves and removed a few dirty spots on the floor. That's about it really.

Again I can't tell you how much fun I had doing this and all of the presenters told me that they enjoyed it too. A few told me that it was a real self-esteem booster for them. It was for me too. :-)

These calendars are still for sale and you can buy them direct from Stroud FM or from a number of shops around Stroud. The places that I'm aware of that have them are: Trading Post, Confection Affection, Cornflower & Calico, Music Dynamics, Fandango and The Prince Albert

By buying the calendar you are helping to keep your local community radio station, Stroud FM, on the air! So please do buy one! 

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

TammyLynn Photography - A surprise for Mum

Recently I had the honour of shooting two brothers and a little sister as a surprise Christmas present for their Mum. I love these sorts of shoots where the end portrait is to be a surprise gift for Mum. Here are a few of my favourite photos from this shoot:

This photo shoot was a gift from Dad, but I've also had the kids contact me directly to do a surprise portrait for their Mum! How thoughtful is that? What great kids! Here are a few of my favourite shots from that shoot from last year:

What lucky Mums!

I can honestly say that I truly love my job. :-)

TammyLynn Photography
Email TammyLynn