Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Damian McGillicuddy visits Stroud Camera Club

Wow! What an evening! Last Thursday, 23 February 2012, Damian McGillicudy visited Stroud Camera Club to talk about his photographic journey and to share some lighting techniques with club members. Stroud Camera club invited guest from neighbouring camera clubs to join them on this evening and we raised £310 for Damian's chosen charity, Marie Curie. Camera Club members were very generous with their donations and I saw several make more donations at the close of the evening, that's how much everyone enjoyed Damian's visit.

Liz, Stroud Camera Club Chairman, welcomes Damian
If you ever get the chance to hear Damian talk or get the chance to attend one of his workshops I highly recommend you don't miss it! Worth every penny!  He's a great speaker, kept us laughing, entertained and interested. He knows his stuff and he knows how to talk about it in plain simple terms which everyone can understand.

Damian with his Olympus E5
Damian talked about equipment and his current favourite cameras, one of which is his Olympus E5 which he's holding above. I've still got my Oly E3, great tough camera. Well technically I guess you could say my husband has it, he claims the E3 as his camera these days. :-p

The camera Damian shot with this evening was his Olympus E-P2. He's been blogging a lot about the micro four thirds system lately and has even had a play in Italy with the new Olympus OM-D. I'm so jealous! I remember when the first Oly Pen came out and I went to London to get a hands on look at it just before it was officially launched by David Bailey to the public. What a day that was! Don't tell anyone but I saw David Bailey drop the Oly Pen camera which they presented him with at the launch. He just casually picked it up and carried on like nothing happened. I wonder if it still worked.

Damian talking about lighting equipment
Damian talking about equipment
After Damian talked about lighting and equipment he brought out some local models for some practical demonstrations. We got to see his images on the back of his Oly E-P2 and the results in camera were amazing. The key to his success is knowing his equipment and knowing how to light his subjects. He told us that he likes to get it right in camera because he's lazy and doesn't like to spend a lot of time post processing his images. I love his way of thinking. Less processing time equals more time shooting. :-D

Model James Artaius with photographer Damian McGillicuddy
Shooting is the fun bit! Most of the images I take I never even processes or do anything with. Capturing the image or that moment in time is the best part of photography for me.

James Artaius
I was given special permission to take photographs during Mr McGillicuddy's photography lesson for my blog. I wanted to try and capture the evening and of course I wanted to have a play as well. There's nothing photographically special about my images from the night as I was shooting with available room light and wasn't able to really control any light....except with my camera settings. I had fun trying though. I took the above photo and cropped it, see below.
Amazing what a little cropping can do to an image. :-D OK OK, I did a bit more than just cropping. I burned the edges for a vignetting effect. I also put a thin black line around it then gave it a large white border.  It'll pass, but sadly the quality really isn't there. Small web quality it looks OK, but I've seen it large. This is where lighting really pays off.

Damian talked about the importance of lighting your subject correctly for the conditions and what you want to achieve, taking into account the ambient light. He also talked about the importance of using a light meter to correctly measure the light.

I use a light meter in my studio but not often anywhere else. I think I'll start keeping my light meter in my camera bag and using it more often. He does make a good point about using one.

Damian McGillicuddy with model Nicki Pixie
Damian briefly touched on posing your model and decluttering your background. I had a bit of fun with post processing decluttering in my next photo. Can you spot what I did? :-D

It was a real treat to see Damian McGillicuddy in action and working with models. It was also great having a makeup artist and a hair stylist on hand as well and seeing them all work together. It was quite an experience for most of us who'd never worked with a crew like this before. Well I have to a certain extent but not very much.

Damian McGillicuddy has designed and created his own line of lighting modifiers and sells them from his website. They are easy to set up and easily collapsible to make traveling with them a breeze. A lot of my work is on location so this is of particular interest to me.

Damian talking about the collapsible beauty disk he designed. 
It was really great to watch the master at work and I'm looking forward to looking him up at FOCUS on Imaging next week. I hope he has some of his light modifiers on display as I'd like a closer look at them. I might even buy a few. :-)

At the end of the evening Damian gave away a couple of his Down and Dirty Lighting Lessons CDs which you can purchase on his website. He also gave a copy to me as a kind of apology for picking on me throughout the evening. I've had a quick look at it and I'm very impressed. I'm looking forward to taking a much longer look as soon as I get the chance.

Tonight 'Team McGillicuddy' consisted of:
Damian McGillicuddy - Lead Photographer & Photography Instructor (Link to website)
Marcus Green - Assistant & Photographer (Link to website)
Rob Golding - Assistant (Link to website)
Nicki Pixie - Model (Link to website)
James Artaius - Model (Link to website)
Ash Williams - Hairsylist (Link to website)
Marina Harbs Firth-Bernard - Make up Artist

If you'd like to see more of my images from this night you can see them in this web gallery:
Damian McGillicuddy visits Stroud Camera Club (Thursday 23/02/12)

As promised, link to Damian McGillicuddy's blog post about his visit  with a couple of photos taken on the night: 
Just before FOCUS on Imaging 2012

Camera I used tonight was my Canon 5D II. Lens used was Canon 85mm f1.8. 

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Day

Peter making Pancakes....the British version. 

Today is Shrove Tuesday here in England. Every year at this time we have "pancakes for tea". Tea as in the evening meal, not the drink. It's the last day before Lent and is the English version of Mardi Gras. Only without all the partying in the streets and no beads. For Christians' Lent is a time to give something up, so this is the last day that you can stuff yourself silly until Easter.

The pancake mix
It's traditional to make pancakes and serve them up with syrup and lemon juice, though there are many other ways to serve them up as well. This is what Peter cooked for us tonight for our supper. It's not pancakes as most of my American family and friends know it, but is a flat almost tortilla looking thing.

In the pan
I took these photos of Peter making his pancakes with him continuously running me out of the kitchen. He didn't want me taking photos of him at work in the kitchen. So these aren't my best photos, but quick snaps while dodging the frying pan. ;-)

The Flip! 
Yes he flipped the pancakes! Wish I'd been ready for that flip, I barely captured it!

Perfect landing
Fresh squeezed lemon juice for the pancakes
Two pancakes
We took the pancakes and spread some Lyle's Golden Syrup on them, squeezed on a bit of lemon on top, then rolled them up and ate them with a knife and fork.

British Pancakes
Our tin of Lyle's Golden Syrup was a bit old and had crystallized a bit. Was still good though, I had three. :-)

Here's a link to my American Pancakes recipe (Not the recipe for the above pancakes) -> http://tammylynnblogs.blogspot.com/2010/06/pancakes.html

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Home made Buttermilk Biscuits

I have fond memories from when I was a little girl of Grandma's home made biscuits. Sadly, this is not her recipe, I don't have her recipe.

My American Family and Friends know what Buttermilk Biscuits are, some of my British Family and Friends do as well. For those who don't know, the closest thing I can describe them as are savory scones, but they are lighter.

Growing up my Mom occasionally made Grandma's home made biscuits but we mostly had pre made biscuits which just need to be popped in the oven and baked. No mixing or mess and nothing like their home made counterparts but yummy just the same.

I moved to England about six years ago and during this time I've had to learn how to make several of my favourite foods from scratch, as you just can't find them over here. A couple years ago I blogged about making pancakes, the American kind. Before I'd used a mix, which I couldn't find here. Here's a link to that blog post with my recipe for Blueberry Pancakes. <- Click Link

OK, back to biscuits. This is how I make Buttermilk Biscuits. I've adapted this recipe from different recipe's over the years and made it my own. I've never been good at following directions. ;-)

Southern Buttermilk Biscuits

2 cups plain flour (Sometimes I use Spelt Flour)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt (about 1/2 or a little less if you use salted butter)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, soft or room temperature
3/4 cup buttermilk

1. Preheat oven to 450 f or 230 c (200 for fan assisted ovens)
2. Put all dry ingredients into a bowl. I like to sift the flour.
3. Add the butter. I use a table spoon to cut out little half balls and drop them into the flour mixture.

4. Mix until the ingredients resemble course meal or bread crumbs. This will take a few minutes.You can do  this with your fingers or with a mixer with special dough attachments. You can even do this in a food processor.

5. Add the buttermilk and mix. You can either mix by hand with your hands (messy) or use a spoon. My preferred method is using my mixer with dough attachments like in these photos.

6. Don't over mix, mix just until combined well. Over mixing and over handling the dough will make your biscuits hard. We want them light and fluffy.

7. You can now either pick up little dough balls with your hands or with a spoon and drop them onto a backing sheet like this:

By the way, this is how I do it most of the time.

7a. .... or you gently pat or roll out the dough onto a floured surface and cut them out with biscuit cutters.

7b.....Gently recombining left over dough and flattening it to cut out more biscuits. Again be careful not to handle the dough more than absolutely necessary.

8. Place the biscuits on your baking sheet, starting with the first one in the center and then add the rest around it, tucking them up next to each other. Alternatively you can leave a bit of space between them for crispier sides.

9. Bake for about 10-12 minutes. Biscuits will be lightly golden brown when done.

10. When done quickly brush the tops of the biscuits with melted butter.

11. Any left over biscuits can be put in an air tight container and put in the fridge and reheated later. They keep for several days. To reheat put in oven for about 8 minutes.

Back in the States we like to eat biscuits as part of our evening meal. Here in the UK I mostly cook them for breakfast, eating them with a spot of jam along side eggs and dry cured streaky bacon. Yummy. :-)

Friday, 17 February 2012

Stroud by Night

Yes I've been hanging out my bedroom window again. Can you blame me?! What a view! You can see a lot in this photo too.

Things I can make out in this photograph are:

  • The Stroud and Swindon buildings, old headquarters now empty
  • The Bell Hotel / The Cotswold Canal Trust Visitors Centre
  • Cheapside No 1
  • Stroud Railway Station
  • Merrywalks multi story car park & Cenema
  • Stroud House
  • Imperial Hotel
  • The old Woolworths Building / offices / 99p Store
  • Hill Paul Building
  • Cheapside No 2
  • Stroud Subscription Rooms
  • Stroud Congregational Church
  • The Spire of Saint Lawrence Church
  • Saint Mary's Convent
  • Back of Peacocks
  • Uplands
  • Hawkwoods College
Technicalities on how I captured this image. I used my Canon 5D with a Canon 70-200mm f2.8L lens mounted on a tripod. I shot with a number of different settings and took many photos. The above photo had these camera settings: I shot manual at 70mm, f2.8, ISO 100 for 13 seconds. 

Hill Paul and Stroud Subscription Rooms
This next photograph was taken at the other end of my zoom lens at 200mm. In this photo you can clearly see the Hill Paul Building and the Stroud Subscription Rooms. A bit of the train station too. 

Same set up as before but the camera settings changed a bit. Still shooting in manual mode with these settings: f6.3, ISO 100 for 15 seconds. 

Neither image has been cropped. Both shot with the 70-200mm lens. First photo at 70mm, the second one at 200mm. 

It was a lovely night last Tuesday night when I shot this. I didn't get cold at all, hanging out the window at nearly midnight. :-)

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Princess Anne & Stroud's New Bridge

Princess Anne visited Stroud yesterday, Friday 10 February 2012, to officially open the new Stroud Brewery Bridge with a ribbon cutting. Also to visit the Cotstwold Canals Trust Visitors Centre and the new Lock Keeper's Café. I almost missed it as I was busy working and sorting out a shoot for the same day, but just as soon as I had a break and realized that I had just enough time to run down and snap a few pics I shot out the door like a flash.

A friend of mine, Mr. Marcus Green,  had tried to contact me to give me a heads up about the goings on so I went hunting for him as soon as I got there. Found him and another friend Gill from Stroud People just across the canal watching the proceedings on the other side, so I joined them. And who do we see across the way but our friend Carl from the Stroud News and Journal! No surprise there really, he's often working at these types of events. I have loads of photos of Carl that I've taken over the years of him mostly working at events which I've never published. If I ever do publish them it will make it look like I stalk the poor guy!  Honest I don't, he's just always there so I shoot him. ;-)

Carl Hewlett from the Stroud News and Journal
I don't know many people in these photos so I can't name them. If you know the names of anyone in the photos please leave a note below or email me and I'll add their names. I do know that in the above photo that the gentleman on the right is Stroud's Mayor, John Marjoram. He recently went to court over his refusal to fill out a mandatory census. I don't know the details, I don't keep up with these things.

I love capturing photos like the one above, they amuse me. :-)

Wendy Townsend (Lady with big grin) Owner of The Lock Keeper's Café
Wendy, in the above photo, owns and runs The Lock Keeper's Café on the left. Some small local businesses who mainly work from home often meet here on a Friday for the Friday Forum. This day's meet was canceled because the café had been privately hired for today's events. Quite an exciting event for Wendy and I'm happy for her. Wish I could have been inside to capture the visitors inside, one of whom was Princess Anne.

Important people
Man with chain of office on is Cllr John Hudson, Leader Stroud District Council
I don't know how long they were inside and I don't know what they were doing in there, though I suspect enjoying a cup of tea or coffee and one of Wendy's lovely cakes.

More important people
Front on steps Mr Mark Hayward FRICS, High Sheriff of Gloucestershire
Next to him Neil Carmichael MP
behind him David Hagg, Chief Executive Stroud District Council
There was quite a few people inside and when they started pouring out we remarked at how many people were inside this small Café. It was like watching a hoard of clowns climbing out of a small car. Where were they all coming from and how did they all get in there? :-D

Some more important people
Cllr Brian Thornton, Chairman Of Gloucestershire County Council
I'm ashamed to say that I don't know who all these people are, they sure do look important, and I'm sure most people that were there knew who they were. If you do know and you'd like to help me out, please let me know below or drop me an email.

Amusing capture
The moment captured above is another one of those moments that just amuses me. I think we need to have a caption contest with this one. If you'd like to add your caption to this photo please do so in the comment section below. Maybe I'll start a flicr or facebook or forum post so that people can add their own captions. :-)

Princess Anne
HRH The Princess Royal with Cllr Keith Pearson
The moment we've all been waiting for! HRH The Princess Royal (Princess Anne) to come out and unveil the new Stroud Brewery Bridge plaque.

Close up of HRH The Princess Royal

HRH The Princess Royal unveils the new Plaque for the new Stroud Brewery Bridge 
Too bad they didn't put the valance high enough for us to read the top of the plaque.

HRH The Princess Royal give a little speech

HRH The Princess Royal on the Cotsowld Canal boat
After the plaque unveiling Princess Anne and a number of important looking people boarded the Cotswold Canls Trust's canal boat, the Perseverance.

Opening the new lock gates
Recently this bit of the canal has had a revamp and repair, including the locks. This is the first time I've seen this section of the lock full of water and used. In the above photo the lock is just being opened a bit to let the water drain out so that the boat can be lowered down to the level of the next part of the canal.

Waiting for the water level to drop so that they can continue their journey along the canal

Photographers everywhere! (Marcus Green above)

Lock gates opening to let the Canal Boat through
As you can see in these photos quite a few people showed up for the official opening of the canal bridge. I'm sure quite a few came just to see Princess Anne as well.

Princess Anne going under the bridge

HRH The Princess Royal waves to the crowd

HRH The Princess Royal cuts the ribbon officially opening the new Stroud Brewery Bridge
I did quite a bit of running around to get photos from many different angles and vantage points. Loads of fun, I really enjoying covering events like this.

In this photo, Gill and Carl 
In the above photo people have gathered to greet HRH The Princess Royal disembarking from the canal boat. I see two of my friends in the crowd, both of whom are covering the event professionally. 

HRH The Princess Royal greeting the crowd and receiving flowers
As soon as Princess Anne left I had to leave too, as I had a job to get to. I was off to Fairford to shoot three wise men, some Shepherds and famous little baby.  Another very busy day for me! I had the best time though, I love it! :-D I did hate missing out on a coffee and a natter with my friends though. That bit sucked. Next time. ;-)

Photography Information: All photos above were taken with a Canon 5D II and a Canon 70-200 f2.8 lens. Various camera settings were used. Mostly I shot in AV mode watching my shutter speed. If my shutter speed dropped below 1/200th of a second I'd raise my ISO setting. I was pushing the aperture up and down. Mostly shot around f2.8 I think. 

Why do I always tell you which camera when it's always the same camera? Well I do have other cameras, and I do sometimes use them. I've just mostly been using the 5D lately. :-) 

Here are the links to Gill's photos of this event on the Stroud People website:
(If you look carefully you can spot me in the background of several of Gill's photos)

Princess Royal Opens Stroud Brewery Bridge (the build up)

Here are a couple of photos that Marcus took of me during this event. I hope he doesn't mind me sharing them, after all I'm brave enough to show everyone! Not his fault I'm not young, fit and gorgeous. ;-)

When did I get to be so old?!!! 

That's me on the far left and Princess Anne on the right in the red scarf. Just in case you couldn't tell us apart. 
Thank you Marcus!

A big thank you to Marcus Green for taking the time to list the names of the important people in the images above.