Blog

DAY 3033

 

A Blog About Becoming A Professional Photographer...Again

Posts in photography
A Belated Happy New Year

Happy New Year dear friendly reader! Hope you had a nice holiday season. I wasn't working much in December and decided to focus on some personal projects and spending time with my loved ones. Then January hit and the flu took hold. This post was supposed to go up last Thursday but I never got around to finishing it because of illness. Apologies!

Anyway, it's definitely back to the usual grind but before I look forward into this new exciting year I thought I'd share a small showcase of some of my favourite images I took in 2017. 

This post has a bit of everything. I've got some shots from my phone and some from camera. Hope you enjoy! I'm still looking to expand my portfolio so feel free to contact here. I would love to hear from you.

 

Thanks for your time dear friendly reader. As always please don't forget to follow me on Facebook and Instagram to keep up-to-date. 

How To Fail

It's December and the holidays are around the corner so I thought I'd share a little capture of the winter wonderland we had back in 2010 which holds an important message for me and maybe you. This month's #TBT is about failure. Below I'm going to walk you through a project I did during college that wasn't working out at all and how I overcome that awful feeling we all get which can make or break a person. As you can assume this post is a bit more for the artistic person as I'm going to directly relate to the project but it holds a good message generally that I often forget frequently. 

Bear With Me

I'm going to let you in on a secret which might not be a secret to you but it certainly is to me, unfortunately no one ever told me until a short while ago. Failure is a big word, it means a lot, so much pressure is put on you when the word failure is used. Tons of brain power is used to be the best, be understood, liked etc...i.e. not a failure. The thing about failure is even if you don't do a good job that time, or you miss out on something for example there's every few instants in your life where that negatively effects you for a long period of time. If it does effect you for a long period, it's more about you not letting go of your mistakes.

My advice is take failure out of your vocabulary. Don't think it, don't talk about it. Just keep working and thinking, there isn't a time limit on your success as a human. If it doesn't happen now, if you need it, you will get there again. You'll move things around till you get where you need to be. By the way I think this can be applied, from your smallest tasks to biggest life decisions. Try it sometime if you're an over-thinker. 

It's probably not a surprise but I didn't learn that when I finished this project in question, in fact it took me several years to understand that and I forget it all. For example utter fear of failure is what was looming over my head when I decided to take the easy way out and not start a career as a photographer five or so years ago. I'm battling that idea of failure everyday and you should too! No one has all the answers so why do you?

 

The Project Real Quick

Above you'll find two digital test shots of the first incarnation of the project and below are the images on medium format film, nothing I couldn't do digitally really. As far I can remember the work was loosely titled "With Gaia", Gaia is the personification of the Earth in Greek Mythology. This project never came close to a finished product but I started with the idea of an item of clothing posed as a model in the great wilderness also known as whatever park that was close by. The brief never actually left that concept.

I wanted the clothes to take on a sculptural quality to compliment the concept of an item of clothing representing a personality and memory of the person who owned it and the connection with the natural backdrop. Something about how we're all animals. I never figured out how to do that visually in any interesting way. Something got in the way which sidetracked me terribly. 

 

Then Gaia Was Like...SNOW!

So I was lost trying to step up the project, I was doubting the concept and didn't know how to salvage it. Then it snowed, a lot, it snowed everywhere and it stuck. Using film was out of the question because it was unnecessary travel while I could use digital, I didn't have much time until the project was due at this rate and so I went out and shot a few times and below is a selection of what I submitted for the final project. Although I sort of like some of the images they mean literally nothing because I was met with too many roadblocks, I got too much in my head about how I wasn't good enough to do what I wanted, I couldn't communicate what I needed. I "failed" and I felt like a sucked as a photographer/artist. 

Bottom Line

If you're like me, hold your work (anything you do) to a high standard and never think you've done quite good enough. You can only try hard and if you can't succeed at what you were trying to achieve, chances are that's only you seeing that crappy result. Other people around you, your clients, your friends and family. They probably saw the amount of effort you were putting in and see the final product as perfectly acceptable even amazing. For producing photographic work for clients this is a good quality to have. It means you're always striving to be better. Something a person will gladly pay for. Just don't burn out and if you can make the silly mistakes early on your own dime then I would do it.

Throughout my time in college that's what that was for. Once I left I got more productive, technically better and yet I still constantly strive to be better, I also beat myself up when I don't get the shot that I missed but things happen and if you've got a good eye there will be plenty of more opportunities where that came from. 

So what I've learned is to overcome that severe self-doubt. Take a breath and go step by step. Just keep moving and the final result will knock people out of the park, it just won't knock you out all the time. I guess this post has been for the triers in life, as a kid I was always labeled as a trier and that got me to the skill level I'm at now in my photography and I continue to grow everyday.

 

Thanks for your time dear friendly reader. As always please don't forget to follow me on Facebook and Instagram to keep up-to-date. 

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Photographing White Collar Boxing Part I

I've never photographed boxing before but for the last few weeks I've been shooting the training for a Charity White Collar Boxing Event in aid of Spinal Injuries Ireland & The Robert Kenny Fund. 

The first time shooting was difficult, I didn't know the environment I'd be shooting in before I got there. For some reason I had this picture in my head and I didn't think it would differ much. Obviously I was wrong because light was non-existent for the camera to capture. A good note to take away from this is always ask the client what the location looks like and try go there either earlier than required to test shoot or at a different time entirely if possible. The only light I had at my disposable was two outdoor lights on either side of the group.

The Process When Shooting

I was shooting in low light, couldn't use flash as folks were training, didn't need to distract them. Always go into a job with an idea of how you want the photos to come out. You have to think about your post-production at least at the start of the shoot then worry about the shooting once you have an idea in mind. My thought for these training sessions were gritty, contrasted, very deep on the shadows. I got even more of that than I wanted. I had to shoot the highest ISO available, with shutter speed on about 1/200th of a second, whereas I wanted to shoot on about 1/400th of a second ideally. My aperture was on 3.5 usually. The result meant that noise was more of a problem than a choice. I quickly identified that if I shoot standing directly under these lights or shooting into them so there's a slight bit of flare I'd get a better exposed image.

At Least You Know For Next Time

Of course I still had to keep moving around. You can't get all the shots you need standing in four of the same positions. The above images are from my first time around, the left is directly in line with one of the lights attached to the wall, you can see the lens flare, noise isn't an issue in this. The image on the right however is the furthermost point away from the light sources and noise is a large problem. I made it work in my favour, with some noise reduction and working with the exposure and contrast I came out with images that are usable and do represent the feeling of adrenaline and exhaustion in the training. The colour temp was also an issue I found no preset in-camera that was true to the colours so I manually had to gauge the colour temp in Adobe Lightroom afterwards.

One thing I wasn't thinking of, shooting in low light, take your damn filter off! I always shoot with a UV filter on or something similar, it balances your exposure and I also like them on in case of an accident and the lens goes for a hop. I hadn't shot a fast-passed activity without flash in a long while and completely did not take this into consideration until I was tidying up my kit at home when it dawned on me. Always before a job, sit down and think what you need or don't need with you. 

Really quickly

If at first you kind of screw up, just make sure you try and screw up well like I did. The next time it was much more fluid, I knew the light situation and I took my filters off my lens so I had a quicker shutter speed. I tested out the first time around on different lens, 35mm, 24-110mm and 70-300mm (for tight shots). I've decided that two lens I preferred to use for the job is 35mm as it's a classic reportage lens focus and I enjoy working in 35mm framing. I also use a 24-70mm lens that I tried after the first shoot to able to get a better range.

A side note 24-70mm is a do-all shoot-all workhorse range if you have a Canon camera there's two models to be looking at, the Tamron and Canon. I own the Tamron, it's cheaper and there's very little different as far as I could deduct. The Tamron also has image stabilization which my shaky hands definitely needs and the Canon just doesn't hold up on a lot of counts. Check out actual reviews online you'll see what I mean. Lastly when shooting something like boxing, when it doubt just snap continuously, after fifteen minutes you'll be in a rhythm and will be able to anticipate the potential shots better and in sports that's what you need to be able to do.

Just a small selection above of more formal portraits of some the boxers. I had them stand so there was a lot of space in the background to get more depth and to ensure the portraits weren't going to come out as angry mugshots. The boxers had varying poses and heights, I originally wanted to try and have all the portraits uniform. However they were shot quickly with a Speedlite flash attached to the camera and no use of a tripod. In the field your plans and ideas won't always work. The sign of a good photographer I think is to work their ability to think on their feet and action out new ideas quickly.  

If you're interested in supporting the event which takes place on 25th November or to look at the hoard of shots I produced so far you can go here. I'll be shooting at the actual event so there will be a Part Two towards the end of November.

 

Sidetrack For A Sec (Or Maybe Longer)

This marks the first blog post on Day 3033 that isn't a Throwback Thursday. My apologies for that, I was getting wrapped up in the #TBT because I was getting good feedback on them. Those posts have now been pushed to the first Thursday of the month. I finally remembered Day 3033's tagline is "becoming a professional photographer...again". How am I supposed to convey this journey when all I seem to do is take time to trawl through my archive for old shoots that might be of interest to you?

I think it's a vital part of this blog still. It's important to go through your archive every now and then to see where your skill and technique was at 2 years ago or even 2 months ago. As we grow older on a physical level our eyes change (I need glasses now) and our minds change, we think differently usually because we're more educated about the world or a topic or skill like photography. For example my day job has taught me to be really analytical and much more technical in how tasks are carried out, that's helped and seen in my photography or how I handle business.

The more we photograph the better our skill and photographic eye develops I'm pretty sure that's fact. I find it a good confidence boost too looking through your archive, you can see how subjectively better you are now as opposed to before. As well photographing is of course about capturing memories so perhaps on an old job you learned a lesson you've since forgotten. That being said it's better idea to write these down though under a notes tab on your phone entitled "Lessons I've learned that I really should remember", that's what I do anyway. 

 

Thanks for your time dear friendly reader.

Please don't forget to follow me on Facebook and Instagram to get updates.

The Times I Wish I Had A Camera With Me

 

Another Thursday, another #TBT post this week and it's got to be a quick one. I'm swamped with work unfortunately but I still wanted to give you dear friendly reader something interesting to look at. 

Get On With It

Anyway this week I'm showcasing a small selection of shots all from a time I didn't have my professional camera with me. These where all shot on my current camera phone, One Plus 2 for reference.

Looking at these shots really make me wish I had my professional Canon camera to shoot because the detail I would of been able to capture would of been phenomenal. Hindsight is 20/20 as they say, these shots are still amazing if you don't mind me tooting my own horn. 

If you're viewing this post on desktop and they're a little degraded, sadly they're just not big files to begin with. I would suggest view on mobile to get the gravitas of the photos. 

 

That's It For This Thursday

All the above images are clickable so you can see them larger. The photos were shot over the last nine months or so whilst going about my day. I won't be giving any more context because that's not the point of this post. Sit back, take a break from your day and stay in the images for a few minutes. One thing I will say is you would never guess I really like clouds and the skyline right? If you're a photographer and you've been in the same position as myself, I implore you try and remember your camera on the daily. I know I won't but I can always keep trying. Just a little note I plan to have more posts like this in the future so let me know if you liked this kind of post. 

 

Thanks for your time dear friendly reader.

 As always please don't forget to follow me on Facebook and Instagram to know when I post.

#TBT Old Steam Train Journey

 

On Thursdays We Reminisce

The first #TBT (Throwback Thursday) post is a little train journey on an old steam train I took back in the summer while in Cornwall. I'll be posting these throwback posts most Thursdays, just when I'm going through my archive and I find something worthy of your attention. 

The Trip

It was our first full day in Cornwall, super warm and my other half really wanted to go on an old steam train as there's a lot of them in the area. We just made it to the station in time which was about 45 minutes away from where we were staying. The train embarked a few minutes after we got our tickets and found seats otherwise we were going to have to wait for an hour and a half. The station itself was just for the old rail  and was kept in a timely fashion to mirror the steam train. 

The train went back and forth on two different lines and it took about 2 hours in total. It was a pretty slow ride. We had a feeling that because of the hot summer's day that the poor man, who was of a certain age, was just too burnt out of his old-timey train conductor uniform in the engine room beside the firebox. 

 

The Edit

I wasn't interested in the train itself but the interior and sitting out looking at the scenery pass by was definitely intriguing. For the post production I wanted these shots to resemble an older era of photography so they can really emote the experience of being on a steam train.

I firstly tried the photos in black and white but they weren't striking enough and a lot of my photography is monochromatic so I wanted to challenge myself more. The most logical choice was sepia next but before I did anything I knew sepia wouldn't be the right choice either. I find sepia images fall flat and sometimes tacky. Unless you meticulously edit the image so the tones are one hundred percent authentic looking but still everything inside the frame needs to look one hundred percent authentic too. These photos were not authentic enough. I don't like sepia enough. 

I had a thought, that day on the train was so warm and sunny so I decided to work with that. I warmed up the shots, raised the clarity to have more edge, brought the highlights down more than needed, that didn't work for all the shots though. I was shooting with a shallow depth of field because I wanted to imitate the softer focus of an old film camera. I wouldn't recommend this, in hindsight it would of been easier to shoot sharp and blur aspects in post production, with the movement of the train I didn't always get the focus I was after.

After a few more tweaks with curves saturation and the like the results were photos with beautiful golden and deep tones, something reminiscent of an photographs from the era of the steam train, which definitely portrays the experience I had. They emote this quiet and gentle indexing of the interior and the landscape outside.

 

Thanks for your time dear friendly reader. 

Please don't forget to follow me on Facebook and Instagram for updates about blog posts and everything else.