Our Photography Courses Blog

Selection of pictures from the Photography Mentoring Service for February – the theme was Rush

Posted in Mentoring Service on March 4th, 2015 by Phil – Comments Off


A very varied selection of pictures from this month’s theme. Lots of traffic including this rather good first shot from Dave, which follows all the rules for getting a good headlight/traffic shot:


Firstly and most importantly it’s a long shutter speed – here, it’s 15 seconds. You will not be able to hold it still for this, but you may not need a tripod – you may get by resting on a handrail or a dog poo bin. Use the timer so you don’t poke the camera and wobble it.

Secondly, you’ll need to find an aperture and ISO to suit the shutter speed (so, usually a higher f stop and lower ISO – here it’s f22 and 100ISO.

Thirdly, you need a good bit of road. Sleek and understandable, with traffic diverting smoothly. (Bumps in the road look awful).  It’s crucial that the still stuff is really sharp – so a stationary car looks good too.  Somehow if everything is moving we can’t pick out the movement of the subject from the wobbling of the lens, so it doesn’t work.  We need to be holding the camera really still for these – use every trick in the book and you’ll be glad you did.

We did have a young chap on a course in Henley who was unbelievably good at holding the camera still – up to a second or more an perfect clarity – weird.  Turned out in his day job he is a Royal Marine sniper – fair enough!  For most of us the old rule of being able to hold the camera for the length of the zoom applies (so a 200mm lens can be held for 1/200th on a full frame camera, or 1/300th on a Nikon/Sony or 1/3200 on a Canon crop sensor camera.  Much longer than this and you have to take precautions – and don’t believe the hype about image stabilisation either!!

Rush 2





Boarding fun






Rush 1

Rush 03 - Windfarmj

Rush 3











increased shadows and highlights

Selection of pictures from the Photography Mentoring Service for January – the theme was Ablaze

Posted in Mentoring Service on February 4th, 2015 by Phil – Comments Off

With a theme like “Ablaze” I thought we would see a lot of fire pictures, surprisingly there weren’t that many – just as many pictures of illuminated retail outlets as fire, shows how much we know!

This striking picture was taken by Toby at the 2012 Olympics – he has cunningly increased his ISO to enable a deeper depth of field so that the figures in the background don’t become a blur.

Nikon D3 with 70-200mm 2.8 lens (we wish!) at f5.6, 1/800 and 720ISO. Using matrix metering has made the camera more forgiving (in fairness the metering on D3 is awesome anyway in any mode) and Toby has used shutter priority here to enable him to fine-tune the way the flame looks, something we always recommend. You have to remember that what we see and what the camera sees are very different with flames, so it takes a bit of work to make it look natural. White balance can be an issue too – adjust it to get the colours to look the way you want – don’t rely on auto for this, it’s too weird for your camera!

this1-_MG_7711 1-_MG_7781 Two Candles 1 3 Amaryllis 2 Ablaze_3 IMG_5804 IMG_5855 Ablaze 1 Ablaze_1 Ablaze 2

Selection of pictures from the Photography Mentoring Service for December – the theme was Quiet

Posted in Mentoring Service on January 14th, 2015 by Phil – Comments Off

A slightly muted response this month with the usual great range of subjects, and locations from the Malvern Hills to the Vercours.

This picture warrants a little exploration – this was taken by Maureen, and I have included the mentoring I sent:

Red Lego Man (1 of 1)
Settings were Canon 650D, 74mm equiv, 1/8th, f4.5, 3200 ISO
Here’s what I said to Maureen on this picture:

What a groovy object! You need to bear in mind that the camera does all its metering and measuring in black-and-white, and tends to see red as darker than we do. As a result, it often over exposes red things because it thinks they are dark. I would have immediately thought here that this was going to be tricky – and been under exposing slightly, and possibly even centre or spot metering on the red man. I think it’s critical that he is sharp and exposed properly, and the background is much less important.
In these dark conditions, the camera has given you a shutter speed that is almost 10 times longer than the average person can hold still. If you had used a bit more negative exposure compensation this would have given you a dark picture which you could reclaim later, and you could even use more ISO as well and hope that your noise reduction in light room could deal with any artefacts. As it is, it’s just a little blurry which is a real shame.
If you had a 50 mm f1.8 it would have been very similar in zoom, but the aperture would have been literally 10 times as big and you would have been able to hold it still really easily. Looking back at your previous pictures I can’t see any evidence of one of these – they’re brilliant lenses and only about £73 on Amazon – well worth getting if you do lots of low light shots and all these are!!



All Quiet (1 of 1)



King and Queen (1 of 1)





securedownload (3)

Frosty Morning 02



Quiet (1 of 3)

Quiet 1


Selection of pictures from the Photography Mentoring Service for November – the theme was Out of the Gloom

Posted in Mentoring Service on December 15th, 2014 by Phil – Comments Off

Some of the best stuff we’ve ever had on the mentoring service this month – obviously this theme struck a bit of a chord.  Some great ideas and technical skills on show here.

As always, a real mix of experience and cameras, from compacts to a mighty Nikon D3, and people with years of experience alongside people just getting started.

The picture of the little girl is here with the permission of her Dad Dave, who took the shot.  We don’t normally post people pictures, especially children, but we thought this time a gloomy kid fit the theme really well.

Next month will be the first month of Photography Mentoring Service v2.0, taking on-board most of the suggestions that have come from our customers.  Wait and see – it’s gonna be good, and it’s the same price as before, just better organised!!


DSC_0091 Nov1

We think it’s unfair to have favourites, but people have asked us to pick out pics and critique them here – we really like the way that Jane has balanced the gloom and the brightness in this shot from all the way over in Clifton, here in Bristol. Nikon D5300, kit lens(!) 18-55mm zoomed in to 55, f11, 1/100th and 640ISO. We did a little minor tweakery in lowly Picasa to up the contrast by increasing shadows and highlights. Even in her hurry to get the shot she’s thinking about the composition – well done Jane!!

Here’s the original unedited picture from Jane – slightly less direct framing and someone in the background but still a nice atmospheric shot.

DSC_0091 (2)

skirts giving
Out_of_the_Gloom_01 DSC_7891 Out of the Gloom 3 DSC_6302 DSC_6321 DSC_7692 (2) DSC_7863 OOTG-Divorce