Our Photography Courses Blog

Photography Mentoring Service pictures for September 2016 – a closer look.

This month we’ll have a closer look at some of our favourite pictures, looking at the composition and technical elements of the pictures, rather than the usual gallery of images. The theme this month was Still Here – and we were thinking of not just old stuff, but things that had battled against the odds, things that had been left out of context and so on.

Rob’s picture of the famous Pig and Whistle pub, left standing after the Liverpool blitz does a great job of making it feel left behind. It’s a tricky building to photograph, as there is a lot of clutter and car parks in the area which can confuse the message.
Rob has used an aperture of f11 here, which puts most of the picture into focus while emphasising the foreground, which we feel is absolutely the way to go:

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Moira sent this shot in from Magnetic Island, Queensland. This piano is a bit of a mystery, how it got to Radical Bay is unknown but it’s been there for years. It’s been photographed a lot (often with gormless-looking Aussies pretending to play it), but not as well as this.
This shot is classically thirdsy, and taken from a low angle which bigs up the piano but still lets us see the keyboard. Technically, as with Rob’s shot, it’s a mid-aperture not-quite-a-landscape-not-quite-a-portrait shot which gives loads of context while directing us to look at the piano. Exposure is just about perfect here – it would be easy to overexpose those people on the beach.
We might have moved the stool, as it’s ugly and a bit dated and time-specific – the timelessness of the object may have been more clear without it. Great shot though:

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To Worcester now, with Geof’s shot of a bemused-looking Elgar with a lot of modern clutter. Coincidentally, years ago we sold a photograph of this that Rachel had taken to the son of Kenneth Potts, the sculptor as a present for his Dad – small world!
Geof’s shot is a slightly weird narrow crop, and has a lot of the kind of clutter that Rob had managed to avoid in Liverpool – perhaps a clearer crop would have given a more focused view – it’s a bit busy. Geof took this a low f-stop to make it portraity, but his Nikon P7100′s small sensor has taken the edge off this a bit.

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Staying in the Midlands, here’s Dave’s very popular wideangle view that’s been seen by over 1800 people since we put it on Facebook. Many of these viewers are overseas and the classic thirdsy composition and dramatic image appeals to everyone in any language.
This shows the advantage of using a wide-angle (here a 10-20mm that I recommend for Nikon users on courses) to do portrait-style shots. The background is a little blurry – perhaps not as much as you might expect for f4.5, but a wide angle’s low focal length tends to reduce the effect of aperture on depth of field. Dave has a crop sensor camera (like most of us with limited budgets!), so here the 12mm marked on the lens is actually 18mm. The 18-being-27mm view of a kit lens would have worked, but been much less effective here. Using 12mm rather than 10mm massively reduces lens distortion.
The monochrome treatment has been enhanced by skilful tweaking of the black and white “mix” in Adobe Lightroom, darkening the sky and changing the yellow stubble against the soil, but it’s not overdone. A fantastic shot, which is why it’s so popular all over the world:

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This is just a small sample of the delightful images we’re sent from all over the world and we’d love to see yours! If you fancy signing up for mentoring service, it’s £12 month (that’s about $1 or 2 euros these days) and you can start and quit any time. Go here to sign up. If you attend one of our courses, we’ll give you a month free. What’s not to like?

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