Images published in Amateur Photographer Magazine

August 20, 2019

Earlier this year I submitted a selection of images to Amateur Photographer magazine for their 'Reader Portfolio' feature - and was delighted to find out that I had been selected to be published in this week's edition. I've kept it under wraps until now, so I can include a screen shot of the online version of the finished piece in this blog post. This is a selection of come of my favourite panoramic images - and if you'd like to know more about them, there is a full write-up on each, with settings, at the bottom of this article. AP Magazine didn't have room for my lengthy explanations though!

 

Since publication, I've also had an enquiry from Princess Cruises about using the 'Fire at Sea' sunset shot for their marketing as well, so watch this space. I could definitely see that on a billboard poster . . .

 

And just to prove it really was 'in print' as well, here's a shot of the hard copy!

 

 

This is the full Q&A session, plus additional detail on each image:

 

How and why did you get into photography?

My dad was an avid amateur photographer and taught myself and my sister when I was about seven – initially on an old Russian Zenit that weighed a ton! He also taught us how to develop our own black and white in his loft darkroom, but I’m not sure I’d remember how to do it now :o) I made the switch to digital in 2000 and started marketing myself as a photographer in 2014, alongside my day job as a copywriter. At the moment I do some commercial work and I teach 1-2-1, but the large majority of my income still comes from copywriting.

 

What are your favourite photographic subjects and why?

Initially I concentrated on landscapes, for many years - but more recently I have become fascinated with street photography. At the moment I like them both equally. With landscapes (which, for me, also includes ‘urban landscapes’ such as skylines and so on) it’s all about the ‘thrill of the chase’ and then, when you get those perfect conditions, having the technical skill and the artistic vision to make the most of them. With street photography, it’s all about recording a moment in time that is totally unique and will never happen again. But the need for technical skill to capture that moment quickly, alongside the ability to see what makes a great street shot, is equally necessary.

 

What do you love about photography?

All of the above! And also the way it absorbs me totally – so whatever else is going on in my life, when I’m out with the camera, all of that fades away and gives me time to clear my head and focus on taking great images. I also love seeing a finished image, which is as ‘perfect’ as I can make it – either on screen or also in print. I’d like to do more printing of my images, and that’s a goal for the near future.

 

Where do you hope to take your photography in terms of new photographic projects/exploring new locations or subjects/trying new techniques?

I’m always looking for the next project idea, and currently have a couple running - one for landscapes and one for street - and eventually my aim is to make a living from photography. So I’m always thinking about how I can turn my projects, and my skills, into something that pays the bills! Location-wise, I travel extensively so anywhere and everywhere is fine with me. As to techniques, I’m fascinated by every new one that comes along and have dabbled with ICM, multiple exposure and more - but I always come back to the simpler, more traditional approaches. As you will see from my portfolio, I also love taking/making stitched panoramas, and will always do this when I’m travelling, as I find it’s an excellent way to capture any new location.

 

 

Castle Stalker Rainbow

Camera – Panasonic Lumix G5

Lens – Panasonic Lumix 14-140mm f3.5-5.6

Shutter speed – 1/250

Aperture – f6.3

ISO – 160

 

Where did you take this picture and why?

This was taken at Castle Stalker, on the West Coast of Scotland. I guess the ‘why’ is quite obvious!

 

What were you trying to achieve in terms of composition, lighting and mood?

This was an early morning shoot that was planned to take advantage of the best time of day for capturing direct sunlight on the front of the castle, and - if I was lucky - an interesting and moody sky behind. 

 

What challenges did you face during the image-making process?

The rainbow was way too large for a single shot - even if I'd had time to switch to my wide angle lens, so the only answer was a very quick, hand-held, five shot panorama - before the colour started to fade almost as soon as it had appeared. Then the only remaining question was whether the shots I had taken would fit together into a perfect curve, which happily they did.

 

What post processing (if any) did you do?

Stitched pano in Lightroom. Minor adjustments for highlights and shadows etc.

 

 

Light Pyramid Reflection

Camera – Panasonic Lumix G5

Lens – Panasonic Lumix 14-140mm f3.5-5.6

Shutter speed – 1/200

Aperture – f7.1

ISO – 320

Other equipment used – Manfrotto Tripod

 

Where did you take this picture and why?

This was taken in Campbell Park, in Central Milton Keynes. At the time I was shooting for a book of images for MK’s 50th birthday, hence being out and about locally with the camera. I shot this because the colours and light were perfect, as were the small white clouds which frame the pond and its reflection. The scene rarely looks this ‘polished’ as the reeds around the pond tend to look very scruffy for most of the year, but it was spring so they were still new and green.

 

What were you trying to achieve in terms of composition, lighting and mood?

To promote a bright, fresh, green and vibrant city which is often much-maligned and thought of as a ‘concrete jungle’. Also to frame the Light Pyramid (a ‘beacon’ style focal point for events and gatherings in Milton Keynes) within the almost perfect reflection. This is also rare as often there are ducks and geese on the pond which disrupt the reflection.

 

What challenges did you face during the image-making process?

Finding exactly the right spot to stand in to get the reflection perfectly positioned, without falling in the pond!

 

What post processing (if any) did you do?

Stitched pano in Lightroom. Minor adjustments for highlights and shadows etc.

 

 

Fire at Sea

Camera – Panasonic Lumix G87

Lens – Panasonic Lumix 14-140mm f3.5-5.6

Shutter speed – 1/320

Aperture – f8

ISO – 1250

Other equipment used – none

 

Where did you take this picture and why?

This was taken from the top deck of a cruise ship, leaving port in Fort Lauderdale, Florida – not long after the shot above. I wanted to show the fabulous post-sunset sky in the context of the ship itself, to demonstrate one of the many amazing things about cruise holidays!

 

What were you trying to achieve in terms of composition, lighting and mood?

As outlined above, this was about showing the late evening sky and the cruise ship at the same time - with the glow of the sun reflecting off the side of the ship to evoke the feeling of warmth and being on holiday as the ship left port and ‘steamed’ to its next destination.

 

What challenges did you face during the image-making process?

The light was actually very low on the ship itself, even though the sky was still bright, so I had to increase the ISO to keep the sharp detail in that area, while also balancing shutter speed (hand held) and aperture, to maintain as much depth of field as was reasonable for focus on the closer section of the ship, and also the sky. To capture as much sky as possible this was also taken in sections and stitched into a pano afterwards.

 

What post processing (if any) did you do?

Stitched pano in Lightroom. Minor cloning to adjust the ship’s rail in the foreground which didn’t quite line up properly when stitched. Adjustments for highlights and shadows etc.

 

 

Dubai Sunrise

Camera – Panasonic Lumix G80

Lens – Panasonic Lumix 14-140mm f3.5-5.6

Shutter speed – 1/320

Aperture – f8

ISO – 200

Other equipment used – Manfrotto Tripod

 

Where did you take this picture and why?

This was taken from the top of The Palm in Dubai, looking out towards the Dubai skyline. I had wanted to capture a skyline sunrise image like this for some time, after seeing many of them online, and The Palm is the perfect place to do this from. This was the first morning of my first trip to Dubai.

 

What were you trying to achieve in terms of composition, lighting and mood?

I wanted to capture a misty skyline and also the rising sun, but before any flare was visible – to create that warm ‘urban oasis in the desert’ feeling. However, the skyline on its own did not feel interesting enough, just floating in the sea, so I decided to include a section of the boardwalk on the Palm as well. I liked the warm glow reflecting on the walkway, and the lone figure in the distance was an added bonus for extra context.

 

What challenges did you face during the image-making process?

Again, I had to work quickly as the sun was rising rapidly, and once it came out of the haze I knew I would have too much flare. What I did not realise at the time was how lucky I was to see it like this, as on every other morning the skyline was partially or totally masked by the smog and the heat haze!

 

What post processing (if any) did you do?

Adjustments for highlights and shadows etc. Some cloning of distracting objects in the sea, and a car in the distance.

 

 

Singapore Skyline

Camera – Panasonic Lumix G80

Lens – Panasonic Lumix 14-140mm f3.5-5.6

Shutter speed – 10 seconds

Aperture – f18

ISO – 200

Other equipment used – Manfrotto Tripod

 

Where did you take this picture and why?

This was taken at Marina Bay in Singapore. Since my first visit to Singapore I had always wanted to shoot the iconic skyline at blue hour, with all of the city lights reflected in the marina - so this shoot was timed and planned to achieve this aim.

 

What were you trying to achieve in terms of composition, lighting and mood?

I specifically wanted that ‘blue hour’ feeling - with the city lights clearly visible, but also some luminosity in the sky. The location was also carefully chosen to ensure I could include part of the Helix Bridge on the left, as much of the Marina Bay Sands’ reflection as was possible, and also most of the colourful business district skyline - but with minimal distraction from the football pitch which sticks out into the marina on the right!

 

What challenges did you face during the image-making process?

The key challenge was to ensure that the pano would stitch together without any curvature, and also to protect the highlights from the city lights, and maintain an accurate representation of the ‘blue hour’ sky, without any noticeable banding.

 

What post processing (if any) did you do?

Stitched pano in Lightroom. Adjustments for highlights and shadows etc.

 

 

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