The End & The Beginning

The year is drawing to a close and I never managed to finish my 52 weeks project. At the start of December I had a seizure and while recovering ended up missing two weeks, things got very busy at work and I just never caught up. The project will remain unfinished.

Overall I was very happy with it, some of the best photos I’ve ever taken were taken as a part of it and it forced me to learn and try new techniques. Some of those techniques I was able to put to good use towards the end of the year while shooting first at the Mop Fair in Stratford and then later along the Thames in London. I couldn’t be happier with how most of those shots turned out as a result.

My life is pretty dull at the moment, so this blog will remain mostly photography centric as I move on to the next project for the year. I love doing the 365 projects, but I loved those while I was living abroad. It doesn’t look like I’ll be moving back any time soon so I’ll avoid the 365 for now. The 52 weeks and the cards was great, and I’ll certainly revisit that sometime, but not for 2016.

What I learned from last year’s project was that, when it came to anything more complicated than cleaning up, some retouching and removing things from images, I suck with Photoshop. So for the new year and the new project I’m going to be working on my Photoshop skills. I’ve signed up to a whole bunch of tutorial sites, blogs, forums etc. I won’t be following any specific course and in all honesty getting something up every week isn’t likely. That’s what I’ll shoot for though, and I think if I end the year with at least 35 “Classes” completed I’ll be happy.

So how will this work?

Well here on the blog I’ll be showing the Before and After of each picture and I’ll give a brief breakdown of what I did and how I did it. I’ll do my best to use pictures I took, but there is a strong possibility I’ll be using stock photos where I need to. But that’s not all. I’ll be launching a new YouTube channel where I will record exactly what I do and I’ll embed those videos here too.

I don’t want to curate a list in advance of what I’ll do each week or so, this project will be a lot more organic and will develop through the year. The videos will also change based on feedback, so for example I have no idea if I’m going to just shoot everything that’s on the screen and overlay with music or a commentary (though any commentary will almost certainly contain a great deal of NSFW language as I falter my way through the program!)

So that’s the plan – I’ve already started building the new YouTube channel and got my recording and editing software together. I’ve also picked my first Class subject. I’ll see you all in the new year! Have a good-one.

Week 46: London Calling (TakenFromAbove/ASongTitle)

When I pulled Taken From Above out of the deck I knew I was going to go to London for this. I’ve been waiting for the card and hoping I wouldn’t get it sometime when I couldn’t get a good view of the capital. Then I pulled A Song Title. I couldn’t think of anything more appropriate than The Clash.

I reserved some tickets for me, Ben and Bobi at the Sky Garden, based at the top of the Walkie Talkie building. The tickets are free, but they go fast you need to book in advance. We went on Tuesday afternoon and had about an hour at the top.

The type of glass they used really was the worst, it was full of reflections and was almost like a mirror at some angles. It was also heavily tinted blue, totally throwing out the white balance. The pictures I got up there were not as good as I was hoping – if I return one day I’m going to need a polarizing filter of some kind.

Anyhow, this was probably the best of a bad bunch. The colour balance in it was ultimately corrected, but it actually made the picture look kinda bland so I went back to this… red mist.

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Check out the cards for next week, which is the week that’s nearly over:

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Week 45: Winter Is Coming (Park/Decay)

I knew straight away the kind of picture I was going to get when I pulled these cards. Sometimes my first idea is the best, sometimes it isn’t. Walking to and from work each morning there is a huge pile of leaves along this little alley I walk through. There is nowhere for the leaves to get pushed away to so people just walk over them and they are all mouldy and falling apart.

I went to the park looking for that – but I couldn’t really find it. I ended up looking at larger expanses which didn’t look as decayed as they did in my head – and getting up close took away the feeling that it was a park the pictures were being shot in.

Overall I’m pretty happy with this – I did a lot of playing with it in Photoshop to get a stronger feeling of decay but I probably pushed too far. The leaves were clearly dying, but decay? Not especially here. Anyway, this was the finished product at the end of the week.

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Check out the cards for next week, which was last week, which is why I went and booked that trip to the (spoilers) sky garden.

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Week 44: Sunburst (Night-Sky/Ray)

How do you do moon rays? I thought I’d do some really small aperture street lights and use the star-like light spikes as my rays. But early in the week as I was walking home from work it was really, really foggy.

The fog created these natural rays of light bursting through the trees from the street lights. I spent the evening trying to capture the best ones… it was difficult. I didn’t have time to look up online the best way to capture them and I didn’t want to wait until the next day because the fog would most likely have cleared.

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This was the best shot of the evening, and overall I’m pretty happy with it. I imagine if I’d had my tripod with me I could have gotten something less noisy, but I don’t always just lug that around with me so it isn’t too bad.

I’ve fallen well behind with the posting of these since WordPress had a little fit a few weeks ago and stopped letting me upload things. So the cards for next week, which is like… 2 weeks ago now are:

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Week 43: Frog (Tiny/Pink)

I really had no idea what I was going to do for this one when I pulled the card – figured I’d probably need to set something up at home and get out a macro lens.

But as it happens, while I was in Manchester we visited a museum which included a bit of nature. This little dude and a bunch of hit mates were in a tank hidden away. These places are not the brightest and the picture is pretty badly under exposed but I got him as he hopped around and that’s the main thing.

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I had problems uploading here the other week, so here are the cards for next week, which will be uploaded basically straight away:

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Week 42: Manchester World (City/Little-Planet)

I was in Manchester for the weekend and I needed to get a good shot of the city. Originally I wanted to get it from above, they make the best little planet pictures for cities like that.

We walked past a large, open car park that gave this open view of part of the city, side on. I had to take the picture through a mesh fence and it look a few attempts at different angles before getting the right one.

As a picture on it’s own it’s actually very nice, stretched out into this little planet effect some of the details are really strained as you can see. But I liked having a real play with the perspective tools to get it looking like this. I’m pretty happy, a nice set of cards considering how few are now left and a lucky find to get this scene.

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Here are next weeks cards:

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Week 41: Moving Statue (Purple/Portrait)

I’d like to thank by beautiful assistant Martin for his help with this weeks picture. I tried to shoot this the first day of the mop with my tripod. The idea would be that Martin would be bathed in purple light from the ride, a nice long exposure would give me lots of cool lights like in all my other mop pictures.

However, here’s the result of that first try:

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He moved, a lot. It looked silly. We tried a few more times, with me shouting over the music “One, two three! Don’t move!!!!!” to which he would turn to me and say “Have you finished?” The best bit about it was that some total stranger decided to just walk in between Martin and the lights, then say down, perfectly still while Martin still moved around:

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I was very tempted to go for this picture in the project – it really is hilarious. But we went back to the next day after work again and this time I didn’t have my tripod. We went to the same place and just positioned ourselves differently. I used a much slower shutter speed and boom, Martin didn’t move:

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I’ve cropped it with a square, en-keeping with the rest of the pictures from the Mop that weekend. Check out the cards below for the next set of pictures:

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Week 40: Guard Dog (Animal/Street)

My original plan when I pulled these cards was to head to a park somewhere, probably along the riverside in Stratford and try and not look to creepy taking pictures of other peoples dogs.

But then when I was walking through the mop I spotted this dude sitting right on top of one of the vendors. I had the right lens on the camera, that trusted 24mm pancake and I got a couple of shots as I walked past. It was a lot busier that night and I wasn’t able to just stop. I figured if I didn’t like any of the pictures I could turn around and walk back up.

But I got this one, and I really liked it. I got the whole guy in the frame and I love his sad little expression. A great one for the project.

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The cards for next week:

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Week 39: Autumn (Tree/Selective-Colour)

Well what a perfect time of year for something like this. With Autumn the trees are very colourful, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to get this.

Famous last words.

As it turns out when you’re only selecting one or two colours it actually gets kinda messy. It took me a couple of shoots before I was on the right track with what I needed to have in frame, the kinds of colours and the kind of background / foreground. But I got there in the end, and a little post magic helped make it a little better.

I actually had another picture – which I’ll post later – was that it didn’t actually have a tree in it, though I loved the effect with the leaves and the grass. You’ll see, eventually. But here is what I went with in the end.

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The cards for next week:

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Week 38: Candle (One-Colour/Home)

About a week ago I said I was going to catch up on getting these posted – I’m not really on track. I got two great shots at The Mop in Stratford over the weekend and this week, those are three weeks in front of where I am with posting.

One Colour – pretty simple premise, I like simple these days. One Colour at Home. It’s not selective colour, so I can’t really do that, it’ll be cheating. Pretty sure there is still a card for selective colour still in my ever shrinking deck. In the middle of the week I was laying in bed, watching TV thinking, what the hell here is just one colour…

It wasn’t late but the sun is setting early and I had a candle lit. The film ended, the credits rolled and my room went dark, all except for a few white lights from the TV credits and a the yellow light of the candle. I had my eurika moment. I took the candle and placed it carefully in the middle of the floor on a piece of cardboard (a piece I used from that yellow drops project a few weeks ago) and took my camera out.

My 24mm was in Croatia with Ben for the week, so I got my 50mm out. After a number of blurry starts I turned my aperture up and started getting something much clearer. There was only one light source, which generated only one colour on the pale cream coloured candle.

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Not the most creative picture in the world but it hit both the cards and that’s the most important thing… maybe.

Next weeks cards are… and oh look yes I do have selective colour still in the deck:

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