Open Wide – the bokeh effect

The aesthetic quality of blur produced in the out of focus parts of an image is known as bokeh (pronounced boh ka). Bokeh can also be defined as the way the lens produces out-of-focus points of light. This is the effect the lens design has on out-of-focus highlights in the background which mimic the lens aperture blade’s shape inside the lens. These may be perfect circles or they may appear as hexagonal shapes, with a good lens rendering these as soft looking circles, making the bokeh effect less distracting.

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Olympus E-M1, 12mm, 1/6400 @f2

Creative landscapes

A different mindset needs to come into play when shooting landscapes which feature bokeh. If you swop f16 to shooting at f1.8 instead, then you need to consider your composition carefully as well. Using a wide angle, you will need to be nice and close to a foreground subject, just so that you can achieve a suitable bokeh effect. So, fill the bottom of the frame with this and focus carefully on this subject. Check the image afterwards for sharpness and use the depth-of-field preview if your camera has one. You may not be able to reduce your out-of-focus part of the frame to a series of soft circles, but you will produce a nice sense of depth with your results

You can read more about bokeh in my eGuide ‘Open Wide’, available as part of an e6 subscription or to purchase separately. www.e6subscription.co.uk

 

Beyond the Grave & into the Red

For my infrared project having the right subject to shoot was key. Infrared doesn’t work on every subject. Well, the actual process does, but the successful result is a bit more subjective. Some of the results I have seen published or on the web have often been a bit cliché, even if they work well within that cliché. So, I was looking for a subject that would suit the medium that perhaps hadn’t been done before, or was just less-photographed. In fact, this combination happened the other way around. I’d had the subject in mind for a while, but needed a technique to give it an edge. And so my Beyond the Grave idea was brought to fruition. I wanted to photograph cemeteries and the ‘Into the Red’ tag was the infrared medium I would capture them in.

The camera I used or should I say camera’s, were my Olympus EM1 and EP5. These are the camera’s I use for all my photography and they were actually ideal for this medium. The filter I used was a Hoya R72 Infrared filter. I purchased it in 67mm size, big enough for my standard zoom and I also purchased a couple of step-down rings so I could use it on other lenses too, if required.

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Brompton Cemetery, London.  Olympus E-P5, 10mm, ISO 800, Hoya R72.

This filter absorbs at least 10 stops of light, so it’s a bit like using a Big Stopper filter. This effectively means using the camera on a tripod, as the resulting exposures, even on the bright days, lasted several seconds. This was going to be one of a few downsides shooting with this filter rather than with a converted infrared camera, as I wouldn’t be able to get away with any handheld shooting. The other issue was movement. Subject blur from foliage, important for infrared, was not going to look very pleasing on the final result, so a lack of wind and therefore a calm day was preferred.

Now, as I say the OMD camera’s, especially the EM1 were ideal for shooting with this filter, as it avoids a third issue, composition. Because the filter is so dark, I would normally have to compose the scene without the filter in place, then once happy with my position, focus, screw the filter on and take the picture. If moved position again, I would normally have to take the filter off and repeat the process. Not so with the Olympus system. These cameras have a mode called Live Boost, which increases the intensity of the rear screen and electronic viewfinder view for when using strong filters such as this. This meant I could ‘see through’ the filter enough to compose and fine-tune the focus without forever taking the filter on and off. A godsend, I can tell you!

You can read more about infrared project shooting cemeteries in my eGuide ‘Beyond the Grave & into the Red’, available as part of an e6 Premium subscription. www.e6subscription.co.uk

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London 2 Day Photo Challenge

My latest vlogs on my YouTube Channel see me shoot three different areas of London in two days. I start off on day one, photographing the Shard from various angles and viewpoints. On day two, I move along to St Paul’s and the City to shoot the cathedral from some new angles and get creative with the modern skyscrapers of the financial hub of the capital. Continue reading

New eGuide: Tilt & Shift Lenses

You’ve probably heard of them and might know basically how they work. However, tilt & shift lenses are such a versatile lens that they have many uses. Whether it’s for architecture or shooting landscapes, their advantage is indispensible and every photographer should consider having one in their gadget bag. If you think they are too expensive however, this new Tilt & Shift Lenses eGuide aims to show how much value for money they really are.

Become an e6 Subscriber to read this new eGuide.

City Photo Walks

My new City Photo Walks are now available to book on the website. These photo walks take place in major UK cities across the UK, including London, Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool. They are in association with Olympus, so as well as tuition from me, you also get the opportunity to get hands-on with the Olympus OM-D Micro four-thirds camera and a variety of lenses. Visit the City Photo Walks website for full details Continue reading

Creative Photography Course

My new online photography course is now available for enrolment. The Creative Photography Course is designed to help you produce original and imaginative pictures that stand out from the crowd and showcase your creative flair within your own image portfolio. Its a 12 month course, just like the Project Tuition Course and covers ten subjects that can be captured creatively and with a photographic flair all of your own. There’s exclusive discount for students to purchase CameraBag2 software from the nice people at Nevercenter and this is featured in the course and one I personally use for processing my images. See the online photography course website for more details.

Creative Photography Course