Sunday, 6 November 2016

My Website

I now have a new website, so will no longer be posting on this blog. However, I have continued the blog over at my site, found at http://www.stefanhenney.com/. Aswell as my blog, I also have all of my photography work on it, much of which I have featured on the blog before. This will be where I now post my blog so be sure to check it out. Plus I'll be making regular updates to it and the photographic element of it.

http://www.stefanhenney.com/

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Time-lapses

Time-lapses have been around for a while now and are pretty self explanatory. They are lapses of time. In other words, they are videos which have been sped up to show a large period of time in a few seconds or minutes. Time-lapses have been used to show all sorts of things from cloud movement to drawing. This gives them the possibility to be educational, as longer things can be sped up and shown to people. They can show a whole process within a fraction of the time it would actually take, but that's only part of what makes it so appealing. As the video(s) are sped up, the movement of the subject(s) can seem jerky and sudden. It may not seem ideal for this to happen, however it creates a unique element which can't be found anywhere else.


Time-lapse

Above is a time-lapse I filmed. I have never tried it before so the results aren't as good as they could be. However, I was trying it as an experiment, to see if I could do it successfully, so it is more a lesson on what can be changed/done in the future to make the result even better. Actually filming it all was relatively simple; I  attached my camera to my tripod and positioned it in front of a window. I did of course have to wait for a time which would look good, as otherwise there wouldn't have been many clouds and the colours would have been fairly bleak. Next, all I had to do was put the video into an editor and speed it up, which then leaves you with a finished time-lapse.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Photography Equipment - Tripod

I recently got a tripod for my camera, one of the many pieces of photography equipment available. A tripod does quite a simple job; it holds the camera in a stationary position. However, if used right, there is an endless range of photo opportunities to be had. The actual tripod I have is quite a simple one, not having a separate head and stand, although it still gives the same outcome. It can extend up to 155cm, giving a large height range for different angles and subjects. Aswell as this it includes a spirit level, which may seem unnecessary for indoor shooting, but can come into use when outdoors (on rougher ground). Something that most, if not all tripods will have is a quick release feature. This is something so simple, but can make using the camera and tripod together so much easier. All it is, is a small clip, with a a screw for the camera on one side and a fitting for the tripod on the other. This will, with the help of a latch, allow you to easily clip the camera in and out of the tripod, without having to worry about screwing it in every time. 

Something which is normally found on tripods (and tripod heads) is a a lever, made for minor adjustments and repositioning in a composition. I used this alot when taking photos, and even small things can make a massive impact. For example, I moved the camera so it was pointing further to the left, which then made the light seem like it was coming from the right corner.

One thing that is frequently seen is long shutter speed photos, which create blurs on the screen. Though this may sound odd, as you usually don't want a blurring in a picture, it can create amazing effects on clouds and water. Though I haven't had time to try this type of shot yet, I'll be sure to do it in the future as it stands out from regular images. Another obvious use of a tripod is for still life photography, which I did a post on a couple of weeks ago. This is to allow you to be able to change the shutter speed, exposure, aperture etc. without having to worry about unwanted darkness/lightness and blur. When taking pictures, whether that be still life or landscape, it is always a good idea to try changing these things because most of the time the product they create can't, or will take a long time, to process.

When testing it out today I tried a range of different heights, from a range of different angles. This is something that is worth taking the time to try, as my original plan for the photo of the piano didn't work out how I expected it to. It can also show you a new type of style that you've never come across before; this might be the angle of the photo, or how the light comes across in the image. Light is something very important to keep in mind when using a tripod, especially if you are changing around the exposure, among other things. As the camera is stationary, due to the tripod, you can be more controlling of the light which can in turn lead to even better pictures. Even experimenting with new/different techniques and styles can be done better with a tripod. Like having controlled lighting, it is one less thing to have to worry about, and one more thing which you can manage to create the desired effect more easily. I'd recommend getting a tripod to anyone interested in one, as already, even after using it briefly, I can see the positive effect it has on photos.

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Made by Google

Google recently held their 'Pixel' conference, announcing their future products. The line has been named 'Made by Google' and is purely made by google, as it says in the name. This looks to be an amazing group of new tech, and will presumably forge the future of Google and it's hardware.

The Pixel and Pixel XL are Google's new flagship smartphones, running on the latest version of Android with some extra features. The only real difference between the two phones is their size and battery life, so they both have the same specs meaning the performance of both will be the same. The body of the phone is similar to that of the iPhone; it has a near identical camera arrangement, with a familiar curved metal finish. Though the design isn't revolutionary, it has been accompanied by some pretty hefty specs. It's camera, which is "The highest rated smartphone camera. Ever", comes in at 12MP but also has a huge sensor. It processes with a mighty 4GB of RAM and the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 - A quad core 2x 2.15 GHz/ 2x 1.6 GHz. Also with a storage of 32GB or 128GB and a killer display, this is one game changing device. However, the price may put some of as it comes in at a rather unattractive price of $749 (or £699)(128GB), but it still seems a worthwhile product.

Aswell as announcing the usual smart devices, Google have now made a move with VR (virtual reality). Their new Daydream View VR headset works in a similar way to Samsung's own Gear VR - You insert the phone into the headset which then acts as the screen.  Google is now one of the many companies providing VR, something which has become very common during this year. The capabilities of the headset are yet to be seen but Google claims that "Daydream View is a VR headset and controller by Google that lets you explore new worlds, relax in your personal VR cinema and play games that put you at the centre of action." If more companies and developers start to make compatible media, then this could become a frequently used device which could potentially be developed alot further. The Daydream View headset will retail for $79 (or £69), similar to the Gear VR, however this doesn't include the phone, which is an extra couple of hundred pounds.

Image result for google homeAnother of Google's upcoming products is Google Home. This was actually announced at Google I/O but the prices and release dates have now been finalized. Home has much in common with Amazon's Alexa - A voice controlled assistant. It will run on Google Assistant, the evolved version of Google Now, and will be able to assist you in day to day life. The tasks it's capable of doing range from setting reminders and dates in a calendar, to playing music straight through it's inbuilt speaker. It comes as a sleek design with interchangeable speaker grills, allowing you to add a sense of uniqueness to them. Aswell as being an appealing item, they have an even more appealing product being only $129 (around £103) and $299 (around £240) for a bundle of three. Compared to Amazon's price of $179 for Alexa, it's a bit of a bargain and goes on sale next month.Though these weren't all the products announced, I felt these were the best and most appealing of them. As, not only do they have the potential to change the way we use tech, but also lead on to refined and developed versions which could be even better than these.


Sunday, 25 September 2016

Still Life Photography

 Still life photography is a genre of photography centered around capturing the essence of objects. This is still a style I'm quite new to but I took a couple of shots, which display the different techniques and objects you can use. I'd had these shot ideas for some time but I never got around to actually doing them however, I decided to shoot a range of photos (some of which I hadn't even planned) which lead to me taking each of these and getting to the final products.

The first photo is one which I did a post on last week. However I'll go over what I did and the thought process I went through. My idea was to shoot a chess board from above, this idea actually worked out really well. However, the finished product wasn't what I originally had in mind. With taking photos if you have an idea for a shot you should always try it out as, even if it doesn't work out how you planned, you can still learn from it. This learning and understanding can develop into better shots and you can then take that on into other genres of photography.

This next shot was taken at the same time as the first, but from a completely different angle. The idea was to position the camera on the same level as the chess pieces, as if you were among them. My plan can quite clearly be seen in the final image which has highly contrasting colours. I really added to this during processing to pronounce the detail and form of the chess pieces. Contrasting colours like these are normally caused by the direction of the lighting which, in turn, create shadows. The lighting can have very different outcomes depending on which type you use. One type is just room lighting, light produced by regular lights, which covers the subject in light not leaving many shadows. Another, used in the two pictures above, is directional which allows you to control the direction and shadows on a subject. At first using shadows may not make much sense as you are just blocking out some of the object(s), however once you get to understand it it can bring alot of depth to the photo. This depth can also add form aswell as highlighted detail from the lights and darks of your chosen subject.


My final image is quite a simple composition, with there only being three visible objects (plus the backdrop). This simplicity allows the eye to look around the image and really look into the detail captured. This is something key with still life; choosing an interesting subject. If a subject is plain and texture-less then there is nothing to concentrate on, whereas if you choose a detailed, even intricate object then there is more to look at. This detail can catch the eye and overall just make a better image, however too much detail can create an unfocused composition. I've made sure to do this in the shot to the right, as you can clearly see the detailed grain of the table. However I have then balanced this with the plain colour and texture of the notebook. The last element is obviously the pencils, which I added in to give form as otherwise there wouldn't have been much depth to the photo. Aswell as doing this they also direct you around the image; they both point towards the notebook making you look at that but then stretch away leading you to the table. Things that create direction and flow like this are great to have in an image, as they make sure you see every thing there is available to see.


Sunday, 18 September 2016

The Chess Board

So I recently took a photo, that turned out even better than I imagined it would, so I thought I would go through each step; from the initial idea to the final image.

My first idea for the shot was to have a birds eye view of the chess board layed out on a table (preferably a dark shade of wood). This dark wood table would have nicely contrasted with the white tiles on the chess board and also the surrounding lighter wood floor. Also, the table would have had repeated horizontal grains, which would have fitted in with chess board's horizontal lines, aswell as nicely complimenting the board's vertical lines. I think having it above a table also tells a bit of  a story, as it could be two people playing a game of chess together. Plus with it being above, rather than to one side, you can see what's going on around the subject (in this case the chess board).

However, after discovering that the lighting I had available wasn't sufficient, I had to move the board onto a wooden floor. This floor was directly in front of a window, so provided great lighting (as the sun was clear the day I shot this). I was also glad how much detail the floor had to offer; there are gaps between the floor boards, scratches and clearly marked out grain.

During processing I ended up getting two final shots which I was really happy with. Though these images are fairly similar, they each have slightly more or less of something. It's always good to try lot's of variations as even the smallest tweaks an make a huge difference, and could result in you getting a picture you prefer. There are of course even more options on how the image could have and can turn out, so I expect I'll be trying several different versions of the shot in the future.

For the first edit (above) I really tried to get the shadow created by the chess board and pieces. This created really nice dark patches in the photo which nicely contrasted with the lighter elements, which had been caught by the sun. By doing this I made the floor around it darker, making the gaps seem deeper, almost giving more depth to the photo. I also put it into black and white. By doing this you simplify the picture to it's basic colours and elements. This, again, increases the contrast between light and dark in the picture.

Though I was happy with the first edit, I wanted to bring a bit of colour to the picture, as there were some great ones captured in the original image. I ended up bringing out the dark brown borders and square of the chess board which gave a lighter take on the shot. What's great about this shot is that even though the picture is brighter overall, I still managed to capture some of the great shadows. Aswell as this the light almost looked as if it was lighting up the board, bringing some colour to it. I found this to be a great effect and paired with detail that was retained, it makes a shot I'm really happy with.

Sunday, 11 September 2016

A Tour of the BBC

Every year, on Open Doors Day, buildings usually unavailable to the public are made open for tours. These can range from TV studios to a City Hall and each one has guided tours, giving you an insight into the history and function of the building. Last year I was lucky enough to take a tour of Avonmouth; a huge port providing most of the South West with imported items. This was a very eye opening experience as it showed the true scale of shipping in and distributing products. You also gained more of and idea of the amount of work that goes on behind the scenes; things which you would normally be oblivious to.


Image result for bbc
This year I got the chance to tour around BBC's Bristol Head Quarters which to put it simply, changed the way I look at the BBC. The amount of equipment, staff and training needed is huge, as soon as you walked through the doors you could really start to see the amount of work which is put into each episode, broadcast and article made by them.

The tour itself gave a basic overview of how the BBC functioned, how people use the equipment and what sort of process things go through before being made available to the public. You started off with the cameramen and what they did in their day to day lives. It was pretty interesting seeing how much one individual would do because, aswell as filming the actual topic/subject, they would also have to edit their footage before sending it off to be broadcasted. Or, in some cases, they would broadcast it live or from their vehicle. This does of course bring me on to the vehicles, as each camera vehicle is fitted out with film, sound and lighting equipment, aswell as some also having editing desks inside. The other vehicle is for radio interviews and news live from the scene.

You then actually went into the buildings where offices and studios are situated to take a look into what goes on. You got to see the news desk, aswell as the actual newsreaders themselves and how the studio actually worked; the amount of cameras and teleprompters was crazy, much more than you would expect. This was a great experience as you learnt things which you would have otherwise never thought of, I'd definitely recommend trying to do an Open Doors Day tour, as each venue is so unique and interesting.