Whitby Abbey illuminations 2017

It has been 2 years since I have been to Whitby Abbey. This year it was time to go back again.

Last time I was there the weather was not good, but the light display was good. There were not too many people there, so it made for good evenings photography.

What is Whitby Abbey illuminations weekend?

Each year the English Heritage open up the Abbey in Whitby and light it up in spectacular colours. It is to coincide with the twice yearly Goth Music festival, held in Whitby.

If you are interested in going, take a look at the Whitby Goth Weekend website.

Here are a few images that were taken from Whitby, I attended the Abbey illuminations, and Karl Wilson took some images the following day from around the streets… Whitby Abbey goth weekend Whitby Abbey goth weekend Whitby Abbey goth weekend

Whitby Abbey goth weekend Whitby Abbey goth weekend

Manchester canvas artwork – buy from this website

There are many Manchester canvas artworks available to buy for the home and office.  Manchester is an interesting place at most times of the day or night.  With such a wide variety of architecture from the very old, to the very modern. From the hustle and bustle of the main streets, to the old, narrow back alleys. You can always find interesting architecture.

Cityscape | Manchester Canvas wall art | for sale | Manchester morning Cityscape | Manchester Canvas wall art | for sale | Manchester blue hour

Manchester has so many features and buildings, it makes for some great photography

Cityscape | Manchester Canvas wall art | for sale | Reflections of Manchester Cityscape | Manchester Canvas wall art | for sale | Curved office front

All of these images and more are available from the website, as canvas prints, framed fine art, or a variety of other formats.

Karl Wilson | Cityscape | Black and white Manchester canvas wall art | for sale | Manchester's Corn Exchange Karl Wilson | Cityscape | Black and white Manchester canvas wall art | for sale | Looking Down Deansgate

If you are interested in a photograph of a particular building or scene, then contact us using the online form on the about page. Also, have a look at our Cityscape gallery to see if there is anything that you like there.

Cityscape | Black and white Manchester canvas wall art | for sale | Skyscraper against a clear sky Karl Wilson | Cityscape | Black and white Manchester canvas wall art | for sale | The Mercure Hotel; Manchester

Black and white image impact

The ability to take images in black and white is seen by many photographers as being more challenging than regular colour photography.

Many years ago you made the choice in-camera as to whether you were going to shoot in colour or black and white with the type of film you loaded into your camera.

Now, however, the choice can be made after the image is shot with post-processing and a wide variety of software to achieve the best results. My personal choice for converting to black and white is a combination of Google Nik Tools Silver EFX Pro and Adobe PhotoShop.

Here is an example of some images that have been converted from colour to black and white:
Cityscape | Canvas wall art | for sale | Leeds Black Prince statue against a dark sky Cityscape | Canvas wall art | for sale | Leeds Black Prince statue against a dark sky (black and white)

Karl Wilson | Cityscape | Canvas wall art for sale | Leeds Uni - Colour Karl Wilson | Cityscape | Black and white canvas wall art | for sale | Leeds Uni - Mono

Landscape | Canvas wall art | Consumed by waves Landscape | Black and White canvas wall art | Consumed by waves

When this image was taken I didn’t particularly have a black and white image in mind, but after processing I noticed how the details in the colour from the rocks and water almost detracted from the image. I decided to put this image through the Google Nik Tools Silver EFX Pro plugin to see if a reduction in colours would improve the image. What do you think? You can leave your comments below, I would be interested to hear.

Landscape | Canvas wall art | Black and White | Staithes harbour

The above image I didn’t even produce in colour, as this was an example of something that just didn’t work in colour. The subtle colours in the concrete were completely lost in the grey slab, and the sky was such a colour that it brought the tone of the image down. Once converted to black and white the image took on a life of it’s own.

Black and white images seem to have more power and impact that their colour counterparts.

All of these images can be found in the galleries on this website, along with many other such images.

Sheffield pet photographer

Pride and Groom pet photography in Penistone

Pride and Groom in Penistone is a friendly, family-run business servicing the pet owners of the Penistone and surrounding areas. Their shop not only covers all of your food needs, but also accessories, clothing and has a grooming salon there too!

Shooting animals is always interesting, depending on their training, how hungry they are, distractions around… any other dogs nearby… the list is endless, you never know what you are going to get!!

It was a fun packed time had by all, and here are some of the images that were taken…

Dog photographer | Multiple pet shoots Pet photographer | full length Pet photographer | headshots
Dog portraits Dog Photographer | headshots

Milky Way over a pond – available to buy

One of my more popular images on Instagram has been my Milk Way Over a Pond image.

It was a rare night that was clear with the Milky Way positioned exactly where I wanted it with no moon in the sky.

As mentioned in a previous post, I use PhotoPills for my Milky Way shoot calculations, if you have an iPhone/iPad, check it out, it has to be one of the best all-in-one photography apps I have seen.

As you can see from the PhotoPills app, I could see that the Milky Way was going to be rising over the pond (pond not shown on the image, as Google hasn’t updated it’s aerial photography).

I was shooting with a full frame Sony a99 and a Zeiss 16-35mm f2.8 lens, so I positioned myself to make sure that the camera was high enough that I could get reflections in the pond, but also so that I could get plenty of the sky in frame.

Once in position and properly framed, I then took to PhotoPills again, to calculate my maximum exposure to get stars without trails with minimal ISO noise.

There is a straight forward rule for calculating this, and it is called the 500 rule (or 600 rule if you know what the minimum declination is of the stars). As a rule of thumb, the 500 rule is sufficient, and looks like this:

500/[focal length*sensor crop]=[max exposure]seconds

so in my case:

500/16mm=31.25 seconds

To make sure that there are no trails I also rounded down the exposure to 25 seconds. Instead of trying to do the calculations at the time, PhotoPills has a part of the app that will do the calculation for you. Just set your camera (will take crop sensors into account), the lens focal length and minimum star declination angle (if known). PhotoPills will then tell you what the maximum exposure will be using the 500 rule (and 600 rule if you know what the angle of the stars is).

To let as much light in as possible it is always advisable to use the widest aperture your lens will support, in my case it was f2.8. From there it was a case of finding the optimum ISO with a 25 second exposure and an aperture of f2.8, low enough to give minimal noise, but high enough that there was sufficient detail in shadows and dark areas of sky. For most cameras this ISO is between 3200 and 6400, and the type and quality of sensor determines what you can get away with. If you have too high ISO you will find that the pin points of stars turn into blurry blobs as definition is lost, but too low ISO and it will be very difficult to recover the shadows without introducing noise. In this instance, with no moon in the sky and very little light pollution, I had to push my camera sensor to ISO 6400 to get a reasonable exposure. You will notice that with the time of year the sun is barely below the sky, and from previous experience I have found that too long exposure will end up with a very bright horizon with the sky being dark as the sensor picks up light leaking over the horizon. Camera sensors record much more detail that you normally see, which means that the image that comes out of a Milky Way shot is not normally anything like the finished product. There is a lot of pushing and pulling of contrast and details in post processing, so it is important that your lens and sensor are both clean, check this before taking Milky Way images.

As always, if you have any comments, or would like more information about this image, then please let me know below, I am always happy to hear from my readers. Don’t forget to subscribe to the RSS feed to be notified when new blog posts are published.

Here is the final image, Milky Way over a pond:
Landscape | Canvas wall art | Milkyway | Night pondSony Alpha99, Zeiss 16-35mm 2.8 @ 25 seconds, ISO 6400 F2.8

A trip to Białowieski park Naradowy to see European Bison (Zubr)

Recently I visited the Białowieski park Naradowy in Poland, a European Bison reservation.

Photographing animals is always challenging, they are unpredictable and never seem to stay still when you need them to!  However, I was looking forward to seeing European Bison “up close”, and taking photos of these animals that once roamed around Europe.

Bison are frequently associated with the open plains of America, but they actually also roamed around Europe in much the same way.

Photographing these beasts has it’s challenges, with being a dark brown fur set against the white snow your camera always wants to try and expose for the snow.  Despite having white snow around, the day that I arrived was overcast and grey, and the lighting wasn’t great, making shutter speed an issue.  Shooting with my Sony A99 and Minolta “beercan” 70-210mm f/4 lens meant that I couldn’t get as much light as I would have liked at low ISO, so I had to compensate by bumping the ISO to 200 to get shutter speeds at a reasonable rate.  In hindsight I should have bumped it to 400 to keep the shutter even faster, but this is the reason for this blog, you can learn from my mistakes!

Exposing for detail in the dark brown fur was always top priority, creating good contrast will be important in post-processing to give these creatures the rugged look that they have.  The last thing I wanted was to lose detail and make it look like they have a fluffy coat!

To achieve this I used the exposure compensation on my camera to add a couple of stops of exposure to make sure the shadows and darker part of the image still had detail.  The exposure compensation setting on your camera enables you to ‘override’ your cameras guess at exposure that it has measured, and make the image lighter or darker (depending on what the situation is) than the camera has measured. The trick is to balance the details in the shadows and dark fur with the white snow, making sure that the snow is not ‘blown out’ to a complete white, and there is still shadows and greys within the snow.

Hopefully this post has given some food for thought and has been of some use to you, leave a comment below, let me know if you would like to hear anything else about the image.

Canvas wall art | for sale | Zubr in Bialowieski Park Narodowy in Poland

St Mary’s Church, Lead night shoot

St Mary’s Church, Lead, is a redundant Anglican chapel standing in an isolated position in fields some 0.75 miles (1.2 km) to the west of the village of Saxton, North Yorkshire, England. Though technically a chapel, it is generally referred to as a church. It is managed by the Churches Conservation Trust, and is recorded in the National Heritage List for England as a designated Grade II* listed building. The chapel stands close to the site of the battle of Towton of 1461, which was part of the Wars of the Roses. In the 1930s it was saved from neglect by a local group of ramblers, and is known locally as the Ramblers’ Church
Source: Wikipedia

Landscape | Canvas wall art | Milkyway | St Mary's Church | Tadcaster

The picture that you see above was the culmination of a long nights shooting in the middle of a very cold field! By the time I left I had ice on my tripod and camera… I thought I must be crazy… but when I saw the end result, I decided that it was worth it.

What I was looking for in this shot, was the Milky Way rising behind the church, subtly illuminated windows and maybe a little bit of light on the outside of the church.  This particular night had no moon in the sky, and the Milky Way was almost vertical at time that I had planned, all of which I planned in advance using a great app called PhotoPills.  This is an app I use all the time to plan my shoots in advance, especially if I am wanting the sun, moon or Milky Way in a certain position. There are lots of other tools in the app, such as a Long Exposure Calculator, field of view augmented reality, and other useful things.  I may do another blog on the usefulness of the app (afraid only available on iOS at the moment), but in the meantime if you want more info, pop on over to their website www.photopills.com.

Here is the plan as I saw it in PhotoPills:

I positioned myself approximately where the black pin is, and you can see the Milky Way position is shown by the dotted curve (meaning it would be almost vertical in the sky). From the top of the image you can see that the expected viability of the Milky Way (represented by the blue stacking bar at the top left) was almost perfect. Also depicted are the sunrise/set directions, as are the moonrise/set (orange, yellow, light/dark blue lines). Position of the sun/moon below the horizon is depicted by the curved yellow line at the bottom.  From this I determined that this would be a good time to venture out, and the sky was forecast as clear.

The only downfall of PhotoPills is the fact that it doesn’t tell you what the light pollution is like in the area, this is something that you have to go to a different site for, www.lightpollutionmap.info is a great resource for checking light pollution in an area.  This is the map for St Mary’s Church Lead:

From this site it looks like the pollution is a medium level… not ideal, but not awful… as long as the sky stayed clear and there was no fog/mist in the air, as this reflects any light pollution and makes it look worse.

So I arrived before sunset with a view to taking a blue hour shot of the church to blend with a later night sky shot with the Milky Way in PhotoShop. I setup my Sony A99, attached the Zeiss 16-35mm f2.8 lens, and sorted out my focussing and camera settings, taking care to fix as much as possible.  The more that you can make manual when shooting in the dark the better, as it means that the camera isn’t guessing things like white balance, exposure, focus, etc.  Using the 500 rule and my lens set to 24mm an exposure time of 20 seconds would comfortably get me pin point stars without trails. For those of you that are not familiar with the 500 rule, this means to divide 500 by the focal length your lens is set to (in my case 24mm) and this gives the maximum exposure length to get pin point stars without trails. Using your exposure triangle (ISO/Shutter/Aperture) you can then determine how is best to get this maximum exposure time.  Set your aperture as wide as possible (f2.8 in my case), then play with the ISO setting to get the correct exposure at 20 seconds.  This normally leads to a setting of 20 second exposure, f2.8 and ISO between 3200 and 6400.

Taking the blue hour shot of the church I could get a lower ISO image, so less noise, better colours and sharper image. After a while, the sun went down, the stars came out and I continued shooting, placing a torch in one of the back windows of the church to get the windows to glow. As the night went on, and the stars moved around the sky (ok, ok, technically the earth rotates, the stars stay still!), I could see that the Milky Way was not very well defined, even though the sun had long gone below the horizon. Determined not to waste the session I continued shooting until the time that PhotoPills had calculated the Milky Way would be in position, as sometimes the camera will pick up information in the sky your eyes can’t see. One thing that I could see is the one thing I didn’t want had appeared, and that was a low mist that hung on the horizon, and this made the light pollution from the nearby town very obvious.  I knew that this would be difficult to get rid of, and I may need to just work with the glow on the horizon.

During the shooting I tried different methods of lighting the church, doing some very subtle light painting with my phone, painting with the torch, all to cover the eventuality that I may need to blend different shots to get the effect that I was after.  All of the time being very careful not to move the camera or change the settings, so that I could use these different frames to blend without the image being moved.

It got to the time that the Milky Way was in it’s optimum position, and I shot for a little bit longer, just in case there was some drift in the apps calculations, and called it a night (a very cold one at that!!).

In post processing (in PhotoShop) I reviewed the blue hour shots, and although they were good, they just wouldn’t look right with the darkness of the sky and the orange glow on the horizon, so I opted to work with a light-painted shot, and dropped the illuminated windows in as another layer and used the ‘lighten’ blend method.  Because the images were perfectly aligned the lights came on inside the church and this looked great.  I then used a blue-hour shot to create a mask for the sky to drop in a further layer with the Milky Way/stars in.  Using the sky mask I processed the Milky Way in Nik Tools to remove noise, give some nice contrast to the sky and to try to bring out the Milky Way dust clouds. Also, using a luminance mask I applied this to the sky to recover the stars that were ‘lost’ during the noise reduction.

With some further blending and processing in Nik Tools, and removal of a LOT of molehills, the picture that you see above was the result. Maybe not the ideal image that I had in mind, but I am planning on revisiting this site again on a more clear night to improve on this shot.

Any comments, or questions? They are always welcome below, please feel free to ask any questions and I will do my best to answer them.

 

Kevin Pawsey – Pawsey Photography

An interview with featured artist Karl Wilson

For those of you that follow me on Instagram (you can find me @pawseyphotography), you will have seen that I have been posting images from featured artist Karl Wilson (@kdubzpics on Instagram). I thought it was time that Karl got an introduction on this site, and what better place than right here on the blog!

Kevin: Firstly, thank you Karl for taking the time out of your busy schedule to do this interview.  Your images seem to be very popular on Instagram, and I have had some great feedback, so I am glad that you are a part of the site.

For the readers of this blog, can you give us an idea of how long you have been doing photography, and what first got you started?

Karl: Thank you for allowing me to showcase my work amongst your website. Its really nice to hear that people appreciate your work.

I’m a self taught ex professional photographer with over 9 years experience behind the lens.
I first started taking photographs with a point and shoot camera and very quickly developed a keen eye for what made a good photo. I was very keen to learn new skills and so bought my first DSLR

Kevin: and in those nine years, what is the biggest thing that you have learnt that you think would be “good advice” for the readers?

Karl: Spend time learning the capabilities of your camera and study what other photographers you like are producing, and then go out and create your own style to make you different from the rest

Kevin: Some good advice there Karl, probably something that sounds obvious, but not many people do read the manual when they first get a new camera.  I always find myself skimming through the new features, but not learning where the common stuff is.  I understand that you shoot with a Nikon D610 at the moment, has this always been the case, or have you ever been tempted to ‘jump camp’?

Karl: I first started out taking photographs with a Canon 450D, but this was stolen and I switched over to a Nikon D90 which I used for over 2 years before making the jump to a full frame Nikon D700. As time went by I fount that 12 megapixels were not enough for what I wanted to start producing, so i upgraded to a Nikon D610.

Kevin: what sticks out in your mind as your best moment in photography?

Karl:  My favourite part was spending time photographing music celebrities at concerts, being back stage and being able to interact with them. Ill never forget when one of Dizzee Rascal’s crew took my camera from me and started taking photographs.


(please note: this image is not for sale)

Kevin: Sounds like you were having a lot of fun doing that!, We’ve seen a recent series of very impressive black and white abstract images from you, what did you have in mind when you were walking around Leeds doing this shoot?  Did you have a particular shot in mind that you were after?

 

Karl: I have recently become a big fan of Black & White images and feel that black and white is the new colour. I think the right lighting and a good sky always helps when taking architectural photographs. I always have in the back of my mind when taking a phtograph will this image look good on a wall.

 

Kevin: although the black and white series has been very impressive, you seem to have a wide range of genres that you shoot, what is it that you really prefer shooting given the chance?

Karl: I dont have one particulart style of photography that I stick to, I have photographed weddings, landscapes, city scapes and people. My favourite has to be architectural photography.

 

Kevin: where do you stand on ‘rules’ in photography, such as the rule of thirds, and other “do’s and don’ts” that we so often hear.  Do you think that if it looks good, shoot it, or do you try and compose to the rules as much as possible?

Karl: I take photographs that I find pleasing for myself, I always ask myself what I want to acheive from taking the photograph before pressing the shutter. The rules are great for certain situations but in others the rules broken can sometimes have a great impact too.

 

Kevin: that’s great Karl, thanks for your time, and we look forward to more of your great work!

You can check out Karl’s work here on Pawsey Photography, where his work is available to purchase, or if you just want to have a look at what else Karl has produced.

As always, comments are welcome, if you have any questions for Karl, please drop a comment and I will get an answer for you.

 

Kevin Pawsey – Pawsey Photography

 

New equipment = more images??

I pose the question to you: Does new equipment mean more pictures?

(Notice I say more pictures, not necessarily better)

Recently I realised that I wasn’t carrying around my camera equipment as much as I would like when just “out and about”.  I decided it was time to invest in a walkabout camera bag.

Why? I hear you ask…

well, most of my equipment is housed in a Lowerpro All-Weather backpack. This is great for those times that you are on a hillside and know that you have just about everything with you, but getting to that hillside?? That is a lot of weight to be carrying around, and is definitely not comfortable if you are walking around cities.

What was I looking for?

I was looking for a messenger-style bag. Something compact enough to sling over your shoulder and have a camera body and one or two lenses in… The bare minimum, the basics. Having a Sony A99, it is not the most compact body you can get, so I needed something that was roomy enough to accommodate this.  As for the lenses I was looking at carrying, I wanted a variety.  This way I could cover street and architectural photography.  A few of my lenses stood out, but I was looking at the 16-35mm Zeiss f2.8, Minolta 50mm f1.4, or “mini-beercan” Minolta 35-70mm f4.0 (ok, I said one lens plus another… surely I could squeeze in two others!).

A rearrangeable interior, preferably velcro compartments… I don’t know about you, but I am forever fiddling with the inside of my camera bag.  Trying different configurations of where the lenses sit, how they are going to be protected, how easy are they to get to… never happy.  With this in mind, I wanted something that was going to be customisable.

It would also need to be weather-proof, or at least have a weather-proof cover, what with the British weather, you can leave the house in perfect photography weather, only for it to be raining when you get there… once the fog has cleared you may still be up for shooting (you don’t like the weather, wait 5 minutes!). So protection for the contents was high on the consideration list.

Did I find the perfect equipment bag?

maybe not perfect, but certainly not bad, with everything that is above in mind, I went on my hunt for this bag, hoping that my requirements weren’t too outlandish (notice I left out what colour I was looking for… I’m not THAT picky).

While I was in Manchester I popped into the London Camera Exchange where I found their bag section and started looking… of course I didn’t have my camera with me (see initial reason for wanting a new bag), so I then did that awkward thing when in a camera shop… guessing.  Photography is such a precise thing, and there was me trying to guess how big my camera/lens is. As anyone that owns a Sony A99 will tell you, no one ever has them in stock to test anything with.  So after some looking around the bag and some opening/closing/checking straps/checking inside (with some help of course), I found the Tenba DNA11

Tenba DNA 11 Messenger bag, my ultimate equipment bag?

Tenba DNA 11 Messenger bag, my ultimate equipment bag?

This bag features just about everything I was after, plus some additional cool stuff:

  • Silent velcro – opening the velcro by pulling down opens silently (apparently all the hooks face downwards to get this effect).  It wasn’t something I was looking for, but I could see that it would be a nice to have!
  • Magnetic capture locks – in case someone is looking to quickly open the bag, the capture locks are a nice feature.  To open them you have to slide them sideways, but to attach them you clip them straight on.  Handy to stop the velcro flap from being ripped open accidentally
  • Top zip – something I never really thought about. Since having the bag I think is a great feature, making the camera more accessible in those “happening now” moments
  • Secure strap – to hold the bag in place on your back when you are on a bike or walking long distances and don’t want the bag bouncing around

So far, this bag has proved to be all that I have been looking for, and more!

To answer the question that started this… does new equipment make you take more images?  Well I feel that in this instance the answer for me was yes. The day after I was out and about with this bag and my camera and snapped the image below:

Cityscape | Canvas wall art | for sale | Manchester morning

Carrying around camera equipment more often CAN result in more images that you would normally miss.

I have walked past this spot many times, and never before stopped to think about taking a photo.  This is because my camera was at home.  This morning, with my new bag, I was in the right place at the right time. Hopefully there will be more of these opportunities that I would have missed.  Now I shall be taking my Tenba DNA11 with me wherever I go. There is no point in having a camera if it is at home, keeping warm… You never know what you might miss!

Feel free to leave any comments, always happy to hear from readers with suggestions or comments. Look forward to hearing from you.