Diploma Progress

I am now half way through my first paper in my Diploma in Digital Photography, this is the basic photography paper and so far nothing particularly new, still useful reminders and the exercises have proved useful in getting me out taking photographs and trying things that I would not normally try.

So far nothing has been officially marked, just feedback on the images we have handed in. The feedback process started out a little slow but which now seems to be fairly well organised (for me at least). Has the feedback been useful? Yes although not really telling me anything I didn’t know already. As of next week however we start getting marked on the images we submit, we submit four images and we have to pick the strongest one to be graded. I suspect the process of picking the strongest image will turn out to be the hardest and most useful part of the exercise each week.

The only worry on the horizon is the portfolio we need to start preparing, a set of 10 images with a theme or link, the photographs I can manage technically but coming up with a strong theme and a real ‘set’ of images I expect to find much harder. Any suggestions are welcome! Practise in making a set of images is one of the main reasons I felt that this course would be useful, I hope it goes well.

In the meantime this week first marked assignment is macro and I have been out scaring flowers and bugs to get some images.



I found the mantis in my garden.


Family Portraits Are Hard

A couple of weekends ago I was trying to take some photos of my family, I have decided that this is hard. My kids have quite different personalities, this is pretty normal! One loves have her picture taken (usually at least) and can even be persuaded not to make too many silly faces. Not that I mind the silly faces most of the time, but I do like to take a nice portrait sometimes as well. My other daughter is less keen…and trying to get both of them together is quite a challenge. On the plus side bribery does work sometimes, it is either that or I need to get a LOT better at Photoshop.


Fairy Princess




365 Project Progress Report No 1

On the 1st of January I started a 365 Project, now that I am a quarter of the way through I thought I would report on how it is going.

So far I have been able to take a new image every day although some days this has proved harder than others particularly if the weather is bad or life gets in the way. What has really varied is quality of the images, some days I have managed to find good or at least interesting images and other days that has been really hard, so while I have now taken almost 100 images for the project they are not necessarily very good!

I have taken a variety of images, when I have been away on holiday or able to go out and deliberately look for images I have taken all sorts of things, landscapes, people, trees; it is proved much harder when I have been at home after working all day to find inspiration.

I have tried taking walks around work and have actually managed to find a few interesting subjects, the act of having to make an image does make me look harder which is great. At home I have taken a lot of images of my kids but also random things in the house. My ‘cello has been photographed a few times and I feel I will come back to it as a separate project. I have also taken pictures of cooking, toys, flowers, the garden and by walking around the area I have found things I had never noticed before.

I haven’t tried to follow any particular theme yet but this may be useful strategy later in the year, I will get tired of taking the same types of images and my kids will start hiding from me. Still I am finding the process useful if more time consuming than I had anticipated. On the plus side I am combining it with the images I need to take for my diploma course so I can at least kill too birds with one stone.

So in summary I am enjoying my 365 project although it isn’t always easy. It is making me take more photos and I hope to complete the full 365.


No. 1


No. 98

Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8 AF-D NIKKOR ED AF-D NIKKOR ED

So I bought a new lens, actually a second-hand lens which turned up as advertised with a few minor scratches on the lens body but the glass just fine. I like fast glass and this is a lovely lens, it is not surprising that it is still being made despite the Nikon 70-200mm VR II being released; the 80-200 was first produced in 1997 and is still in production today. I have now taken lots of images with the lens and absolutely love it, good in lowlight obviously but beautifully sharp and with a lovely bokeh particularly at the long end.

While the lens is made largely of metal and is quite large and heavy it is less so than the Nikon 70-200mm VR II, it is also significantly cheaper and the 70-200 – even new.  The only other minor issue is that you need to move a switch to get to manual focus but to be honest I don’t find that to be any sort of problem so far.

This is a wonderful lens, well made with great optics.


120mm 1/160 @ f4


200mm 1/3200 @ f2.8


200mm 1/200 @ f2.8