One more from Tekapo

Having religiously generated an image a day last year for my first 365 project I have been much more relaxed this year. There have been too many other things going on to be overly concerned; I have missed days and used images from trips during the year to fill in as well.

Next year I may do a one a week project of some sort but I am pretty sure 365 won’t be on my agenda. I want to concentrate on taking better pictures and getting out into the fabulous New Zealand countryside.

One last image from Lake Tekapo, which I used in in 365 project. The Church of the Good Shepherd again in golden light.


1/80s @ f/13 ISO200 17mm


Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!


Travel HDR

While on holiday in Scotland I took a lot of images, quite a few long exposures and even more bracketed sets for HDR processing. Partly because the conditions weren’t always great for photographs, partly because I quite enjoy playing with HDR and mostly because I found a number of subjects that I felt HDR treatment suited. Interesting clouds and sky, old ruined buildings and church interiors. I used both Photomatix and HDR Efex Pro 2 for processing more or less at random and finished the images in Color Efex Pro and/or Photoshop.


Sunrise over Crail harbour, a combination of long exposure and HDR


St Andrews Castle 


Crail sunrise, another combination of long exposure and HDR


Crail Aerodrome


St Salvator’s Chapel, St Andrews


 St Salvator’s Chapel, St Andrews interior

 I really need to go back and reprocess some of these now that I am home with a large screen but quite fun anyway.


Before and After


As part of my 365 project I have ended up taking quite a lot of images of flowers. This is because they are easy to get hold of, they don’t run away and it doesn’t matter what the weather is! In continuing my project into a second year I found myself back taking images of a flower, in this case a lilly.

I took a number of images and thought that it would be interesting to show some of the different looks you can get, there are so many ways to take the any subject and give it a very different feel. For this example I am using a single flower where it should be easy to show some examples. I often end up taking my 365 images late in the day and use flash to provide lighting but that still leaves a very large range of possible looks. The few variations that follow are just the tip of the iceberg.

The images here aren’t necessarily the best images of a lilly, or even my best images, they are intended to illustrate some possible options for how you can photograph a flower and how you can change the look and feel using the aperture, view point and post processing.

White Background

For white backgrounds two flashes were used, one to light the background and the other to light the flower. You can play with the power, the distance form the subject and background to vary the effect.

1) Soft, shallow depth of field (at least reasonably shallow in this case). The after image was processed with Nik Color Efex Pro 4 to soften it further and give it a little glow. A wider aperture could have been used or by moving in closer an even narrower depth of field could have been achieved. You definitely want to be using a tripod here!





2) Detailed, larger depth of field using a smaller aperture, again this was processed with Nik Color Efex Pro 4





3) Monochrome, sometimes monochrome can simplify an image in this case just to lines and shapes, this was done using Nik Silver Efex Pro 2.





4) Shadow, I noticed the shadow of the lilly while I was setting up, that can make an interesting image too. The after image was processed in Aperture to enhance the contrast, desaturate it and add a vignette.

Lilly_2012-01-12_20-57-55__DSC8046_©RichardLaing(2011) - Version 2




Black Background

In this case high speed sync was used with a single flash along with a small aperture to give a dark background. The images was post processed, but only slightly, with Nik Color Efex Pro to enhance the detail, soften and add a little glow.





I love my Nik Software plugins, if you haven’t tried them yet go and grab a free trial! They provide so many starting points for different looks and can help bring out creative ideas.

There are infinite variations in lighting and post processing over and above the few shown here and most can be applied to any subject, not just flowers. Try things and play, once you start trying things it gets easier to come up with new ideas, sometimes you get lucky and if you don’t you never need to show anyone.


365 Complete

A little late again with this post but I finally have my computer up and running again and can post more easily.

Over the last year I have been doing a 365 project and on the 31st December I completed it, quite pleased that I managed to do it and actually took each image on the correct day. Not all the images are particularly good or inspiring but some I have been quite pleased with. The whole experience was very useful, making  me get out with my camera and I’m pretty sure my photography has benefited.

I was looking forward to having a break from taking a picture every day but since I appear to be in the habit for the moment I am continuing and a 366 project looks to be under way. Whether I will finish it remains to be seen! In the meantime here are my first and last images from last years 365 project.



200 Days and Counting

I have just passed 200 days in my 365 project, I didn’t even notice at the time. The last few weeks have been quite hard, finding images to take and getting them done. My 200th image was a camellia outside my work, quick and easy. I’m hoping my motivation will improve soon.


I did cycle to work yesterday which gave me a chance to get some quite nice sunrise and sunset images while freezing my fingers. Worth it though. I have a few days holiday coming up with the kids off school so that should give me a chance to recharge my enthusiasm, having got this far I intend to finish the entire 365.

Apart from my 365 project I have been kept busy with the start of the next semester of my diploma course, this time a Photoshop module, useful and lots to learn but quite time consuming.





Look Harder, Shoot More

I have mentioned before that I started a 365 project this year, I am happy to say that after a month I am still going strong, some days have been easier than others of course. Since starting back at work finding time to shoot has been harder and so I have had to make things up; some people take photographs of their dinner but I haven’t got there yet!

When I have been very short of time I have been looking around the house and garden to find things to photograph, whether it is a flower, an ornament or as last night my ‘cello. It would be easy to take just a single shot and put that up but fortunately once I have started taking photos I have found it hard to stop without trying various angles, different lighting and sometimes different lenses. Some of these images taken while just playing around with the subject have resulted in interesting and surprising results.

This project is teaching me very clearly something I should already have known, don’t just take one shot. Take several, try different things, some of them will be horrible but sometimes the results can be so much better than the original idea. This works with still-life, people, landscapes, anything in fact. So shoot more images and look harder (and differently) at your subject. I know I will be taking more images of my ‘cello, last night’s experiments have given me lots of ideas. Now all I need is more time!