The Crusader

September 23, 2010 Comments Off on The Crusader

At the end of August I went to the Sheffield Fair, an event run over the bank holiday where lots of re-enactors put on displays of historic battles and drills from various periods of history.  These events are always good for a few portrait shots and by and large if you have a chat with the guys they will gladly pose for you.  I try to get a contact name and email from them if I can, then send them a copy of any images which turn out to be reasonable.  That way we both get something out of it.

Anyway, having been up to Dumfries and photographed Caerlaverock Castle I had the idea of combining this with some of the characters performing at Sheffield.  One group were representing Norman Knights over four centuries and it was one of these which caught my eye.  In order to make the final compilation image work I had to ensure that the light came from the same direction and was something I could work with in photoshop. I quickly checked the castle image on my iPhone, logging into my online flikr account and worked out where I needed to be positioned to take a compatible shot of the knight.  In actual fact I couldn’t get the angle I wanted, so had to think about reversing the light direction and flipping the image in photoshop.  It is actually quite easy to visualise your image when you have the iPhone and access to your stock images on-line.

Here is one of the series of original images of the knight. Yoy can see I’ve also tried to isolate him from any complex background, making it easy to extract him and place him alongside my castle.

Doesn’t look too promising does it?   Well, with a little bit of photoshop magic, and a good few hours playing around with it I think I finally came up with a workable result.  First I prepared the castle image by blurring the image, replicating the effect of a shallow depth of field. Next I placed the image of the knight on a second layer and flipped him to suit the lighting conditions. (The one I used was a slightly different angled original to the thumbnail above). After that it was a case of making the colour of the light match using adjustment layers and tones.

So here is the result …. I’ve called it ‘The Crusader’ and I’ve given it its first run out in competition in the Guernsey Open Exhibition. Lets see what the judges think.

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Caerlaverock Castle

August 26, 2010 Comments Off on Caerlaverock Castle


Caerlaverock Castle

Originally uploaded by Falc

For anyone who has never been to Dumfries and Galloway I have to say you are missing out on one of the most beautiful, unspoilt areas of Scotland. Instead of gunning the car straight up to Glasgow, Edinburgh and the Highlands turn left once you cross the border from England. You won’t regret it.

There are castles galore, nature reserves, mountains, islands, beaches, cliffs, so many things to see and do. Best of all the area hasn’t been discovered by the masses yet. We stayed in Dumfries, but to get the best of Galloway then you probably need to be further ‘in’.

The shot you see here is Caerlaverock Castle, just on the Solway Firth, south of Dumfries. It is a moated castle, triangular in shape and in every way a classic medieval castle. This is an ‘HDR’ shot, with seven different exposures combined to provide a ‘best exposure’ for every pixel in the image. By having seven images each exposed differently the camera can capture detail in the dark areas as well as the lighter areas. Photoshop allows the various frames to be combined.

Hope you like it.

Nut Weevil (Curculio nucum)

July 3, 2010 Comments Off on Nut Weevil (Curculio nucum)


Nut Weevil (Curculio nucum)

Originally uploaded by Falc

More fun with the macro setup. This time early morning in Sherwood Forest. I take an umbrella, a monopod, a tripod, the camera, the MP-E65mm macro lens, the 180mm f3.5 macro lens, a 580EX Flash and a small lightbox diffuser. Open the umbrella under a tree or bush and whack the bush with the monopod. All the bugs drop out into the umbrella 😉

This little guy dropped out of an oak tree. Cute little thing isn’t he?
Nut Weevil (Curculio nucum). I used the 65mm at 2x magnification and dropped the power of the flash to -1.66 stops.

Must buy myself a proper flash bracket though. Its very difficult to hold the light and the camera.

Common Blue (Polyommatus icarus)

July 2, 2010 Comments Off on Common Blue (Polyommatus icarus)


A trip over to Manchester gave me an hour in my favourite place, the Peak District, on the way home today. I’ve been trying a few things with a macro setup and so parked up on the slopes of Mam Tor to shoot some butterflies.

As the sun started to drop, these butterflies started to look for somewhere to spend the night, which gives me a chance to get in close with the camera.

I used a Canon 180mm f3.5 L with a 1.4x converter, giving a focal length of about 250mm. f5 with a diffused flash so soften the harsh flash lighting. Just need an arm or something to hold the flash now.  They key to this type of shot is as always with wildlife to get the camera down to your subject’s eye level.  Which meant laying down in the grass for an hour in the sunshine 😉

Anyway, a very pleasant way to spend an hour instead of sitting in traffic watching the tail lights.

English Waterways

June 6, 2010 Comments Off on English Waterways


English Waterways

Originally uploaded by Falc

I’ve been trying a few new techniques for some of the creative competitions and this is one of my many attempts. I’m actually quite happy with this I think. We will see if the judges also find it pleasing.

The underlying image is of the local canal at Kiveton Park, just a couple of miles from where I live. However, the light and the boat are the key ingredients. Without these the image doesn’t even get off the memory card.

I’ve applied a style which is reminiscent of an old polaroid transfer, made the edges jaggy and then applied one of the many fractal filters over the top, but kept the opacity down to 20%. This keeps the effect a little more subtle.

Sea Pinks

June 1, 2010 Comments Off on Sea Pinks

Taken this last weekend in Pembrokeshire, a small stand of Sea Pinks (Armeria maritinum).

As with the gosling shot this was taken from ground level with a reasonably shallow depth of field in order to reduce the background to a blur.  The background is actually the sea cliffs of Pembrokeshire, but you would not know that from the image.

Post-processing in photoshop has created the very white and blurred effect, which for this subject I quite like.

Gosling and Daisies

May 28, 2010 Comments Off on Gosling and Daisies

Gosling and Daisies

Well, this appears to be getting a little attention so I might as well give it a run in some of the competitions. This very young Canada Goose Gosling was photographed by all my students on the recent Going Digital workshop at Nostell Priory in Yorkshire. We were looking at how to ensure the subject was isolated from the background using shallow depth of field, and how when photographing animals the camera needs to be at eye level. Placing the camera actually on the ground and using a ‘right-angled’ viewfinder allowed me to place the gosling against a backdrop of the lake, many meters from the subject.

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