Thursday, 24 September 2009

Gloucester Cathedral

I recently visited Gloucester Cathedral, the same bank holiday weekend I visited Severn Valley Railway. It was a great place to take photos because of it's great magnificence both inside and out.
Gloucester Cathedral is located in Gloucester centre just off Westgate Street. It was built in 1100 as a Norman abbey church and survived the Dissolution thanks to its historical connection with the monarchy. It was from this church that William I ordered the Domesday Book. Recently the cathedral was used for the filming of more than one Harry Potter movie.

A photo of Gloucester Cathedral from the outside looking up at the pretty perpendicular Gothic Tower with a Tudor House in the foreground.

Gloucester Cathedral
What I did: I cropped it slightly to exclude a bin by the wall, adjusted the levels generally and in the sky to make it more punchy and I did some sharpening on the Gothic Tower to really bring out the detail.

More info on Gloucester Cathedral.

What do you think of my photos? Do you like the HDR look on the second photo or not?

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Miners Wheel: Black and White

Miners Wheel

Here is the Miners Wheel memorial in Highley (Shropshire). With this photo I did quite alot of photo editing.

  • Firstly I converted it into Black and White and then I played with the levels in lots of layers to boost the contrasts and to bring out the details in the photo particularly in the sky and the wheel legs to stop them blending into the hedge behind.
  • Secondly I did some dodging in the grass to boast the contrast giving the grass a infrared look.
  • I then did some burning in the sky to stop it looking so bland and lifeless.
  • Then I did some selective sharpening particularly on the rock and and on the grass to bring out the details. And Finally I added a vignette effect to draw the eye into the centre of the image.
This is the book Digital Masters: B&W Printing that gave me the inspiration, it made me want to go out and have ago at some black and white photography. Here is the review I wrote on it Digital Masters: B&W Printing Book Review.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

25 Stunning HDR Photos

Carefully applied, High Dynamic Range (HDR) imaging can create visually stunning pictures which blur the difference between reality and illusion. HDR imaging is the process of taking several photographs of a scene at various exposures, then merging them into one file. So the entire photograph can look crisp and detailed, from highlights to midtones to shadows. So photographers needn't sacrifice any part of their image.

This post covers 25 stunning HDR photos. Many of them might look surreal, too colorful, even magic or fake, but they are not. Keep in mind that they’ve all been developed out of usual photos, and not a single image is an illustration.

  • This selection isn’t supposed to be complete which is why I encourage you to post links to further stunning HDR images in the comment box.

  • There is no ranking, all pictures have been selected due to their outstanding quality and excellent execution.

  • You can explore further works of the designers and photographers we’ve featured below by browsing through their sets on Flickr.

  • All screenshots are clickable and lead to the pages from which they’ve been taken.

  • You might want to take a look at this book Complete Guide to High Dynamic Range Digital Photography I reviewed earlier this year. Using this book is the easiest way to to master this exiting relatively new technology with this thorough easy to follow and visually stunning book. It covers everything you need to know to produce some great HDR photographs, from how to take great source images to how to merge and tone map your photos

Here are 25 stunningly beautiful HDR photographs.

Just behind those buildings lies the oncoming zombie horde.

Golden Gate HDR

Reflections on the Arctic Sea

New York - West Side Story

There Even Was A Rainbow!

Run to the water

Lost in space

Opera on Ice II

Yacht Shopping

hdr tree



City at 60 degrees North / Icebreaker Krasin

I have sailed the seven seas ...

One Night in Bangkok

Caracara takes off

The Eyes Of London

HDR photography

Tokyo Nightscape

The Veins of Bangkok

skyline of bruxelles

This is not a mirage ...

Lava Streets

CBD, Singapore @ HDR Night

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Digital Masters: B&W Printing Book Review

The Book Review

Rating 8 out of 10

Digital Masters: B&W Printing by George Dewolfe is in short a step by guide to creating a black and white 'masterpiece'. This book covers everything you need to know to create it.
This book is divided into 3 sections (Black and White, Image Workflow and a Conclusion) as well as a glossary, index and portfolio.

The first section in this book is about the key qualities that make up a black and white photo (tone, luminosity, luminance, sharpness,softness,edges, depth, contrast and brightness) with great attention paid to the difference between Luminance and Luminosity. The difference between what is visually perceived by us and what is actually seen (recorded) by the camera.

The second and the largest section is about Image Workflow. It describes how to design a workflow, how to setup your software, how to input your images on a computer, how to make global and local adjustments to a photo, how to optimize and fine-tune an image, setting up your workstation and last but not least printing and evaluating your print.

The final section and the shortest section is all about photographing the known and unknown, honing your skills as a photographer and accessing and practicing your mindfulness.

I particularly enjoyed the 2 pages on exploring tonal values in the first section and chapter where George DeWolf converts famous paintings into grayscale and looks at how the tonal values are distributed.

Top things I learnt from this book

  • To make global adjustments then broad adjustments and then local adjustments when your editing a image.

  • The difference between Luminosity and Luminance.

  • How to outline in Photoshop to accentuate the depth of individual objects.

  • And finally how to create a 'Masterpiece'.

A few minor criticisms

  • He devoted a entire chapter to inputting your photos onto your computer, this is so basic as to be inappropriate in a advanced book like this.
  • The book uses Lightroom and Photoshop exclusively with all his detailed explanations of image adjustments being done in Photoshop or Lightroom. As well as an entire chapter being dedicated to customizing Lightroom modules. This is not very helpful to those who use other photo editing programs.

  • The screen shots which show an image together with the Lightroom controls side by side results in the control panel being so small as to be unreadable. This adds to the growing frustration of a non-Lightroom user trying to decipher & translate what is being done.

  • Throughout this book he is constantly promoting his 'magic' plugin, this gets very annoying after a while. He tries to persuade you that your photographic life depends on getting his plugin.

  • And finally the book states on page 71 that the plugin costs $19.95 but when you visit George DeWolfs website the price actually is $90.00.

My Rating 8 out of 10

I found this is a good yet challenging read at times. I am giving it 8 stars because I found it difficult to read at times and because of George promoting his plugin excessively. Regularly now I go out to take photos specifically to be converted into black and white. This book feels good to the hands with a nice tactile finish on the front and the back of the book and the printing quality is excellent. This is a great book for anyone wishing to learn more about Black and White photography with lots or little experience.

And if nothing else this book offers some great black and white photos throughout the book to motivate you. You really could buy this book just to see the photos.

Check out the Digital Masters: B&W Printing at Amazon where it is 25% off.

Have you read any great black and white digital photography books lately? Give your recommendations in comments box. I'm Looking forward to discovering some other great black and white digital photography books!

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Severn Valley Railway, SVR

Last Sunday I visited Severn Valley Railway (SVR), it was a lovely day even with the typical British weather. The Severn Valley Railway is a 16 mile heritage line that runs from Bridgenorth in Shropshire to Kiddiminster in Worchester along the river Severn. The trains don't just run sraight from Bridgenorth to Kidderminster they stop at some stations along the way allowing you to go out and explore the local area, this makes for a full day out.

Highley Railway Station
Highley Railway Station was my first stop. It was a small yet beautiful station on the outskirts of Highley. After admiring the station I walked into Highley Village (instead of visiting the packed paid railway museum opposite the station). And i'm glad I did, it was a lovely signposted walk into the village centre through the green woodland.

Miners Wheel
A photo of the Miners Wheel in Highley village park.

Miners Clock
A photo of a Miners Memorial inside village centre. It also doubles up as village clock! (nifty)

My second stop was at Bewdly Station. It was my favourite station because it felt so authentic and real as though it had been suspended in time.
Severn Valley Railway Station
A photo looking down on Bewdly station from the bridge crossing.

After leaving Bewdley Railway Station I explored Bewdley. Bewdley is a pleasent historacal town with plenty of shops and places to visit.
A photo of the River Severn running under Bewdley Bridge, with the town in the background.

The final stop was the end of the line. It was Kidderminster railway station. Kidderminster station was the largest of all the stations it had a waiting room, a tea room, a pub, a book store, a free admission museum and a ministure railway running around the parementer.

Kidderminster Train Station
A photo of the train we travelled on throughout the day with Kidderminster Station in the background.

Mini Train Kidderminster Station
A photo of the mini train at Kidderminster Station that runs around the paremeters.

Kidderminster Station Waiting Room
A photo of Kidderminster Railway Station waiting room.

At the station I visited the free railway museum. The musuem was small yet it was packed with railway paraphernalia. The museum was suprisingly hands on considering some items were hundreds of years old.

To conclude I had I wonderful day out and I believe that the Severn Valley Railway is a great day out for people of all ages interested or not in railways.

If you would like to see the Severn Valley Railway in action why not visit Youtube or you could purchase the DVD British Steam - The Severn Valley Railway for £10 at Amazon.

After visiting Severn Valley Railway, the following day I visited Gloucester Cathedral. It too was a great place to visit and I highly recommend it.

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