Back Online with some AI Art

Yeah, it's pretty shameful I haven't posted here in 2 years (almost to the day). To be honest, my emphasis has shifted to music these days. However I've recently discovered AI art engine such as Stable Diffusion, and I'm absolutely bowled over by it. Anyway, I've created my first AI Art gallery called Red Skies, available in the Galleries section.

New Artwork for Hexagon Cover

As well as photography, I write music and I also design all my own album and single covers. I am about to finish my latest album 'Hexagon'. which I slightly redesigned. It retains the white stripe which is present on my single covers, but I've moved it further down into the middle of the image. So it follows the same theme of the covers from the singles in this album, but makes it distinct enough for the viewer to know that this is the album cover. Working on the final track as we speak!

Image Spotlight (21/09/2020)

This is a 3-shot HDR image taken in the grounds of the impressive Kronborg Castle in Helsingor, Denmark. The castle itself is impressive and looks very imposing as you walk along the path towards it. What's also cool is that across the body of water which is near the castle you can see Sweden. I really enjoyed walking around this castle, there weren't many people there, so you could get a good look at the interior and the artefacts there, and the dungeon underneath was just as imposing and impressive to work around. Well worth a visit, if you go to Denmark or Copenhagen, and the trains are supremely reliable as you'd expect.

Image Spotlight (02/09/20)

The above photo was taken inside Benmore Botanical Gardens on the Cowal Peninsula, Scotland in August this year. Got really lucky with the weather that week apart from a couple of days. So there were fortuitous conditions for the capture of this image. While walking alongside some ponds in the grounds of the park, I noticed this vista. A still pond with dramatic mountains and lighting in the background. I didn’t have to do much post processing with this image, apart from merging the separate exposures into one, and sorting the levels out. The pond was really still because the conditions were really calm that day. Anyway, got lots of photos to share of Scotland. The country’s got a really photogenic landscape.

Image Spotlight (23/08/20)

This is a three-shot HDR I took off the coast of Anglesey at Holyhead. This photo and others I took at the same time were an absolute bitch to get because of the near vertical climb down to the lighthouse. The descent wasn't too bad, but the climb back up was a killer. I'm just not built for such a climb! I must have stopped a dozen times on the way back up, and I felt like I was having a heart attack! Anyway, I managed to capture some great images at this landmark so it was worth it!

Image Spotlight (31/07/18)

This is a three-shot HDR I took in the highlands of Scotland last year. I’m kinda glad that the day was overcast because it made for a more dramatic photo. I particularly liked seeing the clouds licking over the mountains on the left of the image.

Image Spotlight (June 8th 2018)

This is a 3-shot HDR I took in a medition garden just outside Lincoln. I didn’t have a vast amount of low-light photography experience at that time, but even though I can see post-production errors in this image, I’m still very happy with how the artificial light has filled the central area of the image with a warm cast. They were quite difficult conditions to photograph under. I had to wait for the wind to drop, and there were no decent level surfaces to place my camera, but after a bit of perseverance, it paid off.

Image Spotlight (Apr 24, 2018)

I snapped this photo of Heron Tower in the distance as I was heading down to the local market near the hotel in which I was staying in London one sunny morning in 2016. I loved the quality of the light that morning, and I especially like how the reflections were being cast onto the ground from windows, like in the foreground of this image.

Image Spotlight (Feb 06 2018)

This was taken inside Inverary Castle in the Cowal Peninsula in Scotland. It was quite please how this image turned out, because I was doing a handheld HDR shot indoors with poor lighting and a high ISO. The castle was quite grand.

Image Spotlight (Jan 11 2018)

I took this image a couple of summers ago on one of my trips to London. The building at Kings Cross St Pancras is gorgeous, but at the same time absolutely huge, so I decided on taking a close-up image of the building instead. This is a 3-shot handheld HDR and was edited using Photoshop, Viveza, FDR Tools, HDR Efex Pro.

Image Spotlight (Jan 02 2018)

Grasse, in France, is a very picturesque town in the south of France, famous for its perfume. We took a tour of the perfume museum (where everything smelled of cloves) and then had a walk around the town. Grasse is nestled in the hilly terrain in that area, and there were plenty of opportunities for photos. I took this one overlooking the hills from a main bus station in the town.

Image Spotlight (Dec 18, 2017)

For most of our holiday in the Scottish highlands in August, it rained pretty much constantly, apart from one or two days when it was ok. I took this photo just outside the Loch Lomond national park, just as the weather was breaking into a bit of sunshine. I really liked how the setting sun was reflecting off the clouds and the top of the mountain in the background. I would normally edit out telegraph poles in my images with Photoshop, just for a tidy look, but I left this one in to give the image a bit of scale.

Image Spotlight (Dec 8, 2017)

This image was taken on an overcast mid-October day in Monaco. I had never been to Monaco before and was surprised just how many buildings are compressed into a relatively small area. However, it meant I could pack a lot into one photograph. I love how the buildings ascend up the mountain side, but there’s enough untouched scenery behind it to make an image with a good combination of both. I didn’t actually do a vast amount of retouching to this image apart from combining them into a HDR, tone-mapping it and doing some basic contrast and brightness work.

Image Spotlight (Dec 06, 2017)

That day, driving in the Loch Lomond National Park, it was seriously gloomy with high winds and driving rain, so it was the perfect time to take a black-and-white HDR. There was hardly any colour in the landscape, so it was a perfect opportunity to take this type of photo.

Image Spotlight (Nov 14, 2017)

This image was taken at Falling Foss near Whitby in North Yorkshire on a nice sunny day. You can’t quite tell that from this image because the tree canopy was cutting out a great deal of light. Saying that it set up the conditions for this shot. I noticed the shaft of light coming down on the right-hand side of the frame and it contrasted very well with the rest of the shot.

Image Spotlight (Nov 13, 2017)

This image was one of my first attempts at HDR around 5 years ago and one that I was surprised came out so well. This is an image of the Reading Room in the British Museum. I noticed the room as I walked down one of the corridors. I didn’t have a tripod with me at the time (saying that, in my experience. museums frown upon you using tripods, if you don’t ask them if it’s ok). So I had to lean on my camera which in turn was pressing on the glass of a door window to try to stop the camera from shaking. I don’t like using anything above ISO400 when I am taking photos but the light was so low that I had to use ISO1600 on the camera I was using at the time, which led to lots of noise control of the image later in Photoshop and Imagenomic Noiseware.

Image Spotlight (Oct 18)

The above photo was taken inside Benmore Botanical Gardens on the Cowal Peninsula, Scotland in August this year. Got really lucky with the weather that week apart from a couple of days. So there were fortuitous conditions for the capture of this image. While walking alongside some ponds in the grounds of the park, I noticed this vista. A still pond with dramatic mountains and lighting in the background. I didn’t have to do much post processing with this image, apart from merging the separate exposures into one, and sorting the levels out. The pond was really still because the conditions were really calm that day.

Anyway, got lots of photos to share of Scotland. The country’s got a really photogenic landscape.

Image Spotlight (Sep 26): Teardrop in the Sky

Well, it’s been slightly over a year since I last posted. I’m pretty ashamed of myself to be honest. Life has just kept me really busy for the past year, and I’ve just not had time for photography and blogging about it. Plus, up until very recently I’ve had a lot of issues with hosting, particularly speed (or lack of it). Well, I’ve got on top of that now and moved to a new speedy server, and the pages load much faster than they did.

Today, I have put a spotlight on one of my favourite images, one that was taken inside a sculpture at the Yorkshire Sculpture. It was a very grey day, and also the scuplture was metallic grey, so I thought there was no point creating a colour image! I went slightly sepia and I think it’s quite an effective photo. A large portion of the image is vignetted, drawing your eyes to the centre. I also was pleased with texture that the process I use picked out the detail in the metal.

Image spotlight (Sep 20): Castle Howard

If you are looking for a day out, you could do much worse than going to Castle Howard. Although we didn’t want to stump up the cash to go inside the building, the grounds are brilliant, and there’s still lots to see and walking to do. It was a lovely fresh day not long after winter when the daffs were on their way to full bloom and the first day that we’d had some really good sunshine. There are some seriously nice walled gardens to walk around, and I’d recommend a day out there. It’s a little bit expensive (in my opinion) but still worth going for the fresh air and walking.

Image Spotlight (Sep 14): Tiled buildings in Lagos, Portugal

Portugal is a totally beautiful country and the people are great too, so friendly and helpful. I hadn’t been prepared for the heat in July the other year, and it regularly hit 36 degrees in the afternoon. I spent most of my time trying desperately to cool down and avoid heatstroke but in between hiding from the sun, I managed to take a few photos of the gorgeous buildings in Lagos when we ventured into the town.

Lagos is a pretty modern town, but parts of it are quite old, and I came across the two buildings in the gallery below when I walked into one of the town’s squares. Up until this point I don’t think I recall ever seeing decoration on buildings like this, so I decided to do a couple of HDR snaps.

Generally I do very little retouching of details in photos as i like to keep the originality, but there were a couple of crappy telegraph poles and wires that ruined the photo of the green shop building. So I took a little bit of artistic licence and edited them out.

New Photosphere page

I’ve recently become very interested in 360 degree photos. As much as I love standard photography, I’ve often felt that I just can’t capture what it was like to be in the place at the time. When I got my new phone, I decided to see what software was around and I came across Google Camera. It had a Photosphere option, so I gave that a go. It’s simple to use, it’s just a matter of moving your camera around you, and above and below, keeping a dot in the midde of a circle on screen as you spin round. You carry on doing that until you’ve covered all the areas you need to capture.

It takes a little practice and a steady hand, but Google Camera is pretty easy to get to grips with. You can then view your images in an appropriate 360 degree image viewer (or Google Camera’s own Panorama Viewer). But much better than doing that is viewing images through VR Goggles, such as the Samsung Gear Vr headset (which you plug your phone into). Then you are properly immersed in the photo you’ve just taken. I did just that, and I’ve got to say, considering you’re just viewing your photo through a phone, and not a dedicated VR headset, it’s suprisingly immersive. In my opinion, it’s a genuinely brilliant new way to experience photos you’ve taken on holiday, and you feel some way towards experiencing what it was like to be in the place where you took the photo. I’m planning to do many more of these photos, and I’ve already added my first to Galleries > Photospheres in the menu above.

I just joined Fine Art America

I’m a bit slow on the uptake sometimes, although I’ve never marketed my artwork before so getting any monetary value out of my work has never occurred to me. But anyway, I’ve joined this website to help promote my artwork so I will have a mini shop up-and-running shortly.

A quick venture into B&W photos

I don’t normally use HDR for black and white images, as I love to wring out every last colour I can (without going overboard, obviously) from my photos to get as close to what my eyes saw while taking the original.

On our trip to the North Yorkshire coast, it became particularly gloomy after a pleasant start, and the sea was starting to get pretty stormy too. Everything looked really greyscale so I thought it was a perfect time to test HDR with black and white imagery.

I snapped three exposures around 1/400 sec and once I got back home I put the three exposures into Lightroom, then exported to HDR Efex Pro. A bit more processing with FDR Tools and Viveza, with some final tweaks in Photoshop, and I ended up with quite a moody shot, which I think captured the essence of the weather that day. I think up until recently I have pigeon-holed myself a bit in terms of my photography, and this one has made me think a bit more about different styles I probably should be exploring.

Almost lost my camera to the sea!

If you ever get chance to walk along the Cleveland Way in the UK between Sandsend and Runswick Bay, then do it. The scenery is absolutely breathtaking, and even though the stretch of land to walk is about six miles, it’s totally worth it. However, there is one gotcha about the route, that we didn’t plan for, but could have been avoided if we’d actually planned ahead. So this is a bit of a cautionary tale.

We decided to go for a walk along the path on a gorgeous, sunny, still day with the dog, who’s knocking on a bit now, but still loves his walks. It was a perfect opportunity to take photos (as the gallery below shows). Everything was fine until the last four hundred meters of the walk. We hadn’t realised that the last bit of the Cleveland Way went along the beach, and the tide was lapping up over the sand, so we ended up stuck in the cove where the Cleveland Way comes out, and walking six miles back wasn’t an option! We then realised we’d have to crawl along the rocks to get to the harbout bit and wade through a gentle tide but one that came up to our midriffs. We still needed to be careful though as the current was still pretty strong. All I had protecting my camera and phone was a flimsy carrier bag that I had to hold over my head until we got to safety. We had no choice but to wade through the tide as the last bus back to Sandsend was due at 8pm. Looking back it was a really stupid thing to do. But at least I got some nice images from the trip.

Welcome to my photography blog

I have been experimenting with photography for a number of years now, and I have a particular appetite for HDR photography. It gives me a massive amount of freedom in terms of creativity, although I tend to lean towards the more realistic results you can get from HDR photography rather than the overblown extract-every-single-colour images. That's fun for about ten minutes, but I don't think that's what HDR should be about. Anyway, I hope you like my galleries, and I hope to start selling my images and artwork from my site very soon.