A NEW WAY OF LOOKING

TOM'S INSPIRATIONAL BLOG

Tom's blog 'A New Way of Looking' is a great source of photographic inspiration, news and reviews. Get a sneaky peek behind the scenes of Tom's Photo Walks, find out what projects he has on the go and read his exhibition reviews.

 

If you stumble across anything interesting and think that Tom could write something about it please let him know. Being a photographer he is always on the lookout for new and exciting inspiration.

 

 

JANUARY 8TH 2017

THE 5 MOST COMMON QUESTIONS ASKED ON MY PHOTO WALKS ANSWERED

SUNDAY 8TH JANUARY 2017

 1. WHAT LENS SHOULD I BE USING?

There are three things you need to consider to answer this question fully. Firstly, what is my subject? Chances are if you are photographing a landscape you will use a wide angle lens, (between 12 and 55mm), if you are photographing birds or other wildlife then you will need to go telephoto (from 100 to 500mm). Secondly, how deep would I like my depth of field to be? If you would like a shallow depth of field, (blurry background), you will need a lens with a good wide aperture, (e.g. f1.8 to f3.5). Prime lenses (or fixed focal length lenses) are usually best at this. Remember, when it comes to depth of field, it's not just about the aperture, it's how close you are to your subject. So finally how close can I get? If you need to get closer, get into the habit of moving closer rather than zooming in. This will not only improve your depth of field but also your perspective.

 

2. WHAT SETTINGS SHOULD I USE?

This is a really common one and unfortunately there is no definitive answer. It is useful to remember that photography is all about light. If we think of settings before we think of the light conditions, we will simply be plucking random figures out of the air. It is important to learn how you can use your camera to meter the light first. Once you know this settings will simply come as second nature.  (See our 'How to get it Right in Camera' Photo Walk for more on this subject).

 

3. RAW, JPEG or both?

Most modern digital cameras allow you to shoot in RAW and JPEG. If you use RAW you will get more detailed shots, however, you will need special software to view your photographs. Think of it as a digital negative, you have all the relevant information in a file but you need to process it to see the beauty of the image. JPEG files are smaller and more manageable as they are compressed in camera. You do loose a lot of data though and it is inadvisable to put a JPEG through post production. With JPEGs you really have to get it right in camera, whereas RAW files give you a bit more leeway. I would recommend beginners select to shoot in both, therefore you can see the difference in your results, however, once you shoot fully in RAW, I doubt you would ever choose JPEG again.

 

4. Do I need to do Post Production?

If you shoot in RAW, (see above), then yes, you will have to do a bit. My best advice is try and get as much right in camera as possible. When I post produce my photographs all I tend to tweak is contrast, shadows, highlights and clarity. These are the things that usually get dampened in a RAW file. Trying simple tasks like turning a photograph black and white or adding a graduated filter can be great ways to learn about what is possible.

 

5. What software should I use?

Everyone seems to have a different preference these days because there are so many programs on the market. It is good to know that you don't have to break the bank to get decent post production software, even your camera should have come with a basic editor. If you would like something a little more advanced, Google provide a great free package called the 'Nik' Collection. Alternatively, the industry standard these days is Adobe Lightroom. A great program with everything you would ever need for editing photographs. I would advise newcomers to photography against Photoshop as it is expensive, overcomplicated and does far much more that your everyday snapper would ever need.

DECEMBER 31ST 2016

10 UNIQUE WAYS TO IMPROVE

YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY IN 2017

SATURDAY 31ST DECEMBER 2016

 1. PUT DOWN YOUR BOOK AND PICK UP YOUR CAMERA

Books are great tools, don't get me wrong, however there is no substitute to getting stuck in with your camera and learning from your mistakes. If you need to look something up in a book afterwards, that is fine. Don't get bogged down in the often over complicated detail.

 

2. SHOOT 10 PHOTOS WITHIN A MILE RADIUS OF YOUR HOUSE OR WORK

We often take where we live and work for granted. You will be amazed how much you see when you purposely go out to find photos rather than them finding you. You might even get to know your area better.

 

3. USE A SINGLE FOCAL LENGTH FOR ONE WEEK

Zooming in and out is very convenient but, let's face it, it can make you a very lazy photographer. Alter your perspective and zoom with your feet by using a prime lens or limit yourself to a single focal length for every photo you take for one week. You will be amazed how much more you see.

 

4. START A SCRAPBOOK

It may seem like too much effort or even a silly, childish thing to do but starting a scrap book will improve your creativity. All the greatest visual artists throughout history would be nothing without their scrapbooks. Inspiration often comes when we least expect it, if you have somewhere to jot it down and keep it close by, you will never forget it.

 

5. PACK LESS STUFF

We can all be guilty of taking too much camera kit with us. If you are just going for a day out with your family, ask yourself, do I need a DSLR, 4 lenses, filters and a tripod? It won't make you any less of a photographer if you simply take your phone. You'll probably get better, more spontaneous photos and have a much better time.

 

6. GO IT ALONE

Go out with your camera by yourself for a few hours. Take your time, look at everything and take as many pictures as you like. Only when you are thinking by yourself, for yourself, can you take good photos.

 

7. SHOOT A ROLL OF FILM

'Film?!' I hear you say, 'isn't that yesterday's news?' In a word, no. Many photographers still use film today to great effect. Digital photography has made us lazy and damped our thirst for creativity. Having a limited amount of shots, not being able to see what you have taken and not being able to delete 'mistakes,' may seem like a step backwards but it is a great way to improve, not only your creativity but also the subjects you select. If you don't have an old film camera lying around you can pick up a cheap throw-away camera at your local Boots.

 

8. TAKE A SELFIE

Looking in is often the best way to look out. Ask yourself, what are my interests? What sort of photographs do I like taking? What inspires me? Take one photograph of all these things combined. A photograph doesn't have to include your physical presence to be a self portrait.

 

9. TAKE A PHOTO EVERY DAY FOR ONE YEAR

Keeping your photography brain active is a sure fire way to keep your creative juices flowing. Even if you simply use your phone to capture something that makes you smile, laugh, cry or something that just catches your eye. Try it and you will improve in no time.

 

10. COME ON A YORKSHIRE PHOTO WALK

In 2017 Yorkshire Photo Walks are introducing a new format. Have you ever read a blog post, just like this one, been inspired but then found yourself frustrated at your lack of impetus, creative or technical knowledge? This year our step-by-step 'how to' sessions will help you conquer this. Ask questions, try new things and let us guide you towards a brighter photographic future.

 

See more photos?

Click here for The Yorkshire Photo Walks Gallery.

Want to find out more?

Click here to see what other inspirational Photo Walks Tom has in the pipeline...

DECEMBER 10TH 2016

SMART PHONE PHOTOGRAPHY MASTER CLASS

SATURDAY 10TH DECEMBER 2016

Smart phone cameras, love them or loath them, they are more than likely here to stay, if not overtake more conventional cameras. Some may even argue that this is already the case. In my humble opinion we should embrace the phone camera. As we discovered on our 'Smart Phone Photography Master Class' in Ripon this weekend, they are versatile, easy to use and and much better than clunky DSLRs for spontaneous, creative photography.

 

When you are out and about do you ever think, 'I wish I had my camera to capture that?' Nowadays, camera phones allow us to do just that, as we tend to carry our phones with us wherever we go. The lenses may not be as good as other cameras, the digital zooms are quite frankly appalling and the flash can really dampen a scene but their sensors and processors are getting better with every release and for sharing the odd shot on social media or sending a quirky observation to a friend, they are perfect.

 

This year I have set myself the challenge of producing a 'Photo Advent Calendar,' taking one photo a day on my phone on the lead up to Christmas. It is amazing how creative you can be when you think about it. Smart phones are small, light enough to hold in one hand, easy to set up and allow you to get into positions you could only dream about with a larger camera. With free apps like Lightroom for mobile and Photoshop Express, you can almost treat your phone shots like you would a RAW file.

 

During our master class we looked at various different ways to be creative with your phone. The photographs I take with my iPhone 6s tend to be different to those I would take with my SLR, mainly down to the fact that my phone allows me to be spontaneous and quick. I can snap at something that catches my eye in a second and play about with it. On the Photo Walk I encouraged the participants to capture at least one shot, which utilised one of the following...

 

  • An Alternative Angle,
  • Repetition
  • A Smaller Detail
  • Reflections
  • Symmetry
  • Negative Space

 

By approaching your photography with a creative goal, having a camera you can simply carry in your pocket, playing with image formats and observing the world around you, its amazing what you can capture.

See more photos?

Click here to see Tom's Gallery.

Want to find out more?

Click here to see what other inspirational Photo Walks Tom has in the pipeline...

NOVEMBER 20TH 2016

PATELEY BRIDGE AFTER DARK

SUNDAY 20TH NOVEMBER 2016

I passed through a heavy snow shower on my way to Pateley Bridge but as I pulled up in the car park the snow readily turned to rain and eventually the clouds broke and it turned into a perfect, if not chilly evening to learn how our cameras work after dark. We set ourselves up looking down the picturesque main street adorned with festive lights and a conveniently placed Christmas tree. As the sky turned darker and darker we started to experiment with our camera's settings, balancing the light to get a perfect night time exposure.

 

We started off by exploring automatic settings, discovering their limitations. Usually in darker conditions our cameras want to let in as much light as possible, which can be detrimental to image quality. We eventually settled on full manual as it put us in control of the final image, allowing us to control the entry of light through the lens, the time we exposed the sensor for and the sensitivity of the sensor, without relying on the camera's guess work.

 

As we were photographing the main street we decided we required a decent depth of field, therefore we narrowed our apertures. As this limited the light entering our cameras we subsequently had to slow down the shutter speed. We now had a much more detailed image and the chance to capture the movement of passing car headlights.

 

We then covered ISO and realised that the higher the value the more sensitive our sensor becomes, however we had more chance of seeing noise in our photographs.

 

We concluded that if you would like as much detail as possible and you have time and the stability of a tripod to achieve it, keep the aperture quite narrow, ISO low and shutter speed slow. If you are pressed for time or don't have the stability of a tripod, open the aperture wide and increase the ISO, which will allow you to keep the shutter speed fast enough not to distort the image through camera movement. As a rule of thumb, ideally your shutter speed should be no slower than the focal length you are using.

See more photos?

Click here to see Tom's Gallery.

Want to find out more?

Click here to see what other inspirational Photo Walks Tom has in the pipeline...

NOVEMBER 6TH 2016

BUILDING A PHOTOGRAPH

SUNDAY 6TH NOVEMBER 2016

As the autumn chill started to take hold, we found ourselves at Heber's Ghyll in Ilkley, a hidden wooded valley on the western edge of the famous Ilkley Moor. Our reason for being there was to capture the autumn colours and build coherent photographs step by step. The famous photographer Elliott Erwitt once said; "To me, photography is an art of observation. It's about finding something interesting in an ordinary place... I've found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them." So how can we find these interesting things and how do we see them?

 

We started off by simply looking at the landscape as we walked. One trap a lot of amateur photographers fall into is taking lots of photographs too soon. A good photographer is an observant photographer. It is amazing what you can see if you take your time to look.

 

We then started to look for specific focal points. A photograph without a strong focal point can often be overcomplicated. With nothing for our eye to latch onto, we simply get lost. In the photograph top right, for example, if the figure wasn't there the line of the wall and branch would lead you out of the frame before you get chance to look at any detail. The figure acts as a blocker to keep your eye circulating around the image. This is the job of a strong focal point.

 

We then took our building process one step further and looked at composition, asking the question, how can we lead someone to a focal point, isolate it and keep our viewer interested? We looked at lead in lines, using simple backgrounds on which to isolate our focal points and simplifying the landscape by leaving unnecessary elements of the woodland out of the frame.

 

We then thought about how we could be more creative in our composition. after all, as Elliott Erwitt said, as photographers we have the ability to find the extraordinary amongst the ordinary. So, by altering our angle, getting up close and photographing upwards, we started to generate unique photographs that not only draw the eye to a focal point but also generate renewed interest in it.

 

 So next time you are out and about with your camera, don’t just take your location for granted. As photographers we have the ability to show others these ‘interesting things.’

See more photos?

Click here to see Tom's Gallery.

Want to find out more?

Click here to see what other inspirational Photo Walks Tom has in the pipeline...