Photo Credits

Croxden Abbey

The west door of Croxden Abbey

I unex­pec­tedly went to Croxden Abbey recently. Until just over a week ago I didn’t even know it exis­ted, but it’s a nice place to go — if it’s sunny — for pho­tos. I’ll blog a bit more about it in the future. Right now I thought to give credit to people on the web who helped me with my pho­to­graphy skills. They used to be awful but now, call me arrog­ant if you like, some­times I think my pho­tos are quite lit­er­ally adequate. I think I messed up the per­spect­ive a bit here, but stand­ing in the right place would have meant tramp­ling someone’s flowers, so this is good enough for me.

The biggest help was Aydin Örstan who gave me a very simple piece of advice: use the manual set­tings. I didn’t use the manual set­ting usu­ally. The way I saw it, I wasn’t much good at pho­to­graphy, while the cam­era had been built by a lot of clever boffins who knew all about expos­ures and aper­tures. I still think they do, but they don’t know everything about the qual­ity of light every­where around the world. They can make an approx­im­a­tion, but it’s a huge advant­age to be on the spot. Juggling the bal­ance between shut­ter speed and aper­ture looks dif­fi­cult when you read about it, but it’s sur­pris­ingly simple in prac­tice. The aper­ture is f/8, unless you want to do some­thing odd and the shut­ter speed is guided by the light­meter in the cam­era. If you meter on the sky, then you’ll under­ex­pose, so you might want to point the cam­era at the import­ant thing and take the set­tings from that. The great thing about pho­to­graph­ing land­scape and archi­tec­ture is that it rarely gets up and wanders off, so it’s not like you have to be fast. The great thing about digital is that you can take mul­tiple shots with dif­fer­ent expos­ures so that when you do muck up the set­tings you have a chance of hit­ting the right set­tings by chance if you’re shoot­ing around the right region.

Astrolabe photo before processing.

Another help with HDR is Trey Ratcliff. He’s writ­ten a guide to using Photomatix that I’ve found help­ful. I’ve since moved away from his set­tings. I get the impres­sion he’s very keen on push­ing the atmo­sphere of a scene. In con­trast in the photo above I was simply try­ing to bring out detail in a photo that could have looked blurry with the glass front­age. So while he might use 100% strength set­tings, the photo above is prob­ably about 30% and I tend to keep the strength around 40%. Finding what I like became a lot easier after read­ing why he does what he does.

Astrolabes in HDR with processing

Finally, I enjoy David DuChemin’s blog Pixelated Image. I’ll admit I’d like a Canon 550D with a 10-22mm lens. A wider angle means I could get closer and for the top photo I could have took a bet­ter line at it. But that’s not going to hap­pen any time soon. In the mean­time David DuChemin has plenty of prac­tical advice about the sort of thing that you should be pay­ing atten­tion to any­way. Things like com­pos­i­tion, con­trast and bal­ance in photos.

The King Stone at Nine Ladies


When he's not tired, fixing his car or caught in train delays, Alun Salt works part-time for the Annals of Botany weblog. His PhD was in ancient science at the University of Leicester, but he doesn't know Richard III.