This photograph represents a major step in my education in Photography. At the start of this year, I decided that I was going to study with the best photographers whose work I have admired. The quickest way to master a new subject is to study with the best and model their habits and technical strategies.
This approach has proven to be a wonderful breakthrough in my understanding of exposure at the most magical time of day - the late afternoon BLUE HOUR. I want to thank my friend Umbreen Hafeez for her patient and generous coaching which resulted in this beautiful Shot of the Day/afternoon.
I love the juxtaposition of three separate elements in this composition. This is something I learnt from studying Bryan Peterson's great book "Understanding Exposure" -
"Story Telling" composition.
Foreground, Middle Ground, Back Ground.
In the foreground we have the fabulous sculpture by David Wynn, "The Lady and The Dolphin", in the middle there is the iconic Tower Bridge and the background element is finally set off by the Shard Tower.
This shot was taken with my Sigma 18-250 mm lens set to 18mm
F/13 - Shutter Speed at 1/1250 ISO 2500
My shot of the day is a very simple shot that caught my eye. In fact, I had not seen this particular image before, considering it occurred in my neighbourhood. I am training myself to be moved by something I see before shooting. My emotions must connect with something unusual in the ordinary.
There is a level of commitment without attachment when I go out shooting - my first priority is to enjoy the walk. Secondly, my camera is ready and primed, thirdly, I am empty to the possibility of the experience. This notion of "being empty" is all about having no fixed plan or agenda, just relaxing and allowing myself to absorb my environment and just "be" with whatever comes.
This approach has worked wonders over the last few walks I have done and today I experienced this simple moment and thought a-ha, this looks interesting.
See what you think...
What do you see?
A traffic light?
A sign to stop?
I was intrigued, first by the mirror, that inspired me to stop and then, looking into the mirror, I saw life go by, cars, people, noise and then, I took the shot. In reviewing the image, it spoke to me much more - to me, this image is communicating, the world has gone and got itself into a mad rush, time to slow down people, stop for a minute, look, listen and feel and just "be".
It has been a few weeks since my last shot of the day. I was committed that my next one would merit this title and I am delighted to share with you a shot which I have called "SPLENDOUR" .
This is Edinburgh at night with the famous Castle in the background and it is simple glorious. It was a tricky shot to get right due to the windy conditions plus making several attempts at exposures and getting my 30 second shutter speed just right.
My camera walk didn't start out today with love in my mind, however, it must have been in my heart because of this next shot. When I saw it, it spoke to me.
Words so simple and yet profound; I want to thank whoever wrote this because it is spot on.
This message is written on the wall of The Abbey Road Studio. It is a complete maze of graffiti and yet my eyes saw this message.
What did I get from this message?
Simple, "love is a creative act to be given away by a heart open and ready to receive".
What do you get from this message?
This shot of the day represents a landmark moment in my photography.
I love Street Photography and in the spirit of all the great photographers who came be for me, this image captures for me, a defining moment. Since I lost the hearing in both ears, my communication has suffered to the degree that I didn't want to go out and face people.
As a sufferer of Tinnitus, the noise in my head can be very loud and I can't even hear my own voice. Studying photography has taken me out of my head, back into the world of living.
Life for me occurs in conversation with others.
This image began with me initiating a conversation, lip reading and responding.
The shot came by asking.
A big thanks to these two generous gentlemen.
After a very long walk along the South Bank tonight, I got the shot I saw in my mind. It was difficult to get because along the way, I struggled to find the right settings on my camera. I tried a different White Balance with every shot.
I was in Manual Priority so my Aperture was for good depth of field, I took a meter reading of the sky which was pitch black. This last point I must give thanks to Bryan Peterson from his great book "Understanding Exposure". This allowed me to dial in a Shuttle Speed appropriate for the conditions.
Today, there was a blanket of white cloud over London, with a few patches of blue peeking through. The last time saw this was in Beijing last year. The difference was, last year, I didn't have a clue as to how to get the right exposure. Tonight was different for one reason, I remembered that I had packed in my bag, my Neutral Density Filter. I figure it might work at night given the fact that after my previous exposures, my sky line looked washed out. I put the Filter onto my lens, took the reading and fired off the shot and just like magic, the shot of the day.
Camera: Nikon D90
Lens: 18-250mm set to 18mm with a Neutral Density Filter attached.
WB: Auto B4, M3 - Vi
Shutter Speed: 30 seconds with Mirror Lock Up engaged
Shot fired after a 5 second delay with Self-Timer
While shooting in the park today, I noticed some Skateboarders. I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to practice some fast shutter speed shots. The guys were very friendly when I approached them. I told them I was a photography student and that I would really appreciate it if they would let me shoot them skateboarding in the bowl. They agreed and the shots speak for themselves.
I have added a few shots to this post however, I will save my shot of the day for last.
One of the Skateboarders recognised me from my Penn & Teller performance, he was very excited. At the end of the shoot, I showed the guys, Roy Walton's "Smiling Mule".
Photography and Street Magic, not a bad combination.
My Shot of The Day
The Regents PArk Waterfall
I have always loved those beautiful images of waterfalls, were the water looks silky smooth.
The flowing effect of the water is implied by the magic of DSLR Photography. It is a tricky technique to get right and today, I achieved a breakthrough with a little help from a kind gentleman in Regents Park who was attempting to created the same effect for himself.
I was on a little bridge shooting away, my shots of the water were crap. The sun was directly behind me and a really bright today. The settings on my camera were correct, yet my finished outcome was far from satisfactory.
This gentleman had just finished his and as he walked passed me, I said to him, " did your shot come out alright?", he said "yes". I asked him if I could have a look on his camera and his shot was gorgeous. I asked him if he could teach me how to achieve the same outcome on my camera and he very kindly talked me through the process.
Because it was a bright day, he told me to set my ISO to 100, mine was set on 200.
He set my camera in his Tripod - essential because of the long exposure to avoid camera shake and blurry image.
Aperture set to f/22:
Shutter Speed to 1 .3 seconds and shoot.
Here is the result
I have now become a passionate photographer of Waterfalls - on my travels around the world, I will be looking for waterfalls. This is one of the most magical and spectacular shots a photographer can make because it captures nature, in all her glory.
I want to thank the gentleman I met in the park today for kindly teaching me this technique, his name is Chris.
©Mike Vincent Photography 2015