Friday, 3 March 2017

Tascam dr-05 overview and comparison to DSLR on board Microphone

I made a video on my new Tascam dr-05 a budget end digital audio recorder.

I did the video for various reasons.

One was I want to do more YouTube videos, I want to make more content and improve the quality of my videos and one way was by enhancing the audio.

Another reason was my video was a great way to test the Tascam dr-05 and compare the audio difference to my Nikon D750 onboard microphone.

I haven't done many videos and am still finding my way but when you watch my video and listen to the two audio outputs you will be pleasantly surprised, I feel this has already made massive improvements to the video.

Thanks for checking out my blog and video and please feel free to check out my links below

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Tuesday, 7 February 2017

RIP Squarespace

My squarespace website has finally come to an end after only one year so I wanted to make a post of what I thought was good and bad and why I let it expire.

As an amateur photographer I wanted to share my work with the world and what better way than having your own website with a personal domain name, doing it right with a high end glossy feel can make even a mere amateur look like a seasoned professional.

I have tried a couple of methods, the first was a basic template site called clikpic which was a great entry level website creator, but unfortunately it didn't have the high end glossy feel and the variety of templates that I wanted, this was a few years ago and clikpic may have changed since then and upped their game.

I then tried WordPress which was the next big thing when starting your own website, you had massive control over your design and options with an endless number of templates to choose from.
To be honest WordPress caused me nothing but stress and headaches.
If I remember rightly you had to rent a server from your chosen company to host your WordPress website, this wasn't expensive and once paid for you just downloaded the WordPress software to your server and you was basically up and running, well you would think so wouldn't you, but no me personally I didn't find it that straightforward.
You had to download your template which could be a free version or paid version, I tried both but had problems with both.
I struggled setting up the site spending hours and hours trying to sort it out constantly getting errors or conflicts, uploading pictures was a nightmare especially if you got the picture dimensions wrong.
In the end I gave up and I am quite capable with computers, once again this was a couple of years ago and things may have progressed to make starting smoother and easier.
One word of warning which I suffered was I paid for and downloaded some WordPress templates and without realising I was subscribed yearly to them, they drew money from my account for a couple of years, I had to track down the website I downloaded the template from and cancel the subscription.
The subscription was to keep the template updated and to give access to their forums and support.
It wasn't a lot of money but it still stung a bit like I had been defrauded, so be very careful and read the small print even downloading a paid for template.

Squarespace website
I finally started up a website again, so what made me do this and what made me choose Squarespace.
Well Squarespace is very clever with their advertising, they basically sponsor any high profile YouTube photographer who in turn blurts out nothing but praise for Squarespace and in turn offers a 10% discount on the first year using a special code linked to that YouTuber.
I decided to take the plunge after watching Karl Taylor's YouTube channel, to take advantage of the discount.
Squarespace is a template site which has a limited amount of templates but they feel very high end and had that glossy professional feel I was after, also they gave me a free domain name for the first year which on top of the discount was pretty damn cool.
The website was easy to set up, looked great and there was loads of online help from various sources if you got stuck, even the Youtubers who promoted Squarespace made some videos on how to get started.
So I was up and running in no time with a high end site that made me a photography enthusiast have the look of a professional photographer, for this I highly recommend Squarespace.

The only problem I had with Squarespace was with their twitter feed, I tweeted Squarespace and asked them to retweet my Squarespace website with my website address link in the tweet.
I had to tweet Squarespace quite a few times with this request but they ignored every request until other people jumped into the tweet timeline to prompt Squarespace.
Squarespace basically said they don't retweet these types of requests, now this infuriated me on a couple of parts.
  • Why not just tell me this the first time I made the request as I would have understood, ignoring my request just made me angry and lose confidence in Squarespace customer support.
  • Squarespace do retweet customers websites, but most of the time only famous people, so as a paying customer Squarespace made me feel unimportant.
  • As a paying customer why not retweet your customers website, surely this is great advertising for both parties by supporting your customer base and having confidence in your product.
Anyway that's just a quick rundown of a bad experience I had with Squarespace, now that whinge has been aired I shall move onto why I let my website expire.

Even though my Squarespace website offered pretty much everything I needed, I didn't really gain anything from it that I didn't get from a free social media site such as Flickr or 500px ,all I was doing was showing off my images.
Me personally I didn't know what I wanted to to do with my website, did I want to sell pictures, did I want to advertise myself for hire etc.
As a family man with a full time job I find it hard to commit time to something apart from actually getting out and taking pictures when I can, plus I didn't know what direction to take my photography in so my website was just left sitting in cyberspace as a gallery that people could visit.
So with this in mind did I want to renew my website and hand over money for something I didn't actually get anything back for, I decided no not really, especially as the renewal price increased and then I would have to pay for the domain name on top.
On the basis of everything I've said I let my Squarespace expire for now and spent the money elsewhere.
If you have a game plan or a goal in mind and you need a website to achieve that goal then apart from the customer service not being up to scratch sometimes I would say the product itself is pretty damn good and you wont go far wrong for a good looking easy to build website.

Me personally, when I decide what my goals and game plan are I may renew my website but until then you can visit me on all my social media linked below.

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Thursday, 24 November 2016

DeckeD Clothing

DeckeD clothing is a family owned business based in Eastbourne who have recently started their own brand of clothing, selling Luxury urban street and Gym Wear for men and women.
Taking their own experiences from keep fit to extreme sports Decked has created a specialised quality brand with their customers in mind.
Knowing what's best with quality and durability DeckeD clothing have incorporated  an affordable and great looking clothing range with an iconic emblem that everyone will want.

Decked Clothing asked me to photograph some of their clothing range which we did with Isaac and Amy who modelled everything for us.
A big thanks to Isaac and Amy who looked fantastic in Decked's clothing range and did a fantastic job of showing them off.

Below are some pictures of the DeckeD clothing range

These are just a few pictures showing DeckeD's clothing range to see more make sure you visit their new site by clicking this link below

Don't forget to share the link with friends and family and on your social media so everyone has the opportunity to visit this new and exciting clothing range.

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Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Pixapro Beauty Dish Unboxing and Set Up

I ordered myself a new 40 inch silver collapsible beauty dish from Pixapro which sat in its box for 2 weeks due me having a summer flu, the flu in summer wtf is that all about.
My wife tells me its called Man Flu, either way its crap.

Normally I get super excited and am already unboxing something whilst the postman is handing it to me so to leave something in its wrapper for 2 weeks made my man flu all the more worse.

As soon as I was well enough me and my daughter shared the celebratory unboxing with you via the magic of YouTube.

Making YouTube videos is still a massive learning curve so the audio is a bit dodgy which I apologise for, the microphone was on the floor in front of us but in my haste to break out this dome of silvery goodness I placed the box and bag on top of the microphone creating the audio mishap, lesson learned for next time.

Me and my daughter acted a little bit silly at the beginning to make it fun so we was also a little embarrassed, I was in two minds whether to post the video but thought wtf you only live once.

Anyway we hope you enjoy our unboxing video and hope it helps in some way
and dont forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel were we will be doing shoot to see how the beauty dish performs

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Monday, 1 August 2016

Blackbelt In Photography

Sam Davies (4th degree blackbelt Kickboxer)

My daughter took up kickboxing a few months ago, and being a proactive photographer I saw an opportunity for some kickass shots, excuse the pun lol.
After getting to know the instructors a little better I asked Sam Davies the chief instructor and founder of Titan Kickboxing if he would allow me to come along to his Dojo and take some pictures of the fighters.
I was a little nervous and apprehensive about asking but Sam made me feel very welcome and to be honest I was a little shocked how approachable the instructors were.
Perhaps I watched too many kung-fu movies as a kid as I had this vision of being beaten up just by looking at a blackbelt lol, (Drunken Master springs to mind).
Anyway my apprehensions were unfounded and so far I have been allowed into the Dojo twice with my camera gear with an invite to come back again.

Colin Hayes

Normally I like to take my time and capture posed shots but I was allowed to to capture the fighters exercising and sparring during a lesson so there was a various range of skills and belts.
This was not only fun but a big learning curve for me as normally I would only grab a handful of posed shots but I knew I had to take loads of pictures to try and capture some good shots of the high impact and fast paced lesson.

To get a fast enough shutter speed I had to do something outside of my comfort zone, I had to up my ISO to areas Ive never ventured into before, most of the time my camera is firmly fixed to ISO 100-400 but today I was going into ISO 5000, combined with my f/2.8 lenses I could start getting a shutter speed of around 1/200 sec to 1/400 sec.
I worked in manual and as the light levels never changed I dialed in the settings I need to get a ball park exposure and just concentrated on focusing and grabbing the shots.

With the high ISO's the shots where very grainy especially as my Nikon D7100 a cropped sensor camera was pushed to its limits at this range, but converting them to black and white not only suited this genre of photography it helped by using the grain to give a more gritty feel.

On both occasions I photographed the Kickboxing I took hundreds of pictures, this was alien to me as I like a more patient and methodical approach firing off a few shots here and there, even though this was new territory for me I absolutely loved the high octane situation of trying to capture a fleeting moment when a glove or foot made contact with the opponent, I can only imagine what the adrenaline must be like at a big fight where the fighters are going at it hammer and nail and trying to capture that split second shot for a title.

After the lesson on my first visit I wanted to do what I do best the posed shots with off camera flash, unfortunately, there wasn't any time to do this at the end, I was a bit gutted especially as I carried in loads of gear from my car, still I had learned loads and got lots of awesome shots, this would have to wait until next time.

Next time came and once again I took loads of shots of the fighters sparring, using high ISO's, wide apertures and swapping lenses between ultra wide and zoomed.
This time I managed to grab some individual time with the fighters to pose for me, time was limited as another class would be starting soon, so I had 30 minutes to set up my gear, take the shots and pack away, bring it on :-)

The Posed Shots

Lee Gambrill
For these I used off camera flash with a beauty dish as my main light, I had 2 lights either side with reflector dishes and honeycomb grids but to be honest I was struggling to place the rim lights with the limited time I had.
My lighting consisted of three Yongnuo 560 IV flashguns which were fired using a Yongnuo 560TX trigger, the great thing about this combination was I can alter the power of each individual flashgun from the trigger on camera.

Barry Saxbee

I set up in manual mode with a starting point of around f/9-f/11 and a shutter speed of 1/250 sec which is the sync speed of my Nikon D7100 then played around with the power of the flashgun to get in the area of exposure I needed to be, then I just grabbed what shots I could before packing away.

Jake Heasman

I'm really pleased with some of the shots I got especially with such little time, so I'm already looking forward to going back and trying out my new Pixapro 40inch silver collapsible beauty dish on these guys, Sam has already invited me back to get some more posed shots, we just have to arrange the time and day, as soon as it happens I will post the pictures on my social media so dont forget to follow me or check out my links at the bottom.

Sam Davies

A big thank you to Sam and his fighters for their hospitality at Titan Kickboxing.
Please check them out on their website

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Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Home studio Portraits

If you've ever visited my Flickr or 500px you will see that my photography is varied, taking pictures of most subjects, but deep down I particularly love portraits and strobist work.
I had 9 days off work so decided to do some portraits of my 10 year old daughter who was bribed with copious amounts of ice cream and Reece cups.
So with the magic of sugary products I had my model, next was the creativeness of the portraits wanting to make the shoot fun I headed over to Amazon, not the jungle but the store to order some props.
I ordered some sunglasses and also a pair of funky steam punk glasses, also my wife who loves supporting me with my creativeness bought us some fun glasses from the pound shop, so altogether we spent around £16 on the props.
Below I will explain my set ups for some of my shots with diagrams to show what is possible in your own home as all these shots were taken in my front room, the only thing I changed between shots was the lighting and glasses.

My gear used
Nikon D7100
Sigma 70-200 f/2.8
Folding white/black Background
Yongnuo 560tx trigger
3 x Yongnuo 560 IV
1 x Yongnuo 560 III
Beauty Dish (silver)
Small Softbox
2 x Reflector Dish
Coloured Gels

I started off with a white background to get some shots in the bag by setting up a Yongnuo 560 IV either side of the background both had reflector dishes to stop spill onto my subject, I took test shots changing the power until the background was a nice bright white by checking the LCD on the back of my camera and using an aperture of around f/9 to f/11 which was just a personal choice to get as much dof as possible using a longer lens.
Next I set up my beauty dish and softbox with the beauty dish directly in front of my daughter and slightly above camera level and the softbox directly in front but below camera level.
The softbox was to fill in the shadows, I normally use a reflector for this but on this occasion wanted complete control over the shadows by alternating the power.
I think this type of lighting is called Clamshell lighting.
Using my Yongnuo 560tx trigger I turned off the background lights then set up the power of the beauty dish and softbox individually to see what affect they had.
Once each individual light was sorted I turned them all on then took test shots of my daughter to finalize the lighting.
The reason you do this is that the key lights can add  more light to your backdrop and can then make it too bright, so if you work in a small space and your subject is close to the back drop the light can reflect onto the back of your subject creating some funny results or unwanted rim light.

Here are some of the white background shots with diagram

For the coloured backdrops I just put coloured gels over the two rear flashguns.
I used blue gels and green gels then changed the colour in Photoshop if I needed any other colours.

Here are some of the coloured backdrops

 This picture was a green background which I converted to yellow to make it pop more

Next I turned my white background round to use the black for the next shots.
All my lights stayed in the same positions all I did was turn background lights round to point at the side of my daughter to create something a little different.

Blue gelled lights for rim light

 Lastly I did remove one of the background lights then moved the single one directly behind my daughter pointing directly at the backdrop to create a little separation from the dark backdrop.

Black Backdrop Pictures and Diagram

I just wanted to show what is possible in a small space with basic manual flashguns and some really cheap props.
Apart from the single light on the backdrop all the pictures were taken with everything in the same position with some minor power setting changes between coloured backdrops and the changing from white to black.
With coloured backdrops if you can only change the backdrop to one colour you can then change this to any colour you want in Photoshop, also I added the lipstick in Photoshop as well which you can change the colour in Photoshop also.
Anyway have fun with your portraits and don't be afraid to try different things, its amazing what you can capture by being creative and mixing it up a bit.

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Saturday, 2 April 2016

Photographer Vs Photographer

If you have read my previous post you will know my motivation and picture taking was at an all time low, now I had two choices, one was to continue down a path of self destruction and the other was to push myself to move on and get back my old self motivation.
I decided with the support of my family to get back on the horse and get back out taking pictures.
One of the things I really wanted and needed was sunrises and sunsets which I have very few, due to the type of shift work I do getting out at these times can be difficult due to tiredness.
I made a big effort and got up at 0330am to drive to Fairfields church in Romney marsh, Kent.
Sunrise was around 0630 and I wanted to get there in plenty of time.
The drive was around an hour plus I needed time to find my way around in the dark and find a good location to set up my gear.
I was set up and ready by around 0545am so all there was to do was wait for the colours to come.

Whilst I waited another photographer turned and set up his gear right next to me.
I did notice this photographer had all the latest and expensive gear including the holy trinity of lenses, he also had to mention when he got out another lens, "oh I think I will swap to my 14-24" etc and yes even the 14-24 had the custom expensive filter holder with all the filters.
I stood next to this photographer with my mediocre gear but feel I came away with some pretty good shots.
It wasn't the amazing sunrise I was hoping for but I was still pleased with the results and glad I got up early for it.
One thing I keep wondering though is the photographer who stood next to me with the expensive gear, what his pictures look like and how they compare to mine, would his pictures be better than mine due to having equipment I can only dream of, because if his pictures came out the same as mine or  worse then that might stop my desperate attempt to acquire newer gear and just be happy with what I have.

I chatted briefly to the photographer next to me but will never know who he is so will probably never see his pictures to compare.
So for now I will keep motivated and keep trying to get the elusive sunrise/sunset I'm after with my mediocre gear and will make the effort to get up early, one thing is for sure I will be visiting this quaint little church again but maybe a nice startrail next time.

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