Long Exposure Adventure

I’ve been wanting to take some long exposure daytime shots for a while now, but wanted some kind of water based subject as it should produce some really great textures. I’ve experimented with long exposure shots at nighttime and have had great results.

The most integral part of kit I would need for this is a neutral density filter. Without this, there’s little to no chance of producing the kind of image I have imagined.

I recently discovered that Yorkshire has a handful of stunning waterfalls – what would be a better water source for my long exposure?! The waterfall I decided on was a tad difficult to locate unless you were aware of it. So I printed off a map of it’s location and headed out with my gear.

I wanted to photograph in the shade, as too much strong light combined with a long shutter speed would result in a blown out image, no matter how great my variable ND filter is. With the gorgeous heatwave and lack of rain we’ve been experiencing lately the water level was far below what I had researched, but with this being a long exposure the water SHOULD appear silky and flow well.

Here’s a few of my favourite images below:

I’m chuffed to bits with these results. They are just as I’d imagined. I played around slightly with the degree of darkness that my filter offered (it ranges from 0 to 9) but found that I had to use around 7 with the shutter speed length I’d chosen of 10-12 seconds. Any longer and my images were just too bright. I could have programmed a lower exposure to compensate for a longer shutter speed and used the strongest density level, but I wanted to retain some sense of movement within the water. I found it was easier to focus in on my subject and then attach the filter – I turned off auto focus as the camera struggled to focus through the darkness of the filter. I love the contrast of sharp detailed rocks and the silky smooth water. It really does add a magical feel to these images.

I can’t wait to photograph many more water based subjects with my ND filter – probably my favourite piece of accessory kit so far.


Assignment 4 – A Sense of Place

Imagine that you are on an assignment for an intelligent, thoughtful travel publication that is demanding a considered, in-depth treatment. Aim to produce sufficient images on a specific location to fill, say, six pages. This would mean about six final images as chosen, but at least twice this number of good publishable images from which to make the final selection. Aim to show the character of the place and of the people who live there with as much visual variety as possible.

I felt like I really needed to concentrate on what it is exactly that the brief is asking of me. I realised very early on that this would not be images that are similar to what you may see in a travel brochure. I’m not photographing gorgeous white sandy beaches to entice people to visit, but rather capturing the charm and raw beauty/feel of a certain location. It is not tourism promotion.

With this cleared up I now had to find my location. I had several places in mind that would fit the brief but having recently relocated up north I wondered whether I could explore the unknown and capture my images at the same time. I didn’t want somewhere too remote (Yorkshire has some incredible scenic spots) or I may find it results in my final images being relatively similar. I also wanted the option to to capture people – so a remote Yorkshire Moor would not guarantee this.

I decided to settle on Horsforth – an area I moved to last month. Having been busy with the move and work, I felt I hadn’t fully explored Horsforth, so found this to be a great opportunity to explore my new surroundings while completing this assignment.

Horsforth is a suburb of Leeds, and is gorgeously leafy and green. I wanted to incorporate this feel in my images, while also capturing the sense of community. While it may be an area of Leeds; a bustling metropolitan city undergoing a huge revamp, Horsforth feels like its own little town/village. There is a strong sense of community and togetherness.

Japanese Garden

There’s a lovely big park on the outskirts of Horsforth (Horsforth Hall Park) and within the park is an incredibly well kept and beautiful Japanese garden. This garden attracts many locals and tourists who come to enjoy the peace and serenity that it offers. I wanted to capture as much of the garden as possible, so I used a wide angle lens, and looked for a position that would offer many different elements such as the lily pond, the bridge and the native plants. The red of the bridge contrasts so well with the lush greenery.


As I previously mentioned, I wanted to capture the nature and rural elements that Horsforth is renowned for. I wanted to, if possible, photograph some aspect of wildlife. While exploring the hidden corners of the park area I noticed this little guy watching my every move! I really like the composition of this shot. The foreground detail (squirrel and tree texture) is in crisp focus and virtually splits the image straight down the middle as it contrasts with the soft blurred background. I wanted the background to be blurred but only slightly as you can still make out the formation and shapes of the objects in the distance. It really highlights the sense of Horsforth.

Horsforth Cricket Club

There’s a strong sense of community, and it’s magnified by the clubs and groups that are available for both the young and old to be a part of. The cricket club is situated in the middle of the park allowing all and anyone to watch the training and games. While the predominant focus is the action of the cricketer mid run, they viewers eye gradually moves attention to the club in the background where parents, friends, family and the public watch on. You get a sense of the cricket club building itself – nothing too grand or modern; a typical community building.

Town Street

The main street in Horsforth is just that; a small stretch of street bustling with independently owned businesses, cafes, bars, pubs and shops. In recent years it has developed a few chain branches (Costa Coffee, Pizza Express, Greggs) but I wanted to focus more on the independent side that could be more responsible in pulling in visitors. As with any small town, you cannot always guarantee an influx of people, but this highlights the quiet serene vibe evident in Horsforth.

Baron Bistro

There’s a vast array of pubs here, all with different styles and themes. This bistro really caught my eye with the bright red umbrellas contrasting with the traditional brick wall synonymous with Leeds and The North. I timed my shot to include the three pedestrians passing by all with roughly the same spacing in-between them.  I like the variety to this image – male, female, young, old. It highlights the range of people living in Horsforth.

Truly Scrummy Cafe

One of the most popular cafes on the main street is the ‘Truly Scrummy Cafe’ which had an influx of people passing in and out of the doors. I wanted to capture the quaint feel of this small town cafe, so decided to photograph it from the outside capturing both the customers inside, the passers-by and the street tables. If you look closely you can see a range in age of customer – highlighting how versatile and much loved it is amongst both the old and young. I had photographed several images from a side angle and wanted to incorporate a head on image, and this seemed to be my perfect subject.

I feel that these 6 images are my strongest, most varied set illustrating the sense of place in Horsforth. I’ve included below several other images from the shoot that didn’t quite make it into my final selection. There was lots of deliberating over which images would end up in the final selection, and it was by no means an easy task. I was aware of incorporating too many images that did not include people, yet the interior cafe shot did not seem as strong as the others in terms of demonstrating the ‘sense’ of place.


Assessment criteria

Demonstration of Technical and Visual Skills:

I am generally happy with the overall technical and visual execution of this assignment. In order to demonstrate the ‘sense of place’ I had to make sure my pictures were as aesthetically pleasing as possible. This assignment is meant to entice people to visit a certain area, so I wanted to make sure they were visually appealing. This meant I decided on using a wide angle lens at times to capture as much of the scene as possible, and finding the best, most interesting viewpoint. I wanted to incorporate a sense of variety too – and feel I have achieved this.

I did not want to have to rely on too much post processing (brightening the sky, colour correction etc.) as I was aware this may make the images look too processed and fake. Personally I am not enticed by images that are over processed, and I wanted to photograph Horsforth in its truest form.

Quality of Outcome:

I am very satisfied with the quality of the outcome. These images do feel like a set, and all have a sense of continuity. I think this was because each image was photographed with relatively the same weather conditions.  In terms of the individual images I’m happy that each one of my photos is a strong representation of my brief, and the images are able to stand alone, as well as part of a series.

Demonstration of Creativity:

In my last assignment I tried too hard to ‘think outside the box’ and this resulted in missing the brief. So for this assignment I tried to follow the brief in a simplistic yet creative way. I wanted my creativity to be somewhat more subtle, as I felt this would suit this kind of brief more. I looked for quirky angles, nice framing options, and characteristics that would amplify my shots. I often try so hard to make my work different that I get carried away and drift from the original task.

In terms of developing my personal voice this assignment gave me the opportunity to really get swept away in my concept and execute a more natural, in depth set of photographs. I didn’t want to (nor could I) over plan or over think my content/subjects. I explored my new area with my camera seeking photographic opportunities then and there rather than pre-planning them. This, for me, worked very well. I enjoyed being ‘put on the spot’ so to speak.


Since my last assignment I’ve researched in quite substantial depth urban/street photography to get an idea of how best to approach my issue with confidence when photographing the public. I’ve studied several techniques

I find myself studying my surroundings and people much more since doing this assignment. I am constantly seeing great photographic opportunities – mainly to do with people for once – and am building up my confidence greatly. It can be something as simple as someone sipping coffee in a coffee shop window, but I’m always finding myself viewing the world through my metaphorical lens. There are photographic opportunities everywhere!



Exercise: Busy Traffic

In contrast to the usually-empty place from the last project, some locations are almost
always busy, with a constant flow of traffic. Railway stations, bus stations and airports
are obvious examples, but in these days of tightened security, many are effectively out of
bounds for photography.

Giving this due consideration, choose a busy location, interior or exterior, and find a
viewpoint that will give you a satisfying composition as well as a good sense of the
nature and function of the space.

Spend some time watching how the flow of people works — the patterns they make, any
surges or lulls in movement and numbers — and how this can contribute to the
composition of the shot.

Aim to show the ‘busyness’ of the place, which might involve altering the composition,
perhaps changing the focal length of lens, or experimenting with a slow exposure.

For this exercise I chose a busy shopping centre in Leeds. I wanted a viewpoint that would incorporate some sense of the layout and design, while also demonstrating the ebb and flow of the foot traffic. By positioning myself on the top floor I was able to capture the top level, but my main focus was the shoppers on the ground floor.

I varied my shutter speed slightly as I wanted to capture subtle movement. Had the shutter been open for too long, I’d have missed the shoppers movement entirely.

If the shutter speed was too quick I’d have frozen the movement completely.

This first shot served as my ‘test’ shot. I then decided to have a slightly longer shutter speed to create some motion blur.

Most people are now blurry, with the odd exception of someone remaining still – the man in the blue shorts at the counter to the left shows this.

What is evident in all 3 pictures is the congestion or ‘bunching’ of people underneath the escalator. This is because it was the main route through the shopping centre, so as expected, would be congested.

Using a wide angle lens meant I was able to squeeze as much of my surroundings in as possible – emphasising the sense of scale. I like the effect this had on the railing to my right – it’s somewhat warped more than the human eye observed (it was curved slightly) but I think this adds a creative feel.

Exercise: Making figures annonymous

Take some photographs that include a person or people in a particular place, but
deliberately make them unrecognisable and, as a result, less prominent.

Make between two and four photographs which use different techniques to achieve this.
To reiterate, a successful image will be one that is primarily about the place, but in which
one or more figures play a subsidiary role to show scale and give life — to show that it is
in use.

I had hoped to put a little more distance in this shot, but even standing on the other side of the road (there was a row of houses directly behind me) meant I was fairly limited. I used a fairly wide angle lens as I wanted to capture all 5 people standing at the bus stop. I do like this image though. The positioning and poses of the bystanders creates an interesting dynamic. I especially like the lady stood with her back to the bus shelter on the far left. Unless you knew or were able to recognise these people, there is a strong sense of anonymity.

This next shot has a vast distance between me and my subjects; rendering them unrecognisable. The shadows cast by the trees also helps to make them anonymous as it makes them blend in more with the darker colours and shades of the background. The man is wearing black which also helps to make him less visible. I used a wide angle in order to fit as much of the gorgeous surroundings in as possible.

The technique of making people appear in silhouette form serves extremely well in making people anonymous. This is demonstrated in this image. I wanted to capture the rolling mountains in the background while also including enough of the black foreground and silhouettes to balance out the image.

Another way of obscuring peoples identity is to shoot them from behind, removing all sense of recognisable features. I shot this image in black and white as I felt the fact that his clothing was monochrome would add another level to the image. The bridge in the background is light greys and whites which contrasts nicely with the darker greys/blacks of the decking he’s standing on, the railings and his outfit colours, hair and phone.

Adding blur is another way of making people anonymous. Too long a shutter speed and you may miss capturing the people completely, while a short shutter speed may still result in recognising the person/people. Here there’s just a small hint of blur, but enough to make the players on the move unrecognisable.

Exercise: Balancing figure and space

Draw on your photography so far in this course and on the techniques you have learned,
to vary the balance in any one picture situation. Aim to produce two images, using the
same general viewpoint and composition, varying the balance of attention between the
person (or people) and the setting they are in. You can combine this exercise with any of
the relevant earlier ones, if you prefer.

For this exercise I wanted to highlight the shift in attention when making a subject smaller while also increasing the amount of background and focal area. In the first picture my model is balanced well with the tree trunk, and nicely framed by the leaves and branches of the willow tree. She is positioned in the middle of the frame. The background is still intriguing and apparent, but the main focus, as intended, is my lovely model.

By placing my model further away, but still in the centre of the frame it has shifted the balance significantly. The background is much more apparent and in focus, therefore shifting the balance of figure and space – the attention on both model and background are more or less equal.

Bruce Gilden – New York


Once again, while researching street/people photography I stumbled across award winning photographer Bruce Gilden. The quote above really says it all – Gilden gets up close and personal with his subjects; often resulting in incredible facial expressions and almost confrontational body language.

His New York City series caught my eye, and his use of flash really makes his subjects facial features almost jump out of the image. It instantly makes them the main focal point of the image.

Gilden’s ongoing project ‘Faces’ is an astonishingly raw example of society, age, income, social status and personality. Again the use of flash really emphasises the facial features. It is well worth a look:


Paul Bence – Street Photography

I stumbled across another article offering advice on street photography by Paul Bence.

The article below offers some great tips on what and what not to do. I’ve noticed some big similarities with the advice on street photography.

I love the style of Paul Bence – he gets so up close to his subjects, and often shoots through windows which creates a lovely urban feel. He captures great expressions on his subjects, and the eye contact between them and the camera evokes emotion.