capture

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0855 On the train to Venice. Out of the window picture number one.

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0932 From sunshine in Trieste it had become slightly foggy. Hopeful that it would clear! Out of the window picture number two (it is a two hour ride to Venice). I like to pretend which rambling, falling down farmhouse I will buy when travelling on the train through the countryside.

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1015 Coming into Venice – still foggy (iphone pic)

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1151 First on the itinerary (after a cornetto) was a visit to the Peggy Guggenheim Museum. I loved spending the day with this guy. He loved staring intently at Pollacks. I suppose this is a place that will always be busy. At this time of year when there are slightly fewer tourists it was pretty packed with school groups. But it is an amazing collection with Picasso, Pollack, Twombly, Miro and many more.

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1222 The blue sky made an appearance. The rest of the day was weather perfection.

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1320 On the search for some food. We passed through St Mark’s Square but for this trip I was keen to explore the quieter parts of the island city so we continued on to the Castello area. It is incredibly hard to find vegetarian food in Venice that isn’t in one of the tourist restaurants (and thus not really great food anyway). I did some research to find a vegetarian friendly lunch at a little cafe called Le Spighe. It is pay by weight for a variety of options of salads, pies, etc. The food was good but it was pricey for what it was (€27 for 2 plates of food – not piled high – and a shared cola).

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1428 After lunch we headed to a greenhouse which has been restored and turned into a nursery/coffee shop. We had an afternoon spritz and some biscuits. Weird combo but that’s allowed on your birthday. Right?

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1536 This park at the end of the islands was perfect for a wander and a relax.

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1600 Walking around the quiet neighbourhoods there is lots of washing hanging up. If I lived in Venice I would live in this area just because the streets are wider and houses must get more light inside. The little warrens around the more central areas must lead to very dark apartments.

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1734 Gelato time! This is from Il Doge. A bit too cold but the Crema del Doge flavour is awesome – cream with chocolate drizzle and candied orange.

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1854 More walking. I forgot how much distance there is between places and how if you don’t want to take a waterbus (which costs €7 a trip) it can take a long time to get around. The places I wanted to try out were pretty far apart. Too far apart as it turned out because by the time we found the little bar where I wanted to get an evening apertivo it was too late and we had to head to the station to catch our train home. Trying to find the place in the maze of streets which we passed did mean that I captured this beautiful light though.

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1936 Farewell Venezia. Until next time.

#1day12pics – take 2

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I have to admit that I was super excited every time I saw someone new join in on our #1day12pics challenge. A bunch joined in on the selected day in March but we had others join in throughout the month too. I think many of them went a long way to “celebrating the everyday” so thank you to all those who joined in. Check out last month’s post to see other people’s submissions and Emma’s blog for a ‘roundup

It was also great to see the different angles people took – shooting all black and white, showing details of a work day (perhaps easier when you shoot flowers for a living), events, lots of spring and a couple food shots. I am really interested to see how people explore and the creative angles you can take within the confines of the remit. I definitely think I am going to enjoy getting more creative with this and try.

The next ‘group’ day we are doing is Wednesday 2 April because it is my birthday! If you can, join in that day or if you can’t share your images at any other time during the month. I am going to be in Venice for the day and will mostly use my dslr to record the day I turn 30 but follow along on Instagram for some extra treats too.

A reminder of how it works:

1. Each month we’ll nominate a day where we will take a photo every hour, all day. (This month it’s Wednesday 2 April).

2. You can join in on that day, or on any other day in the month.

3. Share your photos with the hashtag #1day12pics on any social media platforms you use – we’ll be doing TwitterInstagram and Pinterest.

4. If you blog, write a post about your photo day and link it up at the end of this post. This works best if you link to your actual blog post with your images. You can also link to your instagram account or pinterest board.

5. Use any camera, including camera phones. Don’t worry if you’re a bit late or miss one of your photos.

6. Things are more fun with friends. Please ask yours to join in too.

Click to tweet: I’m doing #1day12pics in April with @LovingOurPics & @my_cre8ive. Details: http://ctt.ec/9l468+


taking photos inside

So you have mastered the tricky art of getting a good photo outside but you head indoors and it all goes to poop?

If you are shooting on manual here are a few keys to remember:

shooting inside natural light

>>> Find some natural light. If you are taking a picture of a person, a plate of food or some object get as close to some natural light as possible. If you don’t have much light coming in you can also create more dramatic shots – utilise the shadows and contrast. A reflector on the opposite side of the light will also help create a little more light to reduce shadows if that is not what you are going for.

shooting inside - artificial light

>>> If you don’t have natural light use whatever other light is available. Overhead lights are one option but also consider the light of a candle, table lamp or similar which will spotlight what you are shooting. Remember though that if you aren’t using natural light make sure that you have your white balance setting to the type of light that is predominant. Just change it to the next one and take test shots until you get the right tone (ie not weirdly blue or yellow). If you don’t get it totally right in camera this can also normally be fixed in post-processing.

>>> Shoot on a higher aperture (that is a small number). The higher your aperture the wider the ‘eye’ and the more light can come in. This will narrow your depth of field so consider carefully where you want the focus to be.

>>> Push up your ISO. Most cameras are still able to take very decent photos with higher apertures. If you are inside near a window you could probably still work with ISO 100 but if not push it up. Start at 400 and head up to the point where you can bring your shutter speed up to a hand hold option. Just note that the higher it goes the grainier it will be.

>>> If you don’t want a narrow depth of field or a lot of grain you will need a tripod or a still surface you can rest your camera on to keep ISO at 100 but allow the shutter speed to be slow. You can pick up a fairly cheap tripod which is absolutely fine if you aren’t planning on using the tripod in windy conditions or uneven ground where a sturdier tripod will be necessary.

inside light - black and white

>>> A great way to ‘deal’ with overly grainy pictures is to make photos black and white. This is also great if you can’t fix the colour caste (say you are shooting a band and they have a red light on them).

Camera settings: 1: f4; ISO 100; 1/320s | 2: f1.4; ISO 640; 1/80s | 3: f1.4; ISO 8000; 1/100s (shot outside but it was dark and a very small amount of artificial light was available) | 4: 3: f1.4; ISO 6400; 1/80s

Do you have any other questions or tips about shooting inside?

If you are looking for some more photography tips check out the tag, particularly: shooting christmas lights, an exercise in light and shooting self portraits.

If you are looking for personal tips I’m in London on 12 April for an Eat and Snap.

1day12pics | march

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0658: The first picture of the day. It might not be the most beautiful view in the world but I can see just a snippet of ocean and that makes me happy. I am doing pretty well at getting up earlier during the week too. One of my new morning sounds since moving to Italy is when people start rolling up their blinds. It reminds me of being a kid and going camping and the sounds of the zip on other campers’ tents as they woke up. You know it is time to get up when all the Nonnas are getting up to start their daily cleaning.

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0735: Perhaps a habit I need to work on next month: going on the internet first thing after waking up! Normally get sidetracked and end up wasting the morning. But in sharing this on the internet inspired to get my workout out of the way.

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0838: I am not in love with our bathroom. The blue tiles on the floor do not match the blue tiles on the wall. The wrong paint has been used so it is chipping around the shower. But my flamingo shower curtain always makes me happy.

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0915: Breakfast! My favourite meal of the day. No it is not an omelette. Leftover farinata from the previous night’s dinner. This morning I put cheese and fried onion and pepper on. Man this is delicious. The recipe for the farinata is from What Should I Eat for Breakfast Today. Seriously think this is going to go on regular rotation.

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1040: Domestic duties. On a side note been keeping the balcony door open most of the day for the past week. Yup that is the feeling of spring!

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1130: Taking self-portrait shots for last weeks post on how-to take your own portrait. This one isn’t perfectly sharp but it feels more like me (maybe I’m not perfectly sharp!)

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1250: Some planning for my ‘capture challenge’ spring photos. I’m working on a still life series and figuring out what I need to get.

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1330: Cooking lunch. A repeat of breakfast.

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1450: Water. Still struggling to drink as much as is recommended but doing okay.

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1524: Afternoon sunlight.

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1619: Took an afternoon walk. I love going down to the pier and seeing all the people relaxing and enjoying life. That’s what we should be doing right.

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1735: Up in the hills going to my tutoring job. It smells like pine-trees.

So that is kind of what my days are like. As this will be a monthly project I am keen to explore how I can make each month different. It is such a great artistic challenge and though I feel these photos are very ‘ordinary’ it is great practise still.

It was so great seeing everyone taking part on Instagram and I can’t wait to see if anyone has some to share on their blogs. Don’t forget if you took part to link up on the announcement post. Plus stick around for next month!

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Over on Twitter I had a little chat with Decorators Notebook and after a rather random discussion we decided to do a little spring celebration. Asking people on 20 March to share a photo of themselves on their blog or instagram wearing a flower crown with the hashtag #primaveracrowns. There are some more details over on Bethan’s blog.

My face doesn’t appear often on my blog so my mind moved to self-portraits and I thought I would share some tips for others who want to share their flower crowns but might not have someone to take the photo for them. There are first some initial things you need to do and consider:

>>> If you are taking part in #primavera crown make your flower crown. We have a pinterest board going for some inspiration and Lotts and Lots did a how to post last year.

>>> Decide where you will take the photo. You could take the photo in your garden or house. Each will have their own problems and benefits. I am going to focus on taking the shot in your home as it is easier to control conditions. A good spot inside is a wall that is perpendicular to a window with lots of natural light.

>>> Decide on background and outfit. Using your flowers as inspiration perhaps hang up some fabric or decorative paper to create a background for your image. You can also use the clear wall if you want a simpler look. Wear clothes and accessories that compliment the overall look and feel you want.

Setting up your camera

Okay so you have your space, you’ve hung up any decorations and you are ready to go. Here is what you do:

  1. Set your camera on a tripod or if you don’t have a tripod set it up on a stool with extra books if it isn’t high enough. You might have to sit on the floor but that is okay.
  2. Using manual put your settings to something like: ISO 100; aperture: to give yourself some leeway I would set this at between 5 and 8 but if you want to blur out the background you’ll need to go to a wider aperture (2.8 or 1.4 if your lens allows). If you do that you will need to be further away from the background and will have to play around a lot more to get the focus right on your eyes. Your shutter will need to be set to the light but if it is still or on a tripod this can go as low as necessary – as long as you stay still. For the pictures below I had the shutter speed on 3 seconds.
  3. Place an object where you plan to position yourself – something tall like a broom is a good. Autofocus on the broom and then switch it to manual focus so it doesn’t change when you get in front of the camera.
  4. Set the timer and position yourself in the same spot as the broom in front of the camera.
  5. Boom!

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Tips on posing and lighting

Here is where you can have a little fun. Hang around on pinterest a bit and think of the kind of mood you want. Bright and happy, moody and dark etc. My portraiture board on pinterest is a good place to start.

If you want a light/bright photo keep the background light and get a big white piece of cardboard to reflect on the side opposite the window. You can attach this to a chair or a box that is the same height as your face. If you want something a bit moodier you can remove the reflector or even add a black piece of card. This is a great option if you don’t want to show too much of your face.

Then play around with positioning – face the light, turn away from the light, look up, look down. Raise the camera higher if possible and have it looking down on you slightly. Find your best angle! Also Sue Bryce’s magic posture trick is ‘chin forward and down’. It feels weird and might even look weird in real life but I promise it makes a difference in pictures. Basically have a bit of fun with this bit. The biggest challenge in taking a portrait shot is probably not judging your face!

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Using your phone

The tips on lighting and to some extent the posing above apply to phone portraits too. If you have a phone tripod or can get it to balance on a stool and pile of books the above applies. If you are taking a ‘selfie’ holding the phone in your arms here is my trick: position your shoulders perpendicular to the wall. Lift your arm (with the camera) out to the side just a little higher than your face. Move your arm just a little forward and then tilt the phone ever so slightly. I find this is a flattering angle.

Also, I used a wall that was facing a window for these shots.

Also you will probably have to take a few shots to get the angle and focus right.

Post production

Every photo can do with a bit of post production love.

On your phone I might tweak the contrast, up the brightness, play with the temperature a bit and throw on a filter. I love VSCO or ProCamera for doing this.

On my computer I use Photoshop. Each picture is different but generally I would sharpen the image (shoothing in RAW means this is necessary), create contrast using the curves tool, perhaps do some skin retouching (although I was too lazy to do it this time) and maybe throw a filter on to show up skin tone and/or add to the mood.

Check back next week to see me get my flower crown on! Literally. Plus I promise to put more effort into my hair.

announcing #1day12pics

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I am really excited about this. Last week I was on the #blogphotochat on Twitter discussing photo roundups and other photo blog posts when I mentioned that for ages I’ve wanted to do one of those photo-every-hour-in-a-day project (yes I am sure that is the technical term). So Emma from LoveYourPics who runs the chat, says it is a great idea and we should do a bit of collaboration. I love a bit of collaboration so we have been pinging emails back and forth to bring you 1day12pics!

For me the project is a way to help grow my own creativity with the challenge of seeing the beauty in my everyday life and to appreciate the little moments. For you I hope it is also a way to improve your photography skills because (as I am sure I have said before) the only way to get better with your photography is to practise! Plus I love the online community so I hope lots of you get involved.

We hope this will become a monthly project so get involved and give us a shout out!

Here is how it works:

1. Each month we’ll nominate a day where we will take a photo every hour, all day. (This month it’s Thursday 13 March).

2. You can join in on that day, or on any other day in the month.

3. Share your photos with the hashtag #1day12pics on any social media platforms you use – we’ll be doing Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

4. If you blog, write a post about your photo day and link it up at the end of this post.

5. Use any camera, including camera phones. Don’t worry if you’re a bit late or miss one of your photos.

6. The first date is Thursday 13 March – join in with us then, or pick another date before the end of March. Just remember to use the hashtag #1day12pics when you share your photos so we can find you.

7. Things are more fun with friends. Please ask yours to join in too.

Click to tweet about it: I’m doing #1day12pics this month with @LovingOurPics and @my_cre8ive. Details: http://ctt.ec/f5NMi+

Once you have ‘done your day’ link up here (photos will appear both here and over at LovingYourPics)