A Photowalk and two Advanced Photography Techniques.
I was thrilled to be asked to join photographer Trey Ratcliff’s Photowalk through Hyde Park. Although I’m not an expert photographer, I don’t like to miss the chance to learn more and just the opportunity to wander around Hyde Park taking a few photos and picking up tips from the experts seemed like a good idea. My friend and co-writer Simon also came along – and I’ve got him to explain the technicalities of some of the tips that were shared with us. He’s also provided some of the photos for the walk itself, including this one of Trey. Being over 6′ has some advantages when it comes to taking photos in a crowd.
Trey’s walk is part of a series of free events around the world. You can follow his journey on the 80 Stays website. We were invited along thanks to one of his sponsors, Ritz Carlton. There’s more about how he is working with the Ritz Carlton Group on their website. Each sponsor is helping by providing a whole range of competitions and events.
You can find out more here. There are just two more European walks left – on Wednesday, May 31 Trey will be in Budapest, Hungary and on Saturday June 3rd, he will be in Moscow. But, The Asia-Pacific leg of the tour is planned to begin in either late 2017 or 2018. Perfect for any travel blogger who happens to be in the region.
I spent most of my time taking shots of parts of Hyde Park I’ve never noticed before. It’s a great time of year to be out in London’s parks – I was lucky enough to spot this moorhen with her tiny scarlet-headed chick – and with her partner foraging in the lake for food to bring back to the nest.
Simon was more interested in the techniques which Trey used to produce his panoramas. He’s a far more experienced photographer than me and so I’ve asked him to explain the technical details! As he has just returned from a trip to Barcelona, he was able to try for himself – and share the results here.
Over to Simon:
Trey talked about getting the picture rather than the photograph and that post-editing in Photoshop or similar afterwards is OK, and you can still call yourself a photographer.
One technique he talked about constantly was HDR, or High Dynamic Range photography. This is where you take a number of different shots of the same picture with different camera settings (usually brightness), and then combine them to create a final image. The level of dynamic range, think colour, can be chosen and varies from how a person would see by default to almost neon and embossed effects.
My camera (Canon 5D) has the HDR processing feature built in so I decided to try it out. (if yours doesn’t you can still use Photoshop to process your images and achieve the same effect.)
As HDR works by taking multiple shots of the same image, it is best to use a tripod to prevent shake. The picture below shows an example of what HDR can do for a photo, using just the built-in camera software.
This image is the interior of Antoni Gaudi’s Crypt at Colonia Guell, a UNESCO site in the Barcelona region. It typifies the problem most photographers have, where you need to capture the detail in the darker areas without getting the light blowing out the colours in the stained glass. Using HDR, I take 3 shots, dark, normal and light. Once taken, the camera then generates and HDR composite of the three; I chose the HDR normal setting to show the final image as it actually looked to me. Compare the final large image to the middle small ‘normal’ image that would have been your regular shot. Notice how the stained glass window stands out, but the light hasn’t spoilt the other areas of the image. The image looks more natural and open, and definitely has the feel of what it really was like there. A good blogging lightweight tripod like the Calumet carbon fibre I use will definitely help taking multiple shots where the location permits.
Another technique that Trey talked about is the Vertical Landscape. We all know how cameras, phones etc can do landscape panoramas, but the vertical panoramas differ in that the point of focus changes dramatically with each shot. As a test, I took a set of pictures at the side of a hill, starting looking straight down and slowly moving up towards the horizon, with each shot re-focussed every time. The contact sheet shows the pictures taken. Then the images were put into Photoshop to create the vertical landscape. The resulting image is in focus throughout, wherever you look. It feels much more like a three dimension window onto the world than a single shot. I really like the effect, although it works best when the images are scaled up massively, like poster size. Watch out for more of these on my travel pieces.
If there was only one thing I took away from talking with Trey is that its ok to edit your photos and still keep your integrity. This has opened up a whole new way for me to picture the world, and I feel ok doing it now.
For me, the Photowalk was a chance to explore part of London that I know very well, but seldom actually observe.
I’ve spent plenty of time in Hyde Park over the years, but it has always been for a picnic or an event of one sort or another. I really enjoyed taking a few hours out just to look around. And hopefully, my photography will benefit from some of Trey’s insights.