Monday, July 16, 2012

In stark contrast to my previous post...

So... that sunny shot in my last post? Taken on June 28th, some 18 days ago. Seems I was right to get out and make the most of it, because it has done nothing but rain all over the British summer ever since. Or at least that's how it feels.

The British are nothing if not stoic, however, and we Irish are no strangers to leaden skies and false dawns, so I hooked up with a few other hardy souls at the weekend and spent a dreary morning in Regent's Park learning how to exploit Black & White techniques to make London seem... well... a little less dreary. Between half hearted attempts to dry my equipment and harassing confused ducks floating in flower beds, I managed to get this shot, which I'm pretty happy with. I like the way the movement of the plants around the edges of the photograph creates a slightly dreamy feel to the image.

For those who are interested, this was shot on a tripod, with a 10-stop ND filter in place, ISO100, f5.6, 30 seconds.

And if that kind of detail turns you on, you might also be intrigued by the top Black & White tips our instructor shared with us on the day, which I've reproduced at the bottom of this post. If you were already contemplating your next blog target by the time I uttered "ND filter", however, do yourself a favour and give it a miss:-)

Instructor James' top tips for BW photography:

1. Put your camera into mono mode so you can immediately see how the image looks in BW on the screen (rather than waiting until you get home and converting to mono in post processing).
2. Go for a low ISO setting (as BW tends to accentuate image noise anyway)
3. Underexpose by around 2/3 of a stop. The tones tend to be more dramatic this way and it's easier to rescue detail from shadows than from highlights in post processing.
4. If your camera allows you to apply a filter effect in mono mode, try the red filter. It adds contrast to BW to make it more punchy.
5. Use spot metering mode and meter on a bright highlight in the image for better exposure results than evaluative or centre weighted will give you.
6. If you're shooting big sky BW landscapes, use a really fast shutter speed of 1/2000th or faster to retain the detail in the sky.
7. Shoot RAW + JPG. Often, James assures us, the JPG file will have that sought after "filmic" black and white quality, without the need to post process your RAW file (as long as you've done all of the above!).


  1. Who would have thought this photo was taken in the centre of bustling London. I love the misty effect of the water spilling over the lower bank.
    Thanks for the B&W tips Alan

  2. Wow! Great post Alan. Beautiful image. Thank you.

  3. Stunning shot Alan. Great way to make the most of the weather.

  4. Hi the Alan. Good to see that you have ignored the London rain and taken your camera out to create some new images. I do like this technique and the fluidity it captures. Thanks for sharing the instructors guide. PS. If you were back in Melbourne you would need your umbrella too.

  5. Nice shot and thanks for sharing the tips.

    I can't speak for London, as I've never been, but there's something about dreary weather that suits Melbourne. I guess it's harder to appreciate that sort of thing when it's meant to be summer.

    We've been having some glorious sunny winter days. (Sorry)

  6. Great shot Alan and nothing like a camera in hand to brighten up the day. Thanks also for the B&W tips. Really useful and will get onto trying these.

  7. Fabulous shot Alan. You do seem to have been much more than your fair share of rain, hope it clears up a bit for the Olympics, getting there and back won't be all that much fun if it's wet. Thanks for the tips, particularly No. 4, I'm definitely going to give that one a try.

  8. Love the magic atmosphere in this photo Alan!
    As you know, I like to take pictures in monochrome mode because I always want to see immediatly how it looks in BW, and I'm a little bit lazy to post process it later... Thanks for the tips!
    It has rained a lot in Sao Paulo since last week, but I hope you have beautiful sunny days when the Olympics begin! ;-)

  9. It's good to see a post by you, Alan! I would never have guessed it was set in London.

  10. Making lemonade from lemons. I like your style.
    Ace tips I shall be keeping them in mind when I finally get my mojo back.

  11. This is truely fantastic. The waterfall itself is of cascade type and very nicely done with the exposure. Better than mine for sure

  12. Thanks for commenting folks:-)

  13. I would like nothing better than to sit there and read my book. It seems like maybe everything would carry on in slow motion beside that place. Lovely.

  14. I don't know Dawn, I think there might be a bit more space where you live:-)


I still have lots to learn about photography. All comments or constructive criticism are very welcome!