Choosing a new lens

I’ve been doing a lot of event photography since I’ve been in Southampton, and whilst my new Sony A77ii (unusable at ISO 6400 and above) has a lot better ISO quality than my Sony A58 (unusable at ISO 800 and above) did I’m finding that I require, or rather want a new lens.

I currently use a Sigma 24mm F/2.8 lens (the only other lens I have is the Sigma 100-400mm F/4.5-6.5, highly unsuitable for event photography).

I also sold my portrait lens (Sony 50mm F/1.8), and am looking for a replacement for that at the same time.

I require a lens with a low aperture, such as F/2.8 or even better F/1.8 and something covering a range of 24mm to 50mm. I like having quite a wide angled lens as I have a cropped sensor DSLT and the wide angle lets me get more creative with my images.

I have found the following two candidates that seem to fit both requirements of a portrait and event lens.

Sony 16-50mm F/2.8 (Purchased 10th December)

Sigma 18-35mm F/1.8

3 million photo views on Google Maps

I just hit 3 million views of my photos on Google Maps. I think that’s an incredible achievement. 

I add all my photos to Google Maps as a lot of my shoots are based in location that I can then contribute photos to. This helps my photos get more exposure around the internet as well as earning me points in Google’s Local Guides program

In October I reached the record of adding 2,000 photos on Google Maps. 

Bournemouth Christmas Market

To get in the Christmas spirit me and my friends visited Bournemouth Christmas Market and went to see the Coca-Cola Truck. There were a lot of shopping centres in Bournemouth with only about 3 shops in each which we found a bit strange. There was a cat cafe that I’m going to have to go back and try.

We saw an upside-down house.

The Coca-Cola Truck was extremely busy, and we didn’t even get any free cans of coke.

We went to the beach and took some shots of light painting. This was achieved by using bulb mode to keep the shutter open for the duration of the drawing.

Web Components using PHP

In my web design and development course, we touched on using web components and live style guides. This is the practice of having a set of components and styles that can be reused across your website. The advantage is that when something gets updated it rolls out across the whole site at the same time. I’m going to be writing a 2,000-word essay on Web Components in January 2019.

I had been toying with the idea of redesigning my site for a while, due to the changes to Flickr accounts. I thought that creating the header and footer and linking to them using PHP across the whole of my website would be a good start. Whilst doing this I finally managed to include a link to my blog on my homepage by using SimplePie and PHP.

I also created my own Instagram widget using Instafeed.js rather than using the SnapWidget plugin like I had been doing. The advantage of using Instafeed is that it links to Instagram directly rather than to a third-party website. I had looked into this before, but couldn’t figure out how to make it work.

During updating the website I combined the media queries into one stylesheet for each page, rather than separate ones. I also included a main CSS file which styles headings, body text, buttons, and the header and footer on all pages, which makes updating things a lot easier. I’m annoyed I didn’t think of it sooner.

I’m trying to tailor the website more towards getting a job, rather than a story of my work, so I’ve renamed the gallery page to memories to tie in with my tagline.

In the future, I’m going to combine the portfolio and projects pages to be a more concise view of my best photos to show off to potential employers.

The About page has been renamed to My Story because I feel it is about the story of me being a photographer, rather than about me right now, and what services I offer.

The mobile version of the site has also had a major redesign using hamburger navigation which should be a bit easier to click on.

Images will now be served in both WebP (Google’s new file format for images) and JPEG to speed up load times on modern browsers.

The site is now served from a CDN. The only downside is that the site has to be served from the www. version.

Flickr changes to free accounts

You might notice that my website uses Flickr to display most of the images. This is done by using an iframe of the Flickr slideshow.

The reason I chose to use Flickr to display my images is that I didn’t have much experience coding at the time (I’m still not a code genius). It was an easy way to display galleries of images in a lightbox. I used the handy Featherlight library for that.

Next year Flickr is changing the number of photos free accounts (that’s me) can have on their site from 1TB of free storage to a mere 1,000 photos. I have taken a lot of photos, and the 1,000 limit just isn’t going to cut it. It’s probably about time I hosted my images anyway.

I’m looking at using PHP to get all images in a directory, and then display that in a slideshow using JavaScript which in turn will be displayed in the Featherlight lightbox.

Updated 16th December 2018

I have now managed to update all the galleries on my website. Featherlight has a slideshow extension which I have used. I used PHP’s Glob feature to list all the photos in a directory, which was helpful as I could put each gallery in a folder and the code would make a gallery out of it.

Coco Bar & Lounge Comedy Night

I saw a post on Facebook that said photographer wanted and, having changed my attitude since going to university, I gave them a message. Next thing I know I’m photographing the Coco Bar & Lounge Comedy Night. Shooting this event made me want a new lens even more as I could have done with a bit more focal length. Even sitting in the front row the comedians were relatively far away. The surroundings were quite drab too, which didn’t make for interesting photographs. You can see some of the photos below:

Professional photos for Charley

I saw a post on a Southampton Freshers group on Facebook asking for a photographer to take some portraits. I decided to give it a shot and met Charley, who I learned was a singer and leaving university at the end of the week. We took lots of nice photos in and around the parks close to the university, but as light dwindled we had to call it a day. I touched up the photos and I’m really pleased with them. She’s going to use them to market herself.

Fireworks Night

Me and my friends went to watch the fireworks in Southampton. We went to the top of the IKEA Car Park in the hopes we’d have a great view, however, being a city, there were loads of buildings in the way. After that blunder, we went to take photos of the Guildhall in the dark but there were lorries in the way! I thought one of them looked like the Knight Rider lorry, so I took a panorama of that.

Sonar Magazine

At the start of term, I joined Sonar Magazine, Solent University’s magazine society. I got the opportunity to photograph a table tennis match between Solent and UWE.

My photos were used in a blog post by Chris Elliott on Funding cuts affecting university sport.

I also had the opportunity to photograph She Makes War at Heartbreakers. The lighting was actually really good for this shoot and I managed to get some good photos, however the article never came to fruition.

Haddenham Apple Picking

It’s a tradition in our family to go apple picking every year. We go to Millfield Orchard in Haddenham, where there’s a lovely family owned business. They do Christmas trees too! The weather was bright and sunny and I got some nice portraits of my girlfriend, and we took our infamous family photo. 

We then went to nearby St Ives to feed the swans where I got some nice photos of the river.

Southampton Solent University

I’m just starting my fifth week at Southampton Solent University and I’m enjoying myself so far. The university is nice and welcoming, and not too big.

I’m staying in halls at Emily Davies which is nice, the facilities aren’t great, but I got a large room and it was cheap.

The course, Web Design and Development, is going okay so far. Although we’re doing Art and Design, and Programming separately, and what I like about Web Design is how the two combine to create nice websites.

A couple days ago I managed to get out with my camera before a lecture and take some photos of the Clock Tower and Guild Hall. The weather was lovely and sunny, but I was a bit silly having left my camera on settings that I used for a night shoot a couple weeks before, and I only realised halfway through this shoot so most of the photos were blurry.

A few days later I was on the way back to halls just after a rain shower and we had the most beautiful sunset I’ve ever seen. The sky got really golden, the sun reflecting off the ocean, and then we had a double rainbow before the sky turned pink. I only had my phone with me but managed to take a few photos.

Cambridge Meridian Charity Golf

On Sunday I went to a Charity Golf event at Cambridge Meridian Golf Club and took lots of photos and a couple of videos. My new camera, the Sony A77ii can take up to 12 frames a second, so I had fun using the burst mode on that, and made some little GIFs out of my photos. I also managed to break my Sigma 70-300mm DG APO lens, and have a new, upgraded one on the way from eBay, the Sigma 120-400mm DG APO OS HSM.

You can watch the videos below:

Please click on each image to see the GIF:

Gog Magogs Sundowner Session

We’ve been to The Gogs before and saw this Sundowner Session in a local magazine and decided to try it out. I managed to pass my driving test just a few hours before so it was a nice treat to relax on the fields and take some photos of the glorious sunset. We were very lucky with the weather. You can watch some videos and a time-lapse below of the sunset:

Funny Animal Faces

Animals do make funny faces, don’t they? I loved these big cats sticking their tongues out at me. The animals at Colchester Zoo were really friendly, and I got some great photos. Roll your mouse over the image to see them pulling a face or tap on the image if you’re on mobile.

Funny Animal Faces

Funny Animal Faces

Funny Animal Faces

My New Camera – Sony A77ii

I bought a used Sony A77ii from eBay for £450. The RRP of this camera is £1200, so I thought that was a bargain. The screen was a bit scratched but luckily isn’t visible during normal use. The 79 focus point over the 15 I had on my previous camera really helps, as with the faster frames per second shooting.

I also bought a Rode microphone at the same time, and I’ve been impressed with the video capabilities so far. SteadyShot really helps my shaky hands and the audio from the mic is very good. The camera can record video in XAVC-S 1080p 60fps which is very good quality. Here are some sample clips:

Corn Field

We live in a fairly busy town but only 5 minutes walk away from the countryside, which we often forget. There’s a lovely golden cornfield that begged for its photo to be taken. It was also a chance to test my new camera out, the Sony A77ii. I’m in love with the black and white edits of the photos I took.

IWM Duxford Flying Legends 2018

Our neighbour gave us two free tickets for IWM Duxford Flying Legends 2018.

The weather was scorching hot and we needed a lot of ice creams and drinks.

I paid for a flight line walk and managed to take lots of very good close-up photos. A bargain for just £5.

If I had known we were going to the airshow sooner, I would have bought the Sony A77ii I’ve had my eye on.

Seeing the F35 with the Spitfire and Mustang was by far my favourite bit of the show.

It took a long time to edit the photos as there were quite a few dust spots caused by the very dry grass being blown up onto the lens.

I entered the Flying Legends Photographic Competition. The theme was to “Sum up the spirit of Flying Legends”. I thought the photo below best did that.

Me and Mum also edited the following photos in an old-fashioned way:

Felixstowe 1st-4th June

I went to Felixstowe for my 18th Birthday with my family and we had an awesome time. I managed to capture this shot by using my tripod on the beach. I took three photos with different exposures so that I could combine them in Lightroom to create a HDR photo.

Lloret de Mar Day 4

Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família

A large unfinished Roman Catholic church in Barcelona, designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí.

Font màgica de Montjuïc

The first performance was on May 19, 1929, during the Great Universal Exhibition. The designer Carles Buigas submitted his plans one year before the exhibition and many thought that the project was too ambitious to be created, let alone completed on time.

Lloret de Mar Day 1

For my 18th birthday, my Grandparents took me to Lloret de Mar for a week. After a seven-hour delay, we didn’t really feel like doing much on the first day apart from exploring the town.

Dona Marinera

Landmark bronze statue at a viewpoint overlooking the ocean, depicting a fisherman’s wife. Tradition says that if you make a wish whilst looking out to sea it will come true.

Església de Sant Romà

A striking church, known for its blended architecture, from Gothic to modern, plus 16th-century art.

Hunstanton

So, I went on holiday to Hunstanton last week for what must be the hundredth time. I haven’t really taken many photos this year, so I was hoping to get back into the swing of things this holiday. It rained most of the holiday which meant we had to put days out on hold. We did, however, manage to go to Snettisham Park on Thursday where I took some nice photos of the animals. I’ve been before, and you can see those photos on my gallery page. Here are the new ones:

Materials

I’m coming up to the end of my course in photography at Long Road Sixth Form College and for our final project, we’ve been given multiple exam questions. We had to choose one and are currently creating a sketchbook to explore the idea. We’ll then have a 3 day exam to produce 4 photos. An extremely large amount of time I think. Anyway, expect to see this latest sketchbook on the projects page of my website sometime during May.

New Blog

I’ve finally started phase 3 of the redesign of my website. Phase one was to create it, learning lots of code along the way to prepare me for my University course, and also to give me the creative freedom that I hadn’t yet been able to achieve with various website builders. During phase 2 I added a massive back catalogue of all of my images to the gallery page of my site and redesigned it to incorporate CSS Grid, a newly introduced technology making it much easier to layout the whole website. Phase 3 was everything tricky. I decided to leave that until last. I wanted to create a blog for my website using WordPress, as I like the platform for creating posts, and I decided it would be a good opportunity to learn how to create a theme and learn some of the basics of PHP. This I have now done! There’s a couple of jobs left such as creating my own Instagram widget for the homepage and creating a service worker to provide notifications for new blog posts. I’m still undecided on whether I want to open a store again though.

Welcome

Hello everyone,

Welcome to my new website. Sorry for the delay, it’s been a year in the making and there’s still much to do, like implement a store and add my backlog of images to the gallery. If you encounter any problems whilst browsing, please don’t hesitate to contact me, and I’ll see what I can do.

Cambridge University Sports Centre

At Long Road Sixth Form College, there was an opportunity to photograph the equipment and facilities at Cambridge University Sports Centre for them to use in advertising. It was a lovely sunny day and I got a great shot of the building. I really like the high-clarity photo I took of the boxing too. Some of the rooms were quite dark so there was a bit of grain in the photos.

You can read the post by Long Road below: