Welcome to the blog of the Frustrated Photog.
I am not a professional, not even an expert, just an enthusiastic enthusiast. I will share my mistakes and tell you how NOT to do it. For anyone like me who has limited time and opportunities out and about, I'll share what I can to help you maximise time behind the lens and also my photography adventures.
If you like an image in the blog that's not in the shop, send me a message!
The Frustrated Photog.
How much planning is too much planning?
I have done this a number of times, I can only hope it won’t happen again. Though I know it will. Has it ever happened to you? You come away from a gorgeous location and check your shots and then ask yourself…why didn’t I do…?
I had the pleasure of staying in the beautiful Italian seaside town of Monterosso Al Mare a while ago. I was there for four nights and captured everything from crashing waves to the small winding streets, the giant statue overlooking the bay, even the cemetery on top of the hill. But only when I got back home and checked the images did I realise I had missed something.
By now, if you read this blog regularly, (please read this blog regularly), you’ll know that I like doing long exposure, especially with water. Now, Monterosso Al Mare, just look down there at all those rocks. What didn’t I do?
Exactly! The very thing I like to do.
Now, I have photographed rocks with a long exposure. This shot is from Dutliman in Turkey. A bit abstract, but I love the way the water turns to mist and the rocks almost to mountains.
Back to Monterosso, I didn’t have the Lee Filter system and long exposure in the day used to come back with terrible colour casts and even a cross pattern on the image (with the lens at its widest), yet the water in Monterosso, after the rain storm of our second morning, would have been perfect for a long exposure in the evening. Why didn’t I do it?
Unlike previous instances of this type of muppetry, I wasn’t rushing. I was there for 4 nights. I had also scanned the scene beforehand. Ah, now there’s the rub!
All shots I had seen from Monterosso when I was scoping it had very still water, beautiful for swimming but not so dramatic for a rocky long exposure. The whole concept was out of mind when I was in Monterosso. Was this a case where too much planning stopped creativity based on what was presented to me?
That, I find, can be the problem with planning. Your ideas about what to take and how to take them can get fixed, (at least mine can, ok, maybe not yours – clever clogs!)
Before my next photo adventure, I will plan. I need an idea of the best places to go, but this time I will make a choice:
I think plan a) is actually better to help me think on my feet, as it were, and so to deal with the conditions that I am faced with, rather than trying to second guess every eventuality.
My background is as an analyst, perhaps then not surprising that I try to plan everything to the nth degree of detail. Photography though isn’t like that, some planning, yes…but you’ve got to be creative with the elements available or you’ll end up missing opportunities!
Don’t be a MUPPET, be prepared – by not being too prepared! Stay creative!
What planning do you find too much? How much do you do before going out to a location to shoot landscapes?
Share your ideas in a comment!
The Frustrated Photog.
It might just be the weird way my mind wanders from time to time, but I wonder about this every time I post a photo on to my Flickr photostream. Personally, I always give a title. Why?
Photography is an art. Many other art forms have titles, so why not photos?
Imagine if the Mona Lisa didn't have that title. We'd know it as 'that nice picture of the lady who looks like she's done something naughty'. Would it have the same effect?
Or the statue of David, would it be the same if we knew it as 'that statue of the bloke who's trying to think where he left his pants'?
Without getting too deep and profound about what the purpose of art may be, if indeed it actually needs a purpose outside of itself, many would say it is to communicate ideas, feelings or emotions. Giving a title must help achieve that purpose, yes? Though I often see many great images on Flickr and other platforms with titles like: P00010659.jpg Do they need a clever title? No, they're still great images.
Look at the image below, gloriously entitled: 1805_9599.jpg
I don't claim this is a great image, but would a title help? Or would a title prevent the viewer from finding their own idea or emotion in the image.
Do viewers need hand-holding to find the feeling I want them to, or should we let them find it themselves?
(f/6.3, 1/160, 105mm, ISO200)
So, to put across the feelings, ideas, emotions that we want. We could title this image: Daisies. Does it work? Well, probably not, though descriptive titles are useful when the subject isn't clear...'daisies' certainly doesn't convey the feeling or ideas I had at the time of capture, or post-processing.
Then, how about: Our brief moments in the sun
A bit melancholic maybe, and sadly I must admit that it wasn't the feeling I was going for when I took the picture. I am not artistically clever enough to plan like that and take an image that represents some elegant metaphor in an arty way.
I did as I always do. The 'that might look nice' approach. I saw the chink of light moving across the daisies and thought it would make a nice photo. I wish I could claim that I was going for an image to represent the brevity and frailty of human existence, alas, no. It was only when processing in Lightroom did the title dawn on me...and it seems to fit.
1805_9599.jpg vs Our brief moments in the sun
Does the title help or hinder?
Do you title your photographs, or do you go with the sequential filename? Do your take notice of the titles that others give to their images?
Please share your thoughts in a comment or two. I'll be sure to reply!
The Frustrated Photog
Last week I posted the story of the shots at the Düden coast waterfall, the impressive tidefall that crashes over the cliffs into the Mediterranean. Some way in land, there’s also Düden Park. A paid entry area set up around Düden waterfall. I’ve no problem with it being paid entry, it restricts access and also protects the river, falls and the gorge from ne’er-do-wells (you know those horrible types who just want to damage anything), and also leave litter everywhere!
I visited this park in November, on a gorgeous sunny day, intentionally I was early, as soon as the park opened so as to avoid the expected bus tours. This was one of the few times that I have been very lucky with the weather, and other people. The trees of the park that crowd around the river and crown the gorge were in their autumn colours and the morning sun was giving them all a wonderful glow.
On entry into the park we followed the fast flowing river...then the path led us through a small cluster of small gift shops and cafes selling traditional Turkish savoury pancakes, toasted sandwiches and suchlike. Most of which were still not open. No one else around, wonderful light; excellent!
After the huddle of huts selling the path took us on. and the river disappeared...over the edge. The park is placed around a narrow bottle-shaped gorge, the main fall being at the wider end where the river had evidently eroded its plunge pool down below before racing on through the narrowing gorge on towards the sea. From the top of the gorge the scene was picturesque, the park laid out nicely with walkways alongside the river below, and a spiral staircase taking you down, inside the rock and caves, to bottom of the main fall.
A surprise was in store. Halfway down this spiral staircase through the small caves, was a side chamber actually behind the main fall. Bracketed shots had to be taken, the sun was streaming in through the water, mineral deposits were gleaming with drops of fresh pure water. It had to be framed up on a tripod. Several compositions were taken at varying exposure ranges, trying to capture the extreme range of bright sunlight and dark, almost black, shadows inside the cave. I was conscious of the time this was taking. Tourists would undoubtedly come, I had to get the main shots while I had this stunning place virtually to myself.
In the Cave behind the fall, 3 images bracketed, f/11, 29mm, ISO100
Back to the staircase and down...there it was...the mouth of the cave opening out beneath tree roots to reveal the gorge sweeping around before me. To the left, the main fall, in front a wall of greenery, a second fall to the right of this and then, away to the right, the fast river flowing on. The plunge pool itself, was thrown into deep shadow contrasting beautifully with the golden autumn colours lit by the summer sun. I’m fighting a strong urge to get very poetic as I write this...<focus – keep on topic>...let’s just say it really felt like something out of paradise!
The shots were framed from inside the cave mouth, trying to capture some of the glorious scene and to do it justice.
Out of the dark and into the Light, f/16, 1/6, 20mm, ISO100
This wasn’t the shot I really wanted.
Over to the left, the path opened out on a viewing area near the main fall, from the the secondary fal and the sweep of the golden gorge beneath a blue sky would be fully spread out. Nature was really playing nicely today; even the blue sky had a sprinkling of cloud to make it interesting. This was gorgeous. Seriously gorgeous. The title for this shot was easy!
I stood here in this position for at least 15 minutes taking images. The odd tourist was now floating through, a selfie and then gone. Look, even if you’re not interested in photography, surely this place deserved more than a cursory glance and a couple of frames filled with your own big face!
I stopped to take my wife’s picture, not filling the frame with us but with the fall, a proper momento, and then went back to variations of the shot above. It’s not perfect! How could I ever do this justice? Maybe with what I know now, I would try a couple more variation that I didn’t know back then, perhaps I would frame further back to get more of the overhang at the top of the fall to frame it better. A reason to go back, and I definitely will!
Walking away from the fall, (as always I didn’t want to, but had to as we couldn’t stay here all day, sadly, a few more tourists were trickling down and there was more to explore before making our way back to the city.
Front on shots were taken, and close ups of the water splashing the rocks, this type of detail has always fascinated me; something about the way the water hits rock, the random patterns that it creates as it splashes then slides down into the. The main challenge for shots now, as the sun climbed, were the bright highlights, especially on the faster flowing waterfall to the side. It was creamy white even at fast shutter speeds.
Fairy Land, f/16 1/6, 20mm, ISO100
Around a kink in the gorge and there we were treated to another surprise, yet another arm of the river crashing in to the river from above. It was a tight spot, close up, not much room to frame the shot without the tables and chairs of a mid-gorge tea shop getting in the way, nonetheless, the patterns of rock, water and foliage make an interest mix of textures and colours. An amazing place!
A Confluence of Possibility, f/8, 1/4, 17mm, ISO100
We climbed up the opposite wall from our original starting point. I say climbed up, it sounds athletic, perhaps I should point out that it is installed stairway...there was no actual climbing involved! A short pano was taken; two shots had to be stitched to get the whole view in shot. I am not sure it works! Another example of a great view not necessarily being a great photograph, perhaps. Exposure was still a challenge thanks to the bright sun, again knowing what I know now, and having the filter kit that I have now, I am sure I could have balanced the exposure much better.
Duden Waterfalls, f/20, 1/4, 15mm, ISO100
How to leave this place? We grabbed a snack, and I took some close up shots of the river back at the top near the huddle of huts with the sound of the crashing water so loud as it echoed in the gorge nearby, so loud but somehow so soothing! I’ve always thought I would like to live within earshot of a waterfall, a perfect example of nature doing its things serving as a constant reminder of -...I knew it, I’m getting poetic...
A watery grave, f/8, 1/30, 20mm, ISO500
Düden had that effect on me, I challenge any photographer, or nature lover (or both), not to be overawed by the beauty down in Düden Park gorge! Absolutely blumming gorgeous! I’m not sure I captured exactly how it made me feel, a challenge I look forward to taking on again.
What are your favourite places to visit? Do you have any techniques to help you capture the feeling?
Share your ideas here!
The Frustrated Photog.
To many people Turkey is a summer holiday destination with guaranteed summer sun, temperatures and long beaches with warm seas, it’s an understandably popular. The English, Dutch, Germans, Russians and many more flock to Turkey in spring, summer and autumn. But there’s so much more here than just beaches. The history is incredibly rich, as is the culture...and the food...ah, the food!
To a photographer, there are so many photographic opportunities if you can travel freely. From historic ruins, wonderful seascapes, mountains, lakes, forests...the list goes on. The famous sights of Istanbul, Capadoccia, Pamukkale and Epheseus are only the tip of the proverbial iceberg. There’s so much more to photograph!
My example for this blog post is Antalya.
Like much of the Turkish coastline, there are a few too many hotels...not exactly natural, but better than factories I guess! A typical result of mass tourism. But it’s still a very beautiful region. Antalya itself has a stunning old town and the beaches of this region, some sandy, some with pebbles, meet a stunning turquoise sea. But if you visit, make sure you also explore!
Ancient ruins and Turkey go hand in hand. But what about waterfalls?
The Tidefall of Düden Coast Waterfall, f/16, 90secs, 15mm, ISO100 (on an unusually cloudy spring day)
To some the fact that Turkey has some stunning waterfalls may be surprising. Certainly before moving out here I hadn’t heard of them. In websites listing the most popular waterfalls of the world, they were never mentioned. Why? Certainly they’re not Turkey’s most famous attraction, but some are particularly stunning. Here in the hot sun of Antalya, a few beauties thrive.
It probably isn’t surprising, given my love for photographing water and long exposures, that I love to photograph waterfalls. So when I get the opportunity here in Turkey, I take it. Waterfalls are not common around the area where I live, an unhappy coincidence that this fact is also true of my home town in England, in the rolling Chiltern Hills, but as always I take what I can, when I can.
Antalya then. Perhaps the most famous waterfall in the region is Manavgat. Many hotels will run day trips out to this area, personally, I’ve never been. Düden was my target. In addition there are also at least two or three other major waterfalls in the Antalya region, some harder to get to than others.
The Düden waterfalls sit on the Düden river, one, a tidefall, crashing over the cliff fairly close to the centre of the city and the other is inland and just outside the city surrounded by what is now a paid entry park of the same name. I visited Duden Park first, but that blog post will follow later. Let’s start with the tidefall: Düden Kıyı Şelalesı to give it its Turkish name, literally Düden Coast Waterfall.
It’s situated in the Lara district of Antalya, about 30 minutes by bus from the old harbour in the middle of Antalya city. Walking along the coast path along the cliff tops of Falez Parkı you get wonderful views looking out to the Mediterranean. You can, if you wish, get boat trips that visit the coastal waterfall, they’re part of the tourist trade. The coastal boat trip will pull up near to and give you a good look at the crashing water face on. But of course, a rocking boat full of tourists isn’t the best place to line up photos, and long exposures would be out of the question. I took the cliff top view! It’s hard to get a good angle and the choice of shots is fairly restricted, but nonetheless, it gives the opportunity of framing and uninterrupted view of the river crashing into the sea. An amazing sight! The water roars! The shot above was taken in May, I guess late summer the water flow wouldn’t be quite so magnificent but, as far as I am aware, the river flows well all year round.
As you see, between these two shots, there's only a slight different in angle, such is the limitation of the viewing pressed right up to the fence that is on the edge of the cliff. There actually were a couple of fishermen, in full waterproofs naturally, fishing on the rocks near the foot of the fall. I’ve no idea how they got there!
I stuck rigidly to my vantage point without letting passing tourists steal my spot for their quick snapshots. A quick snap shot of such a tremendous sight, how? I took many photographs because I found the view so impressive; I couldn’t take my eyes (or lens) off it. For these shots, two tripod legs were inserted between the horizontal wooden bars of the fence, one leg being the same side as me...this allowed me to get as far over as possible. I did nearly drop my circular polarizer filter while trying to screw it on...but it landed on the grass, cliffside of the fence, and didn’t roll. Phew! Muppet Moment avoided!
I took shots with a variety of shutter speeds, even at 1/6 sec the water was blurred. This fall was falling very fast. The river narrows between the rocks at the top and pushes it through with some incredibly force. I wish I had a way to measure it...just purely out of interest. I tried the big stopper too, not my favourite shot, the water was blurred far too much, I didn’t have the little stopper back then. This shot of with the boat is a composite, to mix a little blur of the waterfall, but still have the boat captured sharp.
Eventually I had to leave. Had to! Meeting my wife for dinner back closer to the hotel, over the other side of the city. I had at least a 20 minute walk to the planned rendezvous again through the parks up on the cliffs.
About 10 minutes from the Düden river I saw it. An unnamed fall, that is, I haven’t been able to find the name of it. I hadn’t seen it earlier in the day, hidden behind me and after one of many turns in the coast path - it was hidden. Going back the other way, there it was! It looked stunning. Very different from the roaring force over at Düden, but now, with an evening fog coming down, the scene looked stark. Those cliffs, looking over the Med, the distant West Taurus mountains almost hidden, this was the edge of the world!
Three old Turkish guys were sat on a bench sipping the local beer and smoking, chewing the fat of the day and putting the world to rights. Despite my usual nerves about doing photo stuff in public, I had to do this. I didn’t make eye contact at first. I set up my tripod a few feet from their picnic table, framed up the shot and took a test shot. Placed the big stopper on and timed the shot for a full minute.
They spoke to me, I didn’t really understand, I gestured to the fall, mentioned how beautiful it was and added the ‘Afıyet Olsun’ (close to enjoy your meal/bon appétit ) and looked back at the camera. The shot finished and perhaps the best long exposure I have ever managed to catch in camera without edits. It looked gorgeous, I knew it would look even better in mono, thanks to the fog suppressing most of the colour in the scene. A couple more shots fired off, also using some grass as focus in the foreground, but the shot below was the stand out. I had to get on, I packed up the tripod and showed one of the guys the shot. A nod of approval. I was off!
At the Edge of the World, f/16, 60sec, 29mm, ISO100
I Definitely have to go back. A week or so later, I'll post the story from Düden park, same river, but a very different fall!
Got any fall photos? What are the best you’ve scene and captured? Share your ideas and comments and I’ll be sure to reply!
The Frustrated Photog.
The birth of time; a drop of refraction.
Just as splash photography has to be tried at least once, I think water droplets must be given a go too. As I mentioned in the splash blog post, this type of project, though not exactly original, is very useful, especially if you are getting used to a new camera or even just getting into photography.
In your own home, and with a few hours to spare, you can take your time setting up and adjusting settings. It helps you get used to where things are in your camera's maze of menus, it helps you get used to the triangle of shutter speed, aperture and ISO too. Also it adds a bit of off-camera flash into the mix as well. There’s no rush to find or refine settings…take your time! So it’s another of those projects that ‘keeps me out of trouble’.
As well as taking you on a learning curve, or providing extra practice, it can also produce some wonderful results.
There are of course specialists in water drop photography. Their images are amazing, and I don’t pretend to come close. To facilitate serious drop photography, companies produce special water drop kits. You can set it up so the drop is consistent and this helps you produce the drop clash: two water drops colliding - one on the way down hitting the rebound of a previous drop on the way back up. It produces an stunning images when done well!
Another extension to basic drops and splashes is the addition of refraction, that is, using a background image behind the water drops to refract through the water
Me, I don't have a drop kit and no, I’ve not tried the drop clash - yet. Maybe one day. But refraction and the drop…yes. I give you 'The birth of time'!
The Birth of Time, f/22, 1/250, 105mm (macro), ISO200
The metaphor for this image only grew out of the finished shots. I hadn’t really thought about any meaningful title at the time of shooting, it was just a project.
A printed clock image (flipped on the PC so it prints back to front), was placed on the wall behind my plate of water; my reservoir to create the drops. Water bends light, so the backwards image behind the water is seen correctly when you look through the frozen water drops.
Curtains were drawn to reduce ambient light in the kitchen. They’re not so thick so the room wasn’t completely dark. Kitchen? Yes, the kitchen...no studio!
A large baking tray was employed under the plate to catch spillage. Above this I placed a freezer bag, tied to the cupboard door handle. No hole was made yet...far too early for drops and drips to start flowing!
The Canon 70D, which I use, can remote trigger a flashgun, so I placed my Canon 430 EXII flash to my right as I faced the water setup. Side lighting I felt would be more interesting than just placing the flashgun on the top of the camera. I set up my camera on a tripod, about a metre and a half away. With the Sigma 105mm macro lens it gave me an area of about 7 cm of sharp focus when combined with a high aperture of f/22, (this lens retains good sharpness even at this number)!
Flash power was set manually to 1/16, the lower the power, the faster the burst of light. As a result, the flash freezes motion, not the shutter speed – having a suitable ISO, I used 200, keeps the appropriate amount of light to display the back drop to the flash. Image Stabilisation was turned off (I actually remembered to do it!!!).
A cable release was attached. Using the shutter button on the camera would be more awkward and could disturb focus, also I find the cable release helps me to time the shutter much better.
Next, focusing. I flipped the focus to Manual so that auto focus wouldn’t affect the images as I worked. I followed an imaginary line down from the lowest corner of the bag, where I would make the hole, into the plate below. I adjusted the position of the plate, estimating the position of the drop to hit the centre of the water. I then placed a small heavy ornament in the centre of my reservoir and adjusted my focus. Then I made sure that the front of this ornament was as sharp as possible by using Live View and zooming in 10x.
Test shots were then taken. The settings for ISO and flash power mentioned above were not the first ones I tried. It’s trial and error. I repeatedly adjusted the flash power and the ISO until the front of the ornament was nice and clear.
The ornament was removed. Now I made the hole in the corner of the bag with a safety pin. The hole shouldn't be too too big, you don’t want the drops to come too fast! The drops began!
Next I took a couple of shots.
Don’t worry about catching the drop rebounding from the water right from the get-go. First just ask yourself: were those shots bright enough? Sharp enough? Adjust your settings and focus as you need with the next drops. Once you are happy with sharpness and brightness, then you can start trying to catch the drop hitting the water. Either to catch the crowning effect, or the rebound of a drop coming up from the reservoir.
How many shots did I take? Erm, a lot! Maybe 100? Not sure. Many were deleted after import as they were clear misses. Only finish when you are sure you have got the shots you want. Put your glasses on if you need them to check sharpness. Make sure your best timed shots are tack sharp before you pack up the setup! Don't make my premature termination error!
The birth of time then. Well, some of the missed shots showed only ripples, inevitable with this type of photography, but as you see, the clock face is still reflected, often with a Dali-esque distortion of the clock face in what could be the primordial soup of creation. And in the well-timed captures that caught a drop of water rebounding back up; the clock face is refracted in that small bead of watery glass and elements of the clock's reflection are still visible in the reservoir at its feet. Eh voilà! Time was born!
The star from the flash on the top image was a complete fluke. I don’t have the technical prowess to create that deliberately in camera (or in Photoshop for that matter), it was a wonderful stroke of luck. The picture without the star still would be nice, but the star gives it that extra special something. A certain je ne sais quoi, no idea why I am ending paragraphs in French now! That's 2 in one blog post...
Anyway, have your tried drop or splash photography? Share links to your galleries or post comments. I’d like to see you work!
The Frustrated Photog.
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