Monday, 25 August 2014

Roger Lever - Wildlife – safe space

Many species of wildlife have what they call a safe space which is the distance they will allow another animal to approach before exiting that space. You will have noticed that some birds will allow you to approach them and then once you are too close they take flight. Sometimes if they are familiar with another animal they will break these rules and reduce that safe distance.

In the African bush you can get nearer to the wildlife in a vehicle because they are used to seeing vehicles on a regular basis (plus there is an element of camouflage for us humans.) Dangerous animals will of course not flee but may attack and that is not a good position to be in.

We have our own safe space and we take flight or back off if such an animal gets too close. Various scenarios evolve in these situations as you might imagine.

One of my most recent experiences at trying to break the rules was on a trip to Mingulay in the Outer Hebrides. The seals collecting on the beach every morning would only allow me to walk so near before hightailing it back into the water. I thought I might try to fool them into thinking I was something a bit different by crawling towards them on my tummy.

Camera in hand I set off on my commando raid. I approached the bunch of 20 seals stopping occasionally to take a photograph. Amazingly they would look at me and decide that I was not a threat. I approached to within 10 metres took my photographs and prepared to move closer, keen to see if I could get in amongst them. I was succeeding but suddenly they all became alert and scurried off into the surf.

Why, when I was getting so close? I sat up looked round and realised a boat had approached the beach which I hadn’t heard.

My experiment had been thwarted. It was my last day so I didn’t get another chance.

Next time!

Roger Lever

Monday, 18 August 2014

Allan Wright - Twin Peaks - our wee local hills

Screel Hill is a favourite wee local hill - great for a quick jaunt which often rewards with a great view across Auchencairn Bay to the South and the Ken Valley to the North. Its sister hill Bengairn is less well known, but happens to be my preference. It's a gentle ramble at first on forest tracks then past ruined crofts and starkly dramatic Larch trees to the heather and bog moorland that comprises this fine piece of Wild Galloway.

Recently I acquired the kit for camping out on hillsides to enable me to get those special sunrises that only mad photographers can get by being up hills at 4.30 in the morning. A tiny wee tent, camera and other lightweight gear packed I decided to road test it all on Bengairn last Tuesday night. It might be lightweight but at about 18 Kilos I could feel the strain on this creaky old frame but I made it. At the close of a fabulous warm summer day I did get a sunset across the Glenkens before I pitched camp and hit the hay(heather) with an set for alarm for 4.30.

Forecast was for a big old fat sun at sunrise so imagine my surprise when unzipping the tent I felt the cold rush of a thick & damp chilly fog rushing past the flapping canvas. That and the grim touch of a damp everything was not quite the romantic image I had of brewing up as the sun rose across Screel Hill and the bay below. Temperature must have been about 5 degrees and my hands were white, that and the depressing prospect of packing up wet gear only to trek home "sans images" was a wee bit testing.

I decide to try to warm up a bit before packing so I nipped up the trig point summit at which point the sun started to punch its way through the gloom and within minutes I was clicking away at a fast emerging ethereal hillscape across on Screel. I do sometimes get caught out by abandoning shoots to early and this was one of those close shaves.

I chose this picture because it suggest more than it really is. The pure hill scene was good too but there is a suggestion of the ancient in this shot, an illusion of course because it's entirely recent and but why let facts get in the way of a good illusion.

Allan Wright

Monday, 11 August 2014

Giles Atkinson - So, What if it rains?

When I first started shooting weddings back in 2008, before each wedding the same question always crept into my head 'What if it rains?'. Back then in the lead up to a wedding, I would watch all the weather channels religiously and had several different weather apps on my phone.

Photographing someone's wedding is stressful enough without having the additional concern of the weather, so I announced to my wife, Lynne, 'I think we should move to Florida'...the sunshine's sunny 365 days of the year!

A bit of an overreaction? Well...possibly.

Something I learned quite quickly from the Scots was their acceptance of the weather and I would say, generally, it's not the Scottish folk, who worry about the rain, but the English folk who come to Scotland to get married! The Scottish attitude is very much...'well if you dinnae wan rain on yer wedding day, dinnae get married in Scotland!'

What I have come to realise is that the odds are pretty high, if you are getting married in Scotland, it's probably going to rain!

So, I made a very conscious decision to embrace the rain, and I now have a collection of different brolleys that I always keep in my car!

Once I had made this decision, it gave me a new creative freedom, colourful brolleys, reflections in puddles, raindrops on cars, dramatic skies, people dashing through the rain, the photographic opportunities...endless!

Find some shelter, trees are great (as long as there’s no lightning!) or even the best-man with a brolley. Even if the umbrella strays into shot this is something that can be easily removed during post-production.

This may seem all very optimistic, and when the wind's blowing a hoolie and the rain is horizontal which has been known to happen, you do need a 'Plan B', portable lighting and a corner of a marquee may be all you have, but as long as the people you are photographing can keep smiling and embrace the weather...'So what if it rains!'

Giles Atkinson

Monday, 4 August 2014

David Moses - Family Portraits

This is my first blog for The Galloway Photographic Collective so I suppose the best place to start is by telling (and showing) a little about myself and my work. So here in a nutshell is the philosophy and approach behind my style of family portraiture.

Family Portraits

When it comes to photographing families I have only one watchword - emotion. That’s what I look for in my pictures. In fact, that’s what I look for in any field of photography. Or any kind of art actually. And it doesn’t always have to be happy and joyous, sometimes it can be thoughtful and introspective. As long as it’s honest, that’s the important thing.

Each member of your family is different and they all do the same things differently - that’s one the reasons I love triptychs - it’s a little glimpse into each personality. In this example we have three identical pictures, but each one has a different expression. Part of the joy of being a family lifestyle photographer is being able to find those expressions and those emotions.

I love group shots, but I’m not a fan of formal group shots and I’m not a fan of cool edgy group shots either. Simple and natural works best. Letting people get together and relax, nothing cheesy, nothing forced just beautiful images.

Sometimes you don’t even need to have your subject looking at or even facing the camera. Allowing you the freedom to run and play makes for some striking imagery. Dynamism is very important - static subjects make for static images and we all know that the one thing kids are not - is static.

And of course everyone loves a gorgeous family shot. Where everyone is together and smiling - but not forcing a grin (grimace) at the lens.

To bring it back full circle, I began by talking about emotion and I want reiterate that it is the absolute most important part of my work.

Photography in General

I am often asked about my number one tip for photographers and the answer I give depends on what I have been thinking about, looking at etc. But one of the best bits of advice I was ever given early in my career was RTFM (Read The Flippin’ Manual).

I would not consider myself a technical photographer, all my thought is bent upon my subject. But the reason that I am able to do this is because I know my camera and my lights and my post processing techniques inside out. By being absolutely comfortable with the technical side of photography I can concentrate on the much more important stuff.

At the end of the day, the technical side is easy - it can be learned by investing your time. And once you have done that then the creative side opens up for you. I often do one to one and group workshops on various technical and creative aspects of photography and it is piece of advice I give everyone.


David Moses