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20 Jun 2021 10:45AM
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Unique : 81
As we all or almost all start to get out and about a bit more, at least for the moment, it would be possible to separate family events (in my case, a small family party to celebrate Fathers Day 48 hours early) from picture taking. Were doing both more, but are we mixing them?
Mrs D suggested blogging about the gathering, and I thought about some pictures I posted on Christmas Day 2012. And when I turned my computer on, the background image was a shot of Mrs Ds Dad, who died in 2009.
The picture of my father-in-law was a very characteristic one, and theres been a lot of family interest in prints, because thats one of the ways that people remember him. A good portrait can happen when posed, but very often its unposed images that capture what people want to remember about someone.
When I posted THIS in 2012, there was something that I (and all my friends in the pictures) knew, but that I didnt write. One of the group was terminally ill, and we had got together specifically because it was likely to be the last time we could do so. Because of that, I made a special effort to take pictures. Not a lot of them, with a DSLR, but enough: we were relaxed and it was easy to get images that seem to me to show people as I know them.
Most of the time, though, we dont get notice of forthcoming death So theres no sharp, immediate incentive to take pictures for posterity and remembrance. I didnt know, when I did a remote shoot with Stephanie Dubois in May, that I would be one of the last few photographers she worked with.
Sorry this is gloomy, but theres a point. And that point is that as you gather with friends and family, it will be a really good thing if you take some pictures. Dont make everyone line up (though if someone else suggests it, it should definitely be done!), and dont hold everything up for half an hour while you fiddle with settings. But get some shots, and let someone else take pictures of you (Dave, please note! I know you think youre allergic to cameras, but youre not really.)
If the very worst happens, there will be a treasure beyond price (and make sure that prints are done ) Otherwise, there will be something that everyone can enjoy while the subject is still around to appreciate the love and happiness. And if you have to use a new camera or lens or filter as an excuse (as I did for the shot of my daughter opening a card with a popup giraffe), so be it. Just make sure that you have mastered the controls before you point the camera at the family
20 Jun 2021 12:31PM
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Unique : 93
A few archive pictures of my Dad, Arthur Riley, today. It’s quite some time since he died, but it’s a good day to show him during his peak in the Royal Air Force in WWII. He was in North Africa and Italy, particularly around Bari. If Gina is still alive, just about possible, he spoke of her often but never saw her again after the war. We have no pictures of Gina as my Mum destroyed them all…..
But first, a picture of my Dad’s Dad, in other words my Grandfather. My Mum is on his right arm and on his left is my Aunty Norah, who was originally engaged to my Dad but then eventually married his younger brother Jack. My Grandad has a satisfied smile does he not?
20 Jun 2021 11:00AM
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Unique : 27
This week we visited one of Dartmoor’s most famous rock formations, Bowerman’s Nose. Although I have lived on the edge of Dartmoor for more than 30 years, this was the first time I have visited this famous landmark.
Of course while we were there I explored the different angles.
This is the first sight we got of the rock as we approached along the path.
There were other rock formations along the way worthy of photographing.
As we were parked below it we visited Hound Tor another honeypot location difficult to get without people all over it.
Loads of interesting rock formations on Hound Tor.
Sorry folks no cute Ponies this time but a rather twee cottage at the moorgate.
19 Jun 2021 2:42PM
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Unique : 81
Colour makes a garden glow and we have started our project to brighten ours up a bit. We have plenty of green, and a bit more green to add to the green…..so something else was needed. I took the Pentax K-3 II out into the garden, armed with the SMC Pentax-DA 18-135mm and 55-300mm lenses, and a sturdy tripod. There was no excuse not to use the tripod and with flower shots it does make a huge difference, not only to sharpness but to composition as well.
It may not be much, but it’s a start. Meanwhile, the tomatoes continue to grow and hopefully this year I will handle them better and get a rich crop.
19 Jun 2021 10:44AM
Views : 56
Unique : 47
Sometimes, theres a downside to writing about stuff, because people ask you difficult questions. This blog stems from one of those
Now, I admit that Ive been guilty of suggesting that some images are good enough to be postcards, and I have suggested to one photographer that he has material for a series of cards, because he has shot a lot of interesting subjects with local appeal where he lives. But its not always that way, and so I present my relatively-uninformed views about the idea of turning good images into postcards, and selling them.
I think the problem splits into three parts, and getting cards printed is the least of them: thats just a matter of finding a printer who can supply the right quality at the right price. The two other big questions are about having images that work as a set, and marketing. I have to admit to a profound lack of ability to put together a series of my own images, and a complete lack of knowledge of or interest in marketing. But I can see some pitfalls.
The set and marketing are actually linked, and heres how. I shall base this on having bought images from two different sets, neither of which is currently available, I think. The first were lovely sepia images of Cambridge, shot by Derek Langley, which he sold from a stall in the outdoor art market in Cambridge. He also sold real (darkroom) prints of the same pictures at a price that was accessible to both tourists and students. His subjects were local views of the landmarks in the City, including all of the colleges.
So Derek who I had the pleasure of meeting a couple of times in Cambridge, while my son was a student there had easy access to both a coherent series of subjects, and suitable outlets for his pictures. I suspect that its important that he approached the subject with dedication, and that his stall and the lovely prints he sold made the difference between a project bringing in some pin money and a way to make a living. I am pretty sure, as well, that he brought a lot of energy and hard work to the endeavour.
The other set of cards were a less focussed set of Exmoor views, all shot in black-and-white and square format. My abiding memory (apart from the outstanding technical and aesthetic quality) was that (at a time when the Post Office was seeking to standardise letter sizes, and most commercial postcards bore the inscription Post Office Preferred in the space for the stamp, these were marked Post Office Acceptable. #CockASnook Again, marketing was (relatively) easy, with a series of individual shops selling cards, and likely to welcome something that stands out (as well as having a higher price and thus profit than most cards).
There are quite a few firms that will print limited runs of images as postcards, for which you need a dozen or so images, and you then get a couple of hundred cards of each. My daughter has actually had that done, when she worked for the Chaplaincy at Keele University a few years ago, and handled their social media. They used her pictures for a series of cards to publicise what they did, and they used the student union printing service to get the work done quickly, locally and economically.
My daughter-in-law, who works as a graphic designer and photographer, thinks highly of print.com, but a quick look online suggests that Vistaprint and others seek to tap the same market. The thing I havent researched is the quantities that you need to order of each individual design: postcards are often used to publicise a firm or event, in which case one or two designs is sufficient, but my feeling (and my daughter-in-laws) is that you need ten or a dozen different images. To get a low enough unit cost to allow you to make a decent profit (and to allow your retail outlets the sort of mark-up then will want (Im guessing 50% of the sale price) youll need a decent print run, so you may have to shell out a few hundred pounds up front. My research suggested £50 for 1,000 cards of one design.
So here are my suggestions for postcarding your way to local fame
1 Make sure that your images have effortless technical quality: exclude anything that isnt thoroughly sharp without needing assistance in Photoshop, properly exposed, and compositionally neat;
2 Put together a set of images that work together: maybe a dozen pretty local churches, or beauty spots in a limited geographical area. However outstanding, a series of single and unrelated images wont hack it;
3 Identify where you can sell the pictures. Views can go through local newsagents who already have a rack of postcards outside, tourist information centres, or even pubs in tourist hotspots. Locally-focussed wildlife may sell mainly through wildlife centres. In all cases, though, check dont assume theyll be falling over their feet to take you on, as they may have an exclusive deal with another photographer or a large company;
4 Youll probably have to go out and shoot some pictures to fill out the set;
5 Really importantly, before you invest money in printing, check your set with someone who will be a critical friend someone you can trust to tell you the truth if there are poor images, or a lack of market appeal!
6 Make sure that the deal you do with the print company gives you the size, quality and perceived value that you need. A card doesnt need to be A5 to impress, but it does need to be on fairly heavy card, possibly with either a gloss or a textured matt finish.
Id REALLY value input from someone who knows about the market, and has sold cards in quantity
18 Jun 2021 10:11PM
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Unique : 36
Creating a personalised calendar is a great way to show off your photography whether for the family or organisation. The difficult and/or time consuming part is creating the images.
I first made a calendar using a template that came with Digital Photo magazine just as digital photography was taking off. That was for 2002. They provided templates the following year too. I don’t recall if they produced any more templates as I created my own design using Photoshop. The majority of images in those first years were scanned from film. I have pdf copies of all calendars I’ve produced bar 2005 and 2006 for some unknown reason.
I then made almost identical templates using Serif PagePlus X4, a desktop publishing program. The reason for that too is something else that’s lost in time though it was an interesting exercise using alternative software and a great way of learning. Previous experience with other software such as Quark Express and Microsoft Publisher came in useful.
Nowadays I use Affinity Publisher which is great to use and I can easily and seamlessly switch to edit in the Photo Persona if required. Affinity Publisher read my original Photoshop files so that saved a lot of work. It didn’t, however, read the text as text, instead treating it as an image Layer. It was no problem creating new text frames for the months and captions. I have templates with the first of the month starting on each day of the week. I hide the layers where for example the 31st isn’t required. The whole thing doesn’t take long to assemble and is easily customised though I have settled on a format I like. Once I’ve finalised an image it’s a couple of clicks to import it into a picture frame.
In the early days I printed the calendar myself. I upscaled the Digital Photo templates to A3, and those I created myself were A3 from the start. Binding the sheets together was the weak point in my production process in that it didn’t look great. I then came across, via the ephotozine forums, a recommendation for Fileprint who I’m very happy to use and have done for what must be ten years at least now. I create a pdf, upload it and a couple of days later the order is delivered. Nicely spiral bound and with a hanger. A3 calendars aren’t cheap but they do look good. And I don’t mean an A4 booklet style that opens to A3 with the spiral binding in the middle. Fileprint do request the pdf is in CMYK colour space rather than RGB. No issue for a desktop publishing program.
I also produce a narrow calendar where I get two months on an A3 sheet. I use double sided paper so that’s four months per sheet. There’s a greater choice if you use single sided paper, but the double sided Permajet Matt and Oyster serve me very well. The pictures aren’t huge so I’m not using large quantities of ink. The paper needs cutting down the middle but nothing a good craft knife and metal ruler can’t handle and I can spiral bind it myself too.
So what about the images? I like to come up with different themes. A couple of years running I did British Birds but there were different species in each, apart from puffins which appeared twice (because you shouldn’t ignore puffins!). Sometimes I shoot specifically, such as a series of flowers against a white background so the whole shoot was done in a couple of afternoons. At other times I have to go and shoot a few extra images. Sometimes I’ve got enough from my archives for example from a visit to the Royal International Air Tattoo. Some ideas take a few years to accumulate twelve appropriate pictures.
There are further embellishments that can be added if you’re so inclined, want to spend the time and know recipients actually appreciate them. One suggestion is to include astronomical data such as the phases of the moon. Notable dates are another. For personal calendars you could include birthdays ad anniversaries (no excuses!). World Whisky day is nice to know about World Water Day is a more sobering one because many people in the world either don’t have enough or don’t have access to clean water, something we take for granted. Sporting dates are yet another idea although I didn’t include any in my 2021 calendar because of the uncertainty due to the pandemic. Picture captions may or may not be necessary or required, but do consider them. You may not want them if you want to keep a location your secret, but you may want to include the common and scientific names of butterflies.
Finally, it’s your own work, both the design and the images, so include a copyright notice. If you have a website include a link as well as a QR code, not forgetting twitter, Instagram etc. If you’re producing it for an organisation such as a local charity those are important, as are their contact details.
All text and images © Keith Rowley 2021
18 Jun 2021 1:50PM
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Unique : 49
Our back garden, such as it is, has been resplendent with bird activity for weeks now. They all have a technique where they come down to feed, and then as soon as one of us appears with a camera they all flee to the four corners of the earth. Lens cap on, birds come back. Lens cap off, birds fly away. However, today I tricked them by shooting pictures of flowers in the garden, and then they came down, lulled by this strange alternative pursuit. Here’s a selection of images as they attack the fatballs kindly provided for their superior dining experience…..
And that is how to get service in a restaurant…….
17 Jun 2021 4:27PM
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Unique : 89
We all have poignant moments when things change, and today my pictures are a short photoset showing my late Mum as she left her flat in Abergele and came to live with Sue and I. She was with us for eight years before she died, so here we see the end of her days in Abergele and a picture showing the new discoveries she made living with us, such as this visit to Rufford Old Hall.
These were shot using the waterproof compact Pentax WG3. I think it’s important to record all life events and they will have the most value of all our images for future generations. As I am currently finding as I work my way through the recently discovered old black and white negatives from the 1930s.
I realised, a few days into shooting again, and running workshops, that I was feeling tired and almost unwell by the end of four hours in a studio. Now, I’m past retirement age and not the…