Tag Archives: photography

Awards Ceremony Photography in Kingston

The faces change from year to year, but their unlimited energy and enthusiasm remains just the same. It was the annual Rose Youth Theatre awards ceremony, one of my regular bookings. “They love it when you play the paparazzi.” Ciaran O’Connell, the theatre’s Director of Learning and Participation told me. I stand at the end of the red carpet and snap them as they arrive at the theatre dressed up in the best outfits. “Come on, look this way! Smile for the camera!“ Great fun. Last year Cairan adapted and directed ‘Wind in Willows’ and he’s doing ‘Alice in Winterland’ for this Christmas. Members of the Youth Theatre perform alongside the professional cast, a fantastic opportunity for any kids with acting ambitions. And probably good box office once all the friends and family have bought tickets.

Last year’s awards

Cairan’s blog about Wind in the Willows

Breakfast Muffins in the Mayor’s Parlour – Business Event in Kingston

On the desk of the Mayor of Kingston upon Thames – books to makes sure he knows his place…

Kingston Chamber of Commerce’s latest networking breakfast event was in the Mayor’s Parlour in the Guildhall.  I had to go and have a look – just too tempting for a nosey person like me.  You always meet some interesting people at these well-attended events, and you find out about their many great business ideas!

What to do with a Camera in Winter

Get more creative, that’s what!

tall trees under a blue winter sky

explore the structure of trees

What to do with a camera in winter is the question many photographers seem to ask themselves.  With the passing of the rutting season in the Royal parks of London, the herds of stag-shooting photographers have retired to the warmth of their computers. Which is a pity because photography in winter offers some great opportunities for creativity.
ice on a pond

The patterns in ice and the reflections of the trees can make some fantastic patterns

For instance, with each gust of wind and flurry of leaves the trees are getting ever more naked. Look up at the shapes of their bare limbs, who knows what inspiration you may get! Nature’s putting on her drab winter coat, but there’s so much texture and pattern in the bark, or in the fallen foliage in ponds and streams. The mist and fog is a cloak of mystery that can utterly change a landscape.
I love the frost, especially when the sun comes and everything sparkles. In a proper freeze ice throws incredible designs across standing water and creates amazing sculptures around running and tumbling water. For those who care to look, it’s all there in the parks.
Winter is also a great time to photograph the built environment. The sun never gets high in the sky so when it does come out it casts huge, dramatic shadows. The sun creeps into the nooks and crannies of our townscape that never see it in the summer, illuminating surface textures and the rich colours of stone and brickwork. After sunset man-made lightshows fill the streets with twinkling jewels, particularly around the shops at Christmas. The open-air markets make vibrant subjects with their steaming food stalls, colourful products and characterful faces. Even the traffic going home has a romantic appeal as the stoplights of braking vehicles string rubies along the road.

freezing water in a woodland brook

it’s been freezing for days and the ice has grown like glassy fruits

I got very excited last year when it snowed and spent several days sliding around hoping not to fall on my camera. When it snows everywhere is quieter, softer, somehow transformed. The smiles and rosy cheeks of people enjoying the snow make marvelous pictures. Young children’s sheer wonderment, noses tipped with a dew-drop, laughing office workers snowballing in their suits. Photograph the brief lives of snowmen before they melt away, sledge pilots before they tumble into a drift and leaping dogs as they catch a snowball. But watch out for snowball fights lest you become a target!

Here’s a blog I found with some winter photography ideas, and some tips on photographing ice.

Trevor Aston Photography is based in Teddington, Richmond upon Thames in southwest London with easy access to and from central London and Surrey.

New Hotel in Kingston and a Nice Place for a Networking Event

I love a nice hotel. There’s a charming, boutique establishment on a back-street in the Marias, Paris we’re very fond off. But there’s something about a big, grand hotel that’s rather wonderful. Kingston-upon-Thames is about to get one of those. The Doubletree by Hilton is opening soon, and Kingston Chamber of Commerce held a networking breakfast in the new hotel’s Sopwith Suite. Kingston’s aviation heritage has given a theme to the hotel, they’ve used the names and photographs of old Hawker aeroplanes. The purpose-built structure went up seven years ago, but was mothballed by the then owners. Under new owners, it’s been  finished it to a very high standard, king size beds, giant TVs and a carpet with a design based on an aerial view of Kingston. It’ll be a great place for a meeting over a coffee or a bite to eat. And I’m not just saying that because I got a free breakfast! And a chocolate muffin. And a pain au raisin. 

“Every picture tells a story, make sure it’s the right one!”
Trevor Aston Photography and Video is based in Teddington, Richmond upon Thames in southwest London close Kingston, Twickenham and Surrey.

Business Networking in St. Mary’s University – photography

Horace Walpole’s Strawberry Hill House, artistic licence moving the River Thames onto the back lawn!

St.Mary’s University is just up the road from where I live. It specialises to sport science and many of their students are themselves athletes. Part of their campus is in Strawberry Hill House, Britain’s finest example of Georgian Gothic Revival architecture, Strawberry Hill House was designed and created as a Gothic fantasy between 1747 and 1792 by Horace Walpole, historian, writer, collector and son of Britain’s first Prime Minister Sir Robert Walpole.

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The University leased most of the dilapidated old mansion to a trust for renovation some years ago. After £9,000,000 of work the beautiful building was opened to the public in 2010. But the university kept a few beautiful rooms for their own use, known as the Waldegrave Suite. When the Head of the School of Sport Health and Applied Science, Prof. John Brewer spoke to a Chamber of Commerce, he used the hall and it’s features to illustrate just how far, high and fast ‘elite’ athletes hop, skip and jump. St.Mary’s students did incredibly well in the Rio Olympics. Prof Brewer explained very proudly that, had the University been a country, it would have been 25th on the medal table, with 3 golds, a silver and a bronze.

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Police Chief Superintendent Parm Sandhu, Borough Commander of Richmond, spoke at the meeting. Parm is currently one of the highest-ranking Asian women in policing in the UK. She is also the first in the history of the Met Police to hold the position of a Borough Commander.

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Prof. John Brewer, Head of the School of Sport Health and Applied Science

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Members of the Richmond Chamber of Commerce

The Mad Hatter’s Wedding? Photography for a Very Special Day

wedding, photographer, photography

A Mad-Hatters themed wedding? Not sure what to expect here! Well, it turned out to be a very individual celebration, at Hartsfield Manor, in Surrey. Louise and Leigh had help from friends and family in decorating the Victorian stately home for their wedding. Dozens of bits and bobs, eclectic and even eccentric, but a great stage for the wedding ceremony in a beautiful, light room, drinks in the 16 acre garden and grounds, then meal and a party. The bridal suite had a large dressing room where the bride and her maids were attended by hairdressing make-up and Prosecco. It was fun to photograph, and slightly embarrassing when I noticed there was a bra swinging from the Velcro fastener on my camera flash!

 

Love the Autumn – do photography!

Summer has holidays, winter has Christmas. Autumn, sandwiched in between has nothing but colour.

But, oh what colour!

two lines of tall trees in autumn colours

a spectacular ride of trees in every season

 

Autumn’s the best. Yes, photography in spring is beautiful when everything bursting into life. Winter is wonderful in it’s sharpness and starkness. And of course long, sultry, summer days are magnificent. But Autumn? Autumn is golden, it’s crunchy under foot and smells of sweet wood smoke and musty damp leaves, it’s the sensual season. We should love the autumn.

 

Autumn should be walked in, listened to, breathed and touched. Autumn is definitely a time for photography. In fact, producing half a dozen good pictures of rich, autumn colours should be compulsory for anyone with a camera. A sort of licence fee-in-kind. There’d be a website where you’d upload your pictures, and anyone who didn’t would get a late night visit from mellow fruitful bailiffs; “show us your autumnally themed photographs or we’ll confiscate all your cameras, including your mobile.”

fungus, fir cones and blackberries

fungus is an exotic woodland pant, in the sense that it grows so quickly and might be deadly!

We’d have dedicated channels on Freeview and Sky showing an endless slideshow of trees dressed in reds, oranges and yellows. Giant spiders sitting in enormous webs strung with diamonds of water droplets. Drive-time sunsets. Trees hiding in mists. Squirrels snatching the last conkers and acorns.

 

 

And of course the Lords of Richmond’s parks, the growling grouches, noses in the air, nostrils twitching, sniffing for rivals, strutting stags watching over their herd. The camera is a tool for saving splendours to enjoy later.

a deer stag

a stag bellowing its presence

 

Trevor Aston works in Southwest London and Surrey photographing portraits, PR, events,

7 Steps to Getting More from Your Photographs

man and woman with drink problems photography southwest LondonI propose a new figure of speech – ‘It’s like finding a jpeg on a hard-drive’ instead of the outmoded ‘needle in a haystack’.  The idea comes from the difficulty I’ve encountered when looking for a particular image on a computer.  I know it’s in there somewhere but……

Just imagine if you could open a hard-drive like a desk draw. It would be like entering a cavern jam-packed with vaguely labeled piles of boxes filled with imprecisely labeled folders stuffed with ambiguously labeled documents. Maybe you’re in luck – you find the box of photographs – every photograph you’ve taken. The good, the bad the indifferent, the white frames, the black frames, the blurry frames, the pictures of your feet and pictures of the sky. Somewhere in there is that lovely shot of your sister you took the day before the aliens abducted her to the mothership.

In reality the situation is probably worse with pictures in several places. Some left to moulder for years on the camera’s memory card, some on your phone, others on the tablet and a few attached to emails from friends.

Falkirk containers

Digital Jugglers

I’ve just described the chaos that is my ‘library’ of roughly 60,000 images. Most are in folders named according to the job.  Since I deserted the proper path of film and sold my soul to the digital devil that’s been good enough. But there are dozens of folders now, it’s getting to be un-manageable and can be impossible to find a specific image if I don’t remember where I put it.

Delete the Duds

A  former work colleague told me that he saved every image he took because the failed pictures say as much, in their own way as the successful shots. He might have a point as an artist; I’m more of a photo-tart. I’d rather let go of the letdowns to save the card and drive space, not to mention the time transferring data between the two.  I suggest that when you take a break from the grinding hard work that is photography, you flick through your shots and dump the failures. That might just mean technical failures such as out-of-focus, burred or incorrectly exposed. You could also exercise some editorial judgment and get rid of the shots that don’t live up to you expectations as well, but I prefer to leave that till I’ve seen them on a computer screen and then do a big cull.

something unknown in the ancient woodland

Tag, Tag, and Tag again

It doesn’t actually matter where the files are physically stored on the hard-drive if they are well tagged, you’ll always be able to find them quickly using the tagged terms and the file data such as the date and even time. The best time to tag them is when they are transferred from memory card to computer. Generic terms can be added automatically to each picture, like ‘California holiday’ ‘Christmas’ ‘Christening’. There are many image management tools that enable you to do it, I use Adobe Lightroom, which is fantastic or there’s iPhoto or Picasa. These will become the software you use most often not just for managing a collection but for post-production too. Again I have give Adobe Lightroom a plug, it’s effective, easy and economic.

black and white abstract photograph of plastic bottles

Good Habits Save Time, Money and avoid visits to the doctor

Most of my pictures are utter rubbish, but I want to keep them. Just in case. Now if I can get into a better digital habits by fine-tuning my image management workflow, then the occasional good photograph I take is less likely to get lost under all that digital dross!

late for class

  1. Decide on a folder and subfolder structure.
  2. When the clocks change remember to reset the clock on the camera. It’s another useful search parameter.
  3. Use image management software to tag images as you transfer them from memory card to computer.
  4. Back up your library on two other drives, one of which is in another building.
  5. Enjoy flicking through your folders from time to time, and while you’re there add more tags and delete more crap.
  6. Share your pictures more – make greetings cards, have a print on the wall, compile an album etc. Otherwise what’s the point?
  7. Be less lazy.

Trevor Aston works in Richmond, Southwest London and Surrey as a portrait, event and editorial photographer.

How to take a good portrait photograph

(This is based on a talk I’ve delivered to number of groups in southwest London. I took the pictures while doing the talk.)

On holiday or at a special event like a birthday party or wedding most of us are willing to have our photo taken – it seems appropriate because it’s special. Pull out a camera on an ordinary day and you’ll often be met with a wave of complaints, ‘I haven’t washed my hair’ ‘I’m too tired to smile’ ‘I’ve got a spot’! Mostly it never even occurs to me to take pictures of ordinary scenes on an ordinary day, but I’m determined to more.  I think it’s the portrait photographs taken, or just ‘snapped’ at home on that wet Sunday afternoon in October that in years to come may become some of the most treasured.

how to take good portrait - photographer Teddington Richmond London

Using the camera’s flash has made this image quite flat.

A good time for an arm-lock

It might take bribery or perhaps a threat, but you just have to take control. Make them do it and make them move, they’ll forgive you. Work out where you want to take the picture and if necessary move the furniture and open the curtains. Natural light makes the best portraits; a north-facing window can give a lovely, soft but directional light. With the subject placed side-on to the window the shape and form of their face will be nicely modelled without casting any harsh shadows. Consider getting someone to hold up a piece of white card to act as a reflector if the shadows are too strong.

 

So don’t get too flashy

advice on how to take good portrait - photographer Teddington Richmond London

bouncing the flash off the ceiling has softened the light but produced a big shadow under the nose

Keep it simple is good advice; don’t use a flash unless you want that hard flat light for aesthetic reasons. Many cameras have a ‘scene’ mode and ‘portrait is always one of them. This will tell the camera to automatically select settings that are more likely to produce a good picture. A narrow depth of field helps reduce distractions from the background. You need a large aperture or low ‘f ‘ number. Move back from the subject and zoom in. Using a wide-angle lens can give them a big nose. If they actually have a big nose no amount of zooming will remove it, unfortunately.

want to know how to take good portrait? Advice from the photographer in Teddington, Richmond, London

soft light from the window gives a much nicer, more characterful picture

Trevor Aston works in Richmond, Southwest London and Surrey as a portrait, event and editorial photographer.

Using Flash for Better Outdoor Photographs

I always thought flash was for indoor photography. The only time I remember seeing my Dad use it was at Christmas photographing three generations of the family sitting down to Christmas dinner. We look so miserable staring back at the camera, probably the prospect of playing Monopoly. It wasn’t something he was used to using so every year he had to learn how to open the fan-like reflector, push a flash bulb into the housing, plug in the sync lead and calculate exposure.  I doubt there was ever very much spontaneity to capture but it would certainly have drained away by the time my Dad lifted the camera to his eye.

family child photography Teddington southwest London flash

this needs a little complimentary light to bring up the eyes

What’s a flash bulb?

Oh yes, you might not be as old as me.  Before electronic flash guns were invented photographers had a little glass bulb containing magnesium wire in oxygen.  The glass was coated in blue plastic in case it shattered, they could only be used once.  They had a cost so my Dad wouldn’t dream of using a flash outside in the sun.  Sunshine has always been free!

 

Push the ISO and turn off the flash

Modern digital cameras are getting better and better in low light.  In-doors I’d much rather turn on the lights, turn up the ISO and turn off the flash.  Camera-mounted flash is so harsh – it produces flat pictures with no subtlety or nuance of character.  It’s often adopted as a style for fashion or music photography.  I think it’s horrid.

family child photography Teddington southwest London holiday

too dark – turn on the flash!

Sun out – flash on

On the other hand, outdoors I almost always use flash.  It improves so many pictures by lifting the shadows, especially those thrown across a face by the sunshine.  It’s often called fill-in flash, but it shouldn’t fill the shadows completely, they’re vital to give a picture tonal depth.  Blasting a shot with flash out doors produces the same harshness as it does in doors.

family child photography Teddington southwest London park flash

the flash adds enough light to stop it being a silhouette

Complimentary Light

The right amount of additional light to throw on an outdoor subject is an amount that is just enough to make it look right.  That’s maybe not the most profound thing you’ve read in a photography blog!  The thing is, while I’m advocating lifting the shadows by using flash in outdoor photography, there are often times when you want a nice deep shadow.  Well that’s a good aesthetic choice for you to make, but you only have a choice about how dark to make the shadows if you capture some shadow detail in the first place.  At the risk of stating the obvious, a well-exposed picture has nothing too bright and nothing too dark so you can then choose to burn out the bright parts or turn shadows into pools of darkness.

wedding photography southwest london flashIt demanded a lot of skill in the days of film to apply flash outdoors with any subtlety.  Digital cameras make it possible and practice will make it quicker. When you’re out in the sun, turn on the flash, take the picture, find some shade and have a look at what you’ve got.  Look at the shadows; you should be able to see some detail but it shouldn’t be anywhere near as bright as the sunlit areas.  If it is, lower the power of the flashgun and take it again.  If you can’t manually control the power of the flash then try putting pieces of opaque tape over the flashgun.  Professional level flashguns can be set to balance the flash output with the ambient light, in my experience of the Nikon’s they work really well.

Throwing light into darkness doesn’t necessarily demand a flashgun.  A reflector is just as effective for portraiture, it’s much cheaper than a flashgun but does need either an adjustable mount and stand or someone to hold it.  Reflectors can be white, silver or gold.  The white versions give a softer light than the silver and the gold produces a ‘sunset’ colour cast.  I’ve asked someone in a white shirt to stand-in for a reflector or propped up pieces of white card.  Mirrors can also work, but they give a very hard light, are often heavy and present a real danger if they’re dropped!

 

Sunshine means sun-glasses

What are eyes if not windows on the soul?  So make people take off their cool shades, and remember to allow time for the little red marks either side of the nose to fade.  That should also allow enough time for their eyes to adjust to the brighter light, you don’t want your subject to be squinting in the sun!

Trevor Aston works in Richmond, Southwest London and Surrey as a portrait, event and editorial photographer.