Tag Archives: photography

Colours Can Make a Photograph

Colours – bright, vibrant, striking, resonating or complimentary, blending, gentle and pastel. Colours often provide the urge to pick up the camera and take a picture. Something in the photographer’s brain is forever on the lookout for that chance arrangement colour, texture and form that strikes a chord and tells us there’s a picture to be taken.

Sometimes I envy the painter because they can choose where to put colours, and what they’ll do in the picture. The way colour is rendered on the painter’s canvas can affect how the composition is perceived, bluer tones can help depict depth or distance, warmer colours might help objects to stand out. Colour helps the artist set a mood or atmosphere and manipulate emotion. The artist might choose to use colour naturalistically; grass is green, sky is blue. Or they may not, Henri Matisse said: “When I put down green it doesn’t mean grass, and when I put down blue it doesn’t mean sky.” The photographer looks at a scene, and at the moment they press the button, the colour they see is the colour they get in the photograph. (Ok, cameras differ and there’s a whole bunch of settings that can change the colours)

It is perfectly possible to train the eye, or rather the eye and the brain to look for elements in a scene that will make a photograph better. Here are a few…..

 

Photograph of an office block and orange lampposts. photography photographer

Rhythmic, or repeated colours
the repeating orange of the receding lampposts stand out, but the blue/grey in the building has rhythm

 

Photograph of waving child in daffodils. photography photographer

Dominant Colour
yellow is dominant to my eye, others might say that red will always dominate
 

abstract photograph orange tree against a painted wall. photography photographer

Economy of Colour
fewer colours can add strength to an image
 

T

The Campo Sienna photograph photographer photography

Complimentary Colours
The dark red and the yellow somehow enhance each other
 

Photograph showing clashing colours

Clashing Colours
A collection of colours that give the picture life and vigour

 

Photograph of a painting on the Berlin Wall. photography photographer

Colour is the picture.
Is the subject of the picture the cyclist or the painting?
(Eastside Gallery, Berlin. One of 105 paintings by artists from around the world on the longest remaining section of the Berlin Wall)

Digital manipulation makes it very easy to change the colours in a photograph, and very tempting. (Save us from any more purple skies) There are many reasons why a photographer might want to alter colours, but the reason should come before the ‘doing’. Adjusting tone and hue, brightness and contrast can enhance a picture, but it can’t turn a pig’s ear into a silk purse. It really is possible to post a picture on Instagram without using filters. However, the colour can be distracting. In this picture, I felt the red barrel and the yellow signs were too dominant….

 

Don’t make all your pictures black and white for the sake of it – colour is good! But there are occasions when the colour is so insipid it contributes nothing, even weakens the picture, like here…

photograph of swans. photography photographer

A winter scene, in winter light. The weak colour adds nothing to the picture

photograph of swans. photographer photography

Taking out the colour has made the swan’s posture stronger, and the image has a rhythm; black-white-black

Using the Same Stock Pictures as Other Websites

Stock pictures of beautiful people sitting around a table smiling, beautiful people standing around a water cooler laughing, a beautiful person, usually female wearing a telephone headset, smiling. Web picture cliches we all recognise. They’re boring, and an opportunity wasted – a better chosen image could say so much more about the business. But look at these examples below, it’s actually the same stock picture on different websites. It’s not likely that anyone will spot these because the businesses are quite different. But Google will. The web search behemoth encourages original content, so using an unoriginal picture might count against your page ranking. At the very least using the same stock picture as other websites is a form of plagiarism which can’t be disguised.
Not every budget can stretch to bespoke photography, so the use of stock pictures is only going to increase. Designers shouldn’t pick the first suitable image they find, and some reverse image searches are a good idea, to see where else they appear.

I have some stock pictures on Alamy.com, and when I get around to it, there’ll be more. It’s just really boring searching for them, quality checking, uploading and key-wording. Ok, I’m a bit lazy.

 



My post on taking website pictures seriously.

Here are some more posts about using stock pictures on websites…

Why You Should Never Use Stock Photography

Pros and Cons of Stock Photography

Create Authentic Images


Banking Conference Photography

banking conference photographyThere used to be three bank branches on our high street, now there are none. I didn’t use them, so I can’t complain. Banking is changing a lot, which I assume is the excuse for a banking conference in a London hotel. I’ve covered several, photographing the accompanying exhibition and getting shots of the speakers in the conference. They’re really interesting, no honestly! Getting to peak inside other worlds is one of the great things about this job. More exhibition and event photography…

RBR London Conferences

To discuss photography at your event, call me on 020 8977 2529 or message.

Practice Photography and Take Better Photos

practicing photography skills with Handmade WorkshopsPractice photography with me and Handmade Workshops at The Railway in Teddington.

We’re aiming to get more people taking better pictures, and it’s amazing how much you can learn in 3 hours. It’s intended for enthusiastic mobile phone camera users who want to move on to using a real camera. We cover the basics of what looks good in a picture, and how to get the camera to give us the picture we want! This is our ‘syllabus‘.

Best of all – we get cake! Plus tea or coffee and some time in lovely Bushy Park practicing photography.

Book here. 

Take Better Photos!

 

Kingston Chamber of Commerce Double Tree Event Photography

This Kingston Double Tree event gave the lie to the lazy prejudice that chamber’s of commerce are full of full of middle-aged white men. Many of us are actually beyond middle-age!

Kingston Chamber of Commerce growing membership is youthful and almost gender-balanced, so its events are all the more interesting and enjoyable. There are many great people in it’s membership happy to offer help and advice, and most importantly, pass on referrals for jobs.

I started my business after a career as an employee, so the Chamber’s been a great way to become a part of the local business community.

The Chamber sets out to be be fun, so this year’s President, Forbes Lowe of Forbes Design gave the annual charity fund-raising President’s Ball a Las Vegas theme with casino tables and an ABBA tribute group.

Get in touch to discus photography at you upcoming event. More event photography.


 

Kingston Guildhall Event with the Chamber of Commerce and Mayor

Bentall Breakfast – Photography at the Business Networking Event

Election Hustings in Kingston

 

Bramble Partners Networking at Gray’s Inn – Event Photography

Photography at an event in Gray’s Inn, or any of London’s prestigious venues is a small perk of the job. Bramble Hub connects public sector organisations with best of breed private sector suppliers through government procurement frameworks. They run regular partner events, some simply social, others opportunities to learn from peers, but they’re usually somewhere really nice. The latest one was in the hall at Gray’s Inn. The building was badly damaged in 1941, a brief history can be read here.

Exhibition and Event Photography

Conference Video

ICT Business Networking Event

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.

Get Your Family Loving Photography

Holding up a camera between you and your family to take a picture is to place a barrier between you and them. You’re pushing them away a little. But photography can be a shared, unifying activity – if you work at it.

‘Doing photography’ is a good thing. It forces you to look, and teaches you to see. Going about the daily round with eyes open allows the opportunity to appreciate the marvel and beauty of the ordinary. The shape of a leaf on the tree by the bus stop, the flowers opening on the hawthorn in the hedgerow, the clouds billowing over the city-centre skyscrapers, the texture of an old brick wall, the life and times engrained in the face of the elderly person resting on a bench, the body language of the courting couple, the radiant wonder in the curious eyes of the baby. Seeing and appreciating some of these small things can be a step towards finding some peace of mind and contentment.

For a family member to love photography they really need to be doing it themselves, as well as tolerating you taking their picture. I was delighted when my son chose to do Photography GCSE and bought him a little Nikon. He never used it. I assume he took pictures with his phone, I don’t know because in two years I didn’t see a single one of his photographs. My daughter developed her own interest in photography after she’d left home, so nothing to do with me, but we’re going to the Andreas Gursky photography exhibition in London’s Heywood Gallery together.

We can help our family find a love of photography, firstly by not turning them against it, and secondly by encouraging them and sharing our own knowledge and interest.


Don’t…

…be boring

Some people grow up associating photography with boredom. That’s because they’ve spent so much time waiting for dad to take a picture of the ‘view’. I saw a child being told off by his mum on the train the other day, he wanted to look out of the window at the other trains at Clapham Junction, she wanted him to smile for the camera. He’s learning to dislike the taking of photographs. On the other hand, sharing your own delight at a nice picture of your child will encourage a positive association. If you can get the picture quickly and without fuss, so much the better. There was a lovely picture to be taken of the boy looking out of the window at the trains, but it was missed. Do photography around what the child wants to do, do not drag them to a National Trust garden and then get cross when all they want to do is go on the swings.

With a young family in tow, there’s little point in having a sophisticated camera. Better to have something very portable that can be kept out and ever-ready to snap a picture. The camera on a phone fits that bill quite well, but it will let you far more often than a simple, dedicated camera on a strap around your neck.


Don’t…

 …get in their Face

Respect your family’s personal space and privacy. Don’t photograph a teenager just after they’ve got up. Even if it is in the middle of the afternoon and really funny. Remember that your kid’s social media is probably very important to them, and more complicated than we can ever image. Trust is easily lost, so don’t share pictures of your children without their knowledge. (As I’m doing for this post) Active consent to sharing is even better. In the tangled web that is modern social networking you can never be sure in whose feed the pictures might pop up. Damaging the trust between parent and child is bad at any age, but especially through the tricky teenage. But if they trust you not to embarrass them, you’ll get more acquiescence and even cooperation. Then you’ll get to take more pictures of them. Perhaps, even just after they’ve got up.


Do…

…keep your powder dry

So you want a day doing photography, and your family is the subject. So you want to keep them sweet. So this is not the day to tackle them on tidiness, homework or cleanliness. This is the day to take them somewhere they want to go to. If that’s not going to facilitate your photography, then try a compromise. They will let you take some pictures of them at a location of your choosing, and you will wait in the car while they go round the shops.


Do…

 …listen

When you’re taking pictures of your family, get them to suggest locations and poses. ‘Try to make it fun’ – is a deadening phrase, I don’t think you can make things ‘fun’. But you can have fun doing things. Smaller kids might enjoy running around looking for something for you to photograph and looking at the screen on the camera as you take the picture, or through the viewfinder. You could even let them hold the camera and take the picture. This is when they might start to develop their own interest in photography.


Do…

…get it gift wrapped

When they’re ready, or perhaps just before, give them a camera of their own for a birthday or Christmas present. Do a little research into what’s available, even secondhand if your have a trusted camera shop locally. Think what they’ll like and what they’ll use – it should look good and be no bigger than their phone. It’s for them not for you. Keep repeating that.

The 10 Best Cameras for Kids are listing in this Digital Camera World article.


Kids are Great Photographers

They’ll surprise you. They have a fresh perspective, their view of the world is unencumbered by experiences. But whatever they take, love it. And remember they’re not interested in how you’d have taken it. Ask them to share their pictures with you so you can share them on your social media. Get some of the pictures printed, stick them on the fridge or frame one for the wall.

A Gift for Life

Photography is a great form of self expression that’s available to everyone. It forces us to look at what’s around us and teaches us to see it. Only then can we really appreciate it.

Love the Autumn – Do Photography!

Summer has holidays, winter has Christmas.

Autumn, sandwiched in between has nothing but colour.

But, oh what colour!

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.

The colours are fantastic – the oranges, red, yellows and browns. But often it’s the light makes them really spectacular – because the sun is lower in the sky it’s more likely to stream though trees, punching the colour with it. Unless, in the dark of the night the chilling mist has risen to shroud the landscape in mystery.

Bloated spiders spin colossal webs that the morning dew hangs from in tiny lenses focusing sunbeams into strings of fairy lights. While birds come back to the gardens searching for treats to fatten them up for winter, squirrels scamper through branches and flower beds burying family-packs of conkers and acorns.

The camera might have been invented for autumn – a tool for saving splendours to enjoy later in the grey of winter.

The Lords of London’s Royal parks, the growling grouches, noses in the air, nostrils twitching, sniffing for rivals, strutting stags watching over their herd.

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!