Nick stood in at last minute as our booked speaker was ill – and it was a very worthwhile evening. Nick showed us some of his wonderful images (his website is worth visiting www.nickcable.uk) as well as giving us some very useful technical tips and information.
He is based in the Somerset Levels, a one time member of Taunton Camera Club and now a member of f8 Image Group, which although small, were awarded the Western Counties Photographic Federation (WCPF) digital projected image competition winners for the South West region in 2015 and 2016 and joint winners in 2017. He works on commercial photography, some landscapes and other genres.
Nick works in IT and is obviously familiar with many data and technical aspects, which some photographers would wrestle with, but he explained in such a non-technical manner, he has you understanding the concepts (or thinking you understand!). He did say that photographing should be fun !!
He mentioned that entering National Competitions is very different than Camera Club Comps – something few of us has ever tried. The judges have a few seconds to make a decision – so make an impact.
He likes taking things that the eye doesn’t see and often uses a 500mm lens with a tele-converter. For an aviation image, maybe using 1/2500 shutter, ISO 200. He has a gimbal head on the tripod and uses ‘back-button focusing’. To get detail in these images he might use Topaz Clarity (micro contrast).
Nick showed us some great people images, many using textured backgrounds. He does this by layering the textures over the subject, masking and rubbing out so that the textures stay as background – very impressive but commented that you might play with this for hours, changing the blending mode per layer. He seems to use vignettes frequently and to great effect. You can see some of these on his website.
Data – get the most data you can from the camera. Understand the fundamentals, understand your camera and how to control it; shoot RAW, process RAW to put all parameters back into the image (and showed us several before/after to prove his point). Also understand that the old concept of the ‘camera never lies’ is not true – the LCD shows a jpg preset, ‘live view’ shows the image at maximum aperture (use depth of field preview to stop down). If you have a choice, use RGB histogram, not the usual brightness (as this uses grayscale). Remember that the digital sensor is not as sensitive as your own eyes.
ETTR – expose to the right for maximum detail, reduces noise, to adjust the blackpoint in processing. Dynamic range – everything out of range is either black or white – how to work around this? Exposure blending seems to have an answer – I’m sure it is not as simple as Nick made it sound.
For example, want some flowing water in the river, sharp, still trees – bracket the shots but using speed – two photos, 2 layers, 1 mask.
Nick spent quite a lot of time explaining exposure blending, but it is hard to recall all he mentioned. Taking a series of shots, hand blending, luminosity masks. Suggests many tutorials are available courtesy of google. One suggestion is to use 32bit file: take 4 files into LightRoom, merge to HDR Pro in Photoshop – this creates a 32bit file. Exit before the HDR sliders and save as a temporary file, which you then load back into LightRoom. Checkout google – processing 32bit files.
Experiment with panoramas – you have to calculate the nodal point (if close to an object in the image, it won’t work) and you have to have nodal stick on your tripod (180 or 360 degrees). It works OK on a landscape but for an interior of a building, it matters. Overlap at least 20% on each image, take vertical so you can more information in each image: for an interior of Wells Cathedral, he took 16 images.
Nick finished his talk with information about a trip to Norway, with the hope of seeing the aurora. He spent 10 nights there, only 3 good days weatherwise, no aurora. On the last evening – there is was – and the camera sees it better than your eyes. It was -25 degrees, camera didn’t freeze but his tripod did (he had been in water so not a surprise really). Some tips for skies with stars (and not trails) – ISO 3100, f4, about 25 seconds (there is a rule about 500 divided by focal length of lens – you’ll have to check on google).
Thanks for a good evening Nick, and to fellow members – sorry if I haven’t got all the detail in this report – so much information.
Nick teamed up with fellow photographer David Morton to offer residential workshops in specially chosen locations throughout the UK, covering a variety of topics from understanding your camera, creative image taking to post processing and preparing your image for print. He can also do one-day only for Camera Clubs.
Each workshop is limited to a small group size. Something for us to think about ………………
Images: Geoff Sims
Report: Marny Thompson LRPS