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500px cult of personality.

Published March 15th, 2013

So I decided to do an experiment today after seeing this photo score extremely highly -

http://500px.com/photo/28293581

Is it just me or is that fucking terrible? Absolutely atrocious, the horizon isn't level, the boat is too small to show detail, the lighting bland and it has no emotional impact whatsoever. It isn't even a technically-good "photographer's image".

So why does it score so highly?

Simple, the guy has a massive social network on 500px. So I started a mini project today and although I hate myself I want to at least see if it has any effect. I'm going to become one of those irritating people who vote and comment for no other reason than to direct you to their own portfolio... they make me sick, but I want to see if an hour or two of it has any material effect.

At the start of the process I have 729 affection.... let's see how it goes.

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Well, here we are half a day later. Even accounting for my day job (a quiet day today ...

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Putting a Twist On It

Published February 21st, 2013

Quick setup notes on dark field lighting - it's widely covered elsewhere on the net if you need more info. However, the idea here is to have the light BEHIND the target, in this case my softbox. This means you aren't lighting the target directly but instead creating an overspill you use by bouncing on the white cardboard sheets onto the edges of the glass. Check the setup shots for how I placed mine, it did take a degree of trial and error admittedly, but it's not really an arduous task tweaking the alignment!

I used my macro lens but that's only because it offered the best framing.

Flash I tried on a range of power, settling on 1/8th. YN560-II.

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Gravity Lapse I

Published February 5th, 2013

So to show you how I did this without photoshop I thought I'd take some pics of the setup and describe the technique.

Kit needed -

Camera + lens

Mirror

Wine Glasses

Food colouring (red and yellow)

White card for background

Things to elevate (and keep elevated!) the mirror, at an angle! I used cookbooks ;)

Flash, gel to alter colour balance optional.

Set the mirror up at an angle, the steeper the better, then glue the wine glasses on using superglue - don't worry, nail varnish remover also removes regular superglue too - and align the camera so it's parallel with the angle of the mirror. This is what makes the shot LOOK level and the fluid at an angle.

I used a flash with blue gel pointed at the background at 1/64th power, slightly more than strictly needed as I wanted a white batch and light spill in the centre that quickly faded to blue for maximum contrast, as well as to shine through the glasses.

Fill the glasses with water and add food colouring to taste!

See the attached ...

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Il Vino Italiano setup notes

Published January 30th, 2013

The setup and "hit rate" is pretty high so it was quite good fun playing with it & experimenting.

It's a very low tech setup, you could probably all do this with what you have in the house!

You will need -

Camera

Remote flash trigger

Flash (set on low power), I set mine to the 2nd lowest level (1/64th)

A chopping board

Three tins of beans (I used Heinz, other beans are available)

White card for the backdrop

Food colouring

Gaffer tape/superglue

Either a device to trigger the shutter via sound or a willing/able partner

I positioned the bean tins on the floor to act as rollers and placed the chopping board on top - with a gentle push I could then knock the whole setup against the kitchen skirting board. I setup white card against the wall itself just as a precaution then positioned another large white card behind the whole setup to form the plain backdrop. I also blu-tacked white card onto the chopping board too - I wasn't sure if the gaffer tape would stick to the wood board and ...

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The Problem With Pulse

Published January 23rd, 2013

500px no doubt get tons of mails on this subject and I appreciate they are already working down their own development path already (I hope!) but while the pulse system is a nice idea it has flaws that make it frustrating for 500px users. Because the pulse system is in essence a popularity meter and an integral part of the 500px experience, if this meter is perceived as unfair or broken it will directly lead to clients getting disillusioned and leaving the service. I'm sure we can all agree this would be a shame and a huge waste of time/effort for all.

I've contemplated the features, highlights and flaws of the current system and wanted to summarise these - feel free to make of this what you will but I doubt I'm alone in thinking that as it stands, 500px is emphatically more about the size of your social network rather than the quality of your images - unavoidable, granted - however the Pulse system serves to multiply this effect.

As I see it there are three flaws that can easily be ...

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Chasing smoke

Published January 13th, 2013

Just wanted to share the setup for tonight's smoke shot. It's a really simple setup!

You'll need -

1) A black background. The larger the better but doesn't need to be huge. I used a black A4 card but ideally would have perferred an A3 card instead to give me more space to play with.

2) Camera + tripod. I opted for the 100mm macro as it gave me the best framing based on the size of my background. You can handhold too but the tripod gives you one less thing to worry about.

3) Flash + snoot. I made my own snoot from a cardboard box. You need this to make sure the light doesn't accidentally hit the background, you want it to just hit the smoke.

4) A reflector is optional but I found it quite useful for getting extra light onto the smoke.

5) Something to generate the smoke, and hold it - I used a mini photo holder and clipped on some kitchen roll. I wound the kitchen roll into a tight "cord" then lit the end. It quickly burned out but smoked for ages without being a naked fla ...

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Project 365 - 2013

Published December 17th, 2012

I'm going to use this to tell my story of 2013, one image per day, one day at a time. I tried this once before and failed on the 2nd January so this time I'm better prepared but have also set myself some rules.

1) No cheating - if I'm going to do this, I want to be learning and improving so I shan't be regurgitating old photos. Has to be an image taken each day.

2) This isn't going to turn into a food blog. Though I like food - and food WILL feature! - I'm not going to upload photos of coffee or a sandwich and pretend it's making me a better photographer. iphoneography largely = shite in my book.

3) Realistically, at some point this year I won't be able to upload a pic. However, factoring in #1 and the point of this exercise - make me a better photographer - I'm still going to take the shot. If I can't get it online for a day or two, bear with me, but I'll still be shooting.

Three simple rules to keep me on track, keep me honest and keep me improving.

I'm hoping for feedb ...

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