Thursday, 30 December 2010

Best of 2010

With 2010 drawing to a close I though it might be a good time to look back at some of the videos I’ve made this year. I’m not 100% sure exactly how many Photoshop tutorials and photography tips videos I made this year but for the purposes of this post I’ll stick to the publicly available content on my YouTube Channel.

So from the 28 videos I uploaded to YouTube here are the top videos in various categories…

Longest video - The 10 minute Emergency Christmas Card Photoshop Technique.
Made for my friends at I originally planned to call this the 5 minute Christmas card technique, but I quickly realised it was going to take much longer then I had planned hence the name.

Shortest video - Star Rotation Effect - Photoshop CS5 New Action.
This was a video I made for the Next Photoshop Evangelist competition. Part of the entry requirements was the video had to be less then 2 minutes long and feature the concept of twenty. See if you can spot it!

Most Commented - Grey background lighting tips and tricks
Another studio/portrait tutorial but this time I demonstrated three lighting tricks with one grey background cloth.

Most Viewed - How to shoot an unusual self portrait.
Me, myself and I get together to make a very strange self portrait. The opening minute was great fun to make and was a learning curve on how to use Adobe Premiere Elements to creatively edit videos.

And finally my favourite video of 2010
To be honest I’m really happy with almost all of my videos, but there are a few that stand out.

Of the 15 minute challenges my last video of the year, filmed at Winchester Cathedral, is high on my favourites list. It produced some of the best images I’ve taken this year and was a location I intend to return to later in the year. The 15 minute challenge in Kens Field was a real tough challenge photographically, so coming back with anything worth showing is a success.

Teaming up with Jared Polin from Fro Knows Photo was a fun thing to try and may be repeated again in 2011 either with Jared or other photographers / Photoshop experts.

But if I had to pick just one video it would be Long exposure technique. It combines some useful photography tips with a bit of fun and produced a stunning photo. Incidentally there is an extended version of this video on the Photo Beach Teach DVD which includes the part where my cable release fell into the water!

So that’s it for 2010. Look out for more Photoshop videos, more Photography tips videos, more review videos and more 15 minute photo challenges videos in 2011.

Friday, 24 December 2010

15 Minute Photo Challenge - Winchester Cathedral

It’s time for another 15 Minute Photo Challenge. In a change from my previous outdoor locations I decided to do this challenge inside the amazing cathedral in Winchester. Why inside? Well partly because it’s an excellent location brimming with photographic potential but mostly because it was cold, grey and snowy outside.

As always I had just 15 minutes to take the photos, however if I’m honest the timing went out the window slightly. Not my fault, honest.

As I was wondering around taking photos I was approached by one of the Cathedral staff. I was really expecting to hear the usual “no photos allowed here” comment, but instead the very understanding gentleman offered us a quick tour round the Crypt. How could I refuse…

Click the images to enlarge...

The statue (Silence II) is by Anthony Gormley and when the crypt floods, which if often does, the statue and its reflection look stunning. Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your perspective the crypt was dry so we were able to walk inside.

At the back of the crypt was an early first world war grave marker. Most of these have been lost, destroyed later in the war or rotted away.

Monday, 13 December 2010

How high is too high?

How high can your camera’s ISO stretch? OK, wrong question. How far would you be happy to push your cameras ISO and still be confident you could get a decent, usable image? Back in the days of my Canon 20D, the listed maximum was 1600 ISO, but the results were always horrible, so in reality 400 ISO was as high as I would go. My newer Canon 40D could also shoot at 1600 ISO in theory, but once again 800 ISO was as high as I liked to go to keep the image clean and usable.

My current camera is a Canon 5D Mark 2 which claims a maximum ISO of 25600 on paper, but in reality a maximum ISO of 6400 is suggested by Canon. Even so my previous high ISO experiences have meant I've limited myself to 3200 ISO when shooting in low light conditions such as at music gigs.

The photo above was a quick test I did to see what 6400 ISO actually looks like and I'm really happy with the results. The image looks more like the results I used to expect at 800 ISO on my Canon 40D. Click the image to zoom in and see for yourself.

The lighting was supplied by one very small candle which gave an exposure on the face of just 1/15th sec, f/4 ISO 6400. The lens was a Canon 70-300 IS and the shot was hand held, yes the Canon’s I.S. system really is that good!

Impressive as the results are, there’s no getting away from the fact that high ISO shots need a bit of post processing to really control noise and for me nothing beats the new noise reduction features found in Photoshop CS5 or Lightroom 3.

Click the image to enlarge.

Not surprisingly I’m going to class 6400 ISO as a usable setting for the 5D mark2 from now on.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Spudz Review ~ Stocking Filler Gift.

My top stocking filler gift for any photographer is the Spudz microfibre lens cloth from Alpine Innovations There's not one, but three features that make it my No.1 lens cloth and also a fantastic stocking filler.

Feature No.1 is the design. The whole cloth is pushed back inside a neoprene bag which means the cloth stays clean. The neoprene bag is also stitched to the cloth so you'll never loose the cloth, unless you loose the bag.

Feature No.2 is the hook. Having a cloth is all well and good, but finding the cloth when you need it is another matter. Fortunately the Spudz neoprene bag has a small plastic clip on the outside so you can attach it to your camera bag. The down side is the clip isn’t that strong, so I attach mine to an internal part of my camera bag for safety.

Feature No.3 is the cloth colour. This particular Spudz is 18% grey, which makes it ideal as an emergency gray card for metering and white balance. I say emergency as being a cloth it will have creases and possibly be dirty and that might affect things, but come on, it’s a lens cloth!
NOTE: not all Spudz cloth are 18% grey so make sure you buy the right one.

You can buy the Spudz cloth for around £8 - £10 in many photo retailers, or if you’re in the UK check out Crooked Imaging and them Gavin sent you!

Watch my video review below. If you can see it here watch it on

Friday, 3 December 2010

Photos from this evenings walk in the snow

It’s often said that we British love talking about the weather more then anything else and to be honest that’s probably about right, but with weather that’s as unpredictable as next weeks lottery numbers, who can blame us.

If you’ve been following me on either Twitter or you’re a reader of my Facebook page, you’ve probably noticed me talking about the unseasonably cold and snowy weather we’ve been experiencing of late. Well, I’m happy to report that the snow has stopped falling and the sun came out and that means it’s time to take some photos.

As every good photographer knows, light can make or break a photo and the best lighting can be found at either the beginning or end of the day. So with around before sunset my family and I set out on a snowy evening stroll across some local fields.

As the sun set, the fog rose. Here’s a few of my favourite images. Click an image to enlarge...

Camera: Canon 5d mark 2
Lens: Canon 28-135 is
ISO 400-800
Aperture f/5.6 - f/8

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Your Christmas gift from the Gavtrain Store

With Christmas right around the corner, I’ve got a very special festive gift for anyone who places an order in the Gavtrain store during the month of December (whilst stocks last)

They're limited edition keyrings which feature some of my favourite images from either one of my 15 minute photo challenges or a blog posts I’ve added this year.

They’re strictly one keyring per order and only while stocks last, so head on over to the Gavtrain store and place your order NOW!

If you need your DVD’s to be with you BEFORE Christmas then here are the all important last order dates.

4th Dec Australia, South America, Africa, Middle East, Far East, Asia
10th Dec North America and Europe
20th Dec UK & Channel Islands.

The sooner you place your order the more chance you’ll have of getting it before Christmas.

Frosty window pattern ~ Photoshop processing

On Monday I wrote a post about photographing frost patterns on glass. Well the frost has been replaced by snow here in the UK and that can mean only one thing. The country comes to a grinding halt.

But even though my photography work is on hold until the snow eases up, I’ve been keeping busy with a quick Photoshop tip for giving an icy feel to my frost images.

I also used this video to test out my new webcam. Sadly it didn’t quite work as well as I’d hope but if you like the idea I’ll get it better next time. Let me know what you think.