Horsham Park

Horsham Park – look for symmetry and vanishing points to draw the eye in

Previously I wrote a piece about why I like Instragram, and why I think it has had such a great impact on smartphone users around the world.

This time I thought I’d write a bit to help you get inspired. Obviously Instagram gives you plenty of flexibility, you are only limited by your imagination and creativity.

Either choose a theme or pick random things, but a great advantage is that you always have your phone with you, so you can take pictures of anything any time. Look out for bright colours, unusual patterns or objects, cloud formations or reflections in water.

Instagram has plenty of filters available, and this is perhaps one of its key features. While preparing an image, experiment with the different filters available. I find it’s always worth trying the filters on each image, because they affect every image very differently. Don’t disregard images that might not be perfect, as the filters might just hide some of those imperfections.

Use an app like Squaready to make images square with a white background rather than leave the black bars

Think in the square format when taking pictures; when I look through my Instagram timeline, I tend to disregard images that aren’t square…especially those that have the horrible black bars top and bottom or on the sides. To me, these images particularly detract from the image (there are free apps available that let you prepare images for the 1:1 ratio and apply a coloured or white background). I always use my iPhone’s built in camera app to take pictures, then I choose it from the album in Instagram to upload it, mainly because I don’t know how else I might want to use the image in the future.

There are several ideas for inspiration that might help you if you are struggling. Why not try a ‘365 project’; a bit of discipline is needed, but take one photo per day, every day for a year. Use Instagram as the medium to publish your results. It could be a photo of where you are, a self portrait, or an image representative of the highlight of your day.

Stream on the Isle of Wight

Create a ‘bucket list’ of things to capture and upload, and set yourself a deadline. Why not try the list below, and upload one picture to represent each item:

  • drain cover
  • leaf
  • bark
  • cloud
  • insect
  • tower
  • smile
  • jewellery
  • glasses
  • vegetable
  • wheel
  • rust
  • letterbox
  • bottles

Take one per day over two weeks. When uploading the images, add the tag #convexum to the caption.

If you’ve been inspired by my this post for any of your Instagram images, add a hashtag to them and then add a comment to this post, mentioning the hashtag so I can see your results.

My Instragram username is @laurencemadill

I love Instagram. Fact. But what is it about this little app that has made it so popular?

Instagram is an app available for the iPhone and now the Android market that enables users to take snaps of square proportions, apply a tilt shift or a centre focus effect, apply a style that represents a number of vintage or toy camera effects, and upload the image for others to view.

You can follow users, and they can follow you. You have a timeline of posts t hat have been posted by people you follow, much like Twitter. Anyone can click a ‘like’ button on your image, much like Facebook, and anyone can post a comment on your image. You can include tags with the # symbol, again like Twitter. And yet Instagram does not provide a facility for browsing a user’s images or following users on their website. It is all done via the iPhone app.

I’ve become somewhat addicted to Instagram, I like the effects, I like the sharing of images, and I like. The community. There seems to be a generally very positive vibe among the users, none of the hate messages that can pop up on Twitter and Facebook and the like. That’s not to say it doesn’t happen; I’m sure it does, but it’s isolated and very rare.

Since its launch a wide range of associated applications and websites have cropped up that enhance what you can do. You can now, for example, use a website to browse a users’ posts etc. you can download all sorts of iPhone apps that allow you to apply different effects to images, to help crop them to the right proportions, to create text-based graphics and more, so there is a great range of possibilities.

Recently, Instagram’s target audience has expanded, perhaps trebled, with the launch of the app for Android smartphones. It’s now even more available and even more popular. With a whole new wave of creative people tapping into it and sharing their lives.

The app has turned every user into a photographer. It has given them the power and inspiration to be creative and to express themselves, and for this reason alone it is great. With many young people using the app and sharing their pictures, it has inspired them to look at the world differently and, hopefully, inspired a whole new wave of future photographers.

My Instragram username is @laurencemadill
Below are a few highlights of my Instagram uploads

Kodak Retina II S

Kodak Retina IIs

The second in my series of posts about vintage cameras is a Kodak Retina IIs. It was produced between 1959 and 1960, and has a Xenar 45mm f2.8 lens with a Synchro-Compur shutter. Around 20,000 of these cameras were made in its short production life.

This camera is known as a Coupled Rangefinder camera, which essentially means that when you look through the viewfinder you see two images from different lenses, by adjusting the focus, it brings the two images into line to create a single sharp view in the camera. Being coupled, it means you can read the distance from a wheel around the lens.

Kodak Retina II S

Kodak Retina II S

The camera uses 135 film, the standard 35mm film. It was somewhat easier to get this camera working, and I’ve now got an Ilford HP5 film in it and have started carrying it around with me, so the results of this should be published very soon.

Lightning

Lightning in Lyme Regis ©Laurence Madill

I’ve been a keen photographer for many years, but until recently I had never had any success in photographing lightning. I also very rarely see lightning storms, so I hadn’t had much opportunity. Recently though, a storm was floating around Lyme Bay that I managed to capture. I thought I might share a few tips with you to help you capture some lightning for yourself.

There are a number of different types of lightning, but fork lightning is the most impressive to photograph. Sheet lightning will light up your whole surroundings but in a photo it is likely to just look like a stormy day, even in  the middle of the night.

The first, and probably key tip is to use a tripod. It will not be possible to capture fork lightning without a tripod because everything will blur. Generally, the slower the shutter speed you can use the better, because the longer the shutter is open, the more chance you have of capturing that split second in an image, but without the tripod you will not be able to avoid camera shake.

The next job is to compose the image. To ensure the best chance of getting lightning in the composition, use a wide angle lens, ideally include a landmark or some land in the image to add interest to the composition. Make sure that the camera is pointing in the most likely direction to see some lightning, and ensure there is plenty of sky visible in the viewfinder too.

Next, you need to work out the exposure and aperture settings. You can either use manual mode, or try using the Tv setting. Make sure also that the camera is capturing in RAW format, as this gives you the flexibility to tweak the exposure retrospectively on the computer. At this stage, we need to fire a few test shots. By using a slower shutter speed you can ensure there’s more chance of capturing the lightning. The image I’ve included in this post was 13 seconds at ƒ3.5. I captured images in succession; as soon as one shot was taken, I released the shutter again, using a remote release to prevent movement in the camera.

It is time consuming, and efforts can be fruitless, but with patience, a few good thunderstorms and these tips you should be able to capture some lightning on camera.

Plate Camera and Plates

Looking through the apparently random choice of photos that iPhoto appears to have put into my iPhone albums, I decided to post a close-up image of some flowers that I took some time ago to Twitter. In turn, this inspired me to write a bit about photography and my aims and inspiration.

I love to take pictures. I somehow fail to ever find time to do it, so my poor camera sits on my desk at work and is forgotten for much of the time. I have an entry level digital SLR and two entry level lenses with various entry level accessories and they all suit me fine. I also have a plate camera and a set of unexposed and unopened glass plates that I estimate to be, well, old. I am very keen to have a go with it. I don’t really know where to start at this stage, other than I need to make some sort of box as the camera consists only of the bellows and lens. On completing this, I guess I need to experiment with focusing using either onto tracing paper in the back of the box or by exposing some resin paper and developing that.

Exposing the glass plates is currently a complete unknown, as is the development, but I will cross that bridge when I come to it. There will be plenty to think about, and I’m sure plenty of mistakes, no doubt a key selection, good and bad, will be posted here in due course.