Following on from last month’s ‘Mini Photo Walk’ in Brighton, my good friend Neal Hibbert and I this time headed off down to Bournemouth for the day armed yet again with just one camera, one lens, no time limit and no agenda other than to just ‘take photographs’.
Our first ‘Photo Walk’ in Brighton made a big impact on both of us. I knew it would be a good day but seriously underestimated exactly how good and how it would leave me feeling motivated, inspired and all those other feelings we continually strive for.
Bournemouth had a lot to live up to if we were going to get half as much from the day and in fact it was a very different experience overall with some valuable learning points which I’ll mention a little later in this post.
We started the day off as most people would down on the beach front having arrived early and downed a hearty breakfast and I’m really glad we did as in what seemed like no time at all, the beach became packed with families and sun worshipers. Thankfully we managed to get a few shots in the hour or so we had but this was one big lesson learned…
So why one lens?
Apart from the obvious benefit of having to carry less, taking just the one lens forces you to become more aware of what you can and can’t do with it because let’s face it, what’s the point in investing in more lenses when you don’t know the limitations of what you already have? I could end up taking all manner of lenses with me; one to get the wide shots, one to get in tight on the detail but my lens of choice for these photo walks is the 85 mm f/1.4 … a great portrait lens but a lens I haven’t experimented with much until now.
Again just as last time, both Neal and I left our cameras on all the time and with no lens cap just incase a shot presented itself and we missed it with the delay of getting everything ready.
A great benefit of getting out on a photo walk like this is that it gives you the opportunity to experiment; try shots you maybe wouldn’t normally as I have been lately with Panorama’s. Sure to get the perfect panorama requires alot more kit such as a tripod and pano head but I’m not looking for perfection on a day like this, I’m looking to take photographs and if they turn out, they turn out and if I take things too seriously then I’ve completely lost the point behind the day.
Photoshop has some incredible built in utilities such as Photomerge and the results it produces can be quite staggering but that’s all helped by how you first take the shots.
1. Hold you camera in the ‘Portrait Orientation’ and overlap each shot by roughly 1/3rd.
The reason for this is that generally when stitching panorama’s together, there is always going to be some cropping involved at the top and bottom which results in a ‘thinner’ photograph. Taking shots in the portrait orientation means we’re capturing deeper images from top to bottom so that when the images are cropped, as they inevitably will be, there’ll be alot more image / content left than there would have been.
File – Automate – Photomerge
Ok so now you’ve got your series of photographs to make up your Pano all we need to do now is to load them into Photoshop, then sit back and watch the magic happen 🙂
Photomerge is the utility we need to use and that can be found in Photoshop’s File Menu under the Automation tab, and it really couldn’t be much easier. Simply use the dialogue box to select your images (no need to make any changes to the default settings), click OK and after a short delay voilà:
Thankfully due to the introduction of Content Aware Fill in Photoshop CS5 we now have the option to not crop the images so much as we used to as we can now very quickly and easily fill in the gaps that Photomerge produces:
Sure the result of using Content Aware Fill isn’t perfect and a little finessing would be called for but I’m sure you’d agree it’s a darn good starting point and what’s more it’s real quick too. Because of the waves in this shot I would actually crop across the bottom to cut them out; Photoshop’s good but it’s not quite good enough to blend moving waves together across 10 photographs…not just yet anyway 🙂
Managed to get a few more shots down on the beach front before heading into the town:
Bournemouth Town Centre was very different to that of Brighton; main reason there seemed to be no-one else walking around with a camera making us stand out somewhat. So, after a short walk round taking a few shots and grabbing a few portraits we decided to call it a day and head off for a bite to eat…the traditional seaside fish and chips 🙂
Talking of taking portraits of complete strangers this one was a must have; I mean the guy was acting like a statue so he was having his photograph taken no matter what. No, in all seriousness I did give the guy some change in his donation bucket and asked if he had any objections to me taking his picture which he didn’t…atleast I don’t think he did as it was quite hard to make out what he was saying without him moving his lips 🙂
Overall although we didn’t get quite the variety that was on offer in Brighton it was still a successful day and as always some valuable lessons were learned:
1. Be aware of the time of year: i.e. August in the UK means School Holidays and walking around on a packed beach front with a camera, although your intentions are honourable still makes you feel a little uncomfortable; it’s a shame but unfortunately that’s just the way things are nowadays.
2. Experiment: Play around with your camera settings and try out techniques with post production in mind.
3. Travel light: Without realising it you’re going to cover quite a distance as you walk and talk so the last thing you want is to be laden down with all manner of kit which you most likely won’t end up using.
4. Limit yourself to one lens: Getting to know your kit is essential and what better way than spending a whole day with just the one lens shooting everything from portraits to landscapes. Do this and you’ll get know it’s limitations so when you do make that next purchase you really do know why as opposed to getting it for the sake of it.
5. Enjoy yourself: You’re away from the ‘rat race’…no deadlines, no client agenda to work towards…this is ‘you’ time doing something that you love so just enjoy it and see what results you get out of it; the best things in life really are free.
You only have to get out there yourself and experience the benefits to see why these photo walks are set to be a regular thing.
As for our next location which will be towards the end of September, who knows, however what I do know is that it will be fun, I’ll learn alot and I’ll come away feeling refreshed, motivated and all the other unexpected benefits I’ve experienced so far.
Any questions or comments or maybe some tips and techniques of your own I’d love to ‘hear’ them so please feel free to make use of the comments section below.
Keep up with Glyn ‘Day to Day’ on Twitter
Get more ‘Behind the Scenes’ by becoming a ‘Fan on Facebook’