Photo Walks = Motivation, Inspiration & Experimentation

Written by: Glyn Dewis

Published: August 23, 2010

Category: General

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.

Shooting Style
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 🙂

Moving On:
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.

Where next?
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.

Enjoy 🙂

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  1. Tim Skipper

    I should do that this week, head to the beach and just shoot. Would do me good to get out.

    The pics look great, beautiful scenery.

    • Glyn

      @Tim…Thanks for that mate and yeah go for it 🙂


  2. Neal Hibbert

    Great write up mate, enjoyed the day and looking forward to the next one!

    • Glyn

      @Neal…Ditto mate; Dorset here we come 🙂

  3. David Kelly

    Informative post as always. The great thing about a pet project such as this is that you get to see some “Little Britain” and the similarities / differences and nuances of seaside towns.
    I’d be interested in your views on going out & about on a shoot such as this with someone. I find I get more benefit being with a fellow tog in such circumstances as we inspire each other, whereas I sometimes struggle to do so alone.

    • Glyn

      @David…Yeah I agree mate, this is proving to be a great benefit for a whole host of reasons and not just for the photography. I can’t really image it being anyway near as much fun or beneficial doing this on my own. Walking, chatting, having a laugh and shooting makes the day so enjoyable and that would be missing on your own. One of you starts shooting and then the other goes through this ‘what’s he seen?’ moment and starts shooting too which makes for a great mix of results. It’s also really interesting to see how 2 people approach the same subject differently. We’re going to be doing these walks on a monthly basis and I may even get a Blurb book put together after the year end and for no reason other than for my own record and it making a nice coffee table book.

      Cheers, Glyn

  4. Dan Davies

    Hey Glyn – do I win a Bonus Prize for knowing that “Statue Man”2 was stood in Bournemouth Square between the Upper and Lower gardens when you photographed him?

    Thanks for bringing back some good memories of my Uni years – if you fancy a shoot somewhere else, with someone else then give me a shout!

    I’m interested in doing an “analogue style” shoot – one camera, one lens, one ISO, 36 shots only and a blanked out LCD as a way to get me to slow down and really consider every click of the shutter. Anyone fancy joining me?

    • Glyn

      @Dan…No bonus prize I’m afraid other than a manly pat on the back and a hearty ‘well done’…lol 🙂
      I’m liking the idea of your analogue shoot and would really be interested to see your results; come to think of it I quite fancy trying that myself 🙂


  5. Mike

    My old hometown. Now I am really home sick :-)))))))

    • Glyn

      @Mike…Hang in there Buddy 🙂



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