Lee Ballard Photography

A photo journal

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Countdown is progressing

Well the countdown to my working trip for Land Rover World (Facebook page) to Iceland is beginning. Flying out this Sunday and returning the following. Honest, it is work. Well, I’m sure there will be some work involved somewhere along the way anyway.

I’m looking forward to the trip, so much so, I’m returning to Iceland in June for another article! I’m really looking forward to meeting many of the people I have been communicating with and something I am already aware of is that it seems that “they” are right. Icelandic people are very friendly. All along the way in the planning of this trip I have received nothing but help and friendliness from everyone I have spoken with. And the level of English spoken by Icelanders is astonishing. Better than many English natives I have met.

This will also give a new life to this blog as I am planning on blogging daily during the trip (where internet availability allows) and plugging and linking as many companies and products as possible along the way that have helped bring this trip fruition.

Iceland, here I come

Iceland, here I come

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Following on from my ‘Paranoia’ I came across the statistics in the image below the other day. Now I am a sucker for numbers and figures so I find the stats very interesting, hopefully you’ll find something in them too. They were produced by Pixable and when you compare that the total number of images on Flickr, Picasa and Photobucket combined only equals a third of Facebook’s current image quantity is gives you some idea of scale.

Pixable stats

Facebook numbers

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Long time waiting

Last night I spent a few hours with some wonderful people, fellow photographers, wandering around Nottingham city centre and boy, do my feet know it today. I don’t think I have walked that far for years. But, it was worth ever single step. See our plan for the evening was to do some night shooting of Nottingham and it was a success. I love long exposure photography, I always have. I love the way it can turn even the most mundane scene into something magical. The camera can capture things in a way the eye just cannot see. Light trails reveal themselves and water blurs to give a wispy effect.

You also have the ability to play around. You can expose for different areas and create a totally different view of the same scene.

Anyway, a small selection of my images are here and you can view more on my Facebook page.

Market Square Nottingham

Market Square Nottingham

Passing traffic

Passing traffic for 30 seconds

Tram descending into Market Square

Tram descending into Market Square

Nottingham Tram

Tram in Nottingham's Market Square

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Well I know we’re still in the throws of mid-winter but it’s nice to think ahead to spring. Not to say there aren’t many photo opportunities during the winter but whilst tidying one of the hard drives I came across some flowers from last spring that I thought I’d share.

I took some Daffodils from the garden and gave them a mini high key shoot in the studio. I have below, shown the set-up I used and a final image. I used a studio strobe with softbox behind the flowers for the background and then provided the key light with a portable strobe and shoot through white brolly. I could have used a studio strobe here for the key light, it was just what was to hand at the time as the portable was already set up anyway.

The set up

Setting up


High key flower

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Phone cameras

I loathe phone cameras. I have yet to find a decent one. Not that I have been actively looking but you get what I mean.

The photo below I took yesterday morning using my N97 as I had not SLR with me and I am actually pleasantly surprised with the result. Okay it’s not publishing quality but in using the phone I hoped just to capture the ‘feel’ of the view. I tweaked the curves a little but nothing more.

In case you are interested it is the village of Anwick in the scene across the field.

N97 camera showing what it's capable of

Mobile phone sunrise

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Star results

And here is the best result from last night’s star photography. It’s technically a ten minute exposure but rather than one 600 second exposure I tried 20, 30 second exposures and layered in Photoshop.

Ten minutes

Ten minutes

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Stars in the lens

Tonight was a beautiful night for stargazers and photographers alike. The moon is but a mere slice of it’s cratered beauty and the night was cloudless and clear. A real time to have a go at star photography if you have yet to try it. Now I have had a go at this aspect of life behind a lens in the past with some success. I hadn’t planned on doing any shooting tonight but then thought I’d pop out and stand in the field at the end of the road for an hour and experiment a little.

The main experiment I wanted to try was to utilise different ISO’s. In the past I had always used 100 or 200 as a speed and was happy with the results however I read an article a while ago where it was suggested that more stars were visible to higher ISO’s. Obvious really but I didn’t expect quite so many more. The camera really does see far more than the naked eye when the settings are right. The picture below was shot with an ISO of 1600, shutter open for 30 seconds and an aperture of F/3.5. Now noise does start to creep in so I think next time I’ll play more with 400 and 800 and I shall also drive a little way to try and reduce the light pollution. I have the venue in mind so as they say somewhere or other, ‘watch this space’.

The image below is not quite straight out of the camera, I tweaked the contrast a little and turned it mono to reduce the effect of the light pollution.

Stars at 1600 ISO

More than the eye can see

And in true ‘Blue Peter’ style, here is a moon image I shot last year.

The Moon

The Moon, enlarged from a shot through just a 250mm lens

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A very Merry Christmas to all

I would just like to wish everyone all the very best seasons greetings and I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas. There are still Team Chaos Macmillan charity Mud and Maiden calendars available so please buy one if you haven’t already. Available here.

Anwich Photography Christmas

Merry Christmas

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Introducing the page sliders

I thought I would take a moment to introduce you to the images in the page sliders at the top of this website. Firstly, the sliders are part of the ‘sliding door’ wordpress theme created by Wayne Connor so all due credit to him.

Now my slider images……..

1. Sarah-Jane Blackner

Sarah-Jane is a very talented,  stunning model that I have worked with a couple of times. The image used in the slider is actually the reverse of the original as otherwise, only her legs, lovely as they are, would show when the slider was closed. This was taken during her progress from black hair through to platinum blonde and shot in Nottingham.

Sarah-Jane Blackner

Sarah-Jane, the right way round

2. Woolvestone Marina

This image was taken in August 2010 during a sailing trip which had us spend two nights just outside Ipswich in Woolvestone Marina, located on the River Orwell. The image was a tripod mounted long exposure, with a time of 30 seconds. I couldn’t use a longer exposure having left the camera’s remote shutter release at home.

Woolvestone Marina on the River Orwell

30 seconds of the River Orwell

3. Little Red Riding Psychopath

This was a shoot for which I suffered. The lovely Gypsy Rhodes and I shot this in a wood within Whisby Nature Park just outside Lincoln. The suffering to which I refer to was in the inordinate number of insect bite which I endured that day. Gypsy, luckily, was not bitten. Not once. Not a nip.

Anyway, the shoot featured a disgruntled Little Red Riding Hood, post killing spree. Images from the shoot as a whole will appear in the gallery soon.

Little Red Psychopath

Gypsy-Only a little psychotic

4. Team Chaos

My connections with the fundraisers known as Team Chaos go back a few years now. I shall dedicate a post to them on the Team Chaos page soon. This shot was taken at 2am at the Land Rover Owner Peterborough show in September 2010. It is my longest exposure to date, being 15 minutes in duration using an ‘big stopper’ filter to lower the exposure time by ten stops. My biggest fear when taking it was that a car with headlights on would drive past. Luckily, none did though the bright light you can see in the right hand side was someone in the distance with a torch. Incidentally, stars begin to ‘trail’ on exposures over 30 seconds as the planet rotates.

Team Chaos' Discovery by night

Watching the universe pass by

5. Stevi-Marie

Zombies galore. Well, maybe not but Stevi was a blood coated zombie during a group shoot back in March with Perfect Storm Models. For those wondering, the ‘blood’ was in fact domestic honey with a lot of food colouring. It was incredibly sticky and staining. Hence I now keep a litre of stage blood in my make up box for any future occasions that demand ‘blood’.


She's coming for you...

6. Champ de Mars, Paris

This is a dusk view, south-east from the top deck of the Eiffel Tower. The Champ de Mars is a large public ‘greenspace’  between the Eiffel Tower and the Ecole Militaire. I shall wax lyrical about the Tower itself in a future post as it was a very profound visit.

Champ de Mars

Champ de Mars from over 900ft

7. Autsin Healey

This last slider was merely a stunningly, nut and bolt restored, Austin Healey that I saw outside a pub I had just had lunch in. I desaturated the image and added a vignette to give it an aged feel.

Restored beauty

Beautifully restored classic

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Another blatant sales pitch

I know, two charity pitches in a day. Well, a stunning model and friend of mine, Gypsy Rhodes, who appears in the Macmillan calendar as in the earlier post, and also in the gallery image in the sliders at the top of this page, has again produced a charity calendar purely of new images of her. The proceeds of which go to aid the Sophie Lancaster Foundation which is a very good cause. Sophie, if you don’t already know was beaten to death defending her boyfriend in an attack in 2007, purely for looking alternative. Please visit the site and buy a second calendar (as you have already bought the Macmillan/Team Chaos one).

Gypsy Rhodes 2011

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