Lee Ballard Photography

A photo journal

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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Bath time

I know, it’s been a while. And it’s not like I haven’t had things to blog about, I just keep getting otherwise distracted. Anyway, new year (well, 8 weeks ago) so new approach to blogging. I’m going to make a bigger effort (again).

 

So much to tell. I have launched a new string to my bow that I’ll explore in a post of it’s own soon but check out Cherry Picked Photos to see more and “like” it on Facebook.

In May I am travelling to Iceland to spend a week visiting companies and exploring the country for Land Rover World and as part of that some companies have sent me some equipment to try out and review out there. Most of it I’ll blog about in due course but two items that were delivered this week to me were E-Cases from Cascade Designs for my HTC phone and my iPad (yes, I have an iProduct now!).

 

These are basically, fabric and plastic “pockets” that you place your device into and seal with a trademarked “SealLock” zip. The joy of these things are that not only is the device fully functional behind the plastic window but also it’s waterproof up to 1 meter for 30 minutes.

 

I have a number of friends that I know have dropped their phone in either the bath or the sink to it’s demise and one of these would have saved it. I’m awaiting details on pricing but will let you know as soon as I know it.

 

Oh, they do work too!

Testing an E-Case

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Snakes on a DSLR sensor

Well, the old saying goes “Never work with children or animals” and while I usually disagree, after spending some time informally shooting some hungry Royal Pythons and a Boa, I can admit that shooting a fidgety snake is difficult.

Just as you get the shot they disappear over someone’s arm or turn their head. I swear, hyperactive children move about less. Anyway we did get some decent shots and will be re-visiting later in the year to capture them again, in a calmer state hopefully (I doubt the smell of dead rodent, ie dinner, in the room really helped them stay calm!).

Incidentally the snakes are all named after characters from Rob Zombies films, ‘The House of 1000 Corpses’ and ‘The Devil’s Rejects’.

Too big to eat so I'll just sit here

One in the hand is worth.......

Hello over there Mr Rat.....

The Boa

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Statistics

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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Flowers

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

Daffodil

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 new year is almost upon us

Well 2011 is almost upon us. I guess it’s time to reflect on 2010. How was it for you? Whatever your answer, good or bad, I sincerely hope that 2011 is better. From a photographic perspective my year has been pretty good though quiet-ish in the last month or so due to other things needing my attention. I am already looking forward to a number of projects next year and will be working with some amazing people. Some for the first time, others for the second, third or more.

Below is a short gallery of some of this years work, I hope you enjoy.

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