Home of The Small Art Company and a bit of British all sorts about my family, kids, home, art, mixed media, craft, photography, illustration, travel, cooking, organisation, teaching... Good to see you:)

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

How to Photograph Waterfalls

Well, two blog posts in two days! As you’ll know from yesterday, we just got back from a lovely trip to the Lake District, which has to be a photographer’s paradise.

One of my favourite things in nature to photograph are waterfalls. There’s something majestic yet calming about a waterfall; I could spend hours sitting by them, dreaming and thinking...

These images I'm using to explain how to photograph waterfalls and flowing water were taken at Aira Force by Ullswater.

So, how do you photograph a waterfall exactly? Well, you can get a nice shot just by using a general landscape setting on your camera and handholding. You’ll get something quite like this:

However, to get a real dreamlike effect with misty-looking water, you need a slow shutter speed. You’ll also need a tripod. A tripod is essential for slow shutter speeds (i.e. long exposures), as otherwise you’ll get blurry images. You can get very cheap, small and lightweight tripods, so you don’t need to spend a fortune. I also sometimes use a cable release. This is simply a cable that plugs into the camera and at the other end you have a button to take the photo. All this does is further eliminate shaking from you touching the camera. A cable release isn’t essential though.

To change the shutter speed on your camera you need to use the Tv mode. Set the speed to at least 1 or 2 seconds, although I often use a lot longer. I must add though, that the misty-looking water effect isn’t the only way to photograph water. It’s probably the most popular way for waterfalls and flowing water, but experiment with fast shutter speeds as well. Fast shutter speeds will give you individual droplets of water and a completely different feel to your pictures.

Once you’ve adjusted your shutter speed, as long as you’re also using a tripod, you’ll be able to capture a shot like this one (5 second exposure):

Be aware though, that slow shutter speeds/long exposures mean that a lot of light will be let in, which can result in an overexposed photograph. This isn’t a problem in the Lakes, as a lot of the time it’s not that sunny! If you are photographing somewhere sunny then dawn and dusk are the best times to head out.

There’s one other thing you can do to further enhance your waterfall photographs (well, there are more, but these are the main things!) and that is to use a polarising filter. In simple terms, a polarising filter eliminates reflections and gives greater depth of colour. It will also help a little in cutting out sunlight (something else to assist with sunny days).

I use two types of filters. One type is square that fits into a holder that attaches to the end of your lens and the other is circular that screw onto your lens. You leave these ones on and can put your lens cover on top. My polarising filter is the latter type. All you need to do is turn the filter until you notice that the reflections have disappeared. You’ll also notice the greenery around the waterfall appears greener.

So, using a tripod, slow shutter speed and a polarising filter, I ended up with this shot (25 second exposure):

Here’s another. This was an 8 second exposure, although I think it may have been a bit long as I think the water is a bit too blurred in the bottom left.

I hope that gives you a little help on how to best photograph a waterfall or flowing water. Don’t forget that composition is vital in any photograph. Often the best shots are found by wandering around and searching for different viewpoints. And don’t think you have to get the whole of the waterfall in shot; just a small part of it can be just as, if not more, interesting. These images I've shown you here aren't of the whole waterfall. Aira Force is actually quite a high waterfall, although you can't tell from these pictures.

To summarise:

  • Use a tripod
  • Slow shutter speed
  • Polaraising filter (not essential)

Just to finish, here are a couple more photos for you. These are some cows that joined our picnic at Crummock Water:

This image was taken at Wast Water on our last trip to the Lakes:

Any images are available to buy. Please contact me for details (victoria@carefordcreations.co.uk).

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Pencils and Cheese

Pencils and cheese – completely unrelated, but two things on our recent holiday in the beautiful Lake District. The Lakes is one of my favourite places in the whole world. Even when it rains (which it does a lot), it is still charming.

We stayed in Ullswater this time, in a lovely little cottage with stone floors and big wooden doors, not to mention the open fireplace. I can just imagine how cosy it must be to come in from a blizzard and sit in front of the fire... This is a pic of our cottage in the distance:

One of the places we wanted to visit was the pencil museum in Keswick. I went there when I was younger and wanted my own children to take a trip there too and see the world’s largest pencil! I also wanted to go again as an adult to fully appreciate my wonderful new colouring pencils!

A while ago I ordered two tins of pencils for my children’s book illustration course. One set is Derwent Coloursoft, which have a gorgeous velvety feel when you put pencil to paper and the other set is Derwent Pastel pencils, which are basically pastels in pencil form. Both sets are a joy to use and I highly recommend them. It was really interesting to learn about how these pencils are made and visit the place where they come from. As well as using the pencils on my course, I’m also planning to use them in my new(ish) shop on Folksy – Dear Duck Illustration... At the moment I’m just selling watercolour artwork, but hope to add some pencil work soon.

Anyway, back to the Lakes... We met a couple of interesting people, one up a mountain. He started talking to my dad when he saw us using a back carrier for Baby W. The man said that he actually invented the baby back carrier when he had to rescue a man with a young child, by cutting two holes in a rucksack to stick the child's legs through and carry him. Unfortunately, he took the idea to a well-known outdoor company who weren't interested, only for them to come up with the idea themselves some months later. Hmm.

We did a lot of walking/hiking as usual on our holidays! Here’s a pic I took in Grizedale Forest:

I would recommend Grizedale if you have young children but still want to go walking without too much danger. There are a number of marked trails of varying difficulty. We did a 4-mile strenuous walk with a 3-year-old and he was fine. There are lots of pieces of art to look out for along the way as well. Sorry, I should have taken more photos!

On the way home we stopped off at the Wensleydale Creamery in Hawes, Yorkshire. OK, so it’s not the Lakes, but I thought I would just add it in to say how delicious their cheese is! Of course, you will know of Wensleydale from Wallace and Gromit. The museum tells the history of cheese-making in the area and there are a number of interesting artefacts to look at too, as well as viewing cheese-making in progress. Then you come to the cheese tasting area... There are so many cheeses and I thought all but one (the blue vein one) were yummy. Here are the four cheeses we bought:

From left to right: Wensleydale Special Reserve, Pineapple Twist, Wensleydale and Cranberries and Wensleydale and Ginger. My favourite is the cranberry one, closely followed by the pineapple. I'm wishing we'd bought the chive and onion one too. Oh well!

This time it was my mum who got talking to someone in the cheese tasting area. My parents must have a certain look about them! This man grew up with Kit Calvert who was responsible for saving the dairy from closure in the 1930s.

I also bought my children a cheese recipe book. We might try and have a go at making some of the recipes soon. I’ll be sure to post the outcomes here.

Well, that was just a little bit from our hols. We also visited a waterfall called Aira Force. I’m planning to do a short post in a few days about how to photograph waterfalls, so keep an eye out for that if you’re interested.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Proud to be British

Many people this week have said they feel ashamed to be British, which is a perfectly understandable reaction to the shocking scenes witnessed around the country. However, I’m going to say I’m proud to be British. I’m proud of the emergency services (of which family and friends work) who risk their lives to rescue and protect the rest of us. I’m proud of the ordinary people who have taken them tea and coffee. Those who are helping to clean up the streets. Those who set up websites to raise money for Ashraf Haziq, the Malaysian student who was helped up and then mugged by those very monsters and I’m proud of the people who simply put up signs saying, “Let’s have peace now.” And let’s not forget the mother who handed her 15-year-old son over to the police. I’m proud of these people for doing something, for protecting what we have.

Those who chose to riot are not part of the Britain that I know. And let’s not forget, it was a choice. There is no-one to blame except themselves. I refuse to accept that society in any way plays a part in their stupidity and selfishness. As a teacher, I see many children from deprived backgrounds. The majority are well-behaved and hard-working. Millions of people in this country are struggling; most accept that if they can’t afford something, they can’t have it. That’s how I was brought up and is what I teach my children.

I’m from Enfield. I lived there for the first 26 years of my life and my parents are still living in the family home. It saddens me greatly to see it destroyed. I now live about 15 miles away. It’s funny, it feels like 1500 miles. Apart from the postman, I’ve not spoken to anyone here about what’s happened. Life here is as normal. I hope life returns to normal in my hometown and elsewhere very soon.

It’s odd to think we were in Enfield on Saturday, having a peaceful walk at Forty Hall (pictures are to show you that Enfield is actually a beautiful town) and then picking fruit at my mum and dad’s allotment. Little did we know that a few hours later and a few miles away, would be the start of such thuggery and violence. Tottenham is where my grandparents are from. They would be turning in their graves if they knew what was happening.

My parents quickly hired a skip on Monday to pick up the building rubbish from their front garden. The man who delivered it even helped my dad load it all up. He said they'd had many calls from people over the borough doing the same thing. My mum and dad live just off the main road and were worried the rioters would turn off and run down their street, so they didn't want to leave anything around that could be thrown through their window or used as a weapon.

My son has been asking if Nanny and Grandad’s allotment is on fire. My husband sees the smoke still billowing from the Sony building every day when he goes to work. I was meant to be meeting a friend for lunch in the next week or so, but I'm not sure if we'll have anywhere to actually have lunch...

Let’s hope these mindless idiots are brought swiftly to justice. Every so often something will happen in this country that makes me think “right, now things will change.” They don’t. This time, I’m going to be optimistic and say that I really think things might. People have already been charged and the courts are working through the night. Surely that’s hopeful? Personally, there are 6 things I think should happen to those involved in the riots:

  1. Apologise face-to-face to the people whose homes, businesses and lives have been destroyed.
  2. Help to clean up the mess they’ve created.
  3. Pay something towards rebuilding, restocking, refurnishing...
  4. Go to prison.
  5. Lose any benefits when they come out. As an aside, I think benefits should be in the form of food vouchers anyway.
  6. As a civilised (no, that’s not meant to be a joke!) society, we also need to recognise the importance of rehabilitation. I firmly believe in punishment first, but if these people are going to be released into society and if they are to contribute in any way, they need help to sort out their lives and to understand how their actions have affected others.
Just as a final thought, let’s hope that as a society, we can educate parents as to what an important role they have. I often think many have no idea what a vital part they have in their children’s lives. I am always astonished when parents complain their children don’t do as they’re told and then discover that they never say that important word: No. Children have to realise they can’t have everything they want. They need boundaries and loving discipline.

Programmes like Supernanny, The World’s Strictest Parents, Brat Camp and Ladette to Lady, all show that with a bit of tough love, even the most wayward children and teenagers can be turned around. Often, these children say that they were allowed to do as they liked when they were younger, therefore they have no respect for their parents.

OK, I may have gone off-topic a little here, but I am certain that all those rioters were never told ‘no’ as children, were never told they had to work hard to get nice things in life. Let’s change that so that our children will never have to experience such events again.

Lastly, my thoughts are with the families of those people who tragically died this week.