Happy New Year

As you know, I have spent the last two weeks onboard the MV Marco Polo lecturing on photography.  It IS work – I know no one believes that – but it is.  However it is very enjoyable work, and I get a great buzz when passengers, entirely unprompted, come up to me to tell me how much my lectures have helped their photography.  Some have re-found the joy in making images.  For others, a single tip has made a big difference:  like the man who had heard me say that full-length portraits are better taken from low down and then came to find me to tell me that, for the first time, he has taken a photo of his wife that she has liked.

One of the highlights for all of us on board was the firework display at Madeira as we saw in 2017.  I knew this was going to be a challenge to photograph.  I gave the photographers onboard my usual setting and advice on tripods, but it became obvious to me when the ship was rocking in rolling in heavy seas that the setting wouldn’t work and I needed to come up with some new settings and quickly.  This was one of those times when I felt what I can best describe as…

Photographer Synergy

New Year Fireworks at Funchal

Formula 1 drivers as they are driving describe the car, not as something they are sitting in and driving but as an extension of their whole body.  Many of the adjustments they make as they drive are done without even thinking about it.

So it is with Photographer Synergy, I was making adjustments to setting and choosing compositions without even thinking about it.  My camera felt like an extension of my body.  My standard settings of ISO 100, Manual Mode f/8 for 4 seconds on a tripod with image stabilisation off became Auto ISO, Shutter Priority, 1/20s, with -1.6 stops exposure compensation, handheld with image stabilisation on.

There is no magic formulae for achieving synergy with your gear, the only thing that achieves it is practice, more shooting, analysing your images, more practice and yet more shooting.   Do I feel that sense of oneness with my gear every time I am working with my camera – certainly not.  However, I do think that when it comes to composing an image I tend to do that using the subconscious part of my brain these days.  For those who have heard me talk about the Secrets of Great Composition, I don’t consciously think: “Subject. Focus. Simplify” after more years than I care to remember doing photography all that happens automatically.

Oh and one final postscript to this.  You might like to know that out of over 100 firework images I got just 19 that I am prepared to show.  Of those, a handful only work at screen resolution.  So I probably still have a long way to go in achieving true synergy with my gear.

You can see all 19 images in the video slide show here.

Until next time, keep MAKING great images,


PS.  Although I wrote 99% of the above blog on board the MV Marco Polo.  The post is a few days late being published due to me suffering from a cold on my return to the UK.  Sorry.  Normal service should be resumed this week!