Glendalough, County Wicklow, with an Ultra Wide lens

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A lovely morning for Good Friday this year, so we gathered up the kids and headed up into County Wicklow. Literally heading “up” as we went into the mountains and through the Wicklow Gap to visit Glendalough.

I brought the lightweight Canon EOS1100D, with my (heavy) Tokina 12-24mm f4 ultra-wide lens.

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I’ve been using the lens for a while, and getting only so so results. I tend to shoot a lot of Portraits wide open, and  I have had some problems with focusing. I don’t think it’s a weakness in the lens as such, more a fact of not using it in the right way. It tends to be a bit soft at f4, and indoors I find it struggles to find focus from lack of available light.

Out in the sun today, I had it stopped down to f8, and fairly fast speeds from 1/125 and upwards. The results were great! I can now see what this lens was meant for.

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I think I may add the 11-16mm f2.8 to my wish list for the indoor shots.

Craig Lucas

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“For no mere mortal can resist, the evil of the thriller…” ~ Michael Jackson

Pumkin, Halloween, Nightmare Before Christmas, Jack Skellington, Candles

I know, overly dramatic title. Halloween always makes me think of Michael Jackson’s Thriller, and Vincent Price narrating at the end of the song, “Creatures crawl, in search of blood, to terrorize y’all’s neighborhood…” I bet you’re already singing “Cause this is Thriller…”  Good luck getting that out of your head.

I thought that today would be a great day to share my number one tip for photographing  a carved pumpkin.

I left it fairly late in life, but last year was first proper attempt at carving a Jack-o-lantern, I went with something simple, Jack Skellington from the Nightmare Before Christmas. See the image above.

This year I went with something a bit more spooky. Photos below.

So have you guessed my number one tip yet?

Candles.

Yes, candles. If you take a photo with your camera on auto the flash will fire and you’ll completely lose the spooky effect and the flash will shine off the pumpkin’s skin.  Unfortunately I can’t show an example of this as I never use flash on a pumpkin. Trust me, it just won’t work.

I can however show you what  it looks like to leave the camera set to auto, but with the flash off.

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It’s okay, but it’s really just a disembodied face, there’s no references to turn this into a picture. Most of the photos you’ll see online will be like this, but add a couple of candles…

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Isn’t that better? You can still see the glow from the candles inside the pumpkin, but the ones outside have added a reference point. You can see the surroundings, you can see that it’s a pumpkin and if anything, I feel this looks a little more sinister.

I also shot these in manual mode. The camera’s auto exposure will make the scene too bright, and will also try to give a really long shutter speed to achieve this, which introduces camera shake. If you switch to manual mode, aperture as wide as possible, (f1.8 in this case as I used my 50mm prime) and a shutter speed of around 1/30th sec, and a fairly high ISO ( i used ISO 800) then you should be fine. Always experiment. Take a few shots and choose your best.

Finally, it’s also worth taking a picture without having the lantern lit up. Just to show how different it looks in the natural state.

What do you think? Any other tips you could share?

Craig Lucas

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Make it fun!

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Back the hazy days of summer, you know, that good weather we had two weeks ago, we planned a barbecue for Sunday just gone. Well the weather let us down in a big way, so all the outdoor entertainment we had for the children was off the table.

Fresh from the Sam McCauley’s Photo Day in Bunclody on Saturday, I decided to arrange an impromptu mini photo-shoot at home. I had my bag of props still handy, mostly  a selection of hats and sunglasses, so all I had to do was say the words “Dress Up” and the kids were completely on board with it!

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Now getting kids to pose for photos can sometimes be a chore. It’s no great experience for the children who are being told to “do this,” “stand there,” “say cheese,” “do as you’re told,” and million other things we want them to do for the camera. And it’s no fun for us to be always telling the kids what the have to do, only to end up with photos which lack something, because lets face it, we can all spot a fake smile from a mile off.

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Well all kids love to play, and dressing up is always a hit. It’s a great way to get some fun, natural looking photos which are a bit different. I usually throw in a few questions to distract them too, like “what’s your favourite TV show?” Or “what did you have for breakfast today?” That moment when they are thinking of their answer and not about the camera in front of them, is pure gold.

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Do you have any tips for photographing children? If so, leave a comment…

Craig Lucas

New Year, New Project…

I’ve read a lot recently about people’s New Year’s Resolutions, whether it’s to give up smoking, go on a diet or go to the gym more. We photographers tend to think a little differently.

I want a New Year’s Project. Something to get me out and taking photos more often.

I tried the 365 Project a couple of years ago but I found that I ran out of inspiration very quickly. For those who haven’t come across this before the 365 Project is simply one photo for every day of the year. It’s a kind of photographic diary. Unfortunately I found that on a day to day basis, I had very little time to put into my photography, which resulted in me running out of ideas very quickly. After two weeks of taking photos of my trip to work, I gave up.

The following year I went with a 52 Week Project. As you can guess, it involves one photo per week for a year. It was suggested on a blog I follow, and I signed up for it expecting great things. This time around there were themes involved. The blog host would give a theme for the week such as “Cold” and again I ran out of time and ideas.

I have since read about a project called “100 Strangers.” The idea is to take photos of 100 different strangers, in order to get used to interacting with people and to get over the shyness that a lot of photographers have with people they don’t know. This struck a chord with me as I really want to get into Portrait photography more but I have a shortage of willing subjects.

What I am going for, is a combination of the 52 Week project and the 100 Strangers. I will call it The 52 Portrait Project and I have the gallery started up under my Photo Gallery tab. Getting out to take photos of strangers, is not something I will be able to do every week, so I’ll go with anyone available; family, friends, strangers, anyone.

The first entry of the project is my own daughter Milla. It had to be really as her birthday is also the first week of the year!

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I hope you’ll come back soon to keep an eye on my progress. And please do get on to me if I fail to post!!

Also I’d love to know what projects you have planned this year, let me know in the comments.

Craig  Lucas

Up to 10 already…

I’m still learning this whole Blog thing.

I’m still finding my way around the features of WordPress, who are hosting my website.

I just discovered the “Trophy” page and it  turns out I have 10 followers already. So, I’d like to say a big “thank you” to you guys for following me, I hope I can keep you interested. Don’t be afraid to leave a comment… even if it’s just to say “Hi.”

Craig Lucas