Alpha Q – DJ Shots

I was at my friends house the other day and while he was playing some records I decided to experiment with a very shallow depth of field using my new 24-70mm L.

Focusing on the record needle I wanted to use to the light from the turntables and his computer to provide a background with more interesting things going.

Alpha Q was quite happy as this was his first “DJ photo shoot”.


Canon 24-70mm f2.8 L USM – My First L Lense

Canon 24-70 f2.8 L USM

Canon 24-70 f2.8 L USM

So today I am very excited!!!  Today I picked up my first lens in the Canon professional range – a 24-70mm f2.8 L USM.

So for those who are not sure what all that means let break it down into sections…

Focal Length: 24-70mm
Aperture: 2.8 – constant across the focal range
L: means this lens is a member of the Canon Professional range (also denoted by the red ring around the end).
USM: Ultra Sonic Motor – for quick, silent, precise focusing

Description [taken from]

“The EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM is a high-performance lens. It has been developed as a successor to the EF 28-70mm f/2.8L USM, but with a wider zoom range to meet the needs of photographers using certain digital cameras.

The EF 28-70mm f/2.8L USM has proven very popular with professional and advanced amateur photographers since it was introduced in 1995. However, the increasing use of digital cameras, most having sensors smaller than a 35mm film frame, has increased the demand for a high-performance standard zoom lens with a wider wide-angle setting. The EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM lens meets this need. The optical design is based on the previous lens, but incorporates new design features that allow the broader focal length range while maintaining the superb image quality. At the same time, the minimum focusing distance has been reduced from 0.5 metres to 0.38 metres.
Improved water and dust resistance ensure that it will become the leading standard zoom lens in the EOS system.”


I don’t know enough about lens construction and the how to test them to provide a good review, if you want that check out

From a personal point of a view the lens is very well constructed, its feels solid compared with my other lenses.  The picture quality is very sharp with colour contrast and saturation all looking very true to life.

The lens BIG and not just slightly either.  It dwarfs my 450D, but makes it look very cool as well – it now looks a little like a lens with a camera attached, rather than the other way round! 🙂

I am extremely happy with it, so less time blogging, more time shooting – check back soon for some test shots.

The Malvern Hills

So this weekend I went to see a good friend of mine and his missus in Worcester (UK).  He promised me that we could go for a walk across the Malvern hills, a small ridgeline of hills in the midlands of the England – more information on the Malverns – This had me excited as I knew the view point from there can be spectacular and it would give me a opportunity to photograph some other landscapes other than the South Downs, plus get some hiking in!

When we got there though I was not so impressed.  This was not because of the view as I couldn’t see it due fog so thick you couldn’t see more than 10m!  Still my friend assured me it would blow over, so off we set to the top of the hill to have a cup of tea and sandwich while we waited.

He was right and once it cleared there was some nice “holiday snap” style blue skies, but it was when the sun was setting that things got interesting.

Now I already know these images could have come out better, I needed some ND grads, but I didn’t know this at the time, so although not my best efforts I did learn something!!!  In the absence of the grad filters I opted for some HDR or B&W shots.

Here’s what I got (also keep scrolling for some shot of Worcester Chathedel as well).

Everest Charity Trek – The return

So I just got back from my trip to Nepal, how was it you ask?  AMAZING!

The scenery there is something that I could never get bored of, the people are so friendly and welcoming, the food is, well the food is food.  Some of it great some not so great.

Enough of this though let talk photography!

So just before I left I bought my first DSLR – a Canon 450D – on the basis that I knew the scenery would probably be amazing and I didn’t think a point and shoot would be able to do the area justice.  The question is, was I able to get the 450D to do any better?

Initial problems

Before I even left I knew that I would have to carry all my equipment needed for each day.  This would include any camera equipment I wanted on the trail as I wouldn’t have access to my main rucksack between stops. So I needed to pick what I wanted to take based on situation and weight.  First thing to go, don’t kill me, the tripod – its 1.5kg and a little bulky so I opted for a smaller table top one instead.

Upon arriving in Kathmandu I could see dust and wind were also going to be a problem that needed care to avoid ruining my optics on the trail.  I also noticed what my friend had told me about increased haze at higher altitudes.

Also I couldn’t afford the 10-22mm lens I wanted to take due to money constraints – as luck would have it though my trek leader had one he was happy to lend for the entire trip!!

So my kit list ended up looking like this.

Now you could be thinking, “HEY! I thought weight was a problem?”,  and you’d be right but the 18-55mm “kit lens” and the 28mm both weigh under 200g so its not as bad as it looks.

Taking Picture of mountains

It amazing that something you would have thought was quiet well documented actually wasn’t.  There is plenty of information about peoples experiences but nothing in terms of what you would call a guide, until I spotted this –

Now I am not going to try and recreate a guide or even expand the above tutorial – its a great start and anything I would add is purely opinion.

What I want to do is share some things I found for my benefit, but please don’t take as a “do’s and don’t”.

Things I found that worked/helped

  • UV filters Not only great to help cut through some of the haze but with all the dirt and dust they are a great lens protector on the trail.  Bought one for all my lenses and I’m glad I did.
  • Shoot RAW – If you can shoot in RAW as there is more room to correct things after.  I am a big fan of getting it right in the camera but when you are experimenting it not always that easy.  Add to that, you are hiking large distances every day and you can’t stop for 20 minutes to play with some shots so you have use every advantage.
  • Take LOADS of storage – I took 32gb of memory with me and it was only just enough.  It sounds excessive and it probably was.  I have just under 3500 shot to go through from a 3 week trip.  I knew this would be the case before I went – see below
  • Take LOADS of shots – because I was fully aware I have little to no idea what I was doing or what would work I opted to take the same shot many time on different setting.  This way I may have binned 90% of the shots, but I know I captured the ones I wanted with nothing missed.  It was also a great “learn on the job” experience.
  • No Filters? Almost always exposed for the sky – Blow out can happen very easily at high altitudes and the contrast means you’ll hardly ever get a easy to meter scene.  Because of this and because I had no filters to help compensate, I found that metering for the sky often left enough to recover the foreground with a bit of doge and burn.  If you have filters, take them!

The photos!

Finally let look at some photos.

Here are some of my favourites from the trip but there are more available at

Also there is a trip blog and some more photos at

Two Sherpa carrying a heavy load - look closely its 7 crates of beer and box of biscuits!

Our camp site in front Mt Everest

Me on a hill in front of Mt Everest at sunset

Just in case you are wondering - I work for Gala Bingo hence the PR stunt!

I hope you enjoy these and of course and comments are welcome.

HDR Photography – A first attempt

Well now I have a new camera that I can actually change the settings on I decided I might have a go at some HDR shots.

To start with I didn’t have a lot of luck making them ‘POP!’, but when a friend showed me a very cool program called Photomatix HDR. Here are some of my first attempts….