Getting back into photography

You may have noticed (you probably haven’t) that once again I have been completely rubbish at updating the blog. This has been due to a bit of a crisis of direction: finding it difficult to set aside time to really focus and write something good, I have chosen instead to neglect this blog and do other things. Those other things include practising writing by unloading my brain onto the keyboard–but you wouldn’t want to read THAT–, and renewing my interest in digital photography.

I have always been a pretty good photographer, but up until recently was satisfied with the results that came right out of the camera. Lately I’ve been connecting with professional photographers on Google+ and their work and advice has inspired me to try harder and see just how good my results can get.

Time for a couple of examples: first, HDR..

Ambassador's Residence, British Embassy, Luanda, Angola.

HDR (High Dynamic Range) photography involves combining three of more images of the same subject, all taken at different exposure levels. The result gives more detail than you could ever get with a single digital exposure but the process is a bit involved; definitely not something you’d want to do with every picture you take. In addition to “HDR-ing” the image above I added a paint effect, and the final image looks kind of hand-coloured.

Luanda by night

The effects of HDR are even more pronounced in night photography, since there is more variation in highlights and shadow. Using this method you can get really nice night shots with lots of detail that you would otherwise miss.

My next experiment was making a photo look vintage by artificially ageing it. I found this tutorial very useful in achieving this result:

Prince of Wales Museum in Mumbai. The original image.

Vintage version of the same shot (done in Pixelmator)

It’s amazing what you can do with digital photography if you’re prepared to invest a little time and effort. You can see full-size copies of these and other photos of mine on my new SmugMug page.


About Chris Neal

Personal Technology Consultant. Tailored services and advice for people who want more from their technology.
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5 Responses to Getting back into photography

  1. C. Holmberg says:

    The Pixelmator vintage effect tutorial seems to have finally settled at

    For years, I’ve been making do with either old copies of Photoshop my dad passed to me when he upgraded (obviously non-optimal legality), or with GraphicConverter. I bought Pixelmator and liked its capabilities, but wasn’t fond of its stability. Firing up Pixelmator to test the tutorial, I’ve been prompted to update from 1.5.1 to 1.6.7. Hopefully that’ll prove the cure.

  2. C. Holmberg says:

    BTW, I think you’d be amazed at what people would enjoy reading. You may be too close to day-to-day living in Angola to appreciate the novelty of your situation to those of us with our okoles perched in a flat back in the OECD.

  3. Chris Neal says:

    I really like Pixelmator. I’ve never used Photoshop in anger but I can see why Pixelmator gets its “Poor Man’s Photoshop” nickname.

    Thanks for the kind words about the blog and subject matter. A combination of work and other pursuits (photography being the main one) has kept me away from Bloody Marvellous for a few months. I do feel guilty about it and keep promising myself I’ll get back into regular posting.

    I’m tempted to say, “Watch this space!” but then I get an image of you sitting at your PC, constantly hitting Refresh with a resigned look on your face.

  4. Isiah says:

    I’m wondering if you’d be interested in doing a link exchange?

    I notice your website: http://bloodymarvellous.wordpress.
    com/2011/08/05/getting-back-into-photography/ and my blog are based around the same subject matter.
    I’d really like to switch links or perhaps guest author a article for you. Thank you.

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