Monday 30 December 2013

Playing with Christmas Presents - 2

Pots and Pans @ 18mm

Pots and Pans @ 200mm

Trying out the new lens - pics at

New Lens - 29Dec13

Happy ...

Sunday 29 December 2013

Playing with Christmas Presents - 1

... one small - but rather cute - present I received was some "bokeh templates" for the camera.  "Bokeh" comes from the Japanese "boke" which means blur' or 'haze' - in camera-speak it's defined as "the way the lens renders out-of-focus points of light".

All clever stuff - but what to do with "bokeh templates" ??? Well you strap them to the front of the lens and go for it.  First attempts as follows ...

OK - not exactly first attempt (more like tenth !!) - but I think I've got the basic idea - looks like you need to focus on something close - with some light/lights in the background (!!) - and the shape of the template defines what happens to that 'out of focus' background light.  I'll certainly be trying out more of this (probably some outdoor evening stuff with Christmas lights).

(and before anyone asks - that Lego "Millennium Falcon" model is NOT mine !).

Today - off out trying the new "Christmas Lens" (bought in the Boxing Day sales using my Christmas Postman tips - so grateful thanks to my customers in Greenfield and Uppermill !).  When I've been out walking in the past, I've normally carried a couple of lenses - a 28-105mm and a 70-300mm - and to be honest it's been a bit of a pain - always the "wrong one on the camera" when a opportunity arises.  I decided therefore to go for a '"superzoom"-type lens.  In a perfect (rich person's ?) world, the Canon 18-200mm (with Image Stabilisation) would be the choice - but it's well over £400 - so it's 'cut cloth' etc, and I've gone for the cheaper option - a Tamron 18-200mm  (no IS or VC - call it what you will) that came out at just under £140.  Horses for courses I guess - but we'll see how it goes ...

Tuesday 24 December 2013

Where did it all begin - Part 2

... so - fancying moving on from the compact camera - fortunately I had some help via Belper Town FC.  With the wife coming from Belper, weekend visits were often made to said town - with me sloping off to Christchurch Meadow on the Saturday afternoons to watch the "Nailers" (something I've been doing since the early 1980s - in fact I got married at the Church (as in Christ Church) next to the ground). Have got to know quite a few peeps down there over the years - one of whom was Tim Harrison, the official Belper Town photographer (see ).  He'd remarked on some of my early "compact camera" stuff  ... remember his words about this particular pic (Matlock v Mossley from December 2006 - football, beer and Riber Castle !!)

- I'd remarked on my ambitions to "move upward" - and it wasn't long after that until I got that first DSLR - a Canon EOS 20d which was previously owned by - you've guessed it - Tim Harrison !) - twas sometime in March 2007 ... and I've not looked back ...

Monday 23 December 2013

Where did it all begin - Part 1

My dad was a very keen photographer - proper like, as in developing/chemicals and all that stuff. As a kid I started with the good old Kodak Instamatic 50 - and snapped like people do (holidays etc).

Always been a football fan from an early age - and most of it was at the non-league level (born and bred in Stafford so it was Stafford Rangers - naturally !).  In those days (60s/70s/80s) it was just football football - never bothered - never even thought of taking pics at a game.  Time moved on - leave home, go to Uni (OK Polytechnic !!), get married, have kids - and then came the 90s.  Football Fanzines were all the rage - and working in the computer biz I had access to word processing and printing options - so "Six Tame Sides" was born.  

Twas in the days of REAL "cut and paste" (as in scissors and Pritt Stick) but it was fun - it lasted for seven issues ... and then (living in Mossley) myself and a couple of other fanatics set up a Mossley fanzine - which also lasted for six or seven issues.  That was the 90s - a few years were spent being Programme Editor at Mossley and then it was back to "just watching".

The 21st Century arrived - and then I noticed that blogs were the new fanzines - so in 2006 I went for it again - setting up - yapping about games etc etc - and then I got a compact camera, and took it to games to take the odd picture .................... and I think it was THIS picture that made me think "I can take this further" - witness Peter Wright scoring for Mossley against Leek Town - 27th January 2007 ...

... and so it all began ...

Sunday 22 December 2013

Next Stage Up ...

... OK you've seen some of the efforts from the cameraphone so far - and nowt from the big guns.  I have an"in-betweenie" as well - a Canon PowerShot A480 Compact Camera - which was bought before the "Bridge Camera" option came onto the market.  I'll be honest - in my humble opinion, this compact camera is pretty poor - it was a supposed "upgrade" from a previous compact (a Fuji Finepix A500) - but unfortunately it's never seemed to perform as well.  The old compact seemed to cope really well with low light - and I got some cracking pix at gigs with it - but this PowerShot ... hmmm ... anyway a couple of pix from same camera.  We were up in the Lake District not so long ago for a 24/36 hour getaway - and I brought some beer home - now sadly drunk ...

... and tonight ... I cooked a posh tea - I was quite pleased with the outcome - pork steak topped with spanish black pudding and bacon, with green beans in garlic butter, peppered cauliflower, carrots and roast potatoes - as in  ...

Both pushed through Photoshop (levels, sharpen) and then Neat Image (just auto-profile and filter ... were I to actually buy the product, I may have to learn more about it !). Horses for courses I suppose - but at times it does look like the phone is better than the compact !!

 ... and if anyone's NOT been on the "Six Tame Sides" site - the football pictures - with the big guns (!) -  from yesterday are at

Stalybridge Celtic 3 Boston United 3

Wednesday 18 December 2013

Messing About ...

... for my photos (or for my sins), I use Photoshop Elements 6 plus Neat Image (a freebie noise reduction software - essential for those low-light high-ISO footy pics).  Only really scratched the surface with Photoshop - the usual "Auto Levels" and "Auto Sharpen" - a few "Photomerge Panorama" efforts ... and odd little bits like "Remove Colour", "Colour Variations" (often to go for the 'sepia effect') and the odd "Radial Blur" usually to highlight a footballer.  I've got one pic of Stromness High Street in the Orkneys in my portfolio that looks really good - but I haven't a clue how I got there !!!

Fiddled with this pic tonight (another cameraphone effort)  ...

... and got to this ...

... but this time I recorded what I did !! 

(Crop/Remove Colour/Sharpen/Darken/Film Grain Effect/stop before over-egging it !!)

Reckon it's not the 'best way' of tweaking pics - probably better if you know what you want (which assumes you have the knowledge on how to get it !) rather than blundering blindly (even if you do suddenly hit a "Eureka Moment" !) ... only time will tell if stuff goes in one ear - and fails to come out of the other one ...

Tuesday 17 December 2013

Test ... with Mossley Town Hall

A New Year Resolution ... time for a change with the old "Six Tame Sides" ... less words - more pictures ... and here's a test post taken on the cameraphone (Samsung Galaxy Ace)  showing Mossley Town Hall in three different guises; original (using "Levels" to create a better silhouette effect) at the top, then a touch of red then blue (using the "Colour Variations" option in Photoshop Elements 6) ... Why try this ?? A couple of weeks ago I went to Ramsbottom Farmers Market - and inside the Civic Hall (?) there was a photographer stall selling framed pics/greetings cards etc - one of which was the same pic but either in red or blue (just like below) - so if you can't beat 'em - join 'em (p.s. I prefer the blue - but the original ain't bad either - especially being taken on a telephone !!!)  ...

The football will remain the same (picture-wise) - don't panic - but if you're looking for chapter and verse on the game I'll be suggesting the various websites and message boards - as I now REALLY want to concentrate on the pictures, and try to spend time improving my skills/techniques etc - and maybe pass on a few ideas to others - and maybe pick up a few tips/ideas as well ?

We'll see how it goes ... plus I promise to tidy up / tart up the the site layout as I go along ...

29Dec13 Update - a quick follow-on from the above - here's Seel Park (the home of Mossley AFC) - no messing with colours here though - just a rather good sunset (although I have lowered the levels once again for the silhouette effect)