Sunday, 31 January 2010

Prime time

I've had a reasonably busy week. My firefighter photos were looked at by the tutor and I was given constructive criticism on how to improve. I had several more photos than I uploaded here, but I chose some of the ones that I liked the most. I did quite well but he wants me to be more specific next time. Might be a bit difficult to do detail shots when they're gonna be up and down the ladders, but I'm up for the challenge!

Tomorrow I'll be asking my tutors for advice on which prime lens I should get. I've had my eye on the 50mm f1.8 Nikkor and the 50mm f1.4 Nikkor. The f1.8, judging by the reviews, is very sharp and more than satisfactory, and get this, only £90. The f1.4 with it's possibly better build, higher quality glass (though I haven't actually read that it does have higher quality glass yet, it remains to be seen for me at this moment in time), smoother bokeh and all-round seemingly superiority over the f1.8 costs well over £200 and is just shy of around £300.

Technically, I can afford the f1.4. My student loan is there for such things, like course materials. So I'm quite tempted to buy the f1.4 and leave it at that. However, I'm not one for buying something really really expensive if I can find it cheaper elsewhere, such as the f1.8. Not the same lens, but pretty darn close. In all fairness, the f1.4 doesn't seem that different. Not many people use it at f1.4 anyway due to it having a depth of focus that's a little too shallow, and stop it down to f1.8 or f2. This is where the f1.4 is sharper than the f1.8, but not by a lot. After that, the sharpness is more or less the same. Sure, it shows up on test charts, but in the real world where I'm going to be taking pictures of a dew drop on some unsuspecting plant? Probably not a ginormous difference. And this is the dilemma I find myself in. What it all comes down to in the end is cost.

After writing this, I'll be heading upstairs to take photos for my "high tech" brief. It's open to interpretation but I'm taking the literal approach and taking photos of high tech things. It's mostly an exercise on cinematic lighting using torches and other household light sources, which I find rather entertaining. I'll post the results of the shoot on here. That is, if I can tear myself away from The Mighty Boosh episode that's on the background...

Hehehe :P

Wednesday, 27 January 2010


On the 17th of January 2010 I got baptised. You can listen to my testimony and watch my baptism right here on my blog!

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Ablaze with enthusiasm!

Pardon the title of this post, I was trying to come up with something that reflected what I got up to yesterday!

Last Friday I got told by my tutor that I should probably try the "Person at Work" brief again. My photos weren't that great but there were a few that were salvageable, I need to edit them and sort out the ones I took last night. I told him that I'd been thinking of going up to the fire station near where I live since I figured it would be interesting, and since we need a running theme over the next few weeks for our documentary brief I figured it'd be convenient, fun and interesting. So I decided that after college, I'd head over to see one of the firemen I know and have known since I was knee high to a grasshopper. Fortunately, he also turned out to be the guy in charge of everybody else, which I didn't know until I got there. Such is life!

So after getting home feeling rather pleased with myself I unwound a little and had dinner, and then made my way up to the fire station for 6.30pm sharp. I didn't want to be late.

5 mins walk/jog later I arrived and got a bit of a puzzled look from one of the firemen, who held the door open for me as we turned up at the same time. They all lined up against the wall and waited for Nigel to tell them what to do. It turns out that every Monday night they have a different drill, and this week they were checking the pumps and the suction on the fire engines and the hoses. Next week it's to do with ladders. I hadn't been there for 5 minutes before one of the guys started making cracks and the banter started. He was making funny poses as soon as he saw my camera.

"Just pretend I'm not here," I told him.
"Oh you can't do that," somebody else said
"I know it'll be hard for you to do but you have to try..." I replied in a tone that was dripping with sarcasm. They all found it really funny and seemed happy that I was one for banter.

Shortly afterwards everybody got to work and started making checks on the fire engine itself first, and all the internal equipment. It turns out they have alarms that go off after 10 seconds inactivity, which you have to shake again to turn off, and if after 30 seconds no movement is detected, it means the fire fighter is unconscious and needs help. Shortly afterwards the full alarm sounds and somebody goes to help. Quite clever really.

Once all the gas masks and other alarms, bells and whistles had been given a look over they opened the garage door and drove the engine out. They then all lined up like they do in the army and all had numbers and a certain pattern they had to be in. They stood to attention and got told to stand at ease, ran around in circles and stood in single file. It was all really interesting to me as I'd never seen it before.

I got a couple of hundred pictures from the evening. It was quite funny to see the hose filling up with water and whacking people in the legs if they got in the way. It was so powerful that it looked like they were just leaning on it rather than holding it in place. One thing's for sure, that fence is never gonna get dirty as it get's cleaned at least once every couple of weeks.

After about an hour and a half of the freezing cold we went inside and I got asked if I needed anything else. I got told that it'd be great if I could take some shots of them relaxing. Somebody made a comment that if this was going to happen every week then I was welcome to come more often! So I had a cup of tea with some of them and a chat that was threaded with more banter, and took some more photos. They had an older engine turn up too and I took photos of them all sorting equipment out on it.

Finally I decided that I should head back home as not a lot more was happening and I had the shots I needed for the two current briefs. One of the guys, Nigel's son Chris, was heading in the same direction so we had a chat on the way back. I got home feeling like I'd accomplished something and felt really enthusiastic about the project all the while I was at the station. I get along really well with everybody there and there's some really funny characters. I'm looking forwards to going back next Monday!

Sunday, 24 January 2010

New Word Alive

Last year I got invited to a Christian conference that spans 5 days and has all kinds of Christian meetings and activities to take part in in an event called New Word Alive. Unfortunately, I couldn't go for various reasons. However, thankfully I got invited again this year and after checking if the dates coincided with my degree course (they don't) I found out I could go! It's located in Pwllheli North Wales and I really can't wait, I'm so looking forwards to it. Trouble is it's in April, so I've got quite a wait to go yet. You can find out more about the event here.

Another reason I'm looking forwards to going there is the surrounding scenery as the event is located just outside of Snowdonia National Park. I'm going to take my camera so I can (hopefully) get some snaps of the mountainous countryside. I'm fairly sure it's near the beach too so I might even get some nice beach shots in (if it's not too crowded with people, that is ;) ). I'll probably be uploading them somewhere on the web, whether that be on Flickr, here or my website (which is still just a concept in my mind at the moment). As a side note, I've learnt from my recent trip to London that it's not usually a wise idea to take a tripod with you if your sole reason for going *isn't* photography, as you end up lugging it around ruefully everywhere you go. So any tripod I get (unless minute or carbon fibre) will be staying at home this time!

Saturday, 23 January 2010

And so it begins

So, my first post on my brand new blog. What should I say? I guess I should introduce myself.

My name is Emma. I'm a 20 year old photography student in the heart of south wales, and I love what I do. Not only that, but I'm also quite a geek and love anything to do with computers, modern technology and I have a soft spot for Star Wars. An avid Doctor Who viewer (I didn't want David Tennant to go either!), occasionally known to watch programs like Star Trek: The Next Generation and all that other sci-fi stuff like Firefly and Stargate SG-1. Anyway, why am I telling you about all of that? Moving on...

I found out that I liked taking photos when I got my first camera from my Dad's mother and father when I was quite little. It was awesome, all green with 3D cartoon sheep sticking out of it. It's now been donated to church as a toy, since I have a much better camera now ;) I went through all of school and high school not doing anything with photography apart from taking family snaps, classic "I've been here" photos and admiring photographs taken by established photographers.

My high school had a dark room, small though it was. It got knocked down before I ever got a chance to use it though, and I was guided away from the notion of considering taking up a photography brief for my modules due to the low marks I'd apparently inevitably get. So fine art it was up until year 13. Then I took a foundation course in art and design, and everything changed.

I had no idea what I was going to be for ages. As you do. For a little while I had my heart set on being an architect, but it never came to fruition. I was entirely up for the 7 years training it would take, too. Three out of a possible five days of work experience though told me otherwise and I came back in tears at the end of the third day. It was boring. It could have just been because I'd been haphazardly placed with the local council's architectural department, but it put me right off of architecture. Anyway, back to art college.

After my flirting for years with the idea of being an architect, I decided I'd like to be a graphic designer and indeed, I still have a large liking for the subject which I practice regularly. It was at the very end of my foundation year however (literally, I'd gone through UCAS and applied and gotten accepted to do a graphics design course) that I finally realised that I'd been doing a lot of photography. "Maybe I should do a photography degree instead..." I thought. No! I can't think that! I've gone through UCAS! It's too late! I slept on it more than once and irritated many with my questions of "Do you think I should be a photographer or a graphic designer?". I finally made my choice after about a weeks indecision. I was applying for the same college, which made things easier, and after a quick chat with the tutor and a flick through my work, he said he'd be happy for me to enrol on the course. I don't regret it at all :D

I'm now in the middle of starting my business, and have my first client already, with one or two others in the wings. Seems it's already started without me and I'm running after it! Fine by me, I can do with the exercise.

So, now you know about me. This blog will be about my life on my degree course, a first hand account of what it's like starting your own business, and a few other things inbetween. Hopefully it'll make for good reading ;)