The Image – Monthly NEWSLETTER - Abertawe Photographic Society

The Image – Monthly NEWSLETTER - Abertawe Photographic Society
Issue 18 – April 2017
The Image – Monthly NEWSLETTER
3. A remote shutter release able or remote
The Abertawe Photographic Society –
camera controller.
Based near the heart of Swansea, Abertawe
Photographic Society is an established, friendly and 4. A torch or other movable light means, such as a
welcoming club, who’s members both amateur and
hand held strip light, etc.
professional all share a common interest, in all
5. A dark studio or outside location. Shooting at
aspects of photography.
home is fairly simple to achieve, as long as you
wait for night time. An outside location may not
Whether you are a complete beginner or a
be so simple, especially in urban areas with
seasoned snapper, interested in digital techniques
bright street lighting or moving traffic. You can
or 35mm film, there is a warm welcome by a
actually find designated “Dark Sky” areas on
likeminded group of people sharing in the search for
the internet.
the perfect image.
OK, so you have planned and organized your
By sharing, not only our enthusiasm but also our
equipment as listed above, so how do you carry out
skills, techniques and knowledge, we all grow as a Light Painting, here’s how:
club and by trying new things we all get the
opportunity to stretch our boundaries. All members
 Set your camera on the tripod and take a
are encouraged to take part in club events.
sample shot with flash / lights on. This will
help you verify that your composition is OK.
The Society meets every Tuesday at:
 Set the exposure to a relatively long value,
Greenhill Community Centre
you may want use the BULB setting. Stop
Chapel Street, Dyfatty,
down the aperture as much as you need. This
Swansea.SA1 1NB.
is the time to turn off any lights.
This Month’s Events: April
4th Open Night/show Images from Last Week
4th Hand-In for 3rd Monthly Comp.
11th Wildlife & Spring/Summer in Finland – Cate
18th Third Monthly Competition
25th B&W My Way – Brian Coleman
Painting with Light
Thanks to the knowledge and skill of Jeff Driscoll,
and Ferenc Bliszko, we have done this technique a
few times during club night, but I thought that it
would be useful to write an article about it so that
members have at least an aide memoir to the
Painting with light is a fun technique that gives great
results. It is called painting with light because this is
what you are actually doing while taking the shot. It
does not take a lot of experimentation and is in fact
quite an easy technique to carry. What is important
is that you make simple planning arrangements
before the shoot, which is not too difficult a task;
just make sure you have the following items:
Make the click. Once the shutter is open use
your flashlight to light the stuff that you want
to “paint”. You can use the flashlight as a
brush, and “smear” the light, just like you
would have done with brush and paper. Or,
you can use the light as a pen, and do
precise work. Areas where you go slowly will
be more lit then others. Be careful not to
linger too much over the same stop – you will
burn out areas, i.e. over-expose them, and
end up with bright-white areas.
whether you are photographing the grandkids in the
front room or trying to photograph the water spout
erupting from Worms Head in an almost gale force
wind will determine what type of tripod (or
monopod) you should choose.
So what should you be looking out for when
choosing a tripod?
Leg Construction - All tripods, as you will know,
have three legs, but there the difference will end.
Most tripods are made from aluminium, but the
thickness and strength of the legs varies greatly.
Very light aluminium tripods are usually a bit too
wobbly, but are light to carry, but perhaps best
avoided. On the other hand the better quality ones
can be quite heavy.
Generally, more expensive tripods are constructed
with Carbon Fibre legs, and provide the best
weight/stability ratio, with as much as 30% off the
weight, but with even greater rigidity. The downside
is of course the cost, and may be double the price
of comparable aluminium legs. However, if you’re
going to be lugging around your tripod a lot it may
be worth the additional cost.
Leg Sections – tripod legs are made in sections,
usually three but sometime four. This allows you to
have the tripod standing at three to four times its
collapsed height. Each section is locked in place, so
a three section legs allows less locking and
unlocking to a four section. However a Four section
tripod will collapse to a smaller size, making it
easier to carry, and to pack into a suitcase for
Leg Locks – Leg locks allow for the unlocking to
extend them, then locked again before use. There
are two main types of leg lock. The most popular is
the quick release lever, which is the speediest
system to operate. Twist action legs locks are
Another method is take a series of images and
slower to use, more prone to slippage and less
exposes different areas of your subject with each
easy to see at a glance whether they’re locked, but
shot. With this series of images you can stack them
there are no chunky attachments to stick-out and
in Photoshop, which will automatically choose the
add bulk.
areas in each image for the final stacked image,
very clever!
The tripod manufacturer Gitzo produce a premium
twist lock for their tripods, and are reputed to not
There are various tutorials in YouTube that may
suffer from these issues as much, but they are
help you, here’s one of many:
more expensive.
Leg Angle Adjustments - Most decent tripods
enable the legs to be opened out at a range of
angles right up to 90° to the centre column. This
makes it easier to set the tripod up on uneven
I know that all of you have tripods, but they are
ground, or to splay the legs wide for low level
often bits of kit that are taken for granted, so I
thought I would put together some perhaps obvious shooting. Benbo tripods allow you to set all the legs
simultaneously any angle via a single lock.
advice, or maybe not so obvious advice.
Once the shutter closes, check your image to see if
the effect you wanted has been achieved. If not,
shoot again making any necessary corrections to
your setting or movement of your torch.
1. A camera capable of long exposures – with Your
DSLR you will be able to see the results in “real
time” and make corrections as you go. Shooting Tripods are essential for making sure that your
in RAW is best, but not essential.
camera remains in exactly the same place when
shooting in low light, Macro, etc., and sometimes in
2. A tripod, as you will be carrying out long
exposures you will want to ensure camera does exactly the same elevation and angle when wanting
to stack images, in Photoshop for example. So
not move.
Feet - Tripods generally come with rubber feet, but
if you often shoot in muddy fields you may prefer
spikes for a firmer grip, some tripods do offer both,
with rubber feet that screw up to reveal spikes.
Issue 18 – April 2017
Centre Column - The centre column enables the
camera to be raised a bit higher still, once the legs
are fully extended, but its best to avoid using it if
possible as it reduces the stability. They can be
handy though for turning horizontally like a boom
arm, making it easier to point the camera directly
downwards towards the ground. Most columns
have to be removed and re-inserted to achieve this,
whilst most can also be inserted upside down for
ground level photography.
can wrap around objects to position your camera
almost anywhere.
whether it be ball and socket or pan and tilt, is
essential for quick operation, firm support and
 With tripods, the less plastic there is the better.
Avoid plastic heads especially.
Monopod - A smaller and lighter alternative to a
tripod, monopods are ideal for panning subjects and
anywhere else where a tripod is impractical.
Finally, if you’re thinking of buying a new tripod
here’s a few tips:
 Don’t buy cheap, flimsy tripods. It’s a false
Some centre columns feature a hook on the bottom
 Test the stability in the shop before buying, by
to hang your camera bag – the extra weight helps
extending the legs and pressing down from
stabilise the tripod, especially in windy conditions.
above. Carry out twisting and back-and-forth
Tripod Head – I must admit that I bought a tripod to
movements to see how much the legs wobble.
suite my needs as well as my pocket, but then
bought a pan and tilt head, which is easily screwed  If you plan to carry one on hikes very often, try
to spend a bit more on a carbon fibre model.
onto the top of your tripod via a 3/8” UNC screw. So
Your back will thank you.
it may be worth investing in a good tripod head,
Ball heads - Ball and socket heads, or ball heads
for short, allow your camera to be quickly adjusted
in all directions and then clamped still in one single
movement. This makes them ideal for when speed
is of the essence and when your subject, or
composition, needs adjusting across more than one
Over recent years the ball head has overtaken the
traditional three-way head due to their flexibility and
often that they are lighter units too. More advanced
ball heads sometimes offer resistance control to
allow for finer adjustment, spirit bubbles for
levelling, and quick-release plates for easier
Pan and tilt heads - Pan and tilt heads, as their
name suggests, provide their principal adjustments
with a horizontal pan and a vertical tilt, and often
add a third sideways movement for levelling or
portrait shooting (a three-way head). By loosening
all of the adjustment screws it is possible to move
freely in any direction, much like the ball head, but
by tightening one you will limit movement in a
particular axis.
This makes these heads ideal for tracking subjects
such as cars or wildlife. Their precise control over
each axis also makes them suited to landscape and
studio photography.
Panoramic heads - These specialist heads are
designed to allow the camera to rotate around the
exact ‘nodal’ point. By doing this, it makes the
process of stitching images together, to form a
panorama, much easier as it avoids parallax errors
(foreground in relation to background).
To correctly set these heads up requires some
preparation and the positioning will vary for different
lenses. Many photographers will mark the positions
for each lens. The weight and added bulk of these
heads mean they are not suitable for general use
but, if you want a perfect panorama, you should
definitely consider one; that’s unless your camera
already has a panorama function.
Supports - Apart from tripods there is a wide range
of other devices designed to help steady your
camera and avoid camera shake. Depending on the
type of photography you are doing, or where you
are taking it, using a tripod isn’t always possible so
these devices offer a support in other ways.
Beanbags are a popular choice for nature and
travel photographers as they allow you to shoot
from a low angle or steady the camera easily on a
rough surface or ledge. Joby’s Gorillapods are also
a handy alternative and have bendable legs that
 Keep a small support, such as a tabletop tripod
in your bag for emergencies. It’s amazing how
useful they can be.
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