About Pete Lawrence

This author has not yet filled in any details.
So far Pete Lawrence has created 10 blog entries.
1 02, 2018

Photography related IT

By |2018-02-01T11:50:46+00:00February 1st, 2018|News|

Having been in IT for some considerable time now, I constantly get asked about photography related IT. “Is there such a thing” I hear you ask! Well, digital cameras are a computer, digital images downloaded from it are required to be stored somewhere, and you probably want to colour correct, alter or store the images, so all this adds up to a yes for photographic related IT. That doesn’t mean to say that you have to be a technical guru to be a photographer, not in any stretch of the imagination, however, I think it makes your life easier if you understand some of the basics of how things connect in the digital world, and some just don’t understand this.

The most often asked question is “should I connect my camera to a computer, or, use a wifi card in my camera to transfer my pictures to my computer or upload to a cloud service?” There is also a simpler way, and that is to take out your SD Card (or whatever your camera uses) from the camera and stick it in your computer with the relevant card reader. I mostly advise people to do it this way as it’s easier to understand. “Why can’t I use a wifi card?” Well, it’s slow for one thing, and it’s also tricky to set up if you have limited knowledge of Wifi networks, and it will use up a lot more camera battery capacity on your DSLR, amongst other quirks like firewall and port number restrictions etc.

Then you start getting into “where should I store my pictures to keep them safe,” that is a lengthy answer (one I can’t go into in any length here) there are so many places these days: Instagram, google drive, dropbox, iCloud.. and the list goes on. You could also buy a little NAS box, the most popular of which is the Synology NAS’s which are pretty easy to set up and manage, they can have multiple disks so if one fails then you won’t lose all your precious pictures. I have one of these but strangely that isn’t where I store my current images, my pictures are on Dropbox, along with my Adobe Lightroom catalogue, which will keep the pictures local as well as keep them safe in the cloud, only when I have finished with images do I put them on my NAS for long-term storage.

Where you decide to keep your images is really a matter of personal choice, but please check carefully with whatever service you use, and make sure your able to retrieve those images (full size) in the future, Also make sure that they can’t be downloaded by anyone else or you will get them stolen and used around the internet. Some of the better services are SmugMug which keep them safe and can even sell your images for you. But please don’t put your saleable images on Facebook, they will sell them and keep the copyright (this is debatable), even if you decide to leave!

Read a few blogs on keeping your pictures safe and secure, there is plenty of information on this subject around, and make a precise strategy for your images early on, and stick to good housekeeping, it will pay off in years to come!

26 01, 2018

Softboxes

By |2018-02-01T11:52:25+00:00January 26th, 2018|News|

I have always liked used proper studio flashes with umbrellas to give a soft light, but, when your out and about what do you use? Recently I have been looking at softboxes that soften the light but are portable, and, work with standard camera speedlights like Canon’s and Yongnuo, These have been up-to-now rather cumbersome, and attach to the speedlight directly – but are still on top of the camera. Small softboxes are ok, but the size of the light is all important, as the bigger the light the softer it is. Let’s face it you couldn’t attach a massive softbox to the top of your camera.
So I found some studio sized umbrellas with white cloth fascias which accept both studio lights, and camera flashes, the beauty of this is that they can be mobile, all you need is a light stand, a softbox and the speedlight flash. You can even dispense with the light stand and put it on top of a monopod – which gives you truly mobile lighting, although you would need a second person to hold the monopod!
 
The Westcott softboxes are great (pics left), but they are also expensive running in at about £160-£190, however, if you shop around you can find one like the Godox which looks exactly the same with the same functionality for £40 – it’s a no-brainer really, but this is so true of most camera accessories. If you look around you will usually find a great addition to your camera gear for a fraction of the price of the person that invented it. Not good for the inventor I know, but damn good for people like me.
 
This is a welcome addition to my lighting gear and I hope to start using it straight away. If you surf a lot for your gear then you will surely know what I’m talking about, another tip is to try misspelling the product name, sometimes this throws up interesting copies or original products at more than half the price of the original. Cameras and accessories have always been expensive, but you can find what you need if you can spare a bit of time to search around. I’ll let you know how I get on with my cheap but useful softboxes in a later newsfeed.
25 01, 2018

Websites

By |2018-01-25T13:52:29+00:00January 25th, 2018|News|

I have created quite a few websites for people over the years, and this is a service I can offer as well. Gone are the days of coding everything in HTML and having to use tables to get areas to line up. Now, I always use WordPress for the CMS (Content Management System) which is available with every domain you purchase, and, I exclusively use the ‘Avada‘ theme.

Avada is fantastic, it can accommodate any type of design, it’s really flexible, and is easy to use – if you know how that is! Please contact me here if you would like to talk about a new site, or maybe just freshen up your old one.

This site was built with Avada as was my Wife’s Holistic Massage site too, I’m also in the process of building a site for a boxing promoter which should start in the next few weeks.

Video and photos are commonly available to everyone these days which obviously affects professional photographers /videographers, as they are not getting the business they used to, I see this in-and-around sites every day, I look at other photographers sites all the time that have previously looked very busy, but if you look a bit closer you can see the activity in the last year dropping. I’m aware that there is a downturn in the amount of freelance work, I’m sure that will change – this industry ebbs and flows like all businesses, but I think we all need to be able to expand our talents, or it’s going to be a struggle long term if we concentrate solely on our one passion!

22 01, 2018

Burns night

By |2018-02-01T11:58:38+00:00January 22nd, 2018|News|

This is the third year that we have been to a good friend’s Burns Night, and they are always good fun, with whisky flowing like tap water! Gilly told me during the evening that nearly a bottle of whisky went into the Gravy and other starters and main course. Do the Scots really do that, or is out southern interpretation of what the Scotts do! Whatever it is – it certainly is a lively event.

I took a few pictures during the evening, but I found the lighting difficult to work out, they have a large red chandelier which throws white light up, but warm light down, with the added confusion of multiple candelabra’s with candles burning brightly, combined with white flash made it a challenging night for a photographer, I tried some gels on the flash but it just seemed to confuse things further, so in the end I made some adjustments for the white balance and continued.

The end result wasn’t too bad considering, and I could fix most of the images in post-production, but I think I will have to try and replicate the lighting to learn what best to do in that situation, it’s not one that I have not come across before.

Light for a photographer is the reason why they are… a photographer, after all without it why would you try to take any pictures! Most of the time lighting is pretty straightforward either sunlight, or tungsten/fluorescent or flash, but when you start mixing them up it does create a challenging situation, one that you don’t want to find yourself in when doing a paid job. This for me wasn’t a paid job and I was happy to take some pictures of the event for our friends, but if ever I get challenged in this way it makes it all the more important to try and learn from it so it doesn’t catch you by surprise next time.

19 10, 2017

Sunday Photography

By |2018-02-01T11:59:34+00:00October 19th, 2017|News|

Quite often on a Sunday in Winter, I find myself sitting in front of a roaring log burner reading or listening to music, which is fine – but I do feel like I have wasted the day somehow! So a few weeks ago I decided I would tackle an area of photography that I have often struggled with, namely low-light. I asked my wife to model for me in my studio and with the risk of boring her while I fiddled with settings I set about getting the exposure right, but what came out of this was some lovely pictures of Dee which I hadn’t really considered at the time as I was too involved in getting the exposure and low lighting right.

Cameras these days have much bigger capabilities to shoot in low light, but they can only see a fraction of the available light that our eyes can see so this makes shooting in low light a bit of a challenge and I like that.

Quite a lot of people like the thought of having their photograph taken but often change their mind once they see themselves, I think this goes back to the image we have of ourselves in our head and what we expect to see that on any pictures that are taken of us, in reality, this is quite often different and people tend to struggle with this. However I feel that pictures are great at showing character and can make some lovely images, but the sitter in some instances don’t agree.

After a couple of hours clicking away with different settings & lighting I decided on half a dozen pictures that I really liked, these were chosen not because the pictures were well exposed or nicely photographed but because Dee was the subject – and I felt it reflected her personality and warmth. Dee on the other hand had mixed feelings mainly because it was her in the images, and we all tend to reflect on how others see us and how we perceive ourselves, at the end of Sunday I felt both of us had learned a few important lessons and both of us are richer for it, now that’s beats sitting with your feet up in front of the fire doesn’t it?

18 08, 2017

Why you should hire a photographer

By |2018-02-01T12:00:33+00:00August 18th, 2017|News|

DSLR or Mobile. Why should you hire a Photographer? This is one of the most talked about subjects in Photography, “I can take pictures on my phone I don’t need a Photographer for that”! Of course, you can, and people do, and with the multitude of digital photo devices around today offering point and shoot, why wouldn’t you, but is a Mobile device all that you require?

I see people taking pictures every day with their mobile devices, iPhones; iPads; digital point and shoots etc, and these can produce a wide range of reasonable pictures, however, they lack important control over the results which puts these type of devices at a disadvantage.

To have a subject with an out of focus background or to enable a wider Depth-of-field and have the whole picture in focus is just one reason why DSLR’s win over, another is the control over the white balance or lighting.

On the flip side, you might argue that I would prefer to get an image quickly without the hassle of carrying around a DSLR, and say “I don’t care if it’s slightly out of focus or the White balance is out” (giving a blue hue or worse). On that point I would totally agree and I use one from time to time when I need quick photos and would rather get the shot than worry about the technicalities, but what happens when you want to print one of these photos, largely speaking most mobiles have a very small sensors and low resolution (megapixels), believe me, you will be disappointed when you come to run prints!

DSLR’s are big and cumbersome at the best of times especially with large zoom lenses, but in the right hands they have the ability to produce winning shots with the lighting controlled and the Depth-of-field just right to isolate certain parts of the picture, the image looks more natural and comes to life. Don’t forget the years of experience the photographer has – who has taken more pictures and in many different styles and locations, this I believe is invaluable and outweighs the argument about mobile devices, don’t get me wrong I have seen – and I have taken some stunning images from a mobile, but then again these are largely taken by Photographers who understand the complexities of the digital media!

Most photographers… and I don’t care who says they don’t, retouch images in some way or another to get the very best out of them, this is available to mobile users as well but most wouldn’t bother and consequently the images stay on their devices forever never seeing the light of day, except for a brief foray in the local pub to show their friends!

The reason most people hire Photographers is that they admit to not being able to take the sort of image they can envisage in their minds eye, this is where the experience comes into play, and why photographers use DSLR’s, imagine hiring a person to take pictures of your wedding and them turning up with an iPad and a pair of sunglasses!

23 06, 2017

Video

By |2017-12-27T13:33:32+00:00June 23rd, 2017|News|

My expectations have always been focused on photography, with video services also on offer if required.  I was surprised at the interest in good quality video; it is now a 50/50 split between the two.  These days, more companies and organizations rely on promotional videos to get their products and services ‘out there’ in the public awareness. Vimeo and YouTube are the two most popular services of the many on offer to promote your wares.  Of course, some people choose to shoot their own videos using an iPad or iPhone.  This makes a reasonable choice for the small budget and some look very professional too, so why pay more to have the video produced professionally?  There are a number of very important points to this question, which involves the quality of the video and the soundtrack.

QUALITY SOUND
Sound plays an integral part of any visual concept, imagine watching the sea without the sound of the waves, or a distortion of that sound.  Looking at a film, clearly shot and beautifully edited accompanied by a distorted or inaudible sound is so off-putting.  The audiences’ attention fades away.  With good sound, the audience is engaged.  Sound quality is more than half of a good video.

QUALITY VISION
A quality video is expected in this hi-tech world but surprisingly we still see grainy, out of focus low budget films on YouTube.  It is puzzling how this can happen as an iPhone can shoot at full HD quality – even the older ones.

I choose to shoot videos using DSLRs because of the beautiful DOF (depth of field) you get from these cameras.  Used properly they can produce cinematic style footage and this, in turn, will require less processing.  This gives more time to create the story, which is what we all look for in a video.  A TV advert can tell a whole story in 30 seconds – if it is good!

LET’S TALK…
So, if you’re in the market for a professional, quality video, no matter what the style and content (anything legal that is!) whether it be promotional, a business concept, news or an interview style, please follow the link here to get in contact with me.  Let’s have a chat about your vision!

12 03, 2017

Reluctant Model

By |2017-12-27T11:52:03+00:00March 12th, 2017|News|

A friend of ours recently told us that her daughter was due to have her hair cut off for charity. Being that she had been growing this hair (that was now down to her waist) for as long as we can remember, our friend said could I take some impromptu pictures of her daughter when they next visit. Knowing that she wasn’t at all happy about having her photograph taken in the past I thought this was going to be a challenge – but agreed to take on the Reluctant Model.

When they arrived I made the daughter feel very welcome and exclaimed that her hair wasn’t going to be with her much longer and that it would be good for her to have some pictures to remember it by for the future…. she wasn’t happy and smelled a rat! After a bit of gentle persuasion she said ok but only a couple and that she wouldn’t look at the camera, but after making her laugh a couple of times making her feel at ease, to my surprise she turned a corner and started posing like a true model, in fact rather than her getting embarrassed about it, her mum started to whoop with delight as she moved from one pose to another, it was going to be a one off as her hair was being cut off in a few days and we wouldn’t see them again until after the deed was done, so I made the most of the rather impromptu model I had before me and clicked away until they had to go.

It just goes to show that teenagers can be very happy to have their picture taken if they are made to feel comfortable enough to enjoy it – really enjoyed this and to my surprise so did she, of course I asked both the friend and the daughter if it was ok to use these on my website to which they both agreed.

12 01, 2017

Birling Gap

By |2017-12-27T11:51:07+00:00January 12th, 2017|News|

My Wife is a Holistic Massage Therapist with a heart of gold, and this is reflected in this following story. My wife had a guy that was suffering from Cancer and he had a friend that was in the last stages and was losing the battle. The guy said that he would like to pay for a massage for his friend as he hadn’t long to live and he thought that he would enjoy this.

My Wife said straight away that she would do this for nothing as she would like to help, and I said that I would take all her massage table and towels and oils etc as she wouldn’t get this all in her car, I said I would go off and take some pictures somewhere nearby in the meantime. Birling Gap was literally only a few minutes drive away and thought I would take a look down there.

It was still pretty early in the morning and the sky was quite heavy with clouds so though that it wasn’t very condusive to good photography but I would walk anyway, there wasn’t a car park close so set off waking towards the coast, within about 15 minutes the sun started to appear though gaps in the clouds and there was a sort of glow that made it quite magical, as I came over the top of the hill I saw the cliffs and there was a slight mist in the air, I took many shots of this magical scene and one of them has sold quite well over the years.

I said to my Wife that this was a real lucky find, and she said one good turn deserves another, guess she was right.

20 12, 2016

Christmas cards

By |2017-12-27T11:50:00+00:00December 20th, 2016|News|

Many years ago my Wife decided that she was fed up with trying to buy Christmas cards so asked if I could make one that we could have printed. I asked what content she would like the card have and she replied that she would like to have one of the house on a snowy evening with the stars showing in the sky and our cat sitting on the gate. Oh, I replied that will be easy.. not! But I set about thinking how I would put this together, firstly I would need an image of the house so on a fairly bright day I took a couple of images then put these into Photoshop, I felt that the image would best be manipulated by turning the picture into a sketch first so I did this first and then ‘Inversed’ the image to give me a negative, this was the start of a fairly lengthy battle of wills between my Wife and I as we had opposing views on how it should look, however she won so then started adding white to the roof and hedges to make it look like snow, cut out the sky and replaced it with the starry sky and added a yellow light to the windows, all finishing off with the cat sitting on the gates, this was the start of the Christmas Card.

Wife happy I got it printed, and we sent them out to all our friends and family. Within a few days we were getting texts and phone calls about how they loved the card and how they laughed at the comments I had put on the back which said something like: Designed by Dee and begrudgingly photoshopped by Pete (Bar Humbug)

After this, friends asked if we were doing another Christmas card this year because they were keeping them, so it’s sort of become a tradition now that we go to even more extraordinary lengths to make a Christmas card that is different each year, some of them are pictured below, and now seem to take longer than going to shops to buy some! However people do seem to like the fact that we have gone to such a lot of trouble to do them, my worry is that soon I will have to start doing them in January to get it finished by December. Bar Humbug!