Blog Post #024 – Photography Explained #3

Advice, Art, Photography, Travel

Welcome to the third installation of my Photography Explained series. I have enjoyed the process of creating these kinds of blog posts as it allows me to take a hard look at my photography and find those areas that I am weak at and need to work upon. It has also provided me with a further sense of appreciation of the effect that a well-taken photograph can have and the components that need to all come together to allow for this to happen. 

In this particular blog post, I am going to be looking more closely at animal photography

I have been drawn towards the animals of the world all my life and have always been intrigued by what they are. I enjoy watching them go about their activities and observing how different their lives are to our own. Of course, this means that I love to take photographs of these animals that I spot. However, animals are notoriously fast-moving and it can be a real challenge to capture the creature within your frame before they scurry or fly away. 

Below I am going to display a few of my favourite photographs of different animals taken around the world and offer a few tips as to how to get that perfect photograph. I hope you enjoy the read as much as I enjoyed writing it. 

My first photograph is of a squirrel taken in Elveden Forest, Suffolk. What I like about this photograph is the framing of the points of interest in the image. Around 50% of the photograph is taken up of the foreground which is in focus and the other half is out of focus but provides context to the photograph. As well as this it was crucial to ensure that the squirrel’s entire body is within the frame with none chopped off by the edge. I felt that this organisation created a nice dynamic to the photograph which differentiates it from other photographs of animals.  

A piece of advice that is universal for all animal photography is to take as many photos as you can with a fast shutter speed. You will be left with hundreds of photographs using this method but you have a far greater chance of one being the money shot sitting within a host of average photographs. 

My second photograph is one of a humpback whale taken off the coast of Reykjavik, the capital city of Iceland. It was such an honour to be in such close proximity to such a huge, majestic creature and the photograph does not do the experience justice. 

And my third photograph is of a loggerhead turtle in Greek waters. I had been told of turtles being present in the area but I did not expect to be greeted by one. An incredibly special moment and thanks to photographs I can revisit this memory again and again. 

In both of these photographs of aquatic creatures, what is important is ensuring that the point of focus, either the tail fin or the turtle is as close as possible to the centre of the frame. This was also another example of when it is vitally important to take multiple photographs in a short period as these encounters are over in a flash and there is a very small window of opportunity to get that perfect photograph. 

My fourth and final image is of a cormorant taken in Folkestone, Kent and is my favourite photograph of any flying animal. In my experience, it has been very challenging to capture a satisfactory photograph of a bird in flight and my best results come from when they are stationary. Again the framing techniques came into play but what I like about this photograph is that I have made the subject silhouetted. 

This is a simple photography technique that can add an extra layer of intrigue by stripping away the fine details of the subject. The most effective way to achieve this is to ensure that the sunlight is behind the subject, this means that the subject stays in shadow and therefore will become a silhouette. 

This is because a human eye has a far greater dynamic range than the sensor of any camera. Through eyesight, details are much clearer when looking towards a light source but through a lens, a silhouette effect can be achieved. 

I hope that you have enjoyed this short journey through my favourite animal photographs and that you have been able to yearn some useful tips that will improve your photography. 

Until next Monday, have a great week. 

Blog Post #022 – My Experiences of Iceland

Life in General, Photography, Travel

Iceland, aptly nicknamed the ‘Land of Fire and Ice’. Thanks to the impressive landscapes equipped with towering volcanoes, geysers, bubbling hot springs and great expanses of lava fields. That explains the ‘Fire’ part of the nickname, the ‘Ice’ is for the glaciers that cover roughly 11% of Iceland’s total land area. 

This is a country that I have had the privilege to visit and I must say it was not what I expected wholly. At times it felt as though I was visiting a planet in outer space rather than a country that sits only 1,367km away from the UK.  As a continuation of a series that began with my experiences in Paris, I will discuss my favourite locations in Iceland whilst showcasing some of my photography of this incredible country. 

Fun fact:  

Fun Fact: Iceland is also known as the ‘Land of the Midnight Sun’. During June, it is unlikely to experience any darkness at all with the sun never completely setting and rising. This phenomenon is due to the way that the earth circulates the sun in an elliptical orbit. This allows for the Midnight Sun to occur, the Sumarsólstöður (Summer Solstice) is the highest point of the daylight where the sun is up for the full 24 hours of the day, hence the name ‘Land of the Midnight Sun’. If you are travelling to Iceland during this month it might be worth packing some eye masks to help you get some shut-eye. 

Let’s get into it with my top 5 locations in Iceland.  

Location #1 – Seljalandsfoss 

I will say this, waterfalls are not a rare sight whilst travelling the length and breadth of Iceland, they’re everywhere! But this particular waterfall caught my attention and in a good way. Seljalandsfoss, towers 200ft high allow water to cascade down into the pool below. The torrent of water is not as impressive as other waterfalls found in Iceland, but its defining feature is a pathway that encircles the waterfall thanks to a wide cavern behind the falls. This allows for a unique experience that makes you feel that much closer to the waterfall itself. 

Prepare to get a little wet when taking a wander along the circular paths thanks to the persistent mist of the falls, this can make the ground underfoot slippery so decent footwear is a must. 

Something I learnt in my further research for this specific location is that the cliff of which the water falls from was once the country’s coastline, hence the naturally formed cavern. The current position of the sea can be seen from the site across an area of lowlands. 

Location #2 – Whale Watching, Reykjavik 

If you thought that Iceland only had incredible landscapes to offer, you would be wrong. The local wildlife is just as impressive as well as having an extra layer of mystery due to the obscurity of some species. For example, whales. Humpback whales to be exact. 

The surrounding waters of Iceland are home to a rich variety of krill and fish, making Iceland an abundant feeding ground which entices 23 species of whale. The most commonly spotted are minke whales, humpback whales and harbour porpoises. The image above is the tail of a humpback whale I spotted. 

Unlike visiting a waterfall or geyser, whale watching cannot offer you a guarantee that you will spot these sea creatures. But if you do, I promise it is worth the apprehensive wait. The tour operators know the best spots to take the boats and have a keen eye for spotting whales breaking the surface.  

Location #3 – Geysir Hot Springs 

Image taken by  Hans Braxmeier

Geysir is Iceland’s most famous geyser located in the Haukadalur Valley. This particular geyser is steeped in history, especially being the one that each geyser is named after. 

A geyser is an outlet in the Earth’s surface that regularly ejects a column of hot water and steam. This natural phenomenon is something I highly recommend seeing at some point due to the sheer power and scale of these events. It reminds you of the impressive capacity that Mother Nature contains. 

Unfortunately, Geysir is now dormant and does not actively erupt as it used to, with eruptions reaching a height of 170m in 1845. Despite this, Geysir’s neighbour, the Strokkur geyser continues to put on quite the show for visitors with an eruption occurring every 5-10 minutes. And once you see the steaming pool begin to bulge, prepare to witness Mother Nature at its best. 

Location #4 – The Blue Lagoon 

Image taken by Veronica Bosley

The Blue Lagoon. This is probably what most people can pin down as a location in Iceland that most tourists make their way to whilst travelling in this incredibly versatile country. And I can see why as it is quite a unique experience that will not be easily forgotten. 

The Blue Lagoon is a geothermal spa that is situated around 45 minutes from the capital city, Reykjavik. The spa itself is situated in a natural lava field and is close to a geothermal power plant. The warm waters of the lagoon are a result of runoff from this power plant. It is not a natural hot spring as many many think despite there being many all across Iceland.

The average temperature of the lagoon is 39℃ which is a nice contrast to the chill of the typical weather of Iceland. The warm seawater is rich in minerals such as silica that are said to have good skincare properties and is what gives the lagoon its milky blue shade. If you fancy toasting the occasion take a visit to the water-side bar or paddle over to the skincare booth for a face-mask. 

This was something on my travel bucket list and I am so glad to have ticked it off and perhaps you will do the same in the future.

Location #5 – The Capital City, Reykjavik 

Image taken by nextvoyage

My final location that made the list had to be the capital city of Reykjavik. When I was in Iceland, I only spent one night in Reykjavik. This meant that I did not get to explore the city extensively, but what I did see I was impressed by. 

Two-thirds of Iceland’s population resides within Reykjavik with a population of 131,136 people. The city is situated on the south-west coast and is the world’s most northernmost capital of a sovereign state. There is a lot to see within this city, here are a couple of locations within the city that interested me. 

The Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Hall sits proudly on the harbour and is one of Reykjavik’s most distinguished landmarks. It is seen as a cultural and social centre in the heart of the city. The large expanses of glass in a honeycomb form make up the exterior of the building which is a world away from the simplistic dwellings of the traditional buildings of Iceland. It is an intriguing piece of architecture that immediately captured my attention. 

Image taken by Michelle Maria

Secondly, something that I remember fondly of my visit to Reyjavik was a visit to the Hamborgarafabrikkan which translates to The Hamburger Factory. Nestled within the coastal streets of the city sits this gem of a restaurant. Their concept is seemingly simple, to offer quality hamburgers with a humorous twist. And it was one of the best burgers I have ever had, no scratch that, the best burger I have ever had. If you are visiting Reykjavik I implore you to give this place a visit, good food at a reasonable price. Well, reasonable by Icelandic standard as Iceland is not a cheap place to visit. 

There we have it, my top 5 locations to visit in Iceland in my personal opinion. I will say that despite being there for over a week there was so much more that could have been done, so I shall be revisiting this incredible country at some point. 

Until next time. 

Vertu blessaður! – Goodbye in Icelandic

Blog Post #019 – Photography Explained #2

Art, Education, Photography

Welcome back to Photography Explained with the second instalment in the series. In these posts, I hope to make some sense of some of the photography that I have taken and offer information on the decision making processes behind them. 

In this particular edition, I will be discussing a collection of photographs named Accidental Art. These images are the remnants of an art class discarded into a sink. These often go unnoticed and regarded as waste but the mix of colour and pattern when you’re least expecting is what interested me. This led to an extensive process of seeking out these obscure pieces of beauty. Whenever I was lucky to find these discarded remnants I made sure to take a photograph and over time built up a portfolio of similar images but always different in terms of colours and patterns present. 

Below is a selection of the photographs for this particular collection:  

After researching into the world-famous Leonardo da Vinci further reinforced my thinking behind this particular exercise. A theory coined by da Vinci suggests that art can be found at any moment. The advice was directed towards those that were experiencing a creative block. This passage is taken from Leonardo da Vinci’s words: ‘If you look upon an old wall covered with dirt, or the odd appearance of some streaked stones, you may discover several things like landscapes, battles, clouds, uncommon attitudes, humorous faces, draperies, etc. Out of this confused mass of objects, the mind will be furnished with an abundance of designs and subjects perfectly new.’ The overarching reasoning is that an artist should try and find meaning in chaos.

This was exactly what I was attempting to do when carrying out a simple exercise but with a greater meaning behind it. The quote devised by Yotam Ottolenghi, ‘One man’s trash is another man’s treasure’ sums this experience up rather nicely and I implore you to do just this, find beauty where it is least expected, in my case a classroom sink. 

Till next week, all the best. 

Blog Post #007 – Photography Explained #1


Welcome to the first of a series of blog posts titled Photography Explained. In these blog posts, I will take the time to expand on collections of photographs taken by myself. These photographs may be present in my portfolio and these further explanations will allow for a greater understanding for the reasons behind each of those photos. 

In this first edition of Photography Explained, I will be exploring images that were geared towards displaying in my final year art exhibition. This particular exhibition contained artwork that has been completed over my two years in sixth form and was held in an art gallery in Margate, Kent and was opened to the public for viewing. This was an enriching and worthwhile experience for me. 

Throughout my exhibition ran this overarching idea that oneself must avoid being bogged down in everyday life and take time to notice the ‘finer details’ in their surroundings. When one decides to seek these details out, only then will hidden beauty reveal itself. I felt that a way to express this ideology to the audience of my artwork would be to portray my own experience of this exercise. 

To achieve this I set aside some time and explored a local town near me and looked deeper than I normally would to discover the beauty that has eluded me. Below are the 6 images that I chose from a host of additional photographs taken across different trips. 

The 6 chosen images above were photographs that I felt were examples of the ‘finer details’ that I had set out to find. The arrangement above is how this particular photography collection was displayed in my exhibition. The organisation decisions were in my view very important as it allowed the collection of photographs to rest easy on the eyes. I grouped the photographs depending on specific elements found in each of the photos. For example, the two images to the left both contain bold, straight lines, the middle two images have a focus on symmetry and the two images on the right accommodate sweeping curves. This allowed for a subtle structure to the arrangement which in turn elevated the piece. 

I enjoyed the exercise of seeking out the ‘finer details’ in our surroundings and I feel that the 6 photographs above showcase my thinking nicely. I hope that the deeper dive on my thought processes behind some of my photography allowed for some further clarity. I think that the idea of taking time to slow down and reflect has been forced to the forefront in recent times in the most surreal of circumstances. However, I believe that we can use this time as an opportunity to do just this and that we, as a planet, will reach a new level of appreciation for our surroundings and the people in them.

I look forward to writing my next edition of Photography Explained. 

See you next Monday for another blog post.