STILLS  GALLERY ~  An Album of Favourite Shots...

A keen photographer of arms, landscapes and beauty, I am pleased to share the images on this page with fellow enthusiasts and site visitors. I hope you enjoy some of my favourites as much as I have in taking them.
I've also included a few technical notes and personal preferences for like-minded camera buffs.  
  Copyright 2002-2013 Ian Skennerton. Images here may not be downloaded or reproduced without my permission.

Quality English Setting...  Jul 1997  [Canon EOS, slide]

Some Simpson Ltd. Lugers...  Oct 1998  [Canon EOS, slide]

Thames Sphinx... Mar 1981  [Canon EOS, print]

Pier at Koh Samed... Oct 2001  [Nikon digital]

Brisbane riverside... Mar 1998  [Canon EOS, print]

Jomtien beach... Dec 1999  [Canon EOS, Ektachrome slide]

Cabarita surf... Oct 2002 [Canon EOS, Kodak Gold film]

Ministry of Defence Pattern Room... Sept 1999  [Canon EOS, slide]

Ruined English
castle... Apr 1990  [Canon EOS, slide]

U.S. Interstate 40... Apr 2001  [Nikon digital]

U.S. Interstate 40... Apr 2001  [Nikon digital]

Civil War battlefield drive... May 2001  [Nikon digital]

Columbia River, Portland... Apr 2003  [Nikon digital]

East coast architecture... Aug 2001  [Nikon digital]

Highway I 94 , Michigan... Mar 2000  [Canon EOS, slide]

Good photography comes with experience. While some great and effective shots result from mere 'accidents', the more photographs that you take, the better a photographer you are likely to become. Many opportunist shots occur in the passage of everyday life and travel, so a serious photographer should have at least one camera available all of the time, at work and at play. Now that most mobile phones have a camera facility, there is no limit to the opportunities although the picture quality is compromised.

New digital photography is wonderful for practice because any bad or marginal shots can be deleted in camera; a full cartridge or card can have some frames deleted to make room for more shots as well. With digital, the results can be viewed instantaneously and the ongoing expenses and delays waiting for film to be developed are nil. About the only expense is memory cards and batteries and many of these are re-useable. 

Digital disadvantages? These were slow generation time, limited manual control and a higher incidence of out-of-focus shots. But the technology has moved so rapidly that even serious photographers use little film today. Pictures can be readily shot again if any aspect is not entirely satisfactory. The portrait shot of the startled pheasant and pattern of shotgun barrels (above, right hand column) was made through a glass display case at the Davis Museum in Claremore, Oklahoma. Using a digital camera permitted ready viewing of the degree of reflection on the glass case front, which enabled successive improvement of the shot over three or four tries. 

There are negligible running costs with digital. Instant loading onto a computer enables you to crop, colour balance, sharpen, add effects and to print out or burn onto disc selected shots. Lower available light with digital cameras is less of a problem compared with print and slide. To print out digital photos at home using special paper a la commercial prints, generally renders the unit cost per photo at nearly the same but you can choose which ones to print and also do a host of post-production work which is not available at commercial labs, unless you pay through the proverbial nose. 

For website posting of photos, any inexpensive digital is sufficient but for more serious work, archiving or recording good detail of your collection, it is best to purchase a camera with higher megapixel capability. With movie footage and U-tube now, anyone can upload almost anything for viewing all around the world. As chips get faster and technology advances, we are likely witnessing only the beginning of the digital media revolution.

Subjects are not usually spontaneous when trying to capture good portraits, especially when dealing with (dare I say 'shooting') children or animals. The photographer needs to be inventive, in suggesting or creating a mood which reflects in the shot. Idle hands are often a problem, so give the subject something to play with, a toy, food, telephone, a book to look at, et cetera. For facial expressions, verbal or physical interaction between two people or more, crack a funny, or even say something rude. Anything (almost) for a subjective response. 

Open shade or an overcast day is best; the direct sun makes people squint and another alternative, flash, usually looks lifeless, rather flat and artificial. The flash effect can always be softened using high-speed ASA settings, the automatic aperture and speed settings on a camera cut back the intensity of the flash and there are better, less flash affected results. Or bounce the flash off a light coloured wall or ceiling, or else use an attached reflector or a soft box over the flashlight lens.

Ypres, Belgium... Nov 2006  [Canon EOS 40D]

Mt. Shasta, Oregon... Oct 2003  [Canon EOS 30D]

Gold Coast seaway... Nov 2011  [Canon EOS 60D] 

The last three photos in each column are a 2013 update of the gallery, an additional few favourites for the end of this album. While they are more high-def digital, downsizing for the internet does not make them any more sharp, colourful or detailed than the earlier film or transparency scans. We are now shooting stills more relative to documentary movie production, in conjunction with the 1080i Sony video format. While widescreen video is in a 16:9 format, the original 4:3 stills format remains useful for pan and zoom in movie editing, rather than shooting stills in the 16:9 dimension as well.
Enjoy your 'shooting'...

My favourite cameras... Canon EOS 60D and more recently the Sony HXR NX5P. Favourite photo editing is via Corel Paint Shop Pro. Pholix PhotoPhilia is good for filing, sorting and thumbnail indexes...
The new digital mediums have so many advantages and ever-fewer shortcomings compared with film. I used to travel with three cameras... slide, print and digital but now I only use the 60D. Digital video is advancing ahead in leaps and bounds too; one's imagination is the only  limit.

I rarely use a tripod for stills and seldom used professional grade film. Kodak had warm reds (skin tones and gun stocks), Fuji for vibrant greens (landscapes). With new digital medium and editing programs, almost anything is possible. The only 'no-no's' with digital really are overexposure (or drastic under exposure) and focus. No more worries about carrying rolls of high speed and b&w film or waiting for labs to develop them, with your fingers crossed.

Hand-held is even more sure now with anti-shake features in some SLR lenses. One still needs a steady hand if you don't want to lug a tripod or even a monopod about but with digital storage, we can review, re-shoot or delete at will. So wonderful, and no more lab expenses!

Interior shots below of the Enfield Pattern Room and subsequent MOD Nottingham on film were hand-held at f5.6 of f8 with speeds as slow as 1/2 second under available fluoro light. To avoid motion blur at slow speeds, brace your body against anything solid, stand with legs well apart for balance, tuck your  arms into your sides or rest an elbow on a wall or furniture, then slowly squeeze the shutter; like taking a long distance shot with a rifle, breathing out slowly. Bracket or take a shot or two extra, just in case. Another thought for great scenes, shoot portrait mode as well as landscape. How much the perspective can change for the same scene!

Bracketing is sensible if you are taking important photos or find that 'once on a trip' shot. Bracket the f-stop so if your camera reads f5.6, then shoot it at one stop over and one stop under too. The option of three different settings is worth the extra insurance for correct exposure.

Shooting arms & accoutrements, I prefer aperture priority set at f 8 for a regular depth of field (focus). Rarely having the luxury of photo lights or glass table lit from below, I prefer open shade or overhead light, outside on an overcast day. A silver reflector board is a regular accessory to fill in shadow. I find the best backgrounds are a steel grey or mid-blue paper roll or window blind; this is only 1 f-stop off the object reading. A white background gives 2 or 3 f-stops over the subject and false auto exposure reading, making for dark subjects with less detail. Black backing paper makes an interesting change and has the benefit of not requiring exposure compensation. A roll of window blind material is better than paper, easier to carry and store too. It does not mark or damage as easily as paper and is available in pastel colours.

Portraits and figures are better with a lesser field of view, say f-4 or lower, to render the background softer and slightly out of focus. In low light, auto exposure cameras will automatically shoot with the more open aperture settings anyway.

For black & white shots, I used T-Max or Agfa film; b&w processing was more expensive and not always available. Kodak b&w film was available that processed in C41 (colour) chemicals and you could request a contrasty b&w or even sepia colour print. Shooting in colour and transferring to b&w resulted in a loss of some detail, particularly the contrast in extreme black and white tones. Using two cameras facilitated use of two film types, one colour, the other b&w. Or one for slide transparencies and the other for prints.

But digital has changed all that, along with hours in a darkroom if you wanted to process your own shots in an attempt for perfection. So many years ago now! 

Framing shots is important which makes modern zoom lenses ideal for quick work. I carried three lenses, 28-80mm zoom, 75-300mm zoom and 50mm macro for close-up and a backup. 28mm wide angle is sufficient to squeeze in a 39-in. barrel musket without standing on a chair. All auto-focus lenses were interchange able on Canon EOS bodies.
However the new digital formats render different calibration, I like an 18-135mm main lens and also use a 50mm macro. And a 100-300mm or 100-400mm telephoto rounds out the travel kit. Luckily, the old film-era Canon lenses work on new EOS digital bodies. 

Flash units are handy but make shadows and often show 'flare' from reflective surfaces. They also give a flat and lifeless look, especially for people's faces. If the subject is far enough away from the backdrop, shadow is minimized but it is best to bounce flash from a white card, a light-coloured ceiling or walls, or through a soft-box or brolly (umbrella). Another solution is to use higher speed settings with flash as it automatically cuts down on the amount of flash applied, giving a less 'flat' effect without heavy shadows.

When taking a great shot, particularly of an object or scene, try moving to either side, or sighting from low or high angle. Take a few shots from various heights or positions. Even hop onto a table or a stepladder. A different perspective often makes a winning shot. Landscapes, roads and fences which stretch to the horizon look more dramatic if you take the shot lying on the ground. My shot of the jetty (left) and civil war battlefield fence (near the end) were very low angle. When travelling in scenic areas, look behind occasionally as great views are often missed in the rear vision mirror.

Try shooting the same shot close-up and wide angle if you use a zoom lens. The differences can be dramatic, worthy of doing a few shots of the same scene. Shooting landscape as well as portrait format is worth it for a good frame (portrait is with camera tilted up at 90 degrees, landscape is with the wider edge horizontal). The more imaginative you are, the better and more interesting your photos will be and with digital you aren't paying for all those extra prints. 

Light is the key to photography, effective use of natural light the most convenient. Morning and afternoon sun gives a different perspective, contrasting colours and shadows. Overcast days are great for indirect light and soft shadows. Fog, mist and snow also provide unreal effects to capture on film. Always be aware of the sun and light conditions, learn to use it and capitalize on it.

Swe Dagon pavilion, Yangon... Mar 2000
[EOS, Ektachrome slide]

Sarong & boat... Mar 1999  [EOS, print]

Oops! Davis museum... Oct 2000 [digital]

Golden Mont... Aug 2000  [EOS, slide]

tradition... May 2001  [EOS, print]

playground... Mar 2000  [EOS, slide]

Lines & curves... Oct 1997  [EOS, slide]

Sunrise, Broken Hill... Jul 1987  [EOS, slide]

New Orleans... Apr 2005  [EOS 40D]

Wat Garam Bangkok... May 2005  [EOS 40D]

Eiffel Tower, Paris... Nov 2006  [EOS 40D]

2004 Copyright.  Neither images nor text on this page may be reproduced or electronically copied without prior written permission



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Ian D. Skennerton

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