It might be a photographers' cliché, but it's true: the best camera in the world is the one you have with you; all other cameras are useless.
Pretty much whenever I go for a walk or have a trip out somewhere, I make a point of taking my SLR camera with me. I am a photographer, so I should have my best camera with me whenever possible. You never know what you might see. Sod's Law dictates that, the one time you don't take your camera with you, you're bound to see something amazing. Like the time, many years ago, when I saw a man straining to push a huge hand-cart stacked with all manner of rubbish up the slope of a railway bridge, while a huge advertising hoarding in the background announced: AFTER THE DAILY DRUDGE... I'm still kicking myself about that one.
With two annual exceptions, I always take my SLR with me whenever I go for a walk on my beloved Moor. Why would I not? The exceptions come each June, when we help our farmer friend take her cattle up on to the Moor for the summer, and each September, when we help her bring them down again. There is usually lots of running, stumbling and swearing involved; plenty of mud, if you're unlucky with the weather; and there simply isn't time to take photographs—even if they were welcome. So it's safest to leave the SLR at home.
This June, we were caught in an unexpected thunderstorm as we took the cows up on to the Moor. We were thoroughly drenched. Coming back down afterwards, I spotted a photo opportunity which perfectly summed up our morning, so I grabbed a shot with the only camera available: my iPhone:
Coming down from the Moor.
We were back on the Moor again yesterday. The weather was uncharacteristically glorious. As a small group of us waited at the Moor gate for the others to herd the cattle down from the heather, we spotted a weasel watching us from a pile of old fence-posts. It was incredibly inquisitive, zipping back and forth, checking us all out. Fortunately, I had my point-and-shoot camera with me, so was able to capture our new friend for posterity.
An inquisitive weasel.
My point-and-shoot camera turned out to be the best camera in the world yesterday—but I'm still kicking myself for not having had my SLR with me!
In one of my other guises, as the chap who runs the Friends of Charles Darwin, last week I was one of the co-sponsors of a talk in Hebden Bridge by the extremely popular American science blogger PZ Myers.
Wanting to capture some images of the event, I dithered about taking a whole pile of photography gear with me, including my on-camera flash unit, but eventually decided that having some fat, bearded bloke blundering around in the dark, firing off flashes, would probably spoil the event for everyone else, and might well distract PZ from his talk. So, instead, I simply took two lenses, ramped the ISO setting up really high on my camera, and shot discreetly from the sidelines using available light (which, in this case, was a single spotlight, beaming in on PZ, and a data projector illuminating a projection screen behind him).
I have to say, I'm still old-fashioned enough to be apprehensive of using very high ISO settings for fear of the heavy grain usually associated with them. But modern digital camera sensors have advanced in leaps and bounds, and are getting pretty damn good in low-light conditions. Even so, the photos I took still required some tweaking in Adobe Lightroom afterwards to remove the spotlight's reddish colour-cast, retrieve some detail from the over-exposed spotlit areas, lighten the shadows, reduce noise, sharpen the image, and so on.
I offer these before and after images to illustrate the sort of improvements you can make to a photograph with a few simple software tweaks.
Original image of PZ Myers talking at the Hebden Bridge Trades Club, 12-Aug-2014.
Same image after Adobe Lightroom post-processing.
These days, photographs are taken with the camera, but they're made in the computer.
Other than watching the occasional rugby match, I'm not much of a sports fan. Quite the contrary, in fact. But, during July, I ended up attending two world-class sporting events, where I took a number of photographs.
First, on 6th July, Le Tour de France passed through my home town of Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire. To avoid the crowds, my partner, Jen, and I walked across the local Moor to catch the riders as they headed down into Hebden Bridge from Haworth. It turned out that we weren't the only ones trying to avoid the crowds, so there were quite a lot of other spectators up there!
The peloton of Le Tour de France approaching Hebden Bridge, 06-Jul-2014.
Nine days later, in accordance with a very long family tradition whenever the event is held in the North West, my dad and I attended one of the practice days of the Open Championship at Royal Liverpool Golf Club, Hoylake. The weather was ridiculously hot, but I managed to take quite a few photographs, including some shots of some old Open favourites:
Tom Watson (USA), Open Championship, 15-Jul-2014.
Ernie Els (SA), Open Championship, 15-Jul-2014.
To mark this (to me) unusually sporting month, I've added a Sports photography gallery to my Smugmug site, where I've posted a number of my sports-related photos.
I have created a Richard Carter Photography Smugmug site for displaying portfolios of my photographs. And the cool this is, if you particularly like any of the photos, you can buy prints of them directly from the site.
Why not check it out?
I already maintain far too many websites than is reasonable for one human being. But this new blog will give me somewhere to pontificate occasionally on matters photographic.