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Tuesday, 11 March 2014

My Graduation Challenge album

My course is over but I'm still feeling my way along because I've switched to using Lightroom and it's taking me twice as long to deal with my photos now. Not to mention the fact I've started shooting them in RAW in the last week! Anyway here are the photos that I shared publically on Google Plus as my Graduation Challenge album. We were given themes and had to share one to two photos for at least three of the following themes: Nature, Silhouette, B&W and Flash (or Creative Lighting). 

I wanted to challenge myself further so decided there and then I would not take any florals or macros! It meant getting out and about as I couldn't take all these pictures at home but luckily the weather changed for the better mid week. All my photos are taken in manual mode which is what the course was all about after all - teaching us how to use our cameras properly!

The photo below was my first attempt at longish exposure with a tripod. I went there late in the day to practice taking photos of the chateau which overlooks this lake but it was overcast which was a bit of a shame. Suddenly the sun peeked out and shone further along the lake, hence this picture which I reckoned I could sneek into the category Nature! Click on the photos to open them up larger by the way, as the landscape ones don't show the details this small.

Combourg Lake (Nature)

You may wonder why I've included a bird photo as a challenge. That's because I wanted to have a go at bird photography using a 75-300mm lens and my dslr in manual mode. It's a lot heavier than my SX50 which I use in shutter priority when shooting birds. Capturing them in a natural setting is hard anyway, particularly the little flitty birds, so I'm quite pleased with this one.

Blue Tit (Nature)

At first I was horrified when I saw one of the themes was B&W. I've never liked B&W at all and didn't have a clue how you are supposed to process it. So I googled and read up a bit about B&W and learned how to process it in Lightroom. It's quite a skill and I have learned to appreciate B&W and monochrome now! I chose the tatty old chicken shed door due to the textures of the peeling paint, rust and lichen covering it.

The Chicken Shed Door (B&W)

I was looking all around for some trees that I could shoot as silhouettes and finally found this nice view late in the day. This one is my favourite.

Breton Countryside at the End of the Day (Silhouette)

We spent a week learning about flash which was nowhere near long enough as it's a huge subject. But I've learned about diffusing light and bouncing it off other surfaces rather than directing it straight at your subject. I could practice this kind of stuff forever and probably still learn new things. We learned straight off in week one how important light is and when you add another dimension, a secondary main light source, it gets all the more complicated!

Tomatoes (Flash)

My OH came in handy during flash week as I needed a model, and other times even when I was trying selfies he came in handy so I could manually focus on him and then get in front of the camera myself. I'd got a nice picture of him at home with a sunset behind but this time I wanted to try night shots in a town with some lights. It was bloody hard and the poor guy posed for me for about 3/4 hour before we gave up and went home. I learned tons about what doesn't work! This was my last shot and thankfully it came out OK as I took a lot that were fit only for the bin!

Portrait of a Husband in Downtown Combourg (Flash)

So here I am, I have come out of the other side after an incredibly intensive six weeks, that were worth every minute, and got out of it every bit of blood, sweat and tears that I put into it! But now the garden beckons and I need to spend time in it as spring has sprung with a vengeance. :-)


  1. I'm impressed at your dedication, your work had taken on a new dimension (although I already loved what you did before!)
    My heartfelt congrats, mon amie :-)))

    PS: the landscape is absolutely stunning!!!

    1. Hello M-H, good to see you mon amie! Thanks very much. :-) I had a lot of fun trying different things but I'm still drawn to nature and macros so you'll probably still mostly see the same of what you saw before from me, here! I'm going to practice some food photography though as all my pictures of cakes and cooking on this blog have been rubbish and now I have a better idea what to do, rather than a quick snap in the kitchen! :-)

  2. Well done Mandy. Not a macro in sight and all of them good. I like Keith's portrait - you've managed to make him look a little French somehow. Did they teach you how to do that too? The B&W is great - I still don't know how to process them properly.

    Tomatoes are magic, Like the colour, highlights and the waterdrops. Presume the Bluetit was handheld. Had a look in G+ and the exposure etc info was missing - presumably Lightroom did that?

    The Chateau and lake landscape is really good - how long was the exposure?

    Success all round I reckon, but I bet you were a little aghast at the extra time it takes to process. At least if you screw it up you can go back to the RAW and start again.

    PS Can I ask for tips now? ;-)

    1. Ohhh thanks for the heads up Nick re. the G+ album and lack of info - I've no idea what happened there. It should be there as we have learned all about metadata and putting your copyright info and contact details inside the photos.

      The photo info is here on these ones (thankfully) but the only way I can see it is open my blog in Chrome and use the Chrome exif viewer plug in. The FF one I downloaded doesn't work. The chateau (which wasn't in that photo!) and lake one was 1/6 f22 ISO100 and focal length 48mm, which I realised once it was on my monitor I could have had a slower speed/higher f number for that. The problem with a zoom lens is that the f numbers for the largest and smallest aperture change as you zoom in and ugh I forget this stuff! Not that I think that it would have made any difference on this photo, it's just stuff I am still trying to remember!

      Re the processing it was taking me just as long processing a jpeg in LR so RAW didn't actually make much difference, other than I like the way I can cheat and change the WB!!

      Funny how you like the tomatoes, that seems to be popular yet I thought it was poor and wasn't sure whether to include it. Remember that conversation we had recently? lol

      Yes bird was handheld. I did get some with the tripod aimed at the peanuts but wanted something more natural looking.

      So thanks very much my dear for your compliments and comments but how you think K looks a little French I don't know! :-)

  3. Congrats, Mandy! Your new skills show in every photo! Fantastic use of flash and I especially LOVE the Blue Tit :-)

    Knowing what our cameras are capable of will make us better photographers. Even compacts can shoot manual! I only shoot in RAW when using my SX50 and often in manual which gives me much more control over the outcome of my images.

    Looking forward to seeing more images!

    1. Thanks so much Marianne! It was great fun to try different things. I've got so used to using my Speedlite now that this afternoon when I was shooting flowers and came across some spiders, I forgot completely that I have a pop up flash! But I'd rather stick with the Speedlite now that I've got used to it and understand it better even though it is heavy.

      I got my SX50 out about a week ago and it took me about 10 mins to remember how to use it! That one is different on manual mode but I will give it a go. Maybe RAW too but I think I'm going to need a 2nd external hard disk at this rate.... :-)

      Well I'm trying to get some flower pictures for my blog so watch this space, although until I get used to the processing it's going to take me a while! :-) Thanks again and great to hear from you.

  4. Wow, Mandy. How wonderful to see your photography taken to new heights. The chateau is stunning, but I feel like I could walk right into the Breton countryside, so it's my favorite :)


    1. Hi Rain, great to hear from you and thanks very much! The chateau isn't in the lake pic, I've no idea what that little building is. I do have pics of the chateau which I'll show here at some point! Glad you like the same photo as me best... and I've just spotted a typo!! Cheers Rain. :-)

  5. Loving The Chicken Shed Door and the Tomatoes Mandy BUT, 'Breton Countryside at the End of the Day' takes the prize for me.

    Keep up the good work

    1. Awww thanks very much Carl! I like that one too. :-) By the way I'm reading that photography mag you gave me and it's very useful and interesting.

    2. We'll have to work out how I can send you the rest of them :)