Digital Media Design


Studio Photo Gallery

Studio Photography

A series of photographs I shot using my Canon EOS 60D in a Bournemouth photographic studio.

The lens used is the standard Canon 50mm F1.8 prime lens and all photos were shot using either using aperture priority or manual mode. The photos were then processed using Adobe Lightroom 4.


Photography – Twin Sails Bridge – Summer Photography Project


Twin Sails Bridge - Poole Dorset

Twin Sails Bridge – Poole Dorset

In association with the Poole Tourist Board a project to photograph the Twin Sails Bridge was set along with a competition, the prize to see your photograph used in promotional material by the Poole Tourist Board.

As I was unfamiliar with the Bridge my first task was to do some research on the bridge itself, which I began by searching for images of the bridge on the internet. I found literally thousands of images, the bridge, new in construction had attracted the intentions of many photographers both professional and amateur in the short few months that construction had been completed. I quickly realised this was not going to be one of those situations where a unique photograph would be possible.

I then went onto research the bridge itself and discovered the name of the bridge came from its design, when open the bridge clearly appeared to look like the sails and twin masts of a sailing boat. For that reason it was apparent that for the brief to be fulfilled any photograph I took must be when the bridge was open and must be taken from a location where the twin sails were clearly visible.

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My first set of photographs were taken at 12.30pm one very hot and sunny day, I picked 12.30pm as this is one of the bridges scheduled opening times. I set the tripod up with my Canon EOS 60D fitted with the Canon 18mm to 55mm kit lens. Using Aperture Priority I shot off a sequence of images capturing the bridge in its various states as it opened, lifting the road surface up to allow the waiting boats to pass beneath. The using the camera hand-held and now fitted with a 50mm prime lens I fired off another sequence of images, capturing details of the structure, using the depth of field to attract the viewers eye.

I then relocated to RNLI’s headquarters building where they kindly let me shoot another sequence of photographs from an external walkway looking towards one side of the bridge. These photographs I considered to be less successful as even with the Canon EOS 60D fitted with my most powerful zoom lens 55mm to 250mm and this set to its maximum magnification I was too far away for capture the details of the bridge.

As this is a working bridge cars, cyclists and pedestrians were visible in many of the photographs I’d taken. For the purposes of this project I decided these would distract from the central subject of the bridge and so in post production I removed all of these from the photographs using Photoshop CS5. At the same time I removed some of the shoreline details for example Electricity Pylons, Street Lighting poles from the photographs I would put forward.

Just for fun I also dropped into one of the photographs an image of a full moon, added a gradient to simulate night leaving the structure of the bridge in full daylight or in this case simulating moonlight. Although I thought this was my best image I decided not to enter it as it too far from reality.

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Having some time on my hands and being in the area I decided to visit the bridge on another occasion but carrying only my iPhone 4S this time. Sunday morning at 10.30am in time to capture the bridge again at one of its scheduled opening times. This time with permission I positioned myself on private land at one side of the bridge and using the iPhone 4S and the Camera+ App I photographed the bridge as it rose into the Twin Sails position.

I was lucky again on this occasion with excellent weather and the bonus of heavy cloud formations in the distance adding some interest to the sky which had been absent on the previous photographs.


Both sets of photographs have their merits but surprisingly I think the iPhone 4S photographs are my preferred choice. There’s little difference in quality in fact the wider angle of the iPhone 4S lens allowed me to capture much more of the bridge than my Canons EOS 60D could although fitted with it’s 18mm to 55mm kit lens set at its widest angle.

I also felt the cloud formations added much more interest to the sky rather than the unbroken blue sky for the Canons photographs. The filters and presets of the iPhones Camera+ App also allowed for excellent options for editing these photographs adding more interest to the final images.


The next stage was to select which photographs I would submit for printing and for the competition. This was my only mistake I left the printing to the day of the competition picking them up just minutes before submission and unfortunately I submitted them even though I was not happy with the final result. In my opinion the prints were too dark and lacked the fine details of the images I’d reviewed on screen.

Needless to say I was not surprised when they failed to win the overall prize but happy to hear they will be used in the marketing material by the Poole Tourist Board with the artist being identified by name in the description.




Photography Short Course – Flash Photography 2

Flash Photography

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Flash Photography

This was our second introduction to using Flash Photography on the Photography Short Course and follows on directly from where we left off from the previous weeks Balloon bursting.Water Balloon

A large fish tank filled with water standing on a table in front of a dark cloth background. A stand alone flash unit with a wireless trigger was positioned above and to the right of the balloon with the camera mounted on a tripod also positioned directly facing the tank. We held something in the water where we hoped the object would enter the water to pre focus, which meant all we needed to do was click the trigger.

The idea this time was to trigger the shutter just as an object was dropped into the fish tank. There was also a large glass vase filled with water and using a side flash, with a black or white card background to photograph objects agaisnt but unfortunately time did not permit me the opportunity to try this setup.

The pictures above show the result of those I caught as they dropped into the fish tank however there are many more pictures of empty tanks (triggered before entry) and tanks with the items laying at the bottom of the tank (Flash triggered late). What I learned from this simple exercise is timing and of course typical settings for using Flash to capture moving objects – to freeze a moment in time.

We repeated this experiment using a smaller fish tank but this time using a hand held Flash connected using a hot shoe adapter, connecting to the flash using a cable.

I’ve limited the editing to cropping and adding a tint using Lightroom 4, which can be downloaded as a 30 day trial version from Adobes website.

Camera Settings – Canon EOS 60D

None of these settings are set in stone but these seemed to give the best results.

  • Camera set to Manual
  • White Balance set to Flash
  • Shutter Speed 1/125 to 1/250 (depending on which flash gun was used)
  • Aperture set between F8 to F11


Photography Short Course – Using the Flash

Photography Short Course
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This was our first introduction to using Flash on the Photography Short Course.

Balloons filled with water were suspended against a dark cloth background. A stand alone flash unit with a wireless trigger was positioned above and to the right of the balloon with the camera mounted on a tripod also positioned slightly to the right.

By using a dart the idea was to trigger the shutter just as a thrown dart bursts the Balloon.Water Balloon burst with a dart

The pictures above show the result of those I caught as they burst however there are many more pictures of intact Balloons and darts yet to touch the Balloon. What I learned from this simple exercise is timing and of course typical settings for using Flash to capture moving objects – to freeze a moment in time.

I also found out how good the basic Flash fitted to the Canon is at doing something like this – some of those pictures are taken using the cameras flash and some using an external flash unit costing £100’s – can you tell which is which?

I’ve limited the editing to cropping only using Lightroom 4, which can be downloaded as a 30 day trial version from Adobes website.

Camera Settings – Canon EOS 60D

None of these settings are set in stone but these seemed to give the best results.

  • Camera set to Manual
  • White Balance set to Flash
  • Shutter Speed 1/200
  • Aperture set between F8 to F11


Hipstamatic photography without using an iPhone for your MAC – Image Tricks

In a previous post I’ve mentioned a App called Photoscape for the PC which is an photo editing tool which can re-produce the aesthetics of the iPhone Hipstamatic App.

Image Tricks

Image Tricks for MAC Photo & Imaging Editing App

I got to wondering if there was a similar App available for the MAC, after some researching on the internet I came across Image Tricks offering very similar Photo and Imaging Editing to Photoscapes. Again this is a Free App with the exception of a few of the effects which are limited to the Pro version but the Free Version still has plenty to offer. You can download Image Tricks from Belight Software site.

Image Tricks Screenshot

Image Tricks Screenshot


Photoscape – Hipstamatic on the PC

Photoscape Start Page Screenshot

Hipstamatic on the PC

I’ve been a fan of the Hipstamatic photography App on the iPhone since it was first introduced and at the same time feeling left out of the fun because I did not at the time own an iPhone.

A bit of research on the Internet for Hipstamatic style image editing software, plugins and Apps I came across a number of references in Forums for an App called Photoscape. (See link to download at the bottom of the page)

Hipstamatic on the PC – In just a few minutes of downloading Photoscape I was cropping photos using the 1:1 setting creating that square photo look and then letting my imagination run wild using the Filters, Saturation, Brightness and Contrast to get that Hipstamatic look. The final touch was adding a frame from the huge list on offer to give a retro or vintage look.

Hipstamatic Look

For the picture of the boat which I think is a close approximation of the Hipstamatic Look I used the following settings:-

  1. Crop picture using the 1:1 setting which I then resized as 800 x 800 pixels for the internet.
  2. Using the ‘Bright Color’ tool I set the Hue to be +45, contrast to +100, darken to +80, saturation to +100 and finally ticked the grey tone option.
  3. I then added the Cali05 frame
  4. Finally I added backlight selecting the +200 setting which I applied twice.

Hipstamatic on the PC – It’s FREEPhotoscape App Choices

What’s really great, is that for absolutely no outlay you can still have all this fun editing your photographs because Photoscape is absolutely FREE. Even better you also do not have to own or buy a iPhone (any camera or camera phone will do) to be up and running producing your own Hipstamatic styled photos in minutes.

The only problem I have now is being able to stop myself from going back through my old photos and giving them the Hipstamatic look. On the other hand it does breathe life back into old forgotten photographs.

Photoscape can be downloaded from CNET ( or Brothersoft alternatively  click this link Photoscape to go directly to Photoscape’s homepage.

Hipstamatic on the PC – Another BonusMontage using Photoscape's Page Tool

I almost forgot to mention that Photoscape offers other features including Screen Capture, Animation among many others but one feature which I will look at in more depth in another post is Page, what this does is allow you to combine/position multiple images onto a page (Montage).  My idea for this would be to create a Photo Album which you could then printout into maybe a book format – ideal for artists needing to produce a portfolio of work for a potential customer?

I’ve added a Gallery of the images that I’ve produced using the Photoscape App, which I’m adding to on an almost daily basis – so watch this space for updates.

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Photography – Photoshop using Motion Blur

Wednesday 22nd June 2011

I’ve been following the Tutorials in Digital SLR Photography magazine July 2011 – this months is about using Motion Blur

I’ve got 100’s of photographs of cars and they mostly are all taken using a fast shutter speed so regardless of whether they have been shot static or while on the move the image is of a snapshot frozen in time. There’s no sign of movement in any of them.

I’ve just discovered a use for Blur in Photoshop, something I’ve had little use of in the past as I could think of no reason why you’d want to make a picture appear out of focus?

I started with a static picture of my car, which I actually shot on my driveway, one of the pictures I used in the HDR post see ‘My First Attempt at HDR’

First job is to duplicate the background layer so that you can always go back to the starting point if it goes wrong and you can quickly look back to see the original before any changes have been made.

Honda Civic - Photoshop using Motion Blur

Honda Civic - Photoshop using Motion Blur

The next job is to carefully go around the car using the Polygonal Lasso Tool then Invert your selection as it’s the background that you are going to be working on. The next stage is create a new layer for this background using Layer via copy option. Now you get to add the Motion Blur by going into Filters and selecting Blur and Motion Blur.  The default Blur settings seemed a bit too much so I dropped my settings down to an 8 which seems to look just right for me. Already it looks like car’s moving really quickly, the cars itself is still in perfect focus but the background appears to be streaking by.

Now for the wheels, I used the Circular Marquee tool to select the wheels and then applied the Radial Blur option but again I reduced the amount this time down to 5. I then repeated this for the front wheel and the job appears to be done. The once static picture of a car now looks like a panning shot of a passing car.

Ok it’s not perfect – there’s no driver in the car and if you look through the windows the greenery in the background is in sharp focus, but to the casual observer they’ll probably not notice this.


Green Screen – A Midsummer Nights Dream

Green Screen set-up for A Midummer Nights Dream

Green Screen set-up for A Midummer Nights Dream

Camera Settings and Filming

Filming and assisting with a AUCB MA Students Theatre Project that combines live acting and interaction with projected images for a production of Shakespeare’s a Midsummer Nights Dream using VJ’ing software (Modul8).

I used my personal DSLR – Canon EOS 60D to film each of the actors in front of a typical Green Screen set-up. We used 5 light sources – 2 to illuminate the green screen background, 2 as fill lights either side of the actors and the keylight level with the camera and facing the actor.

Canon EOS 60D DSLR

Canon EOS 60D DSLR

The Camera was set to video in full HD, each movie clip was 1920 x 1080p and in the Quicktime .MOV format.

I used an external Rode directional microphone to record the actors voices, positioning

Close up of the Canon EOS 60D screen

Close up of the Canon EOS 60D screen

the microphone on the hot shoe of the camera and recording directly onto the video track through the connector on the side of the Camera, thus avoiding  synchronisation problems in post production. However although the microphone should have been directional it did appear to pick up sound from behind the camera, although this could be due entirely to the acoustics of the studio. In retrospect it would have been better to have located the microphone on a boom closer to the actor.

Post Production

Moving onto editing and using After effects I keyed out the green background and masked the sides and top of the footage leaving just the actor in shot, thus preparing the sequence for a new background. I did this for each of the movie clips a total of 30+ which included some clips which were borderline but worth doing just in case we needed extra footage, or for cutaways etc. (Never discard anything is my personal motto).

Canon EOS 60D used for HD Movie Clips
and Mobile Phone Sony Ericsson W995 for photographs

The rest of the team will now continue with post production using After Effects to produce a complete sequence of clips that will be imported into VJ’ing software ready to be used for the live performance. Meanwhile I went  onto helping with the theatre set-up and to test the installation on stage according to the MA Students staging and design.

Canon EOS 60D in silhouette

Canon EOS 60D in silhouette

Just for fun and to prove the Green Screen set-up had worked effectively I produced my own short video from two of the many movie clips to which I added a suitable background and some copyright free soundtrack and uploaded this to YouTube – see below. Of course this is out of context there is no magic carpet scene in Shakespeare’s Midsummers Nights Dream (maybe there should be?)


Part 2 of this project Ophelia


Photography HDR Tutorial – My First Attempt at HDR

I thought I’d have a go at some HDR photography using my Canon EOS 60D DSLR. I already knew the basics of HDR which stands for ‘High Dynamic Range’ –  you need usually three photographs of the same subject, one at ‘Normal’ exposure, the second ‘Over Exposed’ and the third ‘Under Exposed’. Then you need some software to bring these images together to create your HDR image – for my purposes I used Adobe Photoshop CS5 which comes with the HDR plugin already installed.

Setting up the camera for HDR

Menu Settings AEB

AEB Settings +- 2 points

My Canon EOS 60D comes with an AV mode which allows you to set the Aperture and leaves the camera to decide on everything else such as shutter speed ISO etc. I wanted the maximum depth of field so I went for an exposure of f22. The next step is to go into the camera’s menu and select Exposure comp/AEB setting which sets the ‘Auto Exposure Bracketing’ this is what controls the exposure for the 3 photographs – I set mine for 2 stops which is 2 stops over exposed and 2 stops underexposed.

Now all I needed to do was to make some final settings for the camera, for example for the shots I was taking, I set for manual focus and I also turned off Image Stabilisation as I was using a tripod.

Taking the shot

Top LCD showing 3 exposure levels

You should really use a remote shutter release but I didn’t have one so I was careful not to move the camera when pushing the shutter button. I noticed that as I half pressed the shutter button the indicator on the top LCD of the camera showed which exposure setting it was going to take, central for normal exposure, high indicator for over exposed and low indicator for under exposed – this helped to keep track of where you were in the shot list, although you could just count up to three for each set of pictures taken.

I could have set the continuous high mode but left it on single shot for personal preferences but if you want to take your 3 exposures rapidly or you are using your camera handheld you should set to continuous high mode.

Photography HDR Tutorial – Photoshop

Back LCD also showing 3 exposure settings

The first job is to open all three images in Photoshop then select File-Automate-merge to HDR Pro or just go straight to automate and select the images from the browse option. You then get a dialogue box open to enable you to select the images one of which is ‘Add open files’ which I selected. The HDR panel then opens with the thumbnails of your photographs at the bottom of the screen and the combined image in the centre. You then have a choice of manually changing options such as Saturation, Vibrancy, Exposure, Gamma etc. but I used the presets to select an image that I liked.

Canon EOS 60D
used for all photographs

Click OK at the bottom of the window and the merged image is shown in the main window ready for further manipulation using the standard Photoshop tools, such as image size and save for web etc.

I like the effect of HDR so much that I’ve also investigated several other plugins and stand alone applications for creating the HDR effect. One App in particular caught my interest, ‘HDR Darkroom’ which can be currently downloaded from the Apple App Store at a bargain price. I’ve posted one example I made using this App below well worth the £11.99 it cost me to download from the Apple App Store – currently on offer – 75% off the normal price.

Here’s the result  – what do you think?

NB: The Quality of image is far greater on my MacBook Pro than can be reproduced here because of web restriction eg. 72 pixel resolution.

Home Office HDR - Using HDR Darkroom

Home Office HDR - Using HDR Darkroom

Cycle HDR Photograph

HDR Photo-realistic preset - Photoshop HDR Plugin

Honda Civic HDR Photograph

HDR Saturated Preset - Photoshop HDR Plugin

Honda Civic - Photo realistic HDR preset

Honda Civic - Photo realistic HDR preset - Photoshop Plugin



Short Form Video – The Pitch Tilt Shift

Thursday 27th January 2011

The Commuter

This is going to be a Short Form Video shot in a Documentary Style inspired by Koyaanisqatsi .


I’m going to be using Tilt Shift effects to add an additional perspective to the video. Where it would be used to film groups of people; cars, trains and bicycles in the daily commute. The addition of tilt shift effect adds an element of fun to the video. The scenes of the video will take on a model like appearance, the people will seem like ants scurrying around an unreal environment bright with colour.

I’ve picked the daily commute as the theme primarily because this is the most active part of the day, the time where most people cars and trains are in motion which is needed for the tilt shift effect to be most effective.

Time Lapse

The sequence will start ideally with a Huge Faked Sunrise to set in the audience minds that it is the early part of the day, we then cut to  people waiting at a Bus Stop using Time Lapse.

  1. and as the Bus Pulls up we cut to a Tilt Shift of lines of cars headlights as they stream into Bournemouth.
  2. The next scene is another Tilt Shift view of the trains coming into the station.
  3. This is followed by a Tilt Shift scene looking down onto the Square in Bournemouth watching the people scurry around the shops.
  4. The penultimate shot will be a Tilt Shift of a line of cars tail lights as they leave Bournemouth (Shot at the same time as the morning shoot).
  5. Finally we have the scene of a commuter on a Bike with a Huge Faked Sun setting with a final close up of the rear bikes spinning wheel.

I would also like to shoot the video using a variety cameras, for example a Digital SLR, GoPro, Flip and of course Sony Z5. The GoPro might give the best result because of its wide angle lens and the HD cameras would give the best quality images for the start and end sequences which are not to be Tilt Shift. But the DSLR might work the best as this has a time lapse function which would be ideal for these sequences and they would also have the benefit of being in HD as well.

I’m still considering whether apart from a music soundtrack whether a voice over would be appropriate as well as any other soundtracks for example one of the videos above starts with an extract from a Radio Traffic Report which I think really sets the scene by establishing the time of day and that it’s the morning commute. It might be a good idea to do something similar and also at the end of the video add the evening traffic report again setting the time of day into the audiences mind that a day has passed. NB: Not 24hrs but a working day say 7:00am to 6:00pm.

Storyboard – Photographs

Ice Cream Boat - Poole Harbour

Ice Cream Boat - Poole Harbour

Customs Boat - Vancouver Sound

Customs Boat - Vancouver Sound

Street - Las Vegas

Street - Las Vegas

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