6th September 2009 – Photoshoot number 5

Written on September 6, 2009 – 12:35 pm | by BryonyParkes |

I know I’m supposed to be talking about my new shiny D90, but I remembered that I needed to blog about the last photoshoot I did. So before I go all slushy I had better get the talking about photos taken with my D40 over and done with first.

So, the week before last I did another mini photoshoot with Izzy. I have shot Izzy before, not long after I started doing these photoshoots, and as my friend and the gorgeous Izzy were popping in I asked if I could have a go at something.

Shooting children with a white background I find has always been fairly easy lighting wise. Shooting with a black background is something I haven’t got a lot of experience with and I wanted to give it a try while I was thinking about it. As it turned out, I really struggled with the lighting and wasn’t happy with any of the back background shots. I didn’t mind too much as I only had a few minutes and it wasn’t a proper photoshoot (of my kind), I was just trying a few things out but it did prompt me into looking further into it.

Aiming the flash gun at the ceiling or the window wasn’t as foolproof as I’ve found before when shooting with a white background so I don’t think the black helped. Depending on where I was also affected how the light fell whereas with a white background, I can usually stand anywhere I like. I was a bit confused as the photoshoot I did with my Sister turned out ok with the same set up, so what went wrong?

The aperture was slightly wider this time compared with my sister’s shoot – and I do think, looking back that I didn’t put much thought into the aperture setting with this shoot. As I was using the flash gun, I didn’t need to worry about light getting in, wasn’t after bokeh so why did it need to be that wide? I don’t know. Also, I need to think about my lighting more. I do have some lights after all, I need to buck up some courage and get them out of the bag.

Some of the shots I took are shown below. Please note: These are far from my best work, you’ll see that the lighting is all wrong. I am only sharing them for blogging purposes ;o)



I still couldn’t resist a shot or two on the white though. At the end of the day this one was the PAD and aside from the crop not being quite right as she’s not completely central, I do think I do better on white and prefer white.

I have since found out that with a black background its best to reflect the light away from it as much as possible. Also, as I already know, there needs to be as much distance between the background and the subject but I just haven’t got the space to do this at the moment. White background works well with flash gun as the light is bounced onto subject and background therefore making everything brighter. With a black background, light bounced onto the black isn’t going to work – it needs to be as dark as possible and only the subject lit up. This means I guess, that the flash gun just isn’t going to work as well with the black as it does with the white and it’ll depend on the other lighting in the room as well.

So next time, when shooting on black, I’ll use my studio lights, and a smaller aperture. We’ll go from there. What do you reckon?

Photos taken at 1/200 and f/3.5 (flashgun used)

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29th August 2009 – New beginnings on it’s way

Written on August 29, 2009 – 7:54 pm | by BryonyParkes |

Guess what? I got a new camera today!

I was so excited to hear that I was due some back pay from work the other week. It’s not often that we come across this kind of money so straight away I decided that it was the ideal opportunity to grab, and time for me to upgrade my trusty D40. My fabulous D40 has served me so well for nearly 2 years so I do feel a little sad that it’s now being put on the shelf. But as I have used it every single day thanks to my photo a day project, and it’s been carried around with me absolutely everywhere and has a shutter count of nearly 20,000 it’s been money very well spent. Equally, I’m working towards some (hopefully) bigger and better photos as I further my hobby so I really needed to look at a bit more of a superior camera.

So along came the very smart Nikon D90, I am in awe! It is beautiful!

I’m a bit strange. I get quite emotionally attached to items and objects that I use regularly and that have done me well and always feel a bit sad when they start getting thrown, or disused so I would like to mark this occasion and share the very last shot that I took on the D40 as my regular camera. The camera is by no means being dismissed into retirement completely, I’m sure it’ll get used in some way or another but obviously it is has been delegated to being the “back up” and the “spare”. Poor thing.

So here goes, in honour of the brilliant entry level DSLR; one I would seriously recommend to anybody thinking of starting up in photography, the Nikon D40… here is Selfridges in Birmingham, my PAD for today:

My next blog will no doubt, as soon as the battery has finished charging up and the SD card freshly formatted, be all about my new toy! See you then!

Photo taken at 1/125 and f/9.0

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13th August 2009 – Random thing about me: Fact 11

Written on August 13, 2009 – 6:15 pm | by BryonyParkes |

I’ve finally got a photo to represent number 11 on the list!

“11) I am currently researching into training to become a breastfeeding counsellor”

I’m really pleased with the photo for this one, baby in shot is the gorgeous 5 month old Harry, and his Mum is my very good and close friend, the amazing Deaf Flautist Ruth Montgomery. I wanted a calm, loving shot, breastfeeding a child is such a special thing to do and I wanted a photo to reflect that. I think it works well in black and white, although the light is shining a little too much on his head. I perhaps should have had a wider aperture as I think if his little fingers, grabbing hold of his mum were in focus too it’d have made the picture.

Well, it’s been some time since I wrote the list that I am now working on. When I wrote it, I wasn’t having any problems breastfeeding the Small One, I think she was only teeny at the time and we were still in a cloud of newborn bliss! But since then it all went wrong. Regular readers of my blog may remember a few weeks ago, me talking of my poor baby doing a lot of crying and some stressful times with Colic and Reflux, well the medication for Reflux has to be administered in a bottle. I tried for some time, to keep up, expressing milk for her but I had to admit defeat after about a month, as I just couldn’t keep up. I’ve found it really hard, to come to terms with how hard I found breastfeeding this time round when I was so sure it’d be easy as I had experience after having fed the Big One, and I had lots of time off work to get it established long term. I didn’t count in the possibility of any medical problems however, so it took me by surprise a bit when Evie was in so much pain (we now know, from the acids the Reflux was bringing up).

I believe, heart and soul that breastfeeding is one of the most wonderful things you can do for a baby. I understand that it’s not for everyone, and that is absolutely fine in the same way that cloth nappies, co-sleeping, dressing a girl head to toe in pink, isn’t for for everyone. But if you can, then GOOD FOR YOU. It is the most natural thing in the world, gives baby plentiful of goodness, immunity, helps with bonding, helps mum lose weight and best of all is FREE! Whoop whoop!

Anyway, as it happened in the end, the Small One was breastfed exclusively for 5.5 months, then formula was introduced in order to get the Gaviscon into her. Now, at 6.5 months she’s primarily formula fed, but I am pleased to say she still has the very occasional breastfeed. I really wanted to breastfeed her for as long as possible, I wanted her to be exclusively breastfed until she was 6 months old and weaning onto solid food started. It wasn’t to be though, and I’ve lost a bit of faith in myself hence not sure if I can do the breastfeeding counsellor stuff anymore. I’ve not ruled the idea out altogether though, I’ve been told that it doesn’t have to be exclusively that you feed for 6 months (you need 6 months breastfeeding “experience” before you can apply for the course), so perhaps if I can come to learn that I did the best thing for my baby at the end of the day, therefore formula was necessary, but you did a bloody good job in the meantime… then I could still do the course.

Thinking more about it, I realise that I’d love to be available to help new mum’s with breastfeeding confidence, helping get it established, hopefully increase the number of mum’s breastfeeding on the whole. (The statistics in this country are so low). So many new mums don’t try, or give up after just a week or so due to lack of support and I want to be there to help them if they are struggling but want to continue. I particularly would like to help Deaf mums, I feel that we get even less support as it’s harder for us to access information and follow health professionals.

So there you go, a bit of personal information about me divulged there! Treat me nicely now ;o)

Before I go, I want to point you in the direction of a photographer friend of mine, Lisa Fellows and her recent blog post about World Breastfeeding week. Her photographs of the infants being breastfed are stunning,  and after I had taken the one of Harry above, I realised that it was of a similar style to Lisa’s amazing shots so wanted to credit her and bring your attention to her work.

Photo taken at 1/100 F/2.0

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5th July 2009 – 25 Random things about me: Fact 4

Written on July 5, 2009 – 11:13 pm | by BryonyParkes |

Whoo, on a roll here. Are you bored yet?

Well, fact 4 on the list states:

“4) I once could play Clarinet at grade 8 standard and the Piano at grade 3. I regret letting my music slip. I intend to pick it back up as soon as I can”

Now this one was a bit tricky. I knew it’d involve a picture of the clarinet, but I took a pretty good one not long ago, as seen here which I was pretty pleased with and as I didn’t want to do another self portrait as two out of three pics in this series so far have my mug in them, plus yesterdays was unflattering enough without the face I pull when I’m playing the clarinet!  So I figured I’d go for simples.

Here’s a relatively unknown (albeit trivial) fact about me…I once took my Grade 5 Clarinet and Grade 1 Piano exams on the same day! The examiner was a bit surprised to see me walk back in 15 minutes after doing my Clarinet exam, and sit down and play the Piano. I passed both of them too, one of my finest days that was and I was only 15, with a profound hearing loss to boot! Jolly proud of that 15 year old girl that I was then, I went on to play in Russia that very same year, a few weeks short of 16 years old and I was playing in front of President Yeltzin, promoting disability in music, get me!

So it’s a big deal to me this whole music thing. It was also something I was good at best. I’ve never really been the best at anything since and don’t have something I’m REALLY good at anymore. I have things I’m good at, but nothing I outstandingly (is that a word?) excel in. I’d love to be back in school playing solo in the School Christmas Concert again, I wasn’t a hugely confident person but I was different on stage playing this beautiful instrument! I WILL take it up again, I have promised myself this.

So simple represents this one I’m afraid, but I like it and anyway the camera battery went flat about oooh, 2.4 seconds after I took this so it’ll have to do! I’ve always been a fan of negative space in a photo, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea but I love experimenting with composition and space. I also knew that to get a good look at the keys on the clarinet, it would need some serious contrast which I thought negative space would do, but my usual plain white fleece blanket I use for background would have been too dull/matted, plus I didn’t want to use a flash just in case any of the (very shiny) keys picked it up. So I used the trusty window sill, which has a lovely veneer net curtain thing hanging at it, slower shutter speed to let lots of light in, – up the brightness a tad and bingo, a bright white! Not perfectly clean, but hey, neither is the clarinet.

Photo taken at 1/30 and f/5.6

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4th July 2009 – 25 Random things about me: Fact 3

Written on July 4, 2009 – 9:58 pm | by BryonyParkes |

Ok, we move to Random thing number 3 and the list says:

“3) I have no use of my left ear and am now struggling to cope so am looking into my options”

I’m a bit worried that this series is actually going to be rather dull, but I’ve started now so I’ll finish and anyway it keeps me occupied and it’s nice having something “tell” me what to take a photo of each day.

So, A photo to represent my deafness and the troubles I’ve had recently, hard one. My hearing aid/s are broken and I have been trying to get the hospital to fix them for 18 months… yes you read that right. A whole year and a half. Not fun.

I actually do have hearing in both ears, but my left is deemed useless as the quality of hearing is dire. Everything is distorted and muffled and ruins the “good” hearing in my right, so it’s actually easier to have less hearing and hear better, quality, not quantity definitely in my case.

Finally, last week, the ENT at my local hospital said they’d refer me to Birmingham, whoo hoo! I’m so glad to be out of the slippery grip of my local hospital’s Audiology dept (who apart from the lovely lady who does the earmould impressions, are rubbish and full of empty promises) I’m hoping they’ll look into some all singing and all dancing new hearing aids for me as I am really struggling now with the one I have, especially now I have children. If they can’t find one, then I’m prepared to consider a <gulp> cochlear implant.

It was fun to do this shot, but I had to get over the fact that I simply was NOT going to get a flattering one! I decided not to bother with the flash gun and just use the on camera flash as I knew I’d be editing it to have a high contrast due to the style I wanted and the suggestion that I am working under a spotlight lamp. I’m not sure if I even achieved the shot I had in mind, but I think it’s fairly funny for me.

I did want to make the hearing aid stand out a bit more than it does, but I’m not sure how I would have done that as it’s a very bland colour anyway and there was no way this shot was going to be in colour. Short of having it on a pedestal, I hope the eye of someone viewing the picture naturally goes down to it anyway and gets the point. Please note the “glasses perched on the end of nose” position I adopted and the shadow even makes the lenses look varifocal!

Photo taken at 1/100 and f5.6 (flash used)

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