To edit or not to edit photographs – a post about photography in Somerset and the landscape of the lake district

So, we didn’t end up going to the zoo – what a shame as my friend’s daughter was poorly with a high temperature. Instead we stayed in and watched 5 films in one day! My daughter was over-ecstatic – she loves watching films. I am hoping that this will mean she will one day be a film director or something, it has to be good for something! We really enjoyed ourselves and didn’t leave the house at all. It also gave me a really good chance to sit and edit some photos that I had been meaning to do. The next day we all desperately needed to get out and get some fresh air, so we went to the woods to see Louise and later went on to the hills to have a picnic. We are very lucky – we live only twenty minutes from the Quantock Hills – walked by wordswith and lived in/on by Coleridge – I believe, so we are well and truly walking in the footsteps of the greats. It is not quite the lake district, but it is still very beautiful and we can see for miles and miles when we get up to the top.That reminds me of a funny story. last year my daughter and I went to the lake district and of course I took my camera and was snap happy photographer extraordinaire. I kept exclaiming how wonderful it was, the hills, the greenery, the fences, the walls (I know… mad!) and I couldn’t understand why my daughter wasn’t saying anything. When I probed her about it later on she merely answered ‘well, its just like home, isn’t it?’ In my head, London was still my home after all these years in the countryside, and I just kept thinking how lucky we were to be on holiday! Just goes to show how I am really on holiday every day in Somerset. 

I digress. We went to the woods and I took some photos of the girls. I was quite pleased with some of them, but I felt they needed more than I was giving them, so I decided that since they were for no one but myself I would start playing around with them in Photoshop and Lightroom4, to get some of the filters on them and start making my own filter settings. This was a really good idea on my behalf (perhaps not) as it meant that I didn’t get to sleep until about 2 am for the next 2 days. I love editing the photos and even more now that I have the quick and easy Lightroom4, do I love it. I have however always been in two minds about post production and how much is acceptable and how much isn’t. I used to work in reprographics, so I am no stranger to what people do to make photographs look great, but until I started to take the photographs I used to think that it was best to leave them as natural as possible. What I realise now of course, especially as I take RAW photos, is that if you didn’t edit them, if you didn’t increase the contrast or sharpen them, lighten them, add some more colour or take some away, they simply wouldn’t come out looking good at all. This has resulted in me giving myself a Carte Blanche to play around with my photographs as much as I like…and I like it a lot! It would be great to know how a good value, hard working photographer in Somerset, could get some more sleep though. First it was baby lack of sleep, now it is photography. Whatever next! 

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Going to the zoo, zoo, zoo

In honour of us going to Exmoor Zoo today, I thought I would post a photo I took of a very happy tiger at Dartmoor zoo – actually neither of them are really big zoos, they are sort of ‘family’ zoo’s… or I guess you could call the micro zoos… I’m not actually sure if this wonderful toothless tiger was really happy or just having a bit of fresh air, but I was very happy to see him!

I hope you all have a wonderful day – I shall be snapping away at the Puma Kittens if we manage to see them – can’t wait – in fact, you should all check out the special facebook offer from exmoor zoo’s facebook page as they are having a 25% off deal for May – one not to be missed.
Have a great day, enjoy the sunshine, get out into nature and try to leave your computers behind – it’s hard, but sometimes, its got to be done!
You can visit my http://steenie320.smugmug.com/ page for more photos of this tiger, which you can buy as a print or on canvas or teeshirts and mugs – that kind of thing… there are so many things to choose from – smugmug really does quite literally ROCK!

Cx

How safe is photo sharing online… should we be more careful what we share?

We had a brilliant and unsuspecting day in the woods last weekend. Louise (Lou Kennedy, The http://www.woodlandplaycentre.com), asked us to come and help out as she was running a birthday party in the woods for 18 children and was without any other adult help. By chance… as often happens… I had my camera with me and took lots of happy woodland birthday photos. Being a natural light photographer, it was the most perfect day. I realised something though, which is that I think I need a Canon 50mm lens. I don’t know why, but it suddenly struck me… anyway, I digress. I took some gorgeous photos of a little girl who was probably about 4 years old, she was a sister of one of the brothers at the party. As always happens, I ask the parents if they are OK about me taking photos and I tell them that they may be used for my own portfolio or for the woodland play centre blog and website. Most parents are usually very happy with this, but this time there was a mother and father there that did not want me to use them at all. I utterly respect their decision about this, as they are right, you can never be too careful, but it left me thinking about all the times that I have posted photos of my daughter online. I am usually pretty savvy about where I post them, but again, you never know. I tend to be very careful only to ever post head shots or fully clothed body shots. I only ever upload safe images to facebook, and I have to say my facebook account is only ever really used for my real friends who are now far and wide or for my family. I can name on one hand the people I only know virtually, which is why I have set up a  facebook page for my photography so that I can have people I don’t know, LIKE, my page, without them being able to see my profile. If I have posted to Google Plus, my images are not able to be downloaded. I have chosen a website where my photos are not able to be downloaded either, and when I post my albums to my smugmug portfolio, I am very careful as to which ones I will share and have open to the public. If posting photos to a website or a blog, I never mention full names, and of course never use the photos that I have been asked not to use. Should I be doing more? That is of course the question. It is not just the question in terms of my daughter or other people’s children but the question in terms of my art and my intellectual property. I am all for sharing and I will happily give photos away without charging for them if I have had the privilege of being able to take them, but I don’t want people to take the p*** either. At the very least I think that asking for permission when using someone’s photos is required, and even more so, giving the person credit for the usage and linking to their website is also a must, to help them drum up more business. It is very hard to know what to do – I do believe in sharing and I do believe that most people are good, and that most people will not sit and download photos off the internet of children that are not theirs… but again, you never know and you have to be careful and respectful.
Lots of questions to be aware of, many things to think about.

A mother and her two children in the woods…eating sausages! Yum!

I think that the solution in terms of the photos that I take for myself and for the woodland play centre for example, is to carry piece of paper or business card, asking people to contact me or sign the paper if they are happy for their photos to be used… this normally happens anyway and most people do sign it to say that it is OK to use. As for myself, I think I have to be a bit more careful with my own emotions – I really loved the photos that I took of this beautiful and adorable little girl, who loved having her photos taken, and I became quite attached to them as I sat and edited them so that I could send them to her parents and so they would look amazing when they got them. Perhaps I should not have done that, because the emotional energy involved makes me feel a little sad that I cannot now display them to the world and shout ‘LOOK WHAT I MADE!!!’… how to get around that, is possibly a subject for another blog.
However… I do have a couple of photos to show from Thomas’ birthday party…coming up next!

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http://www.woodlandplaycentre.co.uk

www.smugmug.com – a wonderful alternative to redbubble (sorry redbubble!)

So, my smugmug page is almost ready as well.. I have been spending forever it seems getting websites up and running, as well as a variety of social media things going. None of them are quite ready, as I keep discovering more and more as I continue my journey. I am really pleased with smugmug though, as I look forward to seeing how it really can be used to maybe sell some of my images – even if it is just my mother that ends up buying them! I really like smugmug as a photo sharing, photo selling platform. It is so easy to use – I used to use Redbubble but the uploading of individual photographs was just too painful, and smugmug is just so much easier to use. I suppose in a way I should still be using redbubble as well, but quite frankly I just didn’t have the patience for it. I have realised I am ridiculously impulsive when it comes to websites, web builders, aond other platforms, as I go jump head first in and design a new website, only to find out that it won’t do what I want it to do and then find it really difficult to leave. There have been so many situations like this that I have just not thought through; building your business and producing your own marketing strategy really is a challenge and an interesting journey to be on. 

I would highly recommend that you have a look at http://www.smugmug.com – I am sure I ahve a lot more to discover about smugmug, but so far so good and its worth spending a few hours having a look at. I have also discovered bliphoto.com, a daily photography journal, one photo a day… I am not sure i have the discipline for that and that most of my photos would end up being of either one cat and then the other. They have an iphone app which is great, but although they have made it really easy – and it’s a gorgeous looking site as well, very clean – it is going to be quite hard for me to keep up with it I think… time will tell – it would be great if I could. 

With that, I bid you goodnight. 

Cx 

This photo I have uploaded has nothing to do with my blog today – it is simply a photo I took last year and that I came across recently as I was playing around with Lightroom 4 – which I love to use! Its so easy and so much fun! Image