Man-made / Natural – Unit 1

ncfe level 1 Photography

End of course assignment

For our final blog post this term, and our end of course assignment, we were asked to present some photo’s that convey the theme; Man-made/Natural. I did struggle with this project a little, since I prefer direction, but here is my final offering.

I like the idea that nature will reclaim whatever man can build. I am a gardener and plantswoman at heart so find it comforting to know that nature will almost always, win.


I have manipulated this image using Raw Therapee to better enhance the contrast of the concrete birdbath, and to visually increase the depth of the ice. The image was then darkened with exposure compensation to help portray a feeling of cold and iciness. I have also added a little vignette to draw the eye into the picture.


Nature on your doorstep. RACC 1/60s f5.6 ISO320
I particularly liked the ‘pops’ of colour on this doorstep in the college grounds. The little plant forcing entry into the light and college. The lines are strong and bold, as is the colour.  I was mindful of other students moving around me, while composing the shot and took precautions to make sure no-one tripped over me as I was taking photos.
Ferns, one of the planets oldest plants. Bricks can’t stop them. 1/30s f.5.6 ISO320

Lots of texture in the old brick wall, a nice contrast between the soft, muted colours in the brickwork and the ferns growing from it.

Please keep off… yeah right. Brentford. 1/80s f4.5 ISO200

A little tongue in cheek here. The ivy clearly cannot read.  Nice colour, a good juxtaposition of  colour, surface, form. Man has his say, Nature has it’s.

Mosses on brickwork, Richmond 1/15s f5.4 ISO320

Beautiful line, shape, colour, leading lines. The lack of anything else in the picture makes it feel textural. The mosses on the wall have been there for a long time, and even though this shot is quite tight, you feel as though the wall stretches on and on. Nature takes over.

At the end of this first course in Photography I have learned a great deal, but not enough… So I will return in January.

Merry Christmas, All.



p.s. It wouldn’t be me, if I weren’t just a little cheeky so here’s my last naughty photo. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I snapped this on my search for man-made/natural – it does actually work on so many levels …natural tree on a man-made cutting, by the canal. An unravelled toilet roll (made from natural materials, by man, obviously.) Waving gently in a natural breeze, thrown up, into a tree (by a man, naturally…) Maybe left for anyone caught short on their way back from the pub? Eh? Dear tripod carrier?

I’ll be back.



Flash… Aaahhhh, Saviour of the Universe…. (well, someone had to.) – Unit 1

ncfe level1 photography – week 11

Flash photography

The paparazzi use flash photography.  If you want to see some excellent examples of flash photography, look up Weegee, who popularised flash photography, during the ’30’s and 40’s.

When to:

Night time photography  – When the flash will be your main light source.e.g. for a single image such as close portrait, rather than ambient or background lighting.

Day time photography – As a ‘fill-in’ to correct shadows. Fill in flash can soften the face. Use it to shoot in daylight to create a dramatic, evening feel, particularly good if there are interesting cloud formations. Also, used to saturate the colour of flowers, or for macro photography.

On these last two photos of the Datura, although the colour stands out more on the left side photo, I personally prefer the one on the right, because it seems to have more depth and there is not the annoying shadow of the stamen.


Low light or indoors – to compensate for low light levels. E.g. Fashion photographers and for Product photography – Using flash guns and tripods or a light box and directional lamps (led lamps are best) Companies like M&S will use dark moody backgrounds and lighting to promote their products.


Sports photography – Flash will help ‘freeze’ the movement, without needing to go to faster shutter speeds. Short distances work best as the flash will only travel for approx 3-4 metres. If you are too close, you can’t reduce the brightness of the flash.



You may choose to use a tripod or monopod whilst using flash to stabilise the image but switch off the built-in image stabiliser, because your camera will try to compensate for camera shake that isn’t there.  Use Manual  (M) setting when using flash. Put your auto focus on, and set your shutter speed.  It’s advisable to set up your camera as if you were going to take a photo normally, and then switch on the flash and take the photo.  Most cameras today have flash exposure compensation, which enables you to ‘turn up or down’ the intensity of the flash.  Since using a flash will limit your shutter speed automatically to between 1/200-1/250th of a second, you can raise or lower the ISO.




Image Manipulation or Woman-ipulation – Unit 1/ Unit 2

Week 10 NCFE Photography

This week, we began our class by looking at everyone’s blogs, as usual… Lots of great images there. I think I can really see other peoples progress 🙂

We touched briefly on filters and the different types that there are. In the days of film photography, we used colour filters, but most of these effects are now added during post editing.  More on that later…


There are only really a couple of types of filters used now.

UV filter – Only protects your lens. An Ultraviolet filter does not allow ultraviolet light in to ypur lens, and also helps protect your lens from dust/ scratches and may even afford some protection if you drop the lens (although don’t quote me on that…)

ND Filters + Neutral Density filters. Will not change colours. They are always grey and are used for prolonging the exposure. Use them on bright days, or to slow down the effect of moving waters.

ND Graduated Filters – for landscape/seascape photography, i.e. a nicely defined horizon.

Polarizing Filters – Uses: to minimise reflections and to reduce reflections on non metallic surfaces. Used for shooting through windows (with a camera, of course), to taking pictures of water, where reflections may be distracting.  When shooting in fine weather conditions, to reduce glare and make the sky darker,  although this will largely depend on the position from the sun. Colours will appear bolder, and more saturated.


Then our class started to work with Image Manipulation. Now anyone who knows me, knows that I am a bit phobic about computers (phones, yep … but computers 😦 ) So I have been somewhat dreading this part of the course. The software we are using at college is Adobe Bridge, a ‘free’ editing suite.

RAW vs Jpeg (image from Google)


We are working from RAW files. A raw file records only what is seen by the camera sensor, and is therefore a pure image. There is huge advantage to working with RAW files, in that you can edit completely from scratch.  Although a Jpeg has a smaller file size, The disadvantage of a Jpeg is that they can save ‘noise’ or distortion. They are not so easily edited as they are already compressed images.

Selecting some of our own images, we used Adobe Bridge to edit and manipulate the images. Now, although I’ve already said I am a little, ahem…. reticent?  scared of? …No,  hopeless with computers, I found it relatively straightforward, and very quickly felt comfortable with changing colours, contrast, highlights and shadows and making vignettes (softly darkened edges to the image.) Thrilled with the results, I saved them to my file at college, and then hurried home, to work on some more images only to find that I cannot edit with Adobe Bridge at home, since you also need to purchase Photoshop!

So, after much stressing and maybe a little cursing and probably a sense of humour failure… I have installed a software called Raw Therapee (it’s free and fairly straightforward to navigate – even for me! ..although having had prior experience with Adobe Bridge may have helped.)

Personally, I didn’t find it quite as exciting as Adobe Bridge in that I felt that some of the controls I was used to using at college, with Adobe Bridge are not the same, and it  doesn’t appear to have quite the range of effects, but I’ll talk to my tutor about that tomorrow.

Here you can see some of the images I’ve worked on, this evening…. All from the ‘comfort’ of my tripod carrier’s office chair!


You may remember, our end of course assignment is to take a series of 5 images with the subject Natural/Man-made

I have thought and thought, and brainstormed: The sea and sea defenses (I’m really rather far from the sea right now…) Long roads and landscape (..same problem)  Cobwebs on frozen fences (..maybe)  Sheep – sweater (Hah! I’m  a knitter…so, promising 😉 ) and even taken ‘sketchbook snapshots’ on my mobile phone whilst out walking.. but I think I’m not completely decided yet….

To be continued…