Tag Archives: selection

One Image, Two Looks

For a couple of reasons my mind has been thinking of Iceland lately and so it was only going to be a matter of time before I found myself looking at the photographs I took there last year. Rather than look at the ones I’ve already selected for the final gallery, or the ones that made it to first and second pick, I decided to go all the way back to the original ones, which is not an easy task considering that there are 3,500 of them. But I’ve often found it useful to look at images that didn’t make the cut in the hope that eventually I’ll learn to stop making those mistakes.

So I was happy to find this lurking in the pile of photographs that didn’t make even first pick.

Jokulsarlon is a popular destination for good reason.

Jokulsarlon is a popular destination for good reason. [Click to enlarge!]

Ask around about what to see when in Iceland and I’ll guarantee that Jokulsarlon will be on the shortlist. Jokulsarlon is probably the most easily accessible glacial lake (Jokulsarlon translates as ‘glacial river lagoon’) that you can see and if you’re driving along the main road, route 1, then you cannot miss it as you literally have to drive over it, or at least the bridge that crosses its narrowest point. You can even take day trips from Reykjavik by coach, although it is a four hour journey.

One of the reasons that Jokulsarlon is so popular is that the lake is full of an ever-changing collection of icebergs calving off the Breidamerkurjokull outlet glacier which gather in the lake before the tide inexorably draws them out to sea. If you’ve never seen an iceberg up close before you’re in for a treat and the combination of ice and volcanic ash found in Iceland is especially striking. And, if you can, I do recommend that you find a quiet spot along the lake’s edge away from the crowds, close your eyes and listen to the sound of hundred- and thousand-ton lumps of ice melting, shifting and cracking.

But if you have been to a polar extremity – northern Canada, Alaska, the far south of South America, the southern tip of New Zealand – where icebergs easily compete with apartment buildings in terms of size – the icebergs of Jokulsarlon seem, well, tame by comparison. I think that that is why, in my first and second pick of the Iceland photographs, none of the ones I took of the glacial lake made the cut. I didn’t see the beauty of the image, I saw the comparison to something ‘better’.

So, I’m glad I took the time to revisit images that I had already discounted as “not quite there” and it is a good reminder for me to take my own advice of performing a six-month (or in this case an eleven-month) review of images taken on a trip once the passage of time has dampened the excitement of the experience. Then you can be more objective about the images in their own right.

And that would have been the end of the story had it not been for an unrelated task I have this weekend. One of the guys in the office had asked for a copy of one of my Ethiopia images to use as a wallpaper on his PC and so I’ve been looking at that. And at some point the “I wonder what this image would look like as a wallpaper?” question popped into my head.

Modern computer monitors tend to favour the 16 by 9 format – the same format as used by HDTV televisions – which means that the crop of the image is totally different to that required by standard print paper. See for yourself:

Same image, but a different feel. [Click to enlarge!]

At 1920 by 1080, it is the same image, but a different feel. [Click to enlarge!]

Whilst the majority of interest lies from the left of the image to the centre the wider crop allows for the right hand side to be included and a lone floating lump of ice. In the ‘print’ crop I’ve excluded it as I wanted to strengthen the mirror effect of the water’s surface, but in the ‘wallpaper’ crop I’ve included it as a bit of foreground interest and I like the fact that it is aligned along the diagonal line in the water formed by the cloud’s reflection. It’s an important diagonal line too, leading from the edge of the frame right to the focal point of the image. In the print crop, the diagonal is still there, but shorter and with less impact – less visual weight.

So, where am I going with this?

I guess there are two points I’m making, perhaps more to myself than anyone else. First, I shouldn’t dismiss an image simply as I have seen something more impressive – each image should be judged on its own merits. Second, the final crop has a big effect upon overall feel of the image and when pressing the shutter I need to ask myself “What is this image for?” Print? PC display? Instagram? After all, it’s easier to recompose, move if necessary, and take another shot whilst on location than it is to spend time in post production trying to get all the elements in a different crop.



Posted in Process Also tagged , , , |

Thinking Big

In the last post I started a mini-series of articles about home printing hoping to prove that whether you make your living from photography, have a passion for it, or simply want to capture life’s important moments, it needn’t cost the Earth to display your work. For most of us the photographs we will print will not be large – the average home usually has few big walls and they usually have windows in them – and so most people will be looking at anything up to A2 in size. But there is no denying that, if you do “go large” then the impact can be dramatic.

This fact hit me, almost literally, earlier this week when I walked into the office and the walls – which were up until recently just plain painted surfaces – had been transformed.

There's no denying that a large image or graphic make a striking statement, but you have to choose carefully. The image should be timeless and detailed enough to reward people for repeated viewing with details they've missed in the past. [Click to enlarge]

There’s no denying that a large image or graphic makes a striking statement, but you have to choose carefully. The image should be timeless and detailed enough to reward people for repeated viewing with details they’ve missed in the past. [Click to enlarge]

At a whopping 3.8 metres this is the feature piece along the longest wall and, given the size, a multi-shot panoramic image was going to be the only thing that would have enough resolution to be printed at this size.  When I was told how big the canvas would be, I did have reservations as to the final quality however I needn’t have worried – the 11,500 by 3,800 pixel panorama scales very well.

The smaller meeting rooms are basic affairs; we spend most of our time out with customers and so having lavishly appointed meeting rooms would be a bit of a waste when the rooms do not need to impress, but merely need to be functional. Still having a large canvas on the wall adds a splash of colour and interest to an otherwise cold-looking room. The 21 megapixel  Canon 5D Mk2 provided more than enough resolution for the 150cm by 100cm canvases.


Meeting rooms can be clinical places often decorated as an afterthought, if at all. Add a feature image (and maybe a potted plant or two) and even small rooms can feel more welcoming. [Click to enlarge]

Meeting rooms can be clinical places often decorated as an afterthought, if at all. Add a feature image (and maybe a potted plant or two) and even small rooms can feel more welcoming. [Click to enlarge]

It is a great way to encourage employees to take pride in the appearance of their place of work - by making it personal. [Click to enlarge]

It is a great way to encourage employees to take pride in the appearance of their place of work – by making it personal. [Click to enlarge]

People often get hung up on the number of megapixels and I’ve often seen this is a driving reason to upgrade the camera; after all, surely 20MP is better than 10MP? Whilst a larger pixel count, if implemented correctly, can mean higher definition images, that should not mean that that old 10.1MP camera is ready for the scrap heap. Here’s an image from the 10.1MP Canon 40D on the same 150cm by 100cm canvas. It is almost tempting to suggest that, if you’re thinking of heading out on a one-time trip of a lifetime and want to have a backup camera without a large investment, pick up one of these older camera bodies on eBay for a shadow of their original cost.

Even a 10.1MP camera like the Canon 40D can produce respectable sized images like this 150cm by 100cm canvas. [Click to enlarge]

Even a 10.1MP camera like the Canon 40D can produce respectable sized images like this 150cm by 100cm canvas. [Click to enlarge]

In my professional life I spend my time visiting clients across the UK and spend much of that time in their offices. Over the years I’ve been in upwards of six hundred different offices ranging from modern energy-efficient open plan spaces to warehouses to old national heritage buildings. I also spend a lot of time in hotels. So I think I am reasonably qualified to make the following statement: Impersonal spaces, such as offices and hotels, benefit from having artwork for the walls, even if it is an abstract of some form. They ‘feel’ lived-in and more, well, welcoming. And if you’re trying to get the best out of people, making them feel welcome is a pretty important first step…



Posted in Process Also tagged , , |

My Top Five of 2014: Dog Walking a Man

As I’m not going to be around over the Christmas period, I thought I’d share the five images taken this year that I am most happy of.

The idea came to me whilst on a train home at the end of a 61 hour work week: I was fighting not to fall asleep and so began going through some photographs on my iPad in an effort to stay awake. It worked as I found myself flicking back and forth between images trying to decide which I liked more.

I thought I’d share my choice of top five over the course of the week. I hope you enjoy them.

Tel Aviv – June 2014         


Is the dog keeping up with the man, or the man with the dog? I'll never know for sure but the question keeps making me smile...

Is the dog keeping up with the man, or the man with the dog? I’ll never know for sure but the question keeps making me smile…

This image was taken in Tel Aviv in early June. I was on a training course at the headquarters of one of our vendors. The days were long and we didn’t finish before 6PM each evening which, considering that sunset was just before 8PM, meant heading straight to the local push bike rental station and a mad dash across central Tel Aviv to the beach in the hope of a hour of photography.

If you ever visit Tel Aviv – and you should as it is a great city – the beach is a must: A long golden ribbon of sand stretching from the wall of Old Jaffa to the chic bars and restaurant by the harbour. What I loved about it most was the rhythm – the palpable thrum – of humanity that could be found along its length. The old, the young and the in-between. The athletic, the office worker, the card sharks, the musicians, the friends and the lovers. Everyone was making use of the beach and, as I have described it before, for me it was the heart of the city.

One of the nice things is the beach is also west-facing, so if you like the whole ‘sun setting over the sea’ thing then you’re in luck. But I was after something a little more – well to be honest I don’t know what I really wanted, but something that summed up Tel Aviv. And there was only one thing: Youthfulness. Not of body, but of spirit.

I found a great spot up near the harbour and it seemed that it was a popular path to get down to the beach. It had this great reflection of light coming off the cobbled stones so I set up an waited for the right moment but it became obvious that I may have chosen the wrong spot as there was a near constant flow of people either heading to, or coming back from, the beach. The resulting images were a mass of ill-defined silhouettes with no focus and no real story. Still I waited and people became curious as to why I was sitting in the middle of a path, camera on tripod and not actually taking photographs. So conversations ensued luck was wished. Then it happened.

A young couple appeared over the crest of the path carrying surfboards. It was what I had been waiting for – the essence of Tel Aviv in my mind. There were very few people around and I had a clear definition of them in silhouette (I love shooting people in silhouette). They knew I was photographing them and so we got talking and they liked the image so email addresses were exchanged.

I stuck around a bit longer and I was just thinking of moving on as the light was fading when these two appeared over the crest. It made me smile even as I pressed the shutter. And it made me smile again yesterday after a long and tiring week.

Posted in Frame by Frame Also tagged , |

Not Quite Natural Selection. More Like Photographic Genocide…

I’ve just completed the six-month edit of the photographs from my trip to Antarctica and uploaded the selected images. It has been an interesting process; when I first started in photography I used to select my favourites and uploaded as soon as possible. These days I go through a more measured process. It works well for me, so I though that I would share it.

First I make the initial select pretty much on the spot as part of the end-of-day keywording. This selection usually forms the broad outline of the final selection and the obviously strong images get picked up here.

Another selection gets made when I return home – the Lightroom catalogue from my travel laptop gets merged with the catalogue on my desktop PC and I then take the opportunity to run through the images on a 30″, calibrated, monitor. Mostly the in-the-field select survives this second critique more-or-less unscathed – after all not too much time has passed between the two. Sometimes I drop a shot or two out, sometime add a couple.

After about two months comes the next select. It’s a good time to return to the work; enough time has passed that the memory is beginning to get hazy whilst still being able to remember enough of the context in which the shot was taken. I also take the chance to go through all the initially rejected shots as the distance of time allows me to be more impartial.

The final select is about six months in. At this point I go through everything and apply the acid test: would I pay to print this? If yes, it makes the cut, if not it’s deselected.


In the case of Antarctica, the above process works out as follows:

Total taken: approx 4400 shots.

Initial field select: approx. 140 shots.

Initial home select: approx. 180 shots.

Two month select: approx 210 shots.

Six month select: 99 shots.



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