Tag Archives: challenge

Photographing Wolves

“Your next mini mission is to shoot (photograph!) a WOLF!!!”

I had my scariest mission yet on Saturday. I had to wander out into the deep and darkest wilderness of Gloucestershire to search out and photograph a wolf. I knew this was going to be a dangerous task, but I psyched myself up and set out to complete my mission. It was early evening and not far from starting to get dark, so I was dealing with less light than ideal for the subject. I set my aperture quite high so I could get a fast shutter speed as I needed to freeze the action. I didn’t want to put the ISO up too high as I didn’t want too much noise in the pictures. So off I went with my Sigma 50mm f/1.4 on my Canon 50d to catch the wolf on film (cf card actually). I couldn’t actually find a wild wolf, so a passing Utonogan-Huskie called Kato volunteered to help me instead.

Butt shotThe 1st image is a highly experimental butt shot. Skilfully taken from butt height and behind my back, you can just make out the outline of the illusive Kato at the top (bottom) of the image.



headshot My second image shows why not to shoot at a high aperture with a fast moving Kato if you can’t get focused quickly enough. I managed to get quite a few shots like this one.


In action.

Time now for some action shots. With just a little bit of bribery in the form of a ball and a flying saucer thingy, Kato was more than happy to do some action sequences for me to shoot. Unfortunately he is too smart for his own good and stopped doing big jumps after a while as he knew the ball was coming back down, so decided to save some energy and just wait for it to land instead. Here are the shots from Saturday ….


I think we managed to completely knacker out Kato by the end of this as he went and had a nap not long after we got back – and due to my high stamina and fitness levels, I was a bit out of puff too!

Tired Kato

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Shot in the dark

“Your mini mission is to shoot in the dark”

Tonight was an impromptu play about as I am yet to get my arse in gear in doing my main mission “Still Life”. It was dark outside, so after much planning and deliberation, I set about taking some shots of Enoch the bird.

It was way too dark to shoot handheld and still keep the image sharp, so I used a tripod. I was cropping and focusing in the dark so didn’t manage to do an amazing job – I kept cropping off the top if Enoch’s head. I used a slowish shutter speed (3 seconds) and fired the flash handheld too. We also tried out using a torch to see how that would look – first pointing it at the bird, then pointing it at the lens instead.


Next up I wanted to try some light painting. I found a plain wall to shoot against, stuck the lens on manual so it wouldn’t keep trying to focus, picked a middle of the road apperture of f/11 and a longer shutter speed of 6 seconds. This was long enough not to let any ambient light in (though there wasn’t much about to let in anyway) and hopefully enough time for me to do some “painting”. Here is my first effort – not quite “Hello world” but nearly :)


It was a bit wonky, but 6 seconds turned out to be a good guestimate for the shutter speed. It gave me enough time to spell out 1 letter without having to rush. I did this using a torch and pointing it straight at the camera, and just spelling the letters in the air. My assistant helped out by telling me if I was getting them in the shot, or if they were coming out lopsided. I’m pretty pleased with the results myself – simple but very funky, just like me!

Below is the outcome of the painting experiment – something intelligent and high brow seemed appropriate……


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“Your next challenge, should you choose to accept it or not, is to shoot ‘harmony'”.

I have been given persuasive incentives to get this challenge completed quick smart – Mavis she be a waiting! …..

Hmm, I may have stretched the interpretation of this one a bit. It is of course Valentine’s Day today, so I went out with the intent of shooting people carrying bouquets, hugging, kissing, holding hands and generally being all loved up. Harmony as in togetherness then. Unfortunately, there was not much of that going on in Cheltenham today. Maybe 17:00 is a bit too late for the casual strolling romantics and too early for those on a “Valentines Dinner” mission. There were some funky shop displays up for the day worth shooting though.


I did find some affectionate couples to shoot. First were a pair of rabbits(?) sharing a bench together. Then there were 2 mannequins in a shop window. I am not convinced their affair is out in the open as their hand holding looked like a very secretive gesture…..


I’d say that today’s challenge was above all having the bottle to shoot with crowds of people about. I think I did OK, but need to get the balls to do candid portraits – I’m definitely not there yet. Camera wise, I used a high ISO as it was getting dark quickly. A 50mm was on camera again at anything between f/1.4 and f/8. I would have preferred my 24-70 but didn’t fancy walking around town with that much £’s of kit in my hand. Was a nice shoot this evening. I tried some new things that didn’t quite work out (manual focusing and shooting from the hip at the same time which failed miserably) and some things that did (bokeh from car lights).

One final thing. On my way up The Promenade in Cheltenham, I came across a tree with a heart stuck to it. It was left there with some chalk and a note asking people to write a message to their loved one on it and then take a photo of the message. “A 21st Century Valentine” it was called. The note was a poem which also asked people to send their images in to them so they could be put on their blog http://dillytante.wordpress.com/. I will be keeping an eye out to see the results – I thought it was a cool idea. So here is what I took of the heart.


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Frosty Escapades

“Your challenge, should you chose to accept it, is to shoot frost” … or something along those lines.


Well, I looked around this morning and could I find any frost? I looked on my car, on some trees, on a patch of grass and I couldn’t find Jack (lol). So I thought I’d stretch the brief a bit. Ice is like lots of frost, yes? And Snow is like crushed ice, yes? Therefore snow = frost! I didn’t have long shooting as I had to go in to work today, but at least I got out and took some piccies. So here are some pictures with a frosty theme.

I shot them as raw, but was using a b/w preview in camera as I was going to convert them when back on the PC. When I got home though, I desaturated the colours a little and much prefer the these versions to the b/w ones, so am sticking with that.


As you can see from above, 1st thing I did was take a few shots of the area near the car. I saw the Cotswold Way sign and thought I’d have a play cropping the image so you could just read “Old Way” The results I got are below – I love the depth of field (f/2.8), but the 1st one is over exposed. The 2nd one is under-exposed, especially the post itself. 3rd shot was better, but the framing was rubbish. I needed to have crouched down a bit lower to frame the shot properly, but the passing car had gone by then and I also realised the shot wasn’t as clever as I thought it was going to be, so I moved on :)


I went a bit further in to the woods and found a funky branch, so I took some shots of that. I tried them at different depths of field to see what came out best – f/2.8 was too shallow and looked a bit naff, f/8 was a bit dark so I decreased the shutter speed which showed too much detail behind.


I think f/5.6 looks best and blurs out the background just enough for this “Scary Tree Monster Claw”.


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