robbennettphotography

Photographer for any event

The Photo-Sharing Phenomenon

ImageIn recent years it seems the world and his dog has decided to take up some form of photography. We’ve seen a surge in the amount of photos being taken and shared, but what’s behind this trend? 

Technological advancements in the late 90s meant that the cell phone really took off, and it wasn’t long before the camera phone was introduced. No longer did you have to lug a big heavy camera around with you just in case a photo opportunity arose. With a camera incorporated into your mobile phone you could kill two birds with one stone! Make calls on the go and capture images quickly and easily wherever you were!  As if that wasn’t enough, along came mobile internet connections. Suddenly all these photos we were taking on our mobile phones could actually be sent to people via email and the newly-emerging Facebook. We took this new advancement in technology and ran with it. Phones came equipped with better and better cameras, more megapixels, and bigger memory. And then when we least expected it: BAM! The dawn of the smartphone.  The smartphone has truly revolutionised the way we connect with people. By the time Apple launched its first iPhone in 2007, social media had begun to take off in a BIG way. Facebook now has over 1 billion active monthly users, while Twitter has over 500 million registered users. Smartphones and the introduction of 3G superfast mobile internet connectivity meant that we were suddenly able to access our Facebook and Twitter accounts wherever we were much more easily.  A picture paints a thousand words. Why bother updating your Facebook status to tell your 346 ‘friends’ that you’re eating a cupcake when you can photograph said cupcake with your 6 megapixel smartphone camera and post it straight to Facebook within seconds? In addition to sharing photos as part of the general social media we use, there are now social sites wholly dedicated to the sharing of photos. Flickr, Snapchat and Instagram have taken photo sharing to a whole new level and I for one can’t see this trend of photo sharing ceasing any time soon!

Top 5 Free Photo Editing Software Packages

When thinking about photo editing software the first thing that pops into most people’s heads is likely to be Photoshop. It’s one of the most popular and versatile photo editing software packages around. However, it comes with a hefty price tag and tends to be mainly used by companies for web design etc. If you’re an amateur photographer just starting out then it’s likely that you don’t have a spare £400+ spare to purchase photo editing software. But fear not, amateur photographer! There are plenty of more than decent free photo editing software packages available:

GIMP – The GNU Image Manipulation Program is widely regarded as the best free photo editor available. It’s an incredibly powerful editing tool that allows the user to correct colours, sharpen or blur and image, remove red-eye, control contrast/brightness etc, add special effects, use imaging layers, and even create an animation. GIMP can take a while to get the hang of if you’re new to photo editing but there are plenty of online tutorials on YouTube to guide you through the basics and the more complex functions.

PhoXo – It’s not quite as powerful as GIMP, but then most editing software isn’t. However it’s still a great tool that allows you to transform your images, add different effects, customise images with various clipart, and add custom watermarks to a group of photos.

Paint.Net – A good all-round photo editing tool that allows you to resize and rotate photos, add special effects, and edit images in layers. The program can be extended to suit your needs via different plugins. The straightforward and easy to use interface is ideal for first time editing software users.

Photo Pos Pro – Not quite as sleek looking as some of the other photo editing software but once you get over dated interface and begin to explore its functionality you’ll be impressed. It supports layered editing and has a great deal of extremely configurable effects, as well as a scripting tool which enables you to automate some editing tasks.

Chasys Draw IES – Once you get over the daft name the creators gave to the software then it’s actually a really nifty piece of kit. It has a strong layer support, lots of special effects, colour and lighting adjustments, and Photoshop plugin support. The program also allows users to create animations, icons, cursors and capture videos of desktop activity. Chasys Draw IES has a RAW file processor, image viewer and converter included making it a really versatile editing package.

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What To Look For When Purchasing A Digital Camera

ImageWhether you’re making the leap from film camera to digital camera or just looking to replace your existing digital camera with a newer model then there are several things that you may need to take into consideration. Firstly consider what you intend to use the camera for; a professional photographer or serious amateur will be looking for different things in a digital camera than someone who will mainly be using the camera to snap pictures of the family holiday and the kids’ birthdays. Once you know what the camera’s intended use will be then you can start to think about the features that you need to look out for:

Battery – Digital cameras are available with either a rechargeable lithium battery or replaceable batteries such as AA. Rechargeable batteries may work out more cost-effective in the long-term but replaceable batteries can be convenient when you’re out and about, so it’s important to weigh up where you’re likely to be using your camera.

Megapixels – Generally speaking, the higher the number of megapixels, the higher the image quality when the image is printed out.

Zoom – An optical zoom magnifies the actual image, whereas a digital zoom magnifies the megapixels within the image. Most basic point and click digital cameras rely heavily on digital zoom. The further you zoom in digitally, the more blurry and pixellated the image becomes. It’s recommended that you always go for the best optical zoom that you can afford within your budget.

LCD Display – A larger LCD screen on the rear of the camera will help you to focus your shots better and review images once you’ve taken them. Some cameras also come with a touch-screen LCD display which some people may find easier to use.

Card Compatibility – It’s important to establish what types of memory cards are compatible with the camera. If it takes micro SD cards then you’ll need a micro SD adapter in order to view the files on your computer.

Functions – Bear in mind what you want to use the camera for and look out for different functions such as image stabilisation, panoramic ability, face detection, auto settings, macro mode, low-noise processor etc.

Film Cameras Vs Digital Cameras

ImageThe debate surrounding traditional film cameras versus modern digital cameras is one that will probably never be resolved. Each type of camera has its own pros and cons and some might argue that a good mix of the two is best for a professional or serious amateur photographer to achieve the best shots in any situation.

Film Cameras

Film cameras are generally much quicker to use; you don’t have to wait for the camera to start up, and you don’t have to wait for the image to be captures, processed and saved to the memory card before moving onto your next shot.

The batteries in film cameras usually last much longer and are easier to change as they’re just standard batteries.

The photographer doesn’t need to have any skills in using computer based editing software.

The view hole on a film camera can be used in any light, whereas a digital camera’s lcd screen can be difficult to view in bright lighting.

Film negatives can last much longer than digital memory cards. Some digital photography critics would argue that with the continuing advancement in computer technology the memory cards may not be able to be read by future machines; whereas film negatives, if stored properly, can last a lifetime.

Digital Cameras

You can instantly review every photograph you take. If it’s not quite right then you can delete it and take another one.

You can pick and choose which of you photos to print out.

Digital photograph printers have advanced greatly in recent years and are affordable enough to have in your own home.

If you don’t have a digital photo printer then you can send your images electronically to a printing company and receive professional, high quality prints in the post within a few days.

Storing your photographs on memory cards takes up much less room than having to store boxes full of negatives.

The image quality of a digital photograph does not deteriorate over time.

Digital cameras can often be much more compact than their traditional film counterparts, meaning that they’re easier to carry around.

Digital photographs are much easier to share with people via social media and email without having to scan them onto a computer via a printer/scanner.

How To Keep Your Camera Steady Without A Tripod

Ask any photographer and they’ll tell you that to get the clearest, most focused shot you need to keep your camera steady, and the best way to do that is with a tripod. That’s all well and good but who wants to carry a heavy tripod around with them everyday ‘just in case’? Here are some top tips to help you keep your camera steady when you’re out and about with your trusty tripod:

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If your camera or lens has an image stabilisation setting then make sure you turn this function on, it will really help you to achieve a steadier shot.

Zoom out and get closer to whatever you’re trying to capture; any slight shake in the camera will not be as noticeable if you haven’t had to zoom in too much.

Press the shutter gently, slowly and steadily; keep pressing it until just after the shot has been taken so as not to jerk the camera mid-shot.

Brace the camera against something such as a wall or fence that you can rest it on. If you’re not near to anything that you can lean on then bring your arms close to your body to steady them, or crouch down and brace your arms against your knees while you make the shot.

Prop the camera on something such as its strap, bag or a purpose-built small beanbag and use the self-timer on the camera to avoid shaking it by pushing the shutter button.

Alter the shutter speed of your camera so that photographs are snapped much quicker, meaning that you don’t have to keep the camera steady for as long to get a good shot.

Moving your shot to somewhere with better lighting can also help you to capture a clearer photograph.

If all else fails then just enjoy the freedom of being able to move around with your camera and change the angle of your photos without having to adjust a tripod!

5 Tips For Taking Better Photographs

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Whether you’re an amateur or doing it professionally, there should always be more ways in which you can learn and grow as a photographer. Camera technology advances and our life experiences open us up to new styles of photography constantly. It’s up to us as photographers to make the most of what is out there and make sure our portfolio is constantly growing and evolving. Here are 5 great tips to help you take better photographs today:

1) Get to know your camera – It’s a really good idea to spend some time going through the camera manual and learning about everything your camera can do, and what affect all these functions have on your photography. You may just discover a fantastic function that opens your eyes to a whole new style of photography! It’s also worth knowing how to change the function of your camera quickly, preferably without looking at what you’re doing. If you can learn to focus on the art rather than the technology then you should begin to capture better photographs.

2) Always shoot in high resolution – Adjust your camera’s settings so that it always captures photographs in the highest possible resolution with high quality. High resolution images are much easier to crop and edit digitally later; whereas low resolution images don’t have enough pixels and can lose most of their focus and crispness with editing. Obviously high resolution images use a lot more memory space than low resolution images so you’ll need a fairly decent sized memory card.

3) Take your camera everywhere – Make sure you’ve always got your camera with you as you never know when the opportunity for a great photo will arise. Having your camera with you at all times will mean that you’ll start to actively look for great shots and take lots more photographs than you normally would. This will ultimately lead to you becoming a better photographer.

4) Get back to nature – One of the best photography tips is simply to get outside. Make the most of natural light during the day; and go outside at night to photograph various things under the cover of street lamps and moonlight. Night time makes for some interesting and unique shots so it’s well worth having a few night time photographs in your portfolio.

5) Review your photos – Regularly take a good look through your own portfolio and pick out photographs that really work, and keep doing what you’re doing. If you have some shots that didn’t quite turn out as expected then use them as a learning curve and try similar shots again with different lighting, different functions on your camera etc to see if you can achieve the desired result.

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At the BBC today, in its last few days as the spiritual home of Television. It is a building which lends itself to architectural photography, with strong lines and bold design. I shall miss coming here as a Cameraman and as a Photographer. Perhaps the Westfield Centre nearby will lead to Commercial photography opportunities in […]

At the BBC today in its last few days as the spiritual home of Television. It is a building which lends its self to Architectural Photography with its strong lines and bold design. I shall miss comming here as a Cameraman and Photographer.
Perhaps the Westfield on the other side of the road will yeald opportunities for some Commercial Photography as some solace.

cass watching tv

Cassian engrossed in watching TV, probably Cbeebies or The Gruffalo….two great favourites of his, although I think I know the words to every CBeebies song on every show now! I think it is amazing how quickly they grow up. One minute they are blobs that can’t do anything for themselves and then the next thing […]