Tag Archives: Christmas

Christmas 2013… and plenty more to come

Christmas is here

I intended to bring you some street photography shots of happy shoppers. I was out watching the final dash for the Christmas presents. However, after ten minutes my camera battery went.

Well that’s not a problem. I swapped it for another and started again. Hmmm! The camera, an old Canon 350D, steadfastly refused to start up. It would only show me the battery was charged. I changed the battery for another – just in case. This time I got a brief “Err05” and then it died again.


No camera. This is not a problem! Undaunted, I whipped out the smart phone.Then I spent a happy hour capturing the best of the happy shoppers.

Now picture this… I am sitting in a car at a WIFI hotspot. I am trying to upload the photos to my laptop. The laptop completely ignores the phone. The phone tells me it is “Not tethered to any USB device”. Well… drat!

Sometimes things go wrong even if you have a backup. I have two other cameras 12 miles away. But no broadband connection there. And, it is late on Christmas Eve. Sometimes blogging is hell! But, I am still smiling.


This year, you, the readers, have been exceptionally supportive. I get a great deal of positive comments and thanks through Twitter, 365Project, Google+ and other channels. I also get comments here on the blog. So many positive things are said that it keeps me hard at the keyboard.

Courses next year

Many of my readers and friends have asked if I can start opening up my training courses more. So next year I will be doing a series of one day courses. To start with I will be running some courses on ‘going manual’ with your camera. Also, I am planning courses on portraiture and composition. So look out for those announced on these pages. Some other exciting things will be happening on this blog too so keep watching this space.

Thank you all

I want to send you all my Christmas Greetings. Whatever your beliefs or your holiday activities are about, I wish you all the best of the season and to have a great time over the next few days. I also wish you all the most prosperous and enjoyable New Year. But more than that I hope you have an excellent year ahead of great photography!

PS… Don’t forget to say Happy Christmas in the comments below!

Meanwhile, I think I will be upgrading an old camera  Camera sales after Christmas. External link - opens new tab/page shortly.

Two great gift ideas for photographers

Christmas Bonanza

Gift Bonanza


Love and friendship is about giving!

The lead up to any major festival is always a bit frenetic. So you can use these ideas to take the pressure off. See what you think. I can recommend these things from my own personal use. I think you will find they will make great gifts.





Within the Frame: The Journey of Photographic Vision (Voices That Matter)
David DuChemin is not only a great photographer he is also a visionary. In this book he speaks about his vision and how it relates to his photography. It is much more than a personal journey however.

DuChemin is a talented and sensitive photographer who has a compelling vision passionately expressed in every photograph. His book is aimed at helping the reader to understand what photographic vision is and how it relates to the photograph. He looks carefully at the way each of his images is created and provides some excellent photographic tips and his professional advice too.

The essence of the book is aimed at helping the reader get past the purely technical aspects of photography. His main point is that any photographer can learn to visualise great images and then go on to create them. DuChemin is giving away a gift in this book – how to see your photograph with a passion and create it with a passion and vision of your own.

The book is a pleasure to read and is filled with many of his wonderful images. His emphasis on street and travel photography makes the book all the more colourful. The current interest in street photography also helps make the book a relevant buy.

The book was published in 2009 and it has already become a classic. He has written a number of other books which follow on from this one. All are worth reading. The book provides a great grounding for beginner and expert alike. Great tips, great photographs and wonderful insights make this book the perfect gift for a photographer. Within the Frame: The Journey of Photographic Vision (Voices That Matter)

Rogue large Flashbender
I just love this great flash diffuser. If you have an off-camera flash this is the best. It is the most adaptable diffuser I have ever used. You attach it to the flash with a wrap around grip. The big diffuser stands up above the lens of the flash.

The white fabric diffusion surface is used to reflect the light where you want it to go. It is really controllable. The fabric is reinforced with very versatile but highly bendable backbones. These can be bent to give any shape of deflection so you can point your diffused light almost anywhere. It will allow you to point the deflection up, down or to either side. More to the point you can control the light intensity because you can wrap the sides in a bit to control how much light can get out of the gap. You can even roll it up and make it a snoot, a really directional focus for your flash.

While this diffuser is only of use for off-camera flash, it is very simple to use. It is a great way to prevent those nasty highlights that spoil flash shots. It is also a daylight matched colour so the diffused light will not have any colour cast.

I have used this in many different types of portrait and group shots. I have also used it in studio and still life situations. The material is very robust and resistant to damage. The white diffusion surface can be wiped clean and is very durable too. The whole thing is extremely light and I keep it rolled up in my camera bag ready for any time I need it. I would not be without this diffuser now. Another great gift for a photographer. Rogue large Flashbender

By Damon Guy (author and Photokonnexion editor)

Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photog and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photographers.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.

Controlling Depth of Field for Creating Bokeh

"Allium" This relative of the onion produces the most wonderful ball of flowers on top of a long stem.

"Allium" This relative of the onion produces a wonderful ball of flowers. I wanted to show just a few of the flowers against a pink back drop - shallow depth of field.

Creating bokeh through Shallow Depth of Field

Bokeh is the of-the-out of focus blur in a photograph. Bokeh appears in your photograph in the part of the image that is outside the depth of field. Inside the depth of field is sharp; outside blurred. The quality of that blur is bokeh.

Creating blur is very easy. Your aperture controls your depth of field. A wide aperture gives a shallow depth of field and narrow aperture gives a deep depth of field. The blurred area of non-sharpness either side of the depth of field is where the bokeh is found. To bring out the bokeh you need to take control of your aperture settings. This means working with the shutter wide open. So, let’s get started.

Creating bokeh with control of your aperture

Your aperture is controlled using the aperture setting. Select the the aperture priority setting on your mode dial to set up aperture control – or M if you are confident with manual control. If you don’t know how to set aperture priority then consult your manual.

The setting ‘aperture priority’ or A (or Av for aperture value) on the mode dial sets your aperture control. This means you can use the control on your camera that changes aperture value. Depending on which camera you use, the aperture value is set by a specific control. You will need to consult your manual to find out which control sets aperture on your camera.

Aperture priority is what’s known as a semi-auto setting. You have control of the aperture, but the camera takes control of the other two settings (ISO and shutter speed) to give you a good exposure. This is a great way to learn manual control of your camera because you can concentrate on one thing at a time.

Look into your viewfinder and you will see illuminated settings there, below the picture view of your shot. If you can’t see the settings then press the shutter button half way down. This will illuminate them. You should see something like this…

                 250 8 |II|II|II|II| 200
  • The figure ‘250’ (Left) is the speed of the shutter – 1/250th of a second.
  • The figure ‘8’ indicates the current f/stop value set on the aperture.
  • The upright markers indicate:   Under-exposure | Exposure | Over-exposure
  • The figure 200 (right) represents the ISO setting chosen by the camera

The upright markers are the exposure markers for your camera. They are graduated in thirds of an f/stop.

To remind yourself about aperture and f/stops see this definition: Aperture.

The central marker is the point where you get a good exposure. In aperture priority the camera allows you to change the size of the aperture. It does the work of managing the other settings to ensure you get a great exposure. The current exposure setting is indicated by the ‘^‘ symbol here. You will probably see a single pointer in your camera. If the pointer in your camera is at the centre marker you have a good exposure. If you are using the aperture priority setting this marker will not change as the camera will adjust the settings to always give a good exposure. In ‘M’ or manual mode you will see that central marker move as you change settings.

You may see a different order of settings in your camera. Consult your camera manual to see which figure indicates which setting.

When you change the aperture setting the other figures will change. Remember, as you change the aperture size, you are increasing or decreasing the incoming light. So the ISO and shutter speed are adjusted by the camera to compensate and give you a good exposure.

In aperture priority, moving the aperture control will have two effects. It will:
1. change the figure showing the aperture size (indicating increased or decreased aperture).
2. It will cause a change in the depth of field.

When creating bokeh you should be working at the wide end of the settings. So set your aperture to the widest setting for now. Lets say you select f3.5. This will mean that your depth of field will be quite shallow.

Focus your shot and take a picture. When you download it you will see that there is an area of the picture in focus. On the other side of the area of sharpness is an area that is not sharp, it is out-of-focus. This blurred area is where bokeh is found. Depending on your shot, you may find the foreground is out of focus too. Bokeh is found either side of the depth of field.

To make those bigger bright circles that give creating bokeh a really rewarding result, look for some highlights. Often on a bright day you can take a picture of a friend with trees behind. Set your aperture to a narrow depth of field. Focus your camera so your friend is in focus but everything behind is not sharp. Where you see bright light coming through the gaps in the trees you will get those bright circles of light.

Another great opportunity for creating bokeh is with Christmas lights. You can get great shots against Christmas trees, anywhere with multiple light sources. Look for places that have lots of bright or reflective points too. Any small bright point of light or reflection will cause those little bokeh circles to appear.

Creating bokeh is fun. However, using it is also a skill. Practice with passion. You will find that soon you are creating bokeh of all sorts. It is dependent on good focus though. So, practice making your depth of field very precise. This comes from knowing your lenses. Work in aperture priority a lot so you get to know which aperture setting helps in creating bokeh. However, you should also know the what the size of your depth of field is going to be on each setting. Then, you can get the focus right without blurring faces or other important parts of the picture.


By Damon Guy (author and Photokonnexion editor)

Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photog and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photographers.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.