The Wildlife Trusts 30 Day Challenge

The Wildlife Trusts 30 Day Challenge

Animals and Wildlife

The Wildlife Trusts 30 Days Wild

David Robinson

11th June 2020

Throughout June this year The Wildlife Trusts are challenging everyone to do one wild thing a day, every day throughout the month. Here’s some ideas to get you started without leaving your own home and garden.

Find out more at : Sign Up For 30 Days Wild

This is a photography blog so, obviously, I’m thinking of wild photography ideas here, but you could do so many other things too. How about a wild picnic if you have some space outside, cooking something over a small fire or a camping stove, making a den or putting up a tent and living outside for the day, or going bug and plant hunting to see what lives around your home?

My way of entering in to the spirit of the challenge has been to take a “wild” shot every day without leaving the garden. Yes, I know we can go out now, but I fancied the challenge of proving that you can find wilderness without leaving home.

Raindrops on a garden flower

Photograph by David Robinson

At the moment there are flowers, new growth on the trees and even grasses (if you havent cut them with the mower) with immature seed heads on them. Get in close and tight- see what you can find and photograph. When you are up close either a macro lens or a wide-angle lens are ideal to help you capture the smaller things in reasonable focus. An alternative approach is to stand back and use a telephoto or long lens to “zoom in” on the subject.

Its not just plants out there- you’d be amazed how much is going on at ground level – insects, worms, snails, wood lice and all sorts of critters live in the grass, under stones and in flower beds. Some of them prefer to hide away when the weather is dry and hot, particularly the worms, slugs and snails that like it wet, but others like butterflies and bees love the sunshine and will pose for you. OK, bees do buzz around a bit but that adds to the challenge. If your camera allows it, take bursts of shots to increase your chances of getting a good picture before the bee has flown off to the next flower!

Garden snail having lunch after heavy rain

Photograph by David Robinson

‘And, of course, there are the birds. Just about every garden has a pigeon pass through every day even if the other species arent such frequent visitors where you live. You can set up bird feeders just about anywhere, even outside windows / on balconies in blocks of flats. (Disclaimer: Check if you need permission, and MAKE SURE IT CANT FALL OFF!). Cats are the sworn enemy of wild birds so avoid hanging feeders where cats can lurk or pounce. Low down, on fences and in easily climbed trees are NOT good places. Find a spot with clear ground around it so birds can see any cats, hammer a long pole into the ground and pop a feeder on that. If there’s a bush not too far away where birds can sit and observe the surroundings, so much the better.  With some parience and a bit of luck you’ll start attracting assorted birds to your feeder 🙂

Great Spotted Woodpecker enjoying fat balls

Photograph by David Robinson

Have a go at their challenge, and if you sign up they will give you a link to their “downloadable pack of goodies” to help you plan your activities. I think its a fantastic chance to either dip your tioes in the wild side of life, or to challenge yourself to look at your home surroundings in a different way. You don’t need to go to Africa or India to get wildlife shots – you won’t (hopefully) find cobras or tigers in the garden, but if you happen to be an aphid, finding a ladybird is just as scary!

Real Estate in Hampshire

Real Estate in Hampshire

There are times when expensive lighting, tripods and extension cables just aren’t necessary. A little fill-in flash and an occasional flash pop are all you need to use to get a well-balanced image. To expose the room *and* the view outside, set your exposure for the view through the window, then use your flash to add light to the room.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

St Paul’s Cathedral Quire

St Paul’s Cathedral Quire

Another shot from the recent St Pauls marketing shoot, this time showing the stunning ceiling above the quire.   What can I say, it’s breathtaking!  One of the things I love so much about this sort of work is meeting people who work in the places where I shoot, and getting to see parts of buildings that you’d never normally see.

Lionhouse Baby Mat

Lionhouse Baby Mat

This was a shoot for a new company called Lionhouse. Lionhouse produce an awesome baby mat thats soft, colourful and washable.  The founders, Alex and Charles, are lovely people with a baby daughter of their own. They couldn’t find an ethically sourced and produced baby mat that was also attractive, soft and affordable, so they designed one of their own!

This is a shot of baby model, Oscar, and the mat, taken for the baby mat launch advertising. If you want to buy one – and you should –  Lionhouse have their own website here.

PaperDry Commercial Shoot

PaperDry Commercial Shoot

Here’s a shot from a recent product shoot for the PaperDry waterproof clipboard produced by Laserware. Shot on a rainy beach in the West Country, with Chris as the model, the PaperDry clipboard is ideal for anyone who needs to write outside in bad weather. An impressive product!

Sea Bubbles

Sea Bubbles

On the beach at Chapel Porth, near St Agnes, Cornwall. A fierce storm had been blowing off the sea, whipping the water into huge chunks of sea foam. In a tiny rook pool I found these iridescent bubbles. I couldn’t resist taking a shot although the wind was so strong that I could barely hold the camera still.

Wheel Coates, Cornwall

Wheel Coates, Cornwall

Both these shots were taken during stormy weather in Cornwall, in the south west of England. Wheel Coates is a disused tin mine, with ruins dating back to the late 1800s. The ruin in these shots used to house the engine and pump that kept the main 180m shaft dry.

 

How to Create a Monochrome Colour Wash Image In Photoshop

How to Create a Monochrome Colour Wash Image In Photoshop

How to Create a Monochrome Colour Wash Image In Photoshop

Monochrome colour wash images, essentially a mono-coloured black and white shot,  have long been part of the repertoire of digital artists. Theyare now finding favour on Facebook, Instagram and on web pages.  I was recently asked online to explain how they are done, and it seemed sensible to write it up for general use by everyone. So, here we go…

 

  1. Load up Photoshop and drop the desired image onto the window. Any standard image format will do, but a high-resolution jpeg is ideal.

  1. To achieve the monochrome look you now need to remove all the colour from the image. We will add the chosen wash colour later but, for now, we need a black and white image.

 

  1. Go to the <Image> menu item on the bar across the top of the Photoshop screen, right click on it and navigate down through <Adjustments> to <Black and White>. Click on it to convert the image to grey scale.

  1. Your image is now shown on screen in shades of grey. If it looks just as you want it, move to the next step. However, if the shading isn’t ideal, you can adjust how each colour has been changed to a shade of grey. There’s a new window (that appeared when the image was converted to grey scale) showing coloured lines from red to magenta. Adjusting the colour lines changes how each colour is shown in grey. Play around until you are happy.

  1. Click on the <OK> button at the top right of the coloured line window to confirm that you are happy with the new black and white image.

 

  1. Go back to the top menu and right click on <Layer>. From the <Layer> menu work down through <New Fill Layer> to the <Solid Colour> option, and left click on it.

  1. A small colour picker (Solid Colour) window will have now opened. Here’s where you choose the colour you want for the wash. Drag your mouse around over the window until you have the right colour, then left-click the mouse.

  1. Confirm the colour choice by clicking the OK button.

 

  1. You now need to work with ‘Layers’ for a moment. Check the right-side of the screen for the Layers window. If it’s not open, click on the <Windows> option on the menu along the top of the Photoshop window, then scroll down and select <Layers> by left-clicking on it.

  1. In the <Layers> window you will see two layers; one is your image and the other is a solid rectangle of the wash colour you just selected.

  1. Click on the coloured rectangle to select it, and then drag it down to BELOW the layer containing the image.

  1. Select the image layer by left-clicking on it to highlight it.

 

  1. Look just above the two layers and find the menu item called ‘Normal’. Click on the drop-down menu option next to ‘Normal’ and select either <Overlay> or <Luminosity>. They are near the bottom of the list.

  1. Use the Opacity slider to vary the density of the colour wash that’s applied over the original image.

 

  1. When you are happy, go to the top menu once again, select the <Layers> option and scroll to the bottom of the options.

 

  1. Click on <Flatten Image>.

  1. Save the finished image.

 

 

That’s it- from full colour image to a bespoke monochrome image with a colour wash. With a slight variation you can try applying a colour wash over a colour image, or use a mask to protect parts of the image whilst applying the wash to the rest. Have fun!

 

NOTE: Step 15 gives the options of using <Overlay> or <Luminosity> because although they produce similar results, they are not identical. Its worth playing with both options to see what looks best.

 

St Paul’s Cathedral Whispering Gallery

St Paul’s Cathedral Whispering Gallery

The ‘Whispering Gallery’ set in the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral is one of it’s principle tourist attractions. The accoustics are remarkable. Setting up in the gallery, early in the morning, and before the public arrived it felt like a vast space, with the onion-shape of the dome above giving glimpses of another balcony far over-head, and the jaw-dropping view to the cathedral floor way below.

Photography there is challenging; narrow walkways, high balconies for Health and Safety reasons, and huge variations in lighting as shafts of sunlight pierce the windows. A technical challenge to excite any photographer!

In the cathedral’s archives is an old black and white photograph of smartly dressed Londoners sitting in the Gallery, with their ears to the wall. It seemed like a lovely idea to re-create the image for modern times, with the assistance of some of the first tourists of the day.

Here it is  in full colour and then, down below,  in black and white, like the original.

and now in black and white, as in the original. I prefer the b/w rendering: There is more sense of mystery and atmosphere to it.

St Paul’s Cathedral

St Paul’s Cathedral

Recently I was commissioned to work on an advertising campaign for St Paul’s Cathedral, in London. Although it’s an important religious building, St Pauls is also a place where anyone can escape from the frenzied London atmosphere, find peace and quiet, buy a coffee, climb the dome for amazing views across London, or simply be a tourist and soak up the stunning architecture. It’s these many roles that the Cathedral wanted to highlight ,so the shoot promised to be varied, yet tightly targeted.

Here’s one that didn’t make it to the final selection process, simply because we don’t know who she is. When using images for advertising, you must have permission from anyone you in the image who could be identifiable… and for this shot I was too far away to attract her attention and talk to her.  Luckily, for editorial purposes, I can still use the shot here though 🙂

So here we are, a brightly dressed lady gazing up into St Paul’s famous dome, whilst standing in the dead centre of the compass set out on the floor.