The 12 disguises of Christmas

I came up with the idea of creating this fun little stop-motion selfie for the 12 days of Christmas. I used what we had gathered over the years from the Christmas box and hey ho here we go – the 12 disguises of Christmas!

See you next year!

How I create my holiday photo books

Overview

When creating a holiday photo book or any other photo book for that matter it really pays to think and plan in advance (and I’m talking, even before you go on holiday). This blog gives some key principles (in no particular order) I apply to new projects. At the bottom of the blog I have attached a pdf and a hires version of a workflow I use when working through a piece of work. Hopefully you can apply a few of these ideas and principles into your own future projects. 

Tell a story about the trip

First impressions count, so jot down your immediate thoughts on arrival! Then, as each day passes, note down what you got up to. By the time you get back home unless you’ve written all of this down you’re going to have a tough time remembering what you got up to and in the order you did it! 

  • Describe your: location (countryside or city) /accommodation/atmosphere/people/local area (modern or old)/weather/restaurants/food/bars/costs/beaches etc.
  • What was the local food like, best restaurant, was it reasonable or expensive, how much were taxis/hire cars, a glass of wine/beer? 
  • Did you do any activities or travel to other locations? Did you travel by car/bus/train/plane/boat?

Workflow

This is the workflow I use after I come back from holiday.

  • Create a folder in Lightroom naming it with the location visited, the month and year.
  • Download all images from cameras into the folder above.
  • Import all files into Lightroom.
  • Start the picture culling process. Be brave, be bold, there’s no room on the HD for all those second rate images – Reject all that don’t make the cut. Delete all over/under exposures, blurry/out of focus shots. Get rid of all the rubbish and if using bracketed/continuous shooting modes, pick the best one out the bunch. I do this three to five times on average until I whittle it down to about 10%-30% of the original import.
    I delete the rejects and save the rest in readiness for the book.
  • I think about the format of the book I want to create and then make the decision as to portrait or landscape and the physical size (page count doesn’t matter at this stage as it’s really easy to add or subtract pages as you layout the book).
  • I start editing pictures and then flowing them into the page layout. 
  • Type-up my journal I kept on holiday and decide whether to keep it in one section of spread it throughout the book.
  • Creating the map and infographic is next.
  • Organise book into sections if needed.
  • Once everything has been flowed into the book and I am happy with the layout I will go through captioning all images that require a description.
  • First proof stage. I create a pdf version of the book and print a hard copy. I then use this to markup any issues needing correction such as typos, spelling, layout and and further image editing requirements.
  • Make all corrections as marked upon first proof, create pdf, print off a hard copy and markup any additional amends. On average this could take anything between two to five times but it’s an essential part of the proofing process.  
  • Once the above is complete I am happy to proceed to print. I will choose the quantity, paper stock, and cover type before uploading online a hires pdf to Blurb’s website for them to print. I can then relax and start getting excited about receiving my very own unique holiday photo book.

Book sizes and finishes

There’s a diverse array of sizes and finishes to choose from. Think about:

  • Size: do you want to create a pocket book or coffee table book.
  • Orientation: portrait or landscape.
  • Cover: hardcover image wrap, hardcover dust jacket or soft cover. 
  • Paper type: lustre, matte, uncoated or pearle (this will not only affect how the images will look on the paper but it will also have a big impact on how the book will actually feel. We’re talking tactile, Personally, for me I love the look and feel of an uncoated paper.

Create a holiday map

Create a holiday map showing your location in relation to the local area/town/city or country visiting. You might want to include:

  • Location of the hotel.
  • Places of interest/visited.
  • Use a recurring theme of the area to incorporate into the map such as colours/typography/textures/architecture/shapes and plants.

Applications used to create photo book’s

  • Adobe Lightroom: for storing, editing and creating the photo book.
  • PhotoShop: for finer editing control over images, creating montages and other images that can’t be created in Lightroom.
  • Illustrator: for creating graphics for the infographic and maps.
  • Blurb: for producing photo books.

Create a holiday infographic

Creating an infographic is a great way to visually show, at a glance, key important information about your holiday. So we’re talking about:

  • Accommodation details and places visited.
  • Flight details: carrier, airports, dep/arrival times.
  • Cost details: flights, accommodation, and spending money.
  • Exchange rates.
  • Length of stay.
  • Equipment. Technology is cracking along at a pace! It’s interesting to look back over time and see what equipment you took on a trip and how it has evolved over time so make sure to include cameras and lenses.
  • The total number of pictures taken (it’s an eye opener to see the comparison between the number of pictures captured, compared to the keepers! 

Layout, theme, and flow

You can choose from template-driven layouts to get started or go all freestyle and created your own unique look. Incorporate the essence of your holiday in the form of colours and typography. Don’t forget how much of an impact the type of paper you print the book on will also have. Consider the following:

  • Fonts.
  • Colour.
  • Page numbers: Bottom or top centred/left or right, or middle of the page.
  • Page layout: Clean/creative/portfolio or travel inspired.
  • Use captions for pictures.
  • Write an overview of the holiday.
  • Create sections describing accommodation (inc bedroom, bathroom, living room, balcony, grounds) pool, local area, trips etc.

Equipment used

I used to travel with a DSLR, at least two lenses (a wide angle, 10-20mm and telephoto, 28-135mm), filters and all the usual accessories. I got so fed up of constantly changing lenses, equipment being too bulky, awkward and rather heavy to carry around with the other usual holiday essentials stash in my backpack. And finally I really didn’t want to take it out at night.

There’s no one camera or lens that does it all. The camera I chose to fulfill my particular travel photography needs was the Sony RX system. It’s so small, lightweight, the spec of the camera and quality of images are amazing. I also take a GoPro along for the same reason but with the added bonus of being waterproof and having an amazing wide angle lens!

  • Sony RX 100 IV.
  • GoPro Hero 6.
  • Gorilla Pod.
  • A6 notebook.

 

Below are six pictures showing some of my holiday photo book covers.

The Shortbread Shed-photobooks-29The Shortbread Shed-photobooks-38The Shortbread Shed-photobooks-22The Shortbread Shed-photobooks-6The Shortbread Shed-photobooks-16The Shortbread Shed-photobooks-5

 

The below three images show the different types of introductory text I have used to describe the overall holidays.

Below are examples of holiday maps and infographics from various holiday photo books.

The Shortbread Shed-photobooks-4The Shortbread Shed-photobooks-21The Shortbread Shed-photobooks-28The Shortbread Shed-photobooks-44

 

Below is a slideshow showing various spreads from different holiday books

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Below are pictures showing the different layouts of sections I have used for the various photo books. The sections range from Accommodation, location, tours, the pool to road trips.

 

Below are two hires images detailing my workflow process. You can also download a free pdf which describes and shows you the creative process I go through when creating a holiday photo book.

S121_How to create a holiday photo book

 

 

Quotes that got me thinking No.16

The Shortbread Shed-movement

“A blurry photo communicates feeling
in a language that perfection never will.”

Yan Palmer

The mighty Glencoe

Back in early July this year I took part in the Great Glencoe Challenge. A 26.2-mile Trekathon through some of Scotland’s most breathtaking scenery. From the north end of Glencoe to the foot of Ben Nevis.

It was a fantastic race and the weather could not have been any better (I know, I know, we’re talking about Scotland and Fort William, one of the wettest places in the UK). However, this was one of the warmest summers to bake the entire UK since 1976. Instead of the usual lush green fields and trees associated with our British summertime, the landscape was drifting to a more autumnal colour palette of browns, yellows, and ochres across the parched landscape.

The Shortbread Shed-Glencoe 7

Whatever the colour palette Glencoe has to offer though it doesn’t distract from its rugged and mighty awesomeness. Although the weather on the day of the race was amazing (blue sky, sunny, light breeze and warm – 18-22 degrees) it didn’t make for taking good pictures. It was too sunny, mostly directly overhead and at the wrong angle. For most of the day the sun was casting too harsh a shadows! It wasn’t until the day after when I was heading back through Glencoe on the way home that I managed to grab the images I was after.

The Shortbread Shed-Glencoe 6-2

There was no more sun, the temperature had dropped, rain was driving in, the breeze had picked up and there was plenty of low lying cloud. PERFECT conditions for taking atmospheric pictures of the Glen.

The Shortbread Shed-Glencoe 5

I pulled over into a lay-by to take some images. It was mesmerizing just sitting in the car watching the constantly changing cloud formations roll in and out of the mountain tops. The landscape was so dramatic and the weather changing so quickly that it didn’t seem to matter where I pointed my lens to get a great shot. Mountains would appear and disappear with each rapidly approaching wave of low flying Scotch mist!

Attached are a few of my favourite images I managed to capture on that day.

The Shortbread Shed-Glencoe 4The Shortbread Shed-Glencoe 3The Shortbread Shed-Glencoe village

I don’t surf and I don’t ride custom-built motorbikes… but I do LOVE this brand.

Deus Ex Machina is the company and I’ve followed this Australian brand after discovering it on the internet and immediately fell in love.

The Shortbread Shed-Deux-05098I was fortunate enough to be on holiday in Bali this year and knew Deus has a flagship store on the island near Canggu, not too far from where I would be located. Intriguingly called the Temple of Enthusiasm, with a name like that who could resist the temptation to go and seek out the hallowed temple and check out first hand, why I have developed such a crush on them.

Deus ex Machina (god from the machine) was born in Australia back in 2005. It’s more a philosophy than a brand, it’s one incredibly creative company. Founder Dare Jennings and Co-Founder Carby Tuckwell wanted to build a company that represented the things they loved without exclusion. It started with their passion for motorcycles and a desire to build custom bikes and parts.

Still located within the original building from back in the day, the company has transformed from a small two hoist garage with a shop attached to the now global headquarters of this creatively diverse multidisciplinary house of fun, known as The House of Simple Pleasures!

The thing I really love about this brand is that creativity seems to flow through its veins like petrol through an engine. So not only do they do amazing custom built motorbikes they also produce surfboards, pedal bikes, clothing, artwork, Vinyl, apparel to movies, events, cafe’s and restaurants.

So, on a hot sunny sticky day, I set out in search of the Temple of Enthusiasm. The Temple can be found on JI. Batu Mejan No.4 Canggu, on one of the many tributary roads flowing down to the beach, some 15 minutes walk away. It’s not just a surf shop, it’s more of a compound, a hub for selling and exhibiting their creativity. You have the usual surf gear, apparel, clothing, flip-flops, wallets, t-shirts and surfboards but then you have an exhibition space, a restaurant, a cafe, a barbers, a custom surfboard workshop, a custom motorbike workshop, a photo studio, a bike show area, an outdoor eating/drinking/events area and an office, oh and don’t forget the skate park!

The Shortbread Shed-Deux-3The Shortbread Shed-Deux-5From an empty space the Temple rose and from two sides, rice fields frame the multidisciplinary complex layout. They even imported traditional Javanese Teak wooden houses to form part of the facility which is incredibly beautiful in and of themselves.

On entering, I immediately got that young boyish excited feeling like walking into a toy shop and being overwhelmed by choice and possibilities, it was a designers dream come true.

Deus have put their creative stamp on just about everything within the Temple. From beer coasters and sugar sachets (I managed to liberate a couple as a memento) to the large hand painted motorbike murals adorning the inside and outside walls.

Art is an intrinsic part of the brand. Yes, they make amazing custom built motorbikes and surfboards and thousands of other cool stuff, but it’s everything in-between that makes this amazing creative brand who they are.

I absolutely loved the whole Deus brand experience and philosophy. Their message is spreading and temples are beginning to appear around the globe from Sydney Australia where it all began to Bali, France, Madrid, Milan, Los Angeles, and Tokyo. “The stores are all different, a seed that grows into a different tree depending on the local soil it’s planted in, but they all ultimately share the same routes”.

Moving still – Cinemagraph experimentation

Over the past couple of months, I’ve been really trying to create and make better Cinemagraphs, some examples of which you can view below.

The main takeaway from my experimentation are three-fold –
1. looking for opportunities 
2. planning
3. using a tripod

Looking for opportunities

I’ve been much more focused at looking for more opportunities to create video for use in Cinemagraphs. When I’m out and about – walking, driving in a car or commuting on a train, I’m looking for opportunities that might make a good image. If I don’t have a camera with me, I’ll take a mental note of the situation and location for future projects and then make a point to return to take the footage. Alternatively, I may come up with a concept or idea at home and when I’m out and about I’ll be looking at places where I could execute my idea.

Planning

Planning saves a lot of time and helps to alleviate some of the stress in capturing the footage. The more you plan the better and smoother the shoot should go! So, the things I look out for or will be thinking about before the shoot will be some of the following: best time of day to take the footage (busy or quiet), lighting (night, day or artificial) what camera to take (DSLR, GoPro or point and shoot), What’s the subject matter (people, machinery, wildlife etc), angle (above, below, sideways, wide of zoom angle).

Using a tripod

I have realised this is critical to successful shots! I have tried on numerous occasions and thought I would get away with handholding a camera. I would always be convinced I was not moving, not shaking and not breathing to avoid as little shake and movement as possible. When I got back home and downloaded the footage it was immediately apparent just how much movement there was. Unfortunately, in most circumstances the footage was no use and I couldn’t use it. So now I don’t bother to hand hold and hope for the best. I always take a tripod with me or if I’m tight on space and need something a bit smaller and lighter I’ll take my Gorilla Pod with me which has become invaluable.

I’m off on holiday in the next few weeks and looking forward to having the opportunity to capture some unique footage to allow me to create some more exciting Cinemagraphs.

I hope you like the ones below and don’t forget your tripod!

Why have one lens on your camera when you can have four!

I saw some really cool and intriguing images on the web a couple of years back and couldn’t figure out how they were created. It was kind of a retro 3D animation of a still image! After lots of digging and research on the internet I discovered that the technique involved some 1980’s analogue technology combined with some up-to-date digital PhotoShop jiggery-pokery.

I discovered that to achieve the same look I was going to have to buy a old 1980’s Nimslo 3D 35mm camera. The camera is no longer manufactured as I discovered, however there was a steady flow of secondhand Nimslo cameras coming up on eBay. It was then down to a waiting game to see when a suitable, working and in good order camera came on offer. It took a while but eventually I managed to place a successful bid and waited with anticipation for it to arrive.

It’s pretty funky looking mostly down to the fact that there are four lenses on the front of the body as apposed to the normal one as you can see in the image below. Basic and simple to use, the camera’s lenses are fixed focused, takes 35mm film and you have the option of choosing 100 ISO or 400 ISO film speeds. Although there are four lenses, the viewfinder is perfectly normal to use and compose your shot in the normal way. With the camera I also also got the Nimslo flash which really comes in handy for indoor work and helps to ad more 3D depth to the pictures.

So now I had half of the puzzle and the hardware part was taken care of, I now needed to find out how to create the funky intriguing digital aspect of the picture. More internet research and I came across a variety of sites giving various bits of information. After a bit of Sherlock Holmes and lots of piecing together I managed to figure it out!

Now it was down to putting the analogue piece together with the digital piece with lots of fun, trial and error.

My son became my muse for most of my picture taking, much to his bemusement and somewhat annoyance. I used a 35mm, 400 ISO 36 exposure film for my experiments. Once the film was used I had it developed (I didn’t need any hard copy Lenticular prints) and then the film electronically scanned onto CD. I then downloaded the files onto my computer and took the images into PhotoShop. Once in PhotoShop I separated the four images (which produce one 3D image) into four seperate layers making sure they aligned correctly. Once this was done I created a simple animated timeline of the four layers to rotate one after the other.

Hey presto alakazam, by joves I had it! This was cool, I managed to replicate the look and effect I was after. I was delighted with the outcome and excited to take and make more 3D animated still images. The camera is not for everyone or for all occasion. It’s the sort of camera best used with a bit of forward planning and knowing in advance the type of picture that will suite this specialist camera.

Right, where’s my son, I need him for a special 3D photographic project i’ll be working on, wait until I tell him – he’ll love it!

The Shortbread Shed-Nimslo 3d cameraThe Nimslo is a 35 mm film camera which captures four pictures at exactly the same time. The four lenses are slightly offset horizontally from one another which when printed, using a Lenticular printing technique produces 3D pictures. These pictures can be viewed without the need for any specialist glasses giving a 3D look to the image.
It was first introduced in the 1980’s by Nimstec in the USA and manufactured by Timex in Dundee, Scotland.
The Nimslo has four fixed focus lenses, when the shutter is pressed it takes four images from slightly different viewing angles simultaneously which is how it achieves the 3d look.

 

film strip

An example of an exposed 35mm film. This is one exposure which produces four images. Each of the images is horizontally offset by a couple of centimeters which helps give the final combined picture that funky 3D look.

 

Below are a few examples of my first attempts at taking and making 3D images using the Nimsol camera and a bit of PhotoShop comping to create the final images.