Photo DVD Christmas Gift Price

There is a special Christmas price cut for my latest photography DVD –  ’Portraits in Natural Light’ .

Photography DVD Portraits in Natural LightThe price of this DVD has been cut from £14.95 to just £10.99 including p+p  - a saving of over £3 for an ideal Christmas Gift for the keen photographer in your life.

Finding Christmas Gifts for photographers can be both difficult and expensive – so here’s a stocking filler that could bring countless hours of pleasure.

SAVE £5 WHEN YOU BUY BOTH DVDs
There’s also a big reduction in the cost of buying BOTH my instructional DVDs – if you buy Portraits in Natural Light AND Light and Composition the price has been reduced by £5 from £24.95 to just £19.95.

Both these DVDs have been produced to offer the best, jargon-free practical instruction available today.

Damien Demolder, Editor of Amateur Photographer:
“Philip inspires photographers of all levels – revealing secrets and techniques from a lifetime of professional experience.”

Damien Demolder, Editor of Amateur Photographer, says: “Philip inspires photographers of all levels – revealing secrets and techniques from a lifetime of professional experience.”

Find out more about these hugely successful Photography DVDs

Photography DVDs Buy Both





So if you are looking for Christmas Gifts for Photographers – you’ve found the ideal present


New Cameras

I’ve finally decided – it’s time for new cameras. This is not a decision I have taken lightly. After a great deal of web searching and researching – and personal experience, I’ve gone for a couple of full-frame Nikon D700 bodies and two new lenses.

nikon-d700Of course, I have been avidly reading test reviews about the D700 for some time. There are are a couple of websites I have found very useful in this research -TestFreaks.co.uk for instance. It has some interesting comments about the camera – and Digital Photography Review is very in-depth.

To go with these bodies there will be a Nikon 24-70mm f2.8 AFS ED, and a Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 G ED VR II. Expensive, yes, but positively the best.

All this kit is of courses available in the PhotoActive Camera Shop

This is, of course, top of the range equipment and I am very much looking forward to putting it to work – because at these sort of prices, both cameras and lenses will have to earn their keep.

I’ll keep you posted when the new kit arrives and let you know how I get on.

Camera bag?
Now I’m looking for a suitable camera bag for this lovely kit and I’m open to suggestions. I quite like the idea of a Lowepro Slingshot type of camera bag or maybe better might be the rucksac type that has access from the back, so that it can be pulled round to the front on the waist belt, dropped forward and opened without having to take the whole thing off.

I’d appreciate suggestions based on practical experience.


Christmas Photography Gifts

What’s the Worst Photo you’ve ever taken

I’ve dropped a fair share of photographic clangers in my time – well, if you’ve been in the game as long as I have I suppose it’s going to happen. Anyway, it got me thinking about what would be the worst I’ve photo ever taken. Perhaps that should be the one of those I missed completely.

worst-ever-photoI’ve just put up a new post on the PhotoActive Forum to encourage members to bare their souls, get it off their chests, be brave – and show us their worst.

I’ve kicked off proceedings with a pretty lousy attempt of my own – although I’m sure their must be even worse pictures if I really start searching.

I was trying to photograph the buckets hanging from the ceiling of a shop we often photograph on our Photography Holidays in Menorca. I placed the camera on the floor, flat on its back pointing upwards. I set the self-timer and stepped back to await results. I did not reckon of Ken though – he popped his head into the frame to see what was going up just as the shutter fired.

Hmm – maybe on second thoughts, Ken enlivened what was otherwise a desperately boring shot. Thanks Ken.

So let’s have a bit of fun – don’t be shy. Post you worst ever pictures on the PhotoActive Forum and we’ll have a poll to see who wins.


Christmas Photography Gifts

Canon G11 – £445 in Camera Shop

The Canon G11 is now stocked in the PhotoActive Camera Shop for just £445. I’ve been a real fan of this range of camera for some time, and still get a great deal of use out of my Canon G9.

The G11 still uses the same 28-140mm equivalent stabilized lens, but it also gains a tilt and swivel LCD – at the cost of this dropping in size to 2.8 inches.
Flash syncro speed has been increased to an impressive 1/2000sec. Other features include Dual Anti-Noise System. Amore sensitive sensor and Digic 4 offering a claimed 2-stop improvement over the G10. Shooting RAW is possible plus P,A,S and M shooting modes

One controversial change has been the reduction in pixel count in the new camera. The Canon G11′s high sensitivity 10 Megapixel CCD replaces the G10′s 14.7 Megapixel sensor.

canon-g11-cameraThe G11 still uses the same 28-140mm equivalent stabilized lens, but it gains a tilt and swivel LCD – at the cost of this dropping in size to 2.8 inches. To my mind this really is a great improvement.

Flash syncro speed has been increased to an impressive 1/2000sec. Other features include Dual Anti-Noise System. Amore sensitive sensor and Digic 4 offering a claimed 2-stop improvement over the G10. Shooting RAW is possible plus P,A,S and M shooting modes.

Sensor

• 1/1.7″ Type CCD
• 10 million effective pixels

Image sizes

• 3648 x 2736
• 3648 x 2048
• 2816 x 2112
• 2272 x 1704
• 1600 x 1200
• 640 x 480
• 320 x 240

Movie clips

• 640 x 480 @ 30fps
• 320 x 240 @ 30fps

Maximum clip length up to 4GB or 1 hour

File formats

• Still: JPEG (Exif v2.2), RAW
• Movie: MOV [H.264 + Linear PCM (monaural)

Lens

• 28-140mm (35mm equiv)
• f = 6.1 – 30.5 mm
• 5x optical zoom
• F2.8-4.5

canon-g11-camera-screen

Construction 11 elements in 9 groups (1 double-sided aspherical element)

Image stabilization Yes (Lens-Shift)
Conversion lenses Yes
Digital zoom up to 4x

Focus • Auto focus :TTL

- Face Detection / 9-point AiAF
– 1-point AF (center or Face Select and Track)
– Fixed centre or Face Select and Track
• Manual focus

AF modes

• Single
• Continuous
• Servo AF/AE

AF lock Yes (on/off selectable)
AF assist lamp Yes

Focus distance Closest focus distance 1 cm

Metering

• Evaluative (linked to Face Detection AF frame)
• Center-weighted average
• Spot (center or linked to Face Detection)

ISO sensitivity

• Auto
• ISO 80
• ISO 100
• ISO 200
• ISO 400
• ISO 800
• ISO 1600
• ISO 3200

AE lock Yes

Exposure compensation +/- 2EV in 1/3 stop increments

Shutter speed

• Auto (1 – 1/4000 sec)
• 15-1/4000 sec

Modes

• Auto
• Program AE
• Shutter Priority AE
• Aperture Priority AE
• Manual
• Custom (2 modes)
• Special Scene
• Stitch Assist
• Low Light
• Quick Shot
• Movie

Scene modes

• Portrait
• Landscape
• Night Scene
• Sports
• Night Snapshot
• Kids & Pets
• Indoor
• Sunset
• Foliage
• Snow
• Beach
• Fireworks
• Aquarium
• Underwater
• Color Accent
• Color Swap
• Stitch Assist


White balance

• Auto (including Face Detection WB)
• Daylight
• Cloudy
• Tungsten
• Fluorescent
• Fluorescent H
• Flash
• Custom1
• Custom2
• Underwater
• White Balance Correction

Self timer

• 2 or 10 sec
• Custom or FaceSelf Timer

Continuous shooting • Approx. 1.1 shots/sec.

• AF: Approx. 0.7 shots/sec.

• LV: Approx. 0.8 shots/sec. (until memory card becomes full)

Image parameters My Colors (My Colors Off, Vivid, Neutral, Sepia, Black & White, Positive Film, Lighter Skin Tone, Darker Skin Tone, Vivid Blue, Vivid Green, Vivid Red, Custom Color)

Flash

• Auto, Flash On, Flash Off, Slow Sync, Red-eye reduction
• Slow Sync Speed : Fastest speed 1/2000 sec
• +/- 2EV in 1/3 stop increments
• Face Detection FE compensation
• Safety FE
• Flash exposure lock
• Manual Power Adjustment
• Second Curtain Sync
• Range (Auto ISO):50cm – 7.0m (wide) / 4.0m (tele)
External Flash E-TTL with EX series Speedlites, Macro Twin Lite MT-24EX, Macro Ring Lite MR-14EX, Canon High Power Flash HF-DC1

Viewfinder Real-image zoom, Optical Viewfinder

LCD monitor

• 2.8 inch Vari-angle PureColor II VA (TFT)
• 461,000 pixels
• 100% coverage
• Adjustable

Connectivity

• USB 2.0 Hi-Speed
• HDMI mini connector
• AV out (PAL / NTSC switchable)
Print compliance PictBridge
Storage SD, SDHC, MMC, MMCplus, HC MMCplus
Power Rechargeable Li-ion Battery NB-7L

Weight (no batt) 355 g

Dimensions 112 x 76 x 48 mm

BUY THIS CAMERA NOW


Christmas Photography Gifts

October Photo Challenge ‘SMILE’ winners

Photo F - erabasson
WINNER with 39% votes

No shooting details available

F photo-challenge- Erabasson

That mischievous smile says it all. This picture is a delight to look at. A lovely candid, happy photograph. Even the colourful, out-of-focus background adds to the fun. So do the drips of water running down the surface of the mirror.

So, success first time for our new forum member. A great shot and a well-deserved win. Congratulations :-D


Photo A – Phil Wong
SECOND 29% votes

Camera: Canon EOS-1D Mark II N

Shutter Speed: 1/125sec

Aperture f2.8

ISO 320

A photo-challenge-Phil Wong

You’ve just got to laugh when you look at this picture. The clue of the pink flower in the girl’s hair and her pink dress suggest that the girls are bridesmaids and that the picture was taken at a wedding. It’s precisely this sort of image that will bring back happy memories of the special wedding day for many years to come. Good wedding photography should always include a few candid shots.

However – Phil I’m really pleased you did not win because I would have had to disqualify you. I’ve just noticed that this picture was taken back in 2008 and one of the main aims of the Monthly Challenge is to encourage you to get out and take pictures and follow the theme of the month.

Anyway, well done for a cracking picture, Phil. I look forward to your next entry – taken in the current month please.

Photo C – Wrinklearthur
Joint 4th place

Camera EOS Rebel XTi

Shooting Mode: Manual Exposure

Shutter Speed 1/60sec

Aperture: f10

Metering Mode: Centre-Weighted Average

ISO: 200

C photo-challenge-wrinklearthur

I just find this picture a joy. Childhood and happiness – things we are supposed to feel guilty about these days. Do you realise that because of mass paranoia generated by the ‘fear culture’ of Britain there is a whole generation of childhood that has not been recorded? To hell with that nonsense – this is a lovely, lively innocent picture of PEOPLE – it’s just that they are young ones.

The moment is caught to perfection.  The problem I have is with the composition. I feel there’s just too much distance between the main character and the two boys on the left. For that reason I think it would have been better cropped to concentrate all attention to the little girl. Then it could be argued that some of the instantaneous atmosphere would be lost.

Regarding exposure for this sort of action – Wrinklearthur was using Manual Mode – it is best to keep the shutter speed up to, or faster than, 1/250sec if possible in order to ensure you freeze the action.

In this case that would have meant an exposure of about 1/250sec at f5.6 rather than 1/60sec at f10

Lovely picture.


Photo D – Gordon
Joint 4th place

Camera: Nikon D50

Shutter Speed:1/500

Aperture Value: f1.8

D photo-challenge-Gordon

There is a particularly pleasing atmosphere to this portrait. Mostly this is created by the warm, soft sidelight – but the childs’ unassuming smile also play a major part.

I suspect the lad is holding his foot out of shot – or perhaps his hands are down on the floor. I think the composition could have been greatly improved if his arms had been wrapped around that knee – which at first sight creates a confusing black area.

Photo B – Lynne
Third place

Camera: Samsung GX20

Shutter Speed: 1/10sec

Aperture Value: f9.0

Exposure Compensation -0.7

ISO 400

B photo-challenge- Lynne

I have to say that this is my personal top favourite from the entries for the October Challenge. I think with a little more care in cropping and a bit of gentle burning-in of background it would have had even more impact – basically, it’s a pity about the background.

Lyne is leaving herself wide open to some terrible camera shake by using an aperture of f9 in Aperture Priority Mode. This has forced a shutter speed of 1/10sec. Even with the best camera Anti Vibration system in the world that’s asking an awful lot. So do open the aperture to enable a faster shutter speed when the light is as low as this.


Photo E – Phil North
Joint 4th place

Camera: Nikon D2X

Shutter Speed: 1/160

Aperture Value: f5.6

ISO 100

E photo-challenge- Phil North

He looks such a jolly good sort – a nice chap, friendly and full of fun.

That’s one of the pleasures of looking at this type of portraiture, even if you don’t know the subject personally, you can make up your own ideas of their personality.

The profile angle for a portrait can be very effective and it has worked very well here. The toppy backlight has helped pick out the profile from the darker background, and the bright yellow colours of the man’s hat and shirt really do help lift the image and compel you to look at it.

PLEASE POST YOUR COMMENTS ABOUT THESE WINNING PHOTOGRAPHS

The November Photo Challenge ‘SPEED’  is now open for entries on the PhotoActive Forum

The overall winner for 2009 will win a FREE day of one-to-one photography tuition with Philip Dunn

Christmas Photography Gifts

Photography Weekend Workshop 2010 dates

At last – I’ve sorted out some dates for Photography Weekend Workshops in 2010. Not as many dates as some of you would have liked, I know, but I’ll have to see how the diary goes before arranging more.

Please do book early for these Photography Weekends to avoid disappointment.

I really get a buzz from these photography weekends. They can be very challenging and stimulating – not just for the photographers trying to learn more about how to take better photographs, but for me, too. The fact is that even though I have been a professional photographer for a very long time, and earned a living from it from the tender age of 15 years old – I still learn something new about photography every day.

Photographers on a Photography Weekend Workshop set up their tripods in the street as the light fades at dusk. They were learning how to get the most from the wonderful colours of 'mixed light'. One of the photo techniques you may learn from Philip Dunn

Photographers on a Photography Weekend Workshop set up their tripods in the street as the light fades at dusk. They were learning how to get the most from the wonderful colours of 'mixed light'. One of the photo techniques you may learn from Philip Dunn when you come to Kirkcudbright

The dates I have fixed for the Photography Weekend Workshops in 2010 are:

  • January 29th-31st 2010
  • October 22nd-24th 2010
  • October 29th-31st 2010

All these photograph Weekend Workshops are based at the Selkirk Arms Hotel, Kirkcudbright

The fully-inclusive price is £395 and places are available now

These photography weekends include all tuition, two nights hotel accommodation at The Selkirk Arms Hotel, Kirkcudbright, all meals, morning coffee, afternoon tea and welcome drinks.

So what do we cover on these photography weekends? – I’m always under pressure to be specific, to give rigid itineraries, to say exactly what we will be doing every minute of the weekend. No, that’s not the way I work and it’s not the reason for the success of these weekends. The first task is to assess where everyone is in their photography. That’s why I ask everyone to bring some of their previous pictures.

The weekend is then arranged around the needs and levels of the group. It is always flexible, but the aim is to make sure everyone gets what they came for – and to ensure everyone has a wonderful time with lots of fun and relaxation.

So far, it is a formula that has proved very successful.

BOOK A PHOTOGRAPHY WEEKEND NOW


Christmas Photography Gifts


Photography Gifts for Christmas

Find that special photography gift for someone you love this Christmas. Explore the PhotoActive Camera Shop, buy Philip Dunn’s Photography DVDs or that most treasured gift of all – understanding & knowledge – with Gift Vouchers for Photography Holidays & Courses

Lumix TZ7 Digital Camera


HD Movie recording in AVCHD lite with Dolby stereo digital creator
Advanced intelligent auto mode with face recognition & movie iA mode
3.0-inch, 460,000-dot high-resolution intelligent LCD with wide-viewing angle
Venus Engine HD with HDMI Compatibility and VIERA Link
The TZ7 and its sister-model the TZ6 are the replacements for the highly successful TZ5 and TZ4, launched at about this time last year, but it’s more than just a cosmetic upgrade of the previous model.
The TZ7 is a replacement for the TZ6. It is completely new camera, with a new body, a new lens and some new features
It has a new compact 12x zoom image-stabilised Leica lens with a maximum aperture of f/3.3-f/4.9 and a focal length range equivalent to 25-300mm.
The 3.0-inch 460,000 dot wide-view LCD monitor is impressively sharp. The TZ7 has  has 1280 x 720 pixel HD video recording with stereo sound and full optical zoom capability.
Like the TZ5 and TZ6, the TZ7 is quite a big chunky camera and is well made. Measuring 103.3 x 59.6 x 32.8mm, the TZ7 weighs 229g including battery and card. The body is all aluminium and finished in semi-matt. The Lumix TZ7 is available in black or the silver finish pictured

The Lumix TZ7 camera is one of the most recent sales on the PhotoActive Camera Shop. This camera is proving very popular – and rightly so. It is an impressive piece of camera kit. I have had a couple of students using TZ7s and I have to say the results are really outstanding. You get a great deal of quality for your money and I am happy to recommend them.

lumix-TZ7-digital-camera

Technical Details

  • 25mm Ultra wide-angle 12x optical zoom LEICA DC lens in compact body
  • HD Movie recording in AVCHD lite with Dolby stereo digital creator
  • Advanced intelligent auto mode with face recognition & movie iA mode
  • 3.0-inch, 460,000-dot high-resolution intelligent LCD with wide-viewing angle
  • Venus Engine HD with HDMI Compatibility and VIERA Link

The TZ7 is a replacement for the TZ6, which Lumix fans will know, followed the popular TZ5. However, it is almost a completely new camera, with a new body, a new lens and several new features.

It has a new compact 12x zoom image-stabilised Leica lens with a maximum aperture of f/3.3-f/4.9 and a focal length range equivalent to 25-300mm.

The 3.0-inch 460,000 dot wide-view LCD monitor is impressively sharp. The TZ7 has  1280 x 720 pixel HD video recording with stereo sound and full optical zoom capability.

Like the TZ5 and TZ6, the TZ7 is quite a big chunky camera and is well made. Measuring 103.3 x 59.6 x 32.8mm, the TZ7 weighs 229g including battery and card. The body is all aluminium and finished in semi-matt. The Lumix TZ7 is available in silver or black finish – like the camera pictured above.

The Lumix TZ7 is available on the PhotoActive Camera Shop for just £235.10 – I reckon that’s a genuine camera bargain


Christmas Photography Gifts


Photoactive Camera Shop with Amazon


Learning to use a tripod

We’ve just had a great day of photography despite heavy rain for most of the day. Two clients, Mike Traynor and Raymond Wyse travelled down from Edinburgh for some personal photography tuition.

Ray was using a little Olympus bridge camera while Mike was equipped with a lovely Nikon D90 DSLR. Both photographers wanted to learn how to get more use from the controls on their cameras. They also wanted to understand more about light and composition. So we spent the morning talking these things through with demonstrations of the direction, quality and colour of light. The pair did all these thing – plus, they learned how to use a tripod more effectively

Tripods at the ready - photographers Mike Traynor (right) with Ray Wyse (centre) demonstrate the beautiful, high quality light from a north-facing window in Broughton House, Kirkcudbright

Tripods at the ready - photographers Mike Traynor (right) with Ray Wyse (centre) and Philip Dunn (left) show off the beautiful, high quality light from a north-facing window in Broughton House, Kirkcudbright - every face a Rembrandt

The weather did not get any better after lunch and we decided to concentrate of interior photography so that Mike and Ray could improve their camera skills and get in some tripod practice. We went to Broughton House a National Trust for Scotland property here in Kirkcudbright. We are very priviledged to be able to use this lovely house for our photography. It was the home of E A Hornel, a successful artist in the early 1900s.

Hornels’s studio is still very much as he left it when he died in 1933 – the light comes from a high north facing window, and even on a dark, miserable day like today, the quality of this light is glorious. A great place to practice indoor photography of all kinds.

The idea that tripod skills must be learned and practised is completely ignored by many photographers. It is an essential skill, and, like all skills it gets better with practice. A tripod can be a cumbersome burden unless you are prepared to learn how to use it properly. Using a tripod must become second nature – it’s a photographer’s best friend. Putting it up, taking it down, moving it about, positioning it correctly, using the tripod head for both wide and upright camera positions – all these become smooth and effortless operations with practice.

Ray and Mike certainly get plenty of practice this afternoon..

If you would like to know more about Light & Composition – you’ll find out with Philip Dunn’s DVD Light & Composition


Photoactive Camera Shop with Amazon


Good Travel Photography starts nearer home

I’ve had photography students come to me for coaching and tuition from as far afield as Madrid, Belgium and New York. Andrew Fraser lives in Switzerland and he came over to Scotland specially for a two day photography course.

Keen travel photographer Andrew Fraser lives in Switzerland. He came to Scotland specially for two days of one-to-one photography tuition with Philip Dunn

Keen travel photographer Andrew Fraser lives in Switzerland. He came to Scotland specially for two days of one-to-one photography tuition with Philip Dunn

Andrew – that’s him pictured on the left – is a keen traveller. He is fortunate enough to go to some very exotic places all over the world – but his initial email to me highlighted a problem faced by so many keen travel photographers. When they get back home from these wonderful locations and look at their photographs, they are nearly always disappointed with the results. Could I help?

Well, yes, I could – it is something I help with often.

Photography exercises
I set Andrew various exercises designed to change the way he was seeing things. I suggested some different ways of handling his camera that would include taking much more control over some automatic settings. We went out to take photographs several times to put these new ideas into practise. Andrew took them on board enthusiastically and in no time at all we could see the improvements.

Andrew has always enjoyed photographing people – fortunately while he was here there was a sale  at the local cattle market. What better subjects than farmers at a sale? It was very rewarding for me to see Andrew’s new-found techniques working so well.

We finished out two day course with a trip down to the sea shore – the light was spectacular. Okay, we did have to dive under the cover of a cattle feeding trough at one stage to avoid a soaking from a heavy shower – but our session with the farmers that morning had prepared us for a bit of cow muck. When that rain passed, the sky was a landscape photographer’s dream. A mixture of jet black clouds and searing white directional light in pastel blue.

The Wallets Mart stock market in Castle Douglas is always very welcoming to us when we go along to take photographs. The farmers themselves are naturally curious about why we are taking photographs. Andrew and I thought it would be a nice idea if they could see some of the photographs we took while we were there yesterday so I have put an album with a selection of pictures on the Photobox website.

There is a link to the album below. Our thanks to everyone at the Wallets Mart for being so accommodating. No doubt you will see me there again soon with another photography student.

Farmers' markets and sheep sales are a great place to practise your people photography

Farmers' markets and sheep sales are great places to practise your people photography - photograph: Philip Dunn

Click the icon below or on the photo left to go to Photobox album of pictures taken at Wallets Mart, 3rd November 2009



If you are considering a major overseas trip – maybe that ‘trip of a lifetime’ make sure you have have the skills you need to capture beautiful, atmospheric photographs before you go.

On a one-to-one photography course or on a one week Photography Holiday in Menorca, I will help you gain those skills. You will be learning from a lifetime of professional experience.


Photoactive Camera Shop with Amazon