OK, you won't be reading about my first teenage forays into the adult world, as entertaining as that could be for some. Yet I DO want to share with you the story of one manner of virginity I lost on 25 February, on Castleford Bridge.
Quite recently I was asked to take some photos of a couple's pet hens as well as some of the Castleford Bridge in a wide format so that the clients could use them as wall art to decorate their living room.
I have taken thousands of photographs of animals and birds but the lovely Ethel and Edith proved a bit tricky. Hens are not exactly placid, slow-moving models as you can imagine, and they needed bribing with mealworm treats only to be in the place I needed them so I could take a decent shot - it has proven a very challenging assignment! However, I managed to take a few sharp pictures.
This would enable me to cover the bulk of the bridge and take in a different perspective than a normal landscape image would have shown. One of my ambitions was also to avoid taking any images of the bridge that have already been "done to death" if you were to google it.
The only drawback here was my limited experience with panoramic photography, both from a shooting and an editing point of view, but unless you try, you never learn. I spent the best part of two hours looking at various angles and positions and I also had to contend with the sun playing hide and seek with me through the clouds exactly when I needed it out to complete the shots - it was awkward to say the least.
In the end I managed to gather enough images for six variations of the bridge in a panorama format, with the largest using 11 images in total.
In principle, the idea is easy enough to understand, though in practice it is a skill like any other - it needs to be practised often before it can be refined. I also took some alternate angle images, not intended for panorama style, and some of these turned out quite dramatic. If my clients are happy with me to share these once they've had a chance to look at them and choose those they want to purchase, look out for them in a future blog.
Back to the PP for now - the "Panorama Pain"! When I started editing I soon discovered the problems I was facing. I had not done any research or read guides on it, so I was basically 'flying blind' and I must say, for a first attempt at a totally manual panorama it turned out quite well...well, almost.
It had exposure issues, alignment problems and on top of that I completely forgot to take into account that anything that moves will cause difficulties when trying to stitch the shots together later on! And what is a bridge built over? Yep - lots and lots of fast moving...WATER!!! Not to mention that the water occupies the largest part of the image too... not the best start, but the lesson has now been learned.
A grand total of 4 hours later - the time to stitch these 11 images together manually - my very first attempt to create a panorama from scratch was complete but I was a tad apprehensive about the other five. I hadn't taken into account exposure settings either so many shots alternated between light and dark.
All that wasted time....
I am quite pleased with myself as not only was this my first attempt at creating a panoramic shot by stitching a multitude of images together but it was even more difficult because the Bridge itself is an S shaped structure with many wires and angles. When not positioned carefully they are just impossible to merge together no matter what you do. Inevitably, despite my best attempts, some of the images did not turn out in the way I envisaged. Mismatching beams, wires and a couple of not-so-timely passing vans on the main bridge ruled out some of the shots and the work I put in to make them align.
But I learned valuable lessons and the successful final images increased my confidence to the point of now planning at least one panoramic image wherever I go.
As the days start to slowly grow lighter, and we crawl towards Spring, I keep watching the trees and the flowerbeds waiting for that sure tell-tale sign of the season finally changing - a boost of colour and vibrancy. For now though, the only hint of colour around is one lonely daffodil on the corner of the street near some traffic lights.... So while I await the arrival of Spring and respond to quite a few customer enquiries, I hope you enjoy these images!