A Brilliant Thing

A brilliant thing happened on Thursday. After two years of really hard work it was finally A-Level Photography results day. Sixteen years after my first set of results and it was time to lay some ghosts to rest. To say that I was disappointed all those years ago was an understatement. It led to four days of panic phone calls and a rush trip to Swansea before I could finally secure a university place.

This time I had high hopes but I knew that I was going to be close to the grade boundaries. As it turned out one mark less and I would have been telling a different story here.

I got an A. An actual A. A mark I didn’t think existed.

If you want to see some of my work then you can view it on my Flickr stream here http://www.flickr.com/photos/stephrutt/sets/72157633418252481/ and here http://www.flickr.com/photos/stephrutt/sets/72157632174634193/ for my Art 3 and Art 4 projects.

I have no plans at the moment for what I am going to do. I need to catch up on a lot of things that I put on hold over the last two years to get this done.

Beside the Seaside

I have been looking through my photographs for my A-Level coursework. Over the past few weeks I have been to lots of places around the South Wales coast. Some I was already familiar with while others were new to me.

Please take a look at my Flickr set and let me know what you think.


FlorriesPattern collagePenclawddLlanelliFish and chips from Florries in LlansteffanPorthcawl Prom
Porthcawl PromPorthcawl PromPenarth Pier in the FogPenarth Pier in the FogPenarth Pier in the FogHorizon
Burry Port HarbourBurry Port LighthouseBurry Port LighthousePale horizonStrong horizonBurry Port Harbour
Burry Port HarbourMillennium Coastal PathMillennium Coastal PathMillennium Coastal PathBurry Port HarbourFlorries, Llanstefan

Beside the Seaside, a set on Flickr.

Penarth Pier

It has been a long time since I last added a new post to this blog.  A combination of too much to do and bad weather at weekends have meant that I haven’t had the chance to take that many photographs recently.

Last weekend I finally decided it was about time I made the effort.  The weather report looked good so off I went on a little trip to Penarth.    As my latest project is entitled ‘Beside the Seaside’ I wanted to capture the pier in the sunshine.  However a couple of things conspired against me.

The weather report had looked good when I had checked the day before.  The weather itself obviously hadn’t checked and had decided it was going to stay misty late into the day.  In fact by the time I arrived in Penarth it was difficult to see the pier from the other end of the Esplanade.

The other issue is that the front building is covered in scaffolding which also doesn’t make for the kind of photograph I was looking for.

Despite all this I managed to get some shots I’m really happy with.  These are just three of them.  Let me know what you think (but don’t use them without my permission).

Aberdulais Falls

Today I made the most of the nice bank holiday weather as tomorrow it is forecast to rain (again).  I went back to Aberdulais Falls, a National Trust site I had visited just over a year ago.  I hope my photography skills have improved in the last year so it was nice to go back and try and improve the shots I had taken on my previous visit.

Today the sky was a brilliant blue with lots of fluffy white clouds.  This made perfect light for the type of photographs I was hoping to take.  The thing I like about Aberdulais is the opportunity for movement shots.  These come from the waterwheel and waterfalls.  I love the way that by using a longer shutter speed the water goes a lovely milky white colour.

I also experimented with sky shots including some sunlight.  I really like the effect that sun rays add to the photographs.

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Scanning delight

I’ve been having a play recently.  I wanted to know if it was possible to scan negatives using the basic cheap all in one scanner I currently use.  A bit of a Google and I found a blog by a lady that had indeed done just this (Melissa Maples – http://melissamaples.com/scanning-negatives-the-cheapy-lo-fi-way/).  I liked the results she had got a thought I’d give it a try.

My first attempt came out orange.  After a bit more research I found out this was due to a layer built into colour films.  So I went back to my instructions and back-lit the negative while it was scanned with a smart phone set to a blank page.  This improved matters greatly.  The only other problem I have been having is that all the results are coming out monochrome.  I don’t mind really as I like the effect but it would be nice to know why I can’t get the colours to come through when I know that others have.

The negatives I was using were all from my first ever trip to Rome when I took my Canon EOS 300.  After that trip I stopped taking this camera away with me as I found it too bulky (my present camera is in fact bigger; I eventually saw the error of my ways).

I think the settings of the photographs have really helped with this experiment – the fact that old structures are coming out black and white helps to add to the atmosphere of many of them.

In the gallery below I have included all my best results (so far).  I really like the DIY effect that you get, though I am considering getting a proper scanner which will hopefully produce colour results.  Let me know what you think, or if you can solve my colour problem, but please don’t use the pictures unless you ask nicely first.


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Cardiff Photomarathon

This year I took part in Cardiff Photomarathon for the first time.  The idea is participants have to take twelve photographs on twelve topics in twelve hours.  With 400 people taking part it made for a very hectic day out.  The torrential rain certainly added to the challenge.

Starting at 10am it makes for a very long day of walking and taking photographs.  By the time I finished I had backache, my legs were aching and all I wanted to do was curl up and go to sleep.  The hardest part was making sure there were only twelve pictures on the memory card when it was submitted.  It is very difficult to decide which picture is the best when you are viewing it through a 3″ screen.

Red, White and Blue

Olympic fever has been sweeping the country so it is no surprise that I have tried to capture the feeling in photographs.  I was lucky enough to go to the first day of rowing at Eton Dorney.  The crowds were there in their thousands to cheer on each team, but especially the members of Team GB.  Due to a worry that a nice security guard would take away my posh Canon 550D I used my Kodak compact instead.

I hope in these two pictures I have managed to capture some of the excitement and celebration.

When the rain came

I have three days off work but despite the bad weather I was praying for sunshine so I could go and take photographs.  But typically the sun is not out so I have been left with trying to make the best of a bad situation.

I decided to try and capture the raindrops on the sweet peas.  I liked the way they collect across the petals and along the stems and leaves.  Using a basic macro I have only been able to capture some of the details.  I would eventually like to get a proper macro but that may have to take a bit more saving.

Let me know what you think about these pictures, please don’t use them without my permission.

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Diamond Jubilee River Pageant

This weekend has seen many events across the country to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s sixty years on the throne.  One of the events that has been shown worldwide was the River Pageant.  Like millions I stayed away from the rain and watched the proceedings on the television.

However I had been lucky enough to visit St Katherine’s Dock two days beforehand and had seen a number of the boats mustering.  The dock was crowded with people enjoying the sunshine and looking at the preparations of the boat owners.  I’m really glad I got to see some of these and didn’t just have to take in the spectacle on the television.

The light was a bit strange so the sky seems bleached out in some of these photographs.  However the colours of the flags and bunting are still strong.

I hope you enjoy this selection of the photographs I took.

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Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge is a very iconic structure which stand stride the Thames.  Its towers and bascule (the parts that lift) is an image that have been captured many times.

I’ve taken photographs of it before but this time I have decided to try something new.  I have been wanting to try a montage for a while and Tower Bridge provided the ideal setting for this.

I took a series of photographs of different areas of the bridge and have then used Photoshop to collate them all together and create one large picture.  The jagged edges and uneven composition were deliberate as I wanted the finished image to have an uneven finish to it.