skills

YouTube channels that have helped me progress by Ian Clark

One of the things that I’ve found really helpful in the past year as I’ve been learning the ropes about photography are photography YouTube channels. These have been invaluable for me in terms of getting me to think about my photography more, particularly in terms of composition and technique. Something I have been keen to do since taking a Shaw Academy basic photography course is to keep progressing and learning, vlogs have been really helpful in this process. (I’ve also become a regular buyer of Digital Camera magazine, but there’s something about vlogs that I find particularly helpful.)

Given I’ve found these vlogs useful (and given I’m trying to get back into the habit of blogging!), I thought I’d share a list of the vlogs I’ve subscribed to. Do let me know in the comments if there are others you have found useful!

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1.     The Art of Photography – This is the first vlog that I subscribed to on YouTube…albeit in a weird way. I’d subscribed to the channel via iTunes as a podcast and, after a while, thought it was a bit weird it was rarely update and yet Ted often talked about stuff that seemed to have happened previously that I was completely unaware of. Eventually I twigged that what I should subscribe to is his YouTube channel, and it has been an invaluable source of information. Ted’s channel is exceptionally well produced (many times looking like a professional documentary, particularly when out in the field) and his passion and enthusiasm are infectious.  He’s got me thinking a lot about composition as well as about ensuring that I never lose sight of the love of photography, that I don’t fall into it being a routine or something that causes anxiety. As part of his channel, Ted also does a series of interviews with respected photographers. I admit I’ve not really checked into these yet, but it’s something I intend to start doing as I feel engaging with the styles and approaches of respected professionals can only aid my development. If you haven’t already, I’d definitely recommend checking out Ted’s channel.

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2.     Nigel Danson – Nigel is a landscape photographer, one that not long ago gave up his career to be a professional. As someone interested in landscape photography myself, I have found Nigel’s videos to be essential to my development and understanding of great landscape photography (although I have a way to go until I get close to his quality!). Nigel covers everything from his spectacular field trips (he even uses a drone to produce his films which produces breath-taking results) to tips about equipment. I’ve got to admit, I often watch his videos with awe and a degree of nervousness (I’m scared of heights and often his ‘standing on the edge of a mountain looking down’ viewpoints fill me with dread…and cause me to doubt the extent to which I can take great landscapes). But I have learnt a lot about style, technique and composition from his films and, like Ted, his enthusiasm and passion can’t help but make you want to go out and experiment.

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3.     Jamie Windsor – Jamie has a very different style to Ted and Nigel, but he is no less passionate and engaging. Jamie takes a rather relaxed, offbeat look at photography, primarily focusing on techniques rather than kit. He also produces some challenging videos that really encourage you to critically reflect on your photography (eg “Why BAD Photographers THINK They’re Good”, “You’re NOT as TALENTED as you think” and “Why WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY is BORING (and how to change that)”). I particularly enjoyed his video on approaching strangers for portraits (something that he, as I am, was very nervous and reticent about doing), it gave me plenty to think about in terms of how I would approach street portraiture (although I’ve still not done it yet!). If you want something a bit more informal, yet still inspiring, I’d definitely recommend Jamie’s channel.

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4.     Mike Browne – Mike is someone I think of as the kind of traditional idea of a photographer (although that doesn’t mean his photography is old fashioned by any stretch). Mike shoots his videos in a very professional way, but they still have the feel of someone who isn’t a polished performer, which is great, it feels much more natural than some other photography channels. Mike makes mistakes, he sometimes writes notes that he refers to during his videos, but none of this detracts from the videos he makes, if anything it enhances them. He recently ran a chat on growing confidence (I missed it but caught up on the chat afterwards) and it really got me thinking about my own photography, my own issues with confidence and some of the ways I need to think about overcoming my fears and taking my photography on a level. Mike’s revelations about his own fears and lack of confidence certainly helped to make him appear a much more natural presenter than some others you find online. And, well, that’s quite refreshing when polished performance is seen as an essential component of a good video, when the reality is that good information makes a good video.

Anyway, they’re the main channels I follow, what about you? Are there great photography channels on YouTube that you find useful? Do you have a channel, or thinking of starting one? I’d love to hear your recommendations in the comments below!

Upcoming trips, new gear and challenging myself by Ian Clark

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Those of you who know me personally will know this year has been a difficult year. It’s also been pretty full on in a work context for a variety of reasons. With that in mind, I’m very much looking forward to a break and, thankfully, one is not too far off in the distance and rapidly coming into view. And where there are breaks and holidays, there are opportunities to take my camera out and get shooting.

If you follow me on Instagram (*coughs* instagram.com/captureyield *coughs*) you may notice that I indicate my location as being Canterbury/London/Spain. Canterbury is where I live. London is where I work. Spain is, predominantly where I holiday. So why a holiday destination as my location? Well, my wife is Spanish and consequently, we tend to head there to visit the family a few times a year (although obviously not as much as we’d like thanks to school holidays and limited childcare options). Not only is she from Spain, she’s also from Sevilla, one of the most beautiful cities in Europe (ok, there may be a little bias creeping in there).

Sevilla is one of those places that you can never tire of. I’ve been lucky to have spent many holidays there over the sixteen years we have been together, and I always want to spend time in the centre, checking out the amazing buildings and grabbing a few photos. Well, ok, more than a few…a lot. But I also like to travel around and see more of Spain. Over the years we’ve done trips to Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Galicia and the Basque Country, as well as a number of towns and cities across Andalucia (my personal favourite being Cadiz, which I absolutely love).

This year we’ve booked a couple of hotels for just the two of us to stay in (thanks the in-laws!), one in Ronda and one in a beautiful little town called Zahara de la Sierra. The former for a bit of touristy wandering around, the latter for some scenic country chill out time. Both places we’ve been to before. Ronda about thirteen years ago, Zahara about three years ago. The latter we discovered when having a look around for little known places to visit in the south, and I was pretty blown away by the scenary when we arrived. I’ve wanted to go back for so long with my camera, and I can’t wait to try to capture the scene again. Well, as well as to chill out, read a book and chill out with my wife of course!

I’m not sure whether I will get to use it on this trip, but I do have one new addition to the camera bag that I am hoping to try out soon. For a few weeks I’ve had some money burning in my pocket, mulling over what I should get next. After a lot of mulling (other things that were considered included: extension rings, big stoppers for my wide-angle lens, a 35mm lens…) I finally plumped for a ND gradient filter kit. I had been unsure about getting one for a while, not least because you can achieve the effect in Photoshop/Lightroom, however, I’m getting to think that maybe it’s best to get stuff sorted in camera first, to minimise the time spent editing post-production. So I picked one up care of my local camera shop, a great place that has put me straight on a few things over the years and made sure I had all the bits I needed to make use of the ND filter kit (because of course you don’t just need a box with everything in it, you need the filters, the holder and the adapter for your lens).

At the time of writing I’ve not yet given them a run out, but I aim to do so soon. Maybe on the trip, but then again, you often find cloudless blue skies for days on end, so not sure it will help me that much, but I’ll take them with me regardless just in case. I want to keep pushing myself further so I figured getting an ND filter kit would be a step towards further developing my skills. Talking of which, there’s another thing I’m going to attempt to do when we are away…

Over the course of the past year or so, I’ve mainly been focused (I’ve got to stop using that word in this context!) on landscape photography. It’s something I’m comfortable with because I don’t feel any pressure in capturing the scenery. If it works, great. If not, it’s slightly frustrating, but not the end of the world. The one thing I have steered clear of is portraits. Particularly portraits of people on the street. But this is something I am aiming to fix. I’m going to be brave and try asking people if I can take their photo.

 

My Moo business cards...we'll see if I actually use them...

My Moo business cards...we'll see if I actually use them...

This is quite a big deal for me. I’m not the most outgoing of people, and I am particularly bad at talking to people I don’t know. But I’m going to give it a try. To help me, I recently bought some business cards with my photography links on it, with the aim of demonstrating that I’m (sort of) a photographer and you will be able to see your photo on this site. Hopefully that might help. Who knows. The cards, by the way, I’m really pleased with. Produced by Moo they are made from t-shirt off-cuts (no, really). They look great, and I hope they further reassure people that I’m asking for their photo for good reasons!

Anyway, not long to go now…let’s see how I get on and hopefully I’ll be able to post some interesting results in the coming weeks. Hopefully I will have plucked up the courage to take some portrait photos. If not, hopefully I will at least have some nice landscape photos to share!

Follow my trip on Twitter and Instagram at @captureyield.