Category: Photographique


I’m still trying catch up on last weeks photographs. After the camera safari around Manchester Museum we had a wander around the campus looking for some good shots. I wasn’t sure if we were still working on the ‘we have only 12/24 shots’ idea like in the days of film, so I ignored all the dull, verging on ugly, 1960s buildings and saved my shots for the more photogenic 1930s and Victorian buildings. I think other people did as well. I thought the batteries in my camera were about to die so I used my iPhone camera. I did it quietly as almost everyone else was using their complicated black cameras including one guy who had a very complicated job you could probably filmed an Hollywood epic on. Those who knew about cameras were cooing at it like a new born. I just wondered how much it cost and how many of its features would I ever be able to master? I’m impressed with the quality of the pictures my iPhone takes. When cameras were first put on phones the quality was poor but no so anymore.

I did a couple of panoramas. I like this feature. The results are always good I find and it make me feel like a real photographer. These two are of the lawns on what was once Burlington Street. It used to be thick with traffic and buses but is now a quiet place for students to sit and study. The building on the right is the 1930s classically inspired Faculty of Arts. This part of the university reminds me of one of those Ivy League colleges on the east coast of America. I can imagine inspirational professors reading inspirational poetry to adoring students on sun lit lawns.

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This is one of my favourite parts of the city. It’s part of the courtyard of the original Manchester University buildings. It reminds me of the kind of architecture you see in the quadrangles of Oxford and Cambridge colleges. The new ones of course. The old ones have architecture that goes back hundreds of years when Manchester was a tiny market town in an overlooked part of the country. The courtyard is having some work done but I managed to keep the scaffolding out of shot. Which was a pity because the best building is the courtyard is behind me.

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I took a few pictures of individual buildings around the courtyard and some other photogenic parts of the campus.

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We were supposed to take pictures of some of the students but there weren’t many about. It was Sunday afternoon and not many live in this area. Plus it was a bit cold. I find it difficult to take pictures of people. When they are in my shots they tend to be there because they were passing something that I wanted to shoot. I’m a bit shy and would find it difficult to go up to complete strangers and ask them if I could take a picture. And I don’t like the idea of taking surreptitious of people either. It’s intrusive. So I took these back shots of students sitting out on the lawns. Am still not comfortable with having done so.

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I’m behind with all my posts. Work is so busy in the run up to Christmas that I don’t have the time to keep up. Today, Friday, isn’t so bad. I can do some work at home which gives me time to type up this and load pictures. These ones are from last Sunday. I went on a camera safari with the Photography club at the Post Box Café to the Manchester Museum in Manchester University on Oxford Road. I thought that it might be quiet on a Sunday afternoon and we would have lots of space to look for some good pictures. How wrong I was. It was full of the middle classes and their offspring, the parents making sure that their children didn’t fall behind educationally on the two days off at the weekend. Then a choir turned up. They sang rather well but caused congestion in the foyer. And there were kids all over in animals onesies for some reason.

But I got some pictures. We had to treat our digital cameras like an old fashioned camera with film. In those days you had to think really hard about a shot before you took it or waste a part of the film. I had a wander and eventually settled on a huge ammonite fossil in the Geological Gallery. I liked the textures and the maths. Here it is…

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I cheated a bit and took a couple of back up ones…

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I’m fascinated by ammonites. These creatures ruled the roost for hundreds of millions of years. They appeared in the Devonian Period (400,000,000 years ago) and died out in the Cretaceous Period (100,000,000 years ago). That’s about 300,000,000 years. I’m not sure why they died out. Maybe the dinosaurs ate them? This is what the geologists think they looked liked in those ancient seas. I’m not sure how they know the colours though. A bit of artistic licence I suppose. And, of course, they are a distant relation of ours.

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I could have gone for the Tyrannosaurus Rex fossil skeleton. It’s a popular exhibit with everyone especially the kids.

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And I was tempted by the model planets in the Space Gallery.

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I really thought I might go for something in the Egyptian Gallery. I’m fascinated by this culture and civilisation. I’ve enjoyed my trips to the country and love to visit galleries that have collections of Egyptian artefacts. In the Manchester Museum, I particularly like this bowl. It’s about 4,000 years old and made of a highly polished granite. How they did it I’m not sure. You can actually touch this one and, while I stroke the perfectly smoothed sides, I try to think about who made it and who owned it and how it made its way through time from an ancient house near Aswan in Egypt to Manchester, a city that didn’t even exist when this artefact was made.

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This wonderful column carved with hieroglyphs from a block of pink granite is in the museum shop.

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And you could take a little of Ancient Egypt home with you as one of these facsimiles of ancient artefacts.

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And in the Pottery Gallery there were these beautiful pots from ancient civilisations from South America and Africa.

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The choir entertaining the museum visitors.

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On Tuesday I went to the second meeting of the new photography club at the Post Box Café in Chorlton. There were some more people there tonight which was good to see. Always nice to meet some new people. They all had big, black cameras with lots of buttons to press and different kinds of lens that could taken off and new ones inserted. Only two of us had a basic ‘point and press’ cameras and I think the other person is expecting a nice new one from Father Christmas in a few weeks time. Then I’ll be the only one with a little camera.

We talked about ‘aperture’ which I understood. It’s the hole that lets in the light and affects the picture you are taking. The flashy big, black cameras had complicated ways of changing the aperture for various conditions. I just press a little button on the top of my camera and the camera does it automatically which suits me. if I had to press a lot of buttons to take a picture of, say a butterfly, the creature will have flown before I got the thing in focus.

We then looked at ‘depth of field’ or ‘field of depth’. I’m not sure which way it goes around. There was lots of talk of ‘F’ numbers and which ones were good with which lenses in different conditions. At this point the conversation got a bit like one of those conversations they have on Star Trek where they are talking about some technology that doesn’t really exist so they invent one for the purpose. Except, of course, everyone else in the room knew what it all meant while it all passed over my head.

The upshot of this ‘depth of field/field of depth’ is that you can focus on something very close to you and everything in the background becomes fuzzy. You see this used in arty pictures sometimes. I can do it by half pressing my picture button till something goes green in the centre of the screen, then moving my camera slightly then fully pressing. So I was able to do what the rest were doing with their cameras.

Here are a few pictures I took. They are not the most interesting pictures but it shows the method we were using. Hopefully I will be able to use this in other pictures I take. We will see.

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Last night was my second evening at the Post Box Café. This time it was to attend a new monthly event called Photographique. The idea is that we meet up and learn to improve our photographing skills. Mine are pretty basic. I have a camera that I just point and press with. If I want to get closer I can use my simple zoom. I also use my iPhone if I’m out and about and love the panorama function. And I use my iPad especially if I need a picture to be ready quickly to be uploaded somewhere.

A Post Box Café panorama…

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There are a lot functions on my little camera that I have no idea what they do. It will be interesting to see what they are all for and how they can improve my photographs. We were sent to take some pictures of the café. Pictures that, if we looked at them in a year’s time, they would say ‘Post Box Café’. These are some that I took featuring things I saw about the café that I like and captured the café’s colour and style. I was using my point and press method.

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Chris has found a retro cocktail cabinet in one of the local shops. It was covered in glasses and there was a vase filled with sunflowers. The pictures I took here and one by the window were affected by the artificial light in the café. My camera wasn’t reproducing the colours my eyes were seeing. This is, apparently, to do with the White Balance. My camera has a setting that can be changed to deal with this. So the following are, more or less, the same picture taken by my ‘point and press’ method (1st one) and then with the White Balance adjusted for the artificial light (2nd one). You can see the difference. I learned something.

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I also learned about Macro Mode. I may have got this wrong but I think it enables you to take very clear photographs of very close things. I enabled it and took the two following pictures of some white flowers on the table in front of me. I don’t think I got it right because the pictures aren’t that clear. They are a bit fuzzy. And comparing them with the picture of the white flowers above (look for the one with ‘8’ on the table) which I took by my ‘point and press’ method with added zoom, the above picture is a lot clearer. I going to have to check this again.

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