Choosing a Camera

I'm frequently asked, "Which camera do you suggest I buy?"

Now, this is a tricky one as there are so many to choose from - compact, DSLR, bridge, film, digital, big, small you name it - it's so confusing! Often cameras are bought on price and are rarely used to their full potential, frequently discarded in frustration and replaced with something more readily available like the smartphone!

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Nowadays smartphones are so brilliant and accessible that they have become the camera of choice and for so many understandable reasons, ease of use, convenience, social media sharing and practicality. I love the fact that I can grab a moment and share on Instagram, or send an image to loved ones in an instance, or be on the receiving end of this piece of magnificent technology is nothing but pure genius, creating a feeling of connectedness. 

But, and it's a big BUT, what if you want more from your camera and don't want to feel a deep obligation to share for all and sundry to see your world. This is where the humble camera takes pride of place in all its glory, below I've listed a few things to consider before you part with your hard-earned money; like any other purchase I suggest you shop around, these are just a few pointers for any budget and worth researching first.

All recommendations are my own, I'm not sponsored by any brand, enjoy the experience and do what makes you happy :)

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So What's On Offer?

Point-and-Shoot and Bridge
Canon, Nikon, Sony, Samsung, Panasonic, Fuji, Olympus


Easy to carry, ideal if you don’t have a big budget to spend on a camera and are not too concerned about the optimum image quality.

Pros:-

  • The fixed lens has a great range from wide angle to telephoto
  • No interchangeable lenses to worry about
  • Easy to use for novices in auto mode
  • Wide range of easy to use settings
  • Can take video as well
  • Most have written tips to help you get the best out of using your camera
  • Special effects like panoramic feature
  • Built-in flash
  • Shoot in live view
  • Bridge cameras have viewfinders and are a good transition to DSLR
  • Pocket size

Cons:-

  • No viewfinder (except with Bridge cameras) and hard to see image on the back of the camera in bright sunlight
  • Can be too small to handle and fiddly to use the buttons (Bridge cameras are larger than point-and-shoot)
  • Not easy to use in manual control
  • Sound and image on video can be poor
  • Not good in low lighting conditions
  • No option to use a flashlight accessory

DSLR  
Nikon, Canon, Fuji, Samsung, Panasonic


Digital Single Lens Reflex means the subject is viewed via a mirror through the viewfinder to the lens - ideal if you want to control the camera in manual mode to achieve optimum results. A bigger budget is needed to get one of these, ideal for the serious photographer who cares about quality, results, and wants to learn to progress.

Pros:-

  • Superior image quality
  • Can be used in manual mode with complete control over settings
  • Wide selection of interchangeable lenses
  • Large image sensor for optimum quality
  • Ideal for shooting in low lighting conditions
  • Option to assign programmable functions to buttons
  • Higher resale value than point and shoots
  • The body can be purchased separately to the lens
  • Full frame 35mm image sensor on professional options
  • Cropped sensor will give the lens 50% more distance on the focal length
  • Written information viewed on screen of camera to help you understand the controls and settings

Cons:-

  • Big and bulky and a variety of lenses will fill your camera bag
  • Lots to learn because of the vast options to control the end result
  • Steep learning curve
  • There are no special effect options in camera
  • Cropped sensor will give the lens 50% more distance on the focal length (potential disadvantage if shooting wide-angle)

EVIL or Mirrorless
Fuji, Sony, Olympus


Electronic Viewfinder with Interchangeable Lenses
These cameras are sometimes used by professionals as an easy to use option when the occasion arises and in addition to DSLR's.
Mirrorless interchangeable-lens cameras (MILC)
Or Compact Systems Camera (CSCs)
A reasonable price range between a point and shoot and DSLR

Pros:-

  • Provides excellent image quality on par with entry level DSLR
  • Portable
  • Better manual controls
  • Easy to use and understand controls
  • Shoot in live view
  • Interchangeable lenses
  • Good in low lighting
  • Good for beginners to learn to progress to DSLR
  • Good video results
  • Panoramic special effects
  • Reasonable resale value

Cons:-

  • No proper viewfinder
  • Limited lens selection using adaptors means loss of automatic use
  • Can sometimes work out more expensive than DSLR’s once you add on the accessories like flashes and viewfinders
  • Not pocket size

I hope this has helped to choose your next, or the first camera, please feel free to share with anyone who asks the question, "Which camera do you suggest I buy?"

Enjoy!

with love
Stella
and the SMS Creative Photography Family

Your Family Location Photo-Shoot

Location photo-shoots are always popular, any time of year, now that we are coming to the end of a very chilly winter and the longer spring warmer days are on the horizon the diary is filling up.

Photographing in the studio is predictable, as light and backgrounds can be controlled. However I always like the challenge of family locations photo-shoots as I never know quite what to expect regarding the lighting and the choice of backdrop.

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Just before Christmas I went to a particularly inviting location, a stunning house and garden to match, to photograph 3 teenage girls with their lovely mum.

It wasn't the garden or the house I chose to photograph in, as I wandered down the garden I found their greenhouse to be a hidden gem. 

The early morning light was just right and I think you'll agree the interior is charming, with an English country garden feel, I just couldn't resist!

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I used a gold reflector to fill in the shadows on their faces which worked a treat. The mix of burnished copper leaves and dark pink flowers worked perfectly with the monochrome colours the family wore.

As usual my choice of lens was my Nikon f2.8 70-200mm

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I'm finding family locations photo-shoots popular as gift vouchers for Mother's Day, special birthdays - especially grandparents with their children and grandchildren, this link to our website shows you more.

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Look forward to seeing you soon.

Bye for now, with love

Stella

and the SMS Creative Photography Family

'Celebrating 20 Years In Oxted Town'

You're invited to join us for a glass of bubbly

on

 Saturday 11 February 12pm - 3pm

at

SMS Creative Photography

I can't believe how fast the years have flown by, sometimes I have to stop and think how it all began, from an early age I always wanted my own business.

 In 1984 at the age of 24 I got married, however at the age of 34 with 3 small children in tow I found myself newly single, homeless, jobless and penniless. This was my PERFECT opportunity to pave the way to create a business to provide for myself and children. 

With absolutely nothing to lose and having worked in the photographic industry, a photography studio seemed the natural choice. Fast forward 3 years to February 10 1997 - my 4th child SMS Creative Photography was born.

My philosophy was, and still remains, to offer quality with a first class personal service photographing local families and beyond. 

Over the years commissions have taken me far and wide, covering the World Cruise on the QE2; photographing Boyzone and Cher opening the Harrods sales; the infamous Jeremy Clarkson for an exclusive book on Ferrari; Metallica and Iron Maiden at the Sonisphere Festival and most recently the ITV newscaster Alastair Stewart as Patron of the Brooke Charity.

I've loved meeting so many families and being part of the community.
A very big thank you for trusting my team and I with the preservation of your family history, we have enjoyed sharing the evolution of photography with you.

Look forward to seeing you soon.

Bye for now, with love

Stella

and the SMS Creative Photography Family

Bonhams London to Brighton Veteran Car Run 6th November 2016

I had the pleasure of photographing the arrival of hundreds of Veteran Cars arriving at Madeira Drive.

The 436 pre-1905 entries translated to 393 starters from Hyde Park on their journey to Brighton, with hundreds of spectators to cheer them on during the 60-mile route, which was bathed in autumnal sunshine.

Below are a small selection of photographs from the day.

Maderia Drive Brighton, the finishing line for over 300 veteran cars.

There were 344 finishers, with the 25 patrols, 3 recovery trucks and 2 passenger ‘Taxi’s’ provided by RAC Motoring Services - complemented by the TOTAL mobile welding unit - attending around 175 breakdowns (some cars up to 5 times!), providing recovery for 12 cars to service points at Honda Redhill and Gatwick, and providing welding services for 6 cars. 

The spectator route guide.

I got to meet some very interesting people who told me about their family history with their cars; in particular a young man who remembers each year being a small passenger in his parents 1904 Cadillac, and this year is the driver with his parents as passengers, the VCR has played an important part in their lives.

Commentators getting ready to interview the drivers to hear about their journey.

Around 10.15am, some two hours after leaving Hyde Park the first participants crossed the finishing line, car number 263 a 1903 Mercedes driven by Mr. Chris Scott.

First car back Mercedes 1903.

Car 253 a 1903 Panhard et Levassor driven by Dr. Terence Bramall CBE.

Car 051 a 1900  De Dion Bouton, driven by Mr. Simeon Barringer.

Joy and delight for car number 203 a 1903 Cadillac driven by Mr. Philip Kadoorie.

Following a respectful distance behind the early starters, were BBC Radio 2 DJ Chris Evans, plus BBC The One Show host Alex Jones, driving vintage buses full of passengers who paid for their ride of a lifetime by jointly raising more than £180,000 for BBC Children in Need. 

The 1950 Bedford OB buses provided by Lodge Coaches of Chelsmford, Essex.

BBC The One Show presenter Alex Jones drove one of the coaches.

Chris Evans, Alex Jones and dancing professionals from BBC One Strictly Come Dancing, Kevin Clifton and his wife Karen Hauer, who were amongst the passengers.

Car number 158 a 1902 Mors driven by Mr. Philip Oldman.

All welcome to come and watch.

Car number 116 a 1902 Panhard Levassor driven by Mr. Tim Dickson.

Brass Band entertainment too!

Car number 388 a 1904 Darracq driven by Mr. Graham Gregory.

Family fun for car number 309 a 1904 Alldays driven by Mr. Christopher Thomas.

Car number 379 a 1904 Darracq from the Louwman Museum driven by Mr. Louwman, seen here with his daughter Quirina and grandson Freddie.

This is the car that played the lead in the 1953 film ‘Genevieve’ set against the background of the London to Brighton run. In the film this 1904 Darracq is the hobby of Alan McKim, a barrister played by the actor John Gregson; an interesting detail is that Gregson does steer the car in the film, but couldn’t actually drive!

Thanks for reading, I'll be back in the New Year with more news from my world of cars and photography.

Bye for now.

Stella

Salon Privé 2016

David Cohen - 1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Coupe Gullwing.

The Salon Privé Concours d’Elegance is hailed as one of the finest concours competitions yet. This year, the 11th annual event, Concours d'Elegance has seen some of the world's rarest and most alluring cars on the lawns of the prestigious Blenheim Palace in Woodstock, held on the 1-3 September 2016.

Boodles Ladies' Day Pass.

I had the pleasure of attending Boodles Ladies' Day on Friday 2nd September and quickly immersed myself amongst the stunning selection of more than 75 cars and bikes on display. We were treated to a wonderful Champagne lobster luncheon, English afternoon tea and complimentary bar, the perfect setting for a thoughtfully presented exclusive event.

Closest to Furthest - Ferrari F50, Ferrari F355, Lamborghini Countach, Ferrari 458 Specialé, R35 Nismo Nissan GT-R GT3, BMW Z4 GTE.

Lamborghini Huracan Spider (Left) Lamborghini Huracan (Right).

1964 Alfa Romeo 101 Giulia Spider.

Tom Hartley showcasing some top class stock; Ferrari Dino (Left) Ferrari 275 GTB (Middle) and Ferrari F50 (Right).

The best bit for me was watching, photographing and hearing the commentary for the Concours d'Elegance event, the judging for which had taken place the previous day. 

1955 AC Ace.

Mark Aldridge - 1955 AC Ace.

Ferrari F40.

1973 Porsche 2.7RS Touring.

1969 Ferrari 365 GT 2+2.

Me at work, not my usual attire!

1973 Lamboghini Countach LP400 ' Periscopio'.

1953 Ferrari 250 Europa Short Chassis Prototype -  Winner 'The Great V12 Ferraris' category.

Entered by Nick Bailey, this 1992 Ferrari F40 won the 'Dream Machines' category.

1954 Maserati A6 GCS Berlinetta - Winner 'People's Choice Category'.

This 1956 Ferrari 500 Testa Rossa fended off rivals to steal the 'Best of Show' Salon Privé 2016 winner.

Winner 'Best of Show' Salon Privé 2016.

Taking 8 years to find and 2 years to restore, it made its post restoration debut at the 2015 Goodwood Revival Meeting.

1956 Ferrari 500 Testa Rossa.

1973 Porsche 2.7RS Touring (Left) 1969 Porsche 911 (Right).

1969 Porsche 911 - Runner Up Trophy, finished third.

This 1965 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray C2 sold for £60,750 in the Silverstone Auction on Saturday 3rd September at Salon Privé.

1965 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray C2

Leaving Salon Privé on the majestic grounds of Blenheim Palace, until next year

Thanks for reading, I'll be back soon with more news from my world of cars and photography.

Bye for now.

Stella

Silverstone Classic 2016

The majestic Silverstone sign

On Saturday 30 July I collected my media pass, track side vest and then immersed myself in the world of motor racing, boy did I have fun! I'd like to share with you a few moments I captured from the day.

1955 Austin-Healey 100m pit stop - Royal Automobile Club Woodcote Trophy pre '56 Sports Cars

Christophe D'ansembourg before getting into his WilliamsFW07/C 1981 for the FIA Historic Formula One Race

Sam Hancock at the podium, a very worthy winner of the Stirling Moss Trophy for pre-'61 Sports Cars in the Ferrari 246S, 20 laps

Rick Carlino in 1975 Hesketh 308C

Winner Rob Hall's 1974 Matra MS670B/C in the Can-Am 50 Interserie Challenge

Chris Wilks in a 1960 Deep Sanderson FJ in position to take the track

Ant Anstead interviewing racing legend Mike Beckwith for Channel 4's 'For The Love Of Cars'

Ant Anstead having a moment of reflection before taking the recently restored 1958 Lotus Elite Series 1 out for the next race

FIA Masters Historic Formula One back in the pit lane after the race

Thanks for reading, I'll be back soon with more news from my world of cars and photography.

Bye for now.

Stella

From Camera To Wall - Part Five - The Art of Post Production

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Welcome to part five of six newsletters 'From Camera - Wall'

Following on from the previous newsletter 'Viewing Session and Choosing What's Best For You', we are now exploring 'The Art of Post Production'.

Post Production

With modern day technology being so accessible, we have become accustomed to instant results at the touch of a button. I'd like to give you a glimpse behind the scenes at SMS Creative Photography with this short video below, demonstrating just what's entailed in the post production process with Ben, one of our skilled in-house digital artists. 

All the images we take are treated individually and processed through a series of careful actions to reach our stringent standards, we are so proud of.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PuWX6WWduhs

Please join me next time for the final part of the series 'Printing' to learn a little more about the process 'From Camera to Wall'.

Thanks for reading!

Bye for now.

Stella

From Camera To Wall - Part Four - Viewing Session and Choosing What's Best For You

Welcome to part four in a series of six newsletters 'From Camera - Wall'

Following on from the previous newsletter Photographing on Location & Equipment Used,

we are now exploring the 'Viewing Session and Choosing What's Best For You'.

Viewing

A week or so after your location shoot you are invited into the comfort of our studio for a presentation of the photographs. An hour is set aside to go through the images to select your favourites, don't worry I have already done the first edit.

A number of images are shown on the screen so a comparison can be made and shuffled into different folders of preference. The images below give an idea of what to expect.

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A selection of images to choose your favourites from...

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a variety of templates to help choose which works best for you...

Choosing

Depending on how you choose to display your photographs, either for yourself or as a gift, different layouts, papers, glass, frames and acrylic finishes are suggested to suit you.

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different ways to display four different photographs...

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a single image can work just as well...

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compare an example of colour to black and white before deciding...

The above is all done prior to skilled in-house post production, which will feature in Part Five - 'Editing and Post Production'.

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and there is a variety of frames to choose from.

Please join me in two weeks time to learn a little more about the process 'From Camera to Wall'.

Thanks for reading!

Bye for now.

Stella

From Camera To Wall - Part Three - Photographing on Location & Equipment Used

Following on from the previous newsletter 'Meeting the Family and Planning the Shoot' we are now exploring Part Three in a series called 'From Camera to Wall', this time it's 'Photographing on Location and Equipment Used'.

Location

I'm choosing to use a recent shoot in a meadow as an example, I always get there about 15 minutes before the shoot is due to start to get a feel for the light, I use a hand held light meter so I can set the camera accordingly. Checking out the angles is a must, I especially like shooting low down, sometimes lying on the ground, so the appropriate footwear and clothing for the weather conditions is a must, I've been caught out a few times by getting this wrong!

Equipment

The next thing to be sure of is your camera equipment, you have to have everything you need within easy access, a variety of pocket sizes are ideal for a lens cloth, back up memory cards and tissues all close to hand. The essentials are fully charged batteries and memory cards of at least 16gb each, I always shoot RAW files with each file size approximately 25mb, compared to Jpegs at 5mb - I'll go into this in more detail in part four.

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The cameras, lenses and light meter used on the shoot, the flash is for filling in any harsh shadows.

Using at least two camera bodies, one with a 70-200mm f2.8 lens and one a 24-120mm f1.4 lens so I can shoot fast without having to think about changing lens, which would often mean missing a winning shot.

On this shoot I had a third camera body fitted with a 50mm f1.4 prime lens, I've had this lens for as long as I can remember and it never fails to disappoint, it's manual focus is a little slower than the more up to date auto focus lenses, the results more than make up for this.

I always shoot on manual mode and often a high ISO (sensitivity of digital sensor to light) about 800, so I can use a wide open aperture for shallow depth of field and a fast shutter speed.

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I refer to the histogram to check my exposures are correct and adjust the shutter speed accordingly, and don't look at each image once taken as this wastes precious shooting time and interrupts the flow of the shoot. The internal light meter is a valuable tool, you can see this through the viewfinder to monitor exposure.

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Using a 70-200mm lens.

Always communicate with your subjects to give them direction and to engage with them to capture candid expressions, these two cuties were a pleasure to work with. I prefer to shoot with the sun behind them, but ideally clouds give a softer light. In harsh sunlight I'd use a little fill in flash to soften the shadows.

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Press the shutter when you feel their expressions are the most natural.

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Shoot at low levels to include more of the foreground...

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...to achieve engaging results.

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Taken with the 50mm lens f4 1/1600 200 ISO works for this lens.

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Select your focusing point so the rest of the image is out of focus, together with a wide open aperture results in shallow depth of field.

Please join me in two weeks time for Part Four - 'Editing and Post Production'  to learn a little more about the process "From Camera to Wall".

Thanks for reading, I hope I've inspired you!

Stella

From Camera to Wall - Part Two - Meeting the Family and Planning the Shoot

Welcome to Part Two, in a series of six fortnightly newsletters, unraveling the passage we take "From Camera to Wall"

Part one covered Framing and Hanging - today it's - "Meeting the Family or Individual and Planning the Shoot" - a paramount piece of the puzzle to achieve the desired creation. Taking place during an initial relaxed consultation to discuss the purpose of the shoot, be it a special occasion, family get together, leaving the country, gift for relatives, and many other big or small milestones.

Planning the Shoot

Finding the most suitable location makes all the difference to reflect the moment in time, such as a fun family environment or a bustling cityscape to solidify the right tone and emotion.

A location alone may not have meaning, however by simply adding a person or more to the frame naturally creates an emotion.

The images below show a small sample variety of ideas.

Some of the many factors to consider when choosing a location are:-

  • Time of day 
  • Ease of access
  • Camera angle
  • Number of people and animals in the shoot
  • Where the sun is at certain times of day (cloud often works better than harsh sunlight)
  • Wet weather plan
  • Sunny day (back lighting works best)
  • Colour and style of clothes to suit the person, background/location
  • Window/ambient light for inside shoots
  • Composition
  • Professional hair & makeup? (Oh go on!)
  • Time to do the shoot (usually one hour plus)
  • Special permission to use certain places
  • Pathways and foliage to create depth

Please join me in two weeks time for Part Three - "Photo Shoot and Equipment Used" to learn a little more about the process "From Camera to Wall".

Thanks for reading, I hope I've inspired you!

Bye for now.

Stella

From Camera to Wall - Part One - Framing and Hanging

In the modern day, the perception of a photograph has changed with the advent of the life altering device that lives in all of our pockets, the mobile phone. With the benefits of a sense of consistent connection to all, but more appropriately the speed and ease of photography. Photographs now have a very different meaning, or do they?

We can all still admire the end result of a professional photograph hanging on a wall, but do we really know what it takes to get to this stage? I'm unsure we do, let me take this opportunity to unveil just what this process entails.

Starting in reverse order, with the final stage first - Framing and Hanging - part one in a series of six fortnightly newsletters. Over the coming weeks, demystifying the steps we take from 'Camera to Wall’.

Framing

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Once you have selected the frame you'd like to showcase your photograph in, we work closely with master craftsmen we trust to achieve first class results. The wooden mouldings are made in England and Italy in a wide range of finishes. Each photograph is dry mounted to keep flat with an overlay mount if preferred, then sealed in the frame to prevent moisture and dust from seeping in.

We recommend using Art Glass, to cut reflection by 99% and to reveal the true colours of the photograph that ordinary glass doesn't. For work that is being transported abroad, acrylic instead of glass is a must, it's lightweight and shatter proof.

Nothing passes quality control until every join and cut is inspected to pass our strict attention to detail. We even make sure each piece has it's own certificate of authenticity added to the back, this shows which frame and mount card was used and the date the photograph was taken on, just to remind you in years to come.

Hanging

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We also offer a service to deliver to your home or work premises, and to hang your photographs, so easy to get this part wrong. I oversee the hanging process using a trusted gallerist, who comes equipped with the correct tools for the job, including a laser line level, so vertically and horizontally everything is spot on, no more left a bit down a bit! Always a pleasure to see the end result and happy customers.

Please join me in two weeks time for Part Two - Meeting the Customer and Planning the Shoot.

Bye for now.

Stella

Let's Get In The Darkroom

Robin Bell in his London studio where he continues to process and print by traditional means.

For people born in the last decade of the 20th century a dark room isn't something they would necessarily associate with photography.

With this in mind, I'd like to tell them and remind others born before 1990 just exactly what did, and still does happen in the photographic dark room.

When I started my photographic career back in the 70s processing black and white film and printing the images were just as important as taking the shot. It takes a very skilled processor and printer to interpret the photographers vision - the two work together to create outstanding results.

A recent visit to Robin Bell in Fulham took me down memory lane. I was fascinated to see that very little had changed since the early days of this dying art. Robin is one of Britain's most respected black & white printers and just by spending a few hours watching him at work it was clear to see why.

Checking to see the images once processed.

Film Processing

Once the film has been loaded on the spiral it is processed in temperature controlled developer for a certain number of minutes, this depends on the type of film and the exposure the photographer has taken the images at, this process is all carried out in total darkness as stray light would fog the film.

Preparing the film for drying.

Drying

After the developing process of 3 different chemicals, developer, stop bath and fix, the film then needs to be washed in a solution to prevent drying marks and then hung in a warm air cupboard ready for printing, this last process can be carried out in normal lighting as the light sensitive part finishes once the film is in the fix solution.

In the darkroom holding the enlarger to print the image on paper, this process is carried out in amber lighting.

Printing

The negative is placed in a carrier above the lens in the enlarger which is then projected onto light sensitive paper, depending on the negative quality Robin chooses the appropriate grade of paper for best results, this is all carried out in amber lighting which the paper isn't sensitive to. Just like a camera, the enlarger has a lens to focus the image on the paper and a timer is set to expose for the correct exposure.

Custom made dodge tools used to hold back various tones in the printing process that need less exposure to light, and above the tools are boxes of printing papers.

The 3 trays of chemicals, from left to right, developer, stop bath and fix.

Boxes of negatives from photographers such as, Justin Leighton, Terence Donovan, John Swanell and Marcus Tomlinson.

Finishing

When the photograph has been through the chemical solutions it then needs to be washed and dried before any dust spots are retouched. Using a fine paint brush and black retouching dye in various concentrations, this technique that can take a lifetime to master!

A print of Calvin Harris perfectly printed.

A print of Audrey Hepburn Robin printed for a recent exhibition about the screen icon.

Compare Traditional to Digital Printing

The above two photographs are from the same 35mm black and white negative, the one on top was printed by Robin in the darkroom as described above, the picture bellow was by digital means.

The negative was scanned to a high resolution, then via photoshop any dust spots and scratches removed and converted to black and white so there aren't any stray colour casts, with a few tweaks of levels and contrast it is then inkjet printed.

The difference you can see is that the tonal range on the left is far richer, showing true blacks compared to the digital inkjet print on the right.

You can still achieve a good tonal range digitally by using a good quality fine art paper, but not quite as rich as traditional black and white printing.

If you would like to have a studio or location shoot in black and white film, for traditional printing, do let me know so I can dust off my film cameras to create something a little more bespoke.

Thanks for reading I'll be back next month with news about my location bluebell shoots which are soon to flower.

Bye for now

Stella

London Classic Car Show 2016

I was delighted to have been given the opportunity to photograph the Preview Evening of The London Classic Car Show on Thursday 18th February, having photographed the first show last year I was keen to see what was in store for 2016.

Guests included Jenson Button, Gordon Murray, Ari Vatanen, Bruno Senna, Jodie Kidd, Tom Ford, Jonny Smith and the evening was hosted by Suzi Perry.

One of the show’s main events was the Classic Six Nations Cup in which teams of ten iconic classic cars from the six leading car-producing nations vied for votes from visitors.

And when all the votes had been counted, the UK team – which included such varied machines at the original Mini, the Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost, Le Mans Bentley, McLaren F1 supercar, Aston Martin DB5, Land Rover and Graham Hill’s 1968 title winning Lotus 49 Grand Prix car – narrowly beat an Italian team full of Ferraris, Maseratis and Lamborghinis. 

Below are my highlights of The London Classic Car Show 2016 Preview Evening.

Jenson Button, the 2009 Formula One World Champion, made an impressive entrance driving a McLaren F1 – the supercar was celebrated at the show in a special display curated by its designer Gordon Murray.

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Suzi Perry, Jensen Button and Jodie Kidd with the McLaren F1.

Classic car dealers crammed the halls with impressive displays of rare and valuable classic cars, many with six figure price tags. By the end of the show they delightedly reported sales of many millions of pounds.

A quote from the Event Director Bas Bungish:-
“If we were delighted by how the first London Classic Car Show was received in 2015, we were blown away by the response to the 2016 edition. From the moment the show opened right until the final curtain each day, the halls were buzzing with visitors. They loved the special displays and really got involved with the show: more than 9,000 for example, voted in the Classic Six Nations Cup.

“And the really good news is that we are already starting work to make the 2017 London Classic Car Show even better. Make a note in your diaries now: 23-26 February 2017,” said Bungish.

That's a date in my diary I don't want to miss!

If you have enjoyed reading this newsletter and would like to read previous ones you may have missed please click this link.

Thanks for reading, I'll be back once a month with updates.

Stella

Where it all began

My journey with photography began back in the 70s, I had a fascination for being able to preserve a moment forever.

The recent photograph above with my first camera and light meter.

The picture below shows a photograph I took as I embarked on my apprenticeship 40 years ago, I came across this whilst I was having a sort out over Christmas, it immediately took me back to the day I pressed the shutter.

It was the first picture I took for my college course work, I processed the 35mm film and printed the picture too, it was the beginning of my colourful journey, as I celebrate my 19th year, today 10th February, since I opened my studio SMS Creative Photography.

1. 1976 Amy logo

Picture Library Of course photography goes much, much further back, to the 19th century. The Getty Archives in London house a vast collection of images from the beginning to present day.

The glass negatives below must be at least 100 years old. I enjoyed an educational tour of the archives given by Vice President Matthew Butson, about the millions of images available that cover almost every event photographed in history and much, much more!

Matthew Butson, Vice President, of the Getty Hulton Archive.

Rarely seen album of photographs of the Queen at home with her sister Princess Margaret. Thanks for reading I'll be back next month with more news.

Bye for now.

Stella

First Photograph of 2016

With the new year in full swing, people filled with motivation and resolutions for a prosperous and healthy year. One thing I always look forward to is the first picture of the year, it's the starting place for me.This studio shoot of Jess and Jack is particularly poignant, I've known their mum for over 12 years (when she first met their dad), capturing their joyful journey, engagement, wedding... The below iPhone pictures lead you to the one I took.

From Start 'Come on Jack, give your sister a kiss and cuddle'.

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For all camera gurus and enthusiast, I used a Nikon D750 body with a Nikon 50mm lens with a wide open aperture to create that lovely shallow depth of field. This particular fixed-focus lens is one I have owned since I started my career in photography in the 70s, you have to manually focus it so I had to be super quick.

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To Finish ahh, so cute, a lovely expression of sibling love, makes my heart melt. I love the relationships I have with my customers, watching their families grow and evolve and to welcome new families too.

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I'll be back every month with a newsletter about what's happening at SMS Creative Photography, I also write a monthly newsletter for my classic and supercar photography branch of the business called 'Stella', just follow this link if you would like to find out more.

Thanks for reading.

Stella

Bonhams London to Brighton Veteran Car Run 2015

I had been looking forward to the Bonhams London to Brighton Veteran Car Run for some time, particularly after I had photographed the Best of West Kent Veteran Car Run back in July. The London to Brighton run scheduled on Sunday 1st November is the world's longest running motor event, this year celebrates the 119th Anniversary Run, the pioneering cars from the pre-1905 era, the only event anywhere on Earth where so many veteran cars parade in such numbers, the participants dressed in period attire.

I photographed the arrivals at the finishing line in Brighton, take a look at the show reel below to get a feel for it, if you would like to see more please follow this link to read my full newsletter on my car photography website.

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The above photograph shows the first car back over the finishing line a 1903 Berliet just after 10am.

Thanks for reading I'll be back in two weeks time with more news.

Bye for now, enjoy the weekend.

Stella

How To Get The Best Out Of Your Camera This Autumn

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Autumn is such a colourful time of year and an ideal time to get out with your camera and get the creative juices flowing. I'd like to give you a few tips on how to get the most out of your camera, simple techniques can make all the difference. You may think you need a sunny day to capture the colours, this is only the case when it's early morning or late afternoon when the sun is low and the rays are shining through the trees, the examples above and below show how you can use this to your advantage. I've taken all the photographs in this newsletter with my Nikon D700 body and Nikon 24-120mm lens. The photograph above, which featured on SMS Creative Photography's Christmas card last year, was taken at the bottom of Merle Common Road as you join Red Lane, Oxted. Camera set at 200 ISO, shutter speed 1/100s aperture f5.6.

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The above photograph was exposed at 200 ISO, shutter speed 1/200s and aperture F9.

Autumn HDR

HDR

The above photograph was taken using the HDR technique which I explained in this newsletter. I took 3 images at different exposures which were spliced together to give an even exposure, showing depth and detail, which otherwise would have been lost. You will always need a tripod for HDR. Cloudy Day Sometimes it's best to avoid shooting on a sunny day, the light can be too harsh, burning out the detail, a grey sky means you can make the most of the day with the soft light and more saturated colours. The example below shows how the grey sky lends itself to a wider range of autumn colours. This photograph was exposed at 1600 ISO 1/320s f18.

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Frosty Morning

A crisp frosty morning is also a good opportunity, especially if it's a little misty too, it can add mood and atmosphere and soften colours, creating mystery. Think about how you would like to take the photograph, you don't have to take everything at eye level, squat down and use any pathways to take the viewers eyes into the photograph, it makes more of a story. Exposed at 1600 ISO 1/500s f8. I recommend you push the ISO so you can maintain a shallow depth of field.

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Close Up

Get closer to the subject to pick up the texture and shape, this photograph was exposed at 800 ISO 1/200s at f5.6.

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I hope this has inspired you to experiment with your camera this autumn, remember the clocks go back 1 hour this Sunday morning 25th October, an ideal opportunity to get out to capture the early morning sun and mist.

Thanks for reading I'll be back in two weeks time with more news.

Bye for now, enjoy the weekend.

Stella

Goodwood Revival 2015

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On Sunday 13 September I attended the Goodwood Revival, I always look forward to going to this three-day festival held each September. This event isn't just for car and motor sport lovers it's an event for all the family to enjoy the whole experience of living in a bygone era, with a merry go round and lots of fun things to see, do and buy. It's an educational visit for everyone!

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Featuring all types of road racing cars and motorcycles that would have competed during the circuit's original period - 1948–1966. It is one of the world's most popular motor race meetings and the only event which recreates the golden era of motor sport in the UK. I love the fact that most people dress in period clothes and everything around you reflects this, from the tea stands, police boxes and memorabilia.

Elegance from a bygone era.

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An original Land Rover Defender - still stable when tilted at 45 degrees, as these Revival visitors found out.

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This year the crowds witnessed a spectacular Spitfire and Hurricane display to commemorate 75 years since the Battle of Britain, in attendance were veterans who were part of the ceremony.

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Everything around you enhances the period of the event.

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The Red Coats were there too.

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Where did I park my Spitfire?

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A bit of fun "Madam you're under arrest"!

I hope you have enjoyed reading a little about the Goodwood Revival and it has inspired you to book your tickets for next year. To see more photographs from the event please take a look at Instagram and Twitter @StellaSMS

Thanks for reading I'll be back in two weeks time with more news.

Bye for now.

Stella

RM Sotheby's London Auction Monday 7 September 2015

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Blue Chip Automobiles

On Monday 7 September I took a trip to Battersea Park to see a spectacular array of classic and supercars for the annual RM Sotheby's London auction. As usual RM Sotheby's didn't disappoint with this line up of 75 blue-chip automobiles, displayed for viewing during a champagne reception on Sunday 6 and Monday 7 September. The above Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster didn't meet the reserve of £650,000 - £850,000

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Auctioneer

The lots were numbered between 101-176 and the auction was streamed live. For any of you who have seen auctioneer Max Girardo in action will know he conducts the auction with panache and zeal, communicating in English, French and Italian depending on the bidder. Max always makes these events exciting and entertaining with the help of Peter Wallman (left) who introduces each of the lots with a potted history.

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Lots

Below are a selection of the cars, they were each presented with military precision, either driven or rolled on and off the stage for all to admire. Stunning photographs taken on location of each car were displayed on screens above. My favorite was the 1953 Porsche 356 Pre-A 1500 coupé, with the 1973 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona Spider a close second

The star of the show, a 1958 Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta Competizione 'Tour de France' which went for £4,250,000 on the hammer making competition history, it was exciting to watch as the telephone bids were coming in thick and fast. Ferraris as usual stole the show, with total sales achieved of more than £16.6 million.

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To find out more and to see the prices they were sold for please click here.

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Thanks for reading, I'll be back in two weeks with more to share.

Enjoy the weekend! Bye for now.

Stella

Summertime Photography

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Whilst you're away sunning yourself or at home relaxing, take time out to enjoy the moment. Grab your camera and photograph something tranquil, you can refer back to my last newsletter if it helps. Once you've got your image just a little post production can make a huge amount of difference to your summertime photography. Let me show you...

The photograph above was taken in the crystal clear waters of the Caribbean in Barbados. It was an overcast day with a storm brewing. The contrast of clear water and the stormy sky were difficult to capture in one shot, but I knew I could improve this in Photoshop.

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I always shoot in RAW, the RAW file records a greater number of pixels, giving you more freedom to edit an image. These files need to be processed in Photoshop or Lightroom allowing you much more creativity. Using layers like Levels and Curves, Hues/Saturation and Shadows/Highlights, the image can look infinitely better and true to what you had seen.

Don't be afraid to experiment. The photograph below is the end result, which in my mind is true to what I saw.

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The same goes for the photograph below taken at the Soco Hotel Hastings, Barbados. It's not possible to capture an even exposure for the out and inside in one image, this can be achieved by using HDR which I mentioned in my previous newsletter . However without the use of a tripod to shoot multiple images you can still achieve this in one shot. You will need to enhance the exterior view by using the techniques mentioned above and below.

Using a layer mask and playing with a levels adjustment layer I have been able to retrieve the data lost by the harsh sunlight in contrast to the shade inside.

The final image below gives a pleasing result.

I hope this has been useful and has set you on your way in post production, for others of you who are more advanced, keep experimenting, it's the best way to learn as you can find some original tool combinations by making errors.

Enjoy the weekend, I'll be back in two weeks time with more news. Bye for now!

Stella