On Dover beach

My husband Alan Franks and I have begun a new project, The Place of the Poem, and for the first illustrated essay, just published, we went to Dover. Here is a gallery of some of the shots. This was an opportunity to work on landscape and some long-exposure, as well as post-production skills in Photoshop.


Learning about natural light

It was lovely after all this time in lockdown to venture out to my first London Photographic workshop for well over a year. Alex and Jane were leading, and the subject was natural light. As Jane said, there is no such thing as bad light. Every form of light has its uses. I had not previously understood quite how the diffuse, soft lighting created by a cloudy sky could enhance certain types of photographs.


With lockdown easing, and having recovered from a serious illness last year that stopped all photography and much else in its tracks, I am at last able to pick up a camera again. I completed year two at Richmond College but after the illness, decided to take time out before proceeding to year three and do an online course instead. A good one to start with seemed to be the 31 Days to Becoming a Better Photographer with the Digital Photography School. This photo, above, was taken at Wraysbury lakes, near Heathrow, for Day One of the course, ‘setting up your camera’.

Day 2 assignment: Take shots in different contexts, including: Outdoors, Indoors in bright light, Indoors in dim light.

I admit it was tempting to use an old photo for part one of this, but I made myself start from scratch with a new idea. Unlike in Australia, where the course’s tutor Jim Hamel is based, and where everyone is talking about spring, here in the UK it is autumn so I was delighted to find some lemon-scented salvia still flowering in our garden. The first picture, the outdoor shot, I used a macro lens. Then I cut the salvia and put it in an Old Albert bone china milk jug, and balanced this on the end of our kitchen table, using a wide aperture (f2) on a 50mm lens and fast shutter speed for shallow depth of field. I was delighted by the unintended bokeh effect. Finally, for the third shot, which I felt was least successful of the three, I brought the jug upstairs to our son’s little studio and used a long exposure and smaller aperture. All were done on ISO 100. I felt the need to play around with flash and tripod, especially for shot 3, but didn’t have the equipment or the know-how to hand at this time.

Dreams Reality Task 1 (AC 1.1, 1.2) LO1


For my term 3 project, based around creative exploration of the dreams/reality theme, I began my research by taking photos on pilgrimage. I was able to experiment with new techniques learned in Photoshop processing, such as masking and the use of lassoe and quick select to light and darken specific areas and enhance light and shade. Landscape is a great subject on which to practise with these tools and make the most of ethereal light, ancient stone and natural beauty. These photos, taken on a walk from Rochester to Aylesford Priory, are part of set taken for use at work. The main photo is a view of the Medway Valley from the North Downs Way on Blue Bell Hill near Rochester, Kent.  I used photoshop select tool to enhance the light, in an attempt partly to evoke the atmosphere of the kind found in the photographs of Gregory Crewdson. Nature did not need much help from me here however! Read the related article about the newest pilgrimage route in the UK, the Augustine Camino, here.

LO 3, 4 Working with light and dark

LO 1,2,3

Moved by some of the images I saw of the Tower of London’s Armistice memorial of 10,000 lights, I went down to have a go myself at photographing this beautiful and powerful display of torchlight. It was pouring with rain, there were hundreds of people grouped at all the best viewing points. So this was not an easy assignment. I used 16-85mm lens and edited in photoshop and camera raw to achieve greater contrast between dark and light. In the first pic tried using masks to enhance the sky, but the grey rain meant there was nothing there in the first place to work with, so I just darkened the sky to black instead. In the third pic I left the sky closer to how it appeared IRL. I did this for the blog in preparation for my final assignment for the term, some of which which will be based around light after dark.

Health and safety issues were at a premium. It was pouring with rain, windy and there were thousands of people milling around. I had a tripod but the barrier was high and it was difficult to find a vantage point. Meanwhile traffic was whizzing past at quite a speed. Climbing walls to get a better shot was not an option! I also had to respect the rights of others to a good view and not get in their way with my equipment, or hog the space once I did find one.

I knew I wanted my final assignment to be Christmas at Kew, a local landmark where the light display at night is beautiful, so this was an opportunity to practise photographing light at night in difficult, crowded conditions like those that were certain to pertain at Kew.

Unit 2: processing

Working with Adobe Bridge, Lightroom CC and Photoshop. Practising layers and masking. Here I’ve posted the originals and the processed pix. The creative potential in this is very exciting. Pic 1: View of the City from Bankside near Tate Modern. Pic 2: South Milton Sands in Devon. Pic 3: Abstract photo taken during a London Photographic workshop at Tate Modern. (Note for action: Abstract photography exhibition opens at Tate Modern on May 2.)


Unit 1: Beginners’ night meet-up

Juanita and I went on a beginner’s night-time photography class through London Photographic on Meet-Up. We started at Bankside near Tate Modern and moved up the river, finishing at Tower Bridge as the sun finally set. Experimenting with long exposures, ND filter, white balance, light trails. (I put two of these photos on Unsplash)

Unit 1: manual


This week we worked on:

Focus – raise ISO for faster shutter speed for sharper focus.

If use image stabiliser/vibration reduction, turn off when using tripod. Or camera will compensate for something that’s not happening.

Look at how camera focuses, and where camera focuses


AF-S – (Single – locks focus on one object. Use this to focus then recompose)

AF-A Auto selected by camera

AF-C (continuous – camera follows object – eg refocuses on a person or animal coming towards you.)

Where the camera focuses. ie focusing point.

Can also use single point setting (next to AFS) and move little red sq around w ok menu button to change the focus point

Manual settings

Choose aperture according to

  • depth of field , small f no for shallow
  • Movement / shutter speed. Small f no for fast shutter speeds
  • If you want to freeze the motion and shutter speed is slow – raise the ISO.

On manual, wheel changes shutter speed. Wheel w +/- button changes aperture

Use light metre through view finder.- : -….0….+ – get line under 0 using shutter speed wheel.  Then perfect exposure.

Take pic – see if want brighter or darker pic. Change one of three settings depending on what are achieve – f no, shutter speed or ISO