Firstly, for you blog followers, massive apologies for the scarcity of content on the ol’ blog roll this month!  As I was weddingless this month, I presumed I’d be able to pop me feet up & enjoy a movie or two while posting loads of fun photies I had in the pipes for y’all.  But somehow January’s run away with itself & I’ve been keeping out of trouble doing all sorts of stuff!  Mainly it’s been gearing up 2011 for both my own business & excitable plotting with my homies at 3B Media.

But you’ll hear more on that in coming months!

So!  Last weekend – in the spirit of get healthy in January then let it slide again through the year – Clare & I pulled out our walks in Yorkshire book & decided to get out and have a stroll around the Rodley Canal, round the corner of where we lived.  It was a brisk winter day and I decided to try and shoot everything with my Canon 50mm f1.4 lens at it’s widest aperture, f1.4.

There’s an endless debate about the 3 50mm lenses in the canon range, the cheap & plasticy £70 f1.8 lens, the middle of the road £350 f1.4 and the silly expensive £1200 f1.2 lens.  For those unfamiliar with the f-stop, it’s basically how wide the aperture iris opens in the lens, which a) throws the background super out of focus while keeping the subject crispy and b) allows you to let in more light into the camera in low light conditions, so your more likely to be able to hand hold the camera and avoid using flash to add light.

Plus you can’t get away from the fact that normal non-photographers think that the more blurry the background, the more professional it looks!

The difference between the three lenses is marked, not only in price and image quality, but also in that shooting at f1.2 – or even f1.4 – the Depth of Field (the amount of focus around the point in which the camera has focused onto) is so shallow that you can end up missing the focus you meant.  So photographing a portrait you can end up with lovely portrait image with someones ears in focus but their eyes and face out.  Not ideal.

Here’s Clare, ‘wide open’ at f1.4.  Front eye in, back eye nearly out

The majority of my very favourite stateside photographers like Becker, Jessica Clare & Jasmine Star, shoot wide open on Canon’s 50mm & 85mm primes, and their work is just beautiful.  Especially when you throw in that damn glorious Southern California sunshine.

Although there are techniques you can employ to help guarantee the subject’s in focus, shooting wide open is unreliable at hitting the focus, particularly with a subject that moves.  I know canon f1.2 owners who shoot at f.6 (to help guarantee a field of focus around their focal point big enough to guarantee a crispy subject AND that buttery background.

Personally, more often than not, I shoot on my 50mm f1.4 at f1.6.  I just love the look, and find that at f1.4 the edges somehow bloom a bit.

So I used this walk was a nice experiment to see if I could consistently nail the f1.4 focus, while not being paid to get it right!

But I also decided to take along my Canon 24-105 f4 IS lens, and this shot of a rather large cygnet shows you that zoomed in to the 105mm end, f4 still throws the background out just nice!  But it ain’t the same as the 50 prime ‘Bokeh’ (the buttery blur you get on ‘fast’ aperture lenses)

As well as shooting at 1.4, I tried a few ‘creative’ shots. Such as this lovely pan of a mad dog that was pounding about.

It’s contestable, but I think this image is the dogs bollocks…

*Babboom tish*

I saw this plaque under a bridge too, which was too small to read, so I snapped it, and at 800pixels it’s again too small to read.  But you can read it here.


This story was once written on the bridge itself!  Then it was cleaned off by the council and made into a plaque!  Pretty cool eh?  More at

Anyhoos – back to f1.4.  This image is an f1.4 of a reflection into icy water…

…and a quick refocus of exactly the same shot to snap in on the broken ice

Here’s Clare, in front of a lovely bokehy background.

The trick to rocking fast apertures is to shoot full-length portraits from farther away, then your Depth of Field grows proportionally the farther you are to your subject

It seemed rude not to to give Clare a go

f1.4 landscape, leading lines, undersaturate.  Boom.

The classic f1.4 kneel, a la Becker.  No chin, happy days.

Kind of no chin.

Underneath another beautiful concrete bridgey construction

Gotta love that 1.4 vibe.

For these ones, I played with an idea I liked from a long time ago, which is to shoot a reflection, then flip it in post, for an image you take in then question

“Same same, but different”

As they say in Thailand

Overhead were pylons, buzzing ti themselves

It’s the processing that brings these to life.

And the symmetry from underneath.

A nice motto

The things people do are funny.

I like how in f1.4 landscapes you get the burry foreground.

Back to the start!

And in for a warming pint of bitter at t’Barge



If you’re a DSLR owner interested in learning more about photography, come join us on one of our 3B Media photography workshops.

We’re running loads through the year (check the curriculum here), including the ‘Get To Know Your DLSR’ workshop:

The title may not be so catchy, but it does what it says on the tin!

It’s a 3-hr evening class (6.30>9:30pm) for DSLR owners, and we’re running workshops in February, March & April

We’ll be covering aperture, shutter speeds, ISO, composition, lenses, focussing and lots of other tech stuff but without all the tech language.

Based in Leeds, it’s going to be a lot of fun, with the 3B Media pro’s on hand to answer all your questions (even the silly ones)!

We’ve spaces left on next Tuesday’s course! So if you’re free, call us on 0113 238 1011 now or head over to our 3B Media website here.

Cheers for stopping by!  More posts soon…