Say Cheese  

Is all about the art of turning that good photo into that great photo. 

Here you will find some useful tricks of the trade that I have picked up on my journey of life, also some great tips from other professionals.


Latest Posts

PS, CS, Pixelmator and Affinity

Posted on 23rd March, 2021
As you progress using professional photo and design editing suites you will notice that your requirements also change and what worked at the time either is not progressing with your skillset or something newer and more powerful appears on the market.
I have worked my way through a fair amount of editing suites on different devices and more and more of my work I want to be able to do anywhere. This leaves certain software now in the dark due to the fact it needs a powerful Mac or PC to run on it and that kind of hardware is not what you call portable.
Though Laptops have made such software a little more portable, the screen workspace tends to be limited on size, compared to what my working set up was, spread across two monitors (palettes in one, Canvas in the other).
I have been using Photoshop and Creative Suite for as long as I can remember but I have noticed recently that Adobe is taking far too long to bring anything new to the table, whereas Pixelmator brought it all on its release of the now Pixelmator Classic.
Of course, I switched but also not just for new software but also because a ditched the PC and migrated over to Apple and the far more powerful and more supportive system. Being in the Apple ecosystem also meant that I could use my iPad as a second screen alongside my iMac or MacBook Pro and this opened so much more scope on what software then became available. I was finding that I was using my iPad for more of my creative work due to the fact times had changed so much fully-fledged creative suites where commonplace on the iPad. The need for a computer of any kind, what with cloud storage now means the iPad is far more versatile and is the buyers choice, especially for those professionals who have been so used to using a Wacom tablet, you now have all that with the iPad and the Apple pencil and far cheaper than a Wacom Cintiq Pro that range from £530 to a staggering £3149, yep you heard that right.
Pixelmator was the choice at the time but their software was created solely for the iPad and had some elements missing or simply because it was designed for the iPad it just did not exist anywhere other than on the iPad.
I then discovered Affinity Photo and Affinity Design, two very powerful cross-platform software suites designed for the photographer and graphic designer. Each application was not cluttered, unlike Pixelmator that wanted to cater to both photographer and graphic designer in one suite. Affinity put all the power, tools and resources into each of its suites that worked seamlessly together yet also when needed could work Independently.
Affinity software reminds me of the days working in Photoshop CS, but with a far more powerful and intuitive UI. Affinity also sell brushes and effects from well known and respected creatives as well as allowing you to create and share your own.

Hipsta Or Insta?

Posted on 2nd June, 2020
When it comes to iPhoneography, the vintage look seems to be the fad that is not going away. Everybody is obsessed with having their iPhone photos look like old school photos from the sixties and seventies. There are a lot of applications out there that will apply filters to your shots, but there are two clear front runners when it comes to the vintage look are Hipstamatic and Instagram. So which is better? The truth is these applications have quite different focusses, with a small overlap.
Hipstamatic has been around since 2009 and is extremely an extremely popular app, Apple even named it app of the year for 2010.
Hipstamatic is a camera application in the most traditional sense possible, when you launch the application the interface emulates a camera. The creators of Hipstamatic claim it was inspired by an actual plastic camera with changeable lenses, but this may have in fact been clever marketing and completely made up.
With Hipstamatic, you cannot edit photos that were not taken using the app so while some find this to be a limiting feature, I think part of the charm of the app is the integrity with which they stick to the camera metaphor. Because of the strict metaphor, you take your shot and you get a result, your choices are made prior to shooting, there is no post-production to be done and the results are often great.
What really sets Hipstamatic apart from the myriads of lesser vintage look apps is the quality of the filters. The app has an ever-increasing number of  ‘lenses’ available, each one giving a different vintage look and the same goes for ‘films’ and ‘flashes’ also available to tweak the effects.
I have yet to find an application with a better set of filters than Hipstamatic and although I have a fair few photography applications at this stage, Hipstamatic remains an application I return to frequently. Hipstamatic started off being a very affordable app with its initial cost of only £1.28 and that came with 3 lenses, 2 films and 3 flashes. You can buy more films, flashes and a new virtual case, something referred to as a “Hipstapack”.  These are great additions and you have the choice to either buy what you want or buy bundles of them in its themed Hipstapacks.
You can also order great quality prints from within the app, and share your prints to Facebook, Flickr or Tumblr.
The application is beautifully designed but does take a little bit of getting used to and because there are plenty of features accessed through the visual metaphor of a vintage camera it can be a little fiddly to use, sometimes just like the real deal.
I love to use this application in a random mode so I never quite know what type of images I am going to get until I see them in my photostream or camera role. It is so nice to just shake the iPhone to get a random, film, flash or lens and then there is a setting to keep the original file so you can edit how you wish in whatever application afterwards.
hipsta or Insta
Instagram is a newer app, launched in October of 2010, but by December they already had over a million registered users.
Although Instagram allows you to take pictures, and apply vintage effects, if you visit the Instagram site you will see their tagline is “Fast beautiful photo sharing for your iPhone”. Instagram is primarily an application to integrate your photos with your social media presence.
Instagram is a community and photo sharing space in its own right, but currently, they do not have a web profile for users, your photos are viewed and accessed via the Instagram app by other iPhone users. It does look like web profiles are being developed, but the main feature of the application is that it is super easy to share photos to Twitter, Flickr, Tumblr, Posterous, Facebook and Foursquare.
The interface is clear and really easy to use, feels very zippy and is generally a pleasure to interact with.
Instagram allows you to find people to follow by looking through your friends on FaceBook or Twitter so you can very quickly have a stream of your friends photos to peruse, like and comment on.
The filters that come with Instagram are almost all vintage photo type filters, some of which are nice enough, but not nearly close to the same quality as Hipstamatic.
One thing to be aware of is that Instagram creates images that are 612pixels by 612pixels. You can pull higher-res images from your camera roll into Instagram to share, but they will be converted to 612×612.
If you are using Instagram as a camera it is possible to choose to have the app save the original photo (as it would look if taken with the default camera app) as well as the Instagram 612×612 version but the photos shared via Instagram will always by 612×612.
612×612 is fine for fast sharing on the web, which is what Instagram is focussed on, but would not be great for printing. To give you a comparison Hipstamatic shots are 1536×1536.
Of course, the other big feature Instagram has on its side is that it is free.
If you are into photography on the iPhone you will want to own Hipstamatic, it gives you dependable results with a vintage feel at print quality.
Instagram is really more about social media and interaction, it gives you the ability to quickly share a moment with your online friends, but the image is screen quality only.
So there are no real verses between the two applications as in the right frame they compliment each other and I use both to get the right shot.

Full Potential

Posted on 1st May, 2020
For any designer, photographer or artists the tools of your trade are the next most important thing besides creativity and getting the right balance can really pull out your creativity to its full potential. I have for many years been using Adobe products and when I made the switch from PC to Mac I had the choice of sticking with that of what I had been taught to use, all be it mainly self-taught or to take on a new approach. I already knew that there was a bitter battle between Adobe and Apple and installing something that might conflict with Mac’s ethos of workflow I had my concerns.
I noticed that the uniformity of Apple products stretched across all platforms and devices so it seemed right to make the transition from PC and Adobe to Mac and Apple developers. I am so glad that I took that risk as productivity has come on in leaps and bounds and the flexibility of creativity stretches from my Mac to my iPad and visa-versa.
I ditched Adobe Photoshop and replaced it with Pixelmator and the basics, layouts and principles of Pixelmator are no different to that of Photoshop if anything Pixelmator is smoother to use and operations of certain tasks are quicker. Everything is totally customisable and after a day of fine-tuning, I have the pallets and docks just how I want them, PERFECT!

Copy, Paste Effect

Posted on 26th April, 2020
If you have spent a while adjusting a picture to your liking in the Photos app on the Mac, you can easily apply those image adjustments and edits to other pictures.
This is accomplished through a handy but little-known copy & paste adjustments ability, and it is quite easy to use.
Essentially what you are doing is adjusting one image and then you will be copying those adjustments (but not the image) and applying them to another picture. Using a similar copy and paste shortcuts you are already familiar with.
If you do not know the copy or past command or for that matter any other short cut as a keystroke command then luckily on the Mac these commands are also listed next to the actual command itself in the drop-down list.
You can do it the old fashioned way by selecting the image tab and click on the ‘Copy Adjustment’ or ‘Paste Adjustment’. 

Ditch And Switch

Posted on 14th April, 2020
For most of my years as a photographer I have owned a digital camera and I love it. But there are many situations that it has either been too big to carry with me or I just do not have it with me when that perfect shot came along.
As technology has changed so rapidly, owning the best camera that you can afford with the most amount of megapixels soon becomes very old and usually, within the first year of owning that camera another one comes out, not necessarily bigger but technically better.
A few years ago I made the switch from PC to Mac and though it took nearly 6 months to get my portfolios just how I wanted them in both iPhoto and Aperture I still used my digital camera for photoshoots.
Aperture was great for tethering but sometimes could be hit or miss if I was using wireless over cable, however, one thing it never could do, as if was out on location I would have to rely on several SD cards to store my days shoot.
On every shoot, I always had my iPhone with me and it was not until the iPhone came out in pairs, a regular version and a pro version, this then leads the way of actually using my iPhone as the camera to do the shoot.
My iPhone 10 pro is with me wherever I go and I have made a conscious decision to ditch and switch and to now use my iPhone as my only camera.
I did a small test with a fellow photographer who only uses his DSLR and told him one photo was taken with my digital camera and the other with the iPhone 10 pro and could he tell the defence between the two images.  It was really surprising how he looked at both photos and immediately said, “without a question of doubt this photo was taken with the digital camera”. I questioned him as to why?  He replied “the quality of that shot could only have come from a digital camera, no phone gets it that crisp”, he was shocked when I told him that he was praising the iPhone 10 pro photo.
It just goes to show that my trusted iPhone, that incidentally I do upgrade regularly can keep up with my photo needs and if anything has now become a two-fold purchase both for personal and now professional.
I have no question of a doubt that the iPhones camera will never be good enough to certain photographers who require lenses longer than their arms but for the type of work that I do it is perfect.  The advantages of using the iPhone camera over a digital camera when it comes to backing up work, well the iPhone wins hands down.  Now I have every photo I take not only on my camera roll but also stored almost immediately in my iCloud photostream, it is like tethering but with Apple’s twist on it.  I now can be anywhere in the world and know all my photos are safely stored ready for when I get home to edit them or as they are stored in the cloud, nothing is stopping me pulling them back down to use them on my iPad and edit them in any one of the vast arrays of iOS photo editing applications.
When it comes to upgrading time then I know that selling my old iPhone will not be a problem as with making most of my money back as it seems that Apple products keep their value even when newer models come onto the market.
The iPhone pro for me brings a new era to my photography career, I dare say the only convincing that I might need to make are with new and possibly old clients and the attitudes it brings when I turn up with just my iPhone and not a bulky camera.
Here is looking in the eye of creation dead on and slapping it about a bit.

How To Find Your Own Voice

Posted on 4th April, 2020
It is not just enough to be good you have got to find your own unique voice. The question is how?
Focus on what interests you
This may seem obvious, but there are still a lot of people who go about this all the wrong way. They ask themselves, “What field of photography has the most demand right now? What area will be the most lucrative?” And then they go out and try to fit themselves into that picture.
But you will never be as successful doing this as you could be taking pictures of what interests you.
Why? Because when you are interested in something, you will enjoy it more. You will go out of your way to portray it in a good light. You will be more creative and want to try new things. This is so important and yet most people do not even think twice about it.
Ask yourself: “How could I do this in another way?”
If you are serious about photography, you should always be taking pictures of what you are most passionate about. But it is also just as beneficial to try new things and take pictures of different subjects, too. This does not necessarily mean forcing yourself to take pictures of things that you are not interested in but finding ways of taking pictures of anything in such a way that you find it interesting. It pushes you to always stay fresh and always continue learning and growing. Reading books and taking classes is fine, but I believe that the best teacher is firsthand experience. If you are continually searching for new subjects and new ways of photographing them then you are keeping yourself on your toes, and your work will never become stale.
Passion and excitement are the fires that fuel brilliance, and in order to keep that flame stoked you will need to look for ways to keep your own interest pulsing within you.
How To Find Your Own Voice?
Avoid the creativity killer
Contrary to popular belief, reading more books and taking more classes does not always make you a better photographer. Do not get me wrong; they can be incredibly helpful tools that help you learn and grow to an extent. However, there is a point that most photographers reach were studying and learning stops being helpful and becomes counterproductive. How do you know that you have reached that point?
When you find yourself critiquing and criticising your work more than you are simply enjoying it.
Photography is not supposed to be perfect. There are technical tools that we can use to improve our photographs, but they are only that: tools not rules. Just like people, photos are technically imperfect and yet that is what makes them so beautiful. Each photo is an impression of a moment in time that will never again be recaptured. And only you, from your unique viewpoint, have the ability to take that picture.
Take photos every single day
Most photographers believe that searching for the problems and imperfections is not just the best way to improve, but the only way to improve. I disagree. Although this can be helpful to an extent, it is way more beneficial to just go out and take photos.
In fact, this is the best way to get good at anything: do it. Over and over and over and over and over again. By doing it, you train yourself to see the beauty in things and intuitively find the best angles. You get to the point where you do not even have to think about it any more because it comes so naturally.
Take hundreds of photos. Do not limit yourself. Yes, you can ask yourself as you are taking the picture, “How can I make this better? How can I frame this in order to enhance the features that I want?” But in this day and age, there is no excuse not to take a photo if something catches your eye. With a digital camera, there are no negative consequences for filling up your memory card.
Do not worry if you “miss” opportunities
Photography is not how many shots you get or miss, it is about how many you take and keep taking. I have missed thousands of great shots and screwed up thousands more. I take more “bad” photos than good, and though I do feel disappointed sometimes when I really wanted to get something and it did not work out, I always shrug my shoulders and say, “Hey, it was not meant to be.” Then I get out my camera and go take some more pictures.
Take photos because you love to and for no other reason
The most important thing you can do to improve your photos and find your unique voice is to HAVE FUN!
Is it really that simple?
When you are having fun and trying new things and exploring and enjoying yourself, you are naturally more creative. Ideas will occur to you that you never thought of before. Things will naturally fall into place. Having fun is the key to being good.
Taking beautiful photographs is something that comes from the heart, not the mind. So many photographers spend all their energy researching the perfect equipment and collecting fancy lenses and filters. They strive for the technically perfect photo, and if they do not achieve it they criticise their own work and hide it away.
Get inspired!
Do those things that feed your soul eat delicious foods, read inspiring books, spend time with creative people, listen to music that transports you to a whole new world. It is often in those moments when you are simply enjoying a life that the best ideas occur or you have the most wonderful photo opportunities.
Those very things that inspire you are often hints and nudges in the direction that you could take your photography to move it to the next level.

Focus On Life

Posted on 26th March, 2020
A quote to get you focused on life.
Life is like a camera.  
Just focus on what is important and capture the good times, develop from the negative and if things do not work out, just take another shot.

iPhoneography Tips

Posted on 8th March, 2020
Over the years I have taken some really great photos. I have done a lot of photo editing, which often only made my photos worse. I have spent countless hours on social media sharing my work and following the work of other photographers and I have learned many things in the process.  I hope that by sharing the most important lessons I have learned I can accelerate your learning and help you avoid some of the mistakes that I made. But most importantly, I hope to inspire you to become a more active iPhone photographer.
General iPhoneography Tips
Getting a better camera will not make you a better photographer.
Any iPhone is good enough for creating great photography. I have seen great photos taken with iPhone 3G. You really have no excuse.
Consistent practice is the best way to improve your iPhoneography. Keep practising even when you are out of ideas, and you will eventually create something amazing.
Treat your iPhone camera as if it was an expensive DSLR. If you only use your iPhone to create quick snapshots, you will never get anything else out of it.
Taking Great Photos
First, learn how to take great photos. Only then it makes sense to master editing.
Become an observer of light. On a very fundamental level, photography is all about light, so the better you understand light, the better photographer you will become.
Learn to predict how the scene is going to change in the immediate future. Will that person briefly appear in the reflection after a few seconds? Be prepared when that moment comes.
The very best photos convey a strong emotion or tell a great story.
The mystery is the best way to tell a story in your photos. The best stories are already in the mind of the viewer. If you create mystery, the viewer can fill in the blanks and create a story that is uniquely theirs.
Always take a few seconds and pause before taking a shot. Is this really the best angle and the best composition, or should you try something else instead?
The easiest way to improve your photography is to work on the angle and composition.
Turn on the gridlines until you start thinking about any scene in terms of the grid.
Practice composition with simple photos that have a lot of empty space. Large open areas are perfect places to start with iPhone photography.
Always ask yourself what the main subject of your photo is, or what is the first thing that the viewer will notice. If there is no subject, is it really worth taking that shot?
Placing your subject even slightly off the centre will greatly enhance your photos.
Think about photos in terms of balance. If you put your main subject in one corner of the image, you also want to have something of interest in the opposite corner to keep the composition balanced.
Turn on HDR for landscape photography and when the sky takes up a large part of your photo.
Do not use HDR for photos of movement and when you need to take many photos quickly.
Never use digital zoom. Zoom with your feet or crop your photos afterwards.
Use volume buttons for a camera-like shooting experience.
Use the volume buttons on your headphones for remote shutter release or to stay discreet when taking photos in public.
You should be able to take the iPhone out of your pocket, turn it on, and open camera from the lock screen in two seconds or less. You don’t want to miss that perfect shot.
There are some great iPhoneography accessories on the market, but you don’t really need them to take great photos. Buying cool gear will not make you a better photographer.
Editing And Apps
No editing can turn a bad photo into a good one.
The easiest way to ruin a good photo is to mindlessly apply strong vintage filters.
Your editing should enhance what is already great about the photo, and perhaps add a certain feel that complements the message of that photo. Everything else is unnecessary.
Learn the essential adjustments such as brightness, contrast and saturation first. Only then you should look into more advanced effects and filters.
Do not download 50 photo apps. Only get a few and make sure you know how to use them.
Don’t add text on your photos. Text is distracting and never looks good.
Photo Management
Always have several backups of your entire photo library.
Despite technological advancements, the external HDD is still the most practical way to back up a large photo library. Just do not keep it in the same bag as your laptop.
iCloud is great for automatically transferring your iPhone photos to iPhoto.
Keep your edited photos in a separate photo album for easy access.
Do not take multiple identical photos. Avoid the pain of deleting them later. Instead you should change the angle or composition and then shoot again.
Sharing And Social Networks 
Share your work on social networks to stay motivated and get feedback.
Follow other photographers whose work you admire to stay inspired and get new ideas.
It is OK to copy someone else’s style for the sake of learning. You will eventually discover your own unique style, so you do not have to worry about copying someone else initially.
Do not try to be active on 10 different photo-sharing sites. It will drive you crazy. Just pick your favourite and do a good job there.
Always respond to people who took the time to comment on your photos. Simply saying “thanks” can make a huge difference.
Only share your best photos so that your feed looks great. Quality always beats quantity.

UK Copyright

Posted on 23rd February, 2020
In the United Kingdom, there is no copyright office for artists, writers and other creators to register your work and even watermarking your work is not always effective as work is increasingly becoming digital and with that, those who want to steal your work can use ways to remove a digital watermark.    So if you want to copyright something in the UK, you do not need to fill out a registration form or pay a fee to have your work protected.  According to the UK Intellectual Property Office, copyright is an automatic right that occurs as soon as you create something. The key to this automatic right is that the work you have created must be in a tangible form.
It is really easy to do and so cost-effective compared to our overseas counterparts who have to pay for the same privilege and some times it involves legal fees, which we all know can really mount up.
Here is how you do it.
Put your creation in a fixed, or tangible, form. For example, if it is a poem that you want to copyright, then put it on paper. Or if it is a song, then put it on a CD.
Take the fixed form of your creation and mark it with the copyright symbol, a “C” in a circle, along with your name and the year of creation. In instances, such as a CD or DVD, just write on the actual CD or DVD.
Use a special delivery post to send yourself a copy of the creation, which you should leave sealed. With the special delivery post, there is a clear date stamp on the package. This can be useful if you have to go to court to prove ownership of the creation.
And there you have it, your work is now protected and all for only a few pounds.  I find sometimes that I am wanting to copyright a whole project and you can use the same method to do just that, the only difference is to put all of your projects in the same envelope and set it out as a complete project, in effect acting as one piece.
Copyrighted Logo