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SCL: Subject, Composition & Light Photography Podcast, Episode 1

SCL PodcastWell, it had to be done. I've put together a short Podcast, where you can hear me droning on about photography, photowalks, etc.

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Download / listen to the mp3. (Right-click then "save target as" / "save link as".) (Did I say it was free?)

Show notes:


Have a look at my Fort Brockhurst Photowalk and my Fareham Cache Photowalk.

Recommended Podcast: Craig Tanner at The Radiant Vista Daily Critique

Recommended Site: Adobe Video Workshop.

Recommended Flickr photostream: Phil C.

Recommended Flickr Group: The art of landscape.

Join the Flickr Group!

To contact me, just click on the link near the top of the page under the big picture.

Thanks for listening, see you on Flickr!

Cheers, rob.

Transcription, Professionally transcribed by Rev:

Good morning, or good afternoon, depending on where you are in the world, and welcome to SCL, the Subject, Composition and Light Podcast from Well, hello, and welcome to the first episode.  My name's Rob.  I'm the webmaster and creator behind, and I've decided to do another podcast.  This is the first episode.  

And what we'll talk about is a little bit of history first, my history, I guess, a little bit of background.  I'm an amateur photographer, a beginner photographer.  I got my Fujifilm S5700 camera Christmas or just after Christmas '07.  And, to be honest, before that, I wasn't really into photography very much.  I used to have a little Kodak point-and-shoot, but I didn’t really, wasn't really interested in photography as a hobby.  

But what happened in November '07, I broke my arm, and I had to take a lot of time off to recover.  And, at the same sort of time, I was looking for a new video camera for one of my other websites to record little videos.  And I thought, why not use the opportunity to buy a better digital camera as well?  

And I ended up buying the Fujifilm S5700, which is … I guess you'd call it a bridge camera in the fact that it's a bit like a mini SLR with a fixed lens, so it's got a great zoom on it, 10 times, but it's got all the controls of an SLR, a digital SLR.  It's got manual mode, aperture priority, program mode, shutter priority mode, and all the controls associated with them as well.  

And, while I was laid up reading magazines and things, I really started getting into photography as a hobby.  Years and years ago, back in the early '80s, I lived in Hong Kong for a while as a kid, and my dad had a film SLR.  And I remember we used to go out and take pictures with that, and it sort of reminded me of those sort of times.  And I became really interested in becoming a better sort of amateur photographer.

So the idea behind this site,, is it's a blog to just sort of share those learning experiences really, as I'm going along, so that hopefully, some of this stuff might be helpful to some of the listeners and readers of the website.

I like to shoot things like landscapes.  I particularly like HDR shots as well because I think HDR is really good for pulling loads of detail out of shots as well and making your camera's images a lot, lot better.  I like shooting macro as well.  Super macro's fantastic on the S5700.  You can get incredibly close.  And I guess my main tool for improving my photography is obviously reading books, reading magazines, looking at websites, etc.  

But the sort of practical side of it of where I go out and practice is something called a photo walk, which you've probably heard of before.  Now, for me, a photo walk is the process of saying, right, I've got a couple of hours today, and I'm going to go and visit a particular geographic location and walk round and practice the things I've learned from magazines or websites and try new things out as well, just to get better because I heard … I can't remember what website or podcast it was on.  Somebody said the difference between a beginner and a master is 10,000 mistakes, the idea being obviously that you learn from your mistakes, if you self-critique your photographs or submit them to other people for critique.  

And so the best way of learning is to get out there and just shoot loads and loads of photographs and look at them critically afterwards and say, right, what have I done wrong, or what have I got to do differently?  And if you read some of my photo-walk posts on the blog, you'll see I do that.  I'll say, "Oh, this one looks all right," or, "I'm not that happy with this one, and the reason is I didn't get the angle quite right," or, "there was some blur," or, "I didn't use my tripod," etc.  

And then my sort of final presentation place for these pictures is on Flickr because Flickr is a really good tool for sharing your photographs, so other people can look at them.  But, also, it gives you an end point for the photographic process.  

So, if you could imagine … what you do is you think, right, I want to go out and take some pictures of, say, I'm going to go to one of the local country parks.  And you wander along, and you walk around, and you take the pictures.  Then you get home, and then you edit the photographs, well, see which ones you want to edit, then you edit the photographs, and then your sort of final point is displaying them on Flickr.  I mean, you also might want to print them out, etc.  

And then the ones that you think are really good, you can then submit to groups, so other people can comment and critique them.  And it gives you a nice workflow and gives you a nice sort of finishing point to then say, right, now, I'm going to go on to the next project.  

So that's why almost all my pictures on, they all link to Flickr, so that, if you would be so kind, you can click through and make comments on the pictures, critiques, what you like about them, what you don't like about them, what you think I could have done differently, etc., etc., like that.  

Okay.  So what have I been doing in the last week or so?  Well, the weather has been really good.  I mean, I live in Gosport in Hampshire on the South Coast of the UK of England, and we've had some really nice weather.  And I'm lucky enough to live next door to an old Victorian fort, Fort Brockhurst, which is owned by English heritage, but they haven't been opening it to the public for years properly.  So they did this weekend, so I went down there with my son, Oliver.  

And we spent an hour walking around, and I took lots of pictures for a photo walk, and you can see it on the blog or on my Flickr stream.  And it was great because it was really sunny, which I know isn't good for landscape photography.  You've really got to go early in the morning or late in the evening.  But, if you're visiting public buildings or areas or museums, you can't because they're not open really early in the morning.  You've got to go during the day.  

But I had my polarizing filter on, and it was one of those days where it was sunny, but there was lots of clouds in the sky, so I think I got some quite nice shots.  I think, in post-processing, I probably made the sky a bit too blue.  But I got some nice panoramas, handheld panoramas, which was nice.  

And the good thing about it, looking back at it now, although it was annoying at the time, was because I was with my son, and he's ten, obviously, he was getting bored when I was sort of standing there taking photographs.  So we had to move really quickly, visiting each part of the fort.  I mean, it's a fort, but it's really a big castle, as you'll see sort of thing, if you look at the pictures.  And so it forced me to keep clicking and running, clicking and running, clicking and running, which was a nice change from sort of just dawdling along by myself.  

I also, a few days ago on Monday, the 16th, did a geocache photo walk.  One of the questions that often comes up on forums and things is, "I can't think of any places to take pictures of."  You've maybe visited all the interesting places around where you live, and it can be difficult to find the time to get away to other places.  One of the ideas I've got is to use geocaching as a catalyst for this.  

So, if you don't know already, geocaching is a hobby where you have a handheld GPS device, a global positioning system, and you go on a website,, and join.  It's all free.  And you download or you write down the coordinates of geocaches.  And what geocaches are, they're like little mini treasure boxes, and they're scattered all over the country, all over the country.  And then you use your GPS to go find it.  And then you sign the logbook, and you can shop trinkets, if you like.  And some of them can be a bit more complicated where they have clues to follow or something.  

But it gets you out in the great outdoors, and it gives you a great excuse to go on a photo walk because you're often visiting places that you haven't visited before, and you discover all sorts of things that maybe are a bit off the beaten path because, obviously, these geocaches, these treasure boxes have to be hidden so that what we call muggles, which are people who don't know about geocaching, so they don't discover these things and throw them away or nick all the bits.  

I made a bit of a mistake though in the fact that my GPS system is a Garmin eTrex H Handheld system, which is great.  It's nice and cheap, really tough, rugged, etc.  But it doesn't have a map on the screen.  It just has an arrow that you follow.  It points you to where you're going.  And the problem with that is, because we live on the coast, there's lots of inlets and harbors and things, and although it only said two miles on my GPS, the location to the cache, there was a harbor in the way.  So I ended up walking about seven miles all the way round all these paths.  But I got some okay pictures.  I went to places I didn't know existed, and it was all right.  

The thing that I got really wrong though on that photo walk was, because I was tired because I'd been walking so far, and it was so hot, I couldn't be bothered to set up my tripod for a few of the shots.  And if you look at the … I think I call it Fareham Cache set in my photo stream … A few of the HDRs are definitely a bit dodgy where you can see ghosting because the camera's moved between the shots.

Yes, so, while I'm out there on these photo walks, and so what's going through my mind, obviously, I'm looking for interesting photos, but one of the things I find helps is to bear in mind the guidelines for photography, which are:  What's the subject of your photo?  What composition are you going to use?  And what's the light?  

I mean, the subject can be anything, but what it really means is you can have an interesting photo that doesn't have a main subject, but often, photos are more interesting if you do.  And I try and get a main subject in lots of my photos, but often, I don't bother because there isn't one, or I'm too far away.

And then composition, which is the thing I'm really practicing on at the moment, is using things like the rule of thirds, so that's where you, say, you're taking a landscape picture, you make sure that the horizon is lined up against … Well, sorry, let me start again.  You divide your viewing frame, your viewfinder, up into … What is it? … 3, 6, 9 equal square boxes, so you draw two horizontal lines and two vertical lines on the … Well, you don't draw; you imagine them there, or most cameras, if you press one of the buttons on it, you can get up a grid.  

And then what you do is you line up your horizon on one of the rule-of-thirds lines.  So it's either in the top third or the bottom third, not in the middle.  And then your subject, you line up on one of the vertical rule of thirds.  

So, if you imagine, if you were taking a landscape that had a tower on it, you would line up the horizon on, say, the lower rule of thirds if the sky was interesting, and you'd line the tower up on the left or right-hand vertical rule of thirds.  And that gives you a real, nice, basic composition.  

And the next thing you tend to think about is whether there's any leading lines into the picture, so, like, paths or rivers or railings or shadows, something that would draw your eye across the picture.  

And what you have to do then is, when you've got your subject and your composition, you've then got to start thinking about what the light is, so where's the sun coming from?  Is the subject lit from the front, the back, or the side?  Have you got to move round to get the light looking better or improve your composition, all this sort of thing, thinking about the fact that the most interesting photographs are most often taken from a different angle than eye level.  

So most people, when they're taking pictures with their camera, are just standing there, and you put your camera up to your eye, and you click.  But, often, it's better to get down low or get up high and try these unusual angles, so you get these interesting compositions.  

So that's what I'm thinking of when I'm going round with a photo walk.  And, although I don't always use it, one of the best things you can always take with you is your tripod because the act of having to get the tripod out, set up, and put the camera on slows the whole process down and enables you to really look at the image and think, can I improve this by moving around or taking a different angle?  So, yeah, so that's photo walks and what I do.

I've mentioned Flickr before.  For those that don't know about Flickr, Flickr is this great photo-sharing site at, so F-L-I-C-K-R dot com.  You can join for free.  And it allows you to upload photographs, which you can then share with other people and join groups.  Groups are the best things.  So you can join a group, say, on the S5700.  Everybody who's got an S5700 can join it.  And you can submit your photographs, so other people can look at them.  And then you can join in the forums and talk about your cameras or anything else.  And it's really superb.  I love Flickr; it's really great.  

My bit of advice would be though, spend the $30.00 or $25.00, whatever it is, and get the pro account because that then enables you to basically back up almost all your photographs online, as long as you're using jpegs.  And you can have lots of different sets to organize your photographs.  And it's great, really, really good, really, really enjoy it, really, really enjoy it.  So my tip would be, if you haven't already, go and join Flickr and upload some photos.

What I'm planning to do with the podcast is have sort of a little bit of a sort of an agenda for each podcast, and it will probably go something like a bit of an introduction of who I am to people who haven't heard before, a little bit of my news, so what I've been doing or learned about in the last week or so.  Then I'll have a subject I'll talk about.  So, today, it was photo walks.  And, in the next one, it's probably going to be backing up your photographs, I think.  And then I'll have a few recommendations that you can take away and look at to help you maybe improve your photography.

So my first recommendation is my recommended podcast that would be good to go and have a look at.  And this one is by a guy called Craig Tanner at the Radiant Vista, which is a really great photograph website all about photography and editing and everything.  

And he does the Radiant Vista Daily Critique podcast.  And you don't have to have an iPod to look at it.  You can download them and watch them.  And it's at  I'll put all these links in the show notes on  

And these podcasts, it's a video podcast, and what he does is he uses submitted images, and he looks at them, and he tells you what he likes and what he thinks could be better.  And then he edits them as well in Photoshop to make them better.  Now, what I really like about it is he doesn't go, "Oh, no, you have to open this layer up and press this tool," or something.  You just see the artistic process at work and how he makes the pictures more vibrant, more dynamic.  

It wouldn't be for those out there who aren't really into picture editing, but if you're into changing your pictures to make them look better, I would say, then the Daily Critique from the Radiant Vista is superb, superb.

I'll slip another one in as well.  There's one actually on there as well called … I think it's called the Photoshop Workbench.  And, in that, the guy who does that one … I can't remember his name at the moment.  He actually shows you actually what to do, in terms of tools.  So they sort of go together, but they're working on different photographs.  

Recommended website for the week:  Oh, yeah, the Adobe Video Workshop.  This one's at, one word, so it's D-E-S-I-G-N C-E-N-T-E-R, slash, video, underscore, workshop.  And it's a whole load of videos, all the Adobe products, telling you how to use them.  It's great; it's brilliant.  It's all free.  And there's some great Photoshop stuff in there.  But, if you use Lightroom or anything like that, they go through loads of different techniques, and they're videos, so they're really cool.  

So what I tend to do is get an image out that's related to what they're doing on the screen, play a bit of the video, pause it, work on the video, and then play more.  So that's really cool.  

One of the things I'd like to do every week as well is recommend a Flickr photo stream for you to look at from someone who produces images I think are really good and are worth looking at and learning from.  And this week, I'd like to recommend PhilC.'s photo stream, and he's at, so that's "D," the No. 5, the No. 0, L-O-V-E, slash.  And, again, I'll put that link in the show notes.  

And he's got some beautiful landscape pictures.  Some of them look like HDRs.  I'm not sure.  He obviously does a lot of editing in Photoshop.  But there are loads of atmosphere.  He does black-and-whites and toned black-and-whites, where it's not black and white.  It's a slight tone, like a sepia or a slight blue or a grey.  

And they're really beautiful, some of the shots, really, really, really nice.  And you can look at it, and you can see his composition.  And he's really telling a story with quite a few of these images as well, which is one of the most important things in Photoshop.  So take a look at PhilC.'s pictures in his photo stream.  Yeah, leave some comments; leave some favorites; really, really nice.  

Also, I'd like to recommend a Flickr group, which you can join or just go and have a look at.  And one that I discovered the other day that's really cool is the Art of Landscape.  

So, if you go into the search box in Flickr and say, "Art of Landscape," and then press the little dropdown arrow thing, so it says, "Groups," go and have a look at that one because, if you're into your landscape photography, there are loads and loads of stunning images that just take your breath away, everything from large landscapes where you get everything through to the more … How can I put it? … almost … not surreal, but where you just see a little bit of the landscape where somebody maybe focused on the waves, or abstract.  That's the word I was looking for.  Instead of seeing the whole picture, you just see a part of it.  

And some of the guys and ladies there do some really nice work.  I haven't submitted any pictures yet because I feel a bit, oh, they're too good for me.  But there's also a nice discussion on there when they talk about things.  And they do run competitions to get submitted to the group, and what are the best photos of the month and stuff like that, so the Art of Landscape Flickr group, definitely worth having a look at.

Okay.  Well, that's it for the first podcast of the SCL , Subject, Composition and Light podcast from  Please visit the website.  Remember, you can contact me, my email on  I've also got a Flickr group started as well for that's only got me as a member.  So, if you fancy it, you just need to go to … Oh, where have you got to go?  It's That's R-O-B N-U-N-N P-H-O-T-O.  And join and submit your images.  

So what I'm hoping to do is maybe when we've got a few more people joining the group, we can have maybe tasks or where I'll say, "This week, why don't we all go out and try and take pictures using the rule of thirds?" or something like that, if that's what people want to do.  And that might be quite fun and a learning experience because that's what it's all about and a safe and nice place to have your photograph critiqued as well because I think it's important to be positive when you're critiquing photographs.  

So please go over there and join the group.  And there's a discussion forum there as well, so you can put your ideas on, maybe what you'd like.  And, obviously, you can leave comments on my website as well.

Okay.  So thanks for listening to the first podcast.  I hope you go out and take some images over the coming weekend and share them with us on Flickr.  And thanks for listening again.  And it's Rob from, and I'll see you on Flickr.  


Reader Comments (2)

I think this is going to be really helpful :) Thanks for putting so much effort into things like this

June 29, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterjosie

It's a pleasure. ;-)

June 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterRob_Nunn

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