Appleton Photo Training https://www.appletonphototraining.com putting people in the picture Wed, 23 Oct 2019 18:29:04 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.3.4 Venice Carnival February 2019 https://www.appletonphototraining.com/venice-carnival-2019/ Wed, 23 Oct 2019 12:36:13 +0000 http://www.appletonphototraining.com/?p=17728

Venice Carnival - Got to do this again next year!

We’ve been taking photographers to Venice for several years now. This year, we went during Carnevale and what a great time we had! The whole city was transformed into a magical wonderland full of mysterious creatures clad in costumes and masks of every colour and design. I’m not surprised it’s rated one of the best carnivals in the world. People come from all over the world to strut their stuff and they must spend a fortune on their outfits. Luckily, that is, for us photographers! We had so much fun, we’re doing it again twice in 2020!

We’d seen pictures but really, nothing prepares you for the colours! The number and variety of masqueraders in the streets and squares is jaw-dropping and they’re all just waiting to strike a pose so that you can get your shots. One of our group had been to Venice during the carnival before, so we had insider knowledge on where to go and when. The secret, we were told, is to hit the streets early and head for San Marco Square where many of our mystical photographic subjects were waiting for us 🙂 It’s no exaggeration to say that everywhere you look, there’s another opportunity to get brilliant captures.

Then, back to our hotel for a really good breakfast. The airport bus took us almost to the hotel door -  just a 2-minute walk and we were in the foyer so we didn’t have to lug cases and camera gear for miles or go to the expense of catching a water bus or taxi. Unsurprisingly, we’ve booked the same hotel for next year. After breakfast everybody had a chance to do their own thing for the rest of the morning. We had a coffee (Italian coffee…mmm - the best in my book) or a glass of wine at one of the many canal-side cafes on both days. Others in our group took the opportunity to browse the many shops or grab forty winks in the hotel room to get ready for the afternoon’s excitement - more photography 🙂

Venice Carnival 2019

We spent three nights in the hotel, giving us two full days of shooting. On both days, we had a relaxed lunch - the pizzas are pretty good (we are in Italy, after all) but there’s a good choice of other Italian dishes and food from a few other cultures too, if I remember rightly. Most of us also sampled the ice cream. Rude not to. After lunch - well, more photography, of course.

The beauty of Venice during this Italian mid-winter festival is the buzzing atmosphere and the freedom to explore - because carnival is EVERYWHERE! It’s architecturally such a beautiful place any time of year but for about two and a half weeks in February, Venice is totally vibrant. We photographed more masqueraders plus, on the second day of our visit, the procession and the antics on stage. During our stay, we shot a sunrise from Academia Bridge and also did an after-dark shoot to capture the lights of this extraordinary city. We really packed everything in!

This year, we ate both nights in a very good restaurant with a menu and range of wines to suit our particular group’s taste and pocket. Next time, we’ll try another couple of places. Like all our trips, there’s no obligation to eat together and everyone can do whatever floats their gondola. Some areas of Venice are expensive but it doesn’t have to break the bank to have a decent meal. And talking of gondolas, we did the tourist thing and hired one of these traditional crafts for a lazy drift down the narrow canals and under the many bridges which link the city together.

I am really looking forward to our 2020 Venice Carnival trips. We like to keep groups small so that I can help people if they want it. There are just six photographers in a group. We’ve got two spaces left on the 19th-22nd February trip. Message me if it’s something you would like to do.

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August 2019 Monthly Image Competition Winners https://www.appletonphototraining.com/july-2019_monthly-image-competition-winners-august_2019/ Tue, 01 Oct 2019 12:56:34 +0000 http://www.appletonphototraining.com/?p=17465

August 2019 Monthly Image Competition Winners

Sponsored by

Monthly Image Competition August 2019

Monthly Theme - Dark

Helen Walker

Monthly Image Competition

People

Mike Martin

Monthly Image Competition

City & Landscape

Phil Green

Monthly Image Competition

Wildlife

Ann Aveyard

Monthly Image Competition

Sport

Helen Walker

Monthly Image Competition

Open

Mark Lynham

Monthly Image Competition Winner Appleton Photo Training

Helen Walker

Join in the fun, enter the current competition

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Studio Strobes https://www.appletonphototraining.com/studio-strobes/ Fri, 27 Sep 2019 11:30:26 +0000 http://www.appletonphototraining.com/?p=17432

Studio Strobes

Economy Studio Strobes

For value we suggest either PixaPro or Godox. These are the same units built by Godox but Pixapro have the benefit of a UK Warranty.

The more expensive options have built in wireless receivers that work with the Godox X system, also called the Pixapro Pro ST system

All the flashes listed have the Bowens S Fit mount for modifiers

 

Mains Powered Heads

Also called the Pixapro Lumi II

Also called the Godox QS600 II

Also called the Godox QT600 II

Battery Powered Heads

As with the mains powered heads these are also available as Godox branded units

Triggers for Economy Studio Strobes

This is a non HSS and TTL trigger and receiver kit. The receiver attaches to the flash by USB. This kit suits all makes of cameras.

Ensure you select the correct trigger for your camera.

Ensure you select the correct trigger for your camera.

Premium Studio Strobes

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Andrew’s Bag of Light https://www.appletonphototraining.com/andrews-bag-of-light/ Fri, 27 Sep 2019 11:04:50 +0000 http://www.appletonphototraining.com/?p=17423

Andrew's Bag of Light

Inexpensive Speedlights and Accesories

Andrew's Bag of Light

Yongnuo YN560 Mk IV. A good basic speedlight, built in radio receiver and a zoom head. 

Radio trigger suitable for the YN560 Mk IV. This is the Nikon version. It offers remote control of power and zoom functions.

Radio trigger suitable for the YN560 Mk IV. This is the Canon version. It offers remote control of power and zoom functions.

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July 2019 Monthly Image Competition Winners https://www.appletonphototraining.com/july-2019_monthly-image-competition-winners/ Fri, 09 Aug 2019 09:00:09 +0000 http://www.appletonphototraining.com/?p=16993

July 2019 Monthly Image Competition Winners

Sponsored by

Monthly Image Competition July 2019

Monthly Theme - Everyday

Mike Martin, In no particular hurry.

People

Mikki Young, Still going strong!

City & Landscape

Rusty Steel, Evening Light on the Ladakh Ranges, India

Wildlife

Howard Ashton Jones, Chillin

Sport

Mike Martin, Canoeing

Howard Ashton-Jones, Rhythmic Gymnastics

Open

Helen Walker, He loves me, he loves me not

 

Join in the fun, enter the current competition

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June 2019 Monthly Image Competition Winners https://www.appletonphototraining.com/june-2019_monthly-image-competition-winners/ Thu, 08 Aug 2019 10:57:28 +0000 http://www.appletonphototraining.com/?p=16961

June 2019 Monthly Image Competition Winners

Sponsored by

Monthly Image Competition June 2019

Monthly Theme - Light

Phil Green, Burning Through

People

Helen Walker, She's in the paper!

City & Landscape

Phil Green, Breaking Storm

Wildlife

Mark Lynham, Success!

Ann Aveyard, King of the Forest

Sport

Mike Martin, Speedway

Open

Simon Downing, Nipper Revisited

Join in the fun, enter the current competition

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Dancer, Violin and Lobster Pots – Before and After https://www.appletonphototraining.com/dancer-violin-and-lobster-pots-before-and-after/ Thu, 01 Aug 2019 12:21:28 +0000 http://www.appletonphototraining.com/?p=16907

The Before and Afters

Dancer, Violin and Lobster Pots – Before and After

This image of dancer Alexa Hilton was shot in a small harbour on the West coast of Ireland. The majority of the retouching work was removing background distractions.

Software used:

  • Adobe Lightroom Classic
  • Adobe Photoshop CC 2019

For more information on specific editing techniques check out our Photoshop and Lightroom courses.

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May 2019 Monthly Image Competition Winners https://www.appletonphototraining.com/may-2019-monthly-image-competition-winners/ Mon, 10 Jun 2019 15:13:38 +0000 http://www.appletonphototraining.com/?p=16980

May 2019 Monthly Image Competition Winners

Sponsored by

Monthly Image Competition May 2019

Monthly Theme - Light

Phil Green, Burning Through

People

Helen Walker, She's in the paper!

City & Landscape

Phil Green, Breaking Storm

Wildlife

Mark Lynham, Success!

Ann Aveyard, King of the Forest

Sport

Mike Martin, Speedway

Open

Simon Downing, Nipper Revisited

Join in the fun, enter the current competition

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May Madness Sale – Save £100s https://www.appletonphototraining.com/mad_may_sale/ Sun, 05 May 2019 10:55:26 +0000 http://www.appletonphototraining.com/?p=16103

Improve your photography without spending a fortune

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The clock is ticking on some pretty hot deals this May Bank Holiday!

Save £££s on top notch training and fast-track your photography to a whole new level. We train award-winning photographers - proof that it really works.

Between now and midnight 6th May you can save up to 25% on our most popular courses and over £100 on some of our European Photo Holidays! Where can you match that for great value?

It’s time to give your photography a boost.

Learn. Create. Get Inspired.

Natural Light Portraits

Saracen House, Milton Keynes

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Paris, France

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Bempton Cliffs

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Saracen House, Milton Keynes

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Nr Leeds

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Salisbury

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Nr Bedford

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Salisbury

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There are loads more events and workshops throughout 2019, check the calendar for details.

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MADMAY25 - Saves 25% on Complete Photographer courses

MADMAY100 - Saves £100 off European Photo Holidays

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The first South African Safari – Part Two https://www.appletonphototraining.com/safari2018_part1-2/ Thu, 07 Feb 2019 18:03:10 +0000 http://www.appletonphototraining.com/?p=12609

Rukiya – Wild Rivers Reserve

Having made the 3-hour road trip to the Hoedspruit we arrive at the main gates of the Wild Rivers reserve. Our camp is about 20 minutes into the reserve on a dirt track road. Straight away, we’re greeted by antelope and giraffe on our way to the banks of the Blyde River.

We round the corner into Rukiya Safari Camp to be met by Carris, our camp manager and head researcher for the INGWE Leopard research and conservation project. While the guides are kindly taking our luggage to the well-furnished and rather luxurious tented accommodation, Carris leads us to the lodge for our welcome meeting and safety briefing. 

I know many of you would have read the words ‘safety meeting’ and sighed. But a safety meeting in South Africa is like no safety meeting you’ve attended in the UK!

Key point, don’t go walking around the lawn area between the lodge and the river at night time. Why? Badly lit? Uneven ground? Nope, Hippos and Crocodiles hang out there at night! Carris has everyone’s attention as she introduces Dylan, our guide for the next three days.

Time for a spot a lunch, and to settle in to our new home before this evening’s game drive. We find ourselves in luxury tented accommodation, including en-suite bathrooms with fully plumbed facilities, hot and cold running water and a shower like no other. All tents overlook the lawn area which runs down towards the river and are raised off the ground. A thin canopy of trees edge the lawn and the trunks offer an ideal location to set up a camera trap. Hopefully, we’ll capture a Hippo or two exploring the lawn area during the night.

 

As our group of photographic adventurers gather in the lodge ready for the game drive, we place our orders for sundowners and set out into the Wild Rivers reserve in our open top Land Rover. There is a real sense of excitement in the game vehicle. A new camp and a new location to explore, with smooth dirt roads. After the mountain roads of Black Leopard camp, yes - even a dirt road feels smooth!

We follow the river road parallel with the Blyde river. The earth here is very dry as the beige lowveld waits for the rains to come. Wildlife is strongly dependent on a good water source and, even though there is a drought, the river offers the best option for our four-legged friends. Staying close to the river will hopefully have its rewards.

And it quickly does as we come across kudo and impala browsing through the branches for a quick snack. They seem relaxed at our presence and carry on about their business. Some crackling by a group of Acacia trees, a symbol of the African countryside, reveals a giraffe. Make that two - no four! For something that is almost 6 metres tall, these guys and girls are very well camouflaged.

We watch them for a bit, as they watch us. Completely relaxed in our presence, they turn back to the trees and continue eating the sweet green leaves. As we continue to watch, a young male giraffe steps out from behind his mother. He’s about 7-8 foot tall and shyly takes a peak at us while staying close to mum.

We head out to the dirt surfaced airfield to watch the sunset with a sundowner. A great viewpoint for the reserve but, judging from the variety of tracks on the ground, it looks like light aircraft aren’t the only thing using the runway. Some of these tracks are very fresh and the freshest are heading in the direction of the river. The river’s importance is becoming very clear to us.

With the sun behind the mountains, we’re back in the game truck. It gets dark quickly here, from daytime to nighttime almost at a flick of a switch. As we leave the airfield, Dylan pulls out a powerful battery lamp and shines its beam into the bush. He flicks the light from side to side, and up and down, explaining that he’s looking for the light to reflect back from any eyes that might be looking back at us!

Now, although driving around in the dark isn’t particularly photographically rewarding, there is a feeling of excitement in the game truck. A lot of predators hunt under the cover of night so the anticipation of an eerie stare from the bushes has got everyone hunting with their eyes.

Dylan hits the brakes, and we come to a stop. A pair of eyes is looking directly at us from inside of the bush. Dylan edges the vehicle slowly forward to reveal…an impala. Everyone on board was hoping it would be a leopard on the search for an evening meal; the impala was hoping that leopards hadn’t learnt how to drive! Talking of evening meals, it’s time to head back for ours.

The next morning, we are up and on the game truck for 5am. We are heading out of the Wild Rivers reserve to another private reserve that we have exclusive access to. This is our first visit to a ‘Big Five’ reserve, named not because they are the tallest animals in Africa, but because they are the five most dangerous animals in Africa – Lion, Leopard, Buffalo, Elephant and Rhino.

We’re not far into the reserve grounds when we see evidence of the largest of the five. Several large branches across the dirt road. The leftovers of our elephant friends pushing their way through the trees after they’ve stripped the leaves away for a snack. A few minutes further down the road and more Elly evidence. This time they seem to have taken offence at a tall metal marker pole by the roadside, most likely confusing the pole with a leafless tree. Not only have they knocked the pole almost completely over, but also bent it in half! The power of these seemingly gentle giants is quite incredible.

As we progress further into the reserve, we get a clear view of the river which runs the entire length of this wilderness. The river is flowing well because there was rainfall in this area last night. Across the banks, there are a couple of crocs warming themselves in the early morning sun. Dylan our guide points out every animal, bird and primate; his knowledge is as remarkable as is his eyesight!

We stop down by the riverside for a bush breakfast. Cheese and ham croissants, some muesli cereal mix and plenty of tea and coffee. As we stand outside the vehicle, Dylan casually points out a pod of hippos lazing in the water. Better still, we are in a great position to photograph these heavyweights as they dip below and pop up out of the water. Dylan is keen to remind us that, although these creatures look slow and sedate, they can actually have quite a bad temper and can sprint at quite a pace. He advises us to keep a close eye on them and, if they approach us, then it’s time to retreat back to the game vehicle.

We approach the river bank quietly and slowly. We’ve been spotted but everything is calm in the water. As we get seated into position and start taking the first few frames, the feeling of disbelief takes over. Are we really sitting here in the bush alongside a river full of hippos posing for their picture to be taken? We must remember how this feels as no photograph, no matter how sharp, how well composed, how bright and colourful can ever recreate this feeling of being in such close proximity to these amazing creatures. This is the very definition of that overused word – awesome!

With the breakfast table all packed away, Dylan tries to round us up to continue our trek through the reserve. I feel quite sorry for our trusty guide at this point as his task is similar to herding cats! And I might be the biggest culprit this morning. Normally the one to keep things on track, and to schedule, my undivided attention has been captured by the hippos and I would have been quite happy to spend the entire day at this spot. Dylan breaks the spell by reminding me that we haven’t even scratched the surface of this reserve yet.

As we press on through the reserve, he spots fresh rhino tracks. He hops out of the truck and follows them for a short while on foot. A few minutes later he returns with a slight look of uneasiness about him. There is a note of caution in his announcement, “The tracks are fresh black rhino”.

Great! Black rhino are very rare, and the reason I don’t name the reserve we’re on in this blog is to protect the location of these endangered creatures. Dylan reveals that there have been sightings on this reserve of two black rhino, affectionately known as Richard and Zulu.

He explains that black rhino tend to have bad eyesight and a very short fuse; they’ve been known to charge game vehicles (mistaking them for other rhinos) and guides on foot. Now, the ‘guide’ part of that sentence has tingled my spider senses. There’s a story here, and a possible explanation of Dylan’s unease. A little Q&A session, and it turns out that Dylan has previously been charged by Richard as they quite literally bumped into each other!

Dylan describes with manly vigour how he wrestled Richard to the floor, and how, through his dominance, trained this 2-ton behemoth to bring him a cup of tea and a biscuit on demand.

OK, I made that bit up! What actually happened was Dylan ran as fast as possible in the opposite direction, and up a tree as quickly as his legs could carry him, where he stayed until Richard got bored and left. 😊

Nevertheless, Dylan is a professional guide so we set off with him in the direction of the tracks…

 

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