Vlog The First

First uni assignment is finished! It’s been a real learning curve creating a vlog; for me the main challenge was addressing everything I wanted to cover in under two minutes. It’s true that it’s a lot easier to make a long film than a short one. Still, I’m pleased with what I’ve achieved and above all, I’ve learned a thing or two about both Adobe editing software Premiere Pro, and also kit used for filming. As a photography gal, I’ve often shied away from filming due to a lack of both interest and skill. But, by adopting a casual, vlog approach, I’ve been able to experiment without the daunting prospect of producing a full feature length.

The task was to produce a two minute vlog on a photographer of our choosing, then take three photos inspired by their work. The whole process was to be filmed, from research to final edits. This was easier said than done when you were only given 120 seconds for said masterpiece.

My chosen photographer was Albert Renger Patszch, a German artist whose prime era was 1920s and 30s. His work was incredibly striking and caught my eye instantly, so I knew I wanted to explore his life and work in depth.

After swatting up on Renger-Patzsch I got down to the business of taking my own photos. I knew I wanted to do macro photography, a style I’d only used rarely up till now. So, I checked out a macro lens from the uni store and set about finding something to take. After a while I found the sea urchin shell I’d kept from the Isle of Carna, and thought I could really go to town with colour and texture. I then went on a hunt for other natural trinkets and collected a discarded conker shell from the park and a scrap of really intricate moss from the garden. I’d found my three subjects.

Conker Shell Monster


I wanted to photograph insignificant objects that people hardly notice and transform them into something unrecognisable, using a macro style to disguise reality. Renger-Patzsch’s focus was definitive shapes, so I captured this conker shell from a low viewpoint to give the vertical spines a dramatic outline against a blurred background. To do this, I used a small aperture (f/5.0) to isolate a single spine and create depth within such a small space. I kept the rule of thirds in mind and positioned the shell in the bottom third to keep the image balanced.

Sea Urchin Spaceship


In the 1920s, Renger-Patzsch could only photograph in monochrome. This emphasises contrast between shadows and highlights, but I wanted to approach his geometric style with bold colours to achieve a more diverse tonal range. I loved the texture of this sea urchin shell, so I captured a small section in sharp focus, drawing the eye to it. I used a flash to prevent the image from being underexposed, due to the small distance between camera and subject. This diluted the hues slightly, so in post I boosted contrast and increased saturation to make the colours vibrant, giving the image a dramatic edge, emphasised by crisp textures.

Miniature Moss Forest


I found some moss in the garden and wanted to see how it looked up close. Again, I used a relatively fast shutter speed (1/100) and a low aperture to prevent camera shake and give the image a shallow depth of field. Afterwards, I increased the orange hues to accentuate the tiny leaves on the second vertical third line and make it the focal point in the frame. Although I like the leaves’ intricate shapes, the colours are quite monotonous. The busy, repetitive subject matter is similar to Renger-Patzsch’s image “Needles”, but this shot may be more effective with multiple colours.

Here is my finished vlog piece: enjoy!

Rediscovering the “Reader” Tab

This week has been a week of research, something I am unashamed to say I love doing. Over the past few days I have discovered some truly beautiful blogs. Recently I’ve been head over heels for nature writing, so have approached some of my favourite bloggers for their recommendations. The fruit of my labour has been the opportunity to enjoy some incredible work by nature bloggers I hadn’t previously known. Not only have I been inspired by their creativity, but I have learnt a great deal through reading what they have to say. Here are just a few of the nuggets I’ve discovered:

  • Caterpillar derives from the early French word catepelose, meaning “hairy cat”
  • Ammonites are named after their resemblance to the curved ram horns of the Libyan deity Ammon
  • Orangutan means “man of the forest” in Malay

One of the reasons I think blogging is such a great form of technology is it allows us to find like-minded people and communicate with them. In the last few days alone I have discovered countless blogs with the same purpose and similar content to mine: rave about the natural world with boundless enthusiasm. I’ve read some fantastic prose, both fictional and non-fictional, and found inspiration in many different places. I believe leaving a nice comment on someone’s post makes that person’s day; I know for a fact if I log on and see someone has not only read what I’ve written, but enjoyed it so much as to tell me about it, I am overjoyed. Therefore, I made sure I told each talented writer or photographer that their work was awesome. Doing this makes me feel good as well as them, so there’s really no reason not to.

Of late, it has been the case that I have kept my blog trundling on with posts of my own, but I haven’t been reading other posts nearly enough. This week I made a real effort to mingle with the WordPress community and it’s been a fantastic experience. I’ve learnt new things, met new people and best of all, fallen in love with nature all over again.


Taking the Plunge (and taking a while to resurface)

Tomorrow begins my fourth week at university. I did it; I passed my A levels and at the end of September found myself on the long road from Hertfordshire to Cumbria. Now I’ve settled in to my new life in Carlisle, where I’ve begun studying Wildlife Media, my dream course.

I’m ashamed that it’s been so long since my last post. I have no worthy excuses; the days seemed to have slipped away without my knowing and before I knew it, it was October and I realised I hadn’t blogged since April.

To the loyal readers I once had, I’m sorry. If you continue to read my posts after such a long break, I truly thank you. If not, I don’t blame you for abandoning such a sloppy blogger.

We’ve had our lengthy interval. Now, I shall proceed into the second act. In some ways this is apt, seeing as I’ve just turned a major corner in my life and begun my degree nearly three hundred miles from home. Already I’m changing. I’m relying completely on myself, and even going so far as to introduce myself to a cookbook.

So here’s to the next act. If I have any audience left, I hope you enjoy.