New Horizons!

Sorry for the long delay in posting. A lot has been happening in the last few weeks making this an uncertain time but also presenting some exciting opportunities.

At the grand age of 50 I will be setting out on a new adventure. For the past 14 years I have been working for a global manufacturing company within the learning sections of the finance/HR/Legal and IT departments. My job has in recent years comprised a move to recording and editing video for these learning academies – recording interviews, one-to-camera, roundtable and some short animations. I have also been developing my skills in producing imagery for internal websites and communications within the learning area.

The aim was to reduce costs for the company as employing external agencies for video work and website design was pretty pricey.  My then boss was all for it.

Moving on a couple of years and the company (some 130,000 employees globally) is looking to reduce costs further and streamline/standardise job roles within the company. Despite the value of my role, it is too unique to fit the company’s new model so I am being made redundant.

The cool thing about this is that I have been wanting to set up my own business but finding the time after finishing work, and also now we are streaming online via twitch.tv, has made it difficult to get things started.

The buffer I am going to get from my redundancy payout now means I will have the time to give this a try and see where it leads.

I am really excited and just hope making my hobby my work won’t kill the pleasure I get from photography. I will divulge more of the plan for the business soon.

I have a lot to learn but cannot wait to get started. Let’s see where this leads…

Until next time…

Jenn

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Easter Weekend Mini Break!

Hey, we are back from our little break over the Easter weekend. We popped down to Romney Marsh Good Friday and stayed over for a couple of nights in a really cute little cottage called The Stable. It was in a very quiet location with glorious views from the bedroom across open fields. We did a lot of lying on the bed watching a horse trundle past, 3 ducks taking their evening stroll and even a green woodpecker chilling out in the grass.

It was so peaceful and relaxing – each night we slept straight through, getting a good 8-9 hours sleep. Wonderful.

During the day we pottered around in the car visiting some favourite spots. The first of these is St Thomas at Fairfield church near Brookland. It is a stunning little church in the middle of a field of sheep, surrounded by irrigation channels. Some photos follow, taken with my infrared camera to try to capture something different from this much photographed location.Love how the grass turns white with infrared. The first shot has had the red and blue channels reversed in Photoshop to get the blue sky back. Second shot is of Jon, he was actually wearing a blue cap and t-shirt! The third is straight from camera with a bit of contrast etc added to show the orange skies – very apocalyptic!

We had to go to Dungeness – an unusual, barren, desolate but beautiful location where the nuclear power station meets tiny wooden houses, fishing boats and nature reserve. A truly unique location.  We stopped off for lunch at The Pilot – I had fish and chips and Jon went for the burger. It wasn’t bad – not the best I have eaten but would give it a solid 3/5.

Dungeness is again a much photographed location so trying to get something different is difficult. I went for some close up shots of the run down huts and boats. I really like the textures I was getting in some of these. Plus of course, some of the boats themselves.

All in all it was a great little break. It gave us time away from the computers and busy day to day stuff.  Time to recharge the batteries and enjoy the peace and quiet.

Now it’s back to normal!

More photos will follow as I find time to process them!

Till next time…

Jenn

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Easter break in Kent

Well to celebrate my 50th birthday, Jon and I are popping down to Romney for a couple of nights over Easter, leaving on Good Friday through to Easter Sunday.

We have found a tiny cottage in a quiet location where we can chill out and spend the day exploring and taking photos. We might even try some night shots if it is a darkish location with little light pollution.  It has been a while since we tried getting star and Milky Way shots.

Looking forward to a change of scenery and being away from the PC and internet for a couple of days. Just us and the cameras and a few drinks and some food at the local pub down the road 🙂

We haven’t been down that way for over 3 years, so we are looking forward to revisiting some locations and finding new spots. A favourite we will definitely return to is St Thomas Church at Fairfield, Brooklands.  Some shots below of this fantastic little church.

Hopefully we will get some good shots and will be posting as soon as we get back 🙂

Till next time…

Jenn

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The Internet for Live Streaming

Well, what a week so far.  We took Monday and Tuesday as holiday for starters as it was my 50th birthday on Tuesday – ouch!

We went out for a Mexican on Tuesday which was lovely – the diet had to take a back seat for a while!  What did we have? Well how about some food shots? Here they are: 🙂

Rum, peanut butter and banana milkshake! Yummy
Mexican Street Food – Tortilla stack with beef chilli, then Mini Chicken Burrito and finally Quesadillas with chicken and sweetcorn
To wrap it up, some delicious Churros with chocolate sauce

It was all pretty yummy. Will definitely be going back to the wonderful Chiquito‘s at Westwood Cross. Check it out if you haven’t already. Lots of other food, not just mexican.

We have also been investing a lot of time getting our stream set up again on Beam.  If you haven’t heard of it before then game streaming is a thing!

Beam is a website you can join and where you can stream a game you are playing live, so people can watch you and chat with you. This is the simple explanation – getting set up to stream is more involved with lots of individual components to set up to allow you to send your gameplay from your PC to the website.  But it is addictive and fun. As streamers, we get to have fun playing games and chatting with people from all over the world who we would never, ever, get to meet in real life.

And it leads to activities out in the real world with some of these people. We have had a few meet ups around the country with some of the people who watch our stream. So, we have made some new friends which is always good.

We stopped streaming last year after about a year of doing it. My mum was ill during the early part of last year with onset of dementia.  It was a tough time for her, and for me and my brother worrying about her and trying to help her. She passed away last May and Jon and I stepped away from streaming as we needed a break and time to grieve and sort everything out.

2017 has brought us to a better place from a health and mindset perspective. We are back into our photography once more which also stopped last year. And we felt ready to take the plunge back into the world of live streaming again.

We are to be found on Beam here beam.pro/JJ-TV (our name JJ-TV came about from combining our first names, Jon and Jenn, and it is short and catchy). Why not take a peek and see what it is all about and say hi? 🙂

The main image of this post above is our channel on Beam and what it looks like when we are live and playing. You get to see both our games and us on camera!

It has taken a lot to set it all up again and there is still more tweaking to do, so I better get back to creating some more graphics for the channel!

Until next time…

Jenn

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Where has the time gone?

So, apologies for lack of posting – it’s been nearly a week since our last post but we haven’t made it out for any photography since then. The weekend weather as per usual has been pretty grim and we didn’t get out for any shots.

Also, during the week we have been working on a different project which has taken some time away from photography as we get everything set up. We used to do something called live streaming via Beam.pro. This site hosts channels for people to live stream their video games gameplay, playing music for people, creating art via graphic art, oil paintings, watercolour, jewellery making, cooking, you name it you can stream it!

We have a channel on there, JJ-TV (as in Jon Jenn tv!) which we decided to get up and running again. It gives us a chance to interact with people from all over the world and we have met some great people on there we would never normally get to chat with.

Basically you log into the channel, you will see the game we are playing with webcams of us in the bottom of each corner so you can see us and what we are doing and we can interact with you better. The viewers have a chat box on the right where you can type in comments, questions, whatever and we can see those comments and respond to them.  It is a cool way of interacting with people.

It is great to see what people come up with to stream out to people. We have, in the past done a couple of photography streams where we look at the basics of how to use a camera and cover ISO, aperture, shutterspeed and how they work with each other and some composition and editing tips.

At the moment we are concentrating on getting the stream looking and running as good as possible and streaming the games we are currently playing. Photography may get a revisit at some point though 🙂

So that is what has been occupying us recently. But we haven’t forgotten the photography – we can’t, we love it too much. We have some time off next week – taking Monday 27th and Tuesday 28th March as holiday as it is my 50th birthday on Tuesday – eek! It gives us 4 days to hopefully get some decent weather and get out for the day instead of just a quick run after work to grab a sunset (if the weather complies).

I am also hoping during those 4 days to get one good day of sunshine so I can finally get some shots for my planned business venture.  Without those shots I cannot build the website or create business cards. Fingers and toes crossed for this week. I mean, come on, it’s spring now! Time for some better weather. 🙂

I don’t have any new photos to post this time but here are a couple of old ones to keep you going! 🙂

St Thomas at Fairfield Church, Brooklands, Romney
Reculver, Kent

Till next time…

Jenn

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Another week over…

Here we are at Friday again. This week has flown by, which is good in a way but scary in another how quickly time is passing by.  My 50th birthday is fast approaching – how the hell can I be 50?! My parents always used to say time will pass quicker the older you get and boy, they weren’t wrong!

Nothing big planned for my birthday – out for a meal with some family – my mum-in-law shares the same birthday so we are celebrating together.  Then a special little trip away for just me and Jon over the Easter weekend. We aren’t venturing far – just a small little house out in the countryside to hopefully enjoy the scenery and take some shots. Looking forward to a change of scene.

This week has been a bit busy in the evenings and we haven’t had time to venture out for a sunset until last night. The weather was promising if a little hazy and we popped back down to Margate and the beach. This time we moved a little further along to where the sundeck used to be (miss that a lot) and the swimming pool which is still there thankfully.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t a great sunset, no fluffy clouds to reflect the light, a bank of dark cloud on the horizon which the sun disappeared behind pretty quickly but I did get a few shots from it. We stayed on for quite a while after the sun went down but what little colour was left in the sky soon disappeared.

Here are my efforts from the shoot, really pleased with the overflow shot, I think that is my favourite 🙂

Hope you enjoy.

The above shot is the overfall from the swimming pool. A little picture in picture of the sunset. My favourite from the set.

Till next time…

Jenn

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Cheeky Mid Week Sunset Shoot

Well, almost mid-week. Thursday I shut down the work laptop, grabbed our camera bags and picked Jon up straight from work so we could go get ourselves a sunset on camera.

The weather had been lovely and, having kept all our fingers and toes crossed all day (made work challenging!) the weather held for us into the evening. We popped to nearby Margate to get set up as we have never really taken any sunset shots around the harbour, despite having been doing photography for nearly 7 years and Margate being our stomping ground. Such slackers!

The skies were pretty good up until actual sunset but the golden hour after was not really there. The colours faded out and we came away a little earlier than intended. But we did get some good shots.

I was keen to try some long exposure, but unfortunately my remote trigger was not playing ball. I had not used it for some time, but was sure I had it set up correctly. New batteries in each piece but it wasn’t triggering the shutter. I then rooted around in my camera bag for my cheap little remote trigger but it was nowhere to be found, despite having it the last time we were out. (I actually found it in a coat pocket when I got home, not much use when I was trying to take long exposure shots down on Margate beach!)

Instead, I made do with the 2 second delay setting on my camera and taking shots at f/22 and 50/100 ISO so I could get longer exposures up to a maximum of 30 seconds. Not quite what I had in mind as I wanted to use my ND10 filter, but it did at least smooth the water out on some shots.

Oh well, there will be another time and place to take the long exposure shots. The back up cheap remote trigger is now back in my camera bag! And Jon is trying to work out what I did wrong with the other while I am typing this! 🙂

Anyway, here is the outcome of all this messing about – some shots from the sunset shoot.

The above shot was taken with my Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 lens zoomed in. These two people are actually both adult men but the compression from the zoom has altered the perspective a little! Hence one giant man and one tiny one. 🙂

Hope you enjoyed them. Roll on next week for more sunsets 🙂  Till then…

Jenn

P.S. The remote trigger problem was me being a numpty and forgetting I needed a cable from the piece that sits on my camera hotshoe and connects to the camera. However, I cannot find the damn cable (it is tiny) so the lovely Jon is ordering a replacement for me and a similar remote set up for himself while he is doing that! (At least the problem is solved and the cable is cheap.) 😉

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Long Exposure Photography – why have we not done more?

The weather has not been co-operating this year to allow us to get out and about with our cameras as much as we want and it has been really frustrating.  As a consequence, we have been getting our photography “fix” by revisiting previous years’ photos to see if there are any we loved enough to re-edit.  Our styles have been developing over the years and the way we processed shots back then have changed considerably to how we would process them now (definitely for the better now!).

What has this got to do with the subject of Long Exposures you ask? Well, I have always thought long exposure shots have been done to death, you see so many, probably because they look awesome. However, going through my collection I noticed I have hardly taken any. I bought an ND10 filter (big stopper as it is also known) ages ago to allow me to take those long exposure shots during daytime, but have hardly used it. Jon is the same – very few photos.  Some of my long exposures are simply because I was shooting at sunrise with very low light so I needed to have the shutter open for longer to capture the image, resulting in water being smoothed out.  There were not that many deliberate long exposure shots.

Our aim is to remedy that. We are both armed with our filters in our camera bags ready to whip them out at the right moment. Just need the right weather now so we can do so.

Today I opened the curtains to another grim and grey day, sigh. One day, hopefully soon, we will get lucky.

In the meantime, here are the few long exposure shots I have taken! Hope you enjoy.

Till next time…

Jenn

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Grey rainy Sunday. Here’s something to do – get insurance.

Looking out the window and it is a pretty miserable Sunday. We are both wanting to get out and do some long exposures with some nice movement in the clouds. Well, that is the idea anyway but there is no definition up there right now.

It does seem that we get unlucky at weekends this time of year. Looking through old photographs from previous years there always seems to be the same struggle with the sky. Yet, annoyingly, I have sat in my work office looking out at beautiful Simpsons style clouds on a number of days over the last couple of weeks, wishing i could get out there.

So, what is there to do instead? Well recently we decided it was time to insure our camera gear – previously we have put it off as we thought it would be far too expensive, so we had a look. After googling for a while we found Eversure camera insurers; good feedback and reasonable rates,  We finally took the plunge. Paying out around £150 for a year’s coverage seemed like a lot. Then you think about how much it will cost if your camera bag gets stolen, or if you knock your camera with attached lens and tripod off a harbour wall or down a mountain (we are going to Wales in a  few months). It soon makes you realise how much more out of pocket you will be. With the Canon 6d being £1399 it means it will be 9 years before I am out of pocket on the body alone.

For the peace of mind it brings it is well worth doing.  I feel easier when we are out now and might even be a bit more willing to go out doing night shots around towns etc. in the future as well as being more adventurous with the sea and rivers (without putting myself in danger). Registering your products on Eversure is very simple. They have lists of pretty much all camera gear and you just register the serial number of that item. Another great thing about this is if anything does get stolen it makes it easier for the police to trace. If you have receipts and documentation, make them available as well. All we have are photos of the items showing the serial numbers, stored on our Onedrive accounts so we can access them from anywhere.

So there you are, something to do on a grey Sunday. If it brightens up later we will grab our gear and shoot out for a sunset.

Also to finish, I would like to thank Colin from onethirtysixeast.blogspot.co.uk for welcoming us to the blogging scene and being a gentleman. Why not check out his blog. 🙂

Thanks

Jon

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Revisiting The Past

I had fun recently creating my first proper portfolio of my images from the last 7 years. See my last post about my portfolio.

Going back and revisiting shots taken from 2010 to the present was a great trip down memory lane. So many places we visited and lots of memories. It was great and got me yearning to get back out and revisit some of those locations and get more shots.

It also highlighted how much my photography has improved over that time and how much I have changed and developed my style. I feel I have really now found my own unique style when composing and editing shots.

Gone are the days of hideous, overcooked HDR shots! I also don’t take as many shots as I used to (I do still take a fair amount as I like to try out different positions and angles!). I am much better at thinking about and composing my shots now too. I get a lot more “keepers” now from a photo shoot than I used to.

However, a lot of my portfolio is composed of shots taken from 3 or 4 years back – I did manage to grab a few good ‘uns back then 🙂  It was more about the editing – I went through reviewing the shots and liking the original composition but hating the way I had edited the shot previously – choosing to re-edit and ditch any HDRs I had opted for back then.

My portfolio showcases the ones that made it through, but there were a few that I re-edited that I like but that did not make it to the portfolio because of subject matter/location. I chose the portfolio to showcase photographs from seaside locations through Thanet and East Kent as I wanted a theme to pull them together.

Here are some I re-edited from various locations and subject matter. Hope you enjoy!

And a final shot – a little clue to a new business venture, once I can get out and get some shots – damn this dreary weather!

I had a lot of fun going back through my external drives, seeking out those hidden gems and revisiting memories along the way. I recommend it, you never know what you might uncover!

Until next time…

Jenn

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