Archives for category: Writing

Freelancing — Targets and How to Set Them

Whether you make your sales directly or through an agent or photo library, do you have a target to keep your mind focused on your output? And, if you do, is it measurable? It needs to be otherwise you cannot assess just how you are performing against your target. It can be as simple as the number of submissions/pitches sent out each month or the number of sales made, or the monetary amount of sales made, all of which are measurable. My targets began as the number of submissions made each month but I felt that that didn’t stretch me enough. Regular submissions are, of course, essential in this freelancing business but results are more important.
So, I amended my goals by setting myself an income-based goal for each month which encourages me to continue to send submissions out but will not let me feel satisfied just by the making of a submission. Now I won’t feel satisfied unless I can eat! Hopefully this approach will improve my selections and lead to more sales.
Don’t forget, that setting a target is not the end of it. There is no point in having a target that there is no chance of achieving just as there is no point in having a target that is too easily achieved. Setting targets that challenge is a fine balancing act so review your goals regularly. And don’t feel that you are cheating if you downgrade your targets if you find that you are not achieving them even though you have put a 100 per cent effort in. Of course, if the non-achievement is brought about by lack of application on your part, you know what to do.
Equally, if you are achieving your targets fairly easily, do consider upgrading them.


I was born in England and grew up there before I pursued a girl to the other side of the world where I have now spent most of my life. But, the memories of my early years and the love of England’s green and pleasant land have never left me. Nor has my fondness for Wales where I spent many happy holidays on the Llyn peninsula.
England and Wales have numerous places worthy of attention and many are so well known that they are familiar to those who have never
visited them.
In this small book I have gathered together some of the places that have lingered long in my memory and which may not be as familiar as
the popular tourist spots. There are, of course, many such places in these small islands and m hope is that you will find your own favourites that will live forever in your memory.

Order your copy below. You do not have to have a PayPal account to do so.

PDF ebook Here and There in England and Wales

Travels with my pen and camera

A$5.00

The e-book will be sent to you electronically once your payment has been confirmed. You will receive an e-mail from High Tail with details of how to access the file. You will need the Acrobat Reader (available free from https://get.adobe.com/reader/) to read this e-book.

This book is available as a paperback through Amazon. This is a cheaper version that you can read on your computer or tablet with the same text but with many more photos.

I was born in England and grew up there before I pursued a girl to the
other side of the world where I have now spent most of my life. But,
the memories of my early years and the love of England’s green and
pleasant land have never left me. Nor has my fondness for Wales where
I spent many happy holidays on the Lleyn peninsula.
England and Wales have numerous places worthy of attention and
many are so well known that they are familiar to those who have never
visited them.
In this small book I have gathered together some of the places that
have lingered long in my memory and which may not be as familiar as
the popular tourist spots.
There are, of course, many such places in these small islands and the
hope is that you will find your own favourites that will live forever in
your memory.

Order your copy below. You do not have to have a PayPal account to do so.

The e-book will be sent to you electronically once your payment has been confirmed. You will receive an e-mail from High Tail with details of how to access the file. You will need the Acrobat Reader (available free from https://get.adobe.com/reader/) to read this e-book.

PDF e-book Here and There in England and Wales

Travels with my pen and camera.

A$5.00

Also available in paperback from your Amazon store.

PICTURECORRECT

PHOTOGRAPHING THE MICRO LANDSCAPE
BY DAVID BIGWOOD

When I began making pictures of the landscape, it was always the big picture that mattered. And I suppose it’s the same for most of us. It was a case of taking a few exposures and then moving on to the next grand view.

Then came the day when I needed to make some pictures—photographers will know what I mean—and the weather was against me. Uniformly grey clouds and lousy light are no recipe for great landscape shots.

With the itch in my shutter finger unsatisfied, I had to find a subject, so I began casting around the area. And, what do you know, there were dozens of them. Of course there were, for those who have eyes to see. The big picture is made up of thousands—maybe millions—of smaller pictures, and this is what I had been missing.

And, it’s not only the weather that can be against the making of the big picture. Sometimes it’s hard to avoid the crowds in a popular spot, for example, but if we are attuned to looking within the scene for its components and are able to recognize potential pictures among them, then our frustrations at not being able to make pictures because of situations that are beyond our control can be relieved.

The same applies when the big picture just isn’t right. Maybe it’s the light that is wrong—from the wrong direction, at the wrong time of day—or something in the scene is just not photogenic and it can’t be got around by moving it or moving our viewpoint. This happened to me recently when I went to the Snowy River in the New South Wales high country in Australia. The attractive scenes that I knew from five years ago had disappeared in the disastrous bush fires of January 2003 and the area had not fully recovered. There were dead trees everywhere and the whole area had a scrubby look about it. Its former beauty will come back, but it will take a lot more time. Big picture scenes were out, so I concentrated instead on close ups of some of the spring wildflowers that were brightening the river bank.

And, when I spent a week last year on England’s Cumbrian coast, the weather was less than kind but nevertheless I found subjects to shoot between the bursts of sunshine by looking into the landscape.

It was the weather that first forced me into exploring for smaller pictures but now it’s my natural approach to landscape photography. I do not shun the big picture, but now I am loath to leave a place until I have made some images that show something of its intimate details. I have learned to not only look but also to see.

And, that is the first step to making pictures of the micro-landscape, the bits that make up the whole. You may have heard the comment by camera club judges, “a well seen picture” and that is what we have to be aware of when considering our photography. We have to look and then, more importantly, we have to see the picture opportunities that present themselves. We have to take our time. We have to immerse ourselves in the area. We need to feel for the place. We need to experience wonder at the age of rock formations and how, over millenniums, they have been fashioned by wind and water, at the way in which trees and other plants survive in less than perfect conditions and how they cling to life and overcome obstacles by growing round and over them. We need to be in awe of the power of nature.

I try not to have preconceived ideas of what I am looking for as subjects when I begin to explore. To do so would defeat the object of the exercise, which is to first look and then to see. However, depending on the location, there are some obvious subjects that crop up repeatedly. For instance, in Britain’s ancient woodlands the twisted and contorted trunks of old trees, the bases of the same trees which often incorporate huge boulders, and in the moorlands, the wildflowers that fill the meadows in high summer, the fallen golden leaves of the deciduous trees in autumn and, in the winter, the plants that brave the snow, the streams winding between snowy banks and the footprints of animals, and birds in otherwise undisturbed snow.

On the coast, there are the rock pools gouged out by centuries of water action, and their inhabitants, rippled sand, flotsam and jetsam, the plants that bind the sand, the multi-colored pebbles, and the many wonderful shapes of rock platforms and the strata in cliffs.

Wherever you are, look up. Sometimes a wonderful, and generally fleeting cloud arrangement will make a great image. And there may be a photogenic arrangement of leaves on a tree or at your feet. Check the trunks of trees, especially after or even during rain when the bark of some trees, especially in Australia, is magnificently colored. Watch the swirling water in creeks —apart from anything else, flowing water is very therapeutic and calming—especially where it ripples over boulders.

Then there are the grasses, especially when back lit, or flowers or fungi, or fallen trees or…the list is infinite. Those are just some examples but it doesn’t matter where you go, you will find subjects to fill your viewfinder if you really look.

As far as technique is concerned, the important thing is to ensure that your subject is sharp and possibly isolated from the background by using a large aperture. Unless you’re using a fast film or ISO setting, a tripod will be useful, if not essential, to ensure that your camera stays focused where you want it and that camera shake does not ruin a precious picture.

If you want to make close-up pictures, a macro lens or a set of extension tubes will be necessary. I sometimes find focusing when using extension tubes a bit difficult especially when the lens is practically touching the subject. It is sometimes easier then to move the camera backwards and forwards to establish correct focus rather than using the focus adjustment.

Close-up images of flowers are often better when made under overcast skies as the reduction in contrast suits the subject and enhances the colors. I carry a plastic sheet when expecting to do close-up work at ground level to make the job a little more comfortable.

As the light level on grey days or in woods is sometimes a little low, you may want to use some fill-in flash to enhance your subject. If you can, adjust the output of your flash gun; aim to produce a flash about two stops under the exposure setting of your camera, which will produce a natural looking image. I have been able to produce quite good results at times with a very basic flash gun by shooting through a couple of layers of a white handkerchief. Not very scientific but it has worked. But, do experiment with your equipment before you leave home!

Aluminum foil can also be useful to bounce light into your subject and it’s worth carrying some in your camera bag. I have a Space Blanket which I bought many years ago, which is very useful as a reflector. I can also wrap myself in it if I get lost and have to spend the night outdoors in low temperatures! One question that crops up every now and then about the photographing of the natural world is: do we take the picture exactly as it is found or can we move things around and even import an item from somewhere else? As far as I’m concerned, that is up to you!

For the record, I do clear away distracting items, some grass for instance, and I have been known to introduce a greenish leaf from a few centimeters away on to a pile of autumn colored leaves to provide some contrast. But, if I can, I leave it as I found it. If I do make changes they are only minor. But, it’s your picture and your choice.

I have used film and digital to produce my micro-landscape pictures but what you use is immaterial. It is the result that counts and that result will come from your ability to see the picture in the first place and then from your technical know-how.

About the Author:
David Bigwood is a photographer in the Snowy Mountains of New South Wales, Australia.

6 RESPONSES TO “PHOTOGRAPHING THE MICRO LANDSCAPE”

Andy Keeble
Friday, October 12th, 2012 at 1:54 pm
A very interesting article. There is a whole world to explore but the patience required must be astronomical! However the resulting images are quite breath taking.
Andy

Kathy Clark
Saturday, October 13th, 2012 at 8:54 pm
Very well said. I love seeing what is available just inches away. You never know what you will run across, especially with all the bugs in Alabama.
Thank you for sharing this, very inspiring.
Kathy Clark

Waheed Akhtar
Sunday, October 14th, 2012 at 2:17 am
Some great tips here for micro photography. Thank you.

Rob Gipman
Thursday, November 5th, 2015 at 2:54 pm
I’ts a fascinating world to indeed. took this shot as my first real macro with a 50mm lens reverted. https://www.flickr.com/photos/gipukan/4392466957/

Robert Guildner
Thursday, December 7th, 2017 at 11:47 am
Thank you for this insightful article. Your suggestions apply to everyday life and just not photography.

Neil
Thursday, December 7th, 2017 at 10:13 pm
Really useful article and I must say that you have a wonderful, almost poetic, style of writing.

After a few days of posting beach scenes, I thought that this piece of mine might be of interest:

I look at a beach and see a stage. A stage with never-ending, always changing scenes. Dramas are played out until the tide, like a massive moving curtain, descends and writes, ‘The End’.
But, it never is the end for the curtain rises again just as it has since time immemorial and drama resumes its rightful place. The ever continuing tussle between life and death takes centre stage while on stage right and left more mundane plays are acted out as the many creatures that make the sand their home as the tide sits above them, begin their housekeeping. Some, such as the sand bubbler crabs, inadvertently produce transitory artistic works as they toss their waste sand balls onto the beach.
Just as in a theatre, props play a part on our sandy stage. Stuff tossed or lost overboard from boats finally ends up at the high water mark while scattered across the stage lies seaweed ripped from the ocean floor during a violent storm. Here also are fish or seabirds whose lives have run their course from old age or wounds or, worst of all, from the disregard of man who dumps fuel oil into the sea, apparently unmoved by the plight of the birds who become coated with the stuff.
My obsession for walking beaches had begun as a boy on holiday in North Wales. Whatever the weather, my parents did not believe in sitting in the holiday home; this was holiday time which meant the beach and never mind the rain.
And, what better way of encouraging children to walk a beach in the rain than to suggest that they may find something exciting? “You never know what you might find,” said my mother encouragingly. “There might be a message in a bottle from half way round the world. Wouldn’t that be exciting!”
To a boy, of course, this was a magical invitation to gather widely. I remember dragging a fine specimen of seaweed for several miles to where we were staying as someone had told me that it would help forecast the weather. If it was damp, it would rain and if dry then it would be fine. The trouble was that after a couple of days it began to smell and if it was damp, it was raining!
As far as messages in bottles were concerned, the only one I found was from a holiday maker in the next bay. And that coconut husk which I fondly imagined had come from some South Sea island had, in all probability, been tossed overboard from a ship just off the coast.
Would that I had a camera in those days. I would now have a picture of a sea mine, a relic of World War II, which had washed up on a Devon beach instead of just a rusty spine from that lethal weapon (fortunately made safe before I came across it) buried somewhere in my garage in a dusty box.
Now, umpteen decades later, I still thrill to walking a beach albeit on the other side of the world. But now I do not drag seaweed home, nor do I fill a bucket with seashells. I photograph them; my camera my constant companion on my meanderings.
I do make some exceptions, however, and I have on my desk, an unusual stone which appears quite porous and which has a hole right through it, fortuitously, just the right size to hold a pen. And, scattered on various shelves are bits of driftwood worn smooth by the sea’s action.
I like walking a beach whether it is a gentle stroll on a hot sunny day or a bracing walk during a storm. On nature’s stage you never know what you might find.

Words are my Business

Problems with writing?
David Bigwood is ready to help.

Member of the Australian Society of Authors
Licentiate of the Royal Photographic Society

Global service in English

Website and blog
http://www.davidbigwoodpublishing.wordpress.com
Examples of my writing available here

Charges by the hour. No other or ongoing fees.
Regularly published article writer
Former columnist for a UK photography magazine
Experienced in formatting e-books and
print on demand books and books for printing
Edits writing for businesses
Advises writers on self-publishing
Experienced interviewer
both face to face and by e-mail

As the nights get cooler fieldmice try to find a place indoors and mine was the lucky winner for one of these tiny rodents. But, a man’s home is his castle and I was not enamoured of the thought of sharing my castle with this intruder so a trip to the local hardware store was called for.

“Mouse traps?”

“Yes, there’s a display over there.”

I began to realise that my castle was not the only one to face invasion. The display was huge. There were what I would call the traditional old type traps that despatched the mouse efficiently but left you with the cleaning up of the mess, sound devices that were supposed to deter the invaders before they got a foothold, poisons that sounded deadly, which, of course was their job, and a humane trap that enabled you to trap the mouse and relocate it in the morning.

This last one sounded just the job for me after all when I was a Scout I acknowledged that ‘A Scout is a friend to animals’. I’m not sure that included pests that invaded one’s castle but it gave me a way out from being an assassin.

I followed the instructions and put a dab of peanut butter in the trap — up to that point I didn’t know that mice liked peanut butter — and set it up before I went to bed.

2-30am and I woke as the door on the trap clicked shut. Job done, I thought and rolled over to go back to sleep. But, the captive had other ideas and began trying to eat through the plastic door. It was not possible to shut off my loft bedroom from the kitchen down below so I was well aware of the noise drifting up the stairs. I felt a little sorry for the mouse but even sorrier for me as I could not get back to sleep. Eventually my sleep starved brain whispered, “put it outside” so, while apologising to the prisoner I put his cell outside the front door.

And, so to sleep. In the morning I was pleased to see the trap still there — I’m not sure how it would have disappeared — but felt a bit guilty when I realised it had rained during the night but those feelings passed as I realised the cell would be quite waterproof.

I scooped up the trap, hopped into the car and headed off to a suitable paddock where I opened the door, the mouse popped out and, squeaking, ran off into the grass.

Now the job was done. But, would you believe, every now and then during a cool and drizzly day I found myself wondering how ‘my’ mouse was getting on.

To read more of my writing, click on ‘Writing’, ‘Photography’ or ‘Snowy Mountains’ tabs above.

You Never Know What You Might Find

by David Bigwood

“Come on, David, get your Mac on!”

My mother’s words floated back through time as I stood, cup of tea in hand, by the beachside hotel’s window staring at the gloomy scene.

“Come on! You never know what you might find.”

Then it had been the Atlantic sweeping into a North Wales beach, now it was the Pacific pounding the Australian east coast. Then it was a family holiday and holidays meant the beach and never mind the weather. Now it was a short break from work with nobody to urge me out into the storm. Mother knew a thing or two about children, after all, she was a teacher and what better way was there of encouraging children to walk a beach in the rain than to suggest that they may find something exciting?

To a boy, of course, this was a magical invitation to gather widely. I remember dragging a fine specimen of seaweed for several miles to where we were staying as someone had told me that it would help forecast the weather. If it was damp, it would rain and if dry then it would be fine. The trouble was that it quickly began to smell and if it was damp, it was raining!

I half smiled at the memory and carried on viewing the murky scene outside. The only concession to dawn was a lightening of the grey lowering clouds hanging above the rolling white-capped waves in the east. The gale-driven sea surged onto the sandy beach well above the usual high water mark even though there was still an hour or so to high tide. God, it looked bleak.

I turned away and headed for my room. A morning’s reading was on the cards. A comfortable chair in the warm lounge beckoned. As I crossed the foyer heading for the lounge a family group passed me well wrapped up against the weather and I saw my parents, my sister and me all those years ago and I stopped in my tracks.

Why not? If it’s too bad you can always come back, You never know what you might find.

My spirits lifted and in no time I was back in my room swapping my book for my wet weather gear. As I returned to the foyer I admit to having second thoughts — ‘you’re going to regret this’ rang through my head and as I stepped through the doors I almost turned around and headed back into sanctuary.

But, I pulled up the collar of my waterproof jacket and, head down, set off along the beach. Here, seagulls swooped over the breaking surf then climbed and hung almost motionless as they faced into the wind while there groups of their kin stood imperturbably, feathers ruffled, upon the wet sand.

Mother would have called this ideal beachcombing weather. She would have pointed out the clumps of seaweed that had been ripped from the ocean floor and wondered if they hid a message in a bottle perhaps or something that had floated half way around the world. In my boyhood that was all that was needed for me to start hunting.

One day I did unearth a bottle but the message had only come from a holiday maker in the next bay. And the coconut husk which I fondly imagined had come from some South Sea island had, in all probability, been tossed overboard from a ship just off the coast.

That was then when finding odd things was fun but this is now when the sheer joy was the feel of the wind and rain in my face reawakening the love of nature in my soul.

Mother was right, you never know what you might find.

copyright David Bigwood

England: Ancient oak tree in high summer

England: Ancient oak tree in high summer

The raindrops from the sudden sharp summer shower splattered on the spreading and well-leafed canopy of the oak that was my welcome shelter. As I leant back against the solid trunk and idly watched the rain it struck me that I often take trees for granted. As a photographer of the landscape, this seems to be a dreadful admission.

With inactivity came the questions. Is it just because they are there? Because they are a familiar part of the scene? Because they have always been a part of our lives from playing peek-a-boo to climbing in our childhood to relaxing in their shade with a favourite partner as we grow older?

Yes, it’s all of those and more. When we lose a tree the world loses a valuable partner vital to its well-being as many Australian farmers and graziers in my home country have found. There I have seen paddocks with dead trees which had been ring-barked many years ago to clear the area for grazing or crops and, not too far away, other treeless paddocks that have great slashes gouged out of them by the heavy rains that over the years have washed away tonnes of valuable soil. Now, thankfully, the importance of trees has been recognised and millions are being planted in country Australia.

But, in other parts of the world the clearing of vast tracts of trees is still continuing. Even in my native Britain hedgerows and trees have been removed to facilitate the use of the large machinery that is now necessary for farmers to make a living out of the growing of grain crops.

Economics must have its part to play. People have to live and we must be sensible of the world’s need for wood and paper but let us hope that we are becoming more enlightened and understanding of the value that trees play in our lives.

Trees provide shelter and sustenance for all manner of life both great and small. They bind the soil to counter erosion. They breathe life into the air. They give us raw material. They provide wood to burn. They drop their leaves to nurture the very soil in which they grow. And, when they die and fall they continue to provide homes for small animals and insects as they gradually return to the soil from whence they came.

The shower ended and I picked up my camera and headed into the sun searching for the right place to make a photograph of my recent refuge. That’s one more thing that trees give us, a delight for our eyes. Let us stop taking them for granted.

I look at a beach and see a stage. A stage with never-ending, always changing scenes. Dramas are played out until the tide, like a massive moving curtain, descends and writes, ‘The End’.

But, it never is the end for the curtain rises again just as it has since time immemorial and drama resumes its rightful place. The ever continuing tussle between life and death takes centre stage while on stage right and left more mundane plays are acted out as the many creatures that make the sand their home as the tide sits above them, begin their housekeeping. Some, such as the sand bubbler crabs, inadvertently produce transitory artistic works as they toss their waste sand balls onto the beach.

Just as in a theatre, props play a part on our sandy stage. Stuff tossed or lost overboard from boats finally ends up at the high water mark while scattered across the stage lies seaweed ripped from the ocean floor during a violent storm. Here also are fish or seabirds whose lives have run their course from old age or wounds or, worst of all, from the disregard of man who dumps fuel oil into the sea, apparently unmoved by the plight of the birds who become coated with the stuff.

My obsession for walking beaches had begun as a boy on holiday in North Wales. Whatever the weather, my parents did not believe in sitting in the holiday home; this was holiday time which meant the beach and never mind the rain.

And, what better way of encouraging children to walk a beach in the rain than to suggest that they may find something exciting? “You never know what you might find,” said my mother encouragingly. “There might be a message in a bottle from half way round the world. Wouldn’t that be exciting!”

To a boy, of course, this was a magical invitation to gather widely. I remember dragging a fine specimen of seaweed for several miles to where we were staying as someone had told me that it would help forecast the weather. If it was damp, it would rain and if dry then it would be fine. The trouble was that after a couple of days it began to smell and if it was damp, it was raining!

As far as messages in bottles were concerned, the only one I found was from a holiday maker in the next bay. And that coconut husk which I fondly imagined had come from some South Sea island had, in all probability, been tossed overboard from a ship just off the coast.

Would that I had a camera in those days. I would now have a picture of a sea mine, a relic of World War II, which had washed up on a Devon beach instead of just a rusty spine from that lethal weapon (fortunately made safe before I came across it) buried somewhere in my garage in a dusty box.

Now, umpteen decades later, I still thrill to walking a beach albeit on the other side of the world. But now I do not drag seaweed home, nor do I fill a bucket with seashells. I photograph them; my camera my constant companion on my meanderings.

I do make some exceptions, however, and I have on my desk, an unusual stone which appears quite porous and which has a hole right through it, fortuitously, just the right size to hold a pen. And, scattered on various shelves are bits of driftwood worn smooth by the sea’s action.

I like walking a beach whether it is a gentle stroll on a hot sunny day or a bracing walk during a storm. On nature’s stage you never know what you might find.