Below are a selection of my favourite photographs, along with a description, some technical points and a critique. They're roughly chronological (newest at the top), but I've not put any special effort into ordering them.
Canon 450D / Canon EF 28-135mm - 1/4000 @ f 18 + ISO 400
Taking a hop-on hop-off bus tour in Barcelona, the bus stopped for a few seconds below a statue of Columbus pointing east, stood on a column. We were sitting in the top seat of the bus, and almost in the perfect position for this silhouette shot. I was in a bit of a rush to get the shot, because I didn't know how long the bus was going to remain where it was, which was a good lesson in my ability to use the camera in manual mode, at short notice. Even so, it took quite a few attempts with (increasingly lower) exposures to get a shot that I thought captured the scene.
I think the composition of the shot works because it's a simple outline and silhouette. The perspectives are better than one might expect owing to the relatively short height of the statue and the elevation of the point of origin at the top of the bus. The shot is extremely underexposed - the sun in Barcelona at this time of year is exceedingly bright, and I think the camera would actually be hard pressed to expose the shot any less (it's at the limit of the shutter speed, and with the aperture already narrowed significantly). The most significant error in the shot is that the sun is not quite directly behind the statue. There is a distinct lack of crispness around the right/lower quadrant of the statue, and a change in position of a few inches would probably have solved this.
Overall I like the shot, but there are problems that don't stand closer inspection. The lesson is that with a shot this simple all the elements need to be perfect which can take time and effort to get right, which on this occasion I didn't have.
Canon 450D / Canon EF 28-135mm - 1/400 @ f 11 + ISO 400
Below the spectacular El Capitan and Yosemite falls, in the late afternoon, with the sun setting down the valley. This pine tree was silhouetted at the edge of a small clearing. The shot took a little while to get right, as I wanted to keep the greens of the grass and surrounding trees in addition to a dark trunk and branches of the main pine.
Overall I think the shot works better viewed small rather than blown up large, which is a bit of a pity. I think this is because I like the broad composition, but upon more closer inspection the scene is just a bit cluttered with unnecessary details. The tree trunk isn't broad enough to obscure the sun completely, but it wasn't possible to get closer to the tree and still retain the full height and composition with the lens that I had. Likewise the colours become a little bland and washed out when not in close contrast with each other.
In summary, it's not going to win any prizes, but I quite like the scene
Canon 450D / Canon EF 28-135mm - 1/30 @ f 11 & 135mm + ISO 400
Late summer, and passing a whole hedgerow of Blackberry bushes down by the canal. I've only recently worked out how to take macro shots on my camera (the trick, I learned is to use the zoom) and this was a perfect opportunity.
I like this photo - the contrasts between the blacks and reds of the berries, and the green foliage in the background is good, and I spent some time getting the colour space and depth of focus right. Mostly I'm pleased with figuring out how to take macro shots with my set up, although I orignally had the depth of focus far too narrow (there's a lesson in there about f-stop settings and macro shots which I suspect it'll take a few more attempts for me to get the hang of).
Canon 450D / Canon EF 28-135mm - 1/100 @ f 6.3 & 135mm + ISO 800 & Exp -0.33
Walking in Ashridge Estate, I came upon a doe and her fawn feeding in the grass at the side of the track. They were very nervous, and I had to take the shot with a long zoom, and then crop significantly to get them to the right scale in the picture.
I think this picture tells a lovely story, which is probably why I like it, however it doesn't really have much else going for it! The focus isn't great, and the deer are almost in silhouette, with very little of the detail of their coats or markings visible. I guess the lesson here is that a good story can overcome technical aspects of the shot, but it's not going to win any awards...
Canon Digital IXUS 100 IS - 1/500 @ f 3.2 + ISO 80
A bright summers day in May, at about midday, walking along the lane in front, past the village church. The old lime trees cast quite strong shadows over the old fence, and the gate.
I finally figured out to use the on-camera flash in order to illuminate the detail on the fence (otherwise it's very underexposed). I'm pleased that I managed to figure it out, although I suspect that slightly better equipment - in particular an adjustable exposure flash, or some mirrors - would help, as I think the lighting still isn't quite right. The fast f-stop isn't what I'd have chosen, but the picture's good for a P&S.
Canon 450D / Sigma 30mm f1.4 HSM - 1/400 @ f 3.2 + ISO 200
Walking in Germany, in the "Wald" near Jena, on the last leg of the walk we passed a small farm with some outlying apple trees still in blossom. The day was very overcast and grey (and had been raining at times).
I'm happy with all the things that I could control about this shot. The plane and depth of focus are about right (I remembered to check the shot before moving on this time - for which I was quite grateful, the first couple of shots were far too fast), the depth of colour is right. I wish the sky in the background had been blue, and on close up there are some imperfections in the leaves around the blossom, but overall it's the shot I wanted to take, and I'm pleased with how it came out.
Canon Digital IXUS 100 IS - 1/500 @ f 9.0 + ISO 125
Walking near "Happy Valley", Coulsdon South, we stopped for lunch (behind the PoV in this picture) on a fallen log looking over the High Weald. The winter sun was bright, but very low in the sky - perfect conditions for a silhouette shot of this oak, standing in a field, with another smaller tree in the background.
There's a small amount of vingetting around the trunk, but given this was taken with a P&S camera, that's to be expected. Otherwise I'm very happy with how the picture turned out, in particular the colour saturation for the sky is good, and the green in the field provides a good contrast. Perhaps next time I'd try to get the whole tree into the shot, and maybe without the second tree, but without a doubt the biggest lesson here is to look at the photo I've just taken to see if it's right!
Canon Digital IXUS 100 IS - 1/1000 @ f 3.2 + ISO 160
Cycling in Lea Valley Park, in the mid afternoon. I didn't realise how still and reflective the water in
canal was, this was a pleasant surprise when I uploaded the picture.
Another example of how having a camera with you is more important than how expensive it is!
The point of the picture was to capture the colours and contrast. The fast f-stop wasn't as I intended, but the picture doesn't suffer particularly from this.
Canon 450D / Canon EF 28-135mm - 1/400 @ f 3.5 + ISO 100
Walking along the Southwest Coast Path west of Mousehole, in August 2009. Came across this old rusted gated entrance to a field overlooking the sea. The light was good, although softening in the late afternoon. I took the shot because of the romantic connotations of the rustic, rural setting.
Perhaps a slightly short f-stop @ 3.5 the background may be slightly more out of focus than strictly needed. In addition the subject doesn't have quite the variation of colour that I'd ideally like, but otherwise I'm quite pleased with this shot.
Canon 450D / Canon EF 28-135mm - 1/200 @ f 5.6 + ISO 100, Exp + 1/3
In Holkham park, Norfolk. Walking in the grounds of the park we came across a herd of (semi-tame) deer grazing/sleeping under a tree. It was a very bright day, and the grass around was dry (and light).
A good learning experience in this picture - even with some adjustment of the exposure, and running the risk of overexposing the background, the deer are still too dark, and lacking some detail. Alternatives would have been to ensure a darker background (perhaps one of the trees right middle), or simply to have acknowledged that the shot was never going to be great.
Canon Digital IXUS 40 - 1/640 @ f 10.0 + ISO 200
Down near the waterfront in Istanbul, in front of the New Mosque and the Spice Bazaar, late in the afternoon, I've not managed to work out the name of the mosque from the guide book
My P&S has some considerable limitations when trying to set up a shot like this, and these are apparent in the detail on the dome of the mosque, and up the side of the minaret, however for my first silhouette shot, I'm reasonably pleased. The advice to pick an easily recognised shape has served well here. I have tried cropping this picture to remove some unnecessary elements from the composition, but overall I feel the picture works better with some of the "noise" around - it feels more authentically Istanbul.
Canon 450D / Canon EF 28-135mm - 1/100 @ f 5.0 + ISO 250
Walking through Kew Gardens with my (then) new Canon 450d, a glance back at a pine tree, and an opportunistic shot to test my understanding of depth of focus.
I have no idea why I like this photo. Technically it's fine, the plane of focus is about right on the pine cones in the middle and it's slightly underexposed which helps enhance the cones themselves. The surprising thing (for me) is how much I like the image, without really being able to justify why. It's one of the few that's printed and makes an occasional appearance on the walls at home.
Canon 450D / Canon EF 28-135mm - 1/100 @ f 5.0 + ISO 500
The steam train only came past twice a day, so there weren't that many chances to photograph it. I'd noted a good spot where the train line crossed the canal near a foot bridge, giving a clear shot from the latter to the former. We were about half a mile from the bridges when I heard the train coming and had to take off at a sprint to get there in time. It was raining and I had to take the lens cap off whilst keeping the camera in the bag, still running at full speed up to the bridge. I didn't have time to do anything other than point the camera at the train and hope. The irony is that the slower shutter speed, with the slight panning of the camera has produced a effect far above what I could have hoped for. All in all, I'm very fond of this photo, but I do have to smile when I remember the circumstances!
Canon 450D / Canon EF 28-135mm - 1/2000 @ f 6.3 + ISO 200, Exp -1/3
Taken from a moving car, whist driving to Buxton. Surrounded by the beautiful countryside of the Peak District, this smoking chimney (actually I suspect it's steam) caught the light, and was in complete contrast to the surroundings.
The situation was limited by the circumstances, the car was moving quite fast, and I only had a few seconds to take the shot. In retrospect it would have been better to have stopped and set the shot up properly (the foreground is slightly motion-blurred), but I'm still pleased with the overall contrast. Taken in colour, but with -1/3 exposure bias.
Canon Digital IXUS 40 - 1/800 @ f 5.6 + ISO 200
Out for a day on the Isle of Wight, we walked out to the Needles and took this classic shot from the observation ledge. Although we were enjoying the beautiful sunshine, I suspect that the small sailing boat out beyond the needles would have appreciated a little more wind...
After some slight adjustment to level the horizon (one of the few post-processing steps, along with cropping, that I'll actually do), I'm pleased with this image. For me it's one of those occasions where having a P&S camera is better than having none at all. Printed this image makes a occasional appearance on the walls at home, where the white cliffs contrast nicely with the blues of sea and sky.