Weeknote 4: music; teenagers; creating a chatbot; tech, more tech and tech TV; 7 day photo challenge; and cycling (Week 46, 2017)

Another week, another weeknote…

There’s not much to say about work this week – I’ve mostly been writing documentation. I did spend a good chunk of Monday booking hotels and travel, only to find 12 days of consulting drop out of my diary again on Friday (cue hotel cancellations, etc.) but I guess that’s just life!

Family life: grime, rap and teens!

Outside work, it’s been good to be close to home and get involved in family life again.

I had the amusement of my 11 year-old and his friends rapping to their grime music on my car on the way to/from football training this week (we’re at the age where it’s “Dad, can we have my music on please?”) but there’s only so much Big Shaq I can take so I played some Eminem on the way back. It was quite endearing to hear my son say “I didn’t know you knew about Eminem!” after I dropped his mates off. I should make the most of these moments as the adulation is dropping off now he approaches his teens!

Talking of teens, my eldest turned 13 this week, which was a big day in the Wilson household:

 

I’m not sure how this little fella grew into this strong chap (or where the time in between has gone) but we introduced him to the Harry Enfield “Kevin the teenager” videos a few months ago. I thought they were funny when I was younger but couldn’t believe how accurate they are now I’m a parent. Our boys clearly understood the message too and looked a bit sheepish!

Tech

I did play with some tech this week – and I managed to create my very own chatbot without writing any code:

Virtual Mark (MarkBot1) uses the Microsoft QnA Maker and runs in Microsoft Azure. The process is described in James Marshall’s blog post and it’s very straightforward. I’m using Azure Functions and so far this serverless solution has cost me absolutely nothing to run!

It’s also interesting reading some of the queries that the bot has been asked, which have led to me extending its knowledge base a few times now. A question and answer chatbot is probably more suited to a set of tightly bounded questions on a topic (the things people can ask about me is pretty broad) but it’s a nice demo…

I also upgraded my work PC to the latest Windows 10 and Office builds (1709 and 1710 respectively), which gave me the ability to use a digital pen as a presentation clicker, which is nice, in a geek-novelty kind of way:

Tech TV

I have an Amazon Prime membership, which includes access to Amazon Prime Instant Video – including several TV shows that would otherwise only be available in the US. One I enjoy is Mr Robot – which although completely weird at times is also strangely addictive – and this week’s episode was particularly good (scoring 9.9 on IMDB). Whilst I was waiting for the next episode to come around, I found that I’d missed a whole season of Halt and Catch Fire too (I binge-watched the first three after they were recommended to me by Howard van Rooijen/@HowardvRooijen). Series 4 is the final one and that’s what presently keeping me from my sleep… but it’s really good!

I don’t have Netflix, but Silicon Cowboys has been recommended to me by Derek Goodridge (@workerthread). Just like the first series of Halt and Catch Fire, it’s the story of the original IBM PC clone manufacturers – Compaq – but in documentary format, rather than as a drama series.

iPhone images

Regular readers may recall that a few weeks ago I found myself needing to buy a new iPhone after I fell into the sea with my iPhone in my pocket, twisting my ankle in the process…

People have been telling me for ages that “the latest iPhone has a great camera” and, in daylight, I’m really impressed by the clarity and also the bokeh effect. It’s still a mobile phone camera with a tiny sensor though and that means it’s still really poor at night. If a full-frame DSLR struggles at times, an iPhone will be challenged I guess – but I’m still finding that I’m inspired to use the camera more.

7 Days 7 Photos

Last week, I mentioned the 7 days, 7 photos challenge. I’ve completed mine now and they are supposed to be without explanation but, now I have a set of 7 photos, I thought I would explain what and why I used these ones. I get the feeling that some people are just posting 7 pictures, one a day, but these really do relate to what I was doing each day – and I tried to nominate people for the challenge each day based on their relevance to the subject…

Day 1

7 Days 7 Photos Day 1

I spotted this pub as I walked to Farringdon station. I wondered if “the clerk and well” was the origin of the name for “Clerkenwell” and it turns out that it is. Anyway, I liked the view of the traditional London pub (I was on my way home from another one!) and challenged my brother, who’s a publican…

Day 2

7 Days 7 Photos Day 2

I liked the form in this photograph of my son’s CX bike on the roof of my car. It didn’t look so clean when we got back from cyclocross training though! I challenged my friend Andy, whose 40th birthday was the reason for my ride from London to Paris a few years ago…

Day 3

7 Days 7 Photos Day 3

Not technically a single photo – lets’ call it a triptych, I used the Diptic app (as recommended by Ben Seymour/@bseymour) to create this collage. I felt it was a little too personal to nominate my friend Kieran, whose medals are in the lower left image, so I nominated my friend James, who was leading the Scouts in our local remembrance day parade.

Day 4

7 Days 7 Photos Day 4

I found some failed backups on my Synology NAS this week. For some reason, Hyper Backup complained it didn’t have enough storage (I’m pretty sure it wasn’t Azure that ran out of space!) so I ran several backups, each one adding another folder until I had all of my new photos in the backup set. I felt the need to challenge a friend who works in IT – so I challenged my friend Stuart.

Day 5

7 Days 7 Photos Day 5

My son was cake-baking, for Children in Need, I think – or maybe it was my other son, baking his birthday cake. I can’t really remember. I challenged a friend who runs a local cafe and regularly bakes muffins…

Day 6

7 Days 7 Photos Day 6

Self-explanatory. My son’s own creation for his birthday. I challenged my wife for this one.

Day 7

7 Days 7 Photos Day 7

The last image is following an evening helping out at Scouts. Images of attempts to purify water through distillation were not that great, so I took a picture of the Scout Badge, and nominated my friend Phil, who’s another one of the local Scout leaders.

(All seven of these pictures were taken on an iPhone 8 Plus using the native camera app, then edited in Snapseed and uploaded to Flickr)

Other stuff

I like this:

And I remember shelves of tapes like these (though mine were all very neatly written, or computer-generated, even back in the 1980s):

On the topic of music, look up Master Boot Record on Spotify:

And this “Soundtrack for Coding” is pretty good for writing documentation too…

I added second-factor authentication to my WordPress blog this week. I couldn’t find anything that uses the Microsoft Authenticator, but this 2FA WordPress plugin from miniOrange uses Google Authenticator and was very easy to set up.

Some UK libraries have started loaning BBC Microbits but unfortunately not yet in my manor:

Being at home all week meant I went to see my GP about my twisted ankle (from the falling-into-the-sea incident). One referral later and I was able to see a physio… who’s already working wonders on helping to repair my damaged ligaments. And he says I can ride my bike too… so I’ll be back on Zwift even if cyclocross racing is out for the rest of the season.

Cycling

On the subject of Zwift, they announced a price rise this week. I understand that these things happen but it’s gone up 50% in the US (and slightly more than that here in the UK). All that really does is drive me to use Zwift in the winter and to cancel my membership in the summer. A more reasonable monthly fee might make me more inclined to sign up for 12 months at a time and create a recurring revenue for Zwift. Very strange business model, IMHO.

I particularly liked the last line of this article:

“Five minutes after the race
That was sooo fun! When can I do it again?!”

I may not have been riding cyclocross this weekend, but my son was, and Sunday was the popular Central Cyclocross League race at RAF Halton. With mud, sand, gravel and steep banks, long woodland sections and more, it looked epic. Maybe I’ll get to ride next year!

I did get to play with one of the RAF’s cranes (attached to a flatbed truck) though – amazing how much control there is – and had a go on the road safety rig too.

And of course, what else to eat at a cyclocross event but Belgian fries, mayo and waffles!

Finally, my friends at Kids Racing (@kidsracing) have some new kit in. Check out the video they filmed at the MK Bowl a couple of weeks back – and if you have kids in need of new cycling kit, maybe head over to HUP CC.

Wrap-up

That’s it for this week. Next week I have a bit more variation in my work (including another Microsoft event – Azure Ready in the UK) and I’m hoping to actually get some blog posts written… see you on the other side!

Eurosport Player lets me watch the Giro, without a Sky subscription

Last year, I developed a new sporting interest. In common with many others in the UK, I found myself glued to the TV highlights for the Tour de France, followed by the various cycling events at the London 2012 Olympic Games, the Vuelta a España, and even taking a day out to watch the Tour of Britain. I haven’t got a road bike yet (hoping to get one soon – I’ve entered a trialthlon later in the year and am hoping to ride London to Paris next year) but I was looking forward to watching the Giro d’Italia. At least, I was until I found out it’s not available on free-to-air TV:

MT @: Extensive [#Giro] race guide. Stage info and TV times here: http://t.co/FJTZfCHs5J ^MW Gutted it’s not on Freeview @

@markwilsonit

Mark Wilson

Tonight, determined not to miss Bradley Wiggins in action in the first of the Grand Tours, I was searching the Internet for Giro highlights and even considered taking out a Sky subscription after reading that I can get a Sky Go monthly ticket and watch via my Xbox.  An online chat with a Sky representative confirmed that I would need to pay £35 for a single month’s TV and even thinking of that as £1 a day didn’t help.

I considered hitting the torrent sites until I learned (thanks to Ian Murphy/@journoian) that the highlights are on Eurosport as well as Sky SportsA little research suggested that, for £4.99 “Crowd Pass” I could access the Eurosport Player for a month (Android, iOS and Kindle apps, PC and Mac, as well as Sony and LG smart TVs – unfortunately not Samsung…). There’s also a £2.99 “Sports Fan” option but that involves a 12 month commitment.

So, despite being delayed by two sullen blokes hitting coloured balls around a big green table, here I am, watching Cav, Wiggo and co. racing on the Italian riviera, just as I suspect I will be for the next three weeks!

Tweaking the display on a Samsung TV for use as a computer monitor

Samsung UE37ES6300A few weeks ago, I bought my first flat screen TV. The old (c1998) Sony Trinitron still works, but it was starting to lose the colour a little around the edges and was, frankly, taking up a huge chunk of living room so I splashed out and bought a Samsung UE37ES6300 from John Lewis.

I’m not bothered about 3D pictures but the Smart TV (Internet-connected) functionality is a huge bonus. Meanwhile, the availability of HDMI ports (no VGA on this year’s model) led me to hook up my old Mac Mini as a permanently connected place for Internet access in the living room (although the requirement is rapidly dropping as more and more Samsung Apps become available – Spotify appeared last night!).

Using a DVI to HDMI cable, the Mac was able to detect the 1080p display but it did enable overscan which meant I was losing the edge of the picture. Turning off overscan helped, but didn’t use the whole display (and was also a bit fuzzy).  With a bit of help from a friend (who, conincidentally, had come over and hooked his Linux machine up to the display), I worked out that the solution is to leave overscan enabled on the computer but to set the TV Picture Size to Screen Fit.  I’m not sure if I can see much difference betwen 50Hz PAL and 60Hz NTSC but, seeing as this is a European model, I left the computer set to 50Hz PAL.

This resolved the display size but it was still not as sharp as I would expect for a native resolution display. Switching the Picture Mode from Standard to Movie made a big difference (although the colours were a little muted and there was a slight magenta cast) so I started to look at the differences between the two profiles.  Now I’ve tweaked the Standard profile to bring down the sharpness from the default of 50 to 20 and turned off the Dynamic Contrast in the TV’s Advanced Settings and I think I’m pretty much there.

So, there you have it. I haven’t tried a Windows PC yet, but those settings seem to work well with the Mac – and the result is a much improved digital display output.

A few things I tried to resolve my Humax PVR-9300T lockups

A couple of years ago, I bought a Humax 9300-T PVR and, once a firmware update had been applied, it’s been a pretty solid piece of kit.

I had avoided applying any more firmware updates because for consumer electronics my approach is generally one of “if it works, don’t fix it!”. Unfortunately it seems the UK’s switchover to digital TV is working against me with what appear to be constant changes in the infrastructure and an increased number of system lock-ups seems to correlate to a retune. Over the last few months it’s been manageable (it was just happening when we watched Channel 5 – so we stopped watching it!) but yesterday it became worse, on all channels, with the clock on the device staying still and the remote becoming unresponsive within a couple of minutes of a reboot. Yesterday, I must have power-cycled my PVR on at least 10 occasions.

I found an interesting discussion post that seemed to suggest a reset to defaults and manual tune of the receiver might help:

“My 9300T has also started to lock up recently. I contacted Humax Support and they advised me to manually retune so that I only pickup the signals from my area […]. Instructions below:

Please find below the details you will need to follow to manual tune the receiver.

Press MENU
Select Installation
Enter your password (Default – 0000)
Select Default Setting
Select YES
Enter your password (Default – 0000)

The receiver will then take 30 seconds and will switch off and restart.

When the product loads up again it will enter the Automatic Search; please press OK to STOP the search before any channels are found.

If any channels are found and you are asked to SAVE the channels please select NO and press OK.

Press OK twice to access the Installation menu, and then follow below:

Select Manual Search and press OK

You will now need to enter the channel number for each of the 6 Multiplexes available to receive all of the channels. After you enter each of the numbers below select the Search box and press OK. When the channels on each Multiplex are found press OK to save.

Follow the procedure above to search all 6 multiplexes. You will be able to see the signal levels of each of the Multiplexes.

Please ensure that the Network Search option is disabled.

[…]”

The UK digital TV reception predictor gave me the information I needed about the multiplexes (MUXs) to use but, unfortunately, retuning didn’t solve the issue. So I had a rant on Twitter (cathartic, of course) and started to look for updated firmware. I found that an over-the-air (OTA) update is being broadcast this weekend but then I got a tweet from @michealcni to tell me that it was live already (looking back know, I could have found that from the Digital TV Group engineering channel over-air download schedule)!

@ @ 9300T update is on air now. Go to Installation, Software update, select Auto update. You need version 1.00.26 to fix
@michaelcni
MichaelC

After following the update process, I repeated the reset to defaults and retune process (a manual retune has an added advantage that I can skip certain channels that an automatic tune picks up and I might not want the children, in-laws, or others to ask me about – I’m happy answering questions about Father Christmas or the tooth fairy but would rather avoid “Daddy, what’s Adult Filth?”).

It’s early days yet but the system has remained stable overnight so, hopefully, installing the latest firmware has fixed whatever was causing my PVR to crash. In the meantime, I hope the information in this post is useful to someone else!

How to take stunning pictures: Holidays

Continuing the series of posts based on Channel 5 Broadcasting’s “How To Take Stunning Pictures” series, this one looks at photographing scenes on holiday (previous posts have covered portraiture, celebrations, landscapes, sport and animals). The expert photographer in this episode was Martin Parr and, whilst Channel 5′s website has some tips to go with each programme, they don’t exactly match up to the advice in the programme itself so, here are the tips from the sixth episode:

Pictures of people can tell a lot about their characters, their stories and their relationship with the world. When you know you’re onto something, explore the scene fully and try work out how to best capture it. Use people and places together to tell a story: decide what the picture is about and then how you compose it will tell the viewer what you’re trying to say.

  • Take a fresh look – find out what people are thinking, saying and doing.
  • Take lots of pictures – take the bad ones to get the good ones – experiment and shoot lots – they can succeed or fail and success is great!
  • Try to avoid clichés – often people photograph timeless things on holiday – sometimes it’s good to pull away and think about what is being photographed and why. The relationship between people and places forms the basis of this type of photographic work.
  • Engage with subjects – observe the quirks, observe the people and it suddenly becomes more interesting. Engagement is a key element to drive photography forward so keep the dialogue going – even if everything is all right, say this is great, look at me, don’t smile – let the subject know that you’re still interested in them. When get that engagement, you can bring your work alive.
  • Be bold to really get the moment you are after – get in close, look for surreal moments – collect stories about the world and try to distill them into a few pictures.

“I guess, as a photographer, one of the things you hope to do is to create an iconic picture but of course you can never quite predict how and when it’s going to happen. In the end it often comes down to luck but the thing about luck is that it is always earnt so you need that perseverance and suddenly things will happen, it will flow in front of you and you’ve got your moment.

[…]

I think what we can see here is that by concentrating on one thing, coming in closer, exploring it better, making sure it’s something you can identify with – that’s when you can really reap the benefits of going to a place and trying to take away photographs that tell you something about your relationship to that place.”

[Martin Parr]

This was the final programme in the series and I have mixed feelings. In the comments on the first post, I defended the programme but, even though I went on to write up the key points from all six episodes, on reflection, some of them have been a bit lightweight. Even so, with a 22 minute programme, there is only so much information that the producers can put across and, for purely commercial reasons, it is pitched for a broad appeal. I’ve probably learned something in each one – and hopefully you have too!

How to take stunning pictures: Animals

Continuing the series of posts based on Channel 5 Broadcasting’s “How To Take Stunning Pictures” series, this one looks at photographing animals (previous posts have covered portraiture, celebrations, landscapes and sport).  The expert photographer in this episode was Tim Flach and, whilst Channel 5′s website has some tips to go with each programme,  they don’t exactly match up to the advice in the programme itself so, here are the tips from the fifth episode:

  • Know your animal – be interested in your subject and try and find out a little more through a journey of enquiry, researching the subject, including people closest to the animal (e.g. a farmer).
  • Develop your idea – what’s the purpose of the image – i.e. what are you setting out to do and what do you want to explore? Think about what is special about the animal and use that to consider how to communicate its character through pictures.
  • Use details and textures – get in tight and explore details and texture in animals – you can even create new meanings by leaving details out… (e.g. a part of one animal may look like something else entirely, when viewed out of context). The closer you get in, the more dramatic an image will look.
  • Be sensitive to the animal’s needs and be prepared to adapt your ideas. Have a plan/strategy but be able to see other things that develop as it may be chaotic and nothing is ultimately controlled.  It’s important to observe and let go if what you thought was gong to happen if it didn’t and be ready to capture something else if it reveals itself ! You never know how large (or small) a window of possibility will be.

How to take stunning pictures: Sports

Continuing the series of posts based on Channel 5 Broadcasting’s “How To Take Stunning Pictures” series, this one looks at sports photography (previous posts have covered portraiture, celebrations and landscapes).  Probably the most disappointing episode so far, Bob Martin was a little light on tips (indeed, he commented that they had only skimmed the surface of sports photography) but it’s worth publishing what he did come up with.

Channel 5′s website has some tips to go with each programme, but they don’t exactly match up to the advice in the programme itself so, here are the tips from the fourth episode:

  • Watch the action – it’s really important to understand the sport that you will photograph. Look at it, think about it, and pick the moment that will give the most interesting photograph. Sports photography is about action – you mustn’t miss the key events.
  • Frame the action – pick your position based on how the light falls on the subject and what’s in the background. The picture must be well-composed and, if possible it should be quite graphic. A few inches either way makes the difference, so when choosing spot to shoot from, pick the one that really works.
  • Freeze the action – this is particularly important in sports photography and is all about shutter speeds. Head on may only need to be 1/640th but sideways wide angle may need 1/2000th second to capture all the details.
  • Light the action – use the light in the most dramatic way to give your shot impact – if you’re looking to shoot a silhouette, expose for the sky to stop the camera from trying to produce a neutral shot.

How to take stunning pictures: Landscapes

I’ve written a couple of posts recently based on Channel 5 Broadcasting’s “How To Take Stunning Pictures” series. The first two episodes covered portraiture and celebrations – plenty for me to take on board there – but I found the landscapes episode was less useful. Even though it featured Charlie Waite, a photographer whose work I admire – I found it a bit of a let down, possibly because landscapes are a genre I’ve invested a lot of time in learning over the years (including attending two of Charlie’s talks) and so there was less for me to learn in this programme.

Even so, it’s worth publishing some tips – Channel 5′s website has some to go with each programme, but they don’t exactly match up to the advice in the programme itself so, here are the tips from the third episode:

  • Choose the right location and read the landscape: landscape photography needs to be well constructed and thought about. Think what is it about a scene that is emotionally enjoyable and enriching. Read the landscape: start at the top, at the sky, and follow down, asking what’s really worthwhile. Don’t think that the first place you’ve arrived and set up at is the best. Sometimes even a few inches to the right or left can make a radical difference to a photograph.
  • Take care in composition: consider the frame carefully – use compositional aids if necessary to see if the image that your are planning to make will work. Before even taking the camera out of the bag, consider: Is there an image to be made here? Do I like the shapes? Is the balance right? Is there enough geometry? How much sky can I have in? See where you want the crop to be – try and imagine your picture before you take it (I’m sure that Charlie would talk about one’s mind’s eye). Take your eye around the perimeter of the viewfinder. Think what to keep in, and what to keep out – “omit the redundant”. In the words of Charlie Waite, “The key to good photography is to settle down and to think bout what is going to appear in that viewfinder and not think that the camera is going to do all the work. As you look through the viewfinder, ask yourself if you can see the frame on the wall… previsualise to define the objective”.
  • Control the light to get the correct exposure: use a filter to produce an image that equates with what we see in the eye (there was no mention of what filter this would be in the programme, but typically this would be a grey grad to balance areas of high and low brightness). Often when we look at a landscape we can see beautiful subtle nuances in the sky and also detail in the land but when we take the image, camera sensors/film find that very difficult to reproduce.
  • Don’t just look for bright, sunny days – it’s possible to get great images on the cusp of bad weather leaving and good weather arriving when there are often some fantastic moments. If it’s really raining and the forecast is changeable, hang on and wait and you see dark clouds being replaced by bright skies in a very exciting moment on the transitional point. Look over your shoulder, see what kind of sky is coming, wait for it, and if it does arrive, think about whether it relates satisfactorily – just waiting a few minutes can really help.
  • Draw the viewer in: Think about how to invite the viewer into the image? For example, using a path as a lead in, beckons the viewer and encourages them to travel along the path. Landscape photography is about shape, harmony, balance and design – looking for the optimum moment when you press the shutter.

“I often think of that rare fulfilling joy when I am in the presence of some wonderful alignment of events.

Where the light, the colour, the shapes and the balance all interlock so beautifully that I feel truly overwhelmed by the wonder of it.”

[Charlie Waite]

How to take stunning pictures: Celebrations

Last week I wrote about Channel 5 Broadcasting’s “How To Take Stunning Pictures” series, including a few tips from the first program on portraiture.  That post provoked some comments suggesting that the programme was encouraging a simple, point-and-shoot approach to photography and missing much of what is required in order to create truly artistic images. Whilst that may be true, for many people a camera is just a tool, and all they want is to produce better results without getting hung up in technical intricacies. And, even though I’ve been wielding a camera for something like 30 years, I’ve still learned something from the programmes that have focused on subjects I would normally shy away from.

The second programme in the series concentrated on celebrations, with tips from wedding photographer Emily Quinton.  Channel 5′s website has some tips to go with each programme, but they don’t exactly match up to the advice in the programme itself so, here are the tips from the second episode:

  • Be prepared: if you’re prepared and you know what doing, you’ll get a better picture… and the artistic side of photography can be used to good effect at a wedding.
  • Let the guests relax: stay back and let the bride and groom have time to themselves; move around, look for special moments in the day’s events, use wide shots for atmosphere, and zoom in for a more intimate shot; avoid using flash to stay unnoticed – and natural light photos can look really special.
  • Watch out for special moments: of course there will be classic bride and groom shots but It’s really easy to be so involved in the wedding that you miss the images that capture the atmosphere of the day. Always look to see what else is going on (that’s why many wedding photographers work with an assistant) and watch to see what’s Grandma doing? Is Mum crying? What’s the flowergirl up to (mischief in the aisles?). Listen too – it can help to identify special moments – for example, if someone is being funny, a punchline will usually come, followed by laughter.
  • Include the venue: capture the place and the context as well as the people – and it tells a nice story in the album
  • Be fast and fun: group shots can be tricky – so work quickly to set up the shots, make people laugh and try and take pressure away from the wedding party and their guests by using no more than 3 minutes for each group, with 1 or 2 ideas for settings. Think wide and zoom in too.
  • Make sure you get the definitive shot – often one picture defines the wedding (usually a portrait of the bride and groom) and it can help to take the bride and groom away from crowds of guests in order to capture these shots. One technique is to take pictures as they are walking along - this tends to provoke natural reactions – but consider other approaches too – shoot through flowers for a different angle, or frame the bride and groom with flowers around the edge of the scene – always using different angles to vary shots.

How to take stunning pictures: Portraiture

Here in the UK, Channel 5 Broadcasting is currently running a series entitled “How to take stunning pictures”.  I’ve been really impressed with the two episodes I’ve watched so far as it manages to strike a balance between simplicity for those who are new to photography and providing useful advice for more experienced ‘togs.

Channel 5’s website has some tips to go with each programme, but they don’t exactly match up to the advice in the programme itself so, here are the tips from the first episode on taking portraits, featuring professional photographer Harry Borden:

  • Choose the right location: make sure that the subject feels comfortable in the environment so that they may express themselves and relax.
  • Use available light: avoid using on camera flash if possible and position the subject in a place where they are nicely lit.
  • Expose for the brightest part of the image for a natural looking and atmospheric shot.
  • Try to compose when taking the shot, not with post-porcessing crops – look for something different/unexpected
  • Be yourself: relax, create an authentic connection with the subject and build rapport.
  • Take multiple shots: not only does this break the tension but it tells people you like what you see (they don’t know if you haven’t got it) – it’s called hosing people down! Take loads of pictures, learn more, grab a moment!  Don’t be afraid to keep snapping until get the shot you’re happy with.
  • Keep it simple and be aware of every element: calm down; look through the viewfinder and go through the frame asking yourself whether each individual element adds to or subtracts from the result.  If you keep it simple and are aware of everything that’s in the frame, you’re more likely to achieve stunning pictures

More tips can be found on the Channel 5 website.