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This photograph was created for a local photography group I am a part of. Setting ourselves a monthly theme to help broaden our skills and challenge our minds.

I wanted to depict my journey to work, before i’ve left the house. From waking up (very slowly) to being late for work!

Self portrait before 9am
Self Portrait Before 9am – Matt Preston

Welcome to my lounge before 9am. On a week day at least!

The technique used to create this photo montage is called “Cloning” not to be confused with the Clone tool you often find in photo editing software. The Cloning I did involves using photoshop to create 4 layers, one for each image. The first image is used for all of the background you see (me on the far right to be exact)

I then roughly cut round each other Me, using the erasor tool with a feathered edge on it to remove unwanted background that may have a differing exposure to the main background. Sound a bit confusing? It’s not as hard as think. I’ll post a full tutorial one day!

As ever, any thoughts, comments or questions always welcome.

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This is still one of my favourite photos. Partly the composition and partly the subject matter.

Forgotten door
Forgotten Door – Matt Preston

I rarely walk past this door as it’s very hidden out of the way in an uninviting area of town. In fact hardly anyone would go there.  The door would lead underneath roads and buildings so what it’s actually for I don’t know. Nor do I ever want to know. It’s the non-descript nature of this door that draws me to it.

Rusting, unmaintained, unloved, does anyone still use it? Where does it go? Maybe it hasn’t been used for a hundred years (its possible). Why is it painted bright red!?

The darkening of the edges of the image help spotlight the door, making it all the more magical. Funny how such a flat, 2 dimensional object can create so many questions.

As ever your thoughts and comments are welcome.

This was taken a few months ago. It’s still surprisingly compelling to look at. So simple to create too. When viewing a shadow in 3D some of it’s appeal is lost. But transfer it to a 2 dimensional media and it takes on a whole new life.

Daddy long legs
Daddy Long Legs – Matt Preston

Everyone should have a go at this. Just wait untill sunset, stand still and take a photo. High contrasting images like this often work better in black and white or sepia. Your camera maybe able to do these effects but if you know how to it’s always better to add these effects later with a photo editing programme like iPhoto, Lightroom or Photoshop.

As ever your thoughts and comments are always welcome.

A book of the following “Big adventure” has been released entitled “Portraits of Asia”. You can preview the first 15 pages here and order your copy online today.

Check out our new travel blog site travelwithamate.com for lots more information on the “Big Adventure” below.

Find out more on our Facebook Fan Page too!

Airbus A380

Our plans for the “Big Adventure” are coming together and picking up pace.

For those of you that don’t know, my wife and I are planning to travel extensively through South-East Asia for around 3 months before moving to Sydney, Australia for a while. This is part of my drive to become a full time professional photographer and gives me a goal or deadline to work towards, you’d be surprised how motivational that is!

So here’s a rough itinerary, I’ll spare you the impressively in-depth version my wife has created. In 3 months travelling there’s hardly a day when we’re not booked to do something or travel somewhere!

Singapore F1 Grand PrixSeptember

20th – Fly from Heathrow, England to Changi, Singapore

27th – Watch the Singapore F1 Grand Prix with friends

October

Halong Bay, VietnamFly to Hanoi, Vietnam and spend a few days there as well as 3 days in Sa pa, treking & home stay and 3 days at Halong Bay.

Vist Hue City, Da nang and market town of Hoi An. Also the costal town of Nha Trang where there’s amazing beaches and sea corals.

On to Ho Chi Ming City, visit the famous Tay Ninh and Cu Chi tunnels. Cai Be on the Mekong Delta for a home stay.

Cambodia

Angkor Wat, Cambodia21st  – Boat and bus to Phnom Penh for a few days

Visit Kampot and Bokor Mountain National Park. Then to Battambang for a village home stay.

A boat to Siem Reap for Angkor Wat. Hopefully be there for sunset one day and revisit for sunrise the next day.

November

Chiang Mai, Thailand1st – Bus and train to Bangkok, Thailand

A few days in Bangkok before we go to Ayutthaya and then on to Chiang Mai visiting the sticky rice factory and do a bicycle tour.

On to Chiang Rai and possible home stay before a hill-tribe trek.

An overnight train back to Bangkok before heading on to Kanchanaburi. Visit the Bridge over the River Kwai.

December

kuala-lumpur-petronasOn to Ko Tao for a few days before hoping over to the islands of Phuket and Phi Phi for a week or two.

On to Krabi and Hat Yai before crossing the border into Malaysia

Visit Penang and Butterworth then train to Kuala Lumpur.

Train back to Singapore then fly on to Sydney, Australia around the 19th. Spend a couple of weeks enjoying Christmas while looking for a more permanent accommodation.

Flexible plans

Obviously these plans might change. That’s the wonderful thing about backpacking and traveling for extended periods of time. You can be flexible with your plans and get a chance to go off the beaten path. I’m really looking forward to the home stays and visiting a few sites and towns you wouldn’t normally go to. The flights are booked as are the Grand Prix tickets so it’ll be a fantastic start to the journey!

I will as ever be blogging throughout our travels and beyond. I’ll also be meeting up with locals from each country, doing photo shoots with local models and also meeting local photographers. Some of which I shall interview for blogs. The main point of our travels is to build up an extensive portfolio and hopefully do some networking with local photographic agencies and publications.

More progress reports on our plans as they are confirmed. If you have been to any of these countries please do leave a comment. I’d love to hear any recommendations on places to go, hidden gems, etc.

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We photographers like our gadgets. We’re surrounded by them. Whether you’re film or digital one of the great perks of the job is buying lovely new equipment!

Canon 5D MkIINow that I’m “full frame” I needed to upgrade my lenses. To get the most out of my 5D Mark II I wanted to put the best glass on it. if you’re a Canon user the best lenses you can buy are Canon’s L Series. They offer amazing quality, rock solid design and great reliabilty. Everyone agrees that L is the best series of lenses… but not everyone agrees which one you should have in your kit.

They are a serious purchase with a serious price tag so when I needed an L series wide zoom lens it wasn’t an easy choice.

The Contenders

Canon 24-105 F4 LCanon 24-70 F2.8 LThe two main contenders are the 24-70 F2.8 L and the 24-105 F4 L.

Both amazing lenses, the 24-70 offering a wider aperture while the 24-105 has image stabilization.

Hot topic

There’s heated debates on which is best. Which covers the most needs, even which is the best in low light. Flickr is a hot-bed of Canon users with strong opinions. The group discussions are often filled with “which lens should i buy?” topics. I myself have posted a few as they’re a great place to get a good cross section of responses.

There’s great arguments for both. The 24-70 covers a shorter range with less elements and a faster aperture. But it’s weight is dramatically increased to incorporate this. Surprisingly so. The 24-105 weighs less, covers a wider range but has a max aperture of F4. Choices choices!

In the end I chose the 24-105 F4. It came down to a number of factors.

Weight

I will be on the road, possibly for months at a time. While I am willing to carry heavier lenses if the benefits are worth it. For me personally the 24-70 F2.8 doesn’t offer enough of an improvement to warrant the extra weight. I’ll be happier shooting with the 24-105. Happiness and harmony with your equipment should not be overlooked, especially on an expensive purchase!

Range

Another on-the-road factor here as the less I need to change lenses the better. The extra reach the 24-105 gives me is a great advantage. Possibly even helping me achieve more spur of the moment shots I would have otherwise missed while changing to my 70-200 F4 L.

Image Stabliaztion

Before trying this lens I thought IS was a bit of a gimick to help reduce camera shake. I had however overlooked one obvious advantage to this. If camera shake is reduced you can shoot at lower speeds. Lower speeds means more light. The lack of 2.8 aperture on the 24-105 is more than made up for by this feature. I also plan to shoot HD video with my 5D Mark II so the IS really comes in handy for smoothing out those hand held shots.

I’m very happy with my purchase. Frankly I would  have been happy with either lens but the true test comes when you’re out in the field with your camera bag and limited options on what you can take. A happy photographer is a creative photographer!

I’ll post a full review in a month or two.

If you have any questions about these lenses or an opinion the lens you purchase do comment.

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Spending time with family is always a great opportunity to not only improve your photography skills but also give your family a surprise gift!

I’m lucky enough to have 2 beautiful nieces with another on the way! So there’s no end of family days out.

Outstanding in her field

Outstanding in her field – Matt Preston

This is one of my favourite photos. I’d prefer it if there wasn’t a fence in the background but you could argue that it adds a bit of texture and background to the image.

Pretty dress

Pretty Dress – Matt Preston

The great thing about kids is they have very little fear of cameras. It’s usually when adults get involved that they’re told to “say cheese” or smile unnaturally. Most of the time they’re happy to run around as though you’re not there. Of course if they do know what you’re doing it’s usually pretty easy to make them laugh, bringing out a great smile and compelling image.

Shy Smile

Shy Smile – Matt Preston

I recommend having a play around with settings in your photo editing software. You may find your photo becomes a lot more compelling if you up the contrast, reduce the saturation, etc. Family portraits often work well in black & white or even this de-saturated “aged photo” look.

Don’t be shy with your camera even when you’re at the park with lots of other kids around. While some people say “Make sure you don’t get any other kids in the shot” for fear of being shouted at by a protective parent one thing you’ll notice is that every parent has a digital camera in their hand these days, eager to snap more pics of their sons and daughters.

For more photos check out my Flickr Photostream.

Feel free to leave a comment and follow me on twitter

This is one of those great moments-in-time shots. I turned round and notied a Seagull sat on a CCTV camera. They both appeared to be looking down at us.

Birds Eye View
Birds Eye View – Matt Preston

From the angle both the Seagull and camera seem quite powerful. I think most would agree the Seagull wins when it comes to who has the greatest view.

I added a cross-processing effect to increase the gritty urban theme and a very heavy vignetting effect around the edges to make it feel as though we too were watching them. An almost telescope like appeal to it.

As ever your thoughts and comments are welcome. Have your say.

Canon 5D MkIII’ve had my Canon 5D mkII about 3 weeks now. It’s been a pretty manic 3 weeks too, getting to grips with my new best friend! I though I’d give a quick first impressions round-up before a full review in a month or so.

The Canon 5D MkII has been getting a lot of press lately. It’s definitely a pro camera of choice and a massive step up from my 300D rebel that kept me going for a good few years. From the lower end of the amateur market to the top end of the pro market you really do notice the difference!

It’s one solid brick of a camera. Nothing bends, creaks or feels like it could ever fall off. The grippy rubber finish on it feels industrial but I know it’ll last a lot longer than the thin metallic plastic finish on a lot of DSLR cameras.

Canon EOS 5D MkIIThe ISO quality really is as good as they say. You can happily shoot away at 1600 or even 3200 and while there is some noise as you’d expect there is much MUCH less noise than most cameras. It makes shooting at those ISOs an option rather than a compromise.

Being a full frame camera you make full use of your EOS lenses. No crop factor and a larger sensor really adds to your image. I was surprised how much more natural it feels shooting at full frame and I would highly recommend it to anybody. While the crop factor helps some cheaper DSLRs get the best from cheap kit lenses you really do see the difference with full frame. Although of course you feel the hole burning through your wallet too!

Canon EOS 5D MkII backThe biggest first impression for me is the quality of images especially viewing them on the 3 inch screen. Live view on a DSLR is a very handy feature and allows you to get pinpoint accuracy on your focusing too by pressing the magnifying glass button.

I’ll review the camera in full with all it’s features in a couple of months time but for now I’m very happy with my Canon 5D MkII. Most definitely impressed!

You know you’re on to something special when your little camera comes with it’s own roll of masking tape and a “how-to” style instruction manual to beat the glaring design flaws. Welcome to the world of lomography!

Drunk problem

Out Post - Lomography - Holga

Hide and seek

If anything the lomography cameras remind us that quality isn’t everything. That often it’s the imperfections that give us so much. You don’t need to spend thousands to achieve something eye catching and beautiful.

Check out this fantastic array of lomo cameras. Well worth adding to your camera bag.

If you’ve taken any shots with lomo cameras post a link to them here. I’d love to see them.

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I was walking along the promenade overlooking the public basketball court when i noticed the long shadows. They were mesmerising. Darting from one place to the next, forming new shapes as they cross each other.

Shadow Play
Shadow Play – Matt Preston

I’m not really into Basketball, I have nothing against it. But my indifference to the sport led me to those shadows. It’s a rather unusual composition for me. The original had much more of the players in it but i cropped it to bring the emphasis on the shadows. They really draw your eyes in to them.

You thoughts and comments are always welcome.