Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Lots of questions you need to ask? 
Can't find what you want to know in the manual? 
Pictures never seem to turn out just right? 
Can't work out the controls?

Get the most out of your shiny new (or old) digital camera with easy to understand hands-on training at a local workshop session.
Whether you have a simple compact camera or the latest SLR, there’ll be one suitable for you.

Bookings are now being taken for workshops at Vicars cafe, Victoria Road, Saltaire which will take place on on Saturdays 29th January 2011 (best for compact camera users and beginners) and 12th February 2011 (for SLR users and those with some prior knowledge).

Workshops are run by Steve Rayner, a photographer with over 20 years experience of professional work, who has been teaching and leading workshops for the last 15 years.

The cost for each session is £45, they run from 10.30am - 3.30pm and include  a buffet lunch. If you want to do both, you'll get a discount of £10. Discounts are also available for groups or couples booking.

For more info or to book, contact
01943 876207
or email me here: email

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Turning a boat into a camera slideshow

I've collated a set of pictures from the three days of the project and made them into a slideshow. If you're interested, the slideshow will be shown at the Leeds Corn Exchange from 11 November for 2 weeks, along with some other work that was part of the East Street Arts "Over Yonder" project. (See Over Yonder Website and click on the projects link)

(Your sound card hasn't broken - it's silent)

Here is the full text that will accompany the slideshow:

Navicula Obscura (Darkened Boat)

The Canal:
The Leeds-Liverpool canal was a remarkable engineering achievement of the 18th century, designed to carry goods including coal, lime and wool from Yorkshire to Lancashire and the port of Liverpool, and to carry cotton and other goods to the growing cities of Yorkshire and the ports of Goole and Hull. The first part to open, in 1773, was the lock-free 18 mile stretch from Crossflatts to Gargrave. The technical feat of the Bingley 5-rise and 3-rise locks, which drop the canal almost 100 feet on its way to Leeds, were completed in 1775.
The Boat:

“Rahab” is a 45foot narrowboat with a cruiser stern and a 28hp Isuzu engine. We bought her in 2005 and have lived on board for two years.

The name was chosen because
a)      it is short, and fits easily on the side
b)      it is the only boat we have ever seen with this name
c)      it is the same as that of a biblical character who started off messed up & then pulled herself together.

We discovered afterwards that in Hebraic tradition it means a great sea monster or demon of the deep. It is also easily mistaken for “rehab” which is terribly funny for some people.

The Idea:

I have been a keen photographer since I was about 12. I still think it’s magical, even though mostly now I use digital cameras. In my teaching I like to introduce students to the basics of photography by having them make a camera, and one of the things I like to stress is that you can make a camera from any light-tight container. Several years ago I conceived the idea of using the boat as a camera and left it at the back of my mind to germinate. The project title, “navicula obscura” is a back-construction from the the latin “camera obscura” – darkened room, “navicula” meaning boat – or so I am told.

The simplicity of the science and practice of the camera obscura, and the fact that as a technology it very popular as an entertainment at the time of the construction of the canal, made it seem a good match.

Images captured from the camera will eventually be printed using one of the earliest stable photographic technologies, the gum bichromate print. This is a process which I investigated and used extensively some fifteen years ago – it was originated in the mid 19th century in France and involves direct contact printing onto a prepared surface treated with a mixture of sensitive salts and pigment, the light fixing the pigment to the surface. Each print is unique, the surface being manipulated during development.

The Project

Simply, to capture  images of the historic Leeds & Liverpool Canal and its surroundings using 18th century technology, and to reproduce them using one of the the earliest available stable photographic print media. Additionally it will provide the opportunity for anyone interested in the processes of photography to see how a camera obscura works, to assist in documenting the project, and to have a go at capturing an image themselves.

The project is in three parts:

  1. Setting up and testing the cameras
  2. Making a voyage and capturing images
  3. Assessing, printing and exhibiting the results.

The first part was completed on Monday 25th October at Rahab’s home mooring of Airedale Boat Club, and involved a test cruise a short distance to the top of the Bingley 5 Rise locks and back followed by assessment of the results.

Part two involved cruising between Stocksbridge and Shipley over three days, passing twice through the historic Bingley 3 rise and 5 rise locks and welcoming guest crew members who came bearing cake or biscuits. Ten people in all participated in the event, and several of them have given permission for their photographs to be included in this presentation.

Part three will be taken at a slightly more leisurely pace – gum prints can take a long time – but an exhibition will be produced in due course.

The project will be continued on further cruises as time and weather allows.

Photographs by:
Steve Rayner
Chris Nelson
June Russell
Steve Goodfellow
Michael Park
Steve Sykes
Hamish Morgan
Sheila Jones

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Navicula Obscura - status report

Should have posted some pics yesterday butb problems with the electrics made it impossible. Here's some samples: flickr gallery

And one to look at here:

Today (Tuesday) we're slightly behind schedule, mooring between Saltaire & Bingley, will be setting off up the 3 rise & then the 5 rise locks tomorrow morning if anyone cares to join us!


Friday, 22 October 2010

Navicula Obscura

Making a boat into a camera

25th-27th October - Leeds & Liverpool Canal

 (Navicula obscura = "darkened boat" in latin)

A project  to record a journey on an 18th century piece of civil engineering (the Leeds Liverpool Canal) using a popular 18th Century optical device(the camera obscura).

Featuring Narrowboat “Rahab” and a cast of assorted volunteers

 Monday 25th October

– Starting at Airedale Boat Club, Crossflatts

Morning -  Assemble and test the cameras obscura on the boat

Afternoon -  Cruise to Saltaire passing Bingley 5 rise & 3 rise locks, Bingley town centre, The Fisherman pub on Primrose Lane (behind Beckfoot School), Dowley Gap locks, Hirst Wood Lock, Salts Mill and on to Shipley, turning just before the dock swing bridge off Dockfield Road, and returning to Saltaire.

Tuesday 26th October

Cruise back up Hirst lock, Dowley Gap locks by the Fishermans pub, through Bingley town, up the Bingley 3 Rise & 5 Rise locks, continuing past the moorings at Crossflatts and on to Stockbridge near Keighley, and if time allows mooring near Silsden.

Wednesday 27th October
From Stockbridge (or Silsden if we got that far) continue to Kildwick, passing through the road bridge and turning at Farnhill, returning towards Bingley and all being well arriving back at Crossflatts in time for tea.

This is intended to be a paricipatory project, and visitors are welcome, and indeed may be necessary to help with some parts of the journey. Bring your cameras, bring some biscuits or cakes (I’ll have the kettle on permanently), join in and see how the most basic of cameras works - and how to make one yourself.

Just in case you’re wondering – it will happen whatever the weather. All timings are approximate and dependent on the weather and functioning canal equipment

Throughout the journey we will be stopping to capture images with the onboard equipment – this will be open for anyone who is interested to have a look and see what’s happening. Be aware that as with all activities on the waterways we need to be aware of potential dangers so visitors will need to abide by instructions they are given for their own and others’ safety.

A diary will be posted on here my blog and on Flickr –
Info will also be available through East Street Arts “over yonder” projects section –

Once the project is complete the resulting images will be printed using one of the first stable photographic printmaking media, gum bichromate (photo aquatint) and exhibited at a venue to be confirmed.

To find out more or check on the voyage's progress email steve at steve.rayner@yahoo.co.uk - this will be checked periodically and answered when possible.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Portrait Photography Workshop

I've put together some links that you should find useful to help you with the basics of portrait photography. These are the videos I've used during the workshop:

Emily Wilson shoots a natural light portrait
youtube video

Erin Manning top 10 tips
youtube video

Scott Kelby- How to use natural light
youtube video

Lighting - the "hand" tip
youtube video
How to use the palm of your hand to see good light. If you spin in a circle you can watch how the sun hits the palm of your hand to determine where to best position your subject for the best outdoor light. Generally close to full sun on the face or backlit are best.

Quick ambient light portraits:
youtube video

Outdoor Portraits in Parks or Open Space
youtube video

Very useful forum entry on "flickr" - How to take great portrait photos - read the writeup and follow the links. As he says, the JS Monzani site probably IS the best general portrait photography tutorial on the net. It's what I use for the printed materials of the workshop. flickr link

If you want to be informed of any other courses I'm running, please email me: email link

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Fantastic prices on daytime courses at Bradford College

I am teaching several daytime courses for Bradford College starting next week
and they are unusual in that they have been externally funded so they are
FANTASTICALLY reasonably priced!

This does not mean that they are any worse than other full price courses, so if
you're interested, or if you know someone who is, get in touch with the college
or pass it on.

The 12 week beginners course is almost full, but the improvers course (not
difficult to do if you have a basic idea of what you're doing) still has plenty
of spaces. If you want to ask about the course content & whether it's suitable
for you get in touch with me direct, but to enrol contact the college.

The following are lifted from the college online prospectus ( they really know
how to do a hard sell)

Taster Course
Duration: 12 weeks (2 hours per week)
Course Overview:
In this short course you will be taught how to take better pictures and make
good quality prints of images using a computer. This course would be an ideal
choice for beginners.
Date, Time and Venue: course code VAP144AA –
Wed 13.00-15.00 At Joseph Nutter House, from 23/09/09
Fees £24.00 or free for those under 19 or entitled to fee remission.

(Taster Course)
Duration: 12 weeks (2 hours per week)
Course Overview
This course will cover further techniques and increase your ability to use a
digital camera's functions and settings, and how to make the most of them. You
will require a digital camera and if required advice on choosing one will be
Date, Time and Venue: course code VAP147AP –
Wed 15.00-17.00 At Joseph Nutter House from 23/09/09
Fees £24.00 or free for those under 19 or entitled to fee remission.

Duration: 30 weeks (2 hours per week)
Course Overview
This useful course will help you learn how to use your digital camera, transfer
your pictures to a computer, edit them and make good quality prints. You will
need your own digital camera, and we can give you advice on choosing one. As
this is a longer course you will be able to spend time getting familiar with all
the important aspects of digital photography at a comfortable pace.
Date, Time and Venue: course code VAB151AP –
Thu 13.00-15.00 at the Three Valleys Centre (Keighley) from 24/09/09
£60.00 or free for those under 19 or entitled to fee remission.

Entry Requirements for all these courses: There are no specific entry
For further information, dates and times please contact us on
01274 436300 or email us at community@bradfordcollege.ac.uk

email me: my email

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Autumn courses at Leeds City College Featherbank Centre

As the Featherbank centre in Horsforth will not now be starting the Autumn term courses until week commencing 27th September, the opportunity to enrol on courses has been extended.

The following courses are offered, with only a few places still available on the advanced and evening intemediate courses.

Monday afternoon 1-3pm, 
- Digital Photography - beginners
Suitable for those who would like to get familiar with the basics of what the camera can do and how to get along with the new world of digital photography

Monday evening 7-9pm,
 - Digital photography workshop
Allows you to explore the possibilities both creative and technical. Some familiarity with the technology is advisable, but the essence of this course is in trying things out through practical assignments in and out of class to see how & why they work.

Tuesdays 1-3pm, repeated 7-9pm,
 - Intermediate Digital Photography
Aims to provide you with a sound knowledge the essentials of digital photography, building up your confidence & skill with demonstrations & practical sessions as well as theory.

Thursday evening 7-9pm,
 - Advanced digital photography
Takes you one step further, developing your understanding of the creative side of digital photography by looking at the work of established practitioners and by practical sessions. It is expected that students on this course will have a degree of familiarity with using a digital camera .

All the courses work towards an exhibition at the end, and all except the beginners course will use the practical element to explore a theme that students can interpret in their own way.

To get more information about enrolment, contact the Featherbank centre office on 0113 216 2470

Friday, 13 August 2010

Useful links

Following last Saturday's course in Saltaire, here are some useful links as promised:

Good basic info on how things work, including the simulated camera:

Easy photo management & basic photo editing - surprisingly versatile & effective, and free:

Handy reference page with lots of links to follow up:
21 things you should know

Leeds City College part time courses - Featherbank Centre, Horsforth - look at page 34:
part time prospectus

Bradford College leisure courses - starting from page 51 of the pdf:
 (I'm teaching at Joseph Nutter House on Wednesday afternoons & on thursday afternoons at 3 Valleys in Keighley)
part time prospectus


Thursday, 1 July 2010

New Digital Photography workshops

Updated 8 July

Just been asked to run some one day courses at Harewood House, near Leeds - details are now online at http://www.harewood.org/whats-on/events/1/576

Dates are:
Sunday 25 July – Getting to Know your Camera
Sunday 5 September – Landscape Photography
Sunday 3 October – Portrait Photography
Sunday 7 November – Creative Photography

These will be inclusive of refreshments & a lunch provided by (but not in) the courtyard cafe, and will of course feature access to the fantastic grounds and parts of the house. It's a fantastic location and the facilities are excellent!

The courses are individually priced (if you look at the individual course links on their website) or there is a discount for signing up for all four at once. 

I'm also planning some one day workshops at Vicars cafe bistro in Saltaire
(see the  Vicars facebook page )

Which will be:

17 July - Getting to know your camera - ideal for nervous compact camera users
7 August -  make friends with your digital SLR - get beyond using fully auto!
11 September - Street photography (this ties in with the first weekend of the Saltaire Festival so should be interesting!)

All of these will allow plenty of opportunities for asking questions, getting practical hands-on training and trying out what you are learning in a friendly and supportive environment.

They will also include refreshments & a simple buffet lunch, run from 11am-4pm and will cost £35. 

More will be announced in due course - I'm looking at possibilities for location workshops slightly further afield. If there's anywhere - or any theme - you'd be particularly keen to investigate, let me know.

If you want to know more, please contact me by email using this link
- or use the email address at the top of the page.