About

Posted by Stuart Herbert on January 7th, 2007

I take photos because I can’t draw for toffee. I’m an amateur, and it shows. I use Nikon gear, which I love. The bulk of my work is organised into three main projects, to help me improve. I publish six days a week, except when it’s a holiday. You can find my photos on Flickr if you can’t wait for me to blog about them.

What else do you really need to know? 🙂

Welcome To My Photography Blog

This is my photography blog, where I talk about both the photos I’ve taken, and the techniques I’ve used to produce the final image. I’m a highly visual person, but can’t draw for toffee, so photography is my outlet for all the things my brain sees and wishes it could reproduce artistically.

I have two busy jobs, working six days a week (neither of which involves photography) and tend to take photos on long summer evenings, weekends, and vacations. I’m strictly an amateur photographer, and really enjoy having a pastime with no pressures at all. My aim as a photographer is to improve the consistency over time; I’d love to get to at least magazine quality on a repeatable basis one day. I’m a long way off from that so far.

All of this is made possible by my extremely supportive wife, who has spent years both putting up with and encouraging my hobby in equal measure. Unlike me, she can really draw and paint (I’m both insanely jealous and full of admiration at the same time), and you can find her stuff over on deviantART.

(If you want to know more about me, my bio is here. If you need to contact me, you can email me as stuart (at) stuartherbert.com, or better still by Twitter).

The Gear

I bought my first Nikon SLR back in the late 90’s thanks to the encouragement of my friend Hugh, but didn’t enjoy the whole fuss of getting chemical film developed, or the disappointment when the final print never looked close to what I thought I’d shot. I went digital with the Nikon D100 as soon as I could afford it in 2003, and gave up shooting chemical the very same day. Although I tend to use Canon (and Panasonic) pocket digital cameras, when it comes to my DSLR I’m afraid you’d have to prise my Nikon out of my cold dead hands. They consistently make the best camera bodies (if not always the best sensors sadly) and the best glass. (The Nikons can also be paired with a GPS device for geotagging my shots, which is a key requirement for one of my projects).

After many many happy years with the Nikon D200, I’m currently shooting with a Nikon D300s. Thanks to considerable luck on eBay, I’m currently using Nikon 24mm f/2.8D, 35mm f/1.8G, 50mm f/1.4D and 80-200mm f/2.8 lenses. These lenses all provide great image quality and a level of control over depth of field that old favourites like the 18-135mm lens didn’t quite manage. If you’re good enough (I’m not, sadly) you can take great shots with any old lens, but if anyone tells you that lenses don’t help, I can’t agree.

I also have a Sigma 10-20mm for challenging subjects and a Sigma f/2.8 EX macro for close-up work.

I use an early model Foolography Unleashed unit for geotagging my shots, paired with a pocketable bluetooth GPS unit that I picked up from them at the same time. I wish Nikon would build the necessary bluetooth support into all of the DSLRs, but until they do, the Unleashed is a great piece of kit. I’ve seen many old photos of locations in South Wales that no longer exist at all, and are impossible to find just by looking at the picture. I’m hoping that geotagging my photos will allow future generations to see what our time was like and where, no matter what changes are to come.

I nearly always shoot manual focus, which is made much easier by the Live View support on the D300s. Right or wrong (and it’s often wrong) I want the focus to be my decision, as I firmly believe that the focus of a shot is a major part of the artistic expression. Looking at my shots, quite what it says about me I’m not so sure …

Photos are uploaded into Apple’s Aperture software running on my Mac. I don’t use Photoshop, and whilst I respect the skill of those who need to photoshop their work, I think it stops being photography beyond a certain point and becomes its own medium.

Final images are published to my account on Flickr first, and then I write the blog posts for this site afterwards, linking back to the photos on Flickr. Flickr is a great way to find an audience, and if you upload the fullsize version of your photos, they’re effectively backed up in case your computer should ever die.

The Projects

After four years of getting absolutely nowhere with improving my photography, I decided to pick a project to give me something to focus on and to challenge me to get at least some modicum of consistency by trying to practice my photography on a regular basis.

Starting in 2007, my main emphasis is my personal photographic project Merthyr Road, which aims to capture some of remarkable sights from an industrial past and the rapidly-changing present that lie along the line of the A470 trunk road between Cardiff and Merthyr Tydfil.

Starting in 2010, I’ve added a daily desktop wallpaper feature. Every weekday, I post my choice of desktop wallpaper from a mix of my own photography archive and from new photos taken for the wallpaper project. I work at a computer for many hours a day; it provides the most opportunity for me to see my favourite photos I reckon.

Starting in 2010, I’ve also added the 25×9 project, as an outlet for photos I’ve accumulated that just don’t suit the squarer 4:3 or 16:10 formats. These are published on Saturdays.

Publishing Schedule

I’m a great believer that there isn’t much point in taking photos if no-one is going to get the opportunity to see them; and publishing the photos is a great way for me to see them.

I tend to publish my photos first on Flickr, and then organise them into blog posts here. You can subscribe to my RSS feed, and follow me on Twitter to learn about new posts. My current publishing schedule is:

  • Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays): daily desktop wallpaper
  • Monday, Wednesday, Friday: new Merthyr Road articles (Tuesdays and Thursdays too when I have time)
  • Saturdays: 25×9 project, and other photography posts on an as-and-when basis

It’s rare for me to publish anything on a British public holiday.

If this isn’t the blog you’re looking for, you can find a full list of topics on my blog homepage, and my current bio on my site’s homepage.

5 Comments

  1. Treacy FFion says:
    February 18th, 2009 at 9:38 am

    a nice load of pictures that must have taken you a long long long, time
    to take. Did you have to travel the world to find them all.

    They are such beautiful pictures and i wish i had taken them

    yours scincerly
    Ffion

  2. Stuart Herbert says:
    February 26th, 2009 at 10:00 pm

    Hi Ffion – many thanks for your kind words. I’ve been building up this collection of photos for about five years so far, but I haven’t had to travel the world to find them all. There’s so many wonderful places in the UK to go and photograph that you could spend a lifetime just here and never run out of new places to go and explore. All the best, Stuart

  3. Julian Castaldi says:
    January 4th, 2011 at 8:45 pm

    Some great shots, and a great resource as a lot of thes places will change on a yearly basis, with some lost forever…

    Cheers Julian

  4. Steve Hughes says:
    July 23rd, 2011 at 6:20 pm

    Stuart,

    I am an ex-pat Cardiffian, born and lived for 36 years, now living in Barrie (honest!), Ontario (8 years). I have just come across your blog and I am so excited to see not only your photographs, but also your comments about them. It is bringing a tear to my eye as I type! I have bookmarked your page, and I will spend some time working through all your photographs.

    I spent many years working the South Wales valleys, so I am looking forward to seeing some of the changes over the last 8 years.

    Please keep up the great work.

    Steve Hughes

  5. Rob Thomson says:
    August 15th, 2013 at 12:03 pm

    Hi Stuart,
    I stumbled on your excellent posts on the Trevithick Trail while looking up some background on Abercynon and the Glamorganshire Canal.
    This for two walking tours that are part of the 2013 Open Doors festival – on Thursday 12 September 10am and Sunday 15 September 2pm starting from the Celtic Carvery (old Navigation Hotel) to Pontygwaith along the Taff/Trevithick Trail and back via the canal route.
    I am also leading on the Trevithick 2014 project backed by the Merthyr Tydfil Heritage Regeneration Trust.
    This aims to raise awareness of Trevithick’s engineering genius – of his achievement in driving the world’s first railway engine along the Penydarren / Merthyr Tramroad on 21st February 1804.
    You are quite right – the southern section of the tramroad is the best of the original(apart perhaps from a short stretch of back lane at Pontmorlais, Merthyr Tydfil which has character).
    Mount Pleasant, Merthyr Vale, to Quackers Yard is a great walk – it feels like stepping back in time.
    21st February is now Trevithick Day – and we are looking to encourage walking, running and cycling events along the Trevithick Trail on that day.
    I’m going to come back to your ‘Daily Desktop’ and ’25×9′ projects!
    Rob Thomson
    Trevithick 2014

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