Exercise 14 – An organised event

“For this exercise you will need to research and prepare in advance. Look for an organised event at which there will be plenty of people and in which you can confidently expect to be able to photograph freely and with some variety”.

I was due to attend an off road motorcycle course at a future date, but the organisers and one already arranged prior to my start date, so I decided to go along and take photos which was in every way an organised event, with plenty of opportunity to take lots of action pictures of people unaware.

(click on any image to enlarge)

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Riders arrive at Hatta Fort Hotel, near Dubai. Bikes are prepared for the off-road course held by BMW which requires removal of wing mirrors, windshield, bike side boxes and other small parts that risk getting damaged during the two day course.

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After a full safety brief and discussion on riding techniques and handling, the riders took to the trails, lined up at the start and prepared for a hard day of off-run training.

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Some of the off road techniques proved difficult and dirty work at times. Some found it hard so all that was left is to push..not easy with a 240kg bike. Others gained confidence showing off some of the gained skills with a thumbs up after a hard first session.

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While the riders had a deserved break, the instructors showed how to move a bike on the side stand, as well as some preventative off road maintenance should it ever be required. Then it was back on the bikes for part two…the mountain stage.

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The riders were briefed on the mountain stage and the techniques required to negotiate hills and rocks. Before the start the riders walked the course in remove any loose rocks that may cause falls or bike damage, and to plan out the best course of action.

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A tough section of the course caused some of the riders to lose control and fall…all part of the learning process! As the riders tried to lift the bikes, an instructor came over to demonstrate how best to lift a 240kg bike from the ground without hurting body or bike.

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The final hours after two days proved a great improvement for the riders, seen here by showing off with a hands-off control manoeuvre and a ‘wheely’ from one of the instructors. A final group picture ended the course with very happy riders and a certificate to take home with new off road experiences gained.


This was an exciting project for me as I love my off road biking also. Because I was not due on the course until a later date, it gave me time to take the photos and as the course was taken in a closed off location, I could easily move around without getting in the way of the riders. Various focal lengths were used during the picture taking process and some post processed into black and white for different effects.






Exercise 13 – Standard focal length

The brief. “The concept of ‘standard’ and ‘normal’ in lens focal length is that the view approximates to what you would see with the naked eye. This is a very loose idea, as a camera image is fixed and framed, while our eyes are constantly scanning and we have an awareness of a much wider area around the part of a scene that we are paying attention to”.

So why use a standard focal length lens?

They’re cheap, very cheap compared to many other high end lenses. They are usually very small and light, making them easy to carry in a small bag or pocket. Apertures can be small such as f1.2, f1.4 etc giving a nice depth of filed or ‘bokeh’. Due to the low f-stop they are a great lens for low light photography.

Field of vision is very close to the human eye so the image is as we see it to the naked eye in terms of composition.A lower focal lens would need to be used on an APSC sized camera due to the approx 1.4 to 1.6 x increase.

Below are some images taken with a standard 50mm lens on a full frame camera.

(Click on any image to enlarge)

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Here are three examples of people taken with a standard lens. Each one taken in a different environment, i.e., indoors, outdoors and outdoors at night.

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These images show people at work. The first is a workman with a blow torch in the streets of Dubai. The second is workmen loading a dhow on the waters of Dubai Creek. The last its the camel riders working out the camera before a morning race. Some of these images may work better with a longer lens, but again this shows the viewer how the images looked to the naked eye.

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The last set of images show people posed. These images are taken in the mountains of Hatta and by the ocean in Fujeriah.


The 50mm lens, or sometimes known as ‘the nifty fifty’ can be a go to lens for just about any type of photography. It can be used for portraits, landscapes, street photography, indoor, close up (ok maybe with a close up adapter or lens kit) and night due to its low aperture setting of around f1.8 or lower.

It can be carried with little required storage space and is very light. It also makes the photographer move his/her feet. Sometimes we can get very lazy and find it better to just adjust the zoom ratio rather than look around and change perspective.

Many pro photographers state we should just have only a standard lens fitted to our cameras for a month or so and go out and take photos. This is a great way to teach us viewpoints, angles and gets us out of the lazy way of taking photos that is so easy with zoom lenses.

Exercise 12 – Close and involved

The brief is to “Switch lenses (or adjust focal length) to the widest angle that you have. A true wide-angle, judged from its visual effect, is around 28mm or less. One of the uses of a wide-angle lens is to be able to cover a large subject area in one shot, but here concentrate instead on using it close to people, and try to achieve a sense of putting the viewer right inside the situation — as you will inevitably be! From the point of view of comfort and confidence, this is quite a challenging way to shoot, but try your best. As with the previous exercise, note down both the problems and the advantages created by working with a wide-angle of view from very close to the people you are photographing”.

I have added a selection of images after looking through my Lightroom images, with a search for 10-20mm lenses.

(click on any image to enlarge)

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These two shots of Elaine show how you can use a wide angle lens to get up close, but care has to be made that you don’t put facial features or limbs out of proportion.

In the close up photo of Elaine on the chair, if I had got any closer it would have made her face and nose look two enlarged. Also any limb such as hands or feet in the frame would look enlarged if positioned in the foreground.

The photo of Elaine getting ready to ride her road bike was taken from a low angle to make more use of the foreground as the sky was grey and boring. Not getting too close while using a wide lens has brought the car and path into the frame giving a sense of place.

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The use of a 20mm lens is able to shoot the surroundings of this image of Dave relaxing by a beach. Although you cannot see his right hand fully, the items on the table such as the coffee and the cigarette packet give clues as to his choosen relaxing activity.

Donna on an Abra on Dubai creek brings you into the picture with the use of a 12mm shot. Being careful not to get so close again as to put any part of the body out of proportion means we can see and feel the landscape and location.

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At first look this may seem like just a photo of a truck. But looking closer you can see the feet of two workmen who have decided to take a quick afternoon nap in the back of the truck. Again the angle of the lens shows the location and where the truck is parked, tucked into a corner of the street.

Elaine was standing next to these Arabian horses in the desert. The 18mm view has allowed Elaine to be shown close to the horses and riders, thus bringing the viewer up close an personal with the subjects.

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I like these two images of a talented artist taken in Lincoln recently. The artist was painting in a local art shop and signing ltd edition copies of some of his paintings. The wide angle lens brings the viewer into the frame as if standing next to the artist. I particularly like image [118] where the wide angle has allowed me to include one of his paintings, a girl who is looking down at the artist signing an order form.


In comparison using a wide angle lens on landscapes, interiors, architecture etc is easy. Bringing people up close however is a little more difficult, as we need to ensure we don’t position the lens close to limbs or faces which would bring them out of proportion.

I don’t normally use a wide angle lens on people so close, but prefer to use a longer focal length allowing me to keep my distance such as in an earlier exercise in this blog. But this exercise has pushed me out of my comfort zone and give me working knowledge of what does and does not work.