BLOG - Really useful little video tip on threading your camera strap

I came across this in my Facebook feed a few days ago and thought I'd share it as it's so useful!  Only takes a minute, and fixes your camera to the strap much more securely than the normal way - in fact when I did my D810 earlier on I found that my straps were about 1cm from coming undone! 

Warrick from Fujifilm Australia shows you the very best way to fit a camera strap onto your camera. This way of attaching your camera strap ensures that no loose ends are left flapping around and the strap is as neat as possible.

BLOG POST - Richard Avedon video - Darkness and Light

Added a new video to my website page of documentaries about the world's best photographers.  Richard Avedon is always in any significant list of the top portrait photographers ever, and this film explores his life and work.  Click the image to go to the page at Houghton Photography.

Houghton Photography offers individual, small group and corporate training, and photography services.  We are based in Lucan, Dublin, and would welcome the chance to discuss any opportunities you might have that we might be able to assist you with.  Call Joe on 086 384 3670 or email

BLOG POST - Richard Avedon video - Darkness and Light

Added a new video to my website page of documentaries about the world's best photographers.  Richard Avedon is always in any significant list of the top portrait photographers ever, and this film explores his life and work.  Click the image to go to the page at Houghton Photography.

Houghton Photography offers individual, small group and corporate training, and photography services.  We are based in Lucan, Dublin, and would welcome the chance to discuss any opportunities you might have that we might be able to assist you with.  Call Joe on 086 384 3670 or email

St Patrick's Day Parade 2016

Local events are always great opportunities to get out and shoot, so this year we headed into the village of Lucan here in County Dublin, Ireland, to see what was going on. The St Patrick's Day parade is an annual event where pretty much the whole village turns out to celebrate being Irish, and this year being the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Irish State, everyone was out in force!

Lens choice is always tough for a family trip - the littles need attention, so it's not going to be a dedicated photo session, more like grab the odd shot where you can whilst being pulled and pushed.  I wanted to concentrate on people and faces in the crowds for this shoot, so I selected my Nikon f2.8 70-200 as a lens which would give me a good range of zoom lengths given that we would plan to be on the roadside so not too far away from subjects.  Most of these shots are taken one handed - my hand was pretty tired after an hour of that with the D810 and heavy 70-200 pulling it down, but it was great practice.

Setting my D810 up before we left the house,  I wanted to make my subjects stand out from their surroundings, so Aperture Priority with the f number dialled down as far as it would go - f2.8 on my lens - set the camera up for shallow depth of field to throw backgrounds (and foregrounds) out of focus.  I checked my SD card had plenty of free space, put my battery grip on the camera so I had 2 batteries to draw on - I knew it was cold so this gave me added confidence that I would have enough juice for the whole shoot.  Moving subjects need fairly fast shutter speeds to freeze, and given that my lens was likely to be zoomed to 200mm a fair bit, I set my ISO to 200 and then my Auto-ISO settings to minimum 200th sec, maximum 6400 ISO.  This top ISO might seem a bit high, but I can shoot up to 10,000 ISO with the D810 and still get very usable shots, and given that many of these would end up as black and white conversions in my street photography collection, a bit of grain isn't an issue anyway.  Spot metering, continuous 3D auto-focus, and I was pretty much ready.

 Ice cream girl

Ice cream girl

I think "Ice cream girl" is my favourite from the set. It was a pretty chilly day, but little ones always love ice-cream and she was having a great time on her Dad's shoulders watching the parade go by and tucking in.  I just managed to catch her as she glanced my way, and then in post desaturated everything bar he Paddy's Day hat to draw the eye.  Another thing I did whilst scanning the crowd for shots like this was to position my focussing spot pretty much in the place where her eyes are, so I needed to do very little cropping to keep her at the rule of thirds intersection point.  She's facing to our right so I left negative space there for the eye to move through, and cropped from the left to just include a sliver of the telegraph pole for grounding and framing.  There's also depth because there are people out of focus both in front and behind her, so the eye is drawn to her because of the colour of the hat but also by the focus moving the eye through the frame.

 The flag

The flag

This shot of the Irish tricolour is straight out of the camera apart form a little straightening , and was just a fortunate instant of the sunlight catching the material to make it stand out from the background.  Again, I had set my focus point in the upper left rule of thirds intersection point so was ready to grab the shot in the perhaps half second that it existed.

I hope you enjoyed these images and the story of what went into capturing them.  Please feel free to comment either here on on our Facebook Page at

Joe Houghton - March 18th 2016

All the images shown and many more are available for purchase - please contact Joe on 086 384 3670 if you would like a print or version on any other media.

Houghton Photography is available for event and portrait photography as well as individual, small group and corporate training, just give us a call to discuss your needs and we'll be very glad to help.

Dublin Night Shoots feature in Feb 2016 N-Photo Magazine - special photo walk on Feb 6th

Very pleased to be featured showing Apprentice Frank Gallogly how to shoot beautiful Dublin night-caps in the February 2016 issue of N-Photo magazine.

If you would like to come out and get the same shots, we are running a special Liffey by Night photo walk at 5pm on Saturday Feb 6th - limited places available so book here now!

New Year Photo Housekeeping – 5 top tips to give you peace of mind!

New Year Photo Housekeeping – 5 top tips to give you peace of mind!

The start of a new year is always good a time to take stock, look at how you are doing and make changes for the better.  Reviewing your computer and photo setup is time well spent to set yourself up for better efficiency and peace of mind for the year ahead. 


Backup – Organise – Convert – Update - Connect

These 5 tips will get you going into 2016 ready for whatever new photo challenges lie ahead

1) Back up.  If your computer died right now, would you lose anything?  If the answer is yes, your backup system needs improving.  DO THIS TODAY – DON’T PUT IT OFF.  These days, there are many options for constant, automated backups which just happen in the background and give you peace of mind that if your computer or disk fails, at least all your data and photos will be accessible and ready to reload onto your new or repaired system.  You should have 2 separate backups of ALL your data – photos and documents, emails and user settings of all your programmes, in separate physical locations.  If you don’t have this set up now, DO IT TODAY, or at least call us for some help J!

As Mac users we generally have a 2Tb external drive attached to each of our computers when working at home, with Time Machine running in the background backing up any changes we make in the background.  There are similar products available for Windows too.  This has saved our bacon on several occasions!  We also subscribe to a cloud backup service called Crashplan – for $150 a year we can backup up to 10 computers, unlimited data, so it runs in the background on all our computers and laptops, constantly saving all our work into the cloud, from where we can log in through a browser from any machine anywhere to restore or pull down single files, folders or complete restores.  There are cheaper and even free solutions as well, offering varying levels of protection.

2) Organise - get your filing system in order.  With the number of photos we take these days, if you don’t have some way of organizing them efficiently, it can be very difficult to locate them months or years later.  Going back and re-organising previous years is not a job anyone wants to face, so why not just go from today?  Set up an organized system of folders, file naming and key-wording as you import your shots, and use it from now on.  Hey – you might even find that once it’s all running OK, you do start to bring some of your older shots into the system, but if not, you’re still better set for  this year onwards J.  As an Adobe Certified Expert in Lightroom, this is a session I regularly run for people who book a 1-1, where we go through their photo filing system and update it to something more efficient.

3) Convert to DNG.  If you shoot JPG, then you should really be shooting in RAW – there is so much more processing latitude in a RAW file as well as far higher quality.  And if you do shoot RAW, you should consider converting to DNG as you import your shots to the computer.  Lightroom can do this automatically, and you can also run a (free) DNG converter on older RAW files and folders.  Why do this?  Well, DNG files have all the data of the original RAW file, but are typically about 20% smaller – the DNG file format is more efficient.  DNG files also store all the changes you make in Lightroom within the file, rather than needing a separate .XMP file, which if it ever become separated from the RAW file, means all your edits will be lost.  DNG is also a more “open” format than the proprietary RAW formats from the main manufacturers, so you are likely to be able to use more programmes to open a DNG than a NEF (Nikon) or CRW (Canon) RAW file for instance.  The Adobe programmes such as Lightroom and Photoshop also open and process DNG files faster than other RAW file formats.

4) Update to the latest software/hardware.  New technology is being released every week, and it is impossible to keep up with everything unless you’re a millionaire!  But with New Year sales often comes the opportunity to update your systems at significant savings on “normal” pricing.  The latest cameras have faster processors, better low light and auto-focus capabilities.  Investing in really good lenses is never a bad idea, as good glass will last you a lifetime and really does give you a different class of image to kit lenses.  If your computer is aging, maybe now is the time to get a new model – the speed will likely be amazing compared to your sluggish current one!  Or maybe just upgrading the hard drive from an old spinning one to the new SSD (solid state drive) – this makes a HUGE difference to the speed of a computer, and combining this with some new fast memory can revitalize an older machine.  And the advances in capabilities of software for post-processing your shots are amazing – if your software is more than a couple of years old then you are missing out on some serious opportunities for both recovering shots you might otherwise discard, or improving your masterpieces even further.  And increasingly, much of the photo software out there is able to talk to each other, so if you use Lightroom for instance, most other processing software can act as a plugin and be called from within Lightroom as you work on a shot to apply a specific look – I use Nik Silver Efex for much of my black and white work for instance by calling it to edit a shot within my Lightroom catalogue.

5) Connect yourself to new inspiration.  My last tip will probably cost you nothing at all, but might be the most important one in helping you develop as a photographer.  Many of us are plugged in to social media, blogs, podcasts – there are many channels we consume daily for our fix of news and information.  So for the New Year, clean house a little.  Cull those feeds and get rid of some of the stuff you no longer really want to see or hear, and find some new voices to inspire you.  Ask around for ideas on amazing photographers to follow, go search the podcasts catalogues for some new listening, add a few new blogs to your feed – this will revitalize your inner self in ways you may not expect.  Always try to view really good photography – as we build up our mental data bank of viewed images we can then draw on these in our own work as they inspire us to greater efforts.  Maybe join a camera club – we did this in KZN last year, and it has really opened up a new world for us of both friendship but also creativity and opportunities for great photography – thanks Hibiscus Coast Photography Society!  And lastly, check out the web for amazing teaching on photography – there’s loads of good free stuff out there on Youtube – I follow Serge Ramelli, Tony Northrup, Mike Browne, Scott Kelby and am always picking up stuff from them, and Houghton Photo also has some videos there, but there are many others as well who will add to your knowledge whatever level you are at.

We can help!

If all this makes sense but you don’t really know where to start, Houghton Photography can help you review your current setup and advise on changes plus help you put them in place – feel free to contact us for a quotation – just email  In Ireland, a half-day (up to 4 hrs) session at your home is charged at €300 (plus expenses for travel outside the Dublin area).  In S. Africa, we charge ZAR 2,500 for a half-day in the Ramsgate, KZN locale.  Joe is a pro photographer and lecturer in business at one of the world’s top 100 business schools, and in a former career was a global IT manager with some of the world’s largest multinational companies, so you can be sure that our advice will be relevant and geared to your specific needs.

We hope these ideas have given you something to think on – happy shooting, and we wish you a healthy and successful 2016!  Please share or forward this on to your friends – we’re trying to connect with new people too!

Joe & Penny

New Year - face your fear!

So, what's your plan for 2016 to improve your photography?  Very often, growth comes through turning and facing that which we fear, so what fear stops you developing as a photographer, and how could you face it?

One of my greatest fears has always been asking people if I can take their photograph.  I've no problem shooting my children and immediate family - see above, and I'm pretty happy getting candid shots with a longer zoom at gatherings, but the thought of posing a portrait has always been something I've thought I should do, but shied away from.  Someone recently looked through my portfolio of shots for sale and remarked that they were lovely images, but there were no people!

My fear to face this year then, is portrait photography.  A photographer I've admired for some years since I first met him is Shay Hunston, whose portrait work has always filled me with awe and amazement.  His recent work on the project "People of the Wild Atlantic Way" is a great example of how those with the ability and confidence can build up a body of work by approaching complete strangers and then somehow manage to capture compelling and evocative images.  I have so much to learn from Shay and others like him!  One of his shots is shown here:

I have all the kit - camera, the right lenses, lights, soft boxes etc. - all I need now is the confidence to try.

And I guess that's the message here - try!  So what if you crash a few times - try again.  Fail better, and at some point those failures will turn into images to be proud of.

Watch this space - I'll post on my progress...

Thanks for reading - happy shooting!