Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Working the back catalogue

I find that I have less time these days to get out and shoot. This can be a concern, a worry and a bit frustrating at times.

However, I NEVER throw away any pictures, so this provides ample opportunity to plunder my back catalogue - assuming I can ever find anything (more on that in another post) - and re-work, revisit and rethink (including recropping) images that I have either not fully evaluated or had postponed to the digital shoebox...

I have thousands of un-editited images - some of these will be rescueable, some will be pretty decent, just requiring the usual tweaks. I had a go last night, with some images from Parc Guell in Barcelona. The colours of the characteristic tiles and Goudi-inspired designs made great substrate, and I got a handful of nicely worked- up images. I'll post these soon.

Do you throw images away? Do you get back to them in time, or are they taking up space on your hard disk? Could you revisit these and rework into great images?


Stairway to Heaven?

A mono-converted shot of an isolated spiral stairway as part of the London Eye. I like the fact that you can't see it's context, where it came from or where it's going to. Mono emphasises that. I also deliberately cropped it to be on the right hand side, to further emphasise the space and feeling of emptiness, and also to hint at something possibly arriving from the left...

Let me know what you think and I'd be interested to know what extrapolations - if any - you make.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Last Projected Image Competition

Well, both Gareth and I had successes in last nights CCC projected image photo competition. I'll let Gareth update on his news, but I got a "Highly Commended" for the image "Kent Clifftop Sunset". The other crashed and burned. Zip, na-da, zilch. I must work out why I can chose only one successful image each competition! Also, I do think that my second image (unplaced) was as good or better than some of the ones that were placed, but again it's all subjective.

On the face of it, my "success" trajectory is downwards: A "First" in the 1st competition, a "Second" in the 2nd competition, and now a "Highly Commended" in the 3rd. However - and I know this from my 15 years in the Pharma business - data can be cut many different ways. I prefer to look at it using a pharmacokinetic analogy (indulge me)...

For many classes of drug, efficacy (pre-defined biological activity against a nominated target or disease) is driven by achieving a certain concentration of drug in the bloodstream (Cmin) over a defined amount of time, t. The longer that the drug contentration, [drug], is above Cmin, the greater the area under the (time/concentration) curve, or AuC. If you imagine a curve of concentration points plotted against time, with a line (Cmin) bisecting that curve, the amount of of curve above the Cmin line is the AuC.

See here for more details if interested

Thus, in many cases, the efficacy of a drug is directly proportional to the AuC. Clearly, other factors impact this, so it's not a straightforward picture. Deviations within an AuC range may not translate into differences in clinical efficacy - within a defined range of AuCs, drugs with a lower AuC may be just as effective as higher AuC drugs. In otherwords, the "quality" of the drug in terms of efficacy is the same. With me so far?

The analogy with photography is thus: my pictures have fluctuated in their "AuC" - some achieved a higher AuC, some lower, but ALL were above the minimum of the range required for achieving photographic "efficacy". Put another way, even with the subjective preferences, moods, eyesight and character of the judges (equivalent to the biological variation in living systems and diseases), I managed to be placed in all three competitions. I can, therefore, feel reasonably confident that I can take and select images good enough to be placed in (at least internal) competitions. Having achieved a placing in all three, I want to be able to continue to have at least one image placed in each such competition, and to strive to have both placed.

On this latter point, my overall "efficacy" rate (achieving a standard good enough to be placed) is only 50%, as one of my images always crashes. This is a bit of a worry. I clearly know what to select in one image, but not in two. But these are independent images, so what is impacting from one to the other. What am I missing? I thought about this more last evening, and I think it may be that I put a lot of effort into selecting one image, then not so much into selecting the second. This has been borne out - all the images that did not place were my second images, the ones I chose after selecting image one. It's as if I mentally relax, thinking "job done". Thus, I need to independently put as much effort into image 2 as image 1.

All in all, very pleased. I am now looking towards the "Annual Digital Championship" and the "Photographer of the Year" competitions towards year end.


Thursday, January 25, 2007

Sorry sorry sorry...

...for being so quiet, but I've just done a big update on

Anyhoo, interesting series of posts, Ivan. I'm looking forward to CS3 (I'm on CS2 at the moment) - the improvements to Adobe Camera RAW make it worth the price of entry alone.

Intriguing set of wishlist bullet points, too. I'm going to think about that and get back to you.

In the meantime, here are my two entries for Monday's comp.

-- gareth

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Photoshop CS3

Just when you were starting to get to grips with CS/'s time for CS3 . Hit the link for a run-down on the key changes over CS2. I may wait for this and upgrade CS to CS3, if it will let me do that...

I don't think I would use some of the features of CS3, but, as I only have CS (which does not have the 350D as part of camera Raw - in fact, the 350D can only be added as an update via CS2) I would upgrade for the "improved" Camera Raw alone.


Printer Inks

Does anyone have experience of using non-branded inks in their printer? Epson inks are very expensive (£12 per cartridge for the Epson Photo 950) and a set of 6 can set you back nearly £70 or more. I have come across many sites on the internet selling "Epson compatible" inks, which are clearly marked as non-Epson originals, but made by a 3rd party manufacturer: a kind of generic version of the original inks.

I don't know

a) if these inks actually look any good
b) if they have the same ink permanence to light
c) if this is a false economy

They are much cheaper - £20-30 for a set of 6, less if multiple packs of 6 are purchased at the same time.

My instincts tell me that they can't be as good, but (in my pharma industry) generic drugs are just as good as the orginals (although they need to be for safety reasons).

I guess cheaper recordable CDs are not as good as branded CDs, so maybe the same applies here.

Any thoughts or experience?



Recent shot of Abby, taken while she was in that zone between alert and asleep. I had taken a few similar shots, but one eye was in shadow, with no catch-light. I turned her bouncer towards the window, to illuminate both eyes, as the contact was great. The look in her eyes is one of maturity and peace beyond her 4 months, but I do wonder what she was "thinking". It has been cropped a little and I am happy with the blue-ish cast: seems to suit the early morning nature of the shot. I know there are deep shadows and other white areas that may distract, but the eyes are so intense and draw you in so much that I don't really notice.

Interested in your views, as ever.


Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Entries for 3rd Projected Image Competition

Next week (29th) is the 3rd and final projected image competition at CCC. Below are my entries, both similar in style and involve blended exposures. One you have seen before (and liked), the other you may not have seen. Comments welcomed.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Photography Goals for 2007

Have any of you made goals for 2007 with regard to your photography? What would you like to achieve this year and how are you going to make it happen?

My list of goals is below. Some are more readily achieved than others, and I may not get through them all with little Abby's arrival...however, no point making them all easy.

  1. To be a regular attendee at CCC - took a severe hit in 2006, but this should change soon
  2. To complete the population of my website and to build in the purchase prints facility
  3. To have one or more of my prints available for sale in a local outlet in/around Cambridge
  4. To sell some of my prints to paying punters (this could be linked in to number 2)
  5. To have some more "success" in CCC competitions and perhaps inter-club competitions too
  6. To enter one image in this year's CCC Annual Exhibition
  7. To enter, and hopefully be placed in at least one round, a national photo competition (e.g. a magazine "Photographer of the Year" type competition
  8. To obtain Adobe Certified Expert (ACE) status in Photoshop
  9. To begin the process of obtaining another photographic "qualification", through CCC
  10. To stop buying as many books and magazines, and start doing more photography!!

I hope to be able to revisit these later in the year - and at the end - and have ticked them all off.

What are yours?


Tuesday, January 16, 2007

New Year, New Blog....

Well, not exactly - I've migrated the Blog to Blogger beta, and updated the template and the content. Let me know what you think - it can be changed back to the old darker template, or a range of others, if you prefer.

Hopefully we can get back into posting and critiquing (is that a word) very soon.