Monday, June 25, 2007

The Future of Digital Camera Sensors...?

Interesting read for the techy among us...


(Critical) Light at the end of the Tunnel....!

Dear All

Thanks to all for rising to my cry for more posts to the blog. We have averaged nearly 10 (9.66) posts over the past 3 weeks, compared to an average of less than 1 post/week for April and May! Can't ask for more, and the images have been very high quality too. I need to get out more and generate some new pics too, so that's my challenge for the rest of 07. Watch this space and again thanks for getting Critical Light going again.



Sunday, June 24, 2007

Gatwick Airport

Recently I was flying home from Gatwick when my flight was delayed 15 hours. The last four of those hours were very late at night/early morning so to pass the time I did a photoshoot around the airport, taking photos of anything that jumped out at me. Here are five from that shoot.

There is nothing WOW here; just having a bit of fun.


Sorry Sorry Sorry

Afternoon, folks. I've been rather quiet for way too long - it's been a bit of a busy few months at work, and I've not done much new photography. Anyway, things have now quietened down a little at work (just about to be replaced by a panic of wedding preparations) but I got a great opportunity last week to photograph the announcement of the Part II Mathematical Tripos results in the Senate-House in Cambridge. Most of the degree results are posted to noticeboards outside this building (an eighteenth-century neoclassical piece of architecture at the centre of the city, used for degree ceremonies) but for maths, they're read out by the Chairman of Examiners and then tossed from the balcony to the students below.

I've been asked by the head of my department if I'd mind doing some work to increase the stock of images available - a great opportunity to get in to things like this and take some really original shots - so I went armed with my full range of kit. In the end, the best images were with the Sigma 10-22 at the 10mm end. I'm still loving super-wide work.

So, apologies for being so quiet and take this as my return to more active online participation.

Ivan, I'll drop you a mail about hooking up for some beers.

First offering

Hi guys, Ivan invited me to join your blog ages ago - sorry it's taken so long to get started. I decided I had dithered enougth - this is a shot I took a few years ago on a trip to Peru. It was taken on Fuji Provia and scanned in. I'll post some of my more recent digital images soon.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Blue bus

I was driving through town and passed the Citadel Hill and saw this brilliant blue bus driving along. The contrast with the green grass against the blue sky was too much. I had my camera in the car so I pulled over and shot.


Thursday, June 21, 2007

Photographers and books

Ivan's last post triggered me to list some of my recent book purchases and to give a list of the photographers that provide me with inspiration. This list is not intended to inspire Ivan to buy more books though.

- Michael Freeman 2006 Mastering color digital photography. Lark Books
- Michael Freeman 2006 Mastering black and white digital photography. Lark Books

Got both of these cheap at a book festival in Halifax. They both have good information on digital photography but not a lot of detail; in places I was wanting more. Worth a look though.

- Colin Westerback 2005 Joel Meyerowitz. Phaidon Press Ltd
- Noel Boourcier 2006 Andre Kertesz. Phaidon Press Ltd

These two photographers offer me a lot of inspiration. Andre Kertesz is known for his 'spontaneous' photography of people, objects and light. Photographs by Joel Meyerowitz also have this quality and he expresses it through street scenes and architecture. Both are published by Phaidon Press; this publisher produces books with a very attractive format. The start of a collection I think.

- Henri Cartier-Bresson 1999 The mind's eye. Writings on photography and photographers. Aperture Foundation

I saw this book while in Borders, Brighton and upon reading short sections I had to buy it. There are sentences in this book that ring so true for me. It is a window, albeit small, into the mind of this passionate photographer.

"My passion has never been for photography "in itself", but for the possibility -through forgetting yourself-of recording in a fraction of a second the emotion of the subject, and the beauty of the form;..."

- Elliott Erwitt 2003 Elliott Erwitt's Handbook. The Quantuck Lane Press

This book was given to me by a friend. It directed my eye to the hand and it has been a very valuable inspiration.


Mid Year Appraisal

Well, it's mid-year appraisal time at work, so I thought it opportune to revisit my Photography Goals for 2007, as originally posted in January this year. They are below, with updates as of June 2007.

1. To be a regular attendee at CCC - Managed to get to more sessions of CCC for sure, but still missed some. Mostly due to illness, work or Abby.

2. To complete the population of my website and to build in the purchase prints facility - This is coming along, and the print purchase facility is quite easy to do. This one is moving slowly...

3. To have one or more of my prints available for sale in a local outlet in/around Cambridge - nothing to report here.

4. To sell some of my prints to paying punters (this could be linked in to number 2). Again, no sales. Have not really tried, though.

5. To have some more "success" in CCC competitions and perhaps inter-club competitions too - this has definitely been achieved. Came third overall in the serial projected image competition, and won the Creative section of the Annual Digital Championship (as well as the 2nd in the same category). Also got a commended in the Creative section.

6. To enter one image in this year's CCC Annual Exhibition - this is not until October time I think.

7. To enter, and hopefully be placed in at least one round, a national photo competition (e.g. a magazine "Photographer of the 8. Year" type competition - I did enter one competition, but was not placed. May try again before year is out.

8. To obtain Adobe Certified Expert (ACE) status in Photoshop - this will definitely not happen this year. Time, plus don't know enough about CS3 yet.

9. To begin the process of obtaining another photographic "qualification", through CCC - may address this when CCC starts up again in September.

10. To stop buying as many books and magazines, and start doing more photography!! - alas, failed on this so far; have done very little photography, although no new books have been purchased. Magazine purchases down greatly too - only really buy 2 a month.

So, some progress. Will update you towards the end of the year.


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Boats on calm water

I shot this photo last year while on 'retreat'. What attracted me was the deep green of the water and the contrast with the white boat. It was a very peaceful scene. The water was incredibly still with some great reflections.

1/200 f5.6 ISO 100 Adobe RGB RAW
13 June 2006 0750AM

This boat was shot on the same morning. Here the contrast of the bright colours with the still light grey water and the reflection was what attracted me.

1/320 sec f5.6 ISO 100 AdobeRGB RAW
13 June 2006 0745AM


Crop on River Reflection

This is the crop I would prefer. The tree reflection does not hold enough interest for me while the people walking does. Also the vegetation on the wall above, for me, doesn't seem to be part of what my perception of this image would be.


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

River Reflection

A new angle on an ordinary scene. Perhaps could do with a crop off the top, to remove the slightly over-exposed and uninteresting part of the wall? That would also cut off some of the reflected wall, which may impact the image more. Not sure. No PS tweaks on this one - as is (maybe I cropped, can't recall).



Podcast of Michael Wood - Miksang Instructor


Michael Wood recently sent out an email of a podcast he did with the blog site The podcast explains quite nicely the approach of Miksang.

Also the blog site itself is quite an interesting site to check out.


Bath Stormy Skies

Another from the same trip to Bath. This time, taken into the sun as rain clouds approached. Exposed for the highlights to get a silhouette effect. Levels adjusted and the silhouette effect enhanced then cropped for final effect.

Quite like this one - an unusual view of Bath.



Bath Crescent in Black and White

Converted into mono from an original digital file. Cropped to remove foreground cars and street furniture. Used File/transform to straighten verticals. Swapped original dull sky for more interesting one (before converting to mono). Final levels, curves, dodge, burn etc to achieve a nice, quite dramatic image.



Monday, June 18, 2007

Sable Island south beach


Here is a vertical shot from Sable Island, south beach. The photos feels quite atmospheric to me and I like the different layers: overcast sky, cloudy sky, sea and beach.

1/125 sec at f5.6 Focal length 38mm ISO 100 RAW Adobe RGB Shot late afternoon

Comments welcome. Damian

Whale Tails


Last year in August I spent one day on the water in the Bay of Fundy with a group of marine mammal students. We were with Northern Right whales and naturally I took my camera to get some shots. Here are two that turned out OK. They were very difficult to shoot because one does not know when or where the whales would emerge, they were up for a very short time and the sun was very bright on the water but the whales were very dark. Tell me what you think. My favourite is the first because of the lovely curvature of the tail.

# 149. Focal length 300mm. 1/320 sec at f8.0 RAW Adobe RGB ISO 100

# 150. Focal length 290mm. 1/320 sec at f5.6 RAW Adobe RGB ISO 100


Friday, June 15, 2007

Spirit Island, Canadian Rockies

This image is a scan of an old photo, taken on my ancient - but brilliant - Olympus trip film camera. This was my first camera ever, and it was (is) great. For more info on this little gem, see here. For info on Spirit Island, see here.

I love this picture; the slight ripple on the lake, the reflection, the little rock off to the right (just breaking up the emptiness), the wonderful peace and tranquility of Spirit Island and then the grandeur of the mountains flanking the lake. All wonderful. It also reminds me of a great trip to Canada, going from Vancouver, via Banff/Jasper then on to Toronto, Quebec, Ottawa.

It's also useful to see this because I took it in 1995, so it shows my attempt at a serious landscape shot from 12 years ago. I may have taken the same shot today in the same way, since this clearly works (for me). I would also have taken many others, as I think I only took this one and one other...Many of my shots from 12 years ago were snap shot in nature, but I did occaisonally try to take "proper" images. This is one of them.

Thoughts and comments on the image, the comparison from now to then, or anything else welcomed.

Note: the colour reproduction is not great, due to it being a scan of a photo that itself was developed at Boots or something, and - due to the limitations of the camera - there are some exposure issues too. I have tried to rescue as many of these issues in Photoshop as possible, but there are limits. That said, I did try this about 5 years ago on PS 6.0, when I knew less - maybe I should dig out the photo and try again....


Italian Dolomites - an exercise in cropping

The first image is already a crop from the original picture - my lens at that time was not long enough to get in for the framing I wanted. Anyway, we'll start with the one below as the "original" image. Views on that are welcomed in itself, but I also want to know what you think of the crops below.

First crop - to focus in on the tree filled hillside and the shapes of the interlocking valley and distant peak. Not much sky interest, so tried to minimise this by making it less evident. Also, the landscape - almost panoramic crop - is trying to emphasise the interlocking valley sides.

Second crop - closer again, trying to make the tree hillside fill the foreground by bisecting with the bottom left of the image frame. By going in closer, again the sky is de-emphasised and the little hillfort becomes more of a feature.

I welcome your views on each image and the relative merits of each crop (or not).


Thursday, June 14, 2007

More views of Reculver

These are a couple of pictures taken down on the beach at Reculver in Kent. More detailed information regarding this interesting coastal site can be found here.

Taken on different days, from different sides of the Roman Church ruins, I always love this place; there's the great focal point of the ruins, the beach has loads of great rocks for interest, and the cliffs sweep towards the ruin, bringing in the eye. It's great - but alas I can't access it quite the same from Cambridge...

Anyway, thoughts welcome as usual.


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

New Photos

Next season at Cambridge Camera Club (CCC), I will try to submit new images to competitions etc, as well as to this blog. I have done so recently (with the Shropshire and Peak images) but I need to take more to enter CCC competitions. It has been tough with Abby and general change in life responsibilities, so I won't beat myself up too much; just renew efforts to get up sometimes, or go out in the evening occaisonally, to try and take some new images. I suppose I could also take my camera to work, and try to get out at lunch again.

We'll see how I get on.


Canoe Colours

Again, on the theme of colour (and texture, I guess), a photo of some upturned canoes from our trip to Nova Scotia in 2005. I wanted to concentrate on the shapes, colours and textures, and positioned the image to kind of radiate out, flower like, from the top left of the image.



Let's Rock!!

A picture I took for a friend's band (this is not them, though) who were playing at Cambridge Junction in April 05. I was allowed access to "The Pit" in front of the band, so had good access, although all from below.. I took loads of images, of all the bands, and got some good ones. This was one of my first uses of my then new 350D, and I had never shot in such low and variable lighting conditions. This one is one of the best, I feel. The guitarist is backlit to some extent, and this defines the shape but hides his face and body detail. The lighting is pretty simple at that moment, and the colour palette mainly green and black which greatly simplifies things and, to me, adds spooky moody interest. It looks like a calm moment, but I think things were actually quite Rocked Up at this point... Only adjustments were some minor levels and cropping. Nothing else. High ISO and in the days before my IS lens, so handheld at speeds as low as 1/15s with the kit lens. Not bad results, considering.

Comments/views welcomed.


Tuesday, June 12, 2007


This made a lot of sense to me in terms of photography. We should always shoot what we 'see' rather than trying to conform to a well tested format or align with conformity.

Chogyam Trungpa, "Endless Richness", In DHARMA ART, page 117.

Any entertainment that aspires to art should not work with the audience like an advertisement. Trying to please the audience lowers the level of sophistication constantly. That's what's wrong with the American marketing system. When you try always to please the audience, you have to produce more and more automatic gimmicks, more and more plastic. Finally, people don't even have to walk out of their rooms to make things work; they just press a button and get entertained. As artists, we have the responsibility of raising the mentality of the audience. People might have to reach out with a certain amount of strain, but it's worth it. The whole civilization then begins to raise its level of sophistication.


Monday, June 11, 2007

Machu Picchu in BW

OK, so this is the same photo in BW. I am in Brighton at the moment with my brother and family, after visiting Ireland for a Christening. I leave in a few hours so I haven't done as good a job as I would like. Also, I need more practice with Black and White...please tell me what you think.

And perhaps we should have a 'lesson' in shooting black and white. That would be worthwhile for me.


Friday, June 08, 2007

Pepsi can

This photo is for Ivan...


Thursday, June 07, 2007

Machu Picchu

Here is another photo from my trip on the Inca Trail. This is the view you see at the end of the 4 day hike. Unfortunately, it was quite misty but that adds to the atmosphere...

Nothing much was done with the photo other than adjusting the levels, curves and adding some saturation. Shadows and highlights were tweaked.


Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Path on the Inca Trail

I am trying to post something on the blog at least twice a week; either a photo or some words of sorts.

This photo was taken way back in March 2005 while I was hiking the Inca Trail with Sue and a friend. Looking back at these photos, I find the majority of them dull snapshots; poor exposure with areas often blown out and poor composition. So this is one of the better ones. I selected the path, vegetation and the sky separately to adjust the levels appropriately. Damian

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Three From Coney Island, NYC

Not sure if any one has been to Coney Island? It is like a twisted freak town on the coast on the edge of Brooklyn, New York. Famous for its boardwalk, freakshows and Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contests. 30 mins on the subway, end of the line through Brooklyn.

I thought it was one of the most amazing places for candid, reportage, people based shots...

On the boardwalk.

Japanese tourists in front of the jellyfish tank.

Biker on the boardwalk.

No more words - any comments?

It seems like I am doing stuff differently with my shots now without any real input - I do my blog, I dedicate time to my shots, though I rarely receive "true" input.

Keen for your thoughts guys.

Is This Photography Or Chance?

I really like the result - however does this make it worthy of discussion? The image, the process, the chance?

Dubai Wrestling

Hi Ivan, Gareth and Damien,

How are you all? Ivan has been imploring me to post some shots again... I still feel our purpose and styles are quite different, however I'd love to re-post some images I posted on my daily photo blog and receive your revered and esteemed critiques.

I am still using a little Canon Powershot.

This shot was taken at an open air wrestling match in the middle of Dubai.

Rusty Door and Bolt

Last one from me today (I am at a course Tue-Thur, and trying to post something everyday, or the equivalent of a post-a-day).

This one is a detail shot from the door of Kate's Mum and Dad's woodshed. I just liked the textures and shapes, the mix of the rust and the peeling paint, and the shapes and form of the lock and bolt. I was thinking of Damian's colour challenge when I took this. Not an inspiring shot, but an interesting record shot taken on a dull overcast day in Shropshire.

There are a few more from this series to post in time.

Comments/views welcomed.


Hole in the Wall

Another pic from the Peaks; this one is two exposures, one for the distant trees and one for the near wall. Both were taken from the same vantage point, and through the hole, but different focal points and exposure values were used. The resultant two images were blended in photoshop to create more closely what the eye sees or what my mind felt when I saw this possible image. Not sure it works, but I present it none the less. The colours are a bit flat, and I was running out of ideas...

I have a few more of interest from this series to post.

Comments/views welcomed.


Peak District Trees and Walls

A picture - one of the few - from our recent family trip to Tideswell in the heart of the Peak District.

No huge photoday outings were possible with a little baby, so I had to try and be creative with what was not the most stunning immediate area around the very nice village of Tideswell.

Up on a hill just above our cottage were some trees and the distinctive dry stone walls. I tried to isolate these and decided that a black and white treatment would work best. I framed it 1/3 land, 2/3 sky, as there was nothing else of interest in the land, and the large sky created a sense of space, and was just a bit more interesting than more grass. Central placement of the quite symmetrical clump of trees enhanced the simple feel. It was blowing a gale up there, but this feels somewhat peaceful to me. Quite harsh lighting, but I think I controlled the exposure OK, and the early slanting sunlight picks out the textures well enough. Not competition quality shot, but pleasing to me and one of the better ones I took.

Comments/views welcomed.


Monday, June 04, 2007

Shropshire Blue

An image I took in April when Kate and I went to see her parents.

It was morning, but I made the image more blue in Photoshop, to enhance the effect. Cropped from an original image - must get a decent zoom lens soon...

As usual, comment/views welcome.