Thursday, December 27, 2007

Off to Sable Island

Hi there,

I am off to Sable Island tomorrow until the end of January, so you will hear nothing of me until then. Not that you hear much of me anyway. Hopefully, I will return with some vigour for posting. I have a photo project in mind (sand dunes) but usually that changes when I get out there...

See you in the New Year.


Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Luminous Landscape 10 year Retrospective

As some of you may know, I really love the Luminous Landscape website. It has great news, views and stunning images.

Michael Reichmann, the dude who runs this, has a limited edition 10 year retrospective book available at an eye-watering $850 dollars! No chance of me buying it, but there is a
wonderful slideshow
of the images in the book available.

Enjoy. It certainly inspires me to take better images.


The perfect PC for photography?

I was wondering while driving in this morning...what is the perfect/ideal set up and specs for a PC for photography and high-end digital imaging? What software is essential, and what peripherals would be required? As you may be aware, I am thinking of updating my 7 year old creaking PC (which has been upgraded twice, including maxxing out on RAM, ROM and a new motherboard, as well as being on it's second CD-R drive).

My old machine works, but can be slow sometimes with CS1. It's specs are an embarrasment:

- 2.8 GHz processor; not too bad, works well most of the time. This is an upgrade from the original 1.8 GHz
- 60 GB hard drive. Was originally 30, then I bolted another on.
- USB 1.1 x 2. I also added 2 USB 2.0 slots to speed things up on memory card transfer
- RAM: just over 1GB, upgraded from a paultry (though spec-leading in 2001) 250Mb.
- Optical drives; 1 DVD ROM drive; 1 CD-R drive.

I am currently looking at a Dell; specs below:

Any thoughts you have on this would be much appreciated...

Hope you have a great Christmas and New Year, and we can all see lots of new shots come January!! We need to beat last years posting total. If we all posted once per week, that would be 6 a week, and over 300 for the year!


Wednesday, December 19, 2007


Well, actually, we're a bit older than 2, but we all missed that one (in November sometime). Still, we've reached that milestone, and we've had more discussion and posting this year than last. I, and I assume Gareth, have gained benefit from posting our potential and actual entries for competitions here first, and I know I've had some excellent critiques on images, definitely leading to improvements. So, I've learned stuff from you guys.

Here are some of the metrics for 2007:

Number of posts - (so far) 153, compared to 115 in 2006 (33% increase).
Number of contributors - 6, compared to 4 in 2006.
Top three months with most posts - June (35), Feb (22) then March (21). For 2006: October (27), then March and April (20).
Month with least posts - May (3); For 2006: January and December (1)

If I have time, and can be @rsed, I'll have a look at breakdown of contributor postings too. I suspect the order may be Ivan/Gareth 1 and 2 (not sure of the order), Damien 3, Stasher/Bluey 4/5 and Colin 6.


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

2007 so far; Runners and Riders (and dismounts...)

As a summary (if anyone's interested), my results and "considered" opinions for the CCC competitions I have entered so far.

I've managed to enter every competition so far this year, something I set out to do in my objectives for season 2007/8, so I'm chuffed at that. This has included print portfolio (5 images), and serial print x 2 (4 images in total, 2bw, 2 colour), two projected image competitions (4 images total) and a projected image portfolio (5 images total). All images are new in the sense that I did not use any last year (more than can be said for some members - more on that later). No new images taken for the competitions, but extensive reworking of back-catalogue images, so the next best thing. In 2008, I aim to submit some new images to competitions, and hope to enter all competitions to season end.

My two portfolios (projected and print) each got good comments, particularly the last print portfolio, even though no distinctions were awarded. This is fine, as it's a new skill and I was trying to craft a set from images that were not taken with that originally in mind. I was happy with both sets, but can see where there were weaknesses, so it's been a learning exercise.

In the serial (projected and print) competitions, I got off to good starts (see below), but then chose to submit less conventional images in the next two competitions, and they did not fare well, grading wise. I loved the images, and they got good feedback on the blog, so I've learned there too, but I think it's down to judges' preferences, and there have been some crap judges (as evidenced by the comments they make) this year so far. Last night's was OK, and he was ruthless with awards, as the general standard was quite high.

Highlights - definitely getting a First grading for "Window and Chair" in the first print competition of 2007. Also, getting a Highly Commended grading for "Peak Heather and Barn" in the first projected competition.

Lowlights - bombing out in everything else.

Last year, my Rookie year, I did really well. I only entered the 3 Projected Image competitions and the Annual Digital Championship, and came 3rd overall in the serial projected and got a Category First and 2nd (Creative) in the Annual Digital.

So, last year, I splurged my best images, and did well. I was more "traditional" in approach, and did well. This year, I did well with the traditional stuff, and not well with the alternative stuff. So, we can draw conclusions about what works in competitions, but I am personally happy with the amount and general quality of the stuff I've submitted. I've learned about porfolios and I think have a better insight into serial competitions too. I think the larger prints do better in the print competitions, so perhaps I'll enter some larger (A3) prints in 08. I'll also enter some new pics next year, and see how they get on.

So, that's me for 2007 so far. No chance of replicating 06/07's success, unless I have a Kimi Raikonnen-style comeback in 08...

Watch this space...


Monday, December 10, 2007

Beachwalkers; The Ann Miles/Gareth Marlow crop

This is the result of the Ann Miles crop (lose the sea) and Gareth's crop (lose the LHS to off-centre the figures).

I do think it's better all round, and a great way (as D says) to use the blog.

Regarding D's comments, this scene didn't exist, so it's an artistic interpretation of what I WANTED it to be. Myself - or anyone else - can enjoy it just the same, for it's appeal is purely visual and emotional. Artist's change stuff all the time when they paint, and it's not as if the scene is so fantastical that it COULDN'T exist; it could have, had the weather conditions been more conducive. The sky is from the same place, a little later in the day, so I've combined two elements from the same place to improve the image.

As for D's other point, some consideration before you take the picture is good, but sometimes time and the light mean you have to be quick; but then it's down to planning, knowing the area, anticipating the light, getting into position and being there, ready, when you need to click, so I see what he's getting at. Great landscape photographers put in the preparation to make sure they can have the time to plan and think, and be ready when the light gets great. Sometimes, snapshots work too, if you're lucky...

Comments welcomed as ever.


Friday, December 07, 2007

Beachwalkers; the Ann Miles Crop


As Gareth will attest, Ann Miles is a member of CCC, and a distinguished and accomplished (FRPS) photographer she is.

I sent her my Beachwalkers pic, and she liked it. She said she didn't know if the foreground added strongly; would cropping it out and making the beach the base for the sky work better?

The result - as I interpret it - is above. What do you think? I like the original, but there IS something simpler about this, and may address G's comment about the distraction of the sea (in a dramatic way!)


Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Hi there,

Sorry for being absent for so long but work became quite heavy. I feel like I can breathe again and hence post an image or two.

Sable Island, sometime in the past

I forget when I took this shot but it was on film. I do however remember the moment. The light was intense for just a split second; and it was very stormy.

Another black and white treatment. I like this image because of the large snow covered dune and the gulls in the foreground.

Hope you are all well...


Print Porfolio choices

Next week is the Print Portfolio competition; 5 prints on a recognisable theme is the only limitation.

So, my portfolio is a collection of live performance images, taken at a session at Cambridge Junction venue about two and a half years ago. In fact, I had just got the 350D, and had also just come back from a week with Damian and Sue in Halifax, so that dates it to about April 05. So, no new pictures here, but I have worked on them pretty extensively.

The print portfolio also requires that you define both an order and a layout plan. For the digital portfolio, clearly it's only the order that can be varied, so this adds another complicating dimension (literally) to the task. So, below I present my selections in the correct order (1 through 5). The layout is:

This gives a rather pleasing arrangement of 4 landscape orientation images on the corners of the "X", with a fairly strong dominating portrait image in the centre. In addition, I think I have a bluey and a reddy image on opposite corners too, as I thought that would balance it better, again with a more greeney one in the middle.

The files I've used here are quite small, low res, but you get the idea. Comments welcomed as usual.

Images 1-5, in order:

Norfolk Coast; Beach Walkers revisited

After some mixed comments on the Beach Walkers series of pictures, I tried to beef up one of the images, but using a sky from the same photoshoot, to add drama. The result is below. I think it works very well, esp in black and white.

The sky is very dramatic, so I wanted it to dominate 2/3 of the image. I feel that this creates greater sense of scale with the small people against the sky and the sea is also in there too. The shapes and textures of the water, beach and sky all have ones interest, but the sky is the main focus after resting on the figures.

I listened to critique, and removed the distant people over the right shoulder of the main pair (per Gareth).

Comments welcomed as ever.