Thursday, August 28, 2008

First DSLR with video capability..good news or bad?

Link to this news item on The Luminous Landscape.

I initially thought "bad", but it looks like the increased quality of DSLR sensors, the lenses and ISO handling capacity would lead to far improved creative potential for video too. There's also news on this on the Digital Photography Review website too.

Only a matter of time before Canon and the other big manufacturers follow.



Do any of you chaps use Flickr? If so, what do you think? I posted a few images on there a while back, and go very little feedback. Then, I put a couple of monos up there, and there was a flurry of comments, and "awards" (basically invites to post on a certain group and encourage you to give awards) and invitations.

Have a look at what I mean at my photostream.

The march of technology

This'll be on you boys' Christmas lists, no doubt...

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Colour Management in Firefox v.3

Just pulled this from Tim Grey's email blog...

"[Regarding a prior DDQ email about color management in web browsers] Firefox 3 does have color management built in, but it comes turned off by default. Here's an article about it that shows how to turn it on:"


"You're absolutely correct. I tested Firefox to see if it was indeed respecting embedded colors, and found that it didn't. But as several DDQ readers let me know, version 3 of Firefox does indeed support color management -- it is simply turned off by default. The logic for this is that the browser performs a little faster if it doesn't have to translate embedded ICC profiles. Not ideal from the perspective of visitors to your site seeing your photos accurately without having to adjust settings for their browser, but at least the support is there. Hopefully with time more browsers will add this support (it is still missing from Internet Explorer), and users will become more savvy about the subject."


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Barcelona Trees

I found this image while trawling my back catalogue. I remember taking this because I loved the nature of the light on the trees, and the shapes made by the trees and the elegant lamposts, all set against a beautiful pastel backdrop of some very smart houses. Perhaps means more to me as a memory than as a great photo, but I'd love to hear your comments.


Eye of

A close up shot of a horse's eye, from the recent horse trial. Love the 450Ds extra resolution (12.2MP v 8MP). Shows up in these cases.



A recent shot of our little one, as we played that classic game Peek-a-boo. I used the 450Ds live view to frame the shot, as I couldn't put the eyepiece to my eye to see. Very useful. Cropped it a little, but left the height to exagerate her smallness and I think it works.

The colour image is nice and subdued tones, so I may put that up at sometime too, but since the excellent mono presentation of last week, EVERYTHING is mono..!


At the Horse Trials

Taken last weekend at Burghley House Horse Trials 3-day eventing (daaahrlings). We went with some friends for the middle day, the cross-country. Lots of thrills and spills, and more horsey folk than you can imagine. Snapped this candid of someone snapping the impending action. Mono seemed to suit the feel.



Last one for this evening's dump..

Nothing especially special about this one, just like the bridge on the Meadows. This one uses my super wide angle, so the whole of the bridge is in there, and there's a sweep of the path as it follows the river too.

This is a blended exposure, two RAWs, processed for sky and foreground, blended in PS. High ISO.

I also utilised the noise reduction (chrominance and luminance) on the new Canon RAW software, which worked a treat. In an upgrade from the software with the 350D, there's even a shortcut to export the processed RAW to Photoshop, thereby making the workflow as seemless as having Adobe Camera RAW. Perhaps the latter is more powerful, but the Canon software seems fine to me. Perhaps I'll hold off on CS3 for now...



Taken on the river Cam, as dusk approached, on Grantchester Meadows, out the back of Newnham. Hand held, hight ISO, so a bit grainy, which I think is nice. I used a gaussian blur layer to smooth it out a bit, painting back some of the grain with a layer mask, to accentuate the ghostly feel. Cropped, colour desaturated a bit (except the beak) to finish.

It has flaws, but I like this one.


Yellow Caravan

It was the colour of this old caravan that caught my eye. I have mixed the RAW file to make it look more saturated and kind of under-exposed in a film sort of way. I like the effect and the interplay of the colours and the fuzzy tree to the right. A bit of fun if not hight art...



You wait months for one, then loads come along at once...

Another new pic from me. I was attracted to the weathered wood and paint on this old boat hull in Norfolk. Tried to make a feature of the word "Crab" that someone had etched on the side too. Really liked the feel of this, the shape of the wooden slats and the flaking paint, rusty nails and lichen. Great colours.


Roman Vase detail


I grabbed this particular shot very quickly. There was nice, late evening light falling on this vase, and the colours, shapes and textures on this particular part caught my eye (God, I sound like Damian now...).

Anyone out there?


Grantchester Grasses


This is likely one of the first pictures taken with the new 450 D. Not sure of this one, but I have tried to emphasise the light and texture of the grasses.

Comments welcomed, as ever.


White Peacock

A picture taken a couple of months ago at a wildlife park in Kent. Loved the textures of this creature's feathers.

Comments welcomed.


Saturday, August 16, 2008

Sana'a Yemen

Three shots from my recent trip to Sana'a, the capital city of Yemen.

Sana'a is a beautiful city, the old part of the town is a UNESCO protected area. Yemen has crushing poverty and is struggling with tribal insurgency in some areas. Sana'a is safe, the people are generous and welcoming. If you ever visit I thoroughly recommend the Burj Al Salam hotel

Needless to say I took a load of shots on our 2 day flying visit. Here are three of them.

Two Boys

Taken from the back seat of our cab as we were stopped at a Police check point on the outskirts of Sana'a - the two boys were trying to cross the road but were struggling. This was a really poor part of the area with all the buildings in bad disrepair. A quick shot taken with only a moment to take it before the scene went.

Wide Angle At Dar Al-Hajar (The Rock Palace)

Taken at a famous Yemen landmark - Dar Al-Hajar. This is about 1 hour outside of Sana'a. I recently bought a new wide angle lens (Sony 11-18mm) and have been using this for only a few shots, getting used to just how wide it is... again a spontaneous shot of this kid as he was running to catch his family. One regret with this shot is that I have not got a polarizing filter for this lens as yet and I wish the blue of the sky was more impactful.

Sana'a Shop and Electric Bulbs

One of the hundreds of little stores in Sana'a souqs. Selling everything from shoes, spices, daggers and Qat. Qat is the Yemeni drug that is chewed and stored in the cheek (you can see this in the shopkeeper's right check in this shot).

I liked the effect of the various light bulbs and the colour that this gave to the shop interior.

That's it - hope to hear some critical comments and I'll hope to post more soon.



Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Everyman Photo Competition

Not to suggest entry, but that I found loads of great images on this site. Great to explore different styles, and all amateur too.


Monday, August 11, 2008

Sorry I've been so quiet of late, guys. I hope to stick my head above the parapet on a more regular basis from now on...

Sunday, August 10, 2008

This is MY new toy

Recently I purchased my first L-series lens. EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM. The reasoning behind this rather expensive purchase was the desire to have a large, reasonably fast, sharp, image-stablised zoom for wildlife photography.

So, after reading reviews on line, and looking carefully at the Lidgard Photography budget, I purchased this lens. I used it recently on a photoshoot to Five Islands Provincial Park. I will also be using it this month on a 5 day field trip on the Bay of Fundy shooting whales and dolphins. I will post some of these images soon.

Its quite heavy to hold but the IS helps a lot here. Very fast focusing. The push-pull zoom takes a little adjusting to but not bad, and the photos I have seen so far are nice and crisp. Really good, and very happy.

Friday, August 08, 2008

How I Organise My Image Files

Hi there,

Yes I am still alive just busy. I have been on a recent photo shoot so I will post some of those images soon. I also have a couple of pieces in an art show right now and have my first full exhibit in October. In addition to that, I am still selling each Saturday at the market and working as a biologist on various contracts. So yes busy and have been very lazy with the blog. Apologies

Anyway, my thoughts on organising files. This is how I do it.

First I use Adobe Bridge as the organiser. I like it and it makes viewing files and finding stuff a cinch. However, Tim Grey of Digital Darkroom Quarterly suggests Adobe Lightroom or Downloader Pro ( as better software for managing and renaming files.

OK, here we go:

MyPictures - where I keep all of my original RAW images. The originals are kept in a folder structure that starts with the YEAR. Inside this folder there are numerous folders named according to the LOCATION. So if I shot images in Halifax during 2006 they would be in the folder MyPictures/2006/Halifax

In MyPictures I have another folder called
Processing - In here are images that have been processed and saved as PSD files for sale at the local Farmers' Market where I sell unlimited editions of my work. Note - The original RAW file is not moved to this folder; it stays in the original YEAR/LOCATION folder.

In Processing I have four other folders
To Market - In here are images that are currently being sold at the Farmers' Market. They are organised in folders named according to LOCATION, e.g. Halifax.

In To Market is another folder called
JPEGS which as the name suggests holds all of the jpeg files for printing organised according to the size of the image, e.g. 5 by 7, 8 by 12.

ToBeEdited and On Hold are as they suggest in the title. I tend not to use these folders anymore but if I was working on an image I would keep it in ToBeEdited. In these two folders images are organised according to LOCATION.

EndOfLine holds images that have been on the market but are now no longer sold due to poor sales or due to new work coming in. Again the images are organised according to LOCATION.

In a separate folder outside of MyPictures I have another folder called
LidgardPhotography - this folder holds all images related to the business but that are not for sale at the Farmers' Market. So, I have a folder for CLIENTS, EXHIBITIONS, CALENDAR, etc These folders contain the edited PSD files.

So that is my organisation. I may clean that up someday but for now, it seems to work reasonably well.

When an image is to be used for sale, either as a limited or unlimited piece it is given a unique number. The number and the title of the image are stored in an Access database. Once the image has been processed it is named according to the number. All other information, including the original file name, keywords, location info, date taken, etc is stored in the IPTC which is accessible under File Info in Bridge.

Tim Grey suggests renaming files once downloaded and the initial sort/edit has been done. He suggests a naming convention that includes 1. the core subject of the image, e.g. the location of the image or in the case of nature photography, the species, 2. a date format such as the year or year and month, and 3. a serial number that includes upto 4 digits. Files can easily be renamed in Bridge.

Both of the main folders, MyPictures and LidgardPhotography, are backed up automatically each day on two external hard drives, a 1TB, USB drive and a 250MB, USB drive. A third external drive (500MB, USB) is backed up less often and is stored in my partner's (Sue) office. I use Genie Backup Manager Pro to do the automatic backups. This is a relatively cheap but very functional, easy to use software.

So, there you go. Comments welcome.


A new panel for the LRPS

Been having a think about what a decent panel of 10 images could be for the LRPS distinction. Had advice that my monos, at present, may be stronger than my colour images, so have pulled 10 together.

No theme needed for the LRPS, just a consistency in quality and photographic eye.

Will bounce off some members of the Aperture group, and post their feedback on here.


Mother and Child

I took this snap on holiday recently. The little one was not well for the first day, and this was a shot of her being cuddled while asleep. The nice subdued window light enhances the intimate mood, I think. Mono works well too - I'll work on this some more, but this is my first rough presentation.


Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Organising digital files

With the purchase of the new PC with lots of storage (750GB and 500GB back up), I really want to improve how I organise my digital files, into a proper digital workflow from capture, filing, working-on to finished files.

The way I did it before was rubbish; filed under location/date (i.e. Norfolk, July 08). This is fine for snapshots, but what then if images are selected for possible photographic/artistic merit to be worked on for either personal projects, one's portfolio and/or competition entries. How to track and organise these, especially when images are "in transit" between the initial RAW and final output?

I'd really welcome some comments and postings from you chaps on how you manage your files, or how you think you should manage them, to get the best advice all round. I am also thinking to ask some of the more experience photographers at the club for what they do (and I'll post a summary of their experiences).

Dams - as the only semi-professional among us, your comments (assuming you're still alive) would be great!


Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Non-destructive dodging and burning technique

Some useful notes from one of the guys at the Camera Club spin-out "Aperture" group (for those working on special projects, competition entries or distinctions).

Dodging and Burning Non-destructively

First create a new transparent layer, and then set its blending mode to "Soft Light". This is an incredibly useful mode, with the following properties: anything lighter than mid-grey will selectively lighten the area below it (equivalent to "Screen" blending mode); anything darker than mid-grey with selectively darken the area below it (equivalent to "Multiply"). As with all blending modes, Photoshop treats "transparency" in exactly the same way as the neutral colour (in this case, mid-grey).

So, painting white onto the new layer will act as a dodge; painting black onto it will act as a burn - and it's all reversible, simply by painting a different colour or using the eraser! The best way to use it, I've found, is to choose pure black or pure white as the colour, pick a soft-ish brush, and then select a relatively low painting opacity (say 10%-15%). This allows you to build up the effect gradually, simply by repainting over the same area again and again. If the overall effect isn't strong enough, simply create another layer and do the same thing again.


Monday, August 04, 2008

My new toy...


I was torn between this and the 40D. Gareth had kindly lent me his 40D a few months back, and there's no denying it's a great machine. I found it to be large and heavy, especially compared to the somewhat diminutive 350D. I like the smallness of the 350D, and never found the oft-complained about small handgrip an issue (and I take an L size in marigolds!). The 450D is a little bigger, and the grip is definitely improved.

Also, the 40D has a few more features, more gradations of ISO and shutter speed, a greater shooting buffer and a more substantial alloy build quality. With RAW shooting, the fine tuning of ISO and shutter speed lessens in importance (at my level, at least) and I never use the "papparazzi" shooting mode anyway. As for build quality, the toughened plastic of the XXXD range seems fine for my needs (and I think a cover can be purchased for inclement conditions anyway). Although not a major consideration, the increased MP count and identical noise performance sealed the deal. Having on-board spot metering was a real plus over the 350D. The 450D has about 90% of the 40D's feature set too and is about £200 cheaper. I got £150 for the 350D and 2 spare batteries on part-ex, and Canon were doing a £50 cash-back too. Finally, I only needed the cheaper body-only kit, as I have all the lenses I need for now.

I had a brief excursion while in Norfolk on hols (with the 350D) and got some useable shots which I'll put on here soon. Also, went out Monday evening and shot down by the river Cam with the 450D. Not v exciting, but some possibles.