Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sunrise on Sable Island

This is my entry for the week. The photo was taken on Sable Island in late Dec 2005 at sunrise at the east end of the island. I find the warm colours in the sky very appealing and the 'glow' of the morning sun on the grass in the foreground is bloody lovely.

ISO 1oo

1/60th sec at f4.5

26.0 mm


Seasonal Affective Disorder

OK so it's a bit cliché... bite me! Fall colours have arrived here in NS, and last week this leaf was the first to go. The bastard! Now all the others on that tree have decided they wanted "the look" as well. Before long they'll be dropping like Jonestown cultists. Oh well.

Three pictures to choose from this week. Which do you like/dislike and why? I think I like #3 the best, the off-to-the-side look should appeal to Damien.

Using a polarizer here really helped to bring out the colour.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

LR2 trial

It was a very wet, miserable day in August, but I really wanted to shoot a few frames, so I plumed for some 'still life' in the kitchen. I shot this globe artichoke with available light using a 100mm macro lens and 25mm extn tube at f2.8. Not too much available light though as can be seen by the decidedly dodgy manual focusing (lesson learned - turn on the light while focussing in the gloom!). Anyway, this turned out to be my first attempt with a demo version of lightroom 2 that I downloaded. Have any of you guys used it? I was really impressed - really quick and easy to use, you can download some helpful tutorial videos as well. I'm tempted to buy (particularly as I lost Rawshooter when I bought a new computer, and i don't like the Canon bundled software at all). Any thoughts? all the best, Adam.

Monday, September 22, 2008

My first exhibit - The Fullness of Empty

On October 2nd, I have my first gallery exhibit. Rather daunting to say the least, but I thought I would add this post to say something about it. 

The exhibit is part of a city-wide photography festival called Photopolis 2008 where several galleries across Halifax host the work of photographers. My work is being displayed with another local photographer, Nick Rudnicki, whos work depicts lonesome scenes of Halifax at night. My images are of frozen sand landscapes taken on Sable Island off the coast of Nova Scotia.

Frozen sand I

These landscapes form after wet and cold weather followed by strong winds that blow loose sand away and sculpture the frozen sand. The images are therefore a form of natural art.

Frozen sand II

Frozen sand III

The sense of emptiness in these photos mirrors the emptiness that flows from the work of Nick, thus the two pieces of work, although very different in scale, location and subject, offer a similar sense.

Frozen sand IV

Frozen sand V

When I photographed these images I was not looking for something in particular but rather I kept an open and free mind to allow images to ’stop me’.

Frozen sand VI

Frozen sand VII

When the photograph is taken, the image that is captured holds all of the elements that created the perception.
The images are printed on a fine art paper which gives a textural feel to the image. Most of them will be 15" by 22" in size; Frozen sand III will be larger at 20" by 30".  All will be framed with wood and a white double mat. The sizing of the images was decided upon by simply printing off images at different sizes. At some point, the image does not look right, its too big. Other images, like Frozen sand III, do well at being large.


First Projected Image Competition of 2008/9

Above, my two entries for the first of the (3 part) serial projected image competitions.

You may have seen them both before. Currently, Reculver is lying in about 15th on my flickr stream, and the white peacock around 4th. Therefore, I'll predict a grading for white peacock, and nothing for Reculver sunset.

We'll see..


Canon 5D MkII


Friday, September 19, 2008

Holkam Beach, Norfolk

A picture from North Norfolk, between Wells and Holkam beaches. I was drawn to the shape of the snaking water inlet left by the retreating sea, so cropped it in this direction to make that a feature. I also included just the hint of interesting clouds, and also a scattering of people to indicate their smallness and how large the beach and sea are. I think it's a good mono image.



A good use for Flickr

I've just up-graded my free Flickr account to a "pro" account for about £13.

One of my reservations about Flickr is the fact that the comments are 99.99% favourable, no matter the nature of the picture. Thus, it's a bit of a back-slapping exercise, rather than a true forum for critical discussions. Unlike this venerable blog.

However, there is an upside. Well, several, I think.

Firstly, there is a lot of great stuff on there. But you have to look. If you do find great stuff, make it a favourite, and learn from seeing that work, that approach, that style. I like this aspect.

Secondly, and the main meat of this post, with the pro account comes the rather natty "Statistics" package. This breaks down all the traffic on your photostream, tells you which images have the most views, the most comments, the most favourite tags, and can do all kind of funky stuff with the data. So, while the comments on individual images are not all that useful, if you look at the total picture, it can reveal things about the images that the comments do not.

In addition, I have entered some of my photostream images to club competitions, so I know how well they have done. I can compare this to the results from my stats, and see how well it's borne out. Like in any clinical trial, individual results don't give the complete picture, but the larger the sample group is, the greater the statistical power, and the more relevant any trends become.

To test this, I have had a look at some images that I know I have submitted to club competitions and that I also have had on my photostream for some time now. Here are how they break down for a selected few, from a photostream of 44 images:

Window and Chair - 1st in a print competition; most popular in Flickr
Sunset Beach Walkers - digital pictorial image of the year; 3rd most popular in Flickr
Shadowman - creative image of the year 07/08; 6th most popular on Flickr
New York Ferry Moment - bombed in CCC; 16th on Flickr
Help - bombed in CCC; 18th on Flickr
Lady - bombed in CCC; 19th on Flickr

The others I have not submitted before, so can't compare, but I have submitted two images to the competition next week that are on Flickr, and are currently residing at 4th and 13th, which would imply that one will get something, and the other will bomb, which was my EXACT pattern last year in competitions with two entries! So, we'll see...

To complete the picture, I'm going to upload all my entries from last year, and see how they do. Clearly this is not scientifically controlled, but I'll try not to bias the descriptions or tags to favour one over the other. Also, I have submitted some images to other groups, and some not, so there's clearly a difference in the exposure of the images to the wider Flickr community. I'll try to be even with this too, but if an image gets and invite and another doesn't, that too is a measure of it's popularity, so I can't ensure exposure is even totally and neither should I.


Cambridge Panoramic

This is about 6 images stitched together. A little "bendy" in places, but it was hand held and not done properly with a tripod.

A bit of fun, if nothing else...


Thursday, September 18, 2008

And now for something a bit different

As Ivan knows, I'm a bit stressed at the moment. This is what happens when you're playing in Lightroom and you're feeling a bit stressed...

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Two different watery images

Last two from me for today (note: I worked on about 8 images quickly last night and wrote the descriptions on a Word file in about 40 mins total, which makes uploading the work of minutes. It's been a quiet day today...)

The first image is from or near Crystal Crescent Beach, outside Halifax. I was drawn to the snaking water inlet, and the make-shift bridge. Much better in mono than colour. I applied a wee blur to the sky and adjusted levels etc to get the finished effect.

The second image was taken while Damian, Sue, Kate and I were canoeing and camping in Keji National Park, Nova Scotia. Quite misty/foggy, giving a minimalistic feel to the whole scene. Included the near reeds (or whatever they are) and the distant lone rock coming out of the mists.


Car Lights in Mono

I took the image I liked the best from the three, and made it quickly into a mono image. I think it may work better, loses the distractions and focusses my eye on the shapes and lines etc.


Nova Scotian view - the re-crop

Never one to ignore an interesting comment, I have cropped this image to respond to D's comment to "make it more of a feature". So, have tried to do this. Does this work better? Is this what you had in mind, D?


Car lights

Well here is my post of the week. Nothing terribly exciting. Three images of car lights. However, I find them appealing because of the contrast of lines and curves. They are also so clean and sharp looking. Damian

White on Black

New York, not 100% sure of the precise location (perhaps someone can help?).

Taken to contrast the different architecture styles as well as the contrast between black and white, with a splash of gold. Old on new, light on dark, sacred on unsacred, curved on straight...the contrasts go on. How many more can you think of?

Comments as usual. I suspect D will like this one, as an image, if not the process behind it's capture.


Better in mono?

I posted the colour version of this a few days ago. Adam posed the question "would it be better in mono?". Here's the conversion.

Not sure - I like the colour due to the richness and warmth, and this feels a little cold to me. That said, the mono does have some nice textures and shading, so it's OK. Perhaps the mono is a more different take. The bridle is more pronounced in the mono, so that is perhaps not the best, but I still quite like the bridle being there (once the "clues" to what it is are deciphered...!).

So, on balance, I prefer the colour I think.



Nova Scotian view

Colin and Damian should recognise this scene. Taken from the car on the way to/from Keji National Park, when Kate and I were over in April 05. Lovely vivid colours, and a great day. Nice scene, if not an award-winner.


Monday, September 15, 2008

Diner fun

I already posted my photo of the week, which means I can have a bit of fun. Which dinnertime photo do you like best? I rather like Gareth surveying the salad.

Diner Dinner, Mono Lake, CA

Last one for me for...well...about 4 weeks if I stick to the posting "rules" (but we all know I'll post before then). I worked on this recent set of images for posting, so I thought I'd post all in one go.

This one is from the back catalogue again. Taken in a typical (I think) US diner, near the famous Mono Lake, in CA, USA. These two were sitting across from us, eating and not looking or talking to each other. Quite sad, really. I set up my (then compact) camera, on silent and used the timer to take a series of covert images. It had a screen that tilted (they all do, don't they) to compose. This one was the best, summed up the feel.


The eye of the....

Not quite the same ring as that soft rock Survivor classic.

Another image from the Burghley Horse trials. Got quite close to this one horse, and used the long lens to get right into the eye. The observant among you will see our little group, with K and A on the right, in the eye itself. Nice detail and a nice expression on the eye (and a clean eye too, I'm told by the horse expert = good/rare). I left in the bit of strap to give context.


Barcelona Trees

An image from a few years back, as I trawled through my back catalogue, wondering what to submit in the various competitions this year.

It's virtually uncropped, just had the levels adjusted. I was drawn to the wonderful light through the trees, the ornate lamp posts, set against the subtle shades of the smart shuttered town houses behind. Summed up the feel of the day and moment. Tried to compose to balance the positions of natural trees and man made posts. It was tricky lighting, but assisted by the partial shade.


At the horse trials

We recently went to Burghley House horse trials, near Stamford (D will know where this is). It's one of the 4 top level 3 day eventing trials, and we went for the middle day, the "thrills and spills" cross country (well, everyone likes to see toffs falling off and getting covered in mud, don't they?).

I used my telephoto most of the day, to get close to the action and to try out getting some candids. I liked this one, of a lady getting ready for the rider to come down the hill. The colour image is nice and vivid too, but I guess I'm exploring mono a bit too, trying to submit an all mono LRPS panel for assessment (hopefully in Feb 09).

Comments as usual



I was playing around with our little one the other day, when I spotted this opportunity for a nice pic. Used the Live View on the 450D to compose the shot, since the angle meant I couldn't look through the viewfinder, as it was right up against the wall. The Live View uses contrast based AF, which didn't work well in this instance, but once I knew the height to have the camera, I switched back to non-live view, knowing that the central focus point would lock on her. The colour image is nice too (and I may post later), but I wanted to see what a mono image looked like.



We didn't have much of a Summer this year (again), but when we did, it was lovely...

Friday, September 12, 2008

Blog books

Remember I started pulling pdfs of our blog contributions and comments in an effort to construct an archive of Critical Light? Well, it quickly became apparent that it was a) very labour intensive b)aesthetically unpleasing and c) a royal pain in the ass.

Pretty much if you can imagine a product, someone's already thought of it. If they haven't and you have then 99.99% sure your idea is crap. The other 0.01% are the ideas of millionaires (Google, Post-Its, Facebook, cats eyes).

So, someone HAD already thought of my idea (although I am pleased I thought of it independently) and it clearly isn't crap. You can now prepare blog books using a neat piece of software and the content of your blog.

I am going to look into this over the next few weeks/months, and report back. I'd love to have a year-by-year archive, and the prices don't look too bad. Check out this link.


Thursday, September 11, 2008


Here is one of those blind luck shots that made me say "neato"... and I didn't even get to take it! My S.O. Sherri was putzing around the garden with my camera, playing with f-stops when the autofocus did something unexpected.

As usual I welcome all post-processing suggestions and comments (and even rude remarks!). I was thinking perhaps of chopping off some of the shadowy area on the right, but I expect Damian will tell me to slice off everything to the left... ;)


Tuesday, September 09, 2008


Hi All

Well, the first presentation of the 2008/9 CCC season got off to a cracking start, with a session from octagenarian and FRPS Vic Attfield.

I had posted on our blog a selection of his images, but the ones he went through in the 90 min presentation were even better, and accompanied by excellent humourous commentary with a fair peppering of advice and tips. He's only now thinking about converting to digital, so all of these were taken with a variety of manual SLR cameras and printed in his own darkroom. A real masterpiece of work, so much so that both G and I bought his retrospective book "Looking", which was published a few years back.

He's giving up judging and (presumably) external presenting, since he indicated this would be his first and last time presenting to this club. A real shame, but very very pleased to have seen it, and to have a lasting and inspirational memento of the evening and his work, since it seems he doesn't have a website...I also had a nice chat with him in the interval, getting some great encouragement when I said I was becoming more of a mono fan.

This was been, for me, the best presentation so far in my 2 full seasons at CCC. I know I missed a couple that Gareth raved about in similar fashion (and one that he also purchased books for us both [Hugh Milson]), but this one was worth the money of the subscription to CCC for the remainder of the season. Being this good on the first meeting of 08/09 may mean that it's all (relatively) down hill from here on, but I hope the committee have improved the speakers, since there were quite a few duffers last year. So far, so good. 10/10.


Monday, September 08, 2008

Summer selection

It's been a very busy summer - lots happening at work and a fair amount of travelling through July and August, so I've posted far less to the blog than I'd have liked. I've done a little bit of comment catchup and I'd like to take part in "one shot a week" so here's a selection to represent the last few weeks.

This is one of me rather than by me, at the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin.

This last one courtesy (indirectly) of Camera Club - Ann, who's an outstanding photographer, offered a free ticket to this weekend's airshow at Duxford for a car-load of people (her husband works there). I managed to get in first with my request so we went, and saw the Vulcan bomber in one of its first airshow appearances since it was restored to flying order at the end of last year.

Airshows in Britain in the seventies and eighties were all about the Vulcan. They cost a bomb to fly and keep repaired - ironic, as that's what they were built to carry - and they're huge. When the afterburners kick in, it's the best rock concert you've ever been to - and I think there's only Concorde - another delta-wing aircraft - which can beat it in terms of flying grace.

Friday, September 05, 2008

First of the Season

This is a link to the first presentation of the new CCC 2008/9 season which starts on Monday 08 September.

Looks like some nice, gritty monos, industrial landscapes, street scenes and working life - should be right up Gareth's street.

Last year's kick off was an awful presentation which owed more to substandard natural history photography than photographic merit. This one looks better on paper.

Here's hoping..


Thursday, September 04, 2008

Newcastle Station

Just a quick grab shot on my travels lately. Can't decide whether cropping out the second roof is an improvement or not? Your thoughts appreciated as always Gentlemen. Adam.


Have any of you seen this?.

Looks like the application takes all your multiple images from a place and can relate them to each other, and form a kind of on-the-fly photostitch, where you can "navigate" your way around the scene, in an interactive way, half-way between static images and full video, but with the control of the view in your hands. Looks interesting. There's a mini demonstration at the link from the Grand Canal in Venice.

I am going to give it a go, but wondered if you were aware of this application and what it can do. If you are, let us know what you think, and watch this space for my "review".


Better in mono?

I posted the colour version of this a while back. It's below.

Below is a mono conversion.

Is it better in colour (with it's technical flaws), or mono? (I know the mono conversion is a little muddy, but what potential could it have?).