Thursday, October 30, 2008

"These are a few of my favourite things..." Part 1

As part of my self-imposed 3rd anniversary celebrations for Critical Light, I'd like us to get all misty-eyed and nostaligic, and find posts and/or discussion threads that we consider to be our favourites.

They can be anything. At all. And for any reason. Serious or funny.

Among my favourites are the times when Damian and I went 12 rounds on the whole Miksang thing. We clearly have different views on this, and it's all cool now, but it wasn't always that way. It didn't get nasty (or not that nasty), but if there hadn't been nearly 3000 miles of water between us, I think he'd have come down and chibbed* me one.

*there's prize for the first one to confirm what "chibbed" means.

Here's a link to one such discussion, from the post entitled "Miksang it up a bit". It's a cracker.

A cautionary tale

New, it seems, is not always better. In the mega-pixel DSLR war (which seems to have gone nuts again after a period of relative calm), the following quote from the highly-respected on it's newly posted review of the new Canon 50D, the sister model (not replacement, we are told) to both Gareth's and Damian's 40D.

"RAW noise

Finally let's take a look a the raw output of the EOS50D next to the ten megapixel 40D. Removing any in-camera noise reduction and processing the images using Adobe Camera Raw (without NR) gives us the nearest thing to a 'level playing field' for assessing the relative noise levels of the two cameras' sensors. Despite the fact that the 50D is the newer camera it shows visibly more chroma and luminance noise than the 40D. Considering the 50D's much more tightly packed sensor (4.5 MP/cm² vs 3.1 MP/cm² on the 40D) this comes hardly as a surprise. It would have been unreasonable to expect Canon's engineers to overcome the laws of physics."

At 15MP, there is clearly not much room for movement on the pixel/interference/noise front vs the 10MP 40D. My new 450D (12MP) seems to be virtually identical to the old 350D, but it may show some signs of increased noise at higher ISOs. Thankfully, I don't use them that much, and the RAW software handles noise (chroma and luminance) very well, so no difference in effect to the 8MP 350D. Phew. However, it's clearly on/near it's limit at 12 for APS-C sensors, so 15 is clearly tipped over the edge. It has to be said that it's all good up to about 800, so no impact if you have a 50D, but clearly it's having to work harder for about the same/less image quality. For a shed load more money. Hmmm.

For us lot, if we did want more pixels (for larger prints or more flexibility in cropping) then it has to full size sensor, so the 5D MkII at 21MP is the clear choice, but that's the price of a decent second-hand car.


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Neither beach nor tree

Looking for something to post this week, I came across this little fellow from earlier this year. It fits in with the bands of colour theme that emerged in recent posts, I think. :) It's fascinating that a moth could evolve such vivid colours, especially given that this particular one decided to camouflage himself against a flat black post.

Apologies in advance to Ivan or whoever else might complain "not another bloody bug picture!" :D

Sable beach at dusk

I took this shot on Sable island on 11 January 2007 at 18:10, so quite late. It was shot on a tripod at 30 seconds, f9.0, ISO 100 with my 17-85mm lens set at 35mm. I selectively sharpened the sand in the foreground and left the remaining photo untouched. I really like the colours in this photo. The browns in the sand, the greens in the sea and the blurred surf zone. Damian

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

More on CS4

I found this good review online. Click here for details.

I think this is on my Christmas list...


3rd Anniversary Celebrations

Dear All

Critical Light will be three years old on 25th November 2008. Here is a link to that first post. Looking at my aspirations for the blog, I think we can safely say "mission accomplished". I know blogging is soooo 2005 (according to an article on the radio recently), but I can't imagine doing this on Twitter...

To celebrate this achievement, and the fact that we have grown from only 2 contributors (myself and Dams) to now seven members (if not all contributors on a regular basis - you know who you are... ;-)), I thought it might be nice, on 25 November (or thereabouts) to post a picture depicting or inspired by the theme of "Three".

It can be anything at all, as long as three is clear or strongly implied in the image. Carte Blanche, as the French would say.

It may be good to have a small competition, where we vote for our favourite image on that theme. We can't vote for our own, but we can express our preferences, ranked as 1st, 2nd and 3rd (of course). Max 2 images to be entered per person. A deadline for submission and voting will be set later.

Let me know what you think.


Monday, October 27, 2008

Another Sandwich Bay mono image

Just finished working on this one - really like how it's turned out in mono, the contrast in the sky and grasses, and that band of sea and beach (with tiny tiny walkers in the distance) works well to my eye.


Sandwich Bay (Kent) mono

Taken this weekend, as we visited friends in Kent. I loved the seascapes in Kent, and miss the sea terribly now we are landlocked in Cambridge.

On this occaision, it was a bright, cold, clear day, with lots of great skies, good light, wet sand and wide open spaces. Hardly a soul on the beach, except us.

This one appealed to me because the sand was wet, picking up the reflections of the sky, which looked huge through the wide angle lens.

Mono seems to work better than colour in this case, since it gives emphasis to the tones rather than it all looking blue.


Bench with a view

Early morning, bench on top of Hopesay Hill, Shropshire. A wonderful place to be, and a typically English vista.


Damian's tree - cropped

I had a go at cropping, and slightly upping the contast on Damian's tree image. The hole in the cloud needs cloning out (I think), but what are the views on this crop, and what other crops do folks think might work?




Sunday, October 26, 2008

BIG thanks to Ivan

Well, it seems that the blog is back on form.  And this is only because of Ivan's continued effort to keep it going. When the blog goes quiet Ivan steps in and gives us all a kick in the buttocks to get posting again. I know that I certainly appreciate this. So, thanks Ivan for doing that.


Keeping with the tree theme

I took this photo on Sable Island on 31 Dec in 2006 at dusk. I remember this well. We were driving on our ATVs from the East camp to the West camp for the New Years Eve celebrations. It was 6pm and the weather was awful; cold, very windy and there was snow falling. We were close to the camp and I was really looking forward to getting inside but saw this tree trunk in the distance. It was one of those times when you have to think twice about pulling your camera out. But, its at these times when you get the best shots. I was also very happy to have IS on my lens because there was very little light.

1/25th at f4.5, Image Stabilised
ISO 1600
Focal length 30mm


Friday, October 24, 2008

Lonely Tree (part 2)

Another lonely tree from the Shropshire shoot. This time, in the middle of a newly harvested field, with some tiny sheep around. I liked the lines and shapes of the field, the imprint of man, with this tree isolated. The sheep are a semi comedic touch.


Beautiful Clouds

Another one from the recent Shropshire trip.

This time, I noticed these lovely clouds that seemed to echo the land formations, and almost looked like some further distant hills, catching light. Minor adjustments for levels, and cropped to be panoramic.


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Photo competition


You wondered about the other images in the recent competition I entered at CCC? Well, here is a link to all 94 images, and if you click on them you'll see the title, photographer and what (if any) award was given:

Results of the Second Projected Image Competition

The images entered for Monday's competition are now available to be viewed with the Titles, Authors and any Awards (click on thumbnail to display these).

Please note that, in the haste to finish the meeting, some awards were omitted from the final run-through although they were on the Judge's Award list.

More information at: link


Vertorama tutorial

This is from a contact on Flickr, called Panorama Paul - check out his site, it's excellent.

Anyway, this link describes his way of stitching two images vertically to get a "vertorama" (his word, not mine), and simulate a kind of high resolution, medium format type approach. Some of his images done this way are nothing short of spectacular.

Check out the tutorial, and check out his photostream for inspiration. Lots of good descriptions on there and excellent shots.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The future of low-noise, high ISO cameras...?

From an article seen on This new technology looks like it may have future applications for incredibly low noise, higher ISO detection. Imagine, image quality of 100 ISO at 25,600 ISO or more, as this material is said to have 100x light sensitivity to conventional silicon based sensors. Also, it is said, that this material can absorb light at a wider range, including infra-red, so you could switch to infrared mode as if putting in ir film (and no PS mucking about). Also, sensors could remain small (APS-C) and have many more pixels on them, as the sensitivity would be greater, and resolution, but with little/no image quality trade off. If you like grain - and digital grain - this could be the end of the road.

You saw it here (nearly) first...

Too early to shed light on Black Silicon say developers

Creators of the 'black silicon' that has been much discussed, following an article in the New York Times, have said it's too early to discuss what their material's benefits might be for digital photography. The novel, doped silicon technology holds out the promise of increased sensitivity but is still in development by SiOnyx, a Harvard University spin-off.

The company holds the rights to develop and commercialize a silicon doping technology that research has suggested absorbs light (including in the infrared region of the spectrum that can be detrimental in conventional photography), more readily than conventional silicon chips. Although initially believed to be a result of the conical structure formed when lasers impregnate the surface of the silicon with sulfur compounds, the company now believes it's these compounds' effect on the electronic behavior of this surface layer that is more significant. The company's patents are not restricted to the use of Sulfur however, and cover the doping technique itself.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

ATV tracks---GONE!

Upon the suggestion of Colin, I have removed the ATV tracks from the image.

This image will be a part of my limited edition catalogue and on sale at the November Nova Scotia Design and Crafts Council Xmas Craft Show (a very up market show).

what do you think? any difference?


Photoshop CS4

Lots of new features, and I REALLY need to upgrade from CS...

Summary of details (plus some nice Quicktime movies) here.

Look at the content-sensitive scaling movie - looks awesome...


Monday, October 20, 2008

Tonight's Digital Competition at Cambridge Camera Club


Well, not as grand as Damian's exhibition (which looks great, btw), but I managed a minor first this evening...both images placed in the internal digital image competition tonight. The limit is two entries, and I always enter two, but one does OK/quite well, and the other nothing (or both do nothing). This time, "Roman Vase" got a Highly Commended, and "Peek-a-boo" went one better, and got a Third place grading.

Roman Vase detail


Also, rather than agonising over my choices for ages, I just banged these in, late on Sunday morning before leaving for the airport for a work trip. Little thought, but good result. Just goes to show, eh?


Sunday, October 19, 2008

My first exhibit is almost over

Last Saturday night (18th October) I spent a few hours at the gallery where my work is showcased as part of the Nocturne event. Essentially, 28 galleries kept their doors open until midnight to showcase their art...all sorts of art from music to video to paintings and photography. Two city buses, which were ilustrated with photographs and also had music on board, moved people from venue to venue.  The Hydrostone Gallery where my work resides was part of this event. I had my camera and took a few pics inside and outside of the gallery. Images were also projected on to a screen and through the window.

The opening reception of the exhibit was great, with lots of people and the gallery offered wine and beer.  I found it all quite daunting though and was somewhat shy to discuss my work. It is an odd feeling like you are exposing a part of yourself for people to see and in some cases judge.

Preparing for the show was also stressful. The images were printed on Hahnemühle fine art paper with Epson UltraChrome pigment ink. It gives the photograph some texture and looks far better than standard photographic paper. It is far more expensive though. The framing was a little tricky. I thought metal would work but then opted for a rich brown (expresso) wood and kept the frame and mat (white) the same for all of the images. The next issue was the size of the print. Some images work best at particualr sizes. To solve this I printed photographs at different sizes starting at 12 by 18 and moved up to 20 by 30. Most of the images seemed better at 15 by 24 while one of them worked much better at 20 by 30. I had sevenphotographs in all, less than I originally planned. However, space was an issue since Nick also had seven and his were quite large, at 30 by 40. 

Nicks images were captured in a very different way to mine and make my images seem like child play. His images are sharp, with deep colour, a very precise composition and were captured through a long exposure.  So, there was a lot of thought and planning involved. At 30 by 40 they are quite impressive.  The presentation is also different; printed onto a fine aluminium sheet and laminated. 

In contrast, my images were captured through spontaniety.  When the frozen sand landscapes were created I wandered through looking and shooting at images that jumped out at me. I had no tripod, the images were captured in fractions of a second and the weather was windy with sand blowing around my face and camera. 

Nevertheless, there is a similarlity between Nicks' images and mine. There is a lot of space, a sense of nothingness and structures that, in the case of Nick's images, were consciously planned while in the case of mine were created through random movement of air. 

The exhibit ends a week Sunday. I have sold one piece of work, the largest actually, which makes it certainly worthwhile for me. I fully intend to do another exhibit next year and hope that they get better.


Saturday, October 18, 2008

Fog, Light and B&W

First of all, I like to thank Ivan for inviting a frenchy to this blog. I will try to bring my thoughts on photography :)

to go straight to the point, here is a picture I posted yesterday on flickr :
. H . O . P . E .

I got a comment on the light at the top left corner of the picture. I then try a square crop on the original one, but I then faced another problem: does the BW suit to the picture, or would a colour work do it? here are the options:

Let me know what are your point of view!


Thursday, October 16, 2008


With late afternoon autumn sun behind me and threatening clouds rolling in from the east, I think this week's post looks like a painting.

Click this Google Maps link to see where this bridge is located.

18mm f/13

Any better...?

Colin made the good point that the wide angle effect made the foreground look a bit odd. I agree, and have cropped it again to try to reduce this effect.

Colin - what do you think?


Monday, October 13, 2008

Now, this is my kind of recession...

Geddit?? Eh??


With all the doom and gloom about global recession, at least this is one kind we can all enjoy. Taken on the same morning as the lone tree below, but a little earlier, using the telephoto at it's long (450mm) end, IS. Lovely light and mist, creating fading layers like theatre scenery (flats). Took loads of these, so may post more, as the light was changing all the time and creating new effects. The jpeg compression used for this web post doesn't do justice to the fine gradation in tones in the original RAW.


Lone Tree on Hopesay Hill

An image taken recently on a visit to my in-laws. They live in Shropshire. Shropshire has hills, with great views. Cambridge does not have hills. I miss hills.


Friday, October 10, 2008

Breaking News - Visual artist strikes out and wins!

Damian Lidgard, Kyle MacDonald, Chris Lockerbie

Art on the Bus

The Halifax Regional Municipality’s Department of Cultural Affairs, in conjunction with the Nocturne: Art at Night Committee and Metro Transit commissioned black & white artwork for the interior bus boards on various Metro Transit Buses. Artists were charged with the design of artwork that considered the properties of light and illumination. Three local artists were selected, each with their own interpretation of the theme. HRM Cultural Affairs, Metro Transit and Nocturne: Art at Night are delighted to display the work of local artists, Damian Lidgard, Kyle MacDonald and Chris Lockerbie.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008


Seeing Damian's previous post reminded me of this image I took a few months back for our attempted neighbourhood theme. It's similarly overly busy, perhaps. This house was in fact occupied in this state, including some kids who would wait for the school bus in the morning. The house has since burned down.

Technical info: taken from inside a slow-moving vehicle. No way I was going to go stand in their garden with a camera, especially with a 'no trespassing' sign in the front door.

Monday, October 06, 2008


Last weekend Sue and I visited Digby Neck/Long Island/Brier Island, Nova Scotia. On the way home we stopped at an abandoned house and I took a few shots while Sue waited patiently. Initially I shot from the outside but then climbed in through a window and took a few inside with a tripod. This shot was actually taken from the outside through a window. For me, the stairs added to the sense of abandonment and lonliness of this house.

The inspiration for stopping at the house came from a local photographer, Angela Carlsen, who  focuses her efforts on shooting abandoned houses and has created some great images. 

1/40th, f5.6, image stablised, ISO 1000,  53.0mm


Saturday, October 04, 2008

Fen Sunset

My effort for the week (must post,must post). Taken this summer near Little Downham. Nothing special but kinda like it all the same. ISO100, 55mm, f16, 1/6 sec. Touched up in LR2.