Monday, November 09, 2009

Adam's photo - now in mono and cropped

As suggested, Adam's excellent shot cropped to echo the lead-in lines of the huts more and emphasise the letterbox element of the pier PLUS a nice mono treatment, and lose some of the somewhat redundant shoreline..



Sunday, November 01, 2009

Southwold Pier

Sorry it's been so long - been travelling loads and working like a dog. As a result have barely picked up a camera, but here is one I did manage to snap at Southwold pier at sunset in early October. Pretty miserable day but I tred to make the best of it.... 24mm f22 8 secs....

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Available light

Available light is my second photography exhibit and at the same gallery as last year. This exhibit will feature myself and three other photographers that will present work of images captured using only the available natural light and careful consideration of the moment. The idea is to show the ever present beauty in every day life.

The exhibit will run for one month and will open on the eve of Nocturne; an evening event when many galleries in Halifax open their doors to exhibits on show for that evening.

In our case the images from the four photographers will be projected on to a 12 foot screen in a park opposite the gallery. Three musicians (violinist, cellist and guitarist) will play a one-hour 4 to 5 movement piece composed for these images. In a sense, a musical interpretation of the images.

My work will be a series of images of light striking my bathroom basin. This particular light occurs only during the summer, enters through a window and bends around the basin. The light creates wonderful patterns of shadow and light.

Unfortunately I will be on Sable Island for the opening (!) but will be able to see the gallery exhibit.


Monday, September 28, 2009

Running sanderlings

I took this photograph in January 2008 just before leaving Sable Island. I was at the West Spit and crept up to these birds on my stomach so as not to disturb them. I also wanted to be at their level to get a different view. The seals and gull in the background maintain a sense of scale. This photograph reached the semi-finals in the 2008 BBC Wildlife Competition.
Canon EOS 40D, 100-300mm 4.5/5.6 lens, 1/160th sec, f/5.6, ISO 500, focal length 300mm


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Online, web-based photo editing with

Found this via the BBC tech website. It's an online photoshop clone called It's free and no registration required (I think).

Looks and works very like it apparently, although I have not fully tested it (review to follow). Have a try and see what you think. May be useful if away from your PC and Photoshop not available...

It does layers, but not masks, and I can even see how to erase one layer to reveal one underneath, so you can't - it seems - do anything really funky on it. But if your shots are ok and only need a little tweak, it looks pretty good. I'll keep investigating and see their on line help just in case you can do more.

Happy time-wasting!


Monday, September 14, 2009

The issue of sunlight

Here is a technical question for you budding photographers.

The situation: I am slowly crawling along a narrow beach at high tide, occasionally wading, to reach the thousands ofsandpipers and plovers on a narrow stretch of beach. When I get close enough to start shooting, I run into the problem of shooting into the sun. Colours are washed out and there is haze. I can't get to the other side of the beach because I would disturb the birds and they may not return. I am shooting with a 100-400mm zoom lens.

How can I minimise the effects of the sun, such as losing colour saturation, and haze etc. This question is directed at both the camera and post-processing RAW captures.

Any thoughts on that?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Rain Sky - 2; the DCL crop

Taking Damian's advice, cropping off the lower black layer...better?


Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Birds, and lots of 'em

I recently made three photographic trips. The first was to Evangeline Beach where I photographed thousands of semi-palmated samdpipers and plovers. I will post the other two trips later: the Bay of Fundy and Kejimkujik National Park.

Each year in July thousands of these birds congregate on the Minas Basin to feed on the mudflats. If you go on the fall of high tide the birds are crammed together on small beaches waiting for flats to be exposed so they can binge on those delightful invertebrates. So I went down there to have a look...

I used my Canon EOS 40D and 100-400mm L USM lens.

At the smallest of sounds, or movement or smell the birds take flight.

They have a brown upper and a white lower so in the air they produce wonderful and colourful patterns

Rain sky

Another 3.2MP image taken on the cybershot phone. This time tweaked quite a bit more - I wanted to see if I could make a decent mono image. I think I can. Not much interest in the foreground, and it's a little imbalanced across the image, but the limitations of the colour image (noise) works out to give quite a nice mono grain effect. I used a vignette too to increase the moodiness of the image. Let me know what you think.

Is anyone else planning to post? If not, I shall surf your sites, take screenshots and post for you!!


Friday, September 04, 2009

Dying flowers

Some flowers, now getting near the end of their best period. I liked the murky water and view through the glass. Quite nice, muted colours and shapes.

Sony Cybershot mobile phone, macro mode.


Morning Light on glass

A simple shot, taken because I liked the light and shade on the patterned glass we have in our front porch. The little cybershot has slightly over-exposed the most intense area of light, but has handled the shade part very well, and overall exposure is good considering how tricky this must be to meter. It actually has spot metering, would you believe..!


Clematis Explosion

Last of this summer's crop of clematis flowers. Wonderful colours.

Taken with the cybershot from mobile phone. This time on macro mode, which is actually not too bad - there's a lot of detail in this image, and it's only had a marginal amount of sharpening.

I'd like to enter one or more of the technically better mobile phone shots to a projected image competition at Cambridge Camera Club this year. 3.2MP is more than enough to meet the size requirements for projection, so it's down to me getting a good enough shot from this little beast. What kudos, to get placed with a mobile phone snap, proving the old maxim that it's WHAT you photograph, not what with.


A closer warm welcome

Same place, but closer in. I think this accentuates the elements - the grimy pavement, the vomit on the ground and the smiley face.

Sony Cybershot from mobile phone.


A warm welcome?

A bit like the "Paradise Lost" image recently posted, this one is from a back alley in Cambridge, where often you see homeless folks sleeping. I liked the contrast of the bleak stained brick with the playful face.

Taken with the Sony Cybershot again. It definitely does better in good light, but I think I didn't quite let the (slow) autofocus do it's thing before moving a little. There are better pics than this (next post)


At the horse show

A snapshot taken at a local horse show, where the kids were having races. I liked the poses of the watchers, the man with his hands on his hips, the old woman and youngsters sitting down, the action going on in front of them. I am trying out a more "in the moment" style of photography, perhaps with elements of what Damian does, less thinking more capturing and seeing what it comes out like. A bit like some of the street photography I've been getting into recently.

This was taken on a 3.2MP sony cybershot, which is part of my new Sony Ericsson C510 mobile smartphone. It's not powerful, no manual control, but it is with me all the time, and is ideal for this type of thing. It powers on in seconds, and is easy, immediate. Not a replacement for the SLR, but something separate.

I can manipulate to minimise any artefacts in photoshop - these are very small sensors, so can be quite noisy, but I think this adds to the feel of these captures.

More to follow...


Thursday, August 20, 2009


Taken in Cambridge last winter, I loved the soft early evening light on the brick and water.


Mother and Child - part 2

I posted this image about a year ago, but got no comments. So, I think it's OK to post again! I am thinking to enter it as part of the 6 image assault on the 2009/10 CCC Digital Projected Image Competition, so all comments gratefully received.


Peak District Leaves

A simple, long exposure shot, taken in the Peak District a few years ago. Not pushing the boundaries of the aesthetic, but quite challenging to get right.


Get a Life..

Who hasn't been guilty of this from time to time...?


Cartoon (c)

Paradise Lost

A shot, taken a couple of years back, from the small town in the west of Scotland (Linwood) that I grew up in. When we moved there, I was 3, it was 1971, and everything was shiny and new; the schools, the roads, the parks, the houses. It really was very nice and community-spirited and a great environment to grow up in. All the men worked at the newly opened car factory and the women either stayed at home to look after kids, or had jobs in Paisley (5 miles) or Glasgow (15 miles). The car factory shut, and it all changed.

Now look at it. This is taken at the shopping centre - mostly closed, boarded up, rubbish and dirt everywhere. The town is penned for re-development, but it'll likely never be what it was again. Very sad.


Monday, August 17, 2009

Photolife - Emerging Photographer

I entered this image into the Emerging Photographer contest with the magazine Photolife and was successful. The image is listed along with several other photographers of different styles.


Sunday, August 09, 2009

Quick snap

Gentlemen - it's August so it's time for a monthly post. This was taken as a bit of an abstract snap whilst in Notre-Dame la Garde, Marseille in March with my Canon-G9. I use LR2 to convert the RAW and add a bit of colour back. I was trying to post something a bit different to my usual offereings - I'm not sure I like it myself, but anyway, let me know. A.

Saturday, July 25, 2009


In the spirit of regular contributions, I'm posting this image. A free bag of onions to whoever first guesses what this is.

Your thoughts? Too much black? Not enough? Does it need more puppies?


Friday, July 24, 2009

Keeping the ball rolling?

I thought I should add something, anything, in light of today's email.

I played a little with Adam's image, desaturating the red and yellow a lot. The idea was to make things look gloomier. I wanted to keep the sky fairly colourful, though, to emphasize the gloomy foreground. It was a very quick and dirty fiddle. Thoughts?

BTW, is this some sort of tidal river?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Back from the dead......

I'm back and promise to post at least once a's a shot a took at sunset in march at Blakeney. Any thoughts welcome. 24mm, f11, 1/10, iso 100, with tripod. Adjusted levels in LR2 and used LR2 graduated filter to darken sky two stops. With regard to the discussion around calibration, I've used Spyder2 for a couple of years and I'm very happy...more soon, A.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Halifax Pride

Well I don't want to be the one that causes the collapse of Critical Light so I vow to post at least one blog a month...well, we will see...

So, here are a few pics from past Pride Parades. Another is coming up this month and I always find them a photographic treat...

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Evolution of a photograph

I enjoyed reading this essay from an experienced professional - gave me hope that it's not just us "fumbling amateurs" that need multiple gos to sometimes get the image we see in our minds eye...

Close, but no cigar...

I missed the last meeting of the Cambridge Camera Club season (well, I missed pretty much everything from end Jan to end of the season), but, at the Annual Prize Giving, I came 2nd in the serial projected image competition. This is a 3 round, 2 images per round, open theme competition, running September to Feb. In my first CCC season, I came third overall in the club, then nowhere last season, and now 2nd! No cup, just a certificate. As this requires a degree of consistency, and I used 4 new images (all taken in the UK with not a spectacular foreign vista in sight), I was pleased with such a good result.

Although somewhat disillusioned with the Camera Club set-up, and now sans my partner-in-crime (and new Dad) Gareth, I will rejoin for season 2009/10, in the hope of learning something or being inspired.


How to get monitor and printer to match

A useful link, from Colour Wiki. My new LCD screen is way off, and I am seriously thinking to get a colour profiling device, like a Spyder or a Huey. Any experience from you guys and/or advice?


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Black and white landscapes

Recently I have been playing around with black and white images of landscapes. Here are two that I am quite happy with...


Evolution of my photography - Conclusion

The last post in the series on the evolution of my photography has just been posted. So now the whole story is there....


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Correcting colour casts

I recently read an email post by Tim Grey on how to correct strong colour casts and thought I would demonstrate it here.

In this image one can notice a pink and green cast across two of the eggs, especially if you look at the lower righht egg. 

To remove this cast one does the following

1. Duplicate the Background and rename this layer Colour Correction
2. Ago to Filter>Blur>Average. This averages the colour values of the image and this is the colour of the cast.
3. To apply the opposite colour value to this since to remove the cast, go to Adjustments>Image>Invert.
4. Then above the Colour Correction layer apply the Blend mode 'Colour'.
5. Use the Opacity slider to adjust the strength of the blend until you have the original colour minus the cast, as shown in the image below.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Evolution of my photography

I recently presented a talk to the Contemporary Arts Society, Halifax on the evolution of my photography from when I began in the early 1990s to my present day work on Sable Island. The talk was very well received and was interesting to me too since it allowed me to see how my photography has changed and the elements that have shaped it.

This presentation will be posted on my blog, in a series of four parts over four weeks: I. where I was, II. where I went, III. what I found and IV. where I am.

Part I is online now.


Thursday, April 02, 2009

Graceful gulls

This is a photograph of Greater Black-back gulls flying above a snow covered dune. There gulls are ferocious mean carnivores and will peck out the eye of seal pups, attack birds nests for eggs and chicks and go after some mammals such as rabbits. If one had this "label" in mind when photographing these birds it would surely influence the type of image produced. So, when I saw this image below, I threw out those labels and produced this image. Damian

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Podcast - Interview with Miksang photographer Michael Wood

Miksang Podcast with Michael Wood

Michael Wood recently did an interview about Miksang with Paul Giguere, the
host of 'Thoughts on Photography', a web site that contains lots of
great interviews and articles that revolve around the notion of, as
Paul puts it, 'Living a Photographic Life'

Click on the 'POD' Icon, or on 'direct download'


Sunday, March 01, 2009

Sable Island shipwreck

In January while on Sable Island I came across a shipwreck that was exposed albeit for a week or so. I took quite a few photos but didn't seem to be able to capture a strong relationship between the sea and the wreck. I really wanted this because the sea is of course the reason for the shipwreck being there. I also wanted to capture a sense of 'spookiness' since I felt that while walking around the wreck. Imagining the sea men that died as the ship hit the island.

Anyway, to get that shot I used a slow shutter speed at dusk with the camera positioned on top of a dune. Here is the result. Damian

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Caught in the act!

Well, this place has been quiet for some time! To break you out of hibernation, here is a shot of a melting icicle. Taken with my new Christmas toy (Pentax K-20D) and my trusty 50mm/f1.7 prime lens, it's a crop of a somewhat larger image. The falling droplet manages to focus the background surprisingly well:

If you rotate the picture, you should be able to make out the barn (immediately to the right) and the house (off to the distance).

I have some other interesting icicle shots, but I'll save them for another day.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Adobe software resource sites

Hello all,

This is a short post. Late last year a friend told me about these Adobe resource sites for learning PS and other Adobe software. Thought I would post them so you can have a look.


Sunday, January 25, 2009

My return from Sable Island

So I came back from the Island on Friday (23rd Jan) after a 4 week trip. The trip was very good and great for photographs. Lots of great light, extreme weather (wind, snow, rain, blizzards, cold). And best of all I was very much in the right mood to take advantage of it all. Posted a couple of images below and hope to post more. Damian

Thursday, January 22, 2009


I recently - like, 2 days ago - purchased CS4 upgrade from CS.

First impressions are very favourable. It seems to run faster, and the Bridge function - which was a real trimmed down affair in CS - is much quicker too. It has some nice neat tweaks and interface changes, and a greater level of control with some of the filters etc. Very early days, so have hardly scratched the surface of the new version. Being 3 full versions on from CS, I'm guessing that there's a lot more to discover.

The best bit is Adobe Camera Raw, version 5.0. I recall using Camera Raw with an older version of Photoshop (v6) and enjoyed the fact that it's fully integrated. I think I need to get a good book on Adobe Camera Raw.

Any recommendations for ACR and CS4 books?


Wednesday, January 07, 2009

If only it were this easy...

I found this image last year on flickr, and it made me chuckle. NOT my image, but I kind of wish it were...


A view on composite images

Happy New Year, fellow "Critical Light"ers. Hope 2009 is great for you all.

I came across this interesting article on Tim Grey's blog, that Damian put me on to last year. It deals with the issue of composite vs straight images. I found myself agreeing with the sentiments expressed, and can see that I apply a similar philosophy, albeit in a much more straight photographic way, when I sometimes "meddle" with images.


[Extract from the article]

A big part of the discussion among those spending time in front of this image in the PCNW Gallery involved speculation about whether it was a "straight" photograph, or if it was a composite of multiple images. What I found so cool about the photo is that it is completely possible that it could be a single image. There was nothing about it that couldn’t have really been as it appeared for a single instant. And yet I figured it had to be a composite. I actually felt guilty for making this assumption, so I was relieved when I contacted the photographer and confirmed it was indeed a composite.

I asked Julie about her perspective on creating such an image photographically, in the context of some people feeling that creating such a composite was "cheating" (a notion I don’t agree with, by the way). Here’s how Julie described her work:

"When I describe my work I sometimes talk about my husband who writes fiction, and how he works. He’s always borrowing from real life, and then changing certain details or the context of them for the sake of the story. But in a way, his work tells the truth about life in way that writing it exactly as it happened wouldn’t be able to. So, I guess that’s they way I’m trying to work visually."

I think this is such an apt description for her work and her approach to photography. I’d be the first to admit that there are situations (such as photojournalism) where creating an invented scene isn’t appropriate. But in most cases I really feel that photography is art, and thus deserves to have he same freedoms of creativity found in any other art form. In other words, creating such a composition is an incredible expression, and one that should be applauded.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Lomo style

Happy New Year to you all!

Surprised to be the first to post this year...

I love Lomo style photos and keep meaning to get myself a camera.

I thought I'd try to emulate the effect, and with a little web tutorial came up with this after a little experimenting.

Curious for your thoughts?