Friday, 31 August 2007

Thinking of going Pro?

Paul Indigo has just produced another thought provoking blog (he does this a lot - that's why he is over there on the left in the section marked recommended blogs) about making the move from enthusiast to pro.

Give it a read - you know you want to.

Thursday, 30 August 2007

Capture One 4 Beta

Ohhh, I'm so excited - I'm about to lose control and I think I like it!

Finally, Phase One have released the beta of my favourite raw converter Capture One. I have only just downloaded it so no conclusions yet but if the image quality is as good as Capture One v3 and the promised workflow improvements work I will be a happy bunny.

Why not give the beta a try too?


I've been having a play with it, on some shots I took of a chair I found in the middle of Epping Forest, and I'm very impressed so far.

A Seat in the Country
(Click to view large)

  • It seems pretty stable for a beta, certainly much more usable than the Lightroom betas.
  • UI seems to have taken a lot of the good features from Lightroom & aperture and made them workmanlike rather than gimicky.
  • Variants are a great addition to the product and seem to work well.

Tuesday, 28 August 2007

What's Important?

I was talking to another photographer about their workflow the other day and they said something like "I use raw for important stuff and jpg for everything else". I replied with 2 questions - "Why? and how do you know which is which?".

For me the best thing to do is to stick to one workflow and treat everything as important...

Take 2 workflows into the shower?...I just want to raw and go!

The important part about setting up a workflow is that it should become automatic for you. Once you have taken the time to work out what you do at each point, and made sure you have each part of the process protected from failures, the hard work is done. The workflow should automate as much as possible so you can concentrate on creating fantastic images and not worry about filenames/directory locations/backups/etc.

If you have two workflows, each will be slightly different and you have to think what you are doing - and that's not good. It also adds an extra stage when you come to access the images at a later date as the first thing you need to decide is "did I think these were important?" before you attempt to retrieve them.

So what's important to you?

The thing to note is that the importance of an image changes over time.

Many pictures simply have value through their age - take a look at any of the shops selling old photos of street scenes. At the time they were taken most of the photos were as dull as ditchwater, but now they have a value just due to them representing the time they were taken.

In The Meadow
(Click to View Large)

Pull out an old photo album and shots that had little importance then, seem to have a magic all of their own as you discover long-lost events and friends smiling back at you from the page.

I have misjudged the importance of an image too many times:
  • A simple snap of a friend became very important when that friend died a few days after.
  • Some snaps of dogs playing on a beach weren't important to me but one of the owners loved it and wanted a large print.
  • Whilst staying at a farm/nature reserve - I just took some shots of the wildflowers to get to grips with a new lens, not important top me, yet the farm has asked if they can use them as 6 foot high posters in their new education centre.
A snap today could be an important historical record today.

In Praise of the snap

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

Elterwater Location Report

As I may have mentioned I am the Photo Locations Editor for Ephotozine. The idea of the Locations Section is for people to share their favourite photographic location with other photographers, whether it is ideal for Landscapes, Architecture, Wildlife or anything else.

I have just posted up a report for Elterwater which is one of the most beautiful parts of the Lake District. I was lucky enough to be in position overlooking the village as the dawn came up on a fine, cold winters day. The warm morning light made the foliage positively glow, a magical moment indeed.

Dawn from Huntingstyle Crag
(Click to view large)

Related Posts

Durdle Door

Monday, 20 August 2007

Canon 40D Review

Over the last few months I have been testing a preview of the new Canon 40D under one of their non disclosure agreements....

... So I can't tell you anything about it.

Sunday, 19 August 2007

Sometimes a shot just works

Things are looking up:

I finally got my camera back from the menders, I'm a £170 lighter! Lucky it was only minor damage. And I have sorted out my laptop colour matching problems....I uninstalled all the colourPlus software and gave up!

In the mean time I have had a chance to play with some pictures, I revisited this picture:

Light after Death
(Click to view large)

and decided to convert it to black and White. I used The Lights Right Studio B&W conversion actions to convert it to B&W. The thing I like about these actions is they are based on representations of different coloured filters, they also have the option to put all the filters on the image then switch between them.

I ended up with this image:

Death in Black
(Click to view Large)

I feel both images work, the first emphasises the lovely warm evening light, whilst the second is more about the shape of that lovely tree. Which do you prefer?

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Colour Management - like a steering-wheel down the trousers*

OK I am officially confused by monitors and colour calibration.

The trouble all began when I accidentally managed to select the wrong profile in Capture1 without noticing. My images colours had all gone wrong when I got them into Photoshop.

The problem was occurring on my Dell Inspiron 9400 laptop, so I used my spider monitor calibration system and colour plus software to recalibrate the screen. Since then things got worse and worse with images looking fine on the laptop but lacking completely in contrast when viewed on other screens.

The most obvious way to see how the monitor was performing was to use the Monitor Black Point tests. Performance was frankly poorer than a Enron share holder. I tried a few things:
  • Setting the right profiles in Capture 1
  • Removing the monitor profile
  • Adjusting Screen brightness
  • Uninstalling the Colour Plus Software.
Only the last one actually solved the problem. So what exactly is the monitor calibration software for? If it makes things worse, what exactly is the point of it? Anyone less confused than me?

*It's driving me nuts!

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

What a fun Holiday Cottage.

I'm still without camera as it is being carefully repaired due to me throwing it roughly to the floor. So I though I would just show you something that I rather enjoyed. A few weeks back we went to the lake district and stayed in a lovely cottage in Coniston.

What made this cottage special was not it's central - yet quite location, nor its table tennis room, or its pool table room or even the fact that the garden was crammed full of wildlife that you could happily spend all day in with a big lens.

Cute Rabbits on the lawn

No the thing about this cottage was it's had a miniature village in it! Here are a few snaps of it:
Smudge and the Castle

Another Castle

Robin on the church

The Cottage and a model of itself.

The cottage had once belonged to John Usher who created his own miniature village in the garden, after his death most of his village was moved to the ruskin museum but a few of the bigger buildings still remain where they were built. How much fun is that :)

The Rest of the village in the museum

Related Posts
In praise of the snap

Monday, 6 August 2007

Duck that for a laugh....

Sometimes life imitates art. There I was easing myself into the week by reading through the weekends posts on The Online Photographer and what do you know but this cartoon appears from (Click to view large)

So its not just me then!

New Cameras on their way from Nikon and Canon

Things are really hotting up in the DSLR market with the impending release of the Nikon D90 and the rumoured replacement for the Canon 400D its going to be a great time to buy a new camera soon.

The D90 looks like a very strong offering, if the 10 stop VR and the built in iPod work as well as expected then I may soon switch to Nikon.