Tuesday, 22 December 2009


You wait ages to be published and then two come along at once.
The January edition of the excellent UK magazine Outdoor Photography has an article by yours truly on Thorpe Bay.

This is the image used in the article.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009


This months Essex life magazine features a cover photo by myself and a double page spread of my snowy scenes:

A few people have asked me about the images used in the feature, so here are some links to them:

Monday, 7 December 2009

Can you dig it ?

Saturday morning I spent a pleasant time, covering people attempting to break the world record for tree planting. It was a lot of fun, though I am glad I was only taking pictures and not actually doing the digging as that looked like hard work.

The team did really well to plant over 20,000 trees in sixty minutes. Unfortunately all though that broke the World Record their total was beaten by the other two teams involved in the day.

Although they didn't beat the record, they have created the beginnings of a new wood. Hopefully all the volunteers will be able to wander through that wood in twenty years time and enjoy the results of their hard work.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Jane Goodall is photographer of the month for December

I recently came across the work of Cambridge based photographer, Jane Goodall. I was blown away by many of the images on her site . So I thought I would share them with my friends.

(by Jane Goodall)

Previous Photographers of the Month

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Painters With Light Exhibition opens in Loughton

Sorry for not updating the blog for a few weeks. It has been a hellishly busy few weeks with tearing one exhibition down & delivering all the pictures sold and then preparing another new exhibition.

This exhibition "Landscape" features work from The Painting With Light Society with guest photographer Kevin Goodchild. It is an exhibition of Landscape images from across the British Isles and beyond. The exhibition runs until Christmas Eve and even if I say so myself it is well worth a visit:

Landscape - an exhibition by The Painting With Light Society featuring Kevin Goodchild
Loughton Library

Traps Hill
Essex IG10 1HD

Telephone: 020 8502 0181

Opening Times:
Monday: 9.00 - 7.00
Tuesday: 9.00 - 7.00
Wednesday: 9.00 - 7.00
Thursday: 9.00 - 7.00
Friday: 9.00 - 7.00
Saturday: 9.30 - 5.30
Sunday: 11.00 - 3.00

If that is too far away The Painting With Light Society also have another exhibition "Images of East Anglia" running at

The Virgina Court Hotel
Cliff Avenue
NR27 0AN

If you are in the area of either of our exhibitions, please pop in and why not post your reaction here.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Tim Parkin is photographer of the month for November

I've been really enjoying the Large Format work of Tim Parkin, so I thought - lets make nim my Tog of the month and more people can enjoy it.

Floaty Branch
(by Tim Parkin)

Previous Photographers of the Month

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Lightroom Archive format - TIFF or PSD ?

Having established that it would be a good idea to save the result of any editing I do in Lightroom in to an archival format, an email flooded in asking why I chose tiff format rather than psd.

Well my gut feel is that tiff is a well understood format supported by lots of vendors, whereas psd seems to be a bit more tied into Photoshop. But my guts and their feelings are not of interest to most right thinking people. So I can do no better than quote this post by Jeff Schewe:

.PSD is now a bastardized file format that is NOT a good idea to use. Even the Photoshop engineers will tell you that PSD is no longer the Photoshop "native" file format. It has no advantages and many disadvantages over TIFF.

TIFF is publicly documented, PSD is not. That makes TIFF a preferred file format for the long term conservation of digital files.

TIFF uses ZIP compression for max compression, PSD uses RLE which if you save without the Max compatibility will be a bit smaller, but at the risk of not being able to be used by apps, like Lightroom.

TIFF can save EVERYTHING a PSD can save including layers, paths, channels, transparency, annotations and can go up to 4 GIGS in file size. TIFF can save all the color spaces PSD can. The ONLY thing I can think of that PSD can save that currently TIFF can't save is if you Save out of Camera Raw a cropped PSD, you can uncrop the PSD in Photoshop CS, CS2 or 3. That's one tiny obscure thing that PSD can do that TIFF currently doesn't. How many people even knew that let alone use it?

PSD used to be the preferred file format back before Adobe bastardized it for the Creative Suite. The moment that happened, PSD ceased to be a Photoshop "native" file format. PSB is the new Photoshop "native" file format for images beyond 30,000 pixels. And , at the moment, only Photoshop can open a PSB.

Getting back to the fist point, Adobe can do anything including stopping support for PSD because it's a proprietary file format. TIFF is public, even if it's owned by Adobe (by virtue of the Aldus purchase). Even if Adobe went belly up tomorrow, TIFF would continue.

And, let me be blunt, anybody who thinks PSD is "better" than TIFF is ignorant of the facts. If Adobe would let them, the Photoshop engineers would tell you to quit using PSD. Lightroom for the first beta did NOT support PSD and Hamburg fought tooth and nail to prevent having to accept PSD. He blinked, but you still can't import a PSD without Max compat enabled-which basically makes it a TIFF with a PSD extension.

Look, I'll make it REAL simple...

TIFF = Good
PSD = Bad


If only Jeff wouldn't sit on the fence so much, we would know what he really felt about the matter!

Saturday, 24 October 2009


So the winners have been announced for Landscape Photographer of the Year and there are some extremely competent and stunning images in the book and exhibition.

On a personal note I was very happy to be shortlisted for this and this - but they didn't make the final cut.

Looking at the winners I was surprised to see this image as one of the finalists:

Hermit Crab by Brian Griifiths

My initial reaction was that it owed more to Photoshop than nature. it seems that I wasn't alone in this assumption as photography forums exploded in a series of discussions about it. My favourite is the dissection by Tim Parkin on Flckr.

I am naive enough to feel that a landscape photograph should be a representation of the scene at the time and not just be the basis for freestyling in photoshop. My opinions don't really matter, but how this got to a final in a competition where one of the rules is:

The integrity of the image must be maintained and the making of physical changes to the landscape is not permitted (removing fences, moving trees, stripping in sky from another image etc). The organisers reserve the right to disqualify any image that they feel lacks authenticity due to over-manipulation.
,is beyond me!

There are an awful lot of great shots in the competition, so I hope this doesn't detract from the award and exhibition. I would love to hear your opinion, should this shot have been a winner ?

Friday, 23 October 2009

Lightroom - Do I need to save my edited shots?

So, as regular readers will be aware, I am slowly moving my workflow to Lightroom. It's a fun project and has given me the opportunity to reassess the way I currently work & compare it with other photographers.

My goal, is to follow "best practice" for digital image management whilst minimising the amount of work I actually have to do in front of the computer. So I am spending a lot of time reading blogs, books & forum posts as to how others manage their workflow and working out which will be right for me.

One of the considerations a digital photographer has to take into account is how many copies of each image to store. If you are not careful it can easily become a nightmare. First you have your original raw file. Then you might have one or two tiff files associated with it as your finally developed image. Finally you end up with s numerous jpgs sized for various output mediums (web, print, magazine submissions, etc). If your not careful it could all end up looking like the tide line on a Cornish Beach:

Cornish Crap
(Click to view large)

A while back I decided that I would only keep the original raw file & the finished tiff file for each of my images. Using QImage I could print the tiff file in any size I choose, so there was no need to store versions at different print sizing. Jpgs are really just an output format, so I don't keep them as they can be recreated at any time from the tiffs.

So for a long time I have had only one version of my images (the tiff) , I kept the raw files so I can go back to the raws if I need to, and all is right with the world. But then along came Lightroom2 and it's targeted adjustments...

One of the big things that you hear about Lightroom2 is that it features "Non-destructive editing" . Unlike photoshop, your original image is safe no matter what you do to it as all that is stored is your original image and a history of the changes you made to it. In order to undo something you just go back as far a you like in that history. For people who shoot jpgs this is a major advance - your originals are safe with Lightroom. For Raw shooters it's really not such a big deal, no raw converter changes your raw files, they simply generate a tiff or a jpg.

But Lightroom's target adjustments change the rules. You can (in a lot of circumstances) just use the Lightroom tools to make the adjustments and never need to go into Photoshop. From Lightroom I can print, show it in a slide-show and even generate any jpgs I might need to send out. So now I only need Lightroom and my raw files - it's time to say goodbye to storing tiff files. This has to be a good thing...doesn't it?

Well as i see it Lightroom is storing a set of instructions on what to do with your image very much like a recipe book tells you what to do with raw ingredients. As we know with recipes, two cooks can follow the same recipe and produce 2 different results, or if the recipe is in English and the chef only speaks French you are going to have lots of problems. Does the same hold true for the recipes we have in Lightroom? Well yes I believe it does.

If our recipe for the perfect picture includes the instruction "increase vibrancy by 30", none of us outside of Adobe really know what calculations Lightroom performs on our files. In a few years time when you are running Lightroom 5.3 on Windows 11 (or OS-X Domestic Moggy or even Google Spangled Metal 3), you have no real guarantee that "increase vibrancy by 30" will produce the same look as it did back in 2009. I am sure Adobe would do their best to keep things consistent but it's not easy to guarantee that as developers try to fix bugs in the code and extend it to add more functionality.

Even more importantly, what happens if Adobe drop support for Lightroom due to it rapidly losing market share to some other new technology coming along? What if it becomes to costly to continue to support the raw format of your files? Now we are in a much, much worse position than we ever were, as now we have an archive of raw files in a proprietary format plus a set of instructions in an equally proprietary format that it may be difficult (if not impossible) to get any other software to understand.

That's why, to me, storing raw + lightroom adjustments is just not an archival format as it cannot be opened by other applications and may produce different result over time. Tiff files I created 5 years ago in Photoshop 7 still open and print just as they always did and I can use a wide variety of software to access them. It's an open and widely used standard, so I think I will be sticking with Tiff files as my format for the moment.

Am I right? why not add a comment below & let me know what you think.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

What are we doing to our home ?

It was only a few weeks back that I walked along the high tide line of a Cornish beach and was amazed at the amounts of plastic that were washed up on the shore.

Today I came across this set of images by Chris Jordan which graphically and shockingly shows what a real mess we are making of our home planet.

Midway - Message from the Gyre
by Chris Jordan

I wonder if it is too late to put things right, or are we destined to spend our days surrounded by a sea of our own filth.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Can a picture be Cursed ?....Part 2

Having previously established that one of my photographs was clearly evil and did not want to leave the house. I had decided to replace it for my latest exhibition.

The strange thing is that it turned out that the new portrait image was exactly the right orientation for the display. If I had gone with the original landscape image the hanging would have looked completely wrong.

Even weirder, no sooner had I hung the new picture up than someone asked to buy it!

Clearly, it wasn't a cursed picture it was just trying to stop me doing the wrong thing.


Tree and Temple
(not an evil picture after all, just a very helpful one)

Friday, 16 October 2009

Charity Exhibition

Yup it's that time of year again when I organize the Daiwa Securities Charity Photography Competition and hold an exhibition of my work.

the exhibition of the winning entries and my pictures is on display in the foyer of Daiwa Securities SMBC, 5 King William Street, London EC4N 7AX. The foyer is open from 8:00am - 6:00pm.

My pictures are on sale at specially reduced exhibition prices with the profits going to the companies' two charities War Child and Demelza House Childrens Hospice.

Remains of the Day
(really would look good on your wall)

With only 70 shopping days to Christmas, now is the time to pop down and bag yourself a bargain present whilst helping charity at the same time.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Can a picture be cursed?

My latest exhibition opens on Thursday so, of course, there has been lots to do with pictures to frame and labels to write, etc, etc.

I have explained how I mount and frame pictures before, it;s not a particularly complicated process and each part just takes a few minutes. I printed a batch of photos at 12"x18" then left them for a few days to let those gasses out.

Framing and mounting progressed as normal: clean the glass, mount the picture, drop the picture into the frame, check it, spot some dust on the glass, clean the glass, put the picture back in the frame,check it, spot some dust on the glass, clean the glass, put the picture back in the frame,check it, spot some dust on the glass, clean the glass, put the picture back in the frame, finally decide enough is enough seal up the back of the frame.

This was how it went for all but one picture, this shot just wouldn't line up with the mount correctly. It took about 20minutes to do what should have taken a few seconds, I then put it in the frame, did the traditional glass cleaners dance and sealed up the back. I then realised I hadn't signed & numbered it. So out it came, a quick signature, drop it back into the frame, turn it over to check for dust and then turn it over only to discover the glass had broken!

By this time I am jolly miffed with this picture and I decide to leave it & come back to it later.

A week passes and I have another go at framing it. I grab a spare frame, drop the picture into it turn it over and the F*!%**ing glass has broken! I never break the glass on my frames and now 2 have gone on the same picture. A frantic phone call and trip to the glazers ensue and then I have 2 new pieces of glass.

By this time I have decide the phot is cursed and the only person who is likely to buy it is Linda Blair or Damien from the Omen. So I print a different picture, mount it & frame it with no problem at all!

Below is the picture I ended up framing - I won't show you the accursed one as it may bring down my website.

A Fern in the Dark
(click to view large)

Oh and I decided to shred the other picture for public safety reasons.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Overcast days never turn me on*

What a way to spend a Sunday Morning:

Drag yourself out of bed at 5:00 A.M. (A.M. stands for "Arrrgggh Morning" )
Drive for an hour to a very overcast Shoeburyness.
Realise you have bought your wife's wellies instead of your own!
Realise a tide that was supposed to be going out was still in.
Stand on a beach waiting for a sunrise that never materialises.
Decide that the only thing worth photographing is a sewer outflow!

Posts & Pipe
(Click to view large)

Drive home & go back to bed!
Was it worth the trip? - you decide, I'm still too sleepy to care.

*From Raspberry Beret by Prince. Whatever you do, don't google the real meaning of the lyrics - you'll never listen to it in the same way again!

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Doing a Ralph Loren

I do believe that we are about to see a new expression appear.:

Ralph Loren
Def: To really muck something up in Photoshop
Usage: "I think they have done a Ralph on that shot", "That magazine cover is totally Ralph Loren"

It seems that poor old Ralphs lawyers have not heard of The Streisand Effect. See Boing Boing for the full story, or just watch the story grow.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Well done Cheryl

A big congratulations from us here at ShepherdPics to Cheryl Surry (Squirrell photographer to the stars) on winning The BBC Countryfile photography competiton. Getting first place out 30,000 entries is very impressive indeed.

Mr December
(Cheryl Surry)

Regular readers will remember Cheryl was our Photographer of the Month for October 2007. I bet winning the country file competition feels nearly as good!

Friday, 2 October 2009

Backing up to the Cloud - Got there in the End!

Hopefully long term readers remember my articles on backing up to the cloud:

Backup to the cloud - Part One
Backup to the cloud - Part Two
Backup to the Cloud - Final Thoughts

Well I am sure that none of you care but I just thought I would mention that my image archive backup is now complete and safe in the web:

Safe in the Web
(Click to View Large)

My Image archive was 300gb but I decided to got through it & cull a load of images I didn't want and would never use. I know some people keep everything but I really can't see the point in keeping out of focus shots, test shots, etc.

The cull got it down to 150mb and it has since grown back up to 285gb (sheesh those 5DmkII files are big). So it has take 163 days (I lost 10 due to being away) and has averaged 1.74GB a day. That means the system can cope with around 50GB a month of images, which is easily enough for my needs.

Think we can count that as a success and I can rest easy knowing my images are safe.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Steve McCurry is photographer of the month for October

Magnum photographer Steve McCurry produces outstanding images from around the world. He rightly seems to have won huge numbers of awards, but up until now he has not managed to achieve what must be the pinnacle of anyone's career, being awarded the Shepherdpics Photographer of the Month, so it's about time we rectified that!

Japan 2007
(by Steve McCurry)

Previous Photographers of the Month

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Using Relative Paths in Lightroom part 3

If I only understood what it is the Lightroom team have against relative paths, I would be a happy man. They seem to have gone well out of their way to make life really difficult. We have huge amounts of flexibility when naming files. File names can have any number of different bits of exif and xmp data embedded in them, but ask for the subfolder to support a simple ../ comand and it all goes horribly wrong.

Having done battle to get editing to support relative paths. The final place where I need LR to support relative paths is on export. This would seem a simple thing as there on the screen is an option to output to a subdirectory. Naively I figured if I entered the subdirectory as ../WebReady lightroom would happily plonk it in a sibling folder next to my raw files. But it was not to be, the entry goes red and I get told I can't use those characters. Why the blinky flip not? The Adobe relative path police strike again!

But a bit of thinking and a read of Inside Lightroom gave me an idea. So this is how you get round the problem.

First create your export with all the settings you need in it. Select Put in a subfolder and enter the subfolder name without any pathing characters (./ etc)

Now save that as an export preset - in my case I called it Screen Previews 1024x768, You will find that this has created a file in the presets folder with the same name as your export and a .lrtemplate extension

All you need to do now is open the file in a text editor and edit the line marked export_destinationPathSuffix. Simply add the required pathing there and save the file.

Next time you run your export it will happily go to the directory you want. Simples!

Related Posts

Using relative paths in Lightroom part 1
Using relative paths in Lightroom part 2

Saturday, 26 September 2009

A sunny week in Cornwall

I spent last week down on the golden sands of Cornwall, near Perranporth. Surprisingly for September in the UK the weather was wonderful with lots of clear blue blue skys ideal for strolling on the beach.

Unfortunately clear blue skys don't have very much drama in them and are not really ideal for Landscape Photography (sheesh, there is no pleasing some people is there). I spent a few evenings on the beaches around St.Agnes hoping to get a feel for the beauty of the place.

Trevaunance Cove
(Click to view large)

On my penultimate evening I headed out to Wheal Coates, a long defunct tin mine. Where my perseverance was finally rewarded with some clouds and a bit of drama in the sky.

Wheal Coates
(Click to view large)

I kind of liked the end result.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Using Relative Paths in Lightroom part 2

In part one of these ramblings I noticed that although you could force Lightroom, kicking and screaming, to use relative paths. It's good friend Photoshop was having none of it.

Not to be discouraged I put on my hacking trousers and through together a solution. If there is anyone out there who cares, here is how you fix the problem:

Download This install file and run it in the normal way (press next at all the prompts) - if you don't have the .Net framework 2.0 installed you will need to download & install that too.

Now nip into Lightroom preferences and create a new External Editor.

You need to hit the browse button and chose the program you have just installed (yes I know DaDoRunRun.exe is a rubbish name bt it was the best I could come up with at the time.

Now when you chose to use this External Editor this dialog box will appear:

Just click Edit and a new dialog pops up.

Click on the browse button (...) and point the program to the right path for Photoshop on your machine. Now click OK and all being well Photoshop will open with the correct file.

This is a bit intrusive so next time you call the editor click on the "don't show me this dialog" button and the box will never appear again.

That's it problem solved! Well except that Lightroom won't stack files in different directories. Now that is a weird limitation, I thought the whole point of Lightroom was that directories weren't that important any more - looks like I'm wrong on that one.

I bet no one ever uses this information but, I still feel I should make it available - as a public service. Of course I am happy for someone to post a comment telling me why relative folders are such an evil concept that they should be banished...

Related Posts
Using relative paths in Lightroom part 1

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Using Relative paths in Lightroom

A while back I mentioned that I found Lightroom to be a bit "claustrophobic". I hadn't been using the system long when I came across an example of this: I noticed, that when I selected Edit in Photoshop that Lightroom first creates a psd file in the same directory as the raw file then opens this file in Photoshop. This is all well and good but personally I would like to use Tiff format and not have the files in the same directory (I know I'm a control freak).

So I wandered off to the preferences section and there I seem to be able to change the file format (which is great), but not the folder the file is created in (which isn't). So I take a look in the Export options, there I can enter a subfolder but it won't let me enter a relative path it has to be a sub folder….arrgh!

For those that don't know what I am on about a relative path is something like this ../tiffs the two dots mean "up one level" and the slash means go to a sub folder. So in this case we are asking to go to a tiffs folder that has the same parent as our current folder.

Another annoyance is why have different setups for editors and exports? As far as i can see editors are really only a specific type of export, so why configure them in 2 different places?

Most sane people would by now have just let the generated files go into a subfolder and have done with it, but I have been doing things this way for 3 or 4 years now & I don't see why I should change just because someone at Adobe can't be bothered to support relative paths.

So I decided to see if there was a way round the problem and eventually I think I have it sorted.

First go into preferences and click on the external editing tab. Down in the additional external editor section you need to setup the program you want to use and the file format. From the dropdown menu at the top you can then select save current settings as a new preset and name your settings.

Now we need to add a new filename template. Click on the dropdown for filename and create a new preset. This is where you can add a relative path.

Now when I call up an external editor it works just how I want it to…..

…well except Photoshop CS2 - someone at Adobe really hates relative paths. Photoshop doesn’t seem to open the paths with relative addressing in them. Most other applications seem to understand that

really means

But Photoshop doesn’t! In part two I'll be detailing my little fix that gets round this problem.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Inside Lightroom 2 - A Book Review

I've just finished reading Inside Lightroom 2: The serious photographer's guide to Lightroom efficiency: The Serious Photographer's Guide to Lightroom Efficiency by Richard Eamey

Its an interesting book that attempts to go further than the simple "how-to" books.

Chapter 1 starts with details of what Lightroom is, and a basic an overview of its functionality and features. It doesn't add too much to your life, but it sets the context for the rest of the book.

Next he goes onto "the ideal system" for Lightroom 2 well, it covers most of what you need to know but it is a relatively shallow description of what you should be looking at. A serious photographer would be better off looking at the The DAM Book as it covers this in much more depth.

Then we get a description of the differences between version 1 of Lightroom and version 2. Although this well written and added to my knowledge on the subject it had the feel of being a bit of padding.

Chapter 4 takes you through how to manage your photos and there is quite a bit of useful information here. This is followed by an example workflow, which is a great way to see how the product is actually used. Though it would be great to see a few more workflows detailed here for different types of photographers: journalists & wedding photographers leap to mind.

After that it is on presets. Clearly this is an area that Richard knows a lot about and explains in great detail. It really shows how presets work, and it even shows you how to edit them in a text editor, which is rather wizzy. This allows you to duplicate some of the tone curve functionality from Adobe Camera Raw. All clever stuff and well worth reading once you really understand Lightroom.

The final chapter details online resources for Lightroom, which is surprisingly useful due to the use of tinyurls and a grouped rss feed that makes it easy to get to grips with what is out there.

At the end of the book, I was left with a feeling that it is excellent in parts and somewhat disappointing in others. Personally I would like to see the workflow and presets sections used as part of a different book "Extending Lightroom 2". This would cover those two subjects as well as, the use of the various plug-ins available, real world issues like how to integrate web galleries into your existing site and a guide to writing your own plug-ins. Now that would be well worth buying.

Clear layout
Detailed knowledge of Presets
An easy quick read

Too much padding
More examples needed

Monday, 7 September 2009

Export iView/Expressions Media Category Sets to Lightroom Hierachical Keywords

As part of my adventures of moving to a Lightroom world, I've started to look at Keywording. Now the Lightroom Hierachical keywords, seem like a really good thing and although I can easily build up a big set of keywords thanks to The Controlled Vocabulary what I really want is to pull in the hierachy of Catalog Sets I spent ages creating in iView.

iView Catalog Set hierarchy for places
(click to view large)

As far as I can see the only real way to get this list would be to recreate this in Lightroom manually. As I didn't fancy all that typing I came up with This Script (which is heavily based on John Beardsworths script I used previously)

To use it all you need to do is change one or two lines in the file:

Change this to the name of the catalog set you wish to export:

Const ivKeywordSetName = "Places"

If you should wish to change the name or location of the file of hierachical keywords you create then this is the line to change.

const filePath = "C:\iViewCategories.txt"

Once you have edited the file, save it in your iview scripts folder. The Open iview with the catalog containing the sets you wish to export. Run the script from the script folder and after a few seconds you should get a "Done" message.

Open lightroom and select the Library module. Select Metadata>Import Keywords and brows to the file you have created C:\iViewCategories.txt and your Keywords should apear as if by magic:

Keyword Hierachy in Lightroom
(Click to view large)

Thursday, 3 September 2009

It's the start of the season!

Now that autumn is approaching and the days are getting shorter the dawn photography season is now open. Yes Sunday, marked for me, the start of the period when getting up to shoot the dawn is actually possible.

Dawn is now just after 6:00am, which means that I can now get up at the "reasonable" time of 4:00am! It's strange to inhabit a bizzaro world where 4 in the morning doesn’t seem too bad a time to get up – but such is the life of a landscape photographer.

Why get up 2 hours before? Well I need to be on site half an hour before dawn at least. Most of my locations are an hours drive away, so that leaves me just half an hour to get out the house of which 10 minutes are spent trying to convince my boy dog that he can't come with me! Interestingly enough, neither my wife or our girl dog show the slightest interest in coming with me, now I'm not saying that females are naturally lazy creatures…but the evidence does suggest that.

Having gone to this trouble I thought I would show you the results of my expedition to Tollesbury on the Essex coast. It was a fine morning and having taken these shots, I was back home for breakfast at 8:00. All in all, worth getting up for.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Andreas Stridsberg is photographer of the month for September

Andreas Stridsberg is our photographer of the month for September. Andreas is a Swedish photographer who produces work in a whole range of different styles. His work covers Landscapes, people, nature and a whole lot more.

by Andreas Stridsberg

Treat yourself to a visit to his site...you won't regret it.

Previous Photographers of the Month

Friday, 28 August 2009

Moving to Lightroom - Sorting the wheat from the chaff

Part of a series of posts detailing my slow move into the brave new world of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom.

I have my photos split between a working area, which holds the current month and a bit photos and an archive of everything else.
The archive is managed with iview, but the working area is managed by a whole mish-mash of tools including Downloader Pro, BreezeBrowser, Capture One, Photoshop, Qimage and a few custom tweaks and scripts.
The working area is where I will be concentrating on using Lightroom.

Once a month I move the previous months photos from working to archive, before I do that I do the following:
1. Delete all the pictures I don't want to keep 2. Add star ratings 3. Ensure all metadata is written to the files correctly

Item 1 was my first candidate for Lightroomification. At the moment it is a relativly simple process of opening each directory in Breezebrowser, running a slideshow (ctrl A, ctrl S), tagging each reject (up arrow), then selecting all rejects (f6) and pressing delete.

So is this any easier in Lightroom? In the Library module I an select the entire months images in one go...which is better. I can then run in "Lights out mode" (L,L) using the arrow keys to move through the images and flag the rejects (x to reject, U if you accidentally rejected something), then use the delete rejects option and you are done.

The big advantage of doing this in Lightroom is you get to see the post-processed images, rather than the jpeg preview you get on Breezebrowser, this can make a lot of difference. There is consequently a delay sometimes in building the previews but it doesn't seem particularly onerous & you don't have to wait for it to complete. I'm not sure what else Adobe do to the previews but they do look really good in LR for some reason.

The only option I really miss from my old way of doing things is a quick B&W view. In breezebrowser I can simply press ctrl+w and the image is displayed in black & white, pressing it again switches to colour. There doesn't seem to be an equivalent to this in Lightroom*.

So far it looks like a win for Lightroom.

*Oh hang on a sec - looks like pressing V does that...marvellous!

Thursday, 27 August 2009

7 Backup Strategies

Now I know I like to bang on about backups from time to time, but that's because backups are a computer users best friend.

I've just come across this article on the PC World site, which gives a great overview of the different options and technologies available to PC users at the moment. Its well worth a look and if you are thinking to yourself "I must do something about backing up", now is the time to do that something!

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Lightroom and Iview Web Galleries

Regular readers will know that I use iview to generate my web galleries incorporating a Paypal shopping cart as I detailed here.

Phil Thomas contacted me to point out that although he had put the title of each picture into the metadata in Lightroom the titles were not appearing in the paypal shopping basket when he generated the galleries from iview.

It turns out that the field that Lightroom uses for "Document Title" in Photoshop maps to "Product" in iview... so the solution is fairly easy. If you look through the media.html file you will see the line:

<input name="item_name" value="(iView:Headline) (iView:Item1Description)" type="hidden" >

repeated for each of the different items you are selling (item1Description will become item2Description on the next entry).

(iView:Headline) inserts the iview headline field into the code, so all we need to do is replace that with (iView:Product) and we are sorted. If you would rather use the filename simply replace (iview:headline) with (iview:filename) on each of these entries. Or you could even just put (iView:Headline) (iView:Product) (iView:filename) and get all three values in the text. If you want to use other fields take a look at the documentation here.

The alternative is to copy the product field to the headline field in iview, so here is a little iview script to automate that process for you.

Thanks for pointing this out Phil - saved me finding the problem myself.

Related Posts
Creating an ECommerce Site with iView and Paypal
Using The Controlled Vocabulary with iView Media Pro
Alternative template for iView Media Pro and the PayPal Shopping cart

Friday, 21 August 2009

Is Lightroom the Rightroom to be in?

For sometime now I have been advising people who asked me, to use Adobe Lightroom to manage their workflow. This is because Lightrom offers a structured environment for you to manage your photos in and there are plenty of examples workflows available for you to follow.

But the thing is, I don't use Lightroom myself...so why not ? Well I have a workflow that is very organised already and uses a whole wedge of different software and tools to get the results I want. So Lightroom's all-in-one model doesn't particularly hold a great set of advantages for me. I tried Lightroom 1 and wasn't hugely impressed as it seemed to lock you into its ow view of the world and so didn't fit too easily into my workflow.

I have been meaning to take a look at Lightroom 2 for a long time, but it has been difficult to find the time until now. I recently was hit by the swine flu virus and consequently spent a lot of time laying exhausted around the house. Having bored myself senseless with daytime TV, I decided that it might be worth taking a look at Lightroom.

I spent the small amount of time I had between sleeping and coughing, watching the Adobe video guides to Lightroom and I have to say that it does look rather good. It still feels a bit "claustrophobic" to me and i have a feeling I will soon be learning LUA (The scripting language of Lightroom) to get round what i see as the limitations. But it does seem to be worth a play with now.

I have ordered a couple of books so I'll be reading them over the next few weeks and working out the best way to integrate it into my workflow. I'll let you know what I discover.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

iView/Expressions Media Catalog sets to keywords

My long term archive of images is indexed in iview media pro. I still haven't bothered to move to Microsoft Expressions Media yet as there don't seem to be any killer reasons to do the upgrade.
I generate my web galleries from iview using my own custom template, everything is automated and life is good.

I noticed the other day that although I use the (iview:keywords) tag to put all my keywords as metadata into the generated HTML pages, a fair bit of the information I am recording is not being inserted in the files because it is held in catalog sets.

Catalog sets are the iview way of providing a hermetical structure to your metadata. My main use of catalog sets is for locations, for example the image above would be in the Horsey Mill set,which automatically infers that it is also in the Horsey, Norfolk Broads, Norfolk, England and UK sets.

So what I really need is a way to collapse the catalog sets into the keywords field before I create my web galleries. I figured this would need a script to work out which catalog sets apply to an image and then to put them into the keywords metadata for the image.

Searching around the web found a lot of rumours of such a thing but none lead to the code, until finally I came accross this post by John Beardsworth. I simply took Johns code and edited the line:

Const ivKeywordSetName = "Keywords"

and replaced the word "Keywords" with the name of the top level catalog set I want to flattern into the keywords i.e.

Const ivKeywordSetName = "Places"

then run it on the selected images. It worked perfectly..hurrah!

Monday, 17 August 2009

I'm a photographer not a Terrorist

I've just come across the website I'm a photographer not a terrorist.

It features some really useful stuff for the Tog about town:
  • A bust card - similar to my very own Photography in Public Places wallet card though much more detailed and authoritative on the new anti terror legislation.
  • A useful map showing places where you can't take photos.
  • A Shop where you can buy "I'm a Photographer not a Terrorist" T Shirts. I wonder if you would get stopped less if you were wearing an "I'm a terrorist not a photographer" T shirt.
As they say on the site:

We must work together now to stop this before photography becomes a part of history rather than a way of recording it

Monday, 10 August 2009

The Perils of Googling yourself

So I was a bit bored and I thought I would google myself. So there I am second in the results. I'm just behind the Chris Shepherd who did all the animations for the series Big Train.

So I'm happy to be the second most famous "Chris Shepherd! on the web. But then I look down the page to image results. Apparently the number one image result for Chris Shepherd is this:

So now I'm a horses arse....marvellous!

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Courses for beginners

It was recently my pleasure to give a presentation to a group of over 50 people on the subject of "Taking the Perfect Picture". it was a lot of fun and if I get a moment I will try to make the slides available on my site.

One of the questions I was asked following the presentation was if I could recommend a photography course for beginners. I could think of no finer courses than those run by Kate Barclay & John Duckett.

Stepping Out
By Kate Barclay

Both John and Kate are excellent photographers but further more they are both great at teaching people too. All the people I have sent on their courses have always come back with glowing reports. That's why I recommend them

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Kevin Brace is photographer of the month for August

NatureInTheframe.com is the website this months photographer - Kevin Brace. It is fully of stunning and beautifully presented photographs of his native Channel Islands and further afield.

Approaching Storm
by Kevin Brace

Why not visit his site now.

Previous Photographers of the Month

Monday, 27 July 2009

Choices Choices

Last week I had a great time in the Lake District. This year the weather played ball with plenty of sun and just a few showers to add some drama. This was a total contrast with our visit there last summer. when it rained and rained and rained some more.

We were based just off the A66 underneath the slopes of Great Mell Fell. Which gives great views across the area. On the Wednesday night I headed out with my camera towards Keswick. But I could soon see that there were two options available: carry on towards a Keswick that blanketed in cloud or divert towards a sunny Ullswater.

Derwent Water
(Click to view large)

As I drove I was racked with indecision, even going around roundabouts a few times as I tried to decide where to go. In the end I decided to stick with my original choice of Derwent Water.
thick cloud was covering the lake but I rewarded for sticking with my guns by some rather wonderful lighting effects as the sun was defused by, cut through and bounced off the clouds.

Barrow Bay
(Click to view large)

In the words of the great Hannibal Smith - I love it when a plan comes together!

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Portfolio 2009

I have just added my portfolio of images for 2009 to the site. We are only halfway through the year but it is already proving to have provided better light than I got for the whole of last year.
Why not take a look & leave a comment to let me know what you think of the show so far.

Brograve Mill

Monday, 20 July 2009

Loving a Lens

So, much against my better judgement I agreed to photographs a friends wedding, a few weeks back. It'll come as no surprise that I have been real busy processing the pictures, which is why this blog has been sadly neglected for far too long.

I decided that for most of the shoot I would use my 5DmkII with the 24-105 Lens, which is an ideal work horse for a wedding, especially with its high ISO performance. Though the downside of it is that processing hundreds of the huge files it produces, has moved a new laptop from the "desirable" list to the "downright essential" list! In addition to the 5D2 I decided that for the incidental shots I would take my 20D and the 100mm f/2.8 macro lens.

Cutting the Cake
(Click to view larger)

It has been seven months since I shot with the 20D and even longer since I used the 100mm macro on it. So it was a complete revelation - like falling in love all over again. For me there is something magical about that focal length, on the crop camera which really fits with the way I see the world. I make 100mm on the crop camera about equivalent to 160mm on the full-frame (I hope that's right) and that narrow view of the world seems ideal to me.

Being a prime it restricts you in a way that seems to force you to be more creative, there are only certain shots you can take, so you have to think a bit more about each shot.

The Rings
(Click to view larger)

The strange thing is, I'm not too keen on the 100mm on the full frame 5D2. It suddenly seems too short and I really don't like to crop using a prime as it seems to defeat the point of using a prime.

Hmm - I wonder if I can get a 160mm canon fit prime somewhere.