Using filters to create a nice image is cheating. But it’s stop it from being a nice image. This one was created using Oil Painting Effect. The results are not very customiseable, but that makes it a cinch to use. It’s also free. Continue reading “Eilean Donan Castle”
There’s a ton of photo apps out there. I’ve tried plenty of them. Some I like. Some I delete. VSCO is one I like. It’s not as trendy as Instagram for sharing. It’s not as good as a whole number of apps for actually taking the photo. It’s not much good unless you pay up for at least a few packs of filters. It’s a bit confusing to use. It won’t crop to my Continue reading “VSCO”
Every day over the last month, I have made the same journey. But every day the sun makes it look a little different.
English weather is what it is. This morning was bright and pleasant. It’s now blowing a gale and chucking down rain. Later it might snow. Or be sunny. Who knows? Last week at Weymouth’s famed beach it looked like a lovely spring day. But most definitely felt like February. The problem is, even come summer, it is likely to feel like February.
Every now and then I come across/am given a handful of old photos. Because I am, rather sadly, quite old, some of those old photos are black and white. Which is cool. I suppose.
But I prefer colour. Or at least, I like to make them colour. When I have the time to play around with Photoshop, anyway. To do a really good job of it takes quite a bit of dedication. I don’t seem to have enough time to spare these days to be really dedicated, so I do a quick rush job of it. This one took about 10 minutes. Meh. It’ll do.
I took a stroll along the River Avon in Ringwood a morning or two ago. Just to check out the sunrise. And to play with a Christmas gift. I’d gotten a Hoya ND10 filter. I already had one, but as they are stackable I thought I’d get another and see what sort of light stopping power they have when combined. It turns out they have plenty of stopping power. The image below is an eight minute exposure, and it was still awfully dark. I could easily get a fifteen minute exposure out of them in fairly light conditions. Double that or more in very low light.
The real treat of my walk evaded my camera, sadly. An otter surfaced in the river no more than two feet away from me to have a splash and a roll. By the time I’d got my filters off, the remote shutter release unplugged and the setting flicked to auto he was 10 feet away from me. By the time I’d raised my camera and focused….he was gone. I don’t blame him though. It was a crisp, icy morning. An otter gotta keep moving to keep warm.
So you’re setting up a promotional shoot for a German railway. You got all the uniforms pressed and prepared. By dammit, you’re one uniform and hat short. Not to worry, you’re sure you saw something in an old cupboard in the basement. The cupboard with ‘Gestapo’ on the front, whatever that is. It’ll have to do…
Another year has almost passed us by. Where doe the time go? This year it was spent in London, Istanbul, Berlin, the south coast of England and at various country estates around the south. All carefully documented with my camera. I had a little look back and choose my favourite/better snaps of the last 12 months. And so I present to you, in no particular order, a selection of 18 shots that I liked the best. The next Ansel Adams I am clearly not. But I enjoy getting out and photographing what I see. And then processing the images into something more interesting when I get home…
There is a magical place in London, where all your technological dreams come true. Staffed by pixies and leprechauns, who have brought with them the finest gifts from the end of the rainbow to sell to those of us lucky enough to know the whereabouts of this secret marketplace. Freshly cut bouquests of iPads, posies of iPod Nanos and bunches of iPhones adorn the stalls. If you’re feeling flush, perhaps you might be interested in an extra special iMac arrangement, or maybe, as it’s Christmas, you’ll be tempted by a wreath made out of purest gold MacBooks.
Alternatively, I’ve been for a day to London, stopping by at Covent Garden, to enjoy the Christmas lights. Take your pick. Whichever tale sounds best to you, that’s the true story.
On another note, WordPress have changed their quick post editor. Again. I found the first version to be a bit ‘meh’. This latest update is awful. The full editor is still available, but I am a little tired of WordPress’ determination to always take me to the quick editor by default.
I remember the first time I saw one. If I remember rightly, I was unimpressed to say the least. He looked an idiot. An inconsiderate idiot at that. I rather hoped a police officer might stroll by and administer a sharp blow to the head with a truncheon. To knock some sense into him. I was jolly tempted to go smite him a blow myself. But I’m English. So I didn’t. I just muttered and grumbled for a little bit. Anyway. Then I saw another one. And another. And another. And then whole flocks of them. The selfie stick was here. I swore I’d never stoop so low. I, god-dammit, am a real photographer. Sort of.
Then one day, I was attempting to take a photo of Mrs P and myself, arm outstretched as far as it would go. And I thought to myself….actually, a selfie stick would be quite handy right now. A few days later, I happened to be doing a bit of online shopping, and needed to spend just a little bit more for free shipping. And lo and behold, there it was. In a little advert in the corner of the page. A selfie stick. I succumbed to temptation. Perhaps I’m not a real photographer after all.
I love my selfie stick. But, there are a couple of buts. Firstly, my good buddy Mr Cook really needs to have a look at that front facing camera. The selfie camera. It needs to shoot photos of the same quality as the main camera. This is essential. I’ve heard rumours that they are working on this for the new iPhone 6s for September. Secondly, they need to make that lens good and wide. So that the selfie also contains a bit more of the background that the selfie shooter is trying to capture. Thirdly, they really need to enable 16:9 format shooting on the iPhone. Both front and back cameras. It’s complete madness that they don’t already. My iPhone screen is 16:9. My laptop monitor is too. And my television. Fill my screens with my photos Mr Cook! I don’t need the black bars at the edges.
What else can I say about the selfie stick? Other than, with a little sob….’why the heck didn’t I think of that?!’ I’d be rolling in filthy lucre right now, taking selfies from all four corners of the world. But I didn’t. It is just one of those ever so simple inventions, though, isn’t it? One that you really should have gotten into production years ago, in some far away Chinese factory, using children to insert the finicky bluetooth modules. Such is life. I missed out again. Or have I? Has anyone invented self adhesive mirrors to stick on the back of phones, or their cases? So you can use the main camera. Pause in blogging while I go have a look….damn. Yep, I’ve been beaten to the punch again.
Nevermind. Anyway, I really enjoy taking photos on my iPhone. In good light, the results are ok. Sure, they don’t match the image quality from my Fuji. But still, it does provide instant gratification. And it’s so easy to use and carry. Which brings me to my last point. I have a lusty new object for my camera desire to focus on. The DxO One. What a wondrous little beast it is.
This is a camera that appeals. It plugs straight into an iPhone to give you a decent camera with a very good 1″ Sony sensor. I could see me having a ton of fun with this. When and if I can afford it. It’s rumoured to retail at $600. Not cheap, at all. But price tags have never stopped me from engaging in a little bit of fantasy camera lust.
I’ve wanted to experiment with long exposure photography for ages. And ages. It’s a pretty simple process in principle. Apply a filter to your lens, set to bulb mode and shoot. Hopefully at the end of it, you’ll get a photo with surreal qualities. Maybe one could even describe them as magical. It’s that filter bit that’s been the stumbling block though. I’d tried a £20 cheap variable Polaroid filter last year, which produced dismal results. A decent filter with the stopping power to produce a photo worth publishing to Flickr is not cheap. Starting point is about £100. Which I don’t have.
But it set me thinking. Isn’t there a cheap and cheerful way to do this? Surely someone has improvised and created an alternative to Lee’s Big Stopper filter? It turns out, the answer to those questions is ‘yes’. And it’s a really, really cheap alternative to a professional lens. So I bought the key ingredients and got to work. There’s my set up in the photo below. One piece of welding glass from Amazon for the bargain price of £1.33, And two strong elastic bands. Which cost nothing because they came in our shopping delivery, holding the asparagus together.
My initial efforts at creating a worthy long exposure photograph did not go as well as hoped. I set up shop alongside a stream flowing through some nearby gardens. My camera will shoot up to a maximum of 30 seconds before you’re forced into bulb mode. And 30 seconds is not long enough. Nor can you really use bulb mode without a remote. Which I did not have. You can see the best result, below left.
But I was determined to make my welding glass contraption succeed, so I went home and ordered a generic corded remote from Amazon for £9 and change. With this essential addition to my kit, I went to one of the best locations for long exposure photography in the whole of Dorset, Old Harry Rocks. I perched my self four or four feet from the cliff top and had a second go. Alas, to say it was a windy day is something of an understatement. A few gusts caught me unaware and blew me five or six feet along the cliff. I backed off from the cliff face a little. A sensible precaution.
I persevered, but it was no use. I couldn’t hold my tripod and camera steady in the wind and the vibrations ruined the shot, which is below right. It looks out of focus, but it is not. That was just the wind blowing the camera about. But this attempt was still more successful than my next expedition. I chose the less breezy Boscombe pier as the location. I rode my bike out there, set everything up, cursed myself for leaving my memory card in my computer, packed everything away and returned home.
So. Fourth time lucky? This morning I got up nice and early, packed all my gear in my backpack, including the memory card, and walked down to Bournemouth Pier. The wind was light, the beach deserted and I had every I needed. I shot four or five exposures. I started with a 3 minutes exposure for the first photo, but settled on 5 minutes as the optimum exposure. The aperture of the lens was set to f5.6 and the ISO at 400. Finally I got a few decent results.
Straight out of the camera, there’s a very strong green cast to the photo. See below. That’s to be expected from a piece of welding glass that costs little more than a pound. It is possible to remove the cast in Photoshop (see the snap of Old Harry Rocks above) but you get a mixed bag of results. It works better with some photos than others. I knew before I even purchased the glass that these shots were going to look their best in black or white or with some creative post processing filters applied.
So anyway. I got back home, imported the photos into the latest shiny iteration of Adobe Lightroom (v6.0 was released just a few days ago) and got to work. Even if I say so myself, I’m pretty pleased with the results. It’s been quite a bit of work to finally get some decent long exposure snaps, but the work has paid off. A bit of cropping here, a bit of straightening there. I played with the shadow, highlights and contrast. I played around with a few filters. And I made this….
And a few more variations of these two photos, which you can see on Flickr if you click here. These photos will win me no prizes, but I’ve had a lot of fun making them. And having conquered the learning curve, I’ll be able to produce some more long exposure photos in the future with a bit less fuss. Perhaps I’ll try Old Harry Rocks again on a slightly calmer day.
I’m pretty happy with the photo gear I’ve got. I have no complaints. The Fuji XM-1 is a great camera, I have fantastic lenses and two other good one. A decent camera bag, a Joby Gorillapod tripod and a decent sized bag to carry all of it, or most of it, around with me. But I am but human. A male human at that. I’m pretty sure that this is an inbuilt feature of the Y chromosome. No sooner have I got the latest shiny new thing than I see other shiny new things. And I start making lists. List making is an X chromosome thing. But it’s the Y chromosome that makes me put unaffordable technological items on it.
But there’s an awful lot of cool gear out there that supplements what I have, rather than being unnecessary replacements for perfectly good gear. I have an Amazon wishlist which regularly gets added to. Most of the stuff I add to a wish list is never bought. I guess that’s why they call it a wish-list rather than a gonna-get-it-soon list. The former is also easier to say. But anyway, I thought I’d share my wishlist. Why not. I have little else to share at the moment.
I would love to do some long exposure photography. I’ve created a small gallery of some samples, to demonstrate the point. I live in the perfect place for some decent long exposure snaps, with the Jurassic Coast quite literally a ten minute walk away. At least than £50, including an adaptor for my camera, it’s not entirely out of reach price wise.
The best camera is the one you have with you. Which means, for me, that is usually my iPhone 6. How to breath new life into my iPhone camera? Well, four new lenses can but help, surely? A fisheye, wideangle and pair of macro lenses all available from a single clip on unit for less than £60. Bargain. Someone remind Santa that I’ve been very, very, very good this year. So far…
I’ve started shooting RAW+Jpg with my Fuji. It is an improvement on solely shooting in Jpg in every way but one. My 8gb memory card filled up quicker than my subjects could say ‘cheese’. For the first time in a decade, I found myself out in the field sifting through my days shots, deleting the poor ones to make room for new ones. Pft. That is a process best left when sat on my laptop. I’ve already gotten a new one. A Transcend 64gb with a decent read/write rating. Why Transcend? I wasn’t too fussy on brand. So long as it works. My last card was a Transcend and did just fine. My in-camera deleting days are over for at least another decade, I hope.
There is one small problem with my Fuji XF 60mm macro lens. That being, it isn’t really a macro lens. The magnification is but 0.5x, not the 1.0x (or better) you’d normally associate with a macro lens. What to do? Well, one option is Fuji’s own extension tube, which will ramp up the magnification to 0.75x. A significant improvement. The cost? Pence under £70.
The other option is to sell the Fuji lens and buy one of the newfangled Chinese made lenses. It’s not far off half the price at £250-ish and offers 4x the magnification. Tempting, tempting….
I remember the first time I saw someone holding a selfie stick. I near jumped over a wall I was so sure he was a terrorist. Ok, maybe I didn’t, be he did look odd, up to no good and quite frankly, a bit of a k*&b. I’ve been mocking selfie stick toting photographers ever since. Until I wondered what sort of photos might I be able to get with one of these. And now I find I want one. They are only £12, after all. What have I got to lose? Yes, I know…my dignity. But apart from that…
I keep meaning to buy some. They aren’t expensive. £5 and upwards. Prints from a local shop are just a few pounds for a dozen 7×5″ snaps. They’d look nice hanging on walls around the house. One day I’ll get round to it.
Some would say this is an essential piece of kit for long exposure photography. I say, how can a cable and button cost £31?! What is the profit margin on this bit of plastic? Must be enormous. It’s almost as expensive as the Cokin filters. I’ll probably just be real careful and use the timer function on the camera instead.
What’s the point of having a wishlist if there isn’t at least one fanciful, completely financially inappropriate item on it? There’s no point, I tell you. None at all. I give to you the king of the Fuji X cameras, the XT-1. The graphite version, which is the more expensive choice. But hey, seeing as I am years away from one of these babies, I might as well dream the best dream…
Another year passes, another 1,266 photos added to my Flickr account, bringing my the sum total of my photographic life on Flickr to a grand 13,667. Although I’ll probably take a few more photos between now and the end of 2014. I’ve shot with a range of cameras this year. I started in January toting a Fuji X-S1 and an HTC One mobile phone.
They’ve both gone by the way. I was fond of the Fuji and sad to see it go. My back up camera was my trusty old Olympus Pen EPL1 which I had to rely upon again until I purchased my new Fuji X-M1. I’ve added two prime lenses to that, a telephoto lens, a smart camera bag and an iPhone 6. I’ve never been better equipped.
Some of my photos have been better than others. According to Flickr, my most popular by views was this one of the Tower of London, viewed by 437 people. A long way short of my most popular photo, Saxy Lady. She has collected more than 17,000 views over the years. Almost all, I’m quite sure, drawn by the title. Almost all, I’m equally sure, disappointed with the result.
These numbers are all good and well, but I don’t take photos for the numbers. Most of my shots are ‘memory shots’. The sort you’d put in an album to look back at in the years to come. Some of them represent my efforts to be creative. Some are both of the above. I have my favourites. I have selected 15 photos I’ve taken this year for the gallery below. There are memories and a little bit of creative processing in all of them.
Do I have a favourite amongst them. Yes, indeed I do. The last shot, of a family on the pier silhouetted by the impending sunset.