Ramblings

2017 British F1 Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton - Winner 2017 British F1 Grand PrixIt was 25 years ago since I last visited the Silverstone circuit in Northamptonshire for a British F1 Grand Prix. On deciding to return this year to capture some images, I remembered from way back then that the Friday practice day was quieter and with the general roaming access gave plenty of freedom to move around the circuit.

In 1992 I used an Olympus OM4Ti film camera and took around 60 images. This time with the Nikon D7200 I amassed a total on 649 images (Pre-editing).

Choosing the Friday appeared to be a good choice, with the Saturday practice and qualifying a wet and dull day, and of course, the main race day packed to the hilt. The other benefit was that I could watch the Grand Prix at home, in full. Was good to see Lewis Hamilton from Stevenage win the day and take P1.

 

A selection of the images can be seen here.  Silverstone 2017

 

Eggs on Toast

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So today I tried something a little different. Using the Nikon D7200 to record the still images I decided to give its video capabilities a try.  This was no big setup, using daylight as the light source and a quick edit in Apples iMovie.

The food photography ‘eggs’ stills were ok, but the slow motion of the burst yolk added a little something to the final output.

Capture One Pro 10

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Capture One Pro 10 by PhaseOne After many years using Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom the Capture One Pro software from PhaseOne caught my eye. I had used programs on both mac and pc for tethered capturing and most programs were at best ‘flakey’ with lost connections, or connections to my Nikon cameras just not happening at all.

I downloaded the trial of Capture One Pro 10 and on first looks, it appeared daunting, confusing and with a steep learning curve that could easily scare users off.  The options and menus in this program are enormous, the file management features different but it does have a look of professionalism that made me persist.

On a test tethered shoot, this program came into its own, fast, reliable connection to my Nikon D7200, total control of my camera from the user interface and a stable usable live view.

I next spent some time setting up the image catalogue, export folders and general where to put my images. This was not the easiest of tasks, but again once done was good to work with. Importing images from cards is quick, I can get rid of any junk during the workflow, leaving me with my ‘clean’ images.

Processing images is again quick with everything you need to process raw files and more. The colour options alone are just huge. You also have the option of layers and selection brushes to work on smaller defined areas with the ability to ckeck back and re-adjust as required. I found a lot of the processing changes delicate and soft allowing the smallest of tweaks to an annoying element of images. You can also copy adjustments and apply to many images which again is a massive time saver.

Exporting images allows you to export both the original RAW file or a processed file ‘Variant’ in various formats, again I found this very easy to use with a great option for saving filenames and image sizes, particularly useful for creating images for social media.  Where I have cropped heaving and wanted a bigger output file, the upscaling also produces decent images.

Capture One Pro - User Interface

There is much more to Capture One Pro 10 to explore including preset styles, black and white conversions and those colour tools to name but a few.

Overall I would not look back to Lightroom, I now find Capture One Pro easier to work with, my images are catalogued and organised and ‘in my view’ my images are that much cleaner. I still use Adobe Photoshop especially for spotting and clone tools and it is quite noticeable the speed and sluggishness of Photoshop compared to Capture One Pro when switching between the two.

St Pauls Walden Bury

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St. Paul's Walden Bury, situated in the village of St Pauls Walden in North Hertfordshire, this stately home and garden is the said birthplace and childhood home of the late Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. Dating back to the 18th century, St Pauls Walden Bury has been the home of the Bowes-Lyon family dating back to 1720.

The Grade 1 listed garden covers around 50 acres and was recently open as part of the  National Open Garden Scheme. Visits to the garden are generally by appointment with more information available on the St Pauls Walden Bury website.

 

St Pauls Walden Bury - Hertfordshire Statue and Garden   

Upgrade Cheaper – used photographic equipment

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Upgrade the cheaper way with used photographic equipment from MPB

Used sigma lenses from MPBMost photographers usually find themselves spending some serious money on photographic gear, whether it is an upgraded camera or an additional lens. Buying new comes with the premium price as with any latest equipment and the craving for new, faster and better glass for your camera is just not possible for some people especially at high street prices.

Another hassle in the upgrade scenario is what and how to sell your existing equipment, while there are many ‘Used goods’ websites such as Gumtree, and Ebay, there is always an uncertainty in dealing this way and with time wasters, money transfers and waiting for people to collect, it really can be a hassle to get rid of your existing gear to help finance your upgrade path.

MPB specialise in the buying and selling of used photographic equipment. For buyers their well laid out website offering a huge range of second-hand cameras and lenses and other photographic equipment, each with a description, a condition rating and detail of what you will actually receive (what’s in the box). With items priced competitively, MPB becomes an excellent way to obtain your upgrade path at a lower cost.

In addition to buying used photographic gear, you can also sell your unwanted items.Simply entering the details of the items you want to sell on the MPB website, you will receive a quote as to their value, if you accept the quote, simply box up your equipment and MPB will arrange a free courier collection. Equipment will be checked and quote confirmed and the money will be transferred direct to your bank, ready to spend on your new equipment.

Take a look at the MPB website and see how much yu can save on your upgrade.

Sell and buy used cameras and lenses with MPB

 

LG 24MB35PH IPS Monitor

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The LG 24MB35PH in portrait modeIt has to be said that recently I had been struggling with the monitor I was using, but then again it an 8 year old Dell monitor. It had served me well and to be honest for most day to day applications it would be fine.

When producing some product images on a white background, I had problems with getting the white actually white, the images looked ok on the monitor but on other machine there were obvious problems and editing blemishes were showing up.

I also had problems with colours, greys always looking a bit pinkish and whites more cream. I had tried calibrating but could never get it quite right. It was time for a new monitor.

I was not going to spend hundreds and after reading many reviews it was noted I should go for an IPS (in-place switching) monitor, which is said to give a wider viewing angle and much better colour reproduction. The fun began on the search for such a monitor, locally it was Currys and Argos, this proved fruitless, with ‘out of stock’ messages or the items were either on the cheap side or too expensive. So it was back to Amazon, where a much broader range of IPS Monitors was available.

The LG 24MB35PH IPS MonitorI decided on the LG 24MB35PH IPS monitor, I could get this next day ( I am impatient) and also a good price at £134.99, it is not the prettiest of monitors, looking a bit more clunky than other offerings, but the spec looked good.

The LG monitor arrived next day, upacked, plugged-in and whoa, the difference in the clarity and colour straight out of the box was unbelievable, the white was actually white and the difference was so much so that it made the old monitor look 10 times worse than I thought it was. I was maybe going to use the old monitor as a second monitor giving me a bit more workspace, but now I think it is time to retire it.

The 2 inches of extra screen size do make a real difference as does the ability to adjust the height of the monitor into a much better position. So it looks like my eyes will also greatly benefit from the £135 upgrade. For those that may need it the LG monitor can also be rotated into a portrait orientation, which I guess is great if you are working on portrait page layouts.

I have only used the monitor for a couple of hours but already can feel a much improved working environment and hopefully an improvement in my final images, and at the price I have to say is one of the best buys I have made in a considerable time.

The LG 24MB35PH Monitor available form Amazon.

Wall Art from Saal

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Today there are many websites available to meet your printing needs offering everything from standard prints, canvas prints, wall art and photo books.

While I print a lot of my own work at A4 size at home, I wanted a larger image for the wall, something to stand out. I decided on an image from a recent trip to Niagara Falls in Canada.

Having used Saal previously for other printing work I decided to take a look at their ‘wall decor’ offering. There were many choices available including printing on Acrylic galls, Aluminium, Canvas and foam board. I decided on the Aluminium Alu-Dibond for my print.

Downloading the layout software was easy and quick and was particularly user friendly allowing you to upload your images and adjust the layout. All costs were viewable as were the cost of various options, (mounting, aluminium thicknes etc).

Saal digital Wall DecorThe image I chose to have printed is on the right, not the brightest of images with a lot of mid tones. I opted for the 40cm x 60cm size.

Ordering was simple and tracking information was provided (and tracking actually worked showing the progress form Germany to England).

From ordering to delivery to exactly 7 days, (including a weekend).

The package arrived ‘very’ well packaged sandwiched between thick card and also cling filmed.

 

The printing quality was excellent and although the image was a little dark, this was down to me rather than the printing. The mounting was clean and the product itself surprisingly light on weight. The actual product can be seen below (just propped up until I decide where to hang and display it.

Saal Digital 40 x 60 Alu-Dibond

 

Saal Digital - Alu-Dibond Laminating
Saal Digital – Alu-Dibond Laminating

 

Pleasantly surprised with the product, now all I have to decided it what image to get printed next.

You can see more products from Saal Digital here

The Old Lamp

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Still Life – The Old Lamp

Creating a scene for still life photography can be easier and cheaper than you think. The props here consisted of:

  • Candle Garden Lamp – Bought from local garden centre (Could just use a candle).
  • Brick Background – Amazon £15.32 – Click here
  • Old set of keys bought from charity shop  £3.00 – Also available on Amazon
  • An old dictionary I had lying around.
  • Piece of paper with rough cut-out
  • Torch

The setup can be seen below, prior to lighting the candle. The only lighting used was the ambient lighting of the room, the candle in the lamp and a torch to create the bars effect on the background.

Behind the scenes - old lamp

 

Initial setting for the camera were ISO400, f6.3 and 1.6 seconds using a Niklon D7200 and 50mm f1.8 lens. Once the image was captured, camera raw was used in Photoshop to correct the colour of the lighting to give it more of a glow, add some vignetting, dehaze and lowering the highlights helped enhance the camera flame, and also the lighting for the bars on the back drop.

Lastly any visible creases in the background were cleaned up using the spot healing tool in Photoshop. Two images were produced, one colour and one black and white conversion using Google Nik Silver Efex Pro.

The Old Lamp

The Old Lamp in Black and white

As you can see the two images offer a completely different feel to the scene and with some simple props it is easy to create an atmospheric still life.

Orchid on White

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Trying out some different lighting for an orchid image, I set up a small infinity curve using a Colorama Colorgloss White background which was lit from behind by a single Elinchrom RX4 and softbox.

I used a couple of small white polystyrene discs to bounce a little light back onto the orchid, as per the setup below.

Backlit Orchid setup

The aim was to get good lighting on the orchid, with the background completely white. Even thoughI was shooting at f8, the shallow depth of field with the macro lens required me to stack the images.

The final images were stacks of 10 – 12 images each with the focus point slightly moved. The images were align using Photoshop and then blended into a stack.

For the second image I got in closer which again resulted in a minimal depth of feild.

 

 

 

A Domain for your Identity

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While .com, .co.uk domains still remain the most popular domains for businesses around the UK, there are now many more choices available.

A lot of sole traders and small businesses still promote themselves with generic domains such as gmail.com, outlook.com, and while these work well and are easy to setup and use, they do not say much about your business.  What does johnsmith@gmail.com offer? what is his product or serivce?

If we look at  the photography business there are now various domains available that tell your audience more about what you offer, .photography, .click, .photos and more. Taking it a bit further for a more keyword specific domain how about .wedding.

The new domains on offer may also allow you to get a better choice of domain, many times I have been asked to register domains that are actually taken and end up having to use variations but the new domains may give you better options.

So if you are a butcher, baker, or candlestick maker it is an ideal time to review your brand and get a domain name that says more about you.

If your still set on .co.uk and .com domains, do remember to check on those unavailable domains from time to time, they do expire and you never know you may just be able to pick up the domain you have always wanted.

Click here to check for the latest domains and to perform a bulk check on domains available.