Been a While, so it has.

Apologies for the long wait. Time seems to have flown since I have been in West Norfolk.

I have though been taking photographs, but not so many as I have in the past. I seem to be taking more for the Parish Council or of the village and village events.
I seem to have a conundrum though when going out with the camera, the body doesn’t like the weight of the few lenses I want to carry, D810 body, 14-24mm AF-S 1:2.8G ED, AF-S 24-70mm 1:2.8E ED, are my ‘go to’ lenses and body, but if I want a bit of a longer reach I could take the AF-S 70-200mm 1:2.8 GII ED makes up the ‘general’ kit. But, then if I am going bird-watching the 80-400mm 1:4.5-5.6G with a 1.4 teleconverter makes up the hefty camera bag. So I generally only take what I think I will need leaving the rest in the car.

The ‘go-to’ lenses gives me a focal range of 14-70mm which is good for general photographing.

I have recently been to Ireland, a lovely place with grand food, stout and people.

The gentleman above is Al of All Banjos I met in Dunlavin. He designs and makes Guitars, Mandolins and Banjos and was kind enough to let me have a play of one of the guitars.

We traveled down to Youghal, where the following morning we walked around ST Mary’s Collegiate Church and cemetry with lots of history.

From there to park up near Clonard, right on the coast with a walk around the dunes and scrub with the 80-400mm +1.4 converter but silly me I left the monopod in the car, so had to rake up the ISO to get the shutter speed right up to stop camera shake when I found some Linnets. Even with an ISO of 2500 and shutter between 1/1250th and 1/5000th the images are still soft. So the lesson from that, “USE A TRIPOD!”

 

Well on that note I will close this blog and save some other images for another day.

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Must be slacking!

Oops I have just found this ‘old’ page that I never posted. SO apologies that it is late but still relevant. This was written before I bought the new ‘Eco-Lamps and Light Table set in the previous page.
This is about a shoot I was asked to do was of some products a friend sells on their web-site. The problem with the product is that it is a foil pack with a label on, the label wasn’t a problem but getting the foil pack to look like foil with silvers and light greys was not that hard to achieve, you just had to know how to light it.
So because I do not have my workshop cum studio finished, well I hadn’t even started it before the first shoot, I had to find somewhere where I could set up 3 studio lamps around a light-tent and leave it up after the shoot until the client approved the images, so…..

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It was in to the loft, bit chilly at first and I am glad I had boarded it out earlier in the year as it gave me a flat surface to work on.

The light-tent is a Lastolite one I purchased about 20 years ago, I used it to photograph sample boards with hardware products on for a company I worked for at the time. It is a little awkward to use as the seam you can see has to be pulled apart to get the camera lens in to photograph. I suppose with a tripod and an extending arm and connecting the camera to a laptop you could open the top and have the camera facing down so you are at right-angle to the object being photographed.
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So this set-up did ok… I have covered the logo and the web address as I do not have specific permission to use this company’s product, even though I took the images.
Note to oneself; get a contract that says I can use the photos for publicity!
So as you can see the light tent has rendered the foil pack beautifully but also given the image a 3-D effect.

But then I was asked to produce a Christmas theme, for this I would need to have a white background, something that was required of the other website where the products are sold, so I went and purchased a Light-table that has a white perspex top, bit like a light box of old, also some eco daylight lamps, these are not a flash head but have the lights on permanently. The thing I like about these though is that you can turn off any one of the 5 bulbs in the head separately! which will help to balance the lighting.

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I only used 4 of the 5 lamps under the PVC translucent sheet, possibly could have switched off another one or two as the ends of the ‘leaves’ are light. But it saves all that shadow under the object showing or having to be photoshopped out. I will be using this set-up a bit more when the ‘Man-Cave’ Studio is finished. The above image was used for our Christmas cards this year, but for family I had purchased a small plaster-cast fire place with  hooks that you could hang small silicone christmas stockings with names on, but I bought the blank ones so I could add the family names in Photoshop. This year intact we have bought a few new decorations, but for photographing and using on cards etc. I can see this lighting table and lights being used quite a bit in the future.

That Time of year!

Hello all, well this time of year, although a bit late now is when I go out looking for small ‘Christmassy’ things to photograph to use on Christmas cards and such like. I have a Hallmark software program which I think is a bit useless for the UK as it is American driven, the clip art is focused on American things and you cannot find anything to do with Hockey; Field Hockey in the program it’s ICE Hockey or Rugby, it’s American Football, you know where the players get all togged up with face masks and shoulder pads, ‘Dynasty’ eat your heart out! so I have now started to design my own cards. You don’t really need Hallmark to do it you can design one in Photoshop or Elements, any software that allows you to design pages and odd rectangles.

So the first thing I noticed when I dropped into a Wyvale Garden centre back in November was a model fireplace, this had hooks on the mantlepiece to hang  up to 4 Christmas Stockings, these you could purchase with names already on or, you could choose ‘Blank’ ones, which is what I did, Then photographed them and in Photoshop Elements with the aid of the Text Tool did up various images with all my family’s names on.

The Left one is the original image and the right after inserting a name.

Now you don’t have to go rummaging around christmas markets, you could use the decorations you put up at home:

The left one I set up before putting them up in the dining room, it is a ceramic/pottery tree with one bulb inside that lights up the plastic candles and the nativity scene was a card sent by my daughter and grandson some years back, all I did was put a home made snoot on the flash to highlight the manger.
The right image was taken after the Christmas tree was put up, I didn’t use the image until the following year, again in the Hallmark program I added Merry Christmas.

You are only held back by your own imagination:

A few years ago I ventured out after it had snowed, taking many shots of trees and walks, I just happened to come out on the walk on the left and spied the gentleman and dog in the distance, so took a couple of shots, I could have instead had a friend with a dog or a couple pose for me like that and the image of the berries was another taken that year.

People have even had cards made with their own portraits on the cover, it really is up to you and your imagination.
I’ll leave you with an image that I ‘cobbled’ together for social media this year, unfortunately I didn’t put a copyright on it anywhere and was shared by a few of my friends, but hey, it is the season of good will.
Now this was composed all in Photoshop Elements…..

 

merry-christmas

 

I Venture Out Just Before Dark

Well not exacting ‘just’ before, about 6.40pm I was a tad later than I wanted. I saw the sun setting over the bungalows opposite and thought it might make a good picture, no, not from the  beach, from inland, the highest point in Heacham, Chalk Pit.

I rushed up there with the tripod, the D810 with 24-70mm f/2.8 and the D700 with the 80-400mm attached. The D700 went on the tripod with a shutter release cord attached and the D810 was hand held. I dialled in EV-2 to start and ended up at EV-4.0 but the -2.0 was enough to start with.

Then rushed home to ‘develop’ them. Was quite spooky up there as it got dark. The guys at the Recycle Depot will be wondering what that fella was doing parking there at night, staying for 1/2 hour or so then driving off.


They appear in the order they were taken. You can see the night clouds rolling in from the south, the left of the images.

A Trip to Ireland

This month my partner and I took the very early ferry from Holyhead to Dublin. When I say early, I mean 02.40AM! arriving in Dublin at 06.30AM. The only way to travel on this ferry is to book a cabin, that way you can at least get a few hours sleep and have a shower if you wish.
The first thing we want is breakfast and as far as I know ALL hotels in Ireland will sell you breakfast even if you are not a resident.. The only chain I know in the UK where you can do that is Premier Inn, I have not tried any others in the UK. But in Ireland, any hotel will sell you breakfast.
Friends have said why don’t we fly, if you saw the luggage we took with us you’d understand. Probably more than half our luggage is made up of cameras, lenses, tripods binoculars and a spotting scope, plus walking boots and shoes for every eventuality.

Having been fed and watered we made our way to the east side of Lough Owel where there is an unusual statue to The Children of Lir. You will have to search on line for the history.

Because the day was sunny and the majority of the frame was sky I had to ‘dial’ in an exposure compensation of  +1.5 to +2.0.

MY second place to visit was a distillery at Kilbeggan. We opted for the ‘self guided’ tour, where you can wander at will with a paper booklet as a guide plus your entry ticket gives you a free tasting in the bar afterwards. The old distillery has been made into a museum, which you are able to walk around, but the working distillery you can only view through a glass wall. As a photographer I found the old distillery fascinating. So as not to use flash I had to up ISO2500 which gave me 1/25s at f/4 for the regulator balls shot. All other internal images were taken at ISO800, the externals were at ISO400.
I converted most to monochrome in Nikon NX-D as I think they look better.

The next day we ventured past Galway along the Wild Atlantic Road and found CEIBH BHAILE NAhABANN which roughly translated means the Pier at Ballyhowan and beside the pier were these small boats,

We also visited Birr Castle. Unfortunately the castle is a family home so you are only allowed in the grounds. A lovely area of  formal gardens, lakes and woodland and also the home to The Great Telescope and a museum, well worth a visit as is the town of Birr. The last image is of a back street.

The shots of the castle were enhanced by finding a view-point where there was over-hanging trees to cover part of the sky, always a good look and the fountain with the Redwood tree, most people would stand on the path and shot into the enclosure which has a seat at the end. But my thought was, well if they have a seat there that must be a better view, so I walked up the side and stood by the seat and took the view the owners would see.
The last image is of a back street in Birr.

Last but not least we drove 6km up a mountain to the only entrance to Millstream Country Park, not a cheap place for a 2 hour visit, your better off going all day, or visiting Killarney Park which is free! At the gates we then found that we had a 4km drive DOWN the mountain inside the park to the visitor’s centre. A nice place if you have all day and can afford the daily fee. We did find the Fairy Trail though.

The only the beginning of our stay when we had a storm, thankfully at the end of the day though. although by using a (-) minus EV exposure compensation you can make storm clouds look dramatic.

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Storm Clouds

 

 

 

 

 

 

We are always Learning

I am a ‘Nikon’ photographer. Meaning all my kit is from Nikon, well apart from one handgrip and a Metz flash gun, even my image software is Nikon. Yes I use Nikon NX-D and Nikon View NX-i.
The NX-i is for down-loading the images and for entering the metadata, but you can process the images in NX-i  and the NX-D is for post production. OK I know there is Adobe and many other pieces of software out there, I have tried Capture One, and ON1 and a couple of others including paying, yes PAYING for Affinity Photo; which I must admit I haven’t really given a good try, plus I purchased Lightroom and PS Elements 14. I also have an old version of Photoshop CS5.
But Nikon is my preferred post processing software, mainly because I think that only Nikon knows how the images were formed in the camera. Loyal or stupid? sometimes I wonder, especially as the Nikon software is so_o_o  slow, I go off and do something else while it is rendering, like practice a riff on the guitar. It is infuriating, but I have got use to how it works. Lightroom is used mainly for converting images from JPEG to a web-sized image with a copy-write logo on and Elements is used if I want to enhance or manipulate the image beyond what I can achieve in Nikon NX-D, which is rare.

The newer NX-D version of the Nikon software uses a side-bar file to hold all the image information (.nksc file in the NKSC_PARAM folder), the same way that Lightroom and Photoshop does in their .xmp file, the earlier NX2 saved that information within the NEF file. But if you move a NEF file from the original download folder to another by clicking and dragging in NX-i or NX-D, the corresponding .nksc file is moved to. This is the file that is attached to your image the moment you start post production and contains the metadata and any changes you make to the picture in post production. Similar to the .xmp file Adobe attaches in Lightroom or Photoshop. The problem I found was that if I moved image files in Adobe Bridge, which was the most convenient way, the metadata etc wasn’t transferred neither was it in Lightroom but then, I noticed if I scrolled down the pop up box in Lightroom it had a section that asked if you wanted All the Metadata to be moved, so Adobe do not ASSUME you want this info moved.

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When I was a salesman we had a mantra; if that is the correct word, that ASSUME is three words, meaning it made an ASS out of U and ME. Which in this case it did, yet moving image files within the Nikon software Nikon know you want the metadata moved as well.

But all is not lost, go to finder (Mac) or Explorer (Windows), click on the folder where your NEF files are and click on the NKSC_PARAM, you will be presented with the individual .nksc files. Highlight the file name for the image number you want , ctrl+c  (Copy) then go back to the folder where your image has been moved to, click on the NKSC_PARAM folder and ctrl+v (Paste) the information contained in that file will be added to your image.

This procedure has just saved me many hours of looking up places we visited in Ireland this month, where I had entered the metadata while the image file was in one folder then moving it; via Adobe Bridge to another.
But now that I have found the Lightroom drop-down box I won’t have to worry when exporting NEF to JPEG for the web.

Sorry no images in this blog, but I will have a page with some on soon.

A Snapshot

Snapshot |ˈsnapʃɒtnoun
An informal photograph taken quickly, typically with a small handheld camera. a collection of family snapshots.

Many years ago when much younger, a few relations had cameras of the ‘box’ variety; I think all consumer cameras were like that, it was only the professional photographers or enthusiasts who had anything else. People came back from holiday and would show their ‘Snaps’ off of where they went. Also when there was a ‘gathering’ of relations someone would say, “let’s take a snap of the occasion”.

Now though, snapshot means a photograph taken quickly, as in the dictionary definition above, but not always with a small handheld camera. My camera although smaller than a Medium Format camera, is significantly heavier and bigger than the modern Compact cameras.
So this leads me onto the image below. Sitting in the hobby room, as it has been named, looking out at the garden I saw something flash past and into the bush directly in front of the window. My first thought was  Sparrowhawk, grabbed the camera that had the 80-400mm lens attached and watched. A small Sparrow came out and jumped lower down the bush then from the top a Sparrowhawk did appear, with wings outstretched and turned and dived down the other side of the trellis, It was so quick, a blink of an eye would have missed it.
So the image although not pin sharp, shows the Sparrowhawk with wings out-stretched and turning to dive to the ground. Luckily for the small birds that shelter in that bush but unluckily for the Sparrowhawk, he didn’t get brunch.

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A Weekend at Woolfest

It had been planned for quite some months, 6 at least where I would take my partner to a show all about wool. The crafts, knitting, spinning, fleeces, looms, felting, carding, in fact anything to do with  wool and working with it. We also met up with 3 friends of hers whom she had never met face-to-face, only on-line in a closed group they had created and had been chatting with each other for 4 years. So was I going to feel out of it so to speak being with 4 lasses who are into most crafts to to with wool? Well the plan was that I could wander off to local nature reserves or into the towns and ‘do my thing’ with my cameras. But that didn’t happen I had a brilliant weekend mooching around the stalls taking photos; after asking permission first and then in the evening all 5 of us walking 100 yards to the nearest watering hole for some alcoholic refreshment and a cooked meal.

It was only after the 2 days of the show that we both got out in to Keswick for the ‘tourist’ bit, but that will be another page altogether.

So Woolfest, as it says is all about wool, from sheep, rabbits and Alpacas mainly. Rabbits I hear you say? yes Angora Rabbits have really soft long hair. So I was taking pictures mainly of the patterns found on the displays of skeins and cones of wool as well as the animals themselves.

During the 2 days there was also set up 2 ‘stages’ where musicians played, the stage that interested me was where a Stall-holder played the Hurdy Gurdy and another couple played a traditional Swedish instrument, the Nyckelharpa.

Taking the images was a bit tricky as Woolfest was staged in a livestock market, obviously because they have live animals there it is the easiest way to coral them, all the gates and posts are there. So as well as being close to everything and the poorer lighting I found that I was having to increase ISO to 1600 to get a decent shutter speed for the apertures I wanted to use. This prompted me to use the AF-S Nikkor 24-120mm f/3.5-5.6, which although adequate I could have used the AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8E VR which I didn’t own at the time, read in to that what you will.

So now some of the images I took.

The Alpacas were apparently being friendly that show, with no spitting!
Apertures between f/5.6 & f/8 at 1/30s and 1/60s.

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This Manx Longhorn wouldn’t stand still, I was lucky to get two images similar to this.
TO get the horns in I had to use 29mm focal length and aperture f/7.1 @ 1/50s, like all portraits I focused on the eye, as I did for the Alpaca images.

On the left is the musician with a Nyckelharpa, a Traditional Swedish Instrument and the right is the musician with the Hurdy Gurdy. Difficult to get a clean image as both had mics in front of them. The other problem was the light, they sat in a gazebo which was inside the livestock market so light was subdued. The next thought where do I focus, as the instrument to me was the picture I focused there and not on the musician’s face.

OK, now for the patterns I took of the Skeins and cones of wool. The idea behind these images were that they might make nice wallpaper for the computer. These are only a few of the images I took.

When in the Garden

When in the garden I always have one of the cameras handy with the Nikkor 105 Macro lens on as my trusty ‘spotter’; my partner, will inform me if something has flown in that I might wish to photograph.

Yesterday sitting in the garden a small blue butterfly flitted about, I grabbed the camera and followed it, I managed a couple of good shots, that is after I had taken a couple as I approached it, as a record more than anything and in case it flew off before I could get a decent close-up of it. That ‘trick’ was told to me by a pro wildlife photographer.

So after getting a couple of decent images I retired to the computer and down-loaded them.

The right hand one was the ‘record’ image.

Now to save some money I spent some, how’s that then? Well I bought a Nikon 1.4 III teleconverter to use with my 80-400mm and my 600mm lenses, the problem was that this latest version of the converter worked with the 80-400 but doesn’t work with the 600mm non VR version, so do I part-ex the 600mm against a newer used 600mm with VR or not. It just happens that a nikon 1.4 II converter came on the market and this would wok with the 600mm I had, so purchased it.
Now you would think that 600 x 1.4 = 840mm, no, the metadata comes up with 600mm lens focal length 850mm!
So I tried it again from indoors but of Starlings in the garden feeding, these images were taken with the D700 with Nikon 600mm+1.4 teleconverter making 850mm focal length.