As soon as you get a camera or smartphone it opens up the possibilities of taking photographs. I can't imagine how many unseen images lie around on hard drives or iclouds but I reckon it's many many billions, all moments in our own histories, all relevant to that moment in time when they were taken, most now in latent dormancy, sliding closer to the bin as the 'your icloud is almost full' message appears on your device again. So the relevance to me in all this....well I had a think at the end of last year, probably after the last scramble to try and fill some memory cards with imagery that may or may not be suitable for photographic library inclusion. Looking for negative space in the image, a different angle, time of day....and in doing so I'd stopped thinking about creative image making, I was taking photographs that would be acceptable to the market I was going to place them in, stopped pushing at the edges, curbing any creative instincts for the possibility of selling through Getty, Alamy of Adobe stock...I had a think
Okay they were all sharp, spotted, treated for any chromatic abberations, the relevant size and color balanced, a few brushing at the envelope of creativity but just photographs...so I did something about it.
First up was to look at Black and White, now at the moment I'm not set up for film developement, it's changing so I looked at the camera, set it up to produce Mono images in the menu system, fine jpegs and the images produced ended up as a wysiwyg sidestepping Lightroom and Photoshop, then I looked at format, the Hasselblad Xpan pano format specifically, produced images digitally that related to Xpan dimensions, got a Polaroid SX 70 and I'm still in the process of wasting Impossible film to get the results I want,,,then there was the joiner imagery ...walking panoramics and then the thought of Joiner panoramics...multi shot layered images that would be a test not only photographically but also for my organisational skills..I'm back on the creative path, purged all thoughts of just taking photos and now bursting with ideas...now the other thing I've done is have a camera made for me, that' right, as I type it's on it's way...a wooden camera, now that will be a challenge but it's all part of my search for uniqueness in an image and film and paper are never going to fill up a hard drive or icloud
Just a note to thank the many thousands of you visitors who have dropped in over the last 5 years just over 400,000 of you unique individuals and as I'm now a token frenchman I kiss you all on both cheeks....... bonne annee mes amis... may your image making be as unique as you are.
Well I hope Santa left what you wanted and that the terrors of going back to work after the festive period are receding now that the weekend is upon us once again. Had just short of 2 weeks back in the UK, lots of motoring about seeing folk, getting the car fixed (almost) and trying out some new imagery techniques as well. Now I say imagery techniques, I'm using a camera to record things in order to create an image as I want to see it, whilst not necessarily being the scene that is in front of me. So not a photo then?? Well technically yes, I can take and present a photo, just look at all the mono stuff I knocked out before christmas, compose click bang let the camera do all the work stick it on the web....simple, maybe the way all photography should be.....maybe the mantra 'get it right in the camera' is the first thing that pops up on the screen when you open Lightroom or Photoshop...anyhow, for those of you who have bravely wrestled with this blog you'll know that I've talked about seeing the image you want before you take it, pre-visualise, bit like the pre-cogs in Minority Report lolling around in that paddling pool with Tom Cruise doing what Tom Cruise always does...well yes.
It does mean I'm not only set up mentally to capture what I want but I also have the camera gear and settings sorted before I get to press the shutter button. ...F6.7 if I'm using the 20mm in manual or aperture priority, shooting basic quality jpegs (WHAT!!!) for this new imagery yes...and that's it...set up. F 6.7 as I find it does help you get away with things if you have a dusty sensor and if set to the right focus point, gives you good overall image sharpness and basic jpegs because the Nikon D750 and it's sensor are 'king awesome and these images are made up of between 7 to 30 shots and in multiple layers...enough to stress out any large dollop of RAM... so without further ado here are a couple from my pre-cog, low res jpeg prime shooting hip swivelling shoots from over christmas.....oh and may your new years resolutions be greater than 1000 x 600 at 72ppi
You may have seen the previous post where some blokey drones on about camera menu settings...I know...me as well... but I really really like the mono results you get from this, okay quick tip,,,shoot in fine Jpeg, the reason being if you upload to Lightroom as a RAW file then Lightroom will give you a lovely untouched RAW colour file to look at, shooting Jpeg in Mono will strip out the colour information whilst stripping out some of the data needed for things like Lens correction, which if you need to, can be done manually.
So I have various galleries up using this technique mainly with the 50mm Nikon, now I've been trawling the internet and my fancy was taken by a Hasselblad Xpan, the pano format actually which is in a ratio of 67 x 24 and with a full frame digital camera that would be 2 slightly overlapping frames again Lightroom makes easy work if you select the 2 frames then right click and choose Photo Merge and click on the panorama option...handy hint shoot from Left to Right or Lightroom will probably blow a fuse trying to find some planes to line up your pano shots... anyhow I took the 70-200 F4 out and , as an experiment, tried the same technique and these are what I saw.
Figured out how to record the menu screen on the D750 so I thought I'd mumble my way through the steps needed to get you shooting and once set up, looking at the world in Black and White through using the Live View option of your camera screen...enjoy?
It's now 2 and a bit years since we chucked it in in the UK and headed out to rural France. probably best thing we ever did. Now then, the priority has been to get the farmhouse ship shape, the gardens manageable and the small holding productive, In amongst all this has been my desire to fill up all the image libraries I deal with, with imagery of this part of France....big fly in the ointment was me almost getting measured up for a nice wicker casket and shoved in an oven last year, so something had to give. As a just in case thing, I threw all my energy into the house, garden and smallholding with a bit of stock imagery and not a lot of the creative stuff...oh my, looking at shots so there was enough usable negative space in them was and is starting to get to me.(lets not forget the keywording)
And so we have hit Autumn, gardens are tidy, smallholding fettled and house insulated and stocked with winter fuel....see you knew I'd get somewhere with this...so time to pull down the creative hat over my ears and get cracking...I've already started...so come closer and i'll give you the skinny....
For those brave enough to have wandered around the site, you will have picked up that, of late, I like to get things done in camera, wibbly wobbly, multi imaging and what not ...I know, some of it can scare the horses and at times I scratch my head and wonder what on earth possessed me..Well I think I've deep cleansed my system and worked through all I wanted to learn about those processes, they'll always be there if I need to use them...so I am taking a step back in a few major ways....
My under used Nikon D750...well in there amongst all the menu fluff there is a tab that let's you shoot monochrome...that's right...black and white...like a roll of tri-x of pan-f, only in a digital camera. It also lets you chose yellow to red filtering, clarity, sharpness, contrast and brightness and one I'll miss out on, toning. Ally this shooting with Fine Jpegs and using only the 20mm f2.8 and 50mm f1.8 with a bit of manual exposing thrown in and I have a point and shoot with a what you see is what you get capability. That's right, no Lightroom faffery, no Photoshop tomfoolery no cropping just wysiwyg!!!
So .at the moment I have +1 on clarity, +3 on contrast and the Red filter, yeh we are looking at double espresso level 7 monos here straight out of the box, but these may change. I also managed to get Nikon's WMU wifi app working so images from the camera go straight to the iphone and can be whisked off without ever touching a big old PC...modern days eh!!
But that's not all, on no siree, Dominique our Postie will be labouring long and hard over the next few weeks bringing kit that will also be a step away from digital to all things analogue, things are changing, it's Autumn folks, winter drawers on, all those long winter nights for some photo experimentation.
so straight out of the can free from all faffery and fiddling cropping and post process....
Every now and then there's a lot of wind that whistles across the top of the Monts d'Arree where I live here in France...so I got to thinking, what if I set the camera up on a tripod during a real whizzer of a breezy day and did some long exposures of the foliage in the garden being battered and wafted about...so I did...early days but exposure times of between 6 to 30 seconds with the usual set up of Nikon D750, 50mm f1.8, f8 to f11, iso 100, B+W Nd x10 stopper and a bit of gaffer tape over the eyepiece, nothing special but another way of looking at things, The Flowers/plants in question are Inula, Bamboo and Monarda.
There may be some of you out there, like me, who can remember when television was a 2 channel affair, Sports Mixtures were 4 for an old penny and the only bit of motorway, of which my Dad took car fulls of us unrestrained nippers out for an 100mph white knuckle blitz was the Preston Bypass ....black and white days...anyway ...non of this digital tomfoolery we have now, if you had a half decent camera back then and had done the almost unthinkable thing of reading the manual before you got stuck in snapping, it may have come to your attention that on the base plate was a little button that, if pressed when cranking the shutter lever, would prime the shutter but not wind on the film.... double exposure of a negative could then ensue with your latent images, unseen and as yet undeveloped. The creative process had begun...I forget how many rolls of 35mm were deemed only fit for the bin but it was part of the learning process...lets do a timey whymmey thing and scoot along to present day.
No buttons on the base plate but here's the thing, if you have a decent Dslr and do something crazy...errr..like read the manual, I know it's quite a mad concept really...then in your menu system there will likely be a multi exposure setting...okay forgive me I should have said most Nikon Dslrs, if you have been led astray by the spurious claims of other Dslr manufacturers then I can't vouch for multi exposure being in your camera menu....I am sorry for your loss... so I have 2 Dslrs from the Nikon stable the tough as old boots D700 which has the ability to shoot 10 exposures as one file and the under engineered D750 which has only a maximum of 3 multi exposures to play with. So here's the set up...Nikon D750, Nikkor 50mm f1.8 and in the menu I have set it to take 2 exposures per frame or image file.... I'm having culture thrust upon me again at the Chagall Exhibition in Landerneau here in Brittany...I've been before but there is not restrictions on taking photos...so here are some shots using the double exposure set up...shooting RAW so into Lightroom CC for a tickle then spat out to here. So no layers photoshop just in camera faffology.
Now the next 2 were shot outside...shop dummy and then lined up to shoot any willing victim in the street to produce these creepy portraits...think of the possibilities and have a dip oh and do something crazy...read your camera manual...
There's only 50 of us who live here in the little village of Kernevez in the Monts d'Arree region of Finistere. But that dosn't stop us having a yearly fete and so besides taking the group photo for the newspaper I thought that maybe a few portraits could be squeezed out of the group.
So here we are then, just a softbox with a Yongnou 586 fired through some Yongnou triggers, all wireless, D750 and a Nikon 70-200 f4, TTL at 1/3rd power iso 200 and most at f6.7..... just ordinary folk having some fun.
Needs must ..after my last 2 health scares I had a choice to make and I decided to accelerate work on the gardens and land rather than photography, well just in case if you see what I mean. Anyhow back out and about with my bag full of cameras and lenses. One lens down as I've 'retired' the 24-85 Nikon I was using for Library images as it really is far too squishy image wise for me, an inherant lack of critical sharpness throughout it's range if I was reviewing for a magazine, so for the moment it's having a breather until I usher it towards the door marked 'Do one....' So out and about and although the weather was a bit mixed down in the Loire Valley I bagged a few images I'm happy with both types, some for the image libraries and the rest with a a leaning towards the creative side of things . So here are a few from the aristocractic crumbliness of Chaumont. In typical French style crumbling plaster and broken windows housing art from around Europe...love it.
Oh these are in camera 3 shot multi exposures using a Nikon D750 with a 20mm Nikon F2.8 and if you can remember an old blog post I did about the rubber eyepiece of the D750 being prone to popping off..... well if you do go through Beaugency and find one on the pavement...well it's mine.
The Lensbaby Velvet F1.6 Macro...well macro is part of the capabilities of this lens. All of the following images are taken at F4 where there is just enough sharpness and depth whilst knocking out the backgrounds with that smooth Velvet blur. These are all hand held natural light shots and with it being a bit breezy I set the focus and then 'rocked' back and forth to try and get the sharpness at the point I wanted. Okay, I could have used a flash and a tripod for the camera but life's too short. Looks like a lot of Orchids are braving the elements locally and blooming so expect some of those to appear soon. Shot with a D750 at iso 200 and I let the camera figure out the shutter speed.
High Iso shooting can be a real pain in the botty what with all that added noise wafting around your image file. Now here is a quick and basic look at noise reduction in Lightroom CC with a few tips chucked in.
First time I've used Camtasia in what is probably 3 years so please excuse the clunky unscripted nature.
January, sick and tired you've been laughing at me...ah the classics..... oh oh oh it's magic, too much Spotifying can have injurious consequences. Well we've all had some weather and here perched on the Monts d'Arree we've had our share and a few other Republics share of rain, almost flooded out by the creeping rise in the water table, up 3 metres and sploshing at the front back door, blew the pump off the Fosse but under enough water to keep 2 pumps a pumping for a week before it could be repaired...hang on...you're probably not here to have your ears bent by the travails of rural living but like Gloria Gaynor well, I will survive (spotify again) and the galvanised bucket of ablutions is once more returned to the barn. Oh yes photography. Well just back from a jaunt to the UK, not much snapping done, one day in the Huelgoat woods doing long exposures...meh...oh and some mashing and flailing about in Photoshop. So my book cover agent mails me and enquiring if at some opportune moment may one remove ones posterior from that galvanised bucket and mash up a few of those images that have been known to frighten the horses as he's sold some and folk are about as interested in what's left as last weeks school dinner boiled cabbage. So here is a selection which may, at some point in their digital lives, be snapped up, have fonts spread all over them in an enticing blend that will help them fly off the shelf or out of Amazons warehouse....or not.
Oh there's a link at the bottom to some new stuff on Getty which most certainly will not frighten any horses.
Avid reader(s) of this fluff had been alerted , by myself, that I was going to whip the Photoshop duster around some errant files and see if the way I shake the woofle dust over things is different from back in the day. Old files, new eyes or maybe the same old tired eyes but with a bit of extra jhuzzing from the latest software...why??... well because they're there and the rain has curtailed my efforts to rake all the leaves into mulch bin...er..things.. As a treat I've been handed a Plymouth Gin and non shall pass my lips until these pesky things have been uploaded and sent off into the web of wonder to be shoulder shrugged at with added head shaking,, Oh Happy New Year, lets hope I've not used up all my Cat lives with this years illness..es... See you on the other side..oh they are all Black and White except one..and all of Manchester , England. or are they?????
There was a record booth on Central Pier that had boxes full of old pub and club 45's, we're talking late 60's early 70's here youngsters, middles punched out so you had to get those odd plastic triskel shaped inserts so they'd play on the old Fidelity mono deck, Now there were those that I'd play all the time but soon tire of, Pop music..meh... then there were those that took a bit of listening to but became a bit more of a favourite, almost as though the hard work of getting into it gave greater rewards...and so we come to the Lensbaby 56mm f1.6...
Stuck it onto the D750 and thought...'WTF have I done' well it was a good..no great deal from Digixo
lovely chunk of metal, totally manual, blurry as a night on the Glenfarclas but tightens up the more aperture you dial into it. But my boats weren't floating, couldn't hear 76 trombones and I was rubbing my chin whilst simultaneously cocking an eyebrow...so let's scroll forward and I'm taking the D750 out with the 'baby velvet locked and loaded, no camera bag, nothing to distract or even rescue me from the tremors of a duff shoot and do you know what ..technique, understanding and image making all started to come together. There's no electronic connection between lens and body so you start to dial the aperture in and you see how the blur dials out , no aperture preview button required and for me the sweet spot occurred at F2.8. The focussing is all manual as well and it's an elbow cocking crank to get it all the way around, but I set things at 8' and moved in and out to get the focus point where I needed it, most of the images I took were quite close but not close enough to use the 1:2 macro capabilities at about 5".... So here you have a lens that gives dreamy fall off at wide apertures, tightens up like normal lens at apertures over F11 and has 1:2 macro capabilities...I'm getting to like it... oh first record I bought from Central Pier record booth with the middle missing Who do you love by Juicy Lucy here are some snaps....
Parc d'Armorique..this is where I live, if I had to try and describe it it's like a mixture between the Lake District, the Peak District and the New Forest but without all the tourists..... and just down the road to the North, West and South are the varied coastlines of Brittany and I've not really photographed much of it, all the work on the farm and being a wee bit ill for the past 6 months has knocked all the things I've planned to do on the head. So, new gear in the bag, Nikon 24-85, 70-200 and 50mm lenses to try out and I've barely given the D750 a chance to stretch it's legs..I'm waffling..anyway here are some snaps from Le Gouffre, where the River Argent runs down to the old Roman Lead mines and only about 6km from home.. So back with the ND filters and tripods over the next few weeks.
Was it only a few blog posts ago that some old cheeser was complaining about his mince pies and how he'd have to get some lenses in that could do all that magical auto focus stuff and save him all that squinting and gurning as things were wrestled into some semblance of focus... yep that was me... I can still do my fair share of squinting and gurning but what if some deal came along...you know one of those where one eyebrow cocks itself, one where the item is reduced for 'One weekend only' one where you suddenly find that 'The Precious' could be yours within 2 working days... no procrastination on this one, drool wiped from card , numbers entered...Merci Monsieur livraison gratuit aussi......and here it is.....now then the iphone 5 camera is having a very bad attack of the hiccups so please excuse the quality of the next 2 snaps
First impressions...feels as solid as a rock, probably lose the lens cap as it slides on and off, need to crank the focus ring around quite some distance, I think the old focus on a point and move in and out might come into play, oh and it has Macro capabilities... all in all I think there might be a fair bit of creative faffery to be extracted from this chunk of metal and glass.....I think we're going to need a bigger bag...
Espaws, the new way to upload images to Getty, Now for a fair few years I've been manfully grappling with Gettys uploading system and gleefully embraced the addition of being able to keyword your own image....as long as the keywords were in the Getty database and no..all that metadata massaged into your imported Raw or DNG files was tossed in the bin. Meh...but now we have ESPAWs...and today I've bum jiggled myself deep into the office chair and set about filling in all the required fields in the required order without really paying much attention to the instructions on the box but hey, best way of learning, make a proper horlicks of it first time, learn from those tear stained mistakes and crack on once more. And what's this..keywords can be overwritten by metadata attached to your file, bulk uploading, bulk keywording, templates to save...my god , I'll never be able to keep up with the image snapping if it gets this easy.... and what's this... no weekly limit on the volume of uploads...I need to reassess targets, bring forward projects, run things up the flagpole, knock things into the back of the net, check which way the wind is blowing..oh and learn how to use this upload portal properly... this is what it all looks like
There are times when you want a shot so badly that, well, you just have to ignore that little flashing flash(?) symbol or sometimes little wavy hand, brace yourself against some solid object, take a slow sniper breath and blat a shot off. But what if you want to take a shot at a crazy low shutter speed to record some movement but then want some sharpness in there as well...I know...get a tripod or as I've done on the beach, make a dinky sandcastle or place your camera on a rock...but what about hand held...with a telephoto in challenging conditions.
Enter stage left the Nikon VR 3 system and with a bit of algorithmic waftines, Photoshop CC and it's Shake reduction filter. So out and about in the rather wonderful Huelgoat woods shooting the woodland in some nice low autumnal sunshine, ended up at the old Roman Lead mines and the River Argent... so walking back along the River path it suddenly struck me that a tripod would be more than useful but that was many a kilometer away in the car. So as I was out giving my new Nikon 70-200 F4 VR 3 a bit of a shakedown well, I thought I'd try to see how far I could push things... so 1st image is shot at F13 145mm on an FX...but at 1/8th of a second hand held...1/8th yep with VR active I wanted moving water but something sharp as a counterpoint.
Almost got away with it but just a touch of movement in the Holly so from Lightroom into Photoshop CC and Filers> shake reduction which looks a lot like the image below. One thing...be patient, this filter takes a bit of time, especially if you are resampling different areas of the image
Looks like they use a lot of edge contrast maths in a kind of Clarity fashion..add too much filter and you do get a breakout of light and dark haloing on the edges but trial and error will give you the experience to sort it out. So here is an enlargement from the bottom of the Holly as a before and after view, I'm sure there is something to be done by using a color selection and turning it into a mask to blend the shake reduced image(?) back into the original file anyhow...handheld at 1/8th and sharpish with a Telephoto..well what's not to like
So first up is an old Freecom 500gb drive which has all kinds of stuff tucked away so I've loaded some into a Lightroom Catalog and set about for a faff. When I look back on some of the processing I did..well..it is to my eyes now quite harsh, in those days the workflow was Bridge to Photoshop and off you go..use all the toys..spank that file until the pixels squeak. Well one things changed for sure and that's workflow.. Lightroom CC to Photoshop CC and saved back to Lightroom for a final once over before exporting...I was a late Lightroom adopter, version 3 I think and these days I never bother with bridge..time eh!! Still having it all on subscription means I'm always up to date...anyway these files are all shot with a Fuji S3 and it's buddy, the Tokina 12-24, delving into the files it wasn't such a bad combo, mind you I now see all the sensor dust...yikes....lumpy!! No wonder Alamy used to refrain from accepting some of the early stuff... so these shots are from Blackpool and Glasgow..mono conversions with my new found skills(?) on Wacom put to the test and its wafty brushing onto masks thingy. I'll be concentrating on the Black and White stuff for the next few posts and as I've just downloaded some screen recording software I'll give you the chance to see what goes on when I'm left on my own with some old hard drives and the whole of Spotify to amuse me.
Well all the new kit is here , locked and loaded and to coincide with that we have had 75kph winds, large dollops of rain and a general bleughiness....so besides teaching myself how to sculpt wire into insects and animals I've sat nere and been on the rather marvellous Wacom youtube site and learned all I could have done about this piece of kit, the Intuos A4 tablet that acts as a magnet for dust and biscuit crumbs. I've used it for a bit of painting and sketching but never really set it up to run with Photoshop and Lightroom. So for most of it's unboxed life it only really added to the desktop clutter. So now I have pressure sensitivity on retouching, masks, painting and cloning...run it without a dither or jiggle over 2 monitors and...yep ...it really is better than that old mouse. So here's one I did just now
An oldy but that is one of the reasons I wanted to fill up on the Wacom techniques. I have a drawer full of Hard Drives, things snapped over the last 10 years of Digital photography. Well I want to go back and see if what I know now could be applied to old files and how that would affect how the final image would look, I'd also be using up to date software and kit on things produced with an Olympus E-20 and the old Fuji S3 which had a tinpot collection of lenses. Idea is to produce some print books ( for me not any Blurb based production) Feeling a bit mortal after this last years 'Health Scares' and I want to make sure that there are some hard copies before the Interweb melts and everything vanishes. More about the books later.....
What's all this then????
An unyeilding torrent of Photo babbel full of unconfirmed facts and manufactured photo drivel.. take from it what you like, it won't change the world but may leave you feeling nauseous...