We live in a 'Dark Skies' area here in Central Brittany, there are a few street lamps in our nearest village, well when they can be bothered to switch them on, so when the sky is clear you get to see a rather spectacular starscape. Now as I have set myself the challenge of mastering light painting with both torchlight and flash/strobes., this week it will be torch power.
Now as it's a learning process for me I might as well pass on some basic settings to you. Camera is set up as follows.. Nikon D750 (including it's brand spanking new shutter), the highest quality RAW file, Nikon 20mm f2.8 set at F4.5, iso 200 and with a 30 second exposure time, noise reduction applied in camera which will delay the image appearing on the camera screen by about 30 seconds. This is 3 exposures, one for the ambient, one for the main building (ma maison) and one to twiddle in the bits missed, all loaded into Lightroom for some lens correction and then opened as a layer stack in Photoshop, masked faffed and saved back into Lightroom for some perspective control and some clarity painted into the sky to 'pop' the stars.
So I used no colour gels on the torch but I'm just getting used to a standardised group of settings before the real creative stuff can bob to the front of the queue. Going to switch off the in camera noise reduction and use my Yongnuo strobe trigger on camera as it has an auto focus grid pattern that it throws out to assist the autofocus in the pitch black, which should be better than me , torch in one hand trying to fathom out what is in or out...
Now 30 seconds shows up a small amount of movement in the stars and if you google astro photography there are plenty of formulae out there to work out your max exposure time /focal length combination to freeze star movement. Now then I'm already looking at very high flash sync to kill ambient light in daylight conditions...but I'll get these techniques nailed first..
If you are from the UK,GB or as it will be known after Brexit..Billy-no-mates...news reports often use Wales as an analogous construct so folk can get their heads around how big say..... a forest fire is, or maybe an oil slick or how big one of 'The Donalds' eastern european golf/hotel resorts is going to be after impeachment...anyhow..projects need planning, clear thought, objectives and clarity as well as knowledge of what gear would be needed to fulfil the quest, I'm scoring one out of five at the moment.
Lets swing it back to the Wales thing...Brittany, just Brittany on it's own is BIGGER than Wales,,it has 2,860 km of coastline.... Wales has 2,250 just to give you an idea...although if you go to Landerneau you will find Caernarfon Bridge.... those monks used to get everywhere. Now why am I telling you this???..no seriously...ah yes this year it seems I have challenged myself to do some projects, where by the thinnest of threads , images will hang together to form a narrative from which you, my dear viewer, will draw together the subjective nature of things, join me in my visual quest or deem it as a bag of old pants dressed up as the Emperor's new clothes. It will involve a lot of trekking around Brittany an area apparently, a similar size to Wales.
So this is what is on the agenda
10 x 8 Direct Positive paper Pinhole mono images...they're in my head as i've already seen them so 3 set projects of about 40 images each
Light painting with flash guns and / or torches ...so many abandoned things...so many Menhirs
Polaroid...nothing specific but is it the medium, the way in which the image is presented or is there a way of bending the Polaroid to represent the way I see things (absolutely no idea of subject but all the gear/film is sitting in the office waiting pensively)
...and do you know what...not for this year...but oh my, I keep going onto ebay and looking at Hasselblad Xpans ...need Getty to pull their finger out and flog more files before that happens...
Anyway here are a few images that form part of my sketch book for the basis of some light painting. Out on the Crozon peninsula in Western Brittany.
Bonjour, bonsoir and hello, I know , it's been quiet on the blog front, doesn't mean that nothing has been going on
The Search for the Direct Positive Paper..
Imagine the horror of finding out that after months of planning, budgeting and procrastination that the paper of choice for aforementioned pinhole project suddenly becomes 'unavailable'. I emailed Ilford and got the reply that. errr we're not sure when it will be back for sale...panic based google searching then got me to America where I located some only to collapse from the vapours when the tax and import duties were added on...okay it remained an option...then delving for what seemed like an interminable 10 minutes or so I found a little lab in France that had some, right price and could get it to me toot sweet!!! So I snaffled the lot....just need to properly black out the office/(ahem) studio and procrastinate for a while and it will all be sorted.
Okay, the figures are out there, in a bit of a poopy place financially, well make properly engineered camera bodies that don't need to be recalled (TWICE) and you might get some cash back in the corporate sock drawer. So free postage D750 goes back to Nikon, good communications , free repair with a new shutter system...and I waited....2 weeks I waited....so I emailed them and apparently it was sent back to me but there was no one in...hmmmm...I know my postman Dominique and next time I saw him asked if he had a package that had to be signed for but found we were out....NON and then surprisingly the camera arrived the following day..delivered without the need for a signature....now dear reader you may at this point want to roll your eyes and wonder if there is anything that can be gleaned from this.....well
Sent off my D700 body to Nikon repairs as I have an event where I need to do some tethered shooting and the usb connector, a bit like me, has some wonky teeth....off it goes I tracked the camera through La Poste they got it on the 9th of March....and I waited......so after 10 days I contacted them only to be told that I had been sent a Pdf of costings and they were waiting on my reply...you know...that email arrived in my inbox an hour after I contacted them...funny eh!!!! Well not that funny as it was nearly 300 euros to just fix the connector...er non merci. Now then ...Nikon...one way of keeping your long time customers happy and with half an eye on them buying more stuff that will get infrequent use is not to piss them off with lacklustre customer service, I have history of this as 'back in the day' I worked at Jessops and my task was checking in all the bent, dropped and fiddled with camera gear and sending it back to the right place to get repaired...I more often than not sent Nikon gear to independent repairers as I knew it would get back to me quicker... is it too late to change to Fuji....
One last point...if you buy some top grade very lightly used photo gear off of that ebay... just leave some feedback...even if it's only 'well packaged' or something or xxx , as I have been finding homes for lenses that sit in their boxes rather than get any vigorous usage it would be nice if just one of the recipients could have found the time for a bit of acknowledgement ...because the last thing you need is some procrastinating grey haired old cheeser writing about it on their blog post......
Anyway I've been doing a lot of painting recently...one of Trevarez just south of us near Chateaux neuf....
Okay, for those bothering to take note.... I did say I was going to list all the cameras and things to be done this year...but as I am missing one important element, the D750, then what about a bit of garbled video tutorial nonsense. As ever the seat of the pants were ably used instead of a script so please excuse the dodgy bits...but I'm confident you are all grown up enough to follow the plot in a kind of 'Murder she Wrote' on a sunday afternoon slumberfest,rather than some bleak Scandi Noir murder mystery full of twists and turns that only becomes clear after the ninth episode. Okay this is about 15 minutes of your life that sadly will never return and may in fact leave you with deep rooted mental health issues, plough on as it may give you an insight into the workings of joinerpanoramery....well on how they are put together at a basic level
So to clear up a few hiccups shift/control/alt/e for a stamped copy layer...mac users, well you can sort it out for yourselves...surely!!
There is a dobbing big watermark advertising Techsmith, just having a trial with this software so we'll all have to put up with it.
email, message send a note strapped to a pigeons leg if you have any queries...as ever I kiss you all on both cheeks.
Service advisory ... check your serial number...HA no need to..every other shot the mirror locks and ERR appears in the top LCD window... seems like the issues surrounding the D750 continue.. first the lens mount flare and now wonky shutters...but here's a funny thing, if I switched to manual then the problem went away...so maybe there is something else going on under the hood, software perchance??
For those of long memories and what is probably a disturbing ability to recall some of the fluff from this blog..I did mention on my piece about the D750 when I recorded my first impressions that it felt curiously under engineered..tiny usb cable, no prism viewfinder lock a bit wibbly wobbly like the original sets of Dr Who, in a way which is opposite to the 'made from girders' feel that my old D700 still has.
But the process of returning has been well thought out, camera out of warranty...no problem...moved to another country...no problem free return and delivery...no problem..progress updates ...no problem I hope when the D750 returns there will be ....no problem
Now as the wind chill outside is hovering around -10 I'm not too bothered about being out there snapping but as the weather is supposed to return to it's late winter norm over night I thought I'd do the next blog piece on what I'm going to do photographically this next year and more importantly...what kit I am going to be using ...which hopefully will include an ERRant D750.
Just in case you need to check your serial number http://www.nikonusa.com/en/Service-And-Support/Service-Advisories/ibs1kfdg/Technical-Service-Advisory-for-Users-of-the-Nikon-D750.html
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....
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...