It's an unbirthday day out in search of Butterflies.... not as many as last year and I think the cold snap at the end of April has a lot to do with it, Orange Tips , Brimstones and Painted Ladies before then but since...nada. So at the Abbeye de Daoulas to see if there are any there...nope...so trying a 2X convertor on the 70-200 and shooting around 1/1000th I busied my self shooting gobets of water from a fountain...and this is a few of them...not sure if the autofocus is working correctly so may have a fiddle about to adjust it...seems a nadgers do dah off...any how read into these what you want. (I know...autofocus but at 400mm my bins need a leg up)
Well I'd never call myself a 'wildlife photographer', there are too many good ones out there but we've created quite a few different 'natural' environments here which gives me the opportunity to graze my knees and get down with the Bug Life.
Butterflies thin on the ground and I've given up chasing after the European and Asian Hornets that like a wee dram of Aphid secretion to boost their day.
Good news is that he butterflies are back now we have this scorching spell of weather, Swallowtails and all manner of ones I can't seem to identify from the books...here's hoping i get a 'Citron de Provence flapping through like last year...only this time I'll have a camera locked and loaded.
Always wanted to call in to this place and as the ferry back to europe was a late evening crossing turned right off the M6 and went for a look.
Must be chaotic in summer/visitor time ...all the museums are spread out through the valley connected by narrow roads with stonking great tour buses navigating their way through it all....still did it ....
So this is 10 shots using the 20mm Nikkor at f4.5 iso 400 on the D750 shooting RAW, basic corrections in LR then opened as a layer stack in Photoshop top 9 selected and the opacity dropped to 30%...no blend modes again...mono in Photoshop and then saved back as a PSD into LR with a bit of painted in Clarity and a tweak of contrast and highlight recovery.... here's a couple more
A couple of days in Dinan with the town itself in full thrall of the international tourism brigade. Mr Juncker may have passed comment that English is dying out in Europe but in this small corner all the gift shops and restaurants use it as their lingua franca, maybe it will change in a couple of years.....
Anyhow the Iconic Citroen Traction, this fine example is on it's way from the Channel Islands to the Hills of Holland rally tootling as you do, around Maastricht. So having the opportunity to do a photo essay of one in the dribbly mizzle...I did...as ever at the moment quite wide open Nikon 50mm f1.8 and the D750 with a bit of crunch added in Lightroom with a hoick on the clarity slider.
The Trafford Centre, mausoleum to shopping, it's many avenues of retail despair. Not forgetting the many waistcoated and blazered 'security' staff ready to herd you off the property if caught snapping. Fact of the day...The Trafford Centre used up all the available Gold leaf from the UK in it's construction to give it's columns, statues and domes the 'blingtastic' feel. So the image above is a layer stack of these below...Lightroom >edit>open as layers in photoshop >align>opacity....set the opacity of all the layers to 30% or there abouts.....no blend modes and just a bit of sharpening using high pass filter on a desaturated duplicate layer...time to stop as I'm drifting off into Photoshop bollocks...
First blog post of many over the next week, been out and about across the UK and here in France. These shots are from the Sandbach festival at the end of April...a bit of transport and bit of funfair but mostly with a 50mm F1.8.
So I've been Spinning around like Kylie at the Trafford Centre, reanimating the spirit of Maigret with a 2CV , abstracting motion at Ironbridge and dissecting Dinan in a non touristy way, just putting some miles onto this new shutter in the D750... demain mes amis.
I did mention that I was having a waft with some gels over the LED, so still in practice mode...Moonlight a bit too strong to get the stars popping but if you want to give it a try these are the camera settings.
Nikon D750 with a Nikkor 20mm, shooting Raw with iso 200, f 4.5 for 20 seconds...so you can see the moon was quite bright...camera on timer sitting on a tripod so I could get into the polytunnel...3 shots one for the ambient, one for the interior and one for the non gelled light outside...layer stack in Photoshop and just masked in/out the relevant bits...'where does it go from here...is it down to the lake I fear' (yep more obscure '80's pop, there's a clue in the blog title).....so to Huelgoat and the Trout lake...
...not sure what was more wooden, Nicholas Cage or his prosthetic hand..enough of these '80s film references. Now last week I was out with some LED torches wafting away under les etoiles looking for some kind of exposure balance. So first starry night this week coincides with a bit of Moonlight, half a full moon, it could be more, it could be a little less...anyhow no clouds. So I'd done some work with Gels up at the Polytunnel and thought I'd see what shooting with Moonlight would look like. So usual camera set up. D750, Nikon 20mm set at 800 iso, f4.5 for 30 seconds, ...now I know that 30 secs is too long to hold the stars sharp...20 would probably do it and to reduce the iso I could wiffle about with the aperture or shutter speed but this was just to check out what half power moonlight could do. Looks like there is a bit of compression going on in the sky so I have loaded a higher resolution image...enough of this Lunacy...capice!
....like a circle in a spiral, like a ...anyway nothing to scare the horses or give any genteel snappers out there the vapours with this one....now in it's most basic form this is a stack of 6 images, shot in manual, whilst circling a Palm tree at the Jardin Exotique at Roscoff on Sunday, images loaded into Lightroom , lens correct and a minor tweak including a crunch of clarity, then loaded as a layer stack into Photoshop. Now as this is a stack of 6, I selected the top 5, reduced the opacity of them to 30% and with a few more tweaks and Photoshop gymnastics ended up here. Northern hemisphere Europe has lots of trees/shrubs in full blossom at the moment so give it a whizz...btw...did you notice there was no mention of blend modes.. have some fun with it and remember......
Like a circle in a spiral, like a wheel within a wheel
Never ending or beginning on an ever spinning reel
As the images unwind, like the circles that you find in
The windmills of your mind!
Up on the north Brittany coast at Le Diben scouting locations for night time or Pinhole shots, so no kit bag just the D750 and 20mm f2.8 to keep me company. Now I had promised myself there would be no faffing or photo jiggery pokery, just some straight shots to see if the location would fit in to how I see this project going.........anyway.... I stood there, and it was a wee bit wafty and breezy and I could see the clouds were scudding along at a rate of knots....so I started thinking..always dangerous.
So this (or these, as I have done a few) is standing still, trying to keep the framing as still as possible,camera on manual 1/1600 at f6.3 iso 200 and taking a shot every 10 seconds or so. Now truth be told I was thinking of aligning these as layers in Photoshop so any movement would be negated...but.. I opened them as a layer stack from Lightroom into Photoshop, selected the top 9 of the 10 image layer stack and changed the blend mode to LIGHTEN...and that's that....I think this technique has some legs in torch lit portraits(!!!!????) ...more later... anyways a bit of detail from the image to show you it close up
This image doesn't give you a feel for the scale of the rocky outcrops here but it's all on a grand scale and down in the harbour there was some broken concrete mussel pens that look a dead cert for a bit of torch wafting....laters..
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?
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...