Revisiting photos with fresh eyes

I wrote recently about how I'd been struggling for inspiration whilst walking around Manhattan.  On first inspection, almost all of the shots seemed worthless and I was set to delete the lot.  However with a few weeks of separation and some fresh eyes, I've actually found something to like.  Even though these aren't artistic masterpieces, there's a story in each one.  Hopefully you enjoy them, and as ever, please feel free to comment.

Struggling for inspiration in NYC

How is it possible to struggle for photographic inspiration in New York?  I'm not sure but I do struggle nonetheless.  It's just so...everything...all at once.  I find myself unable to capture the enormity of the buildings, the heat in the summer, the cold in the winter, the noise, the smells.  Obviously photography is purely a visual medium but it has to be possible to hint at these things - I just haven't succeeded yet.  

Then there's the people - so many interesting characters but let me just come out and say it - I'm afraid to point a camera at them in case I get screamed at - New York style: "Hey Jackass, are you gonna stick that camera up your ass or do I need to do it for you?"

It's very easy to just end up with the usual touristy shots - I have many sets of these!

On this latest visit, after many boring frames, I decided to focus on traffic.  Most of these shots were crap too.  However, I do have one that I'm happy with, which I share with you now.

What's your experiece of shooting big cities?  Any advice?  Or do you have some other setting where the images you come home with just don't reflect what you're trying to capture?  Let's hear all about it in the comments below.

Taxi on Park Avenue, Manhattan. Click for enlargement.

It's a new dawn, it's a new day

It's a new dawn, it's a new day, it's a new life for me. And I'm feeling good.

Click to enlarge

Happy 2017 Mum! You're the only person who will actually read this :)  I'm no longer really sure what the point of the blog is (was I ever sure?) - random images, random thoughts, random and low frequency publishing schedule.

I really enjoy photography - as and when.  At some point I thought it might become more than a hobby, which is why I felt the need for my own website.  That was perhaps putting the cart before horse.  Then I painted the cart with lovely flowers and wrapped it in a bow.  I'm now pretty sure that the cart was never needed but having spent time decorating it, I'm reluctant to give it up.

How to use Lightroom to make the most of dull days

Sunny days, the golden hour, high contrast light - for most landscape enthusiasts, these are the conditions we crave.  However the weather is not always kind and we often have to take what we can get - or sit at home for most of the winter letting the camera gather dust.

What I'd like to show you, is how with a little Adobe Lightroom know how, we can take a flat and disappointing image and salvage something worth keeping.

Read More

Summer Days Fishing Away

With temperatures this week struggling to get above 5C, summer is but a fading memory.  Fortunately I have a nice collection of photos to remind me....On what was without doubt the best day of the year weather wise, my family and I discovered Wells Next the Sea in Norfolk. 

I say discovered - it seems everyone around here was in on the secret but no one was talking - and who can blame them? The size of the beach as the sea retreated over a mile, the size of the sky, the depth of the blue....what a stunning day.

Click images to view full screen

Royal International Air Tattoo 2016

Friday 8th August was day 1 of RIAT 2016 - here are some images from a phenomenal day of flying. 

I've been attending airshows since my youngest days and am quite used to what can be expected from the fast jets.  However what I was not expecting, was the Airbus A400M, which produced some of the most impressive display flying I have ever seen.

This was also my first time watching the F35 Lightning II and the F22 Raptor, so that was very cool.

From a photography perspective, the Canon EOS 80D proved absolutely phenomenal, particularly in conjunction with the 200mm F2.8L prime lens.  (Equivalent focal length due to the cropped sensor worked out at 320mm).  The autofocus was fast and bang on, time after time.

I hope you enjoy these photos.  Click for enlargements and please feel free to comment.

Intertropical Dawn

"The Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ), known by sailors as the doldrums, is the area encircling the earth near the equator where the northeast and southeast trade winds come together."  Credit Wikipedia.

Navigating an airliner through this area can be a challenge.  Skill in the use of weather radar is key, particularly at night.  However, as the sun rises, the views can be spectacular.

Click for enlargement

Down at the motocross track

Last weekend I enjoyed an afternoon of shooting motocross action at Wild Trax Outdoor Activity Park. One of the things I noted was the excellent autofocus of the Canon EOS 80D - even with a consumer grade lens attached.  As much as mirrorless cameras have their merits, for moving targets nothing comes close to a DSLR.

Breakfast and a morning mooch in Seattle

Seattle is 8 hours behind the UK, so by the time the locals are ready to serve breakfast, anyone on UK time is starving.  Fortunately, this city has no shortage of places to eat.  One of my favourite spots is Lowell's, in the Pike Place Market.  Good food, and lots of photos opportunities when you've finished.

Click for enlargements

 

Dawn over Greenland

On a recent flight from Seattle WA to London, I was lucky enough to witness dawn over Greenland.  The colours changed continuously from an hour before sunrise, until the sun was high in the sky.

Alpine vistas in Obergurgl, Austria

I was very lucky recently to go skiing with my family in the Tyrolean Alps.  While the focus of the holiday certainly wasn't photography, I had the wonderful little Sony RX100 III to hand, and couldn't help myself.  So here are a couple of images from the window of our hotel room.

Click for enlargements

Setting sail into a deep blue sky

Canadian Air Force CC-177 Globemaster III


Gorgeous winter weather

Last year, the UK Met Office decided that the North Atlantic storms that batter this island deserve to have names.  After all, wind speeds in Scotland and the upland areas of northern England are frequently as strong as you might see in a hurricane, with barometric pressures to match.  This winter we have indeed been subject to a tiring sequence of these beasts.  They do however bring some gorgeous sunshine, so if you're willing to brave the icy winds, there are some great photo opportunities to be had.

Click for enlargement

Anglesey Abbey deconstructed

Deconstruction is a technique which I read about last year on the Warehouse Express Photography Guides page last year.  It appealed to me back then but I didn't have enough images of any one place to make it work.  Today I finally sat down and put together some of the images I've been collecting of Anglesey Abbey, just outside Cambridge.

It took a while to learn how.  I am something of a Photoshop boob/noob, so almost every aspect of the process involved using a new (to me) technique.  What's been surprising is just how much work it is in Photoshop to put this type of image together.  Photogrid for iOS involves nothing more than choosing the source files and selecting a style.  This is really where the power of mobile computing and small single purpose apps comes into its own.  Sure - if you can imagine it, Photoshop can create it - but for the average consumer who just wants to put out something cool, it's an unfriendly behemoth.

Anyway, have a look and do let me know what you think in the comments below.

Click for enlargement

Camera equivalence is equivalent to a marketing con

Let's talk about how consumer misunderstanding perpetuates a con started by camera manufacturers.

A cracking camera, that does not need to be thought of in terms of it's equivalence with something else.

A cracking camera, that does not need to be thought of in terms of it's equivalence with something else.

As we know, most digital cameras have sensors which are smaller than 35mm film.

This leads to a change in your field of view for any given focal length.  A 50mm lens mounted on a camera with a 2x "crop factor", will have the same field of view as a 100mm lens mounted on a "Full Frame" or 35mm camera.

 

This is generally well understood but a lot of people have a subtle but important misunderstanding here.

The crop factor changes your field of view - but crucially - and contrary to most camera marketing materials - it does not change your actual focal length.  

A 50mm lens is a 50mm lens, whether you mount it on a full frame body, an APS-C 1.5x crop body, or a Micro Four Thirds (MFT) 2x crop camera.  

A 50mm lens mounted to a MFT body does not suddenly begin offering the flattering (for portraits) optical compression that an actual 100mm lens would.

Take an example of the Olympus 40-150mm F2.8 Pro lens.  The advertising blurb for such a lens would generally run something like, "You're getting an 80-300mm (Full frame equivalent) lens with a bright F2.8 aperture, at a fraction of the size, weight and cost."

This is only a half truth. What are we actually getting?
A 40-150mm lens. (Focal length is focal length)
A full frame equivalent field of view of 80-300mm
F2.8 light gathering capability
The bokeh of an 80-300 F5.6 lens

These are not the same things.  The use case might be similar in terms of field of view and exposure, however:

Full frame lenses have to cover a much larger image circle.  This makes them more difficult to manufacture and it goes without saying that they need to be larger and heavier.  They also offer more optical compression and a shallower depth of field when used on a full frame body.

So to market a MFT 40-150 F2.8 as being a direct alternative to a 70-200 F2.8 full frame lens, and on that basis charge a very similar amount of money is misleading at best.

The different systems are just different.  An analogy - a small family does not need a large 4x4 to go away on holiday.  They could equally well use a medium sized family car.  That does not make the two cars equivalent.  Nor does it mean that the manufacturers could justify charging the same for them.

In the same way, full frame is just different to APS-C or MFT.  They just happen to have overlapping areas of competence.

So much fuss is made of equivalence.  Search the forums and you'll find hundreds of enthusiastic discussions, arguing back and forward about the myriad nuances of DSLR Full Frame vs. DSLR Crop vs. Full Frame Mirrorless vs. Mirrorless Crop.

In the end, all the systems have something to offer and the question is which features are important to you?  

However, for manufacturers to market something as being equivalent to something else, when it blatantly is not, is a con.

 

Racing silhouettes

So it's the 8th of January, and already we are on to the second post of 2016.  Better slow down before we fall off.  Well don't get too excited, I just wanted to share with you an image from this morning in Newmarket.  Hope you like it - if not I hope you loathe it.  Just don't call it nice! :)

Click for enlargement


Great news - I did no better with 2015's resolutions than you did!

What-ho, and welcome to 2016.  I do hope that you've had a good time over the last couple of weeks.

To start the ball rolling for the New Year, a quick review of my 2015 objectives and how I got on.  If you want the short version - the success rate was low.  This time last year I intended to:

  • See my first opera.  Total failure.  Didn't even look into it in the end.
  • Increase frequency and regularity of blog posts.  Six blog posts with gaps between them of between 2 and 6 months.  Hardly prolific.  Audience highly frustrated...:P
  • Learn more about flash photography.  See results for opera.
  • Continue to declutter - actually good success here.  In a society where accumulation is unavoidable, this job will never be over, but I own fewer things now than I did this time last year, and there is more space in the house.

Should one feel bad about these things?  IMHO, no, not in the slightest.  The intent seemed genuine enough at the start of 2015 but on the basis that in general people do what they want to do, I must conclude that perhaps I didn't want these things very much.

From a photographic perspective, 2015 was not an A+ kind of year.  (Although in many other senses it was great.) I had high hopes of significant progress in terms of skill, vision, and output quantity.  In truth, I can claim very little progress on any of these fronts.

Instead the first half of the year was spent deliberating replacements for my ailing Nikon D90.  After disproportionate agonising on the subject, I decided to switch to the Olympus OM-D E-M1.  There's too much to say on this - it needs it's own blog post - but let's say the jury is still out.

Anyway, that meant a lot of time, which could have been spent out shooting, was spent looking at gear reviews.  What a waste.  Oh well - onward and upwards.  In the words of Winston Churchill, we shall "Keep buggering on".  :-o

Wising you and yours every blessing for 2016.