Holidays are over

Yes, we’re back in Auch.

Visa was, as usual, superbe – the Kevin Frayer exhibition was, to us at least, the best offering this year. Remember this?

Camp de réfugiés de Balukhali, Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, 20 septembre 2017. Un garçon rohingya désespéré s’accroche au camion d’une ONG locale qui distribue des colis alimentaires d’urgence aux réfugiés récemment arrivés.
Balukhali refugee camp, Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, September 20, 2017. A desperate Rohingya boy clambering onto the truck of a local NGO distributing urgent food supplies to newly arrived refugees.
© Kevin Frayer / Getty Images

Kevins exhibition was in the Eglise des Dominicains in Perpignan, where we had seen Don McCullin’s exhibition a few years ago – magnificent background to truly exceptional photographs.

Our visit to l’Hérault was just what we wanted too – exploring the area in the mornings, and reading books by the pool all afternoon – what more could we ask…

This is from Cazavieille, Hérault.

After a week we left and traveled ‘overland’ (ie; not on motorways) to a tiny village called Volx in the Alpes de Haute Provence – another week of exploration and reading by the pool – it was, after all a HOLIDAY.

This is from Simiane-la-Rotonde, Alpes de Haute Provence.

Sunrise, viewed from our terrace – Villeneuve, Alpes de Haute Provence

Next stop? Surely the most important thing coming up is the Festival CiRCa in October… More on that later…


It’s that time again

September already? Must be time to visit Perpignan.

Yes we’re off again this weekend (PS Key’s Under the mat…) and judging by what I’ve been able to see on Internet, this years exhibitions should be very interesting.

All the usual places to visit, with a very full day in prospect as we review all that’s up for offer. Here are a few examples of stunning work from some of the worlds photo journalists being shown at Visa for the Image this year.

Balukhali refugee camp, Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, September 20, 2017. A desperate Rohingya boy clambering onto the truck of a local NGO distributing urgent food supplies to newly arrived refugees.
© Kevin Frayer / Getty Images
A Palestinian hurling stones at Israeli troops during the fourth weekly protest on the Gaza-Israel border. According to medical officials, two Palestinians were killed by Israeli troops firing across the border fence. April 20, 2018.
© Khalil Hamra / The Associated Press
World Press Photo of the Year

Venezuela Crisis
Caracas, Venezuela, May 3, 2017. José Víctor Salazar Balza (28) caught fire during clashes between riot police and demonstrators protesting against President Nicolas Maduro.
© Ronaldo Schemidt / Agence France-Presse

The eternal paradox – I’m impatient to see what dreadful pain and sufffering are being wrought in our world.


My ‘take’ on the situation – NIKON Z series

Since the recent announcement of the NIKON mirroless cameras, the Z6 & Z7 I’ve read, with a certain amusement, the various on-line/forum/YouTube ‘experts’  and I have to thank the authors – it’s quite amazing just how far from reality people will take the tiniest tit-bits of information.

Aside from The Angry Photographer (TAP), who is a complete card-carying idiot (who owns « at least 300 Nikon lenses » – yeah – of course you do…) and the only person who believes in what he says, most of the commentaries have started off fairly quietly before becomming hugely theoretic and oft-times frankly fantasist – it’s clear that 95% of the people writing A: have little competance to comment, and B: can’t actually write anyway.

A recent « Anonymous post » over on the NIKON RUMURS blog was 100% right – but the forum members then proceeded to tear his comments to shreds.

A popular subject is Nikons choice to equipe the new cameras with just a single memory card slot. To must intelligent photographers, this is a very minor inconvenience – to the forum members this is almost the end of the world. It has to be understood that a large percentage of the forum members don’t actually practice much photography, but are very prolific commentators – so their argument was « oh no, we can’t back up our data in the camera – what happens when I photograph a wedding and the memory card goes bad???? »

Well most, if not all, serious photographers would have a second (or third) camera with them – it’s unlikely that they would rely on a single camera, and it’s far easier to have multiple bodies each with a different lens etc.

The « oversights » from NIKON are listed, page after page of errors – they didn’t include this, they didn’t include that…total rubbish but for the forum members it’s important to show you are up there and Following this nonsense – please don’t ask me why.

One question which seems really obvious to me, but as yet no-one has even asked, let alone tried to answer, is why the new Z series lenses are so expensive?

The existing 50mm f/1.8 AF-S is a perfectly capable lens, sharp, light, etc. and costs 200€ – the new Z series lens with the same optical formula is 679€ – yes, of course, I can use the new one without the FTZ adaptor, but one I have the adaptor I can use it with all my older lenses. The 35mm AF-S is another example – the original AFS costs 489 for the f/1.8 while the Z series equivalent costs 949€

The camera bodies are not, in my opinion, particularly expensive – so are Nikon trying to recup some of their development money in pitching the new lenses at a much higher level?

Gotta go – there are some new comments on the blogs that I’m watching – cheers up a gloomy afternoon!




Netflix? Who needs Netflix?

Time’s latest cover

Let’s face it, it would be difficult to write this stuff, so the fact that it’s actually happening currently makes the news channels far more interesting to me….

Psssst – filthy pictures?

It’s the 23rd August, the embargo has been lifted – now we can all talk nonsense about the latest offerings from NIKON – the Z6 and Z7

And with it’s clothes on…

I’m not one to leap on the latest cameras etc. I like to wait until the initial teething problems have been ironed out (And with the QC at Nikon being particularly lax…this can take awhile)

However this actually is, for the photography I practise, going in the right direction. This is a mirrorless full-format (24×36) camera which means that without the huge reflex mirror flapping up and down every time the shutter is activated, that this should be a pretty quiet beast to use.

I am very often in situations where a noisy camera shutter /mechanism simply means that I don’t/can’t take any photographs. This is particularly true with contemporary circus/theatre.

A mirrorless camera can make for virtually silent photography – this is not new, and there are a number of very good mirrorless cameras on the market, but very often they have no viewfinder – I cannot be taking pictures while looking at a screen – the public around me will be less than happy to be bothered by the light from the screen…

These two models are, as I have previously stated, full frame and they have an electronic viewfinder – this means that there is no extraneous light coming off the back of the camera to bother the public around me.

Another nice touch is the FTZ lens adaptor – this means that I can use my vast stable of Nikon autofocus lenses with these models too…

The essential difference between the two is the pixel count – Z6 24mp, Z7 45mp. Frankly the Z6 would be a better bet for my kind of work – the sensor would be able to handle low-light much easier than the 45mp D850 sensor. Everybody seems to go bonkers over high pixel density, but at the cost of low light sensitivity. I’de rather have physically larger pixels to capture more photos, and therefore a less dense sensor.

Interestingly, unlike their DSLR brothers,  these new sensors have pixels for phase-detection autofocus built into the sensor itself  (reflex cameras have a seperate sensor for autofocus) and judging by the spécifications, with a huge number of possible focus points (273 for the Z6 and 493 for the Z7 compared to 153 for the D850)

Well now the bubble has burst, all we have to do is wait a few months for the deliveries to start, the first QC problems come to light then a few more months to fix them – I would say that around this time next year would be a perfect moment to start thinking about a new camera…

Last but by no means least, here’s a size comparison with my D850


Vertical Panorama tests

This is a vertical panorama inside the Cathedral Saint Marie here in  Auch

It is made up of 30 individual images. The ‘wobbly’ effect (look at the columns) is caused by a problem of parallax which I hope to be able to reduce as my testing proceeds.

How it was done : the camera was fitted with a very wide angle lens, in this case 14mm, and sat on a tripod. Initially the camera was horizontal and 5 images were made – two underexposed, one correctly exposed and two overexposed, without moving the camera.

Then the camera was tilted up 7,5 degrees and 5 more images made.

This was repeated to create 6 groups of 5 images, with the camera travelling from horizontal to vertical.

In post processing, each group of 5 images shot in the same position was ‘summed’ together – this creates an HDR (High Dynamic Range) image which allows data from the deepest shadows to the brightest light areas to be added together to increase the dynamic range of the resulting image. (Remember, -2, -1, normal exposure, +1, +2)

Finally, the 6 HDR files were then ‘stiched’ together vertically to create this vertical panorama.

I will eventually be able to correct the parallax * problems, but for this first phase of tests, I’m not unhappy with the results.

*Parallax – if the nodal point of the lens is not centered about the pivot point of the tripod, or point about which the camera turns, then there will be an effect of ‘parallax’ which will change the relative position of the elements in the image. This can be overcome be moving the camera/lens backwards of forwards across the mounting plate on the tripod. To do this successfully I need a ‘nodal slide’ – it’s been ordered and is on it’s way…

When it arrives I’ll continue my testing…

Credit Really Right Stuff

Screwed again….will I ever learn?

I recently took photographs during the CiRCa residence of a company I know, and who seemed to appreciate my work.

I had already explained to them how the system works – I come and take a few photographs while they are here, which we use as images to create an archive of information relating to the companies that come through Auch. In exchange I offer two images to the company that they can use however they like.

When I arrived, I explained all this (a second time) and the director explained that the artists on stage had prepared a number of « elements » of the production that I could photograph, and that we could change the lighting etc. (to improve the photographs)  if necessary, as we went along.

I stayed for four hours….and took more than 1500 images….

I prepared an album and sent the link to the company…then waited.

Two weeks later I received a mail which essentially said that they had chosen 10 images, and given that I would offer them 3 free (?) this left 7 – and would I please reduce the price as they had no money.  The mail went on to say that they had chosen another 20 images that they would like to have to « offer to the artists » but as they wouldn’t use them in their communications etc. that they wanted them free.

I waited 24 hours before replying…then refused their kind offer/demands.

Strangely I haven’t had any kind of reply – I don’t know if I should be surprised or not – but it’s more than a little frustrating to be treated this way.

Tant pis as we say…

Mirrorless? Someone said mirrorless?

This is the latest teaser from NIKON

This is supposed to represent the next generation of full-frame digital cameras from NIKON – the mirroless concept.

These have been around for a while, albeit in compact camera (smaller sensor) style, but recently the BIG name manufacturers have been putting a lot of effort into creating a real full frame version capable of taking over where reflex camera bodies left off…

What are the advantages? Well, simply put, this would make a HUGE difference to my work. One of the disadvantages to reflex cameras is the reflex mirror – the noise of the shutter and the mirror is VERY distrubing when photographing circus performances, and to have the sensitivity which is now possible, linked to a virtually silent camera body would make my job a lot easier. Most mirroless cameras don’t have an optical (electronic) viewfinder, and this would be vital for most professionals, as an optical viewfinder allows the photographer to A: screen the viewfinder imange from extraneuos light, and B: not bother all the people around him while he’s obliged to look at the screen on the back of the camera body.

Sadly there are disadvantages too – in partiicular the lens mount – it’s thought that NIKON will announce a new lens mount when the new camera is launched in August. This is down to simple physics – the distances involved (in the camera body) will not be the same given that there is no longer a mirror, so they will no doubt be obliged to create an adaptor with which we’ll be able to use all our existing lenses. No news on this yet, and therefore no news whether this adaptor will let us use all the existing automatic (focusing etc.) funtions currently available.

So, we’ll just have to wait and see what NIKON will come up with (and the cost!) at the end of August…