What’s next to avoid..

For me , it all started with zoom lenses. I can remember doing an art project while attending secondary school in Chiswick – from our school we crossed  the road into Chiswick park with our Super8 film camera and tried to make a film – I can clearly remember watching the results (before editing) and we were pretty much all sea-sick from the constant use of the zoom.

We weren’t the only ones – this was an oft-used ‘effect’ on early television – after the years of three- and four-turret television cameras, pausing to turn the turret round to another focal length, the design of zoom lenses became more affordable, and the television companies had a wonderful new toy! Oh wonder – zoom-in, zoom-out, public feeling sick…

When television became digital, many new after-effects were developed, and there were all sorts of horrible things that, luckily, died a death after a few months.

At time of writing, it’s drones – oh my God can we get enough of these damn things? Apparently not, as they seem to be everywhere. I can understand the added viewpoint for a factual documentary, or news item – it’s clear that it is an aid to understanding an event when the viewer can actually see a ground plan, as it were, but drones are EVERYWHERE – and I can’t help feeling that it just dilutes the overall impact when every last blade of grass is laid bare – nothing, but nothing is left to the imagination – a bit like LEGO in my view. In the old days we ‘built’ our imaginations with square and rectangular blocks – now everything has to have the form of a character from Harry Potter – where’s the imagination in that?

And whatever you do, don’t get me started on GoPro cameras…


Backing up your stuff…

The sword of Damocles hanging over the head of any photographer is data loss. What to do to backup your precious images so that, even after critical data loss such as a bad disk, you can still access your images?

Once I have  images to treat, my solution is to copy them into Adobe Lightroom (which copies the files to an external disk) but also to create a second copy on an external NAS which is RAID1 configured.

RAID (Random Array of Inexpensive Disks) uses two (or more) disks – all the data copied onto the first disk is then ‘mirrored’ onto the second disk – thus if one of the disks dies, the data should still be retrievable from the second. ‘Should’ being the operative word here. ( I should add that there are various RAID options available – from 0 to 6, all with different configurations and numbers of disks – RAID1 is simple mirroring.)

Ideally, an off-site solution would be better – I could create a VPN and copy my images to one of my servers where I work – I’m lucky in that as I am the one that looks after these, I can pretty much do as I want – but I have nearly 4Tb of data, which would take up quite a lot of space.

Cloud servers seemed interesting, but when I checked out the prices, particularly for the quantity of data I need to backup, it got into silly money.

Until today – though a discussion on a photographic forum in the UK, I learned about Backblaze – this is a name I’m unfamiliar with, but their marketing blurb caught my eye – unlimited backup space for 5$ per month.

This could be what I’ve been looking for – so I’ve bitten the proverbial bullet and signed up – the desktop app is already churning  away happily (after automatically finding my LaCie External drive) and we’ll have to see how many weeks it actually takes to upload all this to the Cloud.

A year costs 50$ + 10$ tax = 48 € – which seams reasonable enough for piece of mind.

A single file, or the whole backup can be downloaded from anywhere in the world – and for a small fee they will even FedEx you a USB key with up to 128Gb of data on it.


World Press Photo 2018

The World Press Photo 2018  has just been awarded to Ronaldo SCHEMIDT, a photographer with AFP (Associated France Press) for his photograph of a masked Venezuelan  man covered in flames during the riots in Caracas.

(FILES) This file photo taken on May 3, 2017 of a demonstrator catching fire during clashes with riot police within a protest against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas, by AFP Venezuelan photographer Ronaldo Schemidt won the World Press Photo (WPP) picture of the Year 2018 award and 1st prize in the Spot News Singles category in Amsterdam on April 12, 2018. / AFP / RONALDO SCHEMIDT

This,and the other category winners, will be on exhibition at Visa pour l’Image in Perpignan, later this year.


Very Interesting – but secret!

Strange situation recently regarding my photographic work at CiRCa. There have been 5 companies in residence here in Auch since early January. The only problem for me is that four of them are somewhat allergic to the public actually seeing the images I’ve made – this is a novel situation for a photographer « Sure, come and take all the photographs you want – just don’t show them to anybody »

The two most recent are at opposite ends of the creative ladder – Cirque Aïtal are in the early days of the creation, and things like lighting and costumes are a long way away. The work I’ve been doing with them is essentially just recording their efforts to develop elements which will all go together, eventually, to form a coherent scenario.

Victor and Katy – Cirque Aïtal

At the other end of the ladder are Cie Oktobre – they presented « Midnight Sun » here on Sunday and Monday, to a very appreciative crowd. There are three distinct elements to this performance, and I’m not allowed to show any photographs from anything other than the first – which is frustrating…

Max, Hanna & Nata – Cie Oktobre

Interestingly enough, before they arrive here, each company receives a letter detailing my involvement with CiRCa and what we plan to do with the images etc. and, in my recollection, there’s only been one or two refusals in over 5 years of photographic work here, and over 80 companies photographed.

I would really appreciate them actually reading the damn letter!

Really Right Stuff

or « How to print money »

Photographers often use tripods – and to make things easier for themselves, they sometimes buy metal plates that fix to the bottom of their cameras and allow them to clip on and off the tripods without having to unscrew things etc. For this reason, they’re often called ‘rapid release’.

Anyway, an American company had a brilliant, and very profitable, idea. They would design a plate in the shape of an ‘L’, they would have it mass-produced in China from high quality aluminium, and sell it for big bucks.

The advantage of this ‘L’ shape is simple to understand. For landscape orientation (the camera sits horizontally) the tripod coupling at the bottom of the ‘L’ is used, and for portrait orientation, the coupling on the side (vertical) part of the ‘L’. The advantage of this system is principally to maintain the camera/lens on the same axis.

With me so far?


These two ‘L’ plates look strikingly similar. However, one costs $170 more than the other…the cheapest one costs $24 with free shipping.

This company do the same thing with tripods too – with their carbon fibre range starting at around $1350. My Manfrotto carbon cost me 250€ and I thought that was expensive…

The moral of the story? Take a cheap item, multiply the price by ten and wait for people to flock in waving their cheque books.


IRIX 11mm full-frame lens

I’m a fan of wide and super-wide angle lenses. I just like the effect (without distorsion) of the wide angle of view.

For those of you who don’t understand camera/lens talk, a primer:-

The covering power of a lens is determined by it’s angle of view, which changes depending on it’s focal length and the format of the camera sensor, but for some strange reason is always calculated with regard to a ‘standard’ 24×36 format (35mm)

A ‘standard’ lens has a focal length of 50mm with a diagonal of 46°. It’s all to do with the diagonal of the sensor/film. A 24x36mm film has a diagonal of 43,6mm, which for reasons best known to the experts, made a 50mm lens ‘standard’. A 6×6 ‘box’ camera has a film diagonal of 84mm, and the ‘standard’ lens for this format is 80mm.

Wide angle lenses start from about 35mm, telephoto lenses start from around 85mm.

For example, a regular 28mm wide angle has a diagonal of about 75°.

A 20mm super-wide is about 94° – and an even wider super-wide 16mm at about 107°

This 11mm lens, my latest baby, is 126° – this is humongously W I D E – and best of all, the distorsion is really at a minimum.

Of course, this is all well and good, but without anything for comparison, the ‘effect’ of this lens can’t really be measured – just click on the above images and enjoy – I’ll do a ‘real’ comparison when I have time…

Marathon Photo Déclic 2018

And we’re off! Today (no, it’s NOT an Aprils fool) we launched the inscriptions for this years Marathon Photo in May – the poster is gorgeous (I think)

Each year we chose (sorry, I choose…) an image taken from the previous years photographs, and I’m not sure why this one didn’t win it’s category, but I was so taken with it I sent it to our publicity chappy expecting all sorts of problems,  but for once he just did his job and created what you see here.

An automated mail is sent out to all the past participants on the morning of the 1st of April, and at time of writing (17h) there are already 9 people who have signed up! Fingers crossed we get a similar response to last year where we had 85 people who actually turned up on the day.

New Exhibitions

April seems to be the month for me – not only the CiRCa blog, but also 3 exhibitions, each lasting a whole month.

This exhibition is to coincide with a two week long period of circus activities destined at children – young children! The contents of the expo (link here) show the artists in different states of balance.

This exhibition coincides with the festival Welcome in Tziganie which takes place at the end of April, and is made up of images I made last year (link here). The idea is to promote the festival a bit – and as I’m the one who ‘controls’ the Espace Expo where I work, this is what is going up for the month of April!

And last but not least, the Mediatheque at St Clar have asked me to exhibit my « Imaginary Dancer Project » (link here) – I hung it this morning (29th March) and it’s nice to see it up on a wall again. Looking forward to some feedback on these images.

All in all, quite a lot of ‘exposure’ this month – sorry, couldn’t resist 🙂


CiRCa Blog

Since 2012 I’ve been involved with CiRCa here in Auch – the local association that develops circus in all it’s forms. I have taken photographs at a number of spectacles/performances but I concentrate on the artists ‘in residence’ who come and spend from a week to a whole month, in Auch, developing their art.

The CiRCa web site doesn’t actually have a ‘photos’ part – they just give links to my site! (Much easier for them – they have nothing to do – my site is, after all, fairly well organized for that sort of thing.) I also have a regular/permanent exhibition in the Cant’Auch, the restaurant on the CiRCa site.

Anyway…the people at CiRCa have finally decided to create a blog, and I was pleasantly surprised to discover an article…about me!

If you follow this link you’ll see what I saw…hope your French is up to it!

I’m sorry if this seems akin to trumpet blowing, but it’s so rare – and as it transpires, it’s actually the very first article on the new blog – praise indeed.

Oh, if you weren’t aware, the CiRCa site is actually something to see…


This is called a BS-1 by Nikon.

It slides into the flash grip on top of the camera and protects the contacts from water, muck etc.

I have just purchased a very expensive DSLR – and discovered that these things (which must cost about 1c to produce) are no longer supplied.

I thoroughly agree that it’s a good idea to limit waste, but this thing is actually useful – I could quite happily do without the umpteen layers of plastic bags, bubble wrap etc. inside the camera box, but this bit???