See in Mono

Since coming back to Facebook a couple of years ago, I have followed See in Mono – this is a page dedicated to monochromatic (B&W !) images and there are sometimes some stunning examples of the art of photography.

One recent image which made me sit up and look is this one, by Dean Nixon.

« After the Storm » © Dean Nixon – used with permission

The photographer suggests that this is an « interpretation connected with concepts of birth, death, rebirth, as well as the mythology of Aphrodite and the sea ». I’m not sure I would have got all of that on my own, but the general balance and strength of the image, the power station, the nude, the moving clouds, all combine to make an image I appreciate a lot. (And gets me thinking of future projects…)

A new star trail image

Based on my short experience with the photography of star trails, I visited a local church the other evening – it is unique as it has a ‘twisted’ spire (which can be seen below) Not unhappy with the results – for the technically inquisitive 60 exp 20s at f/4 ISO 1600

We’re in the middle of the period where the Perseid meteor showers are visible (in fact the 12th of August is supposed to be the best night) so I may have to go out tonight…

Now everybody is a photographer…

My NPS (Nikon Professional Services) card has just come up for renewal and when I was filling in the online form and uploading the proof that I am (at least in the eyes of the tax man) a professional, I got to thinking.

Everywhere you look nowadays, people are publishing their personal photos. I’m actually all for this – when an image is worthwhile, I’m all for showing it off, and a large part of the reason we continue with our ‘Déclic’ photo contest, is to try to valorise the efforts of our participants.

The thing is…now how can I put this gently….most of what we see on Facebook is utter rubbish. Sorry guys, but it’s true. I can fully understand people who have no real interest in photography as an art-form publishing whatever passes infront of their smartphones – this is fine, and I have to admit I’ve seen some stunning results from smartphone cameras.

I also recently ‘joined’ an online forum for the photographic magazine « Amateur Photographer » – this was a staple read before the Internet, and it’s nice to see it still exists in both print and online. I posted a couple of comments, received replies, and took the time to check out the authors Flikr profiles – there was a very interesting correlation between the message count of the ‘forum huggers’ (who squat the fora, have an opinion about everything, and are only really interested in increasing their message count) and the quality of their images. The same can be said of the people who I would probably actually listen to – not a huge message count, but pertinent comments, from time to time – their images were frankly streets ahead, in my opinion.

What I can’t quite get used to are the people who publish images, on fora or social media, simply for the sake of publishing something. One of these ‘photographers’ posted a message on social media a few days back, asking people to suggest subjects for him to photograph over the coming weekend…I think things are getting pretty bad when you can’t even have ideas of your own. Another ‘stunning’ idea from the same ‘photographer’ (and I use the term with considerable reserve) was to ask if anyone would consider putting him up for a few days (preferably near the coast) in exchange for a portrait or two… I’ve seen what he calls ‘portraits’ – he’d probably get a free glass of water, I have serious doubts about accommodation.

Er…a landscape? What exact is interesting about this image?

I’m not a snob – I rely on my images to speak for themselves – if you don’t like them, I personally have no particular problem with this (although you obviously have no perceptible taste :-p ) but I do think that people who are so easily convinced of their own creativity (« Oh that’s a wonderful shot. You must have a super camera. ») should at least show some creativity, imagination, call it what you will – sorry, but a photo of a rather average sunset over Auch just doesn’t make it in my book. Sadly, these appear with monotonous regularity…

I as reminded of the « Oh you must have a super camera » phrase the other day while perusing the web…the person who mentioned the phrase heard it during dinner with a friend who had cooked the meal – apparently his reply was « That was a really nice dinner – you must have really good pots and pans »….

You can tell I’m getting old…

It’s pretty obvious from the mail in my in-box that I’m getting older.

Hidden in the mass of spam mails from ‘Sacha’ who want’s me to rub her tits, and ‘Eric’ who seems to think I need Viagra, are the mails giving me huge discounts on, for instance, a Stannah chair lift, or advice on investing wisely for my funeral expenses etc.

Will you please stop!? I fully realize that all my personal information is available on the Internet – despite lying about my age I still log onto certain sites and am welcomed by « Happy sixtieth birthday Ian » – like I REALLY want to be reminded.

Every couple of days, in amongst the mails suggesting I sign up to learn English, or a super buy one get one free on packets of absorbant panty liners, I get a useful mail – but with so much dross, I rarely actually see the stuff I want to read – I work so hard trying to delete the rubbish before it fills my computer that I often inadvertently zap everything, including the good bits.

Someone recently calculated how much electricity was used to send an e-mail. Multiply this by the amount of useless mail I alone receive and I’m pretty sure you could pay the electricity needs of a small village. Further multiply this by the millions of people receiving the same, if not more, useless mail and I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t really have an energy crisis if we were to find a way to banish these damn mails…

Get’s one thinking…

Monkey see, monkey do…

This photograph was taken on one of photographer David Slater’s cameras.

The story is amusing – David explains that while he was taking photographs of a small group of monkeys, one of the older monkeys picked up one of David’s cameras and took a few photographs of itself – the famous « monkey-selfie’.

When David discovered the image, he thought, rightfully, that he had an interesting image and that he would be able to find someone who would buy it.

However, this has created a ridiculous situation, in which David is now being sued by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) who maintain that the monkey holds the copyright. Apparently in the US there’s nothing in copyright law that says a monkey, or any animal, can’t hold copyright – but there’s nothing that says they can, either. Strange.

In addition, this is causing huge financial problems for David, who, in his defense, simply wanted to sell a charming photo of a monkey – now he’s being sued for a substantial amount of money – just for doing his job.

Personally I think that PETA are wrong to drag this through the courts – it won’t help anyone, much less the monkeys, if they win or lose. In my opinion they are doing this for publicity, and risk creating a precedent which will only harm photographers, particularly wildlife photographers, who will eventually have to get a signed release from the wild animals personal lawyers before taking any pictures.

Sadly people like PETA, for whom I used to have respect, are their own worst enemies – and create problems far greater than what they are actually there to protect. I’ll just go and put on my plastic sandals, and get out my wooden clothes…


Star Gazing

If you have looked at the first page of this site recently, you may have noticed a photo of star trails. I decided this was something I needed to add to my repertoire so I waited for a clear cloudless sky (Saturday evening) and loaded up the car with tripods. My chosen spot was actually not far from the house – there’s an agricultural lake surrounded by tall poplar trees – seemed like a good idea.

This is the lake with the moon rising – before I started what I was there for…

The process to create ‘star trail’ photos is relatively simple – the Earth moves, and with a sufficiently long exposure, the pinpoints of starlight will create lines. Suffice it to say a sufficiently long exposure to create decent trails would be in the order of one or two hours – but the downside would be a severely over-exposed image. The best way, according to Internet, is to take multiple images, and them put them all together with a program adapted (Photoshop) for this. The advantage of this approach is that only the elements that change (i.e.; the light of the stars) will be ‘added ‘ to the initial image – thus avoiding an overexposed foreground.

After a few exposure tests, I decided I would use 1/20s at ISO 1600 and aperture f/4.0 – this example was 60 images.

As you can see, I managed to ‘trap’ a shooting star as well!

I tried another angle for the following shot.


Very interesting article by Michael Brendan Dougherty in the National Review regarding the Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions ‘situation’. One paragraph, to me at least, is priceless

« Instead, Trump is proving another theory correct: namely, that he is an incompetent and politically unreliable buffoon. He is not loyal to people who risk their reputations for him, and his promises are worthless. The wall isn’t going to be built, and Mexico isn’t going to pay for it. »

Nikon – the future

While I have to admit I’m not really a fan-boy to the extent of constantly ‘predicting’ what the next offering from Nikon will be…I have to admit the 2014 launch of the D750 has got me thinking…

Up until now, new ‘groups’ of cameras were fairly well spaced, with the number increment climbing at a reasonable rate: D3000, D3100, D3200 etc.

The D3*** group are amateur – first DSLR type cameras

The D5*** group are moderate/advanced amateur

The D7*** group advanced/pro etc.

Then the D750 was launched – this is supposed to fall into the avanced amateur/pro group which started with the excellent D700 in 2008.

The D8** series started ok – D800, D810 and now a huge jump to the D850

For me the writing is on the wall – a new ‘M’ series will be making it’s appearance soon – ‘M’ for Mirrorless – why? Well, as increments go, the D750 can go to the D760, D780 but there’s not much more scope until it hits the D8** group. The D850 (as and when it’s actually launched) has more ‘breathing room’ in that the D9** is open (for the moment) With the number of lenses available, it seems likely that this series (and the Pro D* series) will be maintained as the advanced/pro DSLR options.

All this to say that I get the distinct feeling that the D7** series will be slowly put to bed, the D8** and D* series maintained, and a new ‘M’ series started as an advanced/pro mirror-less body, possibly even with a new lens mount (requiring new lenses, or existing lenses with new ‘M’ series mounting rings)

I am not the Angry Photographer so I don’t have any proof for any of these mumblings – but logic would point us towards a pro series mirror-less development…let’s see what the future will hold…

Oh, the tension….

The pressure is building….Nikon are about to launch a new camera….the fan-boys are eager to get their hands on, well, no-one really knows for sure, but the announcement is imminent…

We do know that whatever it is will be called the D850 – this is pretty much a foregone conclusion as the Angry Photographer stated that it will be called the D820 – what is less sure are the specifications. This is the amusing bit, as the rumour mill has been active for the last few months ‘predicting’ what the new camera body will be capable of.

(This said, the Angry Photographer has also stated that ‘he knows’ that the new body will have « a shutter release and a bit for putting lenses on » so this actually brings into doubt much of what has been predicted…)

Given that the D800 from 2012 initiated, for Nikon at least, the high density camera sensors with the 36Mp Sony sensor, it’s likely that this new model will increase the pixel density – possibly interesting for landscape or sports photographers (albeit for different reasons) but certainly much less interesting for those among us who do a lot of low light photography. It all boils down to simple physics really – the smaller the photo-sites (pixels) the less photons of light  they can capture, thus making high-density sensors much less sensitive. Arguably the increase in performance of the amplifying software can help, but you can’t amplify what just isn’t there – when you try, you create noise – as can be seem by some of the silly maximum ISO values on cameras nowadays.

The announcement is supposed to be today – 25th of July – more as it happens…

The Addams Family remake

It seems plans are afoot to remake the popular 1991 film ‘The Addams Family’ – the parts of Morticia and Wednesday  have already been cast…

In a significant change from the original script, Thing , which used to be a disembodied hand, has evolved into a disembodied bottom…

Which apparently has also already been cast…