2013 – Yearly Round Up – April

April 1April was a time for wandering around London taking shots of people on the streets. I mean they were walking about on the streets, I didn't knock them down with my backpack first then take a shot of them on the floor... this time.This was my first attempt at street photography. How would I do it? Go up to people and ask? Ask after the shot? No... no I just took the shot and walked away. Being my first attempt I had no idea how people would react to having their photo taken. I would think if asked then they would pose and I would loose the spontaneous 'street' value of the shot.

This Scottish fella, (I assume was Scottish due to the fact he was dressed Scottish, sounded Scottish and could play the bag pipes really well) was performing near Nelson Column and I managed to snap this shot of him. He is either giving someone a thumbs up or in the middle of the socially accepted hand gesture of 'on ya bike'.

April 2 This shot was taken as a panoramic originally on the banks of the Gallions Point Marina in East London. The effect is called a small world and uses the polar coordinates filter in Photoshop to achieve. I should do more of these as they come out very well.

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2013 - Yearly Round Up - March

phalicMarch turned out to be London and chucking things around bathrooms.London first... specifically Westminster. Every one take a shot of Big Ben. So I thought I would to. Most shots I have seen are from across Westminster bridge so I decided to take one from a little closer. Its a bit of mad shot taken from ground level but it makes a change from the usual tourist snap.

I noticed some people around me were also pointing cameras up after mine. Either to take a similar shot or to figure out what I was doing.

The honorable mention shot came about by me chucking stuff around in the bathroom. I filled up the basin with water half way and found an apple to use as a 'thing to chuck'. I used the 50mm f1.8 to capture this and only took a single shot... as the resulting splash threw water all over the bathroom floor.

splash

2013 Yearly Round Up - February

And so to February...

This month started out very spooky... I was visiting Barnes Graveyard. Disused and abandoned many years ago the area is in great disrepair and provided me with lots of shots of crumbling gravestones. Myself and a fellow photographer trudged through the area and right in the center was a very large grave. I recommend anyone who wants spooky shots to take a trip there.

Barnes Graveyard - 22

Putney Bridge - 20Soon after I was back near Barnes, this time at Putney Bridge. If you had read my GPS location that day you would have found be actually under Putney Bridge as well. I knew the tide had already gone out and I knew I have about twenty or so minutes before it came rushing back in.

Walking under the bridge was a tad slippy I was rewarded with shots of ducks, river brick-a-bract and other assorted things.. as well as what looked like a bone.

The Honorable mention photo is this one to the right. I was standing on a a spur watching the water rush back in. The way behind me had already been closed off while I took this shot. Two minutes later the area in front had submerged! I was heading for the bus by then....

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2013 Yearly Round Up - January

Morning,Jan 2This is the start of 12 posts covering each month of the past year. Two shots will be chosen (and one has already been forced on me) as best and honorable mention.

So we kick off with January with this shot of a very small tree covered in snow. For those of you who were reading this blog at the beginning of the year will remember this post You forgot to mention... where I was trying to photograph snow... while it was still snowing. Everything was covered in snow. There should have been a shot of me covered in snow...

It was in January so everything was still a bit Christmasy so I added some snow in post production. The real 'lets cover everything' snow was falling too fast and looked like rain. The thing that reminds me about this shot was how quiet everything was, all you could hear was the snow falling..

So from a snow covered Earth I turned my lens skyward for the honorable mention photo for January. I have entitled this one 'Bloody hell really???'

The shot was taken with my 50-250mm Canon while sitting on my tripod. For those who are thinking WTF? The large blob in the center of the photo is Jupiter!

Yup, the massive and slightly gusty gas giant in our solar system. The four little blobs at 45degrees to Jupiter around it are the Galilean moons, in order from left to right Ganymede, Io, Europa and Callisto The other two blobs (middle left and top right) are the light from other stars.

This shot has the honorable mention slot as it was a shock that just a ground based camera can look that far... must try a large telescope one day.

Jan 1

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Slow Time

Slow Time 1Afternoon,

I recently posted on Flickr a shot I took a while back in Leicester Square in London. I and another photographer had been walking around Camden looking for inspiration and found our way to the west end to finish off the walk.

Sitting at one of the bars I noticed these ladies walking to wards me. I rested my Canon on the table in front of me and fired off this shot. It was taken with my 50mm f1.8 lens. A chanced shot considering the auto focus could have settled on the chair in front but it paid off quite well.

A couple of things bothered me about this shot:

  • The bokeh at the back left was nice but a little two strong and draws the eye away from the couple.
  • There was a strong yellow cast to the scene which I wanted to take out.
  • Nothing I could do about the chair in front of the shot.
  • The figure on the extreme right is also distracting.

Slow Time 2

After throwing the shot into Lightroom I dialed back the yellow and deepened the blacks and upped the blues to add a little contrast. The image was softened slightly and an adjustment brush was used over the main couple to sharpen them up and bring them more forward than the rest of the scene.

Something still wasn't right. They looked deep in conversation when they sat down. They seemed to be oblivious to everything around them. As if for them, time had slowed down. I wanted to reflect that in the shot.

I'm not much of a philosopher but you get the idea...mask

Throwing the whole thing into Photoshop I created two copies of the frame and created a mask of the couple and copied that to the other frame copy. Named them Radial Blur and Oil Paint. I used the oil paint filter ten times to blur and merge everything behind the couple, this blurred out the bokeh and softened up the chair in front, doing this so much darkens the image so I had to apply an exposure layer over the top before saving. The radial blur was applied to the other copy of the image with only about 5 points of spin dialed in. The masking left the couple untouched by the effects.

 

Slow Time 3

This is the final image, I used Lightroom to blur the edges and bring some more detail back to the couple and the whole frame was warmed up a little, it looked too cold.

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Ooohh that's so much better!!

Not what you are thinking!!So there I was, coming back from the bar with a bottle and a can of Becks and a small shot of sambuca, when up bounced a pretty waitress. 'Would you like a cupcake?' I declined, explaining my hands were full. 'Open your mouth!' I was told. Seconds later I was handing over the drinks while trying desperately not to drop cupcake and dribble over my friends.

I was back at Madam Jo Jo's for the final show this year of Cabaret Roulette. For the past few months I have been allowed to shoot photos there to gain more experience in low light conditions. In the performances at Jo Jo's I can expect ever changing low light conditions!

In the last post I mentioned my purchase of a Sigma 70-200mm f2.8 lens. This was to be the first field test and I choose the First Birthday Revue of Cabaret Roulette as the bench mark.

After a pint of ale in the Bear outside Leicester Square tube station, we arrived at Madam Jo Jo's to find a long queue waiting outside. We choose our seats and I spoke to the producer concerning where I could shoot from. The usual photographers area was taken by the official photographer and videographer. So this time I choose the short walkway from the seating area to the stage. I thought this would be a good idea which was dashed by the two bars affixed to the ceiling and hand rail getting in the way.

Looking around I had the idea of sitting on the stairs from the seating area to the pit. This provided around 80% coverage of the stage area, above every ones heads in the pit and was not obscured by any stage lighting from the front. It pays to look around a venue to find a sweet spot but I was asked to be mindful of some performers moving from the pit to the stage.

So getting ready with the Canon I took a quick test shot. The ISO was 3200?? Eh.. Oh hang on lets have a look at the settings. Ok yeah I need to drop it down from f5.6 to f2.8, ah there we go! The lens, although much heavier than the Canon it performed so much better in a low light situations.

I was achieving ISO ranges beginning at 800 rather that starting at 3200. Lower ISO, faster shutter speeds so I had more photos to choose from in post production. The Ultra Sonic Motor is  really fast and allowed me to capture shots I might have normally missed as well.

One thing though. Its bloody massive. It will not fit in my Slingshot bag, well it will but it will not allow anything else. The lens and the camera combined will fit in the backpack so that means I will be knocking people down escalators again!

All in all I am very happy with the lens and look forward to using it in anger again.

Thanks to Vivacity Bliss for allowing me to shoot there!

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Waited all day...

We have all been there. We purchase something online. We get up early. We wait.At some point during the day you will think "If I go to the toilet, then the universal 'piss you off  o'meter' will mean the delivery van will turn up at the wrong moment". But not last week, I was been up at 7am, knowing that my delivery was in transit. I found out very late in the day from Amazon that it would arrive sometime before 9PM. Well that's dedication for you.

I am now the owner of a Sigma 70-200mm f2.8 EX DG OS HSM lens for my Canon. I thought I would take a step up in lens quality and purchase something with a fixed aperture and zoom.

First impressions:

  • That's a big box...
  • How heavy is this??
  • IT COMES IN ITS OWN CASE???

Second impressions:

For something the was billed as second hand :-

  • The item may come repackaged. It wasn't.
  • Front of the housing has minor cosmetic imperfection. It hasn't.
  • Minor cosmetic imperfection on the top or sides of the item. Not that I can see.
  • Minor cosmetic imperfection on the bottom or back of the item. Nope.

The original Sigma box has all of the above but not the lens it looks brand new!

Third impressions:

  • Damn this is heavy, it feels three times the weight of the Canon 50-250 and its twice the length!
  • The lens hood makes this even longer!
  • The HSM is FASSSSST!! Very impressed with that.
  • Chromatic Aberration is near zero. More noticeable on the Canon but low to nothing on the Sigma.
  • Tripod collar... because it is heavy.

sigma

Fourth Impressions:

  • The lens will not fit in my Slingshot bag. It can fit the length of it but I then cannot fit the camera.
  • The backpack will have to become the default from now on. That at least can hold the lens while attached to the camera. I had to rearrange the padding walls a bit to accommodate the other lenses.

Conclusion:

  • I need to plan ahead from now on to choose which lens would be the best to take. The backpack is OK but tends to knock people down escalators on the London Underground, it holds everything I need but I may not need to take everything with me.
  • I will not be selling the Canon 50-250. It's good to have a back up and shoot dependent.
  • The position of the focus ring is where the zoom ring is on the Canon, I am going to have to get used to the slight distance change for the zooming.

I will be field testing this next Wednesday so I will be blogging about how it performed after that.

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Let there be light...

.. and it was so.OK so I bought some lights from Amazon. Not quite the biblical reference some were looking for but hey its just a preamble.

The other day I was on the look out for some studio soft boxes to help with an upcoming shoot. I have worked with soft-boxes while doing head shots but have never owned my own.

So after a quick browse on Amazon I bought these BPS 2*125W Photography studio softbox set Continuous lighting Kit soft light kit + UK Plug + Free carrybag . The arrived before the allotted delivery date so arriving home I opened the massive box and pulled out the free carry bag.

The carry bag is exactly that. Its a carry bag and it was free. I suspect it comes with the kit anyway as boxing up the rest of the kit without it may have been a chore. It is claimed to be water resistant, not that I would go swimming with it but handy none the less. The zip did get stuck a few times as there is an inner lining along the zipper, just got to be careful with that or it might break easy.

Opening two longs boxes revealed two standard light stands. I noticed a welcome addition of a piece of plastic covering the end of the stand where the soft-box head would go. This would stop the screw thread from ripping though things in transit. I will be keeping them in the box anyway.

Next were the soft-boxes them selves, wrapped tightly in two separate bags they unfolded easily and were held in place when the central locking circle clipped around the bulb socket. One criticism would be that the power cable was direct to the soft-box and not via a socket. If the wire were to be damaged then the whole unit is worthless.

The covers for the front of the soft-boxes came in a small sealed packet. Then unfolded and were fastened to the box with Velcro strips on each side.

Lastly the two large boxes were obviously the 125w bulbs. They are kept in polystyrene holders so there is no chance of them smashing against anything. They screwed into the sockets easily. I noticed the end of the bulbs were fairly close to the edge of the soft-box.

Quick tip! Put the covers on first before thinking 'I wonder how bright this is?' and burning your retina.

Blinking a few times I attached the covers and found the tip of the bulb would be touching the cover. I don't like fire hazards so I will have to keep an eye on this. If the soft-box were tilted down a touch then gravity would take over and the danger of my burning in a fire based plastic death was lessened.

Looking around the kitchen I opened the fridge and pulled out a bottle of beer, put a black background and set about lighting the scene with my new soft-boxes. I was using my Canon 50mm f1.8 at f1.8 and without the lights the ISO went mad and jumped to 3200 immediately. A quick flick of two switches and I was delighted to see the ISO calm down to a much better setting of 100.

I fired off a few shots and noticed I could see the bulbs through the soft-boxes in the reflection of the glass bottle. Sacrificing the retina again I could see there is a central hot spot of light from both of these units. In the future I may use some other material to act as covers.

I packed away the kit and thought about how I will arrange the boxes back into the bag. The two light stand boxes go on either side of the bag, the two boxes for the bulbs in the center between the light stand boxes. they wedge in tight, and the two soft-box bags on top of each light stand box. They fit very snug and have little room to slide about.

While editing the shot I sat back and drank the beer, thinking that a kitchen may be too small to set up a couple of soft-boxes. But hey the photo came out well, can you see the soft-boxes? Yeah I know, a little too close!

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Ram Drive

I haven't created a Ram Drive for a very long time. Years ago I dabbled in creating a ram drive but then the available ram to a consumer level pc was around 512mb - 1gig. Ram was the virtue of the privileged. RamDisks at that time would only be used to speed up browser cache directories.This week I have been experimenting with a ram disk created by DataRam. Their freeware version allows the use of a 4 gig ram drive. My current setup has 16gig so giving up 4gig was not a heavy decision to make at all. Only Photoshop uses the most of the memory and the odd jaunt around the lands of Skyrim plays just as well with 11gig as opposed to 16.

The Ram Drive appears as a normal drive and you can change its drive letter using Computer Management. I have changed mine to R: short for RamDrive of course.

This opened up a number of options:-

  • The first was to tell Photoshop that the RamDrive was available to use for a scratch disk. This had a marked difference, everything seemed much faster.
  • I then set Firefox cache folder to the RamDrive too, this would drastically minimize the amount of files written to the solid state drive and extend its life.
  • User variables as well as Temp: and Tmp: were redirected to the RamDrive as well.
  • I use the archive program 7Zip which allows you to change its working directory to where ever you like. This was changed to the RamDrive too.

This means the only thing that the SSD is doing is being a fast boot drive with quick loading of programs.

Hmmm... So there is one other program I see that writes a lot of files to the solid state drive... it is the Lightroom preview files. If, like me you have 5000 of them then having them on the RamDisk makes sense.

But this would also mean the catalog files need to be copied to the RamDrive as well. Of course if the power to the computer fails then the data is lost.

Looking through the documentation of the RamDrive I saw that it could save an image when the computer shuts down, it will also save an image file after a set number of seconds. Mine is set to 300 seconds (five minutes). This image can also be read back at boot up. This image file is one large file rather than 5000 preview files. I use Microsoft Synctoy before I switch off the computer so the catalog files are copied down to the data drives on a regular basis anyway.

Once the catalog files were copied up and Lightroom launched, the preview files virtually flew into view. It was so much faster!

To give a comparison, my solid state drive is rated at 500mb/s for reading and writing. The RamDrive stomped that into the floor and demanded its lunch money by reporting a blistering 5596mb/s read and 7917mb/s...

Now to look at some ram boards...

ramdriveLITF

Big ass prints..

No, this is not a post about taking shots of massive donkeys..I found a place local that could print out an A3 sized print. Why not I thought. I phoned them up and asked under which format they would like the files to be. I was told A3 would need to be 300dpi and in PDF form.

Excellent, so selecting a few shots to test out I headed out to the printers. Handing over the USB device with the files I was taken to the back to select which shots I wanted. I had created two versions of each shot. One set were created by Photoshop and the other by printing to CutePDF's printer object.

Both sets were around the same size so I opted for the Photoshop labeled files. A couple of minutes later I had my three shots on decent A3 paper. I was a little disappointed with one as it was a bit washed out and the colours didn't pop as much as I thought it would. Maybe I needed to use glossy paper next time and brighten it up a little. The others looked superb!

I was told that my choice of RGB was a poor one. I should have gone for CMYK instead. This has been noted and I will try again with another selection of shots.

Conclusions:

  • Big ass prints really make your shots come alive.
  • Use CMYK colour space from now on for prints.
  • Order glossy paper next time.
  • Order more!!

LITF

If you go down to the woods today...

Well I did.. I walked around High Elms Country Park for about three hours on Saturday. Walking along side a golf course, trudging up hills, walking along forest paths... and more forest paths...Nice place to walk around if you like destroying shoes. I had a map of local interesting areas along the route, an old well which I couldn't get into, electricity pylons you could walk up to and touch, a rather rubbish duck pond and there were nettles growing everywhere.

After a couple of hours, I stopped to consult the map. I felt a little lost and the map seemed to think so too. I walked down towards what I thought was a farm residence. An old man walked past me and said hello, I responded in kind and continued down the path. It was not the farm I thought it was and walked back up the hill.

For an old gentleman he had managed to walk a fair distance from my position and was about to walk out of view when I was struck by an idea. Quickly raising the camera which had the 50-250mm on board, I zoomed in, locked focus on his retreating head and fired off a few shots.

Old man + spooky woods = slasher movie poster. That's how my brain works.

So this afternoon I loaded the image into Lightroom and found it was too bright to begin with. I lowered the exposure a little and darkened the shadows to give a more 'horror' look rather than give the impression that it was more of a 'cheerful place to bring the family'. I used Lightroom 5's Radial Adjustment tool and surrounded the figure of the old man and some of the leaves in the area then lowered the shadows again and also dropped the clarity and sharpness to give a slightly blurred feel.

Dropping that into Photoshop I copied that main layer again and applied the Radial Zoom to the top layer. I then masked out the same area where Lightroom Radial Adjustment tool had been. This would create lines to draw the eye towards the central figure.

A quick Google search of 'movie poster template psd free' took me to http://www.freepostertemplates.co.uk/ where I downloaded the Movie Poster template. Changing the wording to suit the style of the image, added the tag line of 'This is no teddys bears picnic' to the top and thought up some interesting blurb to the fill out the base.

Not bad for a first attempt.

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Lightroom, with more r r r r roooom.

What an awful title.. anyway...There are many discussions on forums about wether it is best to have one massive cataloge of all your pictures or to split them up depending on category, portraits, landscapes bits of wood etc. Some have said that the Lightroom catalog can slow down as you add more to it. I have not seen that personaly but I wanted to see if there was any differance on my system.

So with over 3000 photos in the burlesque folder alone I decied to move them out of the main catalog and into its own. Lightroom can do this internally of course, you can choose the folder, right click and choose 'Export folder as a catalog'. I saved the new catalog in the same place as the others.

Did it seem faster? Hmmm not really, I didn't see a slow down or a better performance from the catalog, but the immediate thing I noticed was the lack of bulk in the folder list. The folders were easier to navigate as there was less clutter.

So in that respect the operation was a lot quicker and easier to focus on the job in hand, there were no distractions.

I like the new set up. I now have three working catalogs Catalog, Burlesque and Archive. I might split up the main Catalog again, maybe extract the portrait work.

LITF

Opps sorry mate!

Woke up to the sound of buzzing. Not the alarm clock but something that would defiantly cause you to get out of bed very quickly followed but cursing and a desperate attempt the leave the room by any other method than the door.It was a wasp. He had managed to get into the room and was having fun banging his head into the window. After he has stunned himself a few times and given himself possible brain damage, I flipped a pint glass over, trapped him and watched him for a few moments.

The words 'photo opportunity' was practically slapping me in the face at this point so I reached for the camera and took a few shots, The glass had been used the previous night so had a few thumb prints over it so getting a shot was tricky, plus the glass wasn't made by Canon or Sigma so it wasn't the best to shoot through.

It also had been used for a beer the previous night so there was a slight rim of dried alcohol at the bottom, which was now at the top above the now angry wasp. Not that his circumstance had changed that much in five minutes. He had gone from banging his head against a pane of glass to a circular one.

Not getting a decent shot I added the macro reverse ring to the Canon 550d and flipped over the 50-250 lens. Turning back I found him at the top of the glass eating away at the dried beer.

Wasp-1

He was then a lot less angry and flew around in a slow circle for a minute. Is it possible to get a wasp drunk on the dregs of last nights beer? It seems so.  It allowed me to get this shot of him in flight. I then continued my crusade of blinding every insect I come across by popping the flash to see if that would help the shot. All it achieved was to make the wasp fall the bottom of the glass.He then settled down on paper I have slid under the glass, I waited to see if he wanted to have a tiny plate of curry to go with his beer or perhaps a few grains of paracetamol the little drunken Vespula Germanica. (thanks wiki.)

Opening the window I shook the glass to let him go out on his boozy way. All he did was fall to the ground. What with the flash and the beer I would assume it meant he couldn't fly, but we have all been blind drunk once in a while so I did sympathize.

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There is never a grass hopper when you need one..

Morning,

So last evening around 7pm, I thought I would go out to the local park and see if I could photograph the sunset in an open field. Looking at my Nexus 7 at the 'What time does the sun go down in London?' app, it told me to hurry as it was setting around 8pm. For once there wasn't that many clouds in the sky so I should get a decent shot.

Ahh better get a move on! Picked up the Slingshot, checked the camera was actually in it and this time with fully charged batteries and headed towards the bus stop. I checked the 'What time is the bus coming' app only to see the bus roar past me.

Damn... OK seven minutes to the next one, about 25 minute ride, this will be close. Weaving through traffic the big friendly bus deposited me at the local park and I walked towards what I hoped would be a good spot.

It wasn't. The tree line was already obscuring the sun too much and the clouds had decided to follow me and get in the way too.

So there I was standing in the middle of a field slowly squelching the grass down, a pigeon and a blackbird pointing and laughing at me when I heard the noise of a large number of insects quite close by.

OK so maybe this hasn't been for nothing after all. Swapping lenses to the 50-250. I crouched down in the grass and waited to see if anything would hop, crawl and jump around. Nothing did. So I tired the often used 'wake up you lazy insects' move and swung my Slingshot around through the grass.

Like the opening scene from Armageddon, chaos erupted. Butterflies, grasshoppers and crickets jumped out of the way. Even the pigeon and the blackbird stopped laughing, knowing that I was now serious.

Catching the movement of one of the insects I carefully moved forward making sure not to disturb the grass around it.

Pointing the lens at him the auto focus had a hell of a time trying to lock on as there were blades of grass that it found more interesting to look at than the insect, which by now I knew was a cricket.

Switching to Manual Focus for the second time this week I focused on the cricket and stated to shoot frames off. As it was getting darker I used the built in flash but this didn't really help and I might have blinded the poor fellow as he fell off the grass stem he was holding onto.

However I did manage to get this shot of Buddy before he plunged to the floor.

ISO3200, 250mm, f9.0, 1/50sec

LITF

Oh god nooooo!!

Afternoon,I was attending the opening night of 'The Original Street Dancers' at their new venue, the Effra Social in Brixton. I had offered to come and take photos for their own publication and for my portfolio.

I arrived early and upon entry I received a small jewel instead of a stamp to the back of the hand. Very novel I thought.

I checked out the place and realized that my ISO would be hitting the 3200 mark again with my 50-250. I took a a few test shots and yup, 3200 again. Not to worry, grain is grain so I will deal with in post.

I was made welcome by Ginger Blush, one of the members of The Original Street Dancers, We had a quick chat about the setup and I asked, as the stage was low if the performers would be interacting with the audience. She said there were some during the show so I hoped the lights would come up a bit for that.

The curtain raised to reveal a better spread of light so my ISO dropped and shutter speeds went up for a change! Looking at them from Lightroom, the lowest ISO was 400, Nice and sharp shots this time.

It was nearly halfway through the show, I was busy snapping away like a loon when I noticed the flashing battery light.

Oh God no!!!

Damn it! OK not to worry, I have the spares I will just swap them in and...

OH GOD NOOOO!!!

Yup they were flashing battery light too...

Perhaps I have the spare battery pack which can take four AA batteries which I will remove from my flash and..

OH GOD NOOOO!!!

It's in the backpack and not in the Slingshot!  Bugger... what to do?

I had not been in this situation before and therefore had no idea how many shots I would manage to get before the inevitable 'Check Battery Pack' message.

Bless the Effra Social for having free Wifi! I used my Nexus 7 to Google 'Help I am an idiot and did not charge my batteries', that didn't help at all. So instead I searched for ways to preserve battery life.

So here are some examples;

  • Turn off the display. (Check!)
  • Turn off displaying shots. (Hmm I want to see what I am taking so I left that.)
  • Turn of auto focus, go manual. (oh god really? OK will give that a go.)
  • Use a lower capacity card. (Apparently they write files quicker so less battery time is used.)
  • Switch off the camera between performances. (Check!)
  • Use JPEG instead of RAW (err no not unless I was really desperate!)

And lastly;

  • Charge your batteries before you leave for a shoot! IDIOT!

Swapping from a16 to a 4gig card and following points 1,3 and 5 I preserved enough battery life to make it to the end of the show.

Phew! Never going to make that mistake again.

LITF

Restoring old photographs

Afternoon.I was flicking through some old work and found a few restored photos I had completed about a year ago. The original request was to tidy up some scanned shots of a friends family. Some of the photos were very old and had been subject to bomb damage inflicted during the Second World War.

The photos were to be scanned for me to TIFF format rather than JPEG and I suggested the scanning plate be wiped with a cloth to reduce dust. I received the first photo and knew right then I had a lot of work to do!

As you can see from the first example there was extensive damage to the photo. These small thumb nails here do not do the real thing justice!

I worked out a plan to restore the photo. After loading into Photoshop I made a copy of the image and locked off the original. I then laid down a grid using the Show Grid option in the View menu. I then worked on one square at a time, zooming in to 100% and used the spot healing and clone tool to remove the majority of the heavy damage.

This resulted in the second image but there was much more to do. The clean up routine was done square by square again to remove more even more heavy damage on the left hand side. I removed the chair the gentleman was leaning against from the bottom left. There was too much damage down there and the photo was a portrait of a man rather then a chair so I let it go.

An adjustment layer was added to deepen the shadows and add a bit of contrast to the image. This was done in the third image.

Process

Image four is where I got crazy with it. The damage on the left hand side was colossal and I imagined having to eat raw coffee to try and get though it all. This would need more than a brush to sort out so I resorted to making a selection from the right hand side, flipping it around the head and merged it back over the left hand side. Wish I had thought of that from the start.

Image five had the sepia effect removed and made it a black & white. This is a good trick to remove the discolouration from stains on photos. I was going to stop there but I had an idea about attempting to colour the image using a false colour technique.

So I then created three new layers and named them Background, Skin and Uniform. I painted light blue around the background, and off pink for the Skin and a darker blue for the Uniform layers. The opacity of each layer was then reduced to 20-30% to blend the colour with the original detail.

At that point I stopped. It was four hours later and I was tired and once again out of beer. (Which I had been offered in exchange for the work)

William Ralph Henry GollopThe final Image

(not to be used without authorization)

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Multiple Personalities Video

Afternoon,In the blog post 'Sooo many people!!' I described the making of a multiple exposure shot covering 41 frames, six male models and a lot of curse words...

I thought it would be good to experiment with Lightroom 5's slideshow export feature.

Lightroom-Slidshow

Adding all the frames into the timeline I then searched online for some suitable creative commons music and set the whole slideshow to finish with the music. As the photos are large in resolution I could export at 1020p.

The link below on allows 420p so click on the link to YouTube and select a higher resolution.

[youtube=http://youtu.be/HgzJhqaheu0]

LITF

Gotta watch out for that...

Afternoon.I was cleaning my camera gear and started to clear all the SD cards of data. I noticed that one card had difficulty in entering the card slot of my Canon 550d.

I pulled it out and tried another, same problem. Looking in to the card slot I could see a very small piece of dark plastic stuck at the bottom. Not wanted to use a hammer I took a small pair of tweezers and gently pulled it out.

I checked my other SD cards and found that not one but two of them had lost a guide rail by the contact strip.

SDcard

Like a children's toy at Christmas the plastic will invariable fall apart at some point. I will need to make a point to check each card as they go in and out of the slot. Luckily I had the tools to had to remove the plastic intruder there and then. If I had been out on a shoot and could not get it out that would have been it for the day.

So that is my first bit of consumer advice. Go check your plastic bits...

LITF

You spin me right round baby right round...

Last post I mentioned I had bought a couple of L shaped brackets. I took one of them out for a panoramic test run.Using my Canon 550d and the 18-55 kit lens I headed for some nearby woodlands. No one was around so I trudged my way through the undergrowth and found myself in a remote area. Setting up the tripod for the first time using the new L bracket. Normally the camera would sit on the tripod plate but this was attached to the L bracket. The camera was turned 90 degrees and attached to the bracket.

Immediately I noticed the orientation would either cover the SD Card door or the door for the remote switch. Thinking the remote switch would be better i flipped the camera over and added the remote switch.

I lined up the camera with a group of trees in the distance, focused on the grass in front of me set the aperture to f22 for a long depth of field and started to take shots.

Shots

Completed 360 degree shots.

Packing up and catching the bus home I loaded each shot in to Lightroom and set the Lens correction for the 18-55. This helps Photoshop to stitch the photos together.

Panorama

As a quick and simple test, this worked out very well. The brackets do not take up a lot of space in the slingshot so I will be taking them with me from now on. Might find a couple of locations along the Thames to try out.

As an after thought, my tripod has a pan and tilt head so it tended to move up and down slightly. No that it really matters for the stitching but I might get a spirit level attachment for the hot shoe next time.

LITF

Not only but also...

Having some time off at the moment so I decided to purchase a few things for  for the camera.First up was this little gem, the Hoya 58mm HMC NDX8 Neutral Density Filter. That's a bit of a mouthful so I will just call him Bob. Bob reduces the amount of light entering the lens allowing for slower shutter speed than normally attainable during the day time. This is great for blurring out clouds in landscape shots and misting up water. I might take Bob out for test run when the Thames is low this week.

Next up was a pair of L-shaped Metal Bracket/Holder/Mount for Digital Camera& Flash & TTL Cable. Again this was more of a mouth full than a hamster with a fixation for sun flower seeds. So I called them Bill. Both of them. These handy devices allow me to set my camera at 90 degrees on my tripod. Now I could use the head on my tripod, it can flip horizontally if I want it to but it is offset when it does. This allows me to position the camera at its center point for better panoramic shots. Watch this to see what I mean. It also means I can position my flash above the camera when it is in portrait mode rather than landscape.

Last year I bought a Lowepro Fastpack 350 (Black). Its massive, it can knock an old person down an escalator before you can say 'It wasn't me'. It can carry the whole of my kit if I feel the shoot I am doing requires it. If not then my Lowepro Slingshot is more than enough.

However today, I needed it to perform a new function. Carrying coins. Most of us have a piggy bank, a place to drop loose coins in when we get home. I have the bottle of a mini water dispenser I won in a secret Santa a good number of years back as mine. In total this jar had over 3800 coins in it and I was not going to waste time bagging them all up and taking them to the bank.

I took them to a Coinstar machine fairly close to me. A triple thick plastic bag was not going to last a few steps so I put the bag in to the main compartment of the Fastpack. Then tried to put on the pack. Ouch, there goes my back... Adjusting the straps on the pack I managed to keep upright without tipping over.

The Fastpack held the weight with out any problems. I checked the bag over when I returned to find no problems with the stitching and no damage to the interior. OK so it is not the best review of a camera bag but credit where credit is due as the total wight of the coins totaled around 18Kgrams. The same as 18 bags of sugar...

So many coinsLITF