Sunday, December 31, 2006

Scalectrix

RACING round the plastic tarmac blacktop this afternoon, at brother-in-law Dave's house this afternoon, I was suddenly inspired. Perhaps it would be possible to apply photographic techniques I once used at Brand's Hatch. Firstly setting the camera on Iso 3200 I tried a slow shutter speed to create a light trail using the Scalectrix car's headlamps. Secondly tried panning the car at 1/30th with a burst of flash to create some motion blur. Forgot to set the flash on rear curtain sync and panning with your elbows on the floor is no mean feat. More "motor-racing" pics to come.......

Friday, December 29, 2006

Re: Technopolis (Saturday 25/11/06)

Reply from Editor, Financial Times: How to Spend it magazine
Dear Mr Davey,

I have passed your comments to Jonathan Margolis, who is surprised that your example of the Ricoh Caplio R5 was not as fast at consecutive flash pictures as his test model.
He points out that other reviewers have noted the same feature - one such can be found at http://www.photographyblog.com/, but has forwarded your account of your experience to Ricoh.

Regarding the recommended suppliers for the Ricoh, the magazine goes to press several weeks before publication and, as you say, Jessops have only stocked this model in the past fortnight. We cannot anyway publish an exhaustive list of suppliers in Technopolis, as this would be impractical for reasons of space.

Yours sincerely,
Gillian de Bono
Editor,
How to Spend it
Associate Editor,
Financial Times
One Southwark
BridgeLondon SE1 9HLTel: 0044 (0)20 7873 3203Fax: 0044 (0)20 7873 4372

Technopolis (Saturday 25/11/06)

Letter to the Editor, Financial Times Weekend edition 25/11/2006 How TO Spend It magazine

Dear Sir,

"The Ricoh Caplio R5 (digital camera) is also especially party-friendly because you can take consecutive flash shots without having to wait for the flash to recharge. "

Jonathan Margolis must have had a pre-production model. I went to the cabinet at work (camera shop) grabbed the camera, turned on - pretty quick for a digital - took a picture and immediately tried to take another, NO DICE. Two seconds later it fired. This was either due to the camera struggling to save my first 7.1mega pixel shot or some sort of processor delay.

I didn't even bother to check his claim that the camera will allow "...at least a couple of hundred flash shots in succession... " due to its "...relatively huge battery life..." as my Nikon has double the electrical capacity in milliamp/hours and only takes about 70 flash shots before I need to change batteries. Like many current cameras the Ricoh does have Iso 800 which would speed things up as the flash would need less power. But instant recharge like my 30-year-old Vivitar flashgun does not happen.

Finally he states it is available from web vendors, it has also been on the high street in our Jessops branch in Edinburgh for at least a fortnight. We might even do you a deal or recommend another less brick like model.
Yours faithfully
Mark Davey

Thursday, December 28, 2006

A Daughter's D40

MOST of my major photographic purchases are secondhand. Even my first digital SLR the Nikon D100 was bought used and possibly abused for £175, with four batteries and a grip. Later I found it was well used when magnets which control the aperture setting stopped working. Luckily it was fixed for free.
So it was pure pleasure to watch my 15-year-old step-daughter unwrap her first camera on Christmas morning. A silver bodied and lensed Nikon D40. I made the decision to buy as I woke on the 23rd. How much better it looks than a silver Canon Eos with a black lens.
Compared to a vastly inferior pocket compact, which many seemed to be buying their children, it represents good value. She was a bit surprised to get it, but not as amazed as her 19-year-old brother. He seems to have forgotten the Sony digital camcorder received at the same age.
Sophie was able to snap great pictures straight out of the box and has so far proved to be a rather ruthless editor. Taking plenty then happily trimming back to save her best.
Like the dad who buys a Scalectrix (spell) there is that element of a new boy's toy but as I already have the D100, it's not quite the same. Although I might test out its monochrome filters and 1/500th flash sync. Last time I used 1/500th in anger on an SLR it resulted in a prize-winning swimming image from an F90.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

What Ewe Chewin?


Glensax sheep near Peebles enjoy tasty hay on Boxing Day. While back in Edinburgh skaters enjoy the outdoor rink in Prince's Gardens.
left

Thursday, December 21, 2006

PICASA - Photo-editing with Google

GOOGLE'S Picasa photo-editing PC program makes handling images a doddle, and it's FREE!
Anyone who's bought a camera from me or been on one of my courses will have been given a recommendation to download Picasa.
It does not replace Adobe Photoshop Element's simple sophistication and is not a patch on Photoshop CS2. It does give a great entry for beginners to adjusting images.
Picasa also makes e-mailing images and burning CD/DVDs into a simple operation. Click on the button in my sidebar to try it for yourself.
A client said to me this week that installing Picasa was great as it had "tracked" down a lot of photos I thought I'd lost.

Note most of the images in these posts have been "in" Picasa at some stage.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Edinburgh Road Festive Fun

A baby reindeer chews hay on the rose-bed in this house's Edinburgh Road, Peebles, Christmas display. More coming soon including Eddleston Hall and the Old parish Church.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Merry Christmas from Peebles 2006

RED nosed reindeer, shining stars, snowmen and even cats with hats are all part of the fun in Peebles' illuminations. A cluster of houses with some completely over-the-top outdoor Christmas decorations are putting the town's high street to shame.
Most are improvements on previous year's displays, at the house above even a counter is included in this show with eight days Christmas.
Some keep it simple with a window display only others cover the roof as well.
All pictures taken with Nikon D100, Iso 800, tripod mounted, f8 with speeds ranging from 1/2 second to 2 seconds, image quality fine. No flash.

Finally here is a contact sheet of all houses to be found below, if yours is not included e-mail me for a shoot - It's Free!

Christmas Decorations Peebles 2006 (2)




Posted by Picasa

Christmas Decorations 3




Posted by Picasa

Friday, December 15, 2006

ALL LIT UP

Since 2004 when this Peebles house was captured on
celluloid its decs have increased. Watch this space to see
the 2006 incarnation and others like it...........


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

An evening in

Created with Picasa.
Pictures shot as single frames on the Nikon D100 + Tamron 90mm f2.5 manual focus lens. Camera tripod mounted, Iso 800, white balance set for tungsten except for final frames when Vivitar 283 flash + vari-power adapter used. Most exposures set with spot meter ranging from 1/20th at f2.5 to 1/80th f2.5. Final frames of drinker 1/30th f8 (With flashgun). Camera resolution set at 1.5 Mega Pixels, too much really for this application. First video created with Codec produced an 84.5mb file. So changed to Indeo Video 5.10 which gave a 29mb file of the 17 images finally selected.

Nikon D40 Neat, not too light 6 Mega Pixel

A few frames of the new D40 Camera

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Dog Bites Camera Card

A DEXTROUS doberman caused camera card misery for his owner today. We are regularly requested for help in retrieving data from digital memory cards which have been corrupted.
Usually due to user error such as letting a friend fiddle with the camera: "He seemed to know what he was doing, pressing lots of buttons, then I saw the camera said: "Busy"," one woman customer told me last week. She was distraught when I said that the helpful friend had formatted her card deleting all the images taken on a recent far east trip. I gave her Fuji's address and suggested she send the card in as it is possible to "find" the images.
We have to be careful about trying to retrieve images ourselves as it is not a service we offer. Often it causes even more grief when a customer's card is mislaid in the office!
Today's enquiry took the (dog) biscuit: "Is there any way you can get my images off this card," said a customer presenting his Sony memory stick which looked like it had been shot. In fact his doberman had somehow extracted it from his camera and given it a good chewing.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Picasa - Google's own Photo Editing Software

GOOGLE'S Picasa photo-editing PC program makes handling images a doddle, and it's FREE!
Anyone who's bought a camera from me or been on one of my courses will have been given a recommendation to download Picasa.
It does not replace Adobe Photoshop Element's simple sophistication. It does give a great entry for beginners to adjusting images.
Picasa also makes e-mailing images and burning CD/DVDs into a simple operation. Click on the button in my sidebar to try it for yourself.
Note most of the images in these posts have been "in" Picasa at some stage.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Rainbows

Sunshine and showers today led to some magnificent rainbows above Peebles, Scotland.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Edinburgh - In gear for Christmas


Edinburgh's very own big wheel is picking up speed as the city gears itself up for Christmas. Not as glitzy as New York nor tawdry as London, Scotland's capital fizzes for festive fun.
Its Hogmanay celebrations are nearly as famous as the summer festival.

Nikon - D40 - Update


An AFS lens is essential equipment for Nikon's new D40. Why? It is the first autofocus Nikon without a body control to switch between auto and manual focus. Only lenses with an A/M switch on the lens are useable.
This means any AF lens used will have to be manually focused. So my great 180mm/2.8 is reduced in performance.
To a new user buying their first DSLR this will not be a problem except owners of large collections of non-AFS lenses and surely they would be looking at the D200.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Nikon D40

A NEAT new Nikon arrived at the shop under the big blue banner today. The D40 brings creative digital photography closer to the masses or at least it will when its price dips below £400.
Borrowing from its bigger brother the D80 it has that camera's retouch menu, allowing in-camera cropping and filtered black & white among new features.
The makers claim it will "...allow users to take breathtaking pictures without the need to learn photography." Should an owner feel the urge simply slip into manual and creative snapping is right there. Nikon have stuck to the tried and tested six mega pixel CCD which is really all you need make stunning 12x18s. Although not as light (540g) as the new Olympus E400 at 375g, equally it will not easily fall out of your hand thanks to Nikon's chunky grip.
One slight flaw might be the move away from the ENel3 battery to a new 1,000mah EN-EL9. Thus it will take fewer frames between charges than a D50. This battery though does have 370mah more capacity than Canon's NB2l in the 400d and 350d, which has always seemed too small, at 630mah for a digital SLR.
A new 18-55 AfS DX lens has been developed for the camera with a manual/autofocus switch on the lens. It remains to be seen if it offers better performance than its woeful sibling on the D50. Why not bring out a digital SLR with a fixed 35mmf2 which would equate to a 50mm in old money? Perhaps Nikon could get back together with Ricoh for an e-series lens for the 21st century.
As a Nikon user, I'd definitely recommend it possibly even to Geraldine, who does not really like the heavier models.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Canon Powershot G7 - A Brief Critique

BLACK is back for the much hyped compact Canon G7, a brick of a camera which exudes quality. Unlike the previous model in this range the horrible plasticky G6. 10 Mega Pixels, 6 X optical zoom and a solid metal body, just like digital compacts four years ago.
But at the high street price of about £400 it is just £99 less than an EOS 400D. The G7's 35-210mm f2.8-4.8 lens is far better than the 400D's 18-55mm, but that can be taken off and replaced with a prime L series. It loses out to the G7 for sheer portability. Are any G7 users really going to take advantage of the hotshoe? The built in Neutral Density filter looks useful though. The Iso dial on the top plate is (I think) a first for any digital compact and will really aid creative photography.
Manual mode is a delight with speeds displayed on the screen in a linear window like mph on the old Vauxhall Astra GTE LCD speedo. Apertures are shown in similar fashion. The other innovative feature, which first appeared on a Nikon Coolpix, is the ipod like scroll wheel which really aids quick selection when hunting through the menu.
Even if I were not a Nikon user, would I buy it?
Perhaps at £175 which was the price I paid for my first Nikon FM2N which felt similarly solid.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

RIP on a Windswept Hill

Imagine being buried beside a Scottish loch on a wild windswept hillside. It seems unlikely to be restful after a shepherd's hard life.
St Mary's Kirkyard is about 1/4 mile, 900ft above sea-level up a steep grassy slope off the A708. It is not visible from the road, so does not attract "snappers" unprepared to leave creature comforts.
One of my students used it as a location for her fill-flash picture in the final week of my beginner's course. This inspired me to spend my first free Wednesday, since the 10-week course ended, motoring out the twenty-five miles or so for a visit.
I was just sorting out the set-up when an RAF jet screamed overhead, grabbing the camera off the tripod I squeezed off a quick shot. Moments later I was not so lucky when two more weaved past in a practice dogfight - the camera snagged on the tripod! This time I even caught a glimpse of the pilot.
My student Mary Veitch was lucky enough to have snow on the distant hills two weeks ago. Today my trainers squelched through mud and bog. Descending back to the car, ever hopeful of another jet passing overhead, I traversed the slope in long diagonals to avoid a wet bum.
My aerial shot is not quite sharp as the grab shot was made at 1/125th f16 the setting for the scene at that time.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Peebles War Memorial - A Vertical Panorama


Adobe Photoshop Elements' photomerge was my course topic for the final lecture. Most students tried to capture a subject (mostly landscapes) in three parts. During the lecture they would use Elements on the college computers to stitch the pictures together.

This picture of Peebles war memorial was taken in three parts. Without a very tall tripod the camera has to be tilted hence the converging verticals. Photomerge stitched the bottom parts very successfully but failed with the top part including the cross. As the top was more slender than the bottom it seems to have been unable to join the pieces.

Exposures:
Top third 1/16th f2.8 Iso 50 4 Megapixel compact
Middle Third 1/6th f2.8 Iso 58
Bottom Third 1/5th f2.8 Iso 53

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Ricoh Caplio R5

Google Mail - Technopolis (Saturday 25/11/06)

Mark Davey
to letters.editor@ft.com

From: Mark Davey,

Dear Sir,

"The Ricoh Caplio R5 (digital camera) is also especially party-friendly because you can take consecutive flash shots without having to wait for the flash to recharge. "

Jonathan Margolis must have had a pre-production model. I went to the cabinet at work (camera shop) grabbed the camera, turned on - pretty quick for a digital - took a picture and immediately tried to take another, NO DICE. Two seconds later it fired. This was either due to the camera struggling to save my first 7.1mega pixel shot or some sort of processor delay.
I didn't even bother to check his claim that the camera will allow "...at least a couple of hundred flash shots in succession... " due to its "...relatively huge battery life..." as my Nikon has double the electrical capacity in milliamp/hours and only takes about 70 flash shots before I need to change batteries.
Like many current cameras the Ricoh does have Iso 800 which would speed things up as the flash would need less power. But instant recharge like my 30-year-old Vivitar flashgun does not happen.
Finally he states it is available from web vendors, it has also been on the high street in our Jessops branch in Edinburgh for at least a fortnight. We might even do you a deal or recommend another less brick like model.

Yours faithfully

Mark Davey

Friday, November 24, 2006

Canon EOS 350D + Sigma 105 Close-up Lens

A sample image from a 1-2-1 class in Edinburgh on Friday evening. My client is starting to use manual mode for subjects such as the one above. My current charge for this sort of lesson is £12.50ph, which is good value for money. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Digital Camera Instruction Books

COMPLICATED compact cameras are redefined by current digital models. Initial instruction manuals are printed but the advanced guide is on a CD. Olympus' FE170 selling at £99 is one such model. What about the happy snapper without a computer?

During the 1970s fully featured pocket cameras with sharp, fast fixed lenses and semi-automatic exposure appeared on the market. The ultimate for size and user control being models like the Rollei 35s. This was the equivalent of many of today's digitals all it was missing was auto-focus and a zoom lens.

Autofocus appeared the next decade and manufacturers such as Minolta made simple models such pocket models as the AFE. User control seemed to disappear overnight. Ignoring the various dodo such as disc, 110 and APS perhaps the ultimate simple compact was Olympus' MJU II with a tack sharp 35mm/2.8 lens and a range of six flash choices.

Up till two years ago I was able to persuade customers that it was a viable alternative to a similar digital model. Its price was down to about £60 and it is simple to use straight out of the box. Even a cheap digital was about double the money. £60 bought a fair bit of processing with prints and a CD offering the best of both worlds. Whether to enter the 21st century was a decision delayed.

Unless you are young, a quick learner and buy a camera phone, it would be foolish to expect great results with today's £99 pocket cameras unless you are prepared to fiddle and play with it or buy a computer to read CD instructions.

Almost all sub-£100 cameras have a 3 x Optical zoom lens, non-rechargeable AA batteries and without salesman instruction are a complicated minefield. Often the supplied batteries run out before the user has had a chance to really get the device going. A person who has not been told to use rechargeables with a minimum of 1800 Milliamp/hours (Mah) may put in cheapies from the supermarket to have them fail even quicker. Canon still use AAs in the excellent Powershot A710IS so the system must be good! Canon's smaller devices use Li-ion 730 mah phone type batteries but that's to keep the size down.

The instruction book, if at all, usually covers batteries in the final chapter. This is all before you discover that it will produce wonderful party pics with no red-eyes.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Photomerge and panoramic possibilities

A panoramic project best tackled with a standard lens setting that conforms to about the equivalent of 50mm on a 35mm film camera. So halfway along the scale from wide-ange to tele-
photo if using a 3x Optical Zoom digital camera. The project also requires the use of Adobe Photoshop Elements Software. In next week's class we will put it together with good old Elements 2.0! If you have 3.0, 4.0, 0r 5.0, try it out.
The camera will need to be supported on a firm base ideally a tripod.
Try taking three or four photos, on the same settings and rotating the camera between shots so that there is a bit of overlap on each image.
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Get them in lads!

Shot near the Beltring Oast Houses, Kent in 1996. Silhouetted thanks to a suggestion by Alex Watson of Sevenoaks' Chronicle. For a good beer from Kent try Shepherd Neame of Faversham. Posted by Picasa

Action Sports Photography

 Posted by Picasa