Monday, July 30, 2007

Tour de France

CONTADOR conquered the Champs Elysee cobbles to finish winner of this troubled Tour de France yesterday. I was right there on the barriers watching not ligging as a press man but part of the spectacle. We shared our space with a six strong American family from Los Angeles. Sure the word drugs was mentioned but this magnificant avenue was en fete.
As a cyclist it was stunning to watch the riders circle the cobbles six times at speeds in excess of 30mph and always packed in a bunch. Photography from behind the barrier was a real challenge but I managed a few shots of which I am proud and will now try to post from my hotel in the Boulevard Raspail. However using a french language keyboard is complicated when used to qwerty.
It proved too complicated to add images..............

Friday, July 27, 2007

Eizo Colour Edge

If you are in the market for a new Monitor at Calumet Photographic we have this
model on display: (All EIZO monitors have 5 year warranty)
Ideal for soft proofing, the CG211 offers 12-bit hardware calibration and uniform brightness and color across the screen. It also comes with unique usability features like hardware-based support for portrait mode with both Mac and Windows PCs.
• 1600 x 1200 native resolution
• 500:1 contrast ratio
• 225 cd/m2 brightness
• 170° viewing angles
• Digital/analog inputs

Monday, July 23, 2007

Rain, Rain, Rain

This summer, the jetstream is flowing further south allowing low pressure systems to sweep straight over the centre of the country. High pressure systems over Europe and the Atlantic have been weak............ Hence all the rain down south(not a link just a nice wet colour), here in Scotland it is normal, but today is nicer.
Pressure chart: 4/07/07. Source: Met Office

Digital v Film

THE SIMPLE sensitivity solution seems to give digital an edge. It is great being able to switch Iso (film speed) at the flick of a button rather than rewinding and reloading films. Viewing a slide show of our old transparencies on Monday night made me wish I had taken film on a recent trip to Paris and had put up with this inconvenience.
I could have even coped with hand searches of my luggage to avoid putting film through the x-ray at the airport. The colours are so much more vivid than those possible on a computer. Digital has its day when time is short.
However, last night at the Peebles time trial shooting digital allowed me to fit in an Indian meal as well as send the pictures off to my "editor" who compiles the weekly report for the local rag. With film I would have had to do the final wash with meths before scanning the pictures and the nearest I'd have got to the Indian would have been a carry-out. In this situation digital is a no brainer.

Quick Quantum

How to make an alternative to a quantum pack from Ken

Wedding photographers carry fat external batteries for fast recycling and tons of shots. The SB-800 has a socket for this. The SB-800 even has a bizarre external single AA holder which lets you use odd sets of 5-AA cells for somewhat faster recycling compared to just using the 4 internal cells (It seems weird to me: my sets and charger come in 4s, not 5s.) Other companies like Quantum make big external batteries that plug right into the SB800 while the SB600 has no such connection. In the old days we just rigged up our own connections to flashes, usually with wooden dowels the size of AA batteries and thumb tacks, and used a 6V gel-cell around our waists. Personally I just swap alternating sets of Ni-MH AAs and I'm happy.

Sunday, July 22, 2007


A former Jessops employee, Peter MacCabe commented this weekend on my blog post of 25th June. The original post was about the latest downturn in Jessops' fortunes. Mr MacCabe wrote:

Peter MacCabe has left a new comment on your post "Jessops":

"I'm sorry you had a bad experience with Mr Hodson. I was employed at Jessops for 13 yrs, if I recall right, Steve was a Store Manager at Bath then went on to be an Area Manager,all this before 2000 when I left.

I'm certainly not going to defend his alleged banging the counter or any other rudeness to customers. Whilst I was there, he was sited as a model Store Manager though he certainly had a "face that fitted".
Regarding the demise of a Store Manager under his control, did the individual concerned sue under current employment legislation?

Sadly I'm convinced that powers higher than Mr Hodson had just a little to do with it...

Which is one of the reasons why they are on the brink of annihilation... "

The individual concerned packed his bags and left although he was offered a lesser job.


Nikon D100, 90mm f2.5 macro + 2x Converter Iso 400 no flash

Stephen's Stag Do

Friday, July 20, 2007

Nikon D40x v D80

One of my customers is stuck on whether to buy the D40x or D80. He wants the 18-70 AFS lens with either camera but is undecided. He likes the lightness of the D40x but thinks paying a pound more for the D80, which is the kit price is a better deal. He has been back and forward to Calumet twice this week at least it gets him out! I'd buy the D40x as it is a lovely little camera but then I've already got the D100.

Earliest digital camera

The first recorded attempt at building a digital camera was by Steve Sasson, an engineer at Eastman Kodak. It used the then-new solid state CCD chips developed by Fairchild Semiconductor in 1973. The camera weighed 8 pounds (3.6 kg), recorded black and white images to a cassette tape, had a resolution of 0.01 megapixel (10,000 pixels), and took 23 seconds to capture its first image in December of 1975. The prototype camera was a technical exercise, not intended for production, and it still existed as of 2007.>>

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Flash Diffuser

Found this really useful tip on:
(photo from that site, don't do me for copyright please)
an old film canister as an on camera flash diffuser. Cut a slot in the diffuser and off you go.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


Pretty simple really ISO 400, 1/160th f8 on Tamron 90mm macro lens, + fill-in flash from Vivitar 283 and variopower manual adapter - 5 stops, with stofen diffuser.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Ricoh Caplio 500SE

Another Tough Cookie
Here's a match for Fuji's Big Job:
The camera is built around an eight megapixel camera, capable of recording photographs at a resolution of 3264 x 2448 pixels.
Ricoh states that the camera is watertight to IP67 specifications (up to 1 m water depth), that it is dustproof to JIS grade 6 and that it can be dropped from a height of one meter without sustaining damage. Due to the water tightness the camera looks a bit cheap with its rubber body and soft plastic keys. Having said that, it feels quite sturdy and seems to be more than up to the tough life of everyday surveying. The supplied GPS receiver however was neither watertight nor dustproof. But the camera can be coupled to any GPS receiver capable of outputting NMEA type GPS messages, so just hook it up to your trusted GPS solution. There seems to be a design flaw with the see-through seeker. And although most people will probably prefer the LCD display on the back of the camera for composing the picture it can become unreadable in bright sunlight. The built-in see-trough seeker is however obstructed by the camera housing at wide zoom angles.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Amateur Photographer

This is my reply to former Sunday Times photographer Philip Dunn. After writing the letter I found that he is also based in the Borders....small world.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Edinburgh Botanics Competition

Botanics Scotland 2007 Description: Win a prize with your photos taken in any of the four beautiful Gardens of the National Botanic Gardens of Scotland: -
TheEdinburgh "Botanics"
Dawyck in the Borders
Benmore in Argyllshire
Logan in Dumfries and Galloway.
The competition is open to all and prizes will be awarded in three categories:
1. Garden View
2. Plant Portrait
3. Natural History Close-up.
First prize in each category £50 and second prize £15, kindly donated by the Goswami Trust. Rules and entry form can be downloaded from Closing Date: 31/October/2007 Contact: Margaret Stevenson Website:

During the summer I am planning to migrate some work to the above new site.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Tamron 90mm Macro

Bee my Snail
While a bee collects pollen from a strawberry plant a snail devours our clematis. Both shots with a Tamron 90mm f2.5 manual focus macro lens. The bee, which is really sharp on its wings was hand-held.
Set-up for the snail was more complicated. Iso 400, 1/4 sec at f16 with fill-in flash off camera from the side and Stofen diffuser, camera on a tripod and fired with self-timer. There's some luminence from the flash but it was just a quick 10 minutes, I am no Heather Angel.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Bowden Doors, Northumberland, England

For the technically minded ISO 200, Nikon D100, 180mm lens. White Balance set for daylight, 1/1250 sec f2.8 hand-held.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Fuji Big Job

I kid you not this is Fuji's latest digital camera a six million pixel modal unfortunately named Fuji Big Job. Aimed at industrial applications, forsenic science and the like. Obviously the people in those occupations create large logs.
Luckily it is not yet available in Scotland or it would have to be re-named the Big Jobbie. Could be a case of poor research by the Japanese who clearly associate Big Job with work rather than the water closet. The advertising blurb says the camera is "ruggedised" and designed for tough applications. Syrup of figs or Senokot is also reputed to help resolve sticky situations. No doubt if this camera is put in the right hands it will prove popular for crappy jobs such as traffic wardens who need a hardy work horse to record peoples poor parking and then stick them with a ticket.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Dan Chung Snapper's Tips

Go to this address and check out award winning photographer Dan Chung's hints for good travel photography: (Once-upon-a-time Dan was in the year above me at Stradbrooke College, Sheffield - It was where I found he was scared of heights. Perhaps he has been cured by his war photography in Iraq).

Guardian Competition

Send us a snap:Email jpeg versions of photos to, ensuring that you name the location where the photo was snapped. Or, if you don't have digital, can't get to a scanner, and really believe you have a pic good enough to make us want to scan it ourselves, post it to: "Send us a snap", Guardian Unlimited Travel, 119 Farringdon Road, London EC1R 3ER. Please enclose a stamped addressed envelope if you would like your print returned. Rough Guides are offering a book of the winner's choice for each week's prize. You can browse their catalogue

Hard Cash

It's not often nowadays that someone approaches the counter with a wedge of cash. Certainly not £3200 which I was handed today. More than £1200 was in £20s, another customer joked that at least it was not fivers. It was just a deposit! So we have to hand it back on Monday!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Wildgrass & weather

One of many beautiful views on my cycle ride home from work. Luckily on Tuesday evening, storm clouds were just gathering`on the moors south of Peebles as I photographed this field of wild grass.
On Monday it was all I could do to keep moving against the wind and rain at this location.

No special technical info fully auto on pocket camera.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Peebles Time Trial 4th July 2007

Bob Soutter (left) and 3rd at the finish, hardly seems to be moving as he heads for the turn in this evening's Dawyk 14.5 mile TT.
Charlie Brindley (right) 4th in the event is perhaps, too relaxed on his tri-bars at the same point. The youngsters are hot on his tail.

For those interested in the technical detail: Nikon D100, 180mm lens, Iso 200, f2.8, 1/160th + -4 stops on manual adapter of Vivitar 283 flashgun as "fill flash" Levels slightly
adjusted in Adobe Photoshop Elements.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Canyon Camerawork

Leith landscape lensman David Morrison drilled our walls at Calumet (Edinburgh) today launching his latest exhibition. Mr Morrison is displaying 19 images taken from a trip to the States. These pictures include the Grand Canyon and a novel bird's eye view of surf at Big Sur, California.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Photographic Portrait Prize

The Photographic Portrait Prize 2007

8 November 2007 - 24 February 2008
Porter Gallery

The National Portrait Gallery's prestigious international photographic portrait competition celebrates and promotes the very best in contemporary portrait photography through a competition that is open to all. It has established a reputation for its diversity of photographic styles, encompassing editorial, advertising and fine art images submitted by a range of photographers, from professionals to gifted amateurs and photography students.

Call For Entries

Photographers are invited to enter the National Portrait Gallery's Photographic Portrait Prize 2007.

Register online between 1 May and 20 July 2007: you will receive an email confirming your registration number. Photographs must be delivered to London College of Communication (address below) either in person or by post/courier between 23 and 27 July 2007. Online registration will ensure a quicker, more efficient, check-in when delivering photographs.

Diamonds & Leckie

Leckie, Ivanhoe Road's neighbourhood black cat enjoys some milk after his chicken dinner. On his right are some diamonds of rain caught in a spider's web.
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