Photo of the Month – March

Opera Recital Practice, Leica M8, Summilux 50mm

Opera Recital Practice, Leica M8, Summilux 50mm

Leica M8
Leica 50mm f/1.4 Summilux-M
50mm, 1/60 Sec at f/2, ISO640
Post Processed in Adobe Lightroom V5.3
On a MacBook Pro, OS-X 10.9.2

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Leica T Type 701 mirrorless leaks


There have been rumours of a Leica mirrorless camera for a while now.  Of course the Leica M is a mirrorless camera but we tend not to count that, by mirrorless we tend to think of Panasonic/Olympus MicroFourThirds cameras, Sony NEX or Fuji X range.

Leica have pretty much stated they have a mirror less camera coming but very little news has slipped out, but finally as the Leica press conference scheduled for April 24th gets closure more leaked pictures start to appear.

For those of us wishing for a built in EVF and it taking Leica M glass, then we are likely to be disappointed but even if its not the camera I want, I am looking forward to what Leica are about to release.

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Mac OS X Spotlight issues

Being a bit of command line geek, I often use Apple’s Spotlight feature to run applications. Its much quicker to click the command key and spacebar then quickly type what you want then to use the trackpad or mouse to find the application.

Sometimes though, the index can get corrupt and spotlight stops finding some apps.  Its a quick fix and very easy.

First find your way to /Users/(loginname)/Library/Preferences, the fast way to do this is from finder press Shift-Command-G then type ~/Library/Preferences this will take you to your library within your user folder.  Its easier this way as the library folder under your user is hidden by default.

Find and delete it, then as  an administrator run terminal and enable Spotlight Indexing by typing mdutil -E / you may have to use sudo (super do) as its requires admin permissions.

This should then sort out your spotlight issues.

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Command Line Fun – telnet and ASCI Starwars

Starwars VI


If you use Unix or are a bit of a command line geek like me then you might be interested in a bit of fun.

There is telnet server hosted in the Netherlands which has a Star Wars video made in ASCII that is run when you connect.

Check out the fqdn

Starwars - R2D2 & C3PO

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Lightroom Mobile & Lightroom V5.4

Lightroom MobileLightroom V5.4 has finally made an appearance, I know Fuji users have been waiting this one and for myself I was hoping for a more stable version.  Lightroom V5 while very usable has been the least stable Lightroom of all the versions and I am hopping that V5.4 has finally gotten rid of all the bugs.

Along with Lightroom for the desktop; Lightroom Mobile for the iPad was released, a much anticipated launch.  While detailed editing in a colour unmanaged environment is not practical, being able to do a quick edit sort through a selection of images and decide on you selects on the iPad is a very useful thing.

I would have loved to see some meta data facilities and key wording but that has not made this version, until then we will still have to use applications like PhotoSmith on the iPad.

While the mobile app can edit your photographs already on your iPad it really works if your an Adobe Create Cloud subscriber.   You can simply select which collections you want to sync over and its as simple as that.

Lightroom Collections

The big question for me was if it could handle Nikon RAW files or DNG files imported directly to the iPad.  Unfortunately testing with my little Nikon V1 and Leica M8 has shown that if your saving RAW/DNG only while the iPad can handle the files they cannot be brought into Lightroom Mobile, you need to convert first using either PhotoRaw or shoot jpg and RAW/DNG.

For now the source for you files has to be your computer not your iPad, not ideal if you want to work in the field and travel light and not take a laptop.  Unless Adobe add RAW support then I can see an Apple MacBook Air  arriving in my camera bag.  Still it may suite your work flow or it may not, if your an Adobe Creative Cloud subscriber then its free to try out and test.

Its certainly a very good first try.

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4K on still cameras

Sony Alpha A7r

Sony recently announced the new A7S, designed for 4K video.

There is a lot of discussion about 4K and whether it will take off or fail like 3D TV.  To be honest for content providers there is a case for going to 4K, while consumers are yet to take up 4K it does make sense for film makers to produce their content now in 4K ready for the future.

Putting 4K in what are predominately still cameras to me makes less sense.  If your going to shoot movies then use the right equipment.  By the time you have purchased all the accessories to make it work you might as well have bought a proper video camera and now 4K video cameras are more available.

There is a case for video in still cameras but its mainly for news paper photographers, they need quick short clips, sound bites for websites.  The rest of us also might want to pop a quick short clip onto our websites or YouTube but if your serious about moving making then buy a proper video camera for that use.

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Family Update – The House & Garden

We have now been in our new home for about six months.  Both myself and Caroline have celebrated birthdays here and its really starting to feel like home.

Caroline’s sewing room is coming along nicely as is my office or digital darkroom as I call it.

We have also had the workers in and now all windows and doors have been replaced, but its the garden we have also been concentrating on.

Now with the lighter evenings and warmer days the garden has been bursting into life.  A new compost area has been built behind the garage and a garden shredder and new mower has also had to be bought.

The main building work for the raised beds where we intend to grow our vegetables has also been completed.  Caroline has also chopped down two trees that were far to close to the building and blocking a lot of light.  I say Caroline chopped down the trees, as I had a bad cold one recently weekend and while I was asleep in bed she got stuck in.

We have also built a brood box for our bee hives, we still have the supers and frames to complete so we are a bit behind schedule on that front.  There is an old wooden shed at the bottom of the garden and that is being torn down and a hen coop and run built.  It would be lovely to have the veg plot, bees and chickens all in for this year but this is a marathon not a sprint.

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Special Moments

We always want to capture special moments, sometimes they just happen on the street, other times we try to create them, putting ourselves in a place, anticipating or even setting it up in the studio.  One of the keys is pre-visualisation and being ready with your camera on and set up ready to shoot.



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Monitors and Prints

Calibrated for NEC SpectraView Reference

Calibrated for NEC SpectraView Reference

I used to have the issue that many photographers suffer from; you send you image off to be printed and it comes back to dark.

Now my images come back much closer to how I envisaged them, and when printed by myself they are very close to what I see on the screen.

So what has changed, well first it got better when I started profiling my screen, usb screen profilers do not cost that much money and are definitely worth it.  Secondly I now use a NEC SpectraView Reference Monitor, this is as close to Adobe RGB as current displays can get and gives a very accurate display.

Lastly I now soft proof using paper profiles from the manufactures website.

I recently came to print one of my Black & White on a new paper I had not used before (Tecco PL285 Luster).  The image was quite dark and moody of a bleak marsh and a single bare tree.

I have split toned the image and the highlights have a slight blue tint and the shadows and mid tones a light sepia tint.

In Lightroom V5.3 I went into soft proofing and selected my paper profile, all of a sudden the image looked blue.  This paper has a definite cold tint.  I created a soft proof copy and adjusted the mid tone contrast to suit the paper and removed my blue tint from the image. I then tinted the image quite heavily all over sepia until the soft proofed image looked like the original.

Calibrated for Print

Calibrated for Print

I then printed and what came out looked like the original print, soft proofing in a colour managed environment had worked.  If you compare the bottom image with the top its hard to believe that when the bottom image is printed on Tecco PL285 Luster it looks like the top image but it does.

Soft proofing is still an inexact art, a monitor no matter how good and yet match the colour gamut but it is currently the best way forward.

In many ways it shows how arguments of cameras based on jpegs displayed on a web page are ridiculous, you cannot judge a camera from the web.  Ultimately only you shooting with it in your style, your kind of photographs and putting the resulting files through your work flow are going to show if that camera suites you.  And a camera that suites you may not suite others.


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The Motorcycle Season Starts

Crossing the Ford

Crossing the Ford

So the clocks have moved forward from GMT to BST here in the UK, that means as well as MotoGP starting, the British biking season  has now started, so every bright sunny day from now on will see the roads crowded with bikers.

Over the next two months we will see more bike accidents and deaths then at anytime during the year.  Unlike some of us who ride all year round most bikers hung up their leathers back in September/October so have not ridden in sometime, but many of them will jump on there bikes thinking they are Valentino Rossi, trying to ride flat-out.

If your a biker take it steady and respect other road users; and if you fancy really seeing what your bike can do, book a track day.  If your a car driver lookout for bikers coming from anywhere and give them space, sometimes bikers are not as respectful to other road users as they should be.

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