Photo of the Month – June

Young Steam PunkOlympus OM-D E-M10
Olympus M 14-150mm f/4-5.6 Mk II
47mm, 1/250 Sec at f/8, ISO1000
Post Processed in Adobe Lightroom CC2015.1 V6
On a MacBook Pro, OS-X 10.10.3

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Apple Pay

When Apple Pay was announced there was a lot to like about it.  The security model is the key feature with your debit/credit card number never needing to leave your device plus biometric security.

As of now few UK banks except it and those that do only to the £20 contact payment limit. Come on banks get with it.  I am in the process of changing bank accounts due to my current provider ending interest payments.  Thanks, i’ll just change banks thank you very much.

There are a couple of banks currently offering over four percent and its one of those that will likely get my business but which to choose, well it might be the one that offers Apple Pay first.

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Mac Sound output

Audio Midi SetupI love good music and HiFi, since getting my new Mac setup the sound quality was not quite as good as I thought it should be.  It was then I remembered that the default output was not as good as it should be.  You need to go into the Audio Midi setup program and configure it to the best settings.

See above.

Having the new Mac Desktop I now have the line out direct into the active speakers giving me better sound quality then Apple AirPlay.


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The end room takes shape

Our spare end room over the last few months has been stripped down to bare walls and concrete floor.  We have plastered painted and decorated. Including painting the roof and open roof

This weekend we finally laid the new floor.


We just have the beading left to put round the edge and its finished.


Then its new book cases and we can unbox the books and also finally setup my hifi. Then we have a smart new space which we can use as a reading room, music room and when necessary a studio space and even somewhere to layout quilts.

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Large Format Developing

Processin Insert Paterson-3-reel-tankWhen one hears about people developing their own film one imagines that for most people this is just not an option. Who has the space to create a darkroom, or as used to be common black out the bathroom.

Well it’s traditional printing you need a darkroom for not developing. I taught Caroline how to develop 35mm film in the kitchen using Patterson developing tanks.

We have all the gear for 35mm developing and I want to start again but the driver is large format.  The picture above is an insert for Patterson three reel tanks, I have been waiting for a number of months for them to come back in stock, well now they are, so together with my scanner I hope to do a lot more large format Black & White as well as giving my Leica M4 a workout. 

The question next is what film?

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Panasonic Release the GX8 – Time to look again at the GX7

Panasonic GX-7

When the GX7 was released I was very excited, up to that point cameras with viewfinders were few and far between.  Now of course there much more common, from the Olympus OM micro four thirds range right up to high end compacts like the new Leica Q.

A few weekends I spent a day with the OM-D M10 a very accomplished little camera, now that the Panasonic GX8 has been announced i’ll be looking at that put also revisiting the GX7, how does it stand up to the modern opposition, if it will do what I want and I can put up with any issues it might have then it might be an option now that prices are sure to drop.

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Models, Blonds or Brunettes?

AliceOver the last twenty years I have worked with a lot of models, and I have heard some photographers and many of the general public refer to models as dump blonds, but what is the truth in my experience.

Well for the start 99.9% of models are very hardworking.  No matter if their degree students studying to become doctor’s (as was one of my models) or simply modelling for a little extra cash, or want to be a professional model as there long term career; modelling is not easy.

Try standing in front of bright studio lights, producing an expression that the photographer or director has asked for and maintaining it while the studio lights pump kilo-watts of light into your face.

Its challenging work and does require skill.  As far as brightness, well models typify the general public some are very intelligent and retire at twenty five after establishing a model agency and selling up to the highest bidder and others are just girls trying to make a living.

All are hard working and in general I think models are above average in intelligence, they certainly tend to have good heads for business, and know what they are doing, where they want to get to and how they are going to get there.

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Gardening – Peas and Beans

Saturday was a full and busy day shooting for clients. We in the full swing of wedding season now. 

Sunday was a little more relaxed. After a bit of shopping in the morning we hit the garden and harvested the remains of the peas and broad beans. It’s been a much better year for them then last year. 

We also had a major weed of the front garden. 

The early evening drove me back to the computer to do more editing while Caroline supervised the chickens while they did there bit of gardening. 

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Hifi in the Office

So with the new Sonos speaker in the kitchen I got for my birthday last year, we have decent music in the house again that is until I finally get my separates system setup in the room we are currently decorating.

Enjoying the Sonos made me think about my office, how to get decent quality sound from the PC without too much cost.

I wanted stereo so another Sonos was not going to cut it, purchasing two would be more then a quality set of active speakers, plus I also wanted to stream from other sources not just using the Sonos app.

Quality wise, CD was good enough, most of media is either vinyl or CD and also sat in my iTunes library at 16 bit at 44 kHz which is CD quality.  I do have a few other audio files which are at studio master quality 24 bit and 192 kHz but thats just over kill for a simple budget office system.

I am lucky enough to have an Apple AirPort Express in my office, as well as providing wireless internet I have my large format Epson 3880 printer plugged into one of the ethernet ports.  The device also supports Apple Airplay at 16 bit / 44 kHz so it could act as the music source for the speakers.

So first I set a budget, then looked at small desktop active speakers that fitted that budget.  By active I mean with built in amplification.  Basically it would be a simple setup.  Apple Airplay sending my music collection from laptop, or iPhone to the AirPort Express and direct into the speakers.  This meant I could keep my current cheap computer speakers and have the computer sounds come from them leaving just the high quality audio of my music streamed to the speakers.  Longer term I might upgrade and add a high quality USB DAC into the system, driving that from the USB port in my computer.

So what did I pick, well first job a trip to the website WhatHiFi and look at what they liked, then a web search to find the best prices.  After that it was a trip to my local Hi Fi shop who offered to price match.  We had a listen, using my iPhone as a source and I picked the Ruark Audio MR1.


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Harddisks and structuring your data

I have been shooting digital now for nine years.  In that time I have a growing collection hard drives.

From a fairly early stage I standardised on LaClie Rugged Firewire drives, ranging from 160 GB to 1 TB, as up to now I have always had Mac Laptops.

I also have three mains powered desktop drives, A old 1 TB LaClie which I now keep my best photographs on as DNG format.  A Drobo Array used as a backup target, and my new drive which is a G-Tech EV Thunderbold2 with two 1 TB drives configured at RAID0.

I still have a few things to consider and thats where I put things on the new machine.  At the moment my main Lightroom Library is on the internal storage and I have placed all the photographs on the fast Thunderbolt2 external array, and have a 1 TB USB3 drive split into two partitions, one as a Time Machine target for backup and the other holding my iTunes Library.

My oldest LaClie drive is also attached and is set as a Lightroom import backup target and also as a catalogue backup target.

With just the G-Tech and USB drive my office is now silent and I can hear the birds out side.

The Drobo is quite noisy and but gets used once a month for backups.

Interestedly before I bought an extra Thunderbolt2 to Firewire converter and the new Thunderbolt drive; I connected directly into the Drobo and daisy chained everything off that.  It definitely slowed things down and I also thought I had a finder issue and spent sometime trying to diagnose the issue.

On boot up my finder would hang for about two minutes before I could use it.  It turned out only to do this when the Drobo was connected, so I do wonder if the Drobo is ready for replacement.

A couple larger cheap USB drives also have a copy of all my photographs on, one of these I keep in the office in Lincoln and the other at home, they get swapped and updated monthly so if the worst should happen I still have my work.

Cloud storage also plays its part.  I tend to use Dropbox as its available on all the platforms I use from Linux, Mac and Window, plus my phone.  I stick a copy of my Lightroom library here.

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Cathedral Flowers

Cathedral FlowersWhile I was in Lincoln Cathedral on Saturday photographing and listening to the orchestra, I tried out a number of different shots and styles, some of which worked better then others.

This shot was taken with a Leica M8 and 50mm Summilux at f/6.7 and 1/8 second.

The slower shutter speed does mean its not tack sharp, but I do find it a pleasing image if one that has not quite worked as I wanted.

My first shot of these scene was sharp but thats in the reject pile; the reason is I shot it wide open and you cannot make out the background. This one while not so sharp, you can at least make out the background.

This picture I feel teaches me three things, its not necessary to have a sharp picture to have a pleasing picture, a lesson I have mentioned before here in this blog.  Two, while shooting wide open with a fast lens is an overused style over the last few years, its does not always work and that depth of field is not only a relationship of aperture but also of where you are focusing; the close you focus the less depth of field you have.  Lastly noise, I shot the Cathedral photographs with my old Leica M8 which with its CCD sensor has significant noise above 640 ISO and that is generally the limit I shoot with it, but in situations where you have good light ISI 640 while producing noise, the noise is not objectionable.


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