Photo of the Month – November

Holly in BlackLeica M8
Leica 50mm f/1.4 Summilux-M
50mm, 1/80 Sec at f/2, ISO160
Post Processed in Adobe Lightroom V5.7
On a MacBook Pro, OS-X 10.10.1

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Screen Differences

Profiling and TrendingChris and myself both posted some images from our weekend wildlife shoot.  It was interesting that while most of our shots looked fine on our own colour calibrated monitors, the office laptop made my photographs look over exposed and Chris’s photographs underexposed.  Now while maybe neither of is was spot on with our exposures, they certainly were nothing like as bad as they looked on these office laptops.

The difference being of course that both myself and Chris operate colour calibrated and profiled work flows and that includes profiling our screens.

The office laptops are not and it really shows.  It also goes to show how ridiculous it is to judge cameras from low quality jpegs posted on the internet.  If a camera is tempting you, try it in your hand and take a memory card to shoot a few test shots to process in your own work flow and see how they hold up.

It also highlights how you should also not judge exposure from the LCD on the back of the camera, they are certainly not profiled and what looks good is generally not the best for actual image quality.

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Wildlife Camera Choice – Mirrorless question

OM-D E-M10So the other day I went out shooting birds with the typical setup most photographers would choose.

DSLR, long lens and a tripod (or monopod).

Chris had his high end Mirrorless system, so the question some may ask is, which was best?

Well it’s a slightly more complex question then you might think, and it’s less of which is best, but more about which is more suitable.

A few years a go I would have said that an SLR is the only way to go.  Mirrorless cameras were just too slow to focus, but then the Nikon V1 with its on chip focusing sensors appeared and the game changed.

Now the high end Fuji X-T1 and Olympus OM-D E-M1 are knocking on the door of the midrange SLR’s, and in some areas are surpassing the high-end SLR’s with some of their focusing modes and especially with the Olympus its in body five-axis image stabilisation.

D4 Card SlotsWhile a Canon D1X or Nikon D4s may still have the upper hand its far less cut and dried then it was a few years ago.

The ‘bigger’ thing to consider is actually the smaller sensor, and while many complain about the ‘lack’ of ‘full frame’ no selective depth of field and poor Bokeh etc, having a smaller sensor brings a number of advantages to the game, and its these advantages that cause Nikon D300s users to complain about the lack of a new model.

A smaller sensor gives you longer reach, lower cost long glass and size and weight advantages.

While if your parking up and only having to lug a full frame SLR and long lens a few hundred meter’s its one thing, but another matter if your having to hike a long distance.

So in answer to the question which is best, as always in photography the real question is what do you want to do.

Birds in flight, complex movement, well the traditional DSLR still has the advantage, but you need to hike ten miles with a 600mm lens to get to a spot to photograph a puffin coming out of its burrow, a smaller sensor allowing a smaller lighter camera and smaller lighter lens would definitely be my choice.


Puffins on Shetland Islands, Nikon D200, DX 1.5 crop with 1.7 teleconverter and 300mm f/2.8


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My First Real D800 Wildlife Shoot – Hartsholme Park

Black Headed Gulls-2

Sunday morning found myself loaded up with my Nikon D800, 300mm f/2.8 and my Gitzo tripod heading to Hartsholme park.

Black Headed Gulls-1

Here I was to meet up with Chris, as we both had equipment to test.

Black Headed Gulls-4

We met up at the car park and setup our cameras on our tripods.  It was obvious to see that Chris’s MicroFourThirds setup was half the size and weight then what I had to use.


Later in the morning Chris spotted two squirrels and he quickly took his Olympus of the tripod and moved into a better position to shoot he squirrels.  With my big heavy 300mm f/2.8 I had to slowly move the whole camera. lens and tripod to a better position.  squirrelThe squirrels seemed to be collecting leaves and carrying them up into the trees, possibly making a comfy nest for the winter.

Black Headed Gulls-6

We arrived at the lake to find parts of it still frozen over.  The last couple of days had been very cold.  The previous night when I went out to check on our chickens the ground was covered in hard hard white frost.
Black Headed Gulls-5This morning was warmer, and the frost had all gone, but there was still large sheets of ice covering the lake.  As you can see the Black Headed Gulls seems to like resting on the ice, but it was melting fast.

Black Headed Gulls-7


I had my Nikon generally set to auto ISO with a cap of 3200, and it set to give me a minimum shutter speed of 1/800 of a second.  I was shooting with the lens stopped down one stop, to just give me a edge on quality and a little more depth of field.Black Headed Gulls-8


I was of course expecting lots of Black Headed Gulls, there an urban bird now, seen more in cities, around municipal rubbish tips, and in the farmers fields following the tractors.

I was also expecting lots of Mallard ducks, but I also expected to see lots of geese, but apart from a quick fly by of two Egyptian geese, which I missed, it was mainly just gulls and ducks.

One thing I did find very useful with the camera set up was the ‘My Menu’ Option, at the top of the list was Auto ISO, and you can configure a free button on the camera to quick access the top function you have in your ‘My Menu’.  So with just a couple of button presses I could toggle between Auto ISO and fixed ISO.  With fixed I generally had between 400-800 ISO set, to give me better quality but a slow shutter speed.  The shot of the male mallard duck above was taken that way.
mallard in flightWith a quick couple of button presses it was back to Auto ISO and a fast shutter speed to get me shots like that above, though technology cannot get your framing right!

Mallards Mating

The ducks were mating and you can see why sometimes female ducks get drowned as the male holds them down.


Often on the far side of the lake I have seen cormorants fishing but while we had a couple of pairs fly over high overhead, none decided to stop for a fishing session.birds-4

We did spot a young Grebe fishing in the lake and once or twice he came over close enough to get a few could shots.birds-2The last two species, were a pair of Coots, and a pair of Moorhens.  Interestingly the Moorhens were in the woods close to where the squirrels were collecting their leaves.

After a couple of hours, Chris had filled his main memory card and we decided that was a good time to head home and get warm.

We both got to test our cameras well.  I spent most of the session in Dynamic 21 point autofocus mode, switching between short and normal autofocus lock timeout, to see how it handled.

I’ll be doing lots more tests like this, trying different settings and seeing what works best in various situations.

Black Headed Gulls-9

The question you might have on your minds is which camera was best?  Well I will discuss that in a later post.





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Printer Paper Choices- new Baryta Papers

Tecco BT270For fine art printing paper is a very personal choice. For outstanding image quality Ilford Gallery Silk and Canson Infinity Baryta Photographique have been the top choices, but I feel as do many that a fine art print is more then just the image, it’s a physical tactile feeling as well. The feel and weight of the paper plays a large part.

Because of this I do like some of the Baryta style papers and was pleased to see Hahnemuhle have released two more. I look forward to testing them.

Hahnemuhle’s Photo Silk Baryta (HPSB) 310 gsm & MOAB Juniper Baryta Rag (MJBR) 305 gsm; read a review here at Luminous Landscape.

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M9 IR Cover glass corrosion

Opera Recital Practice, Leica M8, Summilux 50mm

Opera Recital Practice, Leica M8, Summilux 50mm

Over the last few months there have been a number of reports of issues with Leica M9 and M-E sensors.

A few people have paid for repairs which involved replacing the sensors, and Leica have been investigating.  Today Leica made the following announcement.

In some cases, particularly when using the camera models Leica M9, M9-P, M Monochrom or M-E with smaller apertures (5.6-22), effects caused by corrosion of the sensor glass may be encountered. Leica offers a free replacement service for the CCD sensors of cameras affected by this problem as a goodwill arrangement. This goodwill arrangement applies regardless of the age of the camera and also covers sensors that have already been replaced in the past. Customers who have already been charged for the replacement of a sensor affected by this problem will receive a refund.

Once again a company showing excellent commitment to customer service.

I had a quick look on the forums, and its amazing the comments being made by the internet trolls.  Using this as evidence as to why Leica will go bust and why no one should not buy a Leica.  Sorry guys, this makes me want to trust Leica with my hard earned money more!

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Smart Collection Tips by RC

Generally I don’t use many Smart Collections in Adobe Lightroom. I do have a habit of flagging a few favourite images with a particular colour flag, and I have a Smart Collection to collate them together, and of course one for my five star images.

Most of my collections are project based or collections of published work or projects.

Reading the Lightroom Killer Tips website the other day, there was a great tip about creating a collection to hold your Smart Previews which I thought was a excellent idea.

Lightroom Collections


It makes it far easier to manage your Smart Previous and get rid of the ones I no longer I need.

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Looking again at the perfect Compact – OM-D E-M10

OM-D E-M10First let me state that I am not saying that the OM-D is the best compact alternative, but if you do not want a shirt pocket sized compact then a small Compact System Camera is possibly a better bet.

For a while the Panasonic GX-7 was at the top of that list, but now we have a range of CSC’s which have reasonable built in viewfinders and are jacket pocketable.

For those of us wanting something really small, a true shirt pocket camera then at the moment the Sony Cyber-Shot RX100 III is at the top of the tree.

If size is less then an issue an you want a top real compact then I feel its between the Ricoh GR, the new Panasonic LX-100 and the Fuji

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Jack Frost Picture Ideas

Sony NX-5

Sony NX-5 ©AJordan

The frosty mornings are now well upon us, and its a great time to get a few simple but stunning little photographs.

Any camera really can do this even many simple compacts, but best if it can focus close, get in there and photograph dew drops on flowers or cobwebs.

If you have a bit of snow, even a blade of grass can become photogenic, get down there and in close, you may be surprised.

Spiders Web

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How to not give up with a Tripod

Richard & Chris

In Lincoln we often have students walking round the city setting up cameras on tripods, usually video but sometimes still.

Watching people use a tripod and seeing how they struggle you quickly realise why so many photographers give up on tripods.  I felt that way for a while myself until I found the secret.

The excuse to not use one is generally that there too big and heavy to cart around, but as you watch people struggle you quickly realise how difficult and frustrating they are to use and it’s this that generally stops people from carrying them.
Richard in Hartsholme Park
Having been in that position I can tell you that the biggest issue is the tripod head and its two factors that cause the issues.

  1. The attachment of the camera to head.
    If just a screw, either direct or a screwed in, it comes loose when you try to position the camera or if one of the cheaper quick release systems the quick release plate comes loose on the camera as you work. This makes it impossible to frame the shot as you like. Buy an Arca Swiss type plate dedicated to you camera body.  The good ones fit tight and do not slip.
  2. The tripod head.
    If it came free with the tripod it’s generally junk. Try different heads. Personally I love ball heads but hate pan and tilt video heads. Find one you like and get it in an Arca Swiss fitting.

This way using the tripod becomes a joy and if using it is fun and your getting shots you otherwise could not get, then the carrying it somehow becomes far less of a chore.

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Challenging Yourself with Light


Good light can make or break a photograph.  You can either play it safe or really push yourself.

Looking at a shot it can for the untrained eye be difficult to tell how a shot was lit.  The top shot was actually outdoors and is a flower in the garden.  I put a black cloth behind the flower and then added a flash to the side and the front.  The shutter speed was high as was the flash power, this completely overpowered the daylight giving the feel I wanted.Lisa

The shot of Lisa is a very simple lighting setup, Two large soft boxes each side and a softbox over the model giving a kiss of light to the hair.


AliceOnce again the shot above is an interesting mix of daylight and flash.  The daylight is deliberately underexposed with most of the light coming from a single Elinchrom flash head shooting into a brolly.  The most challenging aspect of the shot once I had balanced the daylight and flash was the wind, it was after this shoot I purchased two heavy C-Stands.

Try challenging yourself with flash, either flash on its own or mixed with daylight, and once you find a setup that works file it a way for use when you need guaranteed results, then go out and challenge yourself again.


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