Photo of the Month – August

MermaidNikon D200
Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8
31mm, 1/45 Sec at f/3.5, ISO320
Post Processed in Adobe Lightroom V5.6
On a MacBook Pro, OS-X 10.9.4

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Camera’s as Inspiration

My Leicas

For some reason people get very animated about cameras.  Their camera manufacture is the best, and people get very vocal on the forums saying theres is best and others are rubbish.

The thing is do you like your camera and how big do you print.  Very few people print over A4 thus 6 MP is enough, so for example arguing that the latest 16 MP Fuji’s are crap because they don’t have the latest 36 MP sensors is ridiculous.  Why did Sony go back to 12 MP for A7s?

OK rant over, now for the point of the article, last Saturday I kicked of my end of month backups of all my photographs taken so far in 2014 and spotted the image above, it was a test shot for a still life I was about to start, I was just working out the tripod positioning and used the camera bag and my two Leicas as test subjects.

Now I will admit to being a bit of a Leica fan boy.  They are very basic, offer little automation and for the price of a new M body and 50mm f/2 lens you could kit yourself out with one large and very fine camera system.

The advantage of the Leica is the glass, its very hard to beat, the upside also for some people and also the downside for others is the bodies.  A rangefinder body is expensive to manufacture and difficult to use, you either love them or hate them and those that hate them will never understand those of us who love them.

Water Nymph

Leica M8

The point is, that today in 2014 its difficult to name a bad camera, and when we are comparing them its like splitting hairs, so in that case pick the camera that you like and ignore everyone else.

Nikon D200

Nikon D200

Last weekends underwater shoot, I used Nikon D200′s and a Leica M8, did one perform better then the other, no; they both produced stunning images as you can see above.  I suspect that if I had used a Leica T or a Sony RX100, or Fuji X100, or  just picked any Nikon or Canon SLR I would have done just as well, but some of them I would have enjoyed using more then others, and ultimately  its down to you, and for you to decide, but try to pick a camera that inspires you to shoot, not one you hate using and leave at home.


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Colour Management and Check your settings after Photoshop Creative Cloud Updates

While editing this months picture of the month, there was a few aspects that did not seem quite right to me.  So I dived into Adobe Photoshop’s colour settings just to check a few things and discovered that the defaults were set.  Now this might be fine for many Photoshop workers who do pre-press work etc, but not for photographers.  Luckily I have all my settings saved as a preset so could quickly apply them again but I was not happy that it had happened.

I suspect that during the latest Creative Cloud update that put Adobe Photoshop CC2014 on our machines it took the settings back to default.

I suggest you check any preferences you have set and make sure they are correct.


Photoshop Colour Settings

If your interested in colour management and getting the most out of your images then I suggest you check out one of my old posts on colour management and working spaces.

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More Rumours and Announcements – PEN PL7, Leica S 100mm f/2

Leica-Summicron-S-100mm-f2-ASPH-medium-format-lensWith Photokina getting closer and the Apple iPhone/iWatch iAnything press conference coming in the next couple of weeks for tech and camera geeks like me its proving an interesting time.

It was Olympus’s turn today to announce the new PEN E-PL7 in time for Photokina.  I was very impressed with the first Olympus digital PEN, it and the Panasonic GF-1 and the Leica X1 where about the only large censored compacts around.

For most people it was about there, I only did not buy it because of the lack of viewfinder.  Now with this latest iteration its got better focus and image stabilisation, better image quality but there are lots of other camers that do all that.   If your a Pen user and love it but want a newer model, upgrade but for most users there is nothing new in this.

There are rumours growing of a new Leica X camera.  Its likely to be the replacement for the X2, lets hope they finally learn and give it a viewfinder.  The X1 was revolutionary, by the time the X2 came out it was just an expensive minor upgrade.

Lets see if they can put one out of the ball park as our American cousins would say.

There was one piece of news from Leica, the much expected 100mm f/2 short telephoto for their medium format S range.  Its not been much of a surprise since the lens was listed in the last Adobe RAW updates.  Still a very nice piece of glass and f/2 for a medium format camera is stunningly fast.  If I wanted a new medium format system the S system would be top of the list.

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Washout, even the fowl kept away

Lightroom Keyword Bird List

Saturday was a model shoot, Sunday, garden birds and butterfly’s.  Yesterday was bank holiday Monday and I had arranged a trip to the local nature reserve to shoot water birds.

It was a cold wet but I packed the big guns, Nikon DLSR’s and 300mm f/2.8 telephoto lens as well as my big Gitzo series 5 tripod.

Despite walking round the lakes looking for subjects and spending a short time in the hide, I never got the telephoto out of its case.  Still, wildlife is 99% patience.

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What Camera?

UnderwaterShootLast weekend I had a rather complex shoot, it was a personal shoot so the only pressure was on me to produce a pleasing image, but it was extremely challenging, with a complex set and two models to direct in very difficult circumstance, plus additional people for health and safety.

The shoot involved people, lots of water and powerful lights and electricity, potentially a deadly mix.


When it came to equipment it was an interesting choice.  My head told me to take a pair of modern Nikon DSLR’s and a selection of Pro zooms ranging from 12mm to 200mm to cover all bases.

It was with that in mind that I ensured my Nikon DSLR gear was already on Friday night, tested and with all batteries including spares fully charged.

But my heart was saying different things.  Why bother with all that complexity, just take a Leica a couple of spare batteries and a Summilux 50mm.  Travel light, and just concentrate on the image.

So what did I do?

Well I took both, the SLR was the better choice, modelling underwater is extremely difficult, the models cannot hold a pose for long so the fast acting SLR with autofocus was a better choice.  I took five times the number of shots with the SLR’s then I took with the Leica, and I did find myself hitting the buffer a couple of times with the Leica (maybe an excuse to buy a Leica M-P?).

So what about the results, well I am still reviewing the images, but I’ll publish my favourite  as this months ‘Photo of the Month’.  So far I seem to have more good images from the Leica, about 2:1.  Now this may be due to a number of reasons; I had to work harder with Leica, I enjoyed using it more and I shot less so was more selective with my choices.

Lens wise, I used the 24-70mm on the DLSR and a 50mm Summilux on the Leica rangefinder.

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Leica M-P 240 Announcement

Leica M-P 240

As has become the norm now for Photokina, the camera companies are starting to make their announcements.  Today Leica announced the Leica M-P 240.  I was not expecting this but they did the same with the M9 so I suppose its not surprising.

Its not clear yet if the sensor is new but the doubled buffer size now 2 GB, the sapphire glass protecting the lcd at the back and I was very pleased to see the frame line selector lever brought back.  The Leica dot at the front has gone, and in pure black its a stunning looking camera.

The price is higher then the old M but they also announced a price increase from the 1st September so it might not look more expensive for long.

This is a nice update and for those few news photographers that still user Leica M’s a must upgrade I would think, for the rest of us maybe not.

Leica M-P

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Three Avro Bombers

Three Sisters

Three Sisters

Today a little piece of history was made as the Avro Vulcan and the last two airworthy Avro Lancasters flew over the city today.

I was busy on a call in the office, but managed to grab this shot just as they headed off.

You can check out more on the BBC website.

I have not had time to edit the RAW file much yet, this was just a quick import into PhotoRAW to convert to jpeg, then an import to Lightroom mobile.  All done on the iPad.

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Photokina 2014 Rumours

Photokina-2014-logoPhotokina 2014 starts on the 16th September and the rumour mill is starting to get going.  Of course I am particularly interested in the Nikon, Leica and Hasselblad rumours.  We already know that Hasselblad has released a new 50 MP back for the V series and this will be on show.

I am particularly interested in anything mirror less from Nikon or from the MicroFourThirds camp.  It would also be good to see if Fuji have an update for the X100 or their Pro model.

The Leica rumours have been coming thick and fast, from new lens for the T series, a new compact, as well as a new Monochrom and a replacement for Leica ME.  I doubt we will see an updated Monochrom yet I believe people are getting confused with the new chrome coloured model, but a new Leica ME would be interesting.

I have seen a rumour of a Nikon D750 but I am not too sure how that would fit in with the current range.  If it had the D4 focusing and sensor then it would be at the top of my list.

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iOS Differences

Since moving villages I no longer get a mobile phone signal at home. My current mobile phone contract is up next month and the excuse of not getting a signal at home plus the fact they will not unlock phones for free has pushed me away from my current provider.

So this month I had my phone unlocked and have been trying other networks.

As part of this testing I made a number of interesting discoveries.

Dependant on whose sim you have in and if you restore your phone from a backup or set up as new you get a few minor differences.

The first thing I spotted was the Cellular Menu became a Mobile Menu, also the options in here differed but not really surprising.  No the surprising thing was things like security options, on the old sim I only had auto lock from instant to 15 minutes, but when the phone was setup as new with the sim from another network it had options up to four hours!

I would have thought the functionality would have remained fairly constant.

Now that my testing has finished I have a few choices to make.  A review of the main UK networks was published this week, and the one I am on came top, but this network does not work at home and I still need to use my mobile at home.  The network that works best at home came worst and in my testing was worst for data.

With those results in mind I am not quite sure what I am going to do.  I could remember to put a divert on my mobile before heading home but what if I forget, and there is the cost.

I could just change networks and put up with a better service at home but poorer data elsewhere (though things are looking like changing in the coming year).  Or even go to two phone.  A basic mobile with my main number on it and the best data sim in my smart phone.

Not sure yet but I have till the next month to decide.

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