Photo of the Month – October

Castle Ward-2Leica M8
Leica 35mm f/3 Summicron-M
35mm, 1/15 Sec at f/2, ISO320
Post Processed in Adobe Lightroom V5.6
On a MacBook Pro, OS-X 10.9.4

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Planning behind a photoshoot

Water Nymph

Over the years some of my photography shoots have gotten more and more complex as I work with more lights, mixing daylight and flash or working in unusual conditions.

A few months ago I did my most complex shoot yet to produce the image above.  Shooting a model underwater is a major challenge!

One photographer I greatly admire is Joe McNally, I managed to get to meet him this year and he gave a talk on some of his photographs.

With halloween being tomorrow I thought I would share one of his recent ‘scary’ photoshoots and the planning that went behind it.

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Auto Bracketing

HDR - Standing Stones of Lewis

Whether you are shooting unrealistic HDR landscapes like above, or just wanting to give your Landscapes a bit of a glow like below, auto bracketing is your friend.

Hartsholme Lake - SLR - HDRIn very tricky lighting conditions auto bracketing can be a great benefit especially when things are changing fast.

The problem we have with most cameras and something that Chris Bennett has complained about as well as myself is that auto bracketing on most cameras does not go far enough.

Todays modern cameras have a lot of dynamic range, together with modern RAW processors we can easily save a shot thats over or under exposed by a stop, but the majority of cameras only give us a maximum of 1 stop over or under, which means instead of shooting a three stop bracket we have to shoot five or more.

So I was very pleased to read recently from another landscape photographer that the new Nikon D810 now has auto bracketing up to 2 stops different per shot.

So come on camera manufactures lets get 2 stops or more.  Personally I would like to see 1/3, 1/2, 1, 2, 3 as options for bracketing.


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Ireland – Grey Abbey

Grey Abbey-2

While visiting Ireland we went through a little village called Grey Abbey on a number of occasions.  So one day we decided to stop and have a look round.

Next to the village is an old ruined abbey, unfortunately it was closed and would not open until the day we had to catch the ferry back to Scotland, so the only photographs I could get of it were from the graveyard in church next door.
Grey AbbeyThe village itself seemed mainly to be made up of coffee shops, gift shops and antique shops.  Again nearly all were closed, it seems its one of those odd little villages that only open a couple of days a week, you wonder how they ever make any money.

Still a pretty little village and it looks like its worth looking around; at least when its open!


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Having a Project

I find that one can start to drift in ones photography unless one has a goal in mind.  For that reason I always have a couple of projects on the go.

Waterloo Station

Waterloo Station

In my day job working in IT I occasional have to travel and this nearly always a trip through or to London.

Kings Cross Project- Leica_

I aways take a small camera with me, either the Leica M4 or M8 and have spent the time while waiting for trains looking for interesting imagery within the train stations.

Kings Cross Coffee Break

Kings Cross Coffee Break

Being able to continually revisit an area allows one to develop themes and thus put together a nice set of photographs.

Kings Cross, Leica M4, Film HP5Plus

Kings Cross, Leica M4, Film HP5Plus

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Leica Special Editions

Leica-X-Edition-Moncler-limited-edition-camera-2-550x275I spotted on Leica Rumours the other day a special edition Leica X coming out shortly.  Now I am sure some people love these special editions as they certainly sell well, but its the major thing about Leica that people hate, milking collectors for money with these sometimes awful special editions.  Now there have been a few nice ones but generally they are few and far between.

I understand why Leica had to do all these special editions during their transition to digital as it was one of the few ways in which it brought money into the company when they were struggling to come to grips with the digital photographic age.

Now I feel they should be more selective.

Leica M 60

The Leica M 240 60 special edition announced at Photokina was a stunning special edition.  If I had a spare £12000 it would make a fun camera to use and after a few years of use you could sell it for more then you paid for it.

So Leica, better special editions and less of the trashy.

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Ireland Trip – Castle Ward

Another of the National Trust properties we visited on our recent Ireland trip was Castle Ward.

Castle Ward-2


Close to Strangford there are many walks to enjoy, as well as the grounds and buildings themselves.

Castle Ward

The old laundry is worth a visit though a little challenging to photograph with the low light and high contrast.

Overall through I was pleased with the pictures, is sometimes nice to be limited with a simple Leica and just a couple of lens.

Castle Ward-3

The widest lens I had with me was a 24mm, which on my Leica M8 is closer to 32mm, so the picture below is one of a few stitches I put together.

Castle Ward-4

Its a little wide really for an accurate stitch and it was also handheld but it got the scene in and gives you an idea of the view.

Castle Ward-5



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iMac 5K Announcement


Last Thursday we had another press conference from Apple, this time it was the iPad announcements, we also had a Mac update.

My old 2008 Macbook is getting a little slow now for Photoshop and while ok for light photography use its getting a bit difficult for more advanced work.

Since moving house last year and getting my new office, I am starting to think a nice desktop would be nice rather then a laptop.

With that in mind I have been looking at the Mac Mini’s and the iMac’s.

While the Mac Mini is a good little machine, and I may get one to use as a home server, the graphic limitations would mean it would not last as long as a new MacBook Pro or high end iMac

At the other end of the spectrum is the new MacPro, this for high end graphics and video work is excellent, but for editing still images is overkill.

So that leaves the iMac.  The smaller model is possibly better for my desk, I already have a large NEC Spectraview Reference monitor but it is not user upgradable, thus I would have to buy it maxed out.  The larger 27 inch model is user upgradable for RAM so I could buy the 8 GB version now and upgrade to 32 GB in a few years.

The current models have yet to be upgraded only the new 5K iMac has the new chipset so if I wanted one now that would have to be the one.

People always say never buy a first gen Apple product, now there is some true to that in the second gens are better, but the next version is always better and I have yet to have an issue with a first gen Apple product so that would not put me off.

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National Stockings Day 2014

For the last several years there has been a National Stockings Day, well today is again the day.  This year its to raise money for Breast Cancer Charities.

Here is one of my stocking photographs:


Stockings Day


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Ireland – Mount Stewart

Mount Stewart-4

When Caroline and myself got married, we both had homes, so when it came to wedding gifts there was not much we needed.

Being keen travellers of the United Kingdom we asked for life time memberships of the National Trust and of English Heritage, this enables us to get free access to many fantastic places across England, Wales, Scotland and of course Northern Ireland.

Mount Stewart-3

So when we are on holiday we always look out for NT and English Heritage locations to visit as many are photogenic.

Mount Stewart-2

Here we went to the magnificent Mount Stewart, a place where many current movies have been filmed such as the new Dracula movie.

Mount Stewart


It was a very bright and contrasty day, and without using HDR many of the photographs could not capture the full exposure range, but still even these look good I think.

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