The First Snow of the Year

Today in Lincolnshire (UK) we had the first snowfall of the year.   Just the opportunity I was waiting for to try some more macro work.

There were two shots I was particularly after.

First the old favourite, the red berry half covered in snow.
Second some winter flowering Jasmine.

After that whatever caught my fancy.

The equipment needed was fairly straight forward.   A Digital SLR, a macro lens and my macro flash kit. Once setup I was ready to go.

I set the camera to manual and a relatively slow shutter speed 1/80, this together with an aperture of f/22 to give at least some depth of field, always an issue with macro photography. This would also dramatically underexpose the background, giving me nice black none distracting backgrounds. The two flash heads attached to the lens to give illumination to my subject matter and I was ready to get some snowy, wintery images.

Hope you enjoy and please try yourself.  If you do not have a macro lens try an old 50mm standard lens, most will focus pretty closely, use your tripod and a slow shutter speed to get your exposure, use a piece of card to shelter what your shooting from the wind to stop movement.

If your a Canon or Nikon shooter, their respective macro lens are excelent but if the budget cannot stretch that far try the Tamron 90mm f/2.8 Di, a great lens and much cheaper.

Personally if your a Nikon shooter then the combination of the Nikor 105mm f/2.8 and the Nikon R1 Close-Up Speedlight Remote Kit is hard to beat if you have the funds.

A Motorcyclists Camera – a plea to Camera Makers

As a keen motorcyclist and a keen photographer, I often find the two coming together.

Motorcycle trips have taken us all round Great Britain (Scotland, Wales and England), to France, and even as far as Spain. These great trips often present great photographic moments that have to be captured.

Sometimes a basic compact camera or mobile phone camera is not enough. But lugging a digital SLR and a selection of lens is too much. What I want is a small camera with a big high quality sensor, if possible, interchange lens (also small), it also needs to have direct controls for setting shutter speed and aperture, and lastly a high quality view finder, not just a screen on the back which makes composing in bright sunlight near impossible.

Each year camera companies get closer but we are not there yet.
The sigma DP1 was the first that grabbed my attention, it had the big sensor a first for a compact camera.
Then the Olympus PEN, which had interchange lens, and the option for an optical view finder.
Since then the closest has been the Panasonic GF1, with its electronic viewfinder option, I am also waiting for the new Fuji X100, which seems to have the viewfinder right, but does not have interchangeable lens.

I suppose like a lot of photographers, what I want in a small camera was actually solved over 50 years ago. The Leica M range. Unfortunately the M9 is far too expensive to justify as a spare portable camera system, and as a camera system is far too limited for me to give up my Nikon SLR’s and Hasselblad.

Tripods – buy once not several times

I was asked today for some advice about tripods.  This is an area where many amateur photographers go wrong.

Many photographers buy a basic tripod then get frustrated with its limitations and either stop using it or buy a better one.

Its best to just bite the bullet right at the start and spend a reasonable amount on a tripod, budget some more on a good quality head, and then also do not forget brackets for your camera.

For the price of a good quality head, or brackets you can buy a complete tripod system but I would advise against it.  Your just throwing money away.

Thom Hogan wrote one of the best article about tripods you can read it here:

In case you wondered I purchased a Manfrotto 055 Tripod with a Manfrotto Ball Head about twenty years ago.  My head is getting on a bit now and is not as easy to use any more, so I am looking for a replacement that uses the Arca Swiss release system, but the tripod is still going strong.

Apple’s IOS – 4.2 Released today

iPad

Maybe not exciting for Apple iPhone users but a big update for iPad users.  I know a lot of photographers now using the iPad as their in the field back up device.  A great way of backing up and reviewing your images, before getting back to the office or hotel room to process them on your laptop.

IOS 4.2 brings all the advances that the iPhone 4 has to the ipad.  Available to download today.

Update:  Mac Users, don’t feel left out, a Safari update was also released today.

A Macro Walk in a Autumnal Village

Saturday was a bit of a dull wet morning, no studio photography planned so I decided to chance my macro lens.  Pick a pretty local Lincolnshire Village, and have wonder round with my Nikor 105mm f/2.8 macro lens.

I was looking for red berries and dew/frost encrusted spiders webs.  A pleasant walk and while no stunning shots, it was a fun exercise, and a reminder how hard it is to get good macro shots.

Next time when I am being a bit more serious, i’ll pack my tripod and macro flash gear, oh and don’t forget that reflector, or try a piece of white card, you will be amazed the difference it will make, hope to show you soon.

Backups

How many times have your heard that you must backup, and how many of you actually do so.

For that matter, of those that do backup, where do you keep that backup, in the same bag as your laptop so both can be stolen. Up stairs at home, only the one backup? When did you last test it?

Don’t worry I am not about to tell you a heart rending story of lost data, even though I know of people who have.

Just a reminder, disks fail, and we all live digital lives these days with cherished memory’s sat on our hard disks.

Please backup to at least two independent disks, test them regularly and why not leave one at a friends house, or at you office. Just think, if you house was robbed or burnt down and everything was lost, how would you feel if your favourite digital memories were lost forever.

Oh and please remember it’s the BBC UK Children in Need Day today, join in, or help out at an event near you.

Winter Commute and Photo Inspiration

Yesterday morning was the first cold commute of the year. A steady 0°C (32°F) occasionally hitting -0.5° C.  With the wind chill factured in thats about -11°C (12°F), I will definitely be getting out the thermals soon, but until then a pair of silk under-gloves and the heated grips were enough to keep me warm, together with my BMW Rallye 2 Suite.  This will be my second winter in this suite and while expensive I feel its been well worthwhile

While cold it was a beatiful morning, a clear blue sky, golden sunlight and the farmers fields covered in a white frost.  All very beautiful.

This gave me a few ideas for some photo’s.  Mornings like these are always good for inspiration, even a trip to the local park or just go into your garden, can have images worth capturing, a dew and frost encrusted spidersweb, those bright red berries on a bush.  You don’t need an expensive macro lens for this stuff.  Just dig out that old 50mm prime you never use and give it go.

wordpress-http-error-crunching

While uploading photographs to my new blog, I have been having a lot of difficulties.  The files upload but then I get a http error during the crunching stage.  Once uploaded the images cannot be sized, only put up at there original size.

I spent sometime looking at the WordPress help pages but eventually I found the answer here:  Just adding the line

AddType x-mapp-php5 .php

to the top of my .htaccess file, fixed my load problems.   This file is located in the folder you installed your WordPress to on you host server.

Photo Trip to Hartshome Park

Well as I reported from my iPhone the trip went ahead, more of a scouting trip then an actual picture taking trip, but I got the feeling that my picture will work.


View Larger Map
The low sun and dramatic contrast made metering the scene some what challenging but I got some good snaps and hopefully I can go back when the sun is in the right place and the weather provides a little more dramatic interest!

Note the squirrel, I was all setup slow shutter speed to shoot the landscape when behind me on the bridge a squirrel ran across, I just managed to grab a shot.

Photo’s here taken with my D200 and a Nikkor 12-24mm f/4.