Camera Batteries

Batteries die or stop holding as much charge, its a fact of life.

While checking my batteries the other week to get ready for a shoot, I noticed that one of my batteries is no longer charging fully, so it was time to buy a new one.

In my lunch break I popped into the local camera shop, London Camera Exchange.  I got an excellent deal from London Camera Exchange, sometimes it pays to have a good relationship with your local camera shop.

Its always a good idea to check your batteries regularly, for example one of my batteries for my Nikon D200 developed a weird fault last year.

The symptoms were odd.  The battery showed full charge but when you used it, it would work fine for two to five frames and then the camera would hang.

On removing the batteries and then putting them back, the camera would again work for a few frames before again hanging.

A similarly odd battery problem occurred to a friend of mine.

He recently purchased a new battery for his Sony NX5, but it would not work, but when the battery was tested in thecamera shop it worked fine in there Sony NX5.  It turned out that he had to update his camera firmware to use the latest batteries.  On updating his firmware the battery worked fine.

Odd things batteries.  So, if you are having strange problems, try a different battery and if your a Sony NX5 user, check your firmware!

Sony NX-5
©Andrew Jordan

A weekend Photo shoot – final planning

I was hoping to get out for a landscape and wildlife shoot this weekend but the weather was not really up to it.

Next Saturday I have a location shoot planned.  The goal is to test a new location and try a few lighting ideas I have that involve in-door and out-door lighting.

I have emailed the model with details and a list of clothes required, the few outfits she does not have she is going to try and get this week, which is very nice of her.  Now I am just completing the prop list and finalising the shot list.

Heres hoping for good weather, as it is intended to be a mix of indoor and outdoor work.  The indoor work will be using full studio flash.  For the outdoor work I will be using fill-in flash.

Later in the week i’ll clean and check over my equipment, ensure the batteries are charged and ensure the location and model are still ready to go.

I am really looking forward to it.  If all goes well with the test, I have a number of plans for the location this summer, but I need a good summers day and may need also to practise my high speed fill in flash techniques.

Thinking of the next bike holiday

Well thats the first full week of work over for the new year.

Work was very busy as usual, and the weather much warmer, it made the commute on the bike quite a delight.  Almost too warm for our winter biking clothes.

We have not planned any bike holiday’s yet this year.  For the last two years our major holidays have been on the bike but this year were planning something a little different.  A week on a remote Scottish Island, we cannot wait.  So over the last few days we have been thinking about long weekend bike breaks.  A nice full days ride, a day of sightseeing and then a ride home.

So where to go?  Well currently thinking of Wales, but North Yorkshire and Northumbria are also on the shortlist.

Immersion in your local landscape

This evening I was catching up on a few blogs, when I came across some wonderful large format Landscapes by William Neill.  Spectacular photographs.  He made quite a interesting point:

“One of the keys to develop depth in your work is to observe, and photograph, a chosen landscape for an extended period. The best opportunity is to explore a local nature preserve that you can return to often, during different seasons and times of day.  Your sense of the place will grow.  The choices you make when photographing will be educated by your knowledge of the local weather, light and topography”

Very true but I have to admit, at least in my area, the local nature reserve while nice is not conductive to great landscape photography.

What made me really laugh out loud (LOL); I later read, he lives in Yellowstone Park!

Some local landscape!

Photographic Goals

Setting photographic goals are a useful exercise.  They encourage you, make you shoot more, and drive you forward, make you a better photographer.

A goal should be challenging, and even if you fail, hopefully you will learn something to make you a better photographer.

Over the last few years my goals have generally been relatively simple.

  • Shoot More Weddings
  • Shoot More Commercial Portraits
  • Shoot More Studio Work.
  • Shoot a Roll of 35mm film
  • Take one good picture a month
  • Take one good picture a day for one month
  • Photograph some wildlife

All very generic, and I think I accomplished all of these well; except for the last.  Have you ever tried to get one good shot a day for a month!  It was hard to get one good picture a month.  In fact 2010 I think was the only year I came close to this.  I got 11 out of 12.

Moose Peterson wrote an interesting piece recently for the BT Journal (The Biological and Technical journal for Wildlife Photographers) and also in his New Year post on his Blog.

This was more about planning for goals, and it made me think about my goals for this year.

Many are going to be the same.

  • Shoot More Studio Work.
  • Shoot a Roll of 35mm film
  • Take one good picture a month
  • Photograph some wildlife
  • Shoot more Medium Format

But again these are all very generic, I feel a bigger challenge coming on.  With that thought I considered some of the great shots I had admired by other photographers.

One in particular by Joe McNally is one I have particularly admired.  Its a Dancer  leaping on the beach.  So one of my main goals this year is to try and produce my own version of this shot.

Joe is a great inspiration, and I greatly admire his portrait photography.  He taught a seminar over here recently in London which unfortunately I was unable to make.  Please Joe, visit again, and not just London.

Monday Morning Commute

Well its a normal week, and were all back at work.

It started as always with the commute on our trusty steed, our BMW R1200GS, the best bike I have yet owned.  Always a joy to ride, and this morning despite the sharp frost the road conditions were fine, a health 2.5ºC, so a spirited ride to work.  What a great way to start the week.

Star Gazing Live – BBC

This was a good week for astronomy.  The BBC had three nightly programs called Stargazing Live.

The second program was of course the highlight, covering the partial solar eclipse that occurred that morning.

I had the opportunity back in 1999 to witness the a total solar eclipse.  It meant getting up early and jumping on the motorcycle for a 300 plus mile ride to catch the eclipse.

They gave some good tips on capturing photographs of the night sky, well worth watching and showing the BBC at its best, entertaining and educational.

Luna Eclipse

I have done some astronomical photography in the past and will post some pictures and techniques in future blog entries.

That fitness kick

Well we hit the gym again last night, Wednesday is Yoga class.  Only the four of us but a good class and a good evening.

Unfortunately I did over do it a bit, combined with the gym session at the weekend left me with an aching back this morning.  Riding a motorcycle with back ache is an interesting experience, luckily the weather was fine with no repeat of yesterdays icy roads and Tuesday snow.

If your getting back into your fitness routine, take care, the Christmas break of no exercise, lots of food and drink means a slow start is best.  Easy to say, not so easy to do.

Yearly Mileage

Today was the first day back at work for us.  As is usual, we commuted on the bike.  It was the first bike ride of the new year so as is traditional with me, I made a note of the mileage on the bikes.

Llagollen

The Honda has reached 58040, so last year we only did 351 miles, at least thats slightly better then the year before when we only rode 282.

Crossing the Ford

The BMW has reached 17660, so last year we did 7513, the year before was 6716.

When we had more time we used to regularly go on long bike rides and weekends away.  It got to the point I was doing 12000 miles a year.  Now we only manage a few weekends out a year plus one big bike holiday, plus the daily commute.

The typical sports bike only manages about 2500 miles a year, while a tourer about 4000, so we are still managing more milage then most bikers.

Today was a bit of a challenge, as we had to face snow covered roads, always fun.

Synchro Daylight or Fill in Flash

No work today, but I did want to do some experimentation with Synchro Daylight.  An old term but basically its when you mix flash and daylight together.  Most people have heard it described as fill in flash, it can also be used with great affect when the flash is the primary source and the sun as the fill-in.

Its something I have used in the past to great affect, and modern hot-shoe electronic flashguns to make it very easy.  But I wanted to have a play around with manual, and trying out the balance flash functionality in my light meter.

Sekonic L 758 Light Meter

I bought the L-758 for its spot meter feature when shooting medium and large format.  But it also has some advance flash features and can show the balance of daylight to flash.

So equipped with a Nikon D200, a Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 and a SB-800 flashgun I ventured outdoors with my flash meter and volunteer model for the day, my very patient wife Caroline.

First a simple portrait with daylight, manual mode.  Easy.  Then the flash set to manual at relatively low power.  The light-meter held by my wife under her chin with the de-fusion dome pointing at the flash gun.

After several attempts and varying the flash power, the meter was only reading the flash component.

I had to commit the ultimate male sin, find the manual and give it a quick read.  Unlike previous meter’s I had set it to the Flash-C, but this actually meant Flash with a cord, not Flash and Continuous light.  The mode that had just the Flash symbol turned out to measure both flash and continuous light.

With the light meter now in the correct mode we tried again, varying the exposure and flash output and reading the balance of daylight to flash from the meter and comparing that to the results seeing what we liked.

It certainly makes judging your exposure when mixing flash and daylight easier and I hope to put it into good practice with a summer beach photo shoot I intend planning.  I just need to find a location, a suitable model and a bit of good weather.

Heres looking forward to summer.

Daylight and Fill in Flash – Model in the summer house