Skye Expedition – Day Six
Day six. The Big One. Any landscape trip to Skye necessitates a dawn shoot at the Old Mano of Storr. It is not a huge distance from the road, but the ascent is hard for all but the fittest. With a camera bag and tripod it is even harder. Add to this the fact the ascent has to be made in total darkness and it is a tough climb. In order to be in position up there an hour before sunrise you need to be leaving the car park at the base about an two and a half to three hours before sunrise. So we left our hotel at 04:30.
Skye Expedition – Day Five
Day five dawned and looked, again, unpromising, but is an example of how the weather up in Scotland can be deceptive. Again the group headed out to shoot the Sligachan river below the Cullin. There was not a star in the sky and the cloud hung low over the ridge. It had the makings of a dead loss. However, the old adage that the "harder I work, the luckier I get" proved true. Very gradually the clouds began to move and the light rose spectacularly. The diligence and effort of the group was rewarded with some great images of the Cullin with the mighty falls of Sligachan in the foreground, and all before breakfast.
Skye Expedition – Day Four
We gathered outside the hotel only to be greeted with murky skies and drizzle but to make the most of what light there was and to get something out of the herculean effort we had put into getting up, we set up to make some images. Rather than work against the conditions and get frustrated with rain on the filters, I suggested the group leave the tripods behind, choose a lens with a tubular lens hood, crank up the ISO and shoot the layers of hills with light emerging through the swirling cloud. The conditions really lent themselves to moody black and white images.
Skye Expedition – Day Three
Yesterday Scotland bit back as it often does. Perhaps it feels the need to just remind us, after a day as good as yesterday, that it is still in charge and we should not get complacent. We awoke to driving rain and very low cloud and this continued throughout the day. Scotland is capable of throwing significant amounts of rain at you and I suppose we shouldn't complain. After all, it is the weather here that goes a long way to forming the land into what it is that makes it so attractive to us as landscape photographers.
Skye Expedition – Day Two
Day two kicked off with everyone meeting in reception at 06:00 and promptly going straight back to bed. This was not a revolt against shooting sunrise, it was in recognition that the driving rain and wind meant that while the sun was going to rise, we were not going to witness it.
So, take two, we met for breakfast at 08:00 and tucked in to the full Scottish. Oh, yes. the VERY full Scottish. Well, you can't concentrate on photography if you are hungry can you?
Skye Expedition – Day One
So, what is a week long photography expedition with me like? Well, this week I am taking a group of six clients up to Rannoch Moor, Glencoe and Skye so I thought, if time allows, I would try and blog to give you a flavour of what a trip like this is like.
The craziness began at 02:00 yesterday. I met with three of the group, Keith, Kevin & John (names haven't been changed to protect the guilty). The reason for the early start? I had the idea that we could squeeze in sunrise at Bamburgh in Northumberland en-route to picking up the rest of the group at Edinburgh airport.
3:2, 1:1, 5:4, 16:9 and so on. When we get a camera it comes complete with an aspect ratio. Indeed, some now come with a switch or menu item to simulate various aspect ratios, but basically our sensor size, film size, glass plate or paper negative gives us our aspect ratio.
And off we go and play with it.
It becomes our frame. The border we work within. It confines our vision and gives structure to our images. In fact, I struggle to think of anything which has a greater overall influence on our compositions than the aspect ratio of our chosen camera. It has a tendency to dictate to us how we compose our images.
Following on from the theme of my last post I wanted to tell you about a conversation I had recently. A photographer asked me recently where I was planning to photograph in the coming months. When I told him he explained how he had no interest in going to those locations because he had already "done them".
On chatting further, it became apparent he viewed locations much like a twitcher views rare birds. As something to be acquired. Ticked off. And once visited to be of no consequence. Been there, done that, what's next? A teenager with a low boredom threshold.
Seeing for Ourselves
I read an unattributed quote recently. The gist of it was this;
"The photographer who is able to look at the work of another, admire it and not be tempted to imitate it has finally begun to mature"
It seems to me there is a lot in this. As photographers, most of us love and seek out the work of others. I spend hours each week looking at photographs. The quality of what I find often amazes me. Some shocks me. A lot is awful, but then that's only my opinion which is only of worth to me, and some makes me smile. I do like images which make me smile.
Adobe announce new Creative Cloud package for photographers
Adobe caused a huge amount of anger, resentment and upset with its surprise announcement some months ago that along with launching its Creative Cloud service it would no longer be releasing any of its Creative Suite products (including Photoshop) in any other format in future. No more downloadable version to own. No more DVD's.
Basically, the Creative Cloud allows you to have any of the Adobe Creative Suite program's installed on your computer and for this 'privilege' you pay a monthly subscription. It was a brave move by Adobe to make this move so decisively. I believe this model is the one all major software manufacturers will want to move us to in order to guarantee cash flow into their coffers.
Why Usability is More Important than Image Quality To Me and Why I Wouldn’t Buy Nikon.
Lets get one thing really clear at the outset. This post is not a Canon verses Nikon post. I am a Canon user and this post will go some way to explaining why, but right from the beginning lets be clear, If image quality is the most important factor to you in camera choice right now, as a DSLR buyer then go right ahead and get yourself a Nikon D800. It is amazing. What you read in the reviews is right about the quality of the files it produces. Here, at last is a DSLR which produces files very (very) close to medium format quality. You will not be disappointed by the images you get from it as regards the way it handles colour, contrast or detail. You will be able to crop into images heavily and still be able to produce wonderful prints. It is a 'game changer'.
New Dropbox Style Cloud Based Service with 20gb Free Space
As followers of my blog are aware, I am a keen backer up of my files and advocate using off site cloud based services, such as Dropox, Skydrive, Googledrive etc.
Each of these companies gives its users a small amount of storage space for free to get them used to using the cloud. They also hope that soon we will want more space and so sign up for their paid service. Here you pay for how much space you require per month.
“With Trees” by Dav Thomas, a Review
In 1961 a very young Bob Dylan recorded "Blowin in the Wind" and within months his life had changed forever. After seeing "With Trees" I have a feeling life won't ever be quite the same for Dav, either.
So here we are in the lull before the storm. I think it's true to say that, outside of UK landscape photography circles, Dav is largely unknown. But amongst us he already has a reputation for quietly doing his own thing with no other purpose than to make beautiful images. If Dav tweets a link to a new image on his website, Twitter goes quiet for a while as we all click to see what he has achieved this time. Then the retweets and plaudits begin, such is his reputation.
Shooting Landscapes Handheld. You Are Joking!
I have written some time ago about my thoughts on working with what you've got. Basically, the premise of my mantra is, if all you have is a 50mm lens, then shoot with it. If its raining, rather than giving you he technicolor sunrise you envisioned, shoot the rain. You get the idea.
Recently, on the day I broke my leg in fact, I had to work to my own maxim.
Limited Edition Prints. Should I Sell Them? Should I Buy Them?
Let me start by saying I don't issue limited edition prints myself. Although some would argue that I sell so few prints they are all, in fact, limited editions. :)
I came across an article this morning commenting on a court case in the US. In the case a very serious collector of limited edition prints by the photographer William Eggleston had complained to the courts because Eggleston (or his estate) had issued a new "limited edition" of a famous print of his, some years after the original edition had sold out. You can read about the case here.
Canon 5d Mk 3 Woes and Why I Heard Music
I have been using the 5d mk2 quite happily for a couple of years and had seen no reason to upgrade when he mk3 was released. I am not one who always has to have the very latest model of everything, unless there is a very good reason for it. Having a go with customers Mk3's showed me it was better made, had a better screen and weather sealing and some nice refinements ergonomically such as the grip shape and position of the depth of field preview button. Nice though these things were, they weren't a huge leap forward and so I contented myself with my faithful mk2's.
Is Pinterest of Value to Photographers?
I have a confession to make. When I first heard of Pinterest I dismissed it quickly as irrelevant. It seemed to me to be a hangout for young women with boards entitled "My Perfect Wedding", "Cute Kittens" and such things. Boards full of images of people too perfect to exist having weddings that would never happen and then live in houses just to perfect for real people. I left within minutes of logging in.
Lessons from Visiting Exhibitions
I have been very fortunate in the last couple of months to visit three landscape photography exhibitions in London. Landscape Photographer of the Year at the National Theatre, the Michael Kenna exhibition at the Chris Beetles Photography Gallery (both now concluded) and the Ansel Adams exhibition which runs until April 2013 at the Royal Observatory Museum, Greenwich.
The one I really want to focus on here is the Adams exhibitions but I'd just like to make a few comments on the Kenna first.
Stay with me back in the dark ages
Don't worry, this isn't going to be one of those blogs where I witter on about the joys of shooting on film. I have also resisted the temptation of January 1st blogs which feature either "my best shots of last year" or "My resolutions for the year ahead".
Rather, I have decided to make an appeal that you ditch a piece of technology (if you have adopted it, of course). What am I on about?
Stand Developing Film
If you follow me on Twitter (@dougchinnery) or Flickr you will know that in addition to shooting on film for my personal creative work, I have also started developing my own black and white film myself.
It costs about £3.50 to have a mono film processed and supplied in negative strips ready to scan into the computer by a commercial firm. Processing the film myself reduces this to just a few pence per roll.
It was recommended to me to start with a simple process called "Stand Developing". This is a basic process which is ideal for beginners before you move on to more standard techniques.
Amazing one day only deal on Adobe Elements 11 on Amazon
This is just a very quick post as I have just found out Amazon are doing a one day deal on Adobe Photoshop Elements 11 today (10.12.12). They have the full official version for £32.97 which is way below half price for a superb piece of software which has almost everything we need as photographers and is a huge saving over the full version of Photoshop. You can check it out HERE - so grab yourself a real bargain.
My back up strategy
It has been a while since I blogged about my backing up strategy and I have made some changes to make my systems more secure, so now seems a good time to update you on how I protect my data.
I regularly have friends and customers who tell me stories of how they have lost prized images, even their entire library, due to equipment failure or theft of their computers which they didn't have backed up. They go pale as they speak about it. Some even break down and cry :)
If your system experienced a complete failure this minute, how much would you lose?
I am featured in a new Craft & Vision eBook
I am very pleased and honoured to say I have been featured in the new Craft & Vision eBook by Andrew S. Gibson entitled "Slow"
The 64 spread book, which is beautifully illustrated with the authors images (as well as mine) is focused on the creative techniques and results that can be had from taking control of your shutter speed and slowing it right down. Andrew is a great writer and very clearly shows exactly how to do this in different ways to achieve different effects and styles of image.
What filters should I buy?
Landscape photographers fall into two camps. Those who like to get things 'right' in camera and, so, use filters to balance exposures, and those who prefer to make two or more exposures on location and then blend them together back in the digital darkroom.
Some will insist one way is 'correct' or better than the other but in reality, it's just a personal choice. I use both methods. When the contrast in brightness between the sky and foreground is really high then I will use the blending option. If the contrast is more manageable, then I prefer to use filters.