A week in Kintyre

A week in KintyreI have had a wonderful week in Kintyre on a workshop with Paul Gallagher of aspect2i. The weather was good for us, though the location we went on morning of 1st May was so windy and cold that I had to retreat to the car before the session finished!

Paul has been going to Kintyre for many years, and knows some great places to go (though time prevented us going to all the locations he knows!). It’s not an area which seems to be as well-known to photographers as many other parts of Scotland.

I’m afraid that the photos I took don’t do the area justice, and there were at least 2 places we went to where I pressed the shutter-release a lot of times, but did not feel the photos justified inclusion here. This was a failure on my part – the others got much better images at all locations than I did. In particular I’m embarrassed to include the photos of the wildlife, as Martin took some really stunning photos of the birds and seals, infinitely better than mine. And it has to be said the others got much more impressive shots of the sea, rocks and waves breaking than I did.

I intended to try some tilt/shift lens work and IR while I was there, which resulted in a decision to take only micro four thirds cameras, namely the GX7, GH3, Pen E-P3 and the IR-converted GH1. It turns out that the tilt/shift adapter that I have will not mount on the OM-D’s (and the G and GH series Panasonics, as the pseudo-prism on these cameras prevents the adapter mounting). Actually I didn’t take any IR photos, so the GH1 was unused. In the end I used the old Pen the most. The GH3 went in preference to the OM-Ds as I did think I might want to shoot some video, though in the end I didn’t. I had started out using the GX7 for everything, but after a couple of days I discovered a dark area on some of the images , and no amount of using the blower brush and trying to relate which photos (lens/aperture etc) identified the problem, so I reverted to the Pen and GH3. It is easy to identify some of the Pen photos as I used the ‘Dramatic Tone’ art filter – yes, it is really rather OTT, but it does sometimes create the mood of the scene. I used the equivalent on the GH3 as well, but this turned out to be something of a disaster. The Olympus cameras seem the only ones with ‘Art filters’ which work in a logical manner – if you shoot RAW (which is what I do), if you select an art filter mode, the camera stores both the RAW image and a JPEG with the filter effect. It only uses program mode (i.e. not aperture priority etc), but you can both shift the program manually to get the aperture or speed you want, and you can adjust the exposure compensation. Almost all the other cameras I have used just refuse to allow a photo to be taken if you have selected RAW mode. The Panasonics seem to compromise on this in a rather undesirable way – if you have selected RAW, you can use an art filter, but only the basic RAW image is recorded – the effect of the filter is visible in camera, and it seems that transferring the image to an iPad retains the filter effect, but loading the image to Lightroom or Aperture looses the filter effect completely. So it seems that with the Panas, if you are going to use the filters, either shoot JPEG or, better, shoot RAW plus JPEG, in which case you get a similar result to Olympus. Providing you know this, and select RAW plus JPEG, the Panas are better than the other makes I have tried, which flatly refuse to use filters even if you select RAW plus JPEG mode! Another problem with the Pana filters though is that although you can do exposure compensation, there does not seem any way to shift the program it uses, which for me usually meant that it used a much higher shutter speed and wider aperture than I wanted. Against this, unlike the Pen, it seems possible to adjust the filter effect to make it stronger or weaker (using the WB control).

Many thanks to Paul for a great workshop and for all his help, and to the Argyll Hotel in Bellochantuy – excellent service and great meals, I would certainly recommend it to anyone looking for somewhere to stay in the area  - and thanks also to the other participants in the workshop for making this such an enjoyable week.

You can find more images from the workshop in the Galleries/Landscape section of this website (links on the right).

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Tilt and Shift

Tilt and Shift

Experimenting with tilt and shift adapter. I didn’t really need it for this shot, and how you position the lamp post is a challenge!

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A week in the Lake District

I had a week in the Lake District at the end of March/beginning of April. The main part of the week was spent at Lakeland Photographic Holidays in Braithwaite, and although it was rather murky (it was the week when visibility and air pollution was a problem in much of England) the weather was good. All that changed on the Saturday and Sunday however, as there was very heavy rain, and this did detract from the infra red workshop I did in Keswick with aspect2i those days.

I’ve put some of the images from the week into the main gallery – use the link to the main gallery on the right, then elect Landscape, or you can just go direct to here.

 

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What a COMPLETE PITA communications are!

It is highly likely that I will have no land line, mobile or internet connection after tomorrow (30th March 2014) – my internet connection has been VERY unreliable for over 10 days, and I have failed to get it sorted so far, so I expect to cancel EVERYTHING on Friday. If you need to contact me, try email to my gmail address, and I may be able to pick this up via computers in the local library, or other public locations. If the worst comes to the worst, as I currently expect it will, I’ll try to get a cheap smartphone to give me limited internet connectivity, and will post the new ‘phone number where appropriate  - sorry, that does not include here!

Mike

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Ater the rant, a RAVE

I’ve always been pragmatic about my camera gear, and that means compromises, and applying the Pareto principle, ie you get 80% of the quality for 20% of the weight and bulk (well, that is overstating the case for cameras, but I hope you get the idea). I loved my half-frame Pen back in the early 1960s, as it was near the image quality of my FF Pentax S1a in many situations. I have far too many camera systems at present, but my favourites have been the original four thirds system, and now micro four thirds. However, I have to say that although I don’t think that many APS-sized sensor cameras are any better than the current generation of micro four thirds cameras, I am overwhelmed by the images I get from the Fujifilm X-E1, and, as of earlier this week, the X-T1. The Image Quality (IQ), and optics of the cameras and lenses I have used (X-E1 and X-T1, 18-55mm, 55-200mm, and 60mm macro), are stunning. I’m not a pixel peeper, so these observations are subjective. These Fujis are not without some drawbacks (name me a camera that does not have any weaknesses), and the X-T1 seems to have both a tendency for holding it to put it in Menu mode, while the buttons on the back are both far too difficult to press when you want to, yet too easy to press accidentally!

Apart from the fact that you can change ISO between shots, digital has long offered better IQ than film did, even at modest ISO. I’m 68 years old, and have been a keen photographer for over 60 years, and I enthusiastically embrace all the improvements that digital has brought in recent years.

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Robin singing

Robin singing

Lots of interesting captive animals, reptiles and birds to see at Dudley Zoo, and in good conditions, with an important aspect of conservation throughout what they do there. But this is an entirely free and wild robin on the wooded hillside (the Zoo was created on the hill around Dudley Castle). The food put out for the various animals etc also provides for the local wild birds and animals.

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Ghost Busters!

Robin singing, and Ghost Busters!

I went to Dudley Zoo in the morning, but on the way home through Priory Park I found the Ghost Busters scene being photographed by the press – publicity for Priory Hall for weddings, and also wedding organisers. Dudley’s Mayor, Alan Finch, was once again working very hard to support not only Dudley, but his (and my) area. Many thanks Alan (or should I say Mr Mayor, though for someone of my age that term brings back Larry the Lamb on BBC radio!).

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