Russian GP – apologies yet again

What a boring race – mostly a procession. Rosberg drove a storming race to recover from the HUGE mistake he made on the first lap, credit for the drive and keeping his tyres alive, but for me cancelled out by the original major error. Lewis was just able to drive around in cruise mode!

Bottas drove a great race, as did Button, but the Mercedes cars are just so much faster this year.

Three races to go, but there is this really obscene situation that this year the final race has double points. I want to say this now, before it may affect the final result, whoever came up with this formula of double points for one race has nothing to do with the sport; it may make the result uncertain longer, but if it actually changes the WDC result it will be a travesty. Personally I’ll regard the final result of the championship as being decided by the result of all races have the same number of points available, and if the grotesque marketing ploy of double points for the last race (regardless of where it is, whether it is a particularly challenging circuit etc), I think I will stop following F1 (and I’ve followed it for over 60 years).

Personally I also found it objectionable that Putin and his entourage were on the podium – they seemed to arrive late, and they needed direction up to the last moment as to whom they should be giving the awards to. It’s not just a question of how you feel about their politics, but they seemed to have almost zero understanding of motor sport.

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Sorry – F1 again

Just watched this Murray Walker video – I wasn’t a great fan of Murray as a commentator, but listening to him (at age 90!), I can understand better now how he did the job (he regarded himself as an entertainer). I have to say that at the time I was a Prost supporter when the very acrimoniously rivalry v Senna was at it’s height, so I find Murray’s comments on this (compared with the popular adulation of Senna) reassuring i.e. I wasn’t the only person who felt this way… bc

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Japanese Grand Prix

Nothing to do with digital photography of course, but I’ve been a follower of Formula 1 for 60 years or so. In the early days, so many drivers died each year, and the improvements to F1 car safety have been remarkable recently. But today saw a horrible accident involving Jules Bianchi, which should make all F1 followers much more aware of how dangerous the sport is.

Tragic – I hope that he recovers fully, and that early signs are not as bad as they sound (posted at around 12:30 pm on 5th October). It occurs to me (and others) that any track-side vehicles, especially recovery vehicles, should be designed to reduce the possible impact of an accident like this – ‘industrial/agricultural’ vehicles like the one involved this time seem normal, and I don’t think I have ever seen a recovery vehicle which seems designed for safe use in these circumstances. Perhaps marshals and others who may have to go on track should be better protected too? I found the images of some photographers alongside the cars during pit-lane restarts quite worrying as well.

Of course, the late start meant that light was getting worse towards the end of that race, though the fact that the weather was already forecast to be worse later in the day is also an issue. Timing of the event (and the apparent unwillingness to modify it when the weather situation became clear) was perhaps influenced by the media, and their audience, so moving the start to an earlier time would not just have ‘inconvenienced’ local fans who weren’t expecting it, but also the all-powerful media and their audience (ie you and me).

Let’s just hope that Jules recovers, and that more lessons are learnt, and action is taken, as a result of this. The cars themselves are so much safer than in the past (as a 68 year old I remember when several drivers died each year), but FIA need to think more beyond car safety.

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A week at Kintail and Skye in September 2014

2014-09-02 Loch Duich

At the beginning of September I had an excellent holiday in Scotland, the first few days based in Kintail and the remainder at Portree on Skye. This was a photographic workshop with Lee Frost of Photo Adventures, assisted by Duncan McEwan. The weather was generally kind and I managed to capture over 2500 images (admitted many of these were RAW plus JPEG, so the ‘real’ number is probably nearer 1500, but still a very productive week). Breathing problems did limit my activity somewhat, and there were a few locations which the group went to which either I could not go too, or my movement was limited.

I only used two cameras during the week, the Fujifilm X-T1 (nearly entirely with the new 18-135mm lens) and the Olympus E-M1 (usually with the 14-150mm lens). Unfortunately the remote cable release of the Olympus stopped working on the first day, and after borrowing another release from one of the others I confirmed the bad news that it was not the release that was faulty, but the camera. Although this was inconvenient I managed to continue using the camera with either the delayed action or firing it using the iPhone and WiFi. On my return the camera went back to Olympus, who repaired it quite quickly and free of charge, and on top of this it now has the new version 2 firmware, which adds an excellent tethered shooting option and several other useful improvements.

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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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