2015 progress – and is Lightroom REALLY non-destructive

I’m happy to say that the Photo Diary section of the web site (see the link in the list on the right) is now nearly up to date, and I hope to keep it that way!

I’ve been a Lightroom user since the first public beta, which was originally Mac only. It certainly does not change the original RAW image, but I think that in some respects the description of it as a non-destructive image editor is misleading. True, the original image is unchanged, BUT all the subsequent changes take place in a linear fashion – you can go back to previous stages of the edit, but ALL the subsequent edits are lost. Layers in Photoshop allow you to remove LAYER edits without affecting other layers (though if you are not careful, PS will sometimes apply destructive edits). Apple’s Aperture (now discontinued, but on sale before LR, and arguably it provoked Adobe to release something that might never otherwise have been launched) did allow really non-destructive edits, and used ‘layers’ (blocks/bricks as I recall?) to modify a RAW image, so that if there was one stage of your edit you wanted to delete or modify, without affecting other later edits, you could do this just by removing the ‘offending’ block/brick. Capture One seems to allow this too. Personally I really value the ability to remove or edit a previous edit without removing other edits that have been done later chronologically, and much as I have used LR, and like its image management facilities, I’m less a bit less than happy with how it handles image manipulation.  I don’t expect any change in this respect to LR, as it would be a ***HUGE*** change in the organisation/structure/operation of the program.

Posted in Uncategorized

Photo plans for 2015

I’ve been posting images on Flickr and Blipfoto (a one photo per day, every day project) for quite a while, and trying to do this and maintain this Photo Diary has been too much. Hence very little has be posted here of late.

But the Blipfoto project, which started as a challenge, really has become a chore now – rather like the description of golf as a good walk spoilt (Mark Twain) – I really enjoy my photography, but the need to take, process and post one, and only (post) one each day is a pain – some days I shoots several reasonable photos, other days I just post something to Blip for the sake of it. Plus it tends to mean I don’t spend as much time on other images, learning, or just having a life as I would wish.

So I plan to use this web site more, and the specifically the Photo Diary. The fact that no one but me will access it may well be an advantage!

I’ll start by posting, belatedly, a few images in the Photo Diary from earlier this year – the ones I’m posting today were taken on 1-8 January. I’ll play catch-up for a couple more days, then try to get back to posting as and when I have some reasonable images, and post more than one on those days which seem to merit it, and none on some other days.

Posted in Uncategorized

My photographic year, 2014 – Part 2

Part 2 of the report on my photographic year concentrates on the equipment – cameras, lenses, accessories, computers and software.

As in previous years I’ve used Lightroom to look at the statistics regarding the cameras and lenses I’ve used most in the year. So far this year I have 13671 photographs – rather inflated by the fact that when I use ‘art filter’ settings on the Olympus cameras I shoot both a RAW and a JPEG image, and I’ve also done a couple of time lapses. The health problems I mentioned in Part 1 have of course reduced the number from what I would otherwise have taken – for example I’ve not been to Dudley Zoo at all in the last 6 months, and I’ve been to the Black Country Living Museum probably less than half as many times as I would have gone otherwise.

The single camera which was used for most images was the Olympus OM-D E-M1, with 3254, and the figure rises to 5445 if the E-M5 and E-P3 are included. Next comes the Panasonic GX7 at 1009, which rises to 2434 if the other Panasonics are included. The GH models did not score very highly, as they tend to be used for video rather than stills, and the LX100, bought at a good price as late as Cyber Monday, managed a very creditable 249.  I’m very impressed by the LX100 – small enough to regard as a P&S, but with a four thirds sensor and a really excellent lens. I’m finding the rather short longest focal length much less of a problem in general use than I expected, and the 24mm equivalent at the wide end is coming in useful.


The other reasonably high scoring cameras were the Fuji X-E1 and X-T1, which managed 1738 between them – the X-T1 arrived a quarter of the way through the year.

In terms of how much I enjoy using the different cameras, I think that it is difficult to choose between the E-M5 and the X-T1. The touch screen and size/weight of the camera incline me to favour the E-M5, but it lacks wireless and tethering options,  while the X-T1 has beautiful controls and excellent glass, but no touch screen, and the buttons surrounding the rear control wheel are definitely too recessed – the opposite of the usual problem with cameras where these buttons are too easy to press, and can completely change the cameras settings without the user being aware of it. It is particularly odd that Fuji did this on a camera where these buttons are used almost exclusively to move the focus point, and a good array of separate buttons are provided for controlling other settings. Neither of these cameras is very good for video, so the Panasonic GH4 is the camera of choice if that is what I need or may need to shoot. The new LX100 is very impressive, though of course lacking at the telephoto end of the lens range, and, unlike the Fuji, it is FAR too easy to accidentally rest the thumb on the rear controls, resulting in accidental major changes to the camera settings. It also fooled me for a while when I must have apparently pressed the ia button, and lost almost all manual control. A suggestion to Panasonic – a firmware option which will allow the ia button to be disabled, or set to some other function, or to have the rear control buttons disabled unless the ia button is also held down!

The lenses I used by far the most were the Olympus 14-150mm and the Panasonic equivalent 14-140 mm – 4319 pictures between them. They are so convenient to use – no need to mess around changing lenses all the time, risking dust getting into the camera, and although they aren’t particularly fast in terms of aperture, and the image quality is not the ultimate, they are more than adequate for most of my work. Surprisingly 14-42mm lenses were used for over 1000 pictures – probably mostly on the E-P3 when I used it as a P&S camera. The 18-55 on the Fujis came next at 743. The prime lens I used most was the Olympus 60mm macro.

2014 has not been such a good year in terms of reliability of photographic equipment. The X-T1 was a very early model (bought at the Photography Show), and it turned out that it had the light leak problem. Fuji (unlike some other camera manufacturers!) immediately put up their had when people reported this issue, and offered an immediate repair – very fast turnaround. The E-M1 suffered a problem which meant that the remote cable release would not work, and had to be returned to Olympus. Again the turnaround was very fast – it involved a main board and seal replacement. A few weeks later some marks  appeared on the images from the E-M1, and a blower had no effect. As the Olympus floats the sensor this was NOT a job to try a swab on!, so it went back to Olympus again. I got it back almost by return post, with the sensor cleaned, and no charge. The final equipment problem occurred just a few days ago – the diaphragm of my old 20mm Nikon lens (bought when I had the D100, and they did no have any of the 18mm-to-you-name-it lenses, just the 24-85mm zoom, which was limiting at the wide end) stopped working. This lens is actually potentially quite useful, as I have a tilt-shift adapter which allows me to use it on some micro four thirds bodies (unfortunately the adapter won’t go on the cameras with the pseudo prism housing).  I’m not sure what I am going to do about this, as any repair is likely to be frighteningly expensive, and with the builders still at work here I am broke!

On the computer side, I still mostly use Macs, and the same ones that I have had for the last 2.5 years or more (the oldest has a Power PC processor!). One has had an upgrade to a SSD and 16G of memory – fortunately or otherwise I invested in this upgrade just before all the remaining available money was spent on the house. I also added another couple of 2T external hard drives earlier in the year. One of my file servers, which runs Linux, actually dates from the last century (I don’t use either of the file servers on a regular basis).

Software has not seen many changes either – the vast majority of my image management and processing is still done in Lightroom, with a few images going out to Photoshop and rather more to Silver Efex for additional processing. I continued to use Aperture for some images until Apple announced they were abandoning it, at which point I stopped using it altogether. I could have been very angry about Apple doing this if I had only been using Aperture, but as it is I have lost almost nothing. In November I started experimenting with Capture 1, partly because many people rate it better than Adobe for handling images from the Fuji X sensors. I quite like it, and, like Aperture, I find I prefer the processing results to Lightroom sometimes. However, I do still find LR more convenient for managing images, and Capture 1 is much slower to support some new cameras (eg the LX100) than LR. Lens support is also very limited – and furthermore, it does not appear to apply any camera-related lens corrections either to RAW images.

Posted in Uncategorized

My photographic year, 2014 – Part 1

Firstly, I should apologise for the very infrequent posts here. I do post more regularly in several other places, and unless I have anything which might be even remotely of interest to anyone else, I prefer to keep quiet!

Part 1 is going to about my photography during the year, and part 2, in a couple of days time, will be about the equipment – cameras, lenses, computers and software.

I’ve had three really great week-long photographic holidays this year, the first with Lakeland Photographic Holidays (LPH – I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been there), the second with aspect2i and the last with Photo Adventures (Lee Frost, and for this holiday the brilliant Duncan McEwan).

All of these were absolutely excellent weeks, but in mid-June I was walking into town for an appointment with the dentist, and suddenly felt very short of breath; I managed another 50m and then had to sit down on a wall and phone the dentist to say I wouldn’t be able to get there. Since then I’ve been in the same state if I try to walk more than a hundred metres. I’ve seen the doctor 3 times, asthma nurse 3 times, specialist twice, had 2 chest X Rays, a CT scan and 3 blood tests. I’ve had various inhalers and other medication, but things haven’t got better, and this means that walking and cycling are a real problem, and so therefore is photography. My visits to the BCLM now have to be by car, and the other local favourite, Dudley Zoo, has become impossible, as it is not easy to get to the entrance, and the Zoo is on a hill, which is now beyond me.

I’m very frustrated by this, but count myself relatively lucky, but it has really restricted my photography in the second half of the year.

So far I have managed to do a Blip on all but two days of the year, but many of these are really just ’emergency’ Blips, with no real merit, and as the photos are so mundane I’ve not posted as many on Flickr as previously.

Still, photography remains my main hobby (for something like the 62nd year), and I enjoy doing it, and especially learning from experience and the on-line workshops that are now available.

Part 2 on the equipment should follow before or on 1st January 2015.

So, photo holidays in 2015? I booked the Limited Walking holiday early in 2015 with LPH, and another (normal) one with them later in the year. The annual Photo Adventures workshop in Scotland with Duncan McEwan is unfortunately a non-starter for me – no car access, more walking, and I cannot cope with shared accommodation (I worry that if I toss and turn I will disturb others, which means I get very stressed and cannot sleep at all). Given the horrendous cost of the recent work on my house, this should be plenty for 2015 – but John and Gail Gravett of LPH plan that 2015 will be their last year, so I don’t know what I might do after that.

You can see some of my images from the year in the gallery section of the web site.

Posted in Uncategorized

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.

Posted in Uncategorized

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…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9vgM1OM-X7s&feature=youtu.be&app=desktop bc

Posted in Uncategorized

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.

Posted in Uncategorized