Saturday, October 31, 2009

Highwood River

Part of a 100 megapixel stitch (after cropping), I photographed this at the side of the Highwood River off of highway 541 in southern Alberta. I'd been wondering how to access the river since it all seemed to be private fenced off land - turns out they allow anglers down there - one of my patients is a fisherman.

You can't see the great detail in such a small image but at least click on it to bring it up at 1000 pixels wide.

Friday, October 30, 2009

More On Backup

I have just inventoried my processed images - my keepers if you will - 380 gig of images that I cannot afford to lose (after all they produced two books).

At 15 cents per gig per month, my monthly charge (assuming no access) would be $2 for Jungle Disk, $57 for the storage and extra fees if I upload or access any of my stored files. This amounts to something in the order of under $1000 per year including those upload fees. I can think of a lot of things I can do with $1000 and probably so can you. Certainly one more 1 TB external drive will be around $200, but doesn't automatically back up and disconnect from power and any other connections that could be damaged by a lightning bolt or major power surge.

I do take my image files to the office for off site storage, but do it far less often than I really should. Perhaps I should just cough up.

Now, the vast majority of those images don't get edited month to month - probably fewer than 5% get edited in a year - after all they have taken 6 years of digital work to collect. Put that way, the sensible thing to do would be to back up everything I now have to a hard disk, unplug it and take it off site (as well as keeping local backups with my Drobo). I could then use something like S3 to back up all the new edited images (and any changed images from before) and once a year, put them onto a new hard drive, delete everything at S3 and start over with new edited images yet again.

In 10 years I will have accumulated 10 partially filled off site hard drives but only paying Amazon to store one years worth of images. This way I get automated off site storage (almost no effort on my part) for a modest sum of money (and once a year I have to back up my images to a hard drive. Given that I can back up all my processed iamges to one drive, it probably even makes sense to back up everything to each yearly drive so there is redundancy even in the off side hard drives.

What are you thinking about reliable painless off site backup?

More On Backup

I have just inventoried my processed images - my keepers if you will - 380 gig of images that I cannot afford to lose (after all they produced two books).

At 15 cents per gig per month, my monthly charge (assuming no access) would be $2 for Jungle Disk, $57 for the storage and extra fees if I upload or access any of my stored files. This amounts to something in the order of under $1000 per year including those upload fees. I can think of a lot of things I can do with $1000 and probably so can you. Certainly one more 1 TB external drive will be around $200, but doesn't automatically back up and disconnect from power and any other connections that could be damaged by a lightning bolt or major power surge.

I do take my image files to the office for off site storage, but do it far less often than I really should. Perhaps I should just cough up.

Now, the vast majority of those images don't get edited month to month - probably fewer than 5% get edited in a year - after all they have taken 6 years of digital work to collect. Put that way, the sensible thing to do would be to back up everything I now have to a hard disk, unplug it and take it off site (as well as keeping local backups with my Drobo). I could then use something like S3 to back up all the new edited images (and any changed images from before) and once a year, put them onto a new hard drive, delete everything at S3 and start over with new edited images yet again.

In 10 years I will have accumulated 10 partially filled off site hard drives but only paying Amazon to store one years worth of images. This way I get automated off site storage (almost no effort on my part) for a modest sum of money (and once a year I have to back up my images to a hard drive. Given that I can back up all my processed iamges to one drive, it probably even makes sense to back up everything to each yearly drive so there is redundancy even in the off side hard drives.

What are you thinking about reliable painless off site backup?


Luminous Landscape has an interesting new article on backing up. It is written by Geoff Baehr and he clearly knows what he's talking about. Problem is, he's explained the steps but missed the concept.

A good computer system requires two separate and distinct components - both reliability and backup and I don't think that Geoff made it clear enough which is which.

He talks of redundant arrays using Raid to make sure that data is reliable, but at the same time refers to this as backup. It should not be both.

Reliability means that when your next hard drive fails, how difficult is it going to be and how long is it going to take to get you back up running again. Using Raid 5 or 6, you have the capability to survive a hard drive failure - but of course usually these drives are your data storage drives, not the boot drive which contains your operating system and usually your applications.

Backup has nothing to do with reliability other than that when reliability fails you, that's when you need a backup of your data.

Backups aren't about failing hard drives and redundancy and raid 6 etc.. You don't need any of this because you back up to more than one place, at least one of those places which is then disconnected from your computer and any electrical or other connections so that it isn't subject to power spikes and lightning bolts. If one of the backups is off site, then you are even protected against theft and fire and flood and it doesn't get much better than that.

What it comes down to is how much time are you willing to spend on doing your backups, how long are you willing to wait to restore your system (which often translates into how much money are you going to lose, how many clients are you going to piss off if you can't access your images).

Geoff mentions using Amazon S3 which looks possibly interesting, though at the usual upload speeds of a cable modem, the initial backup could take weeks. He discusses backing up to a hard drive then mailing the hard drive to Amazon but frankly if I have the data on one or more hard drives, why do I need to then mail it - wouldn't it be easier to just store the hard drives at mum's house?

I use a Drobo for backup though Geoff does have a good point about a proprietary storage system which might some day be hard to fix if the company goes away. Still, there are enough people using Drobo's that I suspect that it's going to be accessable for a long time to come. In theory, a Drobo or a raid system is often a mix of both reliability and backup in that the drobo can regenerate the data from any failed drive and maybe even two, which arguably isn't strictly necessary in a backup. I don't believe I can regenerate a boot disk from Drobo because what's sending data to it is Time Machine which doesn't back up absolutely everything.

My next move will be to buy an extra external drive and make a copy of the boot drive via super duper. Mind you, I'm still using a G5 so will have to upgrade that first - just as soon as I have some money.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

New Book News

Well, a milestone, Fed Ex delivered my advance copy of my new book "From Camera To Computer". Bulk shipping to bookstores should take a week or two. I think it looks good but you'll excuse a little bias.

I have posted information on the book to my website. Click on the right book and you will go to the cover image, information on the book and then to a page from which you can download pdf's of Chapter 21 and also the table of contents. Those of you who follow my blog have probably seen almost all the images in the book and even many of the editing steps blog entries and you might wonder what the book can add to the blog. The book is 286 pages long, and contains a lot more detail than was seen in any of the blog entries, along with more tips and suggestions and explanations, and more about the process of working the scene and deciding what needs changed in editing an image.

A huge effort to edit the book by myself, then the new editor, then my original editor has made the book much better to read. In several images previously shown on my blog, I have completely redone the editing steps to result in a stronger image (and shown the difference). Much more care has been taken to explain steps, terms and so on.

For those starting out with Photoshop there is a short primer which covers the essential part of Photoshop - the part that I use in editing. There are brief discussions of stitching and blending for focus and hdr, explaining which methods are best and where. I explain the steps necessary to do good stitching and point out where specialized software does a better job than even Photoshop CS4.

I would not recommend the book to someone who wants help with working the scene, making aesthetic decisions, wanting to know straight forward methods of fixing images and even more importantly improving images. Someone with years of Photoshop experience is unlikely to find the book all that helpful, or at least the editing parts which is half the book. That said, I think a lot of people will find it an entertaining read as I describe my failures and how I worked towards successes, solving the same problems you likely face in your photography.

My original hope for the book was that it would make an interesting read, somewhat like Ansel Adams "Examples, the making of 40 images" upon which this is based, albeit in a digital vein and including colour. Several of the images are black and white and there is a fair amount of discussion about black and white workflow and decision making.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

An Aesthetic Checklist

I don't want to suggest that we can reduce photography to a formula, but just as it doesn't hurt to confirm you have done everything you can technically to capture a good image - it doesn't hurt to quickly review some points to see if you have done your best with the subject in the area of making a strong image as well as a sharp one.

1) does the image show what interested you in the first place? For example, you might be photographing an interesting face. You found the face interesting because of the person's smile - so have you done everything possible to capture that smile - from making the model comfortable to duplicating the angle from which you first saw the smile.
2) is anything interfering with showing what interested you to its best? Perhaps harsh lighting has destroyed the enigmatic smile or a disturbing shadow from the nose creates problems or maybe the angle you have selected to best show the smile has now made the chin look weak. Sure photographs are compromises but they are also puzzles for us to solve - how to get the most of the good with the least of the bad.
3) are there any elements in the image which distract from its simplicity and power? Sure that curve on the right is wonderful, but it doesn't do anything for the shapes which make the image and thus distract from them.
4) have I done everything I can to place the main subject against the background in an effective way. Sure we know not to have trees sticking out of people's heads, but there's a lot more to placement, not just to avoid distractions but to enhance the image - for example, the placement of dark background against light parts of the subject while dark subject has a light background - sometimes in the same image.
5) foreground - does it in fact lead you to the subject or just confuse? Would less depth of field actually be better?
6) edges - is there anything I can do to make them work better, likewise corners?
7) message - what is it and is it being said as clearly as possible - ie. what could I do to make that message clearer - better lighting, adjusted positioning, hdr, focus blending
8) how am I going to treat the image - ie. previsualization - is there anything I can do now that will help that interpretation of the image? It could be contrast management with a fill light or reflector, waiting for a cloud to pass over the sun, an adjustment to the exposure.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

How To Be Lucky

1)photograph often
2) be observant, especially for things that weren't on your agenda for today's shoot
3) don't blow a great shot with technical issues - that's just mickey mouse - get that crap out of the way through lots of practice and careful routines, even check lists and being careful - and if hand holding under borderline conditions, take several shots so at least one will be sharp.
4) give yourself several possible shots to choose from whenever possible - often I find that the penultimate shot that I so carefully positioned and framed is subsequently beaten by an even better shot as I literally and figuratively circle round to where I started, doing a better job on the second go round
5) really work the scene - don't leave until you are sure you have done the best you can
6) arrange as much as possible before the decisive moment so that when it comes you are ready
7) put the extra effort in so you arrive before sunrise, go out in bad weather, etc.
8) have an aesthetic check list too - background ok, light perfect, edges strongly composed, subject best framed, etc.
9) keep your equipment relatively simple so you aren't changing lenses when the perfect situation comes up
10) stop believing in luck - it's all sweat equity, with a few smarts sprinkled in

Monday, October 26, 2009

Making Vs. Improving Your Best Work

A followup to the other ideas of today is the recognization that to make our best work is not the same thing as trying to improve our best work. In the former, we use our strengths to produce the best possible work we can, while in the latter, we work on those areas which most need help. Are you aware of when you do one vs. the other? Perhaps you only ever try to do your best work, never putting much effort into trying to improve your work other than by trying harder - whatever that means.

I could imagine someone suggesting that one of my weaknesses is in putting all my effort into careful compositions instead of finding intrinsically interesting subject matter in the first place.

This would suggest that I put more effort into finding interesting things first and good compositions second. Any time we discuss interesting, it has to be asked - interesting to whom? To be a serious photographer with something to say, I'm absolutely convinced that it has to be interesting to the photographer, that tailoring your subject, style, or technique to suit the viewer is to prostitute yourself. Fine if you are charging $4000/day - for that kind of money I can do a lot of grovelling - but not suitable to someone who professes to be a fine art photographer.

Going With Your Strengths

It might seem obvious that you should photograph subjects and with methods which have been previously successful for you. It would appear that the opposite of the above is to never learn from our experiences and thus never advance as a photographer.

I think it is actually quite common for photographers to not even be aware of their strengths - or to put it another way, the strengths of their images. Sure the bigger problem would appear to be not being aware of their flaws, but in truth we need to work on both.

Both strengths and weaknesses in your images tend to show up when you hold up your work against that of others. This could be in a show, or simply at a camera club, or failing even that connection, holding up your work against what you find in magazines. Far be it for me to suggest you rip up your latest and pristine copy of Lenswork but it might pay to order an extra copy of one or two issues which feature work at least a little bit similar to yours. Remove individual pages and trim them, pin them to the wall next to similar sized images of your own - in other words have your own home show, your work and the published work side by side.

Workshops are an excellent way to get a sense of how your work holds up. Contests are not a good way - a few winners and hundreds if not thousands of "losers" which tells you almost nothing about your work.

Sometimes it's possible to sign up for a critique, or to have someone you respect look at your work, but you aren't looking here for a rating - this is how good your work is - rather you want to determine its strengths and with a bit of effort you should be able to determine these strengths for yourself.

Strengths can take a number of forms, from technical perfection to emotional impact, skills in composition, finding interesting subjects, the richness in your tonalities, the way you get your message across clearly and so on. Don't discount as a strength such simple things as wonderful colour, clever use of shadows, amusing images or simply being informative.

Having identified your strengths, it's time to think about what to do with this information.

Perhaps your strengths point to a particular kind of photography that would best make use of your skill set. Maybe your strengths are such that they apply to all your images, not some subset.Maybe now that you recognize your strengths, you can make them pay off more often. You might literally do an inventory of any scene to see how you could best use your strengths.

By the same token, you have to avoid or preferably overcome your areas of weakness. Do remember though that if you try to improve your strengths, it will take a lot more effort for much less return than if you work on your weakest areas, where there is so much room to improve.

My first book started with a series of articles on assessing your level in photography but in that we lump all your technical or aesthetic skills into one asessment. That concept remains valid but here I am suggesting that knowing the particular strengths (and weaknesses) of your images and yourself as a photographer can be of great help.

Stats And How It Could Influence Our Photography

If we take it as given that a busy and good photographer can make a dozen strong images in a year (as per Ansel Adams comments), it might pay to spend some time reflecting on the circumstances which led to those images. How many of them happened when you simply picked up a camera with no idea of what you were going to shoot, just wandering around some place?

Did you see something worth photographing and ran home for your camera and thus captured one of your best?

What percent were from an organized shoot - I'm going to place A to shoot subject B and I'm going to dedicate several hours if not multiple visits to do so?

Do you know what percent of your best images were made while photographing with someone else - perhaps company stimulates you to perform - or maybe it inhibits you - the answer to the question is quite relevant for planning future shoots.

How similar are your best images? - too much alike, close enough to be the start of a project, totally random, each begging for more work of the same theme?

Next time I'm going to discuss the problem of going with your strengths without simply being repetitive.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


You may want to read what I previously wrote about perfection, but I wanted to expand on the subject.
Perfection 1
Perfection 2
Perfection 3

We may aim for the bulls eye but be happy that we got close. Really, all we need in an image is that the imperfections don't interfere with our enjoyment of the image. One could even make the case for an image being too perfect, shadows so open they look unreal, repetition so perfect you almost itch for just a little imperfection.
In practice, what we really want is for our images to be that little bit more perfect than the ones we have been doing recently- ever improving, strengthening, perfecting.

In order to make our images that little bit better than our current skill set, we are going to have to change something.

One option is simply to spend more time waiting for the perfect image. The difficulty with this is it isn't as much fun, can be very frustrating and besides you end up with fewer good images from which one or two are going to surpass the others - not a sensible option, yet one which many hobby photographers follow.

We could approach this in a logical fashion, carefully analyzing what makes our images less than perfect and working to improve those characteristics - efficient if a bit cold and methodical and not a lot of fun. Probably more sensible than a careful analysis of each image is simply to go with your instinct of the one thing that most obviously weakens an image or even better a series of images and work on that weakness.

How you go about working on your weaknesses depends on what they are. If you aren't sure, then a read of my first book "Take Your Photography To The Next Level" would be a darn good start but if you know what your images lack, then you simply have to come up with a battle plan to improve that.

For some it will be composition, for others tonal quality, or perhaps it's because it isn't clear what the image is trying to say, or perhaps you like to include the kitchen sink in all your compositions, firmly believing that more good stuff is better.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Are You ADD or OCD?

What kind of photographer are you? Do you see yourself as:

careful, methodical, efficient, cautious, organized, logical, productive, do you photograph in logical sequences and steps?

or, are you

spontaneous, thinks outside the box, easily distracted, fascinated by all manner of odd things, risk taking, creative?

In other words, are you attention deficit, or obcessive compulsive?

Some people are strongly one way or another. If you turn the first list into negatives, that's me, disorganized, messy, late, def. not sequential and I tend to go with my gut instincts photographically - it works because it works - I may be able to explain why afterwards but that's not why I'm attracted in the first place.

So, how could knowing your own tendencies help you in your photography? There are probably only a small minority of us who nicely straddle both groups - who are highly organized and efficient, yet spontaneous and creative and so on. In reality most of us lean one way or the other in either our strengths or our weaknessses. This being so, recognizing these will allow us to work on our weaknesses and take advantage of our strengths.

Now, human nature is such that we tend to practice what we are already good at, ignoring those areas where we 'suck', so breaking with tradition and improving those areas where you are weak will reap huge benefits.

For the illogical person, check lists - of equipment - of compositional steps or whatever may be useful. Rearranging so there is a labelled place for everything and insisting that you put everything back in place will help. I know that I am careless about picking up my backpack without checking to see if it's zipped - so I zip it up every time I remove or return something - might explain why I wore out the zipper in my last pack, but anyway, that's how I get around my weakness. It would be handier to leave the backpack open till I'm finished, but a lot harder on the lenses if I pick it up without zipping it (yes, I learned this the hard way).

You may be less familiar with ways in which you can become more spontaneous, creative, thinking non linearly, jumping ahead, thinking outside the box etc. There are books with creative exercises - for example those by Freeman Patterson. There are workshops like those by Jay Maisel and Craig Tanner which specifically encourage being creative and breaking rules and observing and letting yourself see in a non labeling, non judgmental way.

You can easily assign yourself a small project which takes you out of your comfort zone (not another damn landscape, etc.), which forces you to do things differently (like me locking up my tripod), or limiting you to one lens, or one location.

An oft recommended assignment is to photograph in a bathroom. The logical person looks round and sees a series of boring items - a toilet, sink, bathtub. The creative person wonders what it would look like to photograph the water coming out of the tap, at a variety of shutter speeds, or photographing the curve of the toilet bowl with shadow only, or climbs into the tub and photographs the shower curtain from below. They take a bath towel and try placing it in interesting folds, patterns and shapes. They undress, hang their slacks on a hook and photograph the belt hanging down.

The ideal photographer would look at the two lists above and declare that both describe him/her to a tee, but people like that are rare as in many ways the two lists are opposites of each other - like being both tall and short. The trick is to pick up enough of the skills and strategies of the other type of person to help you take advantage of the strengths you already have.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


The paper like bark of the evergreen Arbutus tree in Victoria had peeled back and exposed this interesting pattern.

Through A Fence

Some scrap steel from disabembling some sort of ship along the waterway in Victoria harbour, I was shooting through a chain link fence, hand held, lens hood off so that I could get the lens closer to the mesh (to at least blur it out if not eliminate it). No chance for full depth of field but I quite like the soft background - less distracting - in fact it makes me wonder if I should have used even less depth but then the main angle of steel wouldn't be quite as sharp - always a compromise.

Friday, October 16, 2009

What An Image Is About

The image I showed the other day of the brass door with handle and pink surrounding corrosion raises an interesting point. The apparent subject, some old piece of equipment is really quite uninteresting and were someone to title the image "furnace door with corrosion", you'd really have little reason to want to look at it.

What I think the image is about is PINK. To me that is the subject. The colour is so unexpected and attractive against the bronzy background that the colour becomes the primary subject and where the colour came from is secondary at most.

The interseting question will be whether if you start thinking of it as a "pink" instead of as a door, will it change the way you think about the image.


Not Our Cruise Ship

This tug upstream from the lift bridge crossing Victoria BC's inner harbour had a lovely patina of wear. The back end was rusted and dented and I struggled to make something of the colour and shapes, with no success. The bow on the other hand reflected nicely in the late afternoon sun and a tight cropping eliminated extraneous details (crap).

This old railway trestle crossed the inlet and from my rented kayak I was able to manouver to a suitable position, a very pleasant morning. it was harder than expected to get just the right overlap of logs and I spent about 40 minutes and a good 50 images trying for just the right shot - a lot of work for a simple image, worth while none the less.

Not exactly a new barge, located next to a metal scrap yard. Often you can get some really nice images on brilliantly sunny days with harsh shadows simply by shooting what's in the shade. Care in keeping the sun from the lens is essential. Especially on zoom lenses, the right hood is not enough, and remember that if you are using a lens with full frame coverage on a small sensor camera, the right hood is in fact the wrong hood (because of the image magnifcation factor (1.6 in the case of my 40D)).

I wondered about the placement of the ladder in dead centre, but it seemed somewhat artificial to place it in the one third position just because it's traditional - in the absence of any good reason to be there, it seemed more "right" to place it square on, dead centre.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Images Which Don't Rely On Composition

The following images are all I could find from my own images which do not heavily rely on composition, and even here, in several cases one could argue that there is an arrangement, an organization, a pattern to the elements that is not accidental.

Now it begs the question of whether it is my own bias towards strong composition which made it hard to find images which I feel work yet don't use composition to a huge degree. What is your own experience - how many of your images don't rely heavily on composition.

I note that all of the examples are colour - I could not quickly find a single example of a black and white image of mine which did not strongly rely on composition, though on the face of it, you'd think that tones could replace colours as the main feature of an image - it just doesn't in my images.

When Don't We Need Strong Composition?

Are there any circumstances in which composition isn't necessary and if so, what are they?

I don't think there is any image that couldn't or wouldn't be better if it were strongly composed. That said, there are a number of images in which other factors are more important than careful use of edges, leading lines, interesting use of negative space and so on.

The expression on a naughty child might well far outweigh any benefits from careful composition. In some images, colour is the overwhelmingly important element of the image and everything else comes secondary. A black and white image may have some wonderful tones which don't form any logical pattern or sequence yet are sufficiently strong to make composition of secondary importance.

Whether any of the above images would be even better if in addition to all its strengths it were strongly composed too is uncertain. For sure if you have two images of equal merit in other ways, then I'd select the strongly composed one every time. I can't think of any examples in which a strong composition interfered with the enjoyment of other aspects of an image - though I'd be interested in your thoughts on this. Often though, the circumstances are such that the great colour only comes without composition and if I insisted on strong composition, then the image wouldn't be. In capturing kids, often it's all you can do to catch the moment, never mind the composition, but Cartier Bresson sure managed it - by working on the composition first then waiting for the subject to place them selves just so - a matter of skill and perseverance and organization.


Thursday, October 08, 2009

More On My Second Book And Discussing "Why"

GC Bakker wanted to know if the second book would in fact explain why I make changes rather than be another how to make changes book. Despite all the months writing and editing the book, I had to really think about the correct answer to his question. I certainly did show what to change and some basics on how to change it (but it isn't a photoshop manual, despite the one chapter quickie primer).

It would be easy to toss of a glib answer to the why along the lines of "Well, to make the images better, dude!" but of course that is neither helpful or friendly. I do think that anyone can learn from seeing the changes that I make to my images, but I think the short answer is no, this book does go into great detail about why I make a particular change though where there is a problem, it is often identified as to what the problem is - which is a way of explaining the why, all be it in one sentence. What my book does do is point out the problems and weaknesses and what you can do to improve images well beyond simply fixing them.

I wonder if CG really means why make the changes or does he in fact mean that he would like help knowing what to change. It's fairly easy with image problems to say why a change is needed. Over here is a yellow green tinge on the rocks and it needs fixed. The unwritten but implied "why" is that the change is because the yellow green tinge is unnatractive and doesn't balance the colour of the rocks elsewhere in the image. This is an example of what happens in chapter one.

It is a little harder to explain improvements in areas that already looked ok - or at least they did until you see the improved version. I tend to still talk in terms of there being a problem - needs more contrast, should be lighter, highlights need brightening.

Clearly CG Bakker is going to have to look at the book for him/herself to decide if the book is helpful. A few of the chapters are based on previous blog entries in which I took you through the steps in editing an image - all be it improved and edited - but if you check out the previous Athabasca Falls image discussion, you will find the basis for chapter one, the Bowl of Fruit image for chapter 3, for example. Most of the other chapters are similar.

This has been a complex answer to what seemed like a simple question. I look forward to GC Bakker giving us some feedback and further explanation behind what is meant by "Why".

How Small Should A Travel Camera Be?

I'm just back from Victoria and it seems a good time to discuss what is a good travel camera. What I took was my 40D, 18-55IS and 55-200 IS. I made good use of the full range, occasionally wishing I had wider than 18 - but probably not enough to want to carry an extra lens (and remember you can always stitch - even hand held if you are reasonably careful).
I have just read's review of the Panasonic GF1 which got me to thinking about camera size. No question that the GF1 is significantly smaller than the 40D, but what about the size of a 28-400 mm.(full frame equivalent) kit look like. Yes, that 20 looks small and cute - but no IS and frankly a lens that is smaller than my 18-55IS would not be all that helpful. The Panasonic 45-200 doesn't look all that much smaller than the 55-250 I have and would need an adaptor anyway. Net result is a very small camera would not make for an especially small kit. My case could be one size down but frankly that doesn't really make a difference.

What really happens with camera kits is that things change when there is a quantum jump in storage - from a carry bag to a belt clip on to a rain coat pocket to a shirt pocket.

My wife's Panasonic TZ5 (now replaced by the ZS-3) is shirt pocketable and covers better than the same range. Of course I lose a view finder, manual controls, high ISO, rapid focusing, and the ability to make larger than 11X17 prints. The GF1 will still require an over the shoulder case and two lenses and won't make a fundamental difference to carrying, storing and accessing the camera - so is it worth both the money and the compromises to have such a system? I suspect the answer for me is no. I guess it might be a nice carry around camera when you don't want to have more than one lens and are willing to live with the size of a zoom or the lack of zoom and IS in the 20 mm. lens. For some, that is all they need, it just wouldn't work for me - I'd miss the longer focal lengths.

What have you been thinking about these new small camera, decent size sensor models?

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Victoria B.C.

This image was shot from a kayak - near ideal way to tour the harbour, but I did find that the kayak had to be pointing at the subject, not always easy in wind and current, but a lot steadier than twisting sideways and shooting. Having learned the lesson of multiple exposures when you aren't sure about hand holding, I shot several images of this particular composition. You see it with very little adjustment - the colours were wonderful.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

My Second Book

Book 2 exists as a stapled together version from the printer, so it's real, it will come out - probably mid November. The book is called "From Camera To Computer".

It consists of 23 chapters and a Photoshop Primer, plus introduction and notes on the book, and a small index.

There is a chapter on on people pictures (unlike in my first book which was quite reasonably criticized for being all landscape and industrial. There are travel pictures. There are other chapters on abstracts, sculpture and architecture, manipulations and so on. There are short discussions on stitching and focus blending.

Mostly the book is full of chapters which discuss and illustrate either working the scene and or editing images beyond simply fixing problems.

There are a few tricks, many suggestions and tips, and dozens of example images shown from raw output to final image. There are proof sheets so you can see the failed attempts as well as the successes.

There's a chapter on pairs of images, comparing two somewhat similar images, discussing why one works better than the other.

The book is aimed at enthusiasts who want to make better images, who don't really know how to go about improving images beyond simply fixing things like colour balance and overall brightness and contrast. It's for the person who wants more information about working the scene and looking for solutions to real world problems in image taking.

The book is specifically geared to image editing in Photoshop and the concept of adjustment layers.

Unlike books by commercial photographers for whom a single trick can be applied to one thousand similar images so is worth learning and using, I show you techniques that can be used with all your images.

The photoshop primer shows you the 10% of Photoshop that is needed to edit 100% of your images - making it a practical and relatively painless tool for your image editing.

I plan to put the table of contents as well as a sample chapter up on my website closer to the release date.

My first book has sold 7,400 copies, is into it's second printing, and has been translated into German, Italian, Swedish, Polish, and two different forms of Chinese. none of which has made me rich but it has generated more income than print making ever did. I understand the break even point for a publisher is somewhere around 2000 books sold - guess that's why they were happy to do a second book. Wait till they find out I have an idea for a third book - a topic for another day.

Which Camera Shall I Take?

I'm off to Victoria with my wife for a few days of R&R, but of course I'll take a camera with me. Do I take the 5D2, the 40D or even something pocketable?

The 5D2 isn't sig. larger than the 40D and has wonderful resolution and high ISO performance - but the lenses are so much larger. I'd have to take my 70-200, a 2X converter, and a 24-105 to get the equivalent of my two lens combo for the 40D 18-55 and 55-250.

I could take a traditional tiny sensor consumer grade camera but if we go whale watching, forget them for their poor focus speed. I could use a Panasonic GF1, but by the time you carry lenses that cover the same range as my 40D kit, they aren't a whole lot smaller and besides, I don't have one.

Once before in Victoria I took a Canon S3IS, at the time a decent camera, but could only make 5X7 prints with it - and I made a lovely image at Buchart Gardens that I could have sold many times over had I shot with a decent sized sensor camera. So far, what I have seen of the G11 and S90 test shots suggests that they are not going to be the panacea of a small camera, small zoom, general purpose carry around. My Panasonic FZ50 was decent but not great - great 8X10 prints but not 13X19 - so no, it will have to be the 40D. I think I'll pack my lightweight tripod too, for just in case. Will I regret not having the 5D2 - probably not - the 40D did very well for me in San Francisco and again in Germany and the two lens kit in a sling bag from Tamrac was easy to carry.

I have two batteries, just in case, and the small charger fits in a pocket of the camera bag. I'll probably take along my Epson 2000 both to view images and to back them up - it's a lot smaller than lugging along a lap top for what is supposed to be a holiday.