Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Blenheim Christmas light trail

A few quick photos from the Christmas light trail at Blenheim palace:

From the Flickr album here.

Shot using the D610 with standard 50mm f1.8 lens at 6400 asa. That 'river of lava' is actually the waterfall.

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Bradford on Avon

Is a small, attractive town in Wiltshire, about 8 miles from Bath.

We dropped by there for an hour last Sunday, after our very wet Saturday in Bath. It was around 10.30am, the sun was a little patchy, but when it did come through gave a lovely warm light, and we just enjoyed our wander through the town after the previous days miserable weather.

There is also a small Saxon church tucked away in the town (and another ancient church high on a hill that we didn't get to see) and the odd Christian symbol embedded in the local infrastructure.

Some time we'd like to go back, though it's a couple of hours drive to get there.

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Went to Bath last Saturday.

It was a wash out (yeah, I know) with a miserable, wet Saturday and crowds so dense there were parts of the Christmas markets we couldn't actually reach. I did take some pictures of the city but, to be honest, they're dull and grey, however there's more than just a cityscape to a city.

Firstly, Lush had an attractive store assistant standing on a barrel puring bright pink frothy liquid back & forth between 2 jugs. And she was kind enough to smile at me.

Further into the city we walked past this window, stopped & did a double take. I like this photo because there's more than just the surface humour to it, and it was a little more than just a grab-shot.

Marc - I think Dixie would find this funny, if you showed her.

Monday, 5 December 2016

We all need to develop.

I like a variety of image development software, especially when it's free. DXO have just released DXO Optics Pro 9 elite version as a free download with Digitial Camera UK. Sign up for it here:

Why use DXO Optics pro?
When I've used it, the software has given my images a more subtle, less gaudy look than I find instinctive with Lightroom, but also with great sharpness. There's nothing to choose between the capabilities of Lightroom and DXO, but their default settings are different, and the way the sliders work tends to push development in different directions.

Why not use DXO Optics Pro?
Version 8 (that I still have on this computer) was very slow to import folders and build previews, even when accessing the images on a SSD. Also images exported from DXO as DNG and TIFF format files displayed with different tonality in Lightroom when I imported them from the way they looked in DXO. I could deal with that OK and had a correction preset prepared, but my Nikon D610 camera (acquired a year ago now) was too new for version 8, and that killed it for me. However the D610 IS compatible with V9, so I'll probably re-start using it.

Since I'm talking about developing images, there's a couple of things worth mentioning.

Using the Nikon has changed my approach, though not my workflow, when processing images. While image sizes are only a little larger (24 vs 20Mpx) the RAW files are 50% larger, presumably containing more data or with less compression. This means that I can push images a little harder without seeing artifacts from processing, and particularly, means that I see benefits from increased sharpening - anything up to 120 units vs 75 max units for the Sony - is usable. This is partly down to the larger file sizes and possibly also down to the relatively low sharpness/contrast of lower spec Nikon glass. I've never failed to be disappointed by Nikon lenses compared to Sony/Minolta, and while sharp images can be had, it's not something that I can rely on.

The Nikon files themselves don't lend themselves to the bright, punchy images that came naturally from the Sony, which is a double-edged sword. It has reigned back an inclination to 'wind it up to 11' with the sliders, but does mean that if I want bright and punchy, it's easy to end up with something that look bad, rather than looking just a bit too bright.

Other software?

On-one Photo suite is still used, though less these days because the Nikon files don't always respond as well as those from the Sony, though layers can still be useful.The best features in effects are still dynamic contrast, glow, colour enhancer and the vignette tool. The mono conversions are also good, and are very effective as a *digital* mono tool.

Nik Silver Efex is my main mono conversion tool. As with everything its strengths are its great 'film-like' mono conversion quality and powerful tools (that don't always have as much precision as the maker suggests) to re-shape an image. Its weakness is that when pushed too hard for the image it causes really bad halos and can easily be over-used. I did fiddle with the rest of the tools in the suit, but TBH they offered no advantage over anything I already have while still having the halo problem.

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Gospel Bell

Well those 3 months went by quickly!

I've had a lot of things happen to draw me away from photography & stuff since the summer, and it's made a bit of a gap here. One of the more pleasurable things has been to start gigging a couple of times a month with a gospel blues band called Gospel Bell. I play acoustic slide guitar, which is a barely musical form, but complements the music very well.

As a bit of a project I'm documenting the band at the different gigs we do, taking a camera and shooting as opportunity presents itself, usually when I think the song needs a break from my guitar. So there's no crawling around on stage (and no stage) or climbing on speakers, but instead just some shots from where I stand to play or a couple of steps sideways. The band is a collective, and can be as small as about 4 or as large as 10 or 12 depending on availability, although there's a core personnel.

Here are some of my faves so far, but for more have a look at my Flickr album.

All shot with a Nikon D610 and either 50mm f1.8 or 85mm f1.4 lenses.