Back to Photography

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Canon G16 compact camera. It's great to have a quality pocket camera. You never know when opportunities present themselves.
Canon G16 compact camera. It’s great to have a quality pocket camera. You never know when opportunities present themselves.

Following the traumas of the weekend and my Lenscraft website crash, Monday saw me get back to photography. Well talking about photography at least. I was over at the South Manchester Photographic Society giving a presentation on Lightweight Photography and the benefits of using small cameras

The talk went well and seemed to generate a lot of interest from members. My usual test of picking out the Nikon D800 image from two A2 prints (the other was shot on an Olympus EM5) was as inconclusive as ever – no one has ever been able to pick the D800 with a valid reason. But what really stood out for me is the reviews of the prints after the talk. People were genuinely shocked at how good the image quality was from compact cameras when printed at A3, A3+ or even A2. People still don’t view high quality compact cameras as a serious camera with which to create high quality photography.

Providing the tools are good enough a craftsman can work with them. Once the tools achieve the right level, you can produce a masterpiece with them. Improving the tools doesn’t make the masterpiece any better, it just makes the tools easier to work with. Let’s not forget this.

Discount for Topaz Simplify

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Topaz Simplify
Topaz Simplify now with 30% off

I just received an email from Topaz advising they are running a discount promotion on their Simplify software until the end of May. If anyone is thinking of purchasing this please use the code “MAYSIMP” for a 30% discount. If you aren’t aware of Topaz Simplify here is the link to their product page.

Hooray – Lenscraft is Working

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I’m happy to report that the Lenscraft website is now back and running. It’s been a very stressful 48 hours and I want to say thank you for your patience. The only difficulty remaining is that I have lost all the changes and user registrations since Saturday 9th May. If you have registered on or since this date and you find that you’re not recognised you will need to re-register for the site. I do apologise for this but I have no way around the problem.

Hopefully I will soon be able to get back to doing some photography.

Just an Apology

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I am replacing the usual Friday post with an apology for everyone who is having a difficulty logging in to the members area of the Lenscraft website. This isn’t affecting everyone but it is affecting enough people to be a genuine problem.

What’s causing the problem? I don’t honestly know. The membership of the site is managed by a WordPress Plug-in that has a great reputation and that hasn’t changed. In fact Nothing has changed on the site to my knowledge other than a few other plugin’s have updated themselves.

This weekend I will be working hard to trace and correct the problem but I can’t give an estimated time. Please do bear with me. When I switched the website to WordPress it was with the intention of making it easier to maintain, provide more content and a better experience for visitors. I guess learning curve is much steeper than it first appeared.

Update – After several hours with hosting support last night the entire website is a write off and irrecoverable. I am considering options at the moment given even trying to create a fresh installation of WordPress fails. I will post more shortly.

Topaz Detail for Landscape Photographers

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Topaz Detail for Landscape Photographers
Topaz Detail for Landscape Photographers

I’m pleased to announce that my latest book “Topaz Detail for Landscape Photographers” has been published on amazon. The book is very much in the style of my previous releases. It’s concise (around 170 pages), well illustrated (130 screenshots) and geared to helping you understand how to use Topaz Detail effectively. The book covers the entire program and includes three examples which illustrate how you can use Topaz Detail to create quite dramatic improvements to your photography.

You can download the high resolution example images from my Lenscraft website allowing you to follow along with the book. In the Members Area of Lenscraft you will also find supporting videos which you can view without buying the book. And for anyone who hasn’t already purchased Topaz Detail there is a discount coupon code to be used when making a purchase (or you can download a 30 day trial version from the Topaz Labs website). In all, this is a comprehensive package covering a very useful piece of software.

The book is available from amazon priced USD3.99, GBP2.99 or similar in your local currency. Please note that prices may vary slightly due to recently introduced tax rules. For customers in the US and UK the links to the book are shown below.

amazon.com

amazon.co.uk

For customers in other countries please search for “Topaz Detail for Landscape Photographers” on your Amazon website.

If only it had been in focus

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Olympus EM5 converted to Infrared, Samyang 7.5mm Fisheye lens. Post processing in Nik Silver Efex and Analog Efex.
Olympus EM5 converted to Infrared, Samyang 7.5mm Fisheye lens. Post processing in Nik Silver Efex and Analog Efex.

Regular readers may know that I have a 7.5mm Fisheye Lens for my Micro 43 cameras. Whilst it doesn’t get used all that often, it’s a great lens, very well priced and is incredibly well made. If you haven’t seen one check out this link on Amazon (http://amzn.to/1QyJzUJ) and take a close look at the focus scale in the picture of the lens.

This lens is certainly one of the sharpest lenses I have and the depth of field is incredible which you can see from the depth of field scale. With the aperture wide open at f/3.5, I can easily achieve a depth of field from 12 inches to infinity. In fact the depth of field is so great that I tend to forget about it when shooting landscapes. I simply set the aperture to f/5.6, set the focus on infinity and shoot away without bothering to focus any further.

This is a useful approach as the lens is manual focus and you don’t need to worry about zooming in on the back of the camera to check the focus before shooting. And this was my downfall. You see I decided to use the lens on my Infrared camera. What I forgot is that infrared light focuses closer than infinity and this lens doesn’t have any IR focus markings to remind me. What made me feel even sillier is that I was also shooting IR film in my XPan at the same time and using the IR focus scale on that cameras lens.

By the time I realised my mistake most of my shots had been lost. In the end, the one you see here was manually focussed by setting the focus scale to (very spookily) what you see in the amazon picture. If you look at this, although I had been shooting at f/8, there is no way the image would have been in focus when I had the focus set to infinity.

So lesson learned. When shooting infrared using a manual focus lens, focus on the back of the camera and don’t rely on depth of field markings.

In case you’re wondering, the image here did start of in focus but has been deliberately blurred using Nik Analog Efex. You can’t do that when the image is out of focus.

Friday Image No. 51

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Bridge at Chatsworth
Bridge at Chatsworth

This weeks image is another from my walk on Monday where the weather was perfect for Infrared. The image was shot with the EM5 Infrared converted camera. Processing was then caried out using Nik Color Efex, Silver Efex Pro, Analog Efex and then back into Color Efex. It was a bit of an experimentation in all honesty. The print seems to work better than the screen image.

Hope you have a great weekend.