I was out at Bamford Edge last night with a friend. It’s somewhere that I have wanted to photograph for a long time. Despite living only 50 minutes away and walking regularly in the area, I have never been. But with the heather being out, I couldn’t miss the opportunity.
In all honesty, I wasn’t expecting much. I’ve only ever seen one shot from the area which is usually at sunset looking over to Ladybower Reservoir. But what a surprise and what a great location this is. I could have spent many more hours up there except that it went dark. I’m definitely going to be returning.
On reviewing my images, I decided I’m not going to share the usual view. Instead I have this one looking in the opposite direction.
I hope you have a great weekend. I’m off to photograph more heather.
If you’re a regular follower of this blog, you will have noticed there wasn’t a Friday Image last week. This is because I was in Amsterdam for a short break with my wife where we also met up with our daughter, her husband and our grandson. We returned on Saturday and I headed over to Spurn Point with a friend on Sunday.
As a lot of readers won’t be familiar with the area I should explain. On the North East coast of the UK we have the large city and port of Hull. If you travel through Hull and out to the end of the Humber Estuary you will come to Spurn Point, which is a tidal sand island. There isn’t much there except a lighthouse, Lifeboat Station and this old water tower.
Our intention had been to shoot some of the sea defences there. The weather had forecast cloudy and we thought it sounded promising. Unfortunately, the forecast was wrong. The sky was clear blue with the exception of a few wispy clouds on the horizon. The sea defences will be worth shooting in the future but not in the conditions we had.
When I spotted this water tower I could immediately see the potential for converting it to mono. What surprised me thought was that the colour version is quite nice.
I also need to admit to something as a few of you will spot this and ask questions. I have bought another Nikon D800. The camera was an absolute bargain; it looks like new and has only a few thousand on the shutter count.
The last time I bought a D800 I hated it and sold it 4 months later. This time, I’m really enjoying it. The difference seems to be the lenses I bought. One of the lenses is a 24-120mm f/4.0 which this image was captured with. With this on the camera, I’m finding it a pleasure to use. It also has VR which allows me to shoot at surprisingly slow shutter speeds. This is never going to be my main camera (I like the Fuji X-T2 too much) but it’s very impressive and the results are excellent.
I’m going to start with an apology for not posting earlier in the week. Firstly, I’m trying to finalise my latest book and it’s taking longer than expected. Secondly, I still haven’t recovered my image library on the Drobo.
What’s interesting though is that with the ongoing Drobo saga, I have received a few comments and a lot of email from people saying they won’t buy a Drobo because of this. So, I need to set the record straight. This isn’t a fault with my Drobo and I would still go out and buy a new one tomorrow if I needed to.
Let me explain what’s gone wrong as it may help some readers.
My Drobo was formatted using something called the Windows NTFS format. When I bought it, I only used a Windows PC and the NTFS format was the only realistic option. When I switched to using a Mac, I had too many images to reformat the Drobo, so it continued to use NTFS. What corrupted on Drobo’s disks was something called the Master File Table or MFT. This is the thing that keeps track of all the files on the disk. If it corrupts, you lose track of all your files. They are still on the disk but effectively invisible.
Something that you may not have realised is that it’s virtually impossible to repair a corrupt MFT, which is why there is a mirror copy also held on the drive. This all happens automatically behind the scenes and the only time it’s ever used is if you run Chkdsk in Windows to repair your drive. But if the mirror copy is also corrupt (which can easily happen) it’s bye-bye data. This is what happened to me and it can happen to any drive formatted using Windows NTFS. This is not related to the Drobo design.
So, what caused the MFT corruption?
It was nothing more than the Drobo loosing connection to the Mac whilst data was being written to it. If you aren’t familiar with the Mac, you need to eject any drive before removing it. This ensures all data has been correctly written to the drive before it’s disconnected. Thinking about it, you should also be ejecting drives on a Windows PC or you run the same risk.
So why did the Drobo loose it’s connection to the Mac?
The Mac had something called a Kernel Panic which caused it to crash. That’s why the Drobo lost connection whilst data was being copied to it. And yes, the same thing can happen on a PC; it’s called the Windows Blue Screen of Death.
Tracing the root cause of a Kernel Panic is much more difficult as it can be hardware or software related. In my case I traced the problem to a faulty USB port in a USB Hub I was using. When I tested the port by reading a memory card, I found it would sometimes drop the connection to the Mac.
Initially I was confident the faulty USB port was the source of the problem, but it doesn’t appear it’s the only source. There appears to be something else going wrong as my Mac is still crashing from time to time. This happens whilst I’m trying to copy data from a backup drive to the Drobo. Initially all is well but after around 30-45 minutes the Mac will Crash. After that it crashes more frequently. As there was only a Drobo and it was directly attached to the Mac when this happened, I thought it must be related.
I decided to check the disks using the Drobo tools and they were all reported as being healthy. But, for some reason I decided to pop the front of the Drobo and look at the actual drives. Ultimately, I found that two of the disk drives (the two very old ones) are heating up and one of them becomes very hot to touch. Whilst the drives are cold the Mac is fine but when these drives become very hot the Mac crashes. This seems a little too much of a coincidence.
I’m going to replace the two problem disks in the Drobo and hopefully it will solve the problem. Ultimately, I don’t believe the Drobo is at fault in the slightest here.
As for the image, this is one of the images that I recovered from the crash. These rocks are on Froggatt Edge in the Peak District. As soon as I saw them I could imagine a black and white image. What haven’t yet been able to do is create the image in my head. Hopefully with more time I will be able to. Until then, I hope you like this version.
It’s been four days since my image library storage corrupted and the data recovery software is still running. To be completely honest I wasted two days switching between different data recovery solutions because I thought they were too slow. The current one has been running for 48 hours and is 59% complete. I think this is going to be a long job.
Whilst I’m in limbo waiting for the results of the scan, I did remember the above image.
This was shot on a Nikon D800 and was shot to produce a silhouette of the three people sat on the rock. It was only once I got the RAW file into Lightroom that I realised I had huge flexibility to recover the shadow detail. With a few selective adjustments, I found I could reveal lots of detail in areas that I thought were black and with very little noise.
Last night I ventured out with a good friend to shoot Froggatt Edge in the Peak District. In all honesty, I never have any luck shooting sunsets in the Peak District. Typically, the cloud will close in at the last minute and the sunset is lost.
But this friend seems to be one of the luckiest photographers I know. Every time he goes out with a camera he has good light. And last night was no exception as you can see from the image. We were treated to a truly spectacular sunset. It was also refreshing to see a group of youngsters sat on top of the rocks on the right. They had driven over to the area and walked up on the edge just to sit and watch the sunset.
I hope you like the photo and have an equally spectacular weekend.
Back in 2014 I had an ill-fated fling with a Nikon D800 camera, which I wrote about in this blog. It seemed that no matter what I did, I couldn’t shoot decent images with that camera and I disliked using it. Perhaps it takes a few years to get over something like that, but now I’m finding a few hidden gems in the old RAW files.
This image is two shots with the D800 that have been stitched together in Lightroom and then processed using Alien Skin Exposure X3. The processing applied in Exposure X3 used the Kodak Ektar film simulation. I then opened the shadows and cooled the image very slightly using the Exposure X3 controls.
What you may not notice in this image is the remains of the old packhorse bridge on the right of the image. This has been incorporated into the road bridge which covers it. If you didn’t climb down to the river you would never know it was there.
What I don’t like about the image is that the foreground rock on the right is soft because I didn’t have enough depth of field. Why? Because the lenses I was trying to use with this camera were poor quality and suffered from diffraction when stopped down Because of this I tended not to stop them down.
This image by the way was the final shot I took with the D800 before selling it.
Alien Skin Exposure X3 30% Sale
Whilst I was writing this post, an email popped into my in-box. Alien Skin are having a 25th Anniversary Sale with 30% off their products, including Exposure X3. Here’s a link to their blog announcement. But be fast if you want to take advantage, I think the 5th June (today) is the final day of the sale.
I would like to start this blog post with an apology. It’s taken me far too long to publish my first thoughts about the D800 and how it compares to the Olympus EM5. But there is a reason for this in that I have wanted to get used to the D800 given that it’s a new camera. It usually takes me a number of outings to begin to understand a camera and then quite a few more to start producing work that I am pleased with.
I have now had exactly three outings with the D800 and I feel that I am starting to understand it and get “the feel of the camera”. Despite this I c
an’t keep you all waiting any longer so I will start to discuss my findings. First though I should outline the equipment that I have been using and the technique I have adopted when using the D800.
As you may be aware I purchased the D800 used as it was an absolute bargain. I also purchased two lenses to use with the camera:
Nikkor 24-85 f/2.8-4D IF
Nikkor 18-35 f3.5-4.5G ED
Neither of these lenses are the top rated in their category but they are more reasonably priced than the pro lenses. Price wise they compare with the lenses I use on my Olympus EM5 for similar focal lengths although the 12-40mm Olympus is a little more costly than the Nikkor 24-85. Of the two Nikkor lenses the 18-35 is sharper and produces better results although you do need to be peeping at those pixels in 100% magnification to notice.
In terms of using the D800, I have been shooting almost entirely with the camera mounted on a heavy Manfrotto 055CL which is one hell of a sturdy and robust tripod. I have also been using a cable release to minimise vibration. When shooting landscapes I have been using 100mm Lee ND Grad filters.
My mode of operation with the D800 on the tripod is to shoot in Live View and with the lens set to manual focus. Using this I will select the point of focus, zoom in to 100% magnification then focus the lens manually. I have found this will provide a better and more reliable result than relying on the camera’s auto focus system. A couple of observations I would make here are:
You need to use Live View in order to gain the flexibility of the focus point positioning. Only in live view can you position this anywhere in the frame. If you are using the optical viewfinder you will be limited by the cameras autofocus points. This is rather annoying as these points don’t extend sufficiently into the frame to obtain the best focussing.
When shooting in this way you need to remember to close the rear curtain on the viewfinder or you will get exposure problems as you can see from the image here. The light leak look is quite appealing but I don’t want it on every frame.
So now you know a little about how I am working with the D800, my next post on the subject will start to compare some of the factors such as image quality. I would also like to make this quite interactive so if anyone reading this has a comparison characteristic they would like to know about, just ask.
As a parting comment, I would like to point out that the EM5 is far more forgiving as a camera than the D800. I can use it hand held at ridiculously slow shutter speeds and still achieve a very sharp image. I can also work with it in very flexible and creative ways where with the D800 I am fighting with the tripod for most of the time. This has cut my shooting rate to about 1/10 of the EM5.