Author Archive

Author

I’ve written about 10 books on digital photography, the latest two being published in 2014, but unlike most authors of books on the topic I didn’t start my writing career as a photographer or even as a graphic artist.

In fact I got into this in 2003 after I had bought my first digital camera, a Nikon D100, and mentioned it on my blog. It was a time when DSLRs were coming of age, so this led to the opportunity to write my first book on digital black and white, and I’ve written 3 other books on that subject.

Before then I had been a “suit” and photography had been just a hobby. I loved darkroom printing, but I could see the direction things were going and my career had taken me to the printing press manufacturers Heidelberg where I had been familiar with Photoshop since about 1990. So I built my digital skills gradually using a “wet and dry” practice of scanning negatives and slides.

Advanced Digital Black and White Photography is probably my favourite. Partly that’s because I know it had more…

Consultant

To destroy any artistic credibility I may possess, my murky past does contain many years as a spreadsheet warrior, a chartered accountant in fact. Eventually working spreadsheets actually allowed me to start digging my way out of that career. Learning how to program and automate Excel eventually led me to financial IT consulting and implementing big accounting systems, OLAP cubes and “business intelligence”, migrating databases. Surprising enough, to some people, these skills and aptitudes lend themselves to managing lots of photos and the field of  “digital asset management”, improving clients’ Lightroom productivity, and designing web sites. But after 25 years, I do know Photoshop pretty well too.

Most of my Lightroom material is now over at http://lightroomsolutions.com/.

Grange Crags #2016top3 3/3 – Grange Crags

The third of my #2016top3 favourite images, a birch and bracken on Grange Crags, has in fact already been on the blof. It was from mid January and I like it so much because I remember how the scene was quite different when I first noticed it, but then developed exactly as I’d hoped.

I was actually on Grange Crags planning to take a wide angle view looking in exactly the opposite direction, across Derwentwater to Skiddaw. But while I was waiting I noticed a line of birches in the sun that contrasted against the trees in the shadow of Grange Fell. There was one birch that I could isolate – I like compositions involving negative space – but I just didn’t like how the entire foreground was in sunlight. Things only came together when the sun began to set and I noticed a shadow moving up the bracken. From then on it was a matter of waiting and hoping the shadow would continue in that direction, almost exactly parallel to the slope.

I liked the photo so much that I posted more…

#2016top3 2/3 – Honister Pass

You’re looking up the Honister Pass from the Buttermere side, and the lights at the top belong to the quarry.

It’s a scene I’ve shot in daytime with the light coming down the valley and picking out the curves of the wet road, but the idea of shooting it at night has been in the back of my mind for a while. Usually in the evenings I just want to eat, read, review the day’s pictures, nip to the pub. In November though it was getting dark well before pub time and it was also very mild for the time of year, so this was an ideal opportunity to get the shot.

The first attempt didn’t turn out too well. The light trails were soft, and I’m unsure if it was because a tripod leg may have been slightly loose or because I was finding it too dark to focus with the Fuji. But helped me work out the rough exposure time – and prepare for long waits between cars.

It’s a combination of two 75 second exposures with my Nikon D800. I more…

#2016top3 1/3 Rainbows

Double rainbow over Derwentwater from Ashness Jetty

In the last few days there’s been a Twitter hashtag going round, #2016top3, for your favourite 3 landscapes of the year, and as I had joined in I thought it was a good excuse to get myself back into posting to this blog.

I like to get up to Borrowdale early each November. It can be risky, and last year I got one day of sun and mist followed by a week of solid rain. Or you can be too late and a big storm has blown away all the leaves. But this time I really hit “peak Autumn”. The landscape was full of autumnal colour, and mist / fog / sun / snow had been perfect conditions for photography, but this picture came on the one day when it was raining and I was just taking it easy.

That morning during a break in the rain I spent an hour or so playing around with close-ups of the carpet of red maple leaves in the back garden. Sun kept breaking through, and I remember more…

Best of 2016

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Wells Cathedral Church architecture

I’m not a religious person. But that should never stop one from appreciating the architecture of Christianity and other beliefs, and over the last few years I’ve visited some of England’s major cathedrals and abbeys. It’s surprising how often destruction plays a part – from the scissors arch that supports Wells, to the Ely octagon, and even Lincoln cathedral bears the signs of earthquake damage. Man’s best efforts to construct are so often confounded by nature.

Godolphins

Catton Hall

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Skipton Castle

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Fuji XT-2 – an easy camera to like

I can’t be the only photographer whose head has been turned by the new Fuji XT-2, and this week I had a great chance to play with one at Fixation in Vauxhall. So if anyone else is wobbling or wondering – and if anyone still reads this blog – I thought I’d jot down my impressions.

Bear in mind that I’m not very familiar with Fuji bodies or indeed with electronic viewfinders (EVF), and my most recent hands-on experience of either was after the XT-1’s release. I was also limited to handling the camera and wasn’t let loose to use it in practice!

In the hand

Robust feel and it wasn’t too small in my big hands.
I didn’t particularly like the grip which felt angular and big – adding 50% to the body’s height.
I much preferred holding the camera without the grip and it felt very comfortable with the 18-55mm lens.

I was a little concerned about its heavy battery usage

This would be mitigated by getting the grip with its two extra batteries.
As 4K video is an attraction of the camera, I can understand more…

Holdenby House

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Staffordshire Regt Museum

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Newstead Abbey

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Bolsover Castle

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Brandelhow Cumbria V

Grange Crags Cumbria’s open for business

Sunset in Borrowdale from Grange Crags

After my November trip to the Lake District, the weather seemed to get worse by the day. Shortly afterwards, my brother and his family were almost  cut off by flooding, and that was before the really serious rainfall arrived at the start of December.

Still, I was up there again in January. So early in the year, it was hard to gauge the effect on visitors, but don’t be deterred by what you may have seen on TV.

The closure of the main A591 between Keswick and Grasmere is both spectacular and devastating, and from a visitor’s viewpoint it means you can’t easily get between the Southern/Central Lakes and those in the North. So you choose one side or the other.

At a more mundane level, the damage is more subtle and inconvenient than you may think. So for instance, one location above Lodore Falls was unreachable because the footbridge was in a dangerous state, or Watendlath Bridge is spoiled by scaffolding and a temporary crossing. The flooding hit both of Keswick’s supermarkets, but as I say, more…

Bad Trip on Derwentwater

The ugliest Photoshop splash screen ever?

After the recent terrible flooding in the Lake District, you can see the region at its best or, thanks to CGI, at even more than its best in the new Star Wars which uses Thirlmere, Derwentwater and Watendlath for scenery. Well spotted, Colin Bell.

Unfortunately, part of Derwentwater is also used for the splash screen of Photoshop’s latest version which includes a view looking along the Keswick landing stages. You can see some jetty poles, and Hope Park and Skiddaw are in the background on the right (see location on map).

Without getting too deep, splash screens set one’s mood and perhaps one’s aspirations, and in the past Photoshop has featured feathers or raindrops or exploding crystals or other images that conveyed the amazing power of this application. This one, apart from desecrating a location I know well, seems to set the bar at the much lower level of Instagram or Snapseed? It must be the ugliest Photoshop splash screen ever, don’t you think?

It’s a shame because, for the record as they say, I happen to like more…

Rosthwaite Dog walkers

Are photo workshops the “professional dog walkers” of the photographic world?

Snow’s the winner

2015’s Landscape Photographer of the Year winners have been announced