Thursday, 31 December 2009

Happy New Year!

Well, another year is nearly over. I've met loads of wonderful people and made new friends. The photography business is ever changing and we've all got to acknowledge this and adapt and improvise if we're to survive!

I'd like to say a big thank you to everyone who's attended a workshop or photo walk during 2009 and look forward to meeting you again in 2010. We'll shortly be introducing a whole set of new workshops, some of which will be run at weekends.

Also, I'd like to give special thanks to Park Cameras, Snapperstuff, Bogen Imaging, Think Tank Photo, Hoodman & iCap Photo for their support during the last 12 months.

If any of you have any ideas for workshops or photo walks, do let me know via the contacts page at www.ukphotowalks.com. Your comments, input and feedback are invaluable to us. Without it we can't produce the workshops you the photographers need.

We didn't quite have a white Christmas, but what snow we did have the week prior to Christmas gave me an unexpected break from work an excuse (as if I ever need one) to pick up a camera and go for a walk. Here's just one of the frames I created.

Canon EOS 5D Mk II, 24 - 105 mm f4 IS L Series, tripod

This just goes to show that you need not go far to find striking images. This one was created within 1km of my home in a woodland frequented by the local dog walkers! Remember - think with your eyes, that's where the great images start. The camera is just a tool to record your vision.

Wishing you all a prosperous, happy and healthy 2010.

Ian

Monday, 21 December 2009

If You Pay Peanuts...

If you pay peanuts, you get a monkey. Not as far as Nonja the 33 year old orangutan at the Vienna Tiergarten Zoo is concerned. Last week the Daily Mail revealed that this orangutan uses a modified Samsung ST 1000 digital camera to post automatically post images on Facebook. Everytime she takes a snap, she is automatically rewarded with a juicy raisin.

The Daily Mail writes:

"The Vienna Tiergarten zoo set up the project to help keep Nonja and her three hairy ape friends entertained in their enclosure.

‘Of course the apes don’t care about the pictures, they are just an accidental side product,’ zoo spokesman Gerhard Kasbauer said.

‘They just know that when they press the button, a raisin pops out.’ "

It's taking a quick look at the Facebook page - this morning there are over 75,ooo fans. What does this say about social networking?

Ian

National Wildlife Photozone


National Wildlife is an American magazine published by the National Wildlife Federation that inspires people to protect wildlife for the benefit of our children's future and contains some of the best examples of wildlife photography you're likely to see.

In the December 2009/January 2010 printed edition there are reproductions of the the winning images from the 39th annual National Wildlife Photo Contest. You can see these winners by visiting www.nwf.org/photozone/

Enjoy! It's well worth a few minutes viewing these images.

Ian


Thursday, 17 December 2009

Landscape Photographer of the Year 2009

Take it from me, even if landscape photography isn't your thing, this show is well worth a visit. Together with Ben Potter & Helen Atkinson, we took a party of photographers to this show as part of our London Photo Walk on 11th December - there are some stunning images and it is a fine source of inspiration.

© Andy Aitchison

Here's the official press release:

The official opening of the ‘Landscape Photographer of the Year 2009’ exhibition
took place last night (10 December) at the National Theatre after an Awards ceremony and private view. Organised by Take a view, this year’s competition was co-sponsored by Natural England and the English National Park Authorities.

On this crisp, winter evening, a selection of incredible photographs from the exhibition was projected on to a massive exterior wall above the National Theatre, lighting up the South Bank in a perfect marriage of rural and urban landscapes.

Evan Davis, from Radio 4’s ‘Today’ programme, presented the Landscape Photographer of the Year 2009 award and a £10,000 prize to Parisian-born, Emmanuel Coupe, for his stunning view over the Isle of Skye.

The Young Landscape Photographer of the Year award was won by Jon McGovern for his photo of a wheat field in Derby. His twin brother, James, was also highly commended for his nostalgic black & white image of children playing by the pond in his local park.

Natural England’s special prize, for the best Landscape on your Doorstep, was won by Nigel Hiller for his evocative photograph of Hebden Bridge. Presenting the award to Mr Hillier, Poul Christensen, Chair of Natural England, said: “This fantastic new exhibition shows the huge pleasure that people take from the natural world. Natural England would like to heartily congratulate the winners, all the entrants and the organisers for bringing together this vibrant visual record of our natural riches. Let’s look after our landscapes so others can enjoy taking
photographs of them in years to come.” Nigel Hillier expressed his delight at receiving the award: “I am thrilled to win the Landscape on Your Doorstep prize. I took the shot as a diversion from my day job as a commercial/editorial photographer, so it is great to get recognition for my personal work. I’m delighted that an image of my hometown, Hebden Bridge, won. The town is extremely popular with photographers, so to capture an image that stands out from the rest can be quite a challenge! The photo has since been made into a greetings card and is proving very popular with the local community.”

The English National Parks Award was won by Chris McIlreavy for his dramatic image, taken on Christmas Day, from the summit of Blencathra in the Lake District National Park. Narendra Bajaria, Chair of the English National Park Authorities Association, presented him with an award and commented on the extremely high calibre of all the entries. Narendra said: “The photographs and exhibition are truly inspirational and a real call for people to get out and enjoy National Parks - Britain’s Breathing Spaces. It is fitting that the exhibition should
open in the very month that we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Act that brought us National Parks.” Narendra continued: “These landscapes don’t come about by chance. They are the result of millions of people, over centuries, shaping the land. Today they sustain our mental and physical health and help create jobs and support rural communities. And of course, the UK’s fifteen national parks provide a bounty of very different photographic possibilities.” Charlie Waite, one of Britain’s best-loved landscape photographers and founder of Take a View, said of the evening: “For me, the opening night celebrations embodied the crucial importance of our living British landscape. The images, their meaning and everyone’s huge appreciation of them, resonated out from the National Theatre, across the city of London and far beyond.”

Nicholas Crane, presenter of Coast, who was the special guest at the first year of the Awards, was also in attendance, together with mountaineer, Alan Hinkes, the first British man to climb all 14 mountains in the world exceeding 8000m.

Exhibition details:


Take a view – Landscape Photographer of the Year 2009 Exhibition

In association with Natural England & the English National Park Authorities


With over 100 beautiful landscape images printed on the Epson Stylus Pro 9900, using the latest Epson inkjet technology


Admission free


Dates: 5th December 2009 - 24th January 2010


Times: Open Monday to Saturday, 9.30am to 11pm, all year round (except for Bank Holidays) and on a number of Sundays from noon to 6pm (check NT website

for dates).


Venue: Lyttelton Foyer, National Theatre, South Bank, London SE1 9PX


020 7452 3000

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

London Photo Walk

Last Friday (11th December) along with Ben Potter and Helen Atkinson I led a group of 30 photographers on a photo walk taking in the Norman Parkinson exhibition at Somerset House and then on to the Landscape Photographer of the Year show at the National Theatre. We finished the day with a mini master class on low light and night photography on Thames opposite the Palace of Westminster/Houses of Parliament.

A good day was had by all and the participants turned in some stunning images which can be seen by visiting the dedicated Flickr pool which is growing daily.

One of the key aims of the day was to get the walkers enthused and seeing "outside of the box"! The expression I like to use is "think with your eyes". From the images in the Flickr pool we certainly achieved this. The exhibitions also gave the walkers an opportunity to view some stunning images and compare notes with the other photographers in the warm!

We finished the day cold and happy with a Chimping Competition - a very simple and fun concept (thanks Helen for the idea). Basically, each photographer chose their favourite image of the day and displayed it in cameras rear screen. We then took a quite look at 30 or so images and decided which we thought we the best. Here are three of the six winners, who each won a Think Tank Photo Pixel Pocket Rocket memory card wallet.



Andras Szabo

As you can see, some splendid images. Well done and thank you to everyone.

An last but not least, a BIG thank you to our supporters Park Cameras & Snapperstuff. Don't forget to visit their websites and support them.

www.snapperstuff.com - Helen is now the sole importer in the UK and Ireland for the Orbis Ring Flash. There's a report on my blog for more information:


And www.parkcameras.com where you'll find all sorts of deals and bargains for the festive season.

UK Photo Walks will be publishing workshop and walk dates for early 2010 shortly. See either my blog http://ianpack.blogspot.com or www.ukphotowalks.com for more information. I'll also be running workshops for Park Cameras, more information at www.parkcameras.com/training/

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Orbis Ring Flash Review

Ring flash in various forms have been around for some time now and were especially popular in the 1990's with fashion and style magazines. Until recently the cost of ring flash has been prohibitive as they were only available for studio flash systems costing thousands of pounds or a low power units for macro photography.

Early in 2008 the Ray Flash was introduced to convert a normal Speedlite into a ring flash. The down side of the Ray Flash is it's really designed for hot shoe mounting and blocks the sensor on the Speedlite, so if you want to use the Speedlite's beam assist, it ain't gonna work!


Then in November 2009 Orbis introduced the Ring Flash. The Orbis Ring Flash is designed to be used with an off-camera lead attached to the Speedlite meaning all your TTL features will still function. Until now, the down side of the Orbis Ring Flash was you had to hand-hold it, which isn't always possible - Orbis have just introduced the Orbis Arm for attaching your Speedlite and Orbis Ring Flash to your camera or a lighting stand.


Even though the Speedlite is held below the lens it makes for quite comfortable shooting, but there can be quite a bit of movement between the Speedlite and bracket. I've solved this by placing a block of timber between the head of the Speedlite and the Orbis Arm, then wrapped a generous quantity of gaffer tape around the Arm and Speedlite. When I get a chance I'm going to make up a Velcro/hook and loop strap which will be easier in use and look somewhat more elegant! With the Orbis Arm in place you can also shoot vertical/portrait format images.



Compared to the Ray Flash, the Orbis Ring Flash has a larger frontal surface area giving a broader light with softer edges to the shadows.

Here are a few frames of my daughter Abi showing the wonderful light from the Orbis Ring Flash.


The illumination from the unit is totally even, as shown by this uncorrected shot of a white wall from about 2 metres.



There's no doubt that the the Orbis Ring Flash should be an essential accessory for every serious wedding and portrait shooter. Here are a couple of frames of my friend Rob who's growing a moustache for Movember. Movember is an annual, month-long celebration of the moustache, highlighting men’s health issues, specifically prostate cancer.





These images were shot outside at dusk with no reflective surfaces nearby, so the only illumination is from the Orbis Ring Flash in the first frame and the addition of a back 3/4 Speedlite in the second, snooted with some Rosco Black Wrap. I did experience some problems with this set-up because the Speedlite's beam was obscured from the back light by Rob! Had the Speedlite been on top of the camera, this wouldn't have been a problem.

Pack's Rating: * * * * * 5 stars.

My suggestion - put the Orbis Ring Flash and Arm at the top of your Christmas list. Apparently, Santa has good connections with the new exclusive UK & Ireland distributor - Snapperstuff. Click here for more information.

I haven't had a chance to try the Orbis Ring Flash with any macro or close-up shots yet, but as soon as I do, they'll be posted here.

Recommended retail price for the Orbis Ring Flash is £185.00 inc. VAT and £49.00 inc. VAT for the Orbis Arm.

If you're thinking of venturing into the realms of macro flash, then this could be a less costly option if you already own a Speedlite. Rather than buying a compact ring flash from your camera manufacturer or even Sigma, just buy the Orbis and save yourself some money and space in your bag!

My thanks to Helen at Snapperstuff for the loan of the Orbis Ring Flash & Arm.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Adobe Photoshop.com Mobile for iPhone


This is just what I've been waiting for, and it compliments the Best Camera app for the iPhone.

Adobe Photoshop.com Mobile for iPhone (English language only at present) can now be downloaded worldwide from the iPhone app store. For more information, visit the Photoshop.com Mobile website.

Enjoy!

Ian

Sunday, 22 November 2009

This is why I always have a camera with me!

OK, it was only my iPhone 3G, but it's good enough for this. I thought that these shots would give you a laugh a show a great example of memorable sign writing on a van for sanitary engineer!

You'll not miss this in your rear view mirror!



Both of these images have had some work with "The Best Camera" iPhone app. You can view them on my Best Camera page

Monday, 16 November 2009

Good Bye MXV (Sussex) Ltd

It's with a heavy heart that write this post. MXV was one of those camera shops where you always received a hearty welcome from the staff and invariably left the shop spending money even when you had no intention of doing so.

Paul Beaumont had a knack of recruiting very knowledgable staff who without exception also had a well developed collective sense of humour. In one case I'd say the humour was more warped than mine (which takes some doing!). It became a standing joke between Jim & I that the main reason I made period pilgrimages to Uckfield was the fact that I received a better level of abuse from the staff than I did at other camera stores.

I sorry to see MXV close and wish all the staff well for the future in these difficult economic times.

The Digital Journalist

There is a common myth that all content on the web is or should be free. Ultimately someone has to create this content at the expense of their time and business overheads. Everyone has to make a living in order to survive and if we don't make money from what we do, we have to find other sources of income.

This morning I received the email below from Dirck Halstead, publisher of The Digital Journalist. As you'll see, what for many of us has become essential reading over the years, may come to an end as Canon are no longer prepared to supports Dirck's work.

Think carefully before you subscribe to the plethora of free information on the web. Is there a donate button to help the publisher of the information continue publishing? Does the information add value to your work and in turn make money for you, r just give you pleasure? If so, give something back.

Here's Dirck's letter:

I am afraid that the December issue of The Digital Journalist may be our final issue, at least for a while.

As many of you on our mailing list know, The Digital Journalist has been online producing our monthly magazine, about visual journalism, for 12 years. During that time we have presented the memorable work of some of the greatest photojournalists in the world, while offering opportunities for publication to many new photographers. Our columns and reviews have taken a 360-degree look at the industry, and predicted much of the upheaval that has taken place as the media around us have been buffeted by the shifting winds of technology, and now, a crippling economic downturn.

We have also sponsored over 37 Platypus Workshops around the world, which have taught photojournalists how to cope with and adapt to these industry changes.

Unfortunately, our principal sponsor, Canon, whose market has also been impacted by these turbulent times, has decided they can no longer afford to provide their financial backing to The Digital Journalist. We are very grateful for the generous support they have given us over the years.

Even before Canon's decision we were planning to reorganize. We are aware of how seriously a lot of our readers, who make their living from photojournalism, have been hit by the recession through the failures and cutbacks of countless publications, magazines and newspapers, as well as TV and cable. Our reorganization goal is not only to continue publishing The Digital Journalist, but to provide funding in order to send photographers out into the world to do their work, documenting the important stories that shape our lives and history.

Such an ambitious undertaking requires serious fundraising efforts on our part.

So we are asking you, our loyal readers, numbering more than 10,000, to help us raise these funds. Effective immediately, we have set up a PayPal link on The Digital Journalist ( http://digitaljournalist.org/pledge.html ) and urgently ask for your pledges so that we can continue the work which will help us all. We have never solicited paid subscriptions, but these dire times call for dire measures.

If you value The Digital Journalist, this is the time to step up and make a pledge. If enough people do, we may be able to keep The Digital Journalist -- and video journalism -- alive. Consider it as an investment in yourself, and the future.

Thank you all for your loyalty over the past years. We appreciate your continued support, and look forward to seeing you on the Web.
Sincerely,

Dirck Halstead
Editor and Publisher

Thursday, 12 November 2009

South Downs National Park Boundary Announced

Given the chance, I spend as much time as I can in this wonderful part of the English countryside. It's a place of changing moods and lush green rolling vistas. The South Downs are a great place to exercise, relax and unwind.

Today, Rt Hon Hilary Benn MP (Secretary of State Environment, Food & Rural Affairs) signed the documents officially stating the long awaited boundary decision. You may be thinking that this was probably done behind closed doors somewhere in London, or in the offices of the South Downs Joint Committee - but no, the whole process was carried out in a quintisentially English location - The Ditchling Tea Rooms, located in the village of the same name.

It's quite normal for an event such as this to be hush-hush and consequently I only found out about the job late in the afternoon the day before. Again, this is one of those commercial jobs that's time sensitive and had to delivered within a couple of hours of being shot.

Here are someshots from the morning. They're not the ones the local press would use, but record this historic event and also illustrate that with preparedness and timing interesting shots can also be had.

Rt Hon Hilary Benn MP points towards the South Downs.
For those of you who remember the BBC TV series Fawlty Towers, this reminded me of a scene where Basil Fawlty (played by John Cleese) is up to his usual antics!


Checking to see that he's been given the right files to sign!

To me, this shot says it all.

As professionals we have to be prepared for the unexpected and ready to work at short notice, some times making the most of a not so ideal location - photographically, that is. Ditchling Tea Rooms are a fine establishment, serving and excellent range of snacks and beverages with especially good scones!

I must crack on and get my gear ready for the morning and finish backing up today's data.

For those of you interested, here's the press release:

South Downs Joint Committee welcomes designation and boundary decision for new National Park

Local people can be certain today whether or not their home will be inside the new South Downs National Park as Hilary Benn, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs announced its finalised boundary. The Secretary of State’s commitment to the creation of a South Downs National Park was emphasised by his signing the designation order in Ditchling, which lies within the confirmed boundary of the National Park. The order will bring the Park into existence from 31 March 2010.

The first members of the new National Park Authority will be appointed and in post from April 2010. They will, over the following 12 months, agree how the National Park will be run and what its priorities should be. During this time, the South Downs will continue to be managed by the South Downs Joint Committee (SDJC).

Martin Beaton, SDJC’s Countryside Officer, said:

“The South Downs National Park has been 60 years in waiting and today we are one step closer to permanent protection for this unique working landscape. We now have a definite boundary and our experienced staff, rangers and conservation volunteers look forward to working with the new National Park Authority members. Together, we will work to establish the best National Park for the 21st Century and beyond.”

Alice Holt Forest in Hampshire and Green Ridge to the north of Brighton have both been included within the boundary, along with other areas of land that were considered at the public inquiry in August 2009.

Detailed boundary maps can by found on Natural England’s website at: www.naturalengland.org

Marks and Spencer, Haywards Heath Store Fund Raising


If you're wondering why this is here? I was the photographer who produced the images for the press release. A simple job that has to executed in a professional manner and delivered the same morning. Difficult to acheive if you have a another day job.

Even a simple group shot such as this needs a degree of planning and pre-visualisation. It's no use going into an assignment and not knowing what shots to get. You're being employed as the professional and must know what you want, and how you're going to get it. And, most important, be able to communicate your requirements and get people on your side. The above shot took less than 5 minutes in execution, but probably 30 minutes planning - which is just as well as I had 10 minutes before the store was due to open and rain was beginning to fall.

Oversize cheques and glasses of fizz seem to be essential for this kind of local press stuff. Part of the skill is not getting the hands looking too messy and making sure the client's branding is clearly visible and in a spot where it can't be cropped out of the shot - in this case it's on the cheque, but you still have to make sure a stray arm doesn't obscure the logo.

PRESS RELEASE:
Employees from the Marks & Spencer store in Haywards Heath presented a cheque to St Peter & St James Hospice yesterday after having raised nearly £5,000 under the M&S 125 Fundraising Challenge. The challenge saw M&S employees across the country aiming to raise £1.25million in 125 days as part of the retailer’s 125th birthday celebrations.

This target was smashed with M&S employees pulling together to raise over £2million for local and regional charities. The Haywards Heath store more than tripled its original target of £1,500.

Yesterday, Fundraising Coordinator Karen Riddleston and Section Manager Sandra Pack (OK, I've an interest in this story, she's my wife!) handed over the cheque, which was gratefully received by Gill Cronin from St Peter & St James Hospice, a charity which provides specialist care and support for those living with progressive, life-limiting illnesses in East and West Sussex.

The store raised the money through various fundraising initiatives, the highlight of which was a 125km in-store bike ride undertaken by staff. The store also involved local schools, including the Windmills Junior School in Hassocks, Harlands County Primary School in Haywards Heath and Southway Junior School Burgess Hill. Between them the schools raised nearly £500 for the cause by hosting ‘Bright is Beautiful’ non-uniform days.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Free London Photo Walk


Ben & I have teamed up with Helen Atkinson , the director of Snapperstuff (who import Think Tank Photo bags amongst other fine photo gear into the UK) to bring you a free photo walk in London on Friday 11th December 2009.

Park Cameras have kindly donated a £10.00 gift voucher for each participant.

For more information visit the dedicated page on www.ukphotowalks.com

This went to the press yesterday and we're already getting a lot of interest. So if you want to come along, be sure and contact me soon to reserve your place.

Here is one of the frames I created last week when planning the walk. If you do come along and want to participate in the mini lowlight and night workshop, you'll need a sturdy tripod.

Canon EOS 5D MkII, 24 – 105 mm f4 IS L Series. Focal length 24mm colour temp. 4850K (daylight), RAW, -1 stop exposure compensation, tripod, remote release, ISO 200, f8, 1/6th sec Image cropped after adjustments to RAW in ACR

If you're without a tripod you can use a firm surface for support and still achieve a good shot. I always have some off-cuts of fleece (the stuff they make thermal clothing with, not the stuff from sheep!) in my bag. This serves a multitude of uses including stopping your gear scuffing and as a base when you're making long exposures. For those interested, I'll be demonstrating a few techniques to steady your camera when the tripod has been left in the car or "it's a pain in the ... carrying the damn thing, so I won't bother taking it!". Which in my experience, it's normally the latter.

Must go now and return to editing this morning's images.

TTFN

Ian


Monday, 9 November 2009

Sussex Symphony Orchestra at St Bartholomew's Church, Brighton

On Saturday evening I had the pleasure of witnessing a stunning performance of Verdi's Requiem Mass by the Sussex Symphony Orchestra and the Sussex Chorus conducted by Mark Andrew-James.

I was lucky enough to present as part of a long term project documenting activities in around the church and inner city Brighton parish. St Bartholomew's church has to be one of the most spectacular churches in England and as one person said last week, it's on a par with some cathedrals. Put a choir and orchestra in St Bart's and you've the makings of a great evening.

The above frame was shot from the organ gallery with a Canon 5D MkII and 24 - 105 mm f4 IS L Series lens, securely fixed to a Manfrotto tripod. During the perfomance I was allowed to capture frames from the side lines providing I didn't use flash, which in any case would provide a distraction and be useless at some of the shooting distances unless I set up remotely fired units, for which there was no time. Um, lighting the above shot with flash would be a challenge!

Personally, I prefer to work with the available light where possible and remain invisible.

This shot of mezzo soprano Yvonne Howard was captured handheld with Canon 5D MkII and 24 - 105 mm f4 IS L Series lens at 1/13th of a second at an aperture of f5, focal length 105 mm the image stabilisher switched on and my back braced against a wall! Flash here would not be appropriate and totally distract form the performance and performer. I could have used a monopod to support the camera, but left it in the car - idiot!

The colour balance for these frames was set to tungsten which was appropriate considering the lighting set up. For me, the both the RAW & JPEG files were a bit on the cool side, so I added some red & yellow for a tad more warmth.

I'll be posting more images as the project progresses, so watch this space.

TTFN

Ian

Aaduki Multimedia Insurance Price Freeze

Following on from my post on Friday about the theft and loss of valuable camera equipment I've just been informed that Aaduki Multimedia are freezing their rates until the end of December 2009.

Press Release:

Aaduki Multimedia Insurance has announced it’s freeze on rates for photographers, journalists and video makers/film makers due to expire on the 31st October has been extended until the 31st December 2009.

Vince Brown, Sales Manager for Aaduki said, “At this time of economic uncertainty we wanted to try and offer the best deal for essentials for the media industry, that is why we are proud to announce the extension that insurers have agreed to today.

Nik Stewert, National Marketing Manager said, “Vince and the team at Okehampton have been working hard behind the scenes to let Insurers know that the multimedia community is suffering from the economic crunch and that we need to try and mitigate this as best we can so as to keep the industry moving in the right direction. I am delighted that he has managed to secure this agreement which I believe will benefit a majority of photographers and video makers particularly those on a smaller income.

Aaduki Multimedia has been working hard to offer best value for money for its customers all through 2009. It continues to strive to do this and quotes are available Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm on 0845 838 6933. Quote indicators can be obtained 24 hours a day from the Aaduki website.

Friday, 6 November 2009

Theft and Loss of Camera Equipment

I've just been reading a story on a US website about a spate of thefts of high-end DSLRs from wedding photographers in Salt Lake City. Apparently, thieves are following photographers and then stealing kit from their cars once the car is unoccupied. The photographer in the story was unlucky enough to loose all her gear, laptop, hard drive and Compact Flash cards! Which also meant she'd lost all the valuable images from the wedding.

I may be over cautious, or even paranoid, but whenever I shoot a job, whether it was in the days of film or now digital, I ALWAYS, without exception take the media with me when I leave the car. As professional photographers we have a duty of care to our clients to protect our images of their special day, event, products or whatever.

These days I copy my Compact Flash cards to an Epson P3000 storage device and whenever possible an external hard drive via my MacBook. If you must take your laptop with you to a job, make sure that any valuable data is backed-up and stored elsewhere, or better still don't keep critical or valuable data on any device that you remove from your premises. My hard and fast rule is simple - make sure before you leave a job that the image or video data is backed up to two devices in addition to the original Compact Flash or other media cards.

When I'm working I use a Think Tank Photo Pocket Rocket to store my Compact Flash cards. Each card is individually numbered and contained in its' own pocket. My workflow is simple; make sure that all the Compact Flash cards have been erased or formatted in the camera in which they will be used before you start your shoot (this will save valuable minutes when working); all cards are face up in the Think Tank Photo Pocket Rocket before I start work; as the day progresses the cards are returned to the respective pocket once copied to the Epson P3000 with the numbered side now visible. This work flow will reduce the possibility of accidentally loosing your valuable images.

Once the job is over (given time, but if there's tight deadline, this isn't always possible) I find a quite corner and copy each Compact Flash card to an external hard drive via my Mac Book, returning the Compact Flash cards Think Tank Photo Pocket Rocket with the numbered side uppermost.

Think Tank Photo Pocket Rocket is then placed in my pocket along with the external hard drive and doesn't leave my sight - for whatever reason.

Something we also need to consider is the security of our gear when stored in our cars. If like me you have an estate car you must ensure that your gear is covered at all times. My vehicle has a manufacturers sliding cover over the load area, which I've covered with some reflective sheeting to reduce the temperature when left in the sun. The manufacturers covers are better than old blankets as they give no clue as to the contents. Blankets take on the shape of the cases underneath. Also consider securing your bags to the load securing rings if you have vehicle with these D shaped rings or other fixings. Think Tank Photo have introduced the Airport Security v2, International v2 and Airport Airstream roller cases with added lock and cable features. Also, these cases have the added benefit of allowing you to move your gear in style without a cumbersome backpack or shoulder bag.

And finally, insurance. I can not stress the importance of having the correct cover for your gear and business. Whilst cover may not be cheap, in the event of a loss it can save you a lot of stress. You'll need All Risks cover for your gear and Professional Indemnity cover in the event of losing images. There are many good insurers in the UK. Two that come to mind are Towergate Camerasure and Aaduki Multimedia - both of these insurers in my experience understand the professional market and provide the appropriate policies.

Epson P series storage devices may be purchased from Park Cameras.

Think Tank Photo bags are available from Snapperstuff.

And lastly, you'll never see me do a "What's in my bag?" on this blog or any other website. There's no better way of telling potential thieves what gear we own. If anyone wants to know about the gear I use, either get in touch or participate in a photo walk or workshop.

Remember, look after your gear and it will look after you.

TTFN

Ian

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Kata Dream Bag Challenge

Kata Bags have announced their new competition for 2009/10 - the Dream Bag Challenge. This is an opportunity to submit a design or designs for your dream photo bag. For the duration of the competition each design submitted will be judged by a panel of experts and posted on the Dream Bag Challenge website http://www.dreambagchallenge.com/

In return you could win a mega prize of your dream bag being made by Kata and filled with $5000 of photo gear including a Canon EOS 5D MkII camera body, lenses, Gitzo tripod & Litepanels LP Micro Pro LED light source. Currently, the competition has been announced by Bogen Imaging in the US, but not the UK.

If you have an original or radical idea for a camera bag, look very carefully at the Terms and Conditions before submitting your idea - the prizes may look attractive, but if you submit a design*, you will in all probability be loose any rights to ownership of the intellectual property for the design or designs. The T & C's have been written (from what I can see) for the US Law. You may want to check validity with an English legal advisor before entering your design to the competition. If you belong the BIPP or Federation of Small Businesses in the UK, their legal advice telephone services may be able to help.

You could also look at this another way; no doubt all the other camera bag manufacturers will be looking at the designs submitted to the Dream Bag Challenge. Who knows what the outcome could be?

*I haven't looked to closely, but have any of the competiton design authors exerted their IP (Intellectual Property) ownership of their bag designs submitted to Kata?

Here's the link to the competition T & C's.

Good luck with your entry! I've an idea or three, but I'm holding back...

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Canon Easy-PhotoPrint for iPhone

Canon today launches the “Easy-PhotoPrint for iPhone” application (Canon iEPP). Free-to-download, the simple application prints photos from the iPhone or iPod touch wirelessly to Canon PIXMA MP990, PIXMA MP640 and PIXMA MP560 printers.

The user-friendly application is compatible with iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS and iPod touch (OS 2.2.1 or later) devices and produces excellent quality Canon prints in three easy steps: from opening the application, to image selection and printing. Once the Canon iEPP application is installed from the iTunes App Store, it takes care of all the hard work – automatically detecting printers on a WiFi connection so users can quickly enjoy printing their images.

Utilising the intuitive iPhone and iPod touch technology, users can review an index of thumbnail images with a simple flick of their finger. With an effortless pinch of the fingers shots can be enlarged for a clearer print preview - a handy feature that cuts down on unnecessary printing. A swift touch then sends the selected image directly to the PIXMA printer.



Photos downloaded from online photo sharing sites or taken on the iPhone can be printed effortlessly. Furthermore the Canon iEPP application incorporates the ‘camera’ button so new shots can be seamlessly captured and printed. Supporting various Canon media types and sizes , with options for bordered or borderless printing, the Canon iEPP grants users the freedom to easily print and enjoy their images.

The Canon iEPP application will be available for download from early November.

Think Tank Photo Urban Disguise® 70 Pro


For the photographer carrying two regular or pro size DSLRs with lenses attached to each
camera body – or even a 70-200 f2.8 lens attached to any camera body – Think Tank Photo
announces the release of the cavernous Urban Disguise ® 70 Pro.

This is a briefcase style gear bag for traveling in style and protecting camera equipment without attracting attention as an obvious camera bag. The interior accommodates a host of camera configurations that enable photographers to keep all their gear secure in one bag.

It features:
• Secret pocket -- On the inside of the front pocket is a “secret” zipped pocket. It is designed to hold airline tickets, passports, and other irreplaceable items.
• Attaches to rolling bags -- The Urban Disguise 70 features a slot that allows it to be secured to a roller. A tab on the bottom prevents it from accidentally unzipping.
• Stretch pockets -- The pockets on either side of the bag stretch to hold items like mobile phones, strobes, and even smaller water bottles.
• Business card slot -- The back of the bag has a slot big enough to hold many business cards so you can give them away to clients and friends.
• Rear zippered pocket – Ready access to magazines, notebooks, plane tickets, and other essential items.
• Shoulder Harness -- With Think Tank’s Shoulder Harness (sold separately) the shoulder bag converts into a backpack.



Like all of the Urban Disguise shoulder bags, this new model is designed to
allow photographers to travel in style while protecting their valuable equipment from
prying eyes. They are intentionally designed not to look like camera bags, thus
allowing photographers to carry even their larger lenses into potentially perilous
settings. “This design concept is the culmination of years of observation of
photojournalists and other photographers who have jury-rigged their bags to
decrease their public exposure,” said Think Tank Photo founder and lead designer
Doug Murdoch. “Whether it is a professional who wishes to maintain a subtle
presence in potentially dangerous situations or a serious amateur who wishes to
lessen the risk of having their gear ripped off, the Urban Disguise’s design allows the
right gear to be carried with less fear.”

Specifications:
Internal Dimensions: 37 x 31 x 16.5 cm
External Dimensions: 38 x 32 x 19 cm
Weight: 1.0 - 1.7 kg depending on accessories used

Recommended UK price £135.75 inc. VAT

# # #

Online from: www.snapperstuff.com

In store & online from: 360 Tactical VR www.360tacticalvr.com; Arrimedia (Uxbridge)
www.arrimedia.com; Clifton Cameras (Dursley, Gloucestershire) www.cliftoncameras.co.uk;
Conns Cameras (Dublin, Ireland) www.connscameras.ie; EOS Magazine www.eosmagazine.
com; Fixation (London) www.fixationuk.com; Grays of Westminster (London)
www.graysofwestminster.co.uk; Harrison Cameras (Sheffield) www.harrisoncameras.co.uk;
Jacobs Photo & Video (London; Cardiff; Leicester; Newcastle) www.jacobsdigital.co.uk; Morris
Photographic (Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire) www.morrisphoto.co.uk; PFD (Manchester)
www.pfdstore.com; Speed Graphic

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

International Garden Photographer of the Year 2009



An outdoor display of the winning images can now be seen at The Slips in Wakehurst Place, near Haywards Heath in West Sussex. The exhibition runs until 14 February 2010 with more information available from the IGOTY website.

For those of you interested in entering the 2010 competition, it closes on 30 November 2009.

I'll be going to see the show over the next couple of weeks. So if any of you would like to join me for an informal (and unofficial) photo walk around one of the UK's most stunning autumn gardens, contact me via the UK Photo Walks contact page to arrange a date and time. There will no charge for this photo walk, but you'll need to pay the entrance fee to Wakehurst Place, unless you've a National Trust membership card.

If you want to come along, contact me quick as I will have to limit the numbers due to restrictions at the venue.

Ian

Monday, 26 October 2009

Adobe Releases Lightroom 3 Public Beta

Adobe have just released the public beta of Lightroom. This has been made available so all Lightroom users may download and use the program and feedback to Adobe on usability, bugs and glitches etc. If you are currently a non-Lightroom user this is also an opportunity to see whether or not Lightroom could become a tool in your post-production tool box!

You may download the beta here:

http://labs.adobe.com/technologies/lightroom3/

Be sure to watch the videos and read the PDF before you start.

Happy testing.

Ian

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Free Kata Rain and Elements Cover with Every GDC Backpack

Bogen imaging have announced a special offer on Kata GDC Backpacks. With every GDC backpack ordered*, Bogen will supply a free E-702 Elements Cover worth £54.95 including VAT. See my blog on 13 May 2009 for more information on the Rain & Elelments covers.

Aimed at the enthusiast photographer, Kata's GDC backpacks have built an enviable reputation for their unusual looks, unmatched quality, and class-leading harness systems. With sizes to fit everything from the smallest to the largest DSLR systems, there is a backpack in the range to meet all needs.


Made using waterproof nylon and clear TPU, the E-702 fits any DSLR camera with standard lens attached.

For further information call Bogen Imaging on 01293 583300 or visit www.bogenimaging.co.uk

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

BBC1 Question Time - Time Lapse Movie

On the 1st October 2009 BBC1 recorded an edition of the topical panel show from St Bartholomew's Church in Brighton. St Bart's and adjacent school was selected as the venue fulfilled the tight criteria to stage the show. Rigging the set began just before 2:00 PM the day before and finished just before 5:30 PM on the day of recording. All the gear you see in the church up until the end of day two was transported in one (yes, one!) large articulated lorry.

The movie is a combination of real time and stop frame time lapse footage captured using Canon EOS stills cameras. The real time footage was captured on an EOS 5D MkII & EOS 7D and the time lapse with a Canon EOS 50D and EOS 7D.

The time lapse sequences where combined in Adobe Photoshop and cropped to 1920 x 1080 pixels to fit within the widescreen aspect ratio. The whole programme was then edited using iMovie 08 on a MacBook Pro 13". The audio tracks for the time lapse were recorded wild with a Sharp MiniDisc recorder and Sony stereo microphone. The audio was then copied onto my PC work station and repurposed with Goldwave.

I've uploaded the movie to both Youtube and Vimeo as the quality isn't too hot on Youtube. Here are the links for you to judge for yourselves:

Youtube


Vimeo

BBC 1 Question Time, St Bartholomew's Church, Brighton from Ian Pack on Vimeo.



Feel free to comment below.

Ian

Canon EOS 7D Firmware Update

Canon have announced a firmware update for the recently released EOS 7D.

http://web.canon.jp/imaging/eosd/firm-e/eos7d/firmware.html

Firmware Version 1.0.9 incorporates the following fixes.

  1. Improves AF accuracy during Live View shooting.
  2. Corrects a phenomenon where in rare instances, movie images shot by the camera may exhibit abnormal colors.
  3. Corrects a phenomenon that at certain timings, the shutter cannot be released when the camera's built-in flash or an external Speedlite is used for shooting.

Landscape Photographer of the Year Award

Congratulations to Emmanuel Coupe on winning first prize in the prestigious Take a view - Landscape Photographer of the Year award with Sunrise over the Old Man of Storr, Isle of Skye, Scotland. It's well worth going to the BBC Photo blog to see the differing opinions on the use HDR (High Dymanic Range) in many of the images.

There's a gallery of the winning images on the BBC News website that's well worth a visit. What all of these images have in common is excellent composition, combined with a good understanding of post-production techniques.

For those of you who are interested, I'm leading a Park Cameras School of Photography Capture Autumn Colour workshop this Friday, the 23rd October, where there are one or two places available and a practical landscape photography workshop on the 5th November. The Capture Autumn Colour workshop takes place at High Beeches Garden in West Sussex (near Crawley) and will be a whole day learning and perfecting the finer points of landscape, close-up/macro and panoramic photography; the landscape workshop will start in the training centre at Park Cameras and then in the afternoon we'll put into practice the skills covered in the morning.

There will be an exhibition of winning & commended entries will be at the National Theatre in London from the 5th December 2009 until January 24th 2010 and entry is free. I'm planning a trip on a date to be arranged. If anyone is interested in a day in London before Christmas, we can do a photo walk of some of the sights and take in the show.

It would also be an opportunity to do a mini-workshop on low-light and night photography as the Oxford Street and Regent Street lights will be switched on after 3rd November until the 5th January 2010.

If you'd like to take part in this day out in London, do let me know soon. There will be no charge to you, other than your costs of getting to London and food etc. I can be contacted by visiting the contact page at www.ukphotowalks.com

TTFN

Ian

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Autumn Photography Workshops

Here in England the Autumn colours are improving day by day. The colours are developing into a range of wonderful hues and the cold frosty nights are helping things along. This Friday, the 23rd October I'll be leading a Autumn Photography Workshop at High Beeches Gardens where there is a spectacular array of colours and some very special specimen trees set wonderful Sussex wooded valleys.

High Beeches Gardens Colours, Friday 16th October 2009

There are a few places left on this Autumn Workshop. But don't worry if you miss out on this workshop, I'll be leading another on 13th November where we'll have exclusive access to the gardens with no other visitors!

Spectacular Colours are changing daily at High Beeches Gardens - this image made on 16th October 2009

I look forward to seeing some of you on one of the workshops.

Ian

Friday, 16 October 2009

Think Tank Photo Airport TakeOff - Rolling Back Pack Camera Bag

Over the years I have bought numerous bags, cases, back packs, waist packs, pouches and wraps in search of the ultimate camera and equipment carrying solution. I own an extensive collection of LowePro bags and cases, complemented by a few Kata Bags, but only recently discovered Think Tank Photo who this week released what could be the ultimate airline carry-on bag - the new Airport TakeOff™.


This is a rolling case that can be carried like a back pack when the need arises. The back pack straps tuck away so you can start rolling quickly or zipped into the rear panel.

The Airport TakeOff™ is designed to comply with international airline carry-on requirement and accommodates pro-sized photography gear, including two pro or regular size DSLR bodies with or without lenses attached.


Its features include:
  • Holds up to a 300mm f/2.8 and other assorted lenses
  • Quickly deployable and concealable backpack straps
  • Front cable and lock to secure laptops
  • Lockable zipper sliders
  • Transports tripods or monopods easily
  • Adjustable sternum straps for tailored usage
  • Holds Think Tank’s Artificial Intelligence 15 protective laptop case

“Think Tank Photo raised the bar with the release of our Airport series of rollers and backpacks,” said Doug Murdoch, Think Tank Photo president and lead designer. “We were the first company to design large bags so that they complied with airline carry-on requirements and provided extra security measures. With the Airport TakeOff we’ve taken the best of what we learned in designing those product lines and combined them into a rugged rolling backpack that will help photographers and multimedia shooters safely transport their gear from one location to the next.”

Specifications
  • Internal Dimensions: 13”W x 18.4”H x 5.25-6.75”D (33 x 47 x 13 cm)
  • External Dimensions: 14”W x 21”h x 8”D (35.5 x 53 x 22 cm) (not including straps)
  • Weight: 8.6 – 10.3 (3.9 – 4.7 kg) depending on accessories used
UK RRP £245.00 inc. 15% VAT (Don't forget that in January 2010 this rate will revert to 17.50%)

Available on line from: Snapperstuff.com

It would be interesting to get hold of one of these bags and do a group test with other comparable products from Lowepro, Kata and Tamrac et al!

TTFN

Ian

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Nikon D3s

Nikon have announced the release of the new D3s DSLR with full frame FX sensor, 24 fps HD movie mode and built-in sensor cleaning.

Here's the official Nikon line:

Nikon has announced the introduction of the D3S, the camera that enables professionals to take control of the unpredictable and extends the possibilities for action photographers everywhere. Built upon the widely acclaimed Nikon D3, the D3S advances low light photography to another level and sets in motion new creative options for multi-media movie shooting.

Robert Cristina, Manager, Professional Products for Nikon Europe, comments: “The D3S rewrites the rules for extreme low light photography, enabling photographers to take control of ambient light. Professionals from all over the world have contributed to making the best even better.”

Francois Marit, Photo Technical Manager at global news provider, Agence France Presse, said: “Since we started using the Nikon D3, we have also been exploring movie capture to see exactly how it can help us. Now the D3S gives us exactly what we need, the ability to shoot pictures and movies with one piece of professional equipment. This enables us to transmit complete packages of still images and movie clips from the thousands of news and sports events we cover every week, and will really give us the edge in both online and print formats”

Bill Frakes, one of the first professional photographers to trial the D3S, said: “I make career decisions in milliseconds and I want the best possible image quality every time I push the button. I need a camera that responds precisely, quickly and consistently. The D3S does that and more and this gives me enormous freedom.”

The D3S features a completely re-designed 12.1 effective megapixel image sensor. The large pixel pitch, with a completely modified inner structure, means that the D3S can capture images under light conditions which were previously believed to be impossible. The seven stop ISO range of 200 – 12,800 enables image and movie capture in extremely low ambient light conditions which is essential for today’s news and sports photographers.

Further proof of the D3S’s incredible capacity for low light photography is the fact that it is the first camera to offer no less than three additional ISO boost levels, up to Hi-3, (ISO equivalent of an astounding 102,400).

FX format HD movies

The D3S delivers a new look and feel to the emerging trend of DSLR movie capture and exploits the creative depth-of-field effects offered by the large FX-format sensor and the benefits of wide aperture NIKKOR lenses, the lens of choice for the world’s leading photographers. Instant and intuitive in use, the D3S’s D-movie function is prioritised for high productivity.

Movies are captured at 720p/ 24fps in motion JPEG with stereo sound using the input jack. The file format enables a unique ‘Save Selected’ frame option that enables the user to shoot video freely, secure in the knowledge that a still image of a key moment can be transmitted as well.

Acclaimed autofocus tuned for movie capture.

Completely configurable to set up, but extremely simple to use, Nikon’s acclaimed high-density 51-point Multi-CAM3500 AF system, with 15- highly sensitive cross points, provides users with an industry leading system for tracking fast moving subjects. The D3S contrast detection AF system has also been tuned to provide autofocus support during movie capture and Live View.

Image sensor cleaning

Following extensive feedback from professional photographers, the D3S implements a new image sensor cleaning function that generates vibrations at four different frequencies to reduce the impact of static dust collection on the optical low pass filter of the image sensor. This has been implemented without impacting on the 100% viewfinder coverage expected from a flagship, professional D series camera.

Total flexibility

The D3S now offers no less than three alternative crop modes, all masked automatically in the viewfinder. The photographer can now choose from 5:4 (30x24); 1.2x (30x20); and DX (24x16). The new crop mode is designed to offer a practical combination of lens magnification and slightly reduced file size.

When discretion is required

The D3S features a new Quiet shutter release mode that enables the photographer to mitigate the sound caused by the mirror return. Suitable for wildlife photography and other situations where shutter noise might distract the subject, this innovation again reflects and responds to practical feedback from photographers using Nikon’s D3 series cameras.

Improved Active D-Lighting options

The D3S now offers no fewer than five options for Active D-Lighting when shooting high contrast or high key subject matter. Alongside a new Auto setting, users now have four manual control levels; Extra High ; High, Normal and Low.

In camera post processing

Another aid for increasing productivity in the D3S is the new RAW processing options in the Retouch menu. The following image settings can be applied to RAW (NEF) files in the camera on-the-fly: JPEG compression, Size, White Balance, Exposure Compensation, Picture Control, Noise Reduction, Colour space and Vignette Control settings. These options accelerate post production worklflow for the busy photographer on the road, by reducing the need to use a PC and Capture NX2 software.

Ready for anything

The D3S redraws the boundaries for photographers allowing them even more control over unpredictable subjects in testing lighting conditions. The camera sensor is so sensitive that it can capture subjects that are practically invisible to the naked eye and render results that are remarkably clear of noise and ready for print. The weather-sealed durable magnesium construction is built to withstand extreme temperatures and humidity to enable users to complete assignments faster and more efficiently.

If you visit Nikon's special micro-site there are some stunning examples the D3s low-light and high ISO capability.

Very shortly I'll be announcing a brand new video training workshop for DSLR stills photographers who want or need to use video. This will be a one day primer on the type of shots, sound/audio, steadying the camera and movement. For more information visit my video page at UK Photo Walks website.

Park Cameras are taking pre-orders for the Nikon D3s, so to be one of the first in the UK to own this camera click here.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

iCap 15+- Dr Roubanis Associates

I recently reviewed this as part of a mini group test. The iCap 15+ is a simple yet functional design. It is a favourite of sports shooters due to its' water-resistant coating, which also reflects some sunlight, reducing the probability of over-heating. An another advantage of the exterior coating is it makes the shade almost totally opaque. For very bright conditions (on the beach at St Trop!) there are additional flaps around the opening. There is a slot at the back for cable routing. In case of high wind, there are loops on the underside for fastening to whatever you're resting on.


The iCap 15+ measures approx. 210 x 30 mm (8 ¼ x 1 in) when folded and W 380 x H 410 x D 500 mm (15 x 16 x 20.3 in) open.

For more information and to purchase visit: The iCap online shop
Price: Approx. 50 Euros

I'll be ordering one of these for when I'm working close to the coast or the sun is out. A great all-rounder for the UK as it will reflect some sunlight, is water resistant and can be tied down when windy.

HoodMAC Sun Shade for 13 – 17 inch MacBooks – Hoodman

I recently reviewed this as part of a mini group test. This is the screen shade I'd choose to take with me to a client's office. It's unobtrusive and looks good.

As I would expect with any Hoodman product, the HoodMAC Sun Shade is well designed and versatile. Whilst it doesn't afford the all-round weather protection of the other products in this mini group test, this is the ideal product for use in the office as a sun shade or to give you privacy when working on a crowded commuter train or plane. It can be adjusted for 13 to 17 inch screens. Folded, it's compact enough to tuck in a pocket of your carry case.


The HoodMAC comes in its' own pouch and measures approx. 240 x 240 mm (9 ½ in x 9 ½ in) folded. Open, W 340 x H 250 x D 330 mm (13.3 x 10 x 13 in). Adjustment for different screen sizes is via press studs/poppers.

For more information visit the Hoodman website
UK suppliers: Newpro & Canford Professional Audio & Video Equipment
UK RRP £35.00

Pixel Sunscreen V2.0 – Think Tank Photo

Out of a recent mini group test I have to say that this is my favourite. OK, it may not be the most compact, but it is the best thought out. The Pixel Sunscreen V2 will accommodate MacBooks or laptops up to 17” screen size. It is feature packed and includes head cover for extreme sunlight; side and back opens for cable routing; inside pockets for accessories etc, I use them for external hard drives and card readers; a clip to hang bits of paper; non- slip material inside and out; padded rest at front; integral pocket for transit.


The Pixel Sunscreen 2.0 is 355 x 25 mm (14 x 1 in) folded for transit and W 370 x H 560 x D 495 mm (14.5 x 22 x 19.5 in) and weighs 540 g (1.2 lbs)

For more information visit: The Think Tank Photo Website
UK suppliers: Visit the Snapperstuff website for UK resellers
UK RRP IRO £56.00

MacBook & Laptop Screen Shade (Mini) Group Test

The screen shade is fast becoming the essential accessory for anyone using a MacBook or laptop with a glossy screen either outside on location or inside where there's a problem with bright lights and reflections. A screen shade will allow you to view your images and accurately assess colour and exposure without distraction from unwanted reflections. As well as a screen shade I also recommend wearing dark clothing to reduce reflections and aid accurate viewing. Wearing a red top could well cause you to adjust your colour balance in the wrong direction, but that's a another story.

HoodMAC Sun Shade for 13 – 17 inch MacBooks – Hoodman
As I would expect with any Hoodman product, the HoodMAC Sun Shade is well designed and versatile. Whilst it doesn't afford the all-round weather protection of the other products in this mini group test, this is the ideal product for use in the office as a sun shade or to give you privacy when working on a crowded commuter train or plane. It can be adjusted for 13 to 17 inch screens. Folded, it's compact enough to tuck in a pocket of your carry case.


The HoodMAC comes in its' own pouch and measures approx. 240 x 240 mm (9 ½ in x 9 ½ in) folded. Open, W 340 x H 250 x D 330 mm (13.3 x 10 x 13 in). Adjustment for different screen sizes is via press studs/poppers.

For more information visit the Hoodman website
UK suppliers: Newpro & Canford Professional Audio & Video Equipment
UK RRP £35.00

Pixel Sunscreen V2.0 – Think Tank Photo
This the the largest screen shade on test, not only when open, but also when folded. It accommodate MacBooks or laptops up to 17” screen size. It is feature packed and includes head cover for extreme sunlight; side and back opens for cable routing; inside pockets for accessories etc, I use them for external hard drives and card readers; a clip to hang bits of paper; non- slip material inside and out; padded rest at front; integral pocket for transit.


The Pixel Sunscreen 2.0 is 355 x 25 mm (14 x 1 in) folded for transit and W 370 x H 560 x D 495 mm (14.5 x 22 x 19.5 in) and weighs 540 g (1.2 lbs)

For more information visit: The Think Tank Photo Website
UK suppliers: Visit the Snapperstuff website for UK resellers
UK RRP IRO £56.00

iCap 15+- Dr Roubanis Associates
The iCap 15+ is a simple yet functional design. It is a favourite of sports shooters due to its' water-resistant coating, which also reflects some sunlight, reducing the probability of over-heating. An another advantage of the exterior coating is it makes the shade almost totally opaque. For very bright conditions (on the beach at St Trop!) there are additional flaps around the opening. There is a slot at the back for cable routing. In case of high wind, there are loops on the underside for fastening to whatever you're resting on.


The iCap 15+ measures approx. 210 x 30 mm (8 ¼ x 1 in) when folded and W 380 x H 410 x D 500 mm (15 x 16 x 20.3 in) open.

For more information and to purchase visit: The iCap online shop
Price: Approx. 50 Euros

The screen shades in their carry cases

All of the shades tested are constructed around the pop-up reflector principle – fabric stretched over spring steel frame. If you're used to folding a collapsible reflector you'll have little trouble stowing any of these products. One feature I do like on the The Pixel Sunscreen 2.0 is the addition of printed thumbs showing you where to hold the shade when folding!
These are all very good products and given the choice I'd opt for the The Pixel Sunscreen 2.0, even though I did get some strange looks from people when shooting the image of me hiding under the dark cloth!

If you're a sports shooter or doing anything vaguely involving weather I'd opt for the iCap 15+, mainly due to the exterior coating and water resistance, especially in the UK.

The HoodMAC is ideal for executives and client meetings, mainly because of its size and look.