Thursday, 29 January 2009

Nude Photography

I've just been trawling a load of photographic blogs and came across one on tips for nude photography - I have only one tip for nude photographers - keep your kit on, especially with the low temperatures we're currently experiencing in the UK at present;-)

Keep smiling.


Canon 50D error 99

Just before Christmas 2008 I took delivery of a Canon 50D. Whilst testing it I encountered error 99. On checking page 201 of the user guide which states "Operate the power switch, remove and install the battery again, use a Canon lens, or have the camera checked or repaired." Having done this with no success I returned the camera to Park Cameras who promptly exchanged it for a new unit.

I continued to happily use the camera until yesterday morning when I switched it on ready for a lcoation shoot and hey presto! Error 99 - removed the battery, removed and reseated the lens. Nothing just error 99. A good job I had a Canon EOS 5D Mk II handy in reserve.

The job was completed without incident, except Laurie who was assiting me had to resort to using my G10 for his shots. Which incidentally are terrific. Well done, Laurie. The trouble is, Laurie is now coveting my G10 - hands off, get your own!

We returned to Park Cameras whilst the morning's data was transferring and came away with yet another replacement 50D. Not bad, three 50D's in 4 weeks.

Looking at the various blogs and forums this could be a common problem and the firmware needs updating to 1.0.3. Do any of you have any experience of this problem or know of anyone who has? If so, please post a reply below.

One common factor may be the Battery Grip BG-E2N, which was fitted to the camera body on both occasions error 99 occurred. Who knows? Not I.

Canon say this a "rare problem". I wonder how many 50D's have been shipped with firmware 1.0.2? Personally, I don't see why I should have to upgrade the firmware when I buy a new camera. Why if this problem was identified in October (see below), wasn't I advised to upgrade the firmware when I purchased the camera in the first place?

Ho hum, I suppose I'd better go upgrade my firmware, and whilst I'm at it, I may as well do the same for the Canon 5D Mk II to rectify the black spot in highlight problem at high ISO settings.

Which reminds me; Canon, when are you going to be able supply Park Cameras with the LP E6 battery for the 5D Mk II that I'm expecting? Park Cameras can't give me an answer.

Happy snapping.


Thursday, 22 January 2009

Homage to the Impressionists

I was testing a new bit of kit this afternoon which has just arrived from Hong Kong - a flash extension lead for my Canon 550 Ex's or 580 EX MkII. And I must say that it's a far superior bit of kit to the my old and trusty Canon Off-Camera Shoe Cord 2. For a start the construction is more in line with the new metal hotshoe of the 580 EX Mk II. The curly cord is slightly heavier that the Canon version and best of all, it will stretch to nearly 9 feet, whereas the Canon Off-Camera Shoe Cord 2 will just about reach 3 and a bit feet.

Looking at both Park Cameras & Canon's websites, this product is a very, very close reproduction of the original Canon Off Camera Shoe Cord 3 OCE3 (which replaces Off-Camera Shoe Cord 2), but with a longer reach and much more competitive price - £30.00 plus shipping to UK.

Whilst checking the cord with my Canon 50D & 580 EX MK II Speedlite, I suddenly came over all creative! The flash was set to strobe at 5Hz (5 times a second) and the shutter dragged for 2 seconds at f5.7. The ambient light level was fairly low and the subject matter is a pile of junk at one end of my studio.

The technique is simple: open the shutter which triggers the flash and move the camera during the exposure and hey presto and Impressionist style image.

This technique is a great one for experimentation. Try zooming the lens whilst moving the camera - move the camera smoothly or jerkily. You never know what you may create.

the final image has been doctored in Photoshop with the addition of an S-curve adjustment layer and the Nik Color Effect Pro Velvia 100 to achieve he level of saturation I was after.

If any of you care to comment on which Impressionist this is similar to, do post a comment.

Have fun.


Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Odds & Ends

UK Passport Photographs
Are any of you having problems with UK passport photographs being rejected at the Post Office checking stage or by the Passport Office? If so, please let me know and (if possible) submit the rejected photograph, which I'll submit to someone I'm in contact with at the Passport Office for feedback.

Logo of the Day
This website is a great source of inspiration for anyone in the design business or just interested on logos.

I'm having a clear out. Take a look at my items for auction, you never know, you may grab a bargain! Click here.

All the best.


Saturday, 17 January 2009

Wedding & Portrait Prints

I doubt if any of you in the wedding & portrait business have not been asked for copies of some or all of your original image files so that the client can get their own prints made?

By "giving" a client copies of your image files you are reducing your order revenue and opening yourself up to probelms when the client can't produce a print to your high standards.

I used to visibly watermark all of my wedding preview images whether previews were delivered via website or CD/DVD. If a client asked for images files they were supplied (sans watermark) with 6" x 4" RGB files at 300 dpi - nothing bigger, on the condition that I would NOT guarantee the quality of any prints that were not supplied by me. If they wanted larger files, this was open to negotiation!

Whilst at the SWPP Convention on 16 January 2009, I came across a brilliant idea developed by Suffolk based photographer Colin Goody - DateLock. Basically, this encrypts an image file until a predetermined date, allowing you to maximise any return on reprint sales by preventing the client producing any prints until you want them to. More information on this excellent product can be found at the DateLock website.

I'll be covering visible watermarking your image files in Adobe Photoshop at a later date.

Good luck!


Friday, 16 January 2009

SWPP Convention 2009

It was good to take a break from a week of staring at a computer screen and catch up with some old acquaitances and make some new ones.

The main reason I journeyed to the Novetel London West, in deepest, darkest Hammersmith was to mooch around the trade show, mainly because I've been too lazy to travel to NEC, Birmingham for Focus on Imaging over the last few years!

Well done SWPP! Even though the mainstay of my business is no longer social photography, it's good to see what's happening in a another sector of the photographic market. SWPP have put together a great trade show with a broad variety of exhibitors, albeit aimed at wedding & portrait photographers from novices through to established professionals.

On One Software provided a series of excellent demos

SWPP are doing great things for the raise the standard of photography in the social sector. What did surprise me, were the number of faces I recognised who were or are BIPP or MPA members. I won't name names, you know who you are.

It was good to see Park Cameras at the show, my longstanding (30 years this year) supplier of things photographic - I did try to get to the stand to say "hi" but lost he battle through the crowds.

Spicer Hallfield were doing a roaring trade

Adobe were noticable by their absence. What a missed opportunity. Hundreds or thousands of hot prospects all in one place. In my opinion this would be an ideal market place for Lightroom 2 demos.

Well done SWPP for putting on a great show. Just a shame I had to leave so early!

Have great weekend, everyone.


Tuesday, 13 January 2009

English Weather

I know most people think the English and Brits in general get too hung up about the weather, but were else could you experience sub-zero temperatures and freezing fog one day and pouring rain the next?

The 10th January we saw one of the most beautiful extremes of weather I've experienced in a long time - fog freezing onto everyting it touched. Early in the day the light was fairly flat & uninteresting, but later in the morning the sun broke through and gave me an excuse to go for a walk with my wife and new Canon G10!

Here are few of the snaps:

Normally we wouldn't give this scene a second look, but with the addition of a little rime it becomes much more interesting!

The Canon G10 handles the extreme contrast in this scene very well - maintaining detail in the highlight areas and minimal noise in the shadows.

Wolstonbury Hill shrouded in freezing fog. One of my favourite places on the South Downs. A place close to home where I can retreat for moments of quiet contemplation or get on with being Chairman of Friends of Wolstonbury.

All of these images have benefitted from a little post-production in Adobe Photoshop - an slight S-curve adjustment layer and a tweek to the brightness and contrast. The original camera images are a little flat for my liking.

There's no doubt about it - it's quite liberating not having to carry a back pack loaded with DSLR gear. But on the other hand at large magnications you can't beat a full frame DSLR such as a Canon 5D Mk II and a decent L Series zoom or prime lens.

I'll post some more images from the G10 as soon as I get a chance.

In the meantime, happy snapping.


PS If anyone is interested in seeing a comparison between the G10 original files and the final version, do get in touch.

Thursday, 1 January 2009

Happy New Year

Well, it's here, another year into the new millenium!

I'm taking a break from clearing up after house party for 30 or so friends and their kids last night. I'm not going to make any resolutions as I never keep them, but I am going to resolve to do things that may be easier to attain:

- Plan my time better in order to maintain my volunteer work for Friends of Wolstonbury.
- Go for a walk more often, get more exercise and try and loose weight.

Do you have any resolutions that you'd like to share?