Friday, 28 August 2009

Worldwide Photo Walk 2009 - Brighton Walk Prize Winner

I could give a whole list of excuses for not announcing this on Wednesday, but the truth is I've have other fish to fry (see below).

Well... Due to the lack of bribes or other incentives, Ben & I have had to choose the winner by more conventional means - we've had to trawl through the whole Flickr group! And what a job we had. We managed to get to a short list of three images without resorting to physical violence, and here they are in no particular order:

PJG_4354-Edit
PJG_4354-Edit by pjgibson
This is an well executed localised interpretation of those wonderful open road shots of the United States by photographers such as Peter Turner.

Worldwide Photo Walk 14
Worldwide Photo Walk 14 by peek101
At first we weren't too sure what it was about this shot. It's the sort of image where you can smell the fish! Excellent post-production.


Discarded
Discarded by AbuDhabiMel
A well observed image with good strong diagonals with the fork creating a point of focus.

We need to confirm this fact, but it looks as if Mel holds the record for the longest distance travelled to participate in the Worldwide Photo Walk event - Abu Dhabi to Brighton, a total of 3397 miles.

By now you may or may not have decided who the winner should be. Agree or disagree it's Worldwide Photo Walk 14 by peek101. WELL DONE! If peek101 can contact me via the contact page at www.ukphotowalks.com I'll make provision for a UK Photo Walks polo shirt to be sent in the appropriate size.

Thank you to everyone who participated in the event. We look forward to maybe seeing some or all of you next year, or maybe even at one of my UK Photo Walks or workshops with Park Cameras which start very soon. Watch this space for more information.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Canon PowerShot G11

I take a couple of days off work to spend some time with my family, and Canon go and prove truth in the rumours! Yep, the G11 does exist and it looks like a fine piece of kit. On the outside it looks very much like the existing G10, which David Clapp "slated" in a recent edition of the Park Cameras newsletter - read more here. Personally, I disagree with much of what David wrote. Which professional in their right mind would submit an image to an image library with the status of OSF knowing it wouldn't meet their exacting technical specification?




Anyway, here's the official Canon press release, dated 19th August 2009.

Key innovations on the PowerShot G11 include a high-resolution vari-angle LCD screen and greatly improved noise reduction. Canon’s new Dual Anti-Noise System combines a high sensitivity 10.0 Megapixel image sensor with Canon’s enhanced DIGIC 4 image processing technology to greatly reduce noise and increase quality equal to 2-stops. The Dual Anti-Noise System allows photographers to capture full resolution images - using up to ISO 3200 - in difficult low-light conditions. This makes it easier than ever to take stunning low-light portraits or retain the ambient light detail with late-night landscapes. Motion blur can also be substantially reduced.

Flexible shooting options with vari-angle LCD
The PowerShot G11 introduces enhanced flexibility with a new 2.8-inch vari-angle PureColor II VA LCD – a feature introduced as a direct result of customer feedback. The adaptable screen makes the PowerShot G11 ideal for shooting in all situations, such as reportage photography where using the optical viewfinder may not be practical. Perfect for creative and macro photography, the vari-angle lens has a wide viewing angle and 461k dot resolution with natural colour accuracy, giving photographers a detailed view of their subjects - both pre and post-shoot.

The premium quality Canon lens delivers picture-perfect performance, offering a 5x wide angle (28mm) zoom with optical Image Stabilizer (IS). This allows handheld shots to be taken at much slower shutter speeds (4-stops) than conventional non-IS models - allowing perfect shooting in darker conditions or at a lower ISO.

DIGIC 4 - enhanced, improved, expanded
Professional photographers and budding amateurs alike will benefit from improvements to Canon’s DIGIC 4 image processing technology within the PowerShot G11.

These improvements include enhancements to Intelligent Contrast Correction technology - i-Contrast - which optimises the dynamic range of images, to help prevent highlight blowout, while retaining low-light detail. i-Contrast is ideal for use in difficult lighting situations where there is a wide disparity between dark and bright areas of a scene, as can be the case with outdoor portraits. A new Low Light mode can be used to achieve low noise levels at reduced resolution in a higher ISO range - ideal for indoor and low-light photography, users can capture 2.5 Megapixel images at up to ISO 12800 and 2.4 frames per second.

The PowerShot G11 also includes a built-in 3-stop Neutral Density (ND) filter and white balance fine control which enables photographers to more accurately account for variations in natural and artificial light, such as differences in colour tone across various kinds of tungsten light bulbs. The ability to make such fine adjustments in-camera can cut processing time post-shoot – while enabling photographers to be more creative in the field.

Smart Auto Mode – now even smarter
DIGIC 4 now includes an enhanced version of Canon’s Smart Auto Mode with Scene Detection Technology. The PowerShot G11 will automatically analyse and compare the scene to 22 types of scene, applying the best settings for optimum output – a great asset to those who love to point-and-shoot without worrying about the technical details. Smart Auto now also detects the movement of people in a scene, activating Servo AF/AE to ensure that focus and exposure are locked onto that subject. Photographers can also take advantage of Quick Shot – a shooting method that cuts shutter lag by using the optical viewfinder for focus and framing.

Great features for professional results
Whether amateur or professional, the PowerShot G11 offers an exceptional range of features and accessories for expanding a photographer’s shooting opportunities. The digital compact includes the ability to shoot in RAW format and is compatible with Canon’s Digital Photo Professional (DPP) software, ensuring that photo shoots can be easily integrated into a photographer’s workflow.

The PowerShot G11 can also be used with a wide range of Canon accessories, including the Speedlite 270EX, 430EX II and 580EX II; Macro Twin Lite MT-24EX and Macro Ring Lite MR-14EX flashes for enhanced shooting options; the Speedlite Transmitter ST-E2, Speedlite Bracket and Remote Switch RS-60E3. Underwater photographers can even team the PowerShot G11 with the specially designed Waterproof Case WP-DC34 - an underwater housing allowing full control of the camera at depths of up to 40m. The PowerShot G11 includes an HDMI port so users can share their images with friends and family using a compatible TV or display with an optional HDMI cable.

Owners of the PowerShot G11 are entitled to free membership of CANON iMAGE GATEWAY, an online photo sharing service. Users can take advantage of great new features like the increase in storage capacity to 2GB in October, allowing the upload and sharing of hundreds of high-quality images. Friends and family can also enjoy viewing your online photo albums from their mobile phones with the new mobile phone browsing feature. In addition, owners of Canon PIXMA inkjet printers can now create, share and print images from their photo album using the new PIXMA Album Printing feature. CANON iMAGE GATEWAY is the ideal site for Canon users to share high-quality and memorable photos and video with family and friends.

Phew! I'm off for a cold one;-)

Ian

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Shoreham Air Show 2009

It's the time of year when all you aviation enthusiasts attend one or many of the numerous air shows throughout the world. This coming weekend (Saturday 22nd & Sunday 23rd August) here in Sussex is the Shoreham Air Show.

Before you you go it's worth spending some making sure that you're prepared for the day. Here are a few hints and tips based on my experiences over the years:
  • Find out where the flight line is before the show - shooting into the sun will make for some stunning silhouettes but not much else. Shoreham is great as the flight line is roughly south west to north east so you get the sun (I'm always the optimist) for most of the day.
  • You don't always need to be in the front row, but it helps if you are. I take a set of short lightweight steps with me, just to give me that little extra height above the rest of the crowd.
The Aerosuperbatics Guinot Skincare Wing Walkers
Yes, this shot is the right way up!
  • Practice your panning technique before you go. The last thing you want to be doing missing shots on the day. Remember, if as I do you use Canon DSLRs as I do, set your focus to AI Servo so the camera follows the action. Stand with your legs slightly further apart than your shoulders for stability. Use the focus points in the viewfinder to aid composition and always give more room in front of the airplane to "fly into" than behind. Keep your finger pressed half down on the shutter button. Follow the action and release the shutter directly in from of you and carry on following the action once you've released the shutter.
  • Set the camera to shoot multiple frames as you're sure now going to get it in one shot!

The Rihn DR107 One Design
during a low-level high speed pass

  • Unless you're trying to create blurry movement shots, go for the highest shutter speed you can and don't be afraid to increase your ISO setting to achieve this. OK, a high shutter speed with freeze a lot of movement including propellors, but as you become more proficient you can drop you shutter speed. You may want to try this (at say 1/15th sec) with some of the slower airplanes such as the bombers or helicopters.
  • Depth of field (DoF) isn't normally an issue when your lens is focused to infinity, but when the action is closer in, you need some DoF so try and balance your shutter speed with a smallish aperture, say f11.
  • Shoot RAW and JPEG. The RAW files are great for extracting detail where the camera has got it "wrong". For example the exposure is for the sky and not the airplane.
  • Use a monopod to support your camera & lense. You'll be surprised how heavy they become after even a short time shooting. I use a Manfrotto carbon fibre Carbon One 449 (now replaced by the 694CX) with a 234RC tilt head with a quick release plate. This gives me the best combination of lightweight and better rigidity than an aluminium monopod.
  • Make sure that all your batteries are freshly charged and your memory cards have been wiped clean.
  • Take plenty of memory cards as there's no point in running out at a critical time. The same applies to batteries!
  • And this is probably stating the obvious - go prepared for all weather. Some of us do live in the UK.
Happy snapping.

Ian

Scott Kelby's Worldwide Photo Walk 2009 - The One's That Got Away

The quality and quantity of images from this years' Worldwide Photo Walk is amazing. Scott Kelby has just posted a load of images that weren't winners but still deserve a mention. Judge for yourselves, but to my mind, there are shots here that should have been prize winners.

Visit Scott's blog today to view the images.

Monday, 17 August 2009

Scott Kelby's Worldwide Photo Walk 2009 - Winner Announced

If you go to Scott Kelby's blog you can now see the eagerly awaited winners from the 2009 Worldwide Photo Walk. There are some stunning and well observed shots which should be an inspiration to us all.

Ben & I will announce the Brighton UK winner of the UK Photo Walks prize next Wednesday, the 26th August. We decided that today wouldn't be a good time to announce the winner and steal SK's thunder;-) Also, if the truth be known, we just haven't got around to doing anything about it!

TTFN

Ian

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Photoshop Disasters

This website is well worth adding to your favourite websites:

www.photoshopdisasters.com

I can't believe how many websites have grown up around the worldwide phenomenon that is Adode Photoshop! If you want to see thoughtless retouching, lazy cloning, or just plain rubbish manipulation then this is the website for you.

I'm seriously considering submitting images that clients have sent to me that they've paid good money to (so-called) professionals. I've lost count of the number of cut-outs sent to us recently with jagged edges where they should be smooth or bits missing from the image 'cos they've used the magic wand tool - I wonder if this is the work of the "photographer" or an overseas based rupee-per-cut-out service?

Food for thought.

TTFN

Ian

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Sony Twilight Football


Those of you who read the Daily Telegraphy in the UK must have noticed the series of stunning centre page spreads last week promoting the Sony Twilight Football competition. If you want to enter your best low-light shots in the competition then you'll need to act fast as the closing date for entries is midnight 23rd August 2009.

Click here to enter the competition.

You can also find out more by visiting the Daily Telegraph's dedicated web page.

Sony announced today its plans to stage a world first event, called Twilight Football. As the hour of twilight moves across the world, a series of seven matches will begin. Each match takes place in a location chosen to provide a spectacularly beautiful background for a truly unique activity.

How many memorable football matches have taken place as the sun sets? Twilight provides a stunning natural ambient light, the ultimate canvas for the one-off, unpredictable moments that a football match always provides. Whether it’s the UEFA Champions League final or a kickabout in the park, something special almost always happens. Sony is celebrating these incredible moments by giving real players and team mates the chance to create their own moments of history, which will be recorded on Sony’s innovative products and not lost into folklore like so many personal football memories.

All seven games will take place on 22nd September 2009, the Autumnal Equinox (northern hemisphere) and Vernal Equinox (southern hemisphere). The matches will be taking place at stunning, specially chosen locations in: Italy, France, the UK, Spain, Argentina and Australia, with the Twilight Football grand final happening at Soccer City, Johannesburg, the venue for the final of 2010 FIFA World CupTM.

Teams of any level from across the world will have the opportunity to take part in this once in a lifetime experience. There will be a number of local competitions run with multiple media partners for potential Twilight Football players to enter, ensuring that the event has a truly international flavour.

A specific Twilight Football team will be sourced using social media channels like Twitter and YouTubeTM, with players given the chance to display the skills they will be showing off in front of the world’s media. FIFA have also very generously agreed to supply the nine referees and refereeing assistants required for the matches. Finally, a specially selected pool of photographers and video makers are also attending each event to record these momentous games.

Photographers will be able to try out Sony’s new range of products featuring its Exmor CMOS sensor. These models excel in capturing exceptional detail in lowlight, with two separate new shooting modes that reduce image noise when you’re shooting in challenging conditions. Anti Motion Blur mode will show its worth at the Twilight Football events, superimposing six frames to produce crisp, composite images with less subject blur. The aptly-named Handheld Twilight mode also grabs a high-speed burst of six frames, combining them to create a single optimised image with dramatically reduced noise levels. Sony’s Alpha range packs powerful specifications into an entry-level DSLR, perfect for people taking their photography habit to the next level.

At Park Cameras showroom in Burgess Hill, you can get hands-on experience now with the new Sony range and benefit from some excellent body and lens deals.

If your football playing days are behind you, Sony will be making sure that you feel as close to the action as possible, with a whole range of content and spectacular imagery being made available to bloggers, websites and social networks. These will include a live Twitter stream from the events, video diaries, blogs and image galleries from participating teams and attendees as well as interviews with the winners.

“Twilight Football is one of the most ambitious projects we have ever undertaken, with seven amazing games of football taking place in highly unusual locations around the world”, says James Kennedy, Brand Communications Director at Sony Europe. “We wanted to show the world what they have been missing when shooting images in the most picturesque light that nature has to offer. There is no better way to do this than by using the international language of football. This is an event to show real people the benefits of Exmor CMOS technology, giving them the opportunity to capture firsthand some of the most stunning locations in the modern world.”

Monday, 10 August 2009

Instant JPEG from RAW

Michael Tapes at www.rawworkflow.com has introduced a great utility to extract the embedded jpeg file from RAW files.

This utility if you only shoot RAW files and need a jpeg to email to someone. Also, it saves having to shoot both jpeg & RAW files thus saving space on your camera storage media. Instant jpeg from RAW is available for both PC & MAC platforms and can be downloaded from:

http://www.rawworkflow.com/instant-jpeg-from-raw-utility/

I've downloaded and installed this on both my MacBook Pro and my PC workstation. Installation is straight forward (there's a very thorough PDF user guide available). Once installed the program is available from your contextual menu - right click and away you go! It even allows you to select the size of jpeg file to extract.

A freebie and goodie!

The extracted jpegs are then saved to a folder called "extracted_jpegs" in the source folder of the selected RAW files. This applies to both MAC & PC.

Thank you Micheal, a great utility.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Lowepro Flipside 400 AW Camera Back Pack Review

It's a standing joke in my family that I own more camera bags than my wife and daughters have hand bags. So I went and purchased another!

I bought my Lowepro Flipside 400 AW Back Pack in December 2008 and have used it on two or three occasions since. The last time I used it was when I walked a few miles planning a landscape photography workshop I'll be running in the near future.

1. Tripod strap. 2. External accessory strap, one either side, ideal for outer wear etc. 3. SlipLock loop, one either side. 4. Mesh pocket with reinforced base. Will take 75 cl water bottle or 1lt Sigg bottle. 5. Tripod stirrup in concealed pocket secured by zipper. Why not just tuck the tripod stirrup inside and save time and money by not securing an item already stitched to the bag?

The back pack is typical of Lowepro, excellent construction with plenty of storage. In fact I managed to carry a Canon EOS 5D Mk II, Canon EOS 50D, 50 mm f1.4 lens, 100 – 400 L Series zoom, 24 – 105 mm L Series zoom, Sigma 15mm and a Lensbaby with room to spare. I do like the security this back pack affords as the opening is not in the conventional place, i.e. on the outside opposite the straps, but by your back inside the straps. If you're out and about in a city this means no one can access your precious gear by unzipping the bag. However, it does mean that it's a little tricker to extract gear, but to my mind a small price for the additional security.

Inside the bag there are the usual Lowepro Velcro secured dividers and inside the flap pockets for media cards and a large document pocket. Outside the bag there are SlipLock loops and snaplock fastening straps either side of the back pack and a comfortable carry handle on top. The large outside pocket is the full depth and width of the bag with ample pockets for pens and accessories etc and a key clip. Concealed near the base of the bag is a stirrup that can be extracted to assist with carrying a tripod or monopod. I did try and carry my Manfrotto 755 mf3 with the 468 head but this combination was too much for the small stirrup and the adjustable strap. The strap cannot be pulled tight enough for good stability, as Lowepro have not used a friction buckle but one that snaps onto the webbing strap.

Not the most stable tripod fixing!

After about a mile walking the tripod and head were rocking from side to side, so I resorted to carrying the tripod over my shoulder like one of Snow White's dwarfs on the way to work!

The padded waist belt and lumbar pad are very comfortable and the belt has Sliplock loops as do the shoulder straps. The shoulder straps are prevented from being pulled back over your shoulders by a thin sternum strap. Lowepro have modified/improved or changed how this strap is secured and when walking the strap rides up the straps from the wide bottom to narrow top and ends up throttling you – not good. And lastly, even though the padding is very comfortable but it does not allow your back to breath. Even on a cool day I end up soaked to the skin, so when I remove the back pack I begin to chill.

I do wonder if the ideal (well, for me) camera back pack does exist? My favourite and most comfortable walking day sack is a Deuter with an external frame which keeps the load away from my back, distributes the weight onto my hips and allows my back to breathe.

The front pocket of the Flipside 400 AW showing the orange hi-viz edging
- I wonder if they're trying to emulate Kata's Yellop interiors?

If anyone knows of a camera back pack with an external frame, which is lightweight with a decent capacity, please do let me know! I did own a Lowepro Nature Trekker, which had the capacity of a Mini Trekker AW, but because of all the additional protection weighs nearly as much as the gear inside.

Friday, 7 August 2009

Nikon COOLPIX S1000pj

Could this be the first affordable video projector - just think, no messing around with card readers or transferring your images to your PC or MAC and connecting with leads to a TV or projector? Nikon have developed a digital compact camera with a built-in projector that will project up to 40 inches wide*. Here's the official press release:

Nikon UK today (4th August 2009) announces the introduction of the world’s first camera with an integrated projector, as part of its new autumn/winter COOLPIX range. The ground-breaking COOLPIX S1000pj is expected to shake up the compact digital camera market and revolutionise the way we share images and videos, using personal projection.

Nikon UK today announces the introduction of the world’s first camera with an integrated projector, as part of its new autumn/winter COOLPIX range. The ground-breaking COOLPIX S1000pj is expected to shake up the compact digital camera market and revolutionise the way we share images and videos, using personal projection.

The COOLPIX S1000pj doesn’t just pack a punch with its projector – the compact camera delivers high resolution images with 12.1 effective megapixels and a 2.7” wide viewing-angle TFT LCD monitor. With a high ISO 6400 sensitivity and using Nikon’s exclusive image processing concept, EXPEED, the camera offers the kind of high quality images you expect from Nikon. This is all wrapped up in a sleek casing that contains a wide-angle 5x zoom NIKKOR lens.

Mark Pekelharing, Product Line Manager Consumer Products at Nikon Europe B.V: “The launch of our unique COOLPIX projector camera is exciting for gadget and photo lovers everywhere – and another first for Nikon with a compact digital camera that can project images. People can’t help but be blown away by such a beautifully crafted device. It’s packed with everything you need to take amazing photos so easily as well as to show your pictures; a great screen and amazing projector. Sharing photos and videos has never been so easy – or so fun.”

One touch projection

If you’ve ever wanted to share your photos or videos at a party or relive a day’s memories while on your travels, then now you can with one-touch projection on the COOLPIX S1000pj. The built-in projector easily projects an image size from approximately 5 inches up to 40 inches*. A supplied remote control means that you can wirelessly operate both the projector and usual camera functions, and a simple projection stand is supplied for optimal viewing wherever you are.

* Projection area size dependent upon light conditions of the room

Getting the shot you imagine

The COOLPIX S1000pj features Scene Auto Selector mode, whereby the camera automatically selects the appropriate scene mode based on the contents of your shot, allowing picture perfect images at the touch of a button. In addition, five functions to reduce image blur and the Smart Portrait System ensure you get those ‘red carpet smiles’ every time. An additional feature enables users to ‘airbrush’ someone’s face using the Skin Softening function to reduce the appearance of blemishes. Together with face tracking and anti-shake functionality, the COOLPIX S1000pj helps you to get the shot you envisaged without any hassle.

my Picturetown

You can now store your images safely and securely using Nikon’s my Picturetown, a free online digital photo storage and sharing service. Easily share photo memories with friends and organise precious memories into online collections. You get 2GB of space free to use for storing thousands of memories and you can upgrade your membership to Gold Account at any time if you need to store more pictures.

It's anticipated that these will be available in the UK from early September 2009. To make sure you're on e of the first to secure this highly desireable camera pre-order yours from Park Cameras TODAY.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Will It Rain Today?

As a country the British seem to be obsessed with the weather. Well, we certainly do get our fair share! I've just found a website that as photographers we should all bookmark - www.raintoday.co.uk

The website shows a rainfall radar image superimposed over Google maps of your area. At the moment I'm sitting here watching Southampton getting drenched and the speed the rain is moving it won't be too long before Brighton gets a dose of liquid sunshine;-)

TTFN

Ian

Monday, 3 August 2009

Seaford Kittiwake Colony

Down on the south coast of England is a small seaside town called Seaford and its main claim to fame from spring to summer is a large colony of Kittiwakes. Kittiwakes normally live far out to sea, but return to land to lay one or two eggs on a precarious cliff ledge nest.

Adult and young Kittiwakes on their nests

At the far end of the sea front road are the beginnings of the chalk cliffs that ultimately become the Seven Sisters. A large colony of Kittiwakes have adopted this as their breeding colony. Being so close to Splash Point gives some wonderful photo opportunities, which with any luck I'll be including on the itinerary of one of my UK Photo Walks workshops next season.

An adult Kittiwake in flight, taken from the cliff top above the colony

If you're patient there's normally plenty of activity during the day as the birds are continually feeding. They do fly past at a fair rate, but with some practiced panning technique you can capture some quite spectacular frames. For the more daring among you, venture to the top of the cliff where you may be able to get some closer shots of the Kittiwakes in flight or on their precarious nests.

What you watching me!
100 - 400 mm L IS f5.6 zoom + 1.4 x teleconvertor
on Manfrotto 755MF3 with 460 MG magnesium pan/tilt head
A surprisingly stable combination considering the light weight of the tripod and head!

The RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) have staff and volunteers at the site (normally) from early July through early August, as part of their A Date With Nature scheme. The aim of the scheme is to give people the opportunity to see wildlife first hand. The RSPB supply spotting scopes and binoculars so you can see the birds, and in my experience the staff and volunteers are great communicators with a love of their subject.

Unusually for Seaford the sun was shining! The last time I was there I needed my trusty Kata Rain & Elements Cover E702 with the E704 extension kit but not this time. Had I been closer the salt spray, then yes. Fine salt spray presents more of a danger to your precious camera gear than you imagine. Salt is corrosive, it eats into things. If you do go near the sea on a windy day you'll notice a thin film of salt coating your gear and especially the protective filter on the front element of your lens. When you go near the sea, a protective filter is essential - damage the filter and it's relatively inexpensive to replace. Damage the front element of your lens and you're talking a three figure repair bill - not good!

Care is also needed when cleaning your gear after exposure to salt spray. I tend to use the "breath on the lens and wipe with a soft, well washed cotton hankie" technique, instead of my micro fibre lens pen. Any salt deposits will transfer to the cleaning material and pollute it for future use! Also, keep separate cleaning material for your lenses and camera bodies.

TTFN

Ian

EOS 50D Firmware Update Version 1.0.7

On 31st July Canon released the latest firmware upgrade for the EOS 50D. Version 1.0.7 corrects a phenomenon where captured images may tend to appear magenta depending on the shooting scene. It also fixes incorrect indications on the Arabic, Romanian, Spanish, and Ukrainian menu screens.

Click here to download.