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.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Poladroid.net - Some Retro Fun

Here's a fun way of giving your images a cool, retro Polaroid look without having to go through the motions in Photoshop.

First of all visit Poladroid.net and download the app in either Mac or PC flavour. Follow the simple installation instructions and away you go! Make sure you have your speakers turned up as part of the experience is the sound.



All you need to do select an image and drag and drop it on to the Polaroid camera on your desktop and the fun begins - like a Polaroid camera of old the app with "eject" a print, complete with sound effects, to your desktop and the image will begin to appear before your eyes. Just like the real thing, it's not an instant process and to add greater authenticity, the end results will be random and include smudged finger prints, dust, scratches, vignetting and way off colours. And just like a Polaroid film pack, you can only create ten frames, as film packs only had ten sheets, you then need to restart the app!

Here are the images created in the video.




The images are saved at a respectable 402 dpi as jpeg files. These images have been resized for this blog.

TTFN

Ian

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Irvin Penn Dies

Icon of 20th Century photography Irvin Penn died at his Manhattan home on 7th October 2009. Penn didn't limit himself to one genre and counts portraits, fashion & still-life in his varied creations. Penn's style was one of clarity, composition, arrangement of subjects or objects in the frame and use of light, much of the time window or natural light. A fine example of Penn's natural light portraits was series or portraits of New Guinea mud men created in the early 1970s.

Tambul Warrier, New Guinea, 1970
Much of Penn's earlier work could not exhibited until later in his life due the graphic detail & clarity of subject matter. For over 50 years Penn worked for Vogue shaping the future of fashion photography and creating some of the magazines most memorable images.

Pabloo Picasso 1957
During his life Penn published numerous books including "A Notebook at Random" which shows a broad selection of Penn's photographs, paintings and documents of his working methods. A list of Irvin Penn's books both in and out of prints may be found at www.irvinpenn.com

More information may also be found at the Museum of Fine Art, Houston's website or wikipedia. A quick Google search for Irvin Penn produced a ream of results. Read the obituary in the New York Times here.

Yves St Laurent 1983

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Lowepro - Excellent Customer Service

I'm suitably impressed with Lowepro's customer service. As they say, "Customer Service is our top priority" - and this is no lie. I returned a Sliplock Bottlebag recently as the hook & loop fastening had failed. And, even though the product is no longer sold in the UK, Lowepro arranged for a replacement.

Well done. Thank you.

Friday, 2 October 2009

BBC Question Time

This may sound like a strange title for a blog entry, but I've just spent 2 enjoyable days time-lapse filming the construction of the BBC Question Time outside broadcast set in St Bartholomew's church in Brighton.

I still find it amazing just how much gear can be stored and transported in one (yes, one) articulated trailer. All of the staging, the set, back drop, lights and grid arrived attached to one lorry.

From busy church to TV set in 5 hours.
This is how St Bartholomew's Church looked at the end of day one rigging.
Canon EOS 50D, Sigma 15 mm f2.8 (equivalent to 24mm on full frame).
Image not cropped, just resized. No corrections, as shot.

I'm still working my way through a stack of footage and stills from the last two days, but as soon as I've edited it all together, I'll post a link on this blog. I did some of the stills and video on a brand spanking new Canon EOS 7D kindly loaned to me by Park Cameras. Again, as soon as I've gone through the material, I'll post the results here.

I must crack on as I need to catch up after being out for two long days.

Have a great weekend.

Ian