Monthly Archives: September 2009

Finally an update for Adobe Lightroom and ACR

Glossy Ibis

At last Adobe have provided an update for Lightroom, so I can deal with the backlog of images from my Nikon D300s. I have a backlog of  over a thousand images to process now! I haven’t been taking it easy though and have spent some time researching the video mode. I hope Nikon provide a firmware update soon to give a bit more control for those who want it. I have been learning a lot from Philip Bloom’s blog and also by watching some of the videos and demos by video products manufacturer Zacuto.

The above image shows one of the Glossy Ibis that was found recently at Bury Port. They have now left the area, but updates on the rings found on the birds show that they were ringed in Spain and not France as not previously thought.

Thoughts on the Nikon D300s

Pebbles at Caswell Bay, Gower Peninsula

Another pebble shot from the archive as I am still waiting for Adobe Lightroom to be updated to accept D300s RAW files. Yesterday all these pebbles were pretty much hidden by all the sea weed that had been washed up on the beach. I was on the beach testing my new Nikon D300s camera. I love having the ability of setting up for a stills photograph and then being able to take some video footage as well. I have noticed that there seems to be a slight difference in framing when switching to the live view function ready to start the video. Also when the video is activated the Live view screen is cropped slightly. I have now marked this crop on my LCD cover so it is easier to quickly frame for video. The built in electronic ‘bubble’ level on the LCD is a great help, and it would be great if this could be overlayed on the live view image as well to allow framing and levelling at the same time. I still have a bubble level in the hotshoe as well to get me started.

The autofocus in the video mode is pretty useless, as I expected this to be, so I use manual focus most of the time. This means that you have to be able to see the LCD screen at all times, plus use it for focusing which is proving difficult without a screen shade. There are two ready made products that help with this: the Zacuto Z finder and the Hoodman Hoodloupe 3.0. Of the two the Zacuto is more advanced, but is more expensive. I am going to try a Hoodman first after seeing one that Trevor, one of my Day course participants had. It looks as it will work well enough for what I need. If I get into more handheld style video then I think the Zacuto Z finder will be better.

I hope that Nikon provide a firmware update that allows full manual control of the video similar to the one for the Canon 5d mk 2, as I have noticed exposure changes during the video which appears a a slight flicker in the image. At the moment only the aperture can be set manually, with the shutter speed and ISO being altered automatically by the camera. This can cause some continuity problems with the appearance of the video if shots are taken at different times, in different lighting conditions.

The dual card slot for one compact flsah card and one SD card is great, but I prefer the door control of my older Nikon D300 than that of the D300s which is the same as the D700. It is just abit more fiddly and not as easy to open and close one handed which I could do before, with or without gloves.

I’m sure that more details will come to light as I get more familiar with the camera and I will post them as and when I can.

Glossy Ibis, my First Nikon D300s Video and being slightly ahead of myself – Hurry up Adobe!

Raindrops on a spiders web

A bit of a cliche photograph this, but with all the rain we had recently there were plenty of opportunities to make this image. I hadn’t actually noticed this web in my back garden until it rained!

I was going to post some images of the Glossy Ibis that are present near the old Pembrey Docks, near Burry Port as today I spent nearly all afternoon photographing this unusual and rare visitor to the UK. Birders present stated that it was the first sighting of the Glossy Ibis in Carmarthenshire since 1910. The rings on some of the birds have been identified as from the Camargue region of France, which is closer to their Mediterranean habitat. At this time of year the birds start relocating to Africa to over winter, before returning to the Mediterranean in spring.

The title of the post refers to the fact that I was using my new Nikon D300s to photograph the birds, and it was only when trying to download the images into Adobe Lightroom that I remembered that Adobe hasn’t updated Lightroom yet to read files from the D300s yet! Bother! I will have to wait till this comes out before posting some stills. This leads nicely onto the reason I bought the D300s. I can’t post stills, but I can post some VIDEO! The little video that follows is a really quick edit in Windows movie maker. Some of the images need to be sharper or better levelled, so hopefully this will come with practice. As a first effort with the camera I am pretty pleased. Lastly I would like to thank Adam Tilt who posted on his blog and via Twitter the position of the birds.


The challenge of having one lens

Gul on sand patterns, Swansea Bay

When I set off for Swansea Bay my initial plan was to photograph the flock of Oystercatchers in the bay. For this I took my 500mm lens and 1.4x converter only.With the birds being quite far out and the tide not really pushing them as high as I would have liked, the Oystercatchers were never really close enough for good compositions. Luckily gulls were around all over the Bay and quite close to the promenade where I had positioned myself. This gave opportunities as they wandered over the sand, and this gull entered the area I had been photographing previously with the sand patterns. I tried to place the gull on the top left hand third in accordance with the rule of thirds and had the gull facing into the image as well.

Pebbles and shells, Swansea Bay

It is easy to get into the mindset that longer lenses are only good for wildlife images and getting closer to your subject. I have found this year that I have used them for plant portraits, details and patterns as much as for wildlife images. When in a location with one lens, it provides a good exercise in developing your eye for a photograph, but also it makes it easier as well as there are no other alternative views to consider as you have no other lens options. So instead of looking at a subject and thinking, do I go wide with a wide angle, and how wide do I want to go, or should I get in close with a macro lens, or flatten the perspective with a telephoto, you only have one option available and have to work with it.

This is a great exercise to set yourself sometime, and one of the training tools I use on my workshops and day courses. You will miss some other images occasionally as you don’t have the correct lens with you, but you will find plenty of other images to photograph as you tune your eye into the angle of view of the lens you have with you.

A change from the usual subject – HELP PORTRAIT

Incoming Tide, Salthouse Point, Crofty, Gower Peninsula

Nature and natural history photography are the main focus of my photography, but haven’t always been so. I have gone through phases with my photography over the years, sometimes depending on my location at the time. I started my photography taking landscape pictures in Black and White, moving onto street scenes when I moved to London. I progressed from Black and White to colour and from street scenes to fashion and glamour model portfolios and then finally back to landscapes and natural history. Now I am temporarily going back to portrait photography.

You may wonder why I’m stating all this. I have signed up to the HELP PORTRAIT  programme that is the brain child of American photographer Jeremy Cowart.  Please watch his video explanation of the scheme below and join in if you think you can help. Contact me if you are interested in teaming up in the Swansea area.

Please help someone less fortunate this Christmas and please spread the word using the buttons below or just tell your friends and other photographers, hairdressers, make up artists, charities etc. Thanks.

Two images of sand patterns, Swansea Bay – two alternative options

Lugworm mounds - colour

Lugworm mounds - black and white

The beauty of living on the coast is that the sea and beaches provide a constant supply of image options in the same locations. Although Swansea Bay is one of the largest in the area, it doesn’t have the appeal of the more picturesque Gower beaches, but can still provide interesting photographic opportunities. The beach is a popular location to find fishermen digging for lugworm which are plentiful here. When the tide goes out they start working their way through the sand and leave their casts behind on the surface. The casts are the main focus of the patterns in the images above, but I wasn’t sure if the colour image works or not. I did a black and white conversion as well to see how it looked and now feel that it works in both, but it depends on the use of the image.

Sand Patterns - colour

Sand patterns - black and white

With the sand patterns above I had the same dilemma as to which was the better image. At the moment I prefer the black and white version, as it seems to connect with me on a more emotional level. I feel that the colour image needs more colour contrast and stronger saturation, but when doing this on the computer the image looks false. Thinking back, it probably would have helped if I had used a polariser on my lens to remove some of the reflections from the water and boost colour saturation. This may have removed some of the contrast between the sand and water that initially caught my eye so the image may not have worked as well though.

Both images were taken mid afternoon so it wasn’t the best time to make images with the light still being very contrasty, but this also allowed the images to be created as without the contrast there may not have been an image to make.