Category Archives: Photography

Afternoon walk – Photo challenge

I went for my/our usual afternoon walk, in fact I did it twice although not intentionally, but that is another story.

Today I was on my own and decided to take my old DSLR camera a Canon EOS20D, it’s about 11 years old, but it still all works.

Although I replaced it with a much more modern (and lighter) Canon EOS 100D at the beginning of this year, I still love the way I can find my way around the simplicity of the 20D without having to look at it really.

The 20D has been superseded many times over by the 30D, 40D, 50D, 60D and 70D and I suspect the 80D is just around the corner, quite what they are going to do when they get to 100 I don’t know… my current camera takes up that slot!

So why use the 20D when I have a much lighter and higher spec 100D in my other camera bag? Good question, I came across this blog post a few weeks ago.

I liked the idea behind it of using your digital camera like a film camera. I still have a Canon film SLR but I rarely use it because of the cost of film processing. So this digital equivalent appealed to me.

So the basic rules:

  1. Limit the number of photos to 12, 26 or 36 exposures, the same as the popular 35 mm format.
  2. Lock your ISO speed to one speed and don’t change it.
  3. Turn off the LCD so you can’t review your pictures afterwards, it’s so small on the 20D anyway!
  4. Wait 3 days before you download the pictures off your memory card.

So why use the 20D… well in amongst my collection of Compact Flash cards (CF) that the 20D uses I discovered some quite small sizes, 128 MB, 256 MB, as well as my usual 2GB and 8GB cards. In the highest resolution the 128 MB CF card would let me take 26 pictures or about 12 in RAW format… perfect for this challenge! Also with it’s limited specification (8 Megapixels, lower high ISO performance) the 20D is closer I feel to my film camera than anything else, oh and the weight.. about 1.5 kg with the zoom lens!

So suitably equipped and with the batteries charged I set off on our usual circuit of along and down in to the small hamlet of Fertevault, then along beside the river Thouet to the hamlet of Chambre, then back up the hill to Croix de Chambre. It’s about 3.2 km and normally takes me about 40 minutes. We generally do this same walk either clockwise or anti-clockwise.

I took some photographs and just enjoyed the scenery as always. The photos are nothing exceptional, I’ve taken similar shots before but it is nice to go around with a camera to hand and look for something different to photograph in this familiar landscape.

And here are the photos.

I will do this challenge from time to time, I quite enjoyed it. It was also nice to get familiar again with my old camera.

And why did I do the walk twice… somewhere on my walk I lost my reading glasses, so I went around again, I didn’t find them although, we will look out of them next time around, in the mean time I’m using an old pair!

Film photography

Things you don’t often hear these days…

I have just got to finish off this film…

I am waiting for the photographs to come back from the developers…

eos_30_tcm13-26634Well yesterday I was ‘just finishing off a film’ I still have my Canon EOS30 film SLR camera, I can’t remember when I bought it, a long time ago, but it was one of the few cameras I have bought new.

I love using it, it has eye control focusing, so with the camera to your eye you look at the focusing point, half press the shutter and the camera uses that focusing point. I have never understood why Canon never incorporated this feature in to their digital SLR cameras.

After using digital for over ten years now going back to film is quite testing. There is no instant feedback in a screen on the back or with my iPad attached to the camera to see the results!

I don’t use my film camera much these days, but I won’t get rid of it!

My month in pictures

I was reminded today that I don’t really share many of my photographs on line these days.

In the past I have been an active contributor to DeviantArt and a few other sites, but I have never really found a site I have got on well with for one reason or another.

So I have decided to do a post on here each month of a selection of my pictures from the last month with some text explaining the background to them.

Be warned though some months I do take lots of photos of either houses for LTPS or photos of Filofax organisers for Philofaxy!

I hope you enjoy this new regular feature.

Digital SLR simulator

So you have bought a new digital SLR and you want to get the most out of it. But to do this you have to understand all about the various settings. So how about this simulator I came across on the web.

There’s a useful explanation on the website and there are also apps for the iPhone, iPod Touch and the iPad, very handy…

I have been blogging around the world!

As well as my normal activities on Philofaxy, I’ve been taking part in the Philofaxy All Stars Tour, which is about a team of blogging doing guest posts on a variety of blogs, connected to readers of Philofaxy. The tour is going very well. Here are some of my contributions:

 

Choosing a digital camera

Choosing a camera these days is quite a difficult task, not because your choice is restricted, but because the number of models for sale is very extensive, terms of price and quality. These days even mobile phones have cameras of quite reasonable specification compared to the first digital consumer cameras of say 10-12 years ago. Over the years specifications have improved and the prices have come down.

When choosing a camera we will all have a price band in mind, what ever that price band is there will be quite a range of cameras to choose from.

Continue reading

Panoramic Photography

With the advent of digital photography it has opened up a lot more opportunities for me to experiment with techniques which whilst they were not available with film, they tended to be a lot more expensive to do.  Panoramic photography was one of these techniques I’ve previously tried using film, but it was never that successful for me.

With digital photography it is a lot easier to achieve good results, but certainly not fool proof. Some of my earlier attempts where quite good, although I found it difficult to repeat these earlier results successfully every time, so I recently had an opportunity whilst over in France to refine the technique and capture the same scene on several days using different techniques to see the overall results and to learn from the exercise.

I started off playing around using the software supplied with my Canon EOS 20D, called Photostitch. It does a fairly good job of joining your files together. But this software doesn’t work on my Mac, or at least it didn’t work under Snow Leopard. I discovered a later version of the software on the net that now does work.  It’s nice and easy to use. You just assemble the photos in the right order and it then stitches them together. What could be easier….

The photo above I took quite early on and I must have hit lucky in one of my early attempts. Subsequent panoramas just didn’t have the same impact as this one so I went back to the drawing board and tried out various options to discover what I was doing wrong.

I found that in order to get consistent results you need to lock the exposure of the camera, so this means putting your camera in to manual mode. Then I found it is best to pan across your scene and look at the variation in exposure you are getting as you go from one side to the other. You might need to make some adjustments so that the exposure falls slightly either side of what the camera considers the correct exposure. You are however aiming to get the least variation across the whole scene. To achieve this I found after a few attempts it’s best to aim for the sun at its highest point in the day so that your scene is illuminated as evenly as possible. Being cloudy isn’t too much of a problem as long as the cloud isn’t too patchy, otherwise you will have quite large differences as you pan across the scene.

The next important thing you need is to the ability to hold your camera as steady as possible so that your pictures scan across the scene in the same plane. I have done some handheld, but using a tripod or mono pod makes the task that bit easier.

When you are taking your frames for your panorama, I found it important to have a decent overlap from one frame to the next, rather than getting all technical with angles and things I just used the focusing spots in the viewfinder, the outer ones on my camera are at about a quarter and three quarters across the frame. So take a picture note where the three quarters one is in the scene and move the camera so that the quarter spot is roughly pointing at the same point in the scene. This also helps you keep the camera level if you are doing this hand held. Just keep repeating this until you have covered the whole scene.

Most people do panos in landscape mode, the photo below was done with a series of portrait pictures, you get a much more ‘natural’ landscape across the scene that way, but you do have to take more shots.

Try different view points, just moving a few feet to the left or right can make a difference.

 

As you can see with this image there is also the risk of getting your own shadow in the scene! I could have cropped that out and I did in other versions of this image, but I have left this one as it came out of the software to start with.

Be prepared for some seriously big images, I’ve reduced these ones in size to get them on to the blog in a reasonable time.

The best advice I can give though is to keep trying to shoot different scenes. I’m lucky in that the above scene in the second picture is only about 50 metres from our house so I can quickly walk there take a series of pictures, nip back to the house, download the pictures and go back again if I’m not happy with the result!

Have fun….

 

Never get rid of anything…

I know we all hang on to things when we get something new. I’m just as guilty as everyone else in this department. But tonight I thought I would try an experiment to see if it would help solve a problem when we travel.

When ever we travel across to France on the boat I never like to leave anything portable and valuable in the car, so I take my camera gear, netbook, iPod, etc in various cases up to the cabin. With the addition of the netbook to my ‘load’ I’ve been carrying an awful lot of stuff up 4-5 decks to the cabin.

My favoured camera bag the Orion AW is full of camera gear and the rucksack part has no dividers or structure to it. So anything hard in that part makes it quite uncomfortable to carry. So I’ve been carrying the netbook in another bag.

Tonight I had a brainwave and got out my previous camera bag a Lowepro Mini Trekker. I had stopped using it a while back because I didn’t find it that comfortable when carrying it for several hours. Also it can carry a lot of camera gear, and thus it can be quite heavy!  But for travelling it might be the ideal solution. The outer pocket on the front takes my netbook with plenty of room to spare at the top of the pocket. Inside I can get all of my camera gear slotted in with no difficulties at all.

So tonight I tried fully packing it as I would to go away to France and it all slots in neatly. The main advantage now is I will have everything in one bag not two or three, sure it’s heavyish, but I will not be carrying it far fully loaded. I can take some gear out once we get to the house.

Oh and before you ask, no I won’t be getting rid of the Lowepro Orion AW, it’s great for photowalks!