The last DSLR I’ll ever need

This post stems from a conversation started with my good friend Chris Frosin, during a rainy visit to the Lake District a few days ago.  Chris and I don’t get together too often, so when we do, it’s a good opportunity to geek out on the some of the latest photo news.

I’ve been shooting with SLRs of one type or another for about the past 17 years.  I switched from 35mm to digital in 2002, and for the last 7 years, despite bouncing around between other various cameras and brands for certain shoots that had specific technical requirements, my body of choice has always been the Nikon D300s, and still is.

It’s my go-to camera.  It’s what’s always charged and ready to go at a moment’s notice.  I use it for both personal and client work.

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While I do love the D300s as a camera, there have been one or two shortcomings that have always bugged me.  I’ve never really kept these annoyances a secret, and they have been very minor annoyances, but I have been one of those yearning for a D400.

What did I want in a D400?  Well, to be honest, not really that much more than the D300s offered, but I did make a short list.

Continue reading The last DSLR I’ll ever need

Winter was coming

For the third year in a row, various news outlets have reported that we we’re going to be seeing the “Worst Winter in 100 Years”.  This year we finally got to see a little weather action.

I’m not sure the flooding of great chunks of the North West of England is quite what they had in mind, and being one of the 55,000 homes that was without power for several days, I didn’t venture out much while most of the city was underwater, but we did get to see a little snow last weekend.

Continue reading Winter was coming

3D Photogrammetry

I love how far along 3D software has come in the years since I last worked with it regularly.

Back then, Maya was still produced by Alias, and if you wanted such revolutionary features as particle, hair & cloth simulations that reacted realistically to real world physical principles, you were spending upwards of $5,000 just for the software, let alone the kind of hardware you needed to run it efficiently.

Now, such features are readily available to any and all through free Open Source software, like Blender (which has also come a hell of a long way since I first played with it way back when), and the hardware can be bought off the shelf at your local computer store to run it at a decent enough pace.

One of the aspects of 3D that I was always intrigued by was that of 3D scanning.

Continue reading 3D Photogrammetry

Photographing Grass

So, this was something very different for me.  The last time I was a part of the 3D world, I was still shooting film.  Digital cameras weren’t really that great, and online texture libraries were often prohibitively expensive for personal follies (at least if you wanted imagery of any kind of decent quality).

Yesterday, however, I spent the afternoon in the surprisingly glorious sunshine (It got to 19 degrees yesterday! in England! in October!) photographing blades of grass, leaves and various other bits and bobs in order to start compiling my own texture libraries for Blender and other 3D applications.

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Delving back into 3D

It’s been almost a decade since I last ventured into the world of 3D software like Maya, 3DS Max, etc. but suddenly I seem to have been bitten by the bug again.

It all started a few weeks ago when I was asked to give another talk at Lancaster Photographic Society on lighting portraits.

My plan was to sift through the images I already have in my library, and shoot a few more to explain specific lighting principles, and the differences that can happen when you add or take away a light here, or a reflector there.

Then, I stumbled across a post in the Strobist group on Facebook by Pat David, linking to a fantastic Blender 3D file he put together on his website, created specifically for the purposes of rendering out lighting tests – you can see one of mine in the header photo on this post. Continue reading Delving back into 3D

Smartphones – A Valuable Photographer’s Tool

“What’s in your bag?” seems to be an often asked question.

Typically, this question means “What do you have that I can lust after?” or “What do you have that isn’t as good as what I have?”, but it also has another connotation.

Of course, the gear is important, don’t let anybody ever tell you otherwise, but it’s not about having “the best” camera, lenses or flash equipment, it just means you need the right ones for the task at hand.

But what about the other stuff?

There are so many things that, while not absolutely required, make life a whole lot easier during a shoot, and they’re often ignored when “the question” is asked.

I’m going to compose a series of posts that will attempt to address some of those things.  I suppose this could be considered “Part 1”, and I’m going to talk about some of the various ways my iPhone (but it applies equally to Android) has become an essential part of my kit.

Continue reading Smartphones – A Valuable Photographer’s Tool

DPI vs PPI and Why it matters (or not!)

This is a slight rework of a post I made on an old blog back in 2011, with a bit of an update to elaborate on a couple of points.

Originally this was in response to an article written by a particularly well known photographer claiming to “bust” some myths that his article actually end up reinforcing and propagating (which might explain why his post now seems to have magically vanished from the web).

I’d had a little back and forth on Twitter with this person regarding his new article and why PPI doesn’t matter when resizing images for digital display (meaning, on the screen, on the web, via digital projector running off a laptop, via a mobile device, whatever) which he claimed was a myth, and that it does matter.

Continue reading DPI vs PPI and Why it matters (or not!)

Assisting in the clouds

That’s “clouds”, as in, “those pretty white balls of fluffy stuff in the sky that are actually just big masses of static rain when you’re standing inside them”.

At some point around the middle of 2013, fellow photographer and good friend Graham Binns got in touch, as he does from time to time, to ask if I’d be interested and able to assist on a shoot.

I’ve assisted Graham before, a couple of times, and he’s assisted me in the past, too.  Whenever Graham and I get together, no matter who’s shooting, I know it’s going to be a fantastic day, we’re both going to come home exhausted, probably in a great deal of pain, and at least one of us will get wet.

So, of course, I said yes.

Continue reading Assisting in the clouds

Developing your own film

I started off in film and jumped wholeheartedly into digital back in 2002 when the Nikon D100 was released.

It was supposed to be a short break from film.  I’d always intended to return to it at some point and shoot the two side by side, but I was smitten by digital and it was a good 10 years before I finally pulled my Nikon N90s back out of retirement.

One thing I’d never done when I originally shot film was to develop and print it myself.  This is something I wanted to correct when I started again (prompted by the acquisition of a Nikkormat FTn for the princely sum of £1 at a local car boot sale).

Continue reading Developing your own film