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

Birds, Birds, more Birds and a Dog!

A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of spending four and a bit days at the International Centre for Birds of Prey at Duncombe Park in Helmsley, Yorkshire.

I go to a number of game fairs and falconry fairs throughout each year, sometimes for work and sometimes for personal pleasure, but this one was a little something extra.  As well as being ICBP Duncombe’s first Raptor Fair, which looks set to become a great annual event, I was to photograph some of their display birds.

Of course, I photographed the birds during the displays themselves, as I often do at such events, darting about the arena and hopping from post to post, but I wanted to give them something a bit special.

arena_pano

Continue reading Birds, Birds, more Birds and a Dog!

What is “Sync Speed”?

Most people who use flash understand that your sync speed is the maximum shutter speed with which you can use flash.  What people generally don’t know is why.

“My camera goes all the way up to 1/8000th of a second, so why can’t I use flash past 1/250th?”

Well, this is really all down to how your shutter works in a DSLR.  The types of shutters in DSLRs are called “focal-plane shutters”.

Continue reading What is “Sync Speed”?

“Do you photograph babies?”

My reply to the question posed in the title of this post is usually something along the lines of, “It depends.  What type of baby?”

Then the conversation tends to go one of three ways.

The first two answers are the obvious ones.  I either hear “a little boy” or, not surprisingly, “a little girl”.

The third answer is my favourite, and the one I seem to hear most often;  “It’s a baby [insert random non-human species here].”

It’s not that I have anything against kids, you understand, but if you want the absolute best photographs of your new children, go find somebody who’s good at photographing babies and LOVES doing it.

The images will be worth it!

When it comes to animals, however, it’s a whole different story.

Continue reading “Do you photograph babies?”

Calibrating an iPad Display!

So, this is interesting, and while datacolor have had a Spyder option for a while, its calibration is limited to its own software (unless it’s changed since I last took a proper look at it).

This new offering from X-Rite, released in March, looks rather good, though, and it seems it has an API that allows other app developers to add support for the profiles it creates (meaning other software can show your images correctly, too – Hello? Lightroom Mobile? You listening, Adobe?).

There are, however, a couple of things that annoy me slightly about it, although one kind of negates the other (for me anyway).

Continue reading Calibrating an iPad Display!