Nothing too interesting but I’ve finally got fed up with juggling several YouTube/Google accounts so have deleted those I could remember and set up a new YouTube account.
There are a dozen or so videos that need to be loaded to the new YouTube channel and of course I need to change the links in each of the relevant blog post so I’ve got a bit of work to do but hopefully it will be worth it to have a fresh start and to get away from inadvertently uploading to the wrong account which I’ve done a few times recently.
So to both of my readers – please bear with me whilst this particular piece of maintenance goes ahead.
Well, sometimes you’ve just gotta grab the bull by the horns and get on with it. I’m talking about a clean OS X installation on my ancient MacBook Pro. It’s a late 2012 13″ model with the maximum 8gb of RAM and so I’m not expecting lightning speed from it but it’s almost glacial at the moment. Updating some of the applications I use regularly took an age last night.
This morning though I approached it with fresh vigour and sat down with iPad in hand to see what could be done. I’ve just spent a happy few hours removing unused applications, upgrading the OS to Sierra (as Apple recommend) and trying all the little tips and tricks that a Google search can liberate. Still glacial.
So, time to learn some new skills and I’ve just created my very first bootable USB. Except I didn’t have a big enough USB drive so it’s an SD card stuck into a SD/USB card adapter. The first test was seeing if the MacBook would boot from it, which it did and I very nervously instructed it to erase the MacBooks main drive. Which seemed to go OK so the next step was to install a fresh copy of Sierra from my SD/USB combo. As the progress bar edged towards the right I was a little bit nervous to tell the truth. Would it get stuck halfway leaving me with a large paper weight? I know it’s not cutting edge but it’s all I have with out lugging an iMac with me.
I’m typing this blog post in “real time”. The screen has just gone totally blank and the machine is eerily silent with even the status light on the SD/USB combo quenched. A nervous minute which felt twenty times longer and the Apple logo has reappeared along with the message “Installing: About 15 minutes remaining …”
If you’ve been reading this in “real time” you will find that it was around thirteen minutes and we are now at a screen asking for my credentials as it finalises setting up my machine for me.
I’m now typing this on the MacBook rather than the iPad from which it can be safely asserted that the installation appears to have gone well. Time to shut down, restart and see if things have thawed.
It’s still not lightning fast, I never expected it to be, but it is definitely booting up faster than before. Applications are also opening quicker and the App Store is a lot more responsive than last night for sure. The acid test will come over the next week as I use the machine more and start to reinstall some of the applications but for now it is definitely faster and whilst I know it will never be a modern speed machine at least I am left knowing that the clean reinstall was what was needed this time around. I don’t recommend it as a general cure but having exhausted all the other options it has certainly been worth the effort.
You may have realised that I spend a lot of time in my backyard. I often eat my breakfast sat on the upper patio (that sounds grand!) and when weather permits I like nothing better than sitting with a mug of tea and contemplating life. As well as domestic duties (note the washing line) it is also one of my main photographic locations as I’ve noted many times in my blog over the years.
So what I thought I’d do this week is something that Postcard Cafe actually suggested a month or so back and that is a slideshow of just a few of my favourite backyard images both old and new. I mentioned in a previous video post that I once owned two slide projectors and struggled vainly to produce the sort of slideshow that nowadays many photographers take for granted – I’m hoping that my 2017 attempt is better than my 1977 efforts!
So enjoy this selection, I always enjoy making photographs in the old back yard and I hope you enjoy seeing them.
It’s that time of the year when I spend hours fruitlessly trying to capture winged creatures in the garden. It’s like bashing your head on a rock and so I call it my annual penance as I rarely get something worth keeping.
Nikon D7100 with Sigma 105mm macro lens. Handheld 1/800th sec f7.1 ISO 400.
I’ve mentioned previously that video is a genre I’ve dabbled with on and off several times over the years. Indeed, if you go back forty years you will find me with a film cine camera “spraying and praying” as the saying goes. In the 1980s I had two slide projectors and went through agonies trying to synchronise the two together with music to produce slide shows with dissolves and transitions – all manual of course and only the most skilled could really do it justice. Being a completely manual process meant that no two performances were exactly the same. Heady stuff but also clunky, time consuming and needing true devotion to master the craft. This impatient teenager never stood a chance in hindsight!
In this, my longest video to date, I think back and reflect on my various forays into the world of video. Using previously unseen footage from 2012 and 2016 together with some iPhone footage I shot this week I consider some of the things I’ve learnt recently and share some of the truly terrible handheld footage from my venerable Canon 5D MkII (RIP).
I’ve created a short video diary looking at some of what I did in May and sharing my thoughts about new ventures. It includes some iPhone 7 footage which I shot expressly to try to determine how long it would take to create a daily VLOG. I shot the footage, edited it together and found some music and sound effects and proved to myself that it was do-able in an hour or so – but every day? Not for me.
I’ve created a “fancy(ish)” introductory sequence for this months offering. Now, a twenty second intro is far too much for a short video blog such as this but its use here serves to show what can be achieved in an hour or so with an internet connection, some YouTube videos and a willingness to try things out (and Google Earth too in this case). The final sequence used around 30 different elements all told and I also learnt some FCPX shortcuts in that process too. I’ve spent a fair bit of time on such research in the last few months and its starting to show in quicker editing I think.
I was out and about quite a bit in May when of course I was shooting video footage alongside my usual stills. This monthly update is a bit of a lucky dip as I had no clear idea when I started as to what I would cover in my video diary and was not therefore shooting with this in mind. There were days for example when I simply forgot to take any video footage to complement the stills, but that will improve with time I’m sure.
Several technical mishaps and occurrences over the last few days have made me realise how much we both rely on technology and how much we take it for granted.
First there was the iMac meltdown. I shan’t bore you with the gory details but after much reading and deliberation I concluded that the answer was a complete Restore of the OS. Supposedly straightforward using Time Machine if slightly time consuming. I accordingly set things going and settled down on my iPad to read and surf the internet. Some time elapsed but eventually everything was apparently running OK and life returned to normal – apart from the OS insisting it was a new machine.
Except it didn’t.
I use my computer most days and being a fairly observant type I subconsciously note the various icons scattered around the screen. It wasn’t long before I spotted that my external cloud backup icon was missing. On further inspection I found that the application was missing from the Applications folder too. Fast forward several hours, much scouring of support forums and an exchange of emails and an answer dimly emerges – the external cloud back-up service was upgraded recently and somewhere between this update (which may have been corrupted), the restore and the machine deciding it was a new device things just didn’t play nicely as they usually do.
I reinstalled the cloud back up software – it insisted that my external drives were new drives and didn’t recognise them – I won’t bore you but suffice to say three days later I’m still getting the 2.5TB of files backed up – again!
Then, Saturday morning I dropped my shiny, new (10-day old) iPhone. From less than two feet onto a paving slab but it fell corner first. Replacement screen of course but then we found the Home button wasn’t working properly. The Home button on the iPhone 7 is unlike the Home button on other iOS devices. Instead of moving inward when you press it, the Home button detects the presence and pressure of your finger using its Taptic Engine (sure they make words up). The fingerprint recognition works but the pressure sensitive elements of the Taptic Engine clearly doesn’t as it doesn’t respond to any other stimulus. I won’t be paying the £300+ Apple want to repair/replace it either.
You don’t need all the gory details, and thanks for sticking with me (assuming you have) whilst I get to the point. You see, on dropping the iPhone off for repair the chap said – we are really busy, can you come back in 90 minutes? Of course I could. I will go and have a coffee somewhere, read, surf the net or whatever, I can fill 90 minutes easily.
With no phone I had no watch. With no phone I had no way of texting/messaging family to tell them I would be a while. With no phone I couldn’t read my Kindle, surf the net, check my emails. You are probably starting to get my drift. Fortunately being old-fashioned I have a library ticket so I went to the central library, borrowed a book and went to a coffee shop to pass the time. Inspiration struck too. Remember I always carry the X100T in my pocket? It has a date/time facility which displays briefly when I turn it on. I could tell the time!
It’s really made me realise how much I not only use things such as my phone or tablet but how much I rely on them too! It’s a sobering thought that temporarily I felt cut off from friends and family, bereft of entertainment and totally at a loss. Thank goodness for old technology and coffee shops!
How do these folk on YouTube who post a daily blog find the time? Not exactly of earth-shattering importance but an interesting diversion from the tedium of infantile pseudo-political nonsense filling the ether at the minute.
I know that with experience comes greater speed of editing, production and the rest of it and that to some degree many are formulaic which again helps I’m sure. Many are delivered to-camera, often on the hoof, which can fill many minutes without the need for quality footage. But many also have some decent footage, even if it is just used as B-roll to accompany the main narrative.
I totally get that I have a huge learning curve, that the style of video I am choosing to try to produce is probably more time consuming than a face-to-camera Vlog but nevertheless how do they find time EVERY day? I no longer have a paid job but in a typical day I rarely get more than an hour to myself on a week day. I don’t know the answer but it will give me something to think about whilst I’m sorting the washing or sweeping the stairs later today.
I am away for a few days at the end of the month and will not have room for much in the way of photographic kit so am planning on taking just the Fuji X-T20 with a single lens and the drone. I can use the Fuji for video but will use it mainly for stills I suspect so having just acquired a shiny new phone I’m thinking of using that for B-roll footage.
The snippets here were shot hand held on the phone just to see if it works OK and I think that it will do very nicely for a short online video update for my blog. Whilst it is all totally handheld it is reasonably steady although I’m debating whether a smartphone gimbal might not be a worthwhile purchase. I can see the video facility on this phone being used too when I’ve got the drone out and I’m not wanting to carry a digital camera too.
It’s time to decide whether or not to upgrade my mobile phone and I’ve been trying to decide whether to keep the current handset, as I did last time, and bank the monthly saving or upgrade. Short version – I’m upgrading this time and having skipped the iPhone 6 generation and had many poor Android experiences I’ve opted for an iPhone 7.
I’ve never been a huge fan of mobile phones for “serious” photography but have at various times really enjoyed a spot of “iphoneography” and given that the new phone apparently has a decent camera I suspect I will have a play whilst the novelty lasts. I have just downloaded everything from the old handset and the Photos application on my Mac kindly sorted them into various categories which is how I came to rediscover the panorama above created with the phones sweep panorama feature. Not bad at all and it’s printed OK too.
May was a funny month all told. Lots of activity but not a lot to show for it at first glance but when one sits back and takes stock there was a heck of a lot of new skills that were taken onboard particularly in regards to video editing and capture. There was also quite a bit of variety with bluebells, rapeseed crops and poppies in sharp focus (and out of focus too). I managed a few words on the Fuji X-T1 vertical grip and on using Nikon lenses with my Fuji X-series gear. No less than five videos made their way on to YouTube as well during May and I certainly won’t forget my trip to the Lincolnshire Wolds and a few days later my pre-flight nerves when I took the plunge and purchased a DJI Mavic drone.
So far this month, in-between looking after grand children, fitting new curtain poles and rehanging doors I’ve been researching the murky world of LUTs (look up tables as I discovered) and how they can help with the quality of the final video. Exploring D-Log recording is on the agenda for my next drone flight to capture some footage to really explore these LUTs in detail.
So, lots achieved when you sit back and review things properly. I guess the same is true of life in general, we feel we’ve not achieved much but when we take stock and look at things objectively we’ve been more productive than we’d first thought. But that’s enough philosophy for one day!