To crop …

I seem to have lost all of my RAW files from a 2016 trip to Skye so have had old hard drives out today in a vain attempt to locate them. Whilst doing so I found some images from 2009 and took a detour – how unlike me to get distracted!

This one of Lumb Hole Falls caught my eye.  I had processed it so clearly I’d liked it enough to take the trouble to do that; I am notorious for processing very few images at the time, preferring to come back to them over a period of time, it’s why the loss of my 2016 RAWs is so annoying.

© Dave Whenham
Canon EOS 40D with 24-105 f4

Ignoring the fact that I’d probably process the file differently these days what struck me this afternoon was there are two images fighting with each other in this version which is clearly cropped from the original RAW file.  I haven’t been back for a while but from what I remember it would be possible to get a wider view, although this was shot at 24mm which was as wide as I could get in 2009. These days I’d get the 14-24 out, get lower … but that’s irrelevant.

© Dave Whenham

The first crop reduces that triangle of bland sky to a small patch and I like how the bridge is now hinted at. The eyes are  drawn first however by the boulders bottom left which lead the eye towards the falls.  There is no doubt as to the main subject, unlike the original version where my eyes jump back and forth between the two.

© Dave Whenham

It’s a similar story with the portrait crop which isolates the right hand fall.

I remember this morning well. It was extremely icy, you can see large bands of ice to the right of the falls in the third image, and I was stood in the river in wellington boots with ice cold water an inch from the top.  I’d gone with a fellow photographer and was grateful of the additional hands as I climbed back up the bank which is around eight feet high and quite sheer in places.

The other thing I notice is the processing. This appears to have a not-too-subtle Orton treatment and the whole image is a lot warmer than I’d probably opt for these days.

© Dave Whenham
I can’t remove the Orton effect but I can adjust the white balance for a cooler look

There is of course no substitute for cropping in-camera as it were and these days I’d have shot all three options I suspect. It’s a sign of how my approach has changed in the eight and a half years since I took this image. It’s also a reminder not to be afraid to crop after the fact if it improves on the original composition.

A day in the life …

9:50pm, weather forecast for tomorrow – starting bright and clear in most places. Thinks, “finally time to get the drone up for its first flight of 2018.”

  • Batteries charged – check!
  • Drone firmware up to date – check!
  • Drone in case – check!
  • Cables in case – check!
  • Memory cards – check!
  • Cleaning cloth – check!
  • Camera in bag – check!
  • Mobile phone on charge – check!
  • Portable phone battery – check!

11pm, gear checked,  packed and ready to go.


6am, alarm jerks me awake and I look out of the window. Wall to wall, nothing. Grey, grey, grey oh and more grey. The wife is in luck, no dawn shoot so a lift to work at 7am is on the cards.

7:39am, a test shot looking over the Nestle factory with some of Halifax’s architecture in background. Will look good I think with warm morning light on the warm coloured stone contrasting with the bright metallic feel of the factory in the foreground.

7:52am, coffee in front of me, transfer image from camera to iPad and marvel at modern technology yet again. My test shot is a keeper! Celebratory sausage and egg butty is called for.

© Dave Whenham
Looking over the Nestle factory to Halifax town centre (Snapseed edit)

8:23am, still grey, grey, grey. Abort and try tomorrow? Or drive out and hope?

Decisions, decisions.

8:24am, realise that there is a basket of dirty laundry awaiting me at home.

8:26am, in car heading for the moors!

8:38am, signs of some light creeping in.

8:53am, Pulled over on to some rough ground alongside the B6114, drone in the air.


First shot from the drone since early November. Checking later it’s a keeper too.

© Dave Whenham
Off the beaten track – just 25 feet above gives a different perspective


9:02am, drone at 200 feet above Buckstones. Light not good but I am getting some flying practice in too. A few snaps of which a couple will find their way on to Flickr in the afternoon.

© Dave Whenham
Still murky but good to have drone aloft

9:13am, Hands like ice so reach into bag for hand warmers.

9:14am, back in car. Hand warmers are still on my desk!

9:16am, heading back along B6114 and see a few crepuscular rays so pull over for a quick snap. Drone on the seat next to me so decide to use that rather than the Fuji.

© Dave Whenham
Crepuscular Marsden Moor

9:30am, back indoors. Coffee brewing, hands painfully returned to life as I drove and are now back to normal.

10:00am, images loaded into Adobe Bridge and a small smile of satisfaction on my lips.

© Dave Whenham
60 feet above Buckstones

View from 60 feet up above Buckstones looking down the road towards Rochdale (I know it’s beyond the horizon but stick on the road and you’ll get there).

Happy now to sort out the dirty laundry!

I want to go back …

I thought I’d share a work in progress. My plan is to revisit and amend this video in a couple of months time when I’ve had a chance to implement feedback on another PTE AV that I created recently.

Of course, as a work in progress it has many rough edges although I plan to maintain the length at 3 minutes and limit the images to 36.  I have a vague idea about 36 frames on a roll of 35mm film but it is very vague!

To conform or not to conform?

Hospital (again) this morning, routine blood tests so no stress just the inconvenience of arriving at 7.30am to be tenth in the queue, which is a lot better than turning up any later. They work hard at Calderdale Royal Infirmary that’s for sure. But you’ve not tuned in for a medical report!

I recently joined a dedicated audio visual group in order to expand my skills and most importantly get some impartial feedback. I have to submit a sequence (yup, already got the lingo) during March and I finished the first draft of one last week.  I said finished but added the caveat draft you notice; good practice is to leave the finished sequence for a day or two then watch it twice a day for a few days. Right, I thought, that’s a waste of time but I will try it.

© Dave Whenham
Light and dark – I don’t always conform.

Not to beat about the bush, I was wrong. On the first two viewings I tweaked a couple of things. After the third viewing I started to get annoyed at how a few of the slides didn’t quite dissolve into each other neatly. I spent half an hour sorting that out. After the fourth viewing I took all the music out and replaced it with new choices. Yesterday I watched it for the fifth time and completely scrapped the opening section and rebuilt it from scratch. An hours work for a newbie. © Dave Whenham

I’ve now watched it back eight times, making small changes until on the eighth viewing I finally decided there was nothing more I’d tweak.  At least not until I view it again I suspect.



But for now, PHEW!

There is a sting in the tail though. Reading some AV guidance notes from one of the larger UK clubs I’m now wondering if what I’ve done fundamentally breaks all the norms. I shall have to speak to my group leader for a view.  I’m happy to break the rules, but as it will be my first submission to the group I don’t want to upset the apple cart just yet. That can wait until I’m more settled in the group.

I’ve done a lot of reading and online searching this last week, eagerly absorbing any morsel of information that I can. Dedicated AV guidance is sparse. There is quite a bit available on using Pictures to Exe, the most popular software for the AV worker, either commercially or via YouTube. But general guidance is a lot harder to come by it seems. True, a lot of the skills needed are not specific to AV, but I’d expected to find something other than a few general, very high-level notes on AV Club websites. If anyone can point me in the direction of a book I’d be very appreciative!

I’m sure that there will be more words from me on this subject as the year goes on.

Watch this space!!

To tag or not to tag?

So, today’s thought for the morning concerns the exciting subject of tagging or more correctly key-wording photographs. You know the thing, those little words that describe the image contents to make them easier to find later. Those little words that can easily be added when you download the files to the computer. Or as a bulk action after you’ve done that first edit and chucked a lot of the RAWs in the bin. Or even as a final step in post production, just before printing in my case.

Those key words that mean that when you want to find, say, all the images from Skye or all the images with mountains, or doors even, then all that is needed is a simple search in Lightroom (other digital management software is available). That’s the theory, and it works … assuming you bothered to tag your files with key words in the first place.

Can you see where I’m going with this?

Screenshot 2018-02-19 11.50.49Over the weekend I put the finishing touches to the first draft of an audio visual sequence looking back at one aspect of 2017. I haven’t decided whether to use it for a club feedback session or put it straight on the blog so will keep it under wraps for now.  Whilst I was working on it I had an idea growing in the back of my head for a sequence involving a poem, that I’d written on Sunday, and images from Skye.

Some judicious pruning over the last year means there are “only” 9,000 images in my “processed” folder, all catalogued with Lightroom.  A keyword search for “Skye” yielded twenty or so.  Twenty? I’ve been five times, shot several thousand images and I’ve only kept twenty?  True, there are a lot of unprocessed RAW files which are not in the Lightroom catalogue but I’d figured on a couple of hundred processed files from which to chose the forty or so I expect to use in the new AV. A quick look at the results revealed that all had “Skye” in the file name and it was then that the penny dropped. None of them had key words.

Inspection suggests that I last did any serious key wording in 2013, and none of those are on the external drives I’m currently using. I can be anal at times about numbers but even I quailed at the thought of checking how many of the 9,000 actually have a meaningful keyword or two. I’ve simply got out of the habit. To be fair, the way I’ve been using images over the last year or so has been date-based rather than subject or location based.  I have to be careful not to submit the same image twice in competition for example and so tend to limit selections to a date range. Thus, for the 2017 Travelling Exhibition I only selected from images taken between July 2016 and June 2017.  This system works for what I’ve needed  up until now.

© Dave Whenham
Talisker Bay

To compound things, from this year  I have been filing images in folders based on the date of processing, this fits well with competition selection and means that I have more available to chose from as images taken In June 2017 for example but not processed until after that date would not have been considered previously. But, not for the first time, I digress.

There being nothing else to do I put Lightroom into slide view and eyeballed the 9,000 images putting all the Skye images I spotted into a temporary collection.  There were 217 which is closer to what I’d expected but probably still doesn’t account for all of them. I then loaded all 217 into Pictures to Exe and started to delete duplicates and pull the rest into a rough sequence based on location. If only they had the location in their key words, or even file name, then this would have been soooo much easier…

So the long and short of it is that I still haven’t finished culling the images, I have them in a rough location-based sequence although as I pressed “Close” last night I spotted a couple in the wrong place as the image dimmed on the laptop screen. All for the want of an extra couple of minutes at processing time.

My need to find specific images for audio visual use is likely to grow over the next few months as I start to learn the art of melding music, images and words. I can foresee many such frustrations to come so am thinking that the best thing I can do now is to set aside half an hour every day to retrospectively keyword my catalogue. I also need to start to keyword all new images immediately!

© Dave Whenham
Sligachan – November 2014

When I first started taking photographs seriously I was able to recall when I’d been to certain places and I even filed all my images in folders for specific shoots, thus there were folders labelled “June 1st 2012 Lake District” for example. I no longer use this system; since the start of 2014 I have preferred a single folder for each month and key words to narrow things down. It’s just that at some point between then and now (probably mid-2014 on yesterday’s experience) I stopped adding keywords.

So to answer the question at the top of the page, the answer is an emphatic “YES”.

Even if you cannot see a big need for your current way of working it doesn’t follow that you will never have a need to quickly identify certain images. If that day comes and you’ve heeded my advice you will smile smugly but if you’ve ignored my cautionary tale then don’t come running to me!

Feeling Blessed

No, don’t worry, I’m not going all sentimental nor am I likely to burst into tears any moment! Confined to the house again (don’t ask!) and amusing myself by digging around on a hard drive full of unprocessed images from 2014, 2015 and 2016. There’s lots of decent stuff I’ve not got around to processing – I’ve always enjoyed pressing the shutter or cable release more than sitting at the computer!

© Dave Whenham
June 6th 2015 – and a beautiful day for a walk.

Take this first image. Behind me, less that 200 metres away is the mighty dam wall at Scammonden that is so wide it carries six lanes of the M62 motorway. Yet down here the motorway is but a murmur and the view is fabulous. Two-and-a-half years have past yet seeing this image on my screen instantly took me back to that afternoon. I can remember what gear I was carrying but not what I was wearing. I am blessed to live so close to such stunning countryside.

© Dave Whenham
Blue Tit

I am a very occasional wildlife photographer so any decent images are at least 50% luck if not more. Blue Tits are never still and for someone like myself grabbing a sharp image is a real challenge. This image from July 2016 then was a very welcome find on my hard drive. Amongst two dozen images, all slightly spoilt by motion blur, was one where I had nailed it. Okay, it’s not a rare species, indeed it may be dismissed as a “tit on a stick” but it again brings back memories of being sat in the bird viewing area with Amanda watching the birds feeding and getting annoyed at the grey squirrel who was spooking the more timid visitors. Sure enough, twenty blurred frames later is a sharp image of said squirrel!

© Dave Whenham
Cousins – inside and out

Of course, photographs of the family are always full of stories and memories. Ted is now three and Zac six … how time really does fly. As I get older it seems to get quicker too although I’m sure we all think that as we get older.

© Dave Whenham
Light and shadow – Dean Clough

Of course, as a photographer, photos also bring back memories of past cameras. The one above was taken with the diminutive, yet idiosyncratic Canon EOS M. I parted company with it eventually despite its undoubted image quality. It was one of a string of compacts I worked my way through before settling on the Fuji X100t as my pocketable go-anywhere camera. I have a very poor record with kit, having bought and sold so much over the years and lost a small fortune into the bargain too. But along the way I’ve used some fabulous kit and enjoyed it all, quirks and all!

© Dave Whenham
The beauty of small cameras is you are more likely to carry them with you.

So, just a few random images from the archives. I started the day feeling sorry for myself but seeing some of the images in my “to be actioned” folder has been a tonic and I know there are plenty more images inside me so lots to look forward to.