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.
We all get pre-flight nerves don’t we? I’m most definitely not the most comfortable flyer in the world it has to be said. The wait in the departure lounge also adds to the pre-flight nerves I find, and I daren’t have an alcoholic drink in case I have to fly the plane at any point. Whilst I usually end up enjoying most of the flight I do struggle with take-off and particularly with landing. The speed at which the land rushes up towards the plane puts the heebie-jeebies up me.
But yet – what if instead of being a passenger I WAS the pilot? Doesn’t bear thinking about does it?
Or does it?
I went to investigate a GoPro compatible drone recently … long story … short version … I bought a DJI Mavic Pro. Which is how I came to photograph West Vale from the air (above!) this morning. This purpose of this blog is just to put a marker in the ground; as with most of my blog posts this is primarily intended as a memory bank for me to look back at in a few months time and see how I’ve fared. It’s been interesting looking back this week at August 2016 when I last had a play with creating videos for example.
I was very apprehensive, having never even driven a remote controlled car before, but after an hour and a half flight time (over a couple of sessions) I’m ready to share my initial thoughts.
I am still very nervous is probably the first thing to say here.
Seventeen take-offs and seventeen landings have given me a degree of confidence in the technology and in my ability to handle it. I have deliberately kept it in beginner mode figuring I can work with the distance and height limitations for now. What is important is getting to know how to handle the craft and how to get the best from the camera. Multi-tasking is never easy when both tasks are totally new but I’ve been impressed with how the system works together.
The guide that comes in the box is pathetic; it probably doesn’t even warrant being called a quick start guide. I found how to format the SD card for example by playing with the App on my phone which works with the controller to aid flight and operation of the camera. Prior to my maiden flight I read a lot of articles and read parts of the online manual which thankfully is a bit more comprehensive although it is very, very poorly organised; DJI could surely afford to produce professional documentation at this price point?
The best advice I received prior to my maiden flight was to watch some of the many “newbie” video tutorials before turning the machine on. These turned out to be very helpful in giving me a visual reference for when the drone was on the ground in front of me with flashing lights and whirring blades.
I will write my initial thoughts after a few more sessions with the Mavic but I get the feeling that I am going to enjoy this latest addition to my photographic arsenal.
A busy few days since my return from Lincolnshire mainly with domestic chores but I didn’t want to completely lose the habit of updating the blog. So, here are a few more images from last weekend all taken with a Nikon DSLR.
I do have a few things to share photographically but I’m still putting finishing touches to these. I am also well on with the June video blog, something I hope will become a regular feature. It’s half term here next week and the school has decided to close for two weeks to give people a chance to go away outside of the peak pricing period. All well and good but it will mean I will spend most of the next two weeks child-minding.
Finally, a teaser image until I get time to complete the latest project …
One from the archives that I rediscovered today. Taken with the Canon 5DII whilst walking with my wife. We saw this view back towards Keswick as we walked back to our B&B. Sensing the light was changing I stopped and looked behind me to find this scene.
A lot has been written about how Fuji RAW (RAF) files are processed by various software packages. I’ve been processing mine in Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) from Day One and never had cause for complaint. However, popular wisdom is that Iridient X-Transformer (IXT) is the way to go, although typically no one can quite agree on the best way to configure this software.
I thought though that I’d give it a try and, again following perceived wisdom, have set the parameters so that there is no sharpening applied. That seems to me to be a fairer test, turning sharpening off in both ACR and IXT and applying equal sharpening using the Unsharp Mask in Photoshop.
In the screenshot above the IXT processed file is on the left and the ACR version on the right. There is very little manual tweaking to be done with IXT – apart from initial set up of the interface everything is automatic. The ACR file however was manually tweaked to get the best image, to my taste, from the RAW file. Both files then had exactly the same degree of Unsharp Mask applied in Photoshop. Looking at the side by side there is little to choose and the most striking thing for me is how close to how I envisaged the file is the IXT conversion.
I’m not sure how well it shows up here but pixel peeping at 100% the ACR conversion has the smallest of edges but to be honest the difference is so small that it is not going to register when uploaded to Instagram or even printed and viewed at an appropriate distance for the size of the print.
For my part I will probably continue manually processing RAW files in ACR, saving IXT for those “tricky” files where I can’t seem to get quite what I want. However, if I wanted to quickly batch process a lot of RAF files I wouldn’t hesitate to put them through IXT and then applying basic sharpening through a batch process in Photoshop should I feel the need to sharpen the converted files. However, as I only use DNG files from IXT I can be safe in the knowledge that any DNG file on my hard drive will be unsharpened so I doubt if this second step will be required that often.
The Sigma 105mm f2.8 macro lens has been a permanent fixture on the Nikon D7100 body for the last week. At this time of year I often leave the macro lens attached and the camera ready to hand. One day, one day, I will get that elusive insect in flight image I’ve been after for several years but until I do there’s always the flowers in the garden.
After a “straight” shot of the backlit poppies I started looking for opportunities to use the poppies as a backdrop to other, smaller flowers in the raised bed.
With a few of those captured I looked to open the lens up nice and wide and look to shoot through the other plants. The placement of flowers in the bed meant that the natural subject was these poppies with other flowers out of focus in the foreground to shoot through and more colour beyond as a background.
Finally, my favourite from the session. Red, green, blue, yellow and a touch of white.
All images Nikon D7100, Sigma 105mm macro lens and a low wall to steady my arms!
We only have a tiny front garden and a small back yard but my wife has managed to cram a lot of colour into these two small spaces. First thing in the morning at this time of the year the plants in the small raised bed opposite the back door receive the morning sun as it peeps above the houses opposite creating lovely backlit images. There’s usually a few of these in my files come the end of the year!
I was just about to close PS down for the day when I noticed that the last nine images I’ve worked on have all had flowers in them. Must be the start of my floral period, or perhaps it’s simply an interlude. Taken with a variety of cameras, Nikon D750, Nikon D7100, Fuji X-1 and the Fuji X-T20 which reflects how much variety I have enjoyed in terms of handling and also lens choice over the past few weeks. If it can be helped I try not to change lenses when out in a field of, say, rape seed crops and that has been what has happened here. Looking at the RAW files on my computer I can see that all five of my cameras has had at least three outings in the past three months, and some of them even more. Not sure how long this can be sustained, I usually have several lean periods every year, but enjoying it whilst I can!
You must be logged in to post a comment.