Friday, 23 September 2011

The joy of print

I've just been given a new printer. It's a HP B9180 A3+ capable. It uses 8 pigment ink cartridges to give professional results.

Installation was easy, Win 7 x64 drivers are on the HP website.

So far I've only run a few B+W  and colour prints through on the Normal setting and I'm really impressed with the quality, its it much better than my Epson C64 Photo even when the Epson is set on Best quality, but then it should be really.

On the downside it is rather large, it is recommended thait beleft swithed on and replacement ink cartridges are around £30 each and only OEM ink is available.
I have seen CIS (continuous ink system) advertised and they certainly look worth investigating. A CIS is around £150, but includes much larger ink reserves, which works out at about £5 per cartridge.

Seeing your images printed on B+ paper really is a little bit special.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Street photography - how trendy am I?

Street photography is currently very popular,The London Festival of Street Photography took place earlier this summer and the recently discovered archive of Vivian Maier have brought it to public attention. The various Apps on the iPhone that turn the already crappy camera into an even crappier camera are popular and the Russian Lumo cameras have suddenly become very trendy (and expensive) but probably not much better. My brother had the TLR Lumo once, it was shit. However I digress.
When my mate and I went down to London to hear McCullin recently, we also tried our hand at street photography. He has chosen it as a module in his OCA Degree whilst I just fancied the idea of walking around looking cool and wearing a hat.

I read a whole load of internet stuff on how to "do" street photography, there are many "experts" on the internet. Some said it had to be done using a 35mm lens (same field of view as human vision) shot from the hip without looking through the viewfinder shooting what you see. Others said no, you must take the decisive moment. Some were of the opinion you use any lens you like.
When it came to displaying the images opinion was again divided. Only ever show the whole frame, no cropping. Definitely no post processing. Others disagreed, crop and post process all you like.

So, somewhat confused, I set out with my Olympus PEN E-PL1, 14-42 and 50-150 lenses in my trendy LowePro Sling bag onto the streets of Kings Cross. Oh, and I had my hat on too.

I decided to be a purist for the first hour, with the E-PL1set to manual focus I set the lens to around 17mm (35mm equiv in full frame) selected Aperture Priority and an aperture of f5.6. This gave a Hyperfocal distance of 3.46m so everything from 1.7m to infinity would be in acceptable focus. Thus set I shot from the hip.
After an hour I got a little bored and started to use my Zuiko 50-150, the results looked like Private Detective "divorce evidence" pics or Police surveillance. I went back to the Zuiko 14-42 and used the VF-1 viewfinder.

Over two days I shot over 170 pics, I was pleased with the performance of the E-PL1, exposures were generally very good and the hyperfocal focussing method worked very well. Here are some of the first images I've worked on.
I think they look best in B/W and I have adjusted then in Photoshop.

Talk by Don McCullin & Barnaby Rogerson 12 Sept 2011

I have long admired the photography of Don McCullin and only recently re-read his 1987 book Open Skies, so when a friend suggested that we go and hear him and Roman expert Barnaby Rogerson talk about McCullin's latest book Southern Frontiers: A Journey Across the Roman Empire at the Royal Geographical Society in London it sounded like a very good idea.

In Southern Frontiers, his latest book,  McCullin has photographed the Roman ruins in coastal North Africa and the Lebanon as well as Hadrian's Wall in Northumbria.

Over 400 people had come to hear the talk, a fair proportion via the Royal Photographical Society, a fact acknowledged when the speakers were introduced.

The evening started with McCullin apologising for the fact the slides were in the wrong order, in fact they were in no particular order, so they would be jumping back and forth speaking about whatever slide appeared next. Added to this the laptop they had running the slides was set to slide show so unless all to be said about that particular slide had been said it was either jumped back to or simply left and onto the next one. There was even a slide that McCullin said had not come out correctly, this was skipped - but why was this included in the slide sequence?
Very little info was provided on how McCullin took the photos, other than mentioning if it was raining or the light was wrong he'd either come back later if possible or move on. Oh, and he used a yellow filter. Rogerson offered little more in his capacity as a Roman expert saying that he simply left Don to the picture taking and went for a swim once he'd shown him the location. This continued for 45 mins, then there were a few questions and it was all over. As the person sitting next but one to me said " Is that it?"

I feel this was a missed opportunity. A bit more preparation by the speakers to structure the talk drawing on their expertise and knowledge, especially given the audience (who had paid up to £20 to attend) and their interests could have made a thoroughly entertaining and educational evening.

According to his publishers website McCullin used a large format camera but the photographs shown were extremely grainy some exhibiting blown highlights, and some having no detail whatsoever in the skies, looking as if they were in fact shot on 35mm. I don't know if some were and McCullin was certainly not telling. 

Regarding the actual photographs. I don't think this is McCullin's strongest work, partly down the subject, one set of Roman remains looks pretty much like another Roman remains, at least to me anyway. And where his previous work provided something that few photographers could have achieved if they had shot the same subjects, I don't think this is the case here. I am of the opinion that a competent photographer tasked with photographing these remains would produce a similar result. Especially if you print the negs with high contrast and very dark shadow details.
The exception were possibly the Hadrian's Wall images, which did exhibit some of McCullin's brooding style reminiscent of Open Skies. It is a great shame we did not see more of them.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Price per litre

I went for a quick blast on my bike the other evening and rode past a long closed petrol station, not as old as the one featured previously, but the petrol is priced at 47p/litre, it its been closed quite a while!
A bit further on was another building, it looks to me like an old bus garage. Anyway I thought they might photograph well, so I went back this evening and took some pics.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Pump it up

I recently had the opportunity to shoot his abandoned filling station again in different light. Harsher shadows this time and I took some close up views. Biggest problem was it was going home from work time so I had a terrible time keeping vehicles out of the frame and avoiding getting run over!