Saturday, 31 October 2015

More with the macro ring on the Olympus PEN EP-1

Experimented a bit more with the macro ring on the Olympus PEN EP-1.

I really like the soft dreamy quality I get with this cheap macro ring.

Olympus PEN EP-1 Zuiko 14-42mm  + Polaroid macro ring attachment

Olympus PEN EP-1 Zuiko 14-42mm  + Polaroid macro ring attachment

Olympus PEN EP-1 Zuiko 14-42mm  + Polaroid macro ring attachment

Thursday, 29 October 2015

WD My Book Pro

Fast storage is always required for the best performance if you use a lot of media.

As well a photos I shoot video and produce audio.

Prior to migrating to Mac as my platform I used to back up media on WD USB drives, copying video and audio files to be worked on to a much faster G-Tech e-SATA drive.

On Mac I use an Apple Time Capsule for back up and a Lacie Little Big Disk SSD Thunderbolt drive for AV files I'm working on.

However, now I've got a couple of documentaries that I've just started work on, so needed a larger drive that would be capable of editing HD video.

I looked at the Lacie d2, the add on SSD was a tempting idea, but it is expensive for what you get. Then a colleague mentioned that Western Digital have an educational webstore with huge discounts for those of us who work in education. I logged on to the site and found the recently released WD My Book Pro Thunderbolt/USB3 6TB RAID with £200 off!
A quick Google revealed this drive to be well reviewed so it was a bit of a no-brainer.

Install on Mac was a doddle, it comes ready formatted in HFS+ so its just a matter of plugging it in and powering it up.

I ran a Black Magic speed test and for a spinning drive its the fastest I've ever had. Easily fast enough for HD video editing. I believe the My Book Pro used two of the WD Black Enterprise quality hard drives.
The supplied WD utility software lets you set up the drive as either RAID 0 (for speed), RAID1 for a bit of data security and JBOD. RAID0 is the default and as this is to be an editing drive I have left it in that state.

Friday, 23 October 2015

Macro ring on Olympus Pen EP-1

Ever wondered what those cheap macro rings that screw onto the front of your lens are like? No? Well I did so bought one from Amazon for £11. It also came with a Fisheye adapter.

Sitting around tonight I saw the Pen all alone on the shelf so I thought I'd see what the screw-on rings were like.

Well they work, in that it is possible to go very close to the subject, almost touching it with the lens actually, focussing is by moving lens until the desired focus is achieved.

I was actually impressed by the results in a sort of LensBaby effects way.

Images tweaked a bit and resized in Lr.

York Railway Station on iPhone 6

Coming back from Manchester the other day I snapped the classic roof of York Railway station using my iPhone 6.

For a test, rather than my usual Lr, Ps workflow I processed the images completely within the Apple domain.

I used the Photos App and the Tonality App as a plugin in OS X El Capitan on my MacBook Pro.

iPhone 6, Photos with Tonality plugin

iPhone 6, Photos with Tonality plugin

The Church of St. Michael and St. Lawrence Fewston bells

Working on a video project for the Washburn Heritage Centre recently, the client asked if we could take some photos of the church bells for a graphic panel.

We'd not packed any still photography gear, but I happened to have my Fuji X-Pro1 with me, I'd chucked it in last minute, thinking I might get a few autumnal photos if the weather and opportunity arrived.

The bell tower in the church is small and gets smaller at the top, Its also packed full of bells.
I used the X-Pro1 with the Fujinon 14mm (equiv Full Frame 21mm) but really I could have done with something a bit wider, maybe around 12 - 15mm on full frame. I used a tripod and cable release, manual focussing using focus peaking.

Colour images processed in Lr, Ps and EFX Pro 4

BW images processed in Tonality and then re-sized and jpg converted in Ps.

Fuji X-Pro1, Fujinon 14mm f2.8

Fuji X-Pro1, Fujinon 14mm f2.8

Fuji X-Pro1, Fujinon 14mm f2.8

Fuji X-Pro1, Fujinon 14mm f2.8

Fuji X-Pro1, Fujinon 14mm f2.8

Fuji X-Pro1, Fujinon 14mm f2.8

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Manchester Canon Powershot G10

I was in Manchester recently to meet up with an old mate and take in a gig at he the Albert Hall.

I was travelling light with just a shoulder bag so chucked the Canon G10 in as my camera for the trip.

Manchester as a city fascinates me, the centre is modern and trendy with beautiful people dashing about clutching a coffee to go in one hand and a smartphone in the other. Then, walk down a side street and suddenly the hi-tech glass and steel architecture has disappeared and you are faced with a derelict victorian warehouse, long abandoned.

Canon Powershot G10

Canon Powershot G10
While we were there the Conservative party were having their annual conference. On Sunday before we got our trains back we sat enjoying a coffee outside the conference centre entrance watching the various protesters, among the most interesting was this John Bull character.

These images were converted from RAW in Tonality then sent to Lr for lens correction and export to jpg for inclusion in this blog.

Soar y Mynydd

When in West Wales recently, we took a diversion out into the wilds beyond Tregaron to look at to Soar y Mynydd, what is said to be the most isolated chapel in Wales.

This tiny Calvinist Methodist chapel is located nine miles up a single track mountain road, on the way we found this long disused telephone box. Even before the mobile phone I would not have thought there was much call for a phone box out here.

Canon 5DII, Canon 24-70mm L f2.8

Canon 5DII, Canon 24-70mm L f2.8

Canon 5DII, Canon 24-70mm L f2.8
A few miles on from here lies Soar y Mynydd chapel.

Canon 5DII, Canon 24-70mm L f2.8

Canon 5DII, Canon 85mm L f1.8
I've been playing with an App called Tonality which is Mac only and I picked up from the App store. It looks a lot like Lr but minus the cataloging and has presets like Silver EFX pro. The USP over these two Apps is that Tonality can edit with layers, so effects can be built up. It reads RAW files from both my Canon and Fuji cameras, and can export as a TIFF into Lr and Ps. It also works as plug in on Apple Photos. Files are exported in the usual formats from jpg, psd and even OpenEXR.

Monday, 5 October 2015

Are we there yet?

Back in the 1970's we lived on Anglesey in North Wales. At some stage during the summer we would visit my Mamgu and Tadcu (grandparents on my father's side) in Llandysul in West Wales.

When the time came the four of us would climb aboard the family car, variously through the years a Wolsley Hornet, Austin 1100 or Morris Marina, and set off on the all-day epic that was the drive to Llandysul.

As can be seen from this Google Maps image, today it should take just over 3 hours. Admittedly the road has improved in a couple of areas during the last 40 odd years but not to the extent that would make more than 20 - 25 minutes difference over the whole journey.

During the ensuing 8 plus hours I would be in the back seat of our various cars with my younger sister, sat on British Leyland's finest molten PVC upholstery, being smoked like a pair of Kippers by two chain smoking parents. 

To gage how far we had travelled, and how far was yet to travel, my sister and me had various landmarks that we looked for on the way.

The first, after what seemed an age perched in on the back seat were the "Hairy Trees" on the side of the road as it runs alongside Llyn Cwellyn all of 20 miles from our home.

This odd growth on the trees seems to have become far less common since then, when I went back to photograph these I was able to find only one "Hairy Tree".

The next landmark was Trawsfyndd Nuclear Power Station, around 35 agonising miles from our house. Now decommissioned, the radioactive waste is stored on site and will be here for the next 300 years.

Through Dolgellau, turn right at the Cross Foxes Hotel and towards Corris. High above the A487 on the Tal y Llyn pass is the Devils Pulpit.

Its now four hours into the journey, and as we approach the halfway mark, my sister and me have inhaled the equivalent of 10 cigarettes each, and eaten far too many dusty Smith & Kendon travel sweets than is healthy. The inside of the car is cooled to a slightly more bearable 25 degrees C as we wind our way along the tree shaded road on the approach to Machynlleth, as we pass the impressive clock tower we know that there would be a stop within the next 40 minutes or so.

The road became pretty twisty after Machynlleth and therefore slow. Eventually the next landmark appeared, the waterwheel of Dyfi Furnace at Furnace. This site was once used for iron ore smelting, the waterwheel powering the bellows. Abandoned in the early 1800's it looked in very poor condition when we used to drive past. In 2011 when taking our daughter to university in Aber it was nice to see it had been renovated.

The next 3 miles seemed to take an eternity before the welcome site of the Cletwr Cafe in Tre'r ddol came into view. Here we would at last get out of the car and get some fresh air. 

The inside of the Cletwr was festooned with myriad Bossons chalkware character heads, various grimacing Pirates, Fishermen and Gypsies staring at us as we enjoyed a Fanta and toasted teacake. 
The Cletwr has only recently re-opened as, not just a cafe but also village shop selling local produce as well as newspapers.

After this welcome break we all climbed back into the mobile oven our car had become whilst parked.

The next landmark would be a long way off. We always bypassed Aberystwyth taking a diversion to Llanbadarn Fawr. We continued along the coast road.
When trying to locate these landmarks for this blog, I failed to find the WW2 Pillbox in Ffostrasol. It is in this area that the biggest road improvements have been made and it was just not visible. I have since tried looking on Google maps but can't locate it. As we passed this remnant of Britain's defence against German invasion from Eire (as it was then called) we were told our uncle Gerald did night shifts in it when in the Home Guard.
By now it was only a short distance to our destination, Plygyrhiw, our Mamgu and Tadcu's house in Llandysul. 

It was usually dark when we arrived so after brief greetings and a cup of tea it was off to bed. And that is a whole load of other stories.