Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Photographing Snow, and why does it cost so much to print it out afterwards?


Two items I wish to talk about today. I don't want to turn this blog into an area where I am repeating information which is readily available elsewhere, and probably written far better than my humble ramblings. However for my Facebook Friends who may wish to go out and photograph the snow, I give some brief words of advice.

Let it snow

Depending upon your camera, the method used to measure and evaluate correct exposure - to give a ‘not too bright’ or ‘not too dark’ image, can be one of many. The most basic method is one of averaging the light on the entire scene and then referencing it to a neutral grey.  This can lead to all sorts of problems when the image you wish to capture is not an ‘average’ image. If its predominantly black or white the cameras metering system will be fooled into attempting to correct the blacks or whites towards a neutral grey.  Most cameras when photographing snow will attempt to reduce the light getting to the film or sensor too much, giving a rather muddy appearance. Its time for user intervention!  We need to override the exposure, or compensate for the error. So, look for ‘exposure compensation’,  it may be a symbol or  labelled +/- EV, where EV is the ‘exposure value’. Adjust it to add more exposure by setting it to +1EV to start with, if it still looks poor  try +2EV. Be wary of over doing it.   If your camera has the capability of manual mode then you can increase the exposure by either adjusting the shutter or aperture accordingly. Email if you need further help.


Inkjet Costs

A recent article by Photoradar  attempted to report on the age old question of why ink cartridges cost so much. Personally I consider Epson failed to give an answer which was in any way ‘an answer’.  In true politician style it appeared to be turned about and used as a PR exercise.  The inkjet market seems to be modelled on the same sales strategy as the PAYG mobile phone, sell the initial hardware cheap as a ‘loss leader’ then reap high profits from the continuing sale of cartridges.

So, as a photographer what is the best option?  My choice is to invest in a cheap and basic inkjet printer, not the top of the range models with several cartridges that cost a fortune to replace. This can be used for the odd proofing of  images and for the day to day family photos.  Then, choose a couple of labs to print the rest of your work. I use two or three, a pro lab for when I need the very best and then others for the budget conscious work and if I need to produce a couple of hundred small prints for the family album. The internet allows you to seamlessly upload images from within many applications, and with the rapid turnaround of some companies, a few days waiting for prints to be delivered is far more sensible. 

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Just an amateur (photographer)


What is a professional? Well, my definition is a person who makes money from his skills.  How many times have you heard someone say ‘I am only an amateur’ in relation to their hobby?

Everyone repeat after me

An amateur can be better at their craft than a professional.


The difference is not so much about the quality of the end product, but the additional steps needed to ensure that the product or service is delivered - every time.

So a pro photographer will have in place a back up plan, back up equipment, and with any luck a backup for themselves too. This is in no way a definitive list.

Pretend you are are wedding photographer…

What do you do if the heavens open up with the worst rainfall in living memory?  The interior of the church cannot be used as another wedding follows…

Half way through the wedding you drop your one (and only) camera..

You wake up in the morning to discover that you have succumbed to the Swine Flu.

And if you do manage to produce a product, and the bride and groom are not happy, you could end up with a legal claim dropping on your doormat. You do have professional liability insurance in place don't you?

So, if you call yourself an amateur, rejoice in the freedom to create the best work that you possibly can for yourself and others without the stress associated with earning money from your hobby.  

If your work is as good – or even better than the full time professional then you  are not a mere amateur.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Greeting cards from Moo.com



I received last week a set of greeting cards that I had printed by moo.com  I was attracted to the fact that you can have a small run printed, with the added bonus that the cards could have a different image on the front of each and every one.

As is the way with most on line services nowadays, the software is intuitive and easy to use. When you upload an image file the software attempts to resize your pictures to suit the chosen media. However time spent editing the pictures in your favourite software package prior to uploading will ensure far more reliable results. It is always a good idea to check any printing companies minimum requirements for image resolution, dimensions, file formats etc. This information can normally be found within the help section.

I left the inside of the cards blank although you have an option to have text printed if you wish, and to the rear I added my web address and phone number as the idea of the exercise was one of ‘self publicity’ and a little market research.  As a photographer there is no excuse for not using your own work when sending out cards. After all, a simple Christmas card may end up leading to a profitable commission.

Within a week I received a box of cards with envelopes. The packing was first class, and the contents were equally superb.  After I had individually packaged them in clear envelopes they looked as good as any retail offering.

I plan on using Moo again.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

The French Polisher


Many years ago, I worked in a company that also employed a French polisher.
His main role was the restoration of pianos. The various smells that emanated from
his work area were sometime pleasing – smelling a little like wine, whilst at other
times the smell was downright offensive. I would pop in and see him and ask how he
put up with such an awful smell, his answer; ‘What smell?’  He had worked for so
long with the smells that he no longer noticed them.

We as photographers can sometimes be guilty of the same thing. We fail to see the
opportunities to capture images within our own local environment, we have become so
used to the sights and sounds local to us that we choose to ignore them.

So today when you leave your home, try to take a little time to look again with fresh
eyes at the world on your doorstep, you may be surprised at what you find.

My friend the French polisher gave me many words of wisdom, another tip was
on the polishing of flat surfaces. ‘Concentrate on the edges, the centre will look
after itself’. It occurs to me that this too, is useful to remember when taking photos.
We tend to focus on the subject placed in the centre of the frame. So like the
polisher, try to concentrate on the outside edges of your images too,  they are just as
important to the whole composition of the final image.