Friday, 28 January 2011

Data storage - update

Finally my 440GB of images on the Tank drive has a backup. The prospect of losing them had haunted me after the PC crash. They are stored at a second location on a 1TB drive inside the new PC. I am amazed at the speed of a full spec (i7 and 8GB Ram) 64 bit machine. It opens CS5 in 2 secs and a 250MB image in less than 1 sec. I know all this seems superficial, especially in the context of what I was doing in a wet darkroom but the power and speed of the PC will enhance my work. In the past I had not used Layers to their full extent, mainly due to the time it would take processing a 4 layer 1GB file. Consequently I worked live on the image and regretted it  due to the lack of  correction available during the final stages of PP.
The only drawback I can see at the moment is CS5. Yet more learning and hunting for familiar controls, perhaps I should buy a book.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Further monochrome conversion - test

Off topic for Landscape but I love my vintage car bits and cant resist twin SU's

Testing new monochrome techniques

With assignments and projects in the wings a bit I have spent some time looking at a new monochrome work flow. I am particularly interested in the vintage style of print that incorporates a slight tone but high contrast and dynamic range. Within PS I can of course adjust curves and apply tone and produce a sepia type of image but I have always found the results below par. This of course is not new and my current research has taken me into HDR and Silver Efex Pro. The image below is pretty ordinary (I am liking ordinary though, and have stopped chasing the extraordinary) in its native state. In SEP I am using for now the straight (normal) conversion and making three version. -1, 0 , +1 stop and then taking them to Photomatix for HDR conversion. After HDR the image is again taken into into SEP and Vintage Plate 2 used as an adjustment layer. Various blending modes are to be tested and % opacity. This is early days but if and when I perfect the workflow it will be used in future work.

NIkon D3 85mm f1.4 ISO200 1/250sec f2.5

Friday, 14 January 2011

Data Storage

Further to the last I need to mention the problems with online storage. Unless you have an amazing upload speed this will not work. I have just over 440GB of image data and uploading it will take 55 days. I have an unlimited use broadband and a business account that is as about as quick as I can buy and it simple is too slow. With the data still in one place I am at risk and need to be careful. A new PC is being constructed with 4 x 1TB drives and that will be used as a store backup while NAS storage is arranged.

Monday, 10 January 2011

PC Crash - Backups - Angst

I am convinced that there is a purpose to a PC crash, other than making you feel physically sick. Firstly it reminds you why all the image files are not stored on the PC (lessons learnt in the past prevented that) and secondly it allows you to find all the application software discs and licence numbers that were stored safe somewhere about 4 years ago and cant now be found for love nor money. In addition you learn so much all over again. How to reload plugins into PS. How to download and store the icc profiles for the various papers and how to recalibrate the monitor. All this in addition to the fact that you can rewire all the peripherals (card reader, tablet etc), remembering why some work better than others in certain USB ports and why the 2TB drive has to use Firewire or it behaves badly.

So, after a reinstall of Windows XP Pro and 3 days of getting back to square one there is still a nagging feeling that the external HD (Image Central) needs backing up too. I had considered another similar device, perhaps with an IP address so it could be accessed from anywhere, but there is an alternative, and its online. I am still researching who I will use, but these guys are offering a web based storage system that in itself is backed up to a second physical location. In theory my images will never be lost or feel threatened ever again.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

New Years Eve - Day Trip

Undeterred by the near Nil visibility my friend Richard and his son Edward joined me for a day trip along the coast from Hunstanton to Cley for photography and food. We all had new toys from Christmas and were on our way to Hunstanton by 0800. Hunstanton in the winter is a dark and melancholic place, that would challenge anyone with a camera. The summer visitors enjoy a typical buckets and spades environment in the only east coast resort that has a sunset out at sea due to its west facing coastline within The Wash. The only buckets were with a few bait diggers looking for lug worm and seeing them in the vast empty space of the foreshore at low tide made me wonder why I hadn't packed any telephoto lenses. Anyway, the plan was to use the digital range finder and the 5x4 and move towards a minimalist style that had a naturalistic feel rather than the compressed perspective of telephoto and conversely the difficult world of wide angle The light was surprisingly good provided you didn't mind 640 ISO, 1/125 sec and f2, but on the other hand it was an even flat light that in a studio would be so hard to achieve. After an hour or so it was clear we had "done" Hunstanton and we needed coffee and buns. Hunstanton of course refused as it was shut and we moved further East. Further "closed" signs until we decided to give the RSPB a chance of doing some life saving at Titchwell where we found good beans on toast, bacon and coffee, with the enticing 50% off sign on the shop door to get us in and buying. Quite naturally the 50% off wasn't applying to the Leica spotting scopes so we moved on to Brancaster Staithe. Very foggy to the extent of being wet but I did manage a few (3) with the 5x4 using Delta 100. Typically the exposures were 1 sec at f22. The fog was closing in and became virtual rain so we pressed on to Wells next the Sea and to the "East End" where the cockle fisherman have their shed and boats. I didn't "get it" there. I looked at the ground glass on the Wista for a while and apart from showing a walker how a 5x4 camera worked didn't make any photographs. Moving further east we did various drive throughs at potential shooting places but with falling light headed for the beach at Cley. There isn't much there apart from shingle sea defence and about four small boats. The boats have space around them that almost puts them out of context, with no other features or fittings for fishing and I am sure there is good photography there, but not on this occasion. Last stop was for more food at the Norfolk Wildlife Trust visitor centre for more tea and cakes. 1430 now and almost dark.

So, 80 or so images with the M8 and 3 with the 5x4 and no real prospect of more than a few that I can use for coursework projects. But, none of that matters in reality. The issues here are that the more you shoot the more you learn, not only about simple matters of exposure and the like but a build up of ideas for the future. Subconsciously this small trip, which is similar to many from the past will provide me with a preamble when I next go to those locations. Even if none of that is true and photographically it was poor I now know that the RSPB at Titchwell do good beans and bacon, which cant be a bad thing to know.

Hunstanton - Closed

Leica M8 50mm Summilux 1/125 sec f1.4 ISO 640