Thursday, 15 November 2012


At this time of year an old man's fancy turns to Christmas cards and gifts. For the last five years or so I have been producing our Christmas cards and a calendar through an online printing firm with great success and I thought that I might just pass on the name, because they do such a good job: I believe they have country-specific sites, but once upon a time I found a price discrepancy I didn't like between the UK and Irish sites, and have stuck with the UK site since (perhaps I should check it out again!)  Here's the calendar from last year in use:

I have reproduced it here quite large to show the features which, to me at least, are important. Your image can bleed off to the full size of the card, and can be overprinted. The data page is a non-nonsense grid of dates- very useful for appointments etc.
What you have got to be aware of is that the files have to be presented to them as CMYK, so be prepared to change each one from RGB to CMYK in Photoshop paying close attention to how your colours do or do not change. And I always specify the highest quality card, which I would suggest is the least one can give one's masterpieces. I also make a point of going through each of the months and editing out text on certain dates that I don't want, such as the Queen's Birthday or Father's Day - stuff that may not be appropriate or needed. After that it's plain sailing. They make lovely Christmas gifts for appreciative family and friends.

Friday, 5 October 2012

New Camera - Sony RX100

Months ago, when Sony announced the 1" sensor, 20 megapixel, Sony RX100, I got quite excited about it. All reports were enthusiastic in every area - size, image quality, aesthetics and handling. But then I decided I was perfectly happy for the time being with my walk-around camera, the Olympus micro 4/3rds E-PL1. (Note that I didn't call it a pocketable camera.)
Then Photokina came around and Olympus announced the release in late October of the E-PL5, which would have the sensor innards of the much acclaimed OM-D E-M5, Olympus's flagship micro 4/3rds unit. So, of course, discontent set in and I started to look at the specifications of the E-M5 to see what the new E-PL5 would have with the idea that I would get that body at the end of October. (Well, I already had the improved lens and the electronic viewfinder to fit it.)
Dammit, the E-M5 captivated me and kept me captivated for a couple of weeks, while I figured out how to pay for it. And then, last weekend I had an epiphany. If I bought the E-M5 I would be buying into another system, which was silly, seeing as how I was already in possession of a full frame Nikon one. I remembered that the start of all of this nonsense years ago was to have a pocketable, take-everywhere camera whose images would be acceptable to Alamy. Of course, the Sony RX100 has the same sensor as the Nikon J and V cameras, and they are on the recommended camera list.
My RX100 arrived today and I love it. I have only taken a few test images so far and I can only say that the results are phenomenal. Honestly, I would put it at or near the quality of the E-PL1, despite the sensor being considerably smaller. By the way, it has a very good Zeiss lens. I note that the photo of it here, which is from Sony's website, does not have the little blue Zeiss badge in the bottom right corner which is on mine.

Friday, 14 September 2012


The first issue of David Kilpatrick's new magazine popped through my letterbox this morning, and I am delighted to say it lived up to my expectations, and more. Most regular readers of the Alamy members forum (and other forums) and the British Journal of Photography  will know of David. I think I can safely say that he is held in the highest regard for all his useful photographic knowledge which he freely shares in the forum.
And so to Cameracraft: It is a beautiful melange of the old and new, the traditional and modern. The portfolio of photographs reproduced in this issue come from Trevor and Faye Yerbury and represent traditional methods and aspirations with the elegance and style for which they are famous. In the last few pages, called Rearview, are a diverse selection of pictures, including a two-page spread devoted to a superbly executed and managed advertising shot for Aston Martin by Tim Wallace. There are many more photographs, an eclectic bunch. All printed on excellent quality paper.

There are also, of course, articles on cameras and lenses to satisfy everyone. What are absent, are art student photo portfolios, of which I am sick and tired. I mentioned this in a previous post about the BJP. I am just delighted that Cameracraft is locking tight onto principles of aesthetics and good craft work. I congratulate David and his team. You too, can subscribe to it.  . Which reminds me - I must order the binder - this magazine is too good to throw away. And I'm not sure about my future subscription to BJP.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Ansel Adams

There are a few photographers to whom you can give titles. Like Henri Cartier Bresson could be called the Leader, because he led so many into street photography and suchlike. But there's only one Master, and that was Ansel Adams. Because of his precision and analytic technique, he is supreme. Here are a couple of videos that the Leica forum discovered on YouTube.Ansel Adams

Friday, 7 September 2012


I've been test-driving Photoshop CS6 for the last couple of weeks. If you've read my previous post about this, you will remember that I was concerned that my XP machine may not be able to handle it - well, it does. However, I did have a freeze-up on saving a file, but that may have been because the computer was downloading an update at the same time. Of course, my degree in digital ignorance may suggest that I don't know my a*** from my elbow, but I like to blame computers for most cock-ups. Anyway, I think it might be wise to upgrade the level of my RAM, which I will, because it is cheap.

About the software: All I can say is that It is very satisfactory. Certainly, I'm no expert but the results I have produced, and how I have used the tools to produce them, have pleased me. I have to believe the experts who say that the RAW conversion is much better than before. It certainly seemed that way to me, and the controls are more intuitive and smooth. Of course, upgrading now from CS4 to CS6, the last year that Adobe will allow a two step upgrade, is wise for future proofing.  It has to be borne in mind that in the days of analogue film photography we had to constantly pay for film processing and now we have to put that money to keeping up with the technology of digital photography. It only seems fair.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Is Kodak mad?

News has come to me via the British Journal of Photography that Kodak intends to flog off all it's film divisions. Read what I read here. What mushrooms are the people running Kodak on? We all know that the bottom has fallen out of the silver capture market, but even digital enthusiasts like me can see that film is never going to go away, in fact many photographers are seeing a future where silver capture would mean a certain élan and/or art would be implied. Is there no way that Kodak could have employed economies of scale in the manufacture of these materials? It really is incomprehensible.

In my callow youth, I worked for a few years for Agfa-Gevaert serving the professional market. Kodak was the Big Yellow Box Company and when we used that expression there was both a sneer and awed admiration built in. We simply could not compete with Kodak's products. We had the better ( much better ) range of b & w papers, but we couldn't get them used. And then Kodak just got better and better at the technology, especially as the change to colour came about. As I understand it, Kodak's film products are still top-notch, so I suppose the money men think that now is the time to sell off those divisions in order "to maximise returns".
Yeah, sure, someone will buy those divisions, but so much is likely to be lost in the transactions. It just seems like a bloody great shame.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Sony Cybershot DSC-RX100

Has Sony done it? Have they produced a compact camera with professional quality results? It appears that they may have with the RX100. Certainly, sizewise, it fits the bill being only 3.5 x 5.8 x 10 cms in dimensions. It has a fixed zoom lens, the equivalent of 28-100mm. It has a pop-up flash. Those are all elements we associate with compact, shirt-pocket cameras. OK, the flash is crap, but what's new about that - all compacts have crap built-in flashes.

But the rest of it's features are what make it stand out. Firstly, the sensor is apparently the same as the Nikon J and V cameras, a 20.2 MP CMOS CX sensor which is four times the size of a typical compact. Worth noting is that the Nikon cameras are on the recommended camera list for Alamy. The lens is Carl Zeiss, always reassuring, with high speed autofocus. It appears that there is negligible shutter lag and that processing of the image is equally speedy, about one second. It can shoot at 10 fps. The aperture range is f1.8 to f11 and speed range from 30 seconds to 1/12000th of a second. It has aperture priority, shutter priority, program and manual. It shoots RAW and Jpeg, although, at the moment, only Sony's software can convert the RAW files. And for those who want to know, it videos at 1080p HD with stereo sound.

All the above points to the very thing that we have all wanted - a shirt-pocket camera you can have on you at all times, the modern day equivalent of the old Rollei 35, a superb camera from the 1960s. Some may argue that Canon have already done it with the G1X, but that camera is too big to qualify as a truly pocketable unit.

Here are a couple of reviews: Dpreview, where it is as yet only a preview, and Photography Blog which gives the RX100 full marks.