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.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Leave of Absence

Oh dear, it has been three months since my last post. A shocking length of time for a blog to be dormant. Unfortunately, medical matters kept me otherwise engaged and not really full of enthusiasm. First, my back "went out" (again) and I had to have a discectomy operation. I had more or less recovered from that when a nasty looking mole was discovered on my back. When it was removed and analysed it proved to be a malignant melanoma. Yes, dear reader, I photographed it for Alamy and here it is:

So that led to a full-scale operation to excise more of the surrounding flesh and removal of a lymph node. Analysis showed that I am now free of the cancer and all I have to do is get fit again and dig up some motivation to get photographing again.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Smaller cameras

I've worked all my professional life with big cameras. Bronicas, Hasselblads, Linhof 4x5 and 8x10. But for my 35mm work, which was mostly for slides. I used a Nikon FM. For the life of me, I can't remember why I chose it rather than it's bigger brother professional Nikons. Choose it I did and it served me well for many years. It was petite, small and comfortable in the hand and non aggressive in it's appearance, but usually, that didn't matter. Later, after a career switch and then a switchback, I ended up using a Canon, which of course, was big and ugly. But for my personal work, which eventually led me to Alamy, I bought a Contax G2, a rangefinder but totally automatic (if you wanted it) with fantastic Zeiss lenses. It was a joy to use, small and light but with a quality which I considered to be the equivalent of the 6x4.5 cm Mamiya I used professionally a lot. So a bag of the camera and four lenses was a doddle to walk around with when exploring exotic places.

Therefore I am gladdened by the industry trend towards EVIL cameras. EVIL stands for electronic viewfinder interchangeable lenses. Fuji has the XPro-1 and the lenses are supposed to be very good. Nikon has it's new 1 system and Canon is bringing out it's solution in late summer. Meanwhile the Olympus OM-D EM5 is getting good reviews. This is a case of the industry listening to the gripes of it's customers and that is gratifying.
Bear in mind that the DSLR will not be made redundant by this development. I could never have envisaged using my G2 in the studio, and many of the Alamy contributors who have gone in the direction of EVIL cameras have not disposed of their DSLRs, they've simply added to their arsenal.
I still wish somebody would resurrect Contax and bring back a digital version of the G2 and it's Zeiss lenses.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

British Journal of Photography

The eminent British Journal of Photography has been published since 1854. That's a hell of a long time to be such a guiding light to enthusiasts and professionals alike. My father took the magazine and his father before him and even perhaps his father, because they were all professional photographers, in all sorts of genres. I grew up in a house where the bookshelves were lined with the typical A5 sized green bound annuals since, I think, the 1920's, at least. The photos were exciting and inspiring. As were the published formulae for developer and fixer solutions.
In the 1960's, as a teenager, I remember that the content took a decidedly technical direction and the magazines were filled with graphs and diagrams and a lot of industrial photographs. A bit boring for a young lad like me. Then, of course Dave Bailey, Terence Donovan and Brian Duffy came along and changed everything. I don't remember much of their influence on the magazine, but the stuff in the annual was explosive.
In recent times the BJP, as it has always been called, has changed from a weekly to a monthly, with a massive improvement in print quality. It really is printed very nicely. But, you see, I have a gripe which not only I have expressed before. The BJP seems to have forgotten it's niche as an important professional journal by not publishing the work of professionals. Most of the photos appear, to me at least, to be of the art variety. Contemporary art photographs which explore the possibilities of the captured image.

Now that's all very well but the guy who is practising photography as a profession is not getting the opportunity to see what the creative minds in his field are doing. I honestly think, that despite the rationale behind illustrating what directions art photographers are pursuing, a lot of the BJP's loyal readers would like to see what the up to date directions professionals making a an everyday living from photography are taking. The editors of BJP are adamant in their concept of what the magazine should publish, but I think I am expressing a desire to see a change which many share.

Friday, 27 April 2012

UPDATE: IPTC data and contact details

It really is unfortunate that Alamy sometimes cannot clearly explain what it means. In the blog post IPTC data was explicitly named as being where you ought not to put your personal contact details. Now, I know that most professional photographers do put their details there to prevent their images being orphaned. However, the point is, it really doesn't matter as far as images placed on Alamy matters, because they strip all the IPTC data out and replace them with Alamy's contact details. That didn't strike me until I downloaded a couple and checked the file info.
So what Alamy seems to be concerned about is stuff in the other, display fields - keywords, captions and description etc. Why couldn't the nice people in Alamy just have said that. My apologies to all for the fuss engendered.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Contact details in Alamy images IPTC data

I think it is probably more than possible that most of us have included copyright and contact data in our Alamy images IPTC data. I know that for most of the time I have been submitting I paid little or no notice to IPTC, but over the last couple of years, with all the scares about online piracy and illegal use of images I have a standard routine which includes my name, address and phone number in the IPTC data when I'm finishing up an image.
This, of course, is contrary to the terms of my contract with Alamy, which completely slipped my mind as, I'm sure, it did with many others. Alamy is conducting a sweep of all the images to automatically remove these but are stating that there is no guarantee that other annotations may not be affected. That's a worrisome prospect.
Here is the link to Alamy's post.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Nikon 1 cameras

UPDATE:  A kind reader has alerted me to the fact that Alamy has restored the Nikon 1 cameras to it's recommended camera list, as of the 17th April. Very interesting...... I suppose it means that some contributors managed to push the cameras too far, but many others effectively showed that the cameras were very capable of satisfying QC requirements.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Photoshop and Lightroom (2)

It appears that I might have been wrong in my assumption that my computer may not be capable of handling Photoshop CS6 or Lightroom 4. My workflow dedicated computer is running with an Intel Core 2 Duo chip which is actually not as old as the Pentium 4 and more powerful that the minimum required. So says my son, the software whiz, and who am I to doubt him?
Back to my quandary - do I upgrade to Photoshop CS6 or become a convert to Lightroom 4? When I get over my back operation, I should probably download trial versions and try them out.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Nikon V1 and J1

Nikon V1 and J1, the new CX format camera system which was unveiled just a short while ago quickly appeared on Alamy's recommended camera list. Unfortunately for those who went for it, it seems that Alamy has changed it's mind. Today I was checking whether Canon's G1x had appeared on it yet, when I noticed that there was no sign of the Nikon cameras. I think that this is unprecedented - as in, a camera being removed from the list.
So far, it still looks as only sensors of 4/3rds and upwards in size will satisfy Alamy's QC requirements.
Check update above.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Photoshop and Lightroom

I am currently using Photoshop CS4 and perfectly happy with it's capabilities. In line with my previous practice, I had intended to skip CS5 and upgrade to CS6 when it came out, which is due shortly. Then Adobe said that that would not be possible, upgrading to 5 would have to happen first. After the online furore that this aroused, they backed down and said they would permit upgrading from 4 to 6, for this year only. In future, upgrading will only be possible with consecutive versions of the program.
With that scare behind me, I waited patiently for CS6. Adobe has just released a beta version to sample it. Unfortunately the system requirements have now made it impossible for me to take it. PSCS 6 needs a Pentium 4 powered computer to operate ( incidentally I've just discovered that CS5 did as well). My work flow dedicated computer is only a couple of years old and obviously I was too mean to buy a decent machine back then.
So Photoshop CS is no longer an option for me. That's OK as far as what it's capable of doing for me - I'm perfectly happy to keep working on my TIFFs with what i've got. But it's the RAW conversion engine that I'm interested in, or worried about. In the first place, it appears that the major improvements that are taking place in digital capture in recent years include the quality of conversion of RAW files. Apart from that, it also appears that the camera manufacturers keep bringing out new cameras with modified RAW file types, which require an updated conversion program to keep up with them. Why on earth don't they all agree to standardize by using DNG? It's very irritating. At least Adobe's RAW to DNG conversion program is updateable and free.
Adobe has just released Lightroom 4 and that started me thinking. Although I tried it before on trial and could not make head or tail of it, I have to say that I made no attempt to teach myself with all the online aids available. So I reckoned it was my own fault that I didn't like it. And Lightroom has the same RAW engine as Photoshop. Imagine my chagrin when I discovered that it, too, requires a Pentium 4 machine, and Windows 7 or Vista operating system. I am running Windows XP.
So, should I spend lots of dosh on a new computer and then spend more on an upgrade to PSCS6 or Lightroom? Not an attractive proposition for me, because really I do not produce many new images these days due to health problems with me and my nearest and dearest. I think what I might do is buy Photoshop Elements, which also has the same RAW engine as it's big brothers in the Adobe stable. Once the RAW images have been converted to TIFFs, I can work on them further in CS4. That will save me having to learn the full workings of a new program, won't it?  We will see. Watch this space for further developments........

This image can now be published. It is the first few lines of Ulysses by James Joyce. Seventy years after his death, copyright has lapsed. Before January of this year, the Joyce estate would have chased me!

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Canon G1x

I have already dealt with Nikon's latest version of a pocketable camera, the V1 and J1, which are not really pocketable because they have interchangeable lenses and as soon as you add one it's a bulky machine. They, of course used small sensors, much bigger than normal compact cameras but smaller than a 4/3rds sensor.
Canon have gone in a different direction by continuing their Powershot G series with the G1x. While the thing is a brick ( 116.7 x 80.5 x 64.7 mm / 4.5 x 3.35 x 2.5 inches approx.) and not very beautiful, it still ticks many boxes. The combination of 14 megapixels, the comparatively large sensor and the absence of an anti-aliasing filter should mean extremely high resolving power. The lens, which is telescopic with a range of 28-112mm equivalent certainly covers many eventualities. It also has a zoom optical viewfinder, which has faults - only 77% of the picture is covered and it suffers from parallax. Personally, I prefer an electronic viewfinder which gives you shooting information as well but I suppose size considerations come into play. Those reviewers who have used the real thing have other criticisms as well, especially David Kilpatrick in the British Journal of Photography, but have only published a preview so far. It will be worthwhile to see their full review and sample pics. As it stands, however, the G1x is being promoted as the ideal standby camera for professionals, one they need never be without, with useability and quality levels approaching a DSLR. If it proves itself, then I think a lot of stock photographers may put aside their DSLR kit in favour of the G1x, especially when travelling, because it will inevitably appear on the approved camera list at Alamy.

Quotes from a forum:
First, from a highly qualified reviewer:    " It's better than 7D quality cropped to the same size (14 megapixels). And the lens is better than any kit zoom, actually it's better than certain L zooms - you can use it wide open at the wide end with more confidence of corner-to-corner sharpness than a full frame user with a 24-70mm can hope for."
Second, from a very busy experienced professional:     "from the few photos I took ,right off the top I could see the IQ is better than my Nikon D7000 with almost every lens I've used!"

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Pinterest Controversy

I'm sure that , by now, a lot of people would have become aware of the existence of a new social "networking" site called Pinterest. On the face of it, it seems like a good idea, a site where people could refer to the things on the interweb that interests them, by "pinning" them to an online board. Unfortunately that is a license to steal intellectual property. And, again, unfortunately, the terms and conditions of the site allow for this without any harm to themselves.
There is no point in me ranting on about this here when one of my most admired blogs has done it in a most cogent and intelligent way. Here is the Russian Photos Blog.

Friday, 16 March 2012

Sensor Size

Every so often I look up sensor sizes on the interweb. This image is from Wikipedia. It hasn't been updated to include the Canon G1X sensor, which is a new one, slightly bigger than 4/3rds.
 It is interesting that both Nikon and Canon, the two major players in the camera market, brought out two entirely different, new sensor sizes. The Nikon CX, used in their new system cameras J1 and V1, is appreciably smaller  than 4/3rds but much larger than a point and shoot camera, whereas the Canon G1X's sensor is larger than 4/3rds.
Is this going to continue? Are we, the customers, going to find a multiplicity of sensor sizes to choose from in the future? I have to say I find this irritating. Some people say it's the equivalent of choosing different films, as in the past, but that's facile. When choosing a camera, what I'm interested in is image quality, but under normal circumstances I do not have the opportunity to test a camera before purchasing ( I do my purchasing online), so therefore I have to rely on online reviews. Unfortunately these tend to spend a lot of time and effort into ascertaining how good the JPEG in-camera processing is - what sort of art filter effects there are, and it's capabilities in capturing HD video recording. Pardon me while I snort but my abiding concerns are, as I've said, image quality and ease of use for stills photography. But, I don't know if you have noticed, most online reviews will not make a judgment about image quality. So the only thing we have to go by is sensor size (relating to megapixel quantity). Therefore, I know my D700 fullframe 12 MP camera produces superb images even at high ISO, but I have no experience of the Nikon 1 system images, which by all reports, are excellent.
There is a huge difference in the sizes of the sensors involved, so I'm confused.
Anybody else feel this way?

Saturday, 10 March 2012

People in Alamy images

Alamy has just sent me an email detailing 30 images which they say are wrongly annotated, specifically that I had noted that there were no people in the images and that I had to change the annotation. Admittedly, Alamy is correct. In my defence, these all date to a period where I was not aware just how stringent this rule is, but ignorance is not a defence.
Most are like the one here where any people are insignificant details in the picture.

But here's one where the people element is just a shadow! So be aware: Any part or shadow of a human being counts as "people", and without model releases, must go as Rights Managed.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Never work with children or animals

I had intended to title this post as follows: "My new (animal) model arrives", but the shoot brought back all my previous experience of trying to photograph animals, especially in the studio. Admittedly I did not want chocolate box images - I wanted a bit of character in shots of my new puppy. What I got was chaotic movement. Something about the studio made Ben totally lose it. Ah well, I did get a few worthwhile images - I think !
 Note the artistic out-of-focused-ness of this image. Or maybe it's just mad movement. Anyway, not for Alamy, I think.

                               This one will do.


This was the kind of shot I was looking for.

Monday, 5 March 2012


In 2009, Kodak stopped manufacturing Kodachrome after 74 years. This film was the best transparency film available, at any time during the years of film photography. Because of it's complex processing, it was sold with processing charges included and once shot, it had to be posted to a Kodak laboratory. In the USA, I believe things were a little different, but those of us in the rest of the world had to wait weeks to have our slides returned.
I always thought Kodachrome was made in 35mm only but I was wrong. Medium format and even 4x5 sheet film was manufactured, and if you click here you will see absolutely magnificent images taken during the Second World War which amply illustrate the quality that attracted professionals who could afford to wait weeks for results, such as National Geographic shooters.
It is also sad but inevitable that Kodak have just announced that they are ceasing to manufacture colour reversal (transparency, slide) film.

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Scanning by camera

There was a discussion recently on a forum I visit about using your camera to scan film originals, because (good) scanners are not as available as they used to be. It all got very complicated and detailed, using medium format large sensor cameras and so forth. But it got me thinking and wondering how my Nikon D700 would perform.
I photographed two negatives, one a 6x4.5 black and white (which I had actually neglected to scan when I did have an Imacon high-end scanner) and a 35mm color neg. I used as my light source a light box (fluorescent tubes), which really you should not do because of the limited colour spectrum, and set the white balance to auto. The results were surprising, surprisingly good, that is. The B&W fared better, because, I suppose, of the larger sized original and no colour problems. Whereas the colour neg with it's orange mask was a mess once I inverted it to get a positive. It took a heck of a lot of meddling around in photoshop to get anything reasonable. But I'm left with the impression that if you had medium format transparencies in your archive that you wanted to have files of, it is not impossible to get reasonable quality by using your camera. (Just don't use a lightbox).
Here are the images:

Thursday, 23 February 2012

My constant companion

Today, I had to bring my old dog, Pips, to the vet to be put to sleep. In honour of her, here are two pictures. She always seemed to be laughing at me.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Nikon J1 and V1

It is only a few months since Nikon released the new CX format J1 and V1 cameras and already Alamy has accepted them into it's recommended camera list. These are, for Nikon, a major step forward. They have a completely new size of sensor, CX, joining it's DX and FX formats. The size is smaller than the micro four thirds sensor, but apparently gives comparable image quality. It is an interchangeable lens system with four lenses initially available. They are extremely small, the J1 being 106mm x 61mm x 30 mm and the V1, with it's electronic viewfinder, slightly taller. That's about the same size as the Olympus EPL-1, before you add it's (optional extra) EVF.
The fact that they got onto Alamy's recommended camera list so fast must mean that a considerable number of contributors are using these and passing QC with no bother. It certainly heralds a major move towards smaller cameras with DSLR capabilities by the major manufacturers, a very welcome move. In the 1990's I possessed a beautiful Contax G2 35mm film
camera with it's range of Zeiss lenses. It was fully automatic. I found the image quality of it to be the equivalent of the 6x4.5 medium format and since I sold it to enter the digital field, I have been dreaming of a replacement. This Nikon 1 system may well be it. Although, on second thoughts, I want Zeiss auto lenses.
Read the review here.

UPDATE: 5th April - I've just been checking Alamy's Recommended Camera List to see if Canon's G1x has appeared on it yet, and imagine, to my surprise, Alamy has removed the Nikon J1 and V1 from it. This has to mean that, as more uploads came in from contributors who are using these cameras, there have been enough rejections to make the QC people change their mind. Don't quite know what to make of it - very interesting!

Keywording Images

Because it happened to me today, I thought that this would be worthwhile mentioning. I was looking for a few images that I had property releases for, to add them, when in the new version of Manage Images I clicked on "Images - On sale, more details required". Four images appeared and it transpired I had no details in the Essential and Main Keywords sections. They had been annotated long ago in the Old Manage Images days. Human error of course, but I believe that those images would not have appeared in searches. A minor cautionary tale, but it might be worth checking out those categories in Manage Images.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Magnum Photo Agency

Two years after the apocalypse that was called the Second World War ended, Magnum Photos was founded. The world's most prestigious photographic agency was formed by four photographers - Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, George Rodger and David "Chim" Seymour - who had been very much scarred by the conflict and were motivated both by a sense of relief that the world had somehow survived and the curiosity to see what was still there. They created Magnum in 1947 to reflect their independent natures as both people and photographers - the idiosyncratic mix of reporter and artist that continues to define Magnum, emphasizing not only what is seen but also the way one sees it.
Arguably the greatest influence on photojournalism in the 20th century, Magnum continues it's work today. To view it's latest news and pictures visit On that home page there is a facility to sign up to Magnum's regular newsletters which always include a portfolio of fifty images by a specific photographer. I can highly recommend it.
Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, George Rodger and David "Chim" Seymour - these have always been heroes of mine.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Fantastic ND filter

In my little studio I use a twenty year old Bowens Traveller 3000G flash unit. A power pack and three heads. Unfortunately, the lowest I can go per head is 1000 joules, which can be a right nuisance at times when you have to use diffusers to reduce the strength, thereby impairing the effect you wanted the lighting to give.
I receive regular emails from suppliers of equipment and bits and pieces that I have bought from previously, as everyone does. I always like to check them, just in case. One such email came from which I use for paper and inks, with an offer of a variable neutral density filter with a range of ND2(ND0.3) to ND1000(ND3.0) at a very cheap price.
 Having used filters extensively during my professional career as an architectural photographer, I know just how damaging they can be to the quality of an image. Nowadays, apart from polarising, Photoshop can emulate the effect of most filters, and of course, now that we're pixel-peeping, I don't like to put anything between the lens and subject. However, this filter, which is not branded, was so cheap I thought I would give it a go and if it wasn't any good, just chuck it away. Surprise, surprise, the tests I did showed no degradation and no colour shift. I am now delightfully playing around with my lights like never before, using this filter to allow me to stick to the lens' "sweet spot" as much as I want to.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Valentine's Day

Just because of the day that's in it, here's a schmaltzy picture to celebrate. Caption: A red heart shaped box of chocolates on a silky background for Valentine's Day. Apart from the obvious keywords, how about:  schmaltz, schmaltzy, kitsch, sentimental, mawkish, slushy.

Monday, 13 February 2012

What Alamy doesn't want

What has to be emphasised is that Alamy doesn't care whats in your pictures. From dog poo to celebrities - anything goes. If you think somebody, somewhere might some day need that image - go for it. But on the other hand, Alamy insists on digital excellence, so that a picture is not rejected by the customer because of perceived faults. That means that there are a few areas that are strictly no-no. These are:

Soft or lacking definition (SoLD). Because of the anti-alias filters on our sensors this is always controversial. Alamy knows the difference between that phenomenon and ever-so-slightly out-of-focus or slight camera shake. As an example of what can happen here's a story.  Six months ago I bought new an Olympus EPL-1 micro four thirds camera, complete with kit lens at a really good price. But I noticed that I was having to reject more than a few images due to SoLD. I reckoned that this couldn't be down to camera shake by me when I checked the IPTC data - my speeds were high enough, my f stop was f7.1, as always. I dug and dug on the Interweb and finally came across a site which had also found this and went to the trouble of testing three individual lenses. They discovered that the construction of the lens caused a wobble if used between 1/100 and 1/200 sec and thereby imparted camera shake to the image. The shake was really miniscule but to the trained eye (as in Alamy) it was noticeable. I bought a third generation lens at the same price as the original entire camera and the problem was solved. The manufacturer has never owned up to this fault, DPreview never caught it but it was noticeable when the image was forensically examined at 100%. You can be sent to the submitting sin bin for a month by Alamy for a number of SoLD submissions. Ain't worth it.
No sharpening should be applied to an image, except perhaps for the default Photoshop RAW processing. And sharpening artifacts can occur by other means in the processing, such as over saturation or colour removal at the Tif stage.
I only use the lens' "sweet spot" when shooting. Each lens on a 35mm style digital camera has a particular f stop at which the lens is sharpest, usually f8 or thereabouts, due to refraction  within the lens. This is, in my opinion, extremely important. So much so that my aperture setting is permanently set and the ISO setting at Auto for non-studio shots. My cameras are very good at noise - up to 1600 ISO is no bother when the exposure is good. (Nikon full frame 12MP D700 being the other camera). If I have a depth of field problem in the studio, I take a number of shots at different focus points and depth of field blend them in PS to achieve sharpness throughout the image, such as in this one:

Chromatic Aberration: All lenses give this to a greater or lesser degree, some saying that more expensive and prime lenses being better. Has to be removed. There are various tools and methods, which I'm sure you know. I tend to use Replace Colour , if necessary selecting the areas, so as not to damage other areas where those colours are integral.

Dust and smudges: You know all about this, but just to remind. Forensically examine the image at 100%, section by section, side to side and up and down and clone out any that exist.  If there are real things in the image that could be construed as dust, remove them. I know one guy who shot an antelope on light coloured ground on which stones were scattered, and it was rejected, much to his indignation. Birds in a sky are a famous example.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Introducing myself

I am a retired professional photographer living twenty miles north of Dublin city, Ireland. I worked in many areas of photography but mainly in advertising and design and latterly in architectural and the built environmental photography until 2005. At that time, I handed over the firm to Donal Murphy, my business partner, a truly excellent photographer, who has won many awards. View his site here:
I started submitting to in 2003, the stock library which currently (February 2012) holds more than 28 million images. My meagre contribution stands at about 5,600 images, but slowly growing. In the first few years of my participation I uploaded lots of travel pictures from many different locations and the money return was fairly decent. In recent years that has diminished through dilution by the number of photographers and the quantity of images, deals done with publishers (led down that dark road by Getty) and the ubiquitous worldwide recession. Of course, the prices offered by iStock and it's microstock lookalikes were a major hit in the pricing of stock images.
Many of my compatriots whom I know through various stock forums submit to multiple agencies as well as Alamy and also have their own portfolio sites where they market from directly, but I decided early on to stick to Alamy alone. Firstly I felt that my stuff was too generalistic in subjects and not particularly conceptual - actually a rag-bag of images, so the logical home was Alamy, which does not edit contributions for content. Secondly, I had had my fill over the years of the business of photography. I no longer wished to market myself or get involved in accounts.
So there it is - I am now a happy hobbyist, albeit with years of photographic experience in his back pocket.