A collection of sorts

For no real obvious reason I've added a simple over view of my photography gear to the photography section of my site.

At the moment it's just a brief list/overview of my cameras (I don't even have a picture of each one — something I need to put right). When I get more time I'll probably document some of the accessories I've got and use.


Photography Custom Search

I've been using Google's custom search facility for quite some time now. I've got a custom search for all my sites, for my astronomy sites and also for my weather sites.

However, for some odd reason, all this year I've been missing the obvious handy one: a custom search for my photography. Included in this new custom search are my main photography pages, my Lincolnshire photography site, my Flickr site and my RedBubble site.

Seems to work pretty well too.


PowerShot G9: First Proper Outing

Last Saturday I took the PowerShot G9 out for its first "proper" outing. We were going shopping in Stamford so it seemed like the perfect chance to try shooting out on the streets.

I'm quite pleased with the results.

As I said previously, being small and fast to start up it's perfect for having close to hand (or, in this case, hanging around my neck) for when you see a shot that's worth grabbing. More than once I found myself faced with a shot I just "had" to "have" and the G9 was there and ready without any messing about. If I'd had the EOS 400D with me instead I'd have probably missed the shots (because, given that it's big and bulky in comparison, I tend to keep it in its case when I'm not actually taking a picture).


PowerShot G9: First impressions

As I mentioned late last week, I've acquired a Canon PowerShot G9.

Ever since I got my Canon EOS 400D, and started getting addicted to photography, I've been wanting a compact camera that I could take anywhere (sometimes a dSLR is just too bulky). I also wanted one that had a good range of control (full manual mode right through to an auto-everything "I don't want to have to think" mode), felt solid and, as daft as it sounds, looked good. The G9 seems to fit all of these (the fact that it does raw files too is a bonus).

I won't even bother trying to do anything close to a review, there are plenty of those about, some of them going into great detail. I did, however, want to note my first impressions of it.

I went for a walk around our village last Sunday and took only the G9. The results can be seen over here. I found that the camera handled pretty well. The screen was easy to use in all conditions (shade and direct sunlight), the camera itself felt right in my hands, the buttons and dials are a bit on the small side for my fingers but not impossible to use (and it probably wouldn't be that good a compact camera if it wasn't very compact, right?), program-auto mode seems to cope fairly well with most situations and manual mode is a joy to use (I don't think I'd ever really thought about just how useful a live histogram would be).

Being small it's also very easy to keep to hand and the time from pressing the power button to being in a position to take a shot (assuming I've left it in program-auto) is short enough that it wouldn't be an issue in most cases.

Simply put: so far I'm very happy with it. I feel that it pretty much perfectly fits the requirement I had. It'll be nice to be able to take a camera almost everywhere with me now.


Lust! Redux.

I wanted a Canon PowerShot G9.

Now I've got one.

Insert smiley face here.

First Roll from the Lomo Lubitel 166B

Lubitel 166B (#1)Yesterday I received the results of the first roll put through my Lomo Lubitel 166B (thanks to Tim for processing and scanning the roll) and I'm very pleased with what I see.

Given that the first roll was a bit of a rush job, done to simply test that the camera actually worked and didn't leak light like crazy and so on, I think most of the images have come out really well. There's a couple of them that really stand out for me and both of them were tests of relatively narrow depth of field:

If I can get these sorts of results from a quick test shoot, done close to sunset (so in failing light), without a tripod or cable release, and with no real "plan" for the shoot, I'm rather looking forward to what I can get out of it with an actual "plan".

I'm also thinking that at least one of the above images would look good as a mounted print:


New Toy: Lomo Lubitel 166B

Last Monday I took delivery of my new toy, a Lomo Lubitel 166B:

Lubitel 166B (#1)

Bilora Bella 66It's all Tim's fault. A few weeks back he persuaded me to run some film through my Bilora Bella 66 and, after ordering the film and then having a look around at other medium format cameras, and seeing that the 166 is often suggested as a fun entry to medium format photography (not to mention the fact that Tim used to shoot with a Lubitel too), I couldn't resist getting hold of one.

Loss of eBay virginity happened (yes, I really have managed to avoid eBay all these years) and I finally had my new toy:

Lubitel 166B (#4)

The test shoot from the Bilora Bella 66 turned out okay too. Thanks go to Tim for processing and scanning the film.



Yay! I had this image (taken at Belton House) featured on RedBubble:

Which was nice. :-)


Going RedBubble

I've been using RedBubble for a couple of weeks now and, so far, I'm still impressed. It has some rough edges, I can see some technical problems with the way it works, not nothing terrible and nothing I don't expect to be ironed out at some point in the near future.

More importantly, as a tool for allowing people to acquire prints of some of my photographs, it's already streets ahead of Photobox (who I've been using since the start of the year). Not only does the site look nicer, and not only does it work in a far more sensible way when it comes to presenting images, it's undergoing constant development whereas the "pro album" side of Photobox seems to have become stagnant.

Because of this I've switched the "print available" system on my site to point to the images over on RedBubble. I'm also linking to it from my Lincolnshire photography site and the main source of prints should anybody want one.



The other day a friend created herself an account on RedBubble and then pointed me at it. After a little bit of arm-twisting I created one too.

So far I'm generally impressed. As I thought it would be it's kind of like Flickr but with the added extra of providing facilities for selling cards, prints and t-shirts. For me it's a little like having PhotoBox meet Flickr and cover the UK, OZ and the US while doing so.



I want a Canon PowerShot G9.

That's it. I want one.

What I Like

Clown 2Yesterday I went through all the images in my Flickr account and had a proper look at them in terms of what I like. Flickr is handy for getting to know what other people find interesting from your images (and also which appear interesting amongst everything on Flickr) but deciding what I like from my own work is a totally different matter.

Sunset SilhouetteIt's over six months now since I got my Canon EOS 400D and I've shot a lot of photographs (I'm not far off having 1,000 400D images online). Many of them are just "snapshots", records of where I've been and what I've done, but some are attempts at creating a photograph just for the sake of creating a photograph. I think I can see improvement. I think I'm slowly getting the hang of using the camera. I think, so far, I'm generally happy with what I've produced.


RAF Waddington Airshow

Last Saturday was the 2007 RAF Waddington airshow. As usual (well, as usual since I moved to Lincolnshire) I went along.

This year was probably the worst year so far due to the awful weather. While there was the odd clear spell it was mostly drizzle with occasional downpours (although nowhere near as bad as I'd been expecting given the forecasts I'd seen).

Annoyingly, because of this, I didn't get to do anywhere near as much photography as I'd have liked. However, I did manage to take some photos.

That said, it could have been worse. Sunday was the better day for the weather but over-night flooding is said to have caused them to cancel the second day.


Experimental Slideshow

More out of curiosity than anything else I've added a new feature to the photography section of my website: a slideshow facility.

It's nothing special, and I wrote it more to get to grips with the code involved than anything else. Note also that the current version doesn't work with Microsoft Internet Explorer due to it missing a facility that latest versions of the other popular browsers have.

It's a little rough around the edges. Doubtless it won't work for everyone and in all setups (and if you have a look and it doesn't work for you I'd be interested to know about it), but it was an amusing way of getting to know a few things about taking a JavaScript/AJAX approach to solving a problem.


Lincolnshire Photography

It's that time again. That time when you've got a domain or two to renew so, while you're on the site, renewing them, you start to play around with other domain names to see what's available.

And, yesterday, I did just that.

I actually even found one that sort of coincided with an idea I've been toying with for a while now, so I registered it and, last night, got things going.

So, to go along with my other photography-related sites: Lincolnshire Photography — a site dedicated to hosting photographs I've taken around Lincolnshire.

It's in the early stages at the moment, I've still got to get a lot of content on it.


More BBC Britain in Pictures

Over the weekend I submitted a few more images to the BBC Britain in Pictures group on Flickr:

Click on image for bigger version

Click on image for bigger version


BBC Britain in Pictures

It seems that the BBC are making use of Flickr in support of their How We Built Britain series. They've recently created a group that you can submit photographs to that feed their Britain in Pictures project.

Thinking that it looked like a fun thing, and thinking that they were using a sensible license policy for the submitted photographs, I've decided to take part.

So far I've added five photographs to the queue and they've all made it onto the BBC site:

Click on images for larger versions



During a discussion over on Debate Unlimited I was reminded of a little puzzle I used to use as a test problem when getting to know a new development tool or environment. The puzzle is called 5x5.

Many years ago I wrote a version in Clipper (often including it in systems as an easter egg). I also seem to recall writing a version the first (and last) time I had a play with Visual Basic. I've also done versions for the Palm Pilot and for GNU emacs.

Prompted by this, and as a little lunchtime break, I quickly knocked up a web-based version. So, here it is, 5x5 in XHTML and JavaScript. You'll find details on how to play it on that page.


Geeking out with Exif

So I've got a good number of photographs on my website now. And all those photographs have Exif data associated with them. It's all very well showing the data with a photograph, but doesn't it just cry out for having something a little more geeky done with it?

Well, one ruby script later and I've now got a page of pointless data about my photographs.

No, I don't know what it actually tells me either.


Worship God -- It's a good thing

Some time ago I signed this e-petition. While I didn't necessarily agree with all of the wording I did and still do agree with the main thrust of it (we should not be forcing the practice of a specific religion in our schools).

Today I've had an email pointing to the government's response to the petition.

The Government remains committed to the provision of collective worship in schools and recognises its valuable contribution to the spiritual and moral development of pupils.
That's nice. How about giving some idea of how it aids children's "moral development"? And, more to the point, what is this business of "spiritual development"? Shouldn't "moral development" be in some sort of philosophy class?
This is a view which is shared by many parents who still expect their children to understand the meaning of worship whether they hold a faith or not.
Why the need to practice a specific form of worship so as to understand the general idea of worship? Why the need to perform a specific instance of something to understand the class of something?
We believe that it is important that collective worship should provide the opportunity for pupils to worship God as well as to consider spiritual and moral issues and to explore their own beliefs.
(Emphasis is mine). Note that pupils should have the opportunity to worship God? Note that there's no place for deciding what god, or gods? Note that there appears to be no place to consider the idea of there being a god that cares about being worshipped or even wants to be worshipped?
Collective worship can play a valuable role in developing community spirit, promoting a common ethos and shared values.
And the worship of God has what to do with "developing community spirit", promoting a "common ethos" and "shared values"? Aren't shared values where sets overlap?
The Government believes there is sufficient flexibility in the law to allow both Christian and other forms of worship.
Way to avoid the point of the petition!
The Government respects the right of parents to raise their children in accordance with their own faith and this is why parents have the right to withdraw their children from collective worship.
Note how they talk about "faith" but don't mention anything about no-faith? Note also that, despite talking about "common ethos" and "shared values" and "developing community spirit", they're really promoting a "follow this or bugger off" approach?
From September 2007, pupils in school sixth forms will also be able to withdraw themselves from collective worship. The Government believes that for younger pupils, it is appropriate and practical for parents to decide on whether to withdraw. The Government believes this strikes the right balance between the requirements of the law and accommodating the wishes of parents.
In other words, we're going to do everything we can to promote faith and, generally, a particular kind of faith, in a way that's very similar to spamming. It's an opt-out list.


Random Photography

After adding the random observing log viewer to my astronomy site last week I got to thinking that a similar approach might be fun for my photographs.

So, for no other reason that it could be done: View a random photograph.



Not too long back I decided to create a Flickr account, partly out of curiosity and also partly out of a desire to have somewhere to dump pictures that I didn't want to place in the photography section of my site.

Then, just over a week ago, I noticed an advert for Moo. Given that a pack of 100 cards would cost next to nothing I thought I'd give it a go. If nothing else it seemed to make sense to have some cards with contact details in the camera bag on the off chance that you needed to supply someone with those details.

The cards turned up today (just over a week after placing the order — Moo aren't terribly fast) and I'm pretty pleased with them. They're small, clean, simple and come in a handy little plastic box. I'd have said that the images have turned out a little on the dark side but not so much that they're unattractive.

My only real complaint is that Moo is one of those companies/services that tries really hard to be "cute". They interact with you like they're your best mate (the package even included a little delivery card that says "Yay! You're our new best friend" – Ugh!). Like they're amazingly cool. Like using them is the best fun you can have. They're not. They aren't. It isn't. But the product itself is cheap, cheerful, self-designed and pretty handy.



IUP vs FSM. Time to choose a side!

Road wash

I thought blessing grit was about as odd as road related things could get but it looks like I was wrong.

Yesterday a special police convoy carrying Maori elders sprayed 10,000 litres of Waikato River water on SH1 and SH2 in a bid to free the spirits of crash victims.
Which has me wondering how they were trapped (or, indeed, what evidence there is for there been "spirits" in the first place).
Dick Waihi, iwi liaison officer for the Counties-Manukau police district, today said the operation had been successful.
I wonder how you measure how many spirits were released?


Photographs by date

I've extended my photography section of my site a little more to include a couple of ways of getting at the photographs by date. The first is a simple calendar approach — click on a date and you get the thumbnails of all the images taken on that date.

The second addition is timeline of my photographs:

This is done with the Timeline library.

Photography challenge: Exit

After a reasonable result with my first DPC entry I decided that I'd have another go. This time around I decided that I'd enter either the Entrance or Exit challenges.

Problem was, I was stuck for something to shoot for either challenge. Anything I could think of either seemed horribly obvious. But, during a walk around the village I live in, I remembered a sign on (what appears to be nothing more than) a fence that had always amused me. It looks like nothing more than a corrugated iron fence but it has the words "Please Keep Gate Clear" painted on it and the area around it is overgrown (suggesting that it probably was used as a gate at some point).

I had my camera with me so I shot it. I rushed it though. The light wasn't that good so I ended up using a pretty slow shutter speed and, given that I was just hand-holding the camera (while shivering in the cold), the whole thing ended up coming out a little too soft.

I ended up with a score of 5.0095/10, placing me 92 out of 138. Worse than my last entry but, as far as I'm concerned, better placed than I expected (or deserved).


My first photography challenge

A couple of weeks ago, on a whim, I decided to enter a challenge over at DPChallenge. The challenge was to pick a song title from this list and create a photograph based on it (note, on the title, not the meaning or the lyrics of the song).

While looking through the list I saw the title Do Not Forget About Us and this image came to mind. I'd photographed that a few days earlier. The rules of a challenge are that you have to shoot the image between 2 specific dates so I waited for the right conditions and went back and shot it.

Voting has now finished for the challenge and my final score was 5.5599 (out of 10). That put me 102nd out of 215. I'm pretty happy with that. Okay, it's "middle of the road", it's "average photograph", but at least it isn't down near the bottom, at least it doesn't say "you're awful".

I can see this getting to be quite addictive.

Tags and previews

During the last couple of evenings I've done a little more work on the photography section of my site.

The first thing I added was a simple tag cloud for all the photographs. I've filtered out some obvious tags (things like "England" and county names) because they dominated the cloud.

At some point in the future I'll probably do some more work on the tagging system, probably adding the ability to combine tags.

The other thing I've added, which is more of an experiment than anything else, is a simple JavaScript album preview facility using some balloon tooltip code. Now, when viewing the list of available albums, you can hover the mouse cursor over the album link and see a preview of one of the images it contains.


Google Earth

Not to be outdone by Tim, I've added a Google Earth feed for my photographs.

Same issues apply here as apply to Tim's feed: it's still "in development" so anything could change at any time.


Irish Blood, English Heart, Euro Vision

Okay, okay, I know, the Eurovision song contest is crummy, I can't remember the last time I even watched it. However, Rich Daley (who is obviously a raving Eurovision fan <g>) just alerted me to this article on the BBC website.

Morrissey? Doing Eurovision? That would get me watching!

Fear the Pears! Save the Children!

I know it's not nice to laugh at typos, we all make them from time to time (sod's law says I'll make one in this post), but I couldn't help having a giggle at this one:

This puts undue pressure on children to follow pears
found in this petition over at petitions.pm.gov.uk.



Yesterday evening Tim Haynes pointed me in the direction of Panoramio. It's a site that lets you host photographs (nothing new there), tag them (nothing new there either), link them to locations on Earth (again, nothing new there) and view them via a Google Map or via Google Earth (that might not be new but it's a new one on me).

I've never been that interested in the various photograph-hosting sites that are available but there was something about Panoramio that caught my attention. While it does appear to have the odd quirk or two (not to mention the odd bug or two from what I can see, not that any of them are serious issues) the whole thing seems to work really well.

So, while it won't be a replacement to my photograph gallery, I've created an account and have uploaded and located a random selection of images.


The smell of snow

I was born in, and grew up in, York. Somewhere north(ish) of where I lived in York is the British Sugar factory which processes sugar beet. Because of this I always associate the smell of beet being processed with the coming of snow. Even now, even though I don't live in York any more, when it "feels" like it's going to snow I'm certain I can smell beet being processed.

Today, while having a look around DPChallenge, I stumbled on this fantastic long exposure image of the beet factory.

Right now I can smell beet being processed, which makes me feel like it's going to snow.


A New Toy

Christmas brought me a new toy, a Canon EOS 400D. Which is kind of a problem...

I've always enjoyed photography. When I was in my teens I got myself a Zenith SLR and had great fun with it (even if most of the images I took were pretty awful). I also used it for a fair bit of astrophotography (although, annoyingly, between various house moves over the years I seem to have lost all of those slides). A few years back I also acquired a Canon A-1, which has had a fair bit of use, although mostly for family photography.

The thing that tended to put me off doing much beyond taking snapshots is the lack of immediacy and also the lack of a good scanner (thus allowing the posting of images to a website).

Last year I purchased an Olympus FE-115 compact digital camera. The main reason was to have a digital camera for a short holiday in Whitby and Teesdale. I found the immediacy of the format very addictive and started trying to take photographs other than the usual family snapshots. Soon enough I was hooked on the idea of photography again and found myself wishing I had a dSLR.

So, what's the problem? Up until now I've been able to blame the equipment for any problems in any of the photographs I've tried to take, it's easy to say "oh well, it's a compact digital, it's never going to give good results". Now that I've got a dSLR I can't really get away with that excuse...

Still, it's going to be fun, learning photography all over again, getting used to a new way of doing things.