Ticking Boxes

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Having discussed to death the merits and flaws of various formats, brands, bodies, lenses etc the one thing I have not really delved into in any sensible way is editing. So far I edit as I please – in Lightroom – and use plug ins such as The Nik Collection and presets from the Net.

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But, now I would like to be able to set up generic presets that I can use to batch process. Right now a single colour user preset and a mono preset would be great.

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After that……well, I will concentrate on that later.

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I have downloaded a trial version of Photoshop CC  as I have read that it gives much greater control than LR, but so far I am clueless.

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It’s not so easy. Unless the exposure is identical on each shot there will be differences, some will just need tweaking, others need greater adjustments. But I will carry on until i find a happy medium with one/either/both editing suites.

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The one thing frustrating about LR is that the sharpening sliders are not as particular as I would like. It would be beneficial to be able to sharpen certain areas (eyes, lips) without adding overall sharpening to the entire image.

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Oh, I have to say, damn those Fuji and Nikon files for sheer IQ!!!

😀

 

Partied Out

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The end of the birthday festivities! The boys had a fab birthday party today, with the Harding Family all present and their little school friends too, how could they not?

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Cards, pressies, a BBQ (with wine of course for the ladies), and a birthday cake each I would say it’s the perfect end to the summer holidays.

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And a fabulous 6 weeks it has been for us.

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Less than a week to go and we will be off back to respective schools and workplaces, and counting down the days ’til christmas!

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There is plenty to occupy in the coming months though, and not just for the kids.

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Wedding season for next year is already shaping up so there’s that to look forward to (and plan practise for),

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a couple of portrait sessions and even a commercial business shoot in the next few weeks.

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But between now and then I reckon we can take a minute, put our feet up…..

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……and enjoy that glass of Vin Ordinaire.

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🙂

(P.S – I only took about 10 photos, all shot at ISO 1250 with the PL 25mm)

Where The Boys Are

My Boys both have birthdays this week, we have celebrated in various ways, and with their birthday party tomorrow we decided today we would go to Africa Alive………again. Ty chose this as his birthday is today, and we had a lovely time.

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(Camera wise – GH3 and Panny 45-150mm)

🙂

The Mulberry Bush

 

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Yes, round and around we go.

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All images in this series are from the Panny GH3.

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For what reason? you might ask

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Well, there isn’t one. I just like it.

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Not over and above anything else, there are plenty as good, and certainly better, out there.

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But M43 does offer a very compelling package (dependant on your shooting requirements).

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 🙂

I Do……………Two

 

 

Let’s talk about the gear.

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 I actually took THREE cameras to shoot this wedding. This was not intentional, but i had purchased a Nikon D800E from EBay, and just prior to the wedding day a fault had come to light and it had to be returned to the seller. This left me with just my mums Fuji X100s, not good enough.

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So, i ‘borrowed’ a Nikon D610 to go with my 85mm F1.4 lens and bought a Sony A77ii to pair with my Sigma 105mm F2.8 macro lens. This gave me three reasonable focal lengths for a more complete coverage.

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I will start with the Fuji. I hated it. I dont know how Fuji went from XTrans 1 to 2 and managed to take a huge step backward in some ways. Now, not being very techy, or a landscape shooter or even well versed in the different ways sensors change from one iteration to the next, I can only speak from my experience, shooting what I shoot. YMMV.

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The Good – In RAW, the files provide tons of data to work with, High ISO performance appears to be on par with the D800E. The controls and functional layout of the camera is very good, the IQ is excellent and obviously given its diminutive size, leaf shutter and built in flash that can sync to any shutter speed its useful for so many different types of shooting.

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The bad – The JPegs. Over ISO 800 the ‘wax effect’ that so many have spoken of starts to rear its ugly head. By ISO 3200 its abysmal, and given how much indoor shooting there is at a wedding, in less than stellar light, it absolutely fell down. I used it exclusively at the reception dinner and hardly any shots made it through the initial sift. The Fuji XT1 seems to be very similar , and despite many people claiming that they’ve dumped all their Pro gear to shott with the Fuji X format, i personally would not use it for JPegs (which it is renowned for). Oh, and it takes so long to write to card and clear the buffer that even RAW shooting has its compromises.

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The Sony A77ii. When i first laid hands on it i couldnt believe how plasticky it was in comparison to the Nikon bodies. it surprised me as not to long along the Sony A77 was my dream camera. Also, in JPeg, i didn’t notice a great improvement in the high ISO performance over the previous model. Its still performed well and the additional AF points and AF C flexible expandable spot tracking thingy ma jig, was fun to play with. I still found the Nikon implementation of back button focus and AFC more consistent and accurate, but I am not a sport shooter and wouldn’t really know how to put it through its paces.

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I used the A77ii for detail shots with the Sigma 105mm macro, some high contrast mono shots and tried out some other filters (not great) and switched to RAW. Here’s where the improvements really show up. The noise performance was very good – not Nikon or Fuji good, but certainly god enough for most uses. The EVF is great, the WYSIWYG is obviously the most desirable aspect of this range (and all MILC) as attaining the desired exposure settings is SOOOOO much easier. A good all rounder for sure.

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Now to the Nikon D610. I hadn’t been a fan of the D600 and much preferred the D800 at the time. This little camera changed all that. I literally only took receipt of it an hour before going off to shoot The Day, but from the very first shot I was impressed.

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The focussing module is criticised in the D6x range as being a little pedestrian and not really comparable to that of the D8 series or the D7100. AF woes have plagued me before so this was a worry, but a needless one. I swear it nailed almost every shot, and when it didn’t it was down to operator error;  I had chosen too fast an aperture (F1.4) for the constant motion of the ceremony.

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The metering was very good, the white balance too. I could shoot away in RAW and had no issues with write times or the buffer filling up and preventing further shooting. It was just fantastic and of the thousand or so shots i took, i’ll wager that 700 or more came from this beauty.

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The ONLY problem i had with this camera was during the first dance. Again, i was probably shooting at too fast an aperture given that I was using flash, I cranked up the ISO to balance ambient light with the flash and reduce the cave like appearance of some flash shots. But, the focus really was inconsistent.

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I am a fan of centre point focus and recompose, and trying photograph the fantastic singer that performed James and Sam’s chosen song i hate to admit that I didn’t nail focus with a single shot.

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Maybe this is where the more advanced focussing module of the D8x would make a difference. Maybe it was my fault, maybe it wasn’t. I really can’t say.

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What I CAN say is that out of the three if I could only have had one for this event it would have been the Nikon without a doubt. Yes, The fuji is supposed to have wonderful SOOC JPegs and yes the A77ii has fantastic AF and brilliant (unsurpassed) live exposure preview, but the Nikon is the excellent all rounder. It did almost everything well.

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I would like to take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to James and Sam for allowing me to photograph the day – I learnt a huge amount from it and just absolutely loved the whole experience. It was amazing.

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Now I want to do it all again!

🙂

Marry Me Again

 

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I’m very lucky – Just yesterday I had the pleasure of attending James & Samantha’s Vow Renewal Ceremony and Reception. It was my first wedding as a photographer, and I was kinda nervous.

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As a photographer you want to show your skill/talent (delete either or both if applicable), you want to be creative and get it right technically. But, most importantly, you don’t want to disappoint the bride & groom.

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In fact, you want to make them happy. These photos are what will remain of this particular day twenty or more years from now, and its all about what they want recorded in the forever column.

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I have to say that beginning, middle and end, it went swimmingly. You couldn’t ask for a better day, and the fact that their original wedding was held  17 years ago to the day added a sense of poignancy. They hold each other in deep regard, you can see how naturally they flow as family unit and a couple, it is as real as it gets folks, and I pay homage to the example they set.

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Fortunately I had seen the venue the night before, all set up, down to the last pretty detail. Sam had a huge part in creating a lot of the details, and even painted the hand made candy cart herself.

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First things first, the ladies getting beautified. Plenty of time, a little wine, lot of giggles, and I reckon it was about 100 degrees! I think I got my best photos here as Sam was laid back, and the BM’s, Jane and Ellie, and mum Jenny, were really receptive to my presence. I tried not to direct, just to document what was going on as it unfolded.

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There was to be another photog on site, so when she turned up I went off to shoot the reception detail and ceremony room.

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After that, off to see what the lads were up too. We had only about ten minutes, and this is where my inexperience showed itself initially. Short on time and light and trying not to string out a well focussed James, i snapped away, a little adhoc. Lewis and Kieran were stars and did everything asked of them, but with hindsight a more skilled photographer would’ve gotten more here.

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The Ceremony. Now here is where things CAN get tricky. The Vicar stated his preference for no slapping mirrors, ninja stylee photographers, or flash. I tired to respect that, opting for the Navy Seal approach instead, crawling around on my belly to get from shooting point A to B. The other photog was bolder, and hopped about, flash and all. I understand that too, as a paid Pro you gotta get THE shot. THe ceremony is where that is at.

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For me (YMMV) a 70-200mm would’ve been ideal in this setting, allowing me to get intimate without getting personal if you catch my drift. As it was I made do withe the Fuji X100, with its silent shutter and rather wide 35mm FF equivalent lens.

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Sam had very kindly invited me to the dinner as a guest, and it was fabulous. Yummy food, great company and the kids were hysterical, as little kids always.

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And don’t you know it, all of a sudden it was time to party. The very wise DJ had the kddie disco first, and an hour later the all important first dance.

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Now, the first dance is emotive anyway, almost the finale of any wedding, a completion of  but Sam and James had a friend sing the chosen song for them (its been going round and around my head all day) , and it almost made my heart hurt. You know, THAT kind of singing!

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This marked my exit. The evening guests had arrived, the party was in full swing and I had done all I could, and hoped to have achieved what was asked of me.

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Here’s too you Mr & Mrs Morrison – and another happy 17 years ahead of you at the very least. xx

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😀