The New Year comes!

New iMac-

Well Christmas is over and the new iMac is taking shape.  It hasn’t been too much of a struggle… there is a lot of help out there if only you know where to look!  I have jumped various hurdles, like setting the My Book Thunderbolt Duo into Raid 1 so that it automatically backs up all my photos, getting the network printer online and linking to my networked Buffalo drive was a struggle but most of it was a doodle.  Photoshop CC and Lightroom CC with Google Nik’s collection and Portrait Professional are all on and linked up which was surprisingly easy.  🙂

I am still struggling to import my my previous LR5 PC Catalog and hitting a brick wall as it all seems to be working until the last moment when it comes up with an undefined error!  That isn’t too much of a problem whilst I still have my old Laptop working but before too long that will be getting the heave-ho so it is a job I must finish before too long.

Surrey whizz-6950

I worked my first shoot on the machine after the Surrey whizz on Puttenham Common a couple of days ago.  I can’t tell you how much difference this machine made!  Downloading 20Gigs of photos took about 7 min and I finished all the post production in about 4 hours… and that was despite not being particularly familiar with the trackpad and the mechanics of the iMac.  The day itself was lovely with good light and no complaints from me for a change!

I am getting more work for the New Year and still working on the new Web site that, I hope, is going to make my life so much easier.  My resolution for 2014 is to get Nick Anderson Photographic onto a much more commercial footing.

Posting from China

Sol and Luka-6615The good news is that I have just finished Sol and Luka’s portfolio and am ready to post it on Facebook!  The bad news is that despite the Chinese authorities claiming that FB is accessible in the Shanghai area I am struggling to get the page up and have yet to successfully post a single photo, let alone download a portfolio of 180!  So Laura and Bern will just have to exercise their patience a little longer until I can get back to the UK and decent internet access.

The other good news is that this will be my last shoot I will process on this old laptop.  Back home is a brand new, lightning quick iMac 27″ computer with the most gorgeous retina screen.  I have finished setting it up and downloading my favourite working software (Lightroom 5 and Photoshop 6) so its all ready to go.  Having a new computer won’t change the quality of my work as I have a great photo monitor I use with this laptop and the same software but it will speed me up.  At the moment it takes FOREVER to download and process a big shoot.  For example… if I need to do a little detailed brush work on a photo I switch the image from LR into PS to use the extensive tools available there.  At the moment this process takes so long I can usually boil the kettle and make a new cup of tea while it gets done.  Now I won’t even have time to take a sip!

Can’t wait… for both Laura and Bern to get a chance to go through their images and for me to get my hands on my new machine.

Sol and Luka

Sol and Luka-6568

Sol and Luka got the Nick Anderson Photographic treatment recently and I am working on the proofs that I will soon present to Laura and Bern.  The studio work went brilliantly and I was delighted with the results.   All four of my subjects worked hard and were great models, albeit with quite different qualities.  Bern is a real character and although he looks a bit daunting he is a lovely guy and a quality musician.  Laura has a real sparkle and beautiful looks with skin tones to die for!  However, I was there to photograph their Vizslas who were also quite different.  Luka is a little monkey and always full of fun whilst Sol takes his time to get to know you and even by the end of the day stayed a little aloof.

Shooting outdoors at this time of the day is often difficult with short daylight hours, a low sun and plenty of dreary cloud!  Our day wasn’t good with heavy overcast and low light levels.  It becomes a balancing act between getting the best settings for the shoot whilst trying to avoid the noise that accompanies high ISO settings.  Inevitably, towards the end of the shoot the light started to fade fast and I am now working hard trying to get the best out the last hour’s shoot.

The shot above was towards the end of the outdoor session and although I didn’t manage to get any big splashes the calm water gave me some great reflections.  I wish we had had a bit of sunshine to light things up a bit but to be fair, the results we got were great.

Can’t wait to hear what Laura and Bern think!

New Logo

New Logo

I have been working behind the scenes revamping my business.  I am well on the way to getting a professional web site organised that will allow my clients much more freedom to select and use the photos I take.  The aim is to charge a basic price for a shoot and then allow customers to purchase as many photos as they want from the portfolio.  This means they won’t be paying for more photos than they want or for expensive full licenced photos when they only want a single print.

This is a great business model for both the photographer and the client.  It will also allow whizz photos to be easily ordered directly from the website without me having to quote per image.  If it works as I imagine there will be a choice of either downloading the image file or ordering prints and other products directly.

There is still a lot of work to be done developing the site as well as checking print quality and workmanship of the various products on offer but I think it has the potential to take Nick Anderson Photographic to the next level.

New Logo as well!

Landscapes from Table Mountain

Inches from a nasty end!

Landscape photography isn’t one of my favourite genres but I often use an interesting landscape in my photography so a good knowledge of the techniques is important.  When I have a hound in the picture I often throw the landscape into a soft focus so that the subject is clearly defined.  More traditional landscapes are clearly sharp from foreground to infinity so to achieve this a small aperture (large f stop) is required, so today I used Av (Aperture priority) with f 16 set.  The camera changes the speed to set the exposure so I needed to have the ISO high enough to keep it around 1/200th or so.  A small aperture combined with a descent wide angle lens gives an impressively large depth of field which goes from a couple of feet to infinity.

The other element of great landscapes is good light and the best is found within the golden hours of dawn and dusk.  This image isn’t taken with that beautiful light to help it but it is a dramatic view and is early enough to have some nice low shadows to encourage it.  The main problem with getting this angle was the need to stand on the edge of a rock over a 1000ft fall… not the most sensible action for someone with two dodgy knees and an arthritic hip!  What it really needs is a ginger Vizsla sitting on the rock.

Cape Town

Back on the day job and wending my way to Cape Town for a couple of nights.  A long flight this so over the next few days I will be spending about 27 hours in the aluminium tube being gently desicated.  I have my camera gear so will be doing some stock photography work while I am down there.  Probably some of the usual stuff… Table Mountain and the local views etc.  With the events marking the death of Nelson Mandela there may be something more interesting going on so I will be keeping my eyes open.  I’m sure there must be a fish market somewhere or some local markets that might add some colour but we have been advised to be a bit wary as the once safe city is becoming a little less so for visitors.

I think I have my Eye-Fi card with me so I will shoot with the camera recording RAW on the CF card and med (internet) quality JPG on the Eye-Fi so that I can transfer those shots to my iPad and post them.  I’m trying to do without a laptop down-route to save weight but its not particularly easy to get images out of my camera and onto an iPad.  The Eye-Fi card should get around that problem as it has a mini WiFi built in which can create an adhoc network that my iPad can join.  Once created, I can transfer my photos.  One thing the iPad definitely can’t do is work with RAW files… hence the need to record a duplicate of each shot in JPG that is more easily handled.

So whats the difference between RAW and JPG files?  Well the RAW file is the data straight off the camera’s sensor and saved in a file before the camera software does any alterations.  Because it contains a lot of data the files are big… around 20mb or so.  To become a viewable image the RAW file must be put into a conversion programme and then the photographer can choose how to adjust the image to suit… in my case I use Adobe Lightroom 5.  When the camera records in JPG the RAW image is automatically adjusted and converted to the JPG format by the software in the camera itself.  It does the job by applying a set of general algorithms which usually do a good job but can easily be fooled.  Once the conversion is done, most of the sensor data is lost as the JPG file is compressed down to around 7mb so any tweaks you might want to make are more limited.  The main problem with RAW conversions is a matter of time.  To individually adjust every image from a shoot of several hundred is quite a task but the benifits in the quality of the finish product are enormous.

Lovely light this morning

Lovely light this morning

From the moment I saw the gleam of sun through the gaps around the curtains this morning I thought that it would be a lovely day for a few photos. As soon as I had a bit of coffee down my throat I buckled on my 70-200mm lens and headed out with the dogs.

Although it was quite a while after dawn the sun was still low with that gorgeous golden quality that so suits this time of year. The fallen leaves and dead bracken make such a great backdrop for my Vizslas and combined with the warm quality to the light, it almost looks surreal.

Shooting down sun gives that rich colour we expect but I tried a few into the low light which has the benefit of rim lighting the dogs hair but takes some of the richness of the colour away. They both have their qualities but I particularly like this shot. It was hard to achieve as I had to focus through the reeds so that Blue’s eyes were in focus but I like the idea of her half hidden and peeping through the cover.