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johnriley1uk’s latest blog : when is an abbey not an abbey?

johnriley1uk's latest blog : the cameras with the wonderful lenses

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When is an Abbey not an Abbey?

18 Sep 2021 12:12AM  
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When it’s a priory. Such is the status of Anglesey Abbey near Cambridge. It was originally Anglesey Priory, but the owner thought that wasn’t grand enough, so he renamed it Anglesey Abbey. As houses of this nature go, this one is positively cosy, and it’s the sort of place I could imagine living quite happily. For the visitor the grounds offer a lot of interest and I understand this is a favourite haunt of many local people. Here’s some pictures of the Abbey and of some of the Dahlias from the Dahlia Garden, which was in full bloom and looked absolutely fantastic.

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dark_lord’s latest blog : wallpaper (not the decorating stuff)

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Wallpaper (Not the Decorating Stuff)

13 Jul 2021 3:27PM  
Views : 70
Unique : 61

We all have at last one device (well if you’re reading this you must have, unless you’re on a public device or borrowing from a friend) that you can display your images on.

Following on from my ‘A Picture for the Wall’ I’m turning to those other display spaces, the screen of your computer, laptop, tablet and phone. Before I go any further, I intend this blog to cover personal rather than work devices (unless you’re self employed and thus the boss so you can do what you want).

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I bought my first computer for photography just before the turn of the century. I recall reading a suggestion not to use strongly coloured images as the wallpaper. The justification was twofold. In the days of the cathode ray tube monitor, bight images would be a strain over time on the phosphor coating. If you were editing bright images the same would be true so that argument is on shaky ground. The second issue, and perhaps related, was that a monochrome image didn’t overuse one particular phosphor. Imagine if you will a photo of your football team wearing red kit.

The main idea behind using a mono image was that it was neutral (so no sepia or cyanotype toning effects) so you weren’t over influenced by colour when coming to carefully edit your images. Again, from a practical point of view you wouldn’t be staring at your wallpaper for a long time before editing, and in any case most editing software could be set to be a neutral grey. The issue of overexciting (a genuine term, it’s all to do with energy levels of electrons, much of the theory I’ve long since forgotten) one particular phosphor was the main reason behind the use of screensavers (ah, there’s a clue in the name!).

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Nevertheless, I used mono images. It was much easier to see when the screen calibration data loaded into the graphics card as I’d see a change to a warmer one in most cases. Modern LED monitors are much more stable in terms of colour wandering though I still regularly calibrate mine albeit not as often these days. However, I still use mono images, not so much as there may be a hint of logic in those old reasons, but because I prefer them. I find them ore comforting and relaxing. Oh, and colour icons do stand out very easily against them especially on darker and moodier images.

I create separate versions of image for my wallpaper so they fit my screen exactly and are sharpened appropriately. I have a separate folder for them and make each file name end in ‘wall’, to differentiate it from for example uploads to the gallery, website or blog which each have their own relevant ending to the file name. I find this keeps things in order, avoids confusion (and overwriting as they are all jpegs), and is easy to see where the image is used. That’s more to do with my general workflow.

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Do you change your wallpaper regularly or do you keep a favourite image up for a while? The images here have been used as my wallpaper for varying lengths of time at some point.

What about you?

All text and images © Keith Rowley 2021

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dudler’s latest blog : not a very good lens ? but does it matter?

dudler's latest blog : art, snap or reportage

Not a very good lens – but does it matter?

10 Jul 2021 10:02AM  
Views : 54
Unique : 45

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So… A couple of years back, Amateur Photographer’s list of possible presents for Christmas (I think it was) included a Fujian CCTV lens, all the way from China for under £20. I bought one, and it gives rather charming results. I can envisage a few glamour photographers buying them for a Sliver-like ‘don’t you like to watch’ set of pictures. (I remain a Sharon Stone fan.)

But you can have too much of a good thing, as I proved to myself when I bought a 50mm f/1.4 Fujian in the hope of even better things. And while the 35mm has faults that add charm to the Bokeh and dark corners on full frame cameras, the 50mm has FAR more of them.

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Neither lens has click stops, and a diaphragm with plenty of blades changes from near-circular at full aperture to a long and thin rectangle when stopped well down before closing completely. There aren’t any index marks for either aperture or focus, so they might as well not be marked: though at least the 35mm lens has the f-stop sequence the right way round – the 50mm markings, if you can see them, mislead you as to which way to turn the ring…

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It doesn’t stop there (pardon the pun…) While the 35mm optic focusses to infinity more or less at the end of the focus movement, the 50mm goes way past infinity, and goes no closer than around four and a half feet: most 50mm lenses go down to one and a half feet, not one and a half meters! The package I received included a couple of extension tubes as well as the Sony mount adaptor, but these bring the furthest focus down to a few feet. It doesn’t feel well thought-through.

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Both lenses appear to be available still, at vastly varying prices, and I believe that there’s another branding with the same optics in a more user-friendly lens body. AP reckoned that this was worth the extra money, at nearly double the price. I’m less sure!

If weird appeals, for the price of a cheap meal out, you may want to give one of these lenses a go – though unless you have gone mirrorless, you will never achieve infinity focus!

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dudler’s latest blog : nude is not rude

dudler's latest blog : art, snap or reportage

Nude is not rude

9 Jul 2021 1:52PM  
Views : 86
Unique : 74

I’ve just written to the Editor of Amateur Photographer about the latest in the magazine’s series of ‘From the Archive’ articles, where they present a couple of hundred words of text and a few pages from an old edition of the magazine: in the 10 July edition, the Editor himself reviewed the 13 July 1977 issue, which had a family nude on the cover. His tone was jocular, but a bit sniffy, suggesting that the image might lead to a rash of pictures of Auntie Beryl in the nude…
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Like all nudity, in an increasingly censorious world, such a triple portrait needs to be photographed with discretion and concern for the subjects: the present and future wellbeing of the people in any naked picture must be a concern. But it is wrong to dismiss all attempts to record the tenderness within a family as being akin to ‘readers’ wives’ – and I think that the composure and dignity of some older nude models gives the lie to the idea that it is the subject matter that’s the problem, rather than the sensitivity of the image.

As it goes, I think that the image is a very reasonable attempt at a difficult triple portrait. Or maybe it’s the prospect of male nudity that is problematic? Certainly, the father looks the least comfortable of the group, and maybe this is what upsets many viewers (if, indeed, they are upset). I find male nudes a difficult subject, but I see that as being a fault in me, rather than male nudes per se. and while I’m very much aware of a particular need to protect children, I find Sally Mann’s images of her own family heart-warming as well as challenging. I feel similarly about LucyRabbit’s images on this site (go and look if you don’t know her work! But do bear in mind that many of her pictures are nudes.)

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dudler’s latest blog : the portrait not taken

dudler's latest blog : art, snap or reportage

The portrait not taken

7 Jul 2021 6:27AM  
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Unique : 27

As photographers, some of us strive to take good portraits – others avoid people pictures at any cost. My own feeling is that on a good day, with the right subject and a following wind, I can deliver a reasonable result (and that’s a different thing from making a spectacular photograph, by the way).

There ought to be a good likeness of the inner person, at least once in each life, and I’m not sure that there always is. I am sometimes haunted by the shade of Lieutenant Commander Eugene Esmonde, having heard the story of his last flight many, many years ago.

You can look him up, and find that he won the Victoria Cross, Britain’s highest honour for bravery in the face of the enemy, for leading a torpedo attach on 12 February 1942. The previous day, he’d received the DSO for leading a carrier-based attack, at night, against the Bismarck.

The plan had been to attack under similarly-favourable conditions, but the German battleships Scarnhorst, Gneisau and the battle cruiser Prinz Eugen had left harbour at night, to run the English Channel by day. A daylight attack was ordered. Flying in Fairey Swordfish biplanes, with a maximum speed of 138mph, Esmonde and his squadron faced not only the battleships but a small fleet of smaller craft defending them, and heavy fighter cover. To launch a torpedo successfully, the Swordfish had to fly low, slowly, straight and level towards their target.

Each aircraft had a crew of three: of the 18 airmen, only five survived the day. None of the torpedoes hit their targets. Admiral Otto Ciliax in the Scharnhorst described ‘The mothball attack of a handful of ancient planes, piloted by men whose bravery surpasses any other action by either side that day.’

‘He knew what he was going into,’ wrote Tom Gleave, the RAF commander of Manston airfield in Kent, from which Esmonde took off. ‘But it was his duty. His face was tense and white. It was the face of a man already dead. It shocked me as nothing has done since.’

You probably know Don McCullin’s picture of a US soldier’s ‘thousand yard stare’ – but I wonder if even McCullin could have captured that look… The pictures you can find of Esmonde show a round-faced young man, and they do not, I think, express his full character.

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johnriley1uk’s latest blog : when is a landscape not a landscape?

johnriley1uk's latest blog : the cameras with the wonderful lenses

When is a landscape not a landscape?

14 Jun 2021 5:22PM  
Views : 135
Unique : 109

Categories. Labels. Generally, this is the stuff that we can debate for ever but is at the very core of most competitions. Of course, there is always the designation Open, which indicates anything goes, but when we start to apply labels then the difficulty of definition is there from the start. The usual descriptions are Landscape, Portrait, Record, Still Life, Wildlife, and so on, each one fraught with difficulties. Record is one that bamboozles many a club photographer, arguments that run from every image being a record of what was in front of the camera to the strict definition of a reproduction of an object showing its form so that it could be rebuilt from the image, that is, a realistic record. Then we ask does a landscape include seascapes, cityscapes……..Or does portrait include groups of people, if so how many, or does it include portraits of pets and animals in general……

It all goes to show how we love to apply labels to things, to define them. I’m going to look for some images now to label and if we’re lucky I might find some that challenge the perception of the groups and widen our thoughts about these narrow categories.

Candlelit Glamour, portrait or low light?
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No Escape, what category? Creative?
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Cyber Blues. Record?
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Alice In Wonderland. Portrait? Reportage?
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Cassie with Red Gels. Portrait? Creative?
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Urban Exploration. Record? Creative? Reportage?
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Most Haunted. Reportage? Portrait? Creative?
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Best Men. Portrait? Creative? Social? reportage?
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I’m trying to move away from labels and categories, as much as possible anyway. What they all are could be described as images.

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dudler’s latest blog : we shall not see their like again

dudler's latest blog : art, snap or reportage

We shall not see their like again

6 May 2021 7:52AM  
Views : 101
Unique : 80

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It’s a phrase we sometimes hear when somebody wants us to share a nostalgia they feel, and which they realise that we may not be particularly interested in. When I talked to my wife about the subject in my lead picture (and my gallery post today), she was deeply unimpressed.

I grew up with fences like this one. I don’t know who made them, but I suspect one firm in the north Midlands produced them all – if anyone knows for certain, please post a comment. They certainly aren’t specially beautiful, but there were quite a lot around in North Staffordshire and Derbyshire in the Sixties: a particular response to the need for quick and durable fencing where – for instance – a dry stone wall had crumbled, or a hedge had died, perhaps.

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We won’t see them again because the modern response is concrete and barbed wire, or perhaps showy new wooden fencing – or, even, a freshly-planted and laid hedge… We may well see more traditional boundaries appear as people become more willing to use labour-intensive solutions which share employment and prosperity, and encourage wildlife. I certainly hope so!

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Maybe a factory in China will start making a similar product: but I think that won’t happen. It’s not, now, an elegant technical solution, or a beautiful one, so it will meet the same fate as all the workaday chairs and tables that local carpenters made when Chippendale and Sheraton furniture was emerging from cabinet makers’ workshops. Nobody’s going to make special efforts to preserve it, until we’re down to the last fifty-foot stretch on a farm near Stoke-upon-Trent, when it’ll get whipped into a heritage museum, or slung on the back of the last rag-and-bone Transit passing by.

So, when you go out for a walk today, keep your eyes open and your lenscap off, and see if you can find something that has been around for fifty, or a hundred, or two hundred years, and won’t be replaced when it is damaged…

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dudler’s latest blog : this is not fight club

dudler's latest blog : mirrorless - and why they?re (arguably) better

This is not Fight Club

12 Dec 2020 8:37AM  
Views : 54
Unique : 41

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‘First rule of portrait photography – you have to find your subject interesting.’ – Ivan Weiss, portrait photographer. And I need to emphasise that all of the pictures in this blog are mine – though you can find his portfolio on here, or look at his website to find numerous images that will – I suspect – knock your socks off.

Ivan’s been a member of this website for a while, and his delicately-lit and perfectly posed portraits have delighted me. I find that he tends to relieve me of User Awards pretty regularly. One of my ambitions is to sit in front of his camera, and see what happens: his precise technical work is, I have always realised, just one part of the magic.

A consistent feature of good photographers in every genre is that they are interested in the world. They want to see, understand, observe and question – and then to share their understanding with others. This underlies so much of what goes on in our hobby, even for those who make it a profession: they tend to remain ‘amateurs’ in the sense that they LOVE taking pictures. Look at Platon, who I wrote about several months ago – both the Netflix documentary and the YouTube clips show him as fascinated with people.

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It’s the same with any other subject – there’s got to be a fascination! One EPZ member is exploring the possibilities of light trails in a manner that I find fascinatingly methodical: others pursue wildlife with a passion that I can’t match. It’s really important that there are people who are fascinated by anything and everything, and we don’t have to share their particular pursuits to be interested in the chase itself. That’s what makes photography a special thing – well, one of the things.

By holding my camera, I give myself licence to be interested in people being interested. It doesn’t mean that I want to do the same things they do, but it gives me a way in to a first understanding of things. You too? You know what to do, then…

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johnriley1uk’s latest blog : a bridge not too far

johnriley1uk's latest blog : cool activities on the streets of manchester

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A Bridge Not Too Far

3 Dec 2020 9:24AM  
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Unique : 67

We’ve had a look at various compact cameras, and there’s a lot to be said for travelling light. We walk further and explore more places without a huge camera bag or backpack dragging us down. Of course there are quality and verstility issues, which is why we do it, but for general image making that allows for most subjects to be tackled in one lens, the compact is hard to beat. Unless of course it’s the Bridge Camera. Now we have a little more bulk and weight but more scope than most for long telephoto shots, ultra close-ups and sometimes more control over exposure modes and other features. We started off with bridge cameras, using the excellent Fuji S602 Pro, with its 3MP sensor that pretended to be 6MP, but which sold us on digital image making. Those first bridge cameras cost us over £600 each, a staggering amount really for what they were.

The shelves have no bridge cameras on them now that are actually in use and the last one was the Pentax X90. The DSLR has firmly taken over, in this houehold anyway. But I did have a look at the X90 images and I’ll share those with you now. There is clearly some potential in the do-anything bridge camera, along no doubt with its macro to ultra-telephoto aspirations.

We start off with an early morning visit to the metal bridge over the canal at Worsley.
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johnriley1uk’s latest blog : when is a door not a door?

johnriley1uk's latest blog : cool activities on the streets of manchester

When is a door not a door?

22 Nov 2020 5:16PM  
Views : 106
Unique : 86

In the context of what I have in mind today, not a jar, but a gate. Just to check I looked up the definitions of a door and a gate using Chambers’ Dictionary and a door allows access to a building and a gate allows access to a space beyond, perhaps a courtyard, perhaps a garden, and so on. Of course there are a multitude of other ways to describe doors and gates and just thinking for a second then the gate at an airport is just one of them. Having defined the difference, and being a collector of images of interesting and even mundane doors, I wondered what I could find in the way of gates. The reason why is of course the making of projects, and projects give direction and purpose to our photography.

So on to some images, and these are the gates I found.

Sometimes a Fantasy, a gate with enhanced colour.
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Recession leading towards a gate
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A gated entrance to a derelict chapel
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Precious Mackenzie, behind a gate
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Green gates
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The lock on a gloriously rusting gate
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Garden gate
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A wooden gate in a wall
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Old wooden gates
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Pathway gate
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Charlotte gated
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