Monthly Archives: November 2013

A shady character

I’d gone for another of my lunchtime rambles with the camera and my ultra-wide lens through the back streets around Golden Lane and popped out onto Old Street and walked down to St Luke’s Church. I’d walked 15 yards down the small lane to the right trying to get a nice angle through the shrubs and branches of the spire. I gave up and turned around quickly to walk off when I spotted a heavy set 17-18 year old guy with a trainee moustache and swinging an open faced motorbike helmet 10 metres away and heading straight towards me.

When he’d seen I’d spotted him, he did an about-turn and almost jogged off back towards the main road and turned right. I walked back to the same road and turned left. After 10 seconds he’d stopped and was again looking at me. After we locked eyes for the second time he crossed the road and pretended to wait for the bus.

That one minute of perceived danger reminded me of two things I’d forgotten; not everyone is nice and don’t spend all your time looking up.


New ultra-wide lens

I hit the London streets a couple of days ago to try out a new ultra-wide lens during a lunchtime break. It was seriously cold and windy and with most people electing to eat lunch at their desks, I made the decision to get out to the relatively empty streets.

I’ve got my hands on a Nikon 10-24 DX lens. My first impressions were that it was quite blurry around the edges shooting at 10mm. It was quite overcast so I opened up wide to around it’s maximum aperture of 3.5 or so since I didn’t want to drop the ISO too far or the shutter speed since I was hand holding. I know that most lens don’t behave nicely near their extremes so I bumped the ISO and went to f8 and the edges cleaned up nicely.

You can get some major coverage with this lens at 10mm (about 15mm at 35mm equivalent) and you can produce some very strange converging angles shooting up at buildings. In the photo below, I would never have previously thought that I could have got a shot like that in such a confined small square but with the 10-24, no problem.

Time to buy a new winter coat…


Nikon website woes

In June or so this year I registered my Nikon kit on their website, all went well, everything got entered and most of it applied for their free two year warranty. They said it would take 6-8 weeks to get the paperwork sent out to me. Three months later I realised that it hadn’t turned up so I got in contact, again through their website and spoke to somebody who confirmed my address and said they would re-send it out. Again I forgot about it but bought some new gear and went to register it on their site.

My username and password weren’t recognised, odd because I use Keepass. I found their “forgot password?” tool and had it emailed to me but it seemed that my account was missing. I signed back up using the same email address to see if it would spot a duplicate email address but it all went through and none of my data was there.

I raised a support ticket with them and after supplying email evidence from the unsent warranty paperwork incident that I had the account previously they have agreed to re-register all my gear and send me a 32gb SD card for the inconvenience. A nice touch and all resolved pretty quickly.

Just need to see if its third time lucky with the warranty paperwork…


Web publishing images

I follow a guy on Flickr called David Gutierrez, he’s based in London and produces amazing architectural photos. I went through his stunning shots and quickly saw that he only uploads at a maximum resolution of about 600px wide. Even at that size you can still see most of the detail and all of the effort that went into the shot, it helps that all his shots are very colourful and he has a great eye for nighttime lighting.

Until very recently I put my images unmarked onto Flickr at a fairly high resolution, about 2000px along it’s longest edge. I set up a Lightroom export preset to upload to Flickr quite a while ago and never looked at it again. As I also submit some of my photos to stock image sites, do I really want those same submitted hi-res images available on Flickr?

I know its pretty bad form to slap watermarks onto images. Websites I’ve read in the past are split on the subject although most have fallen down the ‘watermarks ruin images and distract from the subject’ type approach. Even so, I’ve decided to add one, just a simple name and a 2px wide line crossing the full width of the image. As most of my images have plenty sky or background colour (yeah, quite novice), the watermark goes across that background. It can be cropped out pretty easily but I feel that it doesn’t distract from the overall image composition.

If somebody is going to remove it, they will, there’s almost nothing you can do to stop that but at least I’ve given it a shot. Hopefully by limiting the resolution to 700px as a maximum and adding a watermark, my images won’t go anywhere I don’t want them to.

I’ve probably overthought the issue since judging by my Flickr stats, most people view my Billy Smarts Circus set rather than the stuff I’m trying to protect!

Marathon keywording session with the Alamy Lightroom plugin

After downloading and installing the Alamy plugin for Lightroom, I quickly realised that I’d have to organise my keywords into a hierarchy (always have to spell check that word). As pretty much all my photos are building/architecture related I set up the hierarchy as I would doing a 3D model, discipline, element, feature etc. The logical physical elements went fairly easily but the difficulty came trying to sort adjectives and nouns into sensible categories. I did what I could but I’m sure a more logical structure will present itself the more and more I use it. I hope. It took about three evenings and I managed to clean up some near duplicates so at least I had some consistency.

I had 94 images already uploaded and QC passed on Alamy so I went through each image and added missing keywords and some descriptive stuff, photo classification etc. So far the workflow I’m using is adding all the keywords using the hierarchy then manually typing in the Essential and Main keywords as required by Alamy. Initially I wondered why you couldn’t add those special keywords via the hierarchy panel but by having to type them in, you think more about what’s important and unique about each image. There is an option on the plugin export to automatically fill the Essential and Main keyword boxes but you really need full control over what the search engine considers important.

I did twenty yesterday and the remaining 74 during the course of today and I’ve gone video blind, my eyes feel like furry hard boiled eggs.

The Alamy Lightroom plugin can be found here, looks tricky on first inspection but a couple of read throughs of the pdf manual (which doesn’t seem to be in usage order, hence the double read through) and 15 mins of use and everything should click in place.