Andrew Macpherson

On Site

Autumn Colours

by on Oct.26, 2010, under On Site

Ma'lard of the Lake

Just had a great weekend down on the south coast staying in Brighton, and meeting up with friends made on the photo holiday in Marrakech in 2008.  We spent Saturday visiting Sheffield Park National Trust Garden, in rather mixed weather.  No sooner had we arrived than we had to retreat to the tearoom while a thunderstorm passed over. (continue reading…)

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Watching and learning

by on Jul.19, 2010, under Learning, On Site, Workflow

I was much touched to be invited to Mark and Megan’s wedding, and to some of the festivities leading up to the blessing in St Cecelia’s in Little Hadham, and the reception in Bury Green.  Great fun, and I also got to meet Greg and Teri Harris.  Teri is proprietor of Ladybug Photography a wedding specialist, and Greg has an enormous range to his photographic experience and qualification.

The first thing I learned, and it made sense as soon as I stopped to think about it, was to take off the lens and fit a body cap when putting cameras in to one’s bag.  That way one doesn’t need to have a continuously varying lens space in front of the body, and a partially unsupported lens, but rather can have a properly sized space with correctly placed padded dividers for body and lenses.  So obvious, so entirely different from what the bag makers are addressing in their marketing.

Teri had a problem with this wedding, as she was the bridesmaid.   Makes taking photos a little difficult, especially as she was, by office, an essential part of many tableaux.  Once the reception got going though, she succumbed to the need to get back behind a lens.  In the meantime Greg had ben shooting at a tremendous rate.  So that was point number two, keep going till well after you’re sure you have a shot for each scene, there are no re-runs.

I was offered 2 pieces of general advice — firstly to learn to shoot manual — or is that go back to shooting manual?  I think E-TTL flash mode was permitted, but I’m not sure :-D.  The other was to never use flash for flowers.

Thanks guys! There is still so much to learn, and isn’t that great?

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So… What is “Pro” a code for?

by on Jul.13, 2010, under Equipment, On Site

Every group has it’s own terminology.  For most purposes in the photography world one assumes that Pro means suitable for use by those who make a living doing photography. For most purposes.

Recently I’ve been looking at support systems — tripods, heads, L-brackets, lens foot plates as I’d got really fed up with tilt the tripod head 90° re-adjust the height and balance, take a couple of shots, reverse the sequence.  A better solution was needed, and the answer appeared to be an L-bracket allowing one to unclip the camera, swing it through 90° and use a second attachment point on the side.  This would mean that the eyepiece would stay roughly at the same hight, and the weight remain firmly centred above the intended support point on the tripod.  In fact it should work better with appropriate short lenses, than when one swings a long lens round  in its ring mount, as the eyepiece will not move so much.

So why did all the ads describe the L-brackets as Pro? It turns out that Pro means compatible with Arca-Swiss type fixings, and with no second 1/4-16 screw-hole.

Or to put that another way, Pro means

  • Arca-Swiss / Arcatech
  • Foba
  • Giotto
  • Induro
  • Jobu
  • Kirk
  • Markins
  • Really Right Stuff
  • Wimberly
  • 3-Legged Thing

heads but not either Gitzo (though there is a converter), Manfrotto, Trek-Tech or Velbon who seem to dominate the tripod market.

Isn’t marketing-speak confusing?   But it does also point out that there is a quasi-standard that one might be well advised to go with.

Related Posts

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Join the World-Wide Photowalk

by on Jun.13, 2010, under Camera Club, Competitions, On Site

On Saturday July 24th I’ll beJoin Me for the Photowalk leading the Bishop’s Stortford photowalk, part of the worldwide photowalk. I’m expecting it to be great fun, and a great chance for us all to show off how fine Bishop’s Stortford is.

Scott Kelby, prolific author, is offering a prize of one of his recent books on Lightroom 3 or Photoshop CS5 for the best local photograph, and we also hope to offer the author a fairly large print of their winning photograph locally.  The local winner also gets entered into the worldwide contest for a $1000 photo equipment worldwide first prize (and lots of runner up prizes too…).

The prize is great, but the main aim of the day is to get local photographers together to share their enjoyment and enthusiasm, maybe offer mutual help and encouragement…  All levels of photography experience are welcome, all equipment from camera phones through point-and-shoot cameras, DSLRs to stand cameras with sheet film backs will take pictures — bring what you’re happy with.  Any one of these might take a great photograph, guided by your imagination and eye as the photographer.

I look forward to seeing you on the day!

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The best scenery in the world (in summer)

by on Jun.13, 2010, under On Site, Travel, Workflow

I already know from experience that I can’t cope with long dark days in winter, but visiting northern latitudes in summer is a real treat.  Particularly when the scenery is spectacular enough to attract a World Heritage site designation.

The run from Oslo to Bergen is pretty dramatic even on the fast route.  Once one decides to take the scenic trail (roads 7 and 50) the wow factor goes into overload.  There we were at 1200m with a partially ftoven lake and snow fields coming down to the water’s edge a mere 10 days from the Summer Solstice, or the 500m switchback down a precipice with the turns dug into tunnels in the cliff face…

Anyway we stopped in Aurland, and the hotel manager waxed lyrical about various viewpoints, and a not to be missed ferry trip up the Nærøyfjord leaving from the jetty at 09:15.

The day was slightly hazy to start with, but rapidly improving

By the time one has set the polarising filter on the front of the lens the resulting raw files look like HDR processing — so much so that I though you might enjoy a comparison.

Comparison photo HDR vs Straight photo

Nærøyfjord Photo 1

The other photo looks extremely simmilar

Nærøyfjord Photo 2

And finally a third offering of the same image.  Which do you rate?

A third presentation of the same image

Nærøyfjord Photo 3

The actual information is available when you click (continue reading…)

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Getting Noticed

by on Sep.02, 2009, under Equipment, On Site


The problem a refurbished flat, with plenty of space that just isn’t getting potential renters through the door to look.  The idea is to break out of the mould of sterile pictures, and try to add some aspirational zing to the advertising.

Jessica very kindly offered to do the shoot on a TFP/CD basis to build up her portfolio, with a view to getting pro modelling and film extra work.  I think that the results were worthwhile — have a look at the studio shots in my portrait folder as well — the sepia head shot makes a wonderful canvas.  Jessica was a joy to work with, and made my job much easier.  Life as a photographer is so much better when the subject also wants to look good.

Equipment: Canon 5D, 70-200 f4 L, Elinchrom D-Lite 2 Go, Chinese wireless flash trigger, shooting tethered to the MacBook Air.  Shooting tethered allowed Jessica to get a feel for how the shots were coming out, and, seeing that helped her to work with me to improve the results.

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