We had talked about going to Basque Country in Northern Spain for a number of years, and Bilbao was on my list as a Spanish city I wanted to visit too. We decided to take the plunge and make arrangements to go there for a few days and experience the Basque region.
X1.1 Brian Evolution 2 Carbon Fibre Tripod System with Air-Hed 1 Blue
Having found the need for a travel tripod I did some research on what was available on the market at this time and found a British company that make what looks to be a good range of tripods. The company is called the 3 Legged Thing. Now if I can I will support British manufacturers if they make a good product and I had come across the name a few times but never really looked at the products so having found a good deal on the above item (this is not the latest version which is Evolution 3) I went ahead and purchased one.
I finally managed to get out to do some landscape photography last Monday when I had a day out in Ribblesdale and surrounding areas with my good friend and professional photographer Ade Mcfade. It was a bright but cloudy day with a strong wind blowing which brought frequent snow showers to locations and turned the mundane into interesting landscapes in a matter of a few minutes.
When we got into the hills and up to the snow line, the snow was around 6-8 inches deep, so it was a challenge to keep our feet on some of the slippery limestone pavements. With this sort of weather the scenery changed dramatically from the normal type of images you might expect to capture up there. We spent most of the day stopping at known locations and some unknown which suddenly became interesting and offered photographic opportunities that on a normal day would not be there as the snow turned them to a winter wonderland.
With the snow showers moving in and out all day, there were some good images to be had. When the cold (a big wind chill factor going on this day from the strong wind) finally got the better of us we moved on to a different location to find what the snow had done to the scenery there.
I started out shooting with my Canon 5DMkIII and either the 70-200mm f2.8 zoom or my wide angle 16-35mm f2.8 zoom lens. These two are my favourite combination for working in the landscape. But I had brought along my 400mm f5.6 which proved very useful for some distance shots of a moody snow covered Pen-y- Ghent. Getting a telephoto view of some landscapes can be beneficial with the telephoto effect of the lens providing a compressing perspective and giving a different view point to the normal.
Shooting with ‘live view’ worked well for most of the images until the camera decided that the batteries had had enough and ‘live view’ stopped working. The camera would take pictures but you didn’t get a display of the image you had taken. So I swapped over to my Fuji mirrorless camera which had my Zeiss 12mm F2.8 on for the day, which allowed the trip to continue. So as the light was starting to fade, we headed off to finish the day at one of the limestone pavements with the famous tree and despite the cold wind, the Fuji performed faultlessly all the time.
While I love working with the Canon DSLR which is solid and weighty (and helped weight down the tripod!) and is usually so reliable, I did have had a 5DmkII stop working in these type of conditions a few year ago, so perhaps its worth having extra batteries on hand for these type of conditions.
It was good to have the Fuji in a bag ready to take over and I enjoyed using it with the Zeiss lens. The final three images are from the Fuji.
So a good day out in Ribblesdale and beyond……
When I go out to shoot landscapes I will work with my camera on a tripod and use a remote trigger release to trigger the shutter, as this I have found helps to stop any small movement or vibration that may occur when the shutter is released. I also work with the live view mode so the mirror is locked up to start with.
While I was out in Iceland shooting landscapes my remote trigger broke (and yes, it was the expensive Canon one). So I when I got back I was looking around for a good alternative replacement to this.
Searching the net I started to find some good positive reviews of an app called Triggertrap, from a company called:
The company produces an app called Triggertrap Mobile which is an app that you download to your phone and which leverages the power of your smartphone and adds a metric craptonne (!) of additional features to your camera and it works on either iPhone or Android platform.
To be able to use it, you’ll need a smartphone with the Triggertrap mobile app (and this is free download! from iTunes or Google play). Then you need to buy a Triggertrap Mobile connection kit for your camera. They have got over a dozen different kits, and they say that they have more than 300 different models of cameras covered with these kits. These kits are not expensive either in the £23 range depending on the kit you need.
So what can the Triggertrap app do?
It has a Cable release option which enables you to trigger your camera in any of the following ways:
Simple cable release: tap the button for a picture
Quick release: release button to take the picture
Press and hold: touch to start, release to stop
Press and lock: touch to start, touch to stop
Timed Release: choose your shutter speed
Self timer: photo in 3…2…1
There are Time-lapse modes which gives you the following:
Time-lapse: travel through time,
Time warp: time-lapse with acceleration
Distance lapse: perfect for road trips
Bramping: bulb ramping time-lapse
Star Trail: extreme exposure control
LE HDR: Long Exposure HDR sets with up to 19 exposures
LE HDR Time lapse: create time lapse with all the details of HDR
Calculators: ND calculator
and finally Sensor modes:
Sound sensor: activated by sound
Vibration sensor: activated by vibration
Motion sensor: activated by motion
Peekaboo: see a face take photo
So as you can see this app has a lot to add to controlling your camera remotely. It is well priced and when I ordered the cables, they were with me within two days of placing my order.
So how do you use it? That is very easy really; you connect your camera and your phone via the cable, you boot up the app and select the mode you want to use and that is it.
(image from the triggertrap website)
I have only just tried out the cable release option and I have to say this worked well; my only issue is you have to hold your phone all the time as I was not over keen on letting it dangle down over a large puddle which is where I was shooting at the time. So here are a few images shot using the app whilst in Belfast.
Car park arrow
With all the other options to explore like HDR, movement, triggering etc, or if you want to plunge into new creative realms with your photography and you need a device that can do it “all” then I would recommend you check out the Triggertrap app.
I have only just used one of the modes so far and was impressed with it and will not be looking at an expensive Canon remote any more.
So check out Triggertrap I really don’t think you would be disappointed.
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Now Cork is a great place to visit and when it combines with the Guinness jazz festival I thought it would be a good place to put my newly acquired Fuji XE-1 thought its paces. I had chosen to stay with prime lenses with this camera and so all these images were shot using the 18mm and 35mm Fuji primes, which equate to approx 28mm and 56 mm with the sensor crop. Fuji have some great info on their web site as well as the mini-product site at http://fujifilm-x.com/x-e1/en/. Worth a look if you are interested, but do please come back here to finish reading my post.
I have to say I loved using the XE-1 camera – setting the aperture and shutter speed is easy and you quickly start to enjoy having it in the hand and framing the shot using the rear screen. I have yet to use the electronic view finder that the XE-1 comes with, but there is time to try this in the future. Overall I thought the XE-1 performed really well giving good details and colours. The lighting conditions in some of the venues were challenging to say the least and it needed an ISO setting of 6400 to have any chance of getting an image and yet I feel it returned some acceptable images despite the difficult lighting.
Outside on the street the camera performed equally as well capturing some of the things that attracted me as we walked around the streets visiting the sites off and around As Patrick Street. and also visiting some of the more interesting bars.
Mutton Lane, with its candlelit dark corners and some fine tasty pints was again a good place to test out the XE-1 low light capabilities, they opened 20mins early for me so managed to get some images without customers. As well as the main Patrick Street.
One recommended addition to the XE-1 is a grip and following some research on the web I found a Fuji users website on which there were a lot of recommendations for the i_shoot grip for the Fuji XE-1. It comes from China and I think it is made there for the Really Right Stuff company as it looks exactly like one of their items but costs considerable less than the RRS grip.
I purchased it via ebay and it arrived in about 14 days and is a great addition to the XE-1. Far better than the Fuji grip as there is no need to remove it to change the battery or memory card. It also fits the tripod head mount so that is a win win for me.
Overall I really like the XE-1 and looking forward to using it again in trying it out in the studio too.
A Window 7 crash causes a lot of frustration and angst while you try and sort the problems – read on to find out what I learned from the experience and how to get back your Photoshop and Lightroom setting and preferences.
In the past I have let windows updates go ahead automatically but this is not a good strategy, as I found out to my cost recently. In fact it can and did cause me a lot of work and angst.
The PC had been working fine all day but a break was need so I had switched it off, and it did an install of updates and when I returned that evening to do some more image work it would not boot up. One of the updates (most likely a driver update) had changed something and it was stopping the machine from booting up.
The splash screen error message was “unmountable boot error”.
Which after a lot of web research and the trying different approaches to getting the system to boot again, I decided that the best solution was to reinstall the operating system on a new hard disc. This is of course a real pain as all your programs have to be reinstalled and then you have to find your key codes and then for programs like Photoshop your actions and setting too.
Fortunately all my images are stored on a separate Raid 5 drive, so they were ok I just need my operating system and programs back to be able to work with the image again. The timing of this event was of course practically bad as firstly I was half way through rebuilding my website follow its crash and I had my first camera club talk of this season coming up in two weeks and my presentation was only half done.
So what did I learn from this exercise, that is worth passing on in this blog: firstly don’t let windows do automatic updating turn this off. Just remember to check once a week to see what is in the list updates and make your own mind up about what to install.
Here is the windows info for changing that setting info http://windows.microsoft.com/en-gb/windows/turn-automatic-updating-on-off#turn-automatic-updating-on-off=windows-vista
- Open Windows Update by clicking the Start button , clicking All Programs, and then clicking Windows Update.
- In the left pane, click Change settings.
- Choose the option that you want.
- Under Recommended updates, select the Include recommended updates when downloading, installing, or notifying me about updates check box, and then click OK.
As a photographer who uses both Lightroom and Photoshop making a back up of your preferences / setting files for both these programs is well worth the small effort.
These are located on a Windows machine in the following locations on your system drive
Users/[Username]/AppData/Roaming/Adobe/Adobe Photoshop [version #]/Adobe Photoshop [version #] Settings
Users/[Username]/AppData/Roaming/Adobe/Lightroom [version #]/Adobe Lightroom [version #] Preference
These can be found by searching for (*.agprefs)
Here is also a list of location of other bit of the Photoshop program that might be of use too.
|Actions||Actions panel.psp||Users/[user name]/AppData/Roaming/Adobe/Adobe Photoshop CS5/Adobe Photoshop CS5 Settings|
|Camera Raw||.xmp files saved from Camera Raw dialog||Users/[user name]/AppData/Adobe/CameraRaw/Settings|
|Color settings (Color management)||Color Settings.csf||Users/[user name]/AppData/Roaming/Adobe/Adobe Photoshop CS5/Adobe Photoshop CS5 Settings|
|Custom Color settings (Color management)||Userdefined.csf||Users/[user name]/AppData/Roaming/Adobe/Color/Settings|
|Custom proof setups (Color management)||Userdefined.psf||Users/[user name]/AppData/Roaming/Adobe/Color/Proofing|
|Editing and painting tools||Brushes.psp, Contours.psp, Custom Shapes.psp, Gradients.psp, Patterns.psp, Styles.psp, Swatches.psp, ToolPresets.psp||Users/[user name]/AppData/Roaming/Adobe/Adobe Photoshop CS5/Adobe Photoshop CS5 Settings/Presets|
|Filters and Effects||Adobe Effect CS5 Prefs, Adobe Filter Gallery CS5 Prefs, Adobe Lens Blur CS5 Prefs, Adobe Lens Correction CS5 Prefs, Adobe Liquify CS5 Prefs||Users/[user name]/AppData/Roaming/Adobe/Plugins/[effect or filter name]/Photoshop|
|General settings||Adobe Photoshop CS5 Prefs.psp (32-bit version)(X64) CS5 Prefs.psp (64-bit version)||Users/[user name]/AppData/Roaming/Adobe/Adobe Photoshop CS5/Adobe Photoshop CS5 Settings|
|Saved Presets||[User defined]||Users/[user name]/AppData/Roaming/Adobe/Adobe Photoshop CS5/Presets/[feature name]|
|Workspaces||[User Defined][Workspaces that have been modified}||Users/[user name]/AppData/Roaming/Adobe/Adobe Photoshop CS5/Adobe Photoshop CS5 Settings/WorkspacesUsers/[user name]/AppData/Roaming/Adobe/Adobe Photoshop CS5/Adobe Photoshop CS5 Settings/Workspaces (Modified)|
You can also find these by searching using *.psp file
Armed with this info I was able to get most of my setting/ preferences back for both these programs as I could read the disc that would not boot in file manager so the various setting could be copy and replaced.
Always rename the original preference files before replacing it with your preferences that way if they are corrupt then you can go back to that file. I usually use .old as the file extension.
Here is one really useful but useless bit of information that I thought might solve my issue was that Window 7 can be re installed on top of itself, but only if Window 7 is running. (smile)
The other thing that is well worth doing is backing up your Lightroom catalogue, its file name is: Catalog.lrcat. I now make sure that I back this up weekly and I would strongly advise that these backups are on a different drive to your Lightroom installation, a stand alone hard drive is well worth the investment for this purpose. Keeping them separate avoids losing your catalog and your backups at the same time.
I also now store a copy of my catalog off site.
The other important files that are worth making a backup copy of are paper profiles; on a Windows based machine these are located here:
C: Windows, System32, Spool, Drivers, Color
Well worth getting those backup too.
I have had a number of photographers contact me recently asking my thoughts on my recent upgrade to the Canon 5D Mark III.
So it prompted me to stop and think what I thought about the camera.
I had previously said a number of times that I could not see any need to upgrade to the 5D Mark III, for my type of photography (Working with models in the studio and on location) the MkII did its job well enough and produced good images.
However my main issue with the MkII was the focusing. It performed well most of the time but in low light it did struggle especially if you had the modelling light turned off; on the studio lights it was almost impossible to get a focus. You always had to move to move your focus point back to the central focus point to get any form of focus in those conditions. But I knew about it and worked on the central focus point when working in those lighting situations.
However this year I had started to be a little unhappy about the number images that were not as sharp as I would have liked and as I mentioned in a previous blog post I took the decision to change a couple of my lens from zooms to prime lens. I also had the opportunity to handle to MkIII in anger a couple of time and was impressed with the new 61-point focusing system that it now had. So the decision was made to change when Canon had the offer of a battery grip included with the camera.
The first impression when you look at the camera is not much has changed, however the body shape has changes slightly and for me the camera fits slight better into my hand (I have big hands so a plus for me) Most of the key specification have been upgraded over the MkII (details can be seen here) The menu system has also changed quite a bit, but if you are used to the MkII menu system then finding your way around is more or less the same. A number of function screen have been added for the Auto focus system, and a few useful custom setting have come forward in the menu hierarchy. The rest of the Mk III shooting controls are in the use place here on the top or on the back plate to the side of the display screen. MkII owners would be familiar with most of what these buttons do. However there are three new buttons on the back; one labelled Rate, which you might use to rate your images on the back of the camera, one with a Magnify glass on it, which you use to zoom in and out of the image when pressed using one of the scroll wheels, the final one is used when shooting stills to allow you to access the Picture Style, Multiple Exposures, and in-camera HDR – In image review mode allow you to compare images side by side.
The button functions changes only really become an issue when you are shooting and you look at an image on the back of the camera. The old 5D MkII way of doing this is so in grained that you automatically go to the button which use to do it and then wonder why you are not zooming in. To zoom in on the 5D Mark III takes a different button selection and the use of the small scroll wheel on the front to the camera. You now need to bring up the picture as the MkII and then hit the magnifying button and then using the scroll wheel on the front to zoom in and out. This for me has been the main change when actually using the camera. The other is the focusing which is vastly improved over the MKII and is a really winner for me. You can select any of the focus points and they will focus on your aiming point in the low light condition that the MkII would not even pick up an edge.
So having now used it on two studio shoots, and outside for some landscape work what do I think of it, was upgrade worth it?
For me the answer is a firm yes: the new way of zooming into and out of images will eventually become second nature, but of me the 61 point focusing really does make it better than the MkII.
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