About The Pictures

Sweden Xmas - 2007-2-small

The landscape and outdoor images on this blog are taken by me, with some from LB (my wife), unless I state otherwise, and so far I haven’t had to.

All the images are licensed as per the Creative Commons link at the bottom of the page. The license says that you can’t use them commercially. However, please contact me for a very reasonable price if you want to – you won’t be the first, I’m happy to say.

They are all taken on our travels as incidental to the travelling as opposed to travelling to get the pictures. Hence some aren’t quite what I would hope I could achieve had I brought a tripod and spent time setting up the shot.

That being said, I do usually carry a tripod these days; a Gitzo Mountaineer GT0541 along with a Gitzo GH1780QR Centre Ball Head (which is magic). It’s the lightest tripod that still gives me the height but weighs in at a fraction over a kilo sadly (1078 grams to be exact).

My photographic “technique” is to take a great many images, check how the histogram looks as I take them, and keep only around 10% to 20%. I then spend far too long digitally developing them.

Those two things, taking lots of images and developing carefully, are part of what professional photographers have always done. Though of course a professional would also have the skill of getting the images far more “right” in the first place, both technically in terms of exposure etc. and artistically in terms of composure. Digital photography has allowed us amateurs to use those two tricks; lots of images and careful development. Thereby allowing us to produce a far better image, should we be happy to spend the time.

For the period from summer 2006 up to summer 2007 the images were mainly taken using a Canon EOS 350D with a standard Canon 18-55mm lens. The earlier ones from that period were taken as JPEGs with some development done in Picasa.

Images from after summer 2007 are mainly from a Canon EOS 400D and probably with either a Canon EF-S 10-22mm f3.5-4.4 USM Zoom Lens or a Canon Lens EF-S 17-85 f4-5.6 IS USM (both from Martin’s Camera Shop, excellent service and price, and no I’m not sponsored by them!). Images taken after June 2010 are using the fantastic Canon EOS 550D.

In 2011 I got rid of the 17-85mm and replaced it with the far more powerful (and cheaper) Canon EF-S 55-250mm f4-5.6 IS which performs admirably. I also got the great little Canon EF 35mm f2.0 which is just superb for low-light and pictures of people (think mountain huts!). I’d have trouble choosing between this little lens and the 10-22mm (though the 10-22mm would probably win!).

They are stored as RAW files and then “digitally developed”.

What’s digital development?

Well, cameras that create JPEG images are actually creating them from RAW images internally – the RAW data is what comes straight from the clever light sensor that replaces the negative used in an old style analogue camera. The camera then applies clever algorithms, embedded in its firmware (the computery part of a digital camera), to develop the image (increase saturation, sharpen, adjust white balance and exposure etc. etc.). If it didn’t do that, the image would be appear to be rather dull and “washed-out” looking.

But if the camera gives you access to the RAW file (which more expensive/complex ones will), you can then choose how that development is done using the clever algorithms in your own head and some software on your computer.

That way you get to decide how the photo should look based on how you want it to look, not on how a computer engineer that wrote the firmware in your camera thought it should be averaged-out to look (very clever and useful though that is).

Since January 2009 I’ve been using Lightroom 2 and since July 2010, the excellent Lightroom 3. I wouldn’t be without The Missing Lightroom FAQ when using it.

Up until January 2009 the images were developed using: Capture One 4. I posted my “work-flow” for Capture One for anyone using the same tool. Back in 2007 when I tried all the RAW editors I could find, Capture was by far the best. But since then Lightroom has completely eclipsed it for my money (though I hear good things about Apple’s Aperture if you’re on a Mac).

We also use Picasa for viewing them on the computer and for generating a screen-saver that shows us our favourites. It also does a very good job of editing of the JPEGs from LB’s Canon IXUS 980 IS . It’s extremely user-friendly and is a free download from Google.

It also allows you to upload the pictures that you keep on your local machine with a single button click to your own page on the Picasa Web Albums site. From where you can choose to either share your albums with the world or just those people who you want to send a link to.

A very few of the pictures are actually from an old Oympus mju 410 (digital) which was my first digital camera and was responsible for re-awakening my interest in photography and therefore having to carry lots of camera equipment around the mountains. I therefore think of it as one of the heaviest and most expensive things I have bought, even though it’s long since found a new home with LB’s young cousins.

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