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I was looking through some of my photographs the other day in particular the ones that had been in galleries and had sold quite well. What come to mind as I looked at them was that it didn’t matter what camera they were taken with, it was the picture that counted.

The image below is one of the best-selling images that I have taken. At the time I was using Nikon’s – a D800 and D7100, with a selection of good lenses. However this image wasn’t taken with either of those fine cameras, it was taken with a Nikon Finepix P300,  an excellent compact, but a compact nevertheless.

Mrs M and I had just finished our evening meal whilst we were staying in Bardolino on Lake Garda and took a walk along the lakeside. I only had the compact with me and I saw the picture below just after the sun had slid down over the horizon and a slight haze was falling over the lake. It was a jpg file so only minimal post-processing could be done, but it didn’t need that much, just a mono conversion and some tweaking.

tranquillity-20128

 

It just goes to show, the best camera is the one you have on you.

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When we are out and about photographing, there are times when the light, or lack of it, can be challenging. You may find that really nice shot, probably indoors or under cover, that is just too dark to take without a tripod or flash, and you don’t have either. So, you walk on and leave that particular photograph behind.

However, with the technology of modern cameras there usually is no need to ignore that prize winning shot. The excuse I normally hear is one of not wanting to push the ISO too high for fear of the dreaded ‘N’ word.

Noise!

This was certainly true 5 years or so ago. I would never have pushed my Olympus E-1 or E-30 above 800 ISO to get a shot. Any setting above that and the digital noise created in the photograph would not be able to be removed or reduced satisfactorily by any software. So I left shots untaken. That was a huge mistake. It is far better to take a photograph, even if it will suffer from noise, than not taking it all. Think about it. There is something in the scene that makes you want to record it, and which piques your creative curiosity. As a photographer and a creative, you owe it to yourself to take that picture. It may or may not turn out as the best image that you have produced, but it is still a valid affirmation of your visual creativity. Besides, noise can sometimes enhance an image.

Today the situation is different. Most digital cameras boast excellent results at very high ISO’s and so why not use them? I normally use my cameras on auto ISO with the maximum of the range set at 3200 ISO, but recently I have been thinking about those images that I may have missed because I thought that the required ISO setting was too extreme. So, I now have the ISO on my Fuji’s set to a maximum of 6400 and if a scene is dark and I want the picture, I take the shot even if the ISO is as high as its maximum. I have finally learned that it is better to take the picture than not take it at all. Let’s not forget that it is not only cameras that have advanced in the last few years, but digital photographic software is now excellent. Topaz DeNoise, Nik DFine and even the Lightroom noise reduction programs all work brilliantly to reduce noise in photographs.

So don’t ignore that urge to take a photograph even if the light is poor, take the shot.

 

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RPS_LRPS_RGB

 

Back in March I posted that my photographs were ready to be sent to the Royal Photographic Society in order to be assessed for the award of Licentiate. I’ve been a little tardy in getting back on this, but on 15 April I was informed that subject to authorisation by the Council of the Society I had been awarded the distinction. A couple of weeks later I received confirmation and the society’s certificate for Licentiate.

It had taken me 18 months and many, many hours of short-listing, processing, reprocessing, distinction workshops and finally the submission and when I was informed I had obtained the ‘L’,  I couldn’t even manage a triumphant ‘whoop’ as at the time I had probably the worst case of man-flu known in the history of mankind.

But I was so pleased to get this award, it is an acknowledgment by an organisation recognized all over the world that my photography is of a sufficient standard to warrant the award of one of their distinctions.

Next up – the associateship of the society.

You can see my full licentiate panel and photographs on my website.

 

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So you have taken your picture, you’ve downloaded it to your computer and you have processed it. Once you are happy with it, you’re going to upload it to social media, or even get it printed and exhibited.

Relaxation in Blue

Relaxation in Blue

Your work of art is now available for the world to look at, they admire it, they like it and they look down at the text underneath and see that the photograph that you’ve spent time taking and processing is called “DSC 0098763”. That’s a bit of let-down isn’t it? Wouldn’t the image be more complete with a title? If you go to the Louvre and see the famous picture painted by Leonardo, you would be shocked if on the little plaque underneath were written just a series of numbers.

Shadows of Growth

Shadows of Growth

I believe that the title is part of the picture. It can give the viewer that little push needed to immerse themselves in your creation. It can be as simple as just the location of the image or a more involved title, either would be better than just the original camera file name.

"...but mine was the cheese and pickle".

“…but mine was the cheese and pickle”.

So if we want to name our pictures how do we chose the title, a title that appeals to the viewer, helps them assimilate the photograph and is a perfect addition to the art itself?

There is a very good article here by famous photographer John Paul Caponigro about how to go about giving your photographs titles.

At the end of next week I’m off on a photo-trip to Northumberland and it will be the first major outing for all my new Fuji equipment. When I go on these trips, I tend to put all my equipment into a rucksack, currently the excellent Lowepro Flipside 400 AW, and then if neccessary deport cameras and lenses to a smaller Domke bag,  currently either the F6 – A Little Bit Smaller Bag, or the F-5XB, as and when I need.

However after trying my Fuji gear in the 400 AW it was pretty obvious that the bag is far too large now for the smaller format cameras. In the past, I only just managed to fit all my old Olympus and Nikon gear into the bag but putting the Fuji stuff in it, there was masses of room to spare. There was also the fact that I moved to Fuji to get away from the sheer size of carrying a DSLR and lenses around so it probably now makes sense to get a new backpack. Something more suited to the smaller Fuji cameras and lenses.

So, after scouring the internet and trying to figure out from litre capacities and dimensions of many makes of camera bags which ones would enable my Fuji cameras and lenses to fit, I decided to get the Lowepro Tahoe BP 150 in black from Wex.

 

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Lowepro Tahoe BP 150

The bag features Lowepro’s customisable interior with padded divider system, plus what looks like a separate zipped space in the top of the main compartment.

There is a large front pocket in which a 10” tablet can be carried as well as pens, keys and other bits and pieces. There is a further smaller front pocket for guides and maps etc. On each side of the bag are mesh pockets for drink bottles and such.

 

Lowepro Tahoe and Flipside 400 AW backpacks

Lowepro Tahoe and Flipside 400 AW backpacks

The Tahoe is a lot a smaller than the Flipside 400 as you can see. It also does not have the waterproof cover as designated by the letters ‘AW’ in the Flipside bags name. Lowepro, does say that the Tahoe is weather-resistant, so hopefully that and a couple of plastic bags kept in one of the pockets of the Tahoe for emergencies may fend off any wet-weather disasters.

Once the Tahoe arrived the familiar sounds of Velcro ripping over and over again echoed around the Marshall household as I rearranged the compartments in the bag. I was pleased with the overall size of the bag to the extent that I thought that I could leave the Domke F6 at home and if I wanted to carry the two cameras I could just take the backpack. With the Flipside 400 AW on previous trips, it was so full and so flipping heavy, I frequently emptied out the gear I wanted for the day into the F6 and carried that instead.

 

Tahoe and gear

Tahoe and gear

After a little bit of pulling, tearing and re-velcroing (is that even a word?) I re-arranged the compartments to fit the Fuji equipment. The zippered pocket at the top of the main compartment took up a little more space than I actually wanted, but I eventually got everything in the bag to my satisfaction.

  1. Into the small container at the top of the bag, what Lowepro call an ‘ultraflex’ panel I placed battery chargers, batteries, cables, cleaning cloths and a rocket blower (also not a bad place for sandwiches).
  2. Fujifilm X-E2 and Fujinon 35mm f/2
  3. Fujinon 27mm f/2.8
  4. Fujinon 18-55mm f/2.8-4.0
  5. Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 AI-S and X mount convertor
  6. Fujifilm X-T1 and Fujinon 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6
  7. Fujinon 55-200mm f/3.5-4.8

The large pocket on the front of the bag now contains filters and filter holders and the small front pocket a couple of maps and a notebook journal.

The full Tahoe obviously doesn’t feel nowhere near as heavy as the Flipside with all my Nikon gear used to be and being smaller it is a lot easier to carry and get on and off the shoulders. With this backpack, I can leave the F6 at home and just take the F-5XB for carrying one camera and lens when I need to.

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