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Oct 242011

Back to the same old place again … the big change this time was walking around the other way :-

#1: Downhill


If you can’t tell, this is looking down one of the steeper parts of the path.

2: Autumn Leaves

Autumn Leaves

Yes, yes. Autumn leaves should be in colour. But in fact the lighting was sort of flat so it wouldn’t be that impressive in colour (either).

3: The Garden Shed

Garden Shed

I’m sure it’s not really a garden shed, but that building you can see in this image is not the real castle so it could be a garden shed. A big one.

May 112010

THEY CAME FIRST for the Communists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.

THEN THEY CAME for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.

THEN THEY CAME for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

and by that time no one was left to speak up.

It may seem a little over the top to quote a famous poem/speech by Martin Niemöller in relation to the use of anti-terrorism powers against photographers, but repression starts with small things that gradually build up. Are we seeing the beginnings of a repressive state where many ordinary activities are made effectively illegal ?

Photographers (although not myself as I’m not an urban photographer) have continually encountered the anti-terrorism laws being used to harass their profession or hobby. Some police are using said laws to stop activities that are perfectly legal – even going beyond their powers and confiscating equipment and deleting images! And in some cases they are co-operating with overly zealous security guards who are contacting the police to “protect” private property from being photographed from the public highway.

There may well be a case for increased police powers to combat terrorism, but the misapplication of such powers to curtail legitimate activities is the first step on the downhill slope towards a police state. Once we get used to being stopped and searched for quite normal activities, we become more accepting of additional powers that go further – short term detention for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, detention without trial for those suspected of links to terrorism, detention for those who might someday have links to terrorism, detention for those related to those suspected of links to terrorism, executions when the prisons get too full, etc.

The following links provide more information :-

Nov 282009

Because of a little “issue” with Bibble which causes that software to cease responding when navigating the browser whilst it is updating the icons, I had to come up with a different way of storing my raw images. Or at least a different “shadow view” that would allow Bibble to work more reliably. I had been thinking on what would be the best way (for me!) of doing this for a while now, and this morning spent about 45minutes knocking up some code to do what I wanted.

I chose to use the “date” contained within the Exif information within each file to produce a directory structure along the lines of “/some/place/YYYY-MM-DD/original-name-of-file” with the file at the bottom level being a symlink back to the original file. I chose not to move any files around as I could more easily fix things if the code I had written did Something Stupid. I chose not to copy any files, as I did not want to duplicate some 100Gbytes of RAW files if I did not need to — and I did not as symlinks can do the job perfectly well.

As for the choice of the date format, well I have long preferred the ISO date format in places where a conventionally human readable date was not necessary or would be inconvenient. The ISO date format is useful in that it is not subject to misinterpretation as date formats such as “DD-MM-YY” and “MM-DD-YY” are, and it happens to sort easily with the ls command – which is much more useful than you would think. If it looks a little odd, just start using it and get used to it.

The code itself is available here if you really want to get hold of it (I wouldn’t bother if I were you – it’s just something knocked up in a rush that works ok for me).

The interesting thing about the new “repository” was that it was easy to produce a table of dates and the number of photos taken on those dates :-

cd /media/photos/raw.dated
for i in $(echo *)                        
  echo -n "$i "; ls $i/* | wc -l

The output is long enough and boring enough (for anyone other than me) that I will not include it here. But it is relatively easy to turn this into a graph using ploticus :-

ploticus -prefab chron \
  -o photos.png \
  -png \
  data=dates.dat x=1 y=2 \
  datefmt=yyyy-mm-dd \
  color=blue \
  echodata=no \
  xinc='1 year' \
  stubfmt='MMM YY'

This produced a graph similar to :-

Photo Frequency

I seem to be taking more photos over time.

Nov 032009


There are those who would say that Technology is responsible for these eyesores (the electrical pylons!) crawling across the countryside. They would be wrong. Technology presents a number of solutions (overhead pylons, underground cables, etc.) for distributing electricity and the bean counters decide that the most elegant and least ugly solution (underground cables) is too expensive.

Jul 282009

There are many other places you can find technical information on the Olympus EP-1 – this is merely the first impressions from someone who has only just unboxed one, and taken it out for a quick spin.

It’s small. It is not a point and shoot, and so it is quite a bit bigger, but it sure beats my Canon 1DS for size, and even my Epson RD-1. Providing you are not wearing tight jeans, you can certainly slip it into a roomy pocket with the 17mm pancake lens. The 14-42mm zoom lens increases the size enough that you would need a jacket pocket to be comfortable.

The included camera strap is far too short. Admittedly I’m tall and I like my cameras to hang low, but this really is titchy. The camera itself feels good and solid – whilst it is no tank, it should survive a few knocks and bumps.

After charging the battery (why do the suppliers not charge these up themselves?), the first thing most of us will do is to dive into the menus to see what things can be fiddled with. Well the answer is a lot. In fact at first it is a little scary how many options there are to fiddle with even before you turn on the “customize” menu item. But after you get used to the idea that the menus are complex because there is a great deal to customise before you go out, then it becomes a little less scary. After all any camera that allows you to move the focus button from a half-press of the shutter (which I really hate) to an alternate is going to have lots of options. And I’ll put up with a lot of complexity if I am allowed to move the focus button!


Out and about, the camera is reasonably comfortable in the hand. The lack of a “proper” viewfinder is a little distracting at first, but the key thing to remember is that this is a view camera which do not have small viewfinders. Sure holding the camera out to look at the LCD preview screen is somewhat problematic in terms of steadiness, but in practice it is perfectly possible to get used to it.

In fact I do happen to have the optical viewfinder for the EP-1 (for the 17mm pancake lens), but I have not used it in anger.

This is not a camera to replace a “proper” DSLR, but is a good choice for someone who finds the current crop of P&S cameras to be a little too small and limiting. I will probably find myself lugging a big DSLR just as much as I have done in the past, but I will also have a decent camera with me for those times when I would not normally carry a “proper” camera.

Jul 152009

Every so often I encounter a discussion on whether film is better than digital or digital is better than film, which usually degenerates into someone mentioning large format film and someone else mentioning the convenience of digital (or even the convenience of film). It’s all balderdash (and I wrote this post just to use that word … not!). More or less.

When making images (which is what photography is all about after all) it does not matter whether you use film or digital, because using either you can just occasionally produce jaw droppingly good images. Indeed for many such images, the quality of the source does not matter too much as you will be concentrating on the subject rather than the relatively minor “issues” with the image quality such as film grain, ISO noise, chromatic aberration, etc.

What does matter is using whatever makes you comfortable. I cannot shoot film because the thought of actually paying money per shot makes me freeze up. Exposure bracketing ? Forget it. Others cannot shoot digital because computers fill them with horror (and I can certainly understand that!!).

For me, digital is better. For those others film is better.

What counts is the final production – the image, and not the mechanics of how it came about.

Nov 112008

It has been a while since my urge to photograph random scenes, and the time available to do so actually met comfortably, but I managed a short session at the weekend wandering around Southsea. Nothing especially interesting – apart from anything else I’m obviously a bit rusty.

But to give this place something a little more interesting than just random noise :-

#0: Two-Wheeled Partyers

Two-Wheeled Partiers

It looks like they arrived a little late.

#1: Giving The Sky The Finger

Giving The Sky The Finger

Nov 182007

As someone who has a preference for making black and white images, but frequently gets asked ‘what does that look like in colour’, and likes colour images, I sometimes wonder about the differences between B&W and colour. In addition I also recently saw an episode of the BBC’s “Genius Of Photography” where it was commented that in the 1970s, colour photography was not taken seriously in the art photography world.

Personally I think it is up to the photographer to decide what kind of image to make … B&W or colour. It is their choice of how to make the image to draw attention to those aspects of the image the photographer wants to draw attention to.

B&W images are supposedly more artistic and colour images are supposedly more realistic. The first is ridiculous … does anyone criticise painters for their ‘unartistic’ use of colour ? And the second is almost as silly … sure the real world is in colour, but it is not frozen in time.

B&W images do tend to make it easier for me to see the geometry and patterns in an image, and give a different slant to the light in the image. But images in colour let you see the colour which is just as important; or more so in some images.

Both are equally valid.

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