Rocky Bay IR

Unbelievably, yesterday was our first trip to Rocky Bay this year.  I’d forgotten how lovely it is out there.

Rocky Bay Infrared
Rocky Bay on Infrared

More Infrared sensitive camera work here, it doesn’t work quite so well for the family portraits though!

Fungal Growth

Found these growing in the bottom of a pot in the front garden:

Mysterious Mushrooms
Mysterious Mushrooms

I bought the Macro Lens for baby sessions because my standard portrait lenses just don’t get in tight on the smallest of tots.  But there’s lots of fun to be had with it in my own backyard.

More on Chimping

I spotted this photo of the US Open on the BBC website.

Spot the Chimp
Spot the Chimp

I mentioned chimping a couple of times already.  The ability to review your shots has helped digital take over from film in many aspects of photography.  But this is a classic example of missing a shot due to chimping.

Maybe he had it in the can already.  But this guy is obviously a pro, he has a nice big Canon camera and a big lens with IS, what are the chances that he actually missed the shot?  And if he had missed it, wouldn’t he be better off shooting some more versions of this key moment, rather than checking his LCD?

How many times have I been at a tourist spot and nearly fallen over someone who has stopped dead in the middle of the path to check the shot he just took?

Digital cameras are very fancy these days.  They miss very few shots in most circumstances.  Any many times with action shots, if you miss them, you miss them.  Taking your eye off the action to check what you might have missed just makes you miss something else.  Take the shot, look for the next one or put your camera away and enjoy what’s next.

It’s not that I don’t chimp.  I come across many difficult lighting scenarios and the ability to review the shot, check the histogram and adjust wherever possible is invaluable.  But I try to keep my eye on the ball.

This video on chimping is excellent.  There is a bit of ‘we film guys were good enough without chimping and you digital guys are all soft’ to the whole thing.  And to be honest I see what they mean – photographers who shot film had it a whole lot harder and all the more credit for them to get the pictures they got on film.  But in the context of sports photography, there’s a lot to be missed by sparing at your LCD and not the game in hand.

Apologies to both the BBC and Getty for snipping this image.

Sunset off Allihies

I climbed the hill after tea to try to get a few shots of the Copper Mines before the sun went down.  It wasn’t working out for me but I noticed the evening light hitting the hills across the valley and took a few shots of that before I realised that there must be something creating that gorgeous light and turned around.

Photography takes me out of things to concentrate on what’s in the viewfinder.  It is important to ‘feel’ these moments of incredible natural beauty as well as photograph them.  So I took the shot and forced myself to put the camera away and just watched the sun set.  Ahhhh.  These moments are rare enough.

I finally got some time this morning to work on this picture.  I wanted to balance sunset and coastline so I effectively double-exposed the original RAW file and blended them to back together maximise the impact of the sun but keep some detail in the hills (I know it is hard to tell from the small version).

Is it art?

I make no secret of the fact that I have no formal training in art.  I have never called myself an Artist – although I do remember having some pretty esoteric discussions about elegant software design!

My journey in photography has brought me into contact with Photographers who do consider themselves Artists, Photographers who have no interest in an association with art and Artists who take photographs.  Some of their work I can relate to and others just kind of stuns me (in an underwhelming way).

I’m trying to ‘get it’.  I am.  With the help of posts like Anyone could paint that’ and 7 other myths about art maybe one day I will be able to get there (and then increase my print prices accordingly)

Cold Hard Selling

I met a few people yesterday that told me about Monday’s Joe Duffy programme.  I didn’t hear it myself but the gist seems to be that a photography studio was doing a promotion in a Shopping Centre where passers-by were able to ‘win’ a voucher for the studio for a session and an 8×10 ‘worth around €300’.  Someone contacted Joe because apparently almost everyone that entered the competition won the voucher.

These vouchers / prizes / teasers generally have one purpose: to get customers into a studio.  The objective is to get the photos done, present the ‘free’ or ‘won’ image, make it look pathetically small and then generally the studio aggressively up-sell.  I have spoken to a number of people who have gone in with their voucher expecting to get something for free and walking out having spent many hundreds of euro.

Now I have to say that most of them have some very nice photographs for their money.  Almost all of them are very happy with their photographs.  But few of them had really thought about spending upwards of €1000 on a large wall hanging before they got the voucher.

My issue is that this is a classic cold hard sell.  It starts with a trip to a shops and ends with spending a lot of money on photographs (albeit lovely photographs).  There is no point where the consumer gets to make a value judgement based on suitability, quality or value.

No one I spoke to heard the end of Joe’s programme and it doesn’t appear to be available on RTE anywhere but there is nothing new about this style of marketing and I suspect it doesn’t break any rules.  It is just a pretty aggressive way of selling photographs.  It tends to rely heavily on emotional blackmail and implied guilt.  How could you not want to get beautiful photos of your family? How could you put a price on those memories?

Photographs of your family are special.  The memories they create are very precious.  Their value stretches way beyond what you can expect to pay.  I don’t believe that a hard sell of this nature is appropriate.

So next time you come across someone offering you something free in a Shopping Centre.  Remember that they are paying a few hundred euro for a spot in the Centre, the wages of the person talking to you (who isn’t a photographer) and also for all that marketing material they are showing you.  And then they’re offering you something for free.  This is not a charitable gesture.  There is some way they are expecting to profit and they intend to get it out of you.

You may be able to get something for nothing.  I would however expect that overall you would get better value from someone who isn’t having to cover all those overheads. As for the value of the prize, I doubt even the studio concerned would actually charge you €300 for a session and a 8×10 if you walked in off the street.  IMHO that’s a lot.  There are a lot of very good photographers charging a lot less.

If you want to have a professional portrait session, I would highly recommend choosing a photographer because you like the style of their work, you have heard good things about their level of service and they charge a fair price, rather than just because they approached you while you were shopping for something else.

As I have said, I didn’t hear the programme.  I’m sorry if I have the wrong end of the stick.  My comments and opinions are based on the experiences of a number of friends and clients who have received vouchers from a number of different studios in Ireland and UK.

The Joys of Film

It is a long time since I waited nearly a year to see a photograph I’d taken. But here’s one I shot last October and just saw for the first time this week.

Fennel's Garage, Proby's Quay
Fennell's Garage, French's Quay

In the more recent days of film I used to get through it quickly enough.  Anything from a couple of rolls a day to one every two weeks max.  But during the last film festival I loaded my trusty Nikon F4 with film and went into town on a Sunday morning to catch an early showing.  This particular shot is pretty much only a Sunday morning thing, with the garage doors either open, or double parked every other day.  I took the shot, went to my movie and that was that.

Time passed.  I worked away using the new Digital SLRs and the F4 was stored carefully, just this shot and one of the brewery opposite on the roll.  Waiting.  “I must finish that roll someday”.

I never went back to shoot them in digital (though I thought about it).  Why waste a Sunday morning if the shot was ‘in the can’?

Someday finally came last week.  Having developed a taste for film after the star trails thing I remembered the F4 and its two shots.  Not knowing whether the film was even still any good, I strapped on the 24mm and finished off the roll.  Lovely camera, the Nikon F4s.  And waited a little longer to see whether those garage doors survived.

At this point there is a cue for a long diatribe about the value of things that come slowly, that are earned.  The thrill of anticipation that is typical of film photography.  The need to trust ones skills, take one shot and move on to the next without stopping to chimp.

Oh and then on to  “Kids these days have it too easy, everything is instant, they aren’t made to wait for anything anymore, they don’t value anything because nothing is hard earnt.  Fast food.  Cheap thrills’.

Baa, humbug.

But no-one would bother to read it, it would take too long, maybe if there was a podcast…