To breaking your fall on expensive gear and happy endings!

It’s every photographer’s worst nightmare (well apart from that one where you miss the shot of a lifetime): Dropping your gear. Ice and cameras don’t mix very well but in pursuit of that ever elusive perfect shot we push ourselves to extraordinary lengths, into harms way if needs be to satisfy our craft.

In my case, I pushed myself to get up at the crack of well, midday, out into the frosty January afternoon to get some pictures of the snow.

Despite the supposed grip a good pair of hiking boots was supposed to offer, I could get little purchase on the ice. The pavement was covered in a thick layer and it glistened treacherously. It was no wonder the street was deserted.

I moved as carefully as possible, my cat like reflexes saving me from certain embarrassment. I took as many photos as I could before my fingers began to tingle from the cold seeping its way through my gloves and managed to make it back to my door step in one piece. ‘At last I thought –  home free’. Such hubris.

I of course fell.

My camera landed lens first with a dull crack, shards of my lovely B+W MRC filter flying everywhere. I cared not a jot about a potential wrist injury as I struggled to get back on my feet and survey the damage. My beloved 24-70mm f/2.8 lens had suffered, I knew not what kind of damage, but dragging my crestfallen self back inside I surveyed the devastation. The filter had shattered into a myriad of multi-coated shards. Its deformed body fusing itself to the lens thread making removal impossible.

The lens itself appeared to be relatively undamaged. The front element had a few tiny nicks – the filter thread on the lens however was completely gone on one corner.

Thankfully my camera was without a scratch – the lens took the brunt and surprisingly functioned still. I took a few pictures and despite the broken shards of glass only a small amount of ghosting was visible.

Despite the relatively good prognosis I still felt pretty beat up but then recalled that I had camera insurance with Photoguard. A quick call to the insurer and after filling a form and sending photographic evidence (naturally) I was recommended to send my lens and camera in for repair to Fixation in London.

To say I was impressed with my insurer would be putting it mildly. Not only did Fixation turn around my lens within a few days – Photoguard sorted out all payment and even paid for having my camera body checked and cleaned just in case it too was damaged!

Now that’s service.

I’m not a big one for adverts but if you need insurance by all means click on the affiliate link or pick up the phone and give Photoguard a call.

Suffice to say I renewed my insurance!

From viewfinder to wall

From the moment you press the shutter a picture takes on a life which goes from your camera, to your darkroom (be it digital or chemical) where after being burnt and dodged (and in some cases bodged) it goes for printing. You do print your pictures don’t you? I have a hunch that with the advent of digital photography the vast majority of us leave our digital treasures gathering dust on our computer hard drives – I know I certainly do.

With the advent of photo management software, organising this digital soup has become a shedload easier and thanks to the power of programs like Lightroom and Aperture, the digital darkroom has finally come of age (it actually came of age a year or two ago, but I digress…). We are now able to push and tweak our photos so that they go from this:

to this:

The former, whilst nice hardly represents what I saw and felt when I took the picture – the latter however does, and certainly has the pizazz I need to justify printing the picture and hanging it on my wall. Which neatly segues to my topic – printing. Rather than go through the pain (and it is a pain) of keeping and maintaining a desk hogging, top notch inkjet, that requires the expense of cartridges and special photo-paper I prefer to let someone else deal with all that hassle.

Quite simply – taking pictures is what I like – picture printing – meh, I’ll let someone else do that for me.

Unfortunately being an anally-retentive perfectionist I needed someone truly high calibre to handle my printing (not that my pictures are that high calibre to be honest, but as the saying goes ‘if something’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right’). The big internet printers like Photobox I found to be good on price but not so good on quality so I was rather pleased when I discovered that one of the better printers, theprintspace can be found right here in London, and specialize in a particular type of printing called C-Type (or Type-C), which involves projecting the digital image onto light sensitive photographic paper rather than printing ink on paper. This apparently results in a higher quality, longer lasting print.

I chose to print the above macro image of a daisy as well as the following three pictures:

Flower Anther Macro


Erin Black and White

 

Leon Black and White

 

How did they turn out? Good – pretty damn good. (One thing I discovered, and no doubt my lack of experience is showing; the image needs to be sharpened more for printing than they do for on screen viewing – and not just a little but a fair amount). Now not only do theprintspace offer printing, they provide color calibrated workstations for you to prepare your print so that you can be sure that what you see on screen is what you get. And if that wasn’t enough they can mount the print onto card, mdf, plastic, aluminium and a bunch of other materials, with prices which aren’t too unreasonable. Now I’m not going to be sending hundreds of holiday snaps through them sure, but for the pictures I’ve taken which I feel are worth hanging up – only theprintspace will do.

 

 

D200 it was good knowing you!

Back in 2003 I was fortunate enough to have a Canon 300D at my disposal. Besides my first real camera; a Nikon F-401 (a generous present which I was only able to use sporadically due to the cost of film and processing), the new Canon 300D was a mind blowing experience for me. Not only did it offer a price far, far below any other SLR out at the time, it also offered 6-megapixels, great image quality and a chunky plastic body making it comfortable to use for those who fumble with the tiny buttons compact cameras bristle with.

The 300D whilst good, maybe even great, was never a camera one could love (and loving the aged F-401 was outta the question!). It wasn’t in fact until I received a Nikon D200 as a very generous wedding present did I fall hard for photography. Coupled with the supremely versatile 18-200mm lens this thing ate through the scenery as fast as I could press the shutter. Gone was the agonising startup delay of the 300D, gone was the plasticky feel of a camera you knew would shatter like a glass bowl full of pin ball parts – the Nikon D200 was a brick and it could really take pictures, unless of course – you were in poor light. Ah yes, the D200’s Achilles heel, as the light level fell, the D200 would compensate by raising the ISO (sensor sensitivity) and hence the noise.

If I lived somewhere other than Britain (where the sun is harder to find than rocking horse poop) poor light would not have been a problem. But given that on any slightly cloudy day I would see the ISO creeping up to 800 and beyond (and noise permeating my images along with it) I’d clutch my sturdy D200, nod sympathetically at its limitations and soldier on.

Love mon ami, is what kept me and my D200 together through that and I am reluctant ever to sell it. But may she rest in peace for I have been seduced (and how!) by the delights of Nikon’s latest baby, the D700.

Offering all the qualities of a D200; superb build quality, the always excellent Nikon ergonomics, and a plethora of features, the D700 also offers one thing I had been longing, nay aching for – low noise. And if that weren’t enough – a 35mm, ‘full-frame’ sensor. I’d found heaven, and it took far too many pay-cheques (and a birthday gift of Bank of England vouchers) to purchase it.

With time I might just find that elusive artist’s eye in my camera bag, but until then with a D700 also in there – I can gladly say that my camera gear does not limit the image inside my head.

Goodbye D200, Hello D700!
Goodbye D200, Hello D700!

Hello world!

After months of procrastinating (and after waving a tearful goodbye to my old site), I have decided upon WordPress for my new photo journal. Combining my irreverent wit and technical prowess I shall be writing about camera tech and hopefully pausing to take a picture or two. No doubt I’ll spend more time fetishizing camera gear than actually showing what it’s capable of, but putting this blog up I feel is accomplishment enough that I can allow myself some bad habits 😉