Monday, 31 December 2007

Work and Play

Work and Play, originally uploaded by North Light.

A photograph from about 18 months ago, Cromarty harbour, Cromarty is a beautiful small town in Ross-shire on the Cromarty Firth.
A place we do not get to very often, but always worth a visit. The use of HDR on this image has worked well allowing me to pull a bit more information out of the shadows in the pier, where masking and using curves in photoshop would have been difficult.
Right, that's the play bit finished, now for work, time for a RANT!
Why is it that British tourists, particularly those at the lower end of the budget can be such a pain in the a***. We have a group of central belt Scots in for the New Year, and there are one or two who are going to make it painful. I was told when I started in this occupation, that other than our colonial cousins, the Americans, for whom a different set of rules apply, that the amount of hassle from the guest is the inverse to the amount they are paying!!! We were cold last night, there's a draft in the room, yup, the window was open! Probably because they had been smoking in a non-smoking room!

Saturday, 29 December 2007


Winter Beach 3, originally uploaded by North Light.

Some reflections on cameras, very likely controversial!

The eagle eyed of you will have noticed that there is a subtle change in the photographs that have been taken since the 2nd of December, see "Taken On" or "Taken In" in "additional Information" on Images individual pages. They have a slightly different "feel" to them. I have decided to change the cameras I am using, so I have sold my beloved Canon 5D, and my back-up camera, a Nikon D80 and in the process of selling the vast majority of my lenses!
At the beginning of December I purchased a Nikon D300 and will slowly concentrate on building a new set of Nikon lenses. Why you might ask? the Nikon is a much more intuitive camera to use, it makes sense for both the main and the back-up camera to be identical, or very similar in operation, the mechanical use of the camera becomes automatic, and hence does not distract from the creative side.
So I have gone from a full frame sensor to a cropped sensor, a backwards step? No, the Nikon seems to be able to record a wider dynamic range, and with care is producing images of the same quality as the 5D. Will I not miss the 5D MkII, maybe, but I prefer the Nikon to use,If Ican produce prints up to A2 size I don't need more detail.
The image above was taken with a Canon D60, a 6 Mexapixel camera, it consistently produced high quality images as long as the exposure was well controlled, and I liked it much better than the Canon 20D, so much so that I kept the D60 as my back-up camera for about 2 years. The 5D as I have said produced stunning pictures, this was not that it produced more detail than other 12 mp cameras, but there was a different feel to its images.
So where is this ramble leading? What I am trying to say is that once a certain amount of image information is recorded, the real differences come down to the quality of information recorded, and the tools we use to produce the resulting image. I have used RAW files virtually from the start of using a DSLR, and now am enjoying the benefit of better image processing programmes to produce images such as the one above, it prints to A4 with no problems, with care and some up-sizing, I will be able to get a A3 print, which when viewed from "Normal" distances is perfectly acceptable.
So I look forward to 2008, learning how to get the best from the Nikon, and concentrating on the Image, not the camera.

Now for the toys!
What I have not found is a compact camera that I enjoy using, or like the results from, Sigma DP1 perhaps?

Thursday, 27 December 2007

A Breaking Wave of Sand

A Breaking Wave of Sand, originally uploaded by North Light.

The day after Boxing Day, I am sat at Reception in the Hotel, its 8:30 am, my reception area is full of cases, yes the Christmas guests are going home! Peace for a few days. Then we are full again at New Year!
During the quieter moments over Christmas the eagle eyed of you will notice that I have been playing with Photomatix Pro 3.0 Beta, I have to say that I am impressed, although the user interface is not as polished as most programmes I normally use, it seems much easier to produce images that are less obviously HDR.
I hope to work with this a lot more over the next few months, and spend more time producing taking photographs to work with HDR.

Thursday, 20 December 2007


Winter Beach 1, originally uploaded by North Light.

Photography is a funny thing! An odd statement?
For the last few weeks I have had no problem seeing photographs, working though my image archive has been equally productive, but I got home last night, cup of tea, and in front of my monitor started going through photographs taken in 2005 with the intention of creating a few new images for my flickr photostream, found four potential images, created bracketed exposures using Camera Raw, processed with Photomatix, and started to do the final work in Photoshop. I rejected all four!
Lack of inspiration, not seeing images, its not a new phenomenon, but why does it happen?
I was motivated, had no problems picking the images to work on, but the results were not in any way inspirational.
Yet 24 hours before I produced the photograph above, to me its the most satisfying image I have produced al month, yet in its original format I probably got very close to deleting it!
Thoughts to ponder on over the Christmas Season.

Monday, 17 December 2007

Night on the Pots?

Night on the Pots?, originally uploaded by North Light.

Another bright and frosty morning, we have now had a few days of good winter weather, I was able to take advantage of this yesterday, and spent some time out with the camera, but the days are very short now, sunrise was at 9.00 am, and sunset at 3.14 pm, just over six hours of full daylight! Still the shortest day is nearly here, and we then have spring to look forward to.

Saturday, 15 December 2007

Weather Forecast

Golden Sand, originally uploaded by North Light.

Thinking about taking photographs, the weather this week has been pretty good, but have been in the hotel office during daylight hours, frustrating!
The forecast for Sunday looks good though, so subject to the accuracy of the forecast it's a photography day tomorrow. Something to keep me motivated for the rest of the day?

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Castlehill harbour...2

Castlehill harbour...2, originally uploaded by North Light.

Published. I am pleased that this and one other photograph were published in "amateur Photographer" magazine this week. The email from the publishers asking permission to use the two images came as a total surprise as these were part of a portfolio submitted nearly two years ago, the cynical side of me thinks that they were obviously short of suitable photos, so had to resort to the filing system!
On a more positive note, the portfolio was submitted to three publications, two of which have published, the third, which will of course remain nameless rejected the portfolio, two out of three is not bad!
I guess that this indicates that I really should do more with my photographs, a "New Years Resolution" perhaps?

Monday, 10 December 2007

Sunday Morning Walk

Sunday Morning Walk, originally uploaded by North Light.

Another week begins, the festive season is creeping up! More functions in the Hotel at the end of this week, next week is then busy, less time for photography!
Got out yesterday with Bev, a walk on Dunnet beach, although there was no direct sunlight the sky was superb, lots of clouds in just about every shade of grey which has I hope produced some interesting images.

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Winter Weather

Low Tide, originally uploaded by North Light.

Slipped down to Inverness yesterday, a spot of unsuccessful Christmas shopping, no inspiration.
A really strange day for weather, sleet in the rain on the way down, particularly as we were crossing the Causeymire, and at the Ord of Caithness. Outside temperature gauge on the car was reading 3°C, as we were leaving Inverness in the early afternoon the Car was registering 14°C, it was still 12°C when we got back to Thurso late afternoon, Summer's back!
Stooped on the way back at Dornoch for a quick walk on the beach, and a couple of quick photographs, I always find this an inspiring spot.

Monday, 3 December 2007

Thurso Surf

Thurso Surf, originally uploaded by North Light.

This was taken yesterday morning, I was able to get out with the camera just before dawn, not too difficult as sunrise was just after 8:30 am. A cold morning, frost on the ground and the odd patch of ice.
It was obviously a good morning for surf as there must have been about ten people in the water in Thurso Bay, COLD, and when I left about an hour later this had probably increased to twenty or so.
These were my first attempts at taking pictures of surfers, I really needed to use a longer lens, but I am not unhappy with some of the results.

Saturday, 1 December 2007

Winter Blues

Red on Grey, originally uploaded by North Light.

I guess that this should really read "Winter Greys", but its been another week with no photography, had to resort to working on images from the back catalogue!
I should not be negative about this, I have a lot of images I like, and in many cases re-working them is very positive, and I hope that they are benefiting from a little bit more experience!
I received a email from the submissions department of a well known weekly UK Photographic magazine yesterday, some of a portfolio I submitted nearly two years ago is being published in the magazine in December, quietly pleased with this. This will mean that of the three magazines I submitted portfolios to, two will have published photographs from the portfolio. Not a bed hit rate!
On a completely different subject, the forecast for tomorrow looks good, so the plan for Sunday involves photography, and not much else. This is of course subject to the vagaries of the weather.