Sunday, November 20, 2016

One of the UK's jewels

KWiki tells us that the Lake District National Park includes nearly all of the Lake District, though the town of Kendal and the Lakeland Peninsulas are currently outside the park boundary. 

The area, which was designated a national park on 9 May 1951 (less than a month after the first UK national park designation — the Peak District), is the most visited national park in the United Kingdom with 15.8 million annual visitors and more than 23 million annual day visits, the largest of the thirteen national parks in England and Wales, and the second largest in the UK after the Cairngorms. Its aim is to protect the landscape by restricting unwelcome change by industry or commerce. Most of the land in the park is in private ownership, with about 55% registered as agricultural land. Landowners include:
  • Individual farmers and other private landowners, with more than half of the agricultural land farmed by the owners.
  • The National Trust owns about a quarter of the total area (including some lakes and land of significant landscape value).
  • The Forestry Commission and other investors in forests and woodland.
  • United Utilities owns 8%
  • Lake District National Park Authority (3.9%) is based at offices in Kendal. It runs a visitor centre on Windermere at a former country house called Brockhole, Coniston Boating Centre, and Information Centres. It is reducing its landholding.
In common with all other national parks in England, there is no restriction on entry to, or movement within the park along public routes, but access to cultivated land is usually restricted to public footpaths, bridleways and byways. Much of the uncultivated land has statutory open access rights, which cover around 50% of the park.

The lakes and mountains combine to form impressive scenery. Farmland and settlement add aesthetic value to the natural scenery with an ecology modified by human influence for millennia and including important wildlife habitats. The Lake District failed in a previous attempt to gain World Heritage status as a natural World Heritage Site, because of human activities, such as commercial forestry, which have adversely impacted the park's assessment. However, in 2016 the English Lake District bid for World Heritage Status was submitted to UNESCO in the category of cultural landscape. A decision is expected in 2017.

The image below was taken on the eastern shore of Thirlmere, looking north. The word Thirlmere, appears to have its roots in 'Leathes-Water', which was also 'Thirlmere' or 'Wythburn-water' 1769. Probably 'the lake with/at the narrowing' from OE ├żyrel 'aperture', pierced hole' plus OE mere 'lake'.

Thirlmere was constructed in the 19th century by the Manchester Corporation to provide the burgeoning industrial city of Manchester with water supplies. The 96 mile-long Thirlmere Aqueduct still provides water to the Manchester area.

The image was captured with my Canon 5D3 using a Sigma 12-24mm lens at 12mm. Nine images were taken: three exposure brackets at three different focus points. All the brackets, exposure and focus, were automatically calculated and set in the camera, using Version 4 of my Magic Lantern Lua Auto Landscape Bracketing script (see link on the right).

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Another little tweak

For those that value getting the best out of your Canon ML enhanced camera, you may be interested in the latest version of my Auto HFD script: download it from the right.

This version first optimizes the aperture for maximum depth of field, before moving the lens to the HFD position.

The lens must report focus distance and be in AF mode. The camera does not need to be in LV, but can be. Also the lens position can be anywhere and the aperture set to any value.

The script will run by simply pressing the MENU key, followed by the INFO key (but you can change these two keys if you wish).

After the script has run, you need to tweak the exposure or run the auto ETTR via ML or the ML auto bracketing for a fully optimized capture.

As usual, I welcome feedback on the script, which I have tested on my 5D3.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Auto Hyperfocal Distance

Things have been busy for a while and photography has suffered. Nevertheless, I did find time to create a small script that some may find of value.

All it does is provide an automatic way of moving the lens to the hyperfocal focus point.

The usual caveat applies, ie you need a Canon camera running Magic Lantern and the Lua module enabled.

In addition, the lens, which can be non-Canon, needs to report focus distance and be in AF mode. The camera also needs to be in Live View, and you should set the Depth of Field option in ML, ie put this in diffraction aware mode for best results.

The script can be downloaded from the link on the right.

To use, simply use the modified key sequence of your choice, in the script you download I use MENU and INFO keys, which work well on my 5D3.

The use the MENU key as normal, simply press the MENU key twice. 

The use the MENU key in the modified state, ie moving the lens to the HFD point, simply press MENU, followed by INFO.

As usual, I welcome any feedback.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Dorset: Long Exposure Trip

After several weeks of 'camera inactivity', this weekend was a chance to get away and ‘do some photography’: in particular Long Exposure photography with my new ND filter system.

For the wide angle photographers out there, you know that ‘normal’ ND filters break down as you start to go wide. For instance, my Sigma full frame 12-24mm WA lens, can take a screw in front element ND filter, but only at 24mm, ie at 12mm you just get the circular cut off of an 82mm ND.

To get round ultra wide angle lens problems, I have adopted two solutions. The first is to use a Vizelex M645-EOS ND Throttle adapter on my Canon 5D3, with, in my case, a Mamiya-Sekor 45mm prime. This combination allows me to put a variable ND filter at the back of the lens, instead of on the front. This way, I get no strange ND effects, such as the dreaded X effect. The down side of this arrangement is that I’m ‘limited’ to 45mm focal length, ie not very wide.

The second solution is what I wanted to experiment with this weekend. That is my new Fotodiox Wonderpana system, that puts a 145 diameter filter system on the front of most WA lenses, including my Sigma 12-24mm.

Although I have the 6.6 inch square filter adapter, this last weekend I only explored the 145mm diameter ND1000 filter; and as we were in Dorset, the obvious target was to see what I could do with a seascape. So I chose Durdle Door and St Oswald's Bay, which is sometimes called the Man of War Cove, on the UK’s Jurassic Coast.

This first image was taken, handheld, at F/8, ISO 100, 1/60s and at 24mm. I first used Magic Lantern to establish a RAW ETTR setting and took the image with Dual-ISO switched on, ie an inter-laced ISO 100/800 image. I first processed the Dual RAW in Lightroom and then undertook a round trip to Photoshop to carry out some luminosity mask work.

As for Durdle Door, I managed to get there early enough, so that my photography was not complicated by too many tourists. However, as you can see from the elevated view of Durdle Door that I took walking down to the beach, one family still managed to beat me to the shoreline :-)

For the long exposure, I used my Sigma 12-24 with the Wonderpana attachment, to hold the 145mm diameter ND 1000 filter. I also used the Magic Lantern LE ND Bulb module to make exposure setting easier. For instance, I simple composed and set the exposure without the ND filter, then screwed on the filter and used the ML ND Bulb module to grab the LE. In this case a 91 second exposure, which I processed in B&W.

One mistake I made, was to only take a travel tripod with me, ie not my heavy duty tripod. So I’m aware that the image is soft in places, which I attribute to a small amount of tripod-relate ‘movement/vibrations’, ie the tripod was placed on a shingle beach. This created issues with this second LE, taken at 124 seconds down on the shoreline at St Oswald's Bay.

The rest of the weekend was spent relaxing in a very nice hotel, The Priory at Wareham,, where we enjoyed great food and wine. It was also a chance to visit Kingston Lacy.

Wiki tells us that Kingston Lacy is a country house and estate near Wimborne Minster in Dorset. It was for many years the family seat of the Bankes family who lived nearby at Corfe Castle until its destruction in the English Civil War after its incumbent owners, Sir John Bankes and Dame Mary, had remained loyal to Charles I.

The house was built between 1663 and 1665 by Ralph Bankes, son of Sir John Bankes, to a design by the architect Sir Roger Pratt. It is a rectangular building with two main storeys, attics and basement, modeled on Chevening in Kent. The gardens and parkland were laid down at the same time, including some of the specimen trees that remain today. Various additions and alterations were made to the house over the years and the estate remained in the ownership of the Bankes family from the 17th to the late-20th century.

For me it was a chance to take a few snaps:


Friday, September 9, 2016

Take all the help you can get

Like many I am a little intermediated by certain words and phrases: Fine Art Photography is one such phrase.

Wiki tells us that Fine Art Photography (FAP) is photography created in accordance with the vision of the artist as photographer. Fine art photography stands in contrast to representational photography, such as photojournalism, which provides a documentary visual account of specific subjects and events, literally re-presenting objective reality rather than the subjective intent of the photographer; and commercial photography, the primary focus of which is to advertise products or services.

Of all the types of FAP, the one that I'm drawn to is  Black and White fine art photography; which leads to discussing post processing.

There are many tools out there and some are real bargains: for instance Google's free Silver Efex Pro:

In addition to such 'plug-ins', anyone trying to undertake B&W FAP work is well advised to exploit luminosity masks. Once again, there are a few tools out there. From personal experience I would suggest you look at TK Actions, ADPpanel+ or lumenzia

A rather new boy on the block is the B&W Fine Arts Adjustment Panel from Joel Tjintjelaar

Joel has also written about FAP: here

The following images, of a couple of the buildings at the Getty Centre, were taken with my Canon EOSM. Post processing started in Lightroom and progressed to Photoshop-CC, where I made use of Joel's new panel.

Although Photoshop, on its own, is a powerful tool: there is no doubt in my mind that the addition of some of the above 'plug-ins', or all of them, is a great way to take PS to the next level.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Another cloud resource for Photographers

As you are aware, there are some great photography resources 'up in the cloud'; and many of them are free,
In case you are not aware a new one has been added by Google: an introduction to the scientific, artistic, and computing aspects of digital photography. 
Topics include lenses and optics, light and sensors, optical effects in nature, perspective and depth of field, sampling and noise, the camera as a computing platform, image processing and editing, and computational photography. It also covers the history of photography, looks at the work of famous photographers, and talks about composing strong photographs.
This course is based on CS 178 (Digital Photography), which was taught at Stanford from 2009 through 2014. The link is to the Google version. 
The course consists of 18 lectures. The topics, with dates, are given in the course schedule. The lectures were delivered live on Google's Mountain View campus, broadcast live to Google offices around the world, and recorded for later playback.  The videos linked into these web pages are from those recordings, edited slightly to remove discussion of Google internal projects. Keynote slides from these lectures were converted to PDF files and linked into the schedule after each lecture. 
Marc Levoy, the Professor Emeritus of Computer Science at Stanford, and Principal Engineer at Google,  has made his material freely available, but some of the photographs included in the lectures are individually copyrighted. Please respect copyrighted information.

Monday, August 29, 2016