The future


Just a photo of a boy with a ball in the late 1940s, however, I owe this young man an enormous debt of gratitude. He is responsible for what you see now. 65 years ago, when this photo was taken, who could have suspected where I would end up or what I would be doing.
But back to the kid in the photo. He managed to escape the steelmills of Sheffield by enlisting in the army. This took him to a small town on the English Welsh border. After being posted to the south of England, the south of Wales, and then Germany he came back to this small town, but lived across the border inside Wales. While in Germany he bought a camera a Canon FP which he later gave to me in exchange for a point and shoot. It was my first SLR, although not my first camera, and before that he had instilled an interest in photography in me. Now, with the Canon, I suddenly had a whole new world open up in front of me. And he was always on hand to guide me through this new world.
In the same way that when you learn to cycle, you don't realise that your parents are not holding onto the seat anymore because you're too busy looking where you're going, now is when I realise how important he was in sending me on my way into the world.
Thanks dad.


Time: lapse or waste Time: lapse or waste Time: lapse or waste

Sometimes I hate technology, or at least I don't like it very much. Anyone who knows me might find that surprising as I appear to have I love for gadgets. I love what they allow me to do - more things in less time. Usually. 

The timelapse above is a good example of my love hate relationship with technology. Without my digital camera, intervalometer and various other devices it wouldn't have been possible to take the series of photos that make up the timelapse. Without a computer and the necessary software it wouldn't have been possible to process all of those images, nearly 1000 in total. More software to assemble the photos into the piece of film that you now see. Finally, thanks to Tim Berners-Lee, somewhere to put the video so that everybody (with the necessary technology) can see it. Technology is a wonderful thing.

It's also a terrible thing. It caused me to waste a lot of time in the production of 40 seconds of video. The hours I spent standing in a field in the Pyrenees were definitely not a waste of time, although in the beginning it was a bit nippy then it got quite hot and I had to keep the camera shaded and the flies off the lens. That is the part of my job that I love (not the flies), that zen like time when there is only me, a camera and the idea in my head. Processing the photos was also very simple and straightforward (thank you
Capture One Pro), although it took my computer five hours to complete (a reduction on the 12 hours that it was threatening me with in the beginning). While it was working, I was free to do something else, or do nothing - that’s good technology.

Now all that remained was to assemble the photos into the 40 second video, this is where technology let me down, or perhaps it just worked less well than it normally does (or I expect it to). To create the previous four second timelapse I made, I used a plug-in for Aperture. So I imported all my finished photos into Aperture and then selected the plug-in to export to, and just like last time I got a timelapse, and just like last time it was four seconds long (it hasn't compressed all my photos into four seconds, it just stopped after four seconds of film). I had a quick look on the net to find out if there was a simple solution but I couldn't find one (I could have spent more time looking, or would I have wasted more time looking?).

So I decided to use iMovie. According to someone on the web it was very easy to make a timelapse from stills in iMovie - no it wasn't, not for me anyway. I tried with the new Mavericks iMovie and also with the old iMovie I had before, neither helped me reach my goal. Back onto the web, now looking at professional software for making timelapses, reading the reviews and trying not to spend too much money I found an instructional video (note to instructional video makers: please provide a written transcript because I can read much faster than you can talk then I can skip all the bits I already know) on how to use Lightroom to make a timelapse. I cleaned the cobwebs from my 2009 version of Photoshop elements and had a look at my Lightroom, of course the necessary plug-in was missing so I thought that's enough time wasted (I felt that if I looked for the plug-in, and even if I found it, I knew it wouldn't work properly if I downloaded it).
Time to find a quick and easy solution. The cheapest option was QuickTime Pro, yet more time evaporated as I had to read the instructions on how to enter the registration code (what’s wrong with opening the program and entering it in
Preferences?). I managed to get it up and running, even so, it didn't give me a functioning preview, on the preview window it did show 40 seconds so I thought that must be right. Still not finished though. According to the instructions you should choose the first photo in the folder that you want and make sure all the photos are sequential. For some reason QuickTime decided to include the four previous photos from the one I selected, which were test shots, so when I finally got my movie it jumped and flickered at the beginning. An easy solution here - delete the four files and start the process again. 

If it weren't for technology I would never have been able to make this timelapse. But the very same technology also caused me to waste a lot of my time. However, I think that lapse is more my fault than technology's (although that doesn't stop me getting upset with it when it doesn't, or can't, do what I want). If I read instructions, planned and thought a bit more, I would be more productive. Day by day, technology provides us with the power and ability to do amazing things, but we mustn't allow ourselves to be distracted by technology, it is the means not the end, we must not lose sight of what we're supposed to be doing. Technology offers myriad possibilities, but we should ask ourselves whether or not we really need that software (with its associated learning curve), or where productivity ends and timewasting begins on social media. Otherwise, our time will will become a timelapse and we will look back wondering where it all went and how it went so quickly.


A new dawn

A New Dawn (1)

This is a thought which was recently published on Photographer’s Selection (original here), and, in general, applies to any hobby/passion.

A new dawn.

When you set the alarm it seemed like a good idea. You would get up early to catch the dawn light and subsequent sunrise. Now, in the reality of the darkness before dawn, lying in a warm bed, perhaps next to a still sleeping partner, it doesn’t make so much sense. Having young children in the house helps to tip the balance, but it’s still hard to throw back the covers and advance into a new day.

There is the key: it is a new day. It is unwritten, fresh, a new opportunity, and that’s why you should make the effort. You may well have an idea of what you want to achieve, perhaps even a plan. Plans are good, they give you focus, however, remember to be flexible in this respect. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve come back home with images I couldn’t have even imagined a few hours before. Often, I find features in an image on the screen that I hadn’t consciously seen at the time I took it, but something impelled me to frame that particular scene. Keep your eyes (and mind) open; observe and reflect; don’t forget to look around and behind you; immerse yourself in your surroundings. That’s when you will really see, and only when you see can you capture
your images, the images that reflect what is deep inside you. It’s a form of meditation which will lead you to where you need to be, although not necessarily where you think you need to be or where you want to go.

Life is a journey which each of us documents through photography. Therefore, photography should also be a journey, usually one which is intertwined with our lives. Take your photography, and your life, out into a new dawn, who knows where it will take you!