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Spring Walks

We had a lot of rain this spring, the warmer weather caused by global warming in the arctic is causing cooler wetting weather to be driven south to us.

We still had some nice days and when we have a nice Sunday morning I am off shortly after dawn with our hound, Ted the Greyhound, over the fields with a camera over my shoulder.

Over the years since moving here I have been collecting pictures of the local fields, some freshly ploughed, some full of crops, others past their past.

I don’t always come back with any pictures worth showing but sometimes I get lucky.

If you go for a walk take a camera, you may surprise yourself and get a really nice picture.

WWDC 2021

Its that time of year again when Apple fan boys get all excited. As an Apple fan boy myself, I’ll be interested and watching closely to see where Apple is going.

My iPhone is now approaching four years old so I’ll be thinking of replacing it this year or next. Also I am interested to see what Apple do with the Mac mini. I would like a new media server for the home and a Mac mini may just be the machine for the job.

I am sure the main interest for most people is were iOS and WatchOS is going, so I am sure there will be something for everyone, just no Steve Jobs, ‘One more thing’.

Nikkor Z Mount Lens – Roadmap

Image from https://nikonrumors.com/2021/01/17/updated-nikon-nikkor-z-mirrorless-lens-roadmap-2.aspx/

Building out a new system is hard work. For those already in the Nikon system the adapter to use our existing F mount lens goes a long way, but until a few key more lens are released, Nikon is playing catch up on the lens.

Nikon D800, Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8, Profoto flash with CTO Gel and a shoot through Umbrella.

I’ll forgive Nikon somewhat, as the lens they have released have been out of this world, the 70-200mm f/2.8 is close to being the best zoom lens ever, and there is nothing standard about the 50mm f/1.2.

Everyone has their own idea of the ideal lens set, and Nikon are offering us the standard trinity of zooms, the f/2.8 set that take us from 14mm to 200mm.

I want to see a high quality 70-200mm f/4 but also a 24-105mm f/4. Canon already have a great 24-105mm f/4 and it makes a great all purpose lens.

I would be happy with a 24-105mm f/4, a 50mm f/1.2 and a 85mm f/1.4 for my needs. In fact I would happy trade the 24-105mm for a high quality 35mm f/2 and use that as my general day to day lens, with the 50mm and the 85mm used for studio and location portrait shoots.

The system is growing nicely, complete a nice set of f/4 zooms and the 400mm and 600mm telephotos and its well on the way, and more professionals who are currently not Nikon users but want to go mirrorless would consider it.

With these lens, give me a body that matches the D850 in features with the latest sensor tech and I may jump myself from my DSLR.

Getting Colour Temperature – do we need to get it right?

White balance card

If you shoot jpeg then yes get it right in camera, but for us RAW shooters why should we bother?

Its easy to fix it post but come on, who wants to have to colour correct all the images you took on your last shoot, yes with Adobe Lightroom you an fix one and then replicate it across, but its just another job you have to get done.

Get it right in camera.

Once you have everything correct its then easy to work from a common starting point and colour grade to how you want it.

How card slots do you need in a camera

CF Cards were relatively physically robust, SD cards less so. Many pros and amateurs like having two card slots. Writing RAW to one and Jpg to another for backup. A few recent cameras have had a lot of flack for not having two card slots but card technology has improved a lot recently.

While CF and SD cards are prone to failure the new designed XQD and CFexpress have had no recorded failures due to hardware. Now all cards have a recommended number of read writes, and it is when you exceed these you start to get errors. Errors with these new cards are due to exceeding these recommendations.

If your camera uses one of these new types of card I would be less worried about needing two slots for safety. Some photographers who after a shoot hand a card to a third party but also need a copy for themselves then yes there are ways cases for two slots, sometimes event photographers will print out a quick jpg and sell to the client on the day so having jpegs to one card and raw to the other is handy from a work flow perspective, but for many of us one card slot is now enough.

No matter how many card slots you have I would recommend you replace your cards regularly. It is likely now age and exceeding the number writes that will get you rather a the card failing early.

a Rant – Keeping Reptiles as a Pet not collecting

Bertie the Boa, less then one year old

Reptile husbandry has changed a lot over the period of time I have been keeping snakes. In the early days, it was considered ok to keep them in small racks or rubs as they are known. Underfloor heating often no thermostat and no light.

If you are keeping snakes to breed to sell, or a pet shop and keeping them for a short period before selling them then a rack/rub system makes sense, you can keep a lot of stock in a small area and there are only going to be there a while before sold.

For those of us keeping reptiles as pets then most of us in Europe keep them in large display cabinets. My little corn snake is in a 1m by 0.6m viv and height for climbing.

He has heating from a ceramic heater, a T5 strip light giving UVB all controlled automatically.

Bertie has a 2m by 0.9m viv, a heater in the centre giving background heat and a heater off to one side to give the hot spot, they are on day/night thermostats and for light there is a daylight UV flood that operates noon till tea and white LED for the day time and dark blue LED for the last few hours at night. Eight hours of daylight in the winter slowly rising to fourteen hours in peak summer.

Both my main vivariums are in the main living room, our snakes are part of the family just like our hounds. They have multiple hides, moss boxes for humidity and rocks to bask on, and branches to climb up.

So what’s my rant about?

Well if you do some research you will find that keeping a pet snake is just putting it in a small box with some heating and water and a hide. No enrichment, no where to climb no real light.

Even the better videos on YouTube talk about a box with no height, no UV. They selectively take aspects of the wild lifestyle and say for example a Ball Python just lives in a dark burrow. Yes those in the desert do during the hot season stay underground but recent studies has shown that 70% of their pray is aboral mammals. That 0.5m high rub is not going to allow it to climb. Heating provided by underfloor heat pads for plastic or glass tanks and light bulbs for wooden viv, this is just not good enough.

Most of the internet and the especially YouTube seems about twenty years behind. Luckly at least here in Europe things are moving forward, enrichment, bioactive enclosures etc are taking off. Lets hope that more of keepers on the internet take notice. Things are always going to be a little biased towards rubs and racks, as most of the experts are breeders and are going to be using rack systems, but we need to up are game and give the best life we can to our pets, and not treat them as items to collect. I collect fountain pens not living creatures.

Focus Stacking

Fountain Pens

When shooting still life or macro, depth of field is limited. This was shot with daylight, and a little bit of fill flash from a low power studio flash head and a shoot through umbrella.

I wanted to shoot at f/8 which would give me reasonable quality, depth of field and not have the shutter speed drop too much. But even f/8 would not give me enough depth of field. so I decided to have a go at a technique that I had read about and see a landscape photographer user on a Youtube video but never tried my self.

A technique I do use is to merge several images together to create large panoramic. The technique I chose to use this time was to create more depth of field. Its called photostacking and is automated now in Photoshop.

I took several images in succession but focused at different points in the image. After a quick edit for colour, contrast and exposure. I imported these as separate layers into Photoshop.

Once in Photoshop, the first step is to make sure they are all aligned correctly. Now I was shooting on a tripod, but sometimes even the best lens do something called ‘focus breathing’ and the field of view changes ever so slightly.

With each layer selected go, Edit , Auto-Align Layers and I chose Auto. This will then line up everything to the best of its ability.

Now you are ready to merge the layers into a single image layer taking the parts that are in focus from each layer. Its quite easy and automated.

Again with all layers selected, go to Edit and select Auto-Blend Layers.

Select Stack Image and ensure that the Seamless and Content Aware tick boxes are selected.

It will now generate a new layer based on the parts in focus. It will do a reasonable job but will not be perfect, you may have to tweak the layer masks it generates slightly. Save it and go back into Lightroom for a final edit.