Archive for Photography

Photos too dark

I’ve been told by a number of people in recent times and have received a number of e-mails stating that the photos on my website are too dark, somewhat under exposed. This has always puzzled me as while the photos do look a little on the dark side, the exposure is almost always set correctly based on my camera’s light meter when I’m composing shots. This has almost made me believe that the light meter was faulty but looking at the photos on the screen on the back of the camera I can see that this is not the case. Time to delve deeper.

In order to publish my photos to the web I have to extract image data from the RAW files my camera generates and compress into a JPEG file that can be delivered to and opened by a web browser. To to this I make use of dcraw, a nifty little application authored by Dave Coffin. This will pass data out from the RAW file to be collected on stdout by a program such as cjpeg.

As I like to publish exactly what my camera has stored to the file (with a little compression for portability) I don’t use many of the options on dcraw, just invoking the ones that read the values from the file it’s self and use those. Looking down at the parameter list I suddenly wondered if perhaps I’d mistakenly used the wrong parameter somewhere, so I started to check each one I’d used against the documentation.

Everything checked out apart from one very small anomaly; -w was documented but -W was not. The documentation states that -w tells dcraw to use the white balance value stored in the RAW file when processing which is what I wanted but -W seemingly did nothing except it threw no errors when used so must have some function.

Plunging deeper into the documentation I found the bombshell I was looking for; -W is used for switching off the exposure compensation value contained within the file! I ran a quick test and changed to lower case while decoding a photo I’d taken recently and the effect was perfect, the correct brightness and also the correct white balance (it hadn’t been far wrong but was much better now).

I’ve now updated my script that I use to call dcraw to invoke the correct parameters and hopefully dark photos will be a thing of the past on my website. The thought of having to re-decode some 3000 odd photos that have already been uploaded doesn’t fill me with joy though…

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SLR Camera Simulator

If you’re looking to hone your photography skills but don’t have much time to get out and about with your camera, spending a few minutes in your working day playing with this camera simulator could be the answer. Look at a subject through the viewfinder, change the settings and take a picture, looking at the results afterwards. Quite a remarkable piece of web development I must say!

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European Road Trip Photos

They’ve taken a while to sort through and collate but I’ve just finished uploading my photo collection from my European Road Trip that I took in September 2010 with Chris Worfolk, Norman Ralph and George Shore. Click on any of the photos below to be taken to the trip album.

European Road Trip PhotosEuropean Road Trip PhotosEuropean Road Trip PhotosEuropean Road Trip PhotosEuropean Road Trip Photos

To connect the trip properly I’ve tied all comments and track backs from the trip commentary of others into this post and also provide a link to the trip tracker which has now been made static and serves as a log of the highs and lows of the journey and our stopping points.

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Christmas 2009 Photos

While uploading new photos recently I noticed that I’d neglected to add to my gallery the snaps I took during my Christmas 2009 holiday in North Wales. I’ve now done this and they are available over in the photos section. There are some particularly good shots taken on the beach during a walk on Christmas day, superb clear sky and low winter sunlight.

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Recent Photos

As many of you know already I like to go out and about to take photos and do so fairly regularly. The problem is that I tend to let them sit on my camera for rather a long time before sharing them with the world.

I took half an hour or so this weekend to upload all such outstanding photos from my camera that I wanted to share online and hope that you will enjoy browsing through them. There are quite a variety this time and some have come out rather well, especially the ones depicting the changing colours of autumn, one of my favourite times of year for photographs.

Trip to the British Museum St Albans Fireworks Autumn Colours Bletchley Park New Zoom Lens

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Trip to Cumbria

A couple of weeks ago, I took a trip to Cumbria to stay with Jill Amey for a couple of days and then afterwards headed slightly further north for the Solway Festival where I stayed with Sarann and enjoyed the sights and sounds for the remainder of the bank holiday weekend.

When I went off to university I all but lost touch with my school French teacher and good friend Jill Amey, but fortune allowed us to get back in touch via e-mail and led to an invite to go and stay for a few days at her new home in Cumbria. We spent some time discussing what had been going on at my old school after I left and also caught up on everything we’d respectively been doing since I left A level French class. In addition I was given a grand tour of the local area and took in some fantastic sights. It was certainly not hard to see how you can move to the country for work and then fall in love with the surroundings.

Solfest was spectacularly good fun as always and catching up with Sarann and her family at the same time was great. To say we got a little wet would be an understatement but the atmosphere and music were excellent and I certainly wouldn’t hesitate in going again next year, especially seeing as the eclectic nature of my last.fm list is more than just a little enhanced by my visits to the event!

A full and more comprehensive description of my trip is best done in photos and these have already been uploaded to my gallery. I’ve tried my best to capture the Cumbrian scenery but the photos really don’t do it justice – you should definitely spend a few days in the area yourself.

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Photo Update

I’ve updated my gallery again after off-loading some of my recent snaps.

A couple of weeks ago I headed out to the Windsor beer and jazz festival and was blessed with superb weather and a great collection of live jazz sets to compliment the pints of ale I consumed. The good weather brought the public out in force and I managed to take a few nice shots of people enjoying the day.

Last weekend I went for one of my many walks so far this year, this time with Julia and Chris, and we got as far as Avebury before relaxing over a pub lunch and a couple of pints before returning to Swindon. While I didn’t take many photos I managed to capture a superb landscape with a rather desolate looking farm building in frame that really seems to strike a chord.

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Beautiful Sunset

Before the weekend I went out for an evening walk around Coate Water and was able to capture a superb sunset. I took the shot below at just the right moment – the cloud formation and the passage of a single swan across the frame made for the perfect photograph.

Coate Water Sunset Small

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Photography Catch Up

I had far too many photos sitting on my camera desperate to be shared with the world so after my recent upload of my North Sea Jazz pictures I created a number of new galleries to bring my photo album up to date with all my recent photographic exploits. Click the thumbnails below to be taken to the newly uploaded albums.

Friends in Swindon SoC Graduation 2009 Hannah's Graduation Photography excursion to Potters Crouch Hannah's Birthday

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Ski Trip to Austria

Two weeks ago I enjoyed a week long break from work and headed out to Austria for a skiing break with a couple of old friends from my school days, Matt Kirk and Ed McIllwraith. Despite not having been skiing abroad for a number of years I got in practice before hand by visiting the xscape snow dome in Milton Keynes and was fully ready for the trip by the time I boarded the plane.

The trip was better than I could imagine and while my intense skiing activity left considerably less time for photos I still managed to make the most of the resort and the activities on offer.

I succeeded in completing all the black runs in the resort and got a fair chunk of off-piste skiing done, including what Ed described as a spectacular stack after hitting a tree stump submerged by snow that saw me go head over heels 3 times. I was OK though and in a strange kind of way it made the trip even better. The holiday reminded me how much I enjoy skiing and the winter scenary and I definitely think I’ll be trying to get a trip organised again next year. If you’ve never tried skiing you should definitely get some lessons and give a trip a go – you won’t regret it.

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