Friday, June 28, 2013

Lemonade from Lemons

You know the old saw about making lemonade when you're dealt lemons? Another way of saying "the glass is half full, not half empty" or just "make the best of it". My D600 is on its way back to Nikon for service again.

The Nikon D600 has dust issues

For anyone who's in the industry, that's not news. I sent mine in to Nikon last February and thought they solved it; they actually changed the shutter mechanism which, I learned, was responsible for throwing oil on the lo-pass filter (that piece of glass in front of the sensor itself). It didn't work, Nikon:

This is a crop of the upper left corner of this image. It's about 2300x1500 px. This image was shot with the 17-35mm lens at f/22, and what you're looking at is a merge in HDR Efex of three bracketed shots. I enhanced it so you could see the spots better. You might ask, "Why did you let it go this far?". 

You can't see this stuff when you shoot at f/8. Well, when you look really closely, you can, but it's not obtrusive. Almost all of my shooting is done at f/8 where I can, because that's the sweet spot on most of my lenses. But this time, I wanted the depth of field.

Here's another couple of images I shot at the same location and you'll understand why. These were in fact at f/8 but I had to fight to get focus on the barn.

Both of these images are HDR merges. They will be available as large scale fine art prints. email me if you're interested. You can check out the gallery, they should be up there by the time you read this. 

Anyway, back to the "lemonade" thing. I recognize that Nikon has had some issues with this camera but I trust that they will make it right. Canon people, stop rubbing your hands together in glee, I can hear you! So the good part is, I'll get my camera back (or a replacement) soon, and it'll be great. But I'm without a camera body and that's not acceptable, so I ordered a D5100 refurb from Nikon and as I write this, I'm waiting for the Purolator man to deliver it to me!

I had occasion to handle the D5100 that belonged to a student last week. It's a nice machine, and it has two features that the D600 doesn't have that I'm looking forward to: it has an articulated LCD that flips out from the side so making those ankle-height shots will be easier (my knees are bad); and it's got an APS-C cropped sensor so when I really need to reach out and touch a distant subject, my 400mm lens will look like a 600mm on a full-frame. Everyone tells me the image quality is great, and, well, the price was right. If push comes to shove, I could resell it for what I paid but I think I'll keep it as a backup. I've been needing one anyway, I'm sorry I sold the D300 (but not sorry I got the 17-35 in exchange, Pete!).

So the glass is half-full. I'm coming out ahead.

PS: according to what I've read and heard, Nikon has solved the issue. Apparently only a percentage of early production cameras had this problem, and they've fixed it at the factory on anything made after April.

Speaking of Students...

I need some. Please go to and have a look at the workshops tab. My advertising hasn't kicked in yet and I need some work. I have some 3-hour and some 2-day sessions available, and a flexible calendar. Please pass this on to anyone you know who would benefit from a workshop. I'll come to you if it makes sense.

Speaking of advertising...

Last week I told you I'm a published columnist! I didn't believe it until I actually saw it in print:

Here it is! It's available on line as well, check it out here. I'm on page 2. 

They originally told me they would print the column every two weeks, but they've now changed it to every week! My faithful readers can preview the next column here!

Tuesday was a great photography day!

I had to be in Toronto on Tuesday, and headed for home late afternoon. When I was in Uxbridge for Ryan's graduation last week, I drove by a spot I marked in my mind to return to. That day was just a bright sunny one and the sky was featureless. I should have stopped but I didn't. So I had the opportunity on Tuesday and headed over that way.

When I arrived, it wasn't great, weather wise, but I stuck it out. There was a storm coming from behind me but the sky over the scene I wanted to shoot wasn't great. I spent half an hour shooting various shots, and then the skies opened up and the rain came down in buckets! I got in the car and headed for home. Not 10 minutes later, I drove out of the storm to see this:

I did boost the colours a bit, but it was spectacular. In fact there was a double rainbow, but the other one was too light to look good on film (OK, on 'digital film'!). I used Topaz Clarity on this one, by the way. I'm using it on a lot of pictures now and I really like it! 

Then I turned to my left and saw this scene:

I decided to make a painting out of this one. It took a lot of work to get it right, but I think it was worth it. Again, it will be available as large scale fine art prints. email me if you're interested. You can check out the gallery, it should be up there by the time you read this. 

Not yet done for the day. Now the sky was interesting, so I turned around and went back to the original spot, it was about 10 km back (the above picture was just South of Sunderland on Highway 12; the original scene was just before the turnoff to 12 on Highway 47 in Greenbank). So the top pictures in this blog were taken after I went back. Those were the remnants of the storm that had passed through.

STILL not done. I spent about an hour there, then headed home again. About 5km up the road from the rainbow spot, was this scene.

This is the scene that caught my eye from the road. It's an HDR, of course. As an aside, when I open Nik HDR Efex Pro, I'm drawn to one preset about 90% of the time: the "Dark" one. Here too: I clicked on it, increased the exposure about 10% and saved it. The only other things I did were to remove a red-and-white OFSC sign in front of the bridge and tone down the greens a bit. Fine art print. Gallery. Check it out.

This is marked as part of the "Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs" (OFSC) trail system. Walking over to get this shot, I disturbed a very large dog at the farm to my right, but the farmer came out to corral him (thank you, farmer!). 

OK, back in the car. Another 90 minutes drive to get home. I needed a pit stop at the Tim Horton's in Beaverton and by now it was getting dark.

Earlier this week I was working on an older image that I took in Norland. I wanted to make it a dusk shot, so I created the lighting effects entirely in Photoshop. It wasn't really late in the day when I shot it:

+Ben Willmore shoots a lot of these, usually abandoned old gas stations. That's what got me thinking about it.  

Back to the drive home and the Tim Horton's:

It really was getting dark, and the lights inside the shop looked so warm and inviting. I did have to enhance it, boost the contrast and detail (Topaz Adjust and Clarity). I had another shot that showed some traffic at the pickup window, but I liked this one better.  

So. One drive home, more than half-a-dozen distinct keepers, at least 4 for the gallery and large scale printing. All with a camera infected with dust-spot-measles. It was definitely a good day.

— 30 —

Saturday, June 22, 2013

News, news and more news!

There's a lot of stuff going on in the FACzen photography world. I'm making good progress in certain areas, still spinning the wheels in others but we'll get there! In the meantime, here's the news of the day!

New PHOTOGRAPHY.TO website launched

Maybe that's not entirely accurate. Let's just say, "updated". Most of the links to the active stuff have been changed or updated, and I've added new pages for new projects. Check it out!

Maintaining a website is an ongoing task. It never ends, there's always something to fix, to add, to change. I'm no expert (I don't think I'd even call myself an "intermediate") so I probably do things the hard way, but my goal is to make it easy to navigate and attractive to my web visitors.
The greeting page has been changed to make it easier to navigate. If you know what you're looking for, there are big buttons to guide you. Or you can browse more easily.

■ The "Workshops" button will now take you to a list of different workshops. You can access the calendar from there, and you can sign up online for any session we have scheduled (and some we don't!).

■ There's now a direct link to my Smugmug gallery, where you can browse through all of my art prints and choose which one(s) you'd like to see gracing your walls. New images are also in a featured gallery. Although I haven't enabled a pure e-commerce site, you can easily get in touch to order or discuss anything you're interested in.

■ I need to work on the eBooks section. My goal is to make most of these publications free and available to subscribers to my Newsletter. And of course, there are new eBooks in the works.
■ Speaking of the Newsletter, I'm working on revising the format so that it becomes a simple weekly HTML email with highlights from this blog and other news, plus special offers for my loyal readers. My goal is to add a "0" to the number of subscribers before the end of the year. If I do get there, I'm actually going to have to start paying MailChimp for their services instead of using their free account!
■ Tips. Let's make "Tips" the heading for the next announcement, shall we? 
By the way, if you think the buttons up there are neat, here's the link to the tutorial I posted last year on how to make them in Photoshop in case you missed it. After you set it up, it takes 2 minutes to make a new button!

In fact, here's a timesaver: here's the actual PSD file I created to make my buttons. Feel free to download it and to share it, but if you do, I'd ask you to subscribe to my newsletter and ask anyone you passed it on to, to do the same. Fair?

I'm about to become a published columnist!

I've been published before, but the local newspaper has agreed to publish my "Behind the Shutter" photography tips articles as a bi-weekly column! The first one will appear in Haliburton County Living on June 27th (I hope I'm not jumping the gun with this announcement, but I'm excited and wanted to tell everyone about it!). You can access a virtual copy of this publication here.

A copy of this publication is distributed to every household in the Highlands, so it's the widest circulation paper up here! If you live in the Highlands and you're reading this, watch your mailbox!

Along with each article, I'm creating a "Tips" web page. It will contain additional information, example pictures, eventually a comments dialogue (as soon as I figure out how!) and of course links back to my other projects and programs.

You can access the Tips pages from the main website. I could put the link here, but in fairness, I won't since you might be reading this before the initial publication date. Eventually, I plan to create ePub versions of these columns and combine them into an ongoing series of eBooks.

If that isn't enough news...

Ten of my images are on display (and for sale) at the Rail's End Gallery & Arts Centre in Haliburton. A couple more are going in next week, requested by the curator. The only bad part is that my framing isn't good enough, so they're in a rack in clear bags.

The Rail's End is responsible for the annual arts festival in Haliburton. Unfortunately, it was too late to participate this year (fourth weekend in July, FWIW), but my application will go in for next summer. This is a juried show but I'm hopeful I can get in. I have to work on my framing.

Spreading the Word

You will find advertisements for my workshops every week in the Haliburton Highlander. In addition, a bare-bones schedule of DSLR workshop dates is in the Haliburton County Summer/Fall Guide 2013 (I had to give them the dates long before I got things finalized!).

Courses & Workshops

I've finished the curricula (or curriculums. Or agendas. Whatever word you prefer) for three new courses. My program now contains the following, in addition to custom courses for more advanced photographers.
Basic Skills, a 3-hour workshop for new shooters regardless of what kind of digital camera they have,
Introduction to Photoediting, which is another 3-hour session designed to introduce people to programs like Lightroom™ or Photoshop™,
DSLR workshop, for new and not-so-new owners of DSLR cameras. This venerable 2-day session will take the newer photographer to the next level, and
Mini-tours where I take participants to exceptional venues, such as dawn, dusk and whitewater sites and give them tips on how to achieve better images in the field.
What's next? Full weekend or even longer field trips. High on my priority list of things to develop and I'm really hopeful of having something for the peak Fall Colours season up here this autumn.

So I've been a busy boy. There's more stuff in the works, but I can't announce it yet, so watch for it!

Creative Cloud

Not for me at this time. As usual, Adobé has come up with some neat new stuff, but not enough to be a game changer for me. Ditto Lightroom 5. I think I'm going to pass and wait and see.

A big issue for me is the concept of ongoing rental. If they would come up with some sort of acceptable solution that would allow you to keep the last version you paid for in perpetuity if you decided to stop, then maybe. But I can't see being hung out to dry if you can't afford to keep paying them sometime in the future.

It's been out for two days and I heard it's already been cracked. I'd rather use CS6 that I bought and paid for than pirate CC.

The bad part is, all the technical blogs I read talk about nothing other than the new fancy features in CC or LR5. No great new tutorials on CS6 or LR4. That said, Glyn Dewis just did one on the liquify filter (here's the link to the YouTube) and although it was about CC, most of it works in CS6.

*update: it looks as though Adobé may have been listening. The rumour mill says that they've covered most of what I mentioned. I read in a article:

In an accompanying article, they also said,

“In the event that Adobe decides to discontinue any of the products in Creative Cloud, we will make the most recent version of the product available for download free of charge to active Creative Cloud members for a period of no less than 90 days. Such downloads will not require a subscription and will be licensed on an as-is, no warranty basis …”

What's missing is "what happens if *I* decide to discontinue my membership in CC...". Can I buy a download of the as-is version of the software. If they do that, I'm in.

Speaking of Software...

I don't post a lot of these, but this is a goodie. Here's a deal for you. I use different plugins in Photoshop, but the one I go to when I want to tweak an image or spice it up is Topaz. Mostly I use Topaz Adjust, but lately I've started using Clarity as well and I love them both.

Topaz Labs has just announced a huge promotion, starting June 24 through July 7. The complete Topaz Bundle is being reduced from $299 to $199 — that's $100 off — and worth every penny.

Click this image to go to the Topaz site. To get the discount, your promo code is 'july4' (without the quote marks). Disclosure: they pay me a little affiliate fee if you click the link and end up buying the software.
Topaz Clarity is not in the bundle, it's $49.95 and I'd be buying it at that price if I didn't already have it. In the bundle, you get Topaz Adjust, DeNoise, B&W Effects, ReMask, Lens Effects, Detail, Simplify, Clean, InFocus, DeJPEG and Fusion Express. That last one lets you access all of the Topaz Plug-ins directly in Aperture, Lightroom and iPhoto. There's a 30 day free trial, so go for it. Give it a shot and see if you like it as much as I do.

Time for some pictures

You know I don't do a blog post without current pictures. So here goes.

My grandson, Ryan Davenport. His graduation was Thursday night. You know I don't go anywhere without a camera... 

When I originally wrote this, I said...

Believe it or not, this was the very first frame, the very first picture of the night. I took a shot just to test the lighting. 100% natural light from a window. Minimal Photoshop, just to retouch the skin a little. 120mm focal length at f/8, ISO 1000, exposure compensation -2ev. This is precisely the shot I had in mind, I planned it while I was driving there. It's very satisfying when the first shutter release worked.
All true, except I now changed the picture. In the first one he was serious, here I got a good natural smile. This is actually 6 frames later, same values except 82mm instead of 120mm, so it's cropped a bit.

The reason I'm posting this is, well, look at the fantastic grandson I have! OK, well actually, I wanted to point out that I used Topaz Clarity on this image, after the basic retouching. It made some very subtle but changes to the image. Not being a portrait photographer, I'm not sure what's good and bad, but I really like this image.

I was going to add some kayakers, but I figured you've suffered enough. Maybe next time. Instead, I'll show you last night's dinner

Both are HDR's, but processed differently. The infrared element and rotisserie on my new BBQ do a fine job on chicken! I threw the asparagus and peppers right on the grill after the chicken was done, a little olive oil and teriyaki seasoning, 3 or 4 minutes, that's it. Great dinner!

So I guess that'll do for today! A lot going on.

— 30 —

Saturday, June 15, 2013

I'm sure it's aliens.

The Carrots and the Mushrooms are related

Last week I posted a story about a perfect circle of mushrooms growing on my front lawn. I juxtaposed a link to a story I did a year and a half ago about a giant pile of carrots in a neighbour's field. I could give you the link again but this being Blogger, and Blogger being owned by Google, you know that you can search for that article by simply typing a word or two into the search box at right.

However my old friend Gary must have been sitting with his fingers poised over the keyboard, because he immediately sent me a response with a logical explanation. And no surprise to me, there is a connection.

The mushroom thing is called a "Fairy Ring". And I quote from the Wikipedia article: "Long-term observations of fairy rings on Shillingstone Hill, England, further suggested that the cycle depended on the continuous presence of rabbits." I rest my case. Definitely aliens. Do not venture onto my lawn at Hallowe'en.

The site has been updated.

If you're looking for a workshop or a mini-tour in the Highlands, the details are now there. The pages describing the workshops have been updated (one more to do as I write this).  I've even posted a calendar of scheduled courses. And there's some news on the main page that's still a little premature... see if you can find it! 

Here's the link:

Work the Scene

Remember last week I wrote about "working the scene"? Actually I've written about it before and I admit stealing the phrase from Kelby who used it in a seminar last year. When he said it, he meant to not give up when you can't seem to find that picture you stopped to make; to me it means a bit more: even if you do get your planned image, look around you. There are lots more to be made there. 

I rode my ATV over to the white water with the specific intention of taking a long exposure shot with the ND filter. Since it was a bright sunny day, I knew that an HDR would work better, so that's what I set up to shoot. I published the resulting image last week. But while I was there, I looked around to see what else I could shoot. 

This wildflower was behind me. I liked the juxtaposition of the two flora and the way I could isolate both against the dark background.  

There were a few kayakers playing in the whitewater. I've shot literally thousands of kayak shots and I find them somehow rather compelling. I really like this composition...

Here's another long exposure (2 seconds) of the whitewater, cropped as a pano. Not an HDR, toned in Topaz Adjust.  I really like the textured water.

So I went for one shot and came away with four that I liked. 

Time out for a short teaching moment
Flash Sync Speed

A recent discussion arose on the TIF forum about using flash in low light, and the original poster commented that his pictures were soft. He said that the camera chose 1/60 second as the nominal shutter speed when the flash was being used.

In the old 35mm days (or when using a full-frame sensor), the rule of thumb was that you could get away with one divided by the focal length without noticeable camera shake. If all of the illumination is coming from the flash, the shutter speed isn't a factor because the flash is much faster than that. But the minute you're using the flash to fill in or add light to the ambient, that becomes a factor.

Now, with cropped sensors, that threshold is actually faster, by the multiplier factor. So a Canon APS-C sensor or a Nikon DX sensor behaves like the lens is 1.5 or 1.6x longer and you have to take that into consideration. So that 50mm lens isn't safe handheld at speeds under 1/80 second or so, not 1/50 second.

Most of the modern DSLR's will let you set the nominal shutter sync speed. Check in your manual or menu system but I think you'll find that it will do 1/200 second or faster (Nikon has something called Auto-FP that lets it go even faster with a compatible external flash). Go ahead and reset it, but if you increase that setting, you'll be capturing less ambient light, but the flash won't care. Be cautious, though because even that isn't fast enough when handholding that 200mm lens, with a cropped sensor.

Don't complain about your job

I won't go into details about my septic system problems. Suffice it to say the system needed to be pumped out again.

I don't think I want his job. But he's not unhappy about what he does, although he really does tell some sh&^%ty jokes. 

A few more Kayak pictures

As I said above, the white water is a compelling place. I thought I'd post a few more pictures, from today's visit. I'll try not to bore you with too many.

These kayaks come in fluorescent colours The bright mid-day sunlight reflected off the water and softened the colour of the boat. That's what caught my eye and made me shoot this picture.

This wider view tells the story of what the place is about. 

— 30 —

Monday, June 10, 2013

All work and no play...

Yeah, I know you can finish that. Quite a week.

Since the show, I feel like I haven't stopped. Then I look around and it seems like I haven't accomplished anything, My house is still a mess, I have papers and pictures everywhere, I was trying to work on something and couldn't find an uncluttered horizontal surface to put things on... everywhere I look there's something else I need to do.

The house smells funny: like old cigarette smoke. So I thought it would be a good idea to go clean the creosote out of the fireplace chimney. When I ran the brush down the chimney, there's this odd 6-foot gap between the bottom of the steel pipe and the fireplace insert. I have a call in to a chimney repair guy. Stay tuned... it's a good time of year for that to happen, though. Think what it would have been like mid-winter!

Update: he was just here. There's nothing wrong other than my brush being worn to the point that it's looser than the chimney liner in spots. He figured that it was a combination of things, including the gasket which is worn down a little, and told me how to fix it. That's a relief! I can't fix stuff generally, because all I do is break things!
I broke my Wacom stylus. I went shopping for a new one: even on eBay they're $70 or more. I got lucky, though (and so did one of you!). I found an almost new Intuos4 Small for almost the same price, complete with stylus, mouse and all the goodies! Bought it, got it, I'm a happy camper. I also found a used stylus on Kijiji, bought it too.

FREE Wacom Tablet

So why is one of you going to benefit? I've been using a tablet and stylus since I took the Pixel Painting course several years ago. Once you use one, you'll never go back to a mouse! OK, that's not fair, the mouse is good for certain stuff, like writing and file management and web surfing... but for any kind of photo editing or management, the stylus is like heaven. Imagine trying to write with a brick instead of a pen: that's what the mouse is like in drawing tasks. And don't get me started on trackpads.

 I now have two Intuos4 tablets, one small and one medium. The tablet I bought originally was a Wacom Bamboo Fun, size small. It is great for getting your feet wet. And I'm going to give it to someone. Free. It's used but it works perfectly on PC or Mac, driver is readily available at Wacom. You only need to do three things.

  1. Subscribe to my newsletter. Upper right on the blog or click the QR code graphic, or go to
  2. Send me an email telling me you want the tablet. Put "bamboo" in the subject line. If you're already on the newsletter list, you'll get an error when you try to subscribe, but send me the email and I'll put you in the draw.
  3. Promise that you won't sell it, that when you're done with it you'll give it to someone else.
As soon as I get 50 new names, I'll pick someone at random.

Magic Mushrooms

A couple of years ago I posted a picture of a huge pile of carrots and wondered what caused it. The most popular conclusion was that aliens shaped like bunny rabbits had invaded the Earth unknown to mankind and had planted cachés of food while on their mission to enslave mankind and take over the planet. Search for "carrots" if you dare.

The plot thickens. Today I was out talking with the chimney repair guy and I turned around and saw this:

Yes, some mushrooms growing in my water-soaked grass (or what passes for grass here. Mostly dandelions, but that's another story, kids). 

But then I looked a bit more closely, and was compelled to take a little video with my P&S to try to communicate what was going on (if you're not on high speed you may want to skip clicking on it):

The mushrooms are growing in a perfect circle, approximately 4 meters in diameter. There are no other mushrooms around. It's hard to capture unless you get up on a ladder with a wide angle lens (and I don't do ladders), so I opened a ground level shot in Photoshop and circled the mushrooms in the picture:

It's not my septic bed, I'm standing on that to shoot this picture. It's a perfect circle of mushrooms. 

Now I think the alien bunny rabbits landed their spacecraft right here and left behind spores from their extraterrestrial home. There's no other logical explanation.

Disposing of an old computer

I had a Sony Vaio laptop years ago. It got really slow in it's old age (I can relate!), it's probably 120 years old in computer years and I replaced it with a Lenovo. The screen died on that one too, about a year ago and I replaced it with the HP Pavilion that I'm typing this on right now. But it was time for the Vaio to go to the great computer home in the sky. Or in the landfill...

I'd been using it to drive my scanner/fax/printer that's also toast, so it was plugged into the network and I also occasionally would back up files on it, like financial records, email addresses, etc. So it wouldn't be a good idea to just throw it, with the hard drive intact, into the garbage. I'm here to tell you it takes only one shot with an axe to eliminate that problem.

...and there's a certain satisfaction to be gained. By the way, little tiny shards of platter poured out the middle. Wish I had taken the time to photograph it, bet it would have been cool. 

Anyway I wrote this to remind you not to throw out old computer stuff until you make sure your data is really and truly gone. Even CSI, the CIA, CSIS and other "C" groups wouldn't be able to put Humpty together again!

Time for some pictures

I know, you've been waiting and waiting, reading through my rambling drivel, waiting for some pictures. OK, here you are.

On Saturday, I unlimbered the ATV (must give her a name. "Polly", maybe, she's a Polaris... definitely female because you sit... let 's not go there). Anyway, I took Polly out for a ride not only down the trail but also along Horseshoe Lake Road to the White Water Preserve. It was a nice day and I figured I'd see some kayakers there. I've shot thousands of kayak pictures but it's somehow compelling.

I did, but I don't have anything special to show you. However I did take a few other shots in other locations.

In the forest, partway down the trail. I promised you I would keep you apprised of the changes in the scenery. The sun on the forest in the background caught my eye. Great colour! 

Looks like I'm in the African Veldt. Deep in the elephant grass. OK, maybe not, the dandelions give it away. It's 15 feet behind my garage... Go ahead and criticize my over-processed HDR, but I like it! 

How about this one. Remember when you were a kid and set up one friend holding his hand up and another friend in the distance looking like she was standing on his palm? My old satellite dish looking like a communications link while riding through the elephant grass in a third world African country.

One more shot at looking like I was trekking on safari in a remote place. 

I told you I went to the fast water. I had a picture in mind, and here it is:

I spend some time on this. The image is a 3-shot HDR merge, all shot with the 10x ND filter on the camera. The dark rocks and bright white water told me I had to merge more than one shot to capture all the detail; the fast flowing water needed slowing down, hence the ND filter.

I got some other pictures there but I'll save them for next time. I was following my own advice to "work the scene" and look around for other things to shoot. You'll have to come back to see them next week!

— 30 —

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Post-show report

Just a quick post so that I don't disappoint all y'all (damn, I've got to stop hanging out with my Suth'n friends, I'm starting to talk like them). I know you've been anxiously awaiting my next blog post.

The show was reasonably successful for me, despite the lower-than-predicted attendance. There were a few factors interplaying: the lousy weather forecast (and there were T-storms all three of the days) kept the cottagers at home in the city; those who did come up were busy repairing their docks from the flooding last month, and I think the early date had an effect too. Someone told me that people come up, open their cottages, then go home until the blackflies are gone in a few weeks. With all the water around on the ground, it's going to be a banner year for the biting bugs.

Minden is still suffering from the high water:

Although I took this picture last month, before the floodwaters peaked (the chairs were right underwater then), I drove past there yesterday and it still looked like this. The waters had receded for a bit, but with all the rains, it's back up at this level. This dock is about 100m from the centre of downtown Minden. 

The Home & Cottage Show

Here are some images from the show. Just P&S record shots, though.

Here's Linda. Our booth was 10'x10' and we set up her stuff on the left, mine on the right. She was a lot more organized than me because she's done this before!

...and this is yours truly. FWIW, I had about 50 prints in that rack, a box of 8x12's behind me and a few greeting cards as well. I gave away that bicycle print in the foreground and a course, in order to get names for my database. Hopefully some of them are reading this blog today. 

By the third day, I made some pricing changes. People were more comfortable buying at this level. Notice the laptop and iPad at the back. The former was for the database, the latter a continuous slideshow of images. 

Next to us was a guy selling flagpoles and flags. For three days he stood there and did this (play the video):

What goes through your mind as you watch him playing with his pole? Sorry, I know what I was thinking!

I didn't sell as many prints as I had hoped. So I have lots of them in stock and I'd be happy to make a special offer to any of you faithful readers who want a print or two. Tell you what: go to my gallery at, email me which images you'd be interested in acquiring for your collection, (email address) and what you want to pay, and let's talk. They'll look better on your walls than in my bin. BTW I have full-sized (18x24 sheet), small (8x12) and greeting card sizes  for most of the images.

What was quite successful was the increase in awareness of my products and services up here in the Highlands. I got quite a bit of exposure. And I booked a number of people for both the DSLR and the Basic Skills workshops (here) in the next few weeks. Looks like it's going to be a busy summer. Oh, and I got to spend a weekend with Linda. It's OK, her husband knew about it (and in fact without him, we never would have managed to get that booth together!)

So would I do this show again? Not a fair question yet. Let's see how things work out. My initial impression is that a show featuring art instead of home & cottage stuff would be better, but I did get to meet and talk to a lot of people and that was valuable.

Want to tether your DSLR to your PC? 

I found some incredible software online. DigiCamControl is open source software for DSLR camera remote control. It's designed for Nikons and PC's but a whole bunch of Canon cameras are listed too.  It is amazing. Every control on my camera is available onscreen. It does focus stacking and all kinds of other stuff. I've played with it for 30 minutes and took several images to test it. Here's one

There's nothing wrong with the lens. The camera was sitting on a box on a chair and that's the arm of the chair in the photo at the bottom. I had to increase the exposure 3 stops to display it like this because I had it on pattern metering and of course it exposed for the window light. I did the focusing onscreen in Live View.

It was shot at ISO 100, 1/30 sec at f/2.8, all of which I set on the computer not on the camera. I opened the RAW file in ACR/CS6, changed the exposure value and nothing else. Then I laid the text on top and saved it, then imported it to LR and exported it as a Jpeg.

And the cost? FREE. GRATIS. NADA.

You are going to want to download this.* Here's the link: 

*Note: I have NO interest or affiliation with this, I just found it. And I don't know if there's any kind of bad stuff like spyware or viruses, etc attached to it. So you download it at your own risk. But it seems to be clean and legit. I needed to download .net Framework and some kind of RAW viewing codec from Microsoft before it would run, BTW but it told me what I needed and one click to get it.

I haven't figured out how to preview images in it yet, and some other stuff. It has a lengthy manual. Next chapter I read is on focus stacking, for sure!

Is there a Mac version? I don't know.

Today's Image

For my new readers: I never leave you without some sort of image to enjoy. But I haven't been shooting because of the show, so here's one for today that I took last weekend when I was teaching a course and wanted to demonstrate shooting from a different point of view. Scroll down to previous posts, you'll see I usually do more.

This is one single click away from the original. I created a new layer (ctrl-J) then used the "Notepaper Filter" in the filter gallery. Done. OK, I took out a couple of artifacts, but that was it. GO AHEAD. Click on the picture to blow it up. I dare you.

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