Monday, November 14, 2011


As already mentioned this weekend brought a small success in publishing a photo in a national paper, bucked my spirits up, but was not as significant as my other achievement, sending Assignment 2 into my tutor.  Glad to be finished with that work and now turning my mind seriously towards the third assignment.  At this stage I am beginning to notice a couple of differences between this and earlier lower level courses.  First of all the assignments are a very much larger aspect of the program, previously I would probably divide my time 50:50 between assignments and other work, now it is very much 80:20, the assignments virtually are the course.  The second observation is that the assignments are beginning to interrelate   Although I have by choice thematically linked the first 2, I am also finding that one activity leads naturally to the next, and that the follow on assignment is very much decided upon in wake of the previous one.  Although, at present, I am undecided whether to continue my legacy theme or to branch sideways into something quite different.  I'll return to that thought in future posts.

Having completed the assignment, a number of technical issues came up that needed attention and deserve a mention here in my blog.  The first is camera cleanliness, my 5D2 is nearly 3 years old, and has shot nearly 36,000 frames, an average rate of just over 3 per day, or if I had been shooting film I would have gotten through 1,000 rolls of 36 exposure films at a rate of just under 1 per day.  Scary thought and why a DSLR ultimately can save money.  Ignoring the film saving this usage rate has led to a very dirty sensor, so for the first time ever I cleaned it.

This had been worrying me for some time, I am not good with my hands, and was very concerned that I would simply generate a very large bill for a replacement sensor.  However, I was becoming heartily sick of using the dust removal tool in Lightroom so time for a clean.  Here is the sensor before the process, not at all clean:

I followed a step wise process to clean the sensor:

  1. Place the camera on a small tripod at an angle good for access insert mains power into the camera and lock up the mirror
  2. Blow any dust out of the mirror box
  3. Use an electro-static brush, ionized by blowing air over it to lift any loose particles
  4. Finally use a wet wipe to swab across the sensor

The result was, another dirty sensor, except now the dirt had moved around a bit.

I tried again, only this time with very much more swiping and blowing, with the final result:

I was quite pleased with this.  A couple of days later I shot the following test whilst out and about to see how things were, and whilst there are some visible dust spots they are very far fewer and smaller.  So I would have to argue that this was a job well done and something I should have tackled years ago.  Ah well I know how to do it now.

Another activity this weekend was testing a new lens for my second camera system a Samsung NX100 mirrorless compact.  So far I had 20mm and 30mm prime lenses for this camera, plus a couple of zooms.  The biggest problem was that the 20mm was not wide enough, only being equivalent to a 30mm on a FF camera.  This was not wide enough for work in and around the city, although very good for street work.  I subsequently bought  a 16mm f/2.5 pancake lens to add to the kit

I love these small lenses, which combined with the tiny NX100 (well compared to by 5D2) makes for a great carry anywhere system.  I took it for a walk and captured the following images

OK, it will not win architecture awards, no normal prime lens can, however, the colour and detail are quite superb, I am very pleasantly surprised.  Previously I had felt the camera a little flat in colour, perhaps that was more a feature of the lenses I was using.  I am more than satisfied with the saturation.

Continuing my walk into the area where I was shooting my newly submitted assignment, I noticed some strange reflections on the side of the synagogue, looking a little like Hebrew script, but accidental I am sure.  Once again the 16mm lens performed very well on the Samsung and I now look at this little camera in quite a different light.

My final technical discovery over the weekend came in printing my Assignment 2 images.  Prior to submitting any assignment to my tutor I print the images I plan to submit for assessment.  I feel that printing is a fundamental step in the artistic process and whilst I am happy getting my tutor's feedback on the electronic images, I want to know that they will print the way I want them to.  When I started TAOP 2 years ago I printed everything on 5x7 glossy paper, which was not great.  I moved to a semi-gloss pearl paper from Ilford and started to print at A4, finding this to be a much better size for understanding the photos and a far better medium.  For this assignment, I have moved on once more, this time using Epson Archival Matte paper.  As I was printing B&W I wanted to be able to reproduce very deep blacks and also sustain a good tonal range, matte paper seemed the way to go.  I was again impressed, the matte paper really a very deep tonal range and generates a very satisfying print.  I also printed a rich colour Autumn scene, once again with great results.

Not necessarily a major step forward, but I am trying to develop my understanding and abilities in the final set to print.  So, a great weekend, lots done, lots more to do.

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