Dateline 21 April 2015

 

Camera Shake Up - 30 March 2015 - Gavin Hoey

Report by Peter Flower

Event photographs of the evening by John Fisher

This was a joint event, shared with Dorking Camera Club, and held in the church adjoining the Community Centre in order to accommodate the larger audience that was anticipated. The event was somewhat different to that which we normally experience. The reason for this can best be explained by the 'statement of intent' that appears on Gavin's web site, which I quote -

“My current evening / short workshop is entitled Camera Shake Up and as the name suggests I aim to blow away the photographic cobwebs of camera club members. I’ll be demonstrating a range of creative camera and Photoshop techniques throughout the event. There’s even some live photography shoots in which I use everyday items to create some truly memorable images.”

Gavin Hoey introducing his talk – photograph by John Fisher

 

To quote a much-used phrase of recent times, the talk did exactly what it said on the tin! There was a wide variety of topics covered in the course of the evening, all presented in an entertaining and exuberant manner by Gavin. As he explained, he wanted photographers to explore different possibilities and to get out of their normal comfort zone. These are the objectives of our own 'Chatham Challenge' and 'Creative' events, but Gavin took this process much further by experimenting with different photographic projects. These were ones where he wanted to extend his own use of different techniques to produce interesting sets of images. There were numerous examples, too many to cover in this report, but the examples listed will give some idea of the range that he covered.

From the beginning Gavin stressed that choice of equipment was not the most important factor in successful photography. Although he currently uses Canon cameras such as the EOS 60D and EOS 5D, often with his favourite lens, a Canon 24-105mm f/4 IS USM, this was largely a question of familiarity with this particular brand rather than a belief in its superiority over other kit. Whilst the quality of equipment was a factor, successful images were more likely to be the result of the way in which it was used. Experience with photographic techniques developed over time as well as the vision necessary to produce interesting images. It was in this respect that Gavin was encouraging us to consider tackling different subject matter and experimentation. Later in the evening he did a live demonstration showing how interesting images could be produced with the simplest of props and equipment.

Gavin is an expert in the use of Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom so it was natural for him to include many examples of their use during his talk. However, this was only in the context of an adjunct to the particular photographic project that he had worked on. He showed how these could be used creatively to enhance the final images. An example of this was in the taking of a subject that is local and well-known to all of us. This was a photograph of the Inglis Folly on Reigate Hill. Members who have been with us since January 2013 may remember an image of this, in snowy conditions, taken by Tony Peacock that appeared as the January image of Surrey 2013 calendar. (This was reported on in Newsletter 48) Gavin's image was taken in very unpromising lighting conditions. However, he showed that by careful choice of viewpoint, cropping choice, the use of remote flash to illuminate the colourful interior ceiling and Photoshop manipulation to recover sky detail he produced a very satisfactory result. The comparative images appear below.

 Inglis Folly, Reigate Hill © Copyright Tony Peacock and Gavin Hoey

As examples of some of his more exciting (and exacting!) projects Gavin showed a brief video of some skateboarding and then a project in which he tackled the problems of capturing the high-speed action of ice hockey at a Bracknell rink.

One way of getting out of the comfort zone and setting oneself a challenge was illustrated by the experiences and images that came out of his visit to the Goodwood Revival Meeting. This is an event where large numbers of vintage cars gather and the people attending are encouraged to dress in appropriate clothes for the period. He set himself a target of getting as many interesting photographs as possible within a fifteen minute period. The variety of images that he was able to capture within this limited time-scale was quite inspirational, ranging from car details and the characters in the enclosure to a panoramic image of a number of the gleaming cars.

© Copyright Gavin Hoey

After the refreshments break Gavin concentrated on some practical demonstrations with his Canon camera connected to Lightroom on his laptop in tethered capture mode. This in turn provided a live feed to the projector so that the audience could witness what was being done. Having rigged up a backdrop he then randomly draped a small string of Christmas lights on this. He then took several shots of these with them well out of focus, to illustrate the bokeh. By varying the aperture from fully open, which gave a circular bokeh, down to smaller f-stops he was able to demonstrate how the leaves of the iris affected the bokeh shape and overall size. (Note: The shape of the bokeh is affected by the number of leaves in the iris. The greater the number the closer the aperture will resemble a neat circle, and curved blades rather than straight ones will further enhance this)

The set-up is shown in the following photograph -

 

He then took this process a stage further by mounting a plain light bulb (where the filament can be seen) at a short distance in front of the light string on the backdrop. This bulb was mains powered via a cheap dimmer system. In this way he could balance the light from the filament with the bokeh effect from behind.

 © Copyright Gavin Hoey

As a final stage in this project a photograph was taken against the backdrop. With the dimmer turned right down the background was dark. He asked for members of the audience with flash-light features on their mobile phones to come onto the stage and illuminate the background so that its colour showed. The different stages of this project demonstrated how interesting images could be conjured up with such simple equipment.

The following photograph shows Gavin explaining the method of lighting the backdrop -

The next project involved the photographing of the text on the open pages of a book with strong directional lighting. Gavin showed how the fairly ordinary image could be made more interesting by strategic placing of some reading glasses on the page. He then went on to give a useful tip to anyone who might be involved in wedding photography. By placing a ring on the centre-fold of the book, and lighting from behind, a shadow was formed that took the appearance of a heart.

 

© A heart shape created with glasses Copyright Gavin Hoey

The final idea that he suggested for consideration was a much more ambitious one - 3D photography. He explained the principles and the way in which appropriate images could be taken. Glasses were issued to members of the audience so that they could view 3D images on the screen, followed by a brief video explaining the process involved.

The photograph shows audience members watching the 3-D screening -

As mentioned at the beginning of this report, it was quite impossible to cover all aspects of this action-packed evening. There really was such a variety of subjects crammed into the time available. To realise just how enjoyable this event was you had to be there! Gavin is an inspirational and enthusiastic speaker. It is unlikely that anyone came away without having enjoyed the event, learnt something new or been enthused to try something different with their photography in future.

Further comments – Gavin does many projects in association with Adorama (a company that supplies a full range of services including sales of camera equipment and accessories, electronics, rental, printing and videos on photographic techniques). From his web site it is possible to access many of the informational videos that he does in conjunction with this company as well as some done on a personal basis. I thoroughly recommend a visit to this site -

 

www.gavtrain.com

Some specific examples are indicated below, relating to topics that he discussed on the evening. The still shots show the finished images and the links point to videos which show how these were achieved.

Glasses – freeze-frame action © Copyright Gavin Hoey

 

http://www.gavtrain.com/?p=4556

 

Blowing bubbles - © Copyright Gavin Hoey

 

http://www.gavtrain.com/?p=4094

 

 Multiple shots of lad throwing a ball - © Copyright Gavin Hoey

 

http://www.gavtrain.com/?p=3979

 

The following photographs of the event were taken by John Fisher -

 

 

 John Fisher – photographic successes

PF

John has sent us information about two recent events in which his photographs have achieved success.

As a result of a round-robin email sent out by Carol Hicks he became aware of a photographic competition run by Gilbert White's House, at Selborne in Hampshire. It was run to celebrate the anniversary of the birthday of Lawrence Oates on the 17th March 1880. Gilbert White & The Oates Collections hosted a competition with an unique prize - your photography displayed in their Lawrence Oates Gallery. The theme of the competition was Extreme Weather, Extreme Places and they were looking for images of fantastic weather conditions in amazing settings, local or global. The idea was to showcase the entrant's photography whilst celebrating Oates life and the scientific legacy of the Scott expedition to Antarctica.

(Note: Captain Lawrence Oates is best remembered as the brave Antarctic hero who was chosen to be part of Captain Robert Scott’s team to undertake the epic journey of discovery to the South Pole 1911-12. The scientific expedition became, to an extent, a race for the pole when the explorers learnt of the presence of the Norwegian team led by Amundsen. Scott’s team suffered inadequate food supplies, severe weather conditions and failing health so Oates sacrificed his life in the hope of saving his comrades, leaving the tent in a terrible blizzard with the famous last words “I am just going outside and may be some time.” His body has never been found.)

John's photograph ' Big Splash in Rottingdean' is shown below. To quote John ' The competition is open to all ages, with three age categories under 14 years, under 18 years and 18 years+. Fortunately I just managed to scrape into the 18+ category and my picture won, so it will be on display in the gallery throughout the summer.'

© John Fisher

(Note: As we were about to publish this Newsletter we saw that John's winning photograph was already displayed on the Gilbert White House web site)

The second success came with a picture that was selected from some photographs taken at Brooklands of Streamliner 44, a replica Mercedes owned by Hermann Sommersell.

Penthouse in the USA decided to run a feature in their April edition and John's picture of the dashboard was used. To quote John 'As they print 700,000 copies, this is quite some coverage! I am still waiting for the Penthouse Pet to deliver a copy of the magazine.'

© John Fisher

 

Anyone interested in details about Gilbert White House and the display associated with Oates can find details at the following link -

www.gilbertwhiteshouse.org.uk

 

Sony RX100 III 'Stellar' hand grip

Techman

 

In Newsletter No. 65 we reported on the Hasselblad Stellar camera. The following comments refer to the latest news on this topic.

A recent announcement was made about a cherry wood hand grip for the Sony Cyber-shot RX100 III, on offer in the USA from accessories brand Fotodiox. As will be seen from the comparison images below this provides a similar appearance to that of the Hasselblad Stellar camera, which is based on the Sony. The cherry wood handle can be fitted by the camera owner at a cost of $59.95. The black finish of the Sony does not match the glamour of the silvery Stellar, or have the 'H' logo, but the difference in overall price is almost certainly adequate compensation. In this country the Hasselblad Stellar II is currently retailing at £1860 from Richard Caplan. A Sony RX100 III from Currys is priced at £569. Add on the price of the hand grip at an equivalent of £41 and the overall price shows a saving of £1250 !!

However, even more surprising is the difference in prices between this country and the USA. A search on the Amazon site reveals that Stellar cameras are readily available at prices in a range up to $1599. Whilst recognising that these prices may be subject to local taxes it appears that potential Hasselblad purchasers in the UK are being ripped off in more ways than one. The top price from Amazon US sources would be equivalent to £1100.

 

Camera Focus and Shake Problems

Techman

Readers may remember the article in Newsletter No. 67 in which I mentioned problems arising from the placement of the AF module in some models of the Nikon D750 DSLR camera. As I said at the time it highlighted the potential problems of autofocus accuracy, not just for Nikon, but all DSLR cameras. The focus mechanism relies upon absolutely perfect alignment of a number of components from the lens, through the mirror box and down to the autofocus sensor. The complex path that light takes is illustrated in the following diagram which applies to the Canon EOS 5D Mk.3 but is typical of all DSLRs.

Image from Canon

 

The accuracy of focus is becoming increasingly important due to the availability of cameras sensors with increased pixel counts. In theory this should not be the case, but as explained in the following comments about camera shake it is the perception of the viewer that makes a difference. The images coming from, say, Nikon and Sony full-frame cameras with 36 megapixel sensors and the latest Canon models with 51 megapixels will be viewed critically. Images viewed at a distance, and to the same overall magnification, alongside those from lower specification cameras may not show any immediate deficiency. But, viewed critically ('pixel peeping' as our American cousins would call it) will reveal any shortcomings.

There was a recent interesting article, together with video discussion by technical staff members of DP Review, that mentioned the problems of producing comparison images in their Studio Test Scene. For those who have not visited this web site it should be explained that every Camera Review that they conduct contains images taken at different ISO settings of a studio scene that contains a complex set of images. It is possible to compare the images of the camera under test with any other model which has already been reviewed. It is obvious that all the studio conditions have to be carefully controlled and the cameras have to be very solidly mounted. However, there are other considerations. For obvious reasons the shutter has to be remotely released to avoid camera shake. Even if this is done there remains the problem of shake caused by the mirror movement (in the case of DSLRs) and the shutter mechanism. Manufacturers such as Canon and Nikon realise this problem and the mirror mechanism in their latest cameras has been modified to minimise this problem. Even so, only the delayed action release in the case of DSLRs allows the camera to stabilise before the shot is taken. This still leaves the problem of any shake caused by the shutter system. Even if exposure time is controlled electronically by the sensor (rather than shutter blinds) there remains the potential for very minor tremors from the leaf system as the iris adjusts to the preset value.

DP Review staff have gone to extraordinary lengths to ensure that control conditions during each test are the best that they can achieve. As commented earlier, the improved definition of images that can be obtained with the latest high megapixel count sensors has highlighted the problems mentioned. Previously the minor variations in comparable camera performance might have been obscured when viewed at normal magnifications. Now that there is this very significant variation between popular cameras with sensors recording (say) 16 megapixels and the latest top-end models with 36 - 51 megapixels any imperfections become significant. It is likely that a photographer who has paid a considerable premium for the higher performance camera will inspect the images critically and expect the best.

A recent announcement from Nikon regarding a firmware update for its new NIKKOR 300mm F/4E PF ED VR lens highlights another aspect of problems in this respect. At certain shutter speeds on D800-series cameras images can exhibit 'noticeable blur'. This can occur at around 1/125sec with the lens's VR (stabilisation) function enabled in either 'Normal' or 'Sport' modes. However, this problem may be more widespread. Preliminary tests of Canon's new 50MP EOS 5DS cameras by DP Review also show issues at certain shutter speeds when using lenses with optical image stabilization without any sort of Mirror Up pre-delay.

Mirror-less cameras avoid many of the problems already mentioned, not only in relation to the shake problem but also in respect of focus accuracy. Because focus setting is measured directly from the sensor there is no complex light path via mirrors, and so no question of component misalignment. Historically the contrast detection system from the sensor did not allow such fast autofocus as the DSLR mirror system. However, the latest improved hybrid systems, utilising both phase detection and contrast detection, can match the speed of conventional mirror-based ones. Their only apparent weakness concerns operation in low-light conditions, but they do have advantages in other respects.

 

Avril Uno camera

Peter Flower

In the previous edition of the Newsletter we announced this exciting new camera which was due to be released shortly. I have to apologise if I raised your hopes unduly. Sad to say its release will not happen. I have to confess that this was an April Fool's Day spoof. Hopefully, you will have realised this from the fact that the article appeared in the Newsletter which had a dateline of 1 April 2015 !

The very detailed technical descriptions were, in fact, based on very real potential. As an example, the use of beam-splitting in camcorders with the use of dichroic mirrors and individual sensors for each primary colour has been in use for decades. However, as with any technology there are considerable specific design difficulties that have to be overcome.

A further clue to the the spoof was the choice of name. Avril is French for April and Uno is Italian for One. Hence we have 'April One' (first of April). However, there was an even more obscure clue in the article. Blame recent books and a film about the activities of the code-breakers at Bletchley Park during WW2 for setting me off down this path. If you re-read the article and make a note of the leading capital letter for each paragraph you will come up with A.P.R.I.L.F.O.O.L. !!

 

And Finally . . . . Searching For Shaun

Peter Flower

Anyone who has visited the central area of London recently will almost certainly have seen at least one of the Shaun the Sheep sculptures dotted around the area. These form an 'ewe-nique' arts trail entitled Shaun in the City. 50 giant Shaun the Sheep sculptures, created by artists, celebrities and designers, are placed in iconic locations and beautiful green spaces across London. Gerry Stone suggested that he and his wife Ursula, together with Jill and myself should spend a day in London looking for, and photographing, a number of them on two of the central trails. We had beautiful sunny weather for our walk around on 20 April. We photographed about 25 of the different sculptures. The first photograph is not one of my best but if you look at the background you may realise how appropriately the tavern is named!

Photos by Peter Flower