About Me

Wells, BC, Canada
Richard is a working photographer and writer in B.C. His camera focuses on natural history. archeology, travel, and documentary photography. His photography blog may be found at: http://richardtwright.blogspot.com/

Monday, July 30, 2012

Winter in Hong Kong

Hong Kong with a camera

If I had to choose a favorite city for photography it would be Hong Kong. London is great, but for diversity of subjects Hong Kong takes it.  I have been there twice, for a total of three months, and if I ever feel in need of an Asian culture hit that will be my first choice, for HK, as so many refer to it, is so much more than a city.  It is an island, a seafront and villages, steeped in history, resplendent with natural history. The city is turbulent, fascinating, aggravating, dirty, beautiful, crowded, yet with islands of calm.

I have been fortunate in my visits there to have a home base, the home of my son, his wife and my grandchildren. And they were able to introduce me to this cosmos of chaos and beauty.

When my partner Amy and I travelled to HK this last winter we were dropped into the city from our homes in Vancouver and Wells. Wells is a village in the Cariboo Mountains, and Vancouver a village on the west coast of Canada - a village when compared to the great cities of the world, a fact so evident on ones return from London or HK.

While not my best nor my favorite shot of Hong Kong this captures the essence of the city.
The western culture of MacDonalds reflected in a high end clothing store; the ubiquitous cell phones;
 black clothing, shopping bags and a plethora of signage.  Richard Wright photo
The weather was poor when we arrived. (See my blog of Mar.10, 2012: Hong Kong in the rain for the set up to this piece.) Natural history and hiking seemed poor choices so I decided to drop Amy into HK city life all at once.  Octopus fare cards in hand we hit the subway and headed to downtown Central HK and some street vendors.

Scaffolding is constructed with a spider web of bamboo with skilled and
daring riggers scrambling over the framework. Richard Wright photo

Steep cross streets head straight uphill, lined with merchants and vendors
 displaying every conceivable item. Richard Wright photo.
For me it was a welcome repeat visit. Amy, on the other hand was overwhelmed by the sight and smells of street cooking, the variety of seafood, the chaos, traffic, people and the wonderful choices of vegetables and fruit which gradually filled her pack.

It was the beginning, just day one, of a 6-week immersion in a new culture, and for both of us, a photographic journey. Stay tuned.

Website: http://richardtwright.photoshelter.com

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

How to watermark your photos, and why you should

Digital Watermarking Your Photos

For many photographers watermarking or placing your name and copyright on a photos has become just part of the routine when posting photos. But a few folks have asked me whether or not they need to, and if so, how.  So, some basic thoughts.

The answer to the first part of the question is, yes. Watermark your photos to show your name and copyright information. It may not stop unauthorized use, but it does make it obvious that the image is yours and likely will encourage folks to ask.

Like any professional or busy amateur I take a lot of photos and often they are for community groups, or friends so I like to send a few images on to folks. I no longer do this without watermarking.  The concept of "sharing, tagging or posting" anyone else's images has become completely out of hand thanks in part to Facebook. I have found my images used in Facebook profile photos, wall postings and albums, all without so much as a by-your-leave, sometimes with credit, often not. I have had images show up in slide shows, videos and numerous other forms, all without asking.

Glauberg archeological site, Germany; calender poles at dawn.
This watermark is meant to be large enough to not be cropped out but not so large
as to completely ruin the image for editorial viewing.  If the image is purchased
I send an image without the watermark.

Back in the day, as they say, I had to take a few folks to court when my images were used in brochures, books or advertising without my permission.  One book publisher came out with another title with many of my photos in it. They claimed they had bought the rights. They had not, and we settled out of court.  I settled one Small Claims court suit for misuse moments before we entered the court. My usual fee was 3 times the fee I would have charged for permission.
This watermark is meant to be large enough to obscure the image.
Now with web and digitization misuse has increased, but finding the pirated image can sometimes be easier with a Google image search.

So, the clear answer is yes, at least attempt to prevent usage by putting your name on a photo, and if you really do not want it used, make the watermark large enough to adversely affect the image. Or, do not post it.

How to watermark? This depends on the systems you are using from Aperture or iPhoto to Lightroom or Photoshop and others. There are many watermarking plugins, apps or programs that will help you watermark. A quick Google search will find them.

As I am a Mac and Nikon user I use Aperture 3 and a free Plugin called BorderFX.  It allows a text or image watermark. "Text" is when you just type the name you want on image into the plugin. An "image" watermark is similar to the image below. Your image file will have to be made with a program such as PhotoShop.

Watermark from PNG file.

BorderFX, as it's name implies, will also allow you to place borders on your images, similar to the one below.

Halstatt mine lookout, Austria. The self portrait was made with a mirror that
was part of a display at the site. It's purpose was not clear, but the effect was interesting.
This illustrates a border and watermark made with Border FX using a PNG file.
Have a quick look at Border FX and see if it will work for you.

Now this does not mean your photos will not be misused, but it at least gives you credit. Watermarks can be stripped or removed, but most users will not have the means to do this.
After several photos were borrowed for Facebook "cover" shots or reposted without permission I now watermark everything I post.
The other option, of course, is to not watermark and avoid the extra work. Be sure that your images are worth "borrowing" or stealing before you decide to take on the cost or task of doing so.

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Friday, July 20, 2012

Nikon announces 800mm F5.6 Super Telephoto

It's now official. Just a week ago Nikon announced a 800mm f5.6 AF-S lens. 

"TOKYO - Nikon Corporation will add the super-telephoto 800-mm, fixed local length lens to its lineup of NIKKOR lenses. This lens will offer a fixed focal length of 800 mm, a maximum aperture of f/5.6, and will be fully compatible with Nikon FX-format cameras.

This lens has been developed in order to strengthen the NIKKOR lineup of super-telephoto lenses. It will boast the longest focal length of any NIKKOR autofocus lens, and will be best suited to capture of a wide variety of decisive outdoor scenes, from sporting events to wildlife. In addition to its superior optical performance, the lens will offer dust and water resistance.

In 2012, Nikon released three new FX-format digital-SLR cameras—the D4, the new flagship digital SLR, and the D800 and D800E, which offer incredible resolution and image quality. In addition to reinforcing its lineup of FX-format digital-SLR cameras, Nikon has also been working to expand the lineup of NIKKOR lenses."

Word is that the lens will incorporate Nikon’s AF-S silent wave autofocus motor and VR image stabilization system, which a 800mm will definitely need.
There is no release date and no retail price announced but you can bet it will be 10-15 large, as the 600mm f4 is $11,000 +-, the price of a good used pickup truck, or a long journey somewhere exotic.

Naturally, reviews and tests will compare it with the 800mm EF f5.6 Canon ($14,000 Cdn), weighing in at 10 pounds, the Sigma 800 f5.6 ($6500), or the Sigma 300-800mm f5.6 ($10,000) but right now any comparisons are pure speculation.

The lens is will be in action during July's Open Golf Championship in England, and likely at the Olympics. It will show at Photokina, Sept 18-23, 2012 in Cologne, Germany.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

How to build a Truck Console camera mount

I live in a small town of 250 people in the mountains of British Columbia. For grocery shopping, banking, hay for my mule and most anything else, I have to drive 85 kms, about one hour.  The route to "town" is frequented by wildlife.  In the months of April through early July it would be unusual not to see black bear and moose, and often mountain caribou or grizzly. Blacks and grizzly often walk through town, though not so much this year for some reason.  It is seldom I drive anywhere around here without seeing moose.
So, I never leave my cameras at home. My backpack with various lenses and a D7000 body is on the front seat of my 1 Ton pickup and my D800 with a Nikkor 70-200 f4, mounted used to be packed nearby within easy reach, but protected by a jacket or blanket.  Like anyone who does this I have experienced my camera and lens rolling onto the floor. So I needed a solution offering quick access and protection.

By chance I ended up with an extra base 357 Manfrotto Universal Sliding Plate base. This is used for the 393 Manfrotto Gimbal and for some video camera mounts. One day I noticed that the depression in my between-seat console was about the size and shape of the plate base.  An idea came to mind.  Mount the base receiver to the console and the plate to the camera, which it normally was,  and presto I should have a mount.

After about an hour of playing around finding the right bolts (remember town is an hour away), some rigid foam for a filler and drilling some test holes I came up with this system.

Console of a Dodge Ram 1 Ton. Driver's seat is at top so the mount is at my right side,
with the mount facing forward. The knob on the far side is a lock-down and
the brass button on the near side is a safety which must be pushed for plate release.

The mount has to have enough clearance for the release knob to swing down, so I had to shim it up a little. The three washers just hold the foam in the console lid depression.

Lens and camera mounted on the Manfrotto plate.
Does it work? Absolutely. It took a few tries to make the release swift as I have to reach across the lens to press the brass safety, but it is becoming second nature.  I have now put several hundred kilometres on the mount and nothing is coming loose. If the road is too rough I can, of course, remove the camera, as I may for long journeys, but generally it is proving very useful. Or, I can stuff some foam under the lens. A quick release, a bean bag on the window and I'm ready to shoot, or to step out of the truck if possible for a hood or tripod rest.

The base and plate (357PL)were ordered from Manfrotto Canada and shipped from Amplis Foto Inc. Cost was $65 Cdn plus shipping and taxes.

Below are a couple of roadside examples of why I like this mount and the potential subjects.

Moose in a roadside swamp. Richard Wright photo.

Black bear feeding on spring plants at roadside. Richard Wright photo.
April 11, 2013 - Update. Having just returned from a 6-week trip thought the US southwest I can again say this idea worked well and was really efficient. The only issue is to remember to remove it and stash the camera or carry it if you are leaving the vehcile. Now I need to find a way to make something similar for my 200-400mm Nikkor.

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