Backlog: July 2018

By July we'd finally moved in to our new house and unpacked most of our things. We'd also started to explore the town and surrounding area. Em was getting a lot more mobile now – she could crawl quite easily, and was experimenting more and more with standing up. Sometimes she'd make quite a scene of it. July also marked a long heatwave – not a cloud to be seen for weeks on end, so much so that trees and grass were dying. As the month drew to a close, the skies clouded over and the rain came at last, restoring the »

Backlog: June 2018

June feels simultaneously yesterday and years ago. A lot has changed, not least of all Emily, who back then couldn't even crawl. We were also still living in a rented house, too, which we knew wouldn't be enough now that we had Em; plans were in motion, though: we'd decided on our new house and were in the (long, long) process of buying it. »

Still here: photos from Hoylake

I have been lax updating this, I know. Looking after an 18 month old really takes it out of you, such that I've not really had the motivation to write blog posts. I've still been making pictures, but for now they exist almost exclusively within my Capture One library. To break the fast, here's some pictures from Hoylake I took during a visit to Zoe's parents in Cheshire. I'll make an effort in the coming weeks to 'backfill'; it's going to take a while, of course, since there's nearly a year of photos to write posts for! »

QA Testing

As a software developer I spend a lot of time writing defensive code: routines to check user input and handle it when it isn't what's expected. This blog post by Bill Sempf illustrates the kind of absurd lengths we sometimes have to go to if we want our software to be secure. I've reproduced some of the best responses here. A Quality Assurance engineer walks into a bar... orders a beer. orders 0 beers. orders 99999999 beers. orders a lizard. orders -1 beers. orders a sdhgahfgasjfasd. unhooks the tap and orders a beer. breaks all the glassware and orders a »

Now with EXIF

I got to thinking earlier how it'd be handy to have a small popover thing on my photos that shows the focal length, shutter speed, aperture and ISO of the shot. Turns out, there's a JavaScript library that can read EXIF data, and it's super simple to use. About half an hour of tweaking later and it's done. Here's a picture of my daughter looking unimpressed, to demonstrate: I'm only showing focal length and aperture because for the kinds of pictures I take, and the size they're shown here, shutter speed and ISO are basically irrelevant. »

Hugin for panoramas: GW2 edition

A long while back I wrote a guide to using the free panorama software Hugin with World of Warcraft screenshots. This guide is basically just an updated version of that, only using Guild Wars 2 as the screenshot source since I don't play WoW any more. Get Hugin Hugin can be downloaded from its SourceForge page: https://sourceforge.net/projects/hugin/files/latest/download Install it in the usual manner - the default options are fine. Take some screenshots Naturally you'll want your graphics settings on the highest, even if you don't normally play that way. You should also turn »

Summer streets of London

My work held its annual "let's all see how we did this year" meetup thing recently, except this one was much shorter than in previously, running only from 13:00 to 16:00. This meant a) I could get up at a normal time, since my train was at 7:30 and not, like, 5:00 or something ridiculous, and b) I could have a bit of time afterwards to explore London while I waited for my 19:00 train. My colleague/friend Adam, a (more or less) local of the area, knew of some potentially interesting places to see, »

Carlton Marshes in fog

Another post with pictures from long after I made them! Getting to be a habit, although I'm not completely sure it's a bad one: letting the pictures stew for a bit blurs the experience of when I took them, forcing me to see them for what they are in themselves, uncoloured by my memories of the time. I'm mostly serious, but it's still partly an excuse for not updating my blog. Anyway. Carlton Marshes, the nature reserve a short way from our house. It's big and flat and full of fields and, er, marshes. Nice place for a walk, even »

Lowestoft before summer

Winter didn't want to let go this year, clinging on until well into April. It's finally given over to Summer, which is a relief, both to my mood and to our energy bills. »

Yarmouth: remainder

I have rather been lax with my blog upkeep of late - looking after a 5-month-old baby will tend to have that effect. Still, Em is doing great, and even though I've not been posting, I have still been shooting. Not that this post is about anything recent: it's a collection of 'miscellaneous' pictures from our weekend away in Great Yarmouth a while back. »

Yarmouth: fronts

A month ago, Zoe and I needed a break: work was stressing me out, and Zoe was having to take on all the housework duties. Since Emily was only 4 months old at the time, we didn't want to go far, so settled on Great Yarmouth, since it's only a short drive from where we live. February is not exactly tourist season, what with the freezing wind and frequent gloomy wet weather, but the chance to relax and not worry about various housekeeping or work-related stuff was very pleasant. It also meant I got a lot of chances to take »

Walking with baby

Although it's cold and wintry, last weekend the sun was out so Zoe and I decided to go for a walk in Dunwich Forest. Given the rough terrain we decided against Emily's pram and instead took the baby harness to put her in instead. »

Night and day, shadow and light

I didn't really appreciate just how much of one's time a baby takes up until Emily was born. It's not even just things like rarely having a moment alone; it's the other stuff, like major limits on spontaneity, especially in winter. Zoe and I can't just decide to go out somewhere now, as we need to consider how accessible it will be with a baby and maybe pram. Consequently this leaves less time for photography of the non-baby-picture kind, so I've been grabbing what opportunities present themselves. A quick drive to the local chippy, a wander around Norwich. »

The sea and the sun

My parents are staying at our house while the purchase of their new house grinds along. I don't get on well with them and have been feeling stressed lately, so Zoe and I took Em out for breakfast at the Lighthouse Café in Lowestoft, then for a walk along the seafront. A lovely shiny day it was, too! Cold, but good for clearing one's head. After being up and alert while Zoe and I ate breakfast, Em promptly fell fast asleep once we got outside. Maybe it was the sound of the sea; maybe it was just nap time on »

Further darkness

As is common this time of year, the sky was quite heavily overcast. Despite the gloom, Zoe and I and my parents went to Norwich, primarily to look at beds for my parents' new house, but we also went for lunch at Giraffe. We took Em, who was again remarkably well-behaved despite the usual initial upset when we, big meanies that we are, put her in the car seat. Gosh she doesn't like being put in the car seat! And yet, once we're under way everything's fine again unless we stop for too long. Dark weather, dark pictures: I'm continuing »

Afraid of the dark

The monochrome preset I usually use for my raw files in Capture One has a small amount of shadow boost applied, and I tend to increase it even more when there are large dark areas in an image. As I mentioned in a previous post, though, darkness isn't really a bad thing in pictures, depending on the feeling one is trying to evoke. Certainly for these pictures, taken on a dull overcast winter afternoon, the tonality conveys well the way I saw things at the time. The pictures are the output from Fuji's new X Raw Studio application, which uses »

Southwold Diptychs

The weather forecast said it'd be shiny at dawn today but that turned out not to be the case. Instead, it brightened up about 11 o'clock, so Zoe and I made the most of it and went to Southwold with Emily for a nice walk by the sea. As with yesterday I shot with the Acros +Y film simulation, and +2 highlights, +4 shadows. Generally it worked well, but there were a couple of cases where +4 shadows was too much, so I re-processed the image on-camera with +2 shadows. The result was almost all of these pairs are JPEGs »

Acros is better than I thought

Since I got my XT2, I've never really given the Acros film simulation a shot, but lately I've been trying it and been pleasantly surprised. I don't know if I just didn't have the right highlight and shadow contrast settings, but it's got a lot of subtleties that I hadn't appreciated before. The way the colour filters (e.g. Acros +Y) affect rendering is lovely - not too strong, but enough to make a visible difference. It's quite versatile too: with shadows and highlights set to 0, the tonality is nice and soft and works great for pictures of people, »

Winter sunrise at the beach

I sleep too much, and poorly. I suspect the second thing is a result of the first, so I've resolved to try getting up earlier, since going to bed later isn't really an option as it would disturb my wife and baby daughter too much. And so! Up before dawn, although since it's winter that's not saying much; the sun doesn't rise until about half past 8. Still, it's nice to be up earlier than usual, and especially nice to be out by the sea in the fresh cold morning air. Pakefield beach isn't very far - for future morning »

Black and white baby

It's been a while since I read Koudelka's Gypsies, but it's got me thinking: all my complaining about the Fuji 23mm f/2 seems a bit photo-nerdery in the face of the grainy, dark, often blurry pictures in this book. Pictures that work just fine, and in fact are entirely appropriate for the subject matter. So here's me trying to emulate Koudelka's style, or at least the superficial look of the pictures I've seen, albeit sans grain - I'm using a digital camera, after all, not ISO 3200 film; I feel (somewhat arbitrarily, I'll admit) that adjusting tonality is on »