About this Blog

Photo Writing is the web version of the Photo Writing mini-magazine produced by Limephoto and Emil von Maltitz since 2010. As of 2015 it is now completely online. Feel free to browse through the articles and please leave comments in the comments section if you would like to engage with us.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Sentinel Squad - and a note on shooting more

The temperature in the Berg is rapidly descending as the weeks move on toward winter in the Southern Hemisphere. Climbing to to the top of the Amphitheatre (or Sentinel as was the case this time) was a chilly experience. Still, frozen fingers aside, the weekend workshop was a both exciting and fun for the whole group. Highlights for a number of the photographers was hte slight change in itinerary that had us marching up the Tugela Gorge on Friday (rather than Saturday) and then travelling on foot between Royal Natal and Witsieshoek Lodge via ‘Gudu Falls’ and the ‘The Crack’. The Crack is an amazing fissure on the sandstone rockface below Witsieshoek that allows walkers to summit the lower Berg via chainladders and a narrow gorge. The views at the top are breathtaking as you take in the length of the Northern Drakensberg between the Amphitheatre and Cathkin Peak in the south. A very pleasant walk along the grassy lower berg escarpment then leads to Witieshoek and their wonderful pub, ‘The Usual Place’.

A real highlight for those who summited though was the attack on Sentinel itself. Few walkers make it to the top of this imposing basalt peak as it requires a little more effort than the average trail asks for. Narrow rock bands are negotiated by climbing (relatively low grade, but it feels exhilarating and slightly terrifying due to the drop below), sometimes with the aid of a rope to steady yourself and for security. Fewer photographers have made this climb as most people drop all their equipment at the base of the mountain and spring up as unladen as possible. I would love to say that the view were amazing and the photographs mind-blowing. But we summited in a very cold cloud. The few glimpses we did get were incredible though, making the experience more than worth the hard work we put it, or as Chelsea, one of the photographers said while absailing the last rock band on return, “this is the coolest thing ever”!

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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Camera JPEG Settings

I am a firm advocate of camera RAW as any regular reader of this column knows. However, there are a couple of in-camera settings intended for jpeg users that can assist you in getting the best possible information onto the sensor. Picture Style and Optimize Picture (Canon and Nikon respectively) are jpeg settings that allow the photographer to adjust the shooting style of the camera (it is even possible to create custom parameters in Nikon Capture or Canon DP Pro). These settings essentially adjust hue, saturation, contrast and sharpening of the final jpeg image. This is very different to the RAW image that supposedly does not have any adjustments added to the file (or if they are added are removable). The basic gist is that with jpeg what you see is what you get while with RAW we still have to use a post-production workflow to optimize the image. 

The annoying thing about our LCD screens is that they show us the rendered jpeg, not the actual RAW file (the mind-numbingly expensive Leica S2 does show us the RAW file). This means that the image on the back of the LCD screen is often very different to the one which we see in Lightroom, Aperture or our editor of choice. If we use proprietary software the image is likely to look more akin to that on the LCD screen, but it might not be what we actually wanted (Capture NX2 and DP Pro use the embedded jpeg as the default settings for the opened RAW image). We then have to go back and neutralize certain parameters to get back to a base point from which we can effectively convert the image. Another downside to the LCD screen is that it actually has a smaller colour space than sRGB (and you thought that you were shooting in Adobe RGB). Basically, the LCD screen is not the place to look for image capture confirmation.

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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Photo Writings ebook now available

The Photo Writings ebook is now available. Photo Writings is a collection of the editorial writings from two years of the Photo Writing monthly (2010 to February 2012) that is sent on a to subscribers. Unlike the monthly writings though, the ebook is also filled with descriptive text and teaching points around the photographs themselves, as well as more images than have been published in the monthly Photo Writing. At the moment, Photo Writings is only in interactive pdf format (it is designed to be read comfortably on a tablet with interactive buttons and hyperlinks), but if there is demand I will bring it out in the epub format. The link for payment (via paypal) and download will be live at the beginning of next month. Readers can also contact me directly to have a copy emailed directly to them. The price for EFT payment is R38, the payal payment will be $5.95.

Clicking on the link will direct to the sales page on the Limephoto website. At checkout a confirmation email will be sent to your email address with a download link that will last for 48 hours.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Thanda Photography Workshop - a note on sharpness

Sharpness is critical to creating good wildlife photographs. If there's blur or softness in the frame it needs to be there for a reason. This, sadly, is one of the hardest things to get right when you are learning about wildlife photography. Not just for the actual issue of focusing, but also for the ability to get the camera stable during the exposure. Far too many people think that they can get 'acceptable' results while hand-holding a bazooka of a lens at shutter speeds below 1/125th of a second. not that I am condoning 1/125th of a sec as an adequate shutter speed for avoiding camera shake mind you.

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