Home made light modifier

OK, so we are still in coronavirus lockdown here in the UK and I have spent the afternoon playing! :-) I saw the basic idea on a web forum on a photography site, and decided to look around my garage and see if there was any thing suitable to produce something similar. I also took a few quick hand-held snaps of the results. This is my last piece of (rather battered) perforated stainless steel sheet, cut to a roughly rectangular 29cm x 18cm, c/w edge protector (to prevent cutting ones hands on the sharp edges). Excuse the extra hole. It… Read More ►

Virtual backdrops and wallpapers

Freebies to beat those lockdown blues This is a collection of virtual backdrops and wallpapers that you may download, manipulate and enjoy, for free. These images were created by capturing and saving a large number snap-shots of an open source music visualisation application for GNU/Linux called ProjectM - not to be confused with a 2008 computer game with a very similar name. I originally created these as desktop wallpapers for computer systems. A purpose for which they work pretty well, even if I do say so myself. However, as a keen photographer I discovered they could also be deployed as… Read More ►

Safer modelling lights for Chinese flash head units

An interesting question came up a little while back on one of the photography fora to which I belong "I'd be interested in knowing how you swapped the halogen bulbs for led's though waist_it because I have the same problem and as you say those bulbs are hotter than hell, makes using modelling lights with a grid or snoot very fraught?" Well, I had already been down that road in 2015, when I successfully converted all six of my generic Chinese flash heads from halogen to LED modelling bulbs. Firstly, one needs to do a little homework Determine what voltage… Read More ►

What is a WebP image file, and how do I open one?

Seems there is quite a lot of buzz about a "new" image format called "WebP"  that is seeing increasing use on-line recently. Although it is attributed to Google, WebP was not strictly a Google invention. It was originally developed by On2 of New York as part of its VP* series "Truemotion" video codecs. Google acquired these technologies when it took over On2. VP8 went on to be the core of Google's WebM video format. WebP is not particularly new either. It was originally released in back in 2010. Whilst the libwebp code library has been freely available under a BSD… Read More ►

Cheap but effective continuous studio lighting

For continuous lighting, one needs a light source that has good colour balance, uses power efficiently, is reasonably robust and does not present a health or fire risk. I am also a tightwad - interested primarily in "bangs per buck". Whilst I love new technology, I am not prepared to pay silly money for it. Choices Incandescent bulbs are power hungry and get very hot. Hot enough to set fire to soft-boxes or cause serious burn injury to one's models. CFL (compact fluorescent lamp) is better in terms of power efficiency but the big CFL's are flimsy, cumbersome and very… Read More ►

Setting up a home studio

When we moved home a few years back, one of the most significant parts of our specification was a detached property with enough space for a reasonable sized home studio. We were looking for a place with a rectangular downstairs room, with no internal obstructions, roughly 6.0m x 4.0m, c/w a cloakroom on the same floor with toilet, basin hot+cold water and sufficient room for models to change reasonably comfortably. I based my studio size requirement thus... Absolute minimum 5.0m x 3.0m (Calculation basis: paper rolls are 2.72metres wide; camera needs to be 2-3 metres from model; model needs to… Read More ►

Converting inexpensive LED flood lights for use in the studio.

This is how I converted three left-over cheapie (£60 for a box of ten, delivered) 20 watt daylight LED flood lights for use in the studio. The basic tools you need:- Vernier or digital caliper, M10 ISO metric taps. Suitable spanner (17mm AF). Bench vice. Electrician's screwdriver and wire strippers, to make the electrical connections. Every LED floodlight unit will need:- Suitable socket to fit on standard 16mm studio lighting spigots. M10 ISO metric bolt. Some form of electrical connection or junction box.   Firstly, I found some nice solid aluminium 16mm studio lighting type sockets. These came fitted to… Read More ►

Repairing an elderly Tamron 80-210mm lens

Repairing a Tamron 80-210mm lens. End glass removed using special lens tool, available on eBay for about £10. Inside of the lens was a bit foggy. I suspect that oil/grease had evaporated form the zoom mechanism and had re-condensed on the inside of the glass. Anyway, I carefully dismantled it (which is actually pretty straightforward with the correct tools, cleaned it up with my trusty lens-cleaning solution (33% white vinegar; 33% isopropanol; 34% distilled water), cleaned and lubricated the mech with silicone grease and reassembled it.... Close-up repairing a Tamron 80-210mm lens. End glass removed using special lens tool, available… Read More ►

Having a Gander

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="900"]Having a Gander 2013-09-08[/caption] I always enjoy photographing geese. They are curious creatures and they always seem so keen to pose for me. These particular geese live at the Weald and Downland Living Museum, a fascinating 16 hectare open air site, about 30 km east of my studio. The chap in the foreground seemed particularly keen - right up to the point where he tried to eat my camera. Fortunately it was only my old Fuji HS20 bridge and geese have no teeth! Read More ►
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Cleaning a camera CCD with a vacuum cleaner and a Lens Pen

I had Fuji S1, S2 & S3, all of which had dust magnets for sensors! They would get dirty even if I did not remove the lenses, simply from the air that got sucked in by varying the focal length of the lens. However, I cleaned them quite successfully with a vacuum cleaner. However there are some important caveats. Most importantly,  do NOT use the cleaner to dislodge the dust. You are more likely to suck out the shutter mechanism. I never did this but a colleague did. Instead, use a fine carbon fibre brush such as a "Lens Pen"… Read More ►

Backing up using big, cheap hard disks and some nifty Unix tools

We all have our favourite methods of data backup. Certainly DVD is a good archiving and distribution medium. But for routine backup, I look for reliability, low cost, ease of use, high-speed, high capacity and redundancy - so I am not reliant on just one device. One of my favourite methods is a complete off-site dataset consisting of a hotchpotch of USB/eSATA/Firewire disks. Only disadvantage is that they live 20km away and are only updated every couple of weeks. So I keep a further two 1Tb Samsung disks with recent data in my camera rucksack. These are updated daily. Cost… Read More ►

I can’t open Raw files from my digital camera

Usually the camera manufacturer will  provide software that handles raw files from your camera. However, several problems can arise:- You change computer and loose the original software. You have several cameras made by different manufacturers but want to use the same application to deal with their raw files. You don't use Micro$oft Windows. So what can you do? Before you stump up any hard-earned cash, I would suggest you download and try GIMP image editor c/w either UFRaw or DCRaw plugin:- http://www.gimp.org http://ufraw.sourceforge.net UFRaw is actually based on DCRaw but is much friendlier IMHO. However, Dave Coffin, the author of… Read More ►

My camera cards keep getting corrupted. Can I prevent this?

I've had cheapo cards that I dropped, kicked, trod on, used a squillion times, paid the proverbial tuppence ha'penny for and they are still going. Others, even the expensive ones have failed or become flaky within a few months - or worse, clapped out just outside the warranty. Similarly hard disks can fail in the first five minutes or go the full five years. Media failure is pretty random and can happen at the most embarrassing time. My strategy... Get your data downloaded onto your PC and backed up asap. As soon as any data recording medium, mechanical or solid-state,… Read More ►

Windows can’t read from my camera’s memory card

Editor's note: since writing this article, I have had huge problems with RTools spamming me. I have asked them many times to stop, yet still they persist. My advice is do not use any RTools product. Or that if you must use RTools, do NOT register, otherwise they will pester you forever. Using the free Linux alternatives is cheaper and much better for your privacy! This is more a basic "how it works" rather than a comprehensive "how-to", though I have provided links to some of the resources I use when confronted with flaky camera chips or flaky hard drives. … Read More ►