#selfportraitsunday

I know, I’m a little late posting this as it’s twenty past midnight, but I took this one earlier on, for #selfportraitsunday.

As I always feel a little awkward in front of the camera, I got the girls in on the act too.

Until I think of something a bit more original, you’ll have to put up with the selfie shoulder, foremost in the image from holding the camera.

Craig S Lucas

Advertisements

#throwbackthursday Number 1

It took a while but here I am again, with a post for my hashtag project.

One of my first posts on this blog was of my first photo, taken at Windsor Safari Park, which later became Legoland. I’m not going back that far for this #throwbackthursday though.

This photo comes from 2001, there were no black monoliths involved, nor psychotic artificial intelligence, but I would consider it the start of my odyssey.

I was just beginning to get interested in the idea of Portrait Photography, and I had purchased a Jessops Portakit flash setup. I was still using 35mm film back then and I think the camera was a Ricoh.

You can see how inexperienced I was. The white balance is off, the background (home made form a dyed sheet) is creased, and there is little to no posing involved. We all have to start somewhere, and we learn from the mistakes. I hope you agree that I have improved drastically!

My niece was a beautiful model for me to start practicing with though, and I look forward to getting an update on this shoot the next time I am in the UK.

Craig Lucas

000256.BMP

#wideanglewednesday with a Tokina 12-24mm f4.

I really want to get back to posting here more regularly. I seem to have skipped a whole year… what was that about?

I did have a problem with my Tokina 12-24mm Ultra Wide lens,  which I’ll go into another time. I just got it back from the repair centre last week, so I thought today would be a good opportunity to go for a hastag theme: #wideanglewednesday fits perfectly.

IMG_2626_2

Here’s my youngest comedian/daughter having some fun on the trampoline…

I’m planning to put up a gallery for each day of the week,

#macromonday

#telephototuesday

#wideanglewednesday

#throwbackthursday (obviously!)

#freelensfriday

#snapawaysaturday

And of course #selfportraitsunday (which is one I know I’ll struggle with).

I highly doubt that this this will be a regular thing, but it’s an idea to get me posting something for as long as it lasts, my OCD is struggling with the lack of spacing and capital letters here!

Hopefully I’ll be back again soon.

Craig

 

 

Glendalough, County Wicklow, with an Ultra Wide lens

IMG_7637-01.JPG

A lovely morning for Good Friday this year, so we gathered up the kids and headed up into County Wicklow. Literally heading “up” as we went into the mountains and through the Wicklow Gap to visit Glendalough.

I brought the lightweight Canon EOS1100D, with my (heavy) Tokina 12-24mm f4 ultra-wide lens.

IMG_7616-01

I’ve been using the lens for a while, and getting only so so results. I tend to shoot a lot of Portraits wide open, and  I have had some problems with focusing. I don’t think it’s a weakness in the lens as such, more a fact of not using it in the right way. It tends to be a bit soft at f4, and indoors I find it struggles to find focus from lack of available light.

Out in the sun today, I had it stopped down to f8, and fairly fast speeds from 1/125 and upwards. The results were great! I can now see what this lens was meant for.

IMG_7585-01

I think I may add the 11-16mm f2.8 to my wish list for the indoor shots.

Craig Lucas

RIP Picasa, but no thank you Google Photos

Picasa_Logo.svg

For many years I have been using Google’s Picasa to organize my images. I have found the Face Recognition to be helpful, the editing tools are handy for quick fixes, and above all the interface is so easy to understand. Yes there are issues. The lack of an auto save when you make changes is a big problem for new users, and the duplication of every photo edited takes up a lot of hard drive space, but once you get used to saving your changes every time, and you get an external hard drive, it really is a great program. Best of all it was free!

Roll on 2016 and Google have announced that they a retiring the program. It will no longer be updated or supported.

For now, while I’m using Windows 8, Picasa is still an option for me. Picasa as a program is not going to suddenly stop working. But what will happen with Windows 10 and future versions? Will it still be a viable option as technology improves and updates while Picasa stays the same?

Google are trying to get everyone over to their newer Photos App. So I though I’d give it a try…

google-photos-logo-vector-download

Unfortunately it wasn’t a successful experiment.

I thought the Photos App really was a good idea. To have all your photos stored online and accessible by all your devices; PC’s, Tablets and phones. The auto upload is very handy. Download the app and it works away in the background, uploading all your photos to your unlimited online storage and organizing your photos in its own auto-magical way.

However, if like me you have a less than decent broadband connection. This uploading can seriously hamper your internet usage until everything is uploaded. It can also take a LOOOOONG time depending on how many photos you have on your hard drive.

This is not software in a traditional sense either. The Photos App is simply an uploader, which then means you have to be connected to the internet and your online gallery to actually do anything with it.

Sorry, but not with my connection speeds.

I also found a problem with this auto-organizing arrangement. Scanned photos will have the date of scanning embeded in the meta data. But I want it on my timeline for the date it was taken. There is a very complicated way of changing the date which I never really discovered. I got halfway through reading the instructions and decided I wasn’t going to stick with the app. Too much effort to do something I could do in 10 seconds in Picasa.

Maybe after a few updates, it will be something I can use. Until then it is too automatic. There is no way I can see of tagging or manually organizing my photos within the app. Also I don’t want to rely solely on online storage for my photos. I also want to organize the 30,000 photo on my hard drive as well as backing up to an online service.

I realize that I may not have given the Photos App much of a chance, but I really don’t have that kind of time to devote to studying a program. If I haven’t fallen in love within the first hour, it’s probably not going to happen.

At the moment I like the look of Corel’s Aftershot Pro 2 as my editor/organizer and Picasa replacement. It does however cost money. I’m still looking at options, but Google’s Photos isn’t one of them.

Craig Lucas

Raw Processing Software Options

I am looking at software at the moment.

For a while I was working with Linux. I really loved the operating systems, I have used a few of them from Ubuntu, to Mint, to Crunchbang, but good RAW processing software is hard to come by on that side of the PC fence. I find the programs which are easy to use give poor results, while the ones which give good results are extremely complex. I had found a compromise with a fairly straight forward interface and good results from Darktable, but after it crashed and had to be completely reinstalled not once but twice, I decided to move back to Windows.

Everyone seemed to be using Adobe Lightroom, so I felt it had to have something going for it. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out. I downloaded the trial of Lightroom version 5, and it was so slow that I could cook and eat a three course meal in the time it took to process a couple of photos. It turns out that if you are running it with sate of the art computer equipment, Lightroom is the best thing since sliced bread. Seeing how I only bought my “barely adequate” laptop last June, I don’t intend to pay out twice as much again for another one.

I have been getting along fine with Canon’s Digital Photo Professional, but I feel I would like something a bit more workflow oriented. Something I can use to organize, tag, and process my photos. Basically an Adobe Lightroom which will work on my PC.

After some research, I ended up getting the free trial of Corel’s Aftershot Pro 2, and I must say I am impressed. I am pushing it hard before the 30 day trail expires. I have been editing landscapes, sunsets, and this evening some portrait work.

Now when I say I’m pushing it hard, I mean that I am testing it with the photos I got wrong. The photos I got so wrong in camera that I simply couldn’t use them no matter how much editing they got. Photos like this one from my shoot from a couple of years ago with the lovely Sarah…

IMG_6198_CR2_embedded

As you can see, totally overexposed. I made the mistake of thinking I was set to Aperture Priority, but I had accidentally switched to Manual. I had a whole sequence of photos which were unusable.

But now after running it through Aftershot Pro 2…

IMG_6198_1

It is still a bit overexposed, but has gone from being embarrassing, to being acceptable. The colours are more vivid, the shadows stronger. I would be happy to show this to someone, but when you go for a black and white…

IMG_6198

Everything is right again. I overexposed to get that look. Honestly, it’s more artistic right?

So, I’m continuing with my testing, but it’s looking more and more like Corel may be getting some of my hard earned cash yet…

Craig Lucas

Blog, website or both?

I’ve been struggling with my website for some time. Trying to make it look professional, interesting and engaging, and at the same time keeping on top of writing posts for my blog and Facebook etc. It’s all been a bit much for me.

So I’ve decided to cut back a bit. I’ve been doing a bit of trimming on here and have decided to do away with the “storefront” style website I was originally aiming for. I find I enjoy writing my blog posts (as rare as they are) so I want to keep that side of things going.

I’ve also changed the template for my blog to one I think suits my style better.

Well that’s what I’ve been doing with myself this evening, and in answer to my question in the title, I went with the blog, the one I like most. It took me a while to realize it, but I definitely don’t have the time for both.

Craig Lucas

Dakota

col-10

I met this lovely young lady named Dakota, along with her younger brother back in October 2010. Recently, her mother came into the photo-lab, and told me the very sad news that she had passed away last September, after a long battle with Leukemia.

I often admit to being an emotional person at the best of times, but with children, I am a really big softy. The news affected me deeply. At first I thought it was because she was a similar age to my own daughter, but on reflection it’s more than that. I knew Dakota. I may have only known her for the half an hour while she was in front of my camera but as a portrait photographer, I like to have a connection with the people I photograph and I definitely achieved that with this little girl. My current sadness is one of the risks involved with that connection.

col

Looking at the images I took that day, I remember Dakota so well. At the age of four, she was quiet, yet confident, and although she didn’t say much, those beautiful eyes of hers spoke volumes. There was so much love for her little brother, although it also came with that “long suffering” look of all big sisters.

col-17

I met Dakota’s mother again yesterday, and she gave me permission to write this post, something I’ve wanted to do for a while. She told me that the photos I took bring some comfort, and that she looks through them regularly. I’m so very glad that they help, and My deepest sympathy goes to all of Dakota’s family and friends.

Craig Lucascol-8

The Winter, The Willow and The Promise of Spring

It’s now the middle of January, and I’ve been seeing posts about the new year for a couple of weeks. They vary from the “New year, new me,” to the “New Years Projects,” with a few “New Years Goals” and the dreaded “New Years Resolutions” on the way.

I know I need to post more on my blog here, and I also need to organize the page better, along with organizing my entire photo collection. But I won’t kid myself. No amount of “New Years Resolutions” are going to allow me the time to do these things.

I would also love to really get stuck into a 365 project, but I tried it a few years ago, and ran out of steam by the middle of February. My 52 Portraits project didn’t do much better, although that one did last into the summer.

So this year, I’m going to forget Goals, Projects and Resolutions, and simply try to keep up.

I’ll try to post on here more often, I’ll try to get to finishing off the new website design, but I’m not going to stress over it. Most importantly I’m going to keep on taking photos, whether I get to share them with you or not is irrelevant.  I will still be found with my camera.

For now I’m going to look forward to some better weather. Because even though it’s mid-winter right now, the Willow in my garden is promising me that spring is coming.

Craig Lucas

 

Willow Salix Kilmarnock

2015 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys have prepared a 2015 annual report for my blog.

Not bad considering how little I have posted this year!

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,100 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 18 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

A busy summer…

I recently noticed that I haven’t posted to my blog since April.
The summer kind of flew by me in a high speed blur of 1 second exposure proportions! From the communion season of April/May, to weddings in June and July.

image

image

I’ve also had the occasional family Photoshoot and Debs sessions, on top of days out with the family through the school holidays, and a full-time day job! Phew! What a busy year.

image

And now I’ve decided to update my website, so if things look a bit unfinished around here, it’s because they are…
This website is still a work in progress at the moment, slightly hampered by terrible internet speeds as well. But we’ll get there in the end.

Craig Lucas

A new Flashgun…

I have finally managed to shake off this recent bout of Flu, and with a fine spring day, we moved out into the garden this afternoon.

I recently purchased a Metz 48 flashgun and have been dying to try it out. So guinea pig number 2 (of course I mean daughter no2!), was out in front of the camera in the sunshine, so that I could try a bit of Fill-in Flash.Metz 48, Fill-in Flash Fill-in Flash Portrait on a sunny day

I’m very pleased with the results, and I’m getting very exited to use this set up at my eldest girl’s Communion in May.

Craig S Lucas

Do you need more time, or just a camera?

I have read so many articles spouting the benefits of carrying a camera with you at all times.

I fully understand the idea behind this, obviously you can’t take a great photo when you don’t have a camera nearby, but I have tried it and generally I find that the photos I grab ‘on the go’ are just not worth the effort.

Now for some people this is totally the right thing to do. If you are out and about and have a bit of time in hand, you can stop when you see something interesting, take a moment to compose the shot, and ‘click’ it’s in the bag.

I’m not one of those people. Everything I do, from writing blog posts, to taking photos or even just having a conversation with someone takes a little bit of mental preparation. I need to get ‘in the zone’ so to speak.

So when I’m on my way to work in the morning, I am on a deadline. I have to be there at a certain time so when I see that beautiful sunrise, I can’t stop. If I am out with my family, they hate that I make a big deal of taking photos, and I have to rush the job in an effort to keep them happy. Even during my lunch hour, by the time I have prepared and eaten a healthy lunch I find that the spare half hour just isn’t enough to find a subject and capture it in the best light.

So far this year, on top of working full time, and spending some quality time with my girls, I have decorated our hall and staircase, and we are in preparations for our eldest girls First Holy Communion, which involves a lot of shopping/misery/financial torture. Very little time for a well thought out photo-shoot.

This is why I haven’t been posting very much this year. It’s also why I couldn’t finish last year’s 52 portraits project (I only made it to week 30).

Time is always against me.

Today I am at home with the flu and after a day of sleeping on and off, I am feeling a little better and decided to try and write something. For me that involved half an hour thinking of what to write, another half an hour of writing, and then further editing and polishing to make sure the message is worth reading. Now I will spend even more time  trying to find an image that suits the post.Homemade backdrop, portrait

I do have a some models standing by for when the chances arise, and hopefully I will get to post some more photographs in the near future.

Thanks for reading, and let me know if you feel the need to over prepare like me, or do you carry your camera at all time on the off chance of a great image?

Craig S Lucas