Saturday, March 18, 2017

The war-weary British Tommy



This is an interpretation, of sorts, of the sculpture at Seaham, of a British Tommy, by local artist Ray Lonsdale. It sits on the seafront at Seaham in Country Durham to mark the centenary of the start of the Great War. It was erected in 2014 and was, I believe, meant to be a temporary installation. However, it was still there in 2016 when I took some photos of it. As it weighs 1.2 tonnes and is made of metal I can't see it ever being moved!

Its meant to represent the weariness of war, or even post-traumatic stress (combat stress) and is inspired by the story of a local man who served in the Great War. 

On the day I tool my photos it was a very windy and cloudy day, somewhat bleak. I was quite moved by the sculpture on that windswept seafront and it brought back memories of my two grandfathers, who both fought in and were wounded, in the Great War. Both had traumatic experiences of the war, though they spoke little of it, it nevertheless had left visible and mental scars on them which even I as a young child could perceive.

The photo is a composite of two images taken on the same day in the same general location. I combined them by removing the original sky and replacing it with another one taken just up the coast. I then edited them in Photoshop before finishing things off in Luminar. If you would like to know more about combat stress and support the work of an excellent charity supporting those who have served and suffer from combat stress, why not check out http://combatstress.org.uk.

Note: The link to Macphun, creators of Luminar and other great software, is an affiliate link. By clicking on it, you will be helping me in a small way to cover the costs of this blog.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

My Behance page

A lot of creative types, of which I suppose I am one, use Adobe Creative Cloud. As a user, you get a free Behance account and a free site as part of Adobe Portfolio. As I am not a working professional (such as designer, photographer or artist) I have tended to neglect my Adobe Portfolio site and Behance account. However, in an effort to be more focused I have decided to pay more time and attention to both. As a result of this process, I have decided to make my Adobe Portfolio (and Behance page) my primary repository for my photography. Likewise, I have decided to make my blog here on Blogger my sole blog on all things related to photography. I will also be doing some archiving of my other blogs on Blogger too as I don't have the time to maintain lots of separate blogs.

My current site at www.newbeltane.net will become a business site for my soon to be launched web design and hosting agency.

Behance is a great way to discover the creative works of so many artists and I have started to use it much more than I did previously. I have been a member since 4th May 2010, so it will soon be 7 years! What have been doing in all that time? Good question but maybe I'll reflect on that in another post around the anniversary.

So, if you are interested in discovering what other artists are doing, why not visit my Behance page and use it as a starting-off point for your explorations. Check out the artists I follow (mainly photographers) as I think you might like their work too.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Protecting your work on social media

At some point in your life, you will become victim to someone stealing your work. This first happened to me many years ago in the early days of the web. A magazine used an image of mine without my permission. At the time I couldn't do much about. Yes, I could have taken them to court for compensation but I knew they were a small publisher and the whole process could have cost me up-front and I may not have got much compensation if I had won the case.

These days, it seems that theft of copyright material is endemic. So, what can you do to protect your work? Well, one of the most common problems is when you post your work on social media (Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook etc).  The method most folks recommend is to watermark your work. However, this isn't easy to do when using apps, for example, on your smartphone. Let's be honest, many photographers use their smartphones to take pictures, if only for the reason that it's the camera we carry around the most. If uploading via your computer then it's easier, but still something of a nuisance adding watermarks before you upload.

Somewhat easier is to reduce the size and quality of any images you upload to the web. After all, in most cases, they don't to be full resolution and maximum quality if being viewed on the web. There are plenty of applications for doing batch resizing of your images. You can also do it in most photo editors.

In my experience, I find resizing my images to 1280 pixels in the longest dimension and at 80% quality is sufficient. The image still looks great in a web browser but it's not the highest quality for printing. Yes, folk will still steal it on occasions, but it won't be appearing in a glossy book or advertising campaign. If you choose the option to retain the EXIF information embedded in the file, it will help if you do end up taking legal action against the thief. Yes, they can strip it out but most thieves don't even bother and I am not sure if most of them even know what EXIF means!

If you an artist who draws (rather than being a photographer) there are steps you can take when posting your material online. Redbubble (a photographic community) have a very good article here. I am a member of Redbubble and its a great community for artists of all kinds. You can view my portfolio here.




Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Hot Deal - 50% off!

Macphun are offering 50% off Luminar, their excellent photo editor for the Mac! Hurry, as the offer closes on 19th February.

You can get the offer by clicking on this link: Hot Deal!

Note: You can get some awesome bonuses too, so be quick, before the offer expires.

I use the software myself and am very impressed. Even though I have Adobe CC, I hardly ever use Photoshop or Lightroom these days, that's how good it is!


Thursday, February 02, 2017


Panoramic shots used to require expensive and specialist equipment. These days, most digital cameras come with a built-in panoramic mode. This image, taken in Arezzo, Tuscany, was taken on my Samsung NX11. The camera was quite a good little camera, light and compact to carry around but still capable of taking a decent image. The panoramic mode was ok for holiday snaps, so to speak, but due to the relatively low-res, I wouldn't use in a professional setting.

More recent cameras on the market offer better resolution, even in their panoramic mode. The Samsung NX11 had the following specification:


  1. Resolution: 14.6 MP (CMOS APS-C sensor)
  2. LCD screen: 3 inches (614k dots)
  3. Shutter speeds: 30 sec to 1/4000 sec
  4. ISO: 100 - 3200
  5. Viewfinder: VGA (640 x 480) 921k dots equivalent.
  6. Continuous shooting: 3fps
  7. Weight: 353g
  8. Width: 123mm
  9. Height: 87mm
  10. Depth: 39.8mm
I enjoyed it, especially for travel photography, due its size and weight. It was easy on the hand and even with a couple of lenses, it was portable.

More recently, I have been using my Sony A6000 with a couple of kit lenses. Better resolution and faster auto-focus, but just as light really. However, after a couple of years of using it, I am ready for a change. here is my short-list:

  1. Fujifilm X-T2
  2. Panasonic GH5
  3. Nikon 500
  4. Olympus' OM-D E-M1 Mark II
I have only had the chance to try out the Fuji, so once the GH5 is available, I will give that a try. The Nikon and Olympus are bit out of my budget but I would like to try them out and compare them before finally making my mind up. Cheaper options include the Pentak (Ricoh) KP and Fuji X-T20. I will be reading the reviews and seeing how they compare.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Luminar: Further experiments in editing


I have been experimenting with Luminar, the new photo editor from Macphun. In many ways, it's similar to Photoshop and so many of the other photo editors out there. That's an advantage, especially after many years of using Photoshop. However, it's easy to use and has some presets that make life easy for the novice.

The image above was taken at Cressing Temple Barns in Essex and is of one of the 4 faces of the water fountain in the garden. On the day I took the image, the weather was quite dull. In Luminar I used on of the presets as a starter. The preset I choose was one of the 'Outdoor' presets, called 'Abandoned Place'. I then tweaked the detailed settings to boost contrast and sharpness. The default settings were also a little bit bright for my taste so I reduced exposure slightly.

At the end of the day, the final result is somewhat subjective and down to personal taste entirely. You might like it or not. The software is certainly easy to use and play around with various options so you could quickly try a few alternatives and find something to your liking. I am happy with the software and at the moment I use it as my main photo editor.