Lovey speak and the first part of the course.

Let me first define what I mean by the term “Lovey speak”.
Whenever I heard Lord Richard Attenborough being interviewed he had a tendency to address people as “Lovey”.
While he didn’t, to my knowledge; have to explain his art in order for it to gain a popular following I and a friend coined this term to explain the gushing or rhetoric you come across in photographic galleries and press when they are describing a photographers work.
This gushing rhetoric turns me off, after all; if the work is so good then why the sales pitch?
This is not just a fault in the art or academic world but it seems more prevalent there.
This difference can be noticed when a lesser known photographer is described as “most influential” or some other exaggerated way and when Bresson describes his photography as luck.
To me art is open to individual interpretation and is therefore in the eye of the beholder much like beauty.
I know what I like, if I have a connection in some way to what I’m looking at I don’t need to be coerced as it will not work.
I also know it’s catering for a certain audience but strikes me sometimes rather like the way classical music lovers look down their noses at other genres.
A kind of artistic snobbery that I find distasteful.

As I worked through this first section of this course I had a hard time reconciling these descriptions and what I was seeing and feeling about the photographers I read about.
Similarly I found a lot of the course a bit like basic training in the armed forces, how to wash, keep yourself presentable and knowing left from right; very basic.
This of course is the whole point, it’s to get everyone on the same page so to speak.
The course material didn’t start to challenge me until the last two exercises and assignments.
I expect it will get much more challenging as time goes by.
I’m looking forward to it very much although I still have to find time to read and study more on the “art” of photography other than on its mechanics.


White balance in Fulham.

While doing exercise 4.3 I took several photo’s under Fulhams very strange street lighting.
It seems that the Council are replacing sodium lights with LED bulbs.
I can see the benefits in cost reduction and for the enviroment but boy do they make it impossible to correct for white balance.
I came across this blue and orange umbrella abandoned at the side of the road, to one side was a sodium street light and to the other an LED one.
I have been playing with this image for a while and still can’t get a good colour balance so B&W it has to be then……








Thinking about distance……….

Part of the brief for exercise 5.1 is the following:

“Use your camera as a measuring device. This doesn’t refer to the distance scale on the focus ring(!).

Rather, find a subject that you have an empathy with and take a
sequence of shots to ‘explore the distance between you’.”

Sometime after reading this I happened across my old journal I wrote for the three months I was homeless.

This homelessness went on for nearly three months during the most deplorable weather Oxford has ever experienced, from November 2013 through to February 2014.

The notes in this journal took me back to the bleakest time in my life.

In it were my feelings toward fellow campers, the hunger, the desperation and the loneliness.

Colorado, an American student who saved his money by living in a family sized tent that blew down and leaked often and Cat Weasel an older homeless gentleman who wasn’t all there if you know what I mean.

These and more helped me retain my sanity.

I have to mention here an experience I had at 7 am. Christmas morning.

Two young Scandinavian students stopped across the street from me, not another soul to be seen; took off their hats and started singing a Christmas carol.

Their voices were angelic and echoed from the surrounding buildings.

It was very moving, once finished they donned their hats, smiled at me and carried on their journey.

It was an incredible experience to say the least and I was the only  person there to appreciate their fine singing.

This journal then gave me the idea of measuring how far I have come since then but it didn’t seem to fit the narrative very well.

Maybe I can explore something more specific that I noted down.

I’ll give it some more thought over the weekend.

Well I gave it more thought and decided upon the subject of an outsider looking in.

Looking on the WWW I came across this article in Psychology  today which deals with Highly Sensitive People .

“As one highly sensitive person put it recently, it’s like being an outsider looking in.

Life as an HSP feels very much like pushing your nose against the glass that separates you from society and all you can do is watch and wonder how they do it and how you can ever get in”.
Deborah ward, On The Outside Looking In, Finding the balance between community and sensitivity.
Psychology today October 16 2011.

It doesn’t entirely relate to homelessness but the overall feeling of the article felt strangely familiar.

What is the best camera ?

This question comes up a lot on blogs and review channels on YouTube.

Me being an old-timer photography wise have a simple answer, it’s the one you have with you at that moment.

Too much emphasis is put on the technicalities of one brand over another, or even one model over another.

The Americans have a great saying ” It’s the Indian not the arrow”.

Having said this I recently purchased a new camera set up and was criticised by a friend over my choice.

Having lived with it now for six months I think that, for me; I made the correct choice.

The Nikon D5.

Despite being slayed in media by some as a failure and thus a useless choice.

I spent nine months listing what was important to me in a new camera.

Weather resistance, low light capability, solid construction and compatibility with my other equipment.

I had considered switching to Canon, Leica, Pentax, Olympus and Sony.

I narrowed it down to two choices, the D5 and the 1Dx mk2, predominantly for their focusing system, robustness and weather sealing.

Come the big day I went in to Parks cameras in London to try both out, the deciding factor between them was ergonomics; the Canon just didn’t feel as slick as the Nikon and the  operating controls seemed better and more logically placed on the Nikon.

As a side note, my critical friend recently used it and couldn’t believe how well it focused even in low light, tracking a helicopter through the trees at one point.

The images are great and the confidence I have with it surviving a downpour  increases every time I’m caught out by the weather.

Exercise 4.1


1. Set your camera to any of the auto or semi-auto modes.

Photograph a dark tone (such as a black jacket), a mid-tone (the inside of a cereal packet traditionally makes a useful ‘grey card’) and a light tone (such as a sheet of white paper), making sure that the tone fills the viewfinder frame (it’s not necessary to focus).
Add the shots to your learning log with quick sketches of the histograms and your observations.
You might be surprised to see that the histograms for each of the frames – black, grey and white – are the same.

If there’s not much tonal variation within the frame you’ll see a narrow spike at the mid-tone; if there is tonal variation (such as detail) you’ll see a
more gentle curve. If you find the tone curve isn’t centered on the mid-tone, make sure that you have your exposure compensation set to zero.

You may see an unpleasant colour cast if you’re shooting under artificial light, in which case you can repeat the exercise using your monochrome setting (a light meter is sensitive to brightness, not to colour).
This simple exercise exposes the obvious flaw in calibrating the camera’s light meter to the mid-tone. The meter can’t know that a night scene is dark or a snow scene is light so it averages each exposure around the mid-tone and hopes for the best. But why can’t the camera just measure the light as it is?

The reason is that a camera measures reflected light – the light reflected from the subject, not incident light – the light falling on the subject. To measure the incident light
you’d have to walk over to the subject and hold an incident light meter (a handheld meter) pointing back towards the camera, which isn’t always practical.

If you did that each of the tones would be exposed correctly because the auto or semi-auto modes wouldn’t try to compensate for the specific brightness of the subject.

2. Set your camera to manual mode. Now you can see your light meter!

The mid-tone exposure is indicated by the ‘0’ on the meter scale with darker or lighter exposures as – or + on either side.

Repeat the exercise in manual mode, this time adjusting either your aperture or shutter to place the dark, mid and light tones at their correct positions on the histogram.

The light and dark tones shouldn’t fall off either the left or right side of the graph.

Add the shots to your learning log with sketches of their histograms and your observations.
Switching to manual mode disconnects the aperture, shutter and ISO so they’re no longer linked.

Because they’re no longer reciprocal, you can make adjustments to
any one of them without affecting the others.


For the first series of photographs I put my camera into Programme mode, then I shot the back of a black office chair, the side of a grey printer and lastly a white piece of paper.

For the second series I used the same subject matter but this time I put the camera into Manual mode.

I was careful to adjust my exposure compensation to give the correct image.


P mode Black

P mode Grey

P mode White

P mode shots Histogram

Manual Black

Manual mode histogram, Black

Manual mode Grey

Manual mode histogram, Grey

Manual mode White

Manual mode histogram, White




In Program mode all the shots look pretty much the same except the white shot, it kept coming out ever so slightly lighter than the others but not by much.

I only bothered showing one histogram for this series as they where identical for all intents and purpose.

The second series got them looking correct both visually and in the histograms.


This exercise demonstrated visually what I knew to be happening but for some reason I kept forgetting to allow for in my photography.

Fortunately such extremes rarely manifest themselves in the real world but occasionally they crop up.

As a side note I must mention that I now find myself using manual mode more than the others as it’s easier to adjust exposure compensation on the fly and you don’t inadvertently forget to reset the exposure compensation setting back to neutral.

I also find it more useful than shutter priority mode as I now have more keepers.


My dark room – the computer.

I have a confession to make……… I am a nerd, a computer geek.

As one of the American founding fathers once said ” there never was a good knife made of bad steel”, so I feel about slow computers and internet connectivity.

Editing the bigger files of my new camera was causing my old computer to hesitate when manipulating images especially  RAW files.

So I decided to build a new one but which way to go ? Intel or AMD.

Intel traditionally  are faster but expensive where AMD are slower but half the price.

Delving into the murky waters of on-line geekdom I discovered that AMD had finally pulled even with Intel performance wise and they still retained a price advantage albeit only slightly.

They gave parity and saved several hundred  pounds in price, awesome.

Armed with my new-found knowledge I ordered the bits, an AMD Ryzen Threadripper CPU, new memory, new S.S.D, an Nvidia GTX1080Ti video card and the painfully expensive Asus motherboard.

I also decided to get a new case, Windows 10 pro and a power supply while I was at it.

One day later all these boxes arrived, I was like a child on Christmas morning.

Several hours later I had it built, I triple checked the connections and got ready to load my shiny new copy of Windows; I flipped the switches.

Wouldn’t even get past POST (power on self test), not even the BIOS (basic input output screen) would appear.

More checking on-line and I found that the incredibly expensive memory I had bought was none standard i.e it was overclocked.

Never mind, update the BIOS and all  should be well, it wasn’t; still wouldn’t boot.

It was about now that I was starting to panic, had I wasted thousands on junk; even worse, had I broken it somehow and would be unable to return it?

I did what all Brits should do in such circumstances, I made Tea then slept on it.

Prior to disassembly and shipping it back I decided to try one last thing.

Deep in the small printed motherboard manual somewhere it mentioned putting just one stick of memory in slot D1, totally counter intuitive but it should maximise memory compatibility or so it said.

I gave it a shot not thinking it had any hope of working.

A lot of beeps later it booted to the BIOS screen, I was elated.

I then proceeded to test each stick of memory in turn in slot D1, they all worked.

I then tested each of the eight slots in turn, they worked, puzzling.

I then loaded each one with a stick of memory building up to all four sticks, it worked!

I still have no idea why it worked after all this messing around but it does.

Windows loaded easily and I spent another day or two taking my software and passwords from my old computer to my new one.

This whole stressful build reminded me of the old saying ” Computers are like old testament Gods, all rules and no forgiveness”.

How true!