Monthly Archives: January 2013

The PC, The Which & The Wardrobe

It does sound like a sub heading from Narnia doesn’t it? Trust me it’s not. However, that’s the way it has felt for the last week….in the 1950’s. If it hadn’t been for a very kind individual picking up on one of my numerous Facebook statuses regarding this subject then I may well still be in the same position today. Before you think any different, Facebook can be a great networking tool, as well as a bad one too. After the dual monitors started shutting down in to standby whilst using the PC I tried every possible solution, from reinstalling the drivers to unplugging the graphics card, to even replacing the graphics card. Still no joy. Well, that’s not entirely true. I managed to get it working only to inherit another problem… the screens kept jumping and flicking. I knew it wasnt down to the monitors as they were both doing the same thing. It had to be something else.

I know enough about PC’s to install hardware, change a disk drive, reinstall Windows. But that’s where it stops. I have dozens of exhumed PC parts scattered across the top of the wardrobe, I just wouldn’t know which to use. The Graphics Card diagnosis was a whole new ball game. So I went ahead and had a go. Low and behold it worked, well in a fashion. The screens need some adjusting and it was quite sluggish. I couldn’t understand what I had NOT done. I kept going through an imaginary check list inside my head, going over everything I should have completed. And that was it, I couldn’t figure out why things weren’t working the way they should.
My call to the …ssshhhh f a c e b o o k (it doesn’t sound so bad if you say it quietly) wall was a last resort. One that was answered by a very old friend, Robert. He informed me that he knew a computer literate person that would be able to help me. Just what I needed to hear. Oh, and apparently I knew him too, from years ago. After making contact with Andy there was a whole new perspective on the issue. I had blown everything out of proportion and being prepared to reenact the film with Nicolas Cage in, and say bye-bye PC “Gone in sixty seconds”. Elaine would not have been impressed should I have taken this course of action. So, I only considered it. Andy was very helpful and suggested I remove certain items of PC hardware in what seemed like me taking on the role of a surgeon. Graphics Card re-seated, RAM sticks re-seated and then the long painful job of connecting everything back up again.

Something is not quite right. Here I am, writing this blog but my PC & I are not singing from the same hymn sheet. Andy has very kindly offered to come around and have a look for me tomorrow. Kind fellow.

I would have done all this yesterday, but Monday was a very busy day. Sunday had seen my parents leave Singapore bound for Manchester and being the dutiful son I had offered to pick them up and take them home. So Monday morning at 04:45am my alarm went off and creeping out of bed I headed off to Manchester Airport. 2013-01-28 07.39.13My plan had been to get to the airport and go straight round to the Premier Inn near the Freight Terminal and grab a Costa. I was on to a loser from the start as when I arrived it wasnt even open. I wandered inside, used the toilet, checked the flight screens and saw the SQ327 on approach. So much for a relaxing all you can eat breakfast and a cup of the finest Latte.  By the time I was parked up in the multi-storey the flight had landed and so I proceeded to the arrivals hall to “Meet the Parents”.
I had secretly hoped they would want to go to the Premier Inn for breakfast as they had been in exactly the same position a few years ago after arriving from New Zealand. And it was awesome; There is nothing like a PI Brekkie. I thought that the last experience of doing breakfast would have been fresh in the memory, but all said and done, they looked tired. They were tired and they had just travelled round the world in 23 hours. Instead, I was asked to stop at Lancaster Services on a quick pit stop which would reveal its trump card. Yes, a Costa Coffee. It was great to catch up on what had been happening with my family in New Zealand. One day maybe I will get out there myself. I dropped my parents off in Haverigg and heading back. I eventually got home late afternoon, after 12 hours on the road I was shattered and I don’t know how I managed to stay awake until 11:00 pm. But I did.

I knew that I had to tackle the PC issues today, and there it was waiting for me as I came downstairs this morning. Wires everywhere, disk drives removed. It looked like something from War of the Worlds. I looked at it again, almost singing the theme music to the film in my head. If I didn’t fix this, my life was going to be Forever Autumn, let alone Justin Heywards.  Like I said earlier, its working….well sort of. We will see what Andy can do with it tomorrow. Hope you have had a great day, I have….byeee.

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Finally, some light

After the atrocious weather over the last few days and only a slight dusting of snow overnight it was a pleasant surprise to see the sun this morning. Ah yes, sun I here you say? Remember, that spherical object that sits in our universe providing light and heat to our world.  It made an appearance this morning, and in style too. In fact it was so nice that a proper camera was taken out of moth balls as Elaine and I proceeded to have a very gentle saunter around the dam (also known as Yeadon Tarn). On a side note, don’t get me going on this one, apparently it doesn’t matter what I call the “puddle of water” I always get it wrong.

Yeadon in the snow

Yeadon in the snow

But that’s another story, one I wish to try to avoid for fear of upsetting the locals. The water was 90% frozen and covered in a thin layer of snow and how pleasant it was. The sun appeared to be generating some winter heat and before I knew it the gloves were off and stowed away in a spare pocket and the fleece jacket zip was lowered to half mast. I took a staggering 176 images this morning which considering I took 1700 in January 2012 as a whole and bearing in mind that this is the first outing this year I don’t think I did too bad. There was plenty to see and capture by camera too; far too much for me to demonstrate on my blog. If you head over to my Flickr pages in a few days time I will have uploaded a whole set from this morning. The light was sublime; an ideal winters day for a landscape photographer. Crisp, clear, long shadows, plenty of contrast all set against the blue. I was in my element. I had expected exactly that and my only failing was leaving the tripod behind.

Yeadon in Winter

Yeadon in Winter

I always carry a tripod with me, even if it’s just in the boot of the car. I have been asked why so many times. The answer, well I am quietly confident that any photographers will already know the solution to that question but here goes anyway. The use of a tripod has an obvious answer and a not so obvious answer. I am going way back now and digging up this from the bowels of my photography history so here goes. The tripod is one of the photographers best friends; but not something you see being used everyday. Ask yourself the question…when did you last see a photographer? I don’t mean someone with a camera, I mean a “Photographer” with a tripod? That’s because it’s not such a common sight anymore; all down to the advent of digital photography combined with upgraded equipment and image stabilised lenses. Its true, why spend time trying to create something in the field when you can do exactly the same thing back home in the warmth of your living room using Adobe software. Makes sense doesn’t it?

Yeadon in the snow

Yeadon in the snow

There are a few uses for a tripod, as much as they are a bind to carry around. Firstly, they are fantastic at holding the camera still for you; preventing movement and increasing stability. I am only joking, they are THE best thing for holding your camera still. The ultimate objective of the tripod. When the ground is covered in snow or wet from the rain, the little hook on the centre column is great for holding your camera bag whilst you fiddle around with your camera settings. A tripod is also handy when it comes to getting the horizon or verticals completely level, once you have set it up using the spirit level, Bob’s your uncle. Another one for you….close up and macro photography like taking photos of small objects close-up can require a lot of skill, and minor movements will be crucial to a perfect image. Using a tripod will noticeably reduce unwanted movement of the camera. My ultimate reason for using a tripod, to increase depth of field in landscape photography. By closing the aperture down to f27 or similar and slowing the shutter speed down to match your landscape images take on a whole new meaning. Sharp and clear from front to back. So there you go, a few benefits of the tripod. The next time you head out of the door, consider taking her with you, that’s the tripod by the way.

Thank you for reading today’s short blog. I hope you like the images and also understand why it was an opportunity not to be missed.

This got me thinking….

Yet another snow-fest in wild-weather Britain this weekend. Confined to barracks and the digital SLR’s put in to moth balls for the unforeseeable future. Oh dear, don’t I sound pessimistic? Me a pessimist? maybe, oh I don’t know… its been a very dry January photography wise. But, that’s only out of choice. I was browsing images on my iPad yesterday and as I flicked through the recent additions to Flickr from my contacts one particular image caught my eye. Now, for sake of clarification purposes only, the reason it caught my eye was not what you think. “How do you know what I am thinking?” I can hear you saying to yourself…. Well if you are a heterosexual male then you were probably thinking the same as me..if you are of any other sexual orientation then you can post your feelings in the comments box with regard to the image I am about to post. And be honest.

The Kiss (remade) by Simon Asquith

The Kiss (remade) by Simon Asquith

Above is a great frame by photographer Simon Asquith. Simons image is on his Flickr page here : Before my eyes even arrived at the title at the foot of the image my brain had already worked out that I had seen this somewhere before. And before anyone says yes you have, on the wall of a shop or in one of those poster racks that you see in stores; that’s exactly where I have seen it. But you and I are quite wrong, what you and I have seen is the original of this image. Simons version is actually a remake. A great attempt at recreating the work of photographer Tanya Chalkin. ( www.tanyachalkin.com )

"Kiss" by Tanya Chalkin

“The Kiss” by Tanya Chalkin

The Kiss has become one of the iconic images of a generation, one that I’m sure will be long remembered. Its shows two young female models laying face to face embracing and intimately kissing. It was taken by Tanya in 2001 and as I stated previously, saw huge worldwide sales as a poster. It was also used in the film Scott Pilgrim vs. the World by Universal Pictures.

Is it the relaxed nature of the picture, the passion behind the closed eyes and the comfort of the embraced hands or is it just two gorgeous girls getting hot and steamy….either way, when I eventually stopped looking at it for long enough it got me asking questions about the image by Tanya; One being how true is the actual image? How much of what we see is factual? I couldn’t question Simons image as it was recreated and I can only assume he just used two models for that purpose. I looked all over the internet for some answers, but after an hours searching I drew a blank. What I was looking for was the real truth behind the image. I know this can be asked of any photographers’ or artists’ image but that’s because what we are seeing is a split second in time and we then use the information we can see to make judgement, that’s how we roll. We very rarely understand the creators thinking, meaning or intention unless it’s explained in text or its slapping us in the face. What I needed to know goes a little deeper in to the ideas of the photographer and the feelings of two subjects.

On to the image, the two girls look very much in love, you can see this by the way their hands are positioned and the body language. But we don’t actually know this, as I stated earlier we only assume this from the information that we interpret. We then make a decision based on that information. There are, in-fact so many permutations possible in the construction of this and any image set.

Were the girls an item and merely acting and/or performing their true feelings for each other for the benefit of the photographer? In which case the image is a true reflection. Or is it? If they knew the photographer wanted to only create this image they could merely pose for this shot until the person behind the camera had them in position and obtained the image they wanted. Game over. But, I ask, would the true heat and passion behind their feelings for each other really come out, both on set and in the final image, knowing that the photographer was firstly in the room, and secondly that once the photographer had captured the image they had to stop and switch off. It must be slightly off-putting knowing in advance that you are going to charge yourselves up and get in the mood only to be forced to stop half way through. Maybe? or maybe not?

Were the girls an item and actually displaying their true feelings for each other, period? It has been said that the only way to obtain an image like this would be to set it up without the subject’s knowledge and to have hidden cameras. What would the difference actually be? Would the photographs look any different? Or would it just be the photographer and the subjects that knew the truth? Failing that, another option would be to find two models willing to go the whole way and be totally camera friendly. Mmmmm .. the mind boggles about the possibility of this one

Were the girls just models and posed in that position by the photographer? In which case there was no feelings whatsoever and the models and photographer alike have done a very good job of portraying the feeling, emotion and heat of a very sensual situation. If that is the case, then all parties should be commended. Firstly the photographer for getting it all right and secondly the girls for a great act.

Moving on, as we will never know unless Tanya replies to my email contact. This then got me thinking about the possibilities of recreating an image like this myself. Not to actually do it, but just to consider the logistics and hurdles involved in setting up a location shoot to recreate a renowned image of this style and magnitude. Certain parts of the checklist are just formalities, you know what I mean, the camera, equipment, studio etc. Its only when you come down to the missing pieces of the jigsaw puzzle that you begin to realise what a tricky task it is. The major hurdle is the models. Not only do you have to find two girls willing to pose in their underwear, but you have to find two girls also willing to carry out the steps I initially questioned of the original photographers work. So, it narrows down the possibilities somewhat considerably when you advertise for two female models criteria as follows etc ….

Having worked as a photographer I’m aware that having contacts and people in the know gives you great resources when it comes to looking for possible subject models. On top of that there is always someone who knows someones aunt who’s got this daughter, I’m sure you know the story. But as “Joe Normal” these resources are just not always available so the search moves closer to home. Its times like these that you realise that it’s never going to happen. My thoughts then turn to leaving it to the big boys and let them earn the mega bucks……I suppose I could always put the picture as my desktop wallpaper, but then I would never get anything done, let alone this blog.

All comments welcome.

It’s not a secret…but this is how its done

A few years ago I dabbled in making panorama images using Photoshops’ Automated photo merge tool. As the tool is integrated in to Adobe’s CS5 package; unless you have mega memory it tends to be very unreliable and in my experience has a habit of closing itself down halfway through its operation. I found this so frustrating I decided to look elsewhere for some stitching and panorama software. This was when I stumbled across an early version of a program that was going to change the way I saw things. From 2:3 ratio to Panorama !

Microsoft Image Composite Editor (ICE) is a free, yes FREE piece of software for Windows that will stitch overlapping images. And because its dedicated to stitching it works very quickly and is very accurate too. It can be used stand alone so you don’t need to own a copy of Photoshop to turn out panoramic images of excellent quality. Obviously to adjust and edit your finished piece a copy of Photoshop or any other editing and manipulation software is essential. I am going to show you the process of a simple panorama image, from the RAW images to the finished piece. Hope you enjoy, and remember to try it yourself, you can do it with a mobile phone app these days, but trust me when I say…this way is so much better.

To download Microsoft Image Composite Editor click here

The first task is to capture a series of images that overlap. The overlap is the important bit here, in matter of fact it’s quite essential as ICE (Image Composite Editor) relies on data being matched in order to stitch the images together. One thing to note is that the images don’t have to be in a landscape format, they can be in a square or even in a random shape. Which ever way you decide to compose your images the same rule applies…they must all overlap for the ICE to work.  I have selected three sunrise images (Fig.1) all taken within 10 seconds of each other. You can probably see the obvious overlap on the photographs before we even begin to stitch them together. This is very important.

Fig.1 – These are the images I am using for this demonstration

Open your images from your camera either in to Photoshop or straight to your hard drive if you have no photo editing software (Fig.2). If you have no editing software then skip to the next step and open ICE. One thing to bear in mind when shooting the images is to get the exposure as accurate as possible and be consistent over the series you shoot. This will help you considerably when editing and finally stitching the images.  If you find that one of the images is over or under exposed it will clearly stand out amongst a stitch of several images. Its much easier to get it correct first time than go back and make adjustments and have to do the stitch all over again.

Three sequential images opened in Photoshop CS5 for editing

Fig.2 – Three sequential images opened in Photoshop CS5 for editing

The images should all be sized to exactly the same size. Most of my images are edited for the web and Flickr so they are resized at 1600×1200 pixels at 72 pixels per inch. With the images edited to look similar in exposure, contrast, brightness and depth its a simple case of saving them to a location on your hard drive. The next step is to install and run Microsoft Image Composite Editor. You will then be presented with an interface as shown in Fig.3

Fig.3 - MS ICE Interface

Fig.3 – MS ICE Interface

You now have a choice; you can either drag your images from the saved location as a selection (i.e. all 3 at once) or you can click FILE, NEW PANORAMA and select the images this way. In all fairness the latter is probably better as you can ensure from previews that you actually select the correct images. see (Fig.4)

Select your images for import in to ICE

Fig.4 – Select your images for import in to ICE

Once the images are imported in to Microsoft Image Composite Editor the program will start working straight away. Depending on how many images you have selected for your stitch and how complex they are will affect the amount of time the software takes to produce the output. A simple 3 or 4 image composite should only take a few seconds to complete. During the process you will see a screen like Fig.5

Fig.5 - ICE is generating your stitch

Fig.5 – ICE is generating your stitch

When the program has finished you should be presented with a composite image of all your selected photographs (Fig.6)  I did mention earlier that the system is not 100% accurate and occasionally errors do occur. I cannot suggest a solution to errors as I don’t yet have one. I did try selecting a smaller number of images for the stitch, then doing a second stitch with the remainder. Then finally stitching the two stitches, if that makes sense. This does overcome the problem slightly but once again is not guaranteed. Ok, so you now have your stitch, and it should look something like Fig.6. As you can see its look is very unfinished and scrappy. I do call this a “Tatty Stitch” and occasionally I will pop this final image in to Photoshop as it is and make an image from it. An example of this can be seen in Fig.7 below

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Fig.7 – An example of a “Tatty Stitch”

6. Clicking Automatic  crop will frame the image

Fig.6 – Clicking Automatic crop will frame the image

The crop boundaries can be adjusted according to your requirements, once you are happy it just a case of saving your image to your location of choice. This is done by clicking “export to disk”. So there you have it. A very easy and effective way of creating either a landscape panorama or a general photostitch. There are many possibilities with stitches, not just landscapes but in general photography. It can be great fun to capture a group of people, particularly a few who are moving around, occasionally you can find the same person in the stitch in more than one location. Below is the final image (Fig.8) I created from three single frames using the steps above. Hope you like it, any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact me or leave a message in the comment box on here.

Fig.8 - Final Image

Fig.8 – Final Image

If you like the idea of photo stitching and would like to see some more of my attempts, please take a look at this specific set I create on Flickr just for composites : Click HERE

Thank you for reading this post. If you have as much success as I have doing this, please contact me and show me your stitches, I would love to see them.

Why do people judge you by what they see….?

This sounds like an odd post doesn’t it? I just felt I had to write this following incidents recently. Whether we like to admit it or not, people usually make up their minds about a person before they have even met them let alone spoken to them; from their looks even or following an incident. This affects how people treat each other. People often judge or misunderstand other people’s appearances in a less than equal manner before they even know the true nature of the person. Every day people make assumptions by what others can see physically. Everybody judge people because of the way they are, the car that they use, the type of job they have, their physical looks, the football team they support or the way they dress. When people shop at Asda they are able to define whats good for them and what they don’t want to purchase. People are able to choose good products over bad products because they don’t have broken packaging, cracks and bruises. Everyone just assumes that the “good looking” products have good qualities and taste good too.

If we judge other human beings based on how they look, isn’t this called prejudice. Prejudice is to form an opinion about someone or something in advance based on insufficient knowledge. In fact, prejudice disadvantages or harm people’s feelings because of how the media describes other people’s personal lives. Judging a person is very common in today’s society. People every day judge one another, whether it’s judging another’s appearance (which is the most common) or judging the way one behaves, everyone is guilty of it. People are prejudiced against race, family and poverty. However, in most cases, you may be making judgments about someone without even knowing a person at all. It is wrong to judge someone because one can really hurt someone’s feelings or it may backfire on them and they may be the one to end up getting hurt. The worst part about judging someone is the fact that most people’s judgments are wrong, considering most people judge in a negative manner.

Why Do People Judge Others then? I have no idea. How can someone make a decision based on what they see. I was on the receiving end of this a few months ago. I have a brain tumour and life is difficult, I will admit that. I cope with pain 24/7 and just get on with my life. I am awarded certain benefits because of the nature of my illness. After rigorous tests and form filling-in you are “judged” based on information supplied by yourself and information gathered by the officer conducting the interview. If they get the decision correct then all is good for both parties, but what happens when it goes wrong. When the person doing the “judging” misses something that influences the decision and subsequently fails to provide that person with the correct award?

So, why do people judge others so negatively? Do you think it’s because of jealousy, dislike, disappointment, or is it just human nature. I mean, is it natural or normal to judge people because they are only human?

I really get upset when I see other people judge others wrongly. I have experienced a lot of instances where I have been judged just because I don’t meet up with their standard of what a person should look like; or the way I act isn’t “normal”. What is normal?

I parked in a disabled parking space at my local supermarket. Upon exiting the car an elderly gentleman came charging over demanding to know what was physically wrong with me that warranted me parking in that space? What detriment was it to him that I was parked in the space? He didn’t need it, he had already parked up and saw me pulling in. Was he gunning for an argument? He picked the wrong person for that one as I chose to ignore his question.

What do you think he would have said had I replied and said “I have got a brain cancer”?

Comments welcome.

S N O W …… yay. I do not think so.

It is my worst nightmare….let me explain. A number of years ago my lovely, shiny new Vauxhall Vectra was parked on our street, kerb side, overnight. Nothing wrong with that I hear you say. Well, you would be quite correct under normalMy worst nightmare...."watch that car mister"circumstances except that very night the snow came down heavy. As we live on a steep hill,  drivers not familiar with the area often decide (ego related) that they can challenge the snow-covered hill as it’s a shortcut. A quick route from Harrogate Road and Green Lane through to Yeadon. To the ambitious driver it must be some ill-fated attempt at competing in their own version of the RAC Rally. As a resident, its down right annoying and even dangerous too.

On this particular day in question, the 2nd February 2009 I was the owner of a very nice Vauxhall Vectra Sri in Black. The car was 9 months old and in lovely condition. It was 8am and the kids were getting ready for school. I was just about to get out of bed and the cry came from the upstairs landing “someones crashed in to your car”….ouch! I thought this was a joke at first as I looked at Elaine. No jokes please, I’ve heard them all.

A car had come down the hill, in thick snow,  hit the camber of the road, slid to the right under very poor braking action only to find a stopping place at the other side of the road. This stopping place can only be described one way: My car ! Enough said. My lovely new car had been subjected to torture by a careless individual who didn’t appear to have the slightest concern what so ever.

You can understand my feelings, I am sure you can. Those are words best kept away from public domain. Elaine and I have a philosophy now; park the cars on the other side of the road when it forecasts snow. This way, any car driver that appears to be one sandwich short of a picnic and dares to drive down a hill that is 1:5 can crash in to a kerb-stone and damage the steering and wheel rims instead of our cars. Last night, in hearing the weather forecast I moved my car to the opposite side of the road, where it has been parked all day.



Looking at the damage, I suppose you can understand the problem and the trouble it causes. It’s not just the damage, it’s the cost of the insurance advance, the inconvenience and then the hassle of getting a hire care that’s so small I will need a can opener to get in and out. On top of that, I need to rip the front seats out of a Fiat Cinquecento and sit in the back, all this so my feet will reach the pedals without having them wrapped around my neck twice. I’m exaggerating I know, but that’s what it feels like. Anyway, as I write this blog post, I can hear the snow melting. My car is on the other side of the road, keeping Elaine’s’ KA company for a change. Where it will stay until the danger has passed. Its forecast freezing temperatures this evening so it could mean an icy start for all in the morning.  As for my car, well.. I will be much happier if it stays in one piece.

Thanks for reading….Night all.

I broke my promise

I decided back in 2012, sounds long ago doesn’t it; that I would start to attend to and maintain my blog at least weekly. Well, what I hadn’t done was consider the possible obstacles that could or would present themselves during my twenty twelve blog-fest. Holidays I can go along with, after all, it wouldn’t be a holiday if you had to blog everyday would it.  So, what happened? Well, I think I just took so many images, edited so many images and talked to groups of people about everything. I just didn’t have time. Moving on…

The new year started off well, and I decided to purchase a new hard drive to accommodate all last years RAW files. RAW files, for those out of the know… are Camera generated images that can only be read by particular software or computer program. They are very large files and provide great quality when printing and/or showing images. When you have taken just short of 25,000 in a year and they each weigh in at an incredible 18 to 26 megabytes each it only takes a Casio to work it out that the resulting amount is far more than the average hard drive can digest in a good meal. So I came across a great bargain from my friends at CCL Computers in Bradford ( www.cclonline.com ); a half price 2TB internal Hard Drive for just shy of £70. Bargain !!

After our lovely weekend away I spoke to a good friend of mine who agreed to install it for me. At first. I wasn’t afraid of doing it myself, until I looked inside the PC Tower and realised that the hard disk wouldn’t fit in the compartment correctly. Well it did fit, but it was quite loose and the future of the data to be stored upon it may have been compromised had I continued. So I popped over with all the bits and my mate Jason did the business.  Now, I should have known better than to ignore something. Just before Christmas my PC had decided to just turn off the monitors half way through doing something…A bit unfair isn’t it? It’s a bit like going to the theatre and suddenly half way through they turn off the stage lights and say to the audience “you will have to wait till the end of the performance before you can move, but you will have to guess when that is because you wont be able to see it”. But that’s exactly what happened….the monitors went off quite unexpectedly and the PC kept on doing what it was quite merrily. This is all well and good if you weren’t doing anything important but half way through editing a photograph and you were “FUBAR’d”. (if you have never heard that expression it means F**CKED UP BEYOND ALL RECOGNITION).

A quick “Google” brought up many possible solutions to my problem along with numerous advertisements for new computer components. There were many suggestions from overheating to dust but the one that pointed a finger at the problem was the graphics card. The graphics card or display adapter is what transfers the information from the PC to the actual screen, hence why the PC actually stayed on whilst all this was kicking off. With all those solutions I read between the lines and decided to go one stage further than cleaning up my annual images on to a new drive. I reformatted the whole machine ! BOOM. This was done in the belief that reformatting and reinstalling might actually get rid of the problem. Well, everyone has to have a dream; mine was just doomed from the start.

I took precautions before hand…everything was backed up; well, almost everything. I managed to lose my Internet Favourites but they reside on my IPAD so I’m not too concerned about them. I even remembered to deactivate my Photoshop CS5 and send the serial activation back up to Adobe’s server. That’s another story for another day…remind me. With the machine reformatted and running hyper-fast, that fast it would have obtained a gold in last years summer Olympics and even given Mr Bolt a run for his money. I was a happy bunny-wabbit, until…halfway through editing a photograph for my blog it decided to rear its ugly head and shut the monitors off again. Oh ball hooks I thought…problem not solved.

I spoke to a very good friend of mine on Friday. This was now 7 days since the first incident and he said quite calmly “I’ve got a spare one you can have”. Never look a gift horse in the mouth my knowledge of old sayings tells me…so I didn’t. Richard stated he would give it to a family member who works near where I live and I arranged to collect it from him today. You can imagine my horror when I looked out of the window and saw the snow this morning. My immediate concern was not that of anyone’s safety or wellbeing, but a quite selfish thought of ” Oh no, not another day without my PC.” There is some irony in that thought actually. It’s not as if I have loads to do, I have either tinned or lost most of the remainder of last years images, and not yet managed to take one this year using my DSLR, so it’s not like I was in any rush to need it. I suppose it’s just my personal feelings and the annoyance that something isn’t working. I’m like that, I will admit it…even to you. If something isn’t working, it will bother me, nag my head every minute until it’s sorted out, overnight, even when I’m sleeping. Ask Elaine, she will tell you with that knowing face.. you know, like nodding and shaking her head at the same time.

At 4am I woke. Looking towards the bedroom window I could sense that “glow”. A light pollution glow. The street lights were polluting the night sky with the help of snow. The white snow was amplifying the ambience and creating an almost “night sun” effect. It was strange, last time I saw an effect like this was when I was a police officer and had some assistance from the force helicopter to light up some waste land whilst pursuing a suspected car thief. My graphics card was going to be ready for collection after 9am and I just hoped that was going to be the solution. What stood in my way now was a snow fall. A snowfall that wouldn’t stop me getting to the location I had agreed; but might prevent Roy from getting over this way considering the distance involved.

In the clear light of day, the snowfall was minimal and was even starting to melt by the time I exited the back door. It was never a problem, and Roy handed over the card for which I was really grateful. After a morning rushing round involving the current Mrs W getting her eyes tested, my lovely mother-in-law dispatched on a shopping expedition and a few odd jobs I have finally found time to sit down and install it in my machine.

All up and working, and PC and owner’s happiness mutually restored. Maybe I will sleep better tonight, I know the PC will.

It’s about time too…. and a lack of DSLR action

It’s about time too.. I have been busy creating pages for this blog that sit in the background with snippets of information that I find or have found useful or interesting. It then became apparent that maybe doing these pages made me neglect the daily ramblings which was the initial purpose of this blog-ette. So here we go, my first blog….

Last month, towards the Christmas period, I took a look at the mounting backlog of images from the 12 months of 2012. I had started off the year with every intention of keeping up. The fact that I had ended 2011 in exactly the same predicament as I have ended 2012; way behind in editing; probably had a major influence on why my images fell so far behind. I found myself editing January’s efforts in April. But, having said that I can only blame myself. I think I am way too fussy about things been right. They have to look good, correct and in place; not particularly perfect as I allow for my own creativity to play a part in the final results but that’s open to flexibility isn’t it? Having said that, the whole problem is caused by taking way too many photographs in the first place. Where does this vicious circle end though? Fine, I can understand it been my responsibility. I am the one pressing the shutter…every press can create up to 15 minutes of work, editing, resizing and preparing in Lightroom for upload to my Flickr pages. I personally put it down to my love of taking photographs far exceeding the love of editing. This, coupled with seizing every opportunity to shoot something in the sunlight as opposed to cloudy days means that a week of good weather can produce 700 images and no editing. End result – Mounting backlog of images.

As the months progressed I stayed at a continuous level. Usually two months behind. On December 26th I took one look at November’s and Decembers contributions and just thought “sod it”. I ploughed in to them like a man possessed. I was ruthless. Anything that looked remotely like previous images was marked for deletion and anything that stood out was edited at marked for upload. Then came the big one. I uploaded what I had marked in my first pass of the images as edited. Then I deleted the remainder. OH NO !!! Big mistake…HUGE, ENORMOUS. The 300gb of files that were deleted had gone, yes I was warned that they were too big for the recycle bin but I had automatically assumed that they were the ones I had finished with and not the unedited ones. Anyway, to cut a long story short…they have gone forever. Floating around in cyber space somewhere never to be seen again.

I uploaded the batch that I had finished and that was it. 2012 was all done. I have been twiddling my thumbs ever since. The present Mrs Winterbourne must be wondering what the hell is going on. All this time I am spending with her is becoming a shock to the system. As a consequence of the file loss, I have put some contingency plans in place and today a new 2tb hard disk arrived at Winterbourne Towers ready for installation tomorrow. This will give me plenty of space for 2013 for all my RAW files. But the weather had to improve first.

The weather has a lot to answer for doesn’t it? Not a glimmer of sun, plenty of rain, cold temperatures and then; my family residing in New Zealand, and my family visiting New Zealand start posting pictures on Facebook of cloudless skies, sun-tanned bodies and summer. Yes, remember summer….that thing with warm weather and sun ! So do I…but only just.

This weekend saw Elaine and I disappearing for a well deserved break. We do this from time to time you know. It does the soul good, four walls are better than three in your home but they all tend to look the same after a while anyway. So a change of scene was in order…just don’t tell the kids she said. Saturday morning saw me helping a friend out and taking some photos so I was away well before lunchtime. Mrs W on the other hand had a day off work and a rendezvous at our hotel of choice later that day was in order. It’s not as easy as you think to check in to a hotel that your wife had already checked in to. Even if they give you the room number by text message, getting past Saddam Hussein on the door is another story. It wasnt so much that they wouldn’t let me in first time, as I fully understand security and its procedures with my background; it was more about the fact that they fired questions at me that were so unexpected. I greeted the receptionist with a smile and was hell-bent on keeping walking but as I passed her at 90′ she must have realised I was on a mission and from behind me came the voice “excuse me sir”…”why, what have you done” was the thought, and yes I was itching to say it. “May I help you sir?” …. of course.. I’m meeting my wife here and need to go the room she is in. “Please wait here sir, whilst we check” … check what I thought….? Yeah I know, security etc….but I would have thought that knowing our address, providing the credit card the booking was made with and handing over my identification would be enough, as well as knowing the full name, date of birth, cup-size and colour of the underwear of the occupant of room xxx as secondary. No. ! it wasn’t … I was subjected to “we are just checking with our guest sir” … I know, that guest is my wife for goodness sake.

Now, it doesn’t take a genius to work this out but this must have looked quite laughable to the people who were in reception. I was an alien…an illegal one at that… I started singing the Genesis track in my head…”I’m an alien, I’m an illegal alien”… you know how it goes….mind you, I moved on to the next track in my imaginary playlist and came up with Home By The Sea another Genesis track which goes in to quite graphic detail about a mental institution. The humming and singing quietly came to an abrupt end as she announced the room number.

I felt like a businessman meeting his secretary for some extra curricular activities out of working hours. As I walked towards the elevators I felt like they were talking about me…I can hear it now, Hey Doris, remember that blonde lady that arrived this lunchtime, you know the one with the black sports top on….he’s off to meet her….

I know, I’m getting carried away…but we had a great weekend though. It’s not often Elaine & I will go to the cinema to see a film twice but we decided to make an exception to this one. Skyfall is absolutely fantastic and well worth a return visit. We had decided to go for an Indian Meal at Nawaabs initially and with an early bird offer we were dining by 17:45 …what an absolutely fantastic meal too…the place was great, not too busy at first but nearly full when we left. It comes highly recommended should you like this style of dining.

We decided over our meal that the cinema was an option.. We just looked at each other and said “Skyfall” .. So, it was a done deal… Skyfall it was. A quick check online for the show times and we were sorted…who can resist a bit of 007 action.
A fantastic weekend, and not a one image shot or edited for my library….unless of course you count our #januaryphotochallenge on Instagram

Thanks for reading….

Back soon,

I’ve come back….a fresh look too

It’s been a while, May 23rd to be quite precise. Considering it’s now Wednesday the 2nd January 2013 I suppose I would have to come up with a mammoth excuse for not pressing one teeny-weeny blog in 7 months. Hang on a teeny minute….May 23rd but 2011…..yes, Two-Thousand and Eleven….thats disgusting Mark. Excuses at the ready for not housekeeping my blog……one answer, one excuse, one word = F L I C K R

flickr-logoFlickr is  – almost certainly the best online photo management and sharing application in the world – has two main goals: We want to help people make their photos available to the people who matter to them. We want to enable new ways of organizing photos and video. If you have never had the pleasure of uploading a photograph or a video to Flickr then go on, give it a try….you will not regret it. I am currently heading towards one million views on my photographs. This is far more than I could have expected in two years of uploading.

I never considered that putting images on the www for others to see could be addictive, but its a two-way street; literally minutes after uploading I get comments from people all over the world offering their opinion on my attempts at proving I can actually produce an image that is attractive to someone other than me.  The comments are mainly positive but every artist, be it digital, photographic or even the good old drawing and painting has to be prepared for critique. That I am !

I won’t ramble on about Flickr as it features a lot in my image making but if you are new and would like to take a look at some of my images on Flickr site, there is a link at the top right hand corner of the blog. As stated, all comments, good or bad will be welcomed with open arms. No one should be afraid of opinion, after all its how we learn.

So then, the Dead Pixels…..well, Dead Pixels are useless; so that may sum up it all up in a nutshell…I still haven’t set a directive for this blog, which is useless. Isn’t it? Say it….go on, I know you want to. No, seriously I think I am going to post gingerly and talk about what I know and what I like. I may show you what I have done, what I like most of all, I may even re-blog (is that an actual word? No it is not, the spell check just told me) …. I have ideas for varying subject matters that are close to my heart. So, please subscribe and you will receive updates for my posts. I am hoping I will have more time to blog than edit photographs, so you should have something to read as well as see too…..

So for now, thank you for getting this far… there are a couple more pages on here that were left from my previous attempt at telling my audience about Winterbournes’ World…so if you havent fallen asleep then I applaud you.

Bye for now…  oh, a last word….the spell check wanted to change “Winterbournes'” to Intercourses ….explain that

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