platypod ultra - update
In my last post I talked about having just bought a Platypod Ultra - a lightweight, compact baseplate for a ballhead that can go places tripods can't.
Well, this week I finally got a chance to take it out with me on a work trip to Manchester. I was staying in my favourite hotel - The Principal on Oxford Road - and it's a building that's beautiful with a real variety of architecture, not to mention a great hotel with excellent food and staff.
After I checked-in, I grabbed my camera, popped my 7-14mm wide-angle lens and Platypod on, and went for a wander for an hour or so. I've not yet had a proper chance to look through my shots and edit them properly, but here are two that I think show off the Platypod pretty darn well - look how happy it is sitting on the plinth of a pillar, not to mention the shot I got.
This really is an excellent piece of kit - I wish I'd bought one ages ago! I didn't get chance to try it out with its feet to deal with uneven surfaces and such, but I'm very happy with it and can see it replacing my tripod a lot of the time due to its size and ultra-portability.
I've just treated myself to one of these little gizmos. I've read and seen so much about them and eventually bit the bullet this week and bought one.
So, what is the Platypod Ultra? In simple terms, it's a tripod. Ish! It's a base plate that you fit a ballhead to, and it's so small, light and (it turns out) sturdy that it's perfect for those times and places where a tripod isn't suitable.
If you've ever tried shooting on a tripod you'll know that not only do you have to lug them around with you, but the number of places that won't let you shoot with one is unreal. The Platypod Ultra solves this nicely as it's so small that you can just put it down pretty much anywhere.
This is my Panasonic G80 with 12-60mm lens and as you can see the Platypod Ultra is holding it perfectly, despite the angle I've got the camera at. I've tried it with my 7-14mm wide-angle and it's just as sturdy, even tilting it back so that the lens was pointing straight up and it's rock solid.
Needless to say I'm very happy with this new purchase, and can't wait to get out with it and use it 'for real', and can seriously see me ditching my tripods in the future, who knows?
This video is Scott Kelby's explanation of what it's all about.
setup and behind-the-scenes
I'll be honest, I'm pretty rubbish when it comes to this - I'm usually so busy setting up the shot I'm wanting to take that I completely forget to document the setup! Ah well.
We recently spent a couple of weeks in Crete, staying not far from Agios Nikolaos. We headed into the town one afternoon with the plan (well, my plan) of still being there around sunset so that I could shoot the town, and especially the lake the town is known for.
Anyway, come early evening we decided to see if we could find a small café or similar for something to eat and stumbled across the very nice Café Migomis. Not only was the food and service excellent, but the views over the lake were fabulous too!
We sat down, but couldn't get near the window as the tables were full, but I grabbed my camera and popped it on the table, just in case I could squeeze between some of the tables when the time came. Luckily, one of the tables left, and the waiter - spotting my camera - asked if we'd like to move!
So, I setup my camera on my trusty tripod and perched it on the end of our table (as you can see in the left-hand shot below), switched the camera to a two-second timer (to avoid any camera shake from me pressing the shutter), and periodically took a photo.
The image on the right is the final shot, after some light editing in Lightroom. Taken with my 12-60mm lens, 1/3 secs at f/22, ISO 200.
exhibition update, and a happy customer!
Here we are a month later, so how did it all go? Apart from those sold or ordered on the night I've sold another couple of mounted prints, two 30x40in canvases (one, the Clifton Suspension Bridge you can see in the previous post, to a lady as a 28th wedding anniversary present for her husband who proposed to her there - I feel very honoured that she would choose one of my prints for something so personal) and a provisional order on a third, smaller canvas.
Would I have liked to have sold more? Obviously yes - but I'm incredibly happy that I managed to sell anything at all, and it's definitely given me a new focus for my photography for the rest of the year (work commitments notwithstanding).
Today I had the privilege to hand-deliver one of my prints to its new owner - I think she was happy about it, but not as happy as I was!
exhibition opening night
Well, last night was the opening of my exhibition at our local café - Bica Café & Bistro. Blimey! I think I've just about recovered!
Apart from what felt like an afternoon of running around making sure I was happy with everything, and obviously a trip to the café to hang all the images (many thanks to my wife, and Ana - the café owner - for helping me), there was then the stress and nerves of my first-ever exhibition.
The 'having to talk to strangers' bit didn't bother me too much - as an IT instructor, it's what I've been doing for a living for the last 26+ years, so I just had to switch into that mode and I could cope with that. It was more the 'just because my wife and I like what I shoot, would anybody else?' that started to niggle at the back of my mind.
I'm incredibly grateful to all my friends and family who turned up to support me, though with the number of other people who turned up (yay!) I didn't get much chance to socialise with them. But I did get to spend some time with others who were very interested in my images and in me as a photographer.
So, I set myself what I thought was a vaguely realistic target - if I could maybe sell just ONE print, to someone that I didn't know (as opposed to a friend, who might - in my mind - be buying it out of sympathy/to support me), then I'd be a very happy bunny.
Yeah, well. Hmmm... I only went and sold FIVE! Cue a very happy Richard!
So, I ended up leaving some mounted prints in the café for people to purchase and take away if they want, and everything on the walls is for sale, as well as hopefully taking some orders via my website.
Who knows where it might all lead...?
Well, what an eventful few days it's been and going to be!
Apart from all of the usual mundane stuff, this week brings the Great Knaresborough Bed Race - a local tradition harking back to the 1960s. It's a fantastic event and, as last year, I've been asked to be one of the official photographers. I guess that means I did an OK job last year! Anyway, I'm massively looking forward to it - not only is it a great day out (if you're not working!), but I get to shoot something that's massively different to what I'd also usually shoot. Some of the images from last year are on my Flickr page (done long before I got this site up and running).
On top of that, my long-delayed (mostly due to work commitments) exhibition is definitely going ahead! The owner of a local independent café that we (might just, perhaps, every now and again) go to used to be an art lecturer at Aberdeen University; she saw some of my photography on social media and asked me if I'd like to exhibit my work there - she tries to exhibit work by a local artist every couple of months or so.
Anyway, now that all of the pesky work stuff is out of the way I've finally been able to get everything together and I'll be running my exhibition there through July, with a 'meet the photographer' (eek!) open evening on 6 July. This is my first exhibition and I'm super-excited about it, but also nervous too.
Here's hoping it all goes well!
quick site update
I've been wanting to give the site a little bit of a revamp for a few weeks now, but real life (you know, work and stuff) kept getting in the way!
Anyway, I've managed to do it today (phew!) and remove some of the images I wasn't so happy with and replace them with others I preferred. I've also added a new album - world on white seamless - inspired by an idea of Scott Kelby's that I saw some time ago and really liked the idea of, so this is my take on it.
favourite shots of the year
Last year, at around this time, I decided to create a Flickr album for my favourite images that I'd taken that year, with a view to (trying to remember to!) doing the same each year.
In 2016 I chose around a dozen pictures, and 15 this year. They're not necessarily the most technically challenging images that I may have taken or even the 'best' (isn't that very subjective anyway?), but they're the ones that I liked most. For whatever reason(s), they're images that I just like, that speak to me in some way.
So, in the last few days Adobe have announced new and updated versions of Photoshop and Lightroom. In particular, Lightroom has been split into two products - the all-new 'Lightroom CC', and an updated version of the Lightroom you may know and love, now rebranded as 'Lightroom Classic'.
If you're a Lightroom user and unsure which of the two new Lightrooms would suit your workflow best, maybe the video below from Adobe's Julianne Kost will help.
Personally, for now at least, I'll be sticking with 'Lightroom Classic' as it better suits my needs, and it's reasonably uncommon for me to need to edit on-the-go.
Why the switch?
Now that the site is finally up-and-running, I thought I'd add a quick blog post. This is in answer to a question I've had a lot recently "Why did you switch from Nikon to Panasonic?"
And the answer is actually quite a simple one: I didn't, as such. I switched from a DSLR (specifically my much-loved Nikon D7000) to a mirrorless camera - the Micro Four Thirds Panasonic G80 (I'd have loved to get the GH5 but my budget wouldn't stretch far enough!).
Why did I move to mirrorless? A variety of reasons really. Partly, because I'm a tech geek and love new gadgets and toys. Partly because I like learning new stuff. And partly for sheer portability.
Well when I'm out and about - even with my camera on my trusty SpiderHolster Pro - by the end of the day, I know about it. It doesn't matter how I've carried my cameras over the years, whether it's in-hand, on the manufacturer-provided neckstraps (ugh!), or even the slingstrap I had for a while, I ended up aching. So, having had a chance to play with a mirrorless camera on a recent training course, I decided to make the switch.
Of course, over the years, I'd built up a collection of four lenses, a couple of filters and suchlike, none of which would fit my new camera. Eek! So I went along to my local independent camera store - they're always incredibly helpful - to see what I might get for trading-in my old kit against the new.
And the price they offered me was just £50 shy of a shiny new Panasonic G80 and kit lens (a surprisingly handy 12-60mm). So in one fell swoop, I got rid of all my old kit (rather than lots of faffing around on eBay) and funded the purchase of my new one - happy bunny!
Now that I've had some time to start to get used to it - obviously aside from the standard camera controls for aperture/shutter priority and the like, all the controls are different, the menus are different... So, it's a new learning curve, but one I'm starting to get to grips with. How well, only time will tell!