opinion

Failed hard drives

It is generally accepted in the world of information technology that there are only two types of hard drive; those that have failed and those that haven’t failed yet.

Evidently that is true but as part of my COVID-19 tidying-up, sorting-out and archiving I have dragged out my plastic box full of “failed” hard drives (some of which date back over twelve years) to see if there’s anything that I can drag off of any of them that I don’t have elsewhere. I didn’t think that there would be because I have been almost anal in my backing-up and backing-up the back-ups for many years now.

I’ve powered them up and connected them to a couple of different Macs and a PC to see what there is – if anything there. Of the old 3.5” drives only one out of nine actually mounted and was accessible but that was a bare drive that I had put into a housing as part of an experiment to see if that was actually a good way to go. It turns out that it is – or at least it would be if USB2 wasn’t so slow. I can stick that bare drive into a faster housing but there’s no useful data on it that I don’t have in at least three other places. (more…)

Adobe Camera RAW 13 – not so bad!

A few months ago I wrote a blog post criticising Adobe for making wholesale changes to the Camera RAW interface with Photoshop and Bridge. It appeared that they wanted to make it more like Lightroom and I questioned why they would do that given that there are relatively few crossover users of the two very different (but identical under the hood) RAW conversion options. If you want to go back and read the whole post then you can on the link above but in summary I said the following;

… my other main gripe with Adobe is to ask why call this an update move from .2 to .3 and not actually call it what it is with some decent warnings – as a user this feels like a whole new version and I would like to have had some warning before having to spend time (which I luckily have right now but that’s immaterial) getting to know the new interface. At the end of the day my workflow isn’t going to change much, if at all. Equally, this is still a more suitable application than any of the others I have tried and tried again – including Lightroom. I have challenged myself to work with the default version of the new workspace to see if it is better because a couple of others have assured me that they prefer it and those are also people whose opinion I would always respect but I have to be honest and say that I’m not looking forward to the next big edit

I have been working away with various updates and then, along with the 2021 version of Photoshop CC which appeared a few days ago, version 13 of the Camera RAW module landed and I am able to pronounce myself reasonably happy. That’s for two reasons really, the first is that I have been plugging away learning how to work with the new interface and the second is that I have gone over to using more and more keyboard shortcuts – which makes so much sense given that I have always been a fan of them in other applications such as Photo Mechanic. (more…)

Imperfect Portraiture

Pascale Allotey, Professor in Race and Diversity at Brunel university in west London.© Neil Turner/TSL November 2005

I have had the title for this piece rattling around in my head for several weeks now but before I dive in I want to explain that it is about a certain style of editorial portraiture that appeals to me. It is equally important that nobody reading this thinks that I believe other forms of portrait photography are somehow inferior or are “less portraity”.

I suspect that every sentiment that you will read in this mini-essay will have been expressed somewhere on my blog at some point in time. After all, if you did a search for the word “portrait” on this site you would get hundreds of hits. From explaining the anguish of editing your own work to my definition of what is and is not a portrait. I have written about why this kind of photography speaks to me so loudly and so consistently but I have wanted for some time to bring all of those thoughts and impulses together. As always, there are two reasons for doing this; the first is to stimulate thought and debate amongst those who care to read it and secondly to help me further clarify my own opinions and, by doing so, make my own work better.

Of course there isn’t a strict set of rules about what constitutes a portrait. Back in 2011 I wrote this; (more…)

Adobe Camera RAW 12.3 – ouch!

My workflow has revolved around Photo Mechanic and Adobe Camera RAW for a lot of years now and, bit by bit, it has evolved along with those two key applications to become a slick and well-ordered professional process. Adobe have posted regular updates to their RAW converter pretty regularly and those updates have almost always been logical and very welcome. Occasionally they have made quite big changes and I have welcomed pretty much everything they’ve done. Until now.

The latest version, 12.3 wasn’t flagged-up in advance as being a major change and so I (stupidly) hit OK on the update without giving it too much thought. I was more than a little surprised when I opened my first set of RAW files to edit them because what I was seeing were a whole raft of changes that were, in my opinion, not needed and/or not wanted. (more…)

I need people in photographs

Children play football with an improvised ball in the Copperbelt of Zambia. ©Neil Turner/TSL.

Like most members of the photographic profession, the bottom has dropped out of my business and any and all photography bookings between the first week of March and the end of July have been postponed or cancelled. Not my fault, not my client’s faults either so I’m being pretty calm about it and getting used to being in lockdown. Lots of my news photographer friends are out there day after day coming up with fabulous picture to illustrate the only story that anyone is interested in – the Coronavirus Pandemic – and I applaud them warmly. That applause goes for the health workers, retailers who are at work, the emergency services, delivery drivers, refuse workers and every other key worker who is there doing their jobs to keep society ticking over and, more importantly, safe.

Again, like most members of the photographic profession, I am looking back through old images of mine to remind myself what it is about the job and making the pictures that I love so much. I’ve also been looking through some of the hundreds of photographic books that line the shelves in my home and it has taken almost no time at all to re-affirm what I already knew: (more…)

Mission Creep

I have lost count of the number of times I have agreed the details of an assignment with a client only to find out that they want to add a few “little extras” on the day of the shoot. Sometimes it is a job where we agreed to do a dozen headshots only to find out that they’ve added another six or seven. It can be a school prospectus shoot which was meant to end with the school day where, over a cup of coffee, they casually add an after-school club that doesn’t start until after you were supposed to be off-site. In the most extreme case I can remember it was to do half of the job in central London and the rest of it a two-hour drive away on the outskirts of Coventry.

The military term “mission creep” sort of covers this except that most definitions use the word “unintentionally” whereas this kind of “job expansion” is pretty often entirely intentional. How you handle this regular occurrence says a lot about you as a photographer and can define your relationship with that client for years to come. What might seem as a harmless addition to the brief can leave you with extra work, less time to shoot parts of the original brief and can get you into a row with the client.

For me the worst part of mission creep is the almost inevitable additional time that will have to be spent in post production. It stands to reason that even if you can shoot extra pictures in the time given for the job there will be a greater number of images to be sorted, captioned, cropped and toned. The client almost always ends up getting what they perceive as more pictures for the same fee. (more…)