advice

Two set-ups at once

Bill Cockburn at the School Teachers Review Body. ©Neil Turner/TSL

From time-to-time I repost one of the fifty technique examples that were posted on the original dg28.com website between 1999 and 2008. I have timed this one to go with uploading this particular frame to my Instagram feed as one of the series of archive portraits that I’ve been putting there for well over five months.

The idea here is to have two separate lighting set-ups for one interview portrait without having to constantly move around the room adjusting lights. This interview was with a senior businessman who chaired a body that decided how much teachers’ pay rises will be each year. The reporter wasn’t all that comfortable with me shooting through the interview but it was what the picture editor wanted, so that’s what I did. This job required a bit of quick thinking so that I could get two different set-ups in place. (more…)

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…)

More about archiving

Interview portrait of Lady Helen Brook, founder of the Brook Advisory Centres which gave advice to young women about contraception starting in the in the 1960s, aged 85 at her home in north-west London. 05 May 1993 Photo: Neil Turner

Here we are in day sixty-something of the UK Coronavirus lockdown and I’m still ploughing through my very old work and trying to knock it into a usable archive. There are a number of stages to the process and stage one has been to make a detailed catalogue of somewhere approaching three thousand rolls of negatives from dates on the negative sleeves married up with my old (Filofax) diaries and a few memories kicking around in my head. Stage one is now pretty much finished. There are a few gaps where I cannot work out the exact details of when and where pictures were taken and there are a lot of sheets of negatives missing where the films were processed in newspaper darkrooms and I never got them back.

What I have done as a first step is to create a spreadsheet with columns for the film number, date shot, client who commissioned the job or if it was a self-funded project, a generic caption for the whole sheet of negatives, specific frames where applicable and the digital filename range of files created. From there I can import any or all of that data into the IPTC metadata once I get to the captioning of those images. There will be some rolls of film that will never be touched and there are others which will be given a lot of attention. (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…)

Batteries – can you ever have too many?

Canon batteries August 2019. © Neil Turner

A few weeks ago I was on a simple PR job alongside a small video crew and another photographer. Like most jobs we talked about what we needed, let the video team go first and then shot our pictures. As the day progressed the pattern was repeated until just after lunch the other photographer ran out of power for his camera. He was using a single Canon EOS5D MkIII and I was shooting with two EOS5D MkIVs so we had the same type of battery and I offered to lend him one of my spares. When asked how many spares I had I said that I had four in my camera bag and another four in the car along with a battery charger that would run in the car or on mains should I get desperate. He was amazed that one photographer could own so many and I was equally amazed that anyone doing this for a living wouldn’t. Since then I have been asking around and it turns out that I am quite unusual. (more…)