E-mail: neil@aberdeenphoto.com | Office: 01224 877 499 | Mobile: 0 7813 705 205

All posts in Personal

12 Apr 2015

Smart watches (Pebble and Apple)

With my renewed commitment to blogging, that will mainly be about photography, I want to add some variety to the posts and include some posts on my other interests, particularly technology.  With the launch of the new Apple Watch today (10th April) , I have ordered one and look forward to this incredible piece of technology. I already use a Pebble Steel and an iPhone 6 Plus and find this a great combination which will get better still with the new Apple Watch. I regularly walk and listen to podcasts and audiobooks and it is so useful to glance at my watch to see who is calling and decide whether to accept the call using my Bose QC20i headphones or decline the 0843 and nuisance calls with the X option on the watch. I can make calls using Siri and the in-line mic so I rarely need to take out my iPhone. In the cold winters of Aberdeen, this becomes even more useful when wearing gloves.

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Other indispensable things about the Pebble / 6 Plus combo
  • Vibrate when iPhone disconnected – this has saved me forgetting or losing my iPhone several times.
  • Misfit app to track my activity (steps, calories burned etc.) although I still also use a Nike fuel band which I will stop using after I get the Apple Watch.
  • Reminders on the watch are very useful e.g. a reminder of a meeting or task to be completed
  • Text and email notifications on my wrist are a great way to stay informed when looking at my iPhone would be inappropriate but lets me selectively deal with anything urgent. I was photographing at a conference last week and got a notification (vibration) on my watch about a job request and this did merit taking out my iPhone for a quick reply which got me the job.If I had waited until the conference was finished, I would’ve lost the opportunity.
  • A 4am daily alarm on my wrist wakes me with a subtle vibration, but not my wife – easily declined if I change my mind
  • The shake to light for the time during the night is also very useful

This is only going to get better with the Apple Watch. When I ordered the first Pebble, I did think it was a gimmick and not necessary when carrying a phone but using it has proved very different. This viewpoint is from a dedicated watch lover who has top end Swiss watches which I have always had a passion for. I have recently sold some of these on eBay as apart from an occasional very dressy occasion, I already cannot imagine not having a Smart watch on my wrist.

I think a lot of people will question the point of a “connected” watch but when they see the functionality and usefulness they will quickly be converted.

As soon as I get the Apple Watch, I will create a post with my initial thoughts.

10 Feb 2012

The Professional Photographer’s Compact Camera

The Fuji X100

I have been taking lots of images with this Fuji X100 compact camera and have been rediscovering taking photographs for fun. This small fixed lens compact has been the subject of lots of hype, and was one of the most anticipated cameras released in 2011. There is no point in repeating all the technical details and specification which can easily be found on-line.Visit the Fuji X100 website for details.

Some of the comments and reviews have been amazing

"Let me get this out of the way… The Fuji x100 is the greatest digital camera ever made and may just be the greatest camera I have ever owned……"

"Couple always-fantastic images with the world’s smallest real camera, and you can see why I love it so much….."

"The images I get from my Fuji X100 are nothing short of amazing. Photographing my fast-moving kids and family under every lighting condition from desert sun to dim restaurants to moonlight, my Fuji X100 makes skin tones look better than from any other camera. The X100’s ability to tame difficult light under unscripted real-world conditions automatically, which is what’s most often encountered everywhere except inside a studio, is amazing…."

"I would go so far as to say that the X100 is the most enjoyable and satisfying camera I have ever used…"

So what makes it so special

  • beautiful retro styling reminiscent of a Leica
  • Great build quality
  • Traditional dials
  • Superb 23mm (35mm equivalent) lens
  • Amazing colour straight from the camera
  • An APS-C size sensor – nothing is more important in a digital camera than sensor size

It has been called the "Professionals compact" and this is because it has a great blend of size, quality, and traditional dials. It is certainly not perfect and some of the menu controls are badly thought out, the manual focus is useless, the start up time is slow, and after a DSLR, the focussing is slow. To master this camera takes some time. I bought from Amazon, the Photographer’s Guide to the Fujifilm FinePix X100 [Kindle Edition] and after reading it, I am completely comfortable with it now. There is great pleasure in using it that is hard to define. It feels great in your hand, the main controls – shutter, aperture, and exposure compensation are traditional dials that take me back almost 40 years when I first developed an interest in photography. I am enjoying the fixed lens as it forces me to think more about my shots and composition compared to having a bag of zoom lenses covering all focal lengths.

An evening shot taken hand held on the X100 and although I have been asked if HDR was used, this is a jpeg created from the raw with no localised adjustments.

An evening shot taken hand held on the X100 and although I have been asked if HDR was used, this is a jpeg created from the raw with no localised adjustments.

However despite the retro styling, it has all the features and more that you would expect from a modern digital camera – Raw files, 5 frames per second shooting, auto ISO, auto bracketing, auto dynamic range, amazing fill-flash, and the killer feature – the hybrid viewfinder. The Hybrid Viewfinder combines the window-type “bright frame” optical viewfinder found in high-end film cameras, such as 35mm or medium-format cameras, and the electronic viewfinder system incorporated in fixed single lens or mirrorless digital cameras. While traditionalists prefer the clear, sharp view of an ‘optical’ viewfinder, modern electronic displays, giving data like shutter speed, aperture, white balance, exposure correction and ISO can aid photographers tremendously. The new Hybrid Viewfinder on the FinePix X100 aims to give the ‘best of both worlds.’

Taken at Cove, this file is direct from the camera and highlights the great dynamic range and colour from the X100

Taken at Cove, this file is direct from the camera and highlights the great dynamic range and colour from the X100

One feature that I fully expected to ignore was "Motion Panorama" – a mode that lets you move the camera horizontally following a yellow line in the viewfinder while the camera takes several images and stitches them together to create 120 or 180 degree panorama jpegs. The example below was taken at Cove using this mode and apart from some level adjustments, this image is direct from the camera.

Taken at Cove, this 180 degree panorama was created in the camera.

Taken at Cove, this 180 degree panorama was created in the camera.

I am currently involved in giving training to beginners on how to get the best from their DSLR or mirrorless system cameras and it has been useful for me to go back to basics taking photographs with a new camera, learning it’s features, reading the manual, all things I am "preaching" to the course delegates. In the process I have had a lot of fun with the Fuji X100 and although much larger than my Canon S95 point and shoot (now replaced with the S100), I am taking it everywhere with me instead of the Canon. It is not for everyone and I would not recommend it over a DSLR or if you only have one camera but if you already have a DSLR and are an enthusiast, then I am sure you will love it as much as I do. Of course if you have £10 000 or more to spend, a Leica M9 and M lenses is still the ultimate and this week, I am getting to borrow an M9 and I am very excited about this and I will have a blog post on this next week.

9 Feb 2012

Jill and Pepe at Norwood Hall

Wedding on Sunday, 22nd January

 

Finally back to blogging and hopefuly in 2012, I will have much more regular posts. I am delighted that my first post for my first wedding in 2012 is for a friend's wedding. As well as being the photographer, Sandra and I were guests at the wedding of Jill and Pepe (Guiseppe) on Sunday 22nd January.

As a regular client of the Ciao Napoli in Bon Accord Crescent (the best Italian restaurant in Aberdeen), Pepe and Nino (Pepe's brother) have become close friends, and I was delighted to be the photographer at the wedding.

It was a nice sunny day but was very very cold. Everyone was very cooperative and braved the cold to let us get most of the shots taken outside in the nice winter sun. I was using a new Nikkor 180 f2.8 which has a fantastic bokeh and I am looking forward to using it this year. Pepe is a keen photographer and has some nice Canon equipment so he will appreciate the quality of this lens.

 

 

The slideshow above is a nice way to view a selection of images and we often create this and give them to clients for their iPads, Smart phones, and laptops, but there are also images to view.

 

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Norwood is an excellent venue and it was a great wedding. I took the formal groups and bridal portraits and David took over and photographed during the speeches and dancing, while I joined the party. Pepe is a big music lover and he had booked a fantastic Soul band from Glasgow  – A-Side Soul. Visit their website to hear how good they are.

© aberdeenphoto.com

It was a great day and an excellent way to start 2012, which is already guaranteed to be a busy year.

23 Dec 2010

Merry Christmas from aberdeenphoto.com

Merry Christmas from aberdeenphoto.com

I would like to wish all our customers a merry Christmas and a happy new year. David and I are currently spending all our time phoning couriers and on-line tracking the orders we are still waiting for. The weather has delayed delivery of several orders although we have had deliveries today of albums, acrylic prints, framed prints, and canvasses. Everything we are waiting is despatched but we cannot guarantee everything will get here. We have 4 orders in the UPS depot in Tamworth and the UPS website is stating delivery is due tomorrow so we can only hope that the weather does not cause any further delays. As a back up, we are preparing full colour vouchers showing what has been ordered and explaining what is to follow. Although it is far from ideal, at least there will be something to hand over.

These are the icicles at our front door and despite the beautiful sunshine, there is no sign of them melting.

They look beautiful and I could not resist getting my camera out although it was too cold to venture very far from the door. They would have looked better using a longer lens and a shallower depth of field but at minus 8, I took these very quickly.

At night, these look great looking out the window, with the lights on them. I might take them at dusk on a tripod if it is not too cold but Christmas shopping will probably take priority.

Although the weather has resulted in some cancellations, the studio has been busy and David has taken some stunning images. We have also sold a lot of portrait vouchers so we should be busy when we come back in the New Year.

We are open today and tomorrow and then I will be back to work on the 28th and we are photographing Cheryl and David’s wedding at Belhelvie on the 29th. I am then on holiday from the 30th to the 6th January, if we can get our flights.

I would like to thank all past and all future clients for your business and we look forward to dealing with you in 2011.

 

9 Dec 2010

New Macbook Air (2010 Edition)

New Macbook Air

I have just taken delivery of the new 13 inch Macbook Air with 256gb flash memory, the upgraded processor and 4gb ram. I had sold my previous Air as I thought the iPad was a replacement for it but much as I love the iPad and use it a great deal, I realised that I missed the Air. My main machine is a very high spec. 17 inch Macbook Pro connected to a 30 inch Cinema Display. It is a great machine and is portable enough to take on an assignment or trip but if I am out during the day, I tend not to take it with me.

The Macbook Air (MBA) is so light, it is very easy to have it with you always and where I prefer the iPad for viewing photographs, reading books or magazines, or browsing the web, the Air is much better for email and documents. The iPad is fine for reviewing  e-mail and I am much more likely to reply than I am on my iPhone, but I would not sit down and deal with a large volume of Mail on the iPad and this is where the MBA comes into it’s own.

The other use for me is for tethering to my camera and using it with Lightroom connected to my D3s is a great way to work especially if the client is with you. Being so  small and light, it can be in my camera bag and the option is always there.

The new one is not a huge change from the previous model but the increase to 256gb allows me to copy everything from my main SSD drive on the 17inch MBP as it is also a 256 SSD (it also has a 500gb internal drive and I can copy this to an external if I need this but generally this is not the case). The increase in speed is noticeable but not a huge improvement. The second USB port is a big plus. However there is one big drawback – no illuminated keyboard. This is a real inconvenience as a lot of the places I use my Air – on the sofa watching TV, dimly lit coffee shops etc., it is a real miss – so much so I have ordered a USB keyboard light. I do not often criticise Apple but I think this is a big mistake on a machine that is likely to be used in a lot of dimly lit places.

25 Nov 2009

Bob Fitzgerald

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Marcliffe at Pitfodels

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Simpsons, Queens Road, Aberdeen

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Soul Bar, Union Street, Aberdeen

Bob Fitzgerald

On the 10th November, Bob Fitzgerald sadly died a very short time after being diagnosed with cancer. Last Tuesday (17th November) his funeral took place at Rubislaw Church. It was a good send off for Bob with the Church struggling to accomodate the huge number of people who wanted to pay their respects to a very well liked and admired man.  His talent and flair was legendary and many of the best known venues in Aberdeen were designed by Bob – The Marcliffe, Simpsons, Soul, Dizzys, the Albyn, and many many  more. Recent notable jobs have included The City Bar and 6 Queens Road, both of which earned him Civic Awards. Very sadly he did not get to see his last big job, The Bauhaus Hotel (click here to see Bauhaus) but one of his colleagues did show him photographs while he was in hospital, and it is a great design and demonstrates Bob’s unique talent.

I will really miss Bob – for the last 2 years, I have worked a  lot with him and spoke to him nearly every day. I had known him for over 25 years and always thought he had a great talent but working closely with him, totally convinced me that he was a very creative special guy and these plaudits are not because he is not here, as I said the same many times over the years. My thoughts are with his wife Kate, and his two daughters, Emily, and Chloe.

His work speaks for itself and I prepared a slideshow of a small selection of his work to show at the wake at Simpsons last Tuesday. Click here to see this presentation.

I have several Blog posts planned showing digital wallpaper and other display assignments, and as most of them were done with Bob, his name will feature many times in this blog.

21 Oct 2009

Gladys Night and Tito Jackson in Aberdeen

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Tito and Nicole Jackson and Gladys Knight at the AECC, 20th October, 2009

Last night (Tuesday 20th October), Sandra and I went to see Gladys Knight at the AECC. The support act was Tito Jackson. Tito’s set included Blues, Motown, and a tribute to the Jacksons where he enlisted the assistance of 3 great female singers including Nicole Jackson, a cousin of the famous brothers. This opening was so good and entertaining that I was not sure if Gladys could match them.

I should not have worried – from the time she stepped on the stage to the closing number – Midnight Train to Georgia, she was amazing. Her voice is incredible and the audience was in awe of her talent. She was also a great entertainer, and had a superb 19 piece Vegas band backing her. Her brother Merald “Bubba” Knight was a special guest and he joined in a great medley of Motown tracks. She sang all her hits – including Help me make it through the Night, Thats What Friends are For, The Way We Were, and the Bond movie theme – License to Kill.

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