Tuesday, 8 January 2013

One a Day for 365

I am not quite sure what happened to me last year but my camera seems to have taken a back seat. To redress the balance I have decided to try and take one photo a day for the next 365 days! 

The original remit was for unedited straight from the phone/camera however the goal posts have moved a bit.

I started to play with Instagram last year wondering if it was a tool for business or not. I am still pretty unconvinced about where it fits into the business world if at all. That aside its a pretty nifty way to handle images on the move especially if you factor in the filters you can apply etc.

So the revised remit is an image a day nobbled in Instagram for the most part and posted to my Instagram feed and Facebook Page.

I have made it to day 8 so far and its got me thinking, quality not quantity as I get to grips with my cameras phone.

Let me know what you think.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Studio Session

Scarlett Lacey
My Favourite
So here I am, stood in MiStudio, 30mins till the model arrives, trying to remember settings and how to use all this equipment to best effect. Nervous, not much! It doesn't help that this is my first proper studio shoot with a model.

I will be working with a friendly face though as I have the great pleasure to be working with Scarlett again.......

It took me a couple of hours to settle into the shoot, relax enough to start to tweak lights etc. I ended up largely using the 28mm 1.8 lens which seemed to work quite well in the studio. It gave me lots of scope for full length shots etc.

To my thinking they are not technically perfect, soft focus, eyes not always pin Sharp etc but I love them.

It made me realise that I could combine my love of lighting with photography, which has to be good :)

I will be booking more studio time soon!

Monday, 24 January 2011

SmugMug, Reliability or Availability?

If you are looking to sell your images online then you want your website to look good, be easy to navigate and above all be reliable. Given that the internet is 'always on' you want your website to be too.

I have been with SmugMug for the last couple of years and I love the flexibility that their system offers, quirks and all. Probably the biggest bug bear I have with them is reliability. There have been some pretty monstrous outages over the last couple of years and assurances were given that things would improve, so have they?

Some small print before we go further - SmugMug has three modes which we will refer to her as - Online, everything fully operable. Offline, websites unavailable or holding/error pages being shown. Read Only, websites viewable but interaction not possible, meaning you cant upload images or make changes and your customer can't buy images. 

SmugMug has a weekly maintenance window that they may or may not use where the site goes into read only mode while changes are made.

All the following images and their associated stat's have been supplied by Pingdom with whom I have an account.

The monitoring was against my website with SmugMug - HD Images  

Small print over......

The following image shows 'read only' time, comparing 2009 performance with 2010.Taking the above into account this shows the amount of time that your site was online but you were unable to upload or make changes to it and your clients were unable to buy images.

As can be seen the amount of read only time has more than doubled in 2010.

The next image shows the total offline time or downtime, again comparing 2009 with 2010.Your website would have not been visible during these times.

As can be seem there is less downtime but its becoming more frequent.

Next lets look at response times, again comparing 2009 with 2010. The response time shows you how quickly SmugMug responded when asked to display your website.

The response time graph also shows that things have slowed down ever so slightly during 2010.

I started this blog off with relaibility in mind and whilst I do still think in part things have become less reliable over at SmugMug due to the increase in read only time, I wonder how much of it is actually an availability issue. 

By that I mean that while total offline time has reduced its become more frequent as have the read only times. Combine these two and the availability of your site to be fully used has decreased. Any reduction in availability has to be a bad thing especially when combined with a drip drip drip of routine unavailability.

So availability or relaibility? I will let you decide.

Either way I am hoping that 2011 see's things improve :)

Thursday, 20 January 2011

FIAT International Netball Series 2011

The FIAT International Netball Series saw England Netball and the New Zealand Netball Silver Ferns go head to head over three test matches here in the UK. The First match being played at the MEN Arena in Manchester on the 15th January 2011. Followed by the second at the Capital FM arena in Nottingham on the 17th January 2011 and the third at the O2 Arena in London on the 19th January 2011.

England gave New Zealand a good run for their money but sadly didn't manage to clinch a match with New Zealand winning all three and taking the series.

You can find images from the matches here

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Frosty in Warwickshire

After two days of heavy frosts with temperatures never getting above -10, mother nature had set the scene.

The avenue of tree's at Packwood House in Warwickshire seemed like the ideal location and I wasn't disappointed.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Old images new tricks

I have been going back through my ever growing archive of images. Its something I have been meaning to do for a while but time never seems to be on my side recently.

Its amazing how many images I had forgotten about and how many more I still need to process!

The following sections have been added to the site, Architecture, Flora, Pets, Street Scenes, Water, Wildlife with lots more images also added into Landscapes.

Back to the images .............

Sunday, 28 March 2010

SmugMug or Zenfolio

I have been using SmugMug for a couple of years as my main image hosting solution. However there seems to be a growing list of niggles that make me wonder if my images and money would be better off somewhere else.

Niggles, in order or nigglyness;
  • Maintenance windows and Reliability - Over 4.5hrs (07:35 - 12:13) recently in "read only mode" as part of a weeks maintenance window meaning I can't sell, upload, edit anything. Half the working day gone here! Don't take my word for it, see their reliability here
  • Download licensing terms not configurable.
  • Inability to password protect categories, share groups or individual images.
  • Payments in US$ only and no electronic transfer option.
  • No UK printing option.
  • Cost
  • Hierarchy limited to three levels
So I gave Zenfolio an try ......

Feature wise I think it ticked every box and all the 'missing' bits from Smug are here.
  • No sign of weekly maintenance windows.
  • Change licensing Terms.
  • Password protect just about anything and everything
  • Payments in GBP and transfer into my PayPal account too.
  • UK Printing options.
  • Costs less too.
  • No limit to hierarchy
I have to say I am impressed with Zenfolio its seems faster and there is alot hidden under the hood. Having only had a demo account with Zenfolio for the 14 days its not fair to compare performance/reliability between the two but it did seem better and no sign of the weekly maintenance nightmare that currently blights smugmug.

The Zenfolio control panel, management takes a bit of getting used to, its not as intuitive as Smugmug but it certainly seems like there is more under the hood. You just need to do a bit more digging to find it.

Customisation of your accounts 'public' look and feel is one area where the two differ. Smugmug allows you to change pretty much everything, Zenfolio is a couple of steps behind hind with some limitations. However you could argue that these limitations are there to keep Zenfolio's performance at a premium.

Its not an 'apples for apples' comparison, so its hard to say one is better than the other. A lot also depends on your image hosting needs 

However, as an attempt to summarise, if you want a sleek feature packed semi customisable image hosting solution, Zenfolio is for you. 

If you dont need all the features of Zenfolio but want to make it look your own then Smugmug is for you.

For me, there are two reasons for deciding to stay with Smugmug, for now. 
  1. The ability to change/customise the look and feel of the site to something that suited me. I came close with Zenfolio but not close enough for me to want to shift just now.
  2. Smugmug have an option to allow 'collecting' of images. This allows you to keep all your images in one account but collect/share them with other smugmug accounts. I will explain this in more detail on a later blog.

I'll be keeping my eye on Zenfolio :)

Thursday, 25 February 2010

England Netball v Australia - o2 Arena, London

With the series drawn, this match was the decider.............

I had to top up my oyster card to get across London, seems the last time my card got used was this time last year for the England v Jamaica test!

The atmosphere in the o2 is always good and tonight was no exception. It didn't seem as full as I would have expected but you couldn't tell by the amount of noise emanating from the netball fans.

Those that know me, know I am bad at remembering names. I get there in the end but I do struggle. Worrying then that I can name the England Netball Team and now most of the Aussie players too as they take to the court.

The match was amazing, especially the last 15 minutes, I don't think I have ever been so gripped by any sporting event ever. The levels of panic creeping in as Australia pulled back England's lead to draw lever and then inch ahead in the last few minutes. The hope in the last ditch surge by England to try and pull it back level, the final whistle.......

England lost and I was gutted, along with all the England fans and players for that matter.

Images of the 3rd match can be found here from page 8 onwards.


Monday, 22 February 2010

England Netball v Australia - Nottingham Trent FM Arena

Sunday saw me up in Nottingham to cover this match. The players were marking each other so closely it made it very hard to get some good shots.

Good in netball terms is defined as two players, in isolation, colliding mid air, looking at you with the ball in hand.

OK so those shots don't come along very often but when you get two teams playing at this International level the 'in isolation' bit is very hard to come by. There is always a random leg/hand or player in the shot somewhere.

Images from this match from page 4 onwards.


Saturday, 20 February 2010

England Netball v Australia - Echo Arena Liverpool

Before we go any further, wooohooo, England beat Australia! In the last 52 matches played between these two netball nations, only twice have England ever beaten Australia. Here's hoping that they can capitalise on this win going into the next two matches of the test series.

Images from the match here

I got to test two new bits of kit at this match, Manfrotto monopod and Sandisk 8GB (45mb/s) CF card. 

The Monopod was/is great but it didnt get used, I didnt feel it gave me the freedom of movement I normally had. Daft statement I suppose when you think about it! I need to do some further testing at a less critical match. Find out if the reduction in freedom affects the quality/quantity of images captured.

Smoking is the only word to describe this Sandisk card. I have hit the camera/card buffer limit before and then watched as I missed shots waiting for the buffer to clear. That extra bit of transfer rate certainly made the difference last night when needed.