Monday, November 3, 2008

A Good Workman Blames His Tools

Today (now yesterday) has been a long day. Up at 05.30 to prepare for a trip to Warwick to do a shoot of trainees being trained by trainers. Got there no problem but was already tired - the M40 was fast-running but very busy, so big eyes!

I shot pictures. Indeed, I shot about 200 frames from which probably only 4 or 5 will ever be used. I had to shoot the trainees being trained by the trainers whilst the trainers were actually training the trainees which presents its own unique problems. Two of the trainees who were being trained...etc didn't want their pictures to be taken - fair enough, but please ladies, bugger off to the side so you don't appear in every bloody shot.

Copyright 2008 Paul Davey Creative

So yes, it was difficult - Me trying to be unobtrusive. Me trying to shoot shots in the same style as I've always shot for this particular client - i.e. crawling around, getting cramp, pushing my wide angle lens up against people's hands etc. Me trying to be unobtrusive as I bang off shot after shot with my flashgun flashing, my tripod clattering and huffing and puffing like the fat middle-aged man that I am, crouched in peculiar pants-splitting positions. Net result? I failed to be unobtrusive and probably ruined the morning session of the course. Sorry.

Copyright 2008 Paul Davey Creative

But I got my shots. Well, sort of. I had my usual white balance issues as I shot under a mixture of daylight, florescent and fecking low voltage bastard eco lights that turn everything greeny-yellow. Nothing that Adobe Lightroom cannot put right though. (I LOVE lightroom). I have also learned the hard way to radically underexpose on my very elderly Canon 10 D so that I will get at least some detail in the highlights. Which is great, except that I then have to put up with noisy shadow tones (yes, even at ISO 200 its noisy). Add to that my very old, slow, noisy lenses (no image stabilisation here!) and you'll understand why I have to do a fair amount of rescue work in Lightroom and photoshop.

Copyright 2008 Paul Davey Creative

Its beginning to really grind me down. Make no mistake, my ancient Canon 10D is still a very, very good camera. But its very hard to be happy with something when you know its way, way behind what is available.

I have long grown jaded with the whole "Great Megapixel Race". Yes, more pixels are theoretically better, but 6 million good pixels will trounce 10 million bad pixels. Many of the world's most respected camera reviewers will pick out Nikon's 12Mpx D700 as having the best in class image quality - yet its up against Canon's superb 21Mpx 1D MkIII. But yes, I want some more megapixels because I need them. Need as opposed to want. I want to be able to crop images and still have some resolution left. But: There's no point in putting old lenses in front of a clever, big, sexy 21 Mpx sensor. They cannot resolve detail as minutely as the sensors can these days. So I need to get new glass too. Lots of it. The expensive kind!

My work is now suffering. Work, mind you, not the results. I am still very pleased with what I can get out of my workflow. But It takes so long.

Back to today: Where was I? Oh yes. I was shooting the trainees being trained by the trainers. Well, I finished that and packed up my gear, set the GPS for "Home" and began the most convoluted journey in the history of modern motoring. Now, I'm not stupid. I know that Warwick is near the M40. How do I know this? Simple: I got there via the M40. But Mr TomTom Had other ideas - I only wanted the GPS to help me navigate the Warwick one-way system, but I got sent off to Mogadishu. I'm sure I saw the turn-off for Vladivostock just after I'd traversed much of Siberia. I tell you, I saw a bunch of pole and dagga mud huts as I bypassed Johannesburg. I know what an Afrian elephant looks like and I swear I saw one! A whole herd, actually. Breathe, Paul, Breathe! Pure, undiluted idiocy from the makers of my satnav.

I eventually got home.

And then, much to my horror I discovered that the CF card with all of today's work on it had decided to have a post-halloween tantrum. Miss Lightroom (who I love and trust) told me there was nothing to import. And I believed her. I am quite sure that my beloved mummy reads this blog, so I will not write the words that I uttered. Suffice to say, they were "workshop" words.

After a little bit of a calming down session I fired up Photorecovery and to my enormous relief, all files were recovered in absolutely perfect condition. But it took a long time...

Copyright 2008 Paul Davey Creative

So where does that leave us? In the space of just 2 weeks I have had two moans about my gear. Here is the previous one. So why don't I stop whingeing and get some new gear? Cost. Yes, I have underinvested in equipment and now I'm really feeling the bite. But on the upside, I can get significantly more bang for my buck when I do re-equip. There is no way I can afford a new rig but that hasn't been too much of an obstacle in the past. I will make a way of affording it. Oh, and a new Mac.

One more thing for the Design Police: USB wireless dongles. Why, oh why are they not on a short length of cable So that they flop and don't SNAP OFF WHEN SOMEONE IS USING THEIR LAPTOP AS A LAPTOP???????

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