Sunday 19 July 2015

A Walk In The Park (A Walk In My Head) - Photography

There's been a heatwave in London recently with record temperatures and humidity to put you in a coma. You combine those two things with a general lack of motivation to actually go out and take pictures anyway, and you have the perfect set up for staying at home and doing nothing.

Taking A Minute

Well I finally decided to get out and take some photos, it's been a while. There's an interesting psychological aspect to street (or exploratory) photography. Thinking about it beforehand leads me to generally talk myself out of it, especially if it's in area or theme I've shot before. All of the locations for all of the photos in this post have been visited by me in the past. So there I'll be, thinking if I should do it or not and remembering places, animals, paths and whatnot. This invariably leads to the following chain of thought:

'What's the point of going there (it's conveniently close) but I know the parks, the roads, I won't see any angle I haven't seen before etc.'

I do this all of the time. This epic power level of procrastination even extends to new locations.

'I don't know what it will be like, maybe it'll be a waste of time, boring buildings, usual ugly pigeons, traffic. Crap light today. How BORING.'

Definitely a state of mind I need to overcome.

I guess what it comes down to is having a reason to go and do it. For me that reason is not only always the same, it is coincidentally the one thing I can't think of beforehand to motivate me in the first place.


Regent's Canal Ride

Those things you can't imagine or predict beforehand, they just happen in front of you and you react to it and then it's gone. I know it may not be 'right' and I know there are those that specialise in landscapes, architecture and the like. I shoot all of that but not because 'it's what I do', I shoot it because I liked that moment. The camera is merely a tool to capture it. The more comfortable are you with it, the more confidence you have in its ability to get what you want and the more fun you'll have. That's the theory anyway right?

Not that I don't have my gear head/ nerd thing happening with technology. But that's more to do with my love of science and engineering.

So anyway, I got my lazy butt out and went for a walk. I went through two of London's Royal Parks, Regent's and Primrose. It's actually a nice walk, peaceful, lots of green space, improved dramatically by the baking heat and a gentle breeze. I've used the NX1 plenty in rain and cold (this is London after all) so it would be interesting to see how it holds up in the heat.

Baby See Baby Do

Now, each time I go out with my NX1 I try and do something different. I usually shoot raw but on this day I kept it JPEG. I also usually take a camera bag with a bunch of lenses, variable ND filters, external microphone blah blah, enough gear to shoot a freaking film! This taught me two things:

  1. Carrying lots of gear is just added stress; more stuff to carry, to look after, to worry about.
  2. Having lots of options with lenses / filters etc, can lead to indecision. Too much choice leads you to spend more time thinking about lenses and other technical crap and less about actually enjoying being in your environment.

So I've started taking out a minimum amount of equipment. It's the same thing that happened with my music composing and production. I realised I had become obsessed with plug-ins, virtual instruments and technical points of production and ended up not actually making any music. What's the point of that?!?


As part of this I decided not to do any filming. Knowing just how wonderful the video quality of the NX1 is, even if only using it for frame grabbing can lead to you shooting lots of (technically) sweet looking video when you should be taking photos. This also means you have less content to deal with (or get distracted by) when bringing it into your workstation for editing and that all means increased productivity. Not only 'getting the shot' but 'getting the shot out there', they're both sides of the same coin. The same can be applied to music production of course (I think I'm more telling myself this).

So I took out the NX1 with the S 50-150mm, Samsung's premium telephoto lens. I love it, the lens is sharp, fast, focusses instantly and the balance with the battery grip is sublime. The effect is to move the center of gravity away from your wrist and into your lower forearm, much better. It's so comfortable that I've taken the grip out with me just because I like the feel of it, even with the added mass it still isn't enough to bother me in the slightest.


But back to the walk in the park. I like these two parks for different reasons. Regent's is much larger (lots of animals and separate areas, flower gardens, lakes, protected areas) whereas Primrose is smaller and closer to built up areas.

I go to Regent's first, it's further away so I can hit the other park on the wander back. I walk to Regent's along Regent's Canal (where the shot with the baby looking into camera was taken).

It never seems to go the way I expect it to either. The same location on a different day can yield completely different results, and I don't just mean lighting, I mean people and other animals interacting, all of those things I actually want to capture, the real reason I go out there in the first place.


It was a baking day, people weren't doing much apart from melting into the ground. The NX1 held up perfectly well in the heat, it even got almost hot to the touch when I was filming on the way home. Yes I know I said I wouldn't, but it was worth it.


So I generally just wandered through the park, instinctively snapping away while at the same time making a conscious effort to shoot less. Who needs two hundred shots of roses anyway. The birds were staying close to the water and keeping their heads down, except if there's food.


I do tend to have exposure compensation down about a third of a stop, as I know lifting shadows is better than pulling down highlights with the NX1. At the same time however I don't like to pull them up too much as it risks making the shot look unnatural to me. Nothing wrong with darkness anyway.


Take the bird in the shade in the shot above. I could have exposed for that area, which would risk blowing out detail in the grass in the foreground, along with blowing the highlights on the arm of the man laying there and most probably the leaves too, but because for this shot I wanted all three subjects lined up in that way (geometry is a cheap way to make a shot more interesting) they had to all 'fit' exposure-wise.


Obligatory bird in the water shot there. I don't actually like this shot for the bird, I like it because of the pattern the water makes and it's breaking about the body. The anatomy of a shock wave. On that same lake humans were floating about on boats...


Eventually I wandered back to the ranch. To be honest I wasn't feeling very good, haven't done for a while. I decided to walk back topside and head down a road called Parkway for a short cut but I wasn't paying attention (I took the shot of the guys taking the women on the boat - with the guy playing guitar - on the way home). I went the wrong way... Embarrassing. So I went back down to the canal instead. Turning the corner I saw this guy just chilling out. There was a girl singing, her voice drifting across the canal.

Sam Garrett

At first I just walked past (as I said I wouldn't shoot any video) but I found myself turning around and just having to shoot something. You know that feeling. I was still using spot metering and I was very happy with the results, really helps paint the light in the shot.

I'll just leave it here. For some reason I shot it in Ultra HD, that's how I uploaded it. I didn't have any time to set anything, I wasn't interfering with the performance in any way, so I just crouched down and shot everything hand held. The odd aperture adjustment here and there, everything recorded using the NX1's on-board stereo mics. No grading, essentially out of camera.

I recorded more but I'll put the videos all together in a separate post in the future. For now, that's it! Hope you enjoyed the pictures or the rambling, or the music. Until next time...

The full gallery is available on my Flickr.

Featured in the video are:


Sunday 12 July 2015

Samsung NX1 - Photojournalism

People are aware of my posts about the Samsung NX1, I've been using it for a while now, mostly for scenic things, bird watching, street photography and the like. Nothing really taxing; the light is constant, movement is predictable (for me anyway) and it's easy to get great shots.

But everybody knows this, what this post will be about is using the mirrorless camera in a photojournalist context.

It's 11pm and I'm popping to the shop to grab beer. I see a constant stream of police vehicles travelling into the town centre. Camden Town is probably the busiest area for tourism in the whole of the UK and hearing sirens on a Saturday night (about the time the pubs close) isn't exactly unusual. But this was different, it was interrupting my enjoyment of the new Batman vs Superman trailer so I had to go and check it out. I walked down towards the commotion to see any developments.

Camden Road Police Incident

Once I got a look of the place and decided this was worth documenting (although I still have no idea what was going on), I popped back, got the NX1, used the S 50-150mm and rushed back out to see what I could see. I could have brought out my 50-200mm but I needed all the light I could get, plus I know with 28 Megapixel images there is plenty to crop with. Plus the focus speed of the S lens is superior to the standard telephoto option and I didn't want to sacrifice focus speed and accuracy for an extra 50mm throw.

Wednesday 8 July 2015

Samsung NX1 - Minor Firmware Update v1.32

And by minor I mean with few changes, as opposed to not wanted. We all like a firmware update!

Update using the usual methods. This update is a bug fixer. As usual I'll post the entire change log. Remember that a firmware update, even a minor one, will reset all of the settings in your NX1.


# Body Firmware
1. Title - Firmware version 1.32
2. Applicable Model - NX1
3. Description
[Caution] During upgrading firmware, a camera turns itself on and off two times.
Do not cut off the power and Do not remove battery before complete message.

1.Fixed the problem that is Movie STBY mode turning off automatically, after 1080 60p/30p
and Slow Movie(x0.5, x0.25) setting
2. Fixed Left, Right images are recording on each other's side in 3D video recording with 3D Lens
3. Overall fixed minor bugs


1. Improved "Color Temperature" of White Balance.
2. Fixed UHD Movie recording bugs
- Zoom lens + Tele condition > broken right side
- Zoom lens + Tele + EVF condition > Image broken when you enable MF Focus Peaking
3. Fixed FHD 120p Movie recording bug
- Intermittently broken of some part of movie
4. Keep the Focus mode under below condition
- Movie Standby mode > Start recording > change the Focus Mode > Stop recording
5. Overall fixed minor bugs

1. Sensor reads larger data size, resulting in improved FHD quality - up to 60P (not for Slow Movie)
2. Time code added features
- Rec Run option is added
3. 1920x1080 (120) setting in the Movie Size Menu for easy access
4. Auto Mic Control On/Off
5. Histogram and Digital Level are displayed during standby / recording mode
6. Capture individual 4K frame forward &backward with precision
- Embedded EXIF data in jpeg
7. Added NEW MF Responsiveness mode
(Capable of setting to Low, Medium, High focus angle in manual focus mode)
8. Remains in Stand By mode after recording
9. Overall AF improved:
- Enhanced AF performance in low light condition
- Enhanced AF performance in backlight and spot light
- Enhanced AF performance in the corners when utilizing 16-50mm PZ lens
- Enhanced Face Detection AF performance
- Enhanced AF performance in movie mode
10. Added Zone AF mode
11. Increased the size of AF to 5 steps in AF Area Size
12. No time limitation in Bulb mode
13. Increased the time-lapse to 3,000 shots
14. Includes the 4 most popular Pro Suggest presets (Cinematic, Memories, Gorgeous Night, and High Speed)
15. Simplified EXIF data preview
16. JPEG, RAW (JPEG only), and Video transfer via WiFi Actual RAW file does not transfer via WiFi. It only transfers JPEG file with Picture Wizard setting embedded to smartphone.
17. Introducing NEW Samsung Remote Studio software and SDK
- Download via iLauncher
- Full control of NX1 through USB
- SRS and SDK will be available to download on 1st week of June 2015
18. Supports Tizen OS TV connection
- One touch connection
- Launched 2015 Samsung TV models operated by Tizen are compatible with NX1
19. Overall fixed minor bugs

1. Fixed random body bug: 24fps, 23.98fps Movie recording horizontal noise
2. Disable of White Balance-Custom Set-Adjust option in the Movie STBY mode
3. Fixed minor bugs

1. Improved Drive speed under RAW, SAF, Continuous Normal setting
2. Optimized [Fast / Slow Movie] option of FHD 23.98p Movie size
3. Improved Touch AF performance during Movie recording
4. Fixed Smartphone synchronization of Time and Time Zone when you connect Bluetooth
5. Improved the purple noise issue of UHD 23.98p Movie size in the dark condition.
6. Fixed RAW file EXIF GPS information when you use the Geotagging under Smartphone Bluetooth connection
7. Movie STBY condition enable Drive dial button(AF/ISO/Metering/WB)

1. C Gamma and DR Gamma curves added for movie shooting
2. Video master black level control in 31 steps
3. Video luminance level limiting [0-255], [16-235], [16-255]
4. Video AF responsiveness control in 5 steps (dictates camera's readiness to change AF subject)
5. Video AF speed control for more cinematic refocusing (3 settings)
6. Wider range of display options, including gridline, center, aspect ratio and action-safe area markers
7. Audio levels adjustable during movie capture
8. General improvement in the image quality of FHD video
9. 'Pro' movie quality setting added for 1080 capture
10. AF / Manual Focus and SAF / CAF toggling in movie mode
11. Autofocus lock option in movie mode
12. 23.98p and 24p frame rates for 3840x2160 and 1920x1080 video
13. ISO adjustable during movie capture
14. Output time code (free run) over HDMI (for use with external recorders)
15. Wi-Fi and [REC] buttons functions can be swapped
16. AF On and AEL buttons functions can be swapped
17. Depth of Field Preview and Delete buttons are customizable and additional functions are available on custom buttons.
18. Added ISO or Exposure Compensation to command dial (customizable per PASM mode)
19. Command dials direction of operation can be reversed
20. AE and Exposure Compensation improved in M mode
1) Able to control Exposure Compensation in M mode
2) EV scale now available in manual mode when flash is attached (shows ambient exposure)
3) Movie AE is more stable in M mode
21. Trap Shot feature: fires shutter when a subject crosses a specified guideline
22. It is now possible to off the NR in Bulb mode
23. When setting ISO Auto, the chosen ISO value is displayed in real time
24. User can select from four AF area sizes when using CAF + Multi AF
User can also position the sensitive area where they would like to begin tracking a subject from.
If subject moves out of selected area AF continues tracking.
25. Change the flash control value from 0.5EV to 0.3EV
26. Exposure/Focus Separation on/off option
27. Smartphone App can operate as remote release using Bluetooth
(The Samsung Camera Manager App must be updated through the Google Play Store)
28. Checks installs for firmware updates over Wi-Fi
29. Samsung Remote Studio for tethered shooting from Windows PC
(Samsung Remote Studio software can be downloaded from i-Launcher in February)
30. Samsung to release SDK for Windows to allow independent remote control software creation
(Samsung Remote Studio software can be downloaded from i-Launcher in February)
31. Pair with multiple smart devices (only for Android OS Smartphone)
32. Selecting and grabbing frames from video
33. Added new option: 'Save Selection AF Position'
34. Menu re-arranged for improved usability
35. Fixed minor bugs
* Refer to the latest User manual for new function explanation

1. Added Sort by Oldest / Latest in the Playback menu
2. Added View Continuous Shots (Fold / Unfold) in the Playback menu
3. Added AF Start and AF Start + Lock in the AF On sub menu under Key Mapping
4. Added Custom Wheel EVC (Exposure Value Compensation) option in the Key Mapping menu
5. Overall color reproduction improvement
6. General improvement in the image quality of DCI 4K(4096x2160) video
7. Image quality improvement in white balance when Smart Range+ Mode is enabled
8. Improvement in long exposure noise reduction when capturing in RAW
9. Improved AF performance:
a. Added AF Release Priority function (Auto/Accuracy Priority/ Shooting Speed Priority).
b. Improved AF performance in low light situations
c. Improved AF performance in CAF & Multi area AF modes
10. Overall wireless strobe sync improvement
11. Other bugs are fixed

Thursday 2 July 2015

It's Time To Go Mobile

First, this.

I have a mobile phone called a Oneplus One. Decided to try a few shots in raw. Downloaded an app on Android called MI2raw which can access the sensor and give me DNG's when I pull the trigger.

Here are a few that I've played with a fair bit in RawTherapee. I've pulled the light down because I liked the look it gave. Before and after...

If you want to view them in Flickr, just click here.

A Bird

Swanning about like it owns the place. Saw this lifeform in Regent's Park, London.

A photo posted by ESGI Media (@esgimedia) on

Wednesday 1 July 2015

Comment Me This, Comment Me That...

UPDATE: So I've allowed comments now. It seems like this 'disable comments' thing literally flicks the off switch on all posts individually, which would be a pain. I've allowed comments on some recent posts, and all new ones should have it 'on' by default. Any particular article you want comments turned on for, leave me a comment on this comment about commenting (sorry, couldn't help it).

I haven't made many posts on this blog really. I had actually set it up ages ago but didn't have any inspiration or time to post anything. Now I do.

I'm not the type of person comfortable with simply reposting other content, it will either have a comment from me (like all of the articles I've posted so far) or will be a link to some kind of creative thing I obviously want to share with my audience. Anyway, views to the blog has increased a fair bit and is continuing to trend upwards so I may as well pop the question.

You may have noticed there isn't an option for commenting. Most people who read an article don't comment, and having the comment field adds code to each article, slowing them down to whatever extent (I know not the exact numbers, but it's the principle). However, there may be viewers who wish to comment or ask a question, so I'll start with asking one of my own. Do YOU want comments on?

Poll on the right sidebar.

A Rose By Any Other Name

Went for a photo walk yesterday in London, during a heatwave. I'll do a proper post on that day soon, but for now here is a plant from Earth...

A photo posted by ESGI Media (@esgimedia) on