I recall seeing a t-shirt many moons ago that brought a smile to my face. It summed up the essence of photography’s technical side and the potential difficulty to be had in explaining that part of it to someone.

In our club talk on Wednesday 25th May, we tried to demystify and explain some of those throwaway technical terms that can often lead to head-scratching and looks of confusion. This was coupled with some members sharing an item from their camera bag that they consider to be useful, if not essential.

Vince B got us off to an interesting and helpful start. For Vince, with his medical knowledge linked to his work, the one thing he will make sure to have with him is a first aid kit. Vince is more often than not to be out and about in London and understandably looks to be sure he is ready for any unwelcome situation, both for himself and others. Simple things like plasters, ointment, alcohol wipes, etc. are contained in a small easy-to-carry bag. Vince also has a “tension bandage” – Vince, please correct me if I’m wrong – and knows there might be situations where he is the only person prepared and able to help.

Of course, a first aid kit will be useful almost anywhere but this got me thinking of being out and about on a walk or by the sea, where you might fall or slip. Having those important items in your bag will be a great help and might well prevent matters from being worse. Thanks, Vince, for a very sensible item to share with us.

Your author then shared a piece of kit that I haven’t actually used for some time but is still very useful. This is a Hoodman Right Angle Viewfinder.

This clips onto a camera in place of the eyepiece and gives you the opportunity to avoid contortions when you may want to point your camera straight up or down – especially when on a tripod. Anita also mentioned that it could be very useful when setting your camera down low to photograph flowers, etc. An added benefit is that it can also magnify what you see by 2.5 times – this does not affect your lens by the way. That could be perfect for making sure your macro shot is pin sharp.

You might also think that the new flip-out screens have rendered these redundant but those screens can be affected by the glare of the light whereas the viewfinder will not be. These days, you might have to buy second-hand but they should be easy to find and cost around £40 or so.

We then moved on to the technical side of things and took a look at one of the newer photography trends – Linear Profiling. This has been around a long time but seems to now be in the headlines. It links well with luminosity masking, etc., and essentially removes all other pre-determined profiles from a raw file when a raw image is opened in editing software. To demonstrate, here is the same image with two different Adobe Profiles from Lightroom and then with the Linear Profile for my camera, The Canon R5:

with the default Adobe Colour Profile
with Adobe Landscape Profile – a bit more punch to the image
with Canon R5 Linear Profile

I agree the linear one looks dull and lifeless. But, for me, I am now working with the full raw data from the camera as my starting point and not whatever profile Adobe has offered to me. It means my scope to edit is far wider and gives me more data to work with within Lightroom.

There is too much to go into here and so I can direct you to one website that has all the relevant information and also a huge collection of linear profiles – all free! The websites are:

https://goodlight.us/linear-profiles.html and

https://tonykuyper.wordpress.com/2021/07/23/the-linear-profile-a-new-beginning-in-light-room-and-camera-raw/

You can make your own linear profile if your camera is not on the list on Tony Kuyper’s website. There are many YouTube videos “How To’s” for this. Give it a try and let us know what you think.

Back to what’s in your bag and Alfred offered us one of the most simple yet important items that, frankly, we should all have; a lens cleaning cloth. Alfred left us in no doubt that he makes sure his lenses are clean for every shot. The background to this was from his time in the medical world and being involved with the BBC and Dr. Jonathan Miller for a documentary series called “The Body in Question”. Alfred was asked to visit Pinewood to meet with Dr. Miller and watched in fascination as the cameraman meticulously cleaned his camera lens between each take. Clearly, this resonated with him and so now, you will not find anything that could detract from his shots on any of Alfred’s lenses!

Alfred then moved on to a more technical area and offered us an insight into the mysteries of hyperfocal distances and how they can impact your photography. We probably all find it easier to let the camera auto settings do much of the leg work when it comes to our preparation but Alfred reminded us that in the days of manual only, the lens came with a distance scale on the side, a bit like this:

Alfred then explained that with these lenses (and especially relevant for those “paparazzi” type photographers that have to work fast), the secret is to set your aperture and then the distance limitations so that you know in advance that all the images you take between the two distances will be in focus. This avoids having to keep maually refocussing. Nowadays, there are countless apps and scales available to help you choose your hyperfocal length but if you then look a bit further, many other photographers will give you a workaround and tell you something different. As ever, the best method is to choose what works best for you.

David P then took centre stage and gave everyone a fascinating look at another very simple yet effective item that he calls on, the grey card – in David’s case, a Kodak one.

David showed us the how and why as to its use. It is most often associated with setting a custom white balance/colour temparature and is very useful for making sure this is consistent across a set of images, especially those taken in a controlled lighting environment. To demonstrate, David opened a set of flower images. The first one of these had a grey card in it:

Grey Card original

Pay attention to the colour temperature as shown in the red area. This is 3150, as per the camera setting when taken.

David had explained that, despite all of technological advances made in cameras, the sensor will always read the light as a reflection of a mid point grey, based around 18%. You can take a photo of a snowy scene but the camera will show you a greyish muted white as it cannot read the true white, even with the various light settings. The same will apply with black – it will be a greyish, flat black. Of course, you can override in camera but for the ease of use, having a grey card in your scene as a reference will immedialty allow you to set the correct light for all your images. Putting this into practice, David then simply clicked the eye dropper tool on the grey card and the outcome was:

Grey Card now with corrected white balance

Now look at the colour temperature – it is down to 2650 and the overall colours are much more true to life. If you have many images in the same lighting, you can then simply sync your white balance to all of them and there you are! All are now corrected.

The benefit of this is that you are also now getting the correct colours across the image. David pointed out that this can work as well in the landscape as the studio and I know it is something I will be trying out next time.

We know also that David is keen on UV and infrared photography and even in these areas, the grey card can have a use. David referred to a photographer, Adrian Davies, and a talk from him titled “Photograhing The Unseen”. Here is the link to find out more: https://www.adriandaviesimaging.com/section68620.html

We also had Joe F tell us that, when he is attending a “big” event that he has been asked to photograph, he will ensure he has two camera bodies so that he is covered if something should go wrong. This is especially important as much of Joe’s sessions are commissioned, meaning he is under pressure to produce images for his client.

Finally, to run down the clock, we took another look at luminosity and colour masking. My preferred one is TK8 by that man Tony Kuyper again, to be found here: https://goodlight.us/writing/TK8/tk8.html

This demands some time to fully appreciate and see just how good it is for all sorts of images and edits and I will be happy to advise/help anyone interested in knowing more. There are other masking tools available but I think this has it all, plus the instructions and selection of help on YouTube is phenominal.

Once again then. we enjoyed an evening that encompassed the true breadth of photography, both in equipment and software. I hope you all found something interesting.

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