Wednesday, January 04, 2012

This blog has moved

Hello, first of all, a happy 2012 and the best wishes for the New Year! Note that I have moved my blog to here. I have already a few interesting posts up, how about an entry on how to shoot those great long exposure photos without the filters and calculations? Have a look here.


See you there.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Updated my gallery

Just to let you know that I updated my main gallery to show off some of my photos a bit better. I have been looking for a Lightroom plug in for a long time and was initially tempted to use the plug ins from the Turning Gate but decided against it when I came across the plug ins on the Photographers Toolbox, see here, as they are a lot easier to use, cheaper and offered the functionality I was looking for.

Please click-through and visit my galleries.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Tilting at windmills ― Kinderdijk

As of today, I will be blogging some of the photos I took at Kinderdijk, the Unesco World Heritage site not too far from Rotterdam in the Netherlands. Just click through on the photo to go to the actual blog entry.

ADOX CHS 25 ART at EI 25, developed in APH 09 1:80 for 12 minutes. Agitation: 2 inversions every 30 seconds.

I won’t bore you with the historical background as it is all well documented in Wikipedia, but I do wish to tell you about the fun I had on my photo walk at Kinderdijk. Frankly, I had low expectations and was intimidated by the large number of excellent photos I had seen and was assuming that my interpretation was only going to be a boring copy of the work everybody comes home with. As it turned out, this wasn’t true at all, I did enjoy myself a lot, the place wasn’t too busy and I think it was possible to get some shots I hadn’t seen so far. Judge for yourself the next few days.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The medieval city of Zutphen from the River IJssel

One of the things that I do enjoy shooting with my DSLR, and frankly, it is the only thing I do use my DSLR for lately, is the creation of 360° panoramas. I do publish my panoramas at, please follow the link to see more of my work.

The above panorama is of the city of Zutphen, historically an important medieval city but currently a small town of little consequence which does actually contribute enormously to the quality of life there. Click-through on the image to actually navigate around in it. In this particular panorama, I used three bracketed images for each of the 24 shots I would need for the 360° view with my camera and lens combination and used Exposure Fusion to get a better dynamic range for this image, i.e. the shadows are well exposed while the highlights are not blown out even with the sun in this image. Enjoy!

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Tonemapping, bleh!

Am I the only one to find this recent craze with tonemapped photos a disaster? Why would you think that changing the colours of your photo into a low contrast, muddled dark grey makes it a better photo? And don’t get me started on the random halos around the subjects! Can’t you see that these halos are awful!?  Am I the little kid who sees the emperor walk by naked who yells: “Your tonemapped photos look like shit!!”?

The worst thing is that tonemapping usually gets passed off as HDRI; it is not the same thing! True, a high-dynamic-range image might need to get some help to display correctly on dynamic range limited devices, but that is not the same as deliberately turning the colours into poo. To me, HDR is very useful to get well exposed shadow areas without blowing out the highlights as even the current and expensive DSLRs still have a limited dynamic range compared to film, so something needed to be done to improve this and HDRI was the answer. But if you really are interested in augmenting the dynamic range of your photo, why not look into a free tool like Enfuse. It’ll blow your mind!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Lensbaby 2.0 on a manual focus camera

After having struggled with getting satisfying results with my lensbaby 2.0 on my Pentax MZ-S and Pentax K20D, both autofocus cameras, I had an epiphany and decided to use the lensbaby on my old, manual Pentax ME and all of a sudden it came together. As you probably know, the lensbaby is focussed by adjusting the tube length and tilting the lens to adjust the sweetspot with one hand while the other hand operates the shutter. After having used autofocus lenses for so long, I had completely forgotten the effective tools that a manual camera offers to help focus. The Pentax ME comes with with split image and a microprism ring in the centre in the viewfinder which offers a lot more help focussing a lensbaby than focussing just on the matte of my more modern cameras as the autofocus points would light up but cannot be relied upon. See also my most excellent blog

Thursday, October 07, 2010


Got my 3G Kindle finally a few weeks ago and I love it; as a bonus it has free 3G access in 100 countries allowing me to read email and visit webpages when stuck under another volcano ash cloud. If you’re into the classics like I am, there are a load of free ebooks available from, etc. If you read Dutch, make sure to check out Even though they don’t have the books available in Kindle format (Mobi or Kindle), but only in PDF. On the plus side, the Kindle PDF reader has correctly displayed all PDF files I have sent to it, but I prefer to convert my PDF files to Mobi format with the Mobipocket Creator to allow me to set font side, etc. Nothing is simpler.

Google and ye shall find.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

JOBO PhotoGPS review

The JOBO PhotoGPS has some cracking reviews, but I’m a bit less enthusiastic, especially now that I am using Windows 7 32-bit and the application, which is supposed to be Windows 7 compatible, stopped working properly leaving me with nothing and hoping that JOBO will release a version of the software that actually works on Windows 7.

The PhotoGPS unit works well enough from the flash shoe of my Pentax and records the location every time I release the shutter. So far so good. I found that it is not recommended to leave the PhotoGPS on the camera while walking around as it keeps falling off the camera. It would have made sense to add some kind of locking to the unit.
The PhotoGPS unit can store over a 1000 locations of photos, and that would be okay for one or two days’ worth of shooting for the serious amateur or professional (and this appears to be the target market), but very little if you are on a vacation trip and don’t want to carry a laptop around. Each location is, after download on the computer, a 129kb file which appears to be a lot for a longitude/latitude, height, a timestamp and possibly a checksum. If the data in the unit takes up as much space, then there is a possibility to optimize this so the number of points kept in the unit can be extended tenfold with a firmware update. Even though the file extension of the data on the computer is SDF, the file format is propriety and has nothing to do with the SUUNTO Data files format which also uses this extension and, at the moment of me writing this, GPSBabel cannot make sense of it.

Before I migrated to Windows 7 and could not longer use the unit, I was quite happy with it for the photos I took on my DSLR; the mapping worked well. I quickly discovered that I could also use the unit on my SLR but the software refused to map the photos taken thus because of the lack of EXIF timestamp in the scanned negatives. I am aware that not everybody is using SLRs anymore, but why limit yourself? Many of the geotagging tools allow you to drag a point onto a photo if it cannot match it automatically, the JOBO PhotoGPS software lacks this IMO elementary feature. It wouldn’t be this bad if the software would have allowed to export the points as a GPX file so I could use a tool like GeoSetter to geotag my photos, but once again, this functionality is missing.


The JOBO PhotoGPS is a cool looking gadget that is hopelessly letdown by the software.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Pixelpost Google Sitemap Creator

While on the subject of great Pixelpost addons, I forgot to mention the Google Sitemap Creator that can be downloaded from this location To download follow the link under the Google Sitemap for Pixelpost section.

So what does it do? It creates XML output describing all the pages in your pixelpost blog which can be added to the Google webmaster tools which is a free service from Google.

Why would I want to do that? Even if you have added your blog to Google to be indexed, it appears that Google only has a few pages of your blog indexed. By adding your sitemap, Google all of a sudden understands the structure of your blog and will index all the pages in the course of a few days after submitting your sitemap.
If you add the following server to your RPC ping servers under the Pixelpost addons configuration, Google will be notified each time you upload a new image:<your blog>/index.php?z=sitemap where “<your blog>” needs to be replaced with the URL to your blog.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Best Pixelpost addons

If you want to create your own ‘one photo a day’ photoblog, there are of course several existing free services available like Aminus3, etc., but if you are more serious about photography and want your own domain name, gallery and blog, Pixelpost is open source and is a free, popular and reliable option to build your own photoblog. But since you are here, you already knew that and you have probably taken the decision to build your own blog yourself already.

Since Pixelpost is open source, people are invited to write templates and addons to extend the basic functionality. I’m using Pixelpost as base for my Monochrome.Me.Uk blog and installation turned out to be very easy. Below I summarize my experiences with the addons and other services I like best and ended up using for my blog:

The only thing left to do is to pick the template that fits you and your photos best. Have fun!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Should you expose for shadows or highlights?

The short answer is that it is usually recommended that for digital photography you expose for the highlights as they get easily blown out and for film photography it is easier to lose detail in the shadows and easier to bring back detail in the highlights and therefore you need to expose for the shadows.
The more complicated answer is that it depends on what you want to do, what you are visualizing.

We all know that a strongly overexposed part of the photo turns to white and a very underexposed part of the photo turns to black, cutting off any texture that might have been hidden in those areas. Film and sensors do have a limited ability to record light. It can only capture light between specific intensities and these intensities are defined by the film or sensor you are using, this is the so called dynamic range.

Exposing for shadows

Make sure that the histogram is not cut off on the left side. Use your camera options to overexpose, if needed. You will have a lot of detail in he dark areas of your photo but you might have blown out the highlights.

Exposing for highlights

Make sure that the histogram is not cut off on the right side. Use your camera options to underexpose, if needed. You will have detail in the bright areas, but the darker areas will be clipped to black.

Exposing for the mid-tones

There is, of course, always the alternative to ignore the highlights and the shadows and just expose for the mid-tones. The drawback is also the benefit: clipping will occur on both ends of the histogram, but not as severely as when you expose for highlights or shadows.


This leads nicely to a discussion of HDRI and it is maybe a good idea to revisit the section about bracketing.

Saturday, August 15, 2009


The classical solution to improve your chances of getting the exposure correct has been bracketing: Take multiple shots with different settings to get different exposures of the same scene. Typically you take one shot exposed normally followed by one or more overexposed and one or more underexposed shots. Check your camera manual and it is very likely that your camera offers an auto-bracket option for exposure where you can set the number (usually three or five), order and step interval (1, 1/2 or 1/3 stops). My Pentax K20D has a special exposure bracket button on the outside of the camera to quickly switch between bracketing and non-bracketing, no doubt the other brands have similar functionality to avoid going through long setup menus.

Bracketing has always enjoyed a questionable reputation as it wastes a lot of film when used with film cameras and because of the randomness of the approach. True, without taking steps to correct the lightmeter, you are in fact taking several potshots to see if you can obtain a good result. However, when you take the prize of a correct exposure of a difficult shot, nobody will poke fun of you but applaud you for being careful.
On a Digital SLR, the waste of images is of course less of an issue, especially when you take the quickly dropping prices of memory into account (and you're not on a long trip with just the one memory card.) 

Let it be clear that you don't need bracketing unless you are confronted with a difficult subject. Still, no matter how easy bracketing sounds, you still need to make decisions about the number of exposure and the step intervals. You'll need to learn to judge the subject to make those decisions, but usually three exposures with steps of 1/2 a stop is a save bet. We'll be getting back about how to judge subjects.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Why do lightmeters fail?

To understand why light meters fail, we need to understand what light meters do: No matter if it is a through-the-lens (TTL) meter as found on compacts and (D)SLRs or a handheld meter, they all try to reduce the scene to a neutral tone. This tone is often called "18% gray" but the ANSI standard against which the light meters are calibrated is a luminance value that is closer to the reflectance of 12% gray. 12% gray or 18% gray, we don't really care at this point, but what I would like you to bring back from this is that light meters generate those settings that will render the dominant part of your photo into a neutral colour. It may come as a surprise, but this will do nicely for most photos. It is not until you take a photo of a scene where this doesn't apply that you start to run into problems.

Ever tried to take a portrait on a sunny day where the face came out too dark? If your camera allows it, you could walk up to the subject, take a light reading and lock it, walk back to get the composition you want and the face will be well exposed. By this time it is also be a good idea to see if your camera supports spotmetering.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Exposure and why do we care?

You bought an expensive (D)SLR with a state of the art through-the-lens (TTL) light meter operating in different modes, so why should you ever want to start thinking about exposure again? Surely those days have gone as it is now so many years after TTL light meters were first introduced? Haven't any bugs been ironed out by now? And I believe you that that advanced weighted multi-segment mode is state of the art.

The truth is that for most shots on all cameras, the built-in light meter does an excellent job that would be difficult to improve upon. However, if you start using your camera more and more, you'll notice that some shots are too dark or too light. The highlights are all blown out, or there is no detail or too much noise in the shadows which may result in a disappointment. This is not a malfunction of the light meter, it does what it is meant to do but recognizing those situations and improving those exposures is one of the subjects of this blog.