Tuesday, 27 July 2010


Originally uploaded by James_at_Slack
A promo shot for her business. Done in about 10 minutes at home. One SB600 and a reflector. It did the job and was used in her literature for her business.
I'm sure strobists could rip this apart but at the moment, that is the sum total of my lighting equipment! I'm going to attend a studio lighting course soon and I will decide when and in what way, I'll embrace studio work. So far I've tended to go and find the light, not create it, but I'm getting more requests to do work that requires lighting and more control of the light. More stuff to learn but they say you should always keep learning don't they?

Monday, 26 July 2010


Over the last couple of days I've been trying to get back on top of my photo files, back-ups and photo logs. It got in a bit of a mess, very much to my surprise, quite quickly. I'm usually very disciplined when it comes to this sort of thing but after a few photo shoots, a trip abroad and deadlines, things piled up.
Part of the reason for the mess is I'm partly working on a MAC to see if it better than a PC, so the files get a bit mixed up.
My 'workflow', if I have the correct understanding of that word, goes something like this:
Shoot in RAW; upload files to PC and copy straight to CD-Rs. Files set up by date as RAW, TIFF&JPegs.
I chose a shot to work on, converting in ViewNX to a TIFF file. Usually there is not much done to the shot after that, but if anything is needed then I still use Elements 5 or 6 for the MAC.
This shot is filed as V.1 and as smaller resolution one as a Jpeg, filed as 'web'.
Once I've processed all the shots I want to do, I 'close' the file by renaming it '[Date} All Done' This completed file is then copied onto a DVD and is sent to two external hard-drives.

What's your thoughts on this 'workflow' and what is yours?

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Tram, Nieuwpoort Belgium

John Szarkowski (director of photography at New York's’ Musuem of Modern art) in 1976, designated photographs as mirrors or windows. The ‘window’ photo was one in which the subject matter is of primary importance, a scientific record for example, and the view of the photographer secondary. The ‘mirror’ was the opposite, the photo existing mainly to reflect the photographer’s viewpoint, a self-conscious ‘art’ photo, for instance.

A useful distinction but most photographs are both mirrors and windows.

From The Genius of Photography by Gerry Badger.

Friday, 16 July 2010

Alasdair Fraser, Bruce Molsky and Natalie Haas

I'm still buzzing after an amazing concert at the Woodend Barn in Banchory. A concert with the very best of fiddlers and dancers from Scotland and beyond, featuring Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas (Scotland and USA), with Bragod (Wales), Boreas (Norway and Scottish Borders), Göran Premburg, Pernilla Stendahl, Gill Redmond, Mats Nilsson and Ingegerd Sigfridsson (Sweden and England), Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh (Ireland), Bruce Molsky and Nic Gareiss (USA), the Aberdeen and Banchory Fiddlers (Scotland). It was 100% talent - none of your divas, charlatans or hacks of today. Well done NAFco for organising such a wonderful night - all for £10 too!

I wanted to share with you what I did to take these shots. I'm not experienced in taking concert shots at all and didn't want to use a flash which I think is really off putting for the performers. I also didn't want lug the heavy D300 with the 24-70mm lens so took the D50 with the great 50mm f1.8 lens. I knew I didn't want the shutter speed slower than 1/60 so set the camera to shutter priority at that. I then set up auto ISO in the menu so that the camera controlled not only the aperture (which stayed pretty much at f1.8 anyway) but the ISO as well. What is interesting is the ISO values that appear. This one for example is 560 ISO. Interesting eh?

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Updated my website

Added another set to my website tonight. The Glenbuchat and Strathdon pictures continue my project on abandoned communities in Aberdeenshire. The picture above forms part of the set. Check it out.

It is coming up to a year since I decided to pay Photium to have this website. It cost me £80 for the year and I did sell a couple of pictures through the site which just about covered that outlay. But overall, I don't feel the site does much to promote me as a photographer. If you Google JamesDyasDavidson, this FREE blog seems to come up first, not the website. I suppose it adds to the 'social networking'/Web2.0 idea of promoting your work, but I think my money could be better spent. Anyway, 24 days left to decide if I will continue using Photium. Any thoughts?

Monday, 12 July 2010

Howe of Cromar from Slack

I think Chase Jarvis has a point. Went for walk the other night and just had the wee P&S Canon Ixus70. Pleased with the way this came out. Has some real depth to it.
The idea was to constantly record just stuff in my daily life with this camera (I don't own an iPhone) and shove them on my Facebook page. I started off well but I realised I was taking pictures but not removing them from the card. I'll try harder.

Saturday, 10 July 2010


Originally uploaded by James_at_Slack
This is the lovely Lucy and I took these shots way back in May using whatever I could find at home to make backdrops, one SB600 speedlight and one reflector. My wife Yvonne was there to help Lucy with clothes and jewellery(none of which you can see here!). It was a great experience and I learned a lot and became a bit more confident in dealing with poses as Lucy was so cooperative and willing. The feeling when you look through the viewfinder and you see a gorgeous woman posing so professionally and the light is (nearly) right is quite something. You realise you are not looking at someone else's photo - this is a shot YOU are about to take. A real buzz. More can be seen on my Flickr page.

I did a few fashion shoots for The Millers and boy, do the photos pile up quickly! I work full time and I was doing all of this in my free time so the processing soon fell behind. Anyway, I'm now on holiday and catching up. However, I do need to think about how I can speed up my workflow. Any tips?

Thursday, 8 July 2010

I guess the higher you want to go, the greater the obstacles.

I'm on holiday just now and an opportunity (in between chores) to try to take my photography to the next level, if you get my meaning. Well tonight I hit the all too familiar feeling of 'Oh My God, I know nothing! I have SO much to learn! I so suck at this photography lark!' For example, I want to learn more about light and using flash, so, the best place to go would be strobist.com which I duly went to and very quickly realised how much I need to get, to learn, to do, to read, to watch, etc. etc. One website seems to lead you hundreds of others - where do you start? where do you stop? Argh! The wealth of info on the web is, on one hand just so fantastic and helpful, but on the other it can be almost paralysing.

Time - there just isn't enough of it.
Advice - there is just too much going around. Some scare you - "Your pictures should stop me dead in my tracks, everytime." An Art dealer/buyer. "You should take pictures of things no one else has taken"!!

And what have I NOT done today? Yip, taken a picture. I think that is what I should focus on more. (excuse the pun)

Any views on my grumble?

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Last few weeks!

Last few weeks!
Originally uploaded by James_at_Slack
My first solo exhibition finishes at the end of July so if you're in the area and can get along to Millers (which has a restaurant, gifts, deli, books, clothing etc.) I would be delighted. I'm looking for some comments on the exhibition too, good and bad! Go to www.jamesdyasdavidson.com for more.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Thomas Carlyle by Julia Margaret Cameron

I went to Aberdeen Art Gallery to see the exhibition of photographs by Roger Fenton and Julia Margaret Cameron yesterday and was, yet again, taken by this one of Thomas Carlyle. It is a very blurry, out of focus shot but it has an impact and resonates, especially if you know something about Carlyle. Anyway, this is my contribution to blurry photographs in respect to these pioneering Victorian photographers.
There is also a room full of George Washington Wilson photographs of the royals at Balmoral with nothing better to do than to dress up and recreate scenes from mythology or the Bible and summon Wilson, by telegram, to get himself over to Balmoral and take a few pictures. Fascinating.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

You have 4 weeks off work - what would you do to improve your photography?

If you had the following 4 weeks off work, what would you do to move your photography to the next level?
I intend to know every nook and cranny of my camera and all the other pieces of equipment I've bought recently; to take the shots that have, until now only existed in my head; to study more art and photographers; to complete a project that will, yet again take me into an area I'm not familiar with; do more portraits; understand light and flash better; and last but perhaps most importantly of all, take photographs, be creative and fun.