Upgrade Time

It is time to upgrade my 1Dx bodies (well two of them, one of them has some 500,000 actuations, so next to worthless, so will be kept as a remote) One has 119k actuations and the other just under 140k. Looking for about £1k each, with battery & charger. They both have some wear & tear commensurate with their age and usage. I do look after my kit, so they are nowhere near as worn as many of the ex-press photographers gear you will find on ebay. Feel free to email paul@press-photos.com for further details.

New Battery Cover

Needed a replacement battery cover for a Pocketwizard Plus X, so ordered a replacement from the UK importers Colour Confidence arrived within 48 hours, unfortunately I ordered the wrong part, it was only £9.95 so thought I’d keep it as a spare & order a replacement, however Colour Confidence sent me the correct part gratis. Brilliant customer service.

The replacement couldn’t be simpler, undo two screws & crack the case open, swap the back & reassemble.

New Foam Arrived

New foam has arrived for the Peli-Case. Seems pretty good, however I am going to require some further practice before I start cutting the foam, fortunately they supply an off-cut so that you can. It would appear that the technique should be a flowing cut, rather than sawing. Anyway will have go over the next few days, when I have worked out what kit goes where.

The manufacturers are a company called Shadow Foam and they have a distributor that supplies foam pre-cut to fit a wide variety of Peli-Cases. Including the Peli-Case 1510.

Colour Checker

I had, but now cannot find an Agfa-Gevaert Colour chart for many many years, it was a little worn, but was regularly used when I was shooting film, back in the day. Anyway it’s gone missing so I ordered a similar item from China, although it is a little bigger & doesn’t fold in half to fit easily in a bag.

I am pleasantly surprised by the build quality.

New Charging Leads

Having had Apple Mag-Safe chargers on older MacBook Pros in the past I was surprised when I upgraded to an iPhone that they didn’t do the same for the phone charging leads. Ah Well, at least somebody else does and not only is it magnetic it also will charge at an near infinite number of angles as well. As a bonus it not only supports the Apple Lightning Lead but also USB-C and USB Micro as well.

The package that I ordered came with 4 USB leads (2 different lengths) and 3 Apple connectors, 3 USB-C connectors and three USB Micro connectors. It has the added bonus that the connector end has an LED so that it is easy to find when you climb into your car in the middle of the night.

Composite image, focus stacking using at least 10 images. Shot on a 100mm Macro.

Identify…

Seeing as nearly every other pro photographer I meet on a job is using Think Tank camera bags, I have decided that I should make mine clearly identifiable, probably don’t need to with the Airport Accelerator as it is probably the oldest one still being used. All the other equipment is tagged with fluorescent tape so that it can be easily recognised when behind a goal mouth or dumped in the press room. Most of us have done something similar either a brightly coloured luggage label (airline ones seem popular) or distinctive bungee straps. Not designed to prevent theft (as that very rarely occurs between working professionals) simply so that I pick up the right bag when leaving the ground.

Fully Vaccinated

Got my second Covid Jab today, so hopefully in a week or so the vaccination will be in full effect. I haven’t felt the need to install any Microsoft software products on my Mac yet, but I assume that Bill Gates will be messaging me soon. I treated myself to a packet of peanuts for being such a brave little soldier and because they didn’t give me a lolly or a sticker at the Vaccination Centre. I have also drawn up a list of bits that I need to build a couple of bird boxes out of some left over 4″ pipe that I have. What an exciting life I lead…..

Recalibrating…..

After some issues in the week with a 2x Extender that hadn’t been calibrated with the 400mm I fired up the Reikan FoCal software. Which has been updated since I last used it, so downloaded the latest release and printed a fresh target. Some 3 hours later with the laptop battery nearly dead, after 6 reboots, numerous software re-starts I was no closer to actually calibrating anything. If anything I was in a worse position than when I started as I was unable to calibrate the 400mm with the 2x or the 1.4x I decided to attempt to do just the lens on its own. BIG MISTAKE. It had then threw out my original calibration & unfortunately I hadn’t noted the original calibration details.

So fast forward to Sunday and another attempt, this time just the 400mm on its own. Now the lens & three different camera bodies are properly calibrated, hopefully I will get time tomorrow to do the 1.4x & the 2x extenders as well.

The software is quite intuitive when it works certainly a damned sight easier than doing it manually. I looked at the Canon instructions for calibration and it isn’t for the faint hearted.

Now it is properly pin, not bad for an old EF 400mm F2.8 L IS mkI.

Guildford City Win

24/04/2021 GCFC v Farnham Town. City’s Isy Nzelo scores

City ran out 2-1 winners against Farnham Town.

Too Many Bags?

SO lock down is coming to an end, hopefully will get back to shooting more football in the coming weeks, if my shoulder ever heals up. I love Pelicases and have several, however for most of the jobs that I do, all they really add is extra weight, in the case of the 1650 an awful lot of it. OK I know it carries a lot of gear, but since tearing the Rotator Cuff I really wanted to reduce the amount of weight I physically lug around with me.

For football, depending upon the level/client that can mean anything from two bodies, 3 lenses and an iPad to 3 bodies, remotes, 6 lenses including a 400mm F2.8, monopod, clamps & minipod, laptop & associated bits a mini max stool. Which when split between a Think Tank Airport Accelerator and a Pelicase 1510, weighs a lot.

So I have decided to try a different route, a Think Tank Glass Limo for the 400mm and one body with monopod & odds & sods and the 1510 with 2 bodies, 8-15mm, 11-24mm, 24-70mm & 70-200mm, two 600RT flashes, meaning that I will have much less weight on my shoulders/back hopefully my chiropractor will thank me.

The trouble is that I probably have too many bags, with a Think Tank Retrospective 5, Lowepro Stealth, Lowpro backpack, Tenba P211, plus the Airport & Glass Limo. However whilst many of them are great bags, they are not ideal for every situation. The Stealth & Retrospective are great for shooting on the move, the Tenba is great for a single body, three lenses, and the backpacks are great load carriers but harder to work with. It’s the same with the Pelicases, the 1510 is great as a footy box, plus you can sit on it at a push, but not great on wet grass or mud, the 1650 is huge and will take most of my kit, which is then impossible to lift.

FA Vase 3rd Round

10/04/2021 GCFC v Walton & Hersham. FA Vase 3rd Round. CityÕs Andre Smith celebrates scoring

Good to be back shooting football after a prolonged delay due to Covid-19. Still no crowds allowed so games currently being played behind closed doors. Although that didn’t stop a signifcant number of away fans from gathering in the Spectrum car park to sneak a view over the fence.

Considering it is a third of the way through April, I couldn’t believe how cold it was, fortunately I had a big coat in the boot of the car as well as a hat, otherwise I’d have been frozen.

City lost on penalties after a feisty game, and now look to the “inter league” Fripp-Smith Trophy which takes place over the next 4-5 weeks.

Kill The Bill Protest

04/04/2021 Kill The Bill Protest in Guildford

The Kill The Bill protest in Guildford passed off peacefully, with no incidents that I saw. To be honest Guildford is not really that sort of place. I expected some tutting & maybe some disdainful looks.

Cable Tidy

Took some time to clean out some desk drawers, can’t believe how many USB cables, power cables, network cables, flash sync cables there were, and how much of a mess they make as they unravel. So purchased probably the cheapest thing that I have ever bought on Amazon. A pack of 50 velcro cable ties for £4.99 I have used about half of them just sorting out the desk drawer. I still have the mess behind the computer to sort out as well as the Studio Light power leads etc.

Punctures

Having had a couple of punctures during the winter (a first for me, I have only ever had one other puncture in 30+ years)and having had one of the little 12v tyre inflators in the boot for as long as I can remember, I decided to replace the rather crappy Halfords one with something a bit beefier & without a great long lead to try & store.

Seeing as I already have Makita 18v Cordless drills, saws & angle grinders I have added their inflation tool to the boot of my car. I will let you know how I get on, if I should ever need it.

Archive

From Paul Burgman 1986. Sara Crowe and Ann Bryson before they shot to fame as the Philidelphia Cheese Girls. Original Publicity photographs shot for their Cabaret Act the Flamin’ Hamsters. Paul Burgman/Press-Photos.com

Going through some old negatives, I found some that I shot of the Guildford School of Acting back in the early 1980s, the photograph above was of a couple of students from St Catherine’s Drama school, who went on to become quite well known in the 1980s & 90s. It was shot in a photographic studio that used to be in Godalming.

The photo above is of a Guildford School of Acting production of “Bent”that was put on at the New End Theatre in Hampstead again some time in the early 1980s, the actor on the left is Owen Teale, who went on to star as Ser Alliser Thorne in Game of Thrones, as well as appearing in BallyK and Line of Duty. Shot on Kodak Tri-X at 1600ISO Canon F1n 24mm F2.

Guildford School Of Acting & The Unlimited Theatre CompanyProduction of GODSPELL [Pic Paul Burgman]

The above was from a production of Godspell by the Guildford School of Acting in a church on Marlybone Road. Shot on a Canon A1 50mm F1.4 Ektachome 160EPT tungsten balanced transparency film.

Sharp

Needed to put an edge on a couple of penknife blades, cutting background paper makes them dull very quickly and I didn’t want to go the full whet stone & honing oil route, so I thought I’d try a pocket sharpener. Having attacked three different Swiss Army knives and a Leatherman I am quite impressed, very easy to use and even made a wrecked Swiss Army Lock knife which has been abused for over 20 years serviceable.

These pocket sharpeners are never going to get your blades up to Scalpel or even Stanley Knife blade sharpness, but even this old lock knife now has an edge that will shave the hairs from your forearm. So for £11 it is a bargain.

Important Note: Having seen a couple of reviews on Amazon, don’t drop the stone when you have removed the cover, it is stone & will break, same as most knife sharpening stones. Also don’t apply so much pressure that you snap it, there is zero flexibility so go gentle and enjoy.

Manfrotto Upgrade

I had to order a couple of QR plates for a Manfrotto head, and when I saw the price for a piece of plastic, I looked at an alternative. Not only was it 2 plates for just over the price of 1 Manfrotto plate, they are made of metal and are actually easier to attach to a camera/lens as the Manfrotto plate has a very fiddly screw.

Time will tell how they will work out.

Lockdown Killed…..

Memory Saver

Lockdown has finally killed my car battery. Only being used a couple of times a week & then for just quick trips to the shops means that the battery has been killed. Despite taking a run out with it last weekend it has died. So new a battery was delivered this morning & a Memory Saver having been delivered earlier in the week it was time to replace it. The memory saver is a brilliantly simple bit of kit, and whilst it probably will have been lost by the time I next need it, well worth it for the effort that it saved.

Essentially it uses a 9v PP3 Battery to supply the car with enough power to keep the time & radio settings (as well as other stuff kept in the volatile memory in the car) whilst the battery is disconnected.

Two Types of HD

There are two types of hard drive, ones that have failed & ones that will fail. This includes all types of media, whether Magnetic, Optical or Solid state. If you have only one copy of something, you don’t have a back-up, if you have a second copy you don’t have a back up plan. If it is valuable or important to you, you need several copies. Facebook is not a suitable place to use as image storage, nor is wordpress. You can have a back up on-line, but use something that is designed for data storage. You need to have at least two copies plus one off-site.

Anyway my point is I have had to dispose of a hard drive today that failed, not a cause for concern as everything is backed up multiple times in several locations, so new disk installed into the system and data restored to it.

Ice, Ice, Baby

Had to clear the windscreen of ice a couple of days ago & yet another useless bit of plastic snaps. I decided to investigate a new ice scraper. Over the years I have had many, usually brittle bits of plastic, sharp edged, ergonomically awful, frequently with useless rubber strips in sharp metal bits that lift a layer of paint, or numerous layers of skin if contact is even lightly made, or else a credit card, or a bottle of de-icer.

Well the Swedish Ice Scraper is none of the above, made from recycled perspex, it is a really well thought out, incredibly simple device. I don’t know how long they have been around, but if it is very long then it is one of the best kept secrets ever. A little more expensive than most, but I am sure that time will show it to be an investment.

Bloody Cold Weather coming

As the cold weather is almost on us, I have decided that if I get a puncture whilst out and about, I want to spend as little time as possible changing a wheel. So to that end I have got some sockets & adaptors for my rechargeable impact driver, which will greatly reduce the time that I may have to spend changing a wheel. Hopefully will never need it but better to have just in case.

Don’t Use Filters

I don’t often use filters, with the exception of a polarising filter occasionally, but as it was Christmas I decided to treat myself. Years ago when I first seriously got into photography (about 1980) I had some Cokin Filters, but most of them were to gimmicky to use more than once. In fact now that I think about it, I may have to have a look for them.

[UPDATE] Found them, can’t find the holders (either the A or the P) or the adaptor rings, may have to have a look on Ebay!

Damned….

Damned I’d forgotten just how big this case is. I haven’t used my Peli Case 1650 for a while, it was used mainly for storage and security in the boot of the Jeep with a couple of steel cables & padlocks. But seeing as the new inserts from A-MoDe in Hong Kong had arrived I figured that I should install it and configure it ready for use in the new year. Only downside is once it is fully loaded it is bloody heavy. I may reconfigure it to be my football box with just the 400mm, 70-200mm and the 24-70mm & three bodies, flashguns, remotes mini tripod, monopod and laptop.

They’ve arrived

New inserts from Hong Kong for the Pelicases have arrived. They are substantially cheaper than the Pelicase originals, and are not quite as well made but they do seem good value for money. I have got them for the 1510 which houses my 400mm and some odds and sods, and for the 1650 which, whilst I don’t use it at the moment is capable of holding most of the camera kit, including 3 bodies, 8 lenses & three flashgun plus still plenty of room.

Early Xmas

I know I probably have spent enough on myself in the last few months, but this is an early Christmas present for me, mainly because my old mag-lite is nearly 20 years old & although I have replaced the bulb with an LED replacement, new technology is often better. In this case it is particulary true, whilst the old torch does still work & and is no longer emitting that horrible yellow glow, the new one is substantially better. It will live in the car for those horrible nights when I’m searching for an address in the middle of nowhere.

New Tools

Decided that the cheap kit that I bought a couple of weeks ago wasn’t really up to snuff, so it will live in the car for those little mishaps that occur when away from home. The iFixit kit seems better made & comes with some useful odds & sods as well probably better suited to the projects that I do at home.

Don Zeck, No idea

Nope I have no idea who Don Zeck is, but he does a fine line in lens caps for big glass. The Canon supplied lens cap for the 400mm F2.8 is basically a Nose Bag, a right pain in the arse to use and only properly fits when the Lenshood is reversed. OK most of the time not a problem, but when it is not fitted it takes up an unnecessary amount of space. It won’t fit in your pocket!

Anyhoo only available to order from the US, and not exactly cheap (although cheaper than the Canon replacement) it arrived in about 15 days, which compared to the waiting time from stuff from China is not too bad. Just have to make sure that I don’t misplace this one.

New Wheels

The wheels on my 1650 Pelicase are crap, they are the original wheels fitted by Pelican, really hard plastic right upto the point that they start falling apart. I replaced the wheels on my 1510 Case a while back with some in-line skate wheels, however the 1650 uses much wider wheels. So I ordered some skateboard wheels 50mm diameter and 30mm wide, along with some bearings. Not perfect, I need to install some spacers but already much better than the original wheels.

Website Move

Having been with Supanames since about 2001 which was then taken over by 123-Reg it was time for a change. 123 have been properly rubbish, they cost me my domain name for 4 years because their integration between them & Supanames didn’t work, they are consistently overcharging for their service, they have been charging me nearly £180 per year for services that I have tried to down grade, but they will not permit. Finally last week they told me I couldn’t cancel the “auto-renew” but would have to cancel my hosting contract meaning I would immediately lose my hosting/email etc with no refund for the remaining month I had left on my contract, so anyway **** them. Eventually they conceded & I am now moving to a new supplier that has been recommended to me.

As with all these things there will be some down-time, I also have the work of locating & implementing a new gallery system for the images that I have & ones that I will be adding in the future. Whilst the website won’t have the ability to syndicate the images directly from the server, it will have the advantage of resizing images in the fly and when finally customised (when I get the chance) will integrate nicely with the rest of the site. Yes I know, I probably need to change the colour scheme & update the look, & I will in time, the main thing is to get something up & running before Christmas.

Have changed the DNS just waiting for that to promulgate & we are up and running, well, walking briskly, actually probably just hobbling with the aid of a stick, but I’ll get there.

Lockdown 2

29/11/2020 Hayling Island during Lock Down 2.0

Have hardly used the car during lockdown 2.0, and it only just managed to start with a very flat battery, so it & I needed a run out, so a trip to shoot Hayling Island in lockdown was the order of the day.

FA Vase Win

31/10/2020 Tooting Bec v GCFC FA Vase. City’s Theo Woodhouse (Capt) celebrates

Great to be shooting football this weekend, although it may be the last time for a while, with the new lockdown coming into effect on Thursday. City clung on for a 3-2 win to go through to the next round.

Ongoing Repairs

Toolset

Having replaced a battery in the TomTom sat nav recently it became apparent that whilst I have loads of very small phillips, crosspoint & flat screwdrivers, I didn’t have any small Torx bits, or any of the slightly peculiar blades that many small electronic devices require. So a cheap set was purchased from Amazon, and on closer inspection it looks like a cheap set of “Chinesium” bits. Although it does come with a selection of spudgers and other useful accessories, I am not sure that much of it will last prolonged & heavy usage, so I may invest in the iFixit kit in due course.

However as it is time for the periodical check on all the accessable screws on my camera equipment, it will get used for that, before potentially being thrown in a drawer & forgotten about.

Bloody Batteries

The lockdown has killed my Sat Nav batteries, hardly being used for months means that even when fully charged as soon as power is disconnected the thing shuts down.

TomTom G06000 SatNav

Normally not a problem, however it takes ages to re-start. I mean ages several minutes at least. Which if you are in a rush seems like forever. It also means that if the power is interrupted briefly it switches off, for example you go over a pot-hole and the plug works loose in the 12v power socket.

So after a few weeks of just shouting at the thing I did a quick google search for replacement batteries, ordered one & when it arrived today I fitted it. It was a bit of a fiddle as the internals on my G06000 seem to be different to all the others featured in the online videos, but 20 minutes later & it is all done. I have left it on charge & will let it charge overnight for the first cycle of the battery, hopefully this is the end of the saga.

Update: Given a long charge, have unplugged the power and it is still running an hour later, Yay!

Clap for Carers

23/04/2020. Guildford Cathedral lit up with tribute to the NHS this evening

Lost count, is it three of these now? Visited the Royal Surrey County Hospital,  but they had moved where they were holding the applause, so got there a little too late, so afterwards I headed up to the famous Cathedral (if you don’t know why it is famous, then you probably haven’t seen The Omen). Anyhoo they had lit the building blue & projected a tribute to the NHS on the front, organised by #surreydriveUK.

23/04/2020. Guildford Cathedral lit up with tribute to the NHS this evening

Lock Down is boring…but

_CPB6976

If it prevents one death, reduces stress on the NHS and other key workers it is worth it. All of my commissions and work has dried up for the foreseeable & unforeseeable future. Shit happens. Today was the largest Supermoon of 2020, even though I am a key worker, I decided that it wasn’t worth the risk of doing anything more than shooting it from my garden.

In other news a delivery is due in the next couple of days, of some timber & bits so I shall be knocking up a couple of bird boxes, one for Blue Tits & an other for Robins & Wrens. The ones that I built 12 years ago are still going strong, but with the reduced traffic & human activity the birds seem to be flourishing, so as I can’t help the NHS Staff (except by staying home whenever possible) I might as well do something for our feathered friends.

Struggles with scanning…

Scan-200401-0015

For years I have owned a Film Scanner, never really used it as I was unable to get decent results from it, I used to use one at Cassidy & Leigh (a Kodak RFS2035) without problems, it wasn’t brilliantly high res, but fine for newspaper work, and quite quick. I purchased a CanoScan FS4000 not long after they were launched, but never really got on with it.  The GetFilm app was pretty poor to use & the quality just never seemed to be there. The software for dust removal was also pretty poor and the Canon App never let you get into the bowels of the Scanner to tweak it. That all changed when I replaced it with VueScan, but it still never produced the goods.

The came internment, I mean social distancing & self isolation, which seeing as the business has completely dried up, means that I have time for some experimentation. Seeing as I know my camera gear inside & out, have cleaned all of it, including cases & bags and we are only 10 days in, time to fire up the FS4000US. Not quite there yet as I am still tweaking but substantially better than previous scans.