Personal Assignment – Alphabet

I was inspired by watching Joe Glyda on Kelby Training to shoot a series of letters of the alphabet. So I went out into the Grafton Street area of Dublin this morning and shot mainly letters in shops’/pubs’/restaurants’ names. I tried to get as many different styles and colors as possible. It’s a good idea to shoot a few letters in every sign so you have some choice afterwards. It was a fun project. The most difficult letter to find? Q.


Should I use lens image stabilization / vibration reduction on a tripod?

Have you ever wondered how much of a difference this really makes? If I’m out shooting with a lens with IS/VR I often forget to turn it off anyway. After reading Tack Sharp by James Brandon ( I was experimenting with manual focus while zooming in using live view (on Nikon D7000 with 18-200 VR lens). If you do this you may see the stabilizing impact IS/VR is having (or not). I found that indoors I got good results with it switched off. However on a tripod outside in the wind it worked best turned on (and in the case of this lens, with the switch set to ‘Active’ mode). It’s worth experimenting if your camera has live view mode.

Lens filter removal

I usually let the lens hoods protect my lenses, however sometimes I’ll use a polarising filter or may use a UV filter if I’m near enough the sea for spray to get on the glass. Screwing on the filter is usually the easy part, however removing the filter can be difficult if done the wrong way. I used to grip the filter on the outside and often found it impossible to remove and the harder I gripped it the less it would budge. By gently gripping the front edges of the filter where the serrations are, it is much easier to remove. Some people recommend placing a lens cloth on a table and turning the lens and this works well too. I hope the pictures below will help explain what I mean.

Slideshow Music

Being a Mac user I enjoy creating slideshows in Aperture and iPhoto. Music is a very personal taste, but here are a few of my favourite tracks I use when creating personal slideshows (all of these should be available in the iTunes store):

A Day in the Sunset | Morning Light | by Jon Schmidt
Paris / London Testament | London Part XII | by Keith Jarrett
Sunbear Concerts | Encore from Tokyo | by Keith Jarrett
Ethereality | Dolmen Ridge | by Gnomusy
Nuovo Cinema Paradiso | Tema d’Amore | by Ennio Morricone

The Polar Coordinates Filter



I’ve been experimenting with the Polar Coordinates filter in Photoshop Elements. Here’s the workflow I used:

First, I did a little editing so that the edges would meet up fairly well. I then rotated the image through 180 degrees. Then applied Filter > Distort > Polar Coordinates and choose ‘Rectangular to Polar’. Then I resized the image to make it square, used the eyedropper tool to select some of the sky blue, made a circular selection with some feathering, inverted the selection and deleted the selection.

Handheld Panoramas

Kilkenny Castle, Ireland
Canon 30D | EF-S17-85 IS
This was a series of seven landscape pictures, taken left to right. Because I didn’t have a tripod, I first scanned across the scene to determine where I would keep the centre focus point so that the pictures would stitch OK later in Photoshop Elements (using Photomerge Panorama). I took a reading in Av mode then dialled in those settings in Manual mode to take the pictures.