Thursday, 3 December 2020

Colour Overload - RHS Wisley Glow 2020

 We got to visit the Wisley Glow event this year (just at the end of lockdown), and having been to a few others in the last few years, this was no disappointment.  None of the tacky Santa and Reindeer stuff that was a huge part of Kew one year, but plenty of changing light patterns, repetitive music etc.  Quite crowded, with many small children, a one-way system and ropes everywhere, so a healthy dose of patience required........I am not selling it to you am I?!?  It was a welcome distraction from the never ending lockdown though.

It's been a very quiet year for Catchlight 35, not surprisingly with the pandemic, and quite hard in all sorts of other ways too that no-one had expected for many people.

So dust off that camera, out with the tripod, turn down the ISO and use remote trigger for varying long exposures.  After that, shoot to stack and lose the people!  I think the minimum exposure time for any of my shots was 6 seconds, but mostly they were 13 to 30 seconds or more.  You need a relatively windless day so I was lucky.  Enjoy.

This is lit with my own torch for the statue in the foreground - most people may have missed this since it was pitch black just here.

This is a stack of around 8 shots, for different lights on the trees/balls and needing different exposures depending on the colour of the lights.  It is beautiful just to stand there and watch the colours change, but you only get the full impact in a photo with a stack.

I have only put a few here, but you get the idea.  Then there are the ones you took by mistake when moving the camera.......

OOPS!  Very abstract.......!
This is what happens when its dark and you either press the shutter by mistake or you touch the touchscreen on the camera (more likely, having forgotten to switch off touch ability) whilst picking up the tripod to move on.

As I've said before in an earlier blog, the dark is your enemy when trying not to lose any bits of kit so have a load of big pockets to drop lens caps/hoods/batteries etc into.  Hopefully you'll find everything at the end. 
Avoid tripping up small children, or them tripping you up...

P.S  Then there's the overlay experiment....double exposure.  Hmm......

Filter Attachment Systems - which is best?

This blog was written to draft about 2 years ago so there will be newer filter systems around now I guess, but the principals remain.  Have H&Y even survived?  I don't know, since lockdown in 2020 prevented the Photography Show in Birmingham from happening this year and this is where one gets to take a gander at all the latest stuff and nonsense......
The bottom line is that filters are a Faff!  I tend to only take them out with me when I'm either on my own (and can take as much time as I need) or with like minded photographers who are all  lingering around in one area for some length of time.  Otherwise your companions get very bored very quickly while they wait around for you.....
The most useful one for ordinary use is the CPL but there is plenty of creativity to be had out there if you can be bothered to cart it all around with you.

So you decided to expand your photographic creativity and skill and think you would like some filters.  The first thing I did was buy some (relatively) cheap filters 100x100 and some kind of filter holder.  I set out with the following starter set:
Standard Cokin filter holder with set of different step rings for different thread lenses.
Cokin 100x100 - these are not glass, but do the job.
ND4 soft grad
ND6 soft grad
ND8 soft grad
Hoya Pro CPL  (Circular polariser)  There are cheaper ones than this one.

I found out very quickly that ND8 soft grad and CPL were the ones I used 98% of the time.

This will make you realise if its worth investing in a decent set.

I progressed to buying a Tiffen ND Fader 1 - 10 stop.  This is a special filter with two polarisers, which, when twisted together block out a variable amount of light across the whole lens. Great for allowing slower shutter speeds to smooth out water/show movement etc.  It has its drawbacks though.  The infamous X at the extremes, which means that it is really only about 7 or 8 stops ND in reality.  To be honest I haven't used it that much.  It's fun to play with but you need time.

Having decided that filters are the way to go if you
a) have time to mess about in every location,
b) can be bothered to carry it all around with you,
c) have learnt not to drop it(!),
 I did much research and forked out much hard earned  money on some Nisi filters.  There are many blogs written about the colour rendition/quality etc of all sorts of makes if you dig around nowadays so I won't go into it, but as a general rule, none of the highly recommended ones are cheap (around £150 for a soft Grad 100x150).
At the time, I chose Nisi for it's superb colour rendition and glass quality of their filters (still true today) but also for their (at the time) revolutionary holder system which had an integrated cpl filter (removeable) in the filter holder which meant much less fiddling around getting the cpl right and then having to add the grad filter after. 
With the cheap Cokin starter set, every time one switched from landscape to portrait, one had to mess around adjusting the cpl and then re-adjust the grad again.  With this system one can adjust the cpl without affecting the grad.  Now (as at 2019), Nisi is several system versions later (all slightly improved, supposedly, but way too expensive to upgrade what I had) and there are plenty of other makes doing similar things some of which are now magnetic (H&Y for example, which I am following with interest as I can use my existing superb Nisi filters with it).

One thing to bear in mind is that if you really get into this photography thing, you may end up with several lenses and some need larger filters.  Try to future proof your filter system as far as possible.
I very soon discovered that 100x100 is not large enough for most lenses and when I reinvested, I bought 100x150 glass instead.  I can use this on my Irix wide lens (just), although I have had to buy a special larger NiSi cpl for this lens.

Another thing I have learnt from my filter buying journey is that one shouldn't necessarily rush into the latest revolutionary filter system until they've been out awhile (hence I'm waiting with interest for H&Y).  I bought the Nisi V3 filter holder, which is fine and was one of thier first versions.  It came with  no pouch/case (so it was just loose), and no lens cap, but when you want to travel and leave your cpl on the lens, your standard lens cap doesn't fit so you either have to remove the filter or invest in a separate threaded cpl filter just for that lens (no cap available for the V3).   Hmm, when I approached NiSi with this problem and suggested that they make a lens cap for it, they just brought out the next version of the filter holder and suggested I buy that instead (£150+.....!)  So I talked them into donating one of their new lens caps (for the V5) to me which I had to file away the sides of slightly to make it fit my S3 holder.  Not ideal, but a work around.  There is now  V6 holder which has round sides (unlike the V5 but like my V3) and has a lock screw (whoopee, not).  I'll stick with the V3 I reckon now that I have a lens cap.

H&Y is interesting because it is similar to NiSi (with built in cpl) but the whole system is magnetic.  One can buy a frame for your current NiSi filter, which saves you touching any part of the filter when handling, and then it simply sticks onto the holder.  Subsequent filters stick to each other.  I have yet to see if this is sensible/practical but it sounds like a good idea and would be much easier to handle.