Tag Archives: opinion

The Problem With Using Filters On Your Camera Lenses « Photofocus

Just like the meme that you should change your oil every 3,000 miles or have your teeth cleaned every six months, the photographic retailers have their own meme going – you should buy a UV filter to protect your lens.


While I am sure many of you – maybe even most of you – have fallen for this, it’s not necessary. In this post I’ll give you my opinion as to why you don’t need such a filter and further, discuss a few pitfalls of filters in general.

Let’s work backwards. Filters in general cause several problems. They may induce flare, either the visible kind that results in small starbursts of light appearing on your image, or the more insidious kind – light refraction, which ends up reducing image contrast. These problems are caused by light leaks between the filter and lens, and the inner reflective surfaces of the filters themselves, as well as a few optical phenomena, the discussion of which would be beyond the scope of a simple blog post.

Scott Bourne at Photofocus hits the nail on the head again. I always fell for this, until a couple of years ago when I decided I couldn’t afford the really expensive UV filters, read about a bit and decided they simply weren’t worth the effort anyway.

One lens I own still has a UV filter—the Sigma 10–20mm. I’m not sure why, to be honest.

British Government? You’re fired!

I think it’s time the British electorate stood up and demanded the Westminster government and parliament be disbanded as not fit for purpose.

It has failed us for too long. 

Why do we even need them? What good do they do?

It strikes me all they ever do is meddle with things, and generally make things worse or break things that weren’t really broken.  They don’t really seem to represent us any more. You only need to look at the disconnect between the electors and the elected to see this.

This country will function quite happily without meddlesome politicians. The Civil Service will continue to run things for a bit, free from constant poking and fiddling from some “here today, gone tomorrow” politician sticking their oar in. While the country is being managed by those who really manage things anyway, we can decide how we want our country to be run and who should be given the responsibility to run it—if anyone.

So, let’s start a campaign to close down the British Parliament and Government. They have failed us too often.

America’s permanent robot war | Tom Engelhardt | CiF | guardian.co.uk

“The drone,” writes Jim Lobe of Inter Press Service, “has increasingly become the [Obama] administration’s ‘weapon of choice’ in its efforts to subdue al-Qaida and its affiliates.” In hundreds of attacks over the last years in the Pakistani tribal borderlands, they have killed thousands, including al-Qaida figures, Taliban militants and civilians. They have played a significant and growing role in the skies over Afghanistan. They are now loosing their missiles ever more often over Yemen, sometimes over Libya, and less often over Somalia. Their bases are spreading. No one in Congress will be able to resist them. They are defining the new world of war for the 21st century—and many of the humans who theoretically command and control them can hardly keep up.

Worrying, but inevitable. Watch out for a drone near you.


Photo Sharing


I’ve been a Flickr user for some time. It’s my first choice when uploading new images and when pointing folks at what I do with my camera gear. I quite like Flickr, with all its faults. 

My friend Gavin, on his Techbeast.net blog, commented about Flickr thus:


Flickr can be a lot of things to a lot of people. Some use it for sharing their holiday snaps, or pictures of their new baby. Some use it to host their portfolio and others will like to get involved in the group discussions. It is also a very useful place to host your pictures for embedding into a blog.

For all of its benefits, there are a few glaring drawbacks for the keen photographers among us. The first thing that springs to mind is the way things are organised. There is no useful way to display a portfolio, aside from in a set or collection. The white background is not the best backdrop for most images and it is very easy to get lost in the sheer volume of images that are uploaded every hour. The slide show function is really handy, but it is Flash-only, so pretty much out-of-bounds for the millions of iPads out there and a veritable battery killer for the Android tablets that have Flash.



I have to say I agree with most of what he said, but I still choose Flickr for displaying my new images first. Which isn’t to say there might not be a better solution. It was Gavin who suggested I take a look at a new photo sharing site—500px

If you want to read Gavin’s take on 500px, from where I also lifted the above quote about Flickr, then you can find it here.

I am always a bit sceptical about adding more social networking and sharing to my already cluttered online life. I’ve already given Facebook the elbow, mainly because I didn’t trust it, I wasn’t enjoying the experience, and felt it was time to trim things back a bit. I remain a Twitter fan, and enjoy blogging and an active forum life in a couple of places, but Facebook was just too intrusive for my satisfaction. Nevertheless I visited 500px, found I was impressed, and signed up for a free account.

Rather than try and explain here why it’s different to Flickr, take a look at the 500px “about” page. They can explain it far better than I can.

Anyway, after I’d signed up, found out how to upload images, discovered the limits to a free account (restricted numbers of uploads per week), and figured out I couldn’t afford to make myself “awesome” just yet (“awesome” being the 500px take on a Flickr Pro account), I found I was feeling a bit overwhelmed by the experience. I had uploaded 20 of my better images, and literally within seconds had comments coming in. This, if I am truthful, scared me a bit. I am used to a delay before having anyone comment on uploads. It seemed the 500px community was incredibly active—and full of photographers from Russia!

I felt a bit like the new kid in school. I only had one friend, Gavin, and didn’t feel at all comfortable just accepting all the new commentators on my photos as friends without getting to know them first. With thousands of new potential friends, how the heck could I get to know anyone at all? Overwhelmed, I had a change of heart, and searched for a way to delete my new account. There wasn’t one, although the site developers say they will add one eventually. They suggested I just log out and leave it for now, which I did.

Time passed, and I began to see more references to 500px appear among Twitter friends. I logged back in, and tried again. Starting by following a Twitter contact, I then decided to add some more photos to my collection. Again, I got comments and favourites almost straight away. Only, this time, I didn’t feel quite so overwhelmed.

I have tweaked my account settings so I don’t get a flood of email notifications. I feel a little more in control of things. I’ve also decided to be a little more adventurous by following some of those who have chosen to follow me, or made comments on my images. Making new friends seems to be the way to make such sites work, and it seems so much easier to do this with 500px than with Flickr. I’m still not ready for being “awesome”, and I shall only upload the images that I decide are the best of my best work, unlike my Flickr account.

If you want to see my 500px portfolio—though if you know my Flickr photostream or have visited my MobileMe galleries, you’ll have seen the images already—search for Snaptophobic. Although I am unsure of the URLs as I am logged in most of the time, you could try this direct link: http://500px.com/Snaptophobic 

There is still a nagging doubt about spreading my photo portfolios across so many outlets, but then it’s really a case of being out there to be seen. Limiting myself to selected images on 500px will help me manage things, and being limited to 20 uploads a week will also help me keep things in trim and avoid overload. 

While there are plenty of photo sharing sites out there, Flickr has had the high ground for some time. I think 500px is a worthy, quality contender to take on the big kid on the block. Competition between two quality sites is a good thing, I think.


When Saturday Comes – The Half Decent Football Magazine – Premier League still can’t make history disappear

This politic refusal to acknowledge the century of history that laid the foundations for the current era of avarice is an ongoing disgrace. We are accustomed to the fact that the Premier League was founded to buy up top-flight football and then sell it back to us again several times over, and all of us who watch it and pay for it are complicit in this unhappy pact. But that shouldn’t mean that we accept the dishonest treatment of the game’s past as though it’s a filthy secret, kept in a shameful closet of flickering films and yellowing paper documents. Just because Sky didn’t pay for it doesn’t mean that it didn’t happen, despite what their excited and deceitful front men would have us believe.

I have never followed “the beautiful game”, but it’s difficult to avoid any mention of it in daily life. This is a well-written piece on how money is effectively trying to stifle knowledge and history of a well-loved sport.

Hat tip to Stephen Baxter (@antonvowl).

A change in human character | Ian McMillan | Comment is free | The Guardian

The Lincolnshire scenery slips by like a pulled tablecloth, and we’re all on the train but none of us is really sure where we’re going.

Beautiful writing, thought-provoking words.

(And best read aloud in your head with McMillan’s lovely Yorkshire accent.)

Related posts: Switch off, log on; http://snaptophobic.posterous.com/three-stops-beyond-barking