Best camera

two flatcoated retrievers, Luka and Topi, running in the snow

Some years ago when the iPhone was still a relatively new thing and the camera was nothing special, Chase Jarvis started to talk about how the best camera is the one you have with you. Over the years, phone cameras keep getting better, but they are still a far cry from “real cameras.” But still, it’s a camera that is always with you. And of course, for a good photograph you need vision – and often getting in close to you subject.

The above shot was taken during one of our walks with the dogs during an overcast day that didn’t warrant dragging a big camera along. Going down low, knowing my subjects and waiting for them to get close enough (and firing a burst of shots) gave me this. One of my best dog photographs lately and one that I wouldn’t have made without the camera in my phone.

All of the editing of the photograph has also been done on the iPhone using Snapseed and for reference, this is the unedited photograph.

Luka and Topi, unedited

Dark and gloomy December

We haven’t seen the sun for weeks, so it has been quite gloomy and dark. Meaning that the black jobs have mainly been blobs of black in photographs.

P.S. This was timed to come out on Dec 1, but I managed to botch the timing so post-dated it now.

A GoPro, dogs snout and icy spring snowmelt

flatcoated retriever catching a snowball

Every now and then we’ve remembered to attach our GoPro to the dogs and get some footage from their point of view. One of the highlights of spring photographically is when enough of the snow has melted and snow melt has flooded the nearby fields that the dogs can go running in the water. Since it also happened to be a nice sunny day, it proved to be a great opportunity to photograph the dogs and get some footage.

But as always happens, finding the time to edit the video wasn’t quite as simple. Going through the process of editing was also an excellent reminder of how time consuming any editing and pruning, be it photo or video editing is. And if you are unclear on the difference of photo/video editing and editing photo/video, I recommend reading this excellent blog post on the topic by Rolando Gomez.

Enjoy the video, and then if you’re interested read on for some of my thoughts on things that need improving.

We use the S.U.G.A.R Coat Universal CamCollar to attach the GoPro to our dogs. While all of their pictures show the camera on top of the dogs neck (which should work when swimming), with flatcoats it just doesn’t work when moving on land. So we’ve flipped it around and film from under the dog’s chin. This works, but means that the camera gets knocked around a lot more. Thus, it despite the fairly strong attachments, it falls off every now and then. So, lessons learned:

  • attach the camera to collar with an additional lanyard,
  • cold water is a challenge for the velcro and tapes used (see above),
  • buying a floaty backdoor for the GoPro would also be a good investment,
  • and finally, the flat lens of the dive housing would also be a good investment.

Flatcoated retriever leaping after a snowball

As you can imagine from the lessons learned, we had to search for the camera a couple of times from the bottom of the flooded field. But they are honest lessons that have been learned. On a final note, enjoy a couple of extra behind the scenes photos:

flatcoated retriever catching a snowball

flatcoated retriever in icy water

flatcoated retriever jumping over a ditch

Resolutions…

two black flatcoated retrievers running in the snow

There is really only one clear photographic resolution that I have in mind for the coming year and it is quite simple: be quick to tag, edit and prune photographs. I have just started tagging metadata to all of our photographs from last year. Trust me, there are many – slightly over 23 000. Of these almost 19 000 were untagged this morning.

The second part of the resolution means that I have to mark good shots somehow (Lightroom’s ratings anyone?) so that I can come back to them even if I don’t edit them immediately. And then, the most heart wrenching part of it all – deleting unwanted shots. Were are running out of storage space for our photographs at the moment. This means that there are 1.5TB of photographs that we have. Although I’m building a new server for our photographs with more storage space, the increasing file sizes and amount of photographs we do take means that more curating and pruning needs to be done.

We will see how it goes. Unfortunately I’m fairly certain that this time next year I’m going to be making exactly the same resolution…

Pictured above, Topi and Emil from a previously unpublished photograph from last January. At least this one was easy to tag. A single snow covered black dog sometimes takes some investigating before it can be tagged.

Color and moods

flatcoated retriever silhoutted against the winter sun

When photographing the image shown yesterday in Life of Jalo the final image I saw in my mind was the one that was posted (also seen below). However, while editing and slightly fooling around I came across a cross-processing preset that looked interesting.

However I didn’t pursue editing it any further the other but continued late last night to edit another option with a very different mood of the exact same image. While the LoJ version of the image is purely warm with a strong sunset feel to it, the photo above includes both the coolness of wintery shade and the hint of warmth from the low midday sun. To honestly get the sunset warmth of the LoJ version we have to get quite a bit closer to summer for the sun to be higher up in the sky.

As an experiment on how simple processing and selecting the colors that are emphasized in a photograph this was quite successful. Honestly, I can’t even choose which version I like more.

And if you are interested in another take on the duality of winter coldness and the warmth of the sun, Finnish photographer Mikko Lagerstedt also published a photograph yesterday with the same range of colors.

P.S. I’m not really satisfied with the lens flare in the photograph. I need to do some more testing with the lens to see what I can do about it. It just may be that I will find myself removing the UV filter from the lens.

flatcoated retriever silhuetted against the winter sun