Eric McDonalds Blog

Moving on

I am Moving on.

It is  some time since I refreshed this site or added anything to my Blog. My Apologies. I have now moved systems completely, and shoot exclusively with Olympus equipment.

My reasons are many and varied and to include them all on this post would send many of you to sleep long before you understood my logic.

So, briefly I needed to downsize for reasons of portability. Having been a user of the Olympus Micro 4/3rds system alongside my Nikon gear the choice was easy.

I know, I can hear the groans from the armchair purists who will go on about sensor size, dynamic range, picture quality etc, etc.

All I can say is I have used both systems for commercial work. None of my clients have asked which images were taken with which system and have been more than happy with the results.

Time for a re-fresh

Now it is time to refresh Macs Photography website.

HI, as any regular visitor to my website will know, I have not been updating very regularly. I am now in the process of correcting and refreshing my site with new and updated look and images. Thanks for your patience, and watch this space. Browse my images or follow my updated blog posts as I make improvements. Like all major undertakings this process will take time as I need to create new images and review new topics, all of which are time consuming. If you don’t have the patience to wait then sorry, but good things take time. If I rush it will not be the quality that I expect of myself or would want to deliver. Any major project is time consuming but quality takes time.

 

My office for the day

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

My Office for the day working for the National Trust, found me west of Prawle Point looking towards Gammon head in the near distance.

One of the most scenic and stunning views I have seen in five years working for the trust. A cold but very bright day went unnoticed as I was completely lost in the beauty of my surroundings, and gathering the images for the job.

This part of the Devon coast requires you to have the stamina of an Olympic athlete and the agility of a mountain Goat. The coastal path winds up and down steep cliff edges, and weaves between other worldly rock formations as you make your way along the path.

Also to be seen on this stretch of the coast are Orthostats, or ancient field boundaries whose exact age are not known. Evidence that at some point this part of the coast was heavily farmed by our ancestors.

Easily accessible for the fit and able, this path is quite daunting for the infirm or those among us who remember being a twenty something only vaguely. It is though, manageable  with care, and a realization of your own limits. Anyone who wants to get out and enjoy this stunning piece of our local coastline, get going.

 

#followtheboots

followtheboots-Ayrmer-cove-gate-ericmcdonald-06-10-2015-1

I have recently been occupied with the National Trust collecting images for a media campaign to encourage people to get out and enjoy our wonderful coastline. In cooperation with Cotswolds Outdoors a pair of walking boots has been blogging and tweeting during their journey along our coastal paths during the month of October. Search Facebook and Twitter using the #followtheboots to discover more about the journey .

Time stands still

The Grand Canyon discovered
The Grand Canyon discovered

All the best intentions cannot beat Mother Nature. It has been a while since I have updated the Blog, mostly down to circumstances beyond my control. Hopefully we are now back up and firing on all cylinders. Onwards and Upwards.

Refreshing

For any frequent visitors to this site my apologies for being away for a while. I have now embarked on a refresh of the site and adding new content so drop back soon to see my new work.

Nikon repair Service review

Nikon-D800-5
Nikon D800

So, my trusty D800 starts to display a card read fault and stops writing to the cards in the camera. Its not a card fault as I tested the camera with several cards. Bugger! My only option is to send it for repair. While there I will get the mode dial locking pin repaired as it has been sticking for a  considerable time and the camera could probably do with a service anyway.

Down I go to see Martin the boss at my local Camera shop to arrange for it to be sent back for an estimate. Yes I could have done this myself but I find using Martins service is far more efficient and he will deal with all the necessary postage packing etc for a very reasonable fee. I list the faults and off it goes for a repair estimate which duly arrives several days later. The card error cannot be duplicated in testing, which I am told is not uncommon, so I authorise the other repairs in the quote.

Now on the quote is listed “replace command dial unit” which I query as that was not a fault I listed. On checking I am told this  is because it is not up to specification when the camera was tested. Now the camera is only just out of warranty by a few months so I start to wonder if the is unit has been faulty since new but has never really caused me any issues with the type of shooting that I mostly do, and now Nikon have decided that it needs replacing and possibly is the cause of my card error. Only time will tell if the card error repeats then I know this to not be the case. If this fix cures the error then I will always have my suspicions that I have paid for repair to a faulty unit which should have been repaired under warranty. The lesson to learn from this is to always send your camera back for a service while still under warranty as I have just recently done with my Fuji mirror less which came back fully serviced and working free of charge. On the plus side whenever you send a camera back to Nikon for repair the camera gets a full service so I am now confident that it has been fully calibrated and everything s working fine. 🙂 Watch this space !

The Milky Way

So, I have just achieved something that has been simmering away for some time now. An image of the Milky way captured in my local coastal Landscape. For those in the know Astral photography has its own skill set which not all Photographers can achieve. I don’t say this because of it requiring a particular expertise or experience as a photographer but sadly you can be limited in your results by the equipment you use. In a perfect world we would all be able to afford the best cameras and lenses money could buy, but most of the Togs I know are not in this position. To achieve the very best results would need a wishlist going something like:- DSLR with a very high ISO capability, F1.8,  8 to 20mm prime lens, sturdy tripod, cable release, flask of Coffee etc, etc, a knowledge of how to focus your lens manually in the dark( AF wont work) and an understanding of how to use your DSLR in manual mode.

Milky way over Wembury
Milky way over Wembury

A full frame DSLR will tend to have a higher Dynamic range and a greater ISO capability than a crop sensor DSLR, allowing the camera to suck in more light during the exposure. You also need to work out your exposure time by dividing your focal length into 500 on a full frame sensor  ie, 500 / 24 = 20 seconds which is the maximum exposure time before you will pick up movement in the stars. Then instead of a starry sky you will be shooting star trails. On a crop sensor multiply your focal length by 1.6 for Canon or 1.5 for Nikon before using the 500 calculation. This will allow for the different sensor sizes and give you the correct exposure time for your camera and lens combination. Experiment with your ISO settings to see which setting gives you the cleanest image as this will vary greatly between cameras and manufacturers. Lastly, and probably most important you will need to pick a dark night with no moon and wait until after astronomical twilight ends to get the darkest night sky as far away from any light pollution as you can get. A tool like the Photographers Ephemeris (free on your computer) will give you this information. Sadly for normal people this is between 1am and 3 am during the summer months in the UK, when the Milky way is higher in the sky.