Category Archives: Lesson
My daily Switch to Manual Workshop (http://bit.ly/EPWS2M) has a short-break during August as it is pretty much impossible to walk the route with the Edinburgh Festivals bringing thousands of tourists to the city. A few years ago I wrote a light-hearted article on a concerted attempt by tourists travelling around Edinburgh to prevent the locals of Edinburgh from getting around by deploying several tactics to block the streets. In my research, I identified the top 11 (top 10’s are so passeé) tactics that I have seen working well. 1. The Walk Apart This is the simplest of the tactics and involves the tourists walking side by side. There are two key elements to the walk though, the first is velocity which will be at dawdling pace and the second is spacing – it is key that the distance apart is just insufficient to allow the local to cut between the two tourists and also sufficient to ensure that the gap between roads and buildings doesn’t allow a sidewards overtaking manoeuvre. 2. The Chicane This is a variation of The Walk Apart and is again a dawdling paced tactic. Here the tourists not only create a gap that is impossible to cut between, they also create an added dimension of one walking slightly ahead of the other, making the overtake much more difficult. 3. The Diamond We are now getting into much more complicated patterns and using larger groups of tourists. I have noted that this one is particularly popular with the latin tourists (possibly due to the size of families) and is a combination of The Walk Apart and The Chicane. The tourists create a diamond shape which contains all the blocking difficulties of the first two tactics and brings them together into one of the hardest formations to beat. 4. The ‘Look, Edinburgh has a Castle’ This tends to be a Princes Street tactic, and is most successfully deployed by the asian tourist. They lure the unwitting local into thinking that the tourist is ‘one of us’ by walking at a good pace – this is the case until they spring the surprise manoeuvre of stopping instantly to stand and stare at the Castle that suddenly appears from nowhere. The effect is almost impossible for the local to avoid. 5. The Crab A variant of The Walk Apart which requires the tourists to walk in the same slow pace, however, as the local approaches for the attempted overtake, the tourists start to veer toward the road forcing the local to either slow down or move into the road and face the wrath of the Lothian Transport driver. 6. The 90 Degree This isn’t too dissimilar to The ‘Look, it’s Edinburgh Castle’ but can take place on any street that contains the tourist tat shops. As the tourist is drawn to the shiny things (or more likely tartan and ginger things) in the shop window they create a much larger obstacle as they stop and turn. The key element here is that one of the tourists will stand in the middle of the pavement whilst the other one stares. 7. The Umbrella Really only used during the Fringe period when the annual monsoon season arrives. Here the cunning tourist uses the umbrella as a weapon to prevent any local brave enough to attempt to overtake The Walk Apart. There are, of course, many variants of this tactic as it can be used with any of the other manoeuvres. 8. The Child Here the weapon of choice is a small child. The tourists look to have created The Walk Apart poorly and have left a gap large enough for the local make the cut-through overtake. However, at the last minute this is blighted by the appearance of the small child who will invariably undertake their own Look, Edinburgh has a castle and stop sufficiently quickly to allow the tourist to plough into the child who is able to deploy the head to the groin. 9. The Suitcase This tactic tends to be deployed close to Waverley Station and requires the tourists to find the busiest time of the day and drag an over-sized suitcase through the streets. It is always good for the tourist to deploy this in conjunction with The Crab. This is another manoeuvre which can result in physical injury to the local and is therefore highly popular with the tourists. 10. The Street Performer The next two tactics are generally deployed on High Street (or Royal Mile as the tourists prefer to incorrectly call it) and are aided and abetted by performers. The first is the large crowd that will gather around yet another person creating a tight-rope by two of said tourists and then walking across it whilst juggling sharpened knives or fire. The tourists gather in droves to ensure that there is no way for the local who has to walk along High Street to perhaps collect a parking permit from the council offices (no local would choose to walk along High Street in August). 11. The Drama Student Again a High Street tactic, this time involving a second year drama student who believes that the most innovative way to hand out flyers is to lie in the middle of the street or stand on a bollard, after all, nobody has ever thought of that before.. The tourist will interact with this display and cause an impossible blockage for the council office attending local to pass. I am sure that now the tactics of the tourists have been revealed that there will be some new ones that will appear. I urge any resident of Edinburgh who identifies either a way to combat the above tactics or identifies new ones to be deployed so that I can provide a public service to the locals of Edinburgh.
I have been asked by a few people recently why I use filters and what the advantages of them are so I thought I'd write a short article with a few examples to show the benefit of using graduated filters to improve the images you shoot in camera. Before we talk about the filters though we need to understand how fantastic our brains are. When we look at a scene our vision captures an extraordinary amount of detail from the very darkest shadows to the lightest highlights. In fact we can see around 24 stops of light (a stop is either the halfing or doubling of the amount of light coming onto the sensor). In contrast our expensive cameras have a limitation of somewhere between 11 and 13 stops which means that we will see a scene better than a camera can depict it, especially when there are large differences between light and shade within the scene that is being photographed.I use the Lee Filter system, primarily because the quality of the glass they use is so good that the image isn't impacted by the extra piece of glass that has been put in front of the lens but the principles I am going to discuss here are the same for any manufacturer. There are a number of different types of filters that you can buy, however, today I am going to concentrate on soft graduated filters. As you can see from the image, a soft graduated filter has a dark area at the top of the glass and then it gradually fades to clear at the mid-point of the filter. You'll see shortly how we can use this to help take a well exposed image in camera. I have used a fairly typical landscape scene to demonstrate the use of the filters. When I was looking over Edinburgh I could see lots of detail in the clouds which is the brightest part of the image and I could also see the grass being lit up by the setting sun in the foreground and the detail of the Dugald Stewart Monument that sits on Calton Hill. However, if I took the photograph in the camera without any filters on I would either set the exposure for the sky in which case the foreground became very dark or I could instead expose for the foreground and the sky would be blown out and lose all that interesting detail. By looking at the histogram of this first image we can see that the highlights (in this case the sky) are right on the edge, however, the shadows on the left hand side are losing some of the detail. Alternatively, I took a second shot which was exposing for the shadow detail (in this case the foreground) and you can see that this one brings out the grass and the monument, however, the sky has now become blown out and all that gorgeous detail in the clouds has been lost. The histogram really shows how much detail we have lost on the right hand side by trying to get all the detail we want in the foreground In order to get the picture that we are seeing with our eyes we need to balance the exposure we had for the sky in the first image with the exposure we had in the foreground for the second image and this is where filters help. You will see that the difference in the length of the exposure is equivalent to 2 and 1/3rd stops of light. As a rule of thumb I always add a filter with an extra stop that the difference between the two exposures, so in this case I have added a 3 stop graduated filter to create the final image which I am sure you will agree is a much better balanced image giving us the best of both worlds, detail in the sky and the foreground. The histogram for this final image shows us that we have a well exposed image with the highlights and shadows both contained within the boundaries. There are other ways of achieving a similar result where you can bracket images in the camera and then using software to merge the images after. However, I enjoy my photography when I am in the field, experiencing the location and would rather not spend time in my office editing to get the image that I can see before my eyes. I would much rather use a few seconds at the location to add a filter and save time in editing later. Hopefully you can see the benefit of using graduated filters from this short demonstration. I like to spend time on my workshops exploring how we can use different filters to get dramatic effects and this is a taster of the kind of things we go over.