End of Year

2010 is almost at an end. I can’t say I will be unhappy that it is over, this has been a difficult year for a number of reasons, including the earthquake and losing my job. Things are looking up for 2011 though with a new job and a visit from my parents to look forward to. It is a long journey from Scotland to New Zealand and I don’t know how many more times they will feel up to the journey.

After a quiet but fun Christmas with the kids we had a few trips including a visit to Ferrymead which my kids enjoy. I manage to grab a few HDR shots while I was there which I was quite pleased with, so to end the year I would like to share a couple.


Next year I intend to work hard on my photography, particularly to learn more about lighting. I suspect a lot of reading on Strobist will be required as part of my learning and I am going to start a 365 Project; I have no idea how I will get on but I would like to manage the year, no promises though. I also intend to write some more Mac applications or plugins, lots of ideas and never quite enough time.

For now however I would like to wish everyone a safe, happy and prosperous New Year.

Christmas Present

A month ago I was told that the company I was working for would be closed at the beginning of December. Not the best news just before Christmas, I am very pleased to say that yesterday I received a job offer which I have accepted and will be starting in the middle of January – a very nice Christmas present.

To celebrate last night I drove to Castle Hill on the way to Arthur’s Pass to take some photos, I hoped to get a nice sunset and try some HDR shots. As it turned out it wasn’t the best sunset there but still I got a few shots I am happy with. HDR was difficult as it was very windy and the flowers and grasses were moving rapidly – not ideal when trying to merge images into a tonemapped HDR. Still I gave it a go, some with multiple exposures and some creating an HDR from a single exposure.

Merry Christmas to everyone, have a safe and happy holiday.


Sometimes it is right to do it wrong

I have spent much of the last year trying to make better images. In particular sharper images with better use of depth of field, lighting and taking great care to focus in the ‘correct’ place. The most obvious example would be focussing on the eyes in a portrait. I think my technical skill has improved greatly over the course of the year, practising really does help. However…

Last night I took my kids to the park, it was windy and I was just playing with my camera with a slow shutter speed to see how the leaves on the trees looked with the wind moving them. As I was out with my kids I hadn’t bothered to take a tripod which I would usually think as vital when taking images with longer exposures and the images were pretty dull and boring. They did not really capture the feel of the wind in the trees and grasses.

For some reason I remembered seeing some images taken where the camera is deliberately moved during the exposure so I tried it; just moving the camera a little left to right.


I quite liked the effect, very abstract (the image above has been tweaked with Topaz Adjust).

Having moved the camera a little I started to play some more, moving the camera in different ways. I really liked the results when turning the camera during the exposure. My technique was pretty crude, I just turned the camera in my hands.

Tree go around Playing_2010-12-19_18-24-37_DSC_3866_©RichardLaing(2010)

I quite like this one, you can still just about see it is a tree.

It even works on people…

I really like the abstract look, it speaks to me more about the wind and the movement than a more ‘correct’ image ever would. These images are not sharp and the focus is all over the place but they do express the movement I felt looking at the trees and grasses in the park. I will be trying this again, a bit more experimentation sounds like a good New Year’s resolution I think.

Don’t worry about technically perfect images, try to make images that mean something or say something to you.


Birthdays, Bunnies and Christmas

Well it has been pretty busy over the last week with Heather’s 7th birthday and starting to get organised for Christmas. Lots of snapshots for the family but I am glad to say that even my snapshots are improving.

This year has been good for my photography, I have taken a lot of images, over 11000 so far, which is a huge increase on previous years. Taking lots of images has made me more familiar with my camera so that I can change the settings faster and miss fewer shots as a result. I still need to go back through the manual on a regular basis to remember the less common settings.

Being more confident and faster with the mechanics of taking a photograph has given me more time to consider the composition and feel of the final image, encouraged greatly by reading the excellent eBooks from Craft & Vision. Working faster also really helps as most of my images are taken while trying to watch my kids!


We now have six baby bunnies to look after too, this one was sitting on the sofa…


And finally we (over) decorated the Christmas tree; ice-cream as a reward. It still feels stange having Christmas in the summer.


SmuginForAperture 1.3 Released

I am pleased to announce the release of version 1.3 of my Aperture plugins SmuginForAperture and SmuginProForAperture. The common changes and features for this release are:

  • Added confirmation field for passwords to help avoid typos when creating a new password protected gallery.
  • Bug fixes.

In addition SmuginProForAperture has the following changes:

  • Added the ability to create lists of keywords to always exclude or always include when uploading to SmugMug. You can now build a list of keywords that will never be sent to SmugMug or that will always be sent to SmugMug.

Please let me know if you have any problems, questions or suggestions.

Note: There is currently a bug with creating galleries using templates failing to use the template values, SmugMug have fixed this internally and the bug fix should roll out in the next week.

Christmas Carnival

Last Saturday we had the Kaiapoi Christmas Carnival, this annual event is always well attended but this year I think there were more people than any year since I started going. People came out to support the town as we slowly recover from the 4th of September earthquake. Our photographic club had a stand again, this year outside what used to be a café but is now an empty space the building having been demolished.

The weather was, as always, warm and sunny but despite very harsh challenging lighting all the club members took lots of photographs. Plenty of clowns, face-painting, stilt walkers and a sponsored head-shave for charity. The main event of the Santa parade was well supported with plenty of floats with lots of kids having fun, some dressed up and others showing off their skills.


Going bald for charity

Sometimes even clowns break down.

Lady in red

Up and over

Hi Santa

SmuginProForAperture 1.3 Beta2

There is a new beta of SmuginProForAperture available. This build corrects the behaviour when choosing not to replace an existing image. Previously the new copy of the image would by default be added to the same album as the existing image; now it will be added to the album selected at the top level in the plugin.

You can get the beta here. If you give it a go please let me know if you have any comments or suggestions.