Photography

Paxos Travel Guide – the creation of my new travel website

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After a break of a couple of months it is back to my second travel photography website Paxos Travel Guide.

Photos of Santorini was all about taking photos on this wonderful Greek Island. Paxos Travel Guide is more of a travel website. On this website I tell you everything that you need to know before you go to Paxos. And there are lots of lovely photos of course.

In this blog post I will explain what this website is all about, what I have done, what I need to and also why I am creating another website.

Why all these websites?

I want to work in a different way, and use my unique talents to make money in the way I want to.

What are my unique talents then?

My photography

I am comfortable saying that I am pretty good at photography. Now granted I am not the best photographer in the world, I am not even the best photographer in my family, but I can get by making money doing my photography.

My personality

Not sure if this is a talent but my personality is certainly unique to me!

My writing

In the last couple of years my writing has progressed really well. This is in part due to the practise and intent with which I have worked on my writing day in day out.

My love of travel

My wife and I love to travel – that is our thing. Going to new places together.

So put all these things together and travel photography websites sound like a great idea to me.

But how will I make any money?

Basically I need to get visitors to my website in large enough volumes to make my website commercially attractive to advertisers.

I also need the content on my website to be good enough to rank highly on Google, and for people to want to read all the content and then share it.

Not much pressure then!

Photos of Santorini

This website is now complete – well as complete as it is going to be. This is a light version of what Paxos Travel Guide will become. I am considering this website to be a trial of a format that I can use to quickly produce other such websites – I have plenty of photos after all.

Wordpress Themes

I have struggled with this. I have tried numerous themes without success. I bought one and found it completely unworkable and baffling to use – so much so that I fought hard for a refund.

I had settled on the Divi Themes, which I bought on Black Friday at a discounted price. I did plenty of research to make sure I was happy with the themes, and then waited for the Black Friday sale.

And this is how I do Black Friday – I wait to buy things I was going to buy anyway and get them on the day at a discounted price.

My plan was to use Divi for 12 months on all my websites, which would be great for me as I have three websites now and more in plan and I only want to have to learn one Wordpress Theme.

My first go did not go too well, and I had to get Bluehost to restore my Photos of Santorini website from a backup.

For now I have decided to stick with the free theme and create a brand new website which will be my Divi theme playground.

I think in the IT world they call these things sandpits.

Trial website number 2

I have not decided what this URL will be, but this is something I will think about and research between now and Christmas, when I will get some down time to play with themes.

It will be based around the Rhodes Travel Guide subject though.

That will give me the time to come up with a layout of my own that I am happy with, that I can play with as and when I have the time, without of course deleting a major part of the content live!

My trial web site for content

It turns out Photos of Santorini has become a trial site for lots of things, which has been really good as I am in a better place to progress Paxos Travel Guide, and now have some template type stuff that I can use on other websites going forwards.

I am even thinking of moving my main website to Wordpress now, which should help with SEO. I have put that on hold after the first go with Divi though.

I have a spread sheet and Evernote list where I have recorded what I did to the Photos of Santorini website which I will follow for the rest of the creation of content for the Paxos website.

What have I done on the website so far?

Created the website with the URL https://paxostravelguide.com

Bought a logo for the website

Written three blog posts

Why go to Paxos?

How do I get to Paxos?

Should I drive a hire boat to Antipaxos from Paxos?

 

What do I need to do to complete my new website?

  • First I need the titles of the remaining posts sorting

  • Then I need to produce the planned 30 posts and static pages.

  • Choose and edit the images for the pages and image galleries

  • Add all the images

  • Come up with an image gallery

  • And then do the back of house boring stuff, metadata, links etc.

What is the back of house stuff?

  • Remove the dates from the blog post URLs (looking at the URLs above).

  • Sort Google search console

  • Sort www. or not www.

  • Add internal links

  • Add titles and descriptions/ snippets

Once all that is done promote the website

 And then

Wait 5 months and see what happens.

Yes 5 months. 

What is the most important job?

The single most important job is to come up with great titles, with great keywords. I need these posts all to rank at number 1 (if possible) on Google for that search term.

And the key to this is the keywords in the title and how I write about them. That is the thing I am going to spend time on. Everything follows on from this.

How do I know what I need to do?

Well I have signed up to Project 24, which you can find on the Income School website. The idea of Project 24 is to replace your income with a passive income from niche websites within 24 months.

Now if you are thinking that this is just another online get rich quick thing then I have to tell you something.

This is the brainchild of Jim Harmer, the creator of Improve Photography. I am a writer on Improve Photography, and have now produced over 30 articles for that website.

I know Jim, and trust his opinions and advice.

It was Jim who suggested I get a .com web URL, which makes perfect sense for what I am trying to achieve.

So this is where I am getting my info and advice. Project 24 and the community of good folk there.

And this is why I am rather vague about some of the stuff I am doing with my websites – we are after all paying for the guidance and tuition.

It would be wrong for me to publish everything I have learned as we as members of Project 24 have paid for this info, and it is part of the income to the website for Jim and his business partner Ricky.

I will write about the stuff that is published on my website and available for all to see, but there is stuff that I will not be writing about.

OK – back to my next website.

When will it be done?

I am hoping the end of December 2018, but realistically think it will be the end of January 2019. I just don’t see myself getting that volume of work produced in December, which we are already in.

Why I am doing this?

Why am I putting myself through all this pain? As I said above, to hopefully create a passive income that replaces the need to earn money from my photography and consultancy work.

That is the plan. My ultimate dream is time freedom and money freedom.

Do I like doing this stuff?

Sure I do. I am really enjoying watching the search rankings for the keywords on photosofsantorini.com developing.

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I have created this website all by myself, with all my own words and photos. 

And I love travel and if I could find some way of travel photography and travel websites providing my income I will be very very happy.

What else do I have to do?

I have to juggle my time with the production of my weekly blog posts and fortnightly articles on Improve Photography.

This is in addition to earning a living.

So I better shut up and get back to work on Paxos Travel Guide

What next after Paxos Travel Guide?

Rhodes Travel Guide. That is one that I am going to work on in May, when we return there.

Between the end of January and then I am going to focus on other stuff. I need to give the various websites time to bed in with Google and hopefully perform well enough to earn me some money.

And then I should really stop and see what happens with these websites.

Although I did have an idea the other day…

Enough about all that – what about Paxos?

I need to remember that my website Paxos Travel Guide is just that – a travel guide to help people planning on going to the wonderful Greek Island of Paxos.

It is not a photography website.

It is a travel website with photographs taken by me – that is the edge that I hope will help with the success of my website. My writing combined with my photos.

 Boats in the night moored at Lakka on the Greek Island of Paxos

Boats in the night moored at Lakka on the Greek Island of Paxos

I need to convey what it is like to experience going on a holiday to Paxos.

I want visitors to my website to be able to make an informed decision about going to Paxos or not.

What will I write about?

  • Getting to Paxos and getting home again

  • Eating and drinking in Paxos

  • Places to go in Paxos

  • Things to do

  • The weather

  • Being in Paxos

  • What it is really like holidaying in Paxos

  • My holiday journal

On our last holiday to Paxos I wrote a daily journal. I sat on my iPad on the balcony in our room, or at a table by the pool at Hotel Bastas and wrote over 20,000 words, which are to be form, a large part of the content.

What other material do I have for this website?

Well over a thousand videos and photos, captured using both my Canon 6D and iPhone 7 Plus.

And I have the locations of everywhere I went and photographed.

I will have to keep reminding myself that this is a travel website with photos!

Back to the Greek Island of Paxos

Paxos is a wonderful Greek Island. It is very small, very picturesque. Paxos is very popular with British and Italian tourists, and is also frequented by Greeks from elsewhere in this vast country.

I have been to and photographed most of Paxos, and the neighbouring island of Antipaxos.

All I need to do now is do justice in my new website to the Greek Island of Paxos, and hopefully make it good enough to be of interest and help to people, and of course to the search engines at Google.

Summary

That is enough talking about this website, although it is good to revisit what I have done, what I have learned from the creation of Photos of Santorini and how I plan the production of the rest of this website to best serve me in the future.

Off to work I go.

2 months to get this website done, and the clock has started ticking.

Pop back to my blog for frequent updates, and of course please checkout the website which will be updated live as and when there is new content.

Rick McEvoy Photography – Paxos Travel Guide

How to find images in Lightroom Classic - Excire Search Pro

A dull question but hopefully an interesting answer will ensue.

We all have lots of images in our Lightroom Catalogues. I have other 60,000 images in mine. And I often am faced with the challenge of how to find images in Lightroom Classic – now I have a new plug-in called Excire Search Pro which helps me with this.

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What is Excire Search?

Excire Search is a Lightroom plug-in which searches the images in a Lightroom catalogue using the content of the images – that is the point – Excire Search uses the content of the images in the Lightroom Catalogue, and searches using an example image to find similar images with similar content.

Is Excire Search going to help you find images in your Lightroom Catalogue? Read on and you will find out.

By way of a spoiler the answer is yes, it will help. Quite a lot.


Before I go on, full disclosure

I was approached by Excire Search to trial this product, and I am an affiliate member, so if you click on my affiliate link here and buy Excire Search I get a commission.

Of course, I have an incentive to write good things about this plug-in. What you will find in this blog post though is my honest opinions on Lightroom and Excire, and their relative search capabilities.

This is not an advert for Excire Search, this is me writing about a tool that, now I have it, I will use regularly in my photography work.

OK now that is out of the way back to the subject in question.

What are the different versions of Lightroom?

I need to give you a bit of background to Lightroom to start with.

There are three versions of Lightroom. Lightroom CC, Lightroom Mobile and the one I use, Lightroom Classic.

What is the difference between Lightroom Classic, Lightroom CC and Lightroom Mobile?

Lightroom Classic

Lightroom Classic is the version of Lightroom where the photos are stored locally on a hard drive (of one sort or another). Lightroom Classic is the current evolution of what was Lightroom. This is what the standalone version starting with Lightroom 1.0 released in 2007 has evolved into, which is now obtained through the Creative Cloud and a monthly subscription.

Lightroom CC

Lightroom CC is the newer cloud-based version of Lightroom. Photos are stored on the cloud. This is not the full version of Lightroom but has features which you will not find in Lightroom Classic.

Lightroom CC was released in 2017

Lightroom Mobile

Lightroom Mobile is the version of Lightroom that is used on mobile devices. Photos are accessed from Lightroom through collections which are synced via the internet.

Lightroom Mobile is free but you need actual Lightroom Classic or CC to get the photos into collections.

For completeness there is also a web based Lightroom, which you can access at this link.


Which version of Lightroom do I use?

I use Lightroom Classic – the original full version now available through the Creative Cloud.

I do not use Lightroom CC as this is the cloud-based version, where your photos are stored by Adobe in the cloud.

I have no doubt that at some point in the future I will move over, as we all will.

That is why this article is about advanced searches in Lightroom Classic.

What are the search capabilities of Lightroom Classic, Lightroom CC and Lightroom Mobile?

Lightroom Classic

There are various search tools and filters in Lightroom Classic that I use all the time.

I use the following

  • Star rating

  • Picks and rejects filters

  • Other metadata in the tool bar

Having said that my images are organised in a very logical, comprehensive but simple file structure meaning that I know where most of my images are.

Lightroom Classic has face recognition technology, but to be honest I do not use this as I do not photograph people, only buildings and nice places.

Read on for the good bit.

Lightroom CC - has Adobe Sensei technology.

I don’t have Lightroom CC, so not being at all familiar with it I decided to let Adobe explain Sensei search technology. This is what Adobe say on their website on their excellent help pages

https://helpx.adobe.com/uk/lightroom-cc/using/whats-new.html

 “Start typing in the search bar, and Lightroom CC automatically offers suggestions to help you quickly find what you need. Search for cameras, locations, and other metadata with ease. Also, your enabled filters are kept neatly organized in the search box. You can even search for a filter using its name (try 'camera:').

But does Sensei analyse the content of an image?

No.

It does carry out some form of auto tagging, but it is mainly intelligent search functionality.

Why do I not have Lightroom CC?

I should explain this. I have evolved from Lightroom 1.0 – yes, I was there at the very beginning in 2007 – to the Lightroom Classic that we have now.

I have heard that there are potential conflicts if you have Lightroom CC and Lightroom Classic installed.

Now I do not know if this is true, but I am not going to risk it. I don’t want Lightroom CC at the moment as I do not want to pay for cloud storage. I don’t actually want or indeed need this as I have my own arrangements in place.

So, I, like most photographers so I believe, use Lightroom Classic.

Lightroom Mobile

I nearly forgot about Lightroom Mobile. I use this on my iPad and iPhone. All the images are organised into collections, so searching for images is not something that I do – it is done before things are added to Lightroom Mobile.

I use Lightroom mobile as my mobile working folders.

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What is Excire Search then?

Excire Search is a plug-in for Lightroom Classic. It provides advanced search capabilities using a content-based image retrieval engine.

Or to put it another way it searches using the content of images in my Lightroom Catalogue.

Why is Excire Search different from the search capabilities built into Lightroom Classic?

Basically, Excire Search uses the content of an image. I know.

I thought this was just another clever piece of software with no practical use but just think about this for a second.

How does Excire Search work?

Once you have installed Excire Search you have to initialise it. This is basically the process by which the software analyses all the images in your Lightroom Catalogue.

This took two overnight sessions to analyse the more than 60,000 images in my Lightroom Catalogue.

I wondered why it took so long. But I was soon to find out.

What does Excire Search do?

The plug-in analyses the content of images. Yes, I know.

Let me jump straight into some examples which demonstrate the point wonderfully well.

 

Example 1 – The blue domed church roofs of Santorini

This is one of the things I am working on at the moment – a collection of architectural travel photography images.

I want to get a set of similar images, and my starting point is one of those famous blue domed church roofs you find on the wonderful Greek Island of Santorini.

If you want to see more of my work about my photos of Santorini check out my website called, erm Photos of Santorini.

Sorry had to get that plug in.

This is the example image that I use as the basis for the search.

 Blue domed church roof, Santorini, Greece

Blue domed church roof, Santorini, Greece

And this is the results of the first 50 images that Excire found in my Lightroom Catalogue.

 50 photos of blue domed cgurch roofs

50 photos of blue domed cgurch roofs

Not bad. Now the search did produce a couple of shots of the domed roof of the church in Altea, Spain, and also one house on the Greek Island of Rhodes which has part of the roof with a sort of dome, but other than that pretty good search results.

Lets try something else

Example 2 – The white buildings of Santorini

Next, I am going to use the famous white buildings of Santorini – another theme that I am working with at the moment.

This is the example image

White buildings and blue church roofs on the Greek Island of San

And this is the results of the first 50 images that Excire found in my Lightroom Catalogue

 50 white buildings screenshot

50 white buildings screenshot

Example 3 – The interiors of churches and cathedrals

This is the example image

 The spectacular ceiling of San Sebastian Cathedral

The spectacular ceiling of San Sebastian Cathedral

And this is the results of the first 50 images that Excire found in my Lightroom Catalogue

 50 church ceilings

50 church ceilings

Example 4 – Buildings with scaffolding

This is the example image

HORNDEAN 003 230315.jpg

 And this is the results of the first 50 images that Excire found in my Lightroom Catalogue

 50 scaffolding photos

50 scaffolding photos

Example 5 - Sunrise with boats

This is the example image

Poole Quay and boats at sunrise by Poole Photographer Rick McEvo

 And this is the results of the first 50 images that Excire found in my Lightroom Catalogue

 50 sunrises with boats

50 sunrises with boats

That should do for now. You should get the idea. Pretty cool eh?

I know that the search results included a few oddities but that is always going to be the way. I have to say that these are typical of the searches that I will use Excire Search Pro for in my daily work.

Well I will now that I have the excellent search tool to use.

What about keywords?

This is the one that I needed to spend some time and work out. Check back to my photography blog in a few months to see how I get on with this feature.

Me and keywords

I am not a great one at keywording images. I add keywords to images when I export them anywhere outside of my hard drive. This is always the last thing I do before exporting images out of Lightroom.

I was always going to keyword images on import, but it never happened.

And now that I have over 60,000 keywords I think that ship has sailed.

Or has it?

What does Excire Search Pro do with keywords?

It adds keywords to every image during the initialisation process.

Yes – it does this based on the image content.

And that is how I keyword images prior to exporting – as well as adding some essential data I add keywords that describe the image.

This sounds to good to be true.

By the way as I am writing this, I am following a video tutorial on the Excire website and checking Lightroom to see what is going on.

Where does Excire Search Pro put the keywords?

In a separate place. They are not in the Lightroom Catalogue.

Excire Search Pro can assign up to 535 keywords to images in your Lightroom catalogue. The non-pro version 120.

I tried this quickly but need more time before committing to adding the keywords Excire Search Pro has assigned to my images.

I have spent a long time assembling my Lightroom Catalogue and this is not something to rush into.

And there are also the Dominant colours

During the initialisation process Excire Search also identifies the dominant colours in an image – this is another thing that I am definitely interested in.

 

How do I get Excire Search?

You can get Excire Search from this link here – this is my affiliate link, so if you buy the software from this link I get a commission. You don’t pay any more that going direct to the website.

You can also get a 30-day free trial here.

 

How much does Excire Search cost?

99 Euros for the Search Pro version, and 49 Euros for the Search version. I have used the Euro prices for now – we have not left yet after all!!

When I write an update post I might be showing the price in £s though.

This is a one-off purchase and the software is installed on your Mac or PC hard drive.

Oh yes, you don’t need the internet to run this software.

The price includes bug fixes and minor updates and improvements, but not version upgrades and major additions.

 

And the other features

I have not tried out all the features of Excire Search Pro. I need to look more at

  • Keywords

  • Search by dominant colour

Actually – here is a screenshot of the options available in Lightroom

Excire menu close up 20112018.PNG


Summary

I was approached by Sol at Excire Search to work with them on the promotion of their new plug-in.

At first it sounded like one of those things that was very clever but would be of little use to me, but I agreed to work with Excire, and committed to write about the plug-in on my blog and also on the Improve Photography website. I am a freelance writer for Improve Photography, producing fortnightly articles on all things photography.

Little did I know that I would find the ability to search my entire Lightroom Catalogue by an example photo so useful – this is something that I have used a lot in the two weeks since I installed Excire Search.

I am interested to see if I use Excire Search in the future once the novelty has worn off. I think I will, it has a place in my workflow for certain specific work that I do.

You can read my introduction to Excire Search on Improve Photography. I have scheduled a review article on Improve Photography for Feb/ March 2019. I will write an in-depth update on my blog in the spring where I will describe how much I am using it, what I use it for and what benefits this search tool has given me and my photography business.

Basically, if you need the things I need when searching for images in my Lightroom Catalogue then Excire Search Pro is an excellent choice. If you don’t need these search capabilities then fine – it is not for you!

Rick McEvoy ABIPP - Photographer, blogger, writer

 

Excire Search Pro – a great Black Friday deal for Lightroom users

Excire Search Pro Black Friday special offer

Yes it’s Black Friday. Don’t worry it will soon be over.

Are you a Lightroom user?

Fed up not being able to find images in your Lightroom Catalogue?

Excire Search Pro Black Friday special offer

Are you looking for advanced search capabilites in Lightroom?

Then you are in the right place. Today you can get Excire Search Pro at a discounted price of €55. Excire Search is €33 today.

Normal prices are €99 and €49.

If you want to read more about Excire Search pro check out my article on Improve Photography.

And yes I use this excellent Lightoom plug-in to find things like this in my Lightroom Catalogue!

Excire blue domed roof results 20112018.PNG

Rick McEvoy Photography - Photographer, writer, blogger

Advanced searching in Lightroom Classic with Excire Search

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Yesterday on Improve Photography I wrote an article titled Advanced searching in Lightroom Classic with Excire Search.

This article introduces a new Lightroom Classic plug-in called Excire Search, which I have juust started using.

I used this very clever plug-in to search for photos with a blue dome, by adding an example photo.

 Blue domed roof in Santorini by Rick McEvoy.jpg

Blue domed roof in Santorini by Rick McEvoy.jpg

Next I asked Excire Search to search my Lightroom Catalogue using this image as the example image.

 Excire blue domed roof example photo 20112018.PNG

Excire blue domed roof example photo 20112018.PNG

And this is what Excire Search came up with.

 Excire Search results

Excire Search results

Not bad. And all in less than 10 seconds.

I know.

That is quick!!

More on this next week.

Rick McEvoy ABIPP

How to take great product photos at home on a budget

I photograph buildings and places. I specialise in architectural, landscape and travel photography. Sometime I am asked to photograph other things.

 Product photography by Rick McEvoy

Product photography by Rick McEvoy

I have already photographed a table for a client. The other week I had to photograph some different coloured corner caps for this table. How do I take great product photos at home on a budget? With a fantastic piece of kit that I bought for £10 on Amazon (delivered courtesy of Prime two days after order).

That is how. Read on to find out all about how I got shots like this one at home spending £10.

Here is one of the photos

Product photography by Rick Mcevoy

Want to know more? Then read on.

What was the job?

I have photographed this table previously for Mike Fabb – here is a link to his website.

FABB TABLE 2 001 VERSION 2 290717-Edit.jpg

This is a new enterprise that Mike is working on with a new website which has recently been created.

The job was to provide photos of the 10 different coloured corner caps which you can get with the table to suit the décor of the room intended to house this lovely piece of modern bespoke furniture.

What equipment did I use?

My usual camera gear - List all with Amazon Affiliate links

Canon 6D

Canon 24-105mm F4 L lens

Manfrotto 190 Go tripod

Manfrotto XPRO geared head

2 cups of coffee (Alta Rica)

Blu Tack (don’t worry I will explain)

And this bit of kit, which was the studio and lighting

Photo Studio Tent. Or to give it it’s full title from Amazon

Photo Studio Tent, Mini Foldable Photography Studio Portable Light Box Kit with LED Light, LED Light Tent (22.6cmx23x24cm)+ Two Backgrounds (White and Black), Shoot Amazing Pictures Like a Pro

What photos did I need to produce?

There were 10 different coloured caps, so that is 10 photos which were identical bar the colour of the actual corner cap itself – same composition, lighting, brightness, colour etc etc.

That was the brief.

So that what was I set off doing.

How did I take the shots?

First thing was to assemble the Photo Studio Tent, which took me a couple of minutes. It comes with LED lights built-in which is pretty cool.

Once assembled and the lights plugged in and working nicely I put together my camera gear and placed one of the caps inside the tent.

IMAGE.JPG

First thing was to change from my Canon 17-40mm lens to my Canon 24-105mm lens – I needed the longer focal length as I wanted to zoom in as much as I could, but keep all of the cap in focus.

It took a lot of fiddling around to get everything set up, and then I took the first set of photos.

IMAGE.JPG

 I imported this first set of images into Lightroom, and noticed straight away that the brightness varied considerably. I took the first set using AV Mode on my Canon 6D.

And I also needed to adjust the view to be a bit higher for the effect I was after.

I went back to do the same thing with my camera in manual mode, and metered for an average brightness cap.

One problem was getting all the caps into exactly the same place – to do this I made a sort of frame that I could push the caps back into using Blu Tac.

This was a bit hit and miss, but I persisted.

I made another set of images, and imported these into Lightroom.

They weren’t all aligned properly, so I had to do a third take.

This time I had an idea. The way the caps appeared in the viewfinder of my Canon 6D I could locate each cap using the focus points – this worked a treat.

That was the composition of the 10 images sorted, so I took those photos and then played around with stacks and combinations.

This is how I actually took the shots

  1. Place corner cap within the tent.

  2. Move the cap so the four corners of the caps coincided with four of the 11 focus points of my Canon 6D.

  3. Tilt my camera forward using the geared mechanism on my tripod so the front corner was in the main focussing point.

  4. Focus on this point using back button focus

  5. Tilt the camera back up to the original position

  6. Take the photo using the self-timer.

  7. Change caps and repeat

The exposure was already set in manual mode so I did not have to worry about that.

Product photography by Rick Mcevoy

I took another five images, making 15 in total. Some of these additional images were taken with my camera lower down, at the same level as the products themselves.


Product photography by Rick Mcevoy

What camera settings did I use to take the photos?

Once I had got everything sorted these are the settings I went with.

  • Manual Mode.

  • Back button focus

  • F16

  • 1/15th second

  • ISO400

  • Lighting via the tent

  • 10-second self-timer

Lens choice

I used the Canon 24-105mm lens – this worked a treat and is my favourite lens.

Aperture

F16 is the smallest aperture I am happy to use for this kind of photography – it gives me the largest depth of field without any of the problems F22 can bring.

Manual Mode

Using AV Mode was a mistake. That is what I use all the time, but taking the test shots and reviewing them on my screen told me that and meant I could fix the issue.

Blu Tack

I tried using Blu Tack to make a former to place the caps in, but the Blu Tac did not stick properly. I found a way round this – sometimes it is all about trying things and seeing what works.

Focussing points to frame

This was one of those happy coincidences – the four corners lined up perfectly with four of the 11 focussing points on my Canon 6D.

Tripod and head

I used my architectural photography tripod and head, as I get precise movements with the geared head, which I find essential for such close-up detail work.

Curtains closed

Sounds obvious but easy to forget – one light source is all you want and indeed need for work like this.

What about processing?

I started off importing the photos into Lightroom, using my usual import pre-sets

I needed to get accurate colours. The colours were obviously key to this.

This could be simple or complicated – time will tell.

I used the Passport Colour Checker for this. The first photo I took was the colour checker placed exactly where I was going to take the photos.

 Passport Colour Checker

Passport Colour Checker


Now granted I haven’t installed the software to do this properly. Instead I tried using custom white balance in Lightroom. If that worked I could park the software installation to another time.

I know - I need to do this.

So all I did was select the eyedropper tool from the white balance bit of the Basic panel in Lightroom, and clicked on one of the grey squares. The numbers were all the same, so I was good to go.

I know I need to install the software, this is a job for over the Christmas Holidays I think.

Just saying….

Having got the white balance bang on, I copied this from the colour checker photo and pasted it to all the other photos.

Next thing was to sort out the image, which was a bit flat.

These are the develop settings that I used.

Lightroom settings 16112018.PNG


Once I had one image sorted I pasted the settings to all the other photos – an excellent feature of Lightroom.

I had to tweak the brightness of some of the images, and also the whites and blacks, but that was processing done.

Finishing off in Photoshop

IMG_2724.jpg


There was some stuff that needed to be tidied up, which was straightforward to do in Photoshop. The corners of the tent which were visible, and some large dust sensor spots. All removed using spot healing, clone stamp and patch tools.

And there were numerous marks and scratches on the caps themselves.

How long did this take?

I tried doing colour swapping using Photoshop but this did not work too well. I could not replicate the textures of the caps by changing the colours.

That was an hour of fiddling about taking photos of the coloured caps and Photoshop.

We agreed that this did not work so it was on to plan B.

3 hours start to finish.

That includes setting up, unwrapping all the corner caps, taking the photos, importing them into Lightroom on my PC, editing and dispatch via electronic transfer.

3 hours start to finish is not too bad.

That to be fair is three constant non-stop hours working.

Which was four chargeable hours in total.

And here is a selection of the images that I took.

First the bright green cap

Product photography by Rick Mcevoy

Next the red cap

Product photography by Rick Mcevoy


And here is one of the shots of all the coloured caps

Product photography by Rick Mcevoy


And I have to say that I love the finished photos – I think they look excellent. So good they look like someone else took them.

Imposter syndrome

Seriously, when I looked at these photos my first thought was – did I really take them? They look like a real photographer took them!

Seriously that is what I thought.

I no longer think like this about photos of buildings or of my travel photography work, I have got over that.

But it did take a long old time.

No these photos are not something I normally photograph. And I have never taken photos in a tent like this one, with built-in LED lights.

So there was a steep learning curve.

Well sort of.

I have technical image capture sorted, so this was all about applying what I know in a different situation, photographing a different thing.

The basic principles of image capture and processing are the same for most situations, they just need tweaking to the particular thing you are photographing.

And what has photographing something different done for me?

I seriously love these images – they are of coloured corner caps for a table. But I genuinely love these images.

And I enjoyed taking photographs of something different. It was good to challenge myself photographing something completely different.

A quick word about lighting

I do not use flash, or any other artificial lighting. The extent of my use of lighting is to turn the lights on in a room to make it feel more homely.

So using these lights was a complete revelation for me, and has inspired me to do more with lights in 2019.

Lets get back to the point of this post - How to take great product photos at home on a budget

I have proved here that you do not have to spend a lot of money to be able to do work such as product photography in your home.

I have of course completely ignored the fact that I am using circa £3000 worth of gear that I already own, and focussing on the £10 bit of kit from Amazon.

This is though a fair assumption – anyone taking photos for money must have a base level of kit that can deliver professional results.

The point of this post was about that £10 tent which I bought from Amazon, which did an excellent job, and is there for the next time.

And the other point I would like to reiterate here is that it is good to try new things out. I spend my life photographing buildings and nice places, and this is the work that I market.

This does not however exclude me from other genres of photography – there are basic competencies that can be applied across most genres of photography.

Problem solving

Photography is all about problem solving. Some of the things we have to do just have to be worked out, and experience helps here enormously.

Summary

It is nice to take some different photos, and also nice to write abut such a positive and pleasurable experience.

Product photography is a photographic specialism. But there is one significant difference about product photography that has just come to me.

Buy a folding tent like the one I bought. And guess what  - you can practice at home to your hearts content using whatever you want to photograph.

Now this makes this kind of product photography unique – the only cost is getting really good at this discipline is £10 for the tent – the rest is just time investment to provide another string to your photographic bow.

Rick McEvoy Photography - product photographer in Dorset

How to choose your next camera – 31 features that I want

A few weeks ago I wrote about my old faithful Canon 6D, and asked if I was ready to replace it, and if so what with? I spent lots of time talking about the Canon 6D in that article.

And I got to thinking about things that I would like in a new camera. My Canon 6D is a few years old now, and whilst it performs fantastically well as my working camera a lot has changed since it was released. So - how to choose your next camera? To answer this, I have listed down 31 features that I want in a new camera. This is the nice to haves and the esssentials which I have listed as the start of the process to choose my next camera. I am going to refine this list down to the essential items that I need, which will determine what my next camera should be.

A new camera is a significant purchase in many ways, so time spent identifying the features required will ensure that the correct choice of new camera is made.

By the way these are all features that will help me to take better photos, which is my number one priority.

Why am I writing this list now?

This list started off when I was writing a previous blog post about my Canon 6D, and brought together thoughts I have been having for some time. The starting point really was what would I do if I broke my Canon 6D – this is an entirely likely scenario as I am

  • Intrinsically clumsy, and

  • Take photos on live construction sites

  • Like putting my camera very close to the bit of land where the waves and land meet.

  • Take my camera with me absolutely everywhere

  • Seriously I am really clumsy

What has made me think about changing my camera?

So once that thought process had been initiated, the cogs started whirring slowly.

The 3 primary reasons/ concerns/ potential issues

1 – My dodgy old mince pies (like the rather too early Yuletide reference?)

Head torch 09092018.PNG

My eyesight is getting worse as I get older. Well we are all getting older of course but I have a bit of a head start when it comes to age – I am already 51.

It is my eyes that are the issue. I have been short sighted for donkeys’ years now. But in the last 5 years my near vision has got worse and worse.

Add short-sighted to losing your near vision and it is a royal pain in the X! Try seeing all those small lights and dials on a camera, and then switch your vision to distance – not easy.

2 – A different way of working

Yes – I am working in a different way now. My Canon 6D is still doing an excellent job with my architectural photography work, but there are other things that I am doing now, travel photography and vlogging. My Canon 6D is not fitting the bill as well for these areas of my work.

Photos of Santorini web page extract 19102018.PNG


3 – I just want something shiny and new

Shock confession. I want a new camera. There – I have said it now. I think that this has become one of those self-fulfilling prophecies. I started writing about not replacing my Canon 6D and find myself here writing this post with much too much enthusiasm!

To be fair to me my cameras tend to last me five years so I am due for something that will take me into the year 2024 – imagine what technology will be doing for us by then!!

Back to the subject in hand - here are the 31 features that I want in my next camera.

These 31 things are in no particular order, and are a list of the things that came to me when I sat down to capture the headings for this article. 31 just happens to be the number of things I came up with – there is no significance to this number!!

1 - Smaller and lighter than my Canon 6D with lenses attached.

I found myself using my iPhone more and more on holiday. I basically couldn’t be bothered getting my Canon 6D out all the time, and really enjoyed the ease of using an iPhone.

I know – its not Canons fault I’m lazy!

I used my Canon 6D for sunrise shots, where it was just me and the sunrise, no on else around and just me to think about. I used my Canon 6D on my travel tripod, the Manfrotto 190 Go.

I would really like something much smaller and lighter that I can take on trips and not be burdened with.

My 6D is not that big to be fair – it is just the collection of stuff together that bugs me. And I know there is smaller stuff out there.

Talking of tripods I also use a Platypod and a very small tripod called the Manfrotto Pixi. If I had a much smaller camera, I would have more options in terms of tripods and other supports which is rather exciting.

2 - In camera HDR

I am going to refer to my Canon 6D as my camera from now on. OK?

My camera has built-in HDR, but this is only to Jpeg files. I shoot in RAW only, so this feature is of no use to me.

Or is it?

Is there a different way of looking at this? Has the technology of cameras, sensors, image capture and image processing progressed to the point where there is no real difference between Jpeg and RAW?

Is there a camera that makes this differentiation irrelevant?

And is there a camera that makes HDR irrelevant as well?

Well it’s a thought.

Can a single image capture be enough?

Or a single image capture processed using something like Aurora HDR.

3 – GPS

GPS is a must for not only my travel photography, but also my commercial photography and the stuff I do on the way to and from shoots.

I have GPS on my Canon 6D which I always use, which I find incredibly useful.

I use the Map Module in Lightroom a lot, especially when I am writing about my photographs on my various websites, blog and also on the Improve Photography website.

View from Oia Lightroom Map 19102018.PNG

GPS is pretty much an essential tool for me.

4 - Wi-fi

I use Wi-Fi to remotely control my camera using the Canon Connect App. I have used this to activate my camera from the top of my painters’ pole in a couple of situations.

 Me using the Wi-Fi on my Canon 6D

Me using the Wi-Fi on my Canon 6D

This photo was taken in a pretty harsh environment, a gravel loading facility next to a live rail siding. I had to photograph the gravel being unloaded by the 360 machine from the train into the gravel bays.

And when these guys are unloading from a train on a live rail network they get on with it!

 No time to wait on this shoot with my Canon 6D

No time to wait on this shoot with my Canon 6D

The other example is where I want to take a photograph of a building from higher than ground level, like the photo above. Getting to first floor level, which is only circa 3m gives a completely different perspective, and also means that my camera is at first floor level, eliminating the need to correct verticals.

 Architectural photography in Hampshire using a painters’ pole

Architectural photography in Hampshire using a painters’ pole

5 - Connectivity as good as an iPhone

In the year 2018 why do cameras not have the same functionality and connectivity that we all enjoy with our phones?

My Canon 6D is an older camera now granted but cameras in general seem to lack way behind phones.

Why can’t I take a photo and share it with a client immediately? I can with my phone.

6 - The functionality of an iPhone

Same point relay but rather than connectivity functionality.

7 - Connectivity to my iPhone (thinking about it)

improving that in a clever way could negate the need for the two points above.

8 - In camera image processing

What do I mean by this? I guess I am talking about Jpeg image capture with more processing, meaning I can use images straight from camera (with the connectivity mentioned above).

9 - Fully articulated screen

I put my camera on a painters’ pole. I also put my camera on the ground, on a Platypod or Manfrotto Pixi tripod. I hold my camera out of windows.

I hold my camera out in front of me to get over things.

For all of these situations a fully articulating screen would be a huge bonus to me – this would genuinely help me taking photos.

10 - A screen I can actually see in normal light and also in direct Greek sunshine

I am getting old. I am (rather tragically) over 50. And my eyes are not what they were.

The screens on my Canon 6D are an issue. The tiny numbers in the viewfinder are also an issue to me.

 Photographing the sunrise on Santorini

Photographing the sunrise on Santorini

I have been getting away with these shortcomings mainly by the way I take my photos. I pre-set most of my camera settings so most of the time all I am changing is the aperture and the point of focus.

When I want to deviate from that in any way the problems begin.

And I have noticed recently that all things that I do with my Canon 6D are becoming more difficult. Not just my Canon 6D of course – all things that I do that involve close focus.

And the distance stuff isn’t that great either.

Oh the woes of getting old…….

A large bright screen will help I have no doubt. Going from my iPhone 7 Plus to my Canon 6D screen is like going from my iPhone back to one of the old Nokia phones with the little screen – remember them??

11 - Touch screen with full functionality

This ties in with points raised before, putting all these bits together to get something approaching iPhone touch screen functionality.

The thought of a touch screen that is as user friendly as that on an iPhone or iPad is rather exciting to me.

12 - Ergonomics that make it a pleasure to use

My Canon 6D works for me ergonomically. I have handled some smaller cameras and am not sure how they handle ergonomically – that is a very good reason for going to an actual camera shop and actually holding an actual camera rather then reading reviews online.

The internet will never replace a shop for the experience of actually holding something and getting that tactile experience – that is one reason why it is so important that we all go to shops and buy things, or there will be no shops and nowhere that you can go to hold an actual camera.

13 - Simple logical menu system

Not a lot more to say really – I have heard that other camera manufacturers systems are not as good as Canons, which I am used to. And to be honest I change so little, maybe because there is so little to change, that this is not currently an issue.

This may be an issue if I had a camera with more variables to play with. One to think about,

14 - 4K video with high quality audio recording

I currently do 99% of videos with my iPhone. Now I do have a DJI Osmo Mobile that I need to make better use of but I would like to do more 4K video with an actual camera – my Canon 6D does not do 4K video of course.

My videos are not the best, but on the plus side check out this lovely 6 minutes of sunrise tranqulity on the wonderful Greek Island of Paxos.

15 - Excellent Vlogging/ recording capabilities

I am finding the need to produce more videos, some for my own promotional purposes, some for clients I am working for. At the moment all I am doing is holding my iPhone up in front of me and talking into it using the built-in mic. Whilst the picture quality is adequate the sound is not good enough.

16 - Smaller cheaper lenses offering similar quality

This ties in with my desire to have smaller camera gear especially for travel photography. I have found in recent trips that I have been using my iPhone more and more for day to day shooting, using my Canon 6D for sunrises and stuff like that.

Whilst the iPhone has a remarkably capable camera it just does not compare with my Canon 6D and Canon L lenses, and nor should it to be fair.

17 – High quality sensor

I love the sensor on my Canon 6D, and love the images it captures. This is a 20 MP sensor, and I will not accept a lesser performing sensor.

Another intangible here is how the sensor on another camera will perform, and what will the look be of the images?

18 - Excellent low light performance

My Canon 6D has excellent low light performance. Well I think it does. Again performance needs to be better than that I currently enjoy.

19 - Stuff like time lapse, long exposure and other good stuff etc built in

I want some toys and things that I can play with and have some fun! And I want to be able to use the latest technological developments in my photography. I know it is all about the composition but I have worked hard on that over the last year, and will continue to do so going forwards.

I just want some fun when I am taking my photos and some new things to try out.

20 - A sensor that doesn’t need cleaning

I hate removing sensor dust spots. Hate it.

So a sensor that doesn’t need cleaning will be good. Not an essential but a nice to have.

I do not know if this is even a thing – one of the problems with mirrorless cameras is that the sensor is closer to the bit where you mount the lens as there is no mirror there. On an SLR there is a mirror in-between the rear lens mount and the sensor which must provide some protection.

21 - Interchangeable lenses

Now this is an essential. I want to be able to change lenses, I want to be able to expand the range of lenses that I have in the future as and when needed.

And I want the lenses to be of a similar quality to my current Canon L series lenses.

22 - Tilt shift capability

I have a tilt-shift lens that I rarely use. The truth is I do not like it. It is manual focus, and I have managed for so long without it that I am in two minds whether to get rid of it or not.

 Canon 24mm tilit shift lens

Canon 24mm tilit shift lens


I have been planning on using my tilt-shift lens for a prolonged period of time but have never got around to this.

I think that this may be because don’t really want to – I feel like I am forcing myself (potentially) to use a piece of kit just because others say I should.

It is unlike me to do such a thing so lets just park this and say that it will never happen.

That’s tilt shift lenses done then!

23 – Ultra-wide angle lens

This might be an issue with crop factors. At the moment I have a Canon 17-40mm lens on my full frame Canon 6D. If anything I want the ability to go wider than 17mm if at all possible, but without the size and expense of the canon 11-24mm lens – an awesome lens for sure but not what I am looking for at the moment.

This could be a deal breaker for me.

24 - Bespoke programming – Custom Function that works!

I have never got on with the custom functions on my Canon 6D. I think this is my own fault, a definite display of petulance and a lack of time studying this feature.

But to be able to have pre-sets that I can switch to automatically to mix things up is very appealing to me.

25 - RAW Capture

I shoot in RAW, process in RAW and output in Jpeg. But with the new technologies out there is this still a thing? Or has the in-camera elastic trickery made this a thing of the past?

26 – EVF

I have tried various EVFs in shops, and also at Gatwick Airports’ Dixons World Duty Free. The main thing that I do with my airport downtime is look at cameras and marvel at EVFs.

I love the way that you get live exposure simulation in the EVF – such an awesome thing to be able to see.

The EVF however needs to provide the same optical experience as the viewfinder on my Canon 6D though – field of view here is a consideration together with brightness and realism.

And the size of the stuff in the EVF.

27 – Computational photography

I know very little about this, but the advances in technology must be being included in image capture?

I am sure that with the power of processing things like sensor size, mega pixels, noise and stuff like that the gap between high end and lower end cameras is closing.

28 - Focussing in the dark

My Canon 6D is pretty good at this. I have written about this on my blog and also on the Improve Photography website.

And to be honest people have been surprised that I find the Canon 6Ds low light focussing capabilities.

I am sure that newer cameras will have better low light focussing capabilities than my Canon 6D so I expect to see benefit in this area with a new camera.

29 – Weather-sealing

I need a weather-sealed camera. All my photography is done outdoors. And I don’t stop for the rain.

And I work on live construction site which are wet, dusty inhospitable and noisy places. Not that noise is relevant here.

30 - And the ability to output straight from the camera.

Straight from the camera onto the internet. This is a new business need which I will expand on in the summary.

If I could take a photograph with image processing pre-sets that I knew would give me the initial level of processing that I wanted that would be a start. There is of course the question of the metadata, filename, title and description. But I guess they could be added after the event?

I need to be able to add high quality metadata to my images – this is something I am quite fastidious about.

It is the ability to be able to get processed images out of the camera and onto my websites that I am keen to have.

31 – Shiny new loveliness

I have often written that there is too much talk about gear, which I still maintain is true. But this does not mean that I do not want some shiny new techie loveliness now!

And when I get a camera I do tend to use it for a number of years.

But there is a genuine worry here

What if I jump ship to another manufacturer and don’t like it? If I were to get a Canon EOS R, which is a strong contender, I would be staying in the Canon ecosystem. I would know what I was getting, but with lots and lots of bells and whistles in addition.

But what if I went elsewhere and just did not like it – that does worry me.

I need to narrow things down

I need to provide a bullet point list of essentials – I will do this and post it next week, along with any feedback from this post and the one that I published on Improve Photography titled.

Or do I have two camera systems?

 Canon 6D

Canon 6D

I might have missed a trick here. My Canon 6D works just fine, and still captures great images. What if I got something super small for travel?

Maybe I need two shortlists – one for a replacement to my Canon 6D (and all the other related products) and one for an addition to my Canon 6D.

I think that I have just cracked this particular conundrum – to systems.

Keeping my Canon 6D for my architectural work opens up more possibilities for my other work.

Summary

There is a serious point to this. I have embarked on some new products, one of which I have recently completed.

I have written about this before on my photography blog, but it is wholly relevant here.

I am talking about my new photography website Photos of Santorini. And more significantly the websites I have planned for the future. I want to be able to work in a different way for the next websites I am producing, including having the ability to add photos direct to website pages to speed up production of these websites.

I want to publish images straight from the camera with no further processing required.

This will also allow me to produce new websites whilst out on location which will be massive for me.

If I can add the images I can add the text using my iPad to a prepared website – now that would be really cool and transform the way I work.

So there is a serious point to this.

That and the fact that my eyes are getting old and less useful!

OK I’m done now

I hope that you have enjoyed reading this post, and please if you are able to point me in the right direction for my next camera please do so.

Rick McEvoy ABIPP – Photographer, blogger, website creator extraordinaire

Remember when I deleted the Google Analytics App?

I was checking my Analytics too often. It was distracting me, and was basically a complete waste of my time! So I did the only thing and deleted the Google Analytics App from my phone, leaving it on my iPad only.

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I did the same with the Squarespace Analytics App.

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And also YouTube studio.

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 Why did I do this? 

Simple - I was obsessed with checking the number of visitors to my website. I was checking much too often.

If I want to check any of these stats now I have to use my iPad. I have left these excellent Apps on my iPad. The logic is that to check my stats I have to use my iPad, which is much less available to me than my phone.

And this worked for a time. 

But, disappointingly, I found a way round this. Web based Google Analytics. Yes I managed to get this page on my iPhone, and all I need to do is refresh the page and there are the stats I want. 

I have removed that page now to stop this. I do not need to check analaytics as often as I do. I know that. 

To further compound the problem I now have three websites, this one which you are on now, and my new websites.

Photos of Santorini

is now pretty much complete

and

Paxos Travel Guide

which I am back working on.

All the more reason to check my analytics? Yes, but I will endeavour to not do.

Rick McEvoy Photography - photographer, photoblogger, writer, website creator

 

 

Why are some excellent Lightroom tools not replicated in Photoshop?

I am sat here editing my photos of Santorini. Nearly done which is good. I have been going into Photoshop to remove primarily sensor dust spots, but also stuff creeping into the edge of a shot, and also stuff I want removing.

Take this photo of Fira for example - there are all sorts of bits that need consigning to the shadows as they don’t add to the image - they just distract.

This is the final image.

Fira sunset snippet after 01112018.PNG

I do this work in Photoshop and then save the image back into Lightroom.

I then have to go back to the Spot Removal Tool in Lightroom to check to see if there are any bits left that I have not done - there is an excellent feature called Visualise Spos bottom left after you select the (much improved) Spot Removal Tool.

Fira sunset Visualise close up 01112018.PNG

This is the spots that required removal after the work I have done in Photoshop - quite surprising!

Fira sunset snippet Lightroom visualise after 01112018.PNG

The small circle are spots that I have removed.

The question is this - why is the excellent Visualise Spots feature not available in Photoshop?

And while I am on the subject why cannot I not use the Page Down key to navigate through an image like I can in Lightroom?

There are some execllent features in Lightroom thaht would make Photoshop so much easier to use.

Rick McEvoy Photography - Photos of Santorini

Is the Canon 6d Mk 1 still a good camera? It’s a yes from me

Canon 6D 21052018.PNG

The Canon 6D was released in 2012. I bought mine in 2014. When it was released it was a great camera. When I bought my Canon 6D it was a great camera.
So at the back end of 2018 is the Canon 6D still a good camera? Yes of course it is. In fact no it is not still a good camera – it is still a great camera. My Canon 6D took great photos in 2013, and took great photos last week.

What about progress and technological advances?

Despite all the technological advances that can be found in shiny new cameras the Canon 6D is still a great camera. And just because other cameras have advanced significantly since 2012 this does not automatically make the Canon 6D over the hill, past it’s sell by date, irrelevant or obsolete.

And to broaden this out further

In my opinion this applies to many cameras released in the last, well I don’t know, 15 years?

What did I have before the Canon 6D?

My first full frame camera was a Canon 5D Mk 1. This camera was first released in 2005 would you believe! And I still have this camera, which I am very fond of.

This is an image that I took with my Canon 5D which can be found in my current architectural photography portfolio.

 Chideock Manor Library - architectural photography in Dorset

Chideock Manor Library - architectural photography in Dorset

Ok – before I justify my statement about the Canon 6D still being a great camera in 2018 I need to say something else.

Photography is not about gear. Photography is about recording the light. Composition and creativity.

All this technical stuff is really irrelevant.

No one cares which camera you or I have used to capture an image. No one cares about the camera settings, if it was taken in RAW or JPEG?

No one apart from other photographers that is.

All people care about is the photo itself. That is all. Let us not forget that.

OK – so back to the gear….

I know. I complain too much about gear talk. But here I am not talking about new gear. I am talking about gear that I already have, and have learned to use inside out.

And when I say talk I do mean write of course – it is just that I type as I would talk, as things come into/ out of my head.

Lets start at the beginning. What do I like so much about my Canon 6D?

Firstly, it just works.

Day in, day out. And having used it for so long I know how it works inside out. I can operate my camera in the dark with no problems. I can change lenses in the dark. Once I have found them that is!

Ok – so now for some specific features, in no particular order.

Back button focus

I know that this is by no means a unique feature on the Canon 6D, but I still love this feature, and the way the Canon 6D does it.

Why do I use back button focus?

Simple. I compose my image, and then decide where I want to focus. Then I choose an appropriate aperture. And then I press the shutter button, which meters for the scene and starts the self-timer.

I have separated focus from exposure and image capture. I take the vast majority of my photos on a tripod.

This just works for me.

The sensor and the image quality

These to me are one and the same. I love the images that my Canon 6D produces. I love the look and feel that the RAW files give.

I like the details that the sensor captures.

I like the tones.

I like the range of shadows and highlights, lights and darks. And with the way I take the photos I like the way I can take bracketed sets and put the bits together in Lightroom.

Focussing

Note the Canon 6D has 11 focus points. The Canon EOS R has 5655 focus points. You might want to read that again.

  • The CANON EOS R HAS 5655 FOCUS POINTS.

  • THE CANON 6D HAS 11 FOCUS POINTS

I have found 11 focus points just fine. To be honest I tend to only need to use one at a time. So what would I do with the other 5654 focus points on the Canon EOS R? I’m not quite sure (but I am looking forward to finding out!).

The way I take my photos I focus on one part of the composition, typically around 1/3rd into the scene.

And another thing about the focussing on the Canon 6D – it can focus in ridiculously low light. I don’t know how it compares to other more technologically advanced cameras, but it does focus down to ridiculously levels of light, or darkness

Do I need to be able to focus in near darkness?

Yes.

I take a lot of photos pre-sunrise and post-sunset but rarely have a problem with focussing.

I compose with Live View and focus without Live view – this woks just fine for me.

How it feels in my hands – Ergonomics

The Canon 6D fits in my hands and the controls are all in very familiar and to me logical positions. I have never wished that things weren’t where they are. Not that the camera is perfect, it is just that we have grown close to each other over the years!

It’s a bit like having a favourite pair of shoes, they mould to you over time and end up being irreplaceable.

I know – I am getting worryingly sentimental here. Having said that we have been through a lot together.

Wi-Fi

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I use the Wi-Fi to take photos in unusual locations and from unusual viewpoints. This is an essential part of my work.

OK the Canon Connect App is hardly cutting edge, but most of the time it works fine and allows me to do what I need to do.

I have not used the Wi-Fi to view photos remotely – the way I work I only want to look at photos on my big calibrated monitor in my office. This is changing though, and I find that more and more I would benefit from instant access to viewing photos on my iPad Pro.

This is something that I need to look into with my Canon 6D and Canon Connect App – that and transferring Jpeg files for instant publication and sharing.

GPS

Another invaluable feature. I do a lot of travel photography – much more than I ever did, and also have other websites about specific travel photography locations.

I need GPS, and the Canon 6D has it. I use the Map module in Lightroom a lot, which enables me to erm, tell where I took photos from.

 Santorini photo locations from the Lightroom Map Module

Santorini photo locations from the Lightroom Map Module

I also have been known to stop and take photos when travelling – anytime I see something I like I stop and take a photo, and the GPS tells me where I took the shot.

So an invaluable feature that I would not be without.

And I use it on my various websites and for writing articles about my photography work.

It’s not all sweetness and light - there are things that are not perfect! What do I not like about the Canon 6D?

The viewfinder and my dodgy old mince pies

I am 51 years old. I am struggling with the viewfinder I’m not going to lie to you. I have a dominant eye. And a lazy one on the other side of my head. And I am short sighted. And my near vision is much worse than it was.

I never know which eye to use when composing through the viewfinder.

The future of viewfinders – the EVF

I have recently been trying out EVFs on the cameras in display in shops and at airports.

An EVF is an electronic viewfinder by the way.

That is how I spend my time waiting for flights – trying out EVFs and wishing I had one! And then realising even in holiday mode the airport is not the place to buy a camera. I nearly cracked once and would have made an expensive mistake but thankfully I saw sense.

Now when I find one that is actually working I find these to be a bit of a revelation. I tried an Olympus EVF the other day that was absolutely remarkable.

This might be the thing that takes me down the road to mirrorless cameras – my age, my short sightedness and the blurry distance vision I can get from time to time.

Yep getting old has its drawbacks, my eyes being a pretty big one.

Getting back to the point - pleaese forgive my digressions!

I struggle to focus close then distance. My contact lenses correct for my short sight, which I have had since he age of about 13, and now also give me assistance with close vision.

These contact lenses need light to work properly, so at times using the Canon 6D is a struggle. Sometimes I cant read the LCD panel on the top, even with the (faint) light turned on.

So it might be ageing that forces me to buy a new camera - I really hadn’t thought about that until writing this!

GPS woes

The GPS. If I do not manually turn off the GPS when I turn off the camera it is still running and drains the battery. Completely infuriating and there is apparently no fix for this. I actually asked Canon people at the Photography Show.

I hope that the Canon 6D Mk 2 and other newer models have had this problem sorted as it drives me up the wall. And for no reason that I can think of.

The LCD screen

The LCD screen is quite frankly rubbish. Rubbish when compared to my iPhone 7 Plus screen that is. Having said that I can’t see my iPhone screen in full Greek sunlight anyway!

But no the screen is much too small. To get round this I have had to buy a Loupe Viewer – this is what it looks like.

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I had to stick a small plastic window on the LCD screen, onto which I can attach the viewer quickly whenever needed.

I use the LCD screen to compose images all the time, which would be very difficult, even impossible in some lighting situations with just the small LCD screen on the Canon 6D.

And add the problems with my ageing eyes and you will see that the screen is a serious issue to me.

So much so now that I have written about it that I might have to consider replacing my Canon 6D to get over my ageing eyes!

Custom Functions

I don’t get them sorry Canon. It seems such a convoluted way to customise my camera that I have never really used it. Sure I have set it up but find it so un-user friendly. Maybe I should give some more time to this feature and see if I get can get my head around it properly.

I did try it but when I saved the settings I was no longer shooting in AV Mode, which confused me so I gave up.

HDR Merge

There is in-camera HDR merge feature on the Canon 6D, but rather bafflingly this only works with JPEG files?

Why can’t any camera, and not only the Canon 6D just do the HDR thing automatically in-camera? With RAW files that is. It is only a case of taking three exposures and merging them together. Why do I have to do this in Lightroom?

And why doesn’t the in-camera HDR work on RAW images?

If the Canon 6D did in-camera HDR with RAW files I would only ever need the RAW HDR file which would save me so much time.

What is the working life of a Canon 6D?

Shutter actuations are the key thing here. The shutter after all is the major moving part and rather critical to the workings of the camera.

The Canon 6D shutter has a shutter rating of 100,000 actuations. How many shutter actuations have I made with my Canon 6D?

No idea.

I could get some software that will give me a number but it is unlikely to be accurate.

No I will go with the number of images in my Lightroom Catalogue. Of course that will not include images that have been deleted, but I don’t think that this will be significant knowing the way I work and how few images I delete once they are in Lightroom.

This will give me a good enough idea.

22,422 is the number from Lightroom. Not too bad and not a concern. Not as much as the state of my eyesight that is!

Lets not forget 100,000 is a number to provide an indication of the working life. To me this number is only of use when I am comparing one camera to another – the number gives me an idea of the relative robustness of two cameras.

A much more relevant factor is how many times I have dropped my camera, how many times I have got it wet.

Basically how badly have I treated it?

  • Dropping it

  • Well there was the big drop in the National Trust office at Corfe Castle – this resulted in an expensive repair.

  • And lots of small drops. Mostly onto rocks at sunrise.

  • Water damage

  • Splashes by the sea.

  • Letting the camera roll down in rock into a shallow puddle.

  • Being rained on.

  • A quick spray of Mythos (the Greek beer for those who don’t know!)

  • General wear and tear

My camera has been with me every day everywhere I go. Every day I put it in the boot of my car, and every night I take it out again. It has been crammed into tight spaces on planes, buses, trains and boats of various types.

The working life of my Canon 6D is from now until is stops working!

Enough waffle – what about some photos taken with my Canon 6D?

Here are five photos taken over the 5 years I have had my Canon 6D

2014

Twin Sails Bridge by Rick McEvoy Construction Photographer in Po

2015

Sandbanks Hotel by Rick McEvoy Architectural Photographer in San

2016

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2017

Gravel being unloaded at a live rail facility

2018

Pictures of Gussage House, Gussage All Saints, Dorset

What lenses do I use with my Canon 6D

I just have four lenses these days.

  • Canon 24-105mm F4 L

  • Canon 17-40mm F4L

  • Canon 70-200mm F4 L IS

  • Canon 24mm Tilt shift lens

These are all I need to be honest. I use the 24-105 for travel photography, and the 17-40 for most of my architectural work.

What would my ideal focal lengths be?

12-300mm is the range that I would like to cover, ideally with 2 or 3 small lenses.

What would it take for me to change to another camera?

I would like something smaller and lighter.

That would mean the Canon EOS R and one of the new, smaller lenses. Yes I find that quite exciting.

I am on the press waiting list for a body and lens to review on the Improve Photography website.

Will getting my hands on a Canon EOS R change my views on newer gear?

I don’t know. There is the stubborn grumpy old get taking pride and satisfaction from using an old camera to take photos. But there is also the bloke who has shiny new thing syndrome.

I think once I get my hands on the new Canon EOS R I will want one.

Would I change to another camera manufacturer?

Yes. And no. I have used Canon cameras for years and years now. The only other manufacturer I have used is Fujifilm – my first “proper” camera was a Fujifilm (film) SLR.

I don’t want to go to a new manufacturer, but would necessarily not rule it out. I have an open mind on other camera systems. I like the look of Olympus and Fujifilm’s current offerings – this is based on a pretty superficial look at them in camera shops and some stuff I have heard – nothing too scientific or exacting.

Would I go back to film?

No. Why ever would I do that? Why do people do that?

Do I not want something shiny and new?

Yes of course I do, and after all that talk about how much I hate gear and the time spent talking about gear I would love to have a new camera.

I love new tech gear. I am very excited to get a new iPhone when my contract allows (January 2019).

And every time I use my Apple Airpods they make me smile.

But I must not forget this

I still enjoy using my Canon 6D, even after all these years.

But yes I do browse new kit at airports and in camera shops and do have those background gear lust feelings.

So what about all the gear talk?

It just feels that there is too much talk about gear and not enough talk about photography.

Photography hasn’t really changed – photography is after all making photos.

Lets not forget that – photography gear is just that – gear. Tools of the trade. The equipment we use to capture what we see in front of us.

If I get a new camera will I take better photos?

No.

I will have additional features that will give me better opportunities to capture better image but no, fundamentally no.

My Canon 6D won’t last forever though?

No it won’t. What would I do now if I broke or it just expired?

What would I replace my Canon 6D with if I had to replace it right now?

There are things that I would need to have in a camera to convince me to change from my good old Canon 6D.

What about the Canon 6D Mk 2?

The Mk 2 version has some very cool features. It is a general evolution of the 6D Mk 1 into a generally more advanced camera.

As well as all that the 6D Mk 1 has there are also some cool new features.

  • An articulated screen. And a touchscreen at that!

  • More resolution (but not too much) – 26 Megapixels

  • A (slightly) better sensor that the 6D Mk 1

  • Built-in time-lapse

But to be honest these things did not excite me enough to make me upgrade. My 6D Mk 1 is still working just fine thanks.

But the Canon 6D Mk 2 is a great camera. And there would be no problem with all my lenses and other bits of kit. And there is the familiarity of sticking with Canon.

I am digressing now

This is drifting into 20 features I want in a new camera. I might as well make that next weeks post! I just need a snappy Google friendly title and I am good to go.

Tell you what – head back to my photography blog next week where you can read the next post in my series, which will be called something like

20 features I need in a new camera to replace my Canon 6D (by the time I had completed this post I was quickly up to 25 things!)

Summary

Blimey. I can go on sometimes. Still it is good to get these things out of my head and out into the wonderful world of the World Wide Web.

You may have noticed that on more than one occasion I have used the terms “it works for me”. Well that pretty well sums it up.

The Canon 6D works for me.

I hope that you have found the new format of my photography blog, with less frequent but much longer and more in-depth posts useful and more interesting.

Next week I will expand on the things I want in a new camera should I need to get something to replace my Canon 6D.

Rick McEvoy ABIPP – Photographer, photo blogger, writer

Best photography blogs of 2018 – well mines not too bad??

I have changed from daily blog posts to weekly blog posts. Last week I concluded that the best time to post was on Mondays at 4pm BST. That is that sorted.

Photos of Santorini in action.JPG

The next important question therefore is this – what should I write about in my photography blog? Photography stuff. Is my photography blog the best photography blog out there? I wish. But it’s not too bad, even if I do say so myself!

In my photography blog I will be writing about not only architectural photography but also general photography stuff, my images and photography business matters.

So what I hear you say??

This is a significant change for me.

This change is to enable me to produce higher quality, more useful, relevant and meaningful blog posts on a weekly basis.

And that does not necessarily mean that I will not produce blog posts at other times – now that I have a structure, plan and intent for my blog I feel freer to produce other stuff as and when I want which is nice, without the pressure of forcing myself to produce daily content just for the sake of it.

What is the purpose of my blog?

To be completely honest the purpose of my blog is to get more people to visit my website.

That is the bottom line.

Weekly blog posts are new weekly content which Google loves. And the higher the quality of the content the better.

And the more relevant the content is to my website the better too, which is another reason why I have narrowed down my target markets – the focus has benefitted me in various ways.

And to do this I am going to share information that others find useful. If people find my posts useful then more people will visit my blog and I will rank higher in Google for the things that I wrote about.

And if I rank higher in Google more people will find my blog.

And if more people find my blog more people will become aware of me and hopefully enquire about my photography services, photography knowledge, or just look at my photos!

And you never know people might want to actually buy my work.

That is my understanding of how this should work – there you go – if I am right I have virtually handed you and everyone else the keys to the internet!

In all seriousness that is the general principle – give people helpful information and Google will thank you for it as that is Googles’ number 1 role.

Why does Google exist?

Google exists to give you the best answer to the search query you enter in that box on Google.

If my blog content can contribute to this then great.

All I need to do now is to consistently produce content that people find interesting and helpful and worthy of sharing. If I can do that Google will know. Google knows what is going on on the internet.

Which I’m sure you are aware of.

How did I come up with these four areas of content for my photography blog?

Simple – I want subjects that are relevant to my target audience. I want subjects that are relevant to my photography business.

And most importantly for me I want to write about things that I have a genuine interest in. I am a strong believer that we all do a better job of something if it is something that we enjoy and have an interest in.

After all I am building a business based around what was once just a hobby. It doesn’t feel like work sometimes which is great, even though I work very hard developing the various strands of my photography business.

So I enjoy the subjects I am wrting about. And I enjoy writing. This is not quite a labour of love but it is much less of a chore than it would be if these weren’t things that I enjoyed.

What is my target audience?

My target audience is quite varied, but has been narrowed down from everyone everywhere. That is who I was writing to up until a couple of weeks ago when I stopped and thought about what I was doing.

This is my target audience now

  • Architects, developers and product manufacturers wanting photos of their buildings, developments and products.

  • People interested in the general subject of photography, taking photos, processing in Lightroom.

  • Buyers of my photos.

  • Manufacturers and suppliers of photography equipment.

Whilst this section of my target audience is very important to me, I will not be writing to or for them. That will take my writing from being natural and about the subject in hand and drive it down a business marketing route that I don’t want to go down.

I am not writing so Canon UK contact me and ask me to review their latest and greatest. I am writing about subjects, and if that is my Canon 6D then so be it, but the subject is my Canon 6D and not hey Canon look at me!!!

This is an important consideration.

Sure there will be lot of references to products, and Amazon affiliate links, but the content will be genuine content.

There are plenty of people out there who do this kind of stuff, but I am going down a different path of my own choosing.

Advertising and marketing companies related to all of the above.

I have split my target audience down to the following four headings, which has helped me define the titles and content of each of my weekly blog posts.

Architectural and commercial photography

My core business is photographing buildings, and mainly for architects, developers, property owners and manufacturers of construction products. That being the case I want to make sure that I am writing about how I can help these good folks to get the photos they want. This is by a combination of words and case studies of commercial photographic work that I have already done.

General photography

This is a tricky area, the global photography one. I am a writer on Improve Photography, and want to continue sharing my general photography knowledge and experiences on my own website.

I will write about image capture, processing, gear, tips and techniques, photography news, anything really of a general interest to the photography community.

The tricky thing is that this is a pretty competitive area, so I will have to be clever in how I produce this content.

My images

This is the place to showcase my photography work.

At the time of writing I have only one portfolio on my website, which consists of 20 architectural photography images.

I am going to add two more portfolios, one for travel photography, and one for landscape photography.

And I might bring back my product page. The problem is how do I sell images if no-one can see them? And I just got rid of a load of pages having taken very good advice.

My photos are unique, and my USP (unique selling point). No-one else has the photos that I have taken. My images, my vision and my style are me – they are what I an trying to sell to clients.

And they are the products that I have to work with, to trade and to sell.

Clients look at my images and know what they are going to get which is very important.

In posting my images I will be writing lots about the images

  • How I got the shots

  • Behind the scenes photos and videos

  • What I was thinking

  • The technical side of the image capture

  • Processing in Lightroom and Photoshop

  • What I did with the images

That sort of thing

I want people to buy my photos

Photography business matters.

This is an area which I find interesting, and I have experiences which I can share which will help people.

As well as my photography business I am also developing some new websites which fit into the travel industry, and also travel photography. I am combining my loves of travel, photography and writing to produce bespoke niche websties.

And I have learnt a lot along the way.

And there are business and cmemrcial opportunuites that I have not yet explored that I want to look into which I can research and write about on my photography blog.

Or should I say photography business blog – hang on – is that a thing?

Four subjects = 1 subject per week – how convenient

Yes I deliberately came up with four areas, as I wanted four different but ultimately related things per month to write about.

What do I do on a five-week month?

I will worry about that when it happens.

How much will I write about in each post?

Well that is anther question – I think that the posts will vary in length from 1500 – 4000words. These are relatively long posts but I have learned from more than one authoritative source that the most popular blog posts have a length of circa 1900 to 2000 words. So 1500 words will be my minimum.

Another reason why these structured posts will be weekly – they take time after all!

I am not going to think about this too much – the length of the post will be determined by what I want to write, rather than writing to a predetermined number of words.

This is me writing about a subject, not writing 2000 words to gain traffic.

And I will write about new things that I need to know but do not know

This is a new thing to me that I have just started doing on the Improve Photography website. I have picked a topic (we writers have an article title hit list) and then learnt about it enough that I can write about it.

And I have to say I quite enjoyed it, and it has opened up a world of new subjects for me to write about.

Basically, if I don’t know anything about a subject then that is fair game for a blog post. And believe me there is lots that I do not know.

My personality

My blog is my personality in words. I write as I speak. My blog is an online mechanism where people can get to know me by reading about me, and reading about my photography.

This is the thing that will run through every blog post, long or short, serious or not so serious – my personality and sense of humour.

If you don’t like the way I write there is a chance that you will not like me in person. Conversely if you love the way I write when you meet me you will feel like you already know me.

And trust me I am a nice chap honest.

And a quick word on my other websites.

When I say websites they are pretty much wbsites with blog posts.

I am currently working on a new website called Photos of Santorini. And once that is done I need to get on with my other website, Paxos Travel Guide. These need time and once done they are standalone completed pieces of work – and this is the time when I will review not only the content of my blog but also the frequency and timing.

I expect that will be in the New Year – Photos of Santorini will complete October 2018, Paxos Travel Guide by the end of December 2018.

Conclusion

I will be producing a weekly post on my photography blog. I will produce other posts as and when, but these will be the main posts.

I will write in-depth posts about each of these four subjects providing a useful resource and information to clients and general readers, as well as showcasing the best of my photography work.

I will also be writing as though I am speaking, so when you read what I write it is like speaking to me.

Rick McEvoy ABIPP - Photographer, photoblogger, writer