Porto Party

We loved Porto. After three short days in Lisbon, walking a lot, the smaller scale of Porto was a relief. Both places were very interesting, but Porto was characterized by incredibly friendly people, affordable prices, and a vibrancy that was very compelling. At the same time, Porto was run down in places, with a lot of empty and derelict buildings, and apparently quite a lot of people living with not very much.

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To the Top of Mont Blanc

I would visit Europe more than once a year, if time allowed. There’s so much to see – nature, history, cities, countryside, food, shopping, architecture, music, art.

This year we went to Geneva for a week, and took a day to visit Chamonix and Mont Blanc – the highest mountain in Europe. Chamonix is a great ski resort; however in summer it fills with tourists (like us) who swarm to the top of the mountain to see the view. As it was also our only day in France, we took the opportunity to eat at a friendly little restaurant just outside the town, recommended by Tripadvisor, and a great find.

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Yet more pictures from the past

These pictures are quite old – I’ve just installed a new Mac for myself, with Apple’s Aperture for image management. I’ve been using a combination of iView (now owned by Microsoft) and Nikon’s Capture NX, but Aperture is very well integrated into the Mac environment, and I have a plug-in that automates uploads into Gallery, which is the software I use to manage my photo galleries online.

Capture NX has one unique feature that I really like – the so-called U Point technology that was created by Nik Software. This allows edits to be applied to regions identified both geographically and by tone. The result is the easiest way to fix a wide range of localized image problems. The bad news is that while Capture NX does stellar work on Nikon raw (.nef) images, Aperture converts images to TIFF before passing them to Capture NX (or any other external program). The good news is that Nik’s Viveza software, which supports U Point technology, is supposed to be available integrated with Aperture 2.1 in May. So perhaps at least I’ll be able to get some of the integration that way if I can stomach the price, which is more than the cost of Aperture!

The new gallery contains some old pictures from a trip to Annapolis in 2000. They are actually negatives that I scanned – not the best way to do things, but the only choice for a second life for these old pictures.



One of the world’s great photogenic places.  Extraordinary beauty, and a quiet sense of isolation make it a great place to visit.


I was there in May, following a conference. May is a good time to visit. It was hot, but not unbearable, and I did a lot of walking. The roads are tiny, and I imagine that in summer it must be very crowded, but it was quite empty when I was there.
Lots of pleasures to be found – the landscape, the architecture, the food, and of course the blue sea, all around.

Integrating my photo blog

I have maintained a separate page and blog for my thoughts about digital photography, but it’s hard to keep more than a couple of sites active and interesting, so I’m going to incorporate my comments on photography in this blog. The first thing I’ll do is re-post the old articles here, and then in the future any thoughts I have on the subject of photography will be posted here as part of the normal flow.

I’ve also added a new topic labelled Photography, that you can use in the sidebar on the right to find all the photography-oriented posts (as opposed to posts about pictures and the photo gallery).

The old photo blog was published by blogger.com and was available from Blogspot at http://tim-photoblogs.blogspot.com. It will probably will stay up for a while.

Nikon Capture NX – a recommendation

I’ve tried a lot of the raw processing software out there – RawShooter, Bibble Pro, Adobe Camera Raw (both the full version and the smaller version that you get with Photoshop Elements), and brief attempts to use the previous version of Nikon Capture and a couple of others.

I really liked Bibble Pro, but I found it missed the ability to work on specific areas of my image. That’s where Capture NX shines. The new U-Point technology from Nik Software is really helpful – it makes it easy to adjust regions within the overall image with a geograhic and colour-based selection mechanism.

There are some great video tutorials for Capture NX – in fact they were a key part of my decisionmaking process. Worth a look if you have a Nikon DSLR. This is not a real review – just a pointer. You can find more information here and here.

dpreview.com – the place for digital photography enthusiasts

The best place to learn about digital photography products is www.dpreview.com (Digital Photography Review) – it’s up to date with news, and also provides in-depth product reviews and a comprehensive set of forums (fora?) about many aspects of digital photography.

Their research is more detailed and thorough than mine – if this blog has any value it is that perhaps others will gain something from working through the learning process in a similar way to my blundering path.

I should point out that many of the pictures posted here were taken with film over the years and scanned in – but in any case, if you find them interesting, here they are.

Posting photos on the web is problematic – you have to downsize them and compress them – neither practice is good for the image, but until we all have infinite bandwidth, I guess data compression is a fact of life.

Why two cameras?

It wasn’t my original plan. I was looking at the D50 and the D70s, and I was almost decided for the D70s when Nikon reduced the price of the D50. After using it for a while, I learned that it was capable of outstanding pictures. But it was also limited in a few specific ways that were important to me:

  1. No backlight for the top display panel – this is important if you want to be able to check settings at night
  2. No depth-of-field preview – this is important especially for landscapes (and for macro photography and other specialized things) and I missed it
  3. Finally, the D70s (and the D200 and other Nikon cameras) can show a grid in the viewfinder that divides by thirds. The main value I find in this is to keep the horizon horizontal! This is still the most common mistake I make now that I’m getting exposures closer.

The D200 is a much more capable camera, and gives a great deal more control. I’ll say more about that in later posts. But the real benefit of two bodies is that you can be ready for pretty much anything. Having just come back from a couple of weeks in Africa, being able to photograph over a range from 12-300mm without exposing the sensor to dust proved to be a great thing.

Another great thing about the D50 is that the battery goes on and on – it lasts much longer than the D200’s battery in my experience. And that translates into less time in the evenings charging up.