2005

More travel, some inside the UK and some outside.

Gong Xi Fa Cai,

2005 was our second full year in the UK. It’s been busy with school, work, and a lot of travel. It’s also been quite traumatic with family illness, and all of us getting a bit older. Wiser, I cannot say. Our 2004 letter is not online, so this will touch on some of our activities over that time too.

The highlights have been the time we’ve been able to spend with our family, and the travel – Paris, Budapest, Venice, Prague, Turkey (Istanbul and the south coast), Cornwall, the North East and the Lake District (pictured), and most recently a trip to Norway and Sweden. Of course we have also been back to the US as well. Rather than include a lot of pictures of our travels here, you can find them on the website (they will be re-published here when I get a chance). It’s one of the great joys of being in Europe that so much culture is so close. Continue reading “2005”

2003

We came to the UK at the beginning of 2004, looking forward to spending more time with my family, and getting to know Europe. Here’s what we found.

Dear family and friends,

It is the end of 2003 and our family is embarking on a new adventure for 2004. During the summer, an opportunity to work for Cadence in Europe presented itself for Tim and it became a reality in early November. Tim will be working from Cadence’s Bracknell office starting on January 5th, 2004 and will be VP Of Marketing for the Europe/Middle East/Africa region. We will be living in a small town called Odiham in the county of Hampshire. Caelean will be attending Mayhill Junior School as a Year 3 student and Jeremy will be attending Burysfield Infant School as a Year 1 student.

Continue reading “2003”

2002

Dear Family and Friends,

Wishing you a Happy New Year and a Happy Chinese New Year!! Gung Hay Fat Choy (Wishing you prosperity) as the Chinese would say. It’s hard to believe it’s been over a year since our house remodel has been completed. We’re continually doing things to turn our house into a home. There seems to be an endless list of things to do, but we’re making progress. In the next year, we will be focusing more on the outside rather than the inside. We’ll extend the lawn and build a play area and perhaps put up a swing or two. Continue reading “2002”

A place to tell our story

A family website can be many things. I hope we can use it to tell the story of some aspects of our lives as we travel and learn. We’re involved in lots of different things – sailing, music, holidays, and now a form of home schooling – we’ll try to take the time to let you know what they all mean to us.

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.

My cameras

I use a couple of Nikon digital SLR cameras: the D50 and the D200. I started with the D50 as an entry point into DSLR photography having used less sophisticated cameras from Sony and Canon. I first learned about SLRs when studying architecture in New Zealand, and I think the digital SLR is now at a point where any enthusiast would do well to acquire one.

I bought Nikon because I was used to them, having owned a range of Nikon film cameras culminating in the 8008s, and because I reasoned I could re-use my lenses and flash.

This turned out to be false, as the smaller sensor of the DSLR changes the effective focal length of the lens by 50%, and in any case the D50 seemed unable to drive the autofocus of my old Tokina zoom lens. And then it turned out that the flash capability of the DSLRs (called iTTL) is different and my old flash wouldn’t work properly.

So I ended up with new lenses and a new flash…