About the pictures


So that you can believe what you see, I just wanted to talk you through the process I go through to get some beautiful parts of the world conveniently into your web browser.

It starts with a camera…

I have three cameras, two of them being traditional film-based models and the last one a digital.

The oldest images (pre-2001) were taken on a Canon Sureshot 70 Zoom. It has automatic-just-about-everything and a 35-70mm zoom lens. I have two SLR bodies which, with the exception of EF-S glass, I can use the same lenses on both machines. The first is a Canon EOS300, the second is a Digital Rebel, known in the UK as an EOS300D.

Both film camera use standard 35mm film. (APS is more expensive and lower quality; doesn’t sound like a winning formula to me.) All of the pictures taken on the Sureshot have been taken on Kodak Gold (ISO400) film and processed in a normal mini-lab. I’ve used a wider variety of film in the EOS and the type used is generally noted on the relevant page. Except for low-light shots, I always use ISO100 with the digital.

And then we go digital…

I have two scanners: a flat-bed and a film scanner.

I’ve had the flat-bed for a while and all the early content has been digitised using this machine. It was described by John Lewis as “end of the line” and not suitable for colour pictures, but I saw the price and figured that I had nothing to lose! It only scans reflective material, so I’ve had to scan prints, even when I’ve been using slide film. I scan at 300dpi in 24-bit colour (the scanner works at 30-bit). For 7.5×5 prints, this results in images around 2200×1400 pixels and, invariably, bad colours.

I got bored adjusting the colours eventually and finally decided on a Minolta Scan Dual II, a slide scanner. This one works at 2820dpi which results in images 3840×2514 pixels. But the main distinguishing feature is the much better colour.

Once I’ve scanned all the pictures in I tend to archive them all to CD. I save them in PNG format (losslessly compressed, unlike JPEG) and also a directory of smaller images and thumbnails. The smaller images are used on this website, too.

The last step is to create some captions for the images. I’ve been through a number of schemes, but the one I’ve settled on at the moment is Brendt Wohlberg’s PhotoML, an XML image description DTD. It’s very thorough (far more so than I require in fact) and comes highly recommended. Have a look here if you’re interested: PhotoML Website. I’ve been using Apple’s iPhoto for the pure digital pictures so far, but that might change once I’ve played around with it a bit longer.

You’ll notice that I don’t talk about image manipulation, and there is a good reason for that. The only Photoshop-style wizardry going on here is the adjustment of contrast, levels, orientation and the removal of scratches, dust or other imperfections on the film.