Jetman Yves Rossy lands, who is the photographer?

Matt reminded my wife that the National Geographic Channel were showing the Jetman documentary last weekend. Yves Rossy flew across the English Channel from France to the UK last week while strapped to a rocket powered wing. I finally got to watch it last night and enjoyed it immensely. It’s a great achievement. Slightly mad perhaps, and very risky, but I have one question though.

Who is this photographer who managed to get snapshots of Yves seconds after he landed? I’d say it’s a compact camera he has in his hand so he’s not a pro, and the commentator was heard to say something like, “close friends are running up to..”

Seconds later, a security guard rushed up and pushed the photographer away and that was the last we saw of him. Was he arrested?

The next scene was a crowd of press photographers, with DSLRs and video cameras pushing around Yves. I bet they’d have given anything to get a close up shot of the Jetman landing..

More details and a video can be found in this Times article.

Aperture ƒ/2.8
Camera N73
Focal length 5.6mm
ISO 125
Shutter speed 1/53s

The Curves Tool

The curves tool is a very basic tool that can be used to improve photos with a few clicks of the mouse. It is used to change the brightness and contrast of an image. It can also modify the separate Red, Green and Blue channels of an image too. The Curves Tool has a histogram to represent the shadow, midtone and highlight detail in the image. In the GIMP, you access it by right clicking on an image and go to Colors->Curves.

This is the second article in my GIMP for Photographers series, but as usual, all of this applies to Photoshop, or any other image application with a Curves Tool. The first tutorial was on The Levels Tool, and worth a read if you missed it!

Here’s an image I shot at the Lord Mayor’s Picnic in Fitzgerald’s Park a few months ago, and the Curve Tool below it. Notice the histogram? The photo is fairly well exposed, but some highlights are “clipped”, as the histogram hits right hand side without sloping off.

Brightening Curve

It’s easy to brighten an image. Just drag points on the line up.

Darkening Curve

Now, let’s darken the image by dragging points down.

Contrast Curve

A classic use of the Curves Tool is to increase contrast in an image. You do this by darkening the shadows, and brightening the highlights. The curve looks sort of like an “S” when you do this. Don’t go overboard on this though, because it’s easy to lose detail in either direction.

If for some reason your image has too much contrast, a quick inverted S curve will solve that problem,

Wacky Colours

You can select any of the Red, Green and Blue channels and do strange things to your photos. Here’s what happens when you play with the Red Channel.

And here’s what happens when you change multiple colour channels in different ways.

Colour Picker

After you have opened the Curves Tool, click anywhere in the image. Notice how a vertical line goes up and down the histogram/line? That vertical line is the colour of the pixel where you clicked. That can be useful if you’re trying to modify a particular part of a photo. This is what you get when you click on the black coat on the left of the image above.

Aperture ƒ/6.3
Camera Canon EOS 20D
Focal length 18mm
ISO 200
Shutter speed 1/250s

What! The Canon EOS 50D announced already?

Yes, yes, boo hoo, oh woe is me, my Canon 40D arrived on the day the new Canon 50D was announced. If only I had waited, my photos would be so much better with the Canon 50D.

Yeah right. I’ve already stated before that the equipment behind the camera is the most important part of image making. Sure, the camera does matter, but DSLRs are getting to the stage PCs got to a few years ago. Upgrading doesn’t significantly change the game. I’ll upgrade again in maybe 3 years. No rush.

The Canon 50D looks sweet though. 15MP sensor, better ISO, better LCD. Nice upgrade. Roland has linked to a few of the sites previewing or discussing the Canon 50D. The Rob Galbraith page is probably the most readable, but the DPReview preview has a neat comparison table to compare the Canon 50D with the Canon 40D.

DIGIC 4 processor Canon’s next-generation, 14-bit DIGIC 4 processor see its debut in the 50D, and it offers both more functionality and about 30% faster processing speed than the DIGIC III processor in the 40D….

The two cameras’ dimensions, body style and control positions are also the same (though the 50D is fractionally lighter). In a nutshell, the 50D appears to be a 40D with a higher-resolution sensor, revamped image processing, faster CompactFlash write speeds, HDMI video out and a crisp new rear LCD.

Love this pic of the motherboard with the DIGIC 4 processor!

GIMP FX Foundary is a massive GIMP plugin archive

I’m surprised I haven’t blogged about The GIMP FX Foundary before. It’s a huge collection of GIMP plugins that have been updated to work with the latest GIMP.

All the plugins were already available in the GIMP Plugin registry or elsewhere but not all of them survived the changes to Scheme in the latest versions of GIMP. I downloaded these plugins ages ago and recently grabbed the updated tarball with over 100 plugins. You’ll see the results of those plugins over the next few weeks as I play around with settings and effects.

I could go on and on about it, but why bother? It’s a small download and free so why not grab the zip file yourself?

Spencer Tunick photoshoot in Blarney Co. Cork, Ireland

As luck would have it, one of the more famous or perhaps notorious photographers of our time, Spencer Tunick, is shooting in Blarney, where I live, tomorrow morning.

Update on Jun 8th, 2009 – I’ve justed posted a small gallery of Spencer Tunick photos as his website is down.

It’s no great secret now, even Ray D’Arcy revealed the location on his radio programme this morning. He’ll be revealing a lot more in a few hours time.. Anyway, it all happens very early in the morning, at a time when most sensible people will be snuggled up in bed and that probably includes me. If I do feel the urge to visit Blarney Castle at dawn I’m sure all I’ll photograph will be groups of dazed and tired volunteers stumbling from buses, full clothed. I have no desire to shoot any naked skin.

Spencer – if you’re reading this, I’d love to go to shoot a portrait of yourself, and perhaps grab an autograph!

There are lots of people looking for Spencer Tunick’s Blarney photoshoot!

Monotone: WordPress Photoblog Theme

Monotone is a pretty cool photoblog theme for WordPress that’s been around for a few months now. Unfortunately it was only available on, and through the Automattic Subversion repository as reported by Jeff on Weblog Tools Collection.

Noel Jackson, the author of the theme, recently revealed that Monotone is now available as a .zip download on the Monotone demo page above. Now it’s easier for self hosted WordPress blogs to try it!

What’s so great about Monotone? It displays a large image in each post like Pixelpost and other photoblog themes, but it does it in a neat way. WordPress allows the blog author to upload and attach images to their posts. It’s then up to the author to insert the image into the post and tidy up the html. Monotone takes this one step further. There’s no need to insert the image into the post at all. The theme takes the first attachment and displays it at the top of the post, with the post content below.

I’d love to use it, but unfortunately I have several years worth of posts that would need to be modified because I used Flickr to host my images until recently. Then I used my own site, but inserted the right html into each post, so they’d all have to be modified unless I hacked the theme to ignore old posts.

RSS feeds display the image too, although I discovered that the feed for the demo site includes some huge images. Probably just an oversight when Noel was uploading images.

Judging by Noel’s comment here, it probably isn’t completely straight forward to install. You probably need the GD library and a hefty server with enough RAM to load and manipulate your images. Anyone tried it? Use my theme tester plugin if you want to test it on your blog without upsetting your visitors!

The state of street photography in the UK

Scary. I blogged previously about photographer’s rights in Irelnd but it appears that UK Police are ignorant of those rights which are similar to Ireland’s. I have never been stopped by Gardai (the Irish Police Force) taking photos on the street, but in the UK it seems to be a growing problem for photographers. Have you ever been stopped shooting photographs in a public place?

Make sure to read Photographer’s Rights from DIgital Rights Ireland to find out more about your rights as a street photographer in Ireland. If you travel you should always be aware of local laws as they’re liable to change in every jurisdiction. (via