Cameras & Lenses
Many of the earlier pictures on the Flash of Darkness site were shot with a Nikon D300 and a 18-200mm zoom. After short and unhappy dalliances with early D600 and D800s I replaced it with Nikon Df. I will admit that the looks of the Df made it a must have (I love old Nikon film cameras such as my FM3A shown opposite), but it is also smaller and lighter and easier to carry than most DSLRs. Most of the more recent travel shots were taken with the astonishing Leica Q, with its 28mm f1.7 prime lens. I am not fond of zooms and much prefer using fast primes with the Df also (mainly 24mm, 35mm, 50mm and 85mm). F1.8s are lighter and more practical than f1.4s but I couldn’t resist the f1.4 for the 35mm. If I am on a dedicated photographic trip (such as my road trip across Japan in May 2017) I will carry both the Leica and the Df fitted with an f1.8 85mm together. I have found that 28mm and 85mm primes give me a create choice of shot. I have tried high end zooms, like Nikon’s excellent, but huge, f2.8 24-70mm, but I returned it soon after purchase and replaced it with primes. In the main, I mix shooting urban landscapes with street photography and have found primes to be a better choice in terms of both weight and unobtrusiveness.
I travel extensively so I carry as little equipment as I can. The minimum is a spare battery, a mini blower, two spare memory cards and a high quality circular polarizer to boost contrast. For night and long exposure shots I use the ultra light weight Gitzo Traveler tripod. I also use a ‘black glass’ ND filter for daytime long exposures.
My workflow uses mostly obsolete software (Aperture and Silver Efex), but I will only replace them when I absolutely have to. I shoot in raw format and use Apple Aperture as a library and for raw conversion. I use PhotoShop Elements with Silver Efex Pro 2 plug in for creating the JPEG and for mono conversion. I create layers of different Silver Efex renditions and make extensive use of colour filters and all the slider options that Silver Efex offers. Noise reduction, where needed, is provided by Topaz DeNoise. My post processing workhorse is a 5K i7 based iMac with 16 GB memory and the fastest optional AMD Radeon GPU with 4GB memory. The optional GPU makes a big difference when running Silver Efex for monochrome conversion – my old iMac used to really struggle with these, whilst the 5K just zips through them. The raw files are backed up to to a cloud based web service as well as local Apple Time Machine. The final processed JPEGS are stored on Flickr – I download slightly smaller renditions than the original from there for this website. In case the hard drive fails I also create a bootable disk using Carbon Copy Cloner. Bootable disks get you going much more quickly in the event of a hard disk crash. I have learnt that you can never have too many backups.
I use WordPress for the site with the Master Slider plugin for the galleries. WP Engine hosting and my WP template are by Elementary Digital