Friday 2nd May 2008

English Gardens

As a part of a ongoing programme to help you to identify gardens open to the public where you an take photographs, this week we have an alphabetic index of around 700 gardens in England, with links to allow you to see more information. We have not included gardens that are open occasionally for charity such as those under the NGS scheme, but have a link to their website where you can identify these gardens. We have links to several websites on most, so that you can perhaps get a wider view. This process is always the first step in any themed project we are looking at. We thought that as its now time to start looking and perhaps visiting some gardens that it would make more sense to make this information available now.

Many gardens have displays for the majority of the year, some with meadows and woods with wild flowers as well. Coton Manor Garden in Northamptonshire for example has a 5 acre bluebell wood good at about this time of the year, with only native bluebells species, has a wild flower meadow coming into flower soon, orchards, a lake, flowers and a range of different garden types, means that there should always be something of interest to photograph. They also run low cost large group courses for those who want to develop or improve their own gardening skills. From the number that are full, they appear very popular.

Yellow Rose

Image taken with Nikon D70, with 28-300mm Sigma lens at 220mm, ISO 200, 1/60th, F14

Many of these gardens are also of interest to those interested in photographing butterflies, moths and other bugs.

Few gardens, if any, would object to you taking photographs, but some you may find don't like tripods. This is in some cases because they feel it will cause an obstruction and in some others they feel that if someone fell over one, it could result in a compensation claim. If you plan to make a lot of use of a tripod then I suggest you call them in advance to check that tripods can be used, as long as you don't cause an obstruction. As there are so many to choose from if you find an objection or restriction that doesn't suit you, then select another garden.

See the Gardens Section

The next stage is to collect the Welsh and Scottish gardens as well, with again several links to further information. Once this has been done we will produce a second version of the information split into counties. As there are so many, we also plan to produce a highlight or selected list of those that you may not want to overlook, and then look at producing location guides on at least some of the selected sites.

Our Reference Section Updated

The other major item this week is a new reference section, and the addition of the reference information to both topic and alpha indexes. You will see this includes everything that we had before, plus a range of new pages including a perpetual calendar, converter for date shown in roman numerals, and telephone directory enquiry online information. Select the reference button on the left or just look up the item you want in either the topic or alpha indexes. Some items that were in the reference section before, particularly nature related, have moved to a more appropriate section within the expanded topics section.

Nikon Camera and Lens Reviews

We also have completed a study, indexing information relating to Nikon cameras and other equipment, this gives a range of information including a list of online reviews available on each model. The reviews you will find vary from a simple look to an in depth study. Reviews are of limited use, they often contain errors, rarely cover all that the camera can do, and are sometimes written by people who are not neutral, and other times by people who have a specific interest, that the camera may suit, while not being as good for some other work.  When a magazine has a camera on loan for carrying out a review, usually its only for a couple of days, before it has to go on to another magazine. When we first had a D300, it took us 5 long days just to work through all that it would do, all the settings and try out a range of these facilities, and while we need to go a lot deeper as we need to be able to answer any questions that arise in training, we start from a position of knowing the manufacturers range and what other cameras can do.

There is a limit to what they can do, and as most reviewers don't specialise they don't have the depth of existing knowledge of the manufacturers range. On other occasions you will find the reviewer names matches people who have run courses for or are a part of the camera manufacturers organisation, so perhaps not that neutral, these people are unlikely to draw your attention to missing facilities or potential problems. It is also unlikely that a magazine would run a highly critical review of a camera by a major manufacturer who spends a large amount with them on advertising. The other problem I find with magazine reviews is the star rating systems, part of this includes value for money, and particularly with lenses you notice that the best performing lenses, are often the most expensive, and this means that they get a poorer rating than lenses that would not match their results.

The online reviewers likewise may not be neutral, and as you will see many are commissioned by companies who are selling equipment, so perhaps unlikely to point out short comings. Having said this, as there is an interest in seeing what others have had to say, we decided to give you the links and allow you to make up your own mind.

Photographers Diary

Don't forget to check out this months diary page, May is a month of bank holidays, this weekend is 3 days long and has lots of activities taking place all over the UK from jousting tournaments, flower festivals and activities on water. Monday being the official Bank Holiday to celebrate May Day has various events, from May Pole Dancing, the Sweeps Festival in Rochester, Kent and other traditional local events. At the end of the month, Spring Bank Holiday, such activities as the Festival of Fools in Cumbria, Woolsack Racing in Tetbury, Gloucestershire and Cheese Rolling at Coopers Hill in Gloucestershire are just some of the more traditional and fun events taking place.

This week we have added the June diary with lots of different events for you to get out and photograph next month, make sure you plan and mark your diary with those events you want to visit. There is a wealth of different activities and from the pageantry of the Trooping of the Colour in London and colourful re-enactments through to Kite, Balloon and Air shows as well as steam fairs and vintage vehicle events, agricultural shows and so much more. It's all starting to happen now summer is on it's way.

In The News This Week
Nikon D3 Firmware Update. See here for latest versions.

Getty Images Grants for Editorial Photography 2008

Getty Images Grants for Editorial Photography have 3 grants available that will be given away to photojournalists in September this year. They award five grants each year to fund, inspire and support the best global talent in photojournalism. Each grant consists of $20,000 plus project execution support from Getty Images editors, whilst retaining copyright of your images, grant recipients also have the option to sign a one year exclusive rights deal with Getty Images. Applications should include a short written proposal to explain the chosen project, and a supporting portfolio of previous work. The closing date is May 15th 2008. See here for more details on how to apply.

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