Benjamin Ellis

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London Lights!

You might have seen the new lights on London’s bridges, and some of the projections on the buildings during either the Jubilee, or the Olympics. If you did, and certainly if you didn’t, take a walk along the Thames in to London one evening and take a look – they are quite something in the flesh. In case you haven’t guessed it, that’s exactly what I did on Friday evening – with a big thank you to Bernie Mitchell, the London Bloggers meet up, and MoL Presents.

It was some of the most technically challenging photography I’ve done in a while – shooting long exposures from a boat on a river is definitely something that will hone your photography skills ;). If you are planning to take serious shots, rather than just enjoying the incredible displays, then you might want to bring a tripod or a monopod with you. If you’re not a photographer, you get to enjoy the show undistracted!

We gathered by City Hall, and caught some of the day’s Olympic events on the big screen, which was a great atmosphere to get the evening started, and a good chance to catch up with fellow bloggers from around town. To get a feel of what you’ll find when you walk the Thames of an evening this summer, hit the slideshow – the first few photos are during daylight as we gathered, after that it’s lights, lights, lights!

You’ll find each of the major bridges lit, and on the Houses of Parliament from 29 August until 9 September there’s a programme of Paralympic projections that runs from 8pm until midnight every evening (except 3–6 September). The show runs every 15 minutes, for about 9 minutes. The bridge displays run from 9.30pm until 5am, with something a little special on the hour, every hour at: Golden Jubilee footbridge, Waterloo Bridge, Blackfriars Bridge, Millennium Bridge, Southwark Bridge, London Bridge and Tower Bridge.

Posted 2 years, 3 months ago.

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We Will Remember – A Decade is Little Distance

I think we all remember where we were on that day. I had just returned to the UK and was in a meeting room with a team from our US investors, as news came in. Disbelief turned into dismay, dismay turned into distress, distress turned into despair. Websites, phones, email, all went down, but gradually messages came through. Friends and work colleagues were accounted for, but relatives were not. A nation would never be the same.

New stories still emerge, a decade later. We must learn from them, from then, and from now. Anger all too easily turns to hate, and hate to harm.

Love must be nurtured where it can be found. Never dropped, never broken, never abandoned. It is, as life itself, all too precious.

Posted 3 years, 2 months ago.

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Life After Death – After the Forest Fire

Our local forest took a bit of a beating. The fires didn’t get as close as last year – when we could smell the smoke – but they did make the national news, and over 740 acres of forest were damaged. It took 350 firefighters from 40 crews to get the blaze under control, and a number of local families were evacuated.

Visiting the forest just a couple of weeks on, you are greeted by an eery scene. The colour has disappeared from the forest. Blackened trunks stretch for as far as the eye can see. But most breath taking of all is the way that new life is bursting forth from the forest floor. Green shoots as far as the eye can see.

The designs of nature are amazingly resilient. Their ability to pick up and carry on, even after the most destructive of events is awe inspiring. The forest didn’t even pause to dust itself off before it picked itself up and carried on… [View the slide show.]

[Shots taken with a LUMIX LX5. Processed in camera. Imported via Aperture.]

There are no colour masks or effects used, just some minor contrast and saturation adjustment, and the occasional vignette effect. It really looks like this. Most eery… View full screen.

Posted 3 years, 6 months ago.

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2010 – The Year That Was – in about 2,500 Photos

Thanks to pummelvision, here is my 2010 – 2,500 photos turned into one four minute 34 second video:

The big event of the year was, of course, South by South West – The largest digital festival on the planet. Once again, a great set of British Businesses set off to Austin, Texas, on the Digital Mission, to network, learn and share. Many familiar faces in the opening minute of the video. Oh, and I got to see Fenech Solar, before then even released their first album. They are slightly massive now!

Yes, there’s a photo of me holding a snake in there. That was at Teen Tech – a brilliant event pulled together by Maggie Philbin, encouraging young folks to get involved in science and technology. Would love to see more businesses involved.

Then there’s Tom Watson (blog) and Cory Doctorow (blog) at the protest against the Digital Economy Bill (now act…) – that was an eye opening bit of parliamentary process at the end of the last government. And the Twestivals (I attened both Farnham and Reading this year) – and of course speaking at Digital Surrey.

Quite a few events at Gum Tree and eBay’s offices this year – thank you for supporting the community guys! Speaking of community, TVSMC has settled into a steady circular of events in the Thames Valley and beyond, with the wonderful Lloyd Davis (who also came ot SXSWi), and electric dress maker Debbie Davis dropping in.

All sorts of other things. Lots of speaking engagements (which I loved!), Gigs (great to have the bass out again), TEDx, RSA events. The two stand-out events of the year in the UK for me were Herb Kim’s Thinking Digital conference in the North East, and Scott and Drew’s Like Minds in Exeter. Two amazing, and very different, experiences.

Social Media in the Business space has gone from strength to strength. Speaking at Dell’s Social Media huddle event caused me to reflect on how much things have matured. Collecting not one, but two awards for Redcatco’s work with TheBlueBallRoom and DHL was a major highlight of the year. Meanwhile SocialOptic’s first service, Milestone Planner, has flourished, starting the year in Beta, and ending the year with customers across 3 continents, a phenomenal growth curve, and sharing the stage with Google, Microsoft and IBM. Not bad!

Here’s to 2011! Have a good one!

Posted 3 years, 10 months ago.

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Canon 60D – Next Camera Purchase?

Canon Lens and Glass

It’s been a little while since I blogged about my photography toys… Erm… I mean tools [shaky keyboard]. I’ve cycled through a large amount of kit recently, shotting several thousand photos over recent months, from the top of the BT Tower to Bletchly park and many things in between – even a demo video for Milestone Planner. But… Photokina is almost upon us. For photogeeks like myself, it’s several birthdays all at once, with the big manufacturers falling over themselves to announce new gear. It’s also a bit of a wake, as bagfuls of kit become “last years model.”

A few products are announced before the show, so on Tuesday I found myself gathered with fellow London photographer-bloggers to hear the latest and greatest from the good folks at Canon. I saw the new Canon PowerShot G12, very nice, the S95 (I loved the S90, the S95 is even better), and the 60D. Ah, 60D, wherefore are thou 60D? You come to steal the hearts of those who would by a 7D, but have not the cash, and to tempt the wallet of the would-be 550D purchaser. After playing with the 60D, and looking through the features, I literally got my credit card out. No joy. It’s not available for purchase just yet. A long few weeks to wait first.

Canon EOS 60D

What’s so good about the 60D, and why does it tempt a 5D Mark II owner like myself? Very simple: I’m in the market for a second body, something a bit smaller (and less valuable!) to have on standby. The 60D isn’t a cheap DSLR – Canon cover the bottom end with their 1000D and the 550D (which I have on loan at the moment – more on that soon). It isn’t top priced either. If you want to spend big bucks in the semi-pro space there is the 7D, or for big big bucks, the 5D mark II.

So, the 60D snuggles neatly in the middle of the range. It has a similar sensor to the 550D, with the addition of the 7D’s filtering system and a lightweight, non-alloy body. That later feature seems to have annoyed some, but for me it’s a plus. Carrying a camera all day makes weight a big issue. It’s, smaller, lighter and cheaper than the 7D. The 60D has some neat tricks up its sleeve that the 7D doesn’t. They are neat tricks that make it very interesting for a photo-blogger:

  • The settings dial has a lock button – you press the button to enable the rotary switch that sets Av, Tv, Auto, etc… If you are constantly thrusting your camera in and out of your bag, this is a shot saver. It’s so easy to knock the dial. On the 1D (my pro body) there is no dial to knock – you press and hold buttons to switch modes, but on most mid-range bodies (nearly all makes) settings are usually controlled by a dial that is all to easy to knock out of position, loosing you the shot you were about to get. Lock button = win.
  • Pop out screen. But a pop out screen that can rotate 180′ and flip over to the side of the body, as it is side-hindged. That means you can self-shoot and still see the screen. Very useful for video bloggers and weird shots (not just party folks!), or grabbing a shot of yourself in front of that movie star ;). Win #1. Win #2 is that you can flip the screen in toward the body when you put it away, so that the glass is tucked away, with the back of the screen facing out. No more scratches on the viewer screen. Excellent! The screen is 1,040k – very high resolution.
  • Takes SD cards (with support for SDXC). I like compact flash cards, for their speed, robustness and the fact they don’t get so easily lost. BUT using SD cards means you can use an Eye-Fi directly (which the newer Canon models recognise and have menu control for). The enables you to shoot and upload straight to Flickr or elsewhere on the web directly from the camera, where is an open WiFi access point. I did this for the shots at BT Tower on Wednesday. Great workflow – publish in real-time, with no wires. The 60D also enables you to edit the images on camera, including raw processing. Very neat.
  • Takes the same battery as the 5D Mark II. That means I can re-use/pool my batteries. The 5D Mark II battery is a serious beast. I usually don’t take a charger with me on shoots or trips, the battery lasts the duration, so no need.
  • Good weather proofing (better than the 50D), here it is shooting in the rain. See how wet that is? No problems.

Wet 60D

Now, it isn’t the 7D. It shoots at a slower 5.3 frames per second and the ISO range is 100-6400 (with a high mode of 12800). BUT you can buy LOTS of beer with the cash difference between this and a 7D (at the moment street prices for the 60D aren’t out, but it’s going to be in a different bracket to the 7D. There are some other neat little features, like an electronic level on the display, and creative filters and selectable crop size.

Sorry if I’m sounding a bit gushing. As I said, I got my credit card out. For someone who shoots and edits on the go, who wants a semi-pro DSLR, this is a formidable piece of kit. It certainly got my attention! The wonderful Ilicco asked which to get – the 7D or the 60D. Not so simple answer: If you are budget constrained, the 60D is for you. If cash is less of an issue, and absolute top quality is king, the 7D (or 5D mark II). I’ve got the top end covered with my 5D mark II, so the 60D is looks a very interesting potential second body / travel companion.

Shots from the Canon meet up

Posted 4 years, 2 months ago.

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Printing to Metal

It’s arrived! Ok, I should back up a bit… Last month I was asked if I would like to try It was a timely request, as I was about to do a large print of one of the photos in my Flickr stream. isn’t your usual printing outfit. They focus on photographic wall panels in canvas, acrylic and aluminium, as well as photo books, calendars and posters. I decided to give the Aluminium Composite Panels a try (they also do foam-core panels, handy for marketing work), as I’ve not had the chance to try metal-back printing before. Continue Reading…

Posted 4 years, 6 months ago.

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