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How my love of photography has changed my life
My post 'A' level life to 2012
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The author Eric Palmer looks at how once the simple skills were mastered used his love of photography to move into a completely new area and realised how much he loved the woodland which had become his photographic studio.

i) Coed Nant Gain and how it changed my life.

Amazing! I joined a photographic club in Mold and would visit the local woodland area of Loggerheads on a regular basis the main problem was dogs which nice as they are when one is trying to take photographs of the small plants often requiring to be very close to the ground to find ones self surrounded by strange dogs who want to knock the camera over with their tails and lick your lens is not really funny even if the daft owners think so. They also ensure that wild life is scarce and trample down even the Botanically Sensitive Areas which most humans would respect. So finding a woodland where dogs are banned but I am with some restrictions allowed to roam was such a beautiful opportunity I was determine to make the most of it. Added to this there was an owner Iliff who was willing to explain to me what I was looking at.

As the year went on I realised the major problem was how to present pictures, Printing is expensive and also it is hard to show off ones pictures with a family album format.

The next was the AV or audio visual display where a collection of still photographs are turned into a video. However there are many draw backs including the time and skill required to make a good AV plus the cost of the software required.

The web page would seem the best option. And as I started to look I found a host of programs which would allow one to display ones efforts. However my photos need some explanation and the strip of tiny thumb prints with a single large image was not really the format I wanted.

Using Photoshop to generate a contact sheet and using the hot spot was an early method found to display, but the Coed Nant Gain experience made me look for another way to write a web page.

I realised I would need to learn Java Script. Not an easy task but it seemed this was the only way I could generate a page to do what I wanted.

Here I need to add text under the fox as the picture is wide.
The picture with the camera having taken this at 10MP can be digitally zoomed in see next.


Be it pairs of photographs or multi images imbedded within the text Java Script has a host of ways which would allow me to have many photos which good user control which could be used to tell a story.

Although I did not want to use the standard web photo display software, I found since it took so long to write the Java Script, since I was not very good with it, I still ended up with a number of pre-built formats even if they were originally built by me.

Software was also a problem Dream Weaver was great at highlighting text to show technical errors but the spell check system was not what a dyslectic person like me wanted. I wanted a spell check which would check as I typed. So I found I also used Front Page which had the better spell check. Also tried KompoZer.

The whole process was pushed one so that I could display pictures of Coed Nant Gain. Here I must thank Iliff who had little IT skill, but knew what he wanted, and would ask for items I had never considered like the optional slider on this page, to change the speed of the auto change option. Oddly now about the last page still using this after finding problems using Microsoft Internet Explorer although now cured by time problem found already removed.

7 versions of same picture becomes a bore if the viewer is forced to scroll through all 7


What he didn't seem to understand is I want to show my pictures, and I don't really care what good photos he has to illustrate his point, I want to take photos myself of the item.

I have learnt how to both take the hard to capture image, and to manipulate them to produce composite images, however mammals, flying insects and birds need lenses and cameras which I don't have. The bird on the nest or the insect on a flower great, but not in flight.

Light levels in the wood are low meaning most work needs a tripod.

Depth of field was also a problem helped by using a tripod. It seemed quite often where the cameras auto maximum of 30 seconds was used.

So I ended up with three models of web page all using the same functions. Block of 4, Pair with space in centre and this format with alternating sides. In time this expanded. Later pages default to auto with a manual option, timer removed as if viewer bothers with timer he will more likely use manual. Also manual controls hidden until manual selected. One large step forward was to remove tables, instead Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) was used. This also resulted in text above pictures not below in this page.

* Hosting - I have through time used many hosting sites. The talktalk site from my internet provider was however very small with just 12 meg of space. To use this means photos need to be stored else where. There are many sites allowing this the most used by me is Minus. This was one of the major reasons for using manually written pages. Finding http://www.000webhost.com/ seemed the answer to my prayers with http://gw7mgw.freeiz.com/ as my new main web address this site gave me the room I required. However once I started to us it I found the site kept going down so I needed to return to the old system of storing pictures. http://www.servimg.com/images.php was used with camera club forum and most other forums also had an area for photos even FaceBook allows photos to be stored however it is banned from many collage and school computers. So in the main the page just brings together photos from other sites and adds some text.

* Size - Because the pictures as scattered around the web they have not been sized for the web page. By setting just the width with no height fire fox will auto adjust the height. However it means to stop the text jumping up and down with each picture the text linked to the picture needs to be adjusted to make up the space.

There is two methods. A) insert text under the picture. B) insert text alongside the picture. This has been done with the top pictures of this page.

It means however there are for a page like this 6 text arrays.

The other problem is image size. Although but restricting the width it will fit the page if the image selected is too big it will take ages to load.

Clearly using a dedicated web hosting site for whole web page gets around these problems. Using Photoshop and bridge it is so easy to batch process ensuring all images are reduced in size and quality to ensure fast loading.

This does however mean the web page designer not only has to write the web page but also needs to use something like Photoshop.

Fly on flower around 1 meg 3 times that really required.


* The need not only to have photography skills but also web skills must be rather daunting for some one like Iliff who just wants to use the web as a tool to broadcast his ideas. To produce the whole site means going from deciding what one wants to show, working out how to capture using lighting if required, processing the exposure to high light given point with adjusting levels, HDR, and a host of other tricks then to size and upload to a server to be included in the page. As well as the page design. Where the item is of special interest one may want to include a full size image.

Again change in design has resulted in being able to show 1, 2, or 3 pictures with each slide and what I had written here is no longer true for my pages. Those written for Iliff were done before I modified the software so all slides in page show same number of pictures.

But where does one stop. This page is over 500 lines long, most of it being code to make the images change. That does not include the code on a linked to page for the speed slider. One of my worries is when it tells the user there is code on the page will it stop them reading it anyway.

This page was produced as a sample page for Iliff to show what can be done. The idea was expanded on and a whole series of pages produced. However since that time I have continued to hone the pages using the design to show off trips with the camera club. The drop down menu has the links to these pages. Each leads to the next so this page of Chester Walls Walk will start a series of pages showing camera club activities. At the moment I am not building the web pages of Coed Nant Gain so I am using time to update my own web site.