f2 Cameracraft and Master Photography apps

Electronic versions of f2 Freelance Photographer, Cameracraft, and Master Photography can be found at the following URLs via mobile/tablet devices –

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Pocketmags website – version suitable for Macs, earlier Windows PCs, and all PDF compatible reading

iTunes – Apple iTunes Newsstand, app for iPhone, iPad etc

Android / Google – like Apple, only crunchier and with more pips

Windows Pocketmags App – check for versions which work with Windows 8, 10 etc

Giant whales photographed off Skye

An unusual sighting of two sperm whales near to the coast of the Isle of Skye this week could be a reflection of climate change and warming sea temperatures, says a leading marine scientist.

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The sperm whales – one of the true giants of the oceans – were spotted and photographed (above) by Skye resident, Catherine Atkins, yesterday afternoon. Unsure of the whale species she had been watching for around half an hour in the mouth of Camus Mor by Kilmuir, she contacted local wildlife trip operator, Nick Davies who passed on the information to the Sea Watch Foundation.

With such close proximity and excellent photographs of the animals, Dr Peter Evans of the Sea Watch Foundation was able to positively identify them as two sperm whales, and said “In past decades, most records of sperm whales in British waters have been of lone adult males around Scotland mainly around the Northern Isles and the Hebrides. Increasingly, however, adolescent males have occurred in our waters, sometimes in groups of 5-10 individuals.”

“Sightings of sperm whales have tended to occur mainly in summer so this early spring sighting is notable not just for the time of year but for its inshore location. The species normally lives in waters of 1,000 metres or more depth, beyond the continental shelf edge. Here they have been seen very close to land indeed. It is interesting to note that a sperm whale was seen last year around this time also very close in, within Oban Bay. That individual stayed around for over a week.”

“The increased occurrence of winter and spring sightings in Scottish waters could be a reflection of climate change, if their main prey, squid, have become more abundant locally in recent years, resulting in animals staying through the winter to feed rather than travelling into lower warmer latitudes.”

Sperm whales are amongst the largest mammal species in the world. Adult males can weigh in at up to 45 tonnes – the iconic London Routemaster double decker bus weighs less than 8 tons, unladen!

Catherine Atkins did a little research before submitting her sighting and showed her surprise by telling Sea Watch “I see sperm whales have blunt heads but they are not usually found just outside the front door in Skye!”. Boat operator, Nick Davies, from Hebridean Whale Cruises based in Gairloch who is involved in a project collecting cetacean (whale, dolphin and porpoise) data raised the concern that one of yesterday’s whales was “nearly on the rocks” and that Catherine had actually telephoned the coast guard for assistance before the two whales slowly headed north. Regarding a previous sighting of sperm whales in the area in winter 2013, Nick noted “Fishermen have been telling me that for the past four or five years they have been seeing increasing amounts of squid in their nets, and it seems that this was perfect for the sperm whale.”

The sighting, made on Tuesday March 11th was in waters in the mouth of Camus Mor on the Trotternish Peninsula, on the north coast of the Isle of Skye. According to Sea Watch’s national database, there have been only around one hundred separate sightings in British waters in the last forty years, with the largest group on record being of 20 animals seen off Mousa in the Shetland Islands in 2007.

After the show

We had a great few days at the National Exhibition Centre, introducing new readers to f2 and meeting old friends. Cameracraft also went down very well as it was the first time many UK photographers had actually seen a copy, we don’t give out samples by post but had a stack of back issues to hand out at The Photography Show.

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It’s just an empty stand… we were there, honestly! Richard Kilpatrick made the large exhibition prints using his HP Z3200 24 inch printer and the quality was amazing considering we just created 600dpi PDF files from three covers, and took them up to that size. The furniture was IKEA and buying this assembly cost us less than hiring a desk and cupboard from the NEC, while providing really good storage for everything we needed.

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It was a great show – probably better than any recent Focus on Imaging – and the only regret was that being on the stand made it impossible to take in the many talks and star photographer appearances.

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You could get involved in anything from a crowds of hundreds to a group of a just a few.

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Martin Grahame-Dunn, whose article introducing the iLux Summit 600C mains-free flash head appears in the April edition of ƒ2, was demonstrating the kit and helping photographers with technique on the Photomart stand.

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Frank Doorhof, larger than life as ever, was demonsrtrating the new Elinchrom ELC Pro-HD flash heads on the Flash Centre stand with the help of his model Nadine (who also designs and creates her own costumes).

The whole flash/studio/strobe/speedlight market is changing rapidly and we can see a time coming soon when only amateurs still use battery camera-top flashguns – even though every pro will still own one or two, the introduction of wireless TTL (18 years after Quantum first offered it!) and Lith-ion onboard power to studio type heads by Profoto in the B1 is the beginning of a trend and not the culmination of development. ƒ2 will be following it – watch out for our flash system reviews in coming issues.

Making ƒ2 work again

This is the first blog post – not that I like the term blog as it presumes something regular like a diary or a log – on Icon. It’s not an easy one to make. Today I went over the news-trade figures and requirements, as inherited from the caretakers of ƒ2 magazine over the last seven years. They brought me back to the state of anger I felt in the mid-1990s when I withdrew our publications from news-trade sale.

That decision was made not because we were doing badly, it was a rebellion against a system which put 60-70% of the printed issues into landfill or incineration (they are not pulped or recycled as paper like newsprint can be). I’m not the world’s greatest eco-warrior but waste on that scale was multiplied across the entire magazine publishing industry in the UK. Tens of millions of tonnes of paper were being made, transported, stored, printed, transported again two or three times, and consigned to a disposal process with high environmental costs.

I imagined everything would now have changed, with all the constraints placed on energy companies (look at your heating and power bills) and the vastly increased awareness of the need to cut waste in packaging and to recycle everything. I find it has not. It’s got worse. The only reason there may have been any reduction in the tonnage of unsold returns from news outlets is that circulation figures have collapsed. It seems that these days it’s not unusual for magazines to need to print five copies for every one sold.

There’s only one way ƒ2 will work again, and that is to take the returns back to the levels which applied when I set out in magazine publishing 25 years ago. Then we could expect to sell three to four magazines for every five printed.

The good news is our predecessors chose not to add a useful little widget to the ƒ2 website – one which we will be adding to that site when it is passed over to us, and also adding to this site. It’s a Retail Outlet Finder which keeps track of which newsagent branches stock the magazine, and will tell you if you enter your postcode where the nearest one is. You probably won’t be seeing ƒ2 in Tesco or any supermarket, as their terms involve being paid to sell magazines. There are 28 photographic magazines on retail sale in the UK and ƒ2 won’t really be ‘like’ any of them (if we get it right).

I can only advise that despite the high costs of postage, in cash and in environmental terms, ƒ2 is a magazine you should subscribe to if you want to be sure of getting it, and to feel that the publisher is actually being paid to produce it. It does look as if selling on the news-stands, through WHSmith and major independent newsagents, involves the publisher paying for every reader. It would need one direct subscriber to pay for the loss on every WHSmith purchaser. The other solution is to place an order with a small newsagent for the magazine – perhaps with a newsagent which is also a local post office or convenience store, the kind of neighbourhood business you simply do not want to lose. Every ‘firm order’ copy is one with no chance of becoming a ‘return’.

Subscriptions and firm newsagent orders both support local jobs, whether it’s the postal workers or the shop staff. I will be doing my best to ensure that ƒ2 becomes an efficient sales success not a small addition to global warming. I want every copy to be read and valued.

– David Kilpatrick