Fly By Night

I very rarely combine two images to make a composite, but the one above was one of those exceptions.

In 2018 Mrs M and I visited Barrington Court, a Tudor period National Trust manor house in Somerset. I don’t normally take that many pictures inside these properties at all, but on this visit, there were opportunities to take some, what I hoped would be interesting photographs, for conversion to monochrome.

After taking some shots in the various empty rooms and making our way up to the long gallery upstairs, I got some nice shots through the room with the windows at the far end. Walking into another alcove we found that there was a 3D projection of an owl being shown. As you walked in, the owl flew towards you. Very clever. I took some shots of the projection just because I thought I may get one decent shot of it – the lighting was quite dark.

Once home, I was looking through the images, both the room shots and the owl and I suddenly had an inspiration. One of my favourite bands was Rush (now retired because of drummer Neil Peart’s sad death), their second album was called “Fly by Night” and featured a painting of a snowy owl flying towards the viewer. The picture was painted using a predominantly blue palette to emphasise the winter scene.

Looking at my images taken at Barrington Court I saw that I may be able to make a composite image using one of the few decent shots of the projected owl and an image of the long gallery for an image inspired by the Rush album cover.

After some work in Photoshop extracting the owl and working on the wings I then started to work on the gallery picture as the background, dodging and burning where I thought necessary. Finally, I added the owl into the background and tinted the image blue.

It’s certainly not the type of processing I do very often, but I enjoyed it and I am satisfied with the outcome.

Street Photography – Creative Vision Behind the Lens

by Valérie Jardin

This book is another present from my daughter Emz. She obviously thinks that I need some help with my photography.

The author is a well-known X system photographer, Valerie Jardin,  who is variously described as a street photographer, a documentary photographer and also as she calls herself – a narrative photographer. She says in her blog:

Whether my photographs are taken on the streets or at the beach, whether they include people or not, as long as they trigger the imagination of the viewer they qualify as ‘Narrative Photographs’.

Valérie Jardin

I tend to agree with this point of view.

The book, Street Photography – Creative Vision Behind the Lens, is excellent. The book is split into two parts.

Part one is called The fundamentals of street photography which goes into the legality of the genre, how to approach people, composition, light, elements of a strong image and techniques.

The second part of the book is called Photo Walks and Valérie shows some of the excellent pictures that she has taken in various parts of the world. There are some really nice photographs in this book and the writing style is a delight. There is no pushiness, no speaking -down and the conversational way that she talks about her passion feels like you could be sitting and having a coffee with her whilst she tells you about her photographs.

As you can tell I really like this book and it is one I shall return to many times I am sure.

Minor White book

Minor White is a photographer who is often overlooked and in my opinion underrated by the majority of the photographic community. It may well because his photography is not as instantly accessible as say Michael Kenna for example (another awesome photographer) because his images were created charged with symbolism and a critical aspect called equivalency. A term used to describe the spiritual energy that is present in a photograph.

Now I may not be able to feel and see everything he wanted us to in his images, but I do know when I see an amazing, monochrome abstract image taken by a master of his craft.

My daughter bought the book Minor White – Manifestations of the Spirit for my birthday, and I’ve been working my way through the text and brilliant photographs.

The book is full of superb black and white photographs, the reproduction is excellent and so looking through the plates on each page is a pleasure which inspires as well as delights. The scope of his images moves from portraits that are sometimes disturbing, to black and white abstracts that have a depth and complication that seem to side-step the normal visual register and impose White’s own turbulent feelings on the viewer.

A superb book and an incredible, inspiring photographer.

Batavia, New York, 1958
San Francisco de Asis Mission Church, Taos, New Mexico, 1973

Sliver of Light

I’ve been working from home today and the sunlight this afternoon has been fabulous after the seemingly endless grey days we’ve been having in the UK recently. Sitting at my desk I noticed a sliver of light rushing through the study to the kitchen. I thought I would try out the new X100F especially its Spot mode. I use this mode a lot in my photography so it was a good opportunity to try it out.

Taken in RAW, I used the Pro Neg Hi film simulation in Lightroom and processed it into monochrome using my usual workflow.

A new addition to the stable

Fujifilm X100F

Say hello to the newest member of CMPhoto. A second-hand Fuji X100F. It’s in immaculate condition, the shutter has only been fired 148 times and it’s my first Fuji camera in silver. I have to say it looks fabulous.

Looking like my X-Pro2’s younger brother the OVF/EVF viewfinder is really very nice indeed – an improvement on the X-Pro2 I think. This is probably down to the X100F’s slightly greater magnification. No weather-sealing though, but then I don’t intend to give it a bath.

I have just finished setting up it up the way I like my Fuji’s which includes Back-Button focusing and I look forward to using it over the coming year on a specific project I have in mind.

Marrutt Printer Inks

The inks and equipment from Marrutt in the handy box they supply

It’s now been a year (and what a year) since my post dated 19 December 2019 where I said I would come back and post my results on using the Marrutt bulk ink system for my Epson SC-P600 printer. I think that the experience of using the Marrutt system has been overwhelmingly positive.

The cartridges. The bung can be seen on the VM cartridge and the priming hole on the left most one.

I found the filling of the replacement cartridges very easy. There is a small coloured bung on the top of each which you take out to facilitate the filling using one of the syringes in the pack supplied for each colour ink. Don’t lose the bung, it needs to go back in the filling hole afterwards and the syringe rinsed out with clean water.  I actually labelled the syringes after I used them with the letters of the colours I used them for. If it is the first time that you have used the refillable cartridge, then you have to prime the cartridge by extracting a small portion of ink (Marrutt recommend about 4-5ml) with a syringe that has a nozzle that fits the hole underneath the cartridge which attaches to the ink feed in the printer. This is used for all the colours and is washed out after use. It does not have to be used once you have filled the cartridge once.

Here are the 9 inks together with the syringes. The primer syringe is at the front of the picture.

The first time I changed from an Epson to a Marrutt cartridge, I waited for the printer to tell me the colour needed replacing. I then refilled the cartridge with the correct colour inserted it into the printer and it recognized the cartridge as full.

However, changing the printing paper from gloss or pearl etc to Matte paper means that the printer needs to switch the main black ink from Photo Black to Matte Black and vice versa. If there is not enough ink in either one of the cartridges (under 10%) it will not let you switch. Inserting the relevant Marrutt cartridge to replace the one that has nearly run out will not help because the printer has registered the original cartridge as empty and so will treat the new one as being at the same level, which means it will not start the ink switch. It was because of this that I purchased an SC-P600 chip resetter. The cartridge chip of the refilled cartridge is placed against the pins on the resetter and when a green light shows on it then the cartridge chip has been reset so that the printer will read it as full. Replacing the cartridge will then mean the ink switch will then go ahead. 

The cartridge resetter showing the pins and confirmation diode at the bottom.

Overall, I am more than happy with the Marrutt inks and system and the cost saving is fantastic. A 60ml bottle of ink from Marrutt at the moment is £13.55, an Epson cartridge is 25.9ml costing £29.00. That means 60ml of ink using the Epson price would cost £67.28 that’s 5 times the price. The little bit of hassle filling the cartridges is well worth it for such a price saving with no loss in print quality.

December Project

WINTER SONG

Winter changes not only the landscape but the components within it. The days are getting shorter, the sun lower in the sky and the weather colder. Take images which show what winter means to you.

This project can be interpreted in many ways and the instructions are deliberately not detailed so that you can do them in your own way. Try not to limit yourself to one photograph for these projects, use the title to create a collection of images.

Testing Ideas

Mrs M and I went for our lockdown walk this afternoon on a grey, dank, overcast November day. The last couple of times on our walks I had committed the cardinal sin of ignoring number four in the photographer’s Ten Commandments, “Thou shalt always carry a camera”. In my defence though your honour, I always carry my smartphone.

Anyway, I had the Fuji X-E3 and XF18mm lens with me today, and whilst walking I had some opportunities to think about and try out a couple of ideas for one of the projects I was talking about in my last post.

I won’t go into what my idea is yet for the project, as it really is still in the planning stages and may not come off, but anyway here is an image I took with the project in mind whilst out on the walk today.

Lockdown Focus

All through this year in the UK as in almost every other corner of the world affected by COVID-19, we have had one after the other, lockdown, easing, tier systems, lockdown, tier systems, easing to come (over Christmas) and then no doubt lockdown again in January, then probably tier systems until a vaccine is distributed.

During this time getting out and about to take photographs has obviously quite rightly been limited but I have kept going, photographically speaking, by doing a 366-day project. I have also kept my health and during the long periods in isolation, I have found my thoughts have frequently turned to photographic projects. I have jotted down ideas, thoughts and musings on what photographic projects I would want to work on in the future – AC (after covid). I found the process enjoyable and encouraging and I also found that by looking forward to some of the things I can work on photographically in the future, the restrictive present was easier to take.

Looking at the notes I have made it seems like these projects can be split into three groups:

  • Projects I can start now because I have the photographs already e.g, printing my images defined by years and storing in archive catalogues.
  • Projects that I have already started photographing but not finished, e.g, urban or street photography
  • Projects I have not yet started and have just started planning,  e.g, my next RPS distinction.

Counting these projects up, I find that I have ten (at the moment) separate photography projects that I want to finish, continue or start. Whether I can do all of these is another matter, but it’s nice knowing I’m not stuck for inspiration. 

With all this photography ahead of me, when am I ever going to get a chance to go to work?

November Project

LANDSCAPE AS A STORY

This is related to local life and history, but looking closer at the historical aspects of an area; a sense of how a location has changed and developed over years or generations.

This project can be interpreted in many ways and the instructions are deliberately not detailed so that you can do them in your own way. Try not to limit yourself to one photograph for these projects, use the title to create a collection of images.