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The following photographs were all taken at Buscot park in Oxfordshire. Once again they were all taken with a Nikon D800 and a 24-120mm f/4.0 lens. The first image taken of the copies held at Buscot of some of the terracotta army is in my more usual format of 1:1 or square. I opened the lens to F/4.0 and focussed on the second sculpture in the line as I wanted the viewer to be drawn to that particular one. By making the others out of focus and the one in the foreground cropped as well, I think that aim has been achieved.

The second image is of the obelisk in the garden. The sky was a deep blue that day and it was very warm so in processing I darkened the sky a little more to emphasise the three sides of the sculpture that can be viewed in the picture.

The third image, I took because of the implacable stare that was on the statue. I also like the way that the sun left shadows on the face highlighting the features.

 

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Second in Line

 

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Obelisk

 

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The Stare

 

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Hoping to shake off some of the Christmas holiday period cobwebs Mrs M and I went on a morning visit to Charlecote Park. There had been a heavy frost the night before, the car was thoroughly iced up before we started and there was a thick, cold, fog laying low over the houses. The sun was trying to shine through but was being severely diffused by the pea-souper.

When we got to Charlecote, we found it too was laying beneath a thick fog and frost with the sun trying desperately and ineffectually to burn it off. The light that sifted through the fog though was glorious. Softened, it gave the trees and surrounding parkland an eerie, unearthly feel.

This image was taken with the Fuji X-T1 and 18-135, f/3.5 – 5.6 lens. I overexposed by a stop to ensure that I got the glow from the sun, and you can see that the sun itself, diffused by the fog, looks huge in the sky.

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These two images were again taken with one of my Nikons that I had in 2015. This time it was the superb D800 and the lens was the very good Nikkor 24-120mm f/4.0 zoom.

Both images were, as I normally do, shot in RAW, imported into Lightroom CC as DNGs and then processed mainly in Photoshop CC.

In the first image “Wings of Heaven”, I knew the kind of photograph I wanted to get of the church on the hill, so I crouched low, placed the church on the right-hand vertical third, made sure I had enough sky and then took the shot. In post processing, I removed a couple of stray walkers (I am not a big fan of unintentional people in my images), enhanced the sky and with selective sharpening to try and enhance the impression of distance.

The second image, “Knot Here”, was taken in flat light which can be really helpful for monochrome post-processing. I managed to get some contrast in the image and enhance the details and fibres in the rope, even though I took the image with just a zoom. The 36 megapixels of the D800 helped of course in that I was able to crop into the knot a little more to get closer.

 

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Wings of Heaven

 

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Knot here

As we come to the end of 2016 I am reminded that although I have tried to maintain this blog as much as I can, I have gone for some periods of time this year without posting. I would like to do something about that. So, starting today, I am going to post photographs I have taken but have not yet posted on Flickr. That’s right, try and contain your excitement. Readers of this blog will see the images before they are placed on Flickr. the reasoning behind this is that as I process my images I save one ready to place on Flickr, I will now save an image prepped for this blog.

I usually post my photographs on Flickr once per week, and I usually post only three. I find that any more than that number in one posting session, means that they don’t get looked at properly and skimmed over. The small number of images that I post each week, also means that I currently have a backlog of images that I have not yet uploaded – explaining the “2015” in the title.

I will be placing more than just three on this blog at any one time providing that they work together on the blog page.

If you already look at my Flickr account or haven’t yet bothered you can find the link to the account on the left together with some thumbnails of my last uploads.

So, to the pictures. These images were all taken at Whipsnade zoo in 2015. They were captured with my old camera setup, Nikons. In this instance, I used the D7100 and a zoom lens. The lens was a twenty or so year old Vivitar Series One f/2.8, 70-210. I shot in manual with the lens, and despite the aperture ring sticking at the larger apertures, I got some good images.

The trick with zoo pictures is to make sure that you try to exclude anything that will place the picture as being taken in a zoo. Avoid fences, walls, and people and try to get as close to the animal with your lens as possible. the two images of the lions, were taken through plate glass, so it is possible to obtain decent images through scratched and smudged glass.

 

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Intense

 

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Dreaming

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Watchful

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Implacable

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I have always been a huge fan of Michael Kenna’s photography. I think I have been inspired to do many of my black and white photographs in square mode because of him and his use of Hasselblad cameras. I have however never aspired to taking long exposures like him but his minimalist, beautifully visualized photographs have always made me wish I had his talent for seeing a scene.

My daughter recently gave me his book “Forms of Japan” for my birthday and it is an awesome volume. It is a coffee table format book designed by Yvonne Meyer-Lohr with 300 pages that are organized into chapters titled Sea, Land, Trees, Spirit and Sky. The reproduction of Kenna’s images are superb and although they obviously cannot emulate the luminosity and depth of the original silver gelatin prints they are nevertheless excellent. The full page photographs in the book are faced with haiku poems that complement the photographs perfectly. It is a book which will inspire and make me return to it time and time again.

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