Photographs #3

 

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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Out and About: Charlecote Park

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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Photographs #2

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

Photographs #1

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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Michael Kenna – Forms of Japan

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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Out and About: Exmouth

This image was taken on a glorious November day in Exmouth, Devon. The temperature was unbelievably warm at 18 degrees. I was walking along the beach in a tee-shirt and I was still very warm.

Being November, the area did not have the summer quota of holiday-makers and the beach was virtually empty apart from a few people walking their dogs and enjoying the bizarre weather.

As you can see from the image the sun was quite low in the sky even though the time was eleven o’clock in the morning and it reflected gloriously off the sea. The clouds were fabulous and added extra depth to the scene. All I needed to get was a bit of foreground interest and that eventually came along in the form of two individuals walking towards me along the sea edge.

There were some buildings on the far left which unbalanced the composition and so I went for a square crop and excluded them. This left the scene centred on the two people on the beach. It was lucky that the people were easily discernible as male and female as this helped start a dialogue in my mind and the static appearance of the woman at the back and the walking attitude of the man gave me the title ‘Leaving’.

 

The photograph was taken on a Fujifilm X-T1 and an XF 18-135mm, f/3.5 – 5.6 LM OIS WR lens. ISO was 320 at 1/800sec and the aperture was set at f/18.0. I used this very small aperture despite the risks of diffraction as I wanted the sun to split into a start shape.

 

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Out and About: Cosford RAF Museum

A trip to Cosford RAF museum bought the opportunity not only to look at the fantastic collection of aircraft they have from the First World War to the Cold War but also to get some great close up and abstract images.

The image below is one I took of a safety ribbon which was attached to a Harrier jump jet. These ribbons are usually attached to pins on various part of weaponry etc  that have to be removed just before the plane takes off for combat.

I really liked the way that it looked like a snake waiting to strike. The top part of the ribbon – the chain – was lost in the deep shadow of the wing whilst the ribbon itself was illuminated in a shaft of light. the shadow of the ribbon I think is really excellent and adds to the feeling of depth.

I used my Fujifim X-T1 with the XF 18-135mm, f/3.5 – 5.6 LM OIS WR. Taken at 6400 ISO, 1/200sec at f/5.6.

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Out and About: Kenilworth

I’m in the middle of a monthly project for my photography club at the moment and although I think I have one image which I believe would fulfill the criteria, I wanted to see if I could get any more. Any image submitted to the club for the monthly assignments has to be taken in that month and shown to be so in the Exif so although I had taken an image earlier in the year which would have been perfect I needed to go out to the site again to get another.

The location was in some fields not far from the town of Kenilworth, so fighting my way through the hordes of dog-walkers I went out there again. At the time I went in February there was only corn stubble across the field and the pattern of the planting really helped with the image. This time, only half the field had been harvested and I couldn’t quite get the angle that I required, but nevertheless I did get some images of which some are worth processing.

I went out with the Fujifilm X-E2 and the XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 zoom lens. I was more interested in the 18mm side of the zoom for this shoot as I wanted to get a broad view of the field and the background. Once I got to the location I realised (duh) that I should have brought the X-T1 with its flip screen at the back as part of my plan was to shoot at a low level. However, I managed to get some shots using the X-E2 on the floor and the following image was one of them.

 

Fujifilm X-E2, XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4. 1/80sec at f/13.0. ISO 400
Fujifilm X-E2, XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4.                   1/80sec at f/13.0. ISO 400

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Out and About: Black Country Living Museum.

It was a visit to the Black Country Living Museum for today’s photo-meet. It really is such a good place to take photographs. You have historic housing, canals, industrial buildings from the late Victorian and early 20th centuries and people dressed in the period costumes wandering around  – currently First World War – and all this on a 26 acre site. There is a pub with sawdust on the floor with great beer, a traditional fish and chip shop and a restaurant that serves Black Country faggots and peas. What’s not to like.

The other good thing is that when you go you automatically get a pass for the museum that last the whole of the year – entry free of charge.

The image below is of the supports for the mining wheel of the Racecourse colliery. It was a glorious day with blue skies and autumn sun. Walking past the supports I looked up and could see the sun behind the tower, silhouetting the thick, wooden support beams of the wheel, I stepped on to the edge of the shadows of the tower on the ground and moved back and forth to the side until I could just see the sun around the edge of the structure. A small aperture set on the camera then ensured that I got the starburst effect.

Fujifilm X-T1, Fujinon XF 18-135mm, 1/250sec, f/16.0

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Using exposure metering effectively.

I’m really enjoying the electronic viewfinder in my Fuji cameras. Being able to adjust the image to approximate how you see the final version after processing is such a time-saver. My colour processing (albeit the smaller portion of my processing – I do far more monochrome images) has speeded up because I now have to do very little in Lightroom and Photoshop.I still use RAW but once imported into Lightroom I normally apply a camera calibration in the form of Classic Chrome. White and black points are checked and adjusted if necessary and then I export the image out to Photoshop CC for sharpening with NIK Sharpener.

The two images below are the same image but processed to a different final image. Both were taken in the ice-house at Calke Abbey. As its use implies, the structure is below the ground. There was light coming in from the window high in front of me and some soft light to my rear from the open door.

I always use manual mode and auto ISO on my cameras and so taking a picture with matrix metering will mean the camera will use the ISO it deems suitable for a correctly exposed picture with the shutter speed and F stop I have set on the camera. In my case this could be 6400 and it will use the ISO to try to raise the dark areas of the picture tonally to an 18% grey reflectance. This will result in a blown out window and very noisy shadows. So I used spot metering and took the exposure reading from part of the window and the wall. I then altered the aperture and shutter speed to get the ISO down to 1250. Back-button focussing means I can focus and then take my time over the exposure without worrying about holding the shutter button down to retain focus.

This enables me to obtain a RAW image which allowed me to process it as I saw fit. The first image below is a more tonally open image allowing some detail of the ice-house to come through. The second image is meant to be more mysterious and could perhaps even be an old prison cell.

Metering carefully with a visualization of how you want the final image to look will always produce more effective RAW files than shooting and hoping for the best.

 

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