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The three images in today’s post appeal to me for different reasons. One for texture and detail, one for the questions it asks and the other both for its suggestion of mysterious overtones.

The first picture is in my favourite format of 1:1 or square and monochrome. The plant, is a thistle, with its seeds ready to be blown by the wind to propagate other areas of the countryside. I love the detail that the camera captured and the swirls of tone in the down-like mass of seeds around the thistle heads. It was taken with a Nikon D7100 and a Nikkor 24 – 85mm f/3.5 – 4.5 lens.

 

Thistle Down

 

The second image is a set of steps that have started to be overgrown. The steps and the wall through which they run is obviously old. The steps are worn and uneven and made of odd sized and shaped stone, except the second step from the bottom, which has been repaired by what looks like modern bricks. So at one point in the near past, the steps must have been used enough to require repair, and yet now they are becoming overgrown and are evidently not now used as much if, at all. The movement of the eye through the image is from top to bottom.  The convergence of the steps and the light at the top ensures that the viewer climbs the steps to exit the picture. This image was also taken with a Nikon D7100 and a Nikkor 24 – 85mm f/3.5 – 4.5 lens.

 

To The Light

To the Light

 

The last image was taken at Stowe gardens. Viewing the portico and door of the temple from below gives the picture both an imposing, dominating and mysterious aspect. The darkness of the set of doors looks threatening and its position between the columns ensures that the eye is pulled and drawn to it. What will emerge from behind them? The title is a reference to one of my favourite heavy metal albums from 1977, which the image reminds me of. The photograph was taken with a Nikon D800 and Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 lens.

 

Sin After Sin

Sin after Sin

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Colour photographs by their very nature rely in some way on their main characteristic of colour to draw the viewer into the image. So, when you are looking to take a monochrome image, you have to discount that attribute and rely instead on other aspects of the subject to give to your viewer. There are many things to look for in a subject when you are planning to take a black and white photograph. Shape and form for instance, tone and contrast and also texture and pattern.

The first image of the fallen tree with the hole though it relies on texture, tone and form. The format of the image is square. This provides a static and stable frame on which to arrange the components of the photograph. The tree is placed in the frame with the hole slightly to the right to suggest an initial movement in that direction. Initially, the texture and tone around the bottom of the hole pulls the eye to the right around the perimeter of the circle formed by it and then into the hollow and then out to the left side of the frame.

The second image is a close-up shot of a tree trunk showing the deep texture and patterns of the bark. The visual impression is of almost a thick skin-like quality, and within the solidity formed by the square frame, the viewer’s eye moves across the image from left to right until it finds the hole on the right and then follows the crack in the bark from the top of the hole to the top of the frame and out.

Both pictures were shot with a Nikon D7100 and a Nikkor 35mm f/1.8 lens.

 

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Hollow

 

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Tough as Old Boots 

 

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So last week I bit the bullet and purchased a Fujifilm X-Pro2. It was always a toss-up between that and the X-T2 but the ergonomics of the XP2 won me over in the end.

As I have said on this blog before, I am left eye dominant and wear glasses and as a result, I find some of the buttons and controls on the X-t1, which I own, difficult to reach and operate, without sticking stubby thumbs over glasses and smearing them.

I already have the X-E2, which is also a rangefinder format Fuji and I love it, so I was relatively comfortable in making the decision in favour of the XP2. Now that does not so say I don’t like the XT1 – I love it. It is a magnificent camera and the new XT2 even more so. I have had a go with the latter and it is a great upgrade to the former. But, I want to be able to use the joystick on the XP2 to move the focal point around, and I couldn’t reach it on the XT2 with my fat face held up against it. With the XP2 I can reach all the controls I need to.

After a couple of days of owning the XP2 and after setting up back button shooting, I did what I have done to my other two Fuji cameras, I added sugru to the AE-L button so I can feel it properly with my thumb with the camera held up to my eye.

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Sugru AE-L button

 

I also received a free leather half case with the camera, as a deal that Wex currently have on. I wasn’t sure that I would need a grip on the XP2, but if I did I thought that the case may alleviate the need for it. To a certain extent it did, but I just don’t like the case on the camera. So I looked at grips for the XP2 and obviously, there is the MHG-XPRO2 by Fujifilm at £99 but I thought I would look around to see what third party versions there are. I have a Fuji grip on my X-T1 which cost £99 and a third party grip on my X-E2 which cost £17 and which is excellent.

I trawled through various style and grips until I happened to spot this one made by Mcoplus available through Amazon, looking very similar to the Fuji grip and only costing £39. So I ordered it and it is excellent. It actually feels of the same quality as the official Fuji X-T1 grip and it fits the x-Pro2 perfectly.

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Mcoplus Grip

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Fuji Grip

 

I have also attached a soft release button to the X-Pro2. I started using these on my X-E2 and found that it really helped when hand-holding the camera at slow shutter speeds.

I can’t wait to get out and about with the X-Pro2, as soon as this appalling, freezing cold, grey, dismal and damp weather we are having in the UK breaks I shall be out there.

 

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In Photograph #7 I said that I enjoy taking photographs of flowers in monochrome but of course, that doesn’t mean that I don’t also process flower photographs in colour. The following two images show two different approaches to flower photography.

The first is a single bloom with the lens opened to an aperture of f/1.8. This gives a very shallow field of focus that has resulted in the background being out of focus and even the edges of the petals closest to the camera being blurred. The background has been left dark to emphasise the flower itself and the final result is a soft, gentle image where the only parts in focus are the edges of the left-side petals and the centre of the flower.

In contrast to this image, the second is a photograph of a section of a flower meadow that was taken at f/9.0 and the small aperture retains good sharpness and detail throughout the image. The aim of the photograph was to get an impression of the intricacy, delicacy and different colours of a field of wild flowers.  The eye is drawn to the two large flowers at the bottom and then moves to the poppy just off centre and then up to the top left of the frame.

The photographs were taken on a Nikon D7100 with a Nikkor 35, f/1.8 lens.

 

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Delicate

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The Meadow

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These two images are part of a series I have been working on for a couple of years now. The series is called Senescence, which is a biological term meaning “the condition or process of deterioration with age.” The subjects I am photographing are not biological. The images are studies on the effects of age and decay on non-animate objects. But to me as I look at the various doors, sheets of metal or walls that are crumbling, rusting or peeling, I feel that they too have had a form of life in the way that they have fulfilled their intended purpose.

The subjects I take for this project have their own beauty in age and in that they take on a limited life of their own. I want to record the effects of that longevity on their form and structure. I feel that they almost record that which has occurred around them during the years within their crumbling structures and increasing patinas.

The two images show two different subjects. A weathered and peeling old door and a wall on which the plaster is crumbling but on which someone has proudly placed a prize ticket for flowers that they exhibited in a show. They were taken at the National Trust’s Calke Abbey, one of my favourite places to photograph and wander around and there are just so many subjects for the project.

The photographs were taken on a Nikon D7100 and a Nikkor 35mm f/1.8 lens.

 

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Two Keyholes

 

 

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Second Prize

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