CM Photo Website Update

I have added some new photographs into the “Recent” section of my website. “Recent” is a bit of a misnomer really as the images were actually taken in 2018. I’m still ploughing through last years images and the process has taken a bit of a back seat recently as I work on my Royal Photographic Society panel for the Associate distinction.

On the website, there are a couple of images that I’m not using for my panel as well as photographs from Italy and other images chosen from 2018.

As usual, all the images are monochrome, so if you want to have a look please take a trip over to CM Photo

 

Field and Frost

I have three colour photographs for you this week all based around a winter theme.

 

The first is a leaf that I found in the garden after a frost. I loved the way that the frozen moisture coats the edges of the leaf. Tiny frozen droplets of moisture can also be seen on a grass stem on the left of the frame. The photograph was taken with a 35mm APS-C lens so it shows what can be done with the ubiquitous standard lens.

THE KISS OF WINTER
Fujifilm X-E2, Fujinon XF 35mm F/2 R WR

 

The second image of trees on a skyline was taken in the morning on a winter’s day. But I felt that I would like to change the feel  and so using the temperature sliders in Lightroom, I converted it into a sunset photograph. I wanted the sky to feel like those heavy skies you can get in the UK on some winter days. The winter sun as sets can bathe everything with an incredible light. The temperature slider was increased to +48 making the scene more orange. Various other little tweaks were made both in Lightroom and Photoshop. It wasn’t a difficult task to convert this ordinary looking field scene into something different.

WINTER EPITAPH
Nikon D800, Nikkor 50mm F1.8 G

 

The last photograph shows a lone tree in a field with furrow lines running towards it. The sky was very heavy and brooding at the time and I wanted to show it looming over the scene. I used Lightroom to do the initial processing and set parameters and then Photoshop to arrive at the final image. I used multiply and screen layers with masks then Nik Sharpener Pro 3 to sharpen.

STANDING ALONE
Nikon D800, Nikkor 50mm F1.8 G

 

 

 

Field and Fence

I love the detail in this first image that I photographed in a church graveyard. But I didn’t see the humour in the notice until I started writing this blog post. Duh! I know I can be slow sometimes. I’ll need to go back and try and catch an image of the sign with the church in the background.
I used a mask and a gradient filter during processing to make the sharpening and contrast fade out towards the top of the frame. I then sharpened the sign itself by 100% to give an impression of depth.
STRAY NOT
Fujifilm X-E2, Fujinon XF35mm, F/2

 

 The low winter light on this photograph made the tussocks and grass mounds look like waves on the ocean. Once again, I didn’t go for sharpening from front to back, but let it fade out towards the top of the frame. I increased the contrast to give some dark shadows and form to the meadow.
OCEANIC MEADOW
Nikon D7100, Nikkor 35mm, f/1.8

 

 The last photograph is my attempt to add a fence image to the millions that are out there. Paul Strand took his famous ‘White Fence’ photograph in 1916 and since then people have taken thousands of photographs of fences. Strand himself said that his image taken in Port Ken, New York formed “the basis for all the work” he did from then on. I’m definitely not saying that about my effort.
THE FENCE
Nikon D7100, Nikkor 35mm f/1.8

 

Why black and white?

“Color is descriptive. Black and white is interpretive.” – Elliott Erwitt

As is obvious if you look through my blog, most of my photographs are monochrome. I’m often asked why this is so. The quote above by Irwin is exactly why I process the vast majority of my images as black and white.

A person looking at a colour photograph is responding to the colours at first. Colour and our response to it plays a huge part in our lives. The advertising industry use colours and their different hues try to get us to buy the product.

This immediate reaction is not the case with black and white photography. Why then is monochrome photography considered so powerful and emotive? When colour film became available it was believed that monochrome photography would die. It did not. In fact with the introduction of digital cameras, there has been a resurgence in the genre.

Part of the reason is the word ‘interpretive’ in Irwin’s quote. In black and white photographs, there are no colours to tell us immediately how we should feel about the subject. Angry, happy or sad etc. Or there are no colours to delineate different subjects in the image. We have to take more time to look at what the photographer was trying to tell us. We are being asked to look beyond what colours would tell us about the subject. Colours are represented by tones and shades which the photographer, should they so wish, could emphasise in a different way to how they would appear naturally. Textures can be enhanced, colours darkened or lightened. The photographer is asking the viewer to search the image and to see his/her interpretation of the scene.

My first image was taken at the Black Country Living Museum and shows a forge. There is no colour in the bricks, but it is obvious they are old. The old door on the right is chipped and worn and the cloth covering the left doorway is frayed and dirty. We do not need colours to show these attributes. They would have detracted from the industrial scene of crumbling walls and dirty windows. We may have also missed the incredible texture of the walls and the different tonality of the individual bricks.

IN ONE WAY…
Nikon D800, Nikkor 50mm f/1.8

 

 

The second photograph is of pots on a shelf in a kitchen in one of the houses at the BCLM. The shape and form of the containers and their cast shadows are what I thought was important, not the colours. The lack of colour enables your eye to move through the image looking for detail, perhaps spotting the old ‘OXO’ box, and taking in the subtle gradations of the shadows.

ON THE SHELF
Nikon D800, Nikkor 50mm f/1.8

 

 

The third image is of some vegetables on a shelf. We know that the warty pumpkin is an orange colour, but in this image that is not important. We are concentrating on its texture and making it stand out against the other vegetables. The others also need to be part of the composition and so received subtle toning. If this was a colour photograph, the focus would not have been so strong on the large, ugly pumpkin. It is easier for us take in a colour photograph with a sweep of the eyes, but a monochrome image needs more of an investment of time and interest.

IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER
Fuji X-E2, XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4

 

 

Bricks and iron

These three images were, like the last post, all taken at the Black Country Living Museum near Dudley in the West Midlands.

The first is a found still life of a watering can and two water butts. I did not arrange these and came upon them behind one of the turn of the century cottages that are in the museum. The title I gave the image immediately came into my head before I even took the photograph. Sometimes you’re lucky and find a nice arrangement like this.

INCREASING THE VOLUME
Nikon D800, Nikkor 50mm, F1.8G

 

 

This photograph is obviously of some metal plates on a boiler around one of the furnaces. I liked the aged patina on the plates and the arrangement of the rivets holding the individual plates together. I was using a 50mm lens and got in as close as I could, which meant that some parts of the image where the curve of the boiler changed the distance between lens and object are a little soft. One possible remedy to that was if I used focus stacking. Perhaps next time.

IRON CLAD
Nikon D800, Nikkor 50mm, F1.8G

 

 

The last image is a pile of chains that were outside the chain-makers forge. I noticed the fragile, slightly desiccated leaf in the middle of the pile and really liked the juxtaposition of the scene. After processing, I put a slight vignette around the edge of the frame and then lightened the centre a little, to focus attention on the leaf.

CRUSHED
Nikon D800, Nikkor 50mm, F1.8G

 

Black Country history

Museums can be great places to take photographs. You have the architecture of the buildings themselves, some of them are marvels of modern architecture. Then there are the people who visit the museums looking and absorbed in the exhibitions and finally but not least, you also have the exhibits themselves. The three photographs in today’s blog were all taken at the Black Country Living Museum in Dudley in the West Midlands of the UK. It’s a museum where the buildings, exhibits and people all form part of the experience. It’s a great place to get atmospheric photographs of old buildings and industry from the start of the twentieth century. The museum assistants also add to the ambience by wearing period costume.

The first photograph was taken at one of the industrial forges that lay by the side of the canal. I liked the way that the chain is running between the stones like a stream and the juxtaposition between the man-made iron links and the natural texture of the stones.

 

A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE
Nikon D800, Nikkor 50mm, F/1.8G

 

 

The second photograph was taken in one of the alleyways that lie between some of the buildings at the museum. I focussed on the rear of the alley where the daylight was filtering in and let the foreground fade darker. The effect of the convergence of the walls either side of the path and the light at the top of the picture is to pull the viewer through the frame.

FOLLOW…
Nikon D800, Nikkor 50mm, F/1.8G

 

 

Photograph three was taken in one of the many recovered and rebuilt houses in the museum that has the décor and furniture of the era. I love taking shots using the light from a window to give atmosphere and to give only a hint of what is in the room. In this shot I particularly like the clothing half-hanging out of the drawer and the placement of the bag on the dresser as if the room’s occupant will be back at any moment to close the drawer and pick up her bag.

FIVE TO SEVEN
Nikon D800, Nikkor 50mm, F/1.8G

 

Go forth and multiply

Following on from last week’s post where I showed three of my ICM (intentional camera movement) images, I thought this week I would post some multiple exposures created in camera. These are not several images put together in Photoshop etc. but where you have instructed your camera itself to overlay two or more images. Done with some thought and care, it’s possible to make some intriguing and lovely images in this way. Different marques of cameras will vary on how many they will overlay in one go, so check your camera manual.

Taking multiple images evolved in the days of film. To get the correct EV you would need to divide the exposure of the scene by the number of images you planned to overlay and then take each of the photographs, winding back the film after each one. It was a little hit and miss but in the right hands produced superb images.

In the digital age, it is much simpler. Choose the multiple exposures setting on your camera. Take the first picture, this will show on the LCD screen with usually a prompt to take the next or subsequent images. Set up the shot and take the next picture using the first frame of the multiple exposures as a guide.

The images below were all taken in this way.

This first image was taken at Baddesley Clinton, a national trust property. It shows a multiple exposure of the moat, bridge and main gate. It has an airy romantic feel to it, suiting the house itself. I shot the photograph from several positions around the building.

EVER DREAM
Nikon D800, Nikkor 50mm F/1.8G

 

 

The second photograph is a multiple image of pampas grass. The double exposure has given an impression of movement and has given a more dynamic and interesting photograph.

 

SCATTERING GHOSTS
Nikon D800, Nikkor 50mm F/1.8G

 

 

This final image was taken at a fairground and features three images overlaid in camera. I walked around the fair-ride and shot several frames. I tried this several times, so don’t worry if it takes a few attempts to get the effect you want.

ALL THE FUN OF THE FAIR
Nikon D800, Nikkor 50mm F/1.8G

 

ICM

 

Intentional Camera Movement is a style of photography that does what is says on the tin. You move the camera whilst you take the picture. In most circumstances, blurred images are usually considered a photographic mistake. But done intentionally I find that ICM can be a useful aid to clearing a log-jam of imagination and picture planning.

If I find that I am a little stuck for inspiration I sometimes look at the possibility of using ICM. You need to use a slow shutter speed and a low ISO. So, close down the aperture to f/22, set ISO 100 and move your camera around as you take a photograph. You should get blurred images that are impressions of lines, shapes and intermingled colours. If you find the shutter speed is still not slow enough, fasten a neutral density filter to your lens to drop the shutter speed more.

Don’t be afraid to take lots of images and have fun.

These three images are all ones that I took using ICM.

ON THE BREEZE
Nikon D7100, Nikkor 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5

 

 

DECOR BY THE WINCHESTER BOYS
Nikon D7100, Nikkor 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5

 

 

BEFORE THE FLOOD
Nikon D7100, Nikkor 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5

 

 

 

Winter Challenges

I go to Batsford Arboretum two or three times a year. I can usually find something to photograph whilst I’m there. In winter some of the trees are not looking their best so I try to look for details or other views to photograph.

The first image is of a leaf that I noticed on the ground. Morning dew had formed over it and its light yellow colour stood out against the vegetation on the floor. I deliberated whether to make this a colour or mono image and I decided on the latter. Taken with a short telephoto lens the zone of focus is quite narrow but it works.

CAST DOWN
Nikon D7100, Nikkor 24-85mm f/3.5- 5.4G

 

 

 

The second image was also taken at Batsford. The Buddha statue was in a shaded spot but the weak winter sun lit it and the bushes behind with a soft light. Although we are in the middle of the Cotswolds, at a quick glance the statue could be in Asia.

PLACE OF CALM
Nikon D7100, Nikkor 24-85mm f/3.5-5.4G

 

 

 

The last photograph is of Earlswood Lakes near Birmingham. I was still using my Nikons at the time and I tended to try and use the Fuji in the same way. This caused me a lot of confusion and irritation with buttons and the WYSIWYG viewfinder on the X-E2. I know it shouldn’t have but it did.

WINTER CHILL
Fujifilm X-E2, Fujinon 18-55mm f/2.8-4.0

Countryside Studies

Last post I showed three colour images that I took whilst out on a walk near my home. This week, I have another three photographs from the location but processed in black and white.

The first is a landscape which shows tractor tracks disappearing into the mist across the field. I got down low with the camera and ensured that one of the tracks is coming from a bottom corner of the frame. Once again there was such a magical light through the mist that the photograph almost took itself.

ON THE RIGHT TRACK
Nikon D800, Nikkor 50mm f/1.8

 

The second is a close-up that is firmly based in the minimalist camp. The fence wire was placed on the top horizontal third and the drop of water is placed left of centre in the frame. I used f/5.0 to throw the background out of focus and selective sharpening was carried out only on the wire and water droplet.

ONE MORE DROP
Nikon D800, Nikkor 50mm f/1.8

 

The third photograph is in my favoured square format and is of some woodland plants that are obviously suffering from the offset of winter. I took the image with a Fujifilm X-E2 and 18-55mm zoom lens which I was trying out at the time.

STRANDS OF LIFE
Fujifilm X-E2, Fujinon 18-55mm f/2.8-4.0