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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.
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
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
The following three pictures were all taken at St Mary the Virgin church at Broughton Castle in Oxfordshire. I was using a Nikon D800 and a Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 lens which really came into their own inside the church and to take pictures of the tomb inside of Sir Thomas Wykeham and his wife. The light was very low and so the wide aperture available to the 50mm came into its own. The D800’s ability to take high ISO images without noise was also a boon as I was using ISO 900 inside the church.
The first picture, in colour, is the head of Sir Thomas’ effigy on the tomb. The low light, the pale stone used for the tomb and the heavy-lidded eyes of the effigy lent a sinister feel to the image. I rotated it anti-clockwise ninety degrees to make it look as if the head is looking down, and this together with the unhealthy looking pallor of the head helped with the brooding look.
The second and third images are close-ups of the hands and again the head of Sir Thomas, this time in its repose position. And this time it does not seem so eerie as it appears in the colour image. Using the 50mm lens wide open also meant that the background took on a nice blurred feel which ensured that the viewer’s attention was pulled to the subject of the image.
Flowers and plants have to be one of the most popular subjects for photography. For the most part they are easily accessed, they are usually colourful and striking and can be taken indoors or outdoors.
Probably the first thing we notice about flowers are their colours and as you walk about the many gardens that can be found in the UK, you see most people taking photographs of the vivid displays. There is of course nothing wrong with that, some of the displays in the larger gardens are absolutely spectacular. I am however no flower expert, I’m not even a gardener. My horticultural expertise is limited to mowing the lawn. But I sometimes do take pictures of flowers and I actually like to process most of them as monochrome. Without the “distraction” of colour, I find that I can concentrate on their shapes and textures and in my eyes they take on a new life beyond that of their immediate colour attraction.
The first two images below were taken with a Nikon D800 and Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 lens, the final image was with a Nikon P7800 compact camera.
These three images were taken at Stowe gardens like those in 2015 Photographs #4. Once again they were taken with the Nikon D800 and the 24-120 f/4.0 lens. I do like taking statues, as they are not usually prone to moving and with some creative positioning, exposure techniques and post processing a decent image can sometimes be found. There is a lot to be said for the sometimes held opinion that photographing artwork, which I would say includes statues and sculpture, is akin to artistic plagiarism. I think this argument, however, cannot really be attributed to images of statues, in the same way that it cannot be labelled on architectural photography. The photographer has to position him/herself at the right angle to the building or statue in order to achieve their vision for the object. Lighting, background, colour and mood have to be considered in order to give the viewer an impression of what the statue or building meant to the photographer and his vision.
The first image is of a new statue at Stowe. I liked the way that it stood out from the trees and how the remnants of the cover which lay across the plinth gave a feeling of reality and dissonance to the sculpture. I darkened the background around the statue in post-processing to make it look as if the light was falling in the centre of the glade.
The second is an embellishment on the side of a folly at Stowe. It is fairly innocuous, one of several placed around the structure, but getting in low and giving the image a dramatic angle has helped the composition, giving a rather ordinary carved face an ominous form. In post processing, I enhanced the sky to make it more brooding and atmospheric.
The third image is more of an abstract image using the pillars on one of the temple follies to give vertical strength to an otherwise horizontally biased image with the edges of the building, shadows, grass and path. I ensured that three pillars were visible in the image so that it became balanced and didn’t force the eye in an uncomfortable journey around the frame. Showing two pillars, for instance, would have resulted in tension between them and the edges of the frame, making the viewer’s eyes dart back and forth.
I always try to inject some atmosphere into my black and white photographs and the following images taken at Stowe gardens are indicative of how I try to make my photographs more interesting.
When I’m out on a shoot I tend to see most of the pictures I take as monochrome. I look for texture, tone and shape in order that they will help me make the photograph stand out to the viewer. During processing, I then try to recreate and enhance my vision for the scene as I saw it on location.
The following two photographs were taken with a Nikon D800 and the 24-120mm f/4.0 zoom lens.
The first image of the garden temple is fairly straight forward, but what I liked about the angle from which I was looking at the building was that it gave the impression I had just discovered it in a clearing in a wood. In reality, there was a footpath running in front of it with people walking regularly past.
I waited for a gap in the flow of visitors and knelt down in the grass so that I couldn’t see the path in the viewfinder and then took the picture. This low angle also meant that the temple looked as though it was slowly being overtaken by the undergrowth.
This next picture is of the Palladian Bridge at Stowe. The reflections of the bridge in the water especially the arches and the way they almost seem part of the physical structure really grabbed my attention. Once I had started processing the image, I darkened the clouds a little to add atmosphere and also to keep the viewer’s attention held down onto the bridge.