Clouds and a Castle

Continuing with my series of photographs that were taken in Northumberland, the first two pictures are coastline shots, taken during some very stormy weather, whilst the last is a photograph of one of the many iconic buildings that can be found in the county

 

 

INCOMING SQUALL
Fujifilm X-T1, Fujinon XF18-55 F/2.54-4 R LM OIS

The first photograph has got some very interesting clouds shapes, under which there were showers out to sea. This squall never really reached inland, but at one point the wind did gather apace and we thought a deluge was coming. The clouds are, for the most part, as they were seen, aside from a little bit of dehaze added on a graduated filter from the top of the frame down to the horizon.

 

 

STORM PROMISE
Fujifilm X-T1, Fujinon XF18-55 F/2.54-4 R LM OIS

The second image was taken a little further down the coast and depicts the sky getting really dark over the grass-covered sand dunes, promising some dire weather. Once again apart from a little burning-in, the clouds are virtually untouched.

 

 

CASTLE IN THE NORTH
Fujifilm X-T1, Fujinon XF18-135 F/3.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR

The final picture was taken on the path up to the iconic castle at Lindisfarne. The fence made a useful lead-in tool guiding the viewer up to the castle. This image was taken the day after the first two, and as you can see by the sky, it was a lovely day. That’s the UK weather for you.

 

 

Beach combing

All of the images this week come from a photo shoot over a couple of days on the coast in Northumbria. It was a wild and windy almost the whole time, with clouds scudding across the sky very quickly and the sun doing its best to emerge when it could. Amongst the sun and the clouds, we also had squally storms of rain which could sometimes be seen coming landward from the NorthSea.

 

BEACH SAFETY
Fujifilm X-T1, Fujinon XF18-135mm F3.5-5.6 LM OIS WR

 

 

ON THE WIND
Fujifilm X-T1, Fujinon XF18-135mm F3.5-5.6 LM OIS WR

Venturing out on the beaches meant protecting the camera as best as I could with my back to the ever-present wind, turning quickly to take the photograph and then covering the camera up again. I tried not to use the zoom action of the lens whilst facing into the sand-laden wind so I didn’t draw grains into the barrel.

 

 

WINDSWEPT
Fujifilm X-T1, Fujinon XF18-135mm F3.5-5.6 LM OIS WR

Every night back in the accommodation meant a thorough cleaning with a rocket blower and lens cloth. I had clear filters on the front of my lenses, and these were wiped with the cloth to get salt spray and sand off.

 

 

P IN THE SAND
Fujifilm X-T1, Fujinon XF18-135mm F3.5-5.6 LM OIS WR

 

Harbouring thoughts.

In photography, you can prepare your photo trips carefully so that you know what to expect when you get to your location. Or, you can just grab your camera, a couple of lenses, some filters and perhaps your monopod and take potluck. You can get to a location not knowing exactly what to expect but once you’ve had a walk around you then start to see photographs.

This is what happened with the following series. We had arrived in Seahouses a little coastal town in Northumberland where we were staying as a base for more detailed and planned photo trips around the area. We had arrived latish in the afternoon and before the light went and we retired to a local hostelry we decided to walk around the harbour to see what we might photograph.

The wind coming off the north sea felt like it was ripping the skin off our faces and it buffeted us as we walked around the harbour wall. But, eyes screwed against the wind, we found pictures to take.

 

 


GONE TO LUNCH
Fujifilm X-T1, Fujinon 18-135mm F3.5-5.6R LM OIS WR

This image just appealed to me as I spotted all of the objects on the side of the harbour. There was the complementary blue of the gloves in the bottom corner in contrast to the yellow of the steps in the top and the rusted bollard and rope added to the confirmation of what type of location we were in.

 

 

REBEL
Fujifilm X-T1, Fujinon 18-135mm F3.5-5.6R LM OIS WR

I caught this shot of the seagull just before another blast of wind caught him and threw him into the air again. I liked the humour of him standing atop the wall with the warning sign below him, hence the title.

 

 

SINGULAR SUPPORT
Fujifilm X-T1, Fujinon 18-135mm F3.5-5.6R LM OIS WR

Along the seawall, there were a lot of small boats hauled up onto the side being repaired and painted during the winter. This post was one of a number supporting a boat that was being painted. I was crouched down trying to take the picture but it was very dark and flat, then suddenly a shaft of sunlight lit the side of the boat and I had my picture.

Wandering our towns.

It never ceases to amaze me in this country on the variety of shots that are available in our towns. The images this month were shot on a day trip into Worcester and the three images I show here are just a sample of the various types of photographs that I obtained on that day.

 

ARCHITECTURAL ARACHNID
Fujifilm X-T1, Fujinon XF18-135mm F/3.5-5.6R LM OIS WR

By just ambling through the town, along the river and a trip into the cathedral I was able to capture an architectural/abstract shot with this first photograph.

 

TO THE GLORY OF GOD
Fujifilm X-T1, Fujinon XF18-135mm F/3.5-5.6R LM OIS WR

The next is a colour architectural shot of the inside of the cathedral with the gorgeous architecture and the combination of artificial and natural light giving a really nice ambience.

 

THE PROW
Fujifilm X-T1, Fujinon XF18-135mm F/3.5-5.6R LM OIS WR

The last shot is another architectural photograph of a modern building, the Michael Baker Boathouse, on the side of the river. The modern shape and design taken from below gives this prow-like image.

To be truthful, I can’t say that every trip yields the results I got that day, but our towns and cities have a lot to offer. Do try and get out to them when you can.

 

Rocks and Trees

Three more photographs this week from the Bradgate Park photo trip. This time as you can see I have processed them all as monochrome.

 

LIVING ON THE EDGE
Fujifilm X-T1, Fujinon XF18-135mm f/3.5-5.6

The first image was taken because I really liked the way that the scene was split into three distinct areas, the sky, the trees and the ground. Each had different textures and the diagonal movement down to the right helped provide another piece of visual interest. The aperture was set at f/10 to try and get as much in focus from front to back.

 

 

OUTCROP
Fujifilm X-T1, Fujinon XF18-135mm f/3.5-5.6

The second photograph is a view from the top of one of the rocky outcrops in Bradgate Park. The day was clear and bright and the clarity across to the south was excellent. The rocks for me are a powerful element in this image and provide an interesting juxtaposition to the countryside disappearing into the distance.

 

 

The last picture is another faux infrared photograph, done using NIK ColorEfex Pro 4. I really like the graphic, rough quality of the image. The high amount of grain (noise) really adds to that “great outdoors” feel.

 

In praise of the all-rounder

Fujinon XF18-55mm F/2.8-4 R LM OIS

 

WARRANTED PURE
Fujifilm X-E2.Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS

All three of the pictures this week were taken with the amazingly versatile Fujinon XF18-55mm F/2.8-4 R LM OIS zoom. Called sometimes a “kit” lens because of its versatility, in my opinion, this is one of the best lenses you can get for your Fuji camera. It’s an excellent all-rounder of a lens.

 

HIGH LIGHT
Fujifilm X-E2.Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS

 

It has a maximum aperture of 2.8 when used wide open and the focal length takes it from a 27mm wide angle to an 84mm telephoto in 35mm format terms. The zoom operation is smooth and the focusing with all my Fuji cameras is quick and accurate. It is smaller and cheaper than its older brother the XF16-55mm F/2.8 R LM WR. But then the XF16-55 is F/2.8 across all zoom ranges and it is water resistant.

 

DISREPAIR
Fujifilm X-E2.Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS

The XF18-55 has the addition of OIS (Optical Image Stabilization) which can give up to four stops of extra functionality at low shutter speeds, operated by a switch on the lens barrel.
The lens is superb as a walk around optic and when you don’t want to carry too much equipment around with you on holiday, it can be a blessing. It’s pretty tough too, I had an accident with my X-E2 which caused it to fall on the ground on to the front of the lens. Luckily the lens hood (one reason to always have one on your lenses) took the brunt of it and smashed, but the lens was fine. A tough, good all-rounder.

 

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

 

 

 

White or grey?

This week, I have some images to share taken during the winter.

The scenes photographed are all close to my home –  the leaf was actually taken in my garden.

There is always a problem in photographing hard frost, snow or bright skies in that the camera will underexpose. It sets the light areas to 18% grey or middle grey and in doing so darkens them. They no longer appear as white. A full explanation of why 18% is used can be seen here. To offset that, exposure will need to be increased to compensate and to ensure whites are white in the image.

The leaf image did not need any EV addition for the frost.  Using the electronic WYSIWYG viewfinder in the Fujifilm X-E2 I could see exactly the type of exposure I wanted.

FROZEN VEINS
Fujifilm X-E2, Fujinon 35mm F/2 R WR

 

 

I used the Nikon D800 in this next photograph.  This has an optical viewfinder and so you can’t see through the lens what the exposure will look like unless you use Live View or look at the photograph after you’ve taken it.

In this instance, I estimated that the sky and the snow would make the metering of the Nikon under-expose, so I increased the EV by 2/3 of a stop.

FROZEN MEADOW
Nikon D800, Nikkor 50mm F/1.8 G

 

In this last image, the sky was the brightest part of the photograph, and so if I had let the camera expose to 18% the sky and the snow would have been grey. So I increased the EV by one complete stop, which meant that the tone of the sky was correct and the snow was depicted as white.

WINTER SKYLINE
Nikon D800, Nikkor 50mm F/1.8 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

 

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