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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
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.
Tough as Old Boots
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.
Most of the images that I take, and have taken, over the years are monochrome. That’s not to say I don’t like colour images, I do, very much, it’s just that l like to produce black and white photographs. I find it easy to visualise the monochromatic values of a scene when I look at it. I can see the tones, the textures and the shapes of the scene that will make a monochrome image. It is the inclusion of these three that will enable it to become a successful black and white photograph that people may want to look at. But once that image is produced and presented to a viewer then how successful the picture is for them as an individual is down to how they react and associate with it and how the photograph speaks to them.
The image below is an example of that. As I was taking the picture, I saw the different “layers’ of light and tone. The top band of dark leaves in the trees at the top, then the line of brightness behind the trees, followed by the tree shadows and at the bottom of the frame a lighter line of grass. To me, the tree trunks themselves became a link between all of the areas of tone and texture which enabled me to move into the light area behind them.
It was also the small details that grabbed my eye; the small plant underneath the tree trunk acting as a lead into the movement of the image; the sweep of the very light area of grass with a slanted movement to the right emphasising the viewer’s journey through the image. And finally, I liked the implied peace and quiet of the scene, making me want to explore its depth, hence its title.
That is just my thoughts on this one photograph, but what is so great about art and photography, is that we all have different feelings and different views about pictures and this is how it should be.
The photograph was taken with a Nikon D7100 and a Nikkor 35mm f/1.8 lens.
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.