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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.

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The Clearing

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.

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Still Waters

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Hoping to shake off some of the Christmas holiday period cobwebs Mrs M and I went on a morning visit to Charlecote Park. There had been a heavy frost the night before, the car was thoroughly iced up before we started and there was a thick, cold, fog laying low over the houses. The sun was trying to shine through but was being severely diffused by the pea-souper.

When we got to Charlecote, we found it too was laying beneath a thick fog and frost with the sun trying desperately and ineffectually to burn it off. The light that sifted through the fog though was glorious. Softened, it gave the trees and surrounding parkland an eerie, unearthly feel.

This image was taken with the Fuji X-T1 and 18-135, f/3.5 – 5.6 lens. I overexposed by a stop to ensure that I got the glow from the sun, and you can see that the sun itself, diffused by the fog, looks huge in the sky.

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This was just a quick visit to the property today to get one of their sausage batches and to accompany a club member who was trying out a new standard lens on their Olympus OM-D E-M1 (can Olympus camera names get any longer or more complicated)?

The weather was overcast and there was a spot of two of rain. However the light began to pick up, and we had some lovely raindrops on flowers and plants. I used my Nikon D800 and a 50mm f/1.8 standard lens.

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For our last day in Somerset, Mrs M and I decided to go to one of our favourite National Trust locations, Stourhead. The gardens are fantastic and the house is an interesting trip back to the turn of the 20th century. The weather for the visit was quite nice. – nowhere near an Indian Summer day but you take what you can get in the UK.

The trees were only just starting to think about autumn, and still looked lush with so many different shades of green.

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The photograph is a classic Stourhead composition showing the view across the Palladian bridge to the Pantheon monument in the trees.

 

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Last week Mrs M and I headed down to Somerset for a few days and called into the National Trust property Dyrham Park on the way. The whole roof was under renovation, 46 tonnes of lead and 8000 slate tiles have been removed, the roof structure is being repaired and then re-cast lead and new tiles replaced. The whole project has cost £3.8 million. To cover the building a huge scaffold roof was placed over the whole structure, keeping the rain out and allowing the roofers to work in all weathers.

Visitors could go up to a walk way constructed above the roof to observe the work, 90 feet above the ground.

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True to form, it was raining when we arrived so I decided to use my iPhone. You can go up to the roof in a lift or use stairs. It’s very impressive, and you get a view of the roof that will not be available again for probably 150 years.

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