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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.
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.
These two images were again taken with one of my Nikons that I had in 2015. This time it was the superb D800 and the lens was the very good Nikkor 24-120mm f/4.0 zoom.
Both images were, as I normally do, shot in RAW, imported into Lightroom CC as DNGs and then processed mainly in Photoshop CC.
In the first image “Wings of Heaven”, I knew the kind of photograph I wanted to get of the church on the hill, so I crouched low, placed the church on the right-hand vertical third, made sure I had enough sky and then took the shot. In post processing, I removed a couple of stray walkers (I am not a big fan of unintentional people in my images), enhanced the sky and with selective sharpening to try and enhance the impression of distance.
The second image, “Knot Here”, was taken in flat light which can be really helpful for monochrome post-processing. I managed to get some contrast in the image and enhance the details and fibres in the rope, even though I took the image with just a zoom. The 36 megapixels of the D800 helped of course in that I was able to crop into the knot a little more to get closer.
Wings of Heaven
As we come to the end of 2016 I am reminded that although I have tried to maintain this blog as much as I can, I have gone for some periods of time this year without posting. I would like to do something about that. So, starting today, I am going to post photographs I have taken but have not yet posted on Flickr. That’s right, try and contain your excitement. Readers of this blog will see the images before they are placed on Flickr. the reasoning behind this is that as I process my images I save one ready to place on Flickr, I will now save an image prepped for this blog.
I usually post my photographs on Flickr once per week, and I usually post only three. I find that any more than that number in one posting session, means that they don’t get looked at properly and skimmed over. The small number of images that I post each week, also means that I currently have a backlog of images that I have not yet uploaded – explaining the “2015” in the title.
I will be placing more than just three on this blog at any one time providing that they work together on the blog page.
If you already look at my Flickr account or haven’t yet bothered you can find the link to the account on the left together with some thumbnails of my last uploads.
So, to the pictures. These images were all taken at Whipsnade zoo in 2015. They were captured with my old camera setup, Nikons. In this instance, I used the D7100 and a zoom lens. The lens was a twenty or so year old Vivitar Series One f/2.8, 70-210. I shot in manual with the lens, and despite the aperture ring sticking at the larger apertures, I got some good images.
The trick with zoo pictures is to make sure that you try to exclude anything that will place the picture as being taken in a zoo. Avoid fences, walls, and people and try to get as close to the animal with your lens as possible. the two images of the lions, were taken through plate glass, so it is possible to obtain decent images through scratched and smudged glass.