ARCHIVE 407 – SUBURBIA WITH YELLOW (MONO + COLOUR)

 

 


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Thatcham, Berkshire; 1 June 2016.

Kneeling down in suburbia, beset (but far from besotted) by immaculately manicured lawns, carefully polished cars on tidy drives, hanging floral baskets, TV aerials, overhead wires and, in one disgraceful instance (presumably on the property of a Conservative hardliner), little grottoes populated by garden gnomes – oh spare me the little grottoes!

And I was kneeling down at the road’s edge, perhaps as a penance for allowing myself to become embroiled with suburbia in the first place.

But certainly getting funny looks from a smirking postman – rude boy that he was, Preciousss! (and what was Gollum doing there, snacking from ornamental fish ponds, gorging on koi carp al fresco???) .

Yes, funny looks, perhaps because the sole and fervently uttered prayer on my ageing lips was that I might, in due course, be allowed to regain the standing position without having to call the Emergency Services.

Anyway, there was yellow paint on the road, a little glimmer of untidy gaiety in a landscape otherwise dedicated to ordered comfort and respectability, and I knelt down and photographed it.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to further enlarge it.

Technique: D700 with 24-120 Nikkor lens at 24mm; 400 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Full Dynamic Harsh preset and selectively restoring colour.
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ARCHIVE 406 – AFFECTION (MONO)

 

 


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Our friend and her cat; 1 Mar 2015.

We went to visit our friends, a truly lovely family, and, as usual, I slouched back indolently in an armchair with this damned great camera and lens perched on my paunch, enjoying the moment.

Their front room has a bay window with translucent panels that looks out onto the street and, as often happens, the light in that room was diffuse and gorgeous.

Things caught my eye but I was too slow with the camera.  Then their friendly cat got up on the arm of the sofa, and sat there, contentedly wagging her tail.  She enjoys human company, probably for the sounds, and she sits or lies with us for long periods.  An open fire was an especial draw for her on that chilly afternoon.

Suddenly our friend reached out to stroke the cat and murmur something to her, and my camera came up and caught this single frame.  What do I like about it?  Well, of course, the interaction, there’s eye contact there, and also some kind of, if not friendship, then calm familiarity – these two living beings know and trust each other, at the very least.

I like the way our friend is leaning across the sofa, introducing a dynamic that heads up towards upper left, at right angles to the cat’s gaze.  And then there are the sidelit curls and textures in her hair – and a striped sweater that is crying out for black and white photography!

The occasion was good too because, having had medical dressings on my face, it was the first time I’d used a camera in seven weeks or more, and it was very good to “get back behind a lens” again.

Click onto this image to see a larger version in a separate window.

Technique: D700 with 105mm Nikkor lens, used wide open; 3200 ISO; Dfine 2; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Full Dynamic Smooth preset.

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ARCHIVE 405 – THE VIEW SOUTHEAST FROM EASTWATER LANE (MONO)

 

 


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Looking southeast from Eastwater Lane, high up on the Mendip plateau in Somerset; 4 Feb 2014.

In their central and western reaches, the Mendip Hills are a steep sided and formidable, west-east barrier of hard, old (Palaeozoic) rocks.  They have the Old Red Sandstone of the Devonian period in their cores, and the Carboniferous Limestone all around.  But especially in their central area, these precipitous slopes give up onto a flattish or gently undulating plateau, with sturdy farms huddling amongst windbreaks, and pubs with evocative names – names that recall my youth and things that have always been a part of my life – the Castle of Comfort, the Miner’s Arms and Hunters Lodge.

Wondering about floods, I drove up onto Mendip yesterday, and spent some time in Eastwater Lane – a favourite place because it is a dead end and so has no through traffic.  I was also around the village of Priddy.  It was a cold, damp day, initially lit by pale, glinting sun, but with dark clouds and spitting rain all too soon coming up on the gusting southerly.  There were flood warnings in several places, but the waters had either subsided, or were only thinly masking the little roads – although all of that may have changed with the storm that hit us later yesterday afternoon and overnight – and today too.

I walked along Eastwater Lane, enjoying  the sight and atmosphere of the Bronze Age round barrows on the hill crests, and seeing where streams running down from the sandstone hilltops disappear underground into caverns as soon as they encounter the far more soluble limestone.

Here was Eastwater Cavern, that I descended as a plump, pudgy teenager, and I tried to recall if I’d become stuck in it or not.  Yes, is the probable answer, as I had to be helped through many a difficult cave by my school friends – but the vast Swildons Hole, from which the Mendip Cave Rescue had to come out and extricate me, is off towards Priddy.  I made the local papers – I think I was 16 at the time.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window.

Technique: D800 with 80-400 Nikkor lens at 400mm; Silver Efex Pro 2’s Film Noir 3 preset.

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ARCHIVE 404 – EARLY MORNING, TADHAM MOOR (MONO)

 

 

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Beside the single track road across Tadham Moor, on the Somerset Levels, quite early in the day; 8 Apr 2015.

Three trees, willows I think, fade gradually into the morning mist.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window.

Technique: D700 with 70-300 Nikkor at 300mm; 400 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Full Dynamic Harsh preset.

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ARCHIVE 403 – TURNSTONE, ST IVES

 

 


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Turnstone in winter plumage, on the West Pier at St Ives, Cornwall; 21 Sept 2016.

The Turnstone is a small wader (aka shorebird) that derives its name from its habit of turning over stones on beaches in the hope of finding things to eat underneath.

Its usually a bird seen at a distance, small and brown on the foreshore.  But at St Ives in Cornwall, especially when the tide is up, small groups dart about on this seaside resort’s promenade, often literally around the feet of holidaymakers.

And so, being on holiday and carefree(!), I bought a pasty as a second breakfast and sat on a seat munching the golden beast and staring out to sea, when several of these little birds swarmed around my feet.  Well, I can take a hint, and as small pasty morsels were scattered around, these little creatures went into super-speed mode and downed the lot in an instant – for an ex-birder like me, almost a surreal moment!

Click onto the image to open another version in a separate window, and click onto that image to further enlarge it.

Technique: X-T1 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 800 ISO.

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ARCHIVE 402 – DAPPLED FACADE (MONO)

 

 


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Sunlight and shadows on the Georgian frontage at the bottom of Lodge Street, in Bristol city centre; 20 Aug 2013.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window.

Technique: D800 with 70-300 Nikkor at 300mm; 400 ISO; converted to mono with Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Cool Tones 1 preset, but abandoning bluish toning later on.

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ARCHIVE 401 – END OF A CIGARETTE (MONO + COLOUR)

 

 


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Cigarette stubbed out on the top of a smokers’ bin in Baldwin Street, central Bristol; 16 Aug 2013.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window.

Technique: Canon G11 PowerShot at 140mm (35mm equivalent); 400 ISO; conversion to mono and selective restoration of colour in Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Film Noir 1 preset.

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ARCHIVE 400 – TEASELS 2 (MONO)

 

 


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Teasels at Stanton Drew, in the Chew Valley, south of Bristol; 1 Aug 2013.

For me, the diffuse darker area “anchors” the shot, helping to push the subject out towards us; and it also displays the thorns on the plant’s stem – and strands of spider’s web – to greater advantage.

You can find an earlier and differently presented Stanton Drew Teasel picture here.   There is also one from the Somerset Levels here.  Both will open in separate windows.

Technique: D700 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 200 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Landscape preset.

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ARCHIVE 399 – MAYHEM AND VIOLIN

 

 


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Young violinist; 9 Sept 2012.

I’ve mentioned before that I’m fortunate in having four darling little girls in my life.  Two are our granddaughters, the other two the children of friends.  Yesterday we went to visit those friends, so that my wife could measure the kids for knitware that she is giving them for Christmas.

As is usual when I get together with these little ones, who are now aged 7 and 2, mayhem and anarchy reigned!  Within minutes of arriving, I was down on my hands and knees on the kitchen floor, giving a ride to the two delighted and squealing monsters, and things just got better from there on in.  But I have no aches or pains this morning – must be tougher than I thought!

And the family have a beautiful new cat, who seems to have a very calm and friendly personality.

So, here is the elder sister with her new violin and a pensive expression.  She can’t play it yet but these are early days, and she is now playing pieces on the piano.

Technique: D700 with 105mm Nikkor lens; 1250 ISO.

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ARCHIVE 398 – DRAIN, WITH KERB, DASHED WHITE LINE AND SKID MARKS (MONO)

 

 


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Drain, with kerb, dashed white line and skid marks; Thatcham, Berkshire; 1 June 2016.

Street scene in downtown Thatcham: shapes, textures and (mainly) curving lines.

Color Efex Pro 4 has been used to give the end result the look of black and white infrared film.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to enlarge it further.

Technique: D700 with 24-120 Nikkor lens at 24mm; 400 ISO; Color Efex Pro 4.

POSTSCRIPT: to me, someone who admittedly doesn’t get out much, the curving lines are streaming out across the image from sources along its left margin.  The kerb has just missed the drain, and arrows on through the picture’s lower right corner.  The skid marks are spraying out upwards, towards the image’s upper margin.  But the white line is more accurately set, and we have caught the moment in which it first impacts on the drain’s periphery.  And if all this imagined dynamism – seen through a child’s eyes maybe –  is real, then this isn’t a still life at all, it should not have been originally posted in this blog’s Still Life category, and I have, as the phrase so happily puts it, shot myself in the foot …

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