ARCHIVE: STILL LIFE 49 – THE SHADOWS OF LEAVES


Leaves trailing from a plant pot at The Point, Bristol harbourside; 11 Apr 2004.  

The few green leaves amongst the many leaf shadows on a featureless, bluish ground, are important here – the presence of the colour green definitely enhances the picture. 

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

Technique: rotated 90 degrees clockwise; OM-4 with 21mm Zuiko lens; Fuji Provia 400 colour slide film rated at 3200 ISO. 

UPDATE: Minimalism, less is more; usually better than a cluttered image – the eye knows more what to look at, rather than being confused by masses of detail.  And quite a shock to see that I took this 17 years ago – I used to stalk around Bristol with this wonderfully compact 21mm lens, looking for simplicity, looking too for abstract compositions.  And I loved push-processing colour slide films (the Provia 400 here is being pushed 3 stops: 400 to 800 to 1600 to 3200), to boost the colours and contrast, and to get more grain, as seen here.

ARCHIVE STILL LIFE

This is a new category on this blog – Archive Still Life studies.  The Still Life definition will certainly be followed loosely – e.g. some studies may only have been made “still” by the split second opening of the camera’s shutter – and my objective will be to use as many different types / genres of subject matter as possible.  Some images will be Minimalist and, in general, I try to make simpler images, rather than cramming them with visual content.

Some new Still Life studies will (hopefully!) continue to appear.



ARCHIVE: PEOPLE 29 – SELFIE IN A CITY SCENE


OK, some interpretation, working from left to right – and its best if you click onto the photo, if you’re in my blog, to see a larger version of the image in a separate window.

First, me, nattily attired in an old cap, with old, stained, black jogging bottoms, and an even older green fleece – a fetching ensemble (although just what it might fetch must remain open to conjecture) >>> but, as an ensemble, I think it works!

However, next right, the woman holding up her hands clearly doesn’t share that view – something like, in a high voice, “Just who is that GHASTLY person?!”.

Then the man in the blue shirt prefers just to look away.

And, on the far right, the whole thing is rounded off by scaffolding poles, distorted by the reflection and wrapped in yellow to prevent the unwary walking smack into them.

Welcome to my world?  Well, there are times when it can feel like that.

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

Technique: X-T1 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 300mm (equiv); 3200 ISO; Baldwin Street, central Bristol; 9 Sept 2016.



ARCHIVE: STILL LIFE 48 – LOOKING AT CHAIRS 2


One of the chairs around the table in what we grandly call our dining room, photographed against a black background.

An image captured on film, years ago, and doubtless with the aid of a tripod.  I used that wonderful and completely gratis illumination, window light, and hung a black sheet behind the chair to completely black out the background – the sheet must have been in shadow, since that no trace of its surface textures can be seen.

A Minimalist image, and so to the mantras – less is more, simple is beautifulsmall is beautiful – all very true, to my mind.  Most of the chair is out of shot, only three, separate elements remain.  This suggests a basic point.  An artist starts with a blank canvas and adds things to it, but a photographer (often) starts with a viewfinder or screen brimming over with stuff >>> now the intention may be to photograph all of the stuff, an entire landscape for example, but in many instances the photographer finds him/herself in a subtractive role, removing some items from the scene by altering the position of the camera and/or doing some post-capture cropping of the image, so that the photograph’s subject assumes greater prominence – as in this shot.  I’ve read that many photographers try to cram too much into their images, so that viewers’ eyes can’t fix onto anything – and because they don’t know where to look, they become visually confused and roam around the image and then out of it – and the appeal of the image suffers accordingly.  We live in an age of I want it all and I want it now!, but maybe I want less than it all! can be ok too.

Technique: F6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 200mm; Fuji Velvia 100 colour slide film rated at 200 ISO; Bristol; 29 Mar 2006.

ARCHIVE STILL LIFE

This is a new category on this blog – Archive Still Life studies.  The Still Life definition will certainly be followed loosely – e.g. some studies may only have been made “still” by the split second opening of the camera’s shutter – and my objective will be to use as many different types / genres of subject matter as possible.  Some images will be Minimalist and, in general, I try to make simpler images, rather than cramming them with visual content.

Some new Still Life studies will (hopefully!) continue to appear.



ARCHIVE: LEVELS 96 – SINGLE TRACK ROAD


Rural idyll – the morning drive to work across Tadham Moor, on the Somerset Levels south of Wedmore; 18 Nov 2016.

Sunrise tints the sky, and two cars face each other down on Totney Drove, the sole east-west tarmac strip across this dripping and glutinous area of lowland.  Driving here, we are below sea level.

The road is single track, someone will have to pull over or back up – but most of the drivers here are locals and usually they are very courteous – which only adds to the pleasure of visiting this little out of the way, backwater of a place.

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

Technique: D800 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 195mm; 1600 ISO.

SOMERSET LEVELS: SOME KEYWORDS

And finally – some keywords that will often be mentioned in this archive series:

Droves:  to avoid crossing other peoples’ land when accessing their own, the farmers constructed a series of tracks, known as droves, between the fields. Some of these droves are now metalled roads and many persist as open tracks – all of which allow wonderfully open access to this countryside.

Rhynes: the fields are bounded by water-filled ditches – which both drain the ground and act as stock barriers. Hence strange landscapes – where fields appear quite unbounded, except for a gate with a short length of fencing on either side of it, where a bridge crosses the water-filled boundary ditch to provide access the field.  These small wet ditches communicate with larger rhynes (“reen” as in Doreen), which in turn flow into larger drains, e.g. the North and South Drains in the Brue Valley. All of these waterways are manmade and, by intricate series of pumping stations and flood gates, all of them have their water levels controlled by local farmers, internal drainage boards or the Environment Agency.

Pollarded Willows: the banks of the rhynes were often planted with Willow trees, both to help strengthen the banks and also to show the courses of roads and tracks during floods. These Willows are often pollarded, i.e. their upper branches are cut off, which results in distinctively broad and dense heads to the trees. Pollarding keeps trees to a required height, while ensuring a steady supply of wood – more important in the past than now – for fires, thatching spars, fencing and so on.



ARCHIVE: PEOPLE 28 – WATCHING A FATman (NOTE MULTITASKING ON LEFT) (MONO)


Couple outside Woodes very pleasant (and down-to-earth and real) café on Bristol’s Park Street >>> watching a FATman!  I was surprised they noticed me, because I was photographing Woodes’s frontage as a whole and was quite far off.  Even with my habitual 300mm telephoto and its x6 magnification, they only take up about 10% of the frame – that this picture is at all usable is a tribute to both to the quality of the lens and (at 1/105) its stabilisation, and the X-T2’s 24MP too.

Maybe on a mundane morning they were intrigued by a distant, overweight man, who has seen better days and who was artfully dressed in a dirty old coat and the odd sort of hat that the oily drivers of grimy steam locomotives might favour … but then Bristol can be like that, thankfully.  Meaning a counterculture?  Yes, that’s right, but I never mind queuing at a counter if there’s the prospect of getting fed.

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

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 300mm (equiv); 800 ISO; Lightroom, including the Velvia/Vivid film simulation; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Full Dynamic Smooth preset and adding a light coffee (how appropriate!) tone; 21 Apr 2017.

ARCHIVE: LEVELS 95 – TYRANNOSAUR


Tyrannosaur (and Glastonbury Tor too) on the Somerset Levels; 18 Nov 2016.

Leaving home before dawn, I drove down to the Somerset Levels through filthy weather.  Wind, rain and sleet battered the car.  There was snow on the Mendip Hills and, during the night, the Priddy Good Farm Shop, up on the top of these hills at Priddy, had had its debit card reader blown apart by a nearby lightning strike – “We’re only taking cash today!”.

I was actually birding, the aim of this visit to the Levels was look at birds, not to take photos at all.  But – and there’s always a “but”, isn’t there? – just in case, I took a rock-solid photographic standby, a Nikon DSLR and telezoom.

And, not long after sunrise, on Tadham Moor, “just in case” paid off.  I was pulled off the road watching winter thrushes – Fieldfares and Redwings, always beautiful, always great favourites of mine – when a small van pulled into a farm gate ahead of me and two men got out.  One I would guess was the local farmer, and he had brought the other to drive a tractor which had been parked there overnight.  There was rain about, it was windy, my car’s windscreen was nothing like clean – and all at once the sun broke through the overcast and threw the men and their vehicles into silhouette – and I dropped the binoculars, grabbed the Nikon, and started firing through the windscreen.

I have other shots but this image grabs me.  The farmhand started up the tractor, raised the vehicle’s front loader – and suddenly a Tyrannosaur rose up before me and opened its ravening jaws.

And so, man and dinosaur – and below the beast’s upstretched neck, a far off tower on a steep hill – Glastonbury Tor – an iconic feature of Somerset’s wet flatlands.

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

Technique: D800 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 250mm; 3200 ISO.

SOMERSET LEVELS: SOME KEYWORDS

And finally – some keywords that will often be mentioned in this archive series:

Droves:  to avoid crossing other peoples’ land when accessing their own, the farmers constructed a series of tracks, known as droves, between the fields. Some of these droves are now metalled roads and many persist as open tracks – all of which allow wonderfully open access to this countryside.

Rhynes: the fields are bounded by water-filled ditches – which both drain the ground and act as stock barriers. Hence strange landscapes – where fields appear quite unbounded, except for a gate with a short length of fencing on either side of it, where a bridge crosses the water-filled boundary ditch to provide access the field.  These small wet ditches communicate with larger rhynes (“reen” as in Doreen), which in turn flow into larger drains, e.g. the North and South Drains in the Brue Valley. All of these waterways are manmade and, by intricate series of pumping stations and flood gates, all of them have their water levels controlled by local farmers, internal drainage boards or the Environment Agency.

Pollarded Willows: the banks of the rhynes were often planted with Willow trees, both to help strengthen the banks and also to show the courses of roads and tracks during floods. These Willows are often pollarded, i.e. their upper branches are cut off, which results in distinctively broad and dense heads to the trees. Pollarding keeps trees to a required height, while ensuring a steady supply of wood – more important in the past than now – for fires, thatching spars, fencing and so on.



ARCHIVE PEOPLE 27 – REFLECTION OF A SHOPPER (MONO + COLOUR)


Reflection of a shopper in a shop window on Burnham-On-Sea’s High Street;  11 Sept 2014.

Walking back up Burnham’s High Street to lunch in the excellent Somerset & Dorset pub, this sale sign and mannequin on the opposite side of the road caught my eye – and so to autofocus and three quick exposures.  I was looking back at the window and, by sheer luck, the last if these shots caught the reflection of a man off to the left who was looking at the window display.

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

Technique: D800 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 200 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Film Noir 1 preset and selectively restoring colour.



ARCHIVE: LEVELS 94 – SMALL FORT BEHIND THE BEACH (MONO)


World War II pillbox in the sand dunes behind the beach at Sand Bay, north of Weston-super-Mare; March 2007.

Here are the western extremities of the Somerset Levels, where they run down under the waters of the Bristol Channel, near Weston-super-Mare.

The coast and tidal areas at Sand Bay are very flat and there was concern in World War II that this might constitute a viable and relatively undefended invasion area for German forces.  Hence the line of these squat, 70 year old pillboxes – tiny military strongpoints –  that still command wide fields of fire across the totally exposed foreshore from their positions on the tops of the low dunes behind the beach.

The great masses of vegetation in the foreground of the photo contain strong, pale leading lines that direct the eye up the sandy path towards the pillbox, with its two blank “eyes”.  This leading line effect is enhanced by the tall, wind-blasted bush on the skyline, which seems to lean towards the structure.

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

Technique: OM-4 with 21mm Zuiko lens; Fuji Provia 400 colour slide film rated at 800 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Push Process N+2 preset.

SOMERSET LEVELS: SOME KEYWORDS

And finally – some keywords that will often be mentioned in this archive series:

Droves:  to avoid crossing other peoples’ land when accessing their own, the farmers constructed a series of tracks, known as droves, between the fields. Some of these droves are now metalled roads and many persist as open tracks – all of which allow wonderfully open access to this countryside.

Rhynes: the fields are bounded by water-filled ditches – which both drain the ground and act as stock barriers. Hence strange landscapes – where fields appear quite unbounded, except for a gate with a short length of fencing on either side of it, where a bridge crosses the water-filled boundary ditch to provide access the field.  These small wet ditches communicate with larger rhynes (“reen” as in Doreen), which in turn flow into larger drains, e.g. the North and South Drains in the Brue Valley. All of these waterways are manmade and, by intricate series of pumping stations and flood gates, all of them have their water levels controlled by local farmers, internal drainage boards or the Environment Agency.

Pollarded Willows: the banks of the rhynes were often planted with Willow trees, both to help strengthen the banks and also to show the courses of roads and tracks during floods. These Willows are often pollarded, i.e. their upper branches are cut off, which results in distinctively broad and dense heads to the trees. Pollarding keeps trees to a required height, while ensuring a steady supply of wood – more important in the past than now – for fires, thatching spars, fencing and so on.



ARCHIVE: STILL LIFE PICTURE GALLERY 4 – POSTS 31 – 40

I’m currently posting images from my large archive of (loosely defined!) still life photos.  These photos are being posted singly, with full text.

To make viewing of these images easier for those with little time to spare, I’m also posting groups of these images with minimal titles.  This is the 4th gallery – you can find the earlier galleries here: 1 2 3 .

Clicking onto each image will open a larger version in a separate window: doing this often enhances the image.

31: Trellises beside the front door – a cottage in Peaslake, Surrey; 2012.

32: Stella – flattened beer can, road kill from a Bristol gutter; 2006.

33: Phone boxes, Penzance, Cornwall; 2012.

34: Female Mallard, motionless but alert as I edge closer; Chew Valley Lake; 2017.

35: Low angle autumn sunlight grazes the pavement on a steep hill; Bristol; 2017.

36: Fisherman in early morning mist; Chew Valley Lake, near Bristol; 2015.

37: Mute Swan, posing for me or, more probably, threatening me; Chew Valley Lake; 2017.

38: Striped shirt, one of mine, hanging up to dry; Bristol; 2013.

39: Upstairs on the early morning bus: someone with buds in and phone out – misted, silhouetted, indistinct – someone anonymous who is, essentially, entirely somewhere else; Bristol; 2017.

40: City life: the clean, soulless hospitality of a corporate foyer, with reflections of traffic lights outside and more corporate architecture across the road; Bristol; 2016.

ARCHIVE: STILL LIFE 47 – SHELTER AT A BUS STOP (MONO + COLOUR)


Early morning near Temple Meads railway station, so early in fact that Harts Bakery wasn’t yet open.  Suppressing a primal urge to leave teeth marks on their door, I wandered off along the main road, and there was a bus shelter with a screen that brightly displayed a sequence of adverts which, one after the other, defied the gloom.

One of these adverts was pure white with a tiny spot of blue and, every time it blazed out, the inside of the shelter lit up in bright and joyful sympathy – though sterile and cold as ice, this was an enticing world, a thoroughly modern world, a world trying its best to sell me something.  And entranced as I was by this flickering Aladdin’s Cave, only the sobering glimpse of the morning’s cold pavement beyond (together with the thought of Harts’ hot goodies) saved me from its soulless, electronic allure.

Technique: totally blown highlights without a shred of detail accompany intensely black, featureless shadows: the words visual taboo, and anathema too, raise their ugly heads.  I can only hope that the Photographic Correctness Police will make me attend a course that will result in The FATman becoming an even more rounded individual.

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

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 212mm (equiv); 3200 ISO; Lightroom, using the Velvia/Vivid film preset; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the High Contrast Smooth preset and selectively restoring colour; Temple Gate, central Bristol; 20 Apr 2018.

ARCHIVE STILL LIFE

This is a new category on this blog – Archive Still Life studies.  The Still Life definition will certainly be followed loosely – e.g. some studies may only have been made “still” by the split second opening of the camera’s shutter – and my objective will be to use as many different types / genres of subject matter as possible.  Some images will be Minimalist and, in general, I try to make simpler images, rather than cramming them with visual content.

Some new Still Life studies will (hopefully!) continue to appear.



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