ARCHIVE: LOOKING AT CARS 83 – RAINY DAY, MOTORWAY SERVICES


View through our windscreen on a rainy day; Membury Services, on the M4 in Berkshire; 1 June 2016.

Off eastwards to Berkshire to see a friend, with a (now habitual) stop in a motorway services for sustenance en route.  It was a wet morning and, quite by chance, we parked opposite a red car.  I blinked my way out of “driving mode”, looked around and this filled the view out in front of us.

This is very far from the first picture I’ve ever taken through a wet window, and I’m sure very far from the last too.  For me, blur and softness have their place in images, wall to wall sharpness is not the be all and end all of things.  Interestingly, this week’s edition of Amateur Photographer magazine (23 July 2016) is devoted to Sharpness, the Editor kicking things off with “Today’s photographers are obsessed with sharpness in a way that we never used to be.”.  And he’s right.  But, for me, its always the content of an image that comes first, and the technicalities second.  However next week’s AP issue is all about blur – so that’s alright then!

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

Technique: D700 with 24-120 Nikkor lens at 95mm; 800 ISO; Color Efex Pro 4.



ARCHIVE: PEOPLE 19 – PORTRAIT OF A YOUNG FRIEND (MONO)


Portrait of a young friend; 19 July 2014.  She is the younger daughter of close friends of our’s. 

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

Technique: D700 with 105mm Nikkor lens; 1600 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Triste 1 preset.



ARCHIVE: LEVELS 87 – EARLY MORNING LIGHT ALONG TRIPPS DROVE


Early morning light along Tripps Drove, Godney Moor, Somerset Levels; 26 Jul 2012.

I’ve been thinking about doing something more impressionist for sometime, and this early morning stroll along Tripps Drove brought wonderful light – but there were horseflies too so it wasn’t all beautiful going!  Gaussian blur provides the dreaminess.

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

Technique: D700 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 400 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: STILL LIFE 36 – FISHERMAN (MONO)


Fisherman in early morning mist, Herons Green, Chew Valley Lake, near Bristol; 6 Apr 2015.

The morning was very misty but, in pursuit of Minimalism, I’ve added a pale vignette to further reduce detail.

And this all enfolding mistiness also serves to enhance the impression of a lone individual pursuing his passion early on a calm morning, surrounded by the gentle sounds of water, birds, and the lightest of breezes.

Click onto the “early morning” tag (below) to see more images from the early hours of the day.

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

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

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 16 – AT A PARTY, TALKING TO A WAITRESS (MONO)


Man at a party talking to a waitress, in the William Bray bar and restaurant, Shere, Surrey; 24 Mar 2012.

The background to this shot is a jumbled mass of humanity, so I’ve used SEP2 to darken everything except the two subjects.  The waitress is essential to the composition, because she is the person to whom the man is addressing his remarks.  But her face is turned away, she is only seen in extreme side face, and my gaze is drawn to the illuminated face of the man.

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

Technique: D700 with 24-120 Nikkor lens at 120mm; 400 ISO; bounced, diffused flash; converted into mono and further manipulated in Silver Efex Pro 2.



ARCHIVE: STILL LIFE 33 – ON THE MAIN STREET OF PENZANCE (MONO + COLOUR)


Telephone boxes in Penzance, Cornwall; 27 Apr 2012.

These two telephone boxes stand beside the road in Penzance’s main street but, because the pavement is raised, it is possible to photograph them straight on, rather than having to look up at them.  They are in poor condition and badly in need of attention – but this semi-dereliction makes for a strong photographic subject.

I’ve taken them into mono and restored some of their characteristic colour, and also increased structure to help emphasise their grimy, peeling surfaces.

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

Technique: D700 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 800 ISO; converted to mono with selective colour restoration and other manipulation in Silver Efex Pro 2.

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 13 – DOMINANT FEMALE (MONO)


Dominant female, amongst guests at a wedding reception; 17 Aug 2011.

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

Technique: D700 with 24-120 Nikkor lens at 120mm; 1000 ISO; conversion to mono in Silver Efex Pro.

(2021) UPDATE: I certainly didn’t have this interpretation of the shot in mind when I took it, nor when it was first posted here, 10 years ago now.

The other three people present are dark, placid even – and even I can see that the jeans on the left are not “natty gents’ wedding wear” – tho maybe for “The Younger Generation” this no longer matters, which is an attitude I wholeheartedly applaud.

But the person in the right foreground is bright and smart, probably in all senses of those terms, and elegant even – and that pose is nothing if not assertive.



ARCHIVE: PEOPLE 11 – FATHER AND DAUGHTER (MONO)


A good friend with his baby daughter, 5 April 2009.

The baby’s mother loves the direct and very vital connection between the baby’s rapt gaze and the father’s smiling face and she’s totally right.  I also like the apparently huge size of the father’s hand as it rests on his daughter’s diminutive shoulder.

I don’t have a lot of confidence with people pictures, but luck has won out here – and this sort of close, intimate shot is one of the things that, for me, monochrome is all about.

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

Technique: D700 with 105mm Nikkor lens; 6400 ISO.  I was very new to both digital photography and the D700 when I took this, and I have a vague recollection of frantically raising the ISO to 6400 to keep pace with the faltering light conditions, and of then setting matrix metering and trusting to autofocus – with a lucky outcome!



ARCHIVE: PEOPLE 10 – FRIENDS AT A WEDDING (MONO)


Some good friends invited us to their wedding reception and I took my camera along – and fired off 384 frames!  Now I have the very enjoyable task of sorting through these images, looking for good frames or, more probably, looking for good bits of frames – photos within photos, like the one here.  I’m very keen on cropping photos very tightly, so that anything extraneous to the subject is cut out – I remember this approach being described as taking an optical machete to a photo – and yep, that’s what its like!

An interesting photographic issue arose while I was firing off my 384.  With a film camera, if you load a 36 film you’ll get 36 photos, or perhaps 37 or 38 if you push things a little – and risk pulling the film right out of the cassette.  We do of course also have frame counters on digital cameras, but I remember reading somewhere that we should use them in the same way we use the petrol gauges in our cars.  Which is to say, that if we have a full tank of petrol, we’ll use it up quicker if we only drive around town, continually stopping and starting, rather than taking a nice steady drive on a motorway.  Its the same with digital frame counters.  You may start off with 100 frames, but if you pack your pictures with wall to wall detail you might only actually get 90 frames, whereas if you shoot bland, low detail subjects, you might get 120 or more.

I saw this happen at the wedding reception.  The 8Gb card I keep in my D700 always says that I have 310 shots if I’m shooting Raw, which is the only file format that I ever shoot.  So, wallowing in the 310, I fired away with abandon at the guests and, in the end found my frame counter reading 89, and so concluded that I had taken 310 – 89 photos.  However, when I got the photos onto this PC, I found that I’d taken 384 frames – so presumably my frames averaged out containing less detail than the camera had been expecting.  Many of you may know this already but, if not, something to store away in the backs of our minds maybe.

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

Technique: D700 with 24-120 Nikkor lens at 120mm; 1000 ISO; 17 Aug 2011.



ARCHIVE PEOPLE 9 – MAN ON STAIRS


Stairs in a pub, Newquay, Cornwall; 13 Sept 2011.

After lunch, as we left the pub, this colourful chasm opened up on our right.  Letting it go unphotographed was out of the question.  It was awash with colour and I was especially taken with the black and white edges to the steps, which are presumably there to help prevent inebriate revellers from going head over heels – or, as we earthy Brits might from time to time term it, arse over tit – down the stairs.

Two things came to mind.  First, I wanted those black and white steps to be somewhere near vertical in the finished product, to give the effect of a wonderfully coloured wall, or of a receding series of coloured columns.  Second, a problem, there was great contrast in the scene, with the sun blazing in from the left, so I used a low sensitivity – 400 ISO – to give more latitude for digital manipulation later on.

I took two frames and, as I clicked the first, this chap appeared from nowhere and provided an unwitting focal point for the converging lines!

I’ve rotated the shot, and used NX2‘s control points to lighten both the left hand wall and the man.  I’ve also slightly raised contrast in the sunlit areas, to better bring out the patterns made by the thin window frames.

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

Technique: D700 with 24-120 Nikkor lens at 24mm; 400 ISO; Capture NX2; rotated 90 degrees anti-clockwise.



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