ARCHIVE 593 – HER VERY FIRST WRITTEN WORDS (MONO)

 

 

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We were visiting friends when their elder daughter, whom we like very much, suddenly started asking her parents about how words are written.  She knew how letters and combinations of letters sound and how they look when written down, but she’d never equated the two before.

A few words of explanation from her parents and –   to the vast astonishment of everyone present – she just started phonetically pronouncing words and then writing them all over large pieces of scrap paper on the floor!

I had my camera to hand, and a unique occasion was recorded.  This is not a good picture photographically, but in this sort of instance that doesn’t worry me at all – and I love her tentative, slightly doubtful expression.

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

Technique: D700 with 105mm Nikkor lens; 3200 ISO; south Bristol; 26 Apr 2009.

UPDATE: yes, photographically, in technical terms, this is not a good picture.  But it is nevertheless a very valuable picture, and especially so to the girl and her family – here is a fundamental achievement on her part, a fundamental moment in her life.  Which feeds into one of my core beliefs about photography – that by far the most important aspect of an image is its content – have interesting / striking / meaningful content, and the technicalities come a very, very long way second.

So, ok, let’s turn this on its head.  Here’s a meaningful image that is technically imperfect.  Who would rather have a meaningless image that is technically perfect? .

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ARCHIVE 586 – CROW, IN WILD SKY

 

 


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Carrion Crow over our back garden, not long after dawn; 27 Nov 2011.

I very much like the limited palette of colours but – as is so often the case – I prefer this version to monochrome.  The crow – which looks for all the world like a Photoshop insert! – is purposely positioned away from any of the composition’s visual strong points, but with space ahead to fly into.  Actually quite a reasonably sized bird, it looks so small here against the vast sky and very solid looking clouds:  this is intentional.

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.

Technique: D700 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 200mm; 800 ISO.

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ARCHIVE 583 – AUTUMN 2

 

 


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Autumn leaves form a carpet around the Hazel in our back garden; 30 Oct 2009.

Used away from the horizontal, the fisheye lens has given the whole photo the appearance of showing an elevated ridge in the ground.  Back beyond the Hazel’s trunks, the patches of green lawn appear to be sloping down to either side.  And the nearest leaves seem to be bulging up towards the camera, and to be swirling in a circular fashion – which is an effect I like.

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

Technique: D700 with Sigma 15mm full frame fisheye lens; 800 ISO.

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ARCHIVE 582 – BALUSTRADE, BACKLIT

 

 


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Backlit plaster balustrade in a restaurant; Newquay, Cornwall; 13 Sept 2011.

We were having lunch – my snout was squarely in the trough –  when a burst of sunlight opened up this scene right beside our table.  The long end of a short zoom was just enough to capture these repeating patterns, fading off into a distance which is actually only a few feet away, beside the next table in the room. 

Altering the orientation of the image gives the impression of lighting pouring up from below.  The colours are minimal, but they certainly give this shot an edge over monochrome versions.

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

Technique: D700 with 24-120 Nikkor lens at 120mm; 1600 ISO; image horizontally flipped and then rotated 90 degrees clockwise.

UPDATE: looking at this anew, after nine years, I’m struck by those long dark curves coming in from the left.  They rise very gently – less is more! – as they move across the frame, after which they peak, falter – and descend abruptly into the image’s far more active right third.

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ARCHIVE 579 – A WONDERFUL EXPERIENCE

 

 


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I’ve been lucky enough to have had many wonderful experiences with the inhabitants of the natural world, and another exploded upon me this afternoon – 24 July 2013 – in my back garden!  Having eaten a little too much lunch, I shouldered the D700 and wandered down into the unkempt jungle that, until I do something about it, is, well, the back garden.

Although I’ve cut a lot of vegetation back, the Hazel and the Lower Oak throw up such a screen that the bottom of the garden isn’t very visible until you get right on down there.  So, I brushed through the tree’s screen and, there in front of me, the Buddleia that I’d also hacked had brought forth many blossoms and, feeding on these, were more Peacock butterflies than I can remember seeing together in one place- there were at least 10 of them in a small space, and the combination of the blooms and the butterflies in the bright sunlight was simply wonderful.

I’d like to have used the 105mm macro but the butterflies were just a bit too far away, so I got up close and personal again with my lover – the 70-300 – and we went at it together.  Put simply, I love butterflies, they have a magic for me, and I’m a sucker most of all for the big ones – these Peacocks, and the Red Admirals, Painted Ladies, the two Whites, the Commas and the Tortoiseshells that are still relatively common in the garden – tho nothing like so common as they were in my childhood, in the 1950s.

I own a simply beautiful book – The Butterflies of Britain & Ireland, by Jeremy Thomas and Richard Lewington (ISBN 0-86318-591-6) – that contains wonderfully beautiful, life-sized paintings together with a wealth of fascinating detail.  This is a favourite book.  If I had to choose just five of my many books to keep, this would certainly be in the five.  If you love natural things, I recommend it unreservedly – my edition is 1991 – I don’t know if its still in print.

And this tells me that the main emergence of new Peacocks occurs in late July – and here we are!

So, some pictures.  Not portraits, but here are the wonderful creatures.  All Nikon D700 with the 70-300 lens, mainly at 300mm; 400 or 800 ISO.

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ARCHIVE 578 – MALLARD ON THE RHYNE BESIDE JACK’S DROVE (MONO)

 

 


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Mallard on the rhyne beside Jack’s Drove, on Tadham Moor, on the Somerset Levels; 31 Mar 2015.

Springtime, and a pair of Mallards swim up the water-filled ditch or rhyne (rhymes with “seen”)  beside the little road known as Jack’s Drove.  These ducks will breed on this backwater, the more brightly patterned male (on the left) more prominent on his territory while the darker, drabber and more camouflaged female sits undetected on their nest, somewhere in the dense waterside vegetation.

In contrast to these two quietly swimming beings, I see the bare tree on the right as a mass of writhing snakes or sinuous fingers, reaching up, furiously grasping, skywards.  And in fact on this extremely windy day, while the ducks were relatively sheltered on their little waterway, the tree was twisting and writhing as it took the full force of a westerly howling in from the Bristol Channel.

Click onto this image to see a larger and far more detailed image that opens in a separate window – recommended.

Technique: D700 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 400 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Antique Portrait preset.

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ARCHIVE 571 – THE THREE KINGS ARRIVE IN THE WRAITHS’ CITY (MONO + COLOUR)

 

 


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FANTASY: three tall kings, resplendent in richly coloured robes, enter the spectral city of the Wraiths.  I’m influenced by Tolkien’s Lord Of The Rings perhaps – not perhaps >>> most certainly!!!  These three are in Tolkien’s Minas Morgul, the city of his undead Ringwraiths, walking into its deathly glow.

REALITY: three furled sun umbrellas and an old streetlight outside a pub in Perranporth, Cornwall; 25 Oct 2012.  The impression of robed beings was immediate.

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

Technique: D700 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 800 ISO; conversion to mono and re-colouring in Silver Efex Pro 2; further processing in Capture NX2.

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ARCHIVE: LOOKING AT CARS 13 – EARLY MORNING, TEALHAM MOOR

 

 


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Early morning mist, Tealham Moor, south of Wedmore; 8 Apr 2015.

The old and the new.  A smart new vehicle coming south down the tarmac of Jack’s Drove at a good pace and, next to it,  the water-filled ditch (rhyne) which has been here for a century or two, well back into the times when the only vehicles along here were horse drawn.

The rhyne acts as the fence around the field of pasture visible on the right, the gate of which is accessed from the drove via the little bridge.  The metal gate, which is hardly visible on the right, has wooden rails at its sides to stop ever venturesome cattle from trying to squeeze around it and escape.  The droves are tracks between the fields which allow farmers to access their land without crossing that of others.

The Looking at Cars series: looking back through the nine years of the FATman Photos archives (and some new images too), I’m posting pictures of cars in various contexts and styles.  Earlier Looking at Cars posts are here: 1 (with context); 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 .

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 270mm; 400 ISO.

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ARCHIVE: LOOKING AT CARS 9 – SELFIE WITH BLUE LORRY (MONO + COLOUR)

 

 


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Self-portrait with blue lorry, near Peacock Farm, Westhay Moor, on the Somerset Levels; 24 Jul 2012.

I’m sitting very upright in the driving seat of my car, using a wideangle zoom to record both the scene in the rear view mirror, and the road ahead as seen through the windscreen.  Back home, I’ve converted the shot to mono using Capture NX2, but retained original colour – and added some brightness too – for the scene in the mirror.

The rows of small dots above the mirror are a device to help prevent dazzle when looking up at the mirror.

The Looking at Cars series: looking back through the nine years of the FATman Photos archives (and some new images too), I’m posting pictures of cars in various contexts and styles.  Earlier Looking at Cars posts are here: 1 (with context); 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 .  

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

Technique: D700 with 16-35 Nikkor lens at 24mm; 800 ISO; manipulated with Capture NX2.

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ARCHIVE 566 – LONG-EARED OWL

 

 


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Long-eared Owl, at the International Centre for Birds of Prey, Newent, Gloucestershire; 2 July 2014.

As often happens with living things, I’m close in to the individual both by means of a telephoto and via cropping of the resulting image. 

The eye – to me the really vital, vibrant and living focus of the shot – is in focus, while all of the surrounding patterns and textures are blurring into an “impression of the beast”.

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

Technique: D700 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 250mm; 3200 ISO; Dfine 2; Color Efex Pro 4.

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