ARCHIVE 598 – OLD MAN TAKING A PHOTOGRAPH (MONO)

 

 


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Old man taking a photo, West Bay, Dorset; 21 Apr 2015.

Someone engrossed – doing what I’m doing – on the other side of the road.

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

Technique: D800 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 400 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, beginning at the High Structure Harsh preset.

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ARCHIVE 569 – FULMAR

 

 


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Fulmar flying along the cliff top at West Bay, Dorset; 23 Apr 2015.

How I love Dorset!  And we’ve just been down there for a few days’ break, renting a cheapo caravan not far behind the beach at the tiny “resort” of West Bay, which is on the coast south of Bridport.  I put resort in quotes because, although it is on Dorset’s absolutely totally beautiful coast and it does have a harbour with a few working fishing boats – mainly for shellfish, crabs and lobster I think – West Bay also has some really ugly holiday apartments (which sell for just under half a million pounds each) and other ugly modern buildings, and it really is a cheap and cheerful place.

BUT, that said, this is coastal Dorset, and so all this money! money! money! ugliness is set amongst just totally wonderful natural beauty.  And the little kiosks  round the harbour serve up good fish and chips, and there’s Dorset Apple Cake, and a brewery nearby that’s been churning out the good stuff since 1794, and some really nice bakeries in nearby Bridport, etc etc.  I suppose the bottom line is that its very hard to dent coastal Dorset’s vast appeal – and thank goodness for that!

Anyway, anyway –  it was the afternoon of the final day of our stay, the blast of the bright sunshine had softened a little, and I took it in my head to climb a steep hill east of the harbour, to explore a bit.  Well, OMG, it was steep, but when The Great Explorer eventually puffed and coughed his way to the top, what did he find?  Beautiful natural wilderness?  Well, no, a golf course actually, but you can’t have everything.  And as I set off regardless along the cliff top path, I caught a glimpse of a seagull coasting along the cliffs – but it didn’t look quite right.

And sure enough it wasn’t quite right, because rather than a gull it was a (Northern) Fulmar – Fulmarus glacialis – a seabird, a real denizen of the open oceans that only comes ashore to breed, on steep inaccessible cliffs like those at West Bay.  So, I watched where these birds were habitually gliding past, wound the D800 up on DX format so that my 70-300 zoom became a 105-450 zoom – and started blasting away.

It was difficult going, even with autofocus, and lots of my attempts are, shall we say, “impressionistic”.  But here is one caught above the glare of the lowering sun on the sea – and it does look like a seagull at first glance, doesn’t it – but there’s a little kink and ridge on the top of its bill that houses nasal passages, something that gulls don’t have.

And two points of interest.  Living out on the open seas as they do, and eating things like squid, fish and shrimps, these birds are up to their ears in salt – some of which they manage to get rid of by excreting it as a strong saline solution through their noses.  And, should one of these beauties feel that you’re approaching it too closely on a cliff, they will vomit their foul smelling stomach oils over you –  as a means of giving you a gentle hint.

And, finally, their plumage is white below.  The warm orange tinge to the underparts that you see in the photo was in fact the reflection of the lowering sunlight on West Bay’s beautiful, honey-coloured cliffs.

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

Technique: D800 with 70-300 Nikkor lens used in DX format to give 450mm; 400 ISO.
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ARCHIVE 528 – TRACK OVER WANCOMBE HILL (MONO)

 

 


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Track coming up over Wancombe Hill, southwest of Up Cerne, near Cerne Abbas, Dorset; 4 Jul 2003.

This was taken soon after I’d ceased considering birdwatching as my main thing – it had been my raison d’etre since 1967, and the main reason for spending years in Kenya.   I’d been taking photos since around 1960 or before, but they had largely consisted of seeing something nice and recording it with a camera.  Now I wanted to use cameras more as creative tools and, as I mentioned in the Art Wolfe post, to start thinking about John Shaw’s “Photo-Graphics”.

I was still very much wedded to film in those days, and the Olympus OM series SLRs were really something else.  I’d used an OM-1 and an OM-2 in Kenya, but years of use in the tropics had taken their toll, and they were now full of mould.  So, to start photographing again in this new way, I bought an OM-4 second hand via the internet.  On this trip I had this camera, an Olympus (Zuiko) 85-250 telezoom lens, and this simply exquisite little 21mm wide angle; a rickety old birdwatching tripod completed my gear.  And, having heard that Fuji Velvia 50 colour transparencies were the landscape photographer’s film, several rolls of that were in my old rucksack too.

I walked up this track, looked back, and used the 21mm.  The right hand side of the track is probably a little overexposed.

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

Technique: OM-4 with 21mm Zuiko lens; Fuji Velvia 50 colour slide film rated at 64 ISO; can’t recall how I converted it to black and white.

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ARCHIVE 507 – PHOTOGRAPHER (MONO)

 

 


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Photographer on top the East Cliff at West Bay, Dorset; 21 Apr 2015.

Having climbed the really quite steep path palely visible on the far left, a woman pauses to look back westwards, taking a photo perhaps of the view over the tiny coastal resort of West Bay and the wonderful coastal scenery beyond.  Her companion – who may be as frustrated and bored with her “artistic pauses” as many photographers’ companions are – digs his hands into his pockets and stalks on along the path, which passes to the right of the wire fence.

I like this picture for its simplicity, and also for the impression it gives of Tiny and Fleeting Humanity against the dark, brooding, massive and far longer term Natural World.  I’ve intentionally made the silhouette to emphasise this distinction, but I value the path’s pale rocks because they provide some sort of border to the image on that side.  And the featureless blue sky is left untidy with a contrail and gulls, both of which could have been removed, because they add some interest and closure on the right.

And has she seen the glint of the long lens on my thundering great tank of a Nikon, and so is photographing, me photographing her, photographing me … “and so on, ad infinitum“, if I can paraphrase Jonathan Swift (1667-1745)?  Or is she (hopefully …) of a more artistic bent, and going for what the French call a vue generale?

Finally, the cliff’s stark edge forms the profile of a human visage that is looking up to the right – forelock, eyelashes, nose, lips, and maybe double chin or Adam’s Apple too, they’re all there –   but even I have not the gall to suggest that they be thought of as a cliff face.

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

Technique: D800 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 200 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the High Structure Harsh preset.

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ARCHIVE 489 – ROWING BOAT

 

 


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Rowing boat on The Cobb, at Lyme Regis, Dorset; 3 Nov 2004.

The sunlit seat of the boat makes a powerfully gleaming, rectilinear shape on the left, which contrasts with its curved shadow further right.  The boat’s scratched and battered floor provides an abstract background – with a small but darkly gleaming sprig of wet seaweed adding the sole touch of recognisable reality.

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 1600 ISO; rotated 90 degrees anticlockwise.
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ARCHIVE 488 – DRAINPIPE, WIMBORNE

 

 


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Drainpipe and climbing plants on a wall in Wimborne, Dorset; 1 Oct 2008.

I turned into a courtyard off the main street in Wimborne and this spectacular and (especially) writhing vision opened up on my left.

Minimal colour, almost monochrome and in fact also looking good in b+w, but the rust tints on the pipe bring this picture alive. The pipe is just about on the left vertical third.

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

Technique: F6 with 24-120 Nikkor lens; Fuji Provia 400X colour slide film rated at 500 ISO.
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ARCHIVE 487 – LOOKING OUT OVER DORSET (MONO)

 

 


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Though I have travelled there only infrequently, Dorset is certainly my second favourite county – after my Somerset homeland, of course. Dorset does it all for me: simple, beautiful landscapes, and superb places like Lyme Regis, Charmouth, Chesil Beach, Swanage and the Isles of Portand and Purbeck. Part of my affection is obviously geological:  decades ago this was a fossil collecting mecca for me and fossils excite me still – and then there is Dorset Apple Cake … eaten hot …. with thick cream!

But there is also this county’s rural simplicity, the lack of motorways and the few main roads and large conurbations; and then out of the way places like the Marshwood Vale, Fishpond Bottom, Wareham Heath, Kimmeridge and Up Cerne. Much of my photography in Dorset has been along the coast but, a mile or two inland of Charmouth and Lyme Regis, there are steep, beautiful hills. With our little car toiling up Long Lane towards the Coney’s Castle hillfort, this view opened on the right. Here, on 3 Nov 2009, we are looking down eastwards towards Abbott’s Wootton Farm, small white buildings awash in a sea of rolling hills and innumerable trees – typical, wonderful Dorset.

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

Technique: D700 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 800 ISO.
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ARCHIVE 481 – SELFIE OF YOUNG LOVE (MONO)

 

 


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Something heartwarming, something very good to see; West Bay, Dorset; 21 Apr 2015.

Strolling on the harbour wall at the diminutive Dorset resort of West Bay, with the damned great Nikon and zoom perched on my paunch – when over left a selfie was fired off – and I was just not quick enough to capture the action, although I did get a shot of them examining the result immediately afterwards.

And so, and not for the first time, I cursed my lack of alertness and speed – when they squared up for another shot at it – I mean, them – and this time I was ready.

Well, its truly candid, and as an image I like it.  Presentation in black and white removes the distractions of colour and takes us in solely to them and what they’re about.

But those thoughts only scratch the surface on this one.  I started off by describing it as heartwarming and I stick by that.  Its a moment of togetherness and affection, a moment shared – and that’s good to see.  Who knows what the future will bring for them?  Not knowing them at all, I wish them good luck and happiness.

See?  Underneath … well, actually, really quite deep underneath … I’m just something of an Old Softy ….

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

Technique: D800 with 70-300 Nikkor at 300mm; 200 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Full Spectrum preset.

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ARCHIVE 473 – WAVE MEETS MAN (MONO)

 

 


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FANTASY: a wave, furrowed, swelling, dark, and with a thin, foaming apron of silver, rolls in towards the beach and meets a man.  And there is a communion – something passes –  between the moving water and that rigid figure with his dark suit, bowed head and tightly clenched fists.  

Is he bowing to the turbulent and rising water, acknowledging it perhaps as a living thing?  Or, in a moment of shock and revelation, is he realising his own inadequacy in the face of this endless, remorseless and energetic swell?  And, equally, in what way is the wave responding to him?  Indifference, perhaps?  Or, however muted and distant, is there some acknowledgement of another feature of this planet’s surface?

And because this is an interpretation that exists only in my mind, I have used a pale vignette to separate this imagined interaction from the solid and all too permanent reality all around – the mist shifts, and we are granted a fleeting glimpse into a daydream.

REALITY: a man, not a young man as I remember, walked down the beach in a dark blue suit, brown shoes and a wide brimmed hat, and remained standing there in the harsh sunlight, apparently transfixed by the sand and pebbles at his feet. 

What was he actually doing?  His fists appear to be clenched but, magnifying things substantially, I think that his hands are in fact full of beach pebbles – and fossils too maybe on this famous Jurassic Coast.  And he’s gazing down at the beach’s debris, hoping to add more to his collection.

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 Antique Portrait preset; West Bay, Dorset; 21 Apr 2015.

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ARCHIVE 379 – ROWING BOAT ON THE COBB

 

 


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Interior of a rowing boat on The Cobb, at Lyme Regis, Dorset; 3 Nov 2004.

The sunlit seat of the boat makes a powerfully gleaming, rectilinear shape on the left, which contrasts with its curved shadow further right.

The boat’s scratched and battered floor provides an abstract background – with a small but darkly gleaming sprig of wet seaweed adding the sole touch of recogniseable reality.  There is another rectangular shape on the right of the frame.

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

Technique: Olympus OM-4 with 21mm Zuiko lens; Fuji Provia 400 colour slide rated at 1600 ISO; rotated 90 degrees anticlockwise.

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