ARCHIVE 319 – MEADOW WITH WILDFLOWERS (MONO)

 

 


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Meadow with wildflowers beside North Chine Drove, southeast of Wedmore, on the Somerset Levels; 27 Jul 2011.

The uncut grass with its abundance of tall yellow wildflowers first caught my eye and, and I was looking at how it might best be photographed when the sun broke through the clouds, producing this beautiful (and very lucky) shaft of light across the scene.

The photo is in three layers.  In the foreground there are more of the yellow flowers, but in the shade and unfocused.  Above this, the shaft of sunlight cuts across the shot, illuminating both the tall grasses and another grove of the wildflowers.  Finally, the third and upper layer contains the trees and bushes behind the field which (luckily again) are partly caught by the sun’s rays, so that this background is not wholly dark.

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

Technique: D700 with 70-300 Nikkor at 300mm; 400 ISO; converted to monochrome, and slightly tinted very pale yellow, with Silver Efex Pro.

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STILL LIFE 120 – WINDOW BOX

 

 


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Window box in Christmas Steps, a narrow and ancient alleyway in the city centre.

May sunshine was flooding across Bristol, but one side of the deep cleft of Christmas Steps was still in deep shadow.  I’m not usually someone who waits around for photos to happen, I’m usually on the move, if only slowly.  But the sunlight was inching its way around towards the Steps’ northeastern side – you could almost see the light creeping across the masonry – and I decided, this once, to be patient, because I wanted to see the light flooding across the textures of the buildings’ facades.

It seemed like an eternity, but a cat came over to see me and that passed some of the time.  And then the blazing light hit a window box, with the wall behind it still in deep shadow, and I took this picture.  The slightly open window frame is glowing in light reflected from a shop sign just out of shot on the left.

What does this picture do for me?  Well, it talks to me about peace – something not in limitless supply in the UK on this particular Sunday morning – and quiet; it talks about warm air, warm breezes and warm shadows to relax in, and some release from the pace, stresses and lowered quality of modern life.  It reminds me of pictures from more southerly climes, there’s something Mediterranean here perhaps, something not experienced over large parts of the year by us relative northerners.

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

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 195mm (equiv); 200 ISO; spotmetering for highlights; Lightroom, using the Provia/Standard film simulation; Christmas Steps, central Bristol; 26 May 2017.
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ARCHIVE 283 – EARLY MORNING GARDEN: BUDDLEIA (MONO + COLOUR)

 

 


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Buddleia blooms at the bottom of our garden; 10 July 2014.

I’ve waddled down the garden a few times early on these soft and wonderful summer mornings, and enjoyed the stillness and lushness immensely.  Yesterday, in addition to the Swifts screaming overhead, there was an unknown song from the jungle on the other side of the back fence.  I gently hissed and pished at it a bit, and in due course a male Blackcap popped into view to see who I was. 

Pished?  Its a birding technique most effective in North America, where hissing and making “pish” noises drives warblers crazy, such that, otherwise obscure in dense vegetation, they at once spring into view.  And it works here in the UK a bit too, and in Africa.  This Blackcap’s provenance is uncertain.  He may be one of the increasing number that remain in the UK throughout the winter, or he may have made the journey up from sub-Saharan Africa just to breed in the thickets behind our back fence.

And I’m really not a gardener, but I did hear that severely pruning Buddleias in the spring brings of floods of blooms later on and so, having made a note an age ago in my diary, I got out there and hacked it to blazes awhile back, and we’re now reaping the rewards.

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

Technique: D800 with 50mm Nikkor lens used in DX format at 75mm; 800 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Film Noir 1 preset and selectively restoring colour.

UPDATE: this image is an example on my Mono + Colour work, where I read a colour image into Silver Efex’s black and white, and then use Silver Efex to restore one or more of the image’s original colours.  SEP2 doesn’t always get the colour restoration 100% accurate, but this can give the image a slightly strange look – which I value!  Two effects are used here.  First, I simply wanted the flowers’ colour in the shot, with no other colours – and restoring this single colour in an otherwise black and white image was the perfect solution.  Second, there is a compositional device here.  My eye is drawn immediately to the bloom on the right, which is both in focus and the largest area of colour in the frame – it is close in to us, it’s tiny flowers are peering out of the frame at us.  Then my eye goes left to the second bloom, which is out of focus and smaller, and then it is taken on left again to the very diffuse areas of colour on the left.  In this way, my gaze is drawn into and back through the picture.  Does this have the same effect on your gaze???

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ARCHIVE 258 – THE MADDING CROWD (MONO)

 

 

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Dandilions near the The Castle of Comfort Inn, northeast of Priddy, on the Mendip Hills; 24 Apr 2011.

When I see this I think of a tide of people – or perhaps they are just faces –  emerging from the far darkness and tottering forwards, unsteadily but also unstoppably, out into the light.

Canon PowerShot G11; 200 ISO; conversion to mono in Silver Efex Pro.

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STILL LIFE 36 – CEMETERY 2: WINDBLOWN

 

 

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Flowers in the wind; Shaw Cemetery, Newbury, Berkshire; 4 May 2016.

A simple memorial, only this on the sun-dappled lawns.  But, as always, its what’s in our hearts that matters; and in any case, can’t simple often be beautiful, and profound too?

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

The first image in this series is here.

D700 with 24-120 Nikkor at 24mm; 200 ISO; Color Efex Pro 4.

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STILL LIFE 33 – CEMETERY 1: ROSES (MONO + COLOUR)

 

 

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Shaw Cemetery, Newbury, Berkshire; 4 May 2016.

A distant memory: flowers, certainly past their best, against a stone that is at once weathered, mute and totally uncompromising.

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

D700 with 24-120 Nikkor at 120mm; 800 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Yellowed 1 preset and selectively restoring colour.
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PEOPLE 215 – DEATH, AND SOMETHING STRAIGHT FROM THE HEART

 

 

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We’ve had a death in the family, we have been low.  And, in due course,  we attended the crematorium and, because I’m me, with an almost unbreakable (some would say, unbearable) compulsion to be early, we were early, very early.  Those attending earlier services ebbed and flowed, grieving, around us and, it being a nice day, a cold but beautifully sunny day,  I decided to take myself off for a stroll around the site’s gardens and memorials.

Most of the latter were fairly conventional stuff, sincerely meant no doubt, but with formal words, names, dates and so on – which made me reflect that I certainly don’t want this sort of treatment when I die – and no, I’m not going to say that I wouldn’t be seen dead in a place like this …  its just that I want my ashes scattered anonymously out at a favourite spot on the Somerset Levels – the Magic Carpark –  where the cattle, tractors, farmers and walkers will trample, grumble and rumble unknowingly over me, gradually grinding me down ever further into a place that I have a vast affinity for.  I shall be below sea level and I can’t swim, but then again perhaps that won’t matter by then.

But, anyway >>> anyway!!! >>>  away towards the back of the little enclosure that I was in, and approached by a curving gravel path, stood a garden bench, with bunches of bright daffodils and other flowers tied to it.  And looking at that bench, I just felt that there was something about it that made me want to get closer to it.  I suppose you might say that I could feel it drawing me towards it.  In short, I was intrigued, totally curious, such that not getting any closer was unthinkable.

And walking on up to that seat, alone and with no sound but that of the gravel crunching under my feet, I found the plaque pictured below, mounted on its backrest – and, quite simply, it was one of those moments that you know, instantly, are special.  Life-enhancing might be overdoing it, but spiritually uplifting certainly isn’t.

For here were two things.  One of which of course was the record of a loving relationship, which is in itself uplifting, a cause for warm thoughts and happiness.  But what really got to me – and what still very much really gets to me – is that, this relationship having been struck by the death of the man,  the woman decided to say exactly what was in her heart, and to have it displayed on this bench for all to see.  Having been but moments before wading through a sea of conventional tributes and endearments – phrases that I too have had engraved onto loved ones’ tombstones –  I just loved the freshness and loving vibrance of this.

Its all simple, wonderful and straight from the heart, but MY BIG STRONG NORTHERNER really gets inside me and stirs me up – wow!  And the kisses too, simply so downright, so fundamentally, human.

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Normally I wouldn’t picture words like this from a cemetery, but they do strongly affect me, and having them placed so prominently on this seat, Jac wants others to see them too.  Now they will have a wider than anticipated audience.

And I may have almost got to meet Jac – for between the time when our service started, and the time after our service when I took these photos, someone had come and changed the flowers on the bench, replacing those going over with fresh blooms.  I should have loved to have had that encounter – and, without the slightest doubt, would have made my feelings about her words clear.  It would have been wonderful to meet her.

 

 

 

 

ARCHIVE 172 – STREET DECORATION (MONO + COLOUR)

 

 

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Container of flowers on a pole carrying traffic signs, at the bottom of Park Street, central Bristol; 5 July 2013.

This is exactly as I visualised the result before firing the shutter – which is not that common a thing for me.  Just the silhouette of a black poll going up through a container of flowers, with some pink blooms tumbling down towards the camera.

Canon G11 PowerShot at 115mm (35mm equivalent); 100 ISO; conversion to mono in Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the High Contrast Smooth preset and selectively restoring colour.

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ARCHIVE 149 – COWSLIPS

 

 

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In amongst the Cowslips near the bottom of our garden; 24 Apr 2013.

These beautiful little flowers have been growing in our garden for many years now.  We certainly didn’t plant them, so the initial seeds were presumably brought in by birds.

I love these simple flowers very much and, every year, encourage them to spread by delaying mowing the areas they inhabit until they have fully gone over and gone to seed.  This is one of the extremely few thought out gardening plans I have  – and it works!  Every year they spread further – wonderful!

D800 with 70-300 Nikkor at 300mm; 200 ISO.
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ARCHIVE 123 – FLOWERING BLACKTHORN (MONO)

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Flowering Blackthorn (aka Sloe) at the bottom of our garden; 14 Apr 2010.

Use of a telephoto close up renders the background completely out of focus, and the siting of the subject in front of a paler part of the background is important.

Click onto the image to see an enlarged version in a separate window.

D700 with 70-300 Nikkor at 300mm; digitally given a blue tint like old Polapan film, using Alien Skin’s Exposure 2.
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