ARCHIVE 297 – AUTUMN CARPET (TWO VERSIONS)

 

 


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Our Hazel, dark and massive and still with a few pale leaves, stands proud of its autumn carpet; 18 Nov 2013.

The extreme wideangle lens is pointing downwards, and the leaves in the foreground appear to be close under the camera.  Everything left of centre leans out towards the left, and everything to the right (including our fence, top right) vice versa.

I think I prefer the colour version here, its how it was or, rather, its what I saw through the viewfinder – and I love this garden and its autumn colours.

The mono version is quite different.  Its much darker, its really built around darkness, darkness that is cut / illuminated by those white leaves, both sprinkled across the ground and still hanging from the tree.  Both versions would benefit from larger reproduction I think, the mono version more so.

Which version do you prefer?

Click onto the images to open larger versions in separate windows.

Technique: D800 with Sigma 12-24 lens at 12mm; 800 ISO; the mono version created with Silver Efex Pro 2’s Floral Style preset.

UPDATE: my apologies for not visiting others’ blogs as often as usual, but time is tight at the moment.

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STILL LIFE 107 – FRONT GARDEN

 

 


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A front garden’s greenery, thrown into silhouette by the sunlit house behind. 

The golden colour of the stone is true: this is one of the honey-coloured Jurassic limestones that we are fortunate in having right on our doorstep – around Bath and in the Cotswolds – and many buildings here have this warm presence.

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

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm; 200 ISO; Lightroom, including the Pro Neg. Hi film simulation; Meridian Place, Clifton, Bristol; 7 Apr 2017.
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ARCHIVE 284 – TREE MEETS MAN

 

 


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An Oak meets me in the autumn garden; 18 Nov 2013.

I’m freely mobile but the tree is not – and I can speak but, as far as I know, the tree cannot – and therefore I must be the one doing the meeting and greeting?  

How did Gershwin put it? … ” It ain’t necessarily so … it ain’t necessarily so …”.

D800 with 15mm Sigma fisheye lens; 800 ISO; Color Efex Pro 4.

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PEOPLE 259 – MY BROTHER GEORGE (MONO)

 

 

Photo credit: Elsie Pinder.  Click onto this image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to further enlarge it.

Now, you’re thinking, just when I thought FATman couldn’t get any weirder, he comes up with this!  More to the point, what’s he on? And yes, I do know, now, that there’s Life on Mars …

So, what has happened to warrant this really quite unreasonable outburst on your part?  Well, you’ve found a post entitled My brother George only to find that, on opening it, there is the picture of a cat.  Could happen anywhere in the blogosphere.  Probably happens in some places all the time …  Well, here’s the story.

I’m an only child, with all that entails.  And I was born into a household that consisted of my parents and a big tom cat called George, who was then around two years old.  So he was there, he was with me from the beginning – and he apparently used to stand up on his back legs, put his forelegs on the side of my pram, and stare in at me – probably wondering if he was allowed to eat me.  I had no siblings and so, in effect, he was my brother.  He was two years older than me, and he was always, always there throughout my boyhood.  And he died at about the age of 15 – that is, when I was 13 – and even now, 54 years later, I think of him, often, and I miss him – which must say something.

And I have remained with a great love and appreciation for cats, and have been very close to some really big ones in East Africa – and fantasised about having a Cheetah as a pet – what beauty, what grace, what presence!  But no, before you ask, I’ve never again owned a cat of any sort – for no particular reason I suppose; things have just turned out that way.

George would sometimes stay out all night, around the garden and countryside in which was set our hilltop house.  And, after some of these nocturnal forays, a  favourite memory is of the means he devised of getting back into our home’s warmth before our family was generally up and about.  From our back lawn, he would jump up with that the ease that cats have onto the top of a wooden fence, probably about five feet off the ground.  Moving along the top of this fence brought him onto the glass roof of our conservatory which, mercifully, could support his weight.  And so across this glass roof, and up to the top of another, steep roof, which was just below my bedroom window.

And in all weathers, exposed as we were to the western gales coming in off the Atlantic, George would perch on the ridge of that roof, reach up with one foot, put his claws out, and bang on my window.  And this little boy would be out of bed in an instant, calling to him to hang on and, opening the curtains, look down at him being buffeted by the elements.  Holding onto the window for dear life with two hands, I’d open it and he’d jump nimbly up onto the sill.

And there was one final obstacle for him, for in those days I was an avid collector of rocks, minerals and fossils – a prelude to becoming a professional geologist in later years – and the window ledge was covered in my geological samples, each with a neatly typed label >>> and he would come in across that window ledge without disturbing a single thing.  Impressive is simply not the word.

And, since this is the only memorial that this long-dead little creature is going to get – this creature who now lives on only in my mind  – I must tell you this.  Simple question – what did George eat, what did he exist on?  Well, apart from whatever he may have killed or found outdoors, indoors he did pretty well!  I can’t remember if there were tinned cat foods around in the 1950s but, even if there were, they weren’t for him!  For my father was a butcher, who would bring home vast amounts of raw beef for him – he probably got through more steak than anyone else around!  And if he couldn’t have steak, my mother would buy cod from the fishmonger, and serve it up to him cooked piping hot, along with a crushed up tablet of Tibbs healthy cat medicine!  We were a middle class family who – then! – had some money, and my parents evidently thought cod beneath us, as we always ate plaice – and it was only later on in life, after I’d left home, that I found cod was pretty damned good too!

Mostly I loved George, but I recall a few times when I was unkind to him, and I continue to regret those times bitterly.  But, two great truths – first, I was young, unformed and uninformed then, and had not the compassion I now feel for all creatures.  And, second, I know only too well that the past cannot be rewritten, it is immutable, unless of course you’re a politician.

This photo was taken by our neighbour Elsie in her garden.  She loved George too, and always welcomed him.  And she gave this photo to my mother, who kept it with her for the rest of her life.  Elsie died, aged 86, in 2005.  My mother preceded her by two years, and so this picture has passed to me  – and I am delighted to have been able to scan it and present it here.

We all have our own beliefs, and one of mine is that, after death, there is only oblivion.

But, should that not be the case, I wonder where George is now?

 

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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 282 – JAY

 

 


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Jay on the upper Oak in our back garden; Bristol; 6 Mar 2014.

This individual appeared in our garden carrying a monkey nut, which can be seen in the fork of the branch, to the right of the bird.

The first and second Jay photos, and more context, can be found here and here.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that larger image once more.

D800 with 70-300 Nikkor at 300mm; 800 ISO.

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ARCHIVE 249 – JAY, AND THOUGHTS OF PICASSO

 

 

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Jay, in our garden; 6 Mar 2014.

Jays were the very first birds I saw in our garden after moving in all those years ago, and they are often around.  But they are habitually shy, and the thought of trying to photograph them has never occurred to me.  But today all that changed when, looking out of the kitchen window, I was confronted with one perched in our Upper Oak, really not that far away.  The merest movement at a window is usually enough to send them scattering, but today as I looked out, this bird moved unconcernedly around the Oak – and it stayed, and it stayed – and I dashed into the next room and grabbed the only camera to hand – which luckily had a telezoom attached.

Shooting through a double-glazed window held no great promise of success but, as opening the window was certain to scare the creature away, I braced myself back against the larder door, and started firing.  Lots of shots, because lots, I knew, were destined to be failures.

Let’s be quite clear where we are here – I love crows.  Many think of crows only as black birds, but Jays and Magpies are crows too.  In company with another of my loves –  gulls – crows get a bad press, being highly successful, intelligent and opportunistic, killers and scavengers.  But I still love them and if asked if I would like a Rook or, better still, a Raven, to perch on my outstretched arm, I would jump at the chance.  Just think of Picasso’s Woman with a crow – and imagine enjoying such closeness and intimacy with one of these beings!  (And I greatly admire Picasso’s early work, up to around Les Demoiselles d’Avignon,  – but that’s another story!)

Jays get a bad press from devouring the eggs and young of other birds.  But something that is often forgotten that they aid the spread of Oak trees by burying vast numbers of acorns as winter food stores and then forgetting to retrieve some, which proceed to sprout as new Oaks.  This is the origin of the two Oaks in our garden, and more sprout in our “lawns” (I use the term is its loosest sense …) every year.

This Oak speaks of both death and rebirth.  Below the bird are some of last year’s dead leaves, which have stayed attached to these branches through the many storms and gales that have hammered us this year.  But all of the small twigs in this shot are covered in new buds – we are in March, and Spring is not far off.

D800 with 70-300 Nikkor at 300mm; 800 ISO.

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ARCHIVE 239 – CARRION CROW (MONO)

 

 

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

A very different shot from the first version (Birds 8, here ), another frame of the same bird in fact.  This one has been converted into mono in Silver Efex Pro 2, and I’ve used the one of the Film Noire presets to instil drama – the powerful, jet black crow diving through a patch of clear sky in an angry, boiling cloudscape.

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

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ARCHIVE 234 – BLASTED BY THE LIGHT

 

 

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Low, early morning sunlight blasts up through the garden, blinding the Hazel tree, my camera and me; 9 July 2013.

Moments like this, out there with Nature in the raw, are exhilarating.  The sun came through the trees and I winced, recoiling from the glare, just pointing the camera directly into it and firing. 

Yes its soft – aided by some Gaussian blur – and yes its flare heaven, but this powerfully reminds me of what the moment was like, and that’s the thing.  It felt as if everything was being buffeted by the light – but there was the Hazel, solid and upright up ahead and, totally dazzled, I sought its shadows.

D700 with 16-35 Nikkor at 16mm; 200 ISO.

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ARCHIVE 222 – MAGIC GARDEN (MONO)

 

 

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The bottom of our garden, where the Little People live and FATman often wanders in wonder; 15 Apr 2013.

The tilting forward of the fisheye lens produces a bowed up, dome-like effect to the rough lawn.  The Lower Apple Tree exits through the top left frame corner, and the two large oak leaves at lower right anchor the foreground.

D700 with Sigma 15mm full frame fisheye; 800 ISO; converted to mono with Silver Efex Pro 2, starting with the Pinhole preset, and given the look of Kodak 100 TMAX Pro mono film.

UPDATE: this was originally posted in the Fantasy category, three years ago, and fantasy is what it is.  It does depict reality but, thanks to the fisheye, in a rather distorted way – and my mention of Little People betrays those I would love to encounter here in the dimness of a dawn or dusk.  As it is, this rather rough and unkempt little patch of grass is regularly trodden by badgers, foxes, squirrels and muntjac deer – while the garden bird list stands at exactly 60 species – and for the company of all of these (and many other) creatures we are grateful.

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