STILL LIFE 222 – BROWN CHAIR WITH ORCHIDS AND POTTERY

 

 


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This is a totally ad lib shot that I took while sitting at the breakfast table (which sounds distinctly grand, doesn’t it, until you find out that it is in fact our only table …) to see if a camera was working properly.  Just how honest and up front can I get???  I looked through the large and rather wonderful electronic viewfinder, liked what I saw, and snapped it.

This rather cluttered still life is lit by that most wonderful (and gratis) of light sources, window light, and it also benefits from the fact that this light is filtered through net curtains.

It is a totally natural (i.e. unarranged) still life, which has three main subjects.  On the right is a lovely old chair, bought second hand at least 25 years ago, and probably originating in the generation before mine, if not earlier.  Then there are two examples from my wife’s orchid collection, one in flower and the other looking rather ravaged and destitute, though with abundant aerial roots.

And finally, at the back, two pieces of pottery, the one at the front having been made by John Leach, the grandson of Bernard Leach, at his pottery in Muchelney, on the Somerset Levels.

I like this picture.  Well, it is a part of my home, so I’m probably biassed.  But what do I like most?  Well, without a doubt, the light spilling over the warm colours of that old chair.  The objects on the left of the picture are well lit and, in their way, visually interesting.  But the chair is more snugly in the shadows, the light and shadow are washing over its surfaces, amplifying its wonderful old creases and textures >>> a metaphor for myself perhaps …..

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

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 83mm (equiv); 3200 ISO; Lightroom, using the Velvia/Vivid film simulation; Chez Moi!; 3 May 2018.
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STILL LIFE 144 – LOOKING AT CHAIRS 2

 

 


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One of the chairs around the table in what we grandly call our dining room, photographed against a black background.

An old image – wow, 11 years old! – and seen on this blog before.  Captured on film, and doubtless with the aid of a tripod.  I used that wonderful and completely gratis illumination, window light, and hung a black sheet behind the chair to completely black out the background – the sheet must have been in shadow, since that no trace of its surface textures can be seen.

A Minimalist image, and so to the mantras – less is more, simple is beautiful, small is beautiful – all very true, to my mind.  Most of the chair is out of shot, only three, separate elements remain.  This suggests a basic point.  An artist starts with a blank canvas and adds things to it, but a photographer (often) starts with a viewfinder or screen brimming over with stuff >>> now the intention may be to photograph all of the stuff, an entire landscape for example, but in many instances the photographer finds him/herself in a subtractive role, removing some items from the scene by altering the position of the camera and/or doing some post-capture cropping of the image, so that the photograph’s subject assumes greater prominence – as in this shot.  I’ve read that many photographers try to cram too much into their images, so that viewers’ eyes can’t fix onto anything – and because they don’t know where to look, they become visually confused and roam around the image and then out of it – and the appeal of the image suffers accordingly.  We live in an age of I want it all and I want it now!, but maybe I want less than it all! can be ok too.

The first post in this series on chairs, which contains context and an image, can be found here.

Technique: F6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 200mm; Fuji Velvia 100 colour slide rated at 200 ISO; Bristol; 29 Mar 2006.

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ARCHIVE 224 – SCORPION 2 (MONO + COLOUR)

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Nail brush; 4 August 2013.

This nail brush appeared in our bathroom recently and caught my eye every time I used the hand basin.  I like the curve of the handle, and also the way the light comes through between the groups of bristles – which resemble the legs of some monstrous millipede!

Or perhaps this is some large scorpion-like creature, its lethal sting poised above its head, making off to the left intent on giving some hapless victim a bad day.

Scorpion 1 (a real one this time!) is here.

Tripod-mounted D800 with 105mm Micro Nikkor; 200 ISO; conversion to mono, selenium toning and selective colour restoration in Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the High Contrast Green Filter preset.

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STILL LIFE 31 – SUNLIGHT DAPPLING CURTAINS (MONO)

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This picture is best viewed enlarged – click onto it to see a larger version in a separate window.

Sunlight dappling our front room curtains with the shadows of net curtains; Bristol, 8 Sept 2015.

I don’t know about you, but when I’m relaxing at home I like some degree of privacy – I don’t want to have in the back of my mind the thought that someone may looking in at me and thinking “Oh there’s that fat old ****, sound asleep – and no doubt drunk! –  as usual!”.  I want some privacy so that, totally uninhibited, I can really – mindlessly – chill out.

The problem that we have is that the room in which we spend much of our time is  slightly below the level of the street outside, with only a thin strip of front garden separating us from an often busy pavement.  So that, were we to have only a single set of curtains (drapes) which we pulled each evening, everyone passing by would be able to gaze in at us all day – it would be a bit like being on a reality TV set.

To combat this we have two sets of curtains, nets that are closed at all times to provide us with some privacy while still allowing through lovely, slightly softened light, and thicker curtains that are closed at dusk.  In this image, on a beautifully sunny day, shadows cast by the net curtains fall across the drawn back thicker curtains.

D700 with 24-120 Nikkor at 120mm; 400 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the High Contrast Green preset and adding a strong copper tone; camera tilted for the exposure.
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STILL LIFE 27 – MAGAZINES, AND A BOOK, PILED UNTIDILY ON A TABLE (MONO)

 

 

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Photographic magazines, and a book (Pagan Britain, by Ronald Hutton), piled untidily on the coffee table in our living room; 8 Sept 2015.

The coffee table next to the armchair in which I read, reflect and relax – and booze and snooze too – often in that order.

D700 with 24-120 Nikkor at 120mm; 800 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Film Noir 1 preset and adding a moderate Ambrotype tone; rotated 90 degrees clockwise.
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BRISTOL 23 – SHADOWS OF A GOLDEN RIBBON

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Early morning shadows in our hallway; 6 May 2013.

The sun poured into our house early today and, in the hall, hit a length of golden ribbon that is hanging on the wall – it was given to us by one of our granddaughters.

Golden light and interesting shadows leapt into view and, eschewing the first cuppa of the day (significant lapse of Basic Life Beliefs there), I started the G11 clicking –  except of course that the G11 doesn’t click, as its set up to be perfectly silent, which can be a great boon in certain situations.

Anyway, I set the G11 going, and the top shot is a Praying Mantis, while those below are variations on the general theme – I hope you like them!

Canon G11 PowerShot at 28mm (35mm equivalent); 200 ISO.
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A NEW IMAGE ON THE W-I-D-E 2 PAGE: GULL AT SUNRISE

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A new image on the W-I-D-E- 2 page – a gull in flight over our garden, at sunrise.  You can find it here .

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SELF-INDULGENCE 109 – A NEW IMAGE ON THE W-I-D-E 2 PAGE

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A new image on the W-I-D-E 2 page, an old favourite of mine from W-I-D-E 1 –

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flowering Blackthorn at the bottom of our back garden.

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COLOUR 52 – TOMATO 1

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Tomato 1; 30 Mar 2007.

I’ve thought about taking pictures of things that we see frequently and take for granted – the commonplace.  This is the basic reasoning behind my pictures of cars and, while not suggesting that we’re literally encircled by tomatoes and that they’re closing in for the kill – “Circle the wagons! Watch out for that overripe Son of a ….!” –  this was the reason for taking a series of shots of them sometime back.

In a darkened room, I set a tomato on a lightbox and looked at the possibilities that arose.  Here, the top of the fruit is reasonably exposed, but the lower parts are caught by the light blasting up from below and are increasingly overexposed the further down we look.  The Velvia films are superb but even they gave up the ghost on this one, and overexposure grades into yellows and almost pure white at the bottom of the frame – it gives the impression of the tomato floating in mist, or maybe being engulfed by yellow flames

I suppose I might have used an inverted neutral density grad to achieve a “realistic” result, but my one try with these filters was a complete and expensive failure and, as with tripods, I’m usually too lazy to get into such complications – though in the more leisurely world of retirement that is just around the corner, I’m hoping to use tripods more.

Nikon F6 with 105mm VR Micro Nikkor; Fuji Velvia 100 colour slide rated at 125 ISO; tripod; lightbox.
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SELF-INDULGENCE 96 – HAZEL LEAVES, BACKLIT

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In our back garden, in Bristol – leaves backlit by a shaft of sunlight that pierces the gloomy interior of our Hazel’s vast, dense, bushy bulk; 6 Sept 2008.

For me, the success of a photo of this type depends upon the background – if the latter is cluttered and/or in focus, the subjects of the shot in the foreground lose their visual integrity and the whole shot loses its structure. 

But that is not true here.  The darkness of the tree’s interior provides a wonderful backdrop for these glowing leaves, while points of light in the background are reduced to out of focus droplets by the photo’s very shallow depth of field.

Nikon F6 with 80mm – 200mm Nikkor at 120mm; Provia 400 colour slide exposed at 500 ISO.
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