ARCHIVE: PEOPLE 28 – WATCHING A FATman (NOTE MULTITASKING ON LEFT) (MONO)


Couple outside Woodes very pleasant (and down-to-earth and real) café on Bristol’s Park Street >>> watching a FATman!  I was surprised they noticed me, because I was photographing Woodes’s frontage as a whole and was quite far off.  Even with my habitual 300mm telephoto and its x6 magnification, they only take up about 10% of the frame – that this picture is at all usable is a tribute to both to the quality of the lens and (at 1/105) its stabilisation, and the X-T2’s 24MP too.

Maybe on a mundane morning they were intrigued by a distant, overweight man, who has seen better days and who was artfully dressed in a dirty old coat and the odd sort of hat that the oily drivers of grimy steam locomotives might favour … but then Bristol can be like that, thankfully.  Meaning a counterculture?  Yes, that’s right, but I never mind queuing at a counter if there’s the prospect of getting fed.

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

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 300mm (equiv); 800 ISO; Lightroom, including the Velvia/Vivid film simulation; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Full Dynamic Smooth preset and adding a light coffee (how appropriate!) tone; 21 Apr 2017.

ARCHIVE PEOPLE 27 – REFLECTION OF A SHOPPER (MONO + COLOUR)


Reflection of a shopper in a shop window on Burnham-On-Sea’s High Street;  11 Sept 2014.

Walking back up Burnham’s High Street to lunch in the excellent Somerset & Dorset pub, this sale sign and mannequin on the opposite side of the road caught my eye – and so to autofocus and three quick exposures.  I was looking back at the window and, by sheer luck, the last if these shots caught the reflection of a man off to the left who was looking at the window display.

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 Film Noir 1 preset and selectively restoring colour.



ARCHIVE: LEVELS 94 – SMALL FORT BEHIND THE BEACH (MONO)


World War II pillbox in the sand dunes behind the beach at Sand Bay, north of Weston-super-Mare; March 2007.

Here are the western extremities of the Somerset Levels, where they run down under the waters of the Bristol Channel, near Weston-super-Mare.

The coast and tidal areas at Sand Bay are very flat and there was concern in World War II that this might constitute a viable and relatively undefended invasion area for German forces.  Hence the line of these squat, 70 year old pillboxes – tiny military strongpoints –  that still command wide fields of fire across the totally exposed foreshore from their positions on the tops of the low dunes behind the beach.

The great masses of vegetation in the foreground of the photo contain strong, pale leading lines that direct the eye up the sandy path towards the pillbox, with its two blank “eyes”.  This leading line effect is enhanced by the tall, wind-blasted bush on the skyline, which seems to lean towards the structure.

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 800 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Push Process N+2 preset.

SOMERSET LEVELS: SOME KEYWORDS

And finally – some keywords that will often be mentioned in this archive series:

Droves:  to avoid crossing other peoples’ land when accessing their own, the farmers constructed a series of tracks, known as droves, between the fields. Some of these droves are now metalled roads and many persist as open tracks – all of which allow wonderfully open access to this countryside.

Rhynes: the fields are bounded by water-filled ditches – which both drain the ground and act as stock barriers. Hence strange landscapes – where fields appear quite unbounded, except for a gate with a short length of fencing on either side of it, where a bridge crosses the water-filled boundary ditch to provide access the field.  These small wet ditches communicate with larger rhynes (“reen” as in Doreen), which in turn flow into larger drains, e.g. the North and South Drains in the Brue Valley. All of these waterways are manmade and, by intricate series of pumping stations and flood gates, all of them have their water levels controlled by local farmers, internal drainage boards or the Environment Agency.

Pollarded Willows: the banks of the rhynes were often planted with Willow trees, both to help strengthen the banks and also to show the courses of roads and tracks during floods. These Willows are often pollarded, i.e. their upper branches are cut off, which results in distinctively broad and dense heads to the trees. Pollarding keeps trees to a required height, while ensuring a steady supply of wood – more important in the past than now – for fires, thatching spars, fencing and so on.



ARCHIVE: STILL LIFE 47 – SHELTER AT A BUS STOP (MONO + COLOUR)


Early morning near Temple Meads railway station, so early in fact that Harts Bakery wasn’t yet open.  Suppressing a primal urge to leave teeth marks on their door, I wandered off along the main road, and there was a bus shelter with a screen that brightly displayed a sequence of adverts which, one after the other, defied the gloom.

One of these adverts was pure white with a tiny spot of blue and, every time it blazed out, the inside of the shelter lit up in bright and joyful sympathy – though sterile and cold as ice, this was an enticing world, a thoroughly modern world, a world trying its best to sell me something.  And entranced as I was by this flickering Aladdin’s Cave, only the sobering glimpse of the morning’s cold pavement beyond (together with the thought of Harts’ hot goodies) saved me from its soulless, electronic allure.

Technique: totally blown highlights without a shred of detail accompany intensely black, featureless shadows: the words visual taboo, and anathema too, raise their ugly heads.  I can only hope that the Photographic Correctness Police will make me attend a course that will result in The FATman becoming an even more rounded individual.

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

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 212mm (equiv); 3200 ISO; Lightroom, using the Velvia/Vivid film preset; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the High Contrast Smooth preset and selectively restoring colour; Temple Gate, central Bristol; 20 Apr 2018.

ARCHIVE STILL LIFE

This is a new category on this blog – Archive Still Life studies.  The Still Life definition will certainly be followed loosely – e.g. some studies may only have been made “still” by the split second opening of the camera’s shutter – and my objective will be to use as many different types / genres of subject matter as possible.  Some images will be Minimalist and, in general, I try to make simpler images, rather than cramming them with visual content.

Some new Still Life studies will (hopefully!) continue to appear.



ARCHIVE: LEVELS 92 – FENCE AT A GARDEN CENTRE (MONO)


A photo from sometime ago, using a technique that now seems to me to be from another age.  The camera was a Nikon F6, a simply wonderful film SLR of great quality, and the last of the professional range SLRs that Nikon made prior to the market being taken over by digital cameras.  But the real point of interest here is the film.  Most of us – or perhaps the more senior of us … –  will have shot colour transparency film – colour slides, those little pictures in cardboard or plastic frames that could be looked at through a viewer, or far better viewed using a slide projector and screen.  But Agfa Scala was a wonderful, 200 ISO black and white slide film that could be push processed to 1600 ISO, 3200 ISO and beyond, and which was simply, well, exciting, to use.  Also, in those far off days, I used a tripod for shots like this, whereas in these days of excellent quality image stabilisation and image sensors that give very acceptable results at high ISOs, my tripod stays in the boot of my car.

Also, I avoid garden centres like the plague, but the former Willows Garden Centre was something quite different – it was just what I like, tatty around the edges; and it also sold good local produce; and it employed disabled people in a very basic, down to earth cafe that, amongst other things, could whip up wonderful, large Full English Breakfasts, and tea/coffee strong enough to make your hair stand on end, at the drop of a hat >>>> just the thing for very early, very cold winter mornings!

The picture shows one of the fence’s stout uprights, to which panels of withies – pliable Willow stems – are tied with string.

But, gentrification is occurring even on the Levels, and what has this tatty, much loved, down at heel garden centre become?  Well, its now an art gallery.  Yes, well, enough said.  And the food available is simply not what it was, and so I no longer call in there.  Well, that’s how it is.  Life moves on … and, as I’ve often quoted, “Time passes.  Listen.  Time passes.” (Dylan Thomas).

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

Technique: F6 with 80-200 Nikkor lens at 200mm; Agfa Scala monochrome slide film rated at 400 ISO; tripod; the former Willows Garden Centre, near Westhay, on the Somerset Levels; 8 Mar 2005.

SOMERSET LEVELS: SOME KEYWORDS

And finally – some keywords that will often be mentioned in this archive series:

Droves:  to avoid crossing other peoples’ land when accessing their own, the farmers constructed a series of tracks, known as droves, between the fields. Some of these droves are now metalled roads and many persist as open tracks – all of which allow wonderfully open access to this countryside.

Rhynes: the fields are bounded by water-filled ditches – which both drain the ground and act as stock barriers. Hence strange landscapes – where fields appear quite unbounded, except for a gate with a short length of fencing on either side of it, where a bridge crosses the water-filled boundary ditch to provide access the field.  These small wet ditches communicate with larger rhynes (“reen” as in Doreen), which in turn flow into larger drains, e.g. the North and South Drains in the Brue Valley. All of these waterways are manmade and, by intricate series of pumping stations and flood gates, all of them have their water levels controlled by local farmers, internal drainage boards or the Environment Agency.

Pollarded Willows: the banks of the rhynes were often planted with Willow trees, both to help strengthen the banks and also to show the courses of roads and tracks during floods. These Willows are often pollarded, i.e. their upper branches are cut off, which results in distinctively broad and dense heads to the trees. Pollarding keeps trees to a required height, while ensuring a steady supply of wood – more important in the past than now – for fires, thatching spars, fencing and so on.



ARCHIVE: PEOPLE 25 – HAIRDRESSER (MONO)


Hairdresser in south Bristol, someone with a rich fund of often humorous conversation; 24 May 2008.

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

Technique: Nikon F6 with black and white film.



ARCHIVE: STILL LIFE 42 – ONE OF MY WIFE’S ORCHIDS (MONO + COLOUR)


The single remaining flower on one of my wife’s orchids; 18 Sept 2013.

This plant enjoys the sun in our living room window and, while the rest of it has some substance, there is but this single flower left on the end of a long, long branch.  I’d looked at this bloom and seen its Minimalist potential – while realising that I’d have to get my act together fast before it withered and dropped off like its comrades.

So this morning I mounted an upturned laundry basket on top of two chairs, and precariously balanced the plant on top of that  – praying that it wouldn’t fall off, leaving me to explain away the resulting carnage (“But really, it could have happened to anyone …”).  I set this motley pile up in our dim hallway, so that the front door’s net curtains would provide a bright and completely out of focus backdrop.

The shot does not exactly portray reality but it is what I had in mind beforehand – white backdrop, black branch with paler scars left by the other flowers that have dropped off, and a quite high key rendition of the sole remaining bloom.  As always, SEP2 has done the job.

Technique:  tripod-mounted D800 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 240mm; 200 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, using the High Key 2 preset, and adding a thin black border to provide separation from the white background of my blog.

ARCHIVE STILL LIFE

This is a new category on this blog – Archive Still Life studies.  The Still Life definition will certainly be followed loosely – e.g. some studies may only have been made “still” by the split second opening of the camera’s shutter – and my objective will be to use as many different types / genres of subject matter as possible.  Some images will be Minimalist and, in general, I try to make simpler images, rather than cramming them with visual content.

Some new Still Life studies will (hopefully!) continue to appear.



ARCHIVE: PEOPLE 22 – MINIMAL NUDE (MONO)


My late cousin was an artist, working with oil paints, and here is a shot of one of his professional models.  I have very Minimalist tastes when it comes to images, which may be why I crop them so tightly, and I love the “less is more” message here.  Here’s what I wrote in the original post:

“There’s a lot of negative (i.e. unfilled) space in this picture, notably the large polygon between the model’s arm and flank; but also the two triangles top and bottom right, which mirror each other, as do the shadowy forearm and upper arm. This negative space is an important component of the picture.

The highlights of the picture mainly form the left hand quarter, which almost meets the illuminated upper arm at the top of the frame. There is quite a powerful feature top right where, moving outwards towards the corner, the deep shadow of the upper arm changes to highlight, and then to the dark background to the shot.”

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

Technique: 21/22 Aug 2007; F6 with 24-85 Nikkor lens fitted with a Hoya Softener (A) soft focus filter; Ilford Delta 3200 Professional film.

ARCHIVE: LOOKING AT CARS 82 – FLOODED ROAD (MONO)


Exploring out on Queen’s Sedge Moor, not far south of the tiny city of Wells, in filthy conditions – rain falling from grey overcast, lots of surface water and simply heroic amounts of mud.  And then onto this little single track road heading for the tiny village of Barrow – when a van, obviously driven by a local, someone who knows the place – rounded a corner and came straight at me at speed.  There was no danger, this image was taken with a 450mm telephoto, which gives x9 magnification, and so it was still quite far off – but it put on speed through the surface water and spray flew everywhere.

Lots of familiarisation with this new camera paid off: I just had time to engage Continuous Autofocus, focus onto the number plate, hold down AF-ON and start firing – three frames and then the vehicle was on me and I was off into the (very soggy) roadside grass.  But, as is often the case down there, a cheery wave from the driver – after all, if I choose to stand in the road, its my lookout!

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

Technique: Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens used in DX (APS-C) format to give 450mm; 1600 ISO; Lightroom, using the Camera Neutral V2 Picture Control; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Dramatic preset; Queen’s Sedge Moor, south of Wells, on the Somerset Levels; 5 Apr 2019.



ARCHIVE: LEVELS 89 – THE VIEW EASTWARDS, BUTLEIGH MOOR (MONO)


The view eastwards on Butleigh Moor, south of the Polden Hills; 13 Jan 2016.

A bright and freezing morning out on the Somerset Levels given the piercing clarity of a strong infrared image.

A thin tarmac road arrows into the distance, guarded on its southern side by a line of pollarded willow trees.  Placing the sun behind the nearest willow prevents its dazzling brightness from obscuring the rest of the image.

This image is best viewed enlarged: click onto it to open a larger version in a separate window – recommended.

Technique: D800 with 16-35 Nikkor lens at 16mm; 200 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Strong Infrared High Contrast preset.

SOMERSET LEVELS: SOME KEYWORDS

And finally – some keywords that will often be mentioned in this archive series:

Droves:  to avoid crossing other peoples’ land when accessing their own, the farmers constructed a series of tracks, known as droves, between the fields. Some of these droves are now metalled roads and many persist as open tracks – all of which allow wonderfully open access to this countryside.

Rhynes: the fields are bounded by water-filled ditches – which both drain the ground and act as stock barriers. Hence strange landscapes – where fields appear quite unbounded, except for a gate with a short length of fencing on either side of it, where a bridge crosses the water-filled boundary ditch to provide access the field.  These small wet ditches communicate with larger rhynes (“reen” as in Doreen), which in turn flow into larger drains, e.g. the North and South Drains in the Brue Valley. All of these waterways are manmade and, by intricate series of pumping stations and flood gates, all of them have their water levels controlled by local farmers, internal drainage boards or the Environment Agency.

Pollarded Willows: the banks of the rhynes were often planted with Willow trees, both to help strengthen the banks and also to show the courses of roads and tracks during floods. These Willows are often pollarded, i.e. their upper branches are cut off, which results in distinctively broad and dense heads to the trees. Pollarding keeps trees to a required height, while ensuring a steady supply of wood – more important in the past than now – for fires, thatching spars, fencing and so on.



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