PEOPLE 263 – MODERN LIFE (MONO)

 

 

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Modern Life, in a time-poor, Western society that is dependent upon – and indeed, craves – ever more complex technology, while being overrun with images, information, statistics, stress, competitiveness and data, lots and lots of data.

And do I make this post as a Totally Innocent Soul, one untainted by and unassociated with all this burgeoning modernity?  Well, hardly, as here I am adding yet another image to the ever swirling, ever churning, global mix, while having spent much of my life creating and analysing vast amounts of statistics, data and information. 

OK, my “career” (I use that word cautiously) kept the wolf from the door but, increasingly, I think maybe that’s something said in defence of many things that are not, ultimately, in the best interests of either ourselves, our wildlife or our planet.  Maybe we are all helping create a wolf that, one day, will be totally out of control and unstoppable.

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

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 800 ISO; Lightroom, including the Velvia/Vivid film simulation; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the High Contrast Red Filter preset; St Augustine’s Parade, central Bristol; 21 Apr 2017.
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ANNIVERSARY – FATMAN PHOTOS IS SIX

 

 

Maasai

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Another year has passed.  Quite where it has passed I’m not sure.  Retirement and (ever!) increasing age are seeming to make Life roar by at an ever increasing pace – but that’s fine by me!  If that’s how it is, that’s how it is, and I’m certainly not going to waste my time consciously trying to buck the trend!

And so to another year of FATman Photos, six years in all, which I find quite astonishing.  But, I do it and, very much, I enjoy doing it.  On the creative side, I enjoy the photography – and have no doubt that producing this blog acts as a substantial boost to my endeavours.  And I enjoy all of the writing that goes into the posts too.

And, equally so, I very much enjoy the contact with you all – it is so good communicating with like minds all over the planet!  I’m grateful when you Like my images, that’s always encouraging – but most of all its good to receive Comments from you, I very much value hearing your thoughts and views – and please be assured that ALL viewpoints, negative as well as positive, will be entertained.  THANK YOU ALL, VERY MUCH, FOR YOUR INPUT!

(here are portraits, pictures of faces, in black and white; they can be opened in separate windows by clicking into them; and the title links under them will take you to the actual posts)

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Great Grey Owl portrait

Great Grey Owl

These past 12 months have been notable for two photographic initiatives.  First, last May, I followed my heart rather than my wallet and bought a mirrorless camera, the Fujifilm X-T1, and a zoom lens.  I have been, as you may know, an out and out full-frame Nikon user, and so this purchase was quite a step.  And on the back of that, I then needed software to process the X-T1’s Raw files, and so to subscribing to Adobe Lightroom.  Finally, I’ve added another Fuji zoom, and recently their X-T2 camera.  And, in summary, I have to say that all of these (not inexpensive!) moves have worked out very well indeed.  I find the X-T cameras wonderful photographic tools for most situations, and I do think that they have given my photography something of a lift.

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This man is photographing you!

Selfie

And the second initiative has been the taking of early morning buses into Bristol, to photograph morning in the city and, in particular, the morning rush hour.  And this initiative has been significantly helped by the X-Ts’ smaller size and greater portability than the Nikons and, I do think, by people feeling more at ease – less threatened – by being confronted by smaller cameras.  I haven’t really tried to categorise it before, but I suppose this is candid street photography, and certainly a departure for me.  The next thing to think about here, is whether I can summon up the courage to start approaching people in the street, to ask if I can take their picture – most accounts of this hold it to be productive, and far less intimidating than it might initially seem.

HAHAHA!!! >>> and a truly wonderful offshoot of these early morning forays in the city has been the (really quite numerous) visits into various eateries – “to keep my strength up”!  Listen, if you believe that last bit, can I sell you a bridge???  And here I must of course mention Harts Bakery near Temple Meads railway station – the food is extremely tasty, the staff are very pleasant and working their heads off – and I’m simply a total, total fan of the place!

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A young friend

So, to conclude, what has this blog done since 26 April 2011?  Well,  over 2,100 posts, and there have been over 21,200 comments >>> I (virtually always) make it a rule to reply to Comments, even if only to say a simple “Thank you”, so around half of these are my grateful responses.

Thank you again for taking the time to look at my blog.

Adrian

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  Woman from Somalia
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STILL LIFE 103 – FLIGHTS OF STEPS

 

 


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Looking down flights of steps with yellow edges.

Originally taken in portrait format, the image has been rotated 90 degrees anticlockwise.  The last two steps of a flight with their yellow, high-visibility safety edges are seen on the right, and there is a small landing, floored with handsome granite slabs, in the centre of the picture.  A second flight of steps descends between dark walls on the left but, because of the angle of the shot, all of the yellow edges of these steps meld together to form one yellow mass.  Another landing is dimly seen between the walls’ shadow at extreme left.

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

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 85mm (equiv); 400 ISO; image rotation;  Lightroom, applying the Astia/Soft film simulation; York Place, Clifton, Bristol; 21 Apr 2017.
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OUTLANDS 15 – RECENTLY PRUNED TREE (MONO)

 

 


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Pruned/pollarded tree; West Littleton, South Gloucestershire; 12 Apr 2017.

This tree looks absolutely shorn, battered and blasted, but I’ve caught it a little early in the year – give it another month or two, and it will be sprouting and sending out shoots like there was no tomorrow.

Another of these shorn trees in West Littleton can be seen here.

Context about this second Outlands trip can be found here, and there are other images here: 12, 13, 14.

Click onto this image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto the enlarged version to further enlarge it – recommended.

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 215mm (equiv); 1250 ISO; LightroomSilver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Architectural preset.
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STILL LIFE 102 – SWAN 3 (MONO)

 

 


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Mute Swan in low key – the first of these bird still lifes, with context, is here: 1, and there are other images here: 2; 3.

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

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 200 ISO; Lightroom; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Full Dynamic Smooth preset; Herriots Bridge, Chew Valley Lake, Somerset; 3 Apr 2017.
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STILL LIFE 101 – SWAN 2

 

 


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Close in with a Mute Swan – the first of these bird still lifes, with context, is here: 1, and there is another image here: 2.

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

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 215mm (equiv); 200 ISO; Lightroom, using the Classic Chrome film simulation; Herriots Bridge, Chew Valley Lake, Somerset; 3 Apr 2017.
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OUTLANDS 14 – PHEASANT

 

 


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As I walked up the byway (see context here), male Pheasants, strutting and noisy, were everywhere – its that time of year.  By contrast, the smaller and far more camouflaged females were rarely seen.  And getting back to the car which I’d parked beside the small common around which West Littleton clusters, I was clearly trespassing on ground this particular male thought his – so he set about strutting around me, noisily protesting and getting ever closer.

What a bird – and looking at him you may wonder that England has produced something so exotic.  To which the simple answer is that it hasn’t – these are birds of the Orient, ranging from the Black Sea east to China, and are thought to have been introduced here in the 11th or 12th centuries – for meat, decoration or both, I suppose.  But country sports and meat are their fate now, and pheasant is considered a delicacy – as I was reminded over breakfast by this picture on the restaurant wall –

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There are other images here: 12, 13.

Click onto the images to open larger versions in separate windows, and then click onto these larger versions to enlarge them yet again.

Technique (main photo): X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm; 320 ISO; Lightroom, using the Provia/Standard film simulation; West Littleton, South Gloucestershire; 12 Apr 2017.
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OUTLANDS 13 – NEAR WEST LITTLETON 2

 

 


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Something Minimal, there’s really not much here, both in terms of content and colour, but straight black and white would lose a little I think.  And the bird – and getting focus on the bird – were fortuitous!

Context about this second Outlands trip can be found here, and there is another image here: 12.

Click onto this image to open it in a separate window, and click onto it again to further enlarge it.

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 200 ISO; Lightroom, using the Classic Chrome film simulation; near West Littleton, South Gloucestershire; 12 Apr 2017.
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OUTLANDS 12 – NEAR WEST LITTLETON (MONO)

 

 


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Early in the day: above the byway, east of West Littleton; South Gloucestershire; 12 Apr 2017.

More context on this second visit to the extreme south of the Cotswold Hills, and more images, can be found here.

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

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 206mm (equiv); 400 ISO; Lightroom; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Neutral preset.
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OUTLANDS 11 – ANOTHER VISIT TO THE OUTLANDS

 

 

The low valley opening out on my left

(click onto each image to open larger versions in separate windows – and click again to further enlarge each image – recommended)

Last December, I tore myself away from my usual haunts and visited somewhere new, not far northeast of Bristol – and started a new category on this blog – Outlands – for places I’d never visited before.  The rationale and context of that day out can be found here, and some of the resulting images are here: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 89 and 10.

On 12 April, I visited this area once more.  It was an early start, because of Bristol’s traffic and, more so, because the area I was headed for lies beside one of the main arteries between the city and the hurtling, London-bound,  M4 motorway.  It was really a case of leaving early and getting there in reasonable traffic conditions – and then diving down tiny country lanes before the main rush hour got itself into mechanised mayhem.  Anyway I did it, disappeared down a rabbit hole as it were, and left my car beside the common around which cluster the houses of West Littleton, a little Cotswold village.  Then, aiming for somewhere I hadn’t yet explored, there was a long walk up a byway, a kind of unmade, public track that is certainly ok for smaller vehicles.  Along this track, a shallow valley opened up on my left, I took some photographs, and met two people – a farmer and a jogger. And after the walk out, there was the long walk back again, into the teeth of a gusting northwesterly and then, feeling like some self-indulgent reward after all this slog – I was tempted by a wonderful hot English breakfast delivered by a flustered waitress of the old school, after which, a little later, the day ran on into being tempted by some wonderful Belgian beer – all of which did my waistline not the slightest bit of good at all!  But, who cares?  It was all most enjoyable.

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(certainly an image to click onto and enlarge) 

Down in the valley, there was a farmer on a quad bike, who was out early, looking for lambs that had been born in the night.  He was towing a trailer with two of these lambs and their mothers, who were being taken back to the farm for further care.  He drove up the slope towards me, and we chatted.  Its usually good talking with farmers, usually interesting – and this one had worked down on the Somerset Levels, where he’d found it hard to understand what the locals were saying – haha, wonderful, I can just imagine that!

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And then, although the quad bike was modern, the even more modern of this world appeared –  the jogger, pounding along the byway between the Cotswold dry stone walls that are such a feature of this landscape.  And oil seed rape, blazing yellow in the background.

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And so to the grub, which was not at all bad after a long, chilly walk.  The sausages (which can often be the blander than bland Achilles Heel of breakfasts) were good as was the bacon, and there was a good wedge of tasty Cheddar cheese too.  The tomato sauce was a bit dayglo but then I like colour, but the plate was a little on the cool side – hot food needs a hot plate!  A pot of Assam tea, sans teabags!, was good.

So, two final thoughts.  First, West Littleton is set in this little area of unprettified, working countryside, which is about two miles square, four square miles.  It is bounded on all sides by fast, direct roads, so that, it seems, only locals use the narrower and more wandering country lanes within the square.  Thus there is little traffic on these little roads, which with me is a decided plus, as is the fact that the little lanes have plenty of places where a small car can be pulled off to the side.  So that I may visit and photograph this “little bit of England” some more.

But I shy away from photographing the picturesque and, in many of their parts, the Cotswold Hills are decidedly picturesque – what to do?  Go with the flow???  Just picture “beautiful” (and simple) England?  Probably.  And I have a feeling there might be a lot of black and white images.

Technique: this was my first trial with both the X-T1 and X-T2 cameras, each with its own lens – the telezoom on the X-T2 and the wide angle zoom on the X-T1, so that there was no need to change lenses.  Walking around with two cameras around my neck didn’t really feel right, and (as usual) the telezoom captured the vast majority of the images – its simply how I “see” things.  But the X-T1 and its zoom is light, and carrying it in my rucksack worked well – wide angle shots don’t usually move around too quickly, so there was time to get it out and into action!  And processing?  Well, as is usual now, Lightroom – and Silver Efex Pro 2 for the black and white of course.

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