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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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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PEOPLE 262 – WOMAN WITH BLUE NAILS

 

 


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As so often happens, a grab shot – time for only one, very quick shot –  as passing traffic momentarily slowed down.  Luckily I had the camera set to spot metering linked to the active autofocus point, something I’m using quite a lot at the moment.  And the telephoto zoom was fully extended.  I just raised the camera to my eye, it found focus on her hand almost instantaneously, and I fired.

What do I think about this image?  Well, a passing soul, a passing someone, a stranger to me as I am to her, someone going somewhere.  But now, I suppose, part of a design, resting her fingers upon – or is she helping support?! – a curving metallic blueness set in a photographically enhanced darkness.  And if I could produce more such images, of beings in artificial, abstract realities, I would.

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

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 800 ISO; Lightroom, including the Classic Chrome film simulation; Park Street, central Bristol; 7 Apr 2017.
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ARCHIVE 289 – LUO FAMILY

 

 


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Luo family on a farm near Akala, in the far west of Kenya; April 1979.

The backdrop is the painted wall of a wattle and daub hut, the smooth surface layer of which is starting to flake off on the far right.  Minor points, maybe that I’ve only really appreciated now, after all these years, are the Vicks poster and the kitten.

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

OM-1 with 50mm Zuiko; Agfa CT18 colour slide, rated at 64 ISO.

UPDATE: The people in Kenya were in the main very friendly and hospitable.  I very much enjoyed my years in that country.  Again – once again – I wish that I had photographed more of the people that I met there.

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STILL LIFE 97 – SWAN

 

 

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Close in with a male Mute Swan.  The large black knob above the base of the bill shows this to be an adult male, a cob.

Most of the bird was bathed in bright sunlight, and spot metering overexposed the highlights below its head.  Some very vague traces of its body are still visible, at upper right and lower left.  These would be easy to remove, but they’re left in to provide (a very little!) context. 

The first of these bird still life images, with context, is here: 1

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

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 215mm (equiv); 1600 ISO; Lightroom, using Fuji’s Classic Chrome colour profile;  Herriots Bridge, Chew Valley Lake, Somerset; 3 Apr 2017.
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STILL LIFE 96 – MALLARD

 

 


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I have a great love for the natural world.  I was a birder for decades, and still retain – will always retain! – a deep love and regard for “our feathered friends”.  And having recently acquired the Fuji X-T2 mirrorless camera, with its great reputation for autofocus speed, I have for sometime had the idea on trying it out on flying birds, and also birds exploding into flight from the ground.  And so, with the (highly treasured!) leisure time of the retiree, I stuffed some stale bread in my rucksack, threw the X-T2 with its telephoto over my shoulder, and drove down to Chew Valley Lake, which is not far south of Bristol.

LOL!!! >>> and the joke was on me because, this being the start of birds’ breeding season, there were, firstly, few birds around this great reservoir and secondly, there were even fewer in flight – and when I tried to stimulate some flying activity by throwing bits of bread up in the air, the feathered layabouts that were present merely let it fall to the ground, before waddling over to bolt it down >>> HA!!! >>> the best laid plans of mice and ex-birders …..

But, Chew is a pleasant spot, and there were birds up out of the water and very close to me, and I set about thinking what, in photographic terms, to do with them.  Just taking pictures of them is not my thing, as there are millions of such images around and there’s little point in adding to those numbers.  Then again, when photographing animals or birds, I often like to get in close to them, filling the frame if I can, so that the picture is more of an individual, rather than an overall, generic shot.

Well, these birds were close and unconcerned by my presence – by the car pull-offs at Herons Green and Herriots Bridge they are very used to people – and even more used to the titbits that people often feed to them.  So frame-filling or thereabouts shots were quite possible – but then what I laughingly call my mind went off at another tangent.  Why not try and produce pictures that are more like still lifes, which really ignore the fact that this is a portrait of a Mute Swan and this a Mallard – in favour of creating something visual that looks nice, even if it doesn’t show the whole individual and may not be a true likeness, particularly in terms of colour.

And one of the things that I particularly like about the X-T2 (and the X-T1 too) is its large, Electronic Viewfinder (EVF), which enables me to see exactly how the image is going to look – i.e. after all exposure adjustments, etc. that I’ve made – before I capture the shot.  And this has in turn led to my using spot metering quite a lot for quite radical exposure adjustments, rather than trusting to multizone metering to given me an overall balanced exposure.

Composition: here is the first of these shots.  I’m standing over a male Mallard, a common duck here, that is asleep on the ground below me.  His bill is buried in his back feathers, the sun is catching the iridescent plumage on his green head to produce a swathe of purple, and his white eyelid is closed.  The image is quite high key, with that great, purple and green head as the centrepiece and everything else arranged around it, with pale colours, lots of finely vermiculated (birderspeak for finely barred) feathers, and some pale, sunlit stonework at the top of the frame.  Rather than a picture that might be used in a bird identification guide, or a picture of a characterful individual, I’m hoping that this is an attractive arrangement of shapes, colours and textures – a still life.

My visit to Chew Valley Lake held something else too.  For it was here (and other local places),  in 1967 – half a century ago! – that two school friends, Pete and Clive,  started enticing me away from the geology that, until then, really had been my raison d’etre, and began taking me on the birdwatching trips that were to entirely intrigue me, and which were to have a profound effect on the course of the rest of my life.  50 years ago.  Wow, that really does seem a long time.  In a way, that seems forever.

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

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm; 1600 ISO; spot metering; and with Lightroom used to give the raw file the look of Fuji’s Velvia (or Vivid) colour profile; Herriots Bridge, Chew Valley Lake, Somerset; 3 Apr 2017.
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PEOPLE 260 – GOING TO WORK 20 (MONO)

 

 


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Morning rush hour, Bristol Bridge; 2 Dec 2016.

Standing on Bristol Bridge, just about at sunrise but with the sun obscured by heavy, going-to-work, overcast.  Pointing my damned great Nikon into the flow of souls heading for the city centre and, once more, I’m on someone’s radar.  Perhaps I’ll get a dayglow safety jacket – I’ll be even more conspicuous then, but at least everyone will think I’m there in some official incapacity.

Technique: a small crop from a full-frame image, with the D700 working near the top of its sensitivity range – only one more stop of ISO above this.  And so to blur, grain and noise, and with SEP2 probably introducing yet more grain, but that’s fine with me – suits the subject, suits the time of day, suits the mood permeating this daily, mass migration of souls.  The D700 is a wonderful camera, ergonomically a joy to use and with fast, accurate autofocus,  a camera I’ve always wanted with me in any tight or difficult photographic situation.  But there’s no getting away from the facts that it is now around nine years old, and that digital camera sensor design has moved on considerably since those days – something to talk more about  another time.

Earlier images from this series can be found here: 1, 2, 3, 45, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 1213, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18 and 19.  Each will open in a separate window.

Click onto the image to open an enlarged version in a separate window, and click upon the enlarged image to enlarge it yet more >>> if you really want to get a good look at all this grain!

Technique: D700 with  70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 12,800 ISO; Lightroom; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Yellowed 1 preset.
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