ARCHIVE 294 – CROW ON A FALLEN TREE (MONO)

 

 


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Carrion Crow perched in a fallen tree; Tadham Moor, south of Wedmore, on the Somerset Levels; 31 Mar 2014.

Early in the day, I pulled bleary eyed into the Magic Carpark, stumbled out of the car – and saw this crow.  Praying that it wouldn’t move, and all fingers and thumbs, I readied the camera, turned and – it was still there!  In fact it stayed there for sometime.

The tree is a casualty of the recent severe flooding.  It was probably not standing vertically before, but then its roots had been able to find sufficient purchase in the soil.  But, saturate that soil with floodwater for many weeks and turn it into something like blancmange or wet rice pudding, and the roots were simply not up to the task of keeping the great bulk of trunk and branches above them upright.

I went for a pure silhouette, with the sky completely burnt out, for simplicity – a Minimalist approach.  To me, the few branches entering the frame at upper right serve to balance the composition.  The adding of a blue tone takes the scene further away from reality.

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

Technique: D800 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 800 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Classic Portrait preset, and adding a Cyanotype tone.
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PEOPLE 268 – MAN IN A CAR

 

 


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Another early morning in the city.  I walked up Crow Lane, away from the harbour’s glistening waters, and photographed the clown poster.  Then, as I turned squinting into the bright morning light, there was a man, silhouetted, sitting in his car and totally immersed in his phone.

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

Technique:  a telephoto zoom is ideal for this sort of quick, close in, intimate shot – the Fuji 55-200 (a 85-305 35mm equivalent) is often the only lens I carry.  And, when out photographing, I make a habit of frequently looking behind me – and especially so if the light is coming from behind me – and of doubling back on myself >>> you never quite know what might be lurking back there!   X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 400 ISO; spotmetering for the highlights; Lightroom.
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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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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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ARCHIVE 285 – EARLY MORNING AT TEALHAM (MONO)

 

 


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Early morning on the Tealham-Tadham Moors, on the Somerset Levels south of Wedmore; 28 Aug 2013.

Rhyne (rhymes with seen) is the Somerset term for water-filled ditches that help drain the land and often, as here, act as field boundaries.  This rhyne’s surface is covered in floating waterweed and, in the foreground, are the tall, pointed leaves of wild iris, which love these waterside locations.

The two prominent trees are in the fact the ends of two rows of such trees that line the undulating, single track, tarmac road just visible lower right of them.  The two, pale sheets of corrugated iron set up against the rhyne’s bank on the right of the picture are held there by stout wooden stakes, in an attempt to prevent the road collapsing down into the mud and water. 

The point here being that there is no solid rock supporting this landscape.  Below this countryside are over 60 feet of sodden clays and peat – “rocks” easily demolished by your shovel if not by your bare hands – such that everything is soft, yielding and unstable.  Stand beside this road as a tractor goes by and you are suddenly rising and falling as if on some rural trampoline, which can be quite shocking for those unused to it.

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

Technique: D700 with Sigma 12-24 zoom lens at 12mm; 400 ISO; conversion to mono and split toning with Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Pinhole preset.

UPDATE: still a very favourite photo of mine, one that – in my eyes at least – will certainly stand the test of time.  No, it by no means depicts reality, but it is about a small, out of the way area of countryside that has a permanent place deep within me and, visually, it forcefully turns me on.  Technicalities?  Well, this image owes much to Silver Efex Pro 2 processing software, it would probably not have ended up looking like this without SEP2.  Reading about the photographic world, it emerges that SEP2 is very, very widely used by those with a love for black and white imagery.  And the other thing to mention here is my (now ancient) Sigma 12-24 zoom, which has facilitated this angle of view which is far wider than the human eye can achieve.  I call this lens ancient and, in digital terms it is – I first started using it with film cameras, shooting colour transparencies that I presented in slideshows – which maybe dates me a bit!  But since those far off days, Sigma has put this lens through two major updates, which have apparently improved image quality considerably.  The only downside to that is the cost of the latest update, £1600, which is significantly more than the cost of my recently acquired Fujifilm supercamera, the X-T2!  So I think I’ll just be sticking with my ancient 12-24 and, if it doesn’t give me “perfect” image quality, well, that’s just how it is – I’m not really into that degree of perfection, I don’t peer manically at pixels on screen, I’m more interested in the content of images, be it graphic or, sometimes, narrative.

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PEOPLE 257 – MAN WALKING (MONO)

 

 

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A man walks towards The Light, but his shadow hangs back, dragging behind him, dreading the openness and certainties of brightness.

But should the man eschew The Light and decide to walk back in the opposite direction, his shadow will strain and leap on ahead, eager for the concealments, anonymities and ambivalences of darkness.

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

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 400 ISO; Lightroom; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Full Spectrum Inverse preset; The Haymarket, central Bristol; 24 Feb 2017.
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ARCHIVE 280 – MALLARD

 

 

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Mallard in Herons Green Bay, Chew Valley Lake, Somerset; 6 Apr 2015.

A Minimalist image – some ripples and a silhouetted duck.

The up-curled tail feathers show this to be a male (drake) Mallard, a very common and often tame waterbird here in the UK.

This is a colour image, albeit one with little colour in it.  And I’ve used CEP4‘s Cross Balance filter to give the effect of Tungsten (i.e. artificial light) film that has been used in daylight, which has resulted in the image’s cool, faintly bluish tints.

Technique: D700 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 200 ISO; Color Efex Pro 4, using the Cross Balance filter.

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BRISTOL 118 – EARLY MORNING, TEMPLE GATE (MONO)

 

 

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Looking up at a cloudy sky, just before sunrise; Temple Gate; 24 Feb 2017.

Post-apocalyptic perhaps?  Or fan as I am of the Terminator films, is this The Rise of the Machines?  That innocuous little line of cloud that was wafting gently overhead now looks more like the result of an air strike.

Well, it may be that, but what it isn’t of course is a true representation of reality.  It is how I choose to portray things – which gets back to yesterday’s post about freeing ourselves from photography’s conventions and “rules”, freeing ourselves from what we think is expected of us, from what others may expect us to do, and instead following our own creative feelings, emotions and gut instincts.

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

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujifilm lens at 305mm (equiv); 1600 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, including substantial underexposure.
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PEOPLE 253 – WOMAN AT A CASHPOINT (MONO)

 

 

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The morning stop for cash – Park Street, central Bristol; 2 Dec 2016.

Three dark elements, two for automatically dispensing and one for gratefully (or maybe even indifferently) receiving. 

I was struck by this tall, dark figure and the shadows (accentuated a little here) cast by her wide-brimmed hat: she is restocking her purse with the spending ammunition required for the day ahead.

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

Technique: D700 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 12,800 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Architectural preset.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 290 – THE SKY WARMS

 

 

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Looking east along Tealham Moor Drove, the faintly seen track at lower left, as sunrise colours start high in the sky above the Somerset Levels.

Technique: it was dark!  The human eye is a wonderful camera, able to see in low light levels, but it was clear that most things here were still heavily engulfed by the gloom.  And when I raised the camera to my eye – WOW! – even allowing the brightening sky to influence the reading, 25,600 ISO still only gave me 1/140th, wide open at f4.8 .  So, working handheld as always, image stabilisation helped, as did the fact that this camera is mirrorless, so that it has no mirror slap – there is more on mirror slap here.  Many photographers prefer not to use their lenses wide open due to reduced sharpness and definition, but I always go for it – if the light conditions demand it  (and also if I’m looking for as narrow as possible a depth of focus).  The bottom line being that its far, far better to be left with an image that is blurred and/or grainy, than to be left with no image at all.  This is a part of the great and ongoing debate about the respective importance of the technical quality of images on the one hand – sharpness, definition, colour rendition, white balance, etc. – and image content and atmosphere on the other.  I’m 101% with the importance of content and atmosphere.  Compositionally, the faint lines of the track and the much brighter, water-filled ditch lead the eye towards that single tall tree – and I’ve used this same composition, in this same place, before.

There are other images from this bitterly cold morning here (with context), here, here, here, here and hereEach will open in a separate window.

Click onto this post’s image to open a larger version in a separate window, and then click onto this larger version once more.

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujifilm lens at 305mm (equiv); 25,600 ISO; Lightroom; 27 Jan 2017.
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