PEOPLE 352 – GOING TO WORK 80

 

 


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An old and very dear friend of mine is a professional psychologist and avid people-watcher.  Her insights into everyday human behaviour never cease to fascinate and amaze me.  I had the idea sometime back of giving her a photobook of the Going To Work images (produced via Blurb) for her birthday, and that project is moving ahead.  In the course of assembling these pictures for use in her book, I have found six images that have not been posted in the Going To Work series but which really belong there, and so I am incorporating them into this series here.  This is the third of the six.  You can find the other images here: 1 2 .

This is morning rush hour, this is the city, and in this view of the city are only two representatives of the real, Natural World.  At lower right, a real, living person, who is hurrying to work through an artificial canyon ablaze with faces, noise and messages, all crowding in close, claustrophobically close, all around her.  She hurries to get through it all, she hurries to be rid of it all.

And the only other representative of the Natural World in all of this artificially constructed reality is the sky is at upper right – calm, quiet, cloudy and serene, tainted only by our fumes and emissions.

Photographically, I enjoy the city, I love being there with a camera, this artificial, human environment has so much of interest to the lens.  But in other terms, to me, the ability to access undisturbed peace and quiet is one of the most desirable and valued of all things on this planet.

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, 19, 20, 21, 22, 2324, 25, 26, 27, 28,  29, 30,  31,  32, 33  34  35  36 37  38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45  46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 Each will open in a separate window.

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

Technique: X-T2 with 10-24 Fujinon lens at 30mm (equiv); 400 ISO; Lightroom; Temple Gate, central Bristol; 28 Apr 2017.

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ARCHIVE 331 – CLOUD, BLASTED BY THE SUNRISE

 

 


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This is amongst my favourite pictures, and rather than writing more about it I’ll let my words from its previous outing stand:

Cloud caught in the rays of the rising sun, over our garden; 5am, 7 Jul 2005.

This picture shows a pure, powerful, raw, Minimal, natural beauty that blows me apart – if I’m looking for worthwhile things in life, here is one, one of my favourite pictures!

I like the blue and pale orange colour palette. And to increase the picture’s effect I’ve rotated it 90 degrees anticlockwise, so that the left hand edge of the strikingly linear, now vertical cloud appears blasted by the sun’s rays and, perhaps as a result of this solar barrage, to be shedding shattered cloudlets from its right hand edge.

Technique: OM-4 with 150mm Zuiko lens; Fuji Provia 400 colour slide push processed to 3200 ISO, giving wonderful grain.
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STILL LIFE 178 – GULL

 

 

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Emerging warm and well fed from Hart’s Bakery, I gazed up into the blues of a cold dawn.  And there was the sliver of a crescent Moon, strikingly beautiful, amidst wisps of passing cloud.  And all at once the crowing of gulls, and there they came, drifting over high from the west.  I knew those calls, they were the larger Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls, coming in ravenously over the city, looking for something – anything! – to eat.

The city’s noise was already starting up around me but up there, where they were flying, there were only the sounds of the wind and the birds.  I imagined what they could see. Below, the city’s lights, and then up above, the thin, drifting billows of vapour and that brilliant, shining crescent.

Fly well, my friends, go well – 60 years ago, I grew up beside your ancestors on the coast; their calls were my constant companions.  And now my city is your bread basket, and the cold waters of its reservoirs the safe havens upon which you spend the long hours of dangerous darkness.

And there was humour in the moment too.  A man appeared at my elbow, asking what I was photographing, telling me he’s a photographer too, showing me images on his mobile phone – but heavens, man, I’m trying to photograph the ******* heavens, man!!!  Phrases started passing through my mind … from days long ago, giving as good as I got as a rugby forward … give him a dead legkick him in the …. but, this is Life, and I can only smile now at the recollection of the moment.

The camera did well.  I was leaning back, braced against a high wall, but in that light the lens was wide open and, at x6 magnification and at a shutter speed only 1/75th – this image is a tribute to the X-T2’s image stabilisation.  The bird may not be perfectly sharp, but that’s not a factor here.  I could have used a higher ISO, but in the heat of the moment just went with it.

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

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 6400 ISO; Lightroom, using the Provia/Standard film simulation; beside Temple Meads Station, Bristol; 15 Dec 2107.
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STILL LIFE 166 – THREE WORLDS

 

 


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Looking up on a frosty morning: fluffy clouds, our planet’s Moon, a jet.

The clouds are just starting to take on the first hues of the sunrise.  The Moon looks hard, pale, uncompromising.  And the aircraft arrows upwards between them, a tiny dot relentlessy pursued by a vast contrail.

Three worlds.

The Moon is another world and the clouds belong to our world, so that’s two accounted for.  But the Moon and the clouds are both Natural phenomena, produced by the same universal processes that have produced ourselves – thousands of millions of years before those processes produced ourselves, of course.  We are new kids on the block.

The Moon and the clouds are indifferent to our presence.  Were we not here, they would most certainly continue to exist.  But were they not here, our lives would be severely impacted, if not impossible.

And so to the aircraft.  This is the third world here.  It is the product of the natural resources of our world, which we have used to build a machine to take us at great speed across our world’s surface.  So far so good.  The problems come, of course, when it emerges that our world’s natural resources are not infinite, and that the lovely fluffy white contrail is not the healthiest thing around, both for ourselves and for our climate.

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 206mm (equiv); 800 ISO; Lightroom, using the Velvia/Vivid film simulation; Stanton Drew; 6 Nov 2017.
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STILL LIFE 136 – QUEEN CHARLOTTE STREET 2

 

 


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Blues, and some browns too.

There is another image from this street here.

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

Technique: X-T1 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 200 ISO; Lightroom, using the Provia/Standard film simulation; Capture NX2; central Bristol; 19 July 2016.
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ARCHIVE 305 – SUNRISE WITH THREE DUCKS (MONO + COLOUR)

 

 


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Three ducks and the sunrise over Tealham Moor, south of Wedmore, on the Somerset Levels; 23 Nov 2012.

As with my pictures of crows aloft , the birds are dwarfed by the immensity of their element, yet quite at one with it.

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

Technique: D700 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 400 ISO; conversion to mono and colour restoration in Silver Efex Pro 2.

UPDATE: Minimalism once more, and the slightly unreal look of colour restored to a black and white image.

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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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STILL LIFE 99 – PARKED CAR REFLECTING ARCHITECTURE AND BLUE SKY

 

 

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Reflections in the bodywork of a parked car.  The blue sky can be seen left of centre, with distorted reflections of buildings around it.  The other reflections are from the car itself.

Technique: a first for this blog, in that although Lightroom has been used afterwards for final processing, this image was initially generated by the X-T2’s Raw Conversion facility.  In-camera, this facility allows Raw files to be edited in various ways – Push/Pull Processing, Film Simulation, Dynamic Range, Grain Effect, White Balance, Cropping, etc, etc – and then to be saved as jpegs while leaving the original Raw files intact.  In this case, the Raw file was given the look of Fuji’s Velvia film simulation, which (as users of Velvia film may remember), boosts colours and contrast.  Sitting down with the camera after a photo session, I find this a useful and creative way of looking through what the session has captured, as well as experimenting with the images to see what looks and crops may be eyecatching – and then saving those that appear useful.

I have a sneaking feeling that some photographic purists might consider this cheating, because I’m letting the camera do some of the processing work for me whereas I ought to be handling the whole of the processing myself in eg Lightroom.  Well, two thoughts about that.  First, I have always said – and it has always been a very core part of my photographic thinking – that all that matters in photography is the final image, irrespective of the way(s) in which it has been generated.  And second, if I generate something like this image, am I really going to expend lots of time and energy seeking to replicate it with Lightroom, when I already have something useable to hand?

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

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 200 ISO; jpeg with the Velvia film simulation generated from a Raw file in-camera; Lightroom; King Street, central Bristol; 7 Apr 2017.

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STILL LIFE 92 – SEASCAPE

 

 


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Study in blue – looking out to sea from Lizard Point, Cornwall; 19 Oct 2016.

Composition: a Minimalist image, take away the fluffy cloudlets and there’s really not much here, although it might still (just) work sans nuages.  But I like these little clouds – their shapes, fluffiness and colour – and the way they are at once separate from the dense, dark overcast – their relationship to this overcast is rather like that of little children skipping along beside their humourless, stolid, heavily pacing parents.  There is also that thin, linear break in the parental overcast just above these cloudlets – is it the trace of a smile? – perhaps their parents are not so humourless after all!

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

Technique: X-T1 with 55-200 Fujifilm lens at 305mm (equiv); 400 ISO; Lightroom.
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TALKING IMAGES 27 – HAVE BLURRED SKIES AND WATER BECOME A PHOTOGRAPHIC CLICHE?

 

 

Sometime last year, and I can’t now recall exactly when, this was the question asked by an opinion poll in the magazine Amateur Photographer (AP).  10% or 20% of the respondents to this poll (and I can’t recall the exact figure) thought the answer to be “yes”, and I agreed with them. It took no soul-searching on my part to come up with this answer but, then, I’m the first to acknowledge that my views (on many things, as it happens) may not be mainstream, and so there it was.

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Photo credit: Pixabay

QUOTE FROM JEREMY WALKER

However, in the 18 Feb 2017 issue of AP, the respected landscape photographer Jeremy Walker, talking about taking parties of clients on photographic explorations of the wilds of Iceland, wrote the following:

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Basically there are shots to be had, but there’s a danger of getting overloaded with blurry long exposures.  It seems to be what people want to go and do.

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ARTICLE BY DOUG CHINNERY

And now has come this.  Other than AP, which I subscribe to and regularly devour, I don’t usually read photographic magazines.  I’ve tried some of them, but in reality they’re really not up there with AP‘s quality, and they simply don’t shake my tree.  However, recently, I have bought a couple of issues of Outdoor Photography magazine and, despite it going on a bit to much about landscapes – well, outdoors, it would, wouldn’t it? – there have been some real nuggets in it.  And, coming from the same stable as the B+W Photography magazine I have praised extensively on this blog, it is very well produced and has some wonderful photography.

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Anyway, going through the issue 215 of Outdoor Photography, I came upon a long article by the photographer Doug Chinnery, entitled Understanding Exposure.  Well, I had a fairly good idea what this might be about and, the first pages were just as expected – working with a tripod in Manual exposure mode, using Neutral Density Graduated filters, paying strict attention to the histogram, etc etc.  OK, no question at all, this is one way of doing things – and one on my most deeply felt convictions about photography is that there are no rights and no wrongs.  There are simply the ways in which  I – or you – do things.  We are all different, each one of us.  And whether we do things one way or another, and whether we use this bit of kit or that bit of kit, or this post-capture process or that post-capture process – Canon, Nikon, Holga, film, digital, wet plate, pinhole, you name it – we are all photographers, and that’s all there is to it.  And the only real question is whether the resulting images look good – first to ourselves and, someway second, to others too.  That’s all there is – and never let anyone tell you to the contrary.

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Enough preaching!  Anyway, I read on through Doug Chinnery’s article, and came to a piece on the limitations of light meters, and the exhortation always to use Matrix or Evaluative metering – and then, under the heading ANOTHER PATH, I was hit by a bombshell!  Never one to do things by halves, I’m quoting here the first three paragraphs, verbatim (and I’m putting the whole of it in red font, as I think it such an important piece of thinking – especially the first paragraph) :

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While making beautiful, technically crafted photographs is absolutely fine, some find that they can convey little in the way of soul, story or emotion.  The images will tend to have full detail in the shadows, and the highlights will be bright but not ‘blown’.  They can be seen as simply beautiful images of locations, enhanced by fine compositions and good light.

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For many of us, though, our creativity begins to search for ways to inject to inject something more into our images.  Using our understanding of exposure and being willing to stray from convention will allow us to explore this need.

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Once we realise that no one is hanging histograms on gallery walls, we can free ourselves from some of the constraints some would place upon us as to what a “correct” exposure is.  I would suggest that a correct exposure is simply one that realises our personal creative vision for an image.  It bears no relation to what a light meter or histogram is telling us.  Convention tells us shadows have to show detail, and highlights must not be blown, in the same way we are told images must be sharp or comply with certain compositional rules.  Once we accept that this is not necessarily the case, the creative fun can begin.

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And he goes on to say that this thinking has had profound results.  For a start, his tripod is now largely a thing of the past in his landscape photography – which must mean, not so many blurred shots of clouds of water, although the article does include an absolutely beautiful, 2.5 second, handheld image of rolling hills.  Gone too is the need for front to back sharpness.  And he is now using aperture priority exposure automation with – wait for it! – a mirrorless camera system!!!  Wow, I can’t believe I’m reading this stuff!  I don’t know what to say – well, that’s not true, I do know what to say – WAY TO GO, MAN, WAY TO GO!!!!!

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And while revelling in all this euphoria around making creative exposures, an important point to make >>> using a camera with an electronic viewfinder (EVF) (or using any camera’s LCD screen, comes to that) lets us see the results of such creativity at once, rather than having the guess the effects of such changes when using an optical viewfinder.  I’ve found the large, bright EVFs on the Fujifilm X-T1 and X-T2 cameras superb.

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CONCLUSIONS

Well, as always, my first conclusion is that photography has no rights or wrongs, and that no one has the right to tell photographers how to take pictures.  For me that’s a very fundamental given, and I am certainly not going to tell anyone that they shouldn’t blur their images’ skies and waters.  If that’s your thing, do it.

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I have presented another photographer’s picture at the top of this post.  There’s no question but that its very beautiful.  Its gorgeous, calm, a work of art.  But I have totally lost count of the number of photographs of jetties going out into waters that have the consistency of (in this case, bluish) milk that I’ve seen over the years, and I have only to go to poster shops to see still more.

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In a way, I see parallels here with my full frame fisheye lens.  By which I mean that fisheyes can produce excellent images, but there is not the slightest doubt – in my mind at least –  that they are not something to be used frequently because, unless used with a vast creativity that I’m not sure I possess, their effects can quickly become formulaic and, in short, a cliché. 

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Basically, I’m hoping for more originality and diversity of approach.

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What do you think?

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