STILL LIFE 126 – WHITE CAR

 

 


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The dominance of the private car in modern society but, as a driver myself, who am I to express an adverse opinion?  Still, there are many here for whom using public transport is largely unthinkable, quite close to anathema really, while walking any distance is at best infrequent.  I’m not sure I’m writing these words as any great Green or Health activist, but one thing I am sure about is that walking allows me to see, sense and experience so much more in my surroundings which, to me, is a distinctly desirable thing.  And photography, of course, fires my curiosity, keeps me looking at things, all sorts of things, which is equally desirable.

And, talking of photography, here are the effects of using a very wide angle lens tilted downwards towards the subject – the car pushes and swells right up to the front of the picture to get a better look at us, while the buildings in the backdrop tilt nightmarishly, like something from a Surrealist artwork.

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

Technique: X-T2 with 10-24 Fujinon lens at 17mm (equiv); Lightroom, using the Velvia/Vivid film simulation; King Street, central Bristol; 28 Apr 2017.
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PEOPLE 280 – CITY LIFE

 

 


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City life – faces, images, media, messages, noise; hurrying, multitasking, crowding in close, claustrophobically close; all around.

There are two little bits of the Natural World in this photo.  She is at lower right and hurrying to get through it all, and the sky is at upper right, calm, serene, and tainted only by our fumes and emissions.  And the rest is, well, the rest.

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

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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STILL LIFE 125 – CIDER CAN

 

 


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Unfortunately empty can on a rotated pavement.

When I grew up in Somerset and took my first, wondering steps towards the Electric Soup, pints of cider were the obvious – the almost religiously ordained – choice.  Strong drinks, sometimes rather rough, and producing dreadful hangovers – but still wonderful!  I drink more beer now, especially Belgian beer, and following a really dreadful experience with a blended vintage cider, last year I think it was, most ciders are no longer attractive – although two litre flagons of Westons strong, still and cloudy Old Rosie do still shake my tree.

Drinking cider became very fashionable a few years back, and this empty can contained one of the relatively bland, modern, mass market ciders, Thatchers Gold – but still, not at all bad, especially on a hot day.

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

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); Lightroom, using the Astia/Soft film simulation; rotated 90 degrees anticlockwise; Old Market Roundabout, central Bristol; 26 May 2017.
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STILL LIFE 124 – MORNING SUNLIGHT

 

 


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Slivers of morning sunlight on a city centre façade.

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

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 113mm (equiv); 400 ISO; Lightroom; Narrow Lewins Mead, Bristol; 26 May 2017.
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ARCHIVE 298 – BLACK AND WHITE IMAGES PRODUCED BY SILVER EFEX PRO 2

 

I’ve just put out a post urging readers of my blog to take advantage of Google’s free offer of the Google Nik Collection digital photography plug-ins.  I waxed especially lyrical about the Silver Efex Pro 2 program for creating black and white images, and said that very many images produced by the program can be found on this blog.  Well, here is one – I hope you enjoy it.  (And there are others in recent posts here, here and here).

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Inquisitive as ever, out on Tealham Moor, on the Somerset Levels; 29 Aug 2013.

My ongoing warm feelings for cows.  The main subject is making a dive for my shiny lens – I fired and jumped back just before his wet muzzle engulfed it.  The expression of the next animal right is interesting – distinctly doubtful and censorious.  Maybe he read my thoughts about gravy and roast potatoes …

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

Technique: D700 with 12-24 Sigma lens at 18mm; 800 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2’s Fine Art Process preset.

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TALKING IMAGES 31 – GET THE GOOGLE NIK COLLECTION – FOR FREE! – WHILE YOU STILL CAN

 

THE GOOGLE NIK COLLECTION

The Google Nik Collection is a suite of seven plug-ins for digital photography that were created by Nik Software and then purchased by Google.  Amateur Photographer magazine  consistently rates this collection as one of the best plug-in suites available, and I very much agree.  The situation now is that not only are Google offering this suite for download entirely free of charge, but they have also made it clear that they are no longer going to develop or update the collection.

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Getting these programs for free has to be good.  But behind this lies uncertainty – since Google are engaging in no further development, are they thinking of ceasing to provide the Nik Collection altogether at some stage?

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So I’m putting out this quick post to urge to urge you to take advantage of this free offer ASAP – you can’t lose >>> if you don’t like it you can always uninstall it again.  But if Google pull the plug on it, well, its gone.

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Here is the link: https://www.google.com/nikcollection/ 

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WHAT ARE THESE PLUG-INS?

Well, they’re becoming a little old now, and better alternatives are available un some cases.  For example, Adobe Lightroom does a far better job of reducing noise in my Fujifilm Raw files than Nik’s Dfine 2.  But the Nik Collection contains two pure gems – Silver Efex Pro 2, and Color Efex Pro 4.

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You’ll find many, many mono images produced with Silver Efex on this blog, and its a package that vast numbers of photographers worldwide, including many professionals, use for their black and white work – quite simply, I wouldn’t be without it.  For me, Silver Efex beats Lightroom hands down for producing black and white images – to me, Silver Efex is simply more user friendly and easier to use than Lightroom’s black and white facilities and it produces better results –  its as simple as that.

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And Color Efex is simply wonderful for colour work – and I find that it has a more creative feel to it – it certainly makes me feel more creative – than Lightroom ever does.

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And both of these programs use Nik’s excellent Control Point technology, which really makes it very easy to make very localised and precise adjustments to images – these Control Points are simply ridiculously easy to use – to me, far easier than Lightroom’s radial filters.

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HOW I USE THE GOOGLE COLLECTION

Its possible to use the Nik Collection as plug-ins in Lightroom, and I’m sure this works very well.  But, simply because I started out doing things this way, I still use the Nik suite as plug-ins in Adobe Photoshop Elements.  I export 16-bit Tiffs from Lightroom, open them in Elements and use Silver or Color Efex – this is probably not the best way to do things, but at least it provides me with a tiff outside of Lightroom that I can mess around with to my heart’s content!

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So, if you haven’t got it already – and I know that many of you have – get the Nik Collection while you still can!

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ARCHIVE 296 – TIMBER (MONO)

 

 


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Stack of mangrove poles; Lamu, coastal Kenya; July 1978.

The (Western) human eye scans images from left to right, and from top to bottom. Here, my eye enters the image from the left, and then travels right along the parallel poles, until arrested by the vertical pole and its binding, at the far end – positioning the vertical pole on the right of the picture does not work so well.

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

Technique: OM-1 with 50mm Zuiko lens; Agfa CT18 colour slide rated at 64 ISO; Silver Efex Pro.
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ARCHIVE 295 – TRAILING LEAVES

 

 


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Leaves trailing from a plant pot at The Point, Bristol harbourside; 11 Apr 2004.  

The few green leaves amongst the many leaf shadows on a featureless, bluish ground, are important here – the presence of the colour green definitely enhances the picture. 

Technique: rotated 90 degrees clockwise; OM-4 with 21mm Zuiko lens; Fuji Provia 400 colour slide rated at 3200 ISO. 

UPDATE: Minimalism, less is more; usually better than a cluttered image – the eye knows more what to look at, rather than being confused by masses of detail.  And quite a shock to see that I took this 13 years ago – I used to stalk around Bristol with this wonderfully compact 21mm lens, looking for simplicity, looking too for abstract compositions.  And I loved push-processing colour slide films (the Provia 400 here is being pushed 3 stops: 400 to 800 to 1600 to 3200), to boost the colours and contrast, and to get more grain, as seen here.
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STILL LIFE 123 – PUTTING ABILITY FIRST

 

 

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Snapshot of city life.

The black margin to this image has not been applied with software, it is the outline of a window –  I was standing in one street, and looking right through a building, via its windows, to a scene in the next street.

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

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 400 ISO; Lightroom, using the Classic Chrome film simulation; shot from Rupert Street, central Bristol, looking through a building into Colston Avenue; 19 May 2017.
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STILL LIFE 122 – TEMPLE CIRCUS GYRATORY

 

 


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Early morning driving on the Temple Circus Gyratory, which is a large roundabout at one of the southern approaches to Bristol, near Temple Meads railway station.  Roundabout?  Traffic circle in The States I think.  And the roundabout’s official name?  Well, it could really only have been dreamt up by officials, couldn’t it, by a Local Authority, in the interests no doubt of good urban planning and neutral nomenclature?

And the photo?  Well, its garish, technicolour plus.  The highlights are all blown to featureless white but to me that’s fine because this isn’t reality, this is how I like to see it.

So what gets to me here?  Well, the lines and curves of the blazing white vehicle, which frame the face – cool shades, no-nonsense beard, mouth slightly open – with the thrill of surfing the Gyratory maybe?  And the car’s curving lines also frame the reflections in the car’s windows, which become more colourful over towards the right.  And then, in the backdrop, all those technicolour stripes.  And no, before you ask, I haven’t ramped up the colour Saturation in Lightroom, although I did increase the Vibrance to +65.   Then CEP4 was used to provide a thin black border, to prevent the lower edges of the image merging with my blog’s white background.

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

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm; 400 ISO; spotmetering; Lightroom, using the Pro Neg Hi film simulation; Color Efex Pro 4; central Bristol; 7 April 2017.
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