30 June 2009

Tree Fern, Cornwall

White tulip, Kew Gardens

Shot Rationale
I didn't think much of this when I took it and nearly deleted it in camera; deletion in camera means it is one stop worse than deletion in ViewNX, which in turn means one stop worse than deletion as a JPEG following conversion, which itself is one stop worse than deletion some months later after I have seen the photo a hundred times and suddenly think "you know what, it's not worth the hard drive real estate". Anyway, now it is one of my recent favourites. I like the delicacy of the whites - the petals of the flower retain their detail and, though it is as close to being clipped as it is possible to get, I don't think it is actually 255 where it shouldn't be. Anyway, I hope you both like it.

Welsh Valley and low sun

Hammersmith Acid

28 June 2009

Fire in the field

Bamboo, Cornwall

Leaves, Cornwall

Path through a wheat field

Any ideas as to why the wheat nearest the path is less ripe than the wheat not immediately beside the path? Does constant brushing by people passing by mean the wheat isn't as healthy? Perhaps the ground nearer the path is harder making it more difficult for the seeds to get established there, hence accounting for their immaturity relative to their peers? Or is there some other mechanism at work? Maybe the wheat stems that are surrounded by other wheat stems feel more secure and therefore better able to mature? Nonsense, I know, but I can't think of a proper explanation.

Poppy and Wheat near Sarrat

Shot Rationale:
OK, so this has been done a billion times, but I think it is my first effort. The picture was taken this morning at about 10.30 or so in very hot sunshine on a walk between Loudwater and Sarrat. I'd gone on the walk because I'd woken early at my brother's house and was feeling shabby having overconsumed the night before and having not got to bed much before four a.m. or thereabouts - I therefore needed to clear my head and sweat off the alcohol still in my system before driving home (the walk, a shower and a large cooked breakfast all helped). I find that a walk is always immeasurably improved if I have a camera with me (and I pretty much always do nowadays, even though it weighs a fair bit), and this morning the camera also meant I could concentrate on something other than how hungover I was.
By the way, if I haven't already said this, I think that the reason I like photograp, and nature / landscape photography in particular, is that I like the idea of trying to capture in pixels / print the emotional response a scene has evoked in me, trying to make the intangible tangible. Occasionally it works, although I admit I'd be hardpressed to suggest that this particular picture meets the criteria in this case.
Shot Technique:
The bright light meant I was able to select a low ISO so as to lessen any issues with noise. I used my 50mm prime so as to ensure I had access to a large aperture so as to minimise DoF. Then, on the PC, I wanted to address the fact that the poppy came out as almost a posterised red so: a new layer, split to RGB, blue channel overlaid on picture, Darken blend mode, taken down to about 30% or so, layers merged, tiny bit of sharpening and Bing!, we're good to go.

27 June 2009

Aqueduct, Llangollen Canal, North Wales 2

Shot Rationale:
This was going to constitute an entry into a competition, the theme being H2O. However, in the event I think I was trying too hard. I've erased some sheds (see alternative version, below) and, whilst it is a reasonable picture, it doesn't have a "bang!" impact. Some snow on the ground might have improved it, or fog, or perhaps some clouds. The angle of the light is great and I shall go back at sunrise again when I am next in the area, but somehow it needs something else to lift it. The man walking the dog is helpful, but again it isn't enough.
As an aside, if you look closely not only can you see a shadow from my legs but also, where the sun is brightest on the grass, you can just about make out the rest of my shadow.
Anyway, here's to continuing to improve!

Sometimes wisdom comes at you unannounced

"Belief is the absence of information."

25 June 2009

The Angel of the South

From Richmond Lock tonight.
Shot Rationale:
I took a fair number of cloud shots tonight, not so much to post like this one as they mostly don't generate that much interest, more so that I have them to use as texture layers at some point in the future. However, I quite liked this one as a stand-alone.

24 June 2009

Sunrise over Asia, Istanbul

Shot Rationale:
Woken by the sun every day of our stay, it was hard to resist getting up to loose off a few shots. Sunsets and sunrises are, of course, available by the billion on the net and elsewhere but despite that I still felt a compulsion to post this. I try and keep my very best shots for Flickr and, whilst I post a lot of them here as well, this blog is also something of a repository for memories (my own being so appallingly bad, probably owing to a dissolute and anxious youth, dissolution being as every one knows bad for the grey matter, anxiety also being a force for destruction and forgetting).
The technical details are uninteresting - keep the ISO up so that movement is reduced to a minimum, underexpose so as to prevent the whole thing washing out and losing the sky detail, yet I didn't want a silhouette of the shores. I spent a bit of time working off some vignetting, and tried to lose some but not all of the noise in the original picture.
Again, not a phenomenal picture by any means, but as an aide memoire it will more than do.

23 June 2009

J, J + J at Pier's End

No shot rationale for this one - it just called out to be taken. And no, it's not a masterpiece, I know, but I like it nonetheless.

22 June 2009

Heybeliada, Istanbul, Turkey

Shot Rationale:
Ruin, desolation, melancholy - I love these in photography, in part because of the ambiguity they inspire, ambiguity of course being an essential component of beauty. The picture was also inspired, perhaps, by Orhan Pamuk's Istanbul: Memories and the City, which I am reading, but in truth I was already entranced and enchanted by the wooden buildings I'd never known were to be found in Turkey (last time I visited it was wall-to-wall sun loungers, Elvis beach towels and Captain Birdseye's Floating Restaurant - a different species of holiday altogether). Anyway, I saw the grass, saw the shutters, the damaged wood, the lack of paint, and they came together in my mind a little like how you see them above.
Shot Technique:
Quite mucked about, the shot above has been sharpened, cropped and the perspective altered in Paint Shop Pro, this last a necessary evil because there were railings in front of the house through which I had to poke my lens and which meant I was at an angle to the subject - some of this "angle" remains because too much correction was as bad for the picture as none. Also involved was a "split to RGB" command, a layer then being made of the red channel, overlaid using, I think, multiply, then a moving around of the slider until a better balance of opacity was established. (Sorry if this isn't very accurate / helpful - I think the weekend is catching up with me and bed beckons). Anyway, I'm quite pleased with the result.

No. 20

Sunlit Grass, Heybeli Island, Prince's Islands, Istanbul

Shot Rationale:
Thanks to Janet for pointing out the beauty of the grass in the late afternoon sunshine on Heybeliada. Bit of curves work, some cloning at the bottom and there you go, simple but effective. The beauty of a place is, of course, sometimes best captured in the little details.

Blue Mosque interior, Istanbul

Shot Rationale:
Well, you're in the Blue Mosque - you would, wouldn't you? Pretty much as shot.

Record Shot: Blue Mosque, Istanbul

Shot Rationale:
As the title indicates, little more than a record shot, I took this as a tourist first and foremost - no skill required. I ought to do more with some of the other shots I took over the last weekend - watch this space. To be honest, having been awake since 5 and having travelled back today, better shots are likely to have to wait.

Cultural Immersion

15 June 2009

Radio Cassette in the Workshop in the Antiques Shop, Falmouth

Shot Rationale:

I took this more to get a sense of the clutter on the walls than to show off the cassette player but having processed it I find that in fact I like the player more than anything else in the picture - it makes me smile in part because it is so dirty and old, and in part because the covering is so utilitarian. Also, I like it because it is still so clearly regularly used.

Sea Urchins

Shot Rationale:

On the front at St Mawes in Cornwall and selling for £2.50 a time are these shells from poor sea urchins, killed so that they can collect dust on a shelf in the sunshine somewhere in a futile attempt to remind the "owner" of happier times by the seaside. I took a picture of them last time I was in St Mawes and will probably do so again next time, more out of hope than experience. Anyway, they required a minimum of post-processing - curves and sharpening and that's your lot. Not exactly awe-inspiring but not unpleasant either. Maybe only 4/10 in part because the one top middle is distinctly soft.

14 June 2009

Old Town Hall Antiques, Falmouth

So this is my favourite shot from a week's worth of shooting on and off in Cornwall. Thanks, Gary, for letting me bother you in your workshop - it is a place of real charm and beauty. If you ever read this and want a decent resolution copy of the above, contact me - I did try and find your shop on the web but no joy. Thanks again for the access.
Shot details:
Nikon D700 with 28 - 105 f/3.5 - 4.5 @ 34mm
ISO 2000
1/125 sec @ f/3.7
Centre weighted average metering
WB: flourescent.
Cropped in Paint Shop Pro then split image to RGB, red channel copy overlaid as layer on background, "Normal" blend, then this layer taken to 30% opacity or so. Sharpened using, I think, both Unsharp Mask and High Pass Sharpen. A bit of cloning and some curves work and ta-da, there you go.
Shot Rationale:
The moment I saw these lines of tools on the wall I wanted to take the picture and envisaged it something like the above. I thought it showed how form follows function and with it comes beauty. My favourite shot for a long time.

Surfing as the sun sets 2

I don't think I was trying hard enough with these - I thought the subject was so powerful that the fact that I was way up on the ISO scale and a bit far away from the surfer would be outweighed by the soulful beauty of what was happening; unfortunately, as you can see, this wasn't the case and some humdrum, rather noisy images are the result. Next time, I think, I'll go into the water to get closer.

Iris, Cornwall

Poppies and pool

The colours look washed out and muddy on Blogger for some reason, making this a marginal keeper up for perhaps only a short while. Taken in a fantastic old garden with a beautiful pool in Veryan, Cornwall.

Behind the scenes at the antique restoration shop

Surfing as the sun sets

Orange flower

This worked better than I'd hoped - I like the fact that there are similar tones throughout and the fact that the background is right out of focus. I perhaps should have been more aware of these issues at the point of taking the picture but then I often find I am so overcome by the excitement of taking the photo (yes, I still get that, even with simple subjects like this) that I forget the basics. More often that not this leads to problems but happily on this occasion I don't think it did and this picture is better than it deserves to be given the amount of attention I paid to making it.

Agave 2

Photo Rationale:
Bright sunlight and a feeling of ennui brought about by thoughts of over-saturated blue-skied garden shots led me to taking some close ups of the sculptural agave to be found near the entrance to Glendurgan Gardens in Cornwall. Of all the pics I took I think this one was the best - it has an abstract and menacing feel that to me, anyway, conveys something of the environment in which these plants usually flourish.


13 June 2009

Back from Hols

Hello gentle Reader. Back from Cornwall refreshed, I shall post a couple of pics just as soon as I have had a chance to process the RAW files and whatnot. Sorry for the hiatus.